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.
For those that love mid-century kitsch, why not dig deep into your wallet and get ready to roll on over to Hillsborough, California where you can once again purchase the iconic “Flintstone” house.
Visible from Interstate 280 and overlooking Crystal Springs Reservoir, the purple and orange residence is a local landmark. Created in the 70s by the original owners and local architect William Nicholson, this house is anything but conventional.
According to Realtor.com, “The swingin’ ’70s are evident in the stylized conversation pit, with an amoeba-shaped window that looks out to Crystal Springs Reservoir. The 2,730-square-foot home, nestled into a hillside, has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a game room, and a loft space. ‘It’s very comfortable. It feels cozy but airy,’ the agent says.”
Architect Eugene Tsui designed the “biologic” kitchen with storage compartments that seem truly cellular. Other unique features of the home, aside from its “prehistoric” outer design, include a game room, a conversation pit, a garden visible from inside, and the 3rd bedroom with a loft. This is an amazing opportunity for buyers who appreciate distinctly unique architecture and design elements and like a home that makes a statement.
In the past 2 years, the price of this home has dropped and currently, all of this can be yours for $2.8 million. If that’s out of your league, don’t worry! You can stay there as part of an Airbnb stay.
Want to see more? Take a look at this video walk-thru.
Original blog post on ThatVintageSite.com
As you’re walking towards your car on a blistering summer day, something catches your eye. Yep. It’s a dog locked up in a car. Now what? You look around and don’t see anybody that seems to be aware of the situation. Should you call for help? Break into the car yourself? Leave it and hope for the best?
If you’re a dog lover, your first instinct is likely to be to get help of some kind, so you call 911 to report the situation. But, as you wait, you can see the dog is in distress and you get more anxious. The urge to do something can be overwhelming. So you start to think about finding something nearby to help you break the window.
While this is an admirable thought, you need to be aware of the ramifications of such an action. In the past several years, there has been a spike in awareness of dogs being left in cars during hot summer days. Facebook is plastered with good intentioned images and stories reminding people to not do this. What’s scary though are the comments that are left on those posts. More often than not, people say they would break into the car to rescue the dog no matter what the consequences. However, those consequences can be surprising, and sometimes pretty harmful, to the person who was acting as nothing more than a Good Samaritan.
NOTE: At the time of this update (March 2019), laws shown in the image below have not changed. Please check with your local authority for updated information.
What Happens If You Break a Car Window to Save a Dog in a Hot Car?
In the US at the present, a few more than half of the states have some form of “Hot Car” legislation in place. Some states allow only law enforcement officers (and this can include animal wardens) to take action on a vehicle to release a dog trapped inside in hot temperatures. For some of these offices, relief actions can only be executed if the internal temperature is above a certain degree, assuming the officer can get a thermometer inside to check. Other states have laws or provisions that will allow a good Samaritan to take action but, and this is important, there may still be some consequences for that person – though they may not be as serious as those faced in states where no recourse is available.
For states where there is no permission allowed by either law officers or Samaritans, the penalties vary but can include felony counts revolving theft or vandalism, and the possibility of being sued is not protected against.
Keep Informed About Hot Car Laws Before You Act
It’s important to know what is allowed in the state you are in if you encounter such a situation. While anyone who loves dogs does not want to see them suffer or die due to heatstroke brought on by being left in a hot vehicle, considering the ramifications of taking action should be part of the decision in what can be done.
Fortunately, more and more states are putting Hot Car laws into place, making it less likely that anyone will ever have to make a decision about what should be done to rescue a dog left in the heat.
If you are going anyplace during the summer with your dog, you need to consider how to help keep him cool. You may think that having air conditioning in your car is enough – but what if it fails? Aside from that, you may be taking your dog to an outdoor activity like a picnic or party and there may not be adequate shade or water sources for your dog to use to keep cool. Some dogs even have medical conditions that hamper their ability to properly cool off. This inability to cool down can become a life-threatening condition called heatstroke.
Heatstroke happens when a dog’s panting is not enough to help their body eliminate heat. Aside from panting, your dog has sweat glands in his foot pads that help with the dissipation of heat, but this amount is minimal. A highly elevated body temperature can cause any of the following signs of an onset of heatstroke:
Heatstroke can happen in as little as 10 minutes and can cause irreparable damage to the brain, kidneys, and GI tract of your dog. It can cause death if not treated immediately.
Fortunately, there a plenty of products available to help. We’re going to look at just some of them.
Cooling Beds, Mats, and Pads
Dog cooling beds and pads are a great option for keeping in your car. Some are powered by electricity while most are not. These cooling devices contain super-absorbent crystals that can hold a large amount of water. Once filled with water, the crystals in the pad act via thermodynamics to provide a sensation of cooling as the pad absorbs heat from your dog’s body and helps to dissipate it into the surrounding area. This wicking of heat away from your dog is what helps to keep your pooch cool. While these are great products for helping keep your dog cool, it is recommended that they not be used outdoors in an open environment or exposed to direct sunlight. MyPetNeedsThat.com has a great list of cooling mats that have been reviewed to help you choose one that fits your needs and The Spruce has a list of beds to consider.
Cooling Collars and Vests
Cooling collars and vests, as the names suggest, are products that go around the collar area of your dog or are worn on the entire torso. This is key as these areas of your dog’s body are important in helping to prevent overheating. Some cooling collars look like a collar while others more resemble a bandana or towel that is wrapped around your dog’s neck. Vests are made to cover the back, stomach, and neck areas of a dog.
Regardless of the style, they all work basically the same way. Most are made of an extremely absorbent cotton material that can hold up to 400 times its weight in water. The collar is made wet by soaking with water then chilled or frozen. As the water evaporates, it works to keep your dog cool.
PawGearLab has a great article that talks about the best dog cooling vests and explains a bit more about the features to look for when making your choice on which wearable cooling device is best for your dog.
Crate fans are available to mount on a dog crate and can provide additional comfort for your pet while traveling. It helps circulate airflow and can bring cool air to the crate if the air-conditioning is not strong enough to normally reach that area. These are available is several sizes and the power of the fan can vary. Some crate fans are battery operated while others will need to be plugged int your vehicle’s electrical system (usually an adapter is made available with the purchase). There are even solar powered units available. Check out TopDogTips.com for a list of their best-rated dog crate cooling fans.
In general, for traveling, the beds, mats, pads, and fans would be suitable to have on hand while the vests and collars would be the choice for outings away from a vehicle. In part, this is because these products are readily portable, and, more importantly, they provide contact to the parts of the body that veterinarians recommend are addressed if signs of heatstroke happen. According to Dr. Karen Becker of Mercola Healthy Pets, “Concentrate the cooling water on her head, neck and in the areas underneath her front and back legs.” By nature of the design of these products, those body points are where both vests and collars should be making the most impact for a dog and therefore help to prevent over-heating in the first place.
Your dear, sweet pooch has gotten lost while you're away from home. Now what? First, review our Emergency page for a checklist of things to do and resources to help you get them done. One of the items on the list is a partially prepared lost dog poster. Why "partially?" This will make sense in just a bit.
First, there are many styles of posters you can use, but the best follow a very simple rule that comes from billboard design. Big, Brief, and Bold. The idea with billboards is that somebody going past at a rapid speed needs to get the message via a big image, with brief text, and from a bold typeface that is easily readable.
So, with that in mind, which lost dog poster do you think is better?
Simple But Informative
Here's what you absolutely should include:
Any other information can be included but can really clutter up your poster. Try to keep it as simple and straight to the point as possible.
Now, back to why this is "partially" prepared. You won't be able to fill out the last seen location and date unless and until this does happen. And if it does, and you are far from home, you will not have a clear enough head to think about pulling together something helpful such as a lost dog poster. However, if this unthinkable scenario does occur, whip out the premade poster, fill in those two lines, and get the poster in the hands of the police or dog search and rescue team that you called so they can get the search underway.
Every minute that you saved by having that poster ready puts you that much closer to getting your dog back quickly.
Planning on getting away this summer? Need to get a fix of a time and place reminiscent of days from your childhood? Want to introduce your kids to a style of living and a time when things were simpler and definitely more cozy? Then maybe you should look into taking a trip back in time at a mid-century motel.
Yes, there are plenty of them still out there. In this article, originally posted on Curbed Los Angeles, author Jenna Chandler features a series of motels in California and Nevada that were featured on old postcards and goes into the details of each location.
“In the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, wholesome American families embarking on road trip vacations actually wanted to stay in motels. They weren’t just affordable and convenient—they were in fashion. They were modern and homey and optimistic, even futuristic, in their design, with dramatic angles, colorful interiors, and oversized neon signs. Sometimes, there was even a touch of fantasy.
‘For some travelers, the motel experience was the closest they might have to visiting the Hawaiian Islands… or a trip to the moon! Not everyone could afford a trip to Hawaii, but many could afford to stay at the Polynesian-themed Waikiki Motel.'”
Original blog post on ThatVintageSite.com
Nyquil is a common cold and flu relief medication that is sold over-the-counter in either liquid or pill form. It is usually used to relieve coughing but it also produces a feeling of relaxation and drowsiness. Additionally, some people who have conditions with associated pain use Nyquil to help maintain a pain-free state of sleep.
Because Nyquil is thought to produce a deep and enduring state of sleep, people often ask: can you take Nyquil just to sleep? Or: can I use Nyquil as a sleep aid? To answer these questions, a few aspects of Nyquil need to be considered.
What Makes Using Nyquil for Sleep Work?
The main component of Nyquil is Doxylamine Succinate, an antihistamine that causes drowsiness by blocking histamine from attaching to receptors in the brain. Because doxylamine succinate doesn’t discriminate between which histamine receptors they block, they cross the blood-brain barrier and inhibit receptors that are involved with the regulation of sleep (just one of the important functions of histamines). The disruption of this particular function of histamines in the brain results in drowsiness. Nyquil also includes the ingredient dextromethorphan HBr, which is included in the medication to suppress coughing. However, as it metabolizes in the body, it becomes dextrorphan (DXO) and levorphanol. Levorphanol is a painkiller, reported to be five times more powerful than morphine. Listed as a dissociative drug by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, DXO is an NMDA receptor antagonist psychoactive that acts primarily as an antitussive (cough suppressant) but has dissociative hallucinogenic properties –like those found when using ketamine, DXM (dextromethorphan) and PCP (phencyclidine).
Taking Nyquil to Sleep
Even though Nyquil contains components that are specifically designed to induce sleep, relying on the medication for sleep is not advised. Use of Nyquil, as with any drug that is said to assist with either falling asleep or maintaining sleep throughout the night, may lead to several problems.
Nyquil Effects on Sleep
Using Nyquil as a sleep aid is known to make people drowsy and fall asleep. The duration of sleep can vary depending on the person. For some, taking Nyquil is good for sleeping between four to six hours while for others sleep lasts between seven to eight hours. For most people, sleep is calm and continuous; however, some people have reported experiencing disrupted sleep, often involving lucid and weird dreams, increased anxiety, breathing stoppage and trouble falling back to sleep. This can lead people to consume more of the drug in a shorter time period in order to get back to sleep.
Addicted to Nyquil for Sleep
According to Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, “When used as directed, Nyquil does not present substantial risks, even with repeated use. It is better to stop using it for sleep-inducing purposes.” So, while using Nyquil as directed is thought to be safe, taking it in ways that are not recommended can be dangerous. As one becomes more accustomed to the positive effects brought on by drinking Nyquil, they may become psychologically addicted to using Nyquil. For these people, the thought of attempting to go to sleep without using Nyquil brings on anxiety. This anxiety then motivates them to use the product. However, people who have become addicted to Nyquil sometimes notice that, over time, the typical amount that they consume does not produce the same effect. Instead, it may take longer to fall asleep or they may not be sleeping as long. Taking larger doses or more frequent doses usually indicates that the body has developed a tolerance to the drug, and is likely to have formed a dependence and addiction. As with any drug, this situation should be treated as a serious condition. Withdrawal symptoms can occur, and the individual should seek assistance from medical and/or mental health providers in order to overcome the addiction.
Original blog post: TheRecoveryVillage.com
Whether you are watching television, browsing the internet, or reading a magazine, images of very thin people are very common. The result is a consistent messaging that the ideal body, particularly for women, is a very thin one that is often, in fact, unhealthy. Additionally, there are thousands of diet plans, workout videos, gym memberships and exercise equipment seem to be everywhere.
There has been a surge of sites over the past 10 years that are geared towards promoting a very thin body. They are called “thinspo” sites.
These sites have been created to support a movement that is known by a few names: “thinspiration” (or “thinspo” for short), pro-ana (pro-anorexia), and pro-mia (pro-bulimia). This movement supports and encourages people to get ultra-thin, in most cases below what would be considered as a healthy weight. While the assumption might be that these sites are only for women, this is not the case. The desire for a super thin body has crept its way into the male population as well and there are many “thinspo” sites directed specifically at men. In 2010, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study involving 180 active pro-eating disorder websites, of which 98 percent were administered by women. Two years later, an article in GQ that was reporting on the rise in anorexia among men noted that ten years ago clinicians estimated that men made up around 5 percent of the anorexic population, while today it’s between 20 and 30 percent. Regardless of gender, the target audience of these pro-anorexia sites tends to be young adults.
Pro-anorexia websites feature photos of ultra-thin individuals and have captions with accompanying stories that, according to medical professionals, encourage and support the eating disorder. In addition, the use of social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.) and personal blogs have been cited as primary sources that assist teens in their goals of extreme weight loss and further complicate their eating disorders. As a means of offering support to each other, selfies are posted that show vast weight reduction, visible and protruding bone structure (collarbone, spine, ribs, leg bones, jaw bones), and tips on hiding purging methods, hunger suppression tactics, and even ways to prevent vomit from eroding teeth.
The Issue with Pro-Anorexia Sites
Treatment professionals are concerned that the population of young adults who partake in thinspiration feels that this is a lifestyle choice. In this way, anorexia or bulimia is their chosen method to attain the body they want – thereby giving them the lifestyle they choose. With names like “MyProAna,” “ProAna Tips and Tricks,” and “Male Thinspo – A Guide to Perfection,” these sites are a draw for individuals who suffer from eating disorders. Strangely, the site owners typically have some sort of disclaimer/warning statement on the front page that supports the idea that this way of living is a choice. One site called, for example, states the following message: “This site does not encourage that you develop an eating disorder. This is a site for those who ALREADY have an eating disorder and do not wish to go into recovery. If you do not already have an eating disorder, better it is that you do not develop one now. You may wish to leave.” Another similar statement is: “Heavy dietary changes and exercise can be a deadly hazard to your life. Nothing is more precious than your life. Please make sustainable changes only. It won’t happen in a day. It will take its time. Consistency and perseverance will get you there.” Professionals are concerned that pro-anorexia sites provide people struggling with an eating disorder with the methods to achieve their goals and perpetuate this body image ideal through an enabling “support” system that is hidden away from family and friends.
Original blog post: TheRecoveryVillage.com
There’s a whole lot of truth in the adage “the eyes don’t lie.” So much so that, in law enforcement and medical communities that deal with substance misuse, the dilation level of an individual’s eyes is considered a key marker indicating that there has been consumption of an illicit drug and can often lend assistance in identification of the drug used.
Dilation of the pupil (mydriasis), or opening of the iris, is caused by the activation of two muscle groups in the eye: the iris sphincter and the iris dilator. The body’s parasympathetic nervous system (providing control of a person’s autonomic bodily processes when at rest) is what triggers the sphincter response. The sympathetic nervous system, which controls the body’s fight-or-flight response, triggers action of the dilator.
Certain drugs, most commonly psychotropic stimulants, have a large effect on both systems causing the pupils to respond by dilating. Drugs can affect the parasympathetic or sympathetic nervous systems individually or in combination and depends on the type of drug taken. This occurs when elements of the drugs affect neurotransmitters in the brain that work in part to control mydriasis – thus allowing the pupils of the user to dilate to differing degrees.
Drugs that Cause Dilated Pupils
There are many drugs that can work on the brain’s neurotransmitters and affect the dilation of pupils. These include SSRI antidepressants, amphetamines, MDMA, psilocybin, LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, and mescaline. In the case of these drugs, serotonin (a brain chemical affecting mood) agonizes the 5-HT2A receptors in the brain and kicks off the dilation. Adrenergic receptors, another neurotransmitter, is affected by other drugs (such as marijuana) when dopamine is released, again affecting the eyes so the pupils become dilated.
Simply put, drugs take affect on the muscles in the eye that control the amount of light being allowed in. Since many drugs affect perception in the brain, the reaction to light can be altered, allowing the pupils to react in atypical fashion as to what is expected. Because this alone is an imperfect way to check against sobriety, officials have also learned to take other factors into play, such as heavy sweating, dry mouth, excessive activity, and the like.
Dilated Pupils on Drugs – Seeing the Difference
In the event there is suspicion of substance misuse, there is a tool to help at least part of the determination. An official chart showing pupils on drugs is the “Drug Recognition Card,” used mostly by law enforcement and emergency medical teams. This card is based on standards set by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and provides a means to readily assess likely substance use categories (depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, phencyclidine, narcotics, inhalants, cannabis) based on pupil diameter.
The chart lists the drug categories in columns, and the physical conditions noticed (horizontal/vertical gaze, convergence, state of pupil dilation, light reaction rate, etc.) so a likely match can be obtained. It also features a scale of pupil dilation that, when held up to the user, provides a physical, visual gauge for referencing how much or little dilation there is. Other charts showing the effects of drugs on pupil dilation do exist though, while helpful, they are not always as reliable as the one provided by the IACP which can be readily purchased online for home use.
Written for Advanced Recovery Systems
One of the older classes of drugs, barbiturates are used for the treatment of insomnia, headaches, muscle cramping, and seizures as well as being a pre-operative sedative. Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants that affect the ability of the body’s nerves to communicate with one another. Some examples of barbiturates include Seconal, Donnatal, Nembutal, Fortabs, Fiorinal with Codeine, Ascomp, Butisol Sodium, Amytal Sodium, Belladonna, Esgic, and Fioricet. These drugs are available as injections, tablets, capsules, or oral liquids, depending on which is being used.
When used properly under a health care provider’s supervision, these barbiturates are considered to be highly effective for managing symptoms of anxiety and sleeplessness. However, as with any drug, there can be abuse - and this group is known for its addiction potential.
People who use barbiturates recreationally are typically looking for something that will help sedate them and possibly to even lower inhibitions. They describe having a feeling of tranquility and better overall well-being. These drugs initially induce a state-of-being similar to being drunk, but the condition can progress to one of total relaxation - sometimes to the point of losing one’s life. Individuals who abuse prescription opiates have been shown to seek out barbiturates if they are out of opiates or to give a dose of heroin more kick.
Effects of Barbiturates
Barbiturates’ effects are broad, as they act on the body both mentally and physically. This combination occurs because these drugs work on the central nervous system, slowing down both cognitive and motor processes. Effects of barbiturates use can include any of the following individually, but most often in conjunction with each other, as the central nervous system is the source of control for all functions of the human body.
At issue are the barbiturates’ side effects. Since barbiturates produce a sense of calm and drowsiness, someone experiencing any of the listed side effects post-use may have a lack of concern about them. They may not act on those concerns or seek assistance from somebody who can help. Additionally, the sedated user can sometimes become confused about how much of the drug they have consumed, or when the last time of use was. This can lead to an unintentional overdose with the possibility of lethal consequences. A final issue for those who misuse barbiturates is that, because the drugs affect the body’s normal ability to breathe, they are then at greater risk of developing pneumonia or bronchitis.
For some who have experienced long-term use of barbiturates, their tolerance to the drug is increased as the effectiveness seems to be reduced, leading them to self-increase their dosage. This often leads to “doctor shopping” where they seek out prescriptions from multiple health care providers to gain access to more quantities (or higher doses) of the drug.
Coming Off Barbiturates
Users usually notice the first signs of withdrawal within 24 hours of the last dose. Barbiturate withdrawal symptoms can include insomnia, anxiety, delirium, or tremors. Heavy users have even been known to have seizures when attempting to stop using barbiturates.
For a person who wishes to stop barbiturate misuse, medical supervision or detox in a managed detox facility is recommended, as this is not an easy thing to accomplish alone.
For those working to withdraw from alcohol misuse, the effects of withdrawing can be overpowering and unpleasant, often leading them to quit the process. In some cases, medications can be prescribed to help with those symptoms, however these drugs can be very strong on one’s body, can have side-effects of their own to be concerned with, and can sometimes lead to addiction themselves.
To help health care professionals objectify the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms when considering if medications are needed to ease or alleviate symptoms, a standardized tool called the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol (CIWA-Ar) was created. Over time, this alcohol withdrawal scale has also been used for assessing patients in various situations other than those being considered for prescription drug administration to alleviate symptoms. These include assessment of those in general outpatient, emergency, surgical, or psychiatric care. Because patients sometimes under-report alcohol consumption, misuse can be overlooked by physicians. Potentially life-threatening consequences, such as delirium tremens or seizures, can be missed if alcohol withdrawal symptoms go unrecognized.
The CIWA-Ar Alcohol Withdrawal Scale
The CIWA-Ar scale consists of ten checkpoints (or conditions) for an attending health care provider to review towards an assessment of alcohol withdrawal. Each is evaluated separately, then an aggregated score is obtained to indicate the severity of alcohol withdrawal. It should be noted that any sign indicating a pattern, or the side-effects, of excessive alcohol consumption should raise a concern for the possibility of alcohol withdrawal being present.
The ten checkpoints of the scale are as follows. Some checkpoints give the provider instructions on what to say to the patient or what the patient should be asked to do. Once each is done, there are seven qualifiers for the health care provider to use for the assessment - some based on observation of the patient, while others are based on answers to questions they ask of the patient.
Upon completion of the assessment, the points are tallied, and the level of alcohol withdrawal is calculated. A score of less than or equal to eight shows that withdrawal is absent or minimal; nine through nineteen indicates mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal; twenty and above is considered severe alcohol withdrawal.
Once the severity has been calculated, the health care provider can further reference a part of the tool that provides information on drugs that can be used to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms when needed.
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While it is commonly known that alcohol and drugs don’t mix, this is especially true for the class of psychoactive drugs. Psychoactive drugs are chemical substances that alter behavior, thought processes, and overall mood. These drugs carry the greatest risks when they are mixed with alcohol.
To best understand how the combination of alcohol and psychoactive drugs can alter a person’s mood, it is necessary to know more about the drugs and the effects that they have on the brain.
Interestingly, alcohol is classified as a depressive psychoactive drug itself, so combining it with any other psychoactive or depressant drugs can exacerbate the effects of both substances.
Psychoactive drugs fall into the following sub-categories: depressants, stimulants, opiates and opioids, and psychedelics.
Depressants depress activity in the central nervous system, leading to sedation and decreased physiological activity throughout the body. Alcohol, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines are drugs in this category. All of these can be legal substances, with alcohol being non-therapeutic while the others are considered to be therapeutic.
Stimulants work by stimulating the central nervous system, leading to an increase in physiological processes and motor function. Drugs in this category include drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine, caffeine, ecstasy, and nicotine. Cocaine, amphetamine, and ecstasy are all illegal, therapeutic drugs, while caffeine and nicotine are both legal, non-therapeutic drugs.
Opiates and Opioids
Opiates and opioids are pain-relieving drugs that act on opioid receptors in the central and peripheral nervous system, as well as the gastrointestinal tract, to produce effects like those of morphine. This group includes drugs such as heroin, Fentanyl, Vicodin, and Hydrocodone. All but heroin are legal when prescribed and each is considered to be a therapeutic drug.
Psychedelics are known for acting on the central nervous system to alter mood and perception. This category of drugs includes marijuana (THC), LSD, psilocybin (mushrooms), and phencyclidine (PCP). Each is considered to be illegal except for marijuana, which is legal as a medicinal and recreational drug in some states.
All of these substances can also be considered to be psychoactive drugs as they act on various parts of the brain to produce these effects. Psychoactive drugs typically activate dopamine receptors in the “reward pathway” of the brain.
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Long before becoming an Emmy award-winning actor on Breaking Bad, Brian Cranston provided the voices of two villainous monsters for the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series which ran during the 1990s. He was the voice of Snizzard, a reptilian monster with arms and legs made from snakes and also Twin Man, a character who has reflective powers plus can disguise himself and four others as the Power Rangers for the purpose of doing evil while posing as them.
Cranston was tapped by long-term friend Haim Saban, producer of the recently released Power Rangers movie to change course and this time play a hero. In this reboot of the Power Rangers movie franchise, Cranston will actually play Zordon, the Power Rangers’ mentor best known as the Red Ranger as a live-action character.
In the new movie, storylines and past relationships of Zordon have changed a bit but are well-explained. In a much darker setting than some of the other Power Ranger movies, Cranston’s Red Ranger stands out as a light for the other rangers as tragedy and difficulties befall them. The Power Rangers have had other mentors but none have matched the wisdom and guidance of Zordon, their original mentor and the character who, after all, was the one who started the Rangers.
Did You Catch the Latest Movie? What Did You Think About Brian Cranston as the Red Ranger?
Tell Us Your Thoughts
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Original blog post for HappyDaysCollectibles.com
Snapshot: The Real Poop: It’s very doubtful that anyone dreams about becoming a professional waiter (unless you’re Christina Ricci in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star) or that anyone’s mom goes around bragging about her son or daughter being a long-term server. Truth is, this job is typically seen as a copout profession – one that flunkies who couldn’t hack going to school or succeeding at a “real” job get stuck with. Too bad. In reality though this career path is typically a temporary one for people IN school, IN the process of working at the beginning stages of another career, IN the process of earning more money to support their family (and many other situations that people are not aware of), it deserves to be painted in a different light.
The job requires people to be masters of multi-tasking (think managing several orders across several tables at once), knowledgeable of different types of food and beverages (not just burgers and Coke), able to accurately handle numbers and money (the cash registers do not do all the math all of the time), patient and diplomatic (screaming children or adults who act like children comes to mind), and reliable (miss your shift more than once and you may be off the schedule the next time you look).
Many of the people who work as waiters are highly talented, educated, charismatic, and otherwise successful individuals. Circumstances may have brought them to this profession and, if not for the degrading reputation that is put there by society, they might just keep at it because it’s hard but typically satisfying work. Additionally, the money can be really good, jobs are plentiful, free food is usually available, what to wear every day is a no brainer, scheduling can be flexible, and socializing while working is actually advantageous to the job.
The hardest part of the job is dealing with snide guests who expect everything and are stingy with tips. Also difficult is getting to know the menu, learning the way that the kitchen runs and getting your timing down, juggling orders during rushes, working on holidays, and being on your feet for hours at a time.
The unknown/unexpected part of the job is the side work. Filling salt and pepper shakers, rolling silverware, prepping the tables before opening – these and quite a number of other tasks are frequently part of the job and not known to the uninitiated (one more set of things that you often feel like you’re not getting paid to do).
The easiest part of the job? Taking the cash! When you’ve had a good table and they leave a really generous tip – nothing feels better than that.
The Typical Day: “It’s a five twelve o’clock world when the whistle blows” for Tommy Tablehop, a career waiter, with a day that starts off feeling like he never even went to sleep. He worked last night closing the restaurant and didn’t get home until 2AM. He was so wound up that he ended up watching a couple of movies before he finally fell asleep around six o’clock in the morning.
The Money: It’s unlikely that you’ll ever get rich working as a waiter, even at a chichi restaurant located in the likes of Beverly Hills. But, if you work harder than you can even imagine, kiss tons of butt between both the people you work with and the guests that you serve, you can make a good living - though your paycheck won’t show it. Remember, “officially” you’ll be getting paid much less than minimum wage.
Many times, if you’re lucky enough to work for a restaurant that is part of a company that offers benefits, your entire paycheck ends up being gobbled up in paying your portion for those benefits. So, that leaves you with what you earn in tips.
Tips can be good some days and entirely suck ass on others. It’s up to you to learn to manage your spending and bank the money instead of letting the wad of cash you bring home each night burn a hole in your pocket.
Good days can be mean a sizeable bankroll – upwards of $200 (translated annually, this would be equivalent to somebody working in an office for 40 hours a week earning 52K+). Not bad, when you can get creative at tax time and maybe claim only half. Not advocating - just sayin’.
Don’t forget, that there are parties or banquets that you may be able to work as well. Often, there are additional bonuses provided for working these. These can bring you more money since you can usually work these on days that you aren’t normally scheduled to work in the restaurant.
Bad news - there are lean days as well. Lots of things contribute to this – weather, holidays, a poor economy, bad kharma, whatever. These are the days that you wished you’d just stayed in bed and nursed the hangover you’ve got from last night’s bender. At work, you’re busting your butt and nobody wants to part with more than a couple of bucks over the entire table’s total tab. Plus, you’ve got to tip out the bar staff. Ugh. This is when you think to yourself that you wish you had saved up at least half of what you made last week, especially since the rent’s due and your car needs new brakes.
The Power: As a waiter, you do have power to some extent. You can burn the other wait staff by holding up the placement of your orders thus bogging down the kitchen. This causes the cooks to rush orders and frequently make mistakes. If the restaurant is really busy, your manager just ticked you off, and you don’t feel like working really hard, you can slow down the pace at which your guests wrap up their meals. This means less turnover for you, less money coming in for the restaurant, but you at least don’t feel fried at the end of your shift. You can give the kitchen staff problems by constantly recommending the most difficult dishes on the menu. Just a couple of these ordered can result in a kitchen slowing down enough to affect the pace of other orders going out. And then, there’s always the power over the guest. If he’s nice to you, you respond in kind. If he’s a jackass, watch out! As anybody is likely aware, there are tons of ways to exert your power over an obnoxious guest.
The Fame: You won’t find that you will become famous for doing your job as a waiter, but you may find that you become popular. Quite often, with good establishments that have guests that come very frequently, you may find that you are being requested. Guests that you have served, and served well, will specifically ask to be seated in your section. Good for you, since with this comes better tips and sometimes even recommendations to friends to try to get seated in your section.
The Glory: Most of the glory that comes from this type of job really comes in the form of money. Waiter, waitress, server or whatever term you are using – it usually is equated to incompetence in the mind of the masses, especially those that frequent the type of A-list establishment you’ve chosen to work for. But, you know you’re not dumb. Look at all the money you make – plenty of cash that you can “hide” from the tax man. So, when a guest wearing some really expensive top designer outfit is giving you a hard time, you don’t care. Yeah, he’s making a lot, but forking over most of it every year when tax season rolls around. You – not. Your’s is stashed away safely where only you know how to get it. Who’s the dumb ass now?!
The Stress: There’s lots of stress to this job. Between fussy guests, tempermental chefs, lackluster benefits, and a rushed work environment, you can expect to feel that you’re on the go and giving it your all almost every day. Long hours working at times when everyone else you know is home enjoying themselves (like all those family gatherings for the important holidays) lends to more stress as you’re constantly trying to explain that you have to work.
The Physical Danger: The most evident physical danger comes from walking around all day. It puts a lot of wear and tear on your body. You’ll also be walking around wet and greasy areas, so slip and falls are quite common. Arm and shoulder strains are also common from carrying heavy loads of food and dishes. Occasionally you may get burned, either from hot plates or by bumping up against a hot appliance in the kitchen of the restaurant. And finger cracking is quite common. From all of the hand washing that is required, the ends of your fingers can become quite cracked.
The Qualifications: To work as a server you need to have people skills more than any other. The ability to bite your tongue when a guest is obnoxious to you is high on the list, as is the ability to maintain your own self esteem when customers and your boss treat you like you’re an imbecile. Staying fit helps, since you spend your entire day on your feet. Your employer will expect you to be able to handle money properly, treat guests with respect and attention to detail, and be reliable. They have difficulty getting people to come in on short notice, so if your life is complicated, don’t expect that you can just call in sick.
The Odds of Getting In: The odds of getting a job as a waiter are a no-brainer. Millions of restaurants worldwide = millions of job openings. However, the chance of landing a job at a primo establishment are much less likely. Restaurants that cater to top-notch clientele often look for seasoned staff, so you may have to put in many years at a lesser quality restaurant before you’ll even be considered. It’s all about paying your dues.
The Odds of Hanging On: If you can put up with the physical demands, the uncertainty of how much you’re going to make on a weekly basis, the constant change-up in management, and the constant degradation from your customers, you can work in this field for a long time.
The Career as Depicted in Popular (or Unpopular) Culture:
Read: A Perfect Waiter, Keep the Change, Mad Man Knitting or The Waiter and the Fly
See: Waiting, The Jerk (Steve Martin dealing with a snooty waiter) and The Muppet Movie (Martin AS the snooty waiter), The Cowboy Way
The Tools of the Trade:
<<Good listening skills and memory>>
<<The ability to smile at and be patient with excessively rude people>>
<<Uniform, non-slip shoes>>
<<Pens – lots and lots of them >>
The Bell Curve of Success:
Published on Shmoop.com
Snapshot: The Real Poop: Have you ever played that game “Telephone” where the first person whispers a sentence to the next, and that person whispers it to the next person and so on? The point of the game is to see just how far off from the original the sentence becomes by the time the last person recites it. No matter how many people are in the chain, it’s always different by the time it reaches the last one. And usually it’s gotten a bit raunchier as well.
In the real world there are people who make a living trying to make sure that people get the story straight. These are professional “Telephone” players, just as real estate developers are professional “Monopoly” players and actors are professional “Don’t Tip the Waiter” players. They work in a field called “Public Relations.”
You’ll often be told that, to get into Public Relations, you need to write and speak well. That’s true. But there’s more to the story. To get in and stay in you had better be a really quick-thinker, willing to regularly have the demeanor of a bulldog gripping a big soup bone, and at the same time be the biggest suck-up the world has seen. You need to be like a Transformer, able to instantaneously morph yourself and change how you handle situations to best meet the needs of your client (Sybil and her multiple personalities have nothing on you).
Public Relations (or PR as it is commonly called) involves controlling information about something - usually a company or a prominent person (like an entertainer or politician). There are different areas of PR, some more exciting than others. The most common type of PR jobs fall under the oversized umbrella of a marketing department at a company. While companies use some of their marketing staff to create expensive collateral materials (think printed pieces, TV commercials, radio spots, etc.), the public relations group gets to do the fun stuff. More fun than making TV commercials, you ask? Yes siree. The E-Trade baby wishes he was in PR.
The entire focus of the PR specialist’s work is to build relationships with the people who buy the products, use the services, or have other affiliations with the company they represent. Depending on the type of “client” being represented (and yes, the company that you work for can be considered your client) there are plenty of ways to get the word out.
Writing press releases, planning book signings, booking your company big shots as guest lecturers, creating interview opportunities for personnel with particular expertise in something, email blasts, newsletter production, blogging, tweeting, attending speaking engagements held by closely affiliated business groups, scheduling personal appearances by the client, planning and orchestrating photo ops, brainstorming and executing publicity stunts (like when Taco Bell bought the Liberty Bell or when Burger King took the Whopper off the menu for a day), press kit development, providing support for new product launches, planning (and attending) red carpet events, booking concert promotions, and trade show participation are just some examples. They are quite a few examples, actually, but even still it only scratches the surface. A big part of the job is about doing the leg work that helps get the “faces” of the company (chief execs, creatives, your boss, etc.) out into the public eye. And you can’t just slap their literal faces onto a giant billboard and be done with that. It takes a bit more finesse than that.
The less common role of a PR person is the one you see on TV or in the movies. (As if anything on TV or in the movies does not perfectly reflect the way the real world works… please!) If you’ve ever seen the new version of Melrose Place, think about Ella, the character played by Katie Cassidy. Her job was one that most people who enter this field dream about doing. She worked for a big PR firm that got to represent all sorts of high-falutin clients. Her work took her to great places for exotic photo shoots, she got to meet the hottest talent in music and television, and she got to go to some of the swankiest parties around (on the level of P. Diddy’s New Year’s party), all while wearing the hottest clothing, usually provided by a designer her firm represented, eating at the finest restaurants while entertaining clients (with the meals paid for by her vast expense account), and much more.
Yes – these top-notch positions are out there, but they are few and far between, and it usually takes years and years of hard work in the PR trenches before you’re ready to take on this type of role (unlike Ella who seemed to have landed this job right out of the college gate. Hm… it’s as if the writers of Melrose Place wanted us to suspend our disbelief…).
For the more normal PR specialists (or the abnormal ones with the more normal jobs, anyway) there are times when the gig can approach this glorified position. This happens when the company wants to drum up a lot of publicity about something – typically a new product or service. To accomplish this, lots of planning takes place as to what types of PR should be done (like in our uber-long list above) to best get the word out. Once the game plan is made, it’s all hands on deck! Your contact list and calendar become your best friends. (Not your “best friend 4EVA” though. That’s Janet and always will be.) There’s a wide variety of projects to get done and typically there’s never enough time to get it all worked out. You need to be beyond excellent at what you do to keep everything moving and on schedule. And don’t think that it will all go smoothly. It never does. Problems crop up almost daily – the printer lost your files, the suite at a hotel your boss told you to book for a press conference is not available, the limo that’s supposed to drive your big shots to their speaking engagement broke down, there’s no electricity in your client’s room at the hotel suite – these are just some examples of the issues (hold curse words in) that can and do occur.
If you’re good at holding your temper and finding a way to get people to help you out of tough situations, then you’ll be okay. Part of working through this is what’s known by PR pros as “spin.” Many people think spin is basically creative lying, when in reality it’s more like diverting the negative attention that is being received and turning the situation to your advantage. It’s a “why-focus-on-that-hungry-escaped-tiger-heading-toward-us-when-it’s-such-a-beatiful-day!” way of looking at things. Here’s an example of spinning using a company that makes heart medication:
News breaks about a heart medication that is causing people to lose their hair by the handful. (Better than a hair growth product that is making people lose their hearts by the handful.) Rather than run and hide - or worse, deny that this is occurring - the PR execs at the company issue press releases in various forms (blog posts, tweets, print, TV spots, etc.) stating that they will quickly launch an investigation into the claims. It further states that production of the product will stop until the investigation is finished and all product on the shelves will immediately be pulled. Taking such action is costly for the company, but not as costly as if somebody’s entire scalp falls off and they end up suing for some ungodly sum.
As time goes on, the company keeps the public up-to-date as newsworthy developments occur in the investigation. This shows that they care about the victims and are trying to resolve an issue for them. Quite often, these releases are timed to coincide with other good news about the company, to soften the emotion that is wrapped up in the more scandalous issue. “We’re working on getting your hair to grow back, but in the meantime, we’re offering a 2-for-1 deal on Ibuprofin!” That’s spin, baby.
The company’s efforts to fix the problem continue until some resolution has been made and a final announcement can be delivered to the public. However, in the background (and this is the “sneaky” part that PR people excel at), the company actively searches out ways to align themselves with groups or organizations that have something to do with heart disease. They decide to sponsor at least three of them: The American Heart Association, WomenHeart, and some heart camps sponsored by the cardiology departments of two major children’s hospitals in prominent cities (because whose heart doesn’t bleed – figuratively, of course - when a sick child is thrust in front of their face).
The company chooses to become the “official sponsor” supporting events that these organizations hold, which does a couple of things. It keeps their name in the public eye in a positive way and, more importantly, it diverts attention away from the negative issue that it is tackling behind the scenes. The value of the newfound public goodwill that is generated typically outweighs the dollars that the company expends on this sponsorship. So even charitable acts do not always come from a wholly unselfish place. But hey, is there really anything so bad about a situation where everyone wins?
This is essentially why public relations pros have jobs. Rather than let word of mouth dictate the outcome of an event, PR people take charge and tell you what they want you to know and believe about a particular situation or client. And, when that’s not enough, they divert your attention to what they want you to see and believe. Even if it means resorting to helping those in need.
The Typical Day: “Get ready to rumble!” That should be the alarm clock’s waking call for most any PR professional. No day is the same, but every day will be a challenge, to the point where you might think that doing a couple rounds of ultimate cage fighting might be a bit more relaxing.
For Ellery Spinmeister, a mid-level PR exec, the day starts early – around 7 am with a hot coffee in one hand (she must rev those engines), her iPhone in the other, and glassy eyes staring at a long, long list of emails that streamed in after she left the office around 9 pm last night. Her company has a product launch to contend with – one that has previously been sold in Germany but is new to the U.S. market. For the launch, she needs to coordinate a wide range of things. A press conference needs to be arranged, catering for the conference needs to be planned, product literature has to be printed and, from this, press kits need to be constructed and shipped, trade show plans need to be worked out, attendee lists need to be confirmed and paid for, hotel accommodations need to be arranged, travel itinerary needs to be booked, union contracts for workers handling the booth setup at the convention center need to be settled, and graphics for the booth and the press conference need to be designed and produced. (Oh, is that all?) It’s Tuesday morning, the trade show kicks off next Wednesday, she’s already put in a good two months of hard work and tons of overtime, and now her deadlines are bearing down hard. She’s really wishing PR stood for “Peaceful Relaxation” right about now.
Here comes the onslaught of problems.
(1) The marketing group in Germany has sent over files (layout, images, and logos) for all of the printed pieces, but they can’t be used. German printing paper sizes are different than U.S., so she checks her contact list to find a couple of reliable freelancers that she can use to make these changes – and do them quickly. She needs to get the final files to the printer by Thursday if these are going to be printed and shipped to the event on time. Ugh – the Germans always have to be so difficult about everything. If it’s not starting a world war, it’s having different paper sizes. Always something.
(2) There’s a message from Ellery’s boss that there are more sales reps planning to attend the event. She has to get back into her files and find out how to enroll late attendees, figure out how much it’s going to cost, and requisition payment for each new person. Then she has to fill out the paperwork for each attendee (they can’t be trusted to get this right), submit it, and pray that their badges will show up before they leave – otherwise she’ll have to find a way to get the badges to them at their hotel (midnight runs to the 24-hour FedEx office are not unheard of).
(3) The video presentation that is slated to run at the press conference is running long. She needs to drop everything, get downtown to the studio (about a 40-minute ride) and figure out what to cut. Since her boss, who really should be the one to decide, is out of town and unreachable, she takes the situation by the horns, cuts what she thinks she should, and hopes that once her boss finds out, she’s not the next thing that gets cut.
(4) On her way back to the office, her assistant texts her to let her know that the caterer for the event won’t be able to provide all of the appetizers that she had originally selected. She tells the assistant to dig through her files, find the one for catering, and read off the ones that she had marked as suitable alternatives. She then calls the caterer to order these and is told that there will be an up charge for substitution. She argues that these are not substitutes since they couldn’t provide the original selections. After many rounds of this argument, it is agreed that the up charge will be only half as much as originally stated. Fine, now she has to do another requisition to pay for the difference.
(5) She gets back to the office where she runs to a meeting that she’s at least 15 minutes late for. This one is with the group that is doing the planning for the release notices for the product launch. Being considered are major industry publications and their websites. Ellery has asked for the copy for these releases and turns it over to the others in the meeting. The group (who already contributed most of what ended up in these press statements) doesn’t like what they’re reading and collectively demands a rewrite (her temper is rising and yet she finds a way to keep from giving everyone present a violent tongue-lashing – one of those that her children are in constant fear of receiving). The final copy is due out by the end of tomorrow by 3 pm, so another meeting is planned for 2 pm tomorrow (“Are they crazy?” she thinks). She goes back to her desk and starts writing. After getting about half of it done, the phone rings. She has a feeling this is not someone calling to tell her she has just come into a lot of inheritance money. Doesn’t seem to be the way her day is going.
(6) On the phone is a product manager for an entirely different product group who wants to know the status of the project he’s expecting from her. She tells him that it’s under way but won’t be ready when he wants because of the product launch. He gets irate; she apologizes and tells him to take it up with her boss then hangs up. She doesn’t hang up on him, per se; she just ends the call as soon as she possibly can without being blatantly rude about it. She prefers the subtly rude approach.
(7) Ellery gets back to writing the release. It’s now 6:30pm. She needs coffee – badly. Funny – this is how her day started…
The Money: For all the work you end up doing and for all of the stress that you have to endure, the average salary can seem a bit low for most PR pros. Salaries range from about 35K at the low end (and by no means is this the usual starting point for somebody just out of college – think about chopping about 5-8K off of this) to an average of around 55K for seasoned PR experts. Unless you work for seriously high-end clients, you won’t actually be making the kind of super money that you see PR pros make on TV. Let alone the actors who portray them. But… you can enjoy at least part of their lifestyle just by being around all of the fancy-shmancy social events they get to attend.
For those of you lucky enough to not get settled in a Marcomm department of some huge corporation, there’s more opportunity for upward mobility and - kaching! -more money. Agencies often have better pay, letting top earners move beyond the 100K mark. Typically, this type of salary is reserved for senior execs who have worked in the trenches, maintained ruthless OT schedules (sleep, shower – uh, what’s that?), bring in new clients, and have the best track record with current clients. Perks can include lavish expense accounts, company cars, extra vacation time, and flexible hours (like that matters when you’re already working 16+ hours a day) plus the opportunity to work remotely at least part of the time.
So, what other way can your career take off? There’s always the “I gotta do my own thing” route. Often, after working in the world of corporate PR for, say, 10 years or so, you (and everybody else in the 4 x 5 cubes surrounding you) start feeling ultra bored and super burned out.
Breaking away from the corporate boredom by going out on your own as a PR consultant is very common. Those that do this won’t have a ready-made list of clients to go after, since their company was their client, but they can take inventory of the vendors they worked with and bring that with them. This is a huge advantage since these vendors, provided that they have been treated well in your dealings, often provide great leads for new work. Armed with this, you could easily get yourself several good contracts within your first year, enough to stay afloat as an independent. With good success on those contracts, you will likely find that you’re more in demand and may even need to hire staff or partner with someone to let your business expand.
On the other hand, you may be one of those people who choose to go it alone as a contractor right off the bat – you want to exert your entrepreneurial spirit and not be trapped by salary caps, defined work schedules, and all the other junk that comes with corporate America. This is more difficult since you don’t have any “ins” with vendors, but it’s very doable as long as you’re committed to pressing through the hard times, eating ramen noodles for at least another year (you really thought you’d left them behind when you graduated, right?), and can balance time spent making connections with doing actual work on your own until you’ve got people in place to do the work for you. Land a couple of good contracts, do well with them, and your business if off and running!
In either case, the money won’t be really good right off (unless you land some really super high profile client) but it will steadily increase if you are good at what you do. Lots of PR consultants in good markets, and with solid client lists, find themselves clearing the 100K mark within the first 5 years of starting their solo gig.
The Power: This depends on the clients you work for. If you’re part of a marketing communications department, you have some power, but not much because you are there to handle the same types of work over and over, year after year. However, if you work for top-notch clients with important things at stake, you can make or break them. It’s a lot of power to wield. If the client treats you right, you work hard to keep them going on the right path. If the client disses you, you have the skills to concoct something that will make their empire collapse (not that you would ever really do that, now would you?). Tread lightly on the revenge stuff though. It’s like when you were a kid and got to go to a friend’s house to play. If he made you so mad that you broke something of his to get even and then you got caught, he wouldn’t ask you over to play again. And that would suck, because his mom made the best tuna salad sandwiches.
The Fame: Most PR professionals don’t become famous. If they’re doing their job correctly, they are working out of the public eye. Think of PR specialists as puppet masters - quietly pulling the strings of marionettes to make them do what they want. You don’t know any famous puppet masters, do you? Of course not. They’re very reclusive.
The Glory: There is little glory for a PR pro, again because they so often work behind the scenes. But there is a perk to this job, and it can be a big one. If you are lucky enough to work with a really prestigious client, like a sports team, or a famous musician, or a movie star, or even a big company that makes consumer goods, you get to go to lots and lots of events. Your only job at these events is to schmooze. Here’s how it works: show up, eat the over-the-top food, drink a lot, glad-hand the industry big shots, and talk up your client. Think you can handle it?
The Stress: If you don’t want premature wrinkles or gray hair, run! This job is not for you. Public relations jobs at nearly all levels are loaded with stress. Deadlines dominate your world. You are dealing with different personalities that want many different things and are highly demanding. Projects that cost a lot of money are under your care and you’d better handle those well. When the client is in trouble, you have to rally quickly to put out lots of fires – again, crazily stressful times. Many people who love this job say that they “thrive on the stress and excitement.” That, and a huge bottle of antacids.
The Physical Danger: Other than getting rotten food thrown at your head by angry people at a press conference, there’s very little real physical danger to this job. However, lots of stress coupled with little sleep, eating the wrong food more often than not, and lots of caffeine can wear you down if you’re not careful. But that’s okay – caffeine is the new oxygen.
The Qualifications: Some people who work in marketing end up in PR as a by-product of natural talents that they have. They like to talk in front of people, they are good at gathering people together (think of the best party planner you know), they can write and have a good design sense, and they don’t sit still for very long. Quite often, these people end up doing this job when in reality they had set out to do something else. For those of you who plan to work in PR from the very beginning, you’re going to need those same qualifications and a degree. Usually 4-year degrees in public relations or marketing communications are your best entry tickets, followed closely by journalism or business. Followed distantly by musical theatre.
The Odds of Getting In: The odds of getting an entry-level job in public relations are about as good as getting most any other beginner’s job in marketing. Your degree will help, especially if you focused on marketing, advertising, writing, or project management as part of your studies. Insider’s tip: Once you are in, remember to stay focused on what you want to do – otherwise you’ll get spun into a part of the department that you didn’t intend to end up in. Like the picking-up-coffee-for-everyone-else department.
The Odds of Hanging On: The life span of a PR person is always up in the air. If you work for a company that is mundane and doesn’t have a lot of public attention, you’ll likely be okay. Your contact list will grow and the associations that you have made will make you more valuable to your company over time. Plus it will help you perform your job more efficiently, since you will know who to call to get the help you need when problems occur. However, keep in mind that usually all it takes is one project that went horribly wrong in the eyes of some big shot, one event that went too far over budget through no fault of yours, or one really bad publicity nightmare that got away from you and your group to make the axe fall swiftly.
The Career as Depicted in Popular (or Unpopular) Culture:
Read: Thank You for Not Smoking, The 42nd Parallel, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit
See: Melrose Place (the newer one), Spin City, Absolutely Fabulous
The Tools of the Trade:
<<Brain cells in fast and creative working order>>
<<Gift of gab – plus the ability to know when to zip your lip>>
<<Some business acumen>>
<<Computer, smartphone, contact list>>
<<Company credit cards >>
The Bell Curve of Success:
You’re J.Lo’s main PR squeeze and, because you were able to put a positive spin on her nip slip at the Oscars so quickly, you’ve found yourself in high demand by other talented and scantily-clad Hollywood starlets. Can you say ‘Mo Money! Party On!
Published on Shmoop.com
To understand a Quick Response (QR) code and its power, you first need to get familiar with a regular bar code.
Bar codes are optical, machine-readable representations of data. This data is represented in a linear, or one-dimensional, fashion with each bar of a bar code embedded with certain information. The cumulative set of these bars provides a snapshot of factual data about the item that it is placed with a level of end-user interactivity that is limited. Data in bar codes is merely part of a brief, one-way knowledge exchange: how much does the item cost, who signed for the package; how much does the pallet weigh, etc.?
With QR codes, data can be embedded on a two-dimensional matrix – both vertically and horizontally. This arrangement allows much more storage per code – up to several hundred times the amount of data carried by ordinary bar codes. It also allows the flexibility of embedding different types of data, including those that encourage further information discovery and active engagement on the part of the user. For example, hotlinks to websites; contact information that can be stored, dialed or e-mailed by touch; sales material like menus with usable coupons; garden planting guides; movie reviews in video format; interactive maps and more can be readily and quickly accessed from devices (typically smart phones) with reader applications. This act of linking from a user’s device directly to physical world objects is called “object hyperlinking” or “hardlinking.”
A PRACTICAL BENEFIT OF A QR CODE CAN BE SEEN IN THIS SCENARIO
For a high school science class, each student is assigned a chemical element and told to explain all aspects about the element. One student is researching Oxygen, and collects almost everything he wants to include in his report, but is still looking for something unique. After a little extra digging, he comes across a poster of the periodic table where QR codes have been used to represent each element. He scans the code for Oxygen and goes directly to a documentary video clip from the University of Nottingham, giving him just the information he needs for his report. Want to know what he found? Scan the QR code in the image or check out “The Periodic Table of Videos” – a great collection of QR codes put to use.
Originally Published in Headline Discoveries
Consisting of a group of 15 lanthanide elements plus yttrium, the rare earth elements are all metals, grouped together on the periodic table due to their similar properties.
What sets these elements apart from others on the periodic table is the arrangement of their outer electrons. These electrons can change energy states and release visible light (fluorescence). They can absorb light or UV rays and re-emit the energy as a red or green glow. Additionally, many of the elements of this group have strong magnetic properties. When alloyed with other metals, the result is a very compact, yet strong, magnet.
It is these two main properties that have made these elements highly desirable in the production of today’s high technology devices.
Color televisions use europium and yttrium oxides to produce red colors and praseodymium and neodymium to reduce glare on screens. Cameras and binoculars with optical lenses are made with lanthanum oxide while other lanthanide compounds are used in high-intensity lighting and even street lights.
Because of their rich and varied optical properties, rare earth elements are used in glazes for earthenware (adding erbium oxide produces a pink lemonade hue). Europium, the most visible of all the rare earth elements, emits blue and red light when added to phosphors used in the production of computer monitors (even those in small, personal devices such as iPods and cell phones).
Their magnetic property has made them useful in green technology as well. Wind turbines use lanthanide-flecked supermagnets to generate electricity. Auto engines are being made more efficient by using an iron alloy of terbium and dysprosium. This blend expands and contracts efficiently in the presence of a magnetic field, helping sensors, actuators and injectors to perform better. Car batteries used in electric-powered vehicles also rely heavily on rare earth elements.
The technology explosion of the past two decades has seen a rise in demand for rare earth elements. These elements are mined in many areas around the world, including countries such as Brazil, India, China, Vietnam, the United States, Nigeria and Canada. Currently, China has the largest operations available for the mining and processing of rare earth elements. It is expected that more operations will be developed around the world in the near future as demand for high-technology devices rises and because future uses are being explored in fields such as laser technology, telecommunications and medical diagnostics.
Originally Published in Headline Discoveries
Not just a great tune by Dean Martin (one of my all time favorites) but "That's Amore" is how many people might express their sentiments about pizza. Today, Food Network Magazine announced their selection of the 50 Best Pizza Slices - one from each state - in a great pictorial review.
Without even looking I immediately decided that my favorite, a sausage and pepperoni marvel from a place in Stratford, CT called Paradise Pizza had to be on the list. The original owners of Paradise Pizza were from Greece and, to this day, I will swear hands-down that Greeks make the best pizza ever. Their pizza was like those found in New York City - fabulous dough that wasn't too yeasty, fresh, locally made meats, and scamorza. Scamorza is a type of mozzarella cheese that is harder to come by. It gets really stringy when heated and leaves a long trail when you take a bite of the pizza. Boy, their pizzas are good. I get back to the area once every couple of years and I make it a point to stop by and get a pie, savoring each bite since I know it may be years before I get it again.
Anyhow, I started going through the Food Network site to see if my beloved Paradise Pizza was selected. It wasn't. However...it listed something else that I hadn't thought of in years. White Clam Pie. Oh...let me tell you, this is a treat in itself. Thin dough with a good brushing of garlic oil, cheese, and then clams baked up nice. I LOVE this kind of pizza. The featured selection is from Pepe's, a great pizzeria in New Haven that people line up for. I've been there several times and always like whatever I got.
Anyhow, the site shows pictures of some very unique concoctions. Many look very appetizing (the Pizzaleta from Louisiana) and some look utterly strange (the Purple Pig from Indiana that has red cabbage on it). There's even a taco pizza from Kansas. To me that's cheating. Either it's a pizza or it's a taco. Pick one people! Maybe it was created in one of those places that have KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut all under one roof.
Any way you slice it (pun intended) the site presents a great look at the creativity that can be found pizza, one of America's favorite comfort foods.
Originally posted on Comfort Food Party, August 2011.
It's funny how certain foods can bring back memories. I have a lot of people around me that are trading the bounty of their summer gardens right now. Zucchini is at the top of the trading list. Whenever I think about this wonderful vegetable, I recall a particular woman that I used to work with. Her name was Lee but since she was short, older, and a bit of a pain in the neck with a rather shrill voice, we all called her Aunt Lee - you know, like Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show.
In the building where we worked there was a really long room. She worked at one end of it and used a big old sheet-fed printer way at the other end. My desk was in a cube in the middle. On the days when she seem to be the most irritating, I would wait for her to get within a few feet of the printer then call her phone extension. Every single time she would stop midstream, turn, huff something under her breath, and walk all the way back to her desk. I timed the call so that I always hung up just as she got to the desk. She would then start back towards the printer and just as she got close - the phone would ring again, and back she would go. My colleagues would watch and laugh like crazy as this was repeated a few times in a row.
Yes, this was a bit of a bad prank to play on somebody. Never-the-less it was tons of fun and more often than not, Aunt Lee was in a decent mood so we didn't have to get her more riled up.
At this time of year, she was often in a fantastic mood since her own garden was providing lots of goodies for her to use in her cooking. She was a really good cook and liked to bring in samples for us to try and one of my favorites was a homemade zucchini bread.
Though she called it "bread" is usually was very much flatter in shape, like a casserole, and had a heavily concentrated taste and texture. No matter - it was GOOD! Just thinking about the great flavor of this concoction of hers gets my mouth watering. I've had the recipe on a small yellow scrap of paper that I've lost, found and since cherished since the mid 1980s and make faithfully every year.
Here's the recipe for what I officially call Aunt Lee's Summer's Best Zucchini Bread:
Mix all ingredients. Bake in a greased 9 x 11 casserole at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Originally posted on Ellery's Kitchen, August, 2011
For my first wedding (don't even ask how many years ago!) I had only a handful of things to consider when picking my invitations. This was at a time when we didn't have the Internet and had to use a local print shop. Paper stock, black ink or blue, embossed or not, and what font style were pretty much the only things to think about. Fancy meant putting a small stock image on your invitations. Back then, you would put in your order along with handwritten notes and sketches showing what you wanted, wait a month, and then hope like crazy that you got what you'd envisioned.
Today, this is far from the process. Thanks to all kinds of technology, choices on the Internet are abundant. In looking, I’ve found that the top trends in wedding invitations for Spring 2011 bring together multiple colors, bold graphics, and a theme for the wedding.
Add Some Color
Color seems to play the biggest part in the new look of wedding invitations. Whether bright colors or more subtle tones are being used, it’s the combination of colors that seems to be the most important. Invitations should act as a preview of the wedding, so choosing invitations that encompass at least two of the colors that have been selected for the wedding’s color palette is common. According to Lisa Barr, NY Fashion Bridal Examiner for Examiner.com, natural palettes and hot colors were the top trends for 2011 at this year’s National Stationery Show. Michelle Mospens, who annually follows wedding color trends has put together a great display showing the range of bright colors coming next Spring at “A Wedding Sketchbook.”
Pop In a Graphic
Graphic design is being strongly incorporated, be it through monograms, silhouettes, photographs, patterns or other meaningful images–right on the front of the invitation.
Themes Are the Way to Go
And for themes, vintage or retro designs are HUGE! One of the top ideas trending in wedding plans is a “Mad Men” inspired wedding. This trickles down to the invitations and an unbelievable array of designs. Reflective of the TV show, darker and more earthy colors (see Part 2 of Michelle Mospens display) are used along with bold and sleek designs and large but minimalistic copy. Think of slick magazine advertising from the ‘60s and you’ve got a perfect invitation that will evoke the feel of this theme.
Show Who You Are
Since society has become much more accepting of invitations that are brighter, more fun, and really represent the engaged couple, they are more readily available and the costs are less prohibitive.
Whatever combination, today’s invitation should be fun and offer a glimpse into the spirit of the soon-to-be newlyweds.
In the early 1970s, The Six Million Dollar Man (based on Cyborg, a science fiction novel by Martin Caidin) first debuted on television. The show followed the life of astronaut Steve Austin who, having been severely injured in a crash, lost functionality in two limbs and one eye. The show’s opening credits said: “Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.” With that, viewers got the first glimpse of a bionic man. While a far-fetched idea at the time, the state-of-the-art technology featured in the television program has come to be a reality, including the “bionic” eye, a new and quickly advancing frontier in bionic medical devices.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
To put the technicalities of a bionic eye into perspective, consider seeing something made of pixels (the small boxes used to make images on a computer monitor). The more pixels used in an image, the better the image definition. Early versions of the bionic eye used only four electrodes (representing a 2” x 2” pixel image), while current implants feature 60 electrodes. Scientists and engineers are working towards implants with 1000 electrodes, which they hope will allow facial recognition. Further down the road, scientists plans to introduce electrodes that will allow recipients to see color as well.
Originally Published in Headline Discoveries
Ever notice that when you spill coffee over the edge of your cup it always produces a ring under the bottom edge?
There is a rather complex reason for this, but it can be summed up somewhat easily. Two main factors are at play: surface tension of the molecules of the liquid and the temperature of the surrounding environment.
When a drop of coffee is splashed outside of the cup, it has an initial “pinned” spot, and from there the surface tension within the liquid causes the molecules to spread and draw more liquid away from it.
The temperature of the surrounding area then comes into play as a difference in temperature between the liquid and the air causes evaporation to begin. When an evaporating drop is checked under a microscope, there is a strong outward flow of material as the particles stream toward the edge, rather than moving around randomly. As the process continues, the molecules of the liquid continue to draw towards the edge and, because of their surface tension, they continue to draw more molecules towards them to replace liquid that has already evaporated. This continuous flow piles the material up at the edges, where it eventually dries and forms a ring.
No matter what type of liquid or different types of surface on which the liquid is spilled, all combinations still produce rings.
Scientists who have recently studied this phenomenon believe it has implications for industries that rely on the uniform deposition of solids suspended in liquid media (i.e., paints) and that dispersed solids could be deposited in a controlled fashion such as by creating tiny electronic circuits or providing a means of high-density information storage.
Originally posted in Headline Discoveries, January 2011
When considering menswear for the groomsmen, most thoughts go immediately to tuxedos. But what if you don’t want the men in your wedding party feeling like they are stuffed into something so formal that they can’t be comfortable? Let them wear suits!
Suits have become more acceptable for weddings because they are affordable and can be customized with accessories to reflect the tone of the wedding. Dressed up or down, their versatility makes them a suitable option for most weddings.
For couples who opt to have their groomsmen wear suits, some trends that are hot for 2011 weddings are tone-on-tone shirt and tie combinations, solid ties, and pocket squares.
First Things First
The suit color should be something that complements the color palette of the wedding. You don’t want the bridesmaids clashing with the groomsmen when they walk together down the aisle. Black suits are the easiest to work with yet, according to Michael Andrews of Bespoke, charcoal grey or midnight blue suits are fast becoming more popular, and khaki suits are a staple for more informal occasions. Once you have the suit color settled, it’s time to accessorize.
Many couples are staying away from white shirts and instead selecting regular dress shirts that are in tones similar to the color of the bridesmaid’s dresses. This helps to bring together the color palette in a stronger way to all members of the wedding party. It also gives the men a more uniform look, especially if each is wearing a suit that is the same color but the style varies (differences in cut, button placement, lapel differences, etc.).
There’s a strong trend towards selecting solid ties in a tone that is very close to the shirt color. This is the tone-on-tone look. Again, this helps to hide the fact that the suits themselves may not be identical. It also gives the male wedding party a sleek, consistent look - particularly helpful if you have a range in the actual body size and structure of the men.
Once out of fashion and long overlooked, pocket squares are making a comeback. They tend to lend an air of sophistication or fun to any suit and can be folded and placed in the pocket in different ways to suggest these moods. TM Lewin Shirtmakers has a wonderful video series showing the ins and outs of folding and placing pocket squares.
With all of the plastic that’s used on a daily basis comes the need to have it recycled.
Most plastic bottles produced in the United States are made from Polyethylene Terephtalate (PET). In 2005, U.S. manufacturers produced 5.1 billion pounds of PET products, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR). NAPCOR has estimated that if the current rate of production remains the same, then 40 billion pounds of PET waste will be
added to landfills within a decade.
To help counteract this growth, some states offer financial incentives to consumers who bring in plastic bottles for recycling. In addition, companies are being encouraged to design bottles in ways that make them more efficient and cheaper to recycle. One of the most interesting ideas to come from this challenge is the collapsible plastic bottle.
BEGINNING OF THE COLLAPSE
In 1985, a patent was filed for a collapsible plastic bottle. According to the patent description, the bottle would be constructed with walls that would look and behave like bellows, allowing them to be squeezed together and collapse upon themselves, thus reducing the overall size of the bottle by at least half.
The technology discussed in this patent has been used over the years; however, it has been limited to products geared mostly toward outdoor enthusiasts and athletes, and for corporate promotional giveaway items.
THE CHALLENGE BEGINS
One of the greatest impacts to the environment could be if major beverage manufacturers would incorporate some form of a collapsible bottle into their product lines. For example, in early 2010, package designer Andrew Seunghyun Kim went public with a set of design
concepts aimed at repackaging 20 oz. Coca-Cola® features a square package instead of a cylindrical design. Kim’s design results in 66 percent less space being occupied than when the bottle is not collapsed. While there are many advantages to this particular
design, it is more unlikely that re-engineering the bottle in a square shape will take off due to reasons that involve engineering problems, distribution challenges and production line changes that could be too costly.
However, other companies, like Plasto Solutions, are working on further developing the idea of collapsible beverage bottles. They are staying with a cylindrical bottle design to lessen the impact on manufacturing process changes for the end user. Their design uses a complex system of ribs instead of bellows and their plastic bottle folds by slightly twisting the bottle’s body. This produces a flat circle of plastic that takes up only 10 percent of the original space.
BENEFITS OF COLLAPSE
The idea of impacting how much space is being occupied in landfills by plastic soda bottles is very appealing to those who are environmentally conscious. By reducing the amount of space that a bottle occupies, more can be placed in collection containers and thus provide a more
cost-effective means of recycling.
Written for Headline Discoveries
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!