Swiss chocolate is often revered as the most exceptional type – but why? To understand this, you first need to take a look at two things: the origins of chocolate making and the role of Swiss ingenuity in its creation.
Let’s Travel Way Back in Time to Discover the Origins of Chocolate
Going back to as early as 1900 BCE, Mesoamerican cultures (the early occupiers of regions in South America) like the Zapotec, Maya, Teotihuacan, Olmec, Mixtec, and Mexica (or Aztec) were making chocolate. People of these cultures learned to prepare the beans of their native cacao tree – first by drying them and then by grinding them to a very small size. This allowed the resulting paste-like product to be mixed into a type of beverage by adding water, cornmeal, and chili peppers. This beverage, called “xocoatl,” was quite bitter and spicy, unlike the sweet chocolate we consume today, but was recognized as a mood lifter so the bitterness was tolerated and consumption grew.
Similar to today’s love affair with chocolate, the Mesoamericans regarded chocolate very highly. Their beverage “xocoatl” was referred to as “the royal drink.” Supposedly it was even consumed by Emperor Montezuma at least fifty times per day. In some of these cultures, chocolate was considered to be a food from the gods – Quetzalcoatl according to Aztec tradition or Kukulkan per the Mayans. Xocoatl or paste “coins” (made from pressing the ground beans together into small medallions) were often served at royal feasts and other important rituals. They were also awarded to soldiers for great accomplishments in battle. And cacao beans were also seen as a greatly valued commodity – often exchanged as a form of currency, in some instances replacing the use of gold.
Chocolate remained a well-kept secret of sorts until the early 1500s. Up to that time, it was only known in the Mesoamerican territories where it was produced. But in 1519, Hernán Cortés, a Spanish explorer, is said to have first encountered it while traveling in the area and then brought it back to Spain. Upon its introduction to the new land, chocolate was first seen as a bitter beverage, considered only good as a medicinal product. But, it didn’t take long before sweeteners like sugar and honey, or flavorings like vanilla were added to make it more appealing.
These sweet and flavorful additions helped to decrease the bitterness and led to chocolate becoming much more appealing. The new flavor profile of the chocolate also saw it being consumed on a larger scale, with aristocrats leading the demand. A major hurdle with meeting the demand was the cumbersome and labor intensive process to make chocolate. Beans had to be sourced from only certain tropical regions of the world and they had to be shipped long distances at very large costs, driving up prices for the consumers. But despite these obstacles, chocolate was still in high demand throughout the next three centuries.
While exploring better and more efficient means of producing chocolate, European chocolatiers began looking for new ways to further enhance their products – focusing on the flavor and consistency.
Enter the Swiss – “The Masters of Ingenuity”
The creative mastery of Swiss inventors is not lost on the public. You have Tim Berners-Lee who invented the World Wide Web in 1989, Georges de Mestral to thank for the creation of Velcro in the 1950s, and in 1795, Abraham-Louis Breguet invented the tourbillon – an incredibly complicated mechanism that defeats gravity and makes watches keep time extremely precisely. All are outstanding accomplishments – but for those who love chocolate, there are two Swiss inventors who are even more important – Daniel Peter and Rodolphe Lindt. Without these gentlemen, chocolate would not be the decadent delight we all adore today. Why?
Remember the Catchphrase “Got Milk?”
Apparently, up until the late 1800s, chocolate did not include milk. That is, until Daniel Peter, a former candlemaker who was married to a Swiss chocolatier, started to develop his own type of chocolate in the factory where he once made candles. At the time, cacao was still being used primarily as an ingredient for beverages. He started looking into new ways to use the cacao for other means of consumption, first attempting to blend in milk to make a creamier product. As it turned out, this combination resulted in failure because the high water content in the milk made the product quickly turn rancid. Over the next several years, he made various attempts to remedy the problem and in 1875 he finally found his answer. Dehydrated milk. Daniel Peter’s new, unique combination of cacao and dehydrated milk gave birth what is now known as “milk chocolate.”
Further Refinement of Swiss Chocolate Provides Even More Sensory Appeal
As if the newly created and very delightful taste of Swiss milk chocolate wasn’t enough, four years after Daniel Peter brought milk chocolate to the world, there was another major development. In 1879, chocolate maker Rodolphe Lindt created a method of further processing the cacao beans and other added ingredients. This process, called “conching” in the chocolate making trade, grinds the mixture into ultra-fine particles – and it is this process that gives Swiss chocolate its extremely smooth, melt-in-your-mouth creaminess. Conching also homogenizes the product which better blends the flavors – plus it helps reduce any acidity coming from the cacao beans. When not processed in such a manner, there can be a hint of a lingering bitter and sometimes vinegar-like flavor in the finished chocolate.
Today’s Favorite? No Surprise – It’s Swiss Milk Chocolate
According to American Cocoa Research Institute (ACRI), over 70% of Americans prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate – and many of those consumers seek out Swiss or other European-made chocolate products for a couple of good reasons:
The End Justifies the Means
At Difiori, all of our couverture chocolate is crafted in Switzerland by our master chocolatiers with only the highest quality Fair-Trade beans available using the same techniques developed over a century ago. We want your experience to be like no other. When you take your first bite, our Swiss chocolates will melt and envelope your taste buds in sumptuous luxury as their Swiss chocolatiers intended.
Live on Difiori Chocolates
What are Five Things you can do today to combat plastic pollution in your community? We’re so glad you asked.
You know that the food you eat, the water you drink, and the air you breathe is affected by pollution. The very land you live on has no true borders, meaning what gets dumped in one ecosystem anyplace in the world certainly does have an effect on the very environment that you call home. That’s not okay.
If you’re like us, you want this to change. You want to do your part to save the planet. There’s no better organization to partner with to make this change than us at Green Stars. And there’s no better time to take action than now.
At Green Stars, we’re doing our part by recruiting Community Leaders. As a community leader, you’ll use your social influence to recruit friends and family who care about the environment as much as you. Along with your crew, you can work to improve your community by ridding it of plastic waste, plant some trees, and much more. Plus, you have the opportunity to earn some money and have fun while helping the planet. Or maybe you’d prefer to go it alone. Either way, we’re happy to have you participate.
In either case, you’ll be working with your community and the Green Stars Network. We’re working hard to develop a global group of people just like you that are committed to cleaning up the environment. We are also recruiting celebrities who have dedicated themselves to making changes towards a cleaner earth and cleaning up pollution.
Here’s another bonus of teaming with Green Stars. Aside from helping the planet, you can receive prizes and awards. Regardless of your participation, individual or team-based, you have the chance to work towards becoming a Green Stars EcoChampion and have your name listed on our site’s Green Stars Leaderboard for all to see.
Additionally, we choose one person from the leaderboard each year to serve as a Green Stars Ambassador. This ambassador gets to travel throughout the world for a one-year term and earns a salary of $180K. Not chosen as an ambassador? There’s still another chance at something pretty sweet. Each year, we choose several leaders to take part in our annual expenses-paid trips to popular destinations.
So how can you get involved and get on that leaderboard? With the following five tasks, it’s really easy…
Become a Social Media Influencer. Take advantage of your group of friends, schoolmates, family or anybody else you know and promote your activity with the Trash2Cash program across as many social media platforms as you like. Be sure to use these hashtags: #GreenStarsIndia, #GreenStarsEcoChampion, and #GreenStarsNepal. Share at least 10 posts showing your participation in Green Stars activities and you’ll receive an exclusive Green Stars Award for Social Media.
Start a Community Cleanup. Organize a neighborhood and community cleanup event for an upcoming weekend. Plan on spending at least 3 hours working with your group to clean the area and make a solid impact. Take before and after time-stamped images then share them on social media. Don’t forget to tag them!
Establish a Resource Collection Center. Work with companies or local government agencies to create a place for others to deposit materials collected. Develop a description of the facility, its capacity, and agree on a length of time in months or years that it will be operational. Send Green Stars this information. Can’t establish one? That’s okay. Instead, find one that is already in place and work to get the same details to be provided to Green Stars. And, in either case, get the word out on its location and capabilities via social media to earn points.
Become a Resource Gatherer. Either you or your group can work to identify locations that need to be cleaned up of excess plastic waste. Work to clean up at least 2500 lbs., take before and after time-stamped photos, and then share these on social media. Since this is a big project with tons of impact, you will get lots of points towards your Green Star Awards.
Create a Tree Planting Event. Planting trees is super important and benefits everyone, but be sure to check with your local NGO or the Minister of Forestry to get their backing. They can tell you what types of trees are allowed in your community. To get your points for this activity, you’ll need to take time-stamped before and after shots and share them on social media.
We look forward to having you on board.
Live on Green Stars
Green Stars around the world are ready to help you make a difference in combatting pollution and changing the environment for the better. First, we work using the power of Green Stars’ expertise to identify areas most negatively impacted by plastic resource accumulation. We are looking for individuals and groups in communities that have the most discarded plastic resources in India and Nepal. It is in these areas we are looking to recruit and cultivate leaders to share the leaderboard in our Green Stars events.
Working with you, Green Stars will support you in setting up events in your community in India and Nepal. Our successful model shows that it’s best to schedule events on normal non-working days, approximately every week. This allows for better commitment and participation. Events can be centered around resource gathering, and can also include tree planting.
Billed as The Green Stars Experience Day, each event is planned out well in advance. We suggest, planning at least six weeks ahead of where resource collection efforts will be. Reach out to community leaders and businesses that may be able to help with participation prizes or even as a resource collection destination. You will want to highlight for them the benefits of the project, explaining how resource collection, clean-up efforts, and even tree planting will benefit them and the community and what you are looking for in turn. Seek their support for the event and ask that they provide prizes for your community members who take part in helping to improve the overall community. These contributions can be based on most anything such as certificates good towards food, accommodation, travel, entertainment, and much, much more.
When planning an event, we have an agenda that has shown to work well. Following is an example of how a typical Green Star Day would play out:
7 – 10 AM – Time to Serve Our Mother
Your team arrives then is instructed to fan out in the area and collect clean and dry plastic resources, cigarette filters and anything else that is made from plastic that is also clean and dry. Once collected, team members bring the items back to the main checkpoint where items should be separated into three categories: shiny plastic aluminum or aluminum laminates (PALs), clear plastics, or cigarette filters. Each of these three categories then gets put into containers for disposal. PALs and clear plastics get bagged or put into containers while cigarette filters are placed into containers or bottles. Once contained, each is then weighed and will receive a QR code that is then uploaded through the Green Stars EcoChampion app.
During all portions of the event, community members should be reminded to take photos and post them to social media. All images should be tagged using the following: #GreenStarsIndia and @ GreenstarsIndia, #GreenStarsEcoChampion and @GreenStarsEcoChampion and/or #GreenStarsNepal and @ GreenstarsNepal. For participants working towards prizes, awards and the Green Stars EcoChampion Challenge, posting to social media is mandatory.
9 AM – Breakfast
Your group takes time for breakfast, held at a restaurant found in the community being worked in for Green Stars Experience Day. Note that while planning your event, many companies (even restaurants) have their own goals towards social responsibility. Finding one that is in tune with helping the environment can possibly benefit your team with the addition of new members.
As part of the breakfast session, there is a presentation and open chat on Trash2Cash.
Once everything has been weighed and the challenges have been completed, prizes will be awarded to community members as follows:
Afternoon – Community Member’s Choice
Participants can choose to take some time for rest and relaxation, socializing with others, or they can take part in the Fundraising, Creativity & Innovation activity that can put them closer to achieving a challenge goal.
Evening – Group Social Fun
Chosen by the Green Stars Leadership Lead, there are many types of activities for community members to participate in. Some examples in the past have included time spent collectively at local clubs/pubs, theatres, social clubs, or comedy clubs.
Various sponsorship arrangements can be made by you with the chosen location, usually guaranteed with a pre-established contract. For example, a business might provide complimentary snacks to verified attendees of the Green Star Day event. In cases where sponsorship cannot be obtained, Green Starts will provide 1.5 rounds at the location of choice.
Are you ready to start setting up a community event? We want it to all go smoothly for you so we’ve got some things to help you out. Trash2Cash can help you choose a location where a group of 15 to 25 people can work effectively. We can provide you with a list of deliverables that your team would be expected to accomplish from start to finish. We can even give you a simple contract to use when booking your breakfast location and your evening entertainment.
Now’s the time to get started. Simply fill out this form and select submit.
Currently Posted on Green Stars
As a building manager, you know that when elevators, escalators, or any other vertical systems go down, you are suddenly faced with turmoil for the people who rely on them. Those affected, whether building managers, tenants, or even visitors, often don’t realize the degree of mechanical complexity and the high level of specialization required to fix the equipment.
At Vertical Systems Analysis, we want to help you be proactive about your systems’ maintenance and also eliminate the frustration that can come in the event of a possible failure of your elevators and escalators. We’ve developed the VSA Elevator checklist – a guide for vertical systems managers to assist with keeping everything moving reliably and efficiently.
Based on years of hands-on experience with specialized vertical transportation systems, our Elevator checklist contains information that is crucial to help manage your systems. As a building manager, owner or other stakeholders in charge of elevator maintenance, certification and overall safety of your elevator, here are the key things to keep in mind:
· Keep great records of all your maintenance. This will help us get to know all aspects of your system and its equipment.
· We’ll provide counsel so you completely understand service contracts and the associated key terms and conditions. This will ensure you are protecting, tenants as well as the building.
· We’ll help you make sure you are measuring your elevator’s performance against industry standards as well as methodologies including entrapment, usage, downtimes and other issues.
· Learning about your local code requirements. Properly understanding these is critical and can prevent you from incurring excessive costs from non-compliance fees.
· Understanding key terminology of service contracts, and conditions set forth in them that help you to protect your building, its owners, and its tenants.
The VSA Elevator Playbook is designed to give building owners and property managers a leg up with their system’s maintenance demands. By providing information based on our working industry knowledge, research of emerging technology trends, and more, our VSA Elevator check list provides building personnel a better ability to make decisions and alleviate concerns about day-to-day and even emergency-based vertical transportation operations.
Live on VSA Consulting
Supporting endangered insect populations with designer flora.
The troubling collapse of bee populations worldwide gets more worrisome with every spring. According to BBC News, “Scientists have long suspected that insects are in dramatic decline, but new evidence confirms this. Research at more than 60 protected areas in Germany suggests flying insects have declined by more than 75 percent over almost 30 years.”
Matilde Boelhouwer, a graduate of the Netherlands' Artez Institute of the Arts, decided to do something about it. According to Boelhouwer’s site, designers are “obliged to think about new possibilities and opportunities and show new perspectives instead of only making more beautiful products.”
That obligation drove her to use her design skills in a positive, impactful way. Boelhouwer learned that jeopardized insects often faced a lack of food accompanied by exhaustion. She realized that if she could produce some type of artificial flower that would attract not only bees, but also the other important pollinators of the insect world (hoverflies, butterflies, and moths), these flowers could become a source of nourishment and respite for the insects.
Boelhouwer tapped her artistic talents and worked with entomologists to determine which design elements and other attractants would entice insects to feed at these auxiliary stations. This collaboration of art and science, according to an article in Fast Company, resulted in the production of artificial flowers that can be used repeatedly in urban areas.
Boelhouwer continues her mission from her studio, where she hopes to make people understand the importance of nature while also raising awareness of new ideas and solutions. Her recent creations include insect terraria and sweets made from insects.
Published on OvertureGlobal.com
Articles in the media show that use of crystal meth by young adult females has seen a steady increase in recent years.1 Also increasing is the number of young women facing depression. Meth provides an easy way to cope with these unwanted feelings as it provides a euphoric sensation and decreases inhibitions – but this long-term abuse often leads to dangerous behaviors like unwise sexual activity, random partners, and a stronger possibility of unprotected sex.
Methamphetamine causes the amount of the dopamine (a naturally occurring chemical affecting pleasure, attention, learning, and movement) in the brain to increase dramatically.
This quick and short-lasting boost to dopamine levels causes the user to seek more of the substance to further enhance the effects. But tolerance to these pleasurable sensations builds, and so too does the need for more of the drug, furthering use, and probable addiction.
Women and the Adverse Effects of Meth Use
Most people have heard about the common adverse effects caused by methamphetamine use: rotting teeth and gums, premature aging, loosening of inhibitions, exposure to STDs, and the like.
However, new studies are showing that there is another serious outcome of meth use, and it is particularly damaging to women at a greater rate than men.
In a study published by the RSNA, researchers found that “…women with stimulant dependence had a significantly lower gray matter volume (GMV) in the frontal lobe (orbitofrontal cortex, medial frontal gyrus, superior frontal gyrus), limbic regions (insula, amygdala, cingulate gyrus), temporal lobe (temporal pole, uncus, parahippocampal gyrus, hippocampus, occipitotemporal gyri, superior temporal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus), and inferior parietal lobule.”2
Simply put, this means that the study showed a marked reduction in gray matter volume (GMV) found in the brains of women who had used meth.
So…Just What is Gray Matter
Gray matter is part of the physical makeup of the brain and is really important to humans in two ways.
First, gray matter gives people their power to process information. Found in many areas of the brain, the three components of gray matter include “neurons, the cells that make connections and store information in our brain, glial cells that feed the neurons so they can work at their best, and capillaries, which provide cells with blood and oxygen.”3
Secondly, gray matter functions in what’s called “neuroplasticity” of the human brain, or the ability of one’s brain to change and adapt as a result of experience. With this capability, the brain will actually modify its own neural network in response to many events, including normal growth development (emotional development from a teenager to an adult), and sometimes to external input such as a traumatic physical injury to the head.
Why Does This Make a Difference to Females
Neuroplasticity acts to affect changes related to cognitive abilities, motor tasking, learning, memory, and more as children develop into adulthood.
In females, the activity of this neuroplasticity is complex and sex-specific. Changes happen in different areas of the brain than males, at different times, and in differing degrees.
For example, take changes that affect mood. Studies have shown that during puberty, females experience an increase in incidence of depression, caused by changes to the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA), which is a person’s central stress response system. “In females, there is an increased response of the HPA axis with advancing puberty, while in males, the response is decreased, possibly associated with increased testosterone levels. Schizophrenia is another disorder whose incidence rises markedly during adolescence and whose presentation shows significant sex differences.”4
Some researchers suspect that use of meth causes an actual shrinking of gray matter, which can lead to developmental issues and rocky recovery from later life stressors. Most agree that methamphetamine use causes permanent damage to the neural network, effectively interrupting messages transmitted by the brain’s neurons.
The female body is already loaded with its own complexities. Female teenagers who don’t use meth are already faced with complex and confusing physical and mental issues, especially those that relate to their emotional and sexual development. By introducing a chemical that works on the intricacies of the brain that control key developmental components, women who use meth place themselves at risk for developing serious physical and mental disadvantages that may last their lifetimes.
Live on American Addiction Centers
Once you’ve come to the conclusion that your teen needs help with a substance addiction, the type of treatment center to choose for their recovery can be daunting. There are several things that can play into your decision on which recovery center you select.
If your child has been diagnosed with a mental-health condition that is being affected by or affects their substance abuse, treatment facilities need to be carefully assessed with the help of your child’s physician. Not every recovery center may be able to provide exactly the right combination of care and attention that your teen may need.
Criminal Justice System Involvement
If your teenager has been ordered to seek treatment in lieu of incarceration, there are treatment facilities that have programs geared towards helping your teen resolve the issues that led them to substance abuse.
Type of Facility
There are two general types of recovery treatment centers to explore. Outpatient treatment centers allow the individual to remain at home while residential treatment facilities provide a long or short-term experience away from home.
Outpatient treatment is typically considered for people who have day-time obligations (i.e.: school or work) and have a large and solid social base that can help provide support. Outpatient recovery centers offer many of the same types of programs as residency-based centers, but the intensity of treatment is not always the same. Typically, low-intensity outpatient centers are modeled to provide drug education and group counseling, so one-on-one treatment should not be expected.
Short-term Residential Treatment
Originally founded to treat alcohol abuse and therefore based on a modified 12-step approach, short-term residential programs provide a short-term but intensive treatment option. In most cases, patients can expect to reside on location for a duration of three to six weeks. This hospital-based treatment phase works to help your teen to overcome the addiction and properly deal with any side effects while detoxing. Participation in therapy sessions, either individually or as part of a group, is a central component of the time spent at the facility while working to recover.
Long-term Residential Treatment
With planned stays ranging between 6 to 12 months, long-term recovery centers offer the most comprehensive care to their residents. Centers provide round-the-clock care, usually in a non-hospital setting often called a “therapeutic community” (TC). This type of treatment facility employs the use of everyone there (staff and other residents) to help the individual to overcome their social and psychological deficits.
Through highly-structured and sometimes confrontational treatment, residents are encouraged to be socially responsible and productive while developing their personal sense of accountability – all considered critical components of a successful recovery.
Therapy is also mandated here as well as it “examines damaging beliefs, self-concepts, and destructive patterns of behavior and adopt new, more harmonious and constructive ways to interact with others.” 1
Following stays in residential treatment programs, it is important for individuals to remain engaged in outpatient treatment programs and/or aftercare programs. These programs help to reduce the risk of relapse once a patient leaves the residential setting.
There are many other things that need to be considered when choosing a rehab center for your teen. Just some examples include the following:
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “no standard definitions exist for specific types of programs. The programs are not regulated by the federal government, and many are not subject to state licensing or monitoring as mental health or educational facilities, either.”2
They advise visiting potential rehab centers and asking lots of questions. To help you with knowing what to ask, they have put together an excellent document Residential Treatment Programs for Teens (accessible online – see footnote #2) that address things you should be asking of the treatment facility and its staff to help you make a decision on what type of recovery center would be best for your teen.
The life of a teenager careens between polar opposites: the most awesomely great day can be followed by the most painfully mortifying one. A proud moment carrying a sense of real achievement can be dissolved by gut-wrenching uncertainty. A teen’s outlook on life can be far from rosy; it can be thorny with the stabs of stress and anxiety. What’s a kid to do to ease the troubled mind? For many, drugs provide a dangerous panacea that can deepen troubles and ensnare the unwary. While healthy options exist, for many teens the availability of alcohol and/or drugs provides convenient solace.
Why Do Teens Start Abusing Drugs?
The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens, prepared by the Center on Addiction, reported the following:
“Nearly half of teens (46 percent) say they experience high stress (6 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10). Compared to teens who say their stress level is low (5 or less), teens who experience high stress are:
The report continues…
“The number one source of stress for teens is academic pressure, including pressure to do well in school and to get into college.”
Sadly, not everyone can get the “easy A”. Hard work followed by disappointing results can drive adults and teens to distraction. A teen’s perspective is so much more limited than a well-adjusted adult that disappointment can border on disaster.
Beyond academic pressures, a teen’s life includes many other anxiety triggers. Social stress, family discord, world events, traumatic events, significant life changes all play their part.2
I Just Want to Feel Better…
Triggered by stress and anxiety, our “fight or flight” response throws our physiology into overdrive. Beyond a simple sense of dread, our hearts beat faster, we breathe harder and faster, our circulatory system propels blood to the arms and legs, and we may feel cold, clammy and nauseous.
We don’t feel good.
Perhaps smoking a joint or taking a hit of something stronger will do the trick? Trick is the operative word here – the real “relaxation response” we crave is not the temporary and potentially addicting high driven by drug use.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
“The same mechanism that turns on the stress response can turn it off… This “relaxation response” includes decreased heart and breathing rate and a sense of well-being. Teens that develop a “relaxation response” and other stress management skills feel less helpless and have more choices when responding to stress.”3
Teaching teens to deal with these frightening and anxiety-provoking feelings is critical for safe passage to young adulthood as, per the Center on Addiction, individuals who do not use alcohol, tobacco, or misuse drugs before age 21 are more likely never to do so in their lifetime.
Women in today’s society are under more pressure to be everything to everyone than ever before. Over time the media, entertainment industry and our own personal experiences have shaped what we recognize and define as a suburban housewife. The compounding stress on these women, plus the societal pressures they feel often leads them to look for a way to alleviate physical and emotional stress through medical means. In fact, since the 1800s women have been prescribed increasing amounts of anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication to combat the stresses they are dealing with in their everyday lives.
The middle of the 20th century saw a dramatic uptick in the drug-based treatment of women and their perceived anxiety. Often referred to tongue-in-cheek as “Mother’s Little Helper,” medications like Prozac, Librium, Valium, and Miltown were dispensed often too frivolously instead of working to get to the root of the problem.
The tranquilizer, Miltown (meprobamate in generic form), is an anxiety-relieving drug known for its marked effect, was made commercially available in 1954 and was once one of the most popular prescribed medications. By 1956, “doctors had written 36 million prescriptions for it. At the height of its popularity, one out of every three prescriptions called for this drug.”1
Women’s Lives Have Changed – So Have Their Drugs
Nowadays, women have different lifestyles than generations before them. They are often juggling many different tasks while trying to maintain their family unit and their sanity day after day.
With societal pressure and the common misconception that women are more emotional than their male counterparts, women are targeted constantly with medication that will enhance their mood and help them function to society’s definition of what is proper. Over the years, the idea of psychiatric help understood in Freudian terms, became a hugely popular concern. Everyone thought they should be better adjusted at work and be more mentally healthy.2
This mentality has caused increases in abuse of prescription mental health drugs in this community and a movement into drugs outside of the mental health category for women who feel that they need something else to help them get through their day.
The Power and Perils of Opioids
Currently, abuse of prescription painkillers by suburban housewives is greatly on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suburban housewives in today’s society are turning to opioids on a regular basis to help them numb the pain they deal with day today. It typically starts innocently, surgery on a toothache, giving birth to a child, or a pinched nerve in the back. Doctors then prescribe opioid-based drugs that resemble opium in their physiological effects. Demerol, OxyContin, Percocet, Kadian, Actiq, and Vicodin are just some examples, typically designed to be taken on an “as-needed” basis and for a short duration. However, for some women, all it takes is one prescription, as their pain and anxiety fall away and the begin to feel normal again, the addiction begins.
For many, drug use invariably increases as tolerance to the opioid pain killer quickly builds up. For others, the injury requiring medication may last longer than first anticipated or become chronic. More of the drug is taken or it may be taken more frequently than prescribed. This leads the user to seek out even more of the drug to achieve a satisfactory effect. If they cannot get a prescription refilled, a crisis results. They may even start to look for other ways to alleviate pain, leading from use to misuse of stronger substances or medications used in conjunction with other substances such as alcohol, the once-familiar benzos from the past, or something even worse.
Per the CDC, “about 18 women die every day of a prescription painkiller overdose in the US, more than 6,600 deaths in 2010. Prescription painkiller overdoses are an under-recognized and growing problem for women. Although men are still more likely to die of prescription painkiller overdoses (more than 10,000 deaths in 2010), the gap between men and women is closing. Deaths from prescription painkiller overdose among women have risen more sharply than among men; since 1999 the percentage increase in deaths was more than 400% among women compared to 265% in men.”3
Notwithstanding a more demanding lifestyle with greater risks for pain, pain stemming from things as commonplace as dental procedures or childbirth sees physicians actively prescribing strong and potentially addictive drugs. When women can no longer acquire pain medications from their physicians, their need may lead them to find an alternative source on the street, not only for pain reduction but also for the euphoric feeling that comes with this type of drug.
Typically, this fix is found in heroin, a stronger and cheaper alternative to the pills they were once prescribed. A recent article in Marie Claire illustrates the story of one such woman, “Donna.”
Donna started on the road to addiction by borrowing some of her husband’s Percocet pills to help with an old back injury. At $25 per pill, Percocet was pretty expensive for them. She found that she could purchase heroin on the street for much less. According to Donna, she realized that “she and her husband could split the $10 bag and feel the same euphoria as with two $25 pills. That’s $50 or $10—what would you spend?”4
The stories of women like Donna are not uncommon. A simple pain, a need for an escape from the stress of everyday life, and a search for a feeling of normalcy have suburban housewives looking to increasingly harder substances to find that feeling of relief.
Every year, American military personnel end their term of active duty and seek out or return to civilian employment. Understanding which labor laws apply to them can be extremely confusing, and even more so if an individual incurred a debilitating injury while in service. There are two laws that a disabled veteran needs to be familiar with: the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) act and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to the United States Department of Labor, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) “seeks to ensure that those who serve their country can retain their civilian employment and benefits, and can seek employment free from discrimination because of their service. USERRA provides protection for disabled veterans, requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability.” Simply put, this act “helps protect veterans and trained military personnel from losing their jobs, should they be called back to action or into reserve service, even after they are no longer employed full-time within the U.S. military.”
The second law of importance to veterans with disabilities is the Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - a civil rights law enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This law prohibits private and state and local government employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and requires that they provide reasonable accommodations to these employees. It is a law with many conditions and complexities, all provided to ensure that discrimination is avoided and that employment opportunities are provided for veterans.
Further Benefits & Reentering the Workforce
In addition to the protections afforded by the USERRA and ADA laws, there are many special services available to wounded warriors. Disabled veterans can get assistance for healthcare, financial, and educational benefits (GI Bill) and quite a bit more. Organizations like MilitaryOneSource keeps an updated list of these benefits in addition to information of specialty consultation services, military branch-specific wounded warrior programs, housing assistance, and military relief organizations.
Aside from being protected from federal laws, it should be helpful for veterans to know that there are many companies that make it a point to hire and provide special benefits for veterans. This can help ease the burden of living with an injury and may even help them to reenter the workforce sooner. Some of the companies include The Home Depot, Intel, UPS, Dupont, and USAA. MilitaryBenefits provides an annual list of Veteran Jobs with Military Friendly Employers to help locate opportunities.
Finding employment is one thing for veterans – and maybe the easiest. Returning to or entering the civilian workforce is another. Vets often find that it’s hard to translate their military skills to non-military jobs. This can cause misunderstandings and stress once employed. One particular benefit afforded to veterans to help with this situation is the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP) – a reverse bootcamp of sorts that educates departing troops on job skills, veteran’s benefits, and personal finances.
Legally, accommodations should have been made to provide a suitable workplace for anyone who is a veteran with a disability. Though care and attention to details have been taken in these accommodations, this doesn’t mean that a worker is immune to any further injury while at work. As with non-disabled employees, workplace accidents and injuries can occur. If a veteran is injured in a work-related situation in the civilian workforce, it’s important they understand their rights.
Possibly even more necessary is that veterans are aware of and understand the many areas that workers’ compensation can cover. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that has different policy requirements determined by the state or states a company does business in. Workers’ compensation is provided to give relief to the injured party, typically by covering some medical expenses, missed wages, costs associated with ongoing care, and other short-term benefits. In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits in a timely manner, veterans need to be familiar with how that system works and ensure that they avoid mistakes in filing for assistance.
If a workplace injury is severe and necessitates a total ceasing of work activity, an individual may need to then file for Social Security disability benefits. For injured workers seeking to further a Social Security disability claim, the good news is that claims initiated by veterans are being expedited through the process, though, according to P.I.S.S.D., this “process does not apply to veterans with a 100% Permanent and Total disability rating for non-service connected pension benefits.”
Getting a Normal Life Back After a Work-Related Injury
As with non-military workers, getting things back to normal can be a real challenge for a veteran. A person who was injured in the workplace is required to see specific company-approved doctors, adhere to health protocols handed out by those physicians, and then fill out many forms relating to the various aspects of what is happening as they are on the road to recovery. While the individual may be attempting to follow all the necessary steps required of them, the employer’s insurance company is certainly looking for ways to deny any claim made against them. For the disabled vet, this may come down to the insurance company trying to claim that the injury is the result of a pre-existing condition.
With any type of workplace disability claim, there is always a chance that the injured party may need to consult an attorney for assistance.
In the case or a disabled veteran, this consultation may be even more of a necessity, as allowing an attorney to represent them, especially when it comes to disproving that the new injury was pre-existing, can ensure that their claims are processed professionally, properly and in a timely manner with as little added stress as possible.
Ghostwritten for online publication.
Everyone had their favorite television shows in the 60s and 70s. Thing was, we didn't have access to binge watching and seeing the shows over and over like kids today can. We had to sit down at a certain time each week to catch our favorite show and if we missed it, maybe we could catch the episode as a rerun - months later...if we were lucky.
So, how else could we get our fix? Good 'ole board games - and it turns out there were tons of them made in the 1970s.
A recent search online turned up some pretty weird games that are still hanging around some 40+ yerars after they were first sold.
Let's take a look!
Leave it to Beaver | Rocket to the Moon Space Game
Yeah - you read that right. "Leave it to Beaver" and "Space Game" together in one title. This was a board game made in 1959 that had two players flip a small rocket shaped "die" then move their small marker chip around a board as they explored space. I think Eddie, Lumpy, and even kind, well-mannered Wally would have been laughing themselves silly at the idea of this game, especially since I don't recall any time that Beaver ever talked about playing a spaceman or the like.
The Love Boat | World Cruise Game
Tell me you don't hear the voice of Jack Jones singing the theme song at the mere mention of this show, especially this part which everyone seems to know:
"The Love Boat soon will be making another run
The Love Boat promises something for everyone
Set a course for adventure
Your mind on a new romance"
The game follows on the same basic theme of the show by having different players assuming the roles of the ship guest (played by famous celebrities on the show) each of who has certain traits. These traits come into play as the cruise ship travels to different ports of call, and players use them to gain advantages over the others. In essence, this is a strategy game and has little to do with the TV show except the branding and some of the graphic on the game pieces. But that's okay - it gets us singing that great tune and wistfully dreaming again.
Barnabas Collins | Dark Shadows Game
Based on a soap opera that ran from 1966 to 1971, this game has a video advertisement that gets the kid whipped up in me. I just watched it for the first time and thought the game looked so cool!
Who wouldn't want a game that comes with a vampire, a stake (watch our for it!), and even glow in the dark teeth!! Seriously Milton Bradley Company - you had me at the cool coffin shot.
Lost in Space Game
Like the popular show from the 70s, the object of this game is to travel through space to unknown planets, explore, and not get killed.
Unlike the TV show, this game has only a board, player tokens, and a spinner to work with. Hazards of various types are printed on the board.
All I can say is that Lost in Space doesn't work for me without the Robot, of course. And Dr. Smith. Poor, pathetic, whimpering Dr. Smith.
Starsky & Hutch | Detective Game
This game from 1977 was based on the hit series about two Bay City police detectives that ran on ABC TV from 1975 through 1979. The show starred Paul Michael Glaser as David Starsky and David Soul as Kenneth "Hutch" Hutchinson. And who could forget their bad ass red Ford Gran Torino with the white stripe, a car that, to this day, many of us who love muscle cars still lust over.
In the game, the two cops are once again chasing after the bad guys but without the car, Starsky's cardigan, and the ever-present chance that Hutch might break out a rendition of his #1 Billboard song, it's just not the same.
Ben Casey M.D. Game
Aaaaah, Ben Casey. Who's mom didn't have a wild crush on this guy? The show, known for its opening titles, which consisted of a hand drawing the symbols "♂, ♀, ✳, †, ∞" on a chalkboard representing "man, woman, birth, death, and infinity, starred Vince Edwards as the handsome, idealistic neurosurgeon working at County General Hospital. The 1961 board game based on the show is pretty simple - roll a die, move from room to room in a hospital, collect "symptom" cards, then make a successful diagnosis. Leaves plenty of time for chasing after that dreamboat doctor the game is named after now, doesn't it.
Got Any You Want to Ad to the List?
Let me know if you have any old favorites you'd like to see included.
Posted on ThatVintageSite.com
There’s lots to talk about when it comes to mental health, the reasons why it’s not readily and openly discussed, and what can be done to help change this fact.
Historically, the stigma attached to mental health issues can be traced back to times when people had strong emotions about physical conditions. For example, outbreaks of leprosy terrified the public at one time. This terror resulted in those afflicted by leprosy being quarantined away from the masses. As other horrifying or unexplainable conditions evolved, the idea of quarantining “sick” people persisted and with that came the birth of the mental institution. Taking the afflicted and removing or hiding them from society became acceptable - most likely having something to do with the adages “out of sight, out of mind” and “ignorance is bliss.”
In reacting this way, society pushed mental health issues to the rear of their conscience and has done a tremendous disservice to those who may need help but are afraid to seek it out.
She Looks Healthy…
Some physical conditions, like chronic illnesses (those lasting over ninety days), are left undiagnosed by medical professionals. This could be on the part of the doctor missing something. More likely - it could stem from the patient who thinks what they feel is wrong is just “in their head” based on what they have read or been told by others. Not wanting to be diagnosed with a mental condition because of the societal stigma, they don’t inform their provider about those symptoms.
Even if diagnosed, lots of chronic illnesses have symptoms that remain hidden to the public. Take fibromyalgia for example - the condition most often considered fake because the person who has it appears to be physically fine.
A person living with fibromyalgia can tell you that there are good and bad days. But to the average person, the fibromyalgia sufferer may always look fine. What is not shared are the different levels of physical pain experienced every day and, more importantly, varying levels of severe emotional distress as well. Imagine waking up every day wondering how your body is going to feel. Will it let you get out of bed, shower, and get dressed without issue? Will you be able to sit through a day at work without feeling like you’ve been beaten with a club? Will you feel totally exhausted by noon then find an excuse to break away from whatever activity you’re involved in just to nap for a bit?
For a person dealing with a chronic illness, the feeling that their body is not in their control takes a huge toll on their mind. Daily life feels like a battle without a way to win. Since that feeling never subsides, their mental health deteriorates, frequently becoming full-blown anxiety, depression, or other disorders. Left untreated, these patients can become suicidal. What’s harmful to these people is twofold. First, they feel they can’t share their exasperation. Others don’t understand them, or they treat them like constant complainers. Second, most are treated by doctors who employ conventional (Western, mainstream) medicine and are simply prescribed drugs to placate the physical pain and additional drugs to help calm their mental state.
The Missing Link
Some medical professionals are now recognizing that conventional medicine (the exclusive use of synthetic drugs, radiation, and surgery to treat health conditions) is a type of treatment that has its place, like in life-threatening situations or with massive injuries, but that there is something missing when it’s the only choice for patients in non-critical medical circumstances. These practitioners are changing tactics to a more modern approach – one that emphasizes a link between physical and emotional health.
Enter Integrative Medicine
Integrative medicine is an approach that takes the whole person into account – their body, mind, spirit, and lifestyle. This approach uses facets of conventional medicine along with alternative medicine (holistic approaches) and forms a partnership between both the practitioner and the patient. By bridging the gap between doctor and patient there is more awareness, a sense of ownership, and better participation on the part of the patient for the control of their care and overall health.
As the patient learns more about their health and about how their mental health affects their well-being, they often want to learn more or find support to help them in their journey.
Fortunately, there are some major changes taking place to help assist them. Since affordability of healthcare or access to it can be problematic, things like telemedicine and online lab testing are becoming readily available. With more practitioners embracing the connection between physical and mental health, sources to assist them in their efforts to educate patients are continually being developed. For example, social media is being used more regularly by medical professionals and health communicators to not just deliver messages to patients, but to encourage interactive sharing between the parties. According to the Duquesne University School of Nursing, interactive social media has actually helped reduce suicides.
Behind Closed Doors
Despite any profession-based advancements, the public perception is still a major contender at fault for the stigma associated with mental health. So how CAN society change the conversation?
Technology as One Way
It’s been stated that 90 percent of adults use mobile devices and over 70 percent use video sharing platforms and this usage has increased searches related to healthcare. Interestingly, Google recently put out information showing that there has been a huge spike in people asking more personal questions in their searches, and referencing themselves – like “do I have schizophrenia” or “how can I help my friend who is suicidal?”
For the mental health industry, this is a sign that people are avidly using technology to search for possibly immediate assistance, and they are responding to this demand. There are already lots of internet-based resources out there to help people, but now more health apps are being developed. Take for example PTSD Coach, a highly successful app designed for military veterans. Apps to monitor stress, exercise, diet, relaxation time, sleep patterns, and more are abundant and all play into aspects of the integrative medicine approach that lends itself to addressing both physical and mental wellbeing.
Share to Be Aware
While methods to increase awareness involving changes to medical approaches or the implementation of technology-based applications can be helpful, perhaps the greatest impact in changing the narrative on mental health would be to SHARE.
According to Outrun the Stigma, the act of sharing knowledge, stories, opinions, questions, or anything related to an issue can be extremely useful in breaking down barriers to open conversations. As conversations take place, more people become enlightened, fear dissipates, and the stigma surrounding the topic begins to chip away. Take the Me Too Movement. Getting information out to the world increased awareness of the problem. As awareness grew, so did understanding and then the comfort level surrounding the topic changed enough to see actions taken to help make a difference.
The same can be done for mental health. As people learn to talk openly about symptoms, related actions, and ways to give or receive help, the less frightening the topic of mental health will be for everybody.
Ghostwritten for online publication.
When it comes to testing for elevator code adherence in New York City, impartiality is a key part of ensuring equipment is functioning properly and works safely for all users.
According to the Department of Buildings (DOB) and NYC Maintenance of Buildings Codes, any elevator or escalator located within the city’s five boroughs must be inspected and tested twice a year. Contracted inspection agencies conduct these inspections on behalf of the DOB. Inspections are usually unannounced.
Category Testing is a further means to ensure safer and more reliable performance of equipment. Vertical Systems Analysis is an approved by DOB Elevator Consulting Company that can provide Witness Testing.
The NYC Department of Buildings Guide to Elevators describes the different category tests as follows:
Category 1 (CAT1)
No load safety test performed between January 1st and December 31st each year.
Category 3 (CAT3)
Performed on water hydraulic elevators only every three years from date of installation.
Category 5 (CAT5)
Performed with rated load and speed every five years from date of installation
Under New York law, building owners and managers have the responsibility of hiring competent and, more importantly, licensed and approved elevator inspectors to perform annual elevator and escalator tests.
In addition, they bear the responsibility to obtain the services of an impartial, unaffiliated third-party agency (typically an elevator consultant) to provide witnessing of the inspection. This part of the process is called Category Test Witnessing.
Category Test Witnessing (or sometimes just Test Witnessing), is an additional service in the testing process, employing the use of third-party agencies to witness the category testing performed by elevator inspectors.
Per the NYC Department of Buildings, only third-party agencies that are licensed by them are permitted to witness annual safety tests.
Aside from Elevator Test Witnessing Being Legally Mandated, What Are the Major Benefits to You?
Test witnessing helps you best comply with federal, state and local jurisdictions
New and more rigorous annual elevator inspections attended by independent witnesses are detecting about 50 percent more violations in New York City.
Test witnessing helps you satisfy requirements of insurance carriers and protects your assets
As a building owner or manager, you bear the responsibility under the law for hiring a competent and approved elevator inspection agency to perform elevator and escalator tests. By hiring an unaffiliated third-party agency to witness the inspection, you provide yourself with the extra assurance that you have met the requirements of the law, resulting in your insurance not becoming nullified by negligence.
Test witnessing can minimize your liability by ensuring the safety of elevator and escalator users
When performing an annual test, we subject Elevators and escalators to extreme conditions not typically encountered under normal operation. We do this to bring out any possible adverse situation that can cause the verticals to fail. Acting proactively in this manner helps us spot small issues before they become large ones, keeping all users safe.
Why Choose Vertical Systems Analysis (VSA)
VSA is a state licensed third party agency that can perform test witnessing of your vertical devices. As your third-party witness, it is our goal to ensure that your elevators and escalators are performing to code and that the testing work carried out meets the legal mandates required by New York.
With our extensive support staff, we can also complete your third-party code inspections, processing, and filing fees for you.
To find out more about the role Vertical Systems Analysis can play in CAT1, CAT3 & CAT5 test witnessing, please contact our licensed and fully qualified technicians and engineers.
Live on VSA Consulting
If you've taken a shot of hard liquor, you know how badly it burns on the way down. But how can a room-temperature or even a cool liquid cause this burning sensation? The answer isn't what you might think.
If You Can't Stand the Heat
Your body's normal temperature hovers at, or very close to, 98.6 degrees (37 degrees Celsius). When you drink something cold, that beverage becomes slightly warmer as it travels down your throat and into your stomach. When you drink a hot beverage, the opposite happens: Your body absorbs some of that heat.
And your body can take a lot of heat. For example, coffee drinkers prefer their cup of joe around 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), according to a study published in the Journal of Food Science. So even when you sip on something nearly 30 degrees hotter than your core body temperature, you don't feel like your throat is on fire.
To protect your insides, your mouth and throat both have pain sensors called vanilloid receptor-1, or VR1. VR1 are finely tuned to react to food's temperature and acidity by stimulating neurons to transmit the sensation of pain to the brain. These receptors are super sensitive to both actual high temperatures and perceived heat from compounds like capsaicin, making them react similarly to a sizzling hot slice of pizza as they do to a habanero-laden scoop of salsa.
Fool Me Once
Things change when alcohol comes into play. Ethanol is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages such as tequila. Unlike capsaicin, which makes VR1 think a food is hot to the touch, ethanol binds to these receptors and makes them more sensitive to heat. This bond actually changes the heat threshold, lowering it to just 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius). This might not seem like a big swing in temperature, but it's enough to cause a flurry of responses in your skin, esophagus, and spinal cord, giving you a sudden sensation of warmth all over and a nasty burn in your throat.
The human body has warning signals in place to protect you from danger. Whether it's a sudden release of adrenaline in life-threatening situations or a pain signal when you eat something that's too hot, reactions in your body are there to tell you not to do something. In the case of downing a shot of liquor, that burning sensation isn't real heat; it's your own body's warning signals gone awry.
Live on Curiosity.com
Whether you are an art connoisseur or just like checking out what local artists have created, Medellin has a thriving art scene not to be missed.
Respect the Artist, Not the Medium
Starting at street level, Medellin has a huge array of what is normally considered graffiti, but in this city, this artwork is well-respected. Having been built into an abundance of hillsides, Medellin is a city of retaining walls and buildings with vast expanses of exposed outer walls. Many of these have become canvases that portray stories about the city’s past, most notably when the area was ruled by drugs and the gangs that sold them. Larger than life portraits, embellished in bright colors, some highly artistic, others more novice in appearance, they are all colorful monuments to the city, woven within buildings, streets, and alleys. Many are visible from several different places, providing the observer with a changing sense of perspective and interpretation when seen from a different vantage point. To see a good sampling, it is suggested that visitors to the area check out “Street art in Medellin, Colombia – in pictures,” a pictorial example of street art in Comuna 13, once one of Medellin’s most notorious neighborhoods.
More Traditional Vibes
Still on the upswing from its heyday as a crime haven, Medellin has been working hard to revitalize its economy and reputation. Working towards this goal, there has been a surge in tourism and, with that, a steady growth in art galleries and museums. Medellin has a good selection of galleries providing smaller installations of local artists. However, at the other end of the spectrum are two traditional museums hosting galleries of artists who are becoming more famous each year.
Medellín Museo de Arte Moderno (MMAM), a repurposed steel factory said to be “rapidly gentrifying Ciudad del Rio neighborhood” is the first not to be missed. In a 2016 Travel + Leisure interview, chief curator Amiliano Valdes, discusses the growth of the MMAM, relating that the museum’s collection of mostly Columbian artists would be on permanent display with the new building extension that had recently been completed. Featured at MMAM is the extensive collection of Debora Orango, a late feminist painter that used themes of social commentary along with confrontational depictions in her work.
Besides permanent installations, the museum also has a state-of-the-art film and music theatre, allowing the hosting of more varied types of art.
Second is Medellin’s Museo de Antioquia with the notable collection of abstract artist Fernando Botero, best recognized for his signature stylizing of rounded, “fat” people – also called boterismo. On display at the museum are 168 pieces of work by Botero in mixed media, both in the galleries and on the plaza in front, aptly named Plaza de Botero.
In the Eye of the Beholder
Regardless of personal taste, anyone who loves, appreciates, or is just curious about different styles of art will find plenty to see and discuss in the artwork on display in and around the city of Medellin.
Posted live on GoToMedellin.com
As a byproduct of the popularity of science fiction movies, books, and games, an entire subculture has entrenched itself in our current culture. This avid following of all things science fiction is more commonly called “SF Fandom” and has some interesting roots.
In the Beginning
In the late 1800s, science fiction stories were first published in book form. Jules Verne is credited as the first to write what is considered “pure science fiction” where stories solely centered on technological, futuristic, fantastic, and alien or otherworldly content.
Sci-fi Fan Interest Grows
Science fiction started making more headway into the public eye in the early 1900s as magazines would sometimes run single stories or serialized versions of a story mixed into their normal content to capitalize on the growing interest in the topic. Magazines like Argosy, a children’s weekly publication, would publish stories with science fiction themes, but, as a whole, there were no genre-specific publications like we have available today.
Despite an influx of new science fiction stories being published in those early years by Argosy and other similar magazines, science fiction fans of all ages were looking for lots more material.
To meet the demand, the mid-1920s saw the explosion of what was called “pulp” magazines. These publications were typically issued monthly and featured short stories produced and illustrated mostly by fans but sometimes featured works by already established science fiction authors.
A well-known example is the 1926 pulp magazine Amazing Stories which featured only works of a true science fiction nature. Not commonly known is that Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Allen Poe all provided significant contributions with stories published in early copies of Amazing Stories while many authors found their first publishing success in the myriad of other pulp magazines.
Even More Fan Access
While this may seem strange now, science fiction fans reading Amazing Stories were encouraged to contact each other via a letter column included in the publication. Amazing Stories’ letter column provided the the names and addresses of its fans in print. Publishing such information meant fans could contact each other (and sometimes professional authors or artists) via mail to discuss characters, stories, and plots or to arrange for the swapping of magazine issues. This connection of like-minded science fiction buffs became the first organized type of fan club for the genre’s enthusiasts. Essentially, this was an early equivalent of social media helping to boost and share information on a beloved topic
A further outgrowth of the fan clubs was the creation of fanzines. Fanzines were typically amateur magazines often produced to provide further exploration of the genre via elaboration on story lines or to provide outlets for artistic contributions like character or scene illustrations. Additionally, fanzines afforded a platform for novice writers who hoped to join the ranks of professional science fiction authors.
An example of one of the earliest fanzines was The Comet, created in 1930 by Raymond Arthur Palmer who was a member of the Science Correspondence Club of Chicago.
After the introduction of The Comet, many other fanzines came as went as the creators often found keeping up with the publishing of them was too demanding of their time and sometimes too costly.
However, while short-lived, fanzines did make a significant mark on the genre with some of the most successful writers being Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs (Mithra series), and J.R.R. Tolkein (Lord of the Rings trilogy).
Today, science fiction fandom has taken on a life of its own. Some popular outlets include Sci-Fi conventions, themed events such as weddings or graduation parties, role playing games, and many others where attendees can hear or converse in fanspeak, a jargon used by die hard fans to communicate with each other about all things science fiction.
Original article on ThatVintageSite.com
If you’re lucky, or maybe not, you’ve encountered somebody at a New Year’s Eve party dressed like “Baby New Year.”
Typically, you find it’s an adult male who’s donned an over-sized diaper and wearing a sash emblazoned with the year to come. This can make for lots of good fun for those who have already had a few libations (Moscow mule anybody?!). But did you ever think about why a baby is associated with the coming of a new year?
As it turns out, the association of a baby and a new calendar year goes way, way back. It can be traced to around 600 B.C. when the Greeks chose to use a baby to symbolize rebirth.
Through the years, images of Baby New Year have been used across posters, cards, invitations, books, calendars, advertising, and the like.
But one publication chose to feature Baby New Year in a very unique way.
The Saturday Evening Post, most commonly associated with covers featuring beautiful PG-rated illustrations by Norman Rockwell, placed very beautiful and yet somewhat thought-provoking images on its first cover of the year from 1907 until 1943. These covers featured the art of J.C. Leyendecker, predecessor and mentor to Rockwell, who was considered to be one of the preeminent American illustrators of the early 20th century.
The first four covers by Leyendecker were general in theme but in 1910, this changed. From then on, each cover featured Baby New Year in a way that was reflective of the mood of the United States at the time. For example, the 1912 Saturday Evening Post cover features Baby New Year holding a sign that states “Votes for Women” as a way of depicting the nation’s interest in the women’s suffrage movement.
In 1934, Baby New Year is seen looking like a business man, wearing a bowler while closely watching a stock ticker tape - hopefully to see a positive upswing as a result from the recently approved National Recovery Act which was designed to regulate industry for fair wages and control prices in an effort to stimulate economic recovery.
Most provocative though are the four covers released in the 1940s. Though the United States was at peace when the decade began, there was concern over tensions abroad and a growing concern about the possibility of U.S involvement.
Donned in military gear and surrounded by symbols of “the enemies,” Baby New Year was portrayed in a way that was not as gentle as it once was depicted. Forthright references to the Axis powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy were included and Baby New Year was used to convey deep, dark, and fearful messages.
While the artistry Leyendecker's covers is beautiful, it's amazing that Baby New Year, a character that was once simply a sweet iconic figure with a cherubic face, symbolic of hope and rebirth, would change over the years to become a messenger of something as tough and distasteful as a world war.
Original article on ThatVintageSite.com
From 1883 when the Temple Court Building and Annex was built, a 9-story building that was the third ever skyscraper in New York City, to the 2014 completion of One World Trade Center at 104 floors, elevators have been bringing people to and from high-rise offices, restaurants, apartments, and observation decks. In fact, commercial goods have been moved up and down floors of factories, warehouses, and the like in NYC for well over a century.
Most early elevators were more simple in their engineering, operation, and maintenance than those created according to today’s standards. To remain current and to ensure safety for passengers, today’s elevators may need to be replaced or require elevator modernization.
Signs that Elevator Modernization May Be Needed
Various things can occur to indicate that it’s time to consider modernizing existing elevators. These can include:
Common Modernizations to Expect
Power units, controllers, braking and traction components, signal equipment, and door equipment are all items that may need to be addressed to modernize an existing elevator. Additionally, the cab enclosure may need to be addressed as it, plus the signaling on the inside and outside, should be ADA compliant.
Who Handles Elevator Modernization?
When upgrading and modernizing an elevator, this service should not be trusted to just anyone. Elevator Consulting companies, have the full suite of services needed to do any elevator modernization project properly. A good option for an elevator owner who needs to upgrade is to look for an elevator consulting firm that can cover everything from the machine room to the pit, including the hoistway, hoistway equipment, overhead, and the elevator cab.
Elevator consultants typically work with clients who own, or manage buildings that have elevators, lifts, moving walkways, and escalators. The consultants work with the client to provide evaluation and design of these forms of vertical transportation. When existing equipment is involved, these consultants can evaluate and provide solutions for existing systems that can help the building owner utilize the latest techniques and technologies to optimize their existing structure. Elevator Consultants remain independent of elevator mechanic companies allowing clients to have confidence that the work will be done properly and on budget.
Vertical Systems Analysis (VSA)
Vertical Systems Analysis (VSA) is a consulting and engineering firm whose services include surveying, design engineering, feasibility studies, test witnessing, traffic analysis, permit expediting. VSA completes elevator modernizations in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Miami. Their elevator modernization services begin with a comprehensive visual examination. VSA then prepares specifications, meets with the client to discuss scope of work, and finalizes a list of bidders. They then manage drawing approvals, fixture/cab selections, and oversee construction through the completion of punchlists.
VSA is known as a firm that will lead and manage an elevator modernization project in-house from initial consultation through completion. This will help ensure that any elevator modernization project they are involved with is done properly to spec every time.
Currently live on VSAConsulting.com
If you were a kid in the 60s or 70s, there’s a really good chance that your mom was leaving the house at least once a week to go to a ceramics class. Ceramics was really popular back then and there were little shops set up where women went to get away from the house and kids, get creative, and bring home something decorative for the house. Maybe there was even a little wine involved.
These shops offered up plain white porcelain molded figures to pick from and then mom would spend her evenings painting it however she wanted. Based on some of the color combos and painting tactics I’ve seen on these pieces in thrift stores, I think there’s even more fuel for the argument that wine may have been involved! Once the painting was done, the item was fired and it was on its way home to a new place of honor on the dining room table, mantle, or wherever else she felt it would look good.
We had quite the assortment of hand-painted ceramic goods in our home. There was the huge cornucopia (or horn-o-plenty, the alternative name that always seemed to put my brother into fits of giggles when it was said aloud) that was on display at our Thanksgiving table every year.
A tower of fruit and some other weird stuff in a footed urn turn up in our living room.
There was a really glossy red and black speckled owl whose head could be removed (sorry - I can't seem to find a picture quite like ours). My dad stored his pennies in that thing and would pay me one penny for every two bags of garbage I took out to the trash can. I guess child labor laws were looser then. We also had the big cabbage soup tureen with a dish like a giant leaf under it.
There were tons of these things. Even a porcelain Christmas tree that had plastic lights that actually lit up when it was plugged in. I loved that thing but at some point, my mom chucked it in the trash. She went through this crazy phase in the early 80s where she wanted nothing. She used to actually say "I want to live like Ghandi. I want to have nothing and be able to dust without lifting anything up." Strange comment but good advice, I always thought.
Retro Christmas and Ceramic Trees
About ten years ago when I started picking up retro Christmas decorations, I’d see those trees all the time in thrift stores. I resisted getting any for many years though I’m not sure why. Eventually, I ended up forking over maybe all of three dollars and got quite a nice ceramic tree. Mine was green with the colored lights and had some white paint on the tips of the boughs that was meant to represent snow. Kind of the ceramic version of a flocked Christmas tree.
Popularity in ceramic figures hasn’t been there for the most part from what I can tell. However, in case you’ve missed the posts all over the place in the past few days, these things are suddenly highly sought after now. Brand new ones are being made by several manufacturers and sold in stores and online for roughly $50 or less. But the vintage ones, the ones truly dating back to being “homemade” in that they are hand-painted and often “signed” on the bottom by somebody’s mom – WOW!
I’ve seen prices in the hundreds for just one. It’s funny how for so many years my friends have turned up their noses at my love of mid-century kitsch stuff and now the world is taking notice - driving up the prices for everybody else. For those of us who got this type of design long before it was cool, well, we’re grinning from ear to ear right about now.
If the ceramic Christmas trees see a lot of success in demand, then maybe, just maybe the cornucopia will be going for big bucks by next year’s Thanksgiving. Better run out and get one now!
Posted on ThatVintageSite.com
Believe it or not, one of the hottest locations to travel is Medellin, Colombia which has many rental apartments. Much has been done to improve all aspects of life in the area and it was voted the “most innovative city of 2012” in a competition put together by the Urban Land Institute, Citi Financial Group, and Wall Street Journal Magazine.
This amazing transformation has resulted in an increase of vacationers, an influx of foreigners coming to work at newly developed orrelocated companies (tech in particular), and retirees – all seeking a locationthat is safe, affordable, and exploding with amenities of all sorts.
Finding Your New Residence
Medellin has a wide array of housing options across several neighborhoods and it’s important to get to know each as you explore your choices.
The cheapest neighborhoods in the Medellin area are Bello, Itagüí, La América, La Candelaria and La Estrella. The five most popular neighborhoods in Medellin include Belén, Envigado, El Poblado, Laureles-Estadio, and Sabaneta.
Vacationers on a short-term visit may be best suited to try out Medellin’s hostels, hotels, AirBnB options, or even some of the short-term furnished apartments that are available in any of the neighborhoods.
For people who want or need to stay longer (typically at least a month or more), it is suggested that a rental apartment may be a better option. There are many types to choose from and the amenities can range widely. Some apartments come furnished but what they provide needs to be checked out fully before committing. Locations can make a difference as to safety, transportation options, and more. Also, potential renters need to factor in security deposits, parking space fees, cleaning fees, and the like.
In some of the higher-end neighborhoods, like El Poblado, renters have the opportunity to choose a luxury rental apartment.
Luxury Living in Medellin Apartments
Sometimes the comfort of home is what you want while you’re away. Or maybe you just want the opportunity to spoil yourself for a while. Either way, luxury apartment living in Medellin is something that you should consider.
Take this luxury apartment in Medellin for example: 701 Astorga Duplex. This high-end and fully-furnished rental apartment, located in the ultra-desirable El Poblado area, provides its residents with the following amenities, not typically included in non-luxury apartments:
Premium luxury apartments, where the cost averages between $2,000 to $4,000 per month depending on location, can sometimes be a better deal for a long-term stay when the additional (and often overlooked) costs that are found in non-luxury apartments are added in. To see more luxury apartment options in the Medellin area, check out GoToMedellin.com
Published on GoToMedellin.com
When looking to travel or live in another country, considerations for a senior's destination include the safety of an area, healthcare availability, easy access to transportation, and an abundance of entertainment.
Recently, Medellin, Colombia has been a location frequently recommended to seniors and others looking for someplace different. But, with its shaky past as a high-crime drug capital, one has to ask why.
As it turns out, the past 20 years have brought about a remarkable change for Medellin and the surrounding area. Great efforts have been made to transform the area, shed the bad reputation, and stimulate growth of all types. These changes have led to an upsurge of business development plus improvements in infrastructure, technology, healthcare, social amenities and more.
Of particular interest to foreigners is El Poblado, an upscale neighborhood located at the eastern side of the Aburra Valley and in close proximity to El Centro, Medellin’s city center. This area is best described as being more developed than others, making it more appealing to boomers while staying in the region. According to Medellin Living, “It is essentially a wealthy suburb that offers Medellin’s elite a western lifestyle with all the creature comforts money can buy.”
Safety measures have been stepped up in El Poblado. The neighborhood has an increased police presence, allowing visitors and residents added comfort and security when going about their activities, both day and night.
There are several medical clinics located right in El Poblado providing services from general medical care right on up to plastic surgery and, according to International Living and the World Health Organization (WHO), Hospital Pablo Tobón Uribe in nearby Medellin is higher ranked than comparable facilities in the United States and Canada.
Getting around Medellin and El Poblado is easy for seniors with transportation options that include access to taxis, bus service, the metro, and even Uber.
As the most well-to-do neighborhood of Medellin, El Poblado’s tree-lined streets are dotted with modern high-rise buildings offering mostly luxury apartments. High-end shopping can be found in several malls and many small boutiques. Restaurants and bars are plentiful and the nearby Zona Rosa features several nightclubs with a hip and vibrant nighttime scene.
For seniors interested in adventurous activities in and around the area there is much to consider. There are numerous parks with hiking paths, streams, and even ocean views to entice those who want to explore nature. Laguna de Guatape, provided by Tours Guatape, is a day trip takes participants up 650 steep steps up a rock to provide spectacular views of the coast and its surrounds.
Not to be missed is the chance to see an Atlético Nacional football (soccer to Americans) game – considered an electrifying experience even for those who don’t like the sport of soccer.
Other more adventurous activities in the area include horseback riding, parasailing, a cable car excursion, ziplining – the list goes on and on.
The El Poblado and the city of Medellin have each made a strong comeback and travel to the area should be high on anyone’s bucket list of places that provide a safe, comfortable travel experience with an abundance of things to do for all involved.
Original article on GoToMedellin.com
When people think about the bodily harm that results from drug abuse, they most often consider things like damage to the brain, lungs, heart or stomach. What is less known is the serious harm that drugs and substances cause to a person’s teeth and gums.
While almost any drug, legal or illegal, can affect a person’s system and cause harm to their teeth and gums the greatest damage comes from the use of common street drugs: methamphetamine (meth), heroin, marijuana and cocaine.
What Drug Use Does to the Teeth and Gums
Using of drugs frequently causes dry mouth – a serious lack of saliva production. Saliva is a key protector that wards off bacteria overpopulation. Without enough saliva, dry mouth irritates the soft tissue in the mouth and the gums. Once the gums are inflamed, they can recede from the tooth wall. This then allows bacteria to enter the gaps, resulting in infections and tooth decay. For people who abuse substances, poor oral hygiene is common due to multiple factors -an inability to afford proper oral care, a lack of concern for oral health, or a lack of nutritious foods. Stimulant drugs, such as ecstasy, meth, cocaine or heroin, cause the individual to clench or grind their teeth. This can result in jaw pain and the weakening of teeth -sometimes to the point that they end up breaking off. People who smoke in addition to using drugs are also at risk for infection and tooth decay since smoking negatively affects any part of the mouth.
Harm to Teeth Based on Specific Drugs
In addition to the general harm associated with substance abuse and poor oral health, each different street drug creates additional adverse health outcomes, resulting in rotten, discolored, broken, missing teeth and gum disease.
Methamphetamine is very acidic. Use can lead to upset stomach due to the drug’s acidity -causing reflux and vomiting. Excessive vomiting coats the teeth with acid, leading to further corrosion of the enamel and allowing more decay to set in. Additionally, meth sometimes makes people crave soda and sweets, another common element in tooth decay.
Use of heroin causes damage to the teeth that are nearly the same as those seen with meth use. Also, the drug’s pain-killing property can cause an individual to ignore symptoms of damaged teeth and gums, leading to further problems.
Smoking marijuana can cause mouth cancer. Additionally, some people develop a condition called “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.” This condition leads to nausea and vomiting that can wear away the enamel of the teeth, leading to tooth decay.
When snorted, use of cocaine damages the tissue that separates the roof of the mouth from the nasal cavity. Over time, this can cause a hole to form, making it hard for the individual to eat or speak. Also, cocaine is acidic. If it is smoked (as with crack) or if the powder is placed in the mouth, the teeth are coated with the acid and their protective enamel breaks down. For some people, rubbing cocaine on the gums produces mouth sores.
When you are looking to find jobs that allow you to work from home but don’t have the necessary equipment, don’t despair. There are plenty of companies that will provide you with the various types of equipment that you will need to get the job done. The problem though is – who does this?
A search on the internet will give you tons of results, almost too many to sort through. Lists of work-from-home jobs have been compiled and, as you pore through these, you start to see the same sources for work being listed over and over again. This could be good, in that the compiled lists will give you an idea of the types of jobs that can be done remotely. However, the downfall is that you and every other person out there that wants to work from home and needs help outfitting their home office is looking at the same lists – meaning you have tons, and tons of competition. So, what do you do?
For starters, it’s best to know what kind of work you like and are willing to do from home. Without narrowing that down, you can spend countless hours searching, reading through various sources that list a job as a work from home opportunity that really isn’t, or not even finding the actual jobs that are listed. Instead, you should first get to know the basic categories of remote work opportunities. Stay at home jobs most often fall under some of the following types of work:
Once you’ve researched these job areas and decided which interests you, it’s time to start your search. You can do this two ways – either search on the major job posting sites or do a lookup for the top companies that have the type of job you want.
Searching on the Major Job Posting Sites
If you start by using large job posting sites such as Indeed, SimplyHired, Glassdoor, or FlexJobs, you will need to structure your search to narrow down the results. Take for example, Indeed.com. Now known as the biggest source for nearly all jobs, the site can be overwhelming if you just search for “work from home.” You’ll have to pore through listing after listing until you come up with a company that offers the equipment needed for the work. However, refine that search! Try “work from home equipment provided” and you’ll see the number of results is greatly reduced. From there, hit Ctrl-F and enter “equipment” and see which listings have that word showing up. Your search just got a whole lot easier.
By doing exactly this daily, you will find newly posted work from home positions to choose from that will provide you with what you need. The best part is that while they may be jobs for the same type of work as seen on so many of the list sites, these listings are the most current as they are updated continually.
Here’s a sampling:
Telehealth/Work from Home Registered Nurse for Wellbox
According to the listing, you would be working from home providing telephonic encounters centered around chronic care management to patients. Further, the company listing says the job operates from the worker’s home and uses standard office equipment like computers and headsets. They provide all the equipment and the employee only needs to provide a high-speed internet connection.
Virtual Travel Consultant with American Express
If you are a well-seasoned traveler or somebody who was once an agent in a brick-and-mortar travel business, then this job may be right up your alley. With the only provision being that you live in an area that falls within the west region of the United States (Pacific, Mountain or Hawaii–Aleutian time zone), everything is outfitted for you. Per this job posting, consultants will be working for the American Express call center to help premium card members with all things travel related. You provide the space, and American Express will install both business class high-speed internet and a landline phone which is to be used exclusively for business purposes. This job opens up frequently in other time zones so keep an eye on their job postings if you live outside of this specific area.
Payment Solutions Associate for Alliance Data
Alliance is looking to fill positions for collections account representatives who can work from a home-based office. As a worker with Alliance, you will be handling calls, both inbound and outbound, aimed at negotiating settlements or securing payment arrangements on past due credit card accounts. To facilitate this work, Alliance Data states that they will provide all business equipment needed for the job, the exception being that the work-at-home employee needs to self-provide internet access.
Bilingual Member Service Representative with BroadPath Healthcare Solutions
If you have the ability to speak and read both Spanish and English, this fluency can land you a remote work position with BroadPath. This job also requires current working knowledge of Medicaid and/or Medicare health plans as the employee will be dealing with accounts related to these. BroadPath’s job listing states that work-from-home talent is typically hired during seasonal “surges” but getting your foot in the door often leads to a long-term position with the company. They will provide you with all equipment needed except for an internet connection. BroadPath Healthcare Solutions has several other work at home job categories (not all are bilingual) so be sure to check out their list of current positions.
AppleCare College Program Advisor for Apple
Apple has many work-from-home opportunities with this being just one of them. As an AppleCare At Home Advisor, it would be your job to work as a customer care representative using your knowledge and love of Apple technology and products to field questions from Apple customers. What’s unique about this particular position is that it is open only to students who are currently enrolled at a state-funded university (i.e.: Arizona State, Penn State, University of Alabama) that is designated as a partner in this program. So, if you are a student, love Apple products, and are looking to make some extra money to help with your educational costs, this might be a great fit. Apple only requires that you have a high-speed internet connection, as they will provide you with an iMac and a headset for the work you will be doing.
Work-From-Home Jobs Known for Providing Equipment
There are a few work-from-home jobs known for providing a computer, headset or other equipment necessary to complete the job remotely. I’ve already mentioned Apple and American Express. Here are a few more:
ABC Financial – this company offers remote customer service positions in addition to administration, account management and more. They not only provide all equipment and hardware needed to their at-home customer service reps, benefits are also available to full-time employees.
A Place for Mom – this company hires at-home Senior Advisors. These are usually full-time positions paying a base rate plus uncapped bonuses. Per the latest job listing, “SLAs are provided with a laptop fully loaded with Microsoft Office, Outlook, access to our CRM and VOIP Phone system through VPN to enable connection to the Company.” A bachelor’s degree and three years sales experience is preferred.
Buffer – this is a company that loves their remote workforce. Not only will you be supplied with a laptop to do your work, you will also enjoy perks such as unlimited time off, learning stipend, health insurance, “working smarter” stipend that can be used to create your ideal workspace, stock options, retreats and more. (Heck yeah!)
Care.com – this is a well-known company known for being “flex-friendly.” Past openings have included everything from accounting and art to editing and member care specialist. Their recent job opening for a Backup Care Specialist stated a laptop was provided. Positions may differ.
Enterprise – this company almost always has work-at-home positions available though they are usually location-specific. These are customer service and sales positions. You provide the computer, internet and USB headset. They provide a VOIP headset and key fob.
World Travel Holdings – World Travel Holdings provides you a computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, phone and headset upfront and then deducts the cost ($500 refundable deposit) from your first 5 paychecks. You do need a landline for this position. As you may have suspected, this is a travel-related gig. As an employee, you will also have access to benefits, paid time off and travel discounts.
Zapier – this company is 100% remote. Their workforce resides in over 17 countries. Like Buffer, this is another one that strives to make their employees happy. Not only are you provided with computer and software setup, but also unlimited vacation, healthcare, retirement, profit sharing and more. For those of you looking for employee positions, these are definitely two companies to try to get into if you have the experience and skills.
Original blog post on TheWorkAtHomeWife.com
So maybe like me, you don’t intend to move or you can’t afford one of those great homes you see for sale all as you scroll through one of your Facebook groups dedicated to all things mid-century. I long to be able to revamp and outfit a whole home with lots of kitschy things that I see, but unfortunately, I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. Well, there is an alternative. “What is it,” you say?
Get a dollhouse. That’s right – a doll house. In more recent years, the trend of interest in dollhouses has grown as well as a change of design – towards traditional mid-century styles.
Once dominated by Victorian designs, new dollhouses reflect the minimalistic and clean lines that define many homes of the mid 20th century. For people interested in this style who may never actually work as an architect or interior designer, crafting a home and the entirety of its contents in miniature can often fulfill a long-standing dream.
One thing to know though is that furnishing a dollhouse can be as expensive as a real home, or maybe even more so in some cases. According to an article published in SFGate, “PRD Miniatures, for example, can cost anywhere from $35 (a tiny cowhide rug) to $350 (a kitchen unit with color-changing LED backsplash).” Also noted was “a classic Barcelona chair, shrunk to 1:6 scale, is $430.”
There are tons of sites to let you gawk at and admire the creative works of others. For example, take Modern Mini Houses, a site with some truly remarkable miniature houses, all designed and outfitted precisely according to what appears to be strict mid-century guidelines by Megan Hornbecker, a self-proclaimed “minimalist” who has been chronicling her work with miniatures since 2007.
For a more kitsch and less expensive way of furnishing a mid-century dollhouse, I’m happy to say there is an alternative. Remember Barbie? Well, she had a “Dream House” and, while any version of that can in no way compare to those coveted by dollhouse enthusiasts, they can provide a suitable and fun alternative.
Ebay is the place to start looking. There are often listings for the Dream House which was basically a room or two made from cardboard with furnishings made from cardboard as well.
I particularly like this one:
Even though the furniture and everything else is made from cardboard, like the description says, this thing is “Swell!”
I even got a kick out of the perma-image on the TV set.
So, yes, this is not really as fulfilling as working on the more expensive, scaled to size dollhouses. But I did remember something as I was writing this.
When I was a kid, I had a couple of Barbie dolls and I never played with them like most girls. I was interested in their home design, not the clothes.
My parents didn’t buy us many toys so I had to make things for myself. I used to take boxes and paint the insides with house paint, then I would cut out windows and doorways, then attached the boxes to each other to make my own house.
I then crafted all of the items that I needed to outfit any particular room that I was making. I used shoe boxes for beds that I cut down to size and then re-taped. I sewed my own bedspreads and curtains. I took yarn that I had and knitted or crocheted rugs. I made appliances out of things like Band-aid tins and I remember using a small, clear tackle case as shelving in the kitchen.
Back then we used to shop at Grants and would buy these plastic sleeves that held really small trinkets – like the prizes in the round plastic cases that you got out of a gumball machine. Enclosed in those were things like tiny plastic irons, cups, plates, utensils, dogs, shoes, mock food products, and more – all placed in the house I built.
Needless to say, while I’d love to be able to do a full-scale, money-is-no-object mid-century dollhouse, as I recollect, I had tons of fun creating my version when I was a kid on a budget.
Original blog post on ThatVintageSite.com
I had the goods. Lots and lots of them. I started collecting retro Christmas decorations years before the recent trend towards mid-century decor was a trend. I'm weird like that. I get on a kick about a good ten years before everybody else. So, starting sometime back in the last decade, I started hounding thrift stores, yard sales, and EBay, looking for weird and cute vintage goods to put out at Christmas time. This is one of the first things that got my attention - a really kitschy plastic and flock fireplace of sorts with the word Noel emblazoned above Santa's head, The materials, textures, and odd-sizing of the Santa, deer, lightpost, and the rest just made me delighted for some weird reason!
Fortunately for me the prices were beyond reasonable since nobody else really had an interest in this stuff. It seemed like lots of stuff dating from the 40s through the 70s was showing up en masse. Likely a bunch of people a generation or two older than me were dying off and their kids who were cleaning out their homes just saw these items as pure crap - excuse my French.
I was able to add to my collection quickly during the first couple of years. Things like glass ornaments, figurines, toys, and even old Christmas cards were up for grabs and came home with me.
In particular though, I sought old light strands and the old bulbs that went with those. To me, nothing is more soothing than the warm, fuzzy glow those lights cast off. Especially when you crawled under the tree and looked straight up into it - one of my favorite things to do each year.
Finding those lights was tough. They weren't being reproduced yet and getting originals that still worked or weren't jammed into a light socket was a challenge. But I pursued. Sometimes I'd find just a couple scattered in with a bunch of other things. Sometimes I'd find several boxes. But most times, they were attached to strings that wouldn't light up when plugged in. Even so, I'd buy the whole thing for a buck or two on the off chance that the bulbs still worked.
One of the interesting things I noticed was that there were differences in the colors of the bulbs based on the years they were made. Older bulbs are easy to identify - they have a rounder or squared tip and the colors are more gentle in nature. These are also better coated so they produce a different kind of glow than newer ones.
In this photo you can see differences in the blue bulbs. Those that are lighter have the more rounded end as well as being lighter in color to begin with. Those are the older bulbs. Also, the yellow ones are old, so much so that original vintage Christmas bulbs of this color are really hard to come by. Even white ones are different. Again, the coating is partly to play as it creates a much warmer light than today's mini-bulbs.
In the end, I acquired plenty of working bulbs and used the original strings until brand new versions started showing up in stores. I figured these were safer.
I also set out to find things like wire brush wreaths, old tree-toppers angels, plastic flower or bells woven into garland, and handmade decorations. I really loved those since I recall making some of the same things when I was a kid and I know and appreciate the effort put into their creation.
By the year 2014 I had amassed a huge collection. Box after box of items were jammed into a section of my basement. That year I put these items on display around the house, but the best part was in the old Billy bookcases from Ikea that I had.
These were 6.5 feet tall and had glass doors running the entire height. In essence, each shelf became its own shadowbox. I strung lights through each shelf then added items from the collection. It was amazing! I had friend and neighbors come over just to check out the display.
Here are some shots of each shelf - not well photographed, but you can get the idea of how they looked well enough.
Jump ahead to the very next year - one that I had very much looked forward to with new ways to showcase my vintage Christmas collection. In October, I split with my spouse (that was actually a good thing) and in doing so, it meant I was going to need to move out of my home - one that had 20+ years of accumulated stuff, including my extensive Christmas retro goods.
Timing being as it was, I realized that I could sell it, but I had to move quickly since as they say "the season is upon us." Ideally, I wish I had time to list the items on Ebay so I could get a better price on them (values had skyrocketed on many things by then) but that wasn't realistic. So, out went the ads on Facebook and in came the replies - like buzzards on fresh roadkill.
I managed to liquidate nearly the entire collection in just three days. It was crazy, and gut wrenching to see the items I'd worked too hard to gather getting dispersed like that. But, as much as I wish I still had these things, I know somebody else is enjoying them, and that in some small way I've helped to keep the spirit of kooky old Christmas decorations alive.
I'm April Bailey, a freelance writer and editor for hire who has been writing about various topics for many years. Most of my early print work was destroyed in a major house fire. Luckily, I was able to pull some copies from an old PC and have posted them here. Other items on this blog reflect my current articles and blog posts written for online publications and copied here so I never lose my work again!