Rabu, 05 September 2012

Birthday Celebrations in Different Cultures

Birthday celebrations are annual events for people in many cultures. The most prominent two birthdays are the birthday of Jesus Christ and that of Lord Buddha. Christmas day is when Jesus Christ was born. In a lot of cultures certain birthdays will mark when boys and girls start enjoying certain rights. Normally, it is a celebration where sweetmeats are served and a cake is being cut. In Christian cultures there are burning candles as well on the cake.

Very often it is a celebration where relatives and friends get together. On the cake it is normal to have a decoration that gives an indication of the age of the person whose birthday is being celebrated. Often the number of candles that will burn on the cake will be equivalent to the age of the person. The one who celebrates his date of birth must blow out all the candles in one breath. At the same time he could make a wish that is not revealed to anyone. Very often, presents are given on the date of birth. They are selected to match the person's age. It is normal for kids to get toys on this day.

There are some interesting figures on birthdays of the United States. Statistics have revealed that September and October are the months when most birthdays fall. There are a few reasons attributed for this phenomenon. One is that nine months before there is a holiday season. Another reason is that the country enjoys longest nights on days nine months before September.

It is common for children's birthday parties to have them dressed with new clothes. The kid whose date of birth is being celebrated will cut the cake and will serve it to his friends and relatives. It is an evening they will enjoy a lot. It is normal for visitors to the party to bring toys as presents. All these create a happy evening where everyone enjoys.

When it comes to birthdays different cultures have different perceptions. In Christianity and Buddhism dates of birth are celebrated with elaborate ceremonies. However, in Islam some of the clergy are against it while there are others who accept that there is no harm celebrating one's birthday. Hindus are also people who celebrate their dates of birth. The early Christians also did not celebrate birthdays. They thought it is an evil thing to celebrate the day one was born.

Birthday celebrations are important annual event for some cultures. But there are others that resent such celebrations. However it is a happy day for most kids. Happy Birthday!

Glass - Environmental Friend or Foe

Serving a large purpose with little consideration, glass is a key ingredient in many of our everyday products. Tableware, light bulbs, mirrors, stove tops, windshields, windows: the list is large for something not given a second thought. Friend or foe, we need to consider the implications of glass making on the environment.

The 'What Is' of Glass

Glass is a combination of three types of substances that occur naturally in North America;

  • silica, the most popular being white sand
  • alkali, such as sodium bicarbonate
  • limestone

Sometimes a metallic oxide (lead) is added to the mix. Depending on which alkali is used and whether or not lead is added, the clarity or color cast of the glass changes. The expense of producing and the quality of the glass is determined by the choice of alkali and the percentage used, combined with the choice and percentage of silica used.

The 'How' of Glass Production

A silica, an alkali and limestone are first crushed into a powder form, sifting out any coarse particles. They are then blended and put into a furnace at an extremely high temperature for as long as 24 hours. This yields molten glass which is then cooled several hundred degrees resulting in a thick liquid. The resulting matter is called frit which is then blown, pressed, drawn, molded or rolled into glass objects. If the glass is to be molded the molds are also heated at high temperature so the liquid poured into them does not wrinkle. The cooling process involves washing with water.

Environmental Impact of Glass Production

The process of making new glass is not at all environmentally friendly. The initial crushing and grinding step sends particulates of metals, chemicals, acids and dust into the air. These are easily inhaled causing irritation to the nose and throat, potentially causing damage to the lungs. The particles of metals are hazardous to the environment as they can find their way into surrounding soil and water.

The need for extremely high temperature furnaces to melt the mixture of substances makes the melting stage of the glass making process very energy intensive. It is estimated to take 15.2 million BTUs of energy to produce one ton of glass. During any one of the formation processes the glass may need to be reheated to keep it in liquid form. This means the heat in the furnace must be kept up until the process is complete.

Discharges from the glass making process may find their way into the aquatic environment during the cooling and cleaning processes where the most significant amounts of water are used. Discharges may contain some pieces of glass, some soluble used in the production like sodium sulfate, lubricant oil used in the cutting process, dissolved salts and water treatment chemicals.

Glass manufacturing processes also emit a significant amount of greenhouse gases especially carbon dioxide. Additionally, the processes spit out air-polluting compounds like nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulates.

Benefits of Glass

Glass is nonporous making it impermeable to other substances. For this reason glass is a very hygienic surface as any bacteria and germs that come in contact are not absorbed into its structure. Glass surfaces take to strong cleaning with a disinfectant and hot water with no effect on its quality. For this reason glass containers can be easily reused many times over.

The impermeableness of its structure eliminates any interaction with the stored contents. This, along with glass being made from nontoxic raw materials, dismisses concern of leaching chemicals into the contained substances. In the case of food storage, this also insures the freshness and uncompromised taste of the stored substance. Glass containers also do not absorb the smells of the foods in or around them.

Unlike other materials, glass used in the microwave does not leach any toxins into contained foods or liquids. Nor does it stain, corrode or deteriorate no matter how many times it is reused.

Glass dishes and containers are very versatile as they can go from freezer to microwave or oven. Glass is very attractive looking beautiful on table top or as decorative pieces like candy dishes, storage jars, vases and mirrors.

And glass is 100% recyclable.

Turning Foe into Friend

Many manufacturers have put into place practices to reduce the negative environmental impact of glass making. Consideration has been given to use of more efficient furnaces to cut energy use, producing thinner glass to employ lower temperatures and reduce transport costs, use of air and water purification systems, and use of recycled glass to make new.

Here are some ways to reduce the environmental effects and still enjoy the benefits of glass products.

  • Reuse glass food and storage containers. Because of its natural properties there is no chemical reaction with the glass container and its contents. Glass items at home can be safely used over and over with no loss in the quality of the glass.
  • Recycle. Glass is 100% recyclable and can be reused to make new glass. Unlike other types of materials, the reuse of glass in no way degrades the integrity of the material. Glass can be melted and reused over and over again. A glass bottle ending life in a landfill can take one million years to breakdown. But a recycled glass bottle has about a 30 day turnaround time from recycle bin to being a new bottle on a store shelf. Every ton of glass that is recycled saves more than a ton of the raw materials needed to create new glass. Because cullet (glass pieces for reuse) melts at a much lower temperature, making glass products from cullet consumes 40 percent less energy than making new glass from raw materials.
  • Reduce the amount of new glass products you purchase. Because it has found its way into so many commercial uses it is now easy to find products made from recycled glass. Look for tableware from cullet, recycled glass jewelry, decorative tiles, counters and landscaping materials that utilize recycled glass.

Glass is a versatile and beautiful material to use in many facets of our lives. Let's do our part to turn glass production from foe to friend.

Lynn Lavanga is owner of Stylish Organics an ecommerce boutique that combines smart styling with earth friendly thinking. Visit http://www.stylishorganics.com for an inspiring collection of products hand selected for their sustainable properties. Our goal is to present you with an easy to shop collection of smart green clothing fashions, modern eco furniture, organic fiber home decor, unique environmentally friendly accessories, all natural skin and beauty care, organic pet products, and a selection of sustainable gift items.

To receive email notices of special discounts, subscribe to our Mailing List (We do not share our email list.) Look for us on facebook, twitter and visit our blog. All can be reached from our home page.

How to Prepare for the Pruning Season

Your garden is your sanctuary and a place to unwind from the stresses of daily life and take solace in the tranquillity of nature. No mobile phones allowed. Only you, your tools, maybe some sunblock and a hat.

As winter draws to a close, it's time to do some pruning. So put on your scrubs and get ready for a little bit of tree surgery.

The best time to prune is at the end of winter before the strong growth of spring. Those pesky insects are still asleep, and pruning while they're dormant will help prevent an invasion of tiny creepy crawlies into the fresh tree wounds.

Besides visually rejuvenating your garden, pruning is essential for other reasons. Creeping branches can be a literal eyesore to passers-by, and nobody likes the top of their car scratched up by a wayward tree limb.

Get Your Tools Ready

Before you get started, it's a good idea to gather the tools you're going to need for the job. You don't want to spend hours struggling with small, ineffective hand pruners. You're performing tree surgery here, so prepare yourself as a surgeon would.

Get yourself a quality pair of hand pruners for those thin branches, and some loppers for slightly larger ones. Make sure they're not rusted over and sharp enough to do what they need to.

Make sure to have a step stool handy, and possibly even a ladder if you're planning on pruning skyward.

If you're not so sure-footed, a pole saw will become your best friend. These ingenious devices allow you to reach those nasty, hard to reach branches looming down from above.

To take care of those extra thick branches, purchase a quality hand saw and if this is too much for you to do yourself maybe enlisting some help would be a good idea. You must be strong enough to hold the branch whilst cutting and be safe while any big branches fall.

To Chainsaw or Not to Chainsaw?

Sometimes, your hand and arm strength just aren't going to cut it. That's when it's time to call in the big guns. Chainsaws will take care of the most intimidating branches and limbs, but safety is of course paramount when handling power tools.

If you don't feel comfortable using a chainsaw, it's probably a good idea to call in some professionals. There is no shame in hiring out. The removal of large trees can be very dangerous. They'll arrive with a trained crew, proper safety equipment, and will even clean up when they're finished.

Pruning Tips and Tricks

The younger a tree, the more aggressive you can prune. Older trees have less energy resources to stop decay or invasions from pests.

For branches 2 centimetres and above in diameter, trim down with multiple cuts, starting from the outside of the branch.

A tree recovers more quickly from small multiple wounds than one large one.

Invite a friend of two and make your pruning day a social event. Get the BBQ going and serve plenty of food and drinks!

For further details on landscape design including finding a birmingham landscape gardener, please visit Genuine Home Services, who have a great deal of knowledge in paving, sheds and tree surgery.

Why and How to Display Children's Art

That first scribble, even if it's just one colored line is gorgeous to a parent. The next creation is also pretty fantastic, but by the time there are dozens of masterpieces and the child isn't even in pre-school, the feeling of awe dims to overwhelmed. What is a parent to do with all these papers?

Sometimes, we want to ask, "what is it?" But enlightened parents know that's taboo. This kind of pointed question can turn off a child. He may not be able to explain it in terms that we as adults can comprehend, because we live in the world of realism while children live in fantasy land. No need to force them to move into our world so quickly. In time, they will get there. Meanwhile, we should encourage their creativity. Therefore, a better response is "tell me about this picture". This shows that you are interested in the child's point of view and allows him to express himself.

Once the parent understands the depiction, it becomes more meaningful and thereby wondrous. This still doesn't mean we have to save every single piece. In fact, what we do save becomes more valuable by virtue of the fact that we have chosen those pieces. The best case scenario is when parents and children make the choices together. That's when selectivity breeds a striving for excellence and autonomy. When the child indicates "this is my favorite" or "I don't like this one", that encourages communication and decisiveness.

The decision to save certain artwork (it's fine for a parent to squirrel away some work for posterity even if the child rejects it) is further enhanced by choosing to display the "creme de la creme". Of course, it's wonderful to change and update the display pieces from time to time, which starts the process all over again.

Displaying artwork shows your child that you are proud of her work, which promotes her self-esteem. Selectivity encourages her to hone her artistic skills and teaches that in life, choices must be made. By selectively displaying and saving your child's art, you as a parent will have beautiful wall decor, cherished memorabilia, and you will have taught your child valuable life lessons in the process!

Now that we have gotten to why display children's art, let's look at how. That old standby, the refrigerator, has its limitations. First of all, most new refrigerators are not magnetic anymore, except perhaps on the sides. Secondly, preservation-wise, this form of display is a disaster as the pieces fall off, curl, and get dirty. Also, the artwork doesn't stand out as it mixes in with cards and notes.

Wall frames with easy to open backs are ideal, especially if they have acrylic fronts (instead of glass) to prevent breakage. This serves to protect and showcase the artwork. Putting the frames in a gallery arrangement makes for an attractive and functional display and gives a young artist a sense of his own space.

"My Own Art Gallery" is a great way to showcase and store children's art. This functional, attractive display/ bulletin board is personalized with your child's name, comes in an array of colors, and features easy to use document size frames to display and store your child's art. The frames and name plaque have acrylic faces so there's no concern about breakage, and the background works as a bulletin board. View "My Own Art Gallery" on our website http://www.SaframesFrames.com. Order it in our etsy store http://www.etsy.com/shop/Saframes.

My Romance With Mills and Boon

This morning I was quite thrilled to note that Mills & Boon will be releasing a book with Indian characters. I presume it was a final acknowledgement that India is a big market for western publishers. I will come back to M&B a bit later.

My early life in Delhi was in the tony Chanakyapuri area, with predominantly children of senior central government officers as gang mates. Added to that was my schooling in an Irish Christian brothers school. This skewed my reading habits completely towards books written by British authors aided and abetted by British publishers who made sure that their books were prominently placed in well-known book shops,including the leader of the pack, B D Galgotia & Sons in Connaught Place.

My first memory is of being addicted to Noddy books by Enid Blyton. I followed his adventures in Toyland along with Big Ears. I then graduated to The Five Find-outers, Famous Five and the Adventure series. This ended my 'kid' phase. I loved the misadventures of "William" by Richmal Crompton, closely followed by "Billy Bunter." A little later I got hooked on to "Biggles" by Capt. W E Johns.

By this time I was big in to American comics, particularly the cowboy ones like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Rex Allen and the Lone Ranger. As my comic reading habit ate a lot in to my school homework time I used to hide them under my pillow so that my dad wouldn't find them. My friends and I would also exchange comics regularly. I remember reading my first Beetle Bailey comic on the train from Delhi to Bangalore at the beginning of my school summer holidays. Travel time was good fun as we would be allowed to buy comics for the journey. In the north the station bookshop would be run by A.H. Wheeler while Higginbothams took care of the south.

However, I was not very fond of American authors. Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer were just names to me. Even in later years Mark Twain came in to my life as only a college quiz question when I correctly answered the question, "By what name was Samuel Clemens better known?"

America came back in to my life via Erle Stanley Gardner. I devoured Perry Mason books till I finished every one of them. I remember once I was traveling alone by the Deluxe Express from Madras (Chennai) to New Delhi. There were two anglo Indian women (they looked like school teachers) in the seats next to me. When I took out three Perry Masonbooks they looked pretty disapproving. Presumably they thought that these books were not suitable for someone as young as I was. This was also the time for "The Saint" series by Leslie Charteris. I was not too fond of Agatha Christie as I thought the pace was too slow

When I was in Senior Cambridge I started a love affair that continues till this day, even though my 'partner' has been dead for several years. I am, of course, referring to P G Wodehouse. I have his complete collection and every time I get bored I take out a tome from my book shelf and read it at one sitting.

When my father was based in Guwahati our bungalow was inside the office campus. The library there per force had to stock English books of Indian authors. My reading list got upgraded to Manohar Mulgaonkar, Anita Desai, and Raja Rao.

Over the last several years I am hooked on to Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon,Frederick Forsyth, and John Grisham. They are comparatively easy reading and required very little intellectual calisthenics to understand, unlike Robert Ludlum whose books are beyond me. For quality literature I turn to Asterix and Iznogoud comics.

Now back to Mills & Boon...

Till I got married I had never heard of them. One day I saw my wife reading a book published by M&B. As I was comparatively free I decided to give a shot at reading the book by some unknown author called Penny Jordan. It was like opening a Pandora's Box. I got sucked in to a whirlpool I have not been able to get out of. There was a circulating library near Commercial Street which stocked the complete series of M&Bs. I knew the kind of stories each author would write. The scenario would shift from England to Greece to Brazil to Spain and Italy. Sometimes to the US and Australia. I knew that Betty Neels would write Doctor/Nurse stories based in Holland.

The heroine would generally be a self-sacrificing virgin of modest means whose first boy friend would be a good-natured blonde. The hero would be older, rich, mostly dark-haired with graying temples and a rather disapproving type. In the Italian setting the hero would say 'cara' instead of 'darling'. The European setting ones would generally have a grandmother who controls the family and is the first one to realize that the heroine is the perfect choice for her grandson, irrespective of the social mismatch. The 'villi" would be modeled on our Hindi film Bindu type. In the early years sex was a no-no. However, to keep pace with modern times the Victorian attitude has made way to ground reality in the recent books. They now come with such alluring titles as "Lessons in Seduction", "Revealed: His secret child"...

Just like Jeffrey Archer has realized that his future millions will be earned from India, Mills & Boon have also joined the bandwagon. Their books are now available for less than Rs 100 through online stores.

I need to find more place in my book-shelf.

The Hurricane Katrina Memorial 7 Years Later

We all remember what happened in 2005 when television reports all over the world showed the devastation happening in Louisiana. Incredible winds during landfall of 125 mph hit the coast as the category 3 hurricane closed in.We were unprepared for such force of nature and too many lives were lost, actually it was the deadliest hurricane in the country and it seemed so unreal that this could happen in the United States. Crowded shelters, helicopters and the army, it was shocking to say the least.

The aftermath was as unreal especially in the states of Mississippi and Louisiana where the flooding was extensive, houses full of mud up to the ceiling. Houses still standing were often beyond recovery as an estimate of $81 billion dollars in damages was recorded. Teams of workers came together to reconstruct their neighborhoods and a strong camaraderie emerged. People who had lost everything walking strong hand in hand at rebuilding what an awesome sight.

All over the country donations poured in, people touched by the constant images and reminders of how fragile it all is. Animal rescues were so numerous, pets were shipped all over the United States to be adopted by family wanting to do their part.

On August 29th 2012 we will commemorate the 7th year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. After all those years now you would expect this to be all part of the past. But it is far from being behind us as we all learned so much from it that it's hard not to keep it on our minds. People of Louisiana have proven to be courageous and they stood strong and won't ever forget what united them that day.

Fleur-de-lis emblems are more popular than ever as it represent their French heritage and their love for their culture and their state. In French, fleur de lis means "lily flower". You can see it in almost every house on their walls, on forged fences designs, huge statues, tattoos, shirts and jewelry. It is the symbol that unites the people of Louisiana in a significant way, worn by celebrities as support following the event.

As painful as the memories of Hurricane Katrina's passing, people of Louisiana don't want to forget and they celebrate the event. Memorabilias are numerous and you can find a wide variety of them online created by artists from all around the world. An interesting one combines both the hurricane symbol & the fleur de lis symbol into one clear emblem Hurricane Katrina. It can be found as statues but mostly as jewelry. It is surely an eye-catcher and send s a message, a conversation starter for so many people who have been forced to move away from their old neighborhoods and can now associate with the symbol.

Jewelry artist Blue Crockatt displays her collections of Hurricane Katrina symbol made of sterling silver From lockets to earrings to rings for both men & women in any ring size possible. Exclusively on her website at < http://www.sterlingsilverart.com/themed-jewelry/fleur-de-lis-jewelry/ > simply search for "katrina"

Recipe for School Success: Read and Read Some More!

Every parent wants their child to be successful in school, but for some, despite best intentions, success seems elusive. Kids don't like the homework, the school lunch, the teacher, or their new-year excitement quickly fades. What makes one child more successful in school than another? There are many factors, to be sure, but if you pressed this former teacher and parent of two very enthused and happy students, I would have to say READING. Why? Because reading is a vehicle to so much knowledge, entertainment and skills. As a former high school English teacher, I rarely if ever encountered a strong writer who wasn't also a strong reader; I think this is because reading well-written material provides a model for writing. Math requires good reading skills for word problems. Families who read together have a template for life-long learning. So how to incorporate more reading into your home?

Here is my Reading Recipe for Success:

1. Read TO your kids. I started reading to my children when they were infants just home from the hospital, which had given us a picture book of bold black, white and red shapes that seemed to fascinate and stimulate my kids when they were babies. Soon after that, they enjoyed the board books that they could explore with their fingertips: fuzzy puppies to pet, buttons to press, etc. When they were big enough to follow a story, they enjoyed all the classics: Dr. Seuss, Where the Wild Things Are, Little Critter, etc.

2. Read WITH your kids. When their attention spans got a little longer, say around age 5 or 6, they began to enjoy easy-to-understand chapter books from such series as Junie B. Jones and Little House on the Prairie. When they could read to themselves, I still read to them. Why? Because they may be mature enough for complex plots and character development, but frustrated by new vocabulary or longer sentences. Although my daughter reads very well, certain books, like the Harry Potter series, would have discouraged her to read on her own because of the rich vocabulary, British idioms and complex sentences. By listening to me read it aloud, she got to hear the flow of the language, learn new words, and use her imagination to paint vivid scenes in her head. On her own, she could read the Roald Dahl books and The Name of This Book Is Secret series, and excellent one introduced to us by her teacher. My son has enjoyed Flat Stanley, Goosebumps and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. When he went through a reluctant reader phase, I resorted to the ace-in-the-hole for boys, Captain Underpants. Guaranteed to get any boy reading. Just be prepared for a LOT of potty humor around the house.

3. Read IN FRONT OF your kids. Even when they get too old to let you read to them, make sure your kids still see YOU reading. Even though they may not admit it anymore, you're still their biggest role model. Nagging them to read will mean nothing if you don't do it. Hardcover classic, pulp fiction paperback, New York Times, National Enquirer, laptop or Kindle, it doesn't matter - just model a lifelong love of reading. It also helps to tune in to what your kid or teen likes to read, and make that material available, as gifts, trips to the library or a Kindle. When I taught high school English, I would bring in the (high school appropriate) books that my husband and I had finished and leave them on a shelf for any students who wanted them. One eager young Sci-Fi fan made off with my husband's entire discarded collection of Star Wars novels. It was both amusing and very gratifying. Try feeding your kids' love of reading... you'll be glad you did.

What books have your kids enjoyed? Share in the comments!

Want to help your children achieve success in school? Are you a homeschool parent struggling to design lessons for your students? Want to help your children find their passions, set and achieve goals? Visit http://newfrontierslifecoaching.com