Tuesday, December 28

Spice up your Health

Chances are you sprinkle cinnamon into your morning oatmeal or add a dash of oregano to pizza without giving the spices much thought. But did you know that most ordinary spices and herbs can actually improve your health in a number of different ways? Well now you have no more excesses, start spicing up your life and enjoy some of the perks that come with that flavor.

This is a fruit of that comes of the Elettaria cardamomum plant which is in the ginger family.
Health benifits>: Eases belching, flatulence and indigestion; treats respiratory conditions like coughing, asthma and loss of voice; aids in the elimination of toxins through your skin.
Daily Dose: Stir a few freshly ground pinches of cardamom pods into a shot of OJ or your morning fruit salad, or mix it with white or brown rice before you boil it.

Comes from the fruit of the Capsicum annuum plant in the Solanaceae family, along with chile pepper- spicy.
Health benefits: Eliminates gas from the stomach and intestines; soothes sore throat, cold and flu symptoms; increases metabolism for weight control.
Daily Dose: Stir into a cup of hot chocolate or any sweet juice drink for a contrasting flavor kick. Or cook up something spicy :-D

Comes from the bark of a small evergreen tree.
Health benifits: Tames nausea and stomach ulcers; functions as a mild anti-inflammatory; increases insulin sensitivity to help focus fat burn.
Daily Dose: Stir into coffee/tea, yogurt, oatmeal or any boxed cereal. Or my personal favorite-- Rice Pudding :-D

Is a flower bud found at the base of an evergreen tree.
Health Benefits: Soothes digestive tract muscles and is a potent antihistamine.
Daily Dose: Mix into your nightly ice cream treat or sneak into mustard spread.

Fruit of Myristica fragrans,an evergreen tree.
Health Benifits: Improves digestion; eases the symptoms of menstruation; induces calm and sleep.
Daily Dose: Grate a small amount into applesauce or plain yogurt.

Celery Seed
Is the seed of the Apium graveolens plant in the parsley family.
Health Benefits: Flushes the liver of toxins; lowers blood pressure; combats water retention.
Daily Dose: Various salads (tuna, potato and egg, etc.

Also known as cilantro; the leaves and seeds of the Coriandrum plant in the aromatic Apiaceae family.
Health Benefits: Acts as a diuretic; eases seasonal allergies.
Daily Dose: Cook into couscous and quinoa, which you can store and eat with leftovers.

Seed of the Foeniculum plant in the aromatic Apiaceae family.
Health Benefits: Calms bowel distress; supports milk production in nursing mothers; combats water retention.
Daily Dose: Add to canned minestrones and vegetable soups.

Leaf of the Origanum plant in the mint family.
Health Benefits: Loosens mucus; helps treat respiratory illnesses; and calms indigestion.
Daily Dose: Use in any tomato-based foods, like marinara sauces, pizza and soups.

Leaf of the Thymus plant in the mint family.
Health Benefits: Relaxes the muscle tissue of the gastrointestinal tract; stimulates immune system.
Daily Dose: Toss into any meat-based dishes.

Root of the Circuma plant in the ginger family.
Health Benefits: Reduces inflammation (joints, airways); detoxifies the liver.
Daily Dose: Mix in with oil-and-vinegar-based salad dressings.

Monday, December 27

Cows ....So yummy

Tax Tips

So as the year comes to a close, make sure you don't miss out one all the ways to stock up on tax deductions for this year.

Tip #1 Harvest capital gains
The current long-term capital gains tax rate is 15%. If Congress doesn’t act, that’s going up to 20% in 2011. So do it now. If you have appreciated assets (like a stock or mutual fund that went up) in a taxable account (not a retirement account or 529 plan), take the opportunity to sell and repurchase those assets. You’ll lock in any gains up to this point at the 15% rate. Granted, that means you’ll pay more capital gains tax now than you may have anticipated. But think long-term: If the tax rate goes up in the future, you win. If it stays the same, all you’re out is a few bucks in transaction fees. And I think we all know the tax rate isn't going to be going down any time soon.
So....sell the investments that have made you money, pay the tax, and—assuming you still like those investments—buy them back. “I’ve recommended this to a couple of people, too, and they look at me like I grew two heads,” says Fleming. Trust both of her heads: it’s a smart move.

Tip #2 Accelerate income, delay expenses
As most of us know by now you normally want to get in any deductible expenses before December 31 and delay income, to the extent possible, until the following year. However given the likelihood that taxes are going to go up, consider turning this strategy on its head, because deductions get more valuable as your tax rate increases. “Take income this year and delay expenses,”

Tip #3 Take advantage of education tax benefits
The Lifetime Learning Credit is available to most taxpayers and covers a wide variety of education expenses. And don’t forget to deduct student loan interest as well

Tip #4 Max out your retirement accounts — and consider a conversion
You can stuff extra money into your 401(k) and take the deduction until December 31. For IRAs, you have until April 15. As an alternative consider taking traditional IRA accounts and converting them into a Roth IRA. Normally, when you convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you’d have to pay income tax on the full converted amount. But this year, the tax hit for Roth IRA conversions can be spread out over two years. And if you remember that today’s tax rates are ridiculously low by historical standards, and possibly the lowest they’ll ever be, any taxes you pay now will likely pale in comparison to the taxes you’ll end up paying in the future.

Tip #5 Spend your FSA balances
If you have money in a Flexible Spending Account for health care or day care, use it now or lose it. Also, as of January 1, over-the-counter medication is no longer eligible for FSA reimbursement, so buy it now. Now is also the time to submit your paperwork for next year’s FSA.

Tip #6 Take the Home Energy Efficiency Improvement Tax Credit
This credit offers you up to $1,500 back for greening your primary residence. Water heaters, insulation, doors and windows, HVAC—it’s all good. But you only get until December 31, so start demolishing now.

Tip #7 Check for underwithholding
I know, I know, most people overwithhold so they can get a juicy refund (a.k.a. an interest-free loan to the government). But underwithholding can sock you with a penalty. This is especially common if you’re self-employed. It’s not too late to fill out a new W-4 or send in an extra 1040-ES payment to reduce or eliminate your penalty.

Tip #8 Make a 1099/W-2 checklist
This saves me a lot of tax worries every year. If you’re self-employed and get 1099-MISCs, or have money at a number of banks and brokerages, or worked several jobs this year, you need to collect a pile of paperwork before you can file the 1040. Make a list now and check it off in February as the paperwork arrives. No more of that “oh crap, I thought I was going to get my taxes done today but I’m short a 1099” feeling.

Tip #9 Contribute to a 529 Plan
There is no federal income tax deduction for 529 plan contributions, but some states do offer this perk. Here’s the master list.

Tip #10 Die
If all else fails death is a sure proof way to eliminate you having to worry about taxes. If you’re lucky to have enough assets to be eligible for the estate tax, remember that right now there is no estate tax. And if Congress doesn’t do anything about it until the end of the year, on January 1, 2011, estate tax will be back. Will Congress do anything? Maybe. The bottom line is, after the end of 2010, no one knows exactly who it is going to apply to or what the rate will be. Last year, people joked about hanging on a few more days until the tax expired. It turned out not to be a joke. I suspect this won’t be, either.

Saturday, December 11

The Scoop on Poop

A true test of any friendship is when you are able to openly and honestly talk about your bowl movements with one another.

A pessimist sees the poop in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every poop.
~Winston Churchill

Now lets get to the facts...

Roughly 75% of the average turd is made of none other than our good friend and highly toxic dihydrogen monoxide. Of course, this value is highly variable from person to person and poop to poop, for instance the concentration of water is going to be much higher in diarrhea then in constipated poops. This is because water is absorbed out of fecal material as it passes through the intestine, so for people like my mommy that poop once a month the direr the poop. The next ~8% is composed primarily of dead bacteria yummy! These little buggers form the intestinal garden of microorganisms that assist us in the digestion of our food. Another ~8% of the turd is typically ingestible foods or the infamous fiber we have eaten such as cellulose. This helps move the poop through the intestines easily, providing the necessary traction. The rest of the poop is typically comprised of a cocktail of fats such as cholesterol, inorganic salts like phosphates, live bacteria, dead cells and mucus from the lining of the intestine, and protein.

Now that I have informed you of what poop is or what it typically is comprised of lets get to the tricky stuff like why does it stink so bad?

Well the really reason for why poop stinks is actually very biochemical and scientific so its a good thing you are being informed by such an expert like myself. Hehe, but for you simple fold poop stinks because of the byproducts of our bacteria friends that are breaking down our food for us. In this process they produce smelly, sulfur- or nitrogen-rich organic compounds such as indole, skatole, and mercaptans, and the inorganic gas hydrogen sulfide. Ever smelt sulfur? Smells just like rotten eggs and is sometimes in peoples water very smell and hence why poop is smelly. And just an FYI, these are the same compounds that give farts their odor.

Now why is poop brown?

Well to be frank really professionals like myself never poop brown or very rarely so poop isn't always brown :-P. But when it is brown it is the result of a pigment called bilirubin that arises from the breakdown of red blood cells in the liver and bone marrow. The actual metabolic pathway of bilirubin and its byproducts in the body is very complicated and only one such as I could comprehend so in short a lot of the bilirubin ends up in the intestine, where it is further modified by bacterial action. If you dare to know more ask and I will baffle you further. However with this said the brown color itself comes from iron, as iron in hemoglobin in red blood cells gives blood its red color, and similarly iron in the waste product bilirubin gives rise to its brown color.

Now for us cool people what do our poops and there colors mean and correlate with?

There are a variety of colors that can show up for a variety of reasons.

Black - typically indicates a bleeding ulcer is present in the body, and the black color is due to the presence of partially digested blood.

Red- Potential indication of bleeding in the intestine, from an anal fissure or split. Bloody poop can also be a sign of colon cancer, so you should get it checked out by a doctor if you see blood in your stool of if it is a consistent Black color. Other forms of red poop might also arise such as eating high abouts of red food coloring can produce bright red poop. Or it might turn red from certain foods like beats.

Blue- certain illnesses in babies will cause this Some illnesses in babies gives them green or even blue-green poop. Or might simply be due to eating a concentrated source of blue food coloring such as ice cream or slushies.

White- poop might result after consuming a barium milkshake for the purposes of getting an x-ray of the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Yellow- May indicate Gilbert's Syndrome, where the red blood cells are broken down, and since the broken down blood cells is what gives poop a lot of its color people with this condition will tent to poop a pale brown or yellow color. Another cause of yellow poop is a giardia infection. Giardia are tiny Protozoan parasites that can invade the intestines and result in severe yellow diarrhea.

Green- Healthy people can have green poop if they eat a diet rich in leafy green vegetables, or if they consume large quantities of food coloring (in ice cream, cake frosting etc.). But green poop can also be caused by excess iron in the diet, from dietary supplements, for example. If the body does not absorb all the iron consumed, the iron may stain the poop green, the color of iron (II) salts. Ordinarily, the green color may be masked by the normal brown poop color, but if digestion is thrown off by illness so that bilirubin is less concentrated in the intestine, the green color may become apparent. This can happen when a person is afflicted with diarrhea.

Now what about bird poop, and why is it always white?

Unlike mammals, birds don't urinate. Their kidneys extract nitrogenous wastes from the bloodstream, but instead of excreting it as urea dissolved in urine as we do, they excrete it in the form of uric acid. Uric acid has a very low solubility in water, so it emerges as a white paste. This material, as well as the output of the intestines, emerges from the bird's cloaca. The cloaca is a multi-purpose hole for birds: their wastes come out of it, they have sex by putting their cloacas together, and females lay eggs out of it.

Why do dogs and other animals like rats eat poop, other than the fact they are gross?

Many animals eat poop on a regular basis, and it is properly termed, Coprophagia. In the wild momma canines keeps her den clean by eating the poop of her young pups, and as the pups grow, they copy the behavior to help mom clean house. But, once weaned out of the nest, so to speak, most puppies typically stop eating poop. Generally, it takes a few weeks for pups to grow out of the phase of eating his own poop, but in some cases it can be a long-lasting problem. Although, coprophagia is a nasty habit that isn't desirable, it isn't a behavior that is dangerous as long as your dog is just eating his own poop. Now, if he tries to eat the cat's poop, that's a whole other issue that can become hazardous to his health. Or, if your dog eats another dog's poop, he may contract an illness, as most contagious canine illnesses are transmitted through feces, so if your dog ingests poop from a sick dog, he could become ill. Worms and other parasites can also be transmitted through ingesting poops, so ideally, it's just not something that you want your dog to do. Herbivores such as rabbits and rodents eat their own poop because their diet of plants is hard to digest efficiently, and they have to make two passes at it to get everything out of the meal. This is equivalent to a cow chewing its cud, only cows are able to re-eat their food without having to poop it out first. Another reason why animals eat poop is that poop contains vitamins produced by their intestinal bacteria. The animal is unable to absorb the vitamins through the intestinal wall, but can get at them by eating the poop. Another reason that animals such as dogs and flies eat poop is that poop contains a certain amount of protein.

Are there people who eat poop?

Yes, we all have, at one point or another. One of the main ways that diseases and parasites spread is through the consumption of food and water contaminated with feces. This happens because people don't wash their hands carefully after pooping or changing a diaper or scratching their butt. It can also happen through careless disposal of diapers. Our microbiologist here on Guam says that one dirty diaper in Tumon Bay can send the bacteria count through the ceiling.
But of course, what you want to know is, are there people who eat poop on purpose? Again, the answer is yes. In rare instances, people with severe developmental and psychological disorders practice pica, the consumption of non-food items, including coprophagy, the ingestion of feces. The behavior may also be observed among very young toddlers. Coprophagy is also listed as an unusual sexual practice in the encyclopedia of that name. Some people who practice sexual coprophagy say that only a lover's poop is good to eat; all other poop (including their own) makes them gag.

What causes diarrhea?
Diarrhea is caused by irritation in the intestines, resulting in the bowel passing its contents too fast for the water to be absorbed. There can be several causes, including infection by bacteria or viruses, irritation caused by unfamiliar foods, food allergies, chronic illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease, lactose intolerance, medications, and nervousness. If it's a persistant problem, don't mess around - see a doctor.

Do most people wipe their left-over poop standing up or while sitting on the pot, and are there gender differences?
Sitting down seems to be more common at least in my social group. It seems that sitting down spreads the cheeks apart and makes access easier. However, if you travel a bit, you will discover that people deal with left-over poop in different ways in other parts of the world. In France, for example, that water fountain in the bathroom isn't for drinking. It's a bidet for hosing off after using the toilet.

In Southeast Asia, you don't sit on the toilet at all. The toilet is a low, porcelain-lined trench, and the user squats over it. Next to the toilet is a bin of water. You scoop water out of the bin with your left hand and use that to cleanse yourself. You aren't supposed to use your left hand for any other purpose. So don't shake Asian's left hands who knows what's on there.

Why does corn come out whole?
Corn poop is one of the greatest mysteries in life. I grew up pondering the same question. This is what I think is happening...When we chew corn, the outer coating slips off the inner kernal. This outer yellow coating is almost entirely cellulose, and is indigestible. It passes through the gut untouched, and emerges looking like a whole kernal, although it is mostly just the outer skin. The inside of the kernal is starchy and digestible, and that is the part that we succeed in chewing up.

How does poop stay together, like in links?
In humans, soft poop is really one long, mostly continuous sausage before it comes out. It gets its "link" look because we tend to pinch off lengths of it with the anal sphincter as the poop emerges. If a person pinches hard enough, the poop separates into several turd units. If the person doesn't pinch that hard, the turds may stay connected. If you can remain sufficiently relaxed, you can produce an awesomely long poop that will coil up inside the toilet.

Why does some poop float?

Floaters are turds that have an unusually high gas content. Sometimes the gases produced by bacteria in our gut don't have a chance to collect into a large fart bubble, but remain dispersed in the feces. The poop then comes out foamy, and has a lower density than water. Poop with a high fat content will also float.

What causes the burning sensation sometimes associated with poop?

This is generally caused by a recent meal of hot peppers or related spices. The oils associated with these foods remain intact and active all the way through one's gastrointestinal system. These oils can also generate hot farts.

Why does some poop hurt when it comes out?

Turds can get very large and dry if a person is constipated, causing painful stretching of the anal opening. Pooping can also hurt if the person has hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are engorged veins in the anal area. A doctor once described them to me as "varicose veins of the anus," which suggests that the valves in the veins that are supposed to keep the blood flowing in the right direction have gotten messed up. Pooping can also be painful if the person suffers from an anal fissure, a tear in the tissue of the rectum.

Why does poop sometimes fizzle when it hits the water?

Fizzling can happen if the poop is supercharged with bubbles of fart gas. After discharge from the body, the poop is in a lower pressure environment and it degasses.

Does eating meat make your poop smell worse?
Yes, meat protein is rich in sulfides, resulting in smellier farts and poop. This is the reason that the poop of carnivores such as dogs, cats and snakes smells worse than the poop of herbivores such as cows and horses.

What is the origin of the word "poop"?
"poop" comes from the Middle English word poupen or popen, and it originally meant "fart." The word was based on the sound of a fart. According to Robert Chapman, author of American Slang, "poop" came into use with its current meaning around 1900.

Got more poop questions? Let me know and I will try my best.

Ithaca Ice Wars

As we well know winter is upon us meaning time for ice and cold. But with all the freezing temperatures also comes the perfect conditions for the start of the Ithaca Ice Wars Ice Carving Competition, part of the downtown Winter Festival this Friday and Saturday.

Saturday's events also include the first Ithaca Chowder Cook-off. Modeled after the February Chili Cook-off, 20 restaurants will compete for the title of downtown's best chowder.

The popular and interactive Ice Throne will once again adorn the Aurora Street pavilion during the festival. I love ice sculptures and even better watching them be made with a bowl of chowder in hand hope you got to enjoy it.

2010 Budgeting in Review

So I have recently stumbled upon what is perhaps the best website ever created other than this blog and facebook of course. It's called mint.com and you can visit after reading this post by clicking the link in the title of this post. So in discovering this amazing site on top of being plopped into the real world following graduation with a handful of loans and a couple dollars in my pocket I have learned the importance of budgeting if I am ever going to get out of debt before say I die. So in setting up my budget and exploring what I have been spending all my money on this year I thought it was quite interesting and have to admit I was rather surprised by it. So I thought I would share my calculated break down just for kicks.

My number one spender was on wait for it wait for it....Student loans :-P yuck accounting for 26.8% of my spending poopy and I only really starting paying them all this month.

Close behind was for car expenses and care not counting gas at 22.3% of my spending

Next comes gifts/ donations at 14.6%

Then comes Taxes and State Fees/ Tickets an icky 12.9% of my spending

Next gas 12.2% - thats pretty sad

And I have to eat you know 8.4%

The last 2.7% was then on things like toothpaste, shampoo, and clothing

Pretty crazy to see just how much I spent in each of these categories also very depressing to calculate that my net worth was a stunning $73,354.42 in the whole. Donations at this time would gladly be appreciated.

Thursday, December 9

Body Language and Communication Techniques

As we all know, communication is essential in society. Advancements in technology have transformed the way that we correspond with others in the modern world, yet when conversing face-to-face, it's not only speech we verbalize that matters. Body language is truly a language of its own. We all have quirks and habits that are uniquely our own.

I thought it would be fun to list some of the well-known signs that body language experts study and recognize. As you may know one of my favorite shows is Lie to Me. You should watch it if you haven't seen it yet its on fox. Its a great show and this subject has always fascinated me as I have always loved trying to get inside peoples heads. And have always loved reading and watching people. Its a great pass time next time you are out in public you should try it.

As you may have heard by know it has been shown that communication is 7% from actual words that are used, 42% from the tone and speed of voice, and then 51% is from their body language.

So what are some of these body language cues to look for and what do they mean? Well let the all knowing Krista enlighten you once again...

One often used body language is the positioning of ones head for instance lowering one's head can signal a lack of confidence. If someone lowers their head when complimented, they may be shy or timid, or insecure/ embarrassed.

Tilting one's head can symbolize interest in something or someone while overly tilted heads can be a sign of sympathy

Someone touching or tugging at their ear can indicate indecisiveness (hey that's me wonder if I tug at my ear all the time? - any one noticed?)

If someone touches or rubs their nose it may be an indication of doubtfulness or rejection of an idea

Type about detecting real happiness...Sincere smiles are typically ones that encompass the whole face (noticeable in the eyes) A false smile usually only engages the lips - not the eyes

Closing of eyes or pinching at the bridge of one's nose is often done when making a negative evaluation

When a listener nods, this is usually a positive message and relays that they are interested and paying attention However, excessive nodding can imply that the listener has lost interest but doesn't want to be rude, and has usually tuned out

Sticking out one's chin toward another may show defiance

Resting a hand on one's cheek is often done if they are thinking or pondering; and stroking the chin can mean the person is trying to make a decision- now I know I do that one a lot

Pushing back one's shoulders can demonstrate power and courage

Open arms means one is comfortable with being approached and willing to talk/communicate while Folded arms show that there is a sort of barricade between them and other people (or their surroundings) and indicate dissatisfaction - this prolly explains why I aways fold my arms

Resting one's arms behind their neck shows that they are open to what is being discussed and interested in listening more

Pointing one's finger can be construed as aggression or assertiveness

Touching the front of the neck can show that someone is interested and concerned about what another is saying

Hand movements that are upward & outward signify positive and open messages
Palms that are faced outwards towards another indicate one's wish to stop and not approach

If one's fingers are interlaced or if the finger tips are pressed together, it usually shows that a person is thinking and evaluating

If offering ideas to other people, many times the sides of one's palms are close together, with fingers extended

Putting your hands on your hips can show eagerness and readiness (also, at times, aggression)

Hips pushed forward, while leaning back can show that one feels powerful (also can be a suggestive gesture)

A wide stance - where one's feet are positioned far apart - signifies more power and dominance

When one sits with legs open and part, they might feel secure in their surroundings while crossed legs can mean several things: relaxed/comfortable, or defensive - depending on how tense the leg muscles are

When you cross your legs towards another person, you are showing more interest in them than when they are crossed away in the other direction

A confident and powerful position is the "Figure of Four Cross" when one's ankle is atop the other leg's knee and the top leg is pointed sideways

Bouncing your foot if your legs are crossed can show that you are bored or losing patience

The lowering of the eyes can convey fear, guilt or submission

Lowered eyebrows and squinted eyes illustrate an attempt at understanding what is being said or going on

A lack of confidence or apprehensiveness can be displayed when you don't look another person in the eyes

One tends to blink more often if nervous or trying to evaluate someone else
If you look directly into another person's eyes you are displaying self-assurance as wide eyes show more of an interest in a subject or person

If you are irritated with a comment made by another during a conversation, a common movement is to take a quick glance sideways

Staring at someone can be an aggressive gesture or suggest that the one staring feels dominant

Recalling a memory is usually done by looking up and to the right

Looking directly upwards can indicate that one is thinking

Eye contact is normally broken if someone feels insulted by another

There are some amazing drivers out there

Okay so I know I am really not one to talk about driving but these just made me feel good about driving and that really says something so I just had to share these with you I just donno how some of these are even possible pretty crazy.

Wednesday, December 8

Some of my Favorite Quotes

“A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave. A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, and make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life.”
~Elizabeth Gilbert

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

I’d rather live with a good question than a bad answer.
—Aryeh Frimer

We learn something every day, and lots of times it’s that what we learned the day before was wrong.
—Bill Vaughan

Don’t ever wrestle with a pig. You’ll both get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it.
—Cale Yarborough

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
—Cyril Connolly

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
– Joseph Campbell

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
– Gandhi

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.
- W.M. Lewis

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.”
– Plutarch

“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else” – Judy Garland

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
– Anne Frank

“Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.”
– Albert Einstein

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.” – James Oppenheim

"I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I've been knocking from the inside."
-- Rumi

The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
– Mark Twain

Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.
– Fyodor Dostoevsky

You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.
– Margaret Young

This is my “depressed stance”. When you’re depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand. The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you’ll start to feel better. If you’re going to get any joy out of being depressed, you’ve go to stand like this.
– Charlie Brown

Jumping for joy is good exercise.

My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate.
– Thornton Wilder

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
– Robert Brault

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
– Walt Disney

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I am woman! I am invincible! I am pooped!

If you’re going through hell, keep going.
– Winston Churchill

Your problem is you’re too busy holding onto your unworthiness.
– Ram Dass

Action is the antidote to despair.
– Joan Baez

You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.
– Dr. Seuss

Today is a new day.
– Chicken Little

When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.
– Leo Burnett

What the caterpillar calls a tragedy, the Master calls a butterfly.
– Richard Bach

She decided to enjoy more and endure less.

Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.
– Mae West

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Sprinkle joy.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be.
– Douglas Adams

What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.

When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it may be that they take better care of it there.
– Cecil Selig

Everything you do prepares you for the next thing.
– John Abel

It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.
– Sally Kempton

A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at her.
– David Brinkley

You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.
– Mary Tyler Moore

Improve your spare moments and they will become the brightest gems in your life.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

While you are upon the earth, enjoy the good things that are here.
– John Selden

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
– Will Rogers

She went out on a limb, had it break off behind her, and discovered she could fly.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. – -Henry David Thoreau

It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time.
– Margery Williams

As soon as people decide to confront a problem, they realize that they are far more capable than they thought they were.
– The Zahir

Being strong means rejoicing in who you are, complete with imperfections.
– Margaret Woodhouse

Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.
– John Lennon

Happiness is a way of travel, not a destination.
– Roy Goodman

Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.

The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow but the rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.

One of the greatest weaknesses in most of us is our lack of faith in ourselves.
– L. Tom Perry

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.
The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
– Hans Hofmann

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose. – Bill Gates

Joy is what happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. – Marianne Williamson

Monday, December 6


Toothpaste is quite an ordinary household item that is far too often taken for granted. And although I don't think I could live with out it for very long as I brush my teeth about a trillion and six times a day. Did you ever realize all the other amazing uses for toothpaste? And know I am not just talking about the stress re-leaver of squeezing a whole tube out, although that is quite fun too. Toothpaste can be used for so many other amazing purposes so don't underestimate its usu-fullness outside your mouth.

Think about it this way if toothpaste can get the stains out of your teeth and make them nice and clean won't it work on other things as well? The answer is absolutely. And in fact it works great on crayon on painted walls, when just about nothing else will, trust me I have tried. All you have to do is rub a damp cloth and some toothpaste on your marked-up wall and rinse with a clean wet cloth. It really works.

Now what about that stained carpet? -Scrub away with an abrasive brush and toothpaste, rinse, and TaDa, good as new!! You may even realize how dirty the rest of your carpet is in the process.

And try in on your dirty sneakers too works like magic, even on leather.

And those tough to get out stains on your favorite shirts....you guess it toothpaste gets it right out.

What about those scratches on your favorite DVD or CD? Turns out they too just want to be brushed just squeeze some non-gel toothpaste on a cotton ball and whip the disk from the center out then rise with some water and dry with a non-abrasive lint free cloth to get rid of those small scratches.

And don't you hate it when your goggles fog up and just never seem to be clear like when you first got them no matter what you try? Well next time try some toothpaste.

Toothpaste will even take out the stains on your Piano Keys, or get the nasty sour-milk smell out of your babies bottle. Talk about versatile. And yes it will even remove accumulated crap on your iron. Toothpaste can clean just about anything. A must have even after you pull out all your teeth for sure. So next time you are brushing your teeth remember all the other things that might need to be cleaned too.

But wait there is more, turns out toothpaste not only has cleaning power it can also serve as a skin remedy maybe that is why I have been relatively acne free as I tend to be a messy brusher. lol. Toothpaste will do in a pinch to reduce the redness and dry out your greasy disaster. Just don’t forget to wash it off in the morning, or else they’ll be giving you some strange looks.

And what about when you get a nasty odor on your hands from chopping up garlic or onions? --Just rub some toothpaste on your hands and they will be smelling minty fresh in no time. If you don't believe me try it yourself.

I got to go brush my teeth now this is killing me....lol

Quote for the day

"Happy Moments, Praise God.
Difficult Moments, Seek God.
Quite Moments, Worship God.
Painful Moments, Trust God.
Every Moments, Thank God."

Today's quote is a good one for all of us to live by no matter what circumstances we find ourself in.


A man walked into a bar and sat down next to a man with a dog at his feet. "Does your dog bite?" he asked. "No." A few minutes later the dog took a huge chunk out of the man's leg. "I thought you said your dog doesn't bite!" he said indignantly. The other guy replied, "That's not my dog."

For the Chemist in me

A neutron walks into a bar. "I'd like a beer" he says. The bartender promptly serves up a beer. "How much will that be?" asks the neutron. "For you?" replies the bartender, "no charge"

Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar. One says, 'I think I've lost an electron.' The other says 'Are you sure?' The first says, 'Yes, I'm positive...'
A hamburger walks into a bar, and the bartenders says, "I'm sorry, but we don't serve food here..."

Baby seal walks into a club... what a tragedy...

A guy walks into a bar. "OUCH!" he said...

A man walked into a bar, sat down, and ordered a beer. As he sipped the beer, he heard a soothing voice say "nice tie!" Looking around he noticed that the bar was empty except for himself and the bartender at the end of the bar. A few sips later the voice said "beautiful shirt." At this, the man called the bartender over,"Hey...i must be losing my mind," he told the bartender. "I keep hearing these voices saying nice things, and there's not a soul in here other than us." "It's the peanuts" answered the bartender. "Say what?" "You heard me" said the barkeep."it's the peanuts... they're complimentary."

A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One goes to a family in Egypt and is named Amahl while the other goes to a family in Spain and is named Juan. Years later Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother and upon receiving the picture she tells her husband she wishes she also had a picture of Amahl. "But they're twins," says her husband, "If you've seen Juan you've seen Amahl."

A guy goes into a nice restaurant bar wearing a shirt open at the collar and is met by a bouncer who tells him he must wear a necktie to gain admission. So the guy goes out to his car and he looks around for a necktie and discovers that he just doesn't have one. He sees a set of jumper cables in his trunk. In desperation he ties these around his neck, manages to fashion a fairly acceptable looking knot and lets the ends dangle free. He goes back to the restaurant and the bouncer carefully looks him over for a few minutes and then says, "Well, OK, I guess you can come in -- just don't start anything."

These two strings walk upto a bar... The first string walks in and orders and the bartender throws him out and yells "I don't serve strings in this bar... The other string ruffs himself up on the street and curls up and orders... The bartender shouts, Hey, didn't you hear what I told your buddy?" String says "Yeah." Bartender says, "aren't you a string?" ... String says, "No, I'm a frayed knot..."

Sunday, December 5


The Year in Review: Choose a word that reflects 2010 in your own life and explain why you chose it, then pass your review along to your friends and let them do the same.

Last year I remember being so completely in bliss that I prayed that God might take me and give me adversity that I might grown and strengthen in my faith and be a good example to others. I was so happy and everything was going so perfectly in my life that I desperately felt that I wanted something to challenge me and that I needed God to grow me and teach me through adversity. Little did I understand what I had asked when I asked it. But God certainly answered in a way I would never have expected, and although I have gone through so much hurt and pain this last year I am very greatful for all the growth and all the lessons I have learned as a result of this past year.

I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain.

In reflecting on all that has happened this year it is shockingly clear that God has time and time again been trying to get me to learn how to trust in him alone. This and coming to the point of being able to trust in God no matter what my circumstances has been the root of all my struggles this year. My "favorite" verse for this year that has continually been put on my heart admist all that has happened in 2010 is Proverbs 3:5,6
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Although I love that verse I would be lying if I did not hate it every time that that the holy spirit put that on my heart this year. And although I would eventually learn to trust in him I would once again gradually slip into going my own way and not totally depending on God and then would crash and come right back to the state of desperation where I would once again have little choice but to trust God as it seemed that was all I had left in the world.

For those of you that do not know my story I will tune you in a bit to just all that happened this year and maybe you can see how clearly God speaks and just how far he went to get me to trust him completely no matter what I am facing. 2010 began rather tragically for me as withing the first week of the year my fiancee of nearly 2 years called off our engagement, our quickly approaching wedding and our relationship all together. Although it shouldn't have been all that much of a shock given the dynamic of our declining relationship I was utterly devastated as I had mistakenly put all my trust in our relationship and had seemly neglected God as I replaced him with this imperfect substitute. This of course was one of the largest reasons our relationship ended up failing as Pat my ex could in no way satisfy my need for God and I in turn was constantly left feeling unloved, neglected, and rejected. The break up only intensified all of these feelings as in that instant of anger our entire lives would completely change as we both knew them. All my future plans went up in flames as they all were based on us getting married and being together I had given up all my hopes and dreams and was going to follow after him. But without him in my life I had no direction whatsoever I was left in the dark completely direction less. To top that all off I was also losing my best friend and the only person I had ever been able to really communicate with and tell everything too. I went from spending every spare moment talking to this guy to being completely isolated. And of course since I had been investing so heavily in this one relationship I had no idea where to turn and didn't even feel there was anyone to turn too.

I knew deep down God was there, but how could I trust God when he had brought Pat and I together and I had trusted him in all that I had felt that God had called us to be together forever and well I insisted that God had lied to me and now I was utterly and completely alone. It was a very very hard first few months and I constantly struggled with not turning to my ex as I would constantly call and beg for a chance as that was all I knew and all I thought I could have. I fell deep into depression and became suicidal. No one knew it as I put on a smile and pretended like nothing had ever happened. Then I confessed to my roommates and they helped with interventions and kidnapping my phone and computer to keep me from falling into talking to Pat. They and my family and my extensive work and school load helped keep me distracted to slowly ween myself off my obsession with this boy. As I gave him up I began to open myself up to God and let him take his rightful place once again.

I got better but I still refused to fully trust God as I just wanted answers as to what in the world I was going to do now. I knew God had plans for me I just could not take being in the dark and it was so hard to trust him alone as I felt like he had neglected to account for the fact that I mess everything up and I felt quite worthless and I was still very distant from God as I still was hurting and wrongfully blamed God for that.

To help fill my void and to feel accepted and loved once again I turned to online dating and began to flit for the first time in my life both online and in person. It may not have been anything over sinfull to the rest of the world but it was totally out of my character and it was a very rebellious act as I was ultimately telling God that he was not worth my trust and that I could get what I needed else where from boys. I slipped and I was very wrong. Although I felt accepted and happy momentarily with those various guys I ended up more broken and feeling all the more worthless and disgusted in myself. I ended up tearing up other relationships I ended up hurting other guys just so I could feel good. I became an addict striving for any kind of attention I could get. And nothing cut it as what I was really longing for was the relationship with God that he so desperately wanted me to have. By may I had done so many things I swore I never would do that I became someone I did not even know. I was able to graduate admits my lack of motivation but was still so uncertain of my future and still had a lot of resentment towards God for leaving me out when in reality all I had to do was open the door an let him in.

Although I was far from fully trusting in God I had come a tremendous ways in those five months and was learning to turn to God rather than boys or work or anything else to find true happiness and purpose. I was far from fully understanding and I was still completely in the dark as to where my life was going to go but I was coming to accept that and learning to trust in God and know that he had better plans for me and that he certainly had a better handle on my life that I did. I began to life my life for God once again. And God blessed me greatly for it he brought a tremendous and much needed peace into my life and then he brought great healthy friendships into my life that have blessed me tremendously. After graduation I very reluctantly followed God back to Binghamton despite having swore to move out. Turns out God had plans for me the one place I didn't want to me.

Back at home God helped me restore family relationships and I have never been closer to my family, God then blessed me with new friendships and eventually a great job in my field none the less. But admits these blessings I was still largely incomplacent and began slipping away from God once again leaning more and more on my own understanding and forgetting all that God had worked so hard to show me earlier that year. On top of my lack of trust in God I had a huge gap in my trust with others and would not let them in and one by one all the relationships God had blessed me with began to fall apart as I denied God his trust and I denied my friendships the opportunity to bloom failing to trust anything or anyone not even myself.

I was left feeling empty as ever and all alone. It was not until I totaled my car July 5th flipping it several times and then being helicoptered in to Cooperstown Trauma center that I would once again realize my dependence on God. God was certainly calling me back to him and clearly but I neglected to give him everything completely there were still things I wanted myself and so I held on and 2 weeks latter I got another and louder wake up call that I needed God and God alone. I said okay but didn't do to much about it. And Crash. I totaled my Dad's van the next week while they were in Mexico. I was left utterly alone and stranded. This time I got the point. I was pretty sure that nothing could get worse and I realized how badly I needed God on my side and how utterly I had messed up. I came back to God and trusted in him once again. Slowly my life came to some asemblance of an order, clearly it was no where near where it could have been had I listened to God the first time. And I was very broken very hurt and very lost and confused and seemly alone once again. It was just me and God and I felt so utterly wrong that I did not even want God as I saw how much I had hurt him and how great he was and how wrong I had been for hating him. I came to trust that he knew what he was doing but not fully as a month latter I acquired well over my limit in traffic tickets from a lot of careless driving and I would panic forgetting once again who was in control. I broke down once again and this time completely gave it to God knowing that without a licence I really had nothing and had no idea what I could even conjure up to fix that. Soon after God provided with a new job that would enable me to work even if I had to lose my licence and courts ruled allowing me to keep it. Truly God's hand was on me. But deep down did I really trust God in everything. No, I was still very much like an Israelite. Yeah that is me alright. And God knew it too. I was willing to trust in God when there was absolutely no other alternative or when things were going well but as soon as I found something that I wasn't happy with I was no longer all that trusting. So God made his point clear once more as I ran into a semi and just barely missed killing myself.

God made it clear and finally I got it, and hopefully I will continue to keep it. Trust in God always! He is good and our own ways will only fail us time and time again. This year has constantly been a reminder of that as well as my falleness and my stubbornness. My hope now is that I will never forget all that God has taught me this year and that I will continue to grow and learn to trust him more and more completely no matter what lies ahead knowing that he has better plans for me then I could ever dream of.

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings

This year was full of my lack of trust in others, in myself, in the future and particularly my lack of complete and total trust in God. I have been so broken and humbled by Gods continual reminder that he is God and I am not. I have lost so many relationships, plans, cars, dreams, goals, money, love etc. On top of that I came so close so many times to losing my faith all together this year, and nearly losing my life as well. But I have gained so much more I have learned what it fully means to depend on God alone and to trust him no matter what your circumstances.

Although the year was scattered with storm after storm, God was with me through it all and he is the only one that I will always be able to count on to carry me through. When my eyes were blind to His presence, my spirit rested in it.
When my heart brimmed over with wept and unwept tears, He caught each one in an ever-ready bottle, transforming them into a healing balm for my soul. When I felt miles away from Him, He would whisper His unfailing promises to me, closer than a heartbeat. I know that I can not escape from God and his love for me and I am confident more than ever of his undying love for me and his plan for my life whatever it may be. I will follow him and trust in him alone from now on. He simply is. And He always will be, just as He always has been. And I am so incredible thankful for my great God.

I will leave you with the lyrics to "What Faith Can Do" by Kutless which has carried me through all of my hardship this year and has pointed me to the truth of God's power and the power of faith and trusting in him. This song had come in to my life in the most remarkable of ways and has touched me immensely and I hope it does for you as well. (You can also see the music video but clicking on the title of this post.) Thanks for listing to all my ramble hope it saves you from having to learn this lesson the hard way as I did.

Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes and make a new beginning
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you're stronger, stronger than you know
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

Overcome the odds
You don't have a chance
(That’s what faith can do)
When the world says you can’t
It’ll tell you that you can!

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do
That's what faith can do!
Even if you fall sometimes
You will have the strength to rise

Saturday, December 4

It's not like its brain surgery, oh wait it is, never mind.

So as of October I became a the new laboratory technician at Binghamton University working in the Behavioral Neuroscience department under Lisa Savage. I the first few weeks of my job got me hooked and I feel deeply in love I was getting to do so many awesome things that I never had the opportunities to do at Houghton and I was actually using everything I learned in college. It was like the last four years and 100,000 dollars were not all totally a waste and it was so exciting. Now I was getting paid to do all the fun stuff and have no paper to write and no tests to worry about. Yes truly my job is every graduates dream. I even now have a life insurance policy, health, dental, vision and paid vacation. Truly amazing. And to top it all off I no longer have to spend $150 in gas and 20 some hours driving back and forth to work as I did in my previous job. And since I started I have gotten in no more accidents and haven't gotten any more traffic tickets. Yes I can say that this is certainly a good change for me.

But now for some insight into what it is like working as a lab tec at BU. I have a wide range of tasks. But I am just going to give you a brief insight into what I do as a lab tec.

- I do a lot of ordering things like chemicals, more rats, supplies etc. Biggest thing I learned there is that research is really really expensive.

- I am often responsible for handling (holding, weighting, loving, etc) the rats we run the tests on as well as feeding them

-I have done a few brain surgeries that either involve inserting probes into certain areas of the brain so we can see what role they will have and what role various chemicals have in that region or we give the rats lesions in certain areas of there brain. Below is picture of my first successful brain surgery and will let you see what they look like after a cap has been put on.

- I also will run micro-dialysis on the rats typically the lesion guys were we will run various neurochemicals through the brain using a probe (which is a pain as it breaks very easily) and then test the rats on a maze see if we can teach it to go to a certain arm using cheerios (very scientific) as rewards

- I also do spontaneous alternation running rats on different mazes and recoding which arm they go on

- I cut, stain and mount rat brains to slides which I then cover slip and use to do Steriology were I count the cells in particular regions of the brain to look at various effects notably neurogenisis

- I also am responsible for perfusions and live sacking using a guillotine and sacking, although I haven't been able to do one yet, we will see if I can.

- I am basically the run around person in the lab and will help out with all the experiments going on that the grad students are working on and also do fun things like was dishes clean the lab and various paper work or whatever needs to be done its a very exciting job and my jobs are different everyday which makes it exciting and challenging.

Bananas for Banana's

So perhaps it is the monkey in me, but I have always loved Bananas. I just recently learned of all these awesome facts and thought I would pass on my great knowledge. And just so you know I prefer my bananas slightly green when they are still a little hard. And now I shall enlighten you, as always.

First off with a little history lesson, Bananas have been grown and cultivated as a food source for nearly a million years. It is believed to have originated from the jungles of Asia, and is grown on the world’s largest herb plant, yeah herb plant turns out banana trees are not actually trees at all. Many experts believe that bananas were the first fruit cultivated by humans. Alexander the Great came across bananas in India in 327 B.C. and it is quite possible that they were the reason for his great military victory at least if you ask me. Bananas were then introduced to the United States at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Celebration, where they were sold wrapped in foil for 10 cents each. Since bananas have made their appearance in North America, the only time they have been conspicuously absent was in 1941 when both American and British governments requisitioned all large ships–including boats transporting bananas-- to aid in WWII war efforts.

India is the #1 banana producer in the world, and worldwide banana's are the fourth largest fruit crop. The most popular banana cultivar in the world is the Cavendish. This is the banana most often seen in U.S. and European markets. About four million bananas, grown and harvested year-round, are imported to North America each year.

The three largest banana companies in operation as of 1999 were Chiquita, Del Monte and Dole, and together they have cornered more than 60 percent of the world banana market. Chiquita was initially called the United Fruit Company. In the 20th century, they played a controversial role in the politics of Central America, where they had vast holdings. The company earned the nickname of "The Octopus" in the region because they had their hands in so many political pots.

Now just how popular is the banana? --- Well here are the facts
-The average American consumes 28 pounds of bananas per year.
-In Uganda, bananas are such a big part of the diet that the same word, matooke, is used for both "food" and "banana."
So I would say they are pretty darn popular, maybe this is where the whole concept of evolving from monkey's comes from?

Growing banana's is not too difficult if you live in the right climate that is. They are typically ready to be harvested 8-10 weeks after its appearance on the plant. Propagation of the banana plant is done through shoots from the rhizomes; banana seeds are sterile; in order to grown and propagate, the banana plant must have tropical sunny temperatures (not going to get to grow them here in Binghamton :( ), rich soil, and lots of water; virtually all bananas are grown in southern tropical countries. The fruit is harvested green :), then shipped to special ripening facilities where it will take anywhere from three and a half to seven days to finish ripening. It takes about two and a half weeks for the fruit to be harvested, ripened, and placed on supermarket shelves.

At home, bananas should be keep at room temperature, or hung on a banana hook for the best results. Bananas can be placed in the refrigerator for slower ripening. The peeling will darken, but the fruit will remain firm for several days. Green or green-tipped bananas are best for cooking and/or broiling. The fruit actually ripens best off the plant, so don’t be afraid to purchase green bananas. When left on the plant too long, they fruit tends to split open and become tasteless yucky. Yellow bananas are perfect for eating fresh or adding to your favorite salad or sandwich. Brown-speckled bananas, or ripe and/or overripe fruit are still good for baking. In order to ripen a green or green-tipped banana in your home, place it in a brown paper bag for a couple of hours. It’s possible to hasten the ripening process of other fruits and vegetables by placing them in a brown paper bag overnight with several ripe bananas. As a general rule the closer the bananas are to other food products the faster they will ripen.

Now for Banana Vocab....Bunches of bananas are referred to as hands, while a single banana is called a finger. A cluster of bananas is anywhere from four to eight individual fruits.The strings that go up and down the length of bananas are called Phloem Bundles. (They help distribute nutrients to every part of the growing bananas.) The yellow bananas that are most often sold in supermarkets are sometimes called "dessert bananas" because they are soft and sweet.

Now how about nutrition? Ounce for ounce, the fruit of a banana is a good source of Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium, which also adds to its appeal. But wait, there are far more health benefits to this delicious yellow fruit. Such as ....

*Reducing Depression
Bananas contain tryptophan, an aminoacid that can be converted to serotonin, leading to improved mood

* Helping Reduce Anemia
Bananas are relatively high in iron, which helps the body's hemoglobin function

*Reducing Constipation and Diarrhea
Due to their content in fiber, they help restore a normal bowel function. In addition, diarrhea usually depletes your body of important electrolytes (of which the most important is potassium, contained in high amounts in bananas). They also contain pectin, a soluble fiber (hydrocolloid) that can help normalize movement through the digestive tract.

*Eyesight Protection
Research published in the Archives of Ophthalmology has proven that adults consuming at least 3 servings of fruit per day have a reduced risk (by 36%) of developing age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.

*Healthy Bones
Bananas are an exceptionally rich source of fructooligosaccharide, a compound that nourishes probiotic (friendly) bacteria in the colon. These beneficial bacteria produce enzymes that increase our digestive ability and protect us from unhealthy bacteria infections. Thanks to fructooligosaccharides, probiotic bacteria can increase both in number and functionality, increasing our body's ability to absorb calcium.

In addition, green bananas- my favorite :-) contain indigestible short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that are very nutrient to the cells that make up the mucosa of the stomach. These cells, when healthy, absorb calcium much more efficiently

*Healthy Kidney
About 190,000 cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed each year.
Research published in the International Journal of Cancer has shown that daily consumption of whole fruits and vegetables, especially- you guess it- bananas, is highly protective to kidney health. The results show that, over a long timeframe (13.4 years), women eating more than 2.5 servings of fruits and vegetable per day cut their risk of kidney cancer by 40%. Among the fruits, bananas were especially protective. Women eating bananas four to six times a week halved their risk of developing the disease compared to those who did not eat this fruit. The conclusion of the study is that frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, cabbage and root vegetables, may reduce risk of kidney cancer. This is because bananas and many root vegetables contain especially high amounts of antioxidant phenolic compounds.

*Blood Pressure
Bananas are extremely high in potassium (about 4673mg), yet very low in sodium (1mg), thus having a perfect ratio for preventing high blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

*Morning Sickness
Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood-sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. They contain vitamins B6 and B12 they contain, as well as potassium and magnesium: these substances help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

This is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicle cases. It also helps reduce acidity and reduces irritation. Bananas stimulate the cells on the internal stomach lining to produce a thicker mucus (which protects against acid). Additionally, bananas contain protease inhibitors that help eliminate bacteria in the stomach that have been pinpointed as a primary cause of ulcers.

Bananas are high in B vitamins that have been shows to improve nerve function

*Mosquito Bites
Many people report that rubbing the inside of a banana peel on a mosquito bite is very effective in reducing itching and swelling

*Stress Relief
Bananas are high in potassium, which helps normalize the hearthbeat and regulate the body's water balance. During periods of high stress, our body's potassium levels tend to be rapidly depleted: eating bananas is a healthy way to rebalance them without using drugs

*Stroke Risk
According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can reduce the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%

In summary if you have a problem no matter what it is eat a banana it will fix everything :-)

Banana peel has its uses as well and is also edible although not very yummy if you ask me. The peeling makes a good fertilizer for rose bushes. Simply dig a hole near the rose bush and bury the peeling, or use it to heal those mosquito bits.

Warning to those allergic to latex as About 50 percent of people who are allergic to latex are often also allergic to bananas. Stinks for you guys.

And some final random banana facts,
The song "Yes, We Have No Bananas" was released in 1923 and became a huge hit. It refers to the banana shortage at the time. Click the title to hear it.

In 2001, Britain recorded 300 incidents of injuries related to bananas. The majority of these involved people slipping on banana peels. Watch out!

Friday, December 3

Christmas is in the air

As I woke up this morning I was a bit dazed as always and slightly confused as I am not used to being home anymore and was quite surprised to find myself in my own bed and then to look out the window and see the first snow fall covering the ground. Most likely the latest first snow fall yet this year. Although it means cold and winter is here I was still quite thrilled to finally have some white stuff and the prospect of playing in it it around the corner. And after all its December and Christmas is right around the corner and how could we truly get into the great Christmas spirit without that blessed white stuff to cover up the leaves we missed and the browning grass? Truth be told Christmas simply wouldn't be the same with out it.

As I looked out the window at the snow covered ground uncertain of weather to jump up and dance, go out and make some snow angles, or to pull the covers back over my head and hope that it would melt before I got up, I starting to think about Christmas time and why I love it so much. There are so many things I love about this time of year and maybe you do to. I have come to realize that everyone has very different concepts of what Christmas time is to them and various traditions whether they realize it or not that makes Christmas wonderful. Here are my favorites, what are yours?

As I mentioned Snow has always been a big part of Christmas for me and when I see in on the ground I always think of Christmas time whether it be the hours slaving away at the drive way, the countless snowmen and snow angles Jeremy, Alyssa and I would make over Christmas break. The times sledding in the front yard, snow ball fights or simply just eating snow and trying to make each other eat our home made yellow snow. We have certainly shared so many great memories out in the snow around this time of year and snow just helps at that extra touch of Christmas in the air. Even if I no longer have the hope of snow days to look forward to.

Even more important than the snow though, Christmas for me is only Christmas because of my family and all the times and traditions we share at this time of year together. I know that it would not feel like Christmas at all with out my beloved family. The picture to my right is me and my mommy and daddy on my very first Christmas 22 years ago. There are literally thousands of things that I could list that my family does at Christmas that helps make it so special but most importantly it is just that we are all able to come together an share and eat and talk and play and give and laugh all together and forget the other worries of our lives. My family is full of amazing and very interesting people and I am so greatful to have them in my live and to get to have them all come together at least once a year.

Going off of family I would have to say that my Christmas is defined in large part based on when we get together and where. Until I was 7 or 8 we always got together at my great aunt margie's house up in Binghamton we would get together with all my mom's cousins and relatives and all eat lots of food an then pass out presents and sit and open them all. (mostly us kids) I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to all the old people then other that to thank them for the gifts. After having games an stories we would always go out and look at the big Christmas light displays on our way home an then head quickly home searching for Santa's sleigh in the sky. When we got home without fail Santa had always beaten us there an had left us a note and PJ's and tooth brushes we would then put on our new Christmas PJ's (take a photo of course) then brush our teeth beg and sometimes succeed at getting to open one present before bed and then head straight to our made beds and clean rooms ( that was the one day of the year we had to make out beds) and wait till morning (5am). Then at 4 my brother would always try sneaking out to snoop at what he was getting and make sure Santa had come and wake me up of course and we would beg till Daddy would finally cave in and release all the booby traps that had been set up to keep us in our rooms till morning. We then spent the morning opening gifts always one at a time and taking photos and my dad always had the video camera.

After my great Aunt Margie died some new traditions were put in place as we then went to my Grandma Ritas with all my Dad's family every Christmas eve we would always pick names of cousins before hand and exchange gifts with that person, and then we learned a new gift giving game and always ate a lot and played board games with my cousins.

Another thing I will never forget about the Gould family Christmas is taking family photos usually for our Christmas cards which we always sent out way too many of, and too way to many different photos of in what my mom deemed photo shoots which we of course had to have many sessions of.

Once we moved to our current home we began a new tradition of having a big Christmas party the day after Christmas will all our family and friends playing games sharing favorite gifts, eating of course and just having a great time of fellowship.

Perhaps my equally favorite part of Christmas is giving and just finding that perfect gift for everyone on your list. And then of course all the baking and decorations and goodies to share as well. I just love being able to bless people in that way and love making things for people and this time of year is just a great excuses to be able to give and share with loved ones.

Growing up in a strong Christian home we always but a lot of emphasis on the real meaning behind Christmas and tried not to get so caught up in all the commercial stuff but make sure we knew what we were really celebrating. We would always make Jesus a happy birthday cake and sing to him every year and always read the Christmas story every Christmas eve and go to a Church service of some kind. I love the Christmas Carols we would sing and getting to light the candles in the darkened sanctuary. One of my favorite Christmas quotes is
Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years... Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.

There are really so many more traditions to list such as watching The Grinch and The Christmas Story every year and decorating the house and the tree as well as putting up the lights. I really do love the whole feel of Christmas time. But as this busy season of glee and festivities approach let us not forget the real reason we are celebrating. And this year make sure you take the time admits all that fun and reflect on what Jesus did for us and why he was born. We have a great reason to celebrate!