Jun 30, 2012

Preparing for a home inspection

Preparing for a home inspection can be fraught with fear if you are not properly prepared. This is a process that should have started long ago by first inspecting your house on your own, and then with an agent if you are going to use one. You’re overcome with anxiety and have many things to do from calling the movers to enrolling the kids in school to packing valuables and saying farewell to neighbors and people you have come to know.

Preparing for a home inspection typically starts long before the hiring of an agent. Whether you are producing a seller’s home inspection for the buyer or expecting the buyer’s home inspector to appear, it is best to have one. Here are some recommended ways to get ready for a home inspection.

• Present a clean house. Make some special effort in areas where there is clutter and wipe the walls and your appliances. Taking the rooms one by one, a female buyer’s most important room in the house is the kitchen. Are the walls clean? Could you change the faucets and put new handles on the cupboards? More importantly, remove all clutter around the heating or air conditioning equipment. Let the house speak for itself.

• The inspector will need to test and run the appliances so leave the utilities connected. Without utilities the inspection will have to be rescheduled which means you might be late for your closing.

• Provide access to the attic by removing boxes and other clutter which will impede progress.

• Clear away brush and other rubble around the house or where the inspector needs to be.

• Cut down tree branches in the summer when the weather is good. You want to present a house that gives the impression that it has been well maintained.

• Have invoices and quotes for repairs ready and handy and give paperwork to the buyers so they can see how things are progressing.

• Stand on the opposite side of the street and view the house as if you are a stranger for the first time looking at the house. You are bound to see where you could plant some flowers or what has to be removed at the side of the house.


Important things to look for when buying a house

Location would be the first priority on every potential buyer’s shopping list. You can’t move forward until you have a location you can check out and work on. You can work with an agent or you and your partner can look for the perfect spot on your own. Here are some things to check out once you have a firm location in mind.

• Is it near the schools, libraries and medical facilities for children? How far would you have to travel if there was an emergency? How far would you have to travel to work? How long would it take if you got a call at school that one of your children is sick and you have to get back there?

• You want to be near the highway but not next to it. If the house you love is on a hill, does it have a lot of steps to climb? Does the house have a great view, but also make it easy for intruders to break in? Can others see from their windows down into your living room or bedroom? Is it safe for your kids to be in the yard on their own?

• What about the neighborhood? Is the house you want the only good-looking one on the street which is littered with newspapers blowing around and bins which are standing on the sidewalks filled with rubbish all week long? Speak to one or two neighbors and ask them about safety and a neighborhood watch. There are people who do nothing else but sit at their windows to see what is going on in the street. They would be good candidates to talk to. It would be terrible if you bought the house only to find that you can’t leave it for fear that you will be robbed.

• Unless you have children do not buy a four-bedroom home for two people. It’s a waste of space unless you plan to run a home business. As well, you will increase your utility bill with heating and air conditioning costs.

• If you are bent on buying the house and are wondering about costs, a good paint of the exterior will do wonders. Always think big when you make such a big purchase. Once you have the house you can’t change your mind. If your dream has always been to live in a nice house but you could not afford it, buy a smaller house in the neighborhood you want and get your foot in. That will allow you to see what else will go on sale in the neighborhood in the event you wanted to move again.


Jun 29, 2012

Needing God and loving it

I just read a long tongue-in-cheek article on God and why we need God, and was disappointed that although the author was funny, the article was a long psychological explanation which is not what I wanted to read. I wanted the simple reasons for believing and needing and loving a Higher Power in my life.

What God means to me

• The most important reason for me to believe in God is that I am never alone. I talk to God all the time as if I was talking to a friend. God is a guide for me and I know when I am doing wrong and God is silent and when I am not selfish and God is pleased. It does not matter to me if God does not exist in a way I can’t understand as long as I don’t lose God as a friend. My love for God is firmly established and while I err and do wrong like everyone else, I try hard not to transgress.

• I could not imagine living a cold, empty life without the breath of God. It is not out of fear that I love God, but out of God’s love for me and I don’t want to disappoint. It does not matter to me how others believe or what they do not believe; we are all individuals and we make our own decisions on how to live. If they can live without God, good for them, and I wish them well.

• Like everyone else I need God’s help to pick me up when I am down, and to warn me of my transgressions. I know when God is pleased with me and I feel good, and when I misbehave and God is silent. God is like a loving, comforting blanket your mother spreads over you when you need it. When I indulge in games of risk, God is silent for a long time. And then God forgives me as He knows what is in my heart.

• In times of hardship or loss God is there for me and picks me up when I am down. He gives me the strength to stay strong and to get on with my life. He gives me the courage to believe and not despair. God is my personal guard and adviser and my life would be empty if I did not have God to call on. God is my conscience and without my conscience I would be a reckless and helpless human being. Does that mean that I believe out of fear? Not at all. I believe out of love.


Was Rafael Nadal sour grapes for losing to a player ranked 100?

Nadal is a formidable opponent on the court but yesterday just took it too far. His shots were substandard, his mood was dark and foreboding, he was argumentative, and somehow this writer, even though Nadal is a superstar at his job – it is a job after all – just was plain rude and out of it. He acted like a spoiled brat who could not get his way. He scowled for most of the match, he had words with the umpire, and was a hard loser.

I have written about Nadal many times and each time, even though Nadal had come out on top and won the match, he still had a list of shortcomings which showed his immaturity after a win and was not always gracious to the person on the other side of the net. It was the first time watching him play that I wanted him to lose. Losing is a good way to start learning and Rafa has a lot to learn yet about good manners and humility.

When he wins he jumps onto the rafters; when he loses he is surly and those water bottles get rearranged more times than usual and his picking at his pants tells how anxious and nervous he is.

It is nice to win but one must not win and take the pleasure out of the game by not being a good sport and ruining the day for the other player who felt almost afraid to show his joy. Kudos to Lukas Rosol who was a real winner on and off the court; not once did he grimace or make Rafa feel bad, whereas Rafa gave Rosol a mediocre pat on the shoulder and left showing all the world what a kid he still is.

It was good to see uncle Tony squirm in his seat as his protégé showed his bad side to the world. Uncle Tony is a good influence on Nadal, but perhaps uncle Tony should take some time out to teach Nadal the art of losing and not rob him of a bit of home schooling on how to behave when all does not go his way. All is fair in love and war; same on the tennis court.


Bird Food and Bird Feeders

When you love your birds you want them to have the best nutrition for a healthy coat and a perky demeanor. You don’t want your birds to leave their pellets uneaten in the bowl and dislike their food. Here is a list of nutritious and different types of bird and budgie food on the market you can choose from.

Budgie and parrot food

• An enhanced formula for young parrots which are being hand-raised by you. It is inexpensive and filled with nutrients.

• A dry mix of mango-flavored nutrients to supplement the diet of caged birds as well as birds which are breeding.

• A parrot pellet maintenance diet which is highly palatable. Parrot pellets are fully extruded which makes for complete balanced nutrition with vitamins and minerals for parrots.

• Vitamin and mineral supplements, a concentrated palatable source of vitamins and minerals in water soluble form. The recommended dose is 1 teaspoon per liter of water.

• Nectar pellets providing complete nutrition for nectar eating birds.

• Fruity treats consisting of a high quality mix of dehydrated fruits, making a tasty and nutritious treat supplement for all birds.

• A wet mix of banana flavored nutrients to supplement the diet of breeding and caged birds.

Insect-eating birds deserve special mention in that they require a diet high in fat and protein. Insecta-Pro, a complete live-food replacement supplies crucial proteins found in insects; something lacking in grains and vegetables. It provides a supplemental feed for all insectivorous birds, as well as those who need live food. The wet mix assists in stimulating breeding pairs and provides a balanced diet for young birds.

Attractive bird feeders for budgies and parrots

There are few things more beautiful than the sound of twittering birds cooing outside your window. Here is a selection of bird feeders in a variety of styles and designs to add attractiveness to the cage and provide added excitement on your porch or outside your window where there is shade.

1 Window feeders which allow you to enjoy the sound of your birds up close.
2 Hopper feeders suspended from the branch of a tree or from a deck awning.
3 Oriole, bluebird and cardinal feeders when you wish to attract a certain type of bird.

Bird feeder designs

• A tube bird feeder attracts finches to your yard; small birds in a variety of colors primarily feeding on thistle seed and making beautiful chirping sounds. Some finch feeders have room for as many as 18 birds on their perches.
• A window feeder which can be attached to a window with Velcro or suction cups or placed inside a windowsill. These feeders have a one-way mirror allows you to come within inches of your birds without disturbing them.

• Bird feeders come in the form of chalets, red barns, pagodas and many other designs.

• Hopper feeders which are spacious and holds large quantities of seed making it easy for a flock of birds to approach. Go online for a more in depth search and make an informed choice.


Jun 28, 2012

Little lies can lead to big problems

As parents we have all heard these words from our kids: “I didn’t do it, Mom – It’s not me, HE did it – I didn’t eat the chocolate in the fridge, I swear I didn’t.” If we find these utterances by our children cute and seem proud of their language skills, they will languish in the praise and continue to tell lies. The little lies will eventually escalate to punishable wrongs and the kids will be confused as to why they are being punished. It is the parent’s duty to nip lying in the bud. Kids tell fibs all the time not realizing that they are lying and what it means to lie. A sweet might go missing from the bowl or a plate might have fallen to the floor that they are responsible for and when mom asks, ‘who did it’, no one answers or you get the most preposterous responses.

Correct your children when they lie

I remember being around seven or eight when I took a penny from the shelf of the kitchen dresser without asking; only a penny – but how my mother dealt with that penny was to ask each child individually, ’did you take the penny?’ My sister and brother said no. When it came to my turn, I could only look down at my toes and admit that it was me. She did not make a big thing about it, and did not talk to me in front of my younger brother and sister, but told me nicely after my bedtime bath that to tell a lie is to be dishonest, and that she would not like to think of me as a dishonest child. That was the biggest shame for me and I never forgot it.

Levels of punishment

We love our kids, but part of our job is to correct them when they are wrong. It is for their benefit, and parents are charged with the responsibility. As there are degrees in the levels of dishonesty there should be levels of correction when kids start to lie. Taking a sweet without asking may be nothing when you are two or three, but when you steal a cell phone at school or a chocolate bar from the grocery store, it is a big thing. Parents should bring up these subjects over dinner when everyone is at the table and talk to them about what can happen if they lie. Lies lead to wrongdoing if not corrected, and a child who steals from a grocery shop will get into big trouble later on when he runs with the wrong crowd and his parents do not punish him. He won’t be so cute behind bars.


Emotional dishonesty on the internet

You meet a nice guy on the internet and a friendship soon develops between you where all is good and above board and he is a nice, genuine friend. After dozens of email exchanges you decide to meet, and you arrive at the restaurant where you are going to have dinner and find that he is sitting in a wheelchair. You are shocked. He never mentioned his disability. What do you do? He is a nice man and you still like him, but he has been dishonest with you in not disclosing that he has a disability. Do you feel you’ve been tricked? Do you ask him about it? Do you have the dinner and not mention it? Do you become angry? After all, it is just a dinner date and you supposedly are only friends. Your own honesty will be tested with what you do next.

Possible responses

• You can greet him and not act surprised and have dinner as you normally would and not mention anything at all and when you get home, just delete him from the computer.

• You can greet him and bring up the matter, as it has to be addressed, after the drinks have been served and while you are waiting for dinner. You could ask him why in over a hundred letters between you he did not mention the fact that he was wheelchair bound.

• You can get angry and become rude, which is not going to serve anyone.

• You can be sympathetic and understand why he’s done it, and if he is enough of a friend and you like his company, tell him honestly that you would like to be friends only and that you have no hidden desires.

• You can also go home, write him a nice note thanking him for dinner, not mentioning anything of his disability and delete him from your life. If you are a true friend and really had no intentions or expectations, you could remain his friend.

In conclusion, there was dishonesty involved in that he omitted important information about himself in order to get a date, but one can certainly understand why. Probably he has been rejected many times and wanted to meet you first before he told you. If you truly have no expectations, you can forgive him and continue with the friendship. It is up to you.


Jun 27, 2012

Specialists in Pediatrics

It is not unusual for your young children to be under the care of a pediatrician, but what type of specialist should you take your child to considering that there are specialists for both children and adults? The medication prescribed by a pediatrician for an adult may not be the same medication a specialist would prescribe for a child. Children are growing all the time and they have special needs for growth and development; their psychological needs are different from those of adults. You have to take into account the age and development of the child and whether you want a pediatrician or a specialist. A pediatrician does not have the same length of training as a specialist, but this does not mean that he is not a good pediatrician. Still, his knowledge gives him an edge.

Differentiating between pediatricians and pediatric specialists

A pediatrician can go just so far; a specialist deals primarily with children and it would be his diagnosis that would be sought in the event of illness. These specialists in pediatrics, in addition to their training in general pediatrics have additional training in their specialty. To make it clearer, a pediatric Gastroenterologist after medical school has trained for three years in a pediatric residency program and completed an additional three years of training in Pediatric Gastroenterology.

Conversely, an adult Gastroenterologist trains for the same amount of time, but cares mostly for adult patients. If your child is taken to hospital in an emergency and is attended to by the doctor on hand, the doctor might be the child’s pediatrician, but the pediatrician does not necessarily have the same length of pediatric training. In the same way, not all pediatric specialists, with all their training are pediatricians.

Take for example the case in the July 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus which found that almost 20 percent of toddlers were misdiagnosed and prescribed glasses when they saw an Optometrist or General Ophthalmologist. It probably happened because they applied adult standards to children.

Choosing a doctor or a specialist

All of the above indicates that the best specialist for your child is not always the one who has additional pediatric training. Consider the doctor’s level of experience. Find out more about pediatricians and pediatric specialists in your area. A General Surgeon has lots of experience treating children who have appendicitis, but may not have enough experience to treat an infant with pyloric stenosis. It is crucial when choosing a pediatrician who is not a specialist, to know how many kids he has taken care of and if he has treated many children with the same condition.

Types of services

Services in pediatrics include: Pediatric abuse evaluations, Pediatric allergy and immunology, Pediatric cancer, cardiovascular program, dermatology, emergency medicine, endocrinology, feeding and swallowing, gastroenterology, genetic testing for children, Hospital program, infectious diseases, Neonatal intensive care unit, whole body cooling, kidney care, neuroscience program, orthopedic oncology, orthopedics, intermediate care, psychiatry, pulmonary services, radiation oncology, radiology, rheumatology, sedation services, surgery and urology. Your pediatrician is your best source of information if you are looking for a pediatric specialist.


Jun 26, 2012

Benefits and uses of Raspberry Ketone

According to Wikipedia research has shown that raspberry ketone can help in weight loss especially when it is paired up with exercise and a well-balanced diet. Raspberry ketone is the primary aroma compound of red raspberries and regulates metabolism if used in the correct way. It breaks down the fat in your cells helping the body to burn fat faster. The preferred and recommended dose is 100mg per day and one would have to consume 90 pounds of raspberries to get the same benefits of the whole fruit.

Uses of Raspberry Ketone

It is used in cosmetics, perfume and also as a food additive to give flavor. It is one of the most expensive natural flavor components used in the food industry and can cost as much as $20,000 per kilogram. In 1965 raspberry ketone was put on a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When given to mice in very high doses raspberry ketone was shown to prevent high fat-diet induced elevations in body weight.

Dr Oz on Raspberry Ketone

As far as Dr Oz is concerned Raspberry Ketone is the new miracle in the bottle for people to lose weight. He claims in a video on You Tube that scientists have isolated an enzyme and he expounded on the benefits of raspberries and that it is an all-natural supplement. He produced photographs of users of Raspberry Ketone and claimed further that weight loss would start to become noticeable after about five days.

What Dr Oz did not tell you

1 To make sure that the product is made in the United States as various studies have shown that 89% of Raspberry Ketone production from China has various chemicals that could be dangerous and that the ingredients used are almost always of a lower quality.

2 That the product be certified.

3 That Raspberry Ketones should not have ephedrine in their formula. Ephedriine is an alkaloid and can be dangerous. It is also banned in some states.

4 That Raspberry Ketones can help you lose 40 pounds but you should not expect to lose more weight than that.

5 That you cannot lose more than 40 pounds with a single bottle of Raspberry Ketone. Dr Oz makes the astounding claim that Raspberry Ketone products have no side effects.

How does Raspberry Ketone work?

• It stimulates fat loss in several ways by loosening fat from fat stores,
• By increasing energy expenditure,
• By increasing fat burning,
• By increasing levels of the hormone adiponectin,
• By inhibiting fat absorption.

If you are taking Raspberry Ketone as a measure to lose weight, you should do it in conjunction with eating healthy whole foods and doing daily exercise. The supplement should be taken as a capsule, tablet, powder or liquid and should be taken 30 minutes before a big meal.

What you should know

Before you run out for your first bottle of Raspberry Ketone, be aware that every capsule of certified Raspberry Ketone has 300 mg of pure Raspberry Ketone, which is a lot, and that you should not use more than two capsules a day. It is estimated that you can lose between five to ten pounds during your first ten days. Apparently the supplement is hard to get and you should go online to their official website. To go to their official website click here.

What you can expect

The product is effective for losing weight, you can lose seven to ten pounds in the first week, but this is because the product triggers an increased production of the hormone Adiponectin which helps your body act and think like a thin person even though your body might be quite obese. So to add to exercise, a good wholesome diet, you should also work on your mind and think thin. Go online for more corroborating information.


Jun 25, 2012

Flood and earthquake coverage

Do you live in or have you moved to an area which is prone to flooding and earthquakes? Is your current insurance updated to give you adequate coverage when and if the rain starts and there is a flood or an earthquake and your home is demolished? Don’t wait for the last minute to put your insurance needs in place. Answer the following to get a quick answer as to what you will need to do.

• Have you had one or more earthquakes in your area – meaning location of frequent earthquakes or floods – and your property has been severely affected?

• Is your house solidly constructed to withstand an earthquake and will you be able to pay for all water damage?

• Could you absorb the cost of replacing your home and personal property? If your answer is no it is time to update your coverage to reflect your current needs.

Type of insurance needed

What you need is a flood insurance policy which will provide flood protection for both your residence and its contents. This can be obtained by updating your coverage and purchasing up to a quarter million dollars for the building and up to one hundred thousand dollars to cover your contents. If you need excess insurance for the amount exceeding the amount available through the federal program, you can purchase this through a private insurer. This excess would cover amounts above the $250,000 federal limit.

What is covered and what is not

Flood insurance does not cover all types of damage, such as flood-related basement damage. It also does not cover the failure of a sump pump or seepage or any damage caused by sewer backups unless they are directly related to a flood. Federal disaster assistance is in the form of loans or grants and will only be paid if the damage is widespread and serious and the area is declared as a disaster area by the Federal Management (FEMA).

What you have to do first is to sit down with an insurance expert to determine what is and what is not covered. If you are not covered for damage by either flooding or earthquakes you can buy flood or earthquake insurance if you live in an area prone to these kinds of disasters. Consider purchasing a policy even if you do not live in a high-risk area as melting snow, bad drainage, storms and hurricanes can all cause serious flooding.


The importance of life, accident, and disability insurance

If you are a family and have children who depend on you, you absolutely need life insurance coverage. You need disability if you are injured, especially if you are a one-income family and have young children who are depending on you for their livelihood. You need life, disability and other insurance to provide funds when and if something happens to you. Listed below are some reputable life insurance companies you can go online for and check out.

Mutual of Omaha founded in Omaha, Nebraska puts emphasis on family values and was established to provide financial security to families in need. In l924 the company ranked as the 8th largest insurance company and continuously came up with an inventory of products.

Accuquote allows users to go online and enter their information to get access to term or life insurance options. They can also get several quotes from different companies; all upon getting the information and thinking about it and making an informed decision. Life is made simple for the applicant as he or she can then submit an application and a hard copy is mailed for signatures and medical exams or other medical requirements. Various resource tools are available on the site to help the customer.

Gerber Life Insurance started operations in 1967. Their trademark logo is of an adorable infant recognized the world over from the company’s baby food products and from vigorous print and web advertising on billboards and other campaigns. Gerber Life claims that even though they are thought of as strictly “a baby life insurance provider, the company is much more than that and offers many insurance options.”

Quote Guardian, an online insurance leads provider was created to give clients a place to shop for any type of insurance quotes from multiple insurance companies. The company stresses that it is neither an insurance company nor affiliated with one. They have a group of licensed Insurance Agents across the country and how it works is that the client submits an application for an insurance quote and Quote Guardian matches the client with a local agent in his or her area. The agent provides an array of quotes from different companies which allow the client more options and more variety and the agent also facilitates the actual procurement of the policy. Nothing can be simpler.


Being kind to the environment

Will you be celebrating World Environment Day enjoying a barbeque with family and friends? Do your bit for the environment by reading up on how you can contribute while at the same time having fun. Here are some green tips you might wish to consider.

Should you use propane or charcoal

According to a study by Elsevier’s Environmental Impact Assessment Review it is better to use propane to barbeque as it is the best option when you want to grill meat. Propane produces far less greenhouse gases than charcoal and the process takes into account transporting the propane tanks in trucks to how long it takes the coal to heat up. A charcoal barbecue produces fifteen pounds of carbon compared to only five pounds for propane; the above study also found that to make each briquette releases greater emissions than even the burning does. Additionally, charcoal comes from heating wood in an oxygen-free kiln and the kilns are themselves a source of greenhouse gas. From all of this the answer is clear that propane wins over charcoal.

Green tips for keeping cool

• Yes or no to air-conditioning? The answer is no. While air-conditioning does keep you cool, it burns up major fossil fuels. Use it sparingly in scorching heat, and do not keep it on when it is cool outside as it is a waste. You can also turn off the air-con unit at night and see what other appliances you can turn down when it is cool in the house.

• Contribute to coolness in the house by using a ceiling fan to move the air around. This will decrease the heat by six or seven degrees.

• Install weather insulating drapes which can reflect away the hot sun.

• Don’t cook food during the day as it heats up the kitchen. You may also turn off the geyser.

• A third of Americans currently use bug spray which is not good for the environment. According to the Center for Disease Control you should eliminate the hindrance of pests such as mosquitoes in the garden by using lemon eucalyptus oil which is an effective alternative for bug spray. If you don’t wish to use this, there is cinnamon oil for a healthy second option. If your house is generally hot, plant shrubbery close to the house to create shade and cut down on the heat.


Jun 24, 2012

Misconceptions about Jesus in Islam.

It is this writer’s understanding that in the year 325 the Roman Emperor Constantine could not decide on who or what Jesus represented, and to be on the safe side said, Jesus was all three; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. This title stuck and has been believed ever since. As a Muslim writer I have always been curious about Jesus in the Quran, and after reading many books and literature, as well as the book, Jesus the Man, I came to the conclusion that the author of the book was right, and that it made a lot of sense, especially around the question of his crucifixion and the Trinity.

The two men in white

In the Bible it states that at the time of the crucifixion there were two angels in white waiting at the entrance of the tomb. In Jesus the Man it was written that Jesus had been part of a group called the Essenes, that they always wore white, and that they were there to tend to his wounds. In those days crucifixion was normal and the wounds could be packed with leaves and ointment and heal in time. After three days Jesus recovered and was seen by his disciples who exclaimed that he had risen. He had not been dead at all and did not rise from the dead; he was in fact very much alive, but wounded. If you stop here and just think back to that time, the two men in white, the Sabbath, the Jews having to return home, the three days of staying in the tomb; it makes a lot of sense.

Other misconceptions

The other misconception about Jesus is that he is referred to as God when in the Bible it makes more than a hundred references to Jesus as a man, and Jesus himself says that he is the son of man. Jesus is part of the golden trio: Moses the lawman, Jesus the mystic, and Muhamad the warrior. This last statement is not in the Quran but this writer’s own description of the three prophets. As Muslims we follow the teachings of Jesus, but do not believe in the three-in-one, the Trinity. We are all part of the Abrahamic faith, and Abraham was in fact the forefather of the People of the Book, which are the Christians, the Muslims and the Jews. We believe in the Oneness of God.


Jun 23, 2012

Types of Traumatic Stress

Child neglect

Did you know that neglect is the most common form of abuse reported to welfare authorities? Children can be predisposed to a range of traumatic experiences, least of which is violence at school, medical violence, domestic abuse, predatory violence, and much more; these may include beatings, stabbings, rapes, and other brutal acts. Children suffer trauma as witnesses, perpetrators and innocent

Violence at school

A child can be an innocent bystander on the school grounds minding his own business and find himself embroiled in trouble without having done a thing. With kids carrying weapons and guns to school, definitions of school violence range from very narrow to very broad. It is broadly defined by The Center for the Prevention of School Violence as “any behavior that violates a school’s educational mission or climate of respect or jeopardizes the intent of the school to be free of aggression against persons or property, drugs, weapons, disruptions and disorder.”

Domestic Violence

Violence in the home can include sexual, domestic and other forms of abuse between adults in a close relationship. Domestic violence can be directed towards a partner or children who just happen to be in the way, and it is said that anywhere from 3 to 10 million children as young as eight and under are exposed to domestic violence in the United States every year.

Childhood Trauma

Early childhood trauma means the traumatic experiences which occur to children from birth to the age of six and can be the result of intentional violence which includes physical or sexual abuse. Early trauma can also be the result of experiencing war, tsunamis, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Young children may also suffer traumatic response when having painful medical procedures or the sudden and unexpected loss of a parent, sibling, or caregiver.

Medical Trauma

There is also the reaction to surgery and to medication which some patients may exhibit. They may be afraid of surgery or anesthesia or be prone to negative thoughts which can also affect them. Negative reactions can put the patient in a negative frame of mind and result in depression and other problems. For more information and a full report of the types of traumatic stress go online and read all about it in a full report.


Jun 22, 2012

Unforgettable gangster movie quotes

Remember Al Pacino as Donnie Brasco trying to infiltrate the mafia and the expression, “forgetaboutit” that came about? Everything was forgetaboutit. You couldn’t complete a sentence without adding it. Here are some favorite quotes and not only by gangsters, although there are enough quotes to fill this genre.

• “Let me show you my little friend”, in Scarface when Pacino has a shootout in his house and brings out the big gun.

• “You talkin’ to me? Yeah? Are you’re talking to me?” The gun-toting Robert de Niro in Taxi with the young Jodi Foster; a brilliant film for its time.

• How about that classic, “Make him an offer he can’t refuse with Marlon Brando as The Godfather with his consiglieri, Robert Duval who delivers the message of the don and leave a horse’s head in the producer’s bed. The Godfather trilogy is just as fresh today as it was when it first came out in the sixties.

• “Who’s your daddy” in Mr and Mrs Smith with Angeline Jolie and Brad Pitt.

• Here’s a memorable line by Tom Reagan in Millers Crossing: “If you want me to keep my mouth shut it’s gonna cost you some dough. I figure a thousand bucks in reasonable, so I want two.”

• Another memorable line from the movie Scarface is when Pacino angers his young co scar Michel Pfeiffer and says of her, “Another qualude and she’ll be mine again.” The movie Scarface is filled with quotes, and the eff word is mentioned 144 times.

• A memorable line by Noodles in the film Once Upon a Time in America: “I like the stink of the streets. It cleans out my lungs and gives me a hard-on.”

• “Come up and see me some time” and “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? – both quotes are sayings by Mae West.

• One of Tony Montana’s many favorite quotes in Scarface when he leaves a restaurant drunk and swaggering and spits out the following; “You need people like me…so you can point your finger and say, that’s the bad guy.” By far Scarface had more memorable quotes than any other film.


Jun 21, 2012

If God created Satan, why should we reject Satan?

Satan is a Fallen Angel who refused to obey God when he was ordered to bow to Adam and God cut him loose. It is also Satan who tempted Eve, metaphorically speaking, to eat of the apple in the garden and promised God that he would mislead and misrepresent and lead people into temptation. If you look at the world and the havoc created by needless wars, the poverty in Africa, the mudslides, tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes, it is something to be worried about. Did God create it? Have we caused these disasters by our own hand?

If we complain we must look back on our lives. God is not responsible for war. Man is. He is filled with greed. He covets another man’s wife. He commits adultery, he steals from the nation, sends children to war. Satan told God he would continue until he has won. And we allow Satan to win by our own actions. We treat our earthly home with disrespect. We go to war for the spoils. We invade the land of others in the belief that it is ours to control. We don’t own anything, and have yet to see a hearse with a body in it and the corpse’s worldly possessions going with him to the grave.

Satanic thought or behavior should be deconstructed for what it really is; a menace to society. We should not spend our time worrying for thousands of years about the power of Satan, but in our every day lives reject the temptation to do wrong. Satan only wins when we drop our guard and allow worldly things to take precedence over our soul. The soul lives forever; the body rots from the moment of death. All we take with us is our good deeds; our bad deeds will speak against us.

To answer the above question therefore, God created Satan to keep us on our toes. It will be our response to temptation that will make or break us. If we steal and take what is not ours, it is Satan talking. If we tell Satan to bugger off and get lost, it is our inner voice and God speaking to us. Heed the Word of God and reject Satan.


Jun 20, 2012

The brilliance of Agatha Christie

Did you know that the secret behind Agatha Christie’s whodunits was that she wrote the last chapter in a book first and then went back to the beginning and wrote the rest of the story? This allowed her to carefully maneuver the plot and work out all the kinks in the story for the perfect ending. One could never figure out which character was the villain, the murderer or the thief until the very last paragraph.

Agatha Christie was a great mystery writer. Her books had her stamp on it because the characters were all carefully crafted and every detail meant something. Together with Hercule Poirot, the two of them were unstoppable. For this writer Agatha Christie was the master manipulator when it came to a twisted plot and the master with trick endings. Ten Little Indians is a good example.

In the book a host invites ten guests to dinner. As the dinner proceeds the guests die one by one during the night. When it came to the 10th guest remaining, it was obvious that HE was the killer. But, no! The 10th guest died also. The killer was the one who died first and hid in the house until all nine were dead.

Towards the end of her life she wrote the following quote: “I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of the emotions and of personal relations; and suddenly find - at the age of fifty, say - that a whole new life has opened before you, filled with things you can think about, study, or read about...It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you."

Agatha Christie’s books have been translated into more than 56 languages and are still sending shivers down readers’ spines. Writing first under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott she also wrote plays, and The Mousetrap already had 23,000 shows since its first performance in 1952. As she became ill with dementia she wrote in “An Autobiography” in 1977: "I live now on borrowed time, waiting in the anteroom for the summons that will inevitably come. And then - I go on to the next thing, whatever it is. One doesn't luckily have to bother about that."

I have always looked upon the old English writer as a whodunit sort of girl with a fist full of old detective ideas, but from reading her quotes I got a real glimpse of the writer and got to know more. As the lady says herself, she “specializes in murders of quiet, domestic interest.” Nothing can be truer.


Handling triplets in their first year

Handling three babies at once, all the same age, just minutes apart, is a huge undertaking and can also be bewildering for a new mom. One moment you are on the bed pushing, and the next moment three screaming babies are in your arms. Hopefully, in your heart you are prepared and not left your baby shopping for the last minute. The following will make things easier for you:

• Do your baby shopping months before you are due as you will have to purchase and set up three cribs, three car seats, and three walkers where the infants can bounce up and down after they have been fed. You will also have to set up an activity center for when they are starting to crawl. You need not do this until they are about six months old.

• Buy enough sleepers and blankets and gowns as this is what the babies will wear for the first few months of their life. Also have enough fitted sheets for the cribs.

• Prepare 90 formula bottles at the same time and keep them in the fridge for emergency situations. Preparing these many bottles at one time saves you minutes which are precious when three hungry babies are all ready to feed.

• If you have not dried up yet and have milk in both breasts, you can feed two of the babies at the same time while the other one is still asleep. You will soon get into a sleeping and feeding routine and be able to plan a bit better.

• Don’t be put off by off by others from using a pacifier when you need it from time to time. If you have one baby on your lap and trying to feed another, you don’t want a third baby screaming if a pacifier will soothe him for the two minutes he has to wait for his turn. Remember, babies are like programmed little beings; they get used to feeding times and routine and go off like clockwork at the right time.

• Three babies mean a lot of laundry and a lot of diapers. If you have a washing machine you only have to put the dirty clothes in the machine and switch a button and afterwards fold the clothes while they are still warm. If you don’t have a machine you can wash it all yourself or have a diaper service which delivers to you. It is not easy to handle three babies as a new mom, but we all do it. You get strength from somewhere and intuitively know that you will survive.


Jun 19, 2012

How God conscious are you?

If asked whether you believe in God, do you say you are not really religious, but you are God conscious? What does that mean? That you are conscious of God in a way that is not easily understood or explained or conscious of God because you try to do good things in your life? Which is it? The way it is used today it is almost like a new religion. Question: “What do you believe in?” Answer: “Oh, I don’t believe in anything; I’m God conscious.” Really, it’s a catch phrase meaning that you don’t know who and what you are; you believe, but without conviction.

Here’s what disqualifies you from being God conscious

• You give a beggar on the street a pie because he is hungry, but you tell everyone at the office about your good dead.

• You see a friend on the street trying to fix a punctured tire, you offer him help and then talk ill of him when he leaves.

• You pray to God, and later when you are with your friends playing cards, you have a Scotch on the rocks to make you feel lucky.

• You abide by all the rituals of prayer, and do not give a lift to your neighbor who walks from the church or the mosque in the rain.

• You have supper with your family, a friend drops by unexpectedly and you ask him to wait in the kitchen until you are done eating.

• You pay the faithful person who does the cleaning, make up the beds, look after your kids, but dish her food on an old plate and tell her to eat in the kitchen.

How generous are we really? We are all guilty of hypocritical acts. The person who says he is God conscious is not lying when he says in his own words that he is conscious of God. He is thinking of his spiritual life, or the lack of one. Will he strive towards it and make a conscious effort to be aware? To be aware is to be honest and responsible. It is at this juncture that we can stop and decide which way we want to proceed and become a conscious human being. There is a saying in the holy book that says that when a man reaches the age of forty and he has not yet developed a spiritual life, he never will.


Avoid breaking custody laws in the US

As custody laws vary from state to state it would be beneficial to know the laws of the state you live in. For instance if you would like to go on a prolonged vacation with your kids to another state, educate yourself about the custody laws in that state. The children belong to both husband and wife and permission has to be granted if one of you want to cross over into another state. If you are not sure what to do, get in touch with an attorney who can advise you of your rights in your state.

Work together as a team

It is easier to get along with a former spouse than become an enemy when you have children and need to discuss legal matters. You don’t want to fight. You want to have respect for one another especially when it comes to children and their rights. If you are both agreeable parents it will be easier to talk about custodial rights and custody arrangements and what you can both do to facilitate matters. You want to keep the lines of communication open to avoid breaking custody laws. State websites in the US are the best places to get information. Go online and read as much as you can.

Be amicable for the kids

Be a team and work together to familiarize yourselves with state laws and custodial rights. There are also states which have family court services agencies which can provide information and advise you on the arrangements of your specific case. Keep the lines open with your ex spouse so that you can discuss things between you and don’t break the law. If you are concerned that you are doing wrong check with an attorney and discuss the matter. There is a lot of information you have to know regarding custodial rights and state websites are a good place to find them.

Final words

Whether you decide to be amicable or enemies is your choice; you are still the parents of kids whose rights have to be protected. Raising a child differs from state to state and it would be wise to be up to date on changes in custody law matters. Keep abreast of your state’s custody laws. Knowing the law is the best way to avoid breaking it.


Jun 18, 2012

Should you work together in the same office

You should not. You have heard the proverb ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. You don’t want to overdo your time together. You want to leave work and leave behind the office and its work-related problems and come home to a family where you can spend time together and do activities with the kids.

Foreseeable problems in the workplace

• If a woman owns the business she would want advice from her husband but would like it to be her business and her project. There could be moments of embarrassment if both of you don’t agree on how to solve a business problem and you forget you are at work and lash out.

• Employees are good observers. They will sense if there is something wrong with the relationship and tell other employees and the workplace becomes a place for gossip and people start to leave.

• If your relationship is not sound in the first place the worst thing you can do for your business is fight in front of the staff. You lose respect from the staff and soon they will disrespect you.

• Don’t make a confidant of one of the employees and tell her your family problems. You will regret it.

• Spending 24 hours a day together can also become claustrophobic and rob you of time alone and fun with the rest of the family as you will bring your work problems home.

Keep things in perspective

• Make a point of taking two nights off a week where both of you take a break and spend time with your family.

• Don’t bring the accounts and books home with you – and don’t talk about your work all the time. If you have kids they need care and you should spend time listening to their needs and what they have to say.

• Take at least one or two afternoons off after school that the children know is time that will be spent taking them out. There are many activities for families, and a zoo is also a great place to visit as everyone loves animals.

• Don’t talk about business all the time and invite people from work for barbecues, unless they are family and friends. One needs a break from the working environment.

• Give the kids a bonding session by having a movie night on Friday nights and all of you cuddle up on the couch and make popcorn or pancakes. Your family is more important than your work.


Jun 17, 2012

How do you tell someone they have bad breath

This is the same as someone who has food stuck in his teeth or a booger in his nose. If you are not in contact with the person frequently you might hold in your breath and not breathe in anything. If he or she is your colleague and is always standing over you at your desk to discuss a file and this is the first time I would not say anything. If the person has a problem with bad breath and is in close contact with you, you might try the following;

What to do

• Offer the person a stick of sugarless gum. If the gum works and the breath is less toxic, buy two packets of gum and give her one packet. If she is embarrassed and suspects you have smelled her breath, you might say something like, “I also had garlic for lunch. Yuk!”

• If on the next day her breath is still bad and she is a friend as well as a colleague you might say that you have something to tell her. Say that you once had a problem with bad breath, and you have a great product you could recommend. Pray that she does not react badly, and continue. Do this in a private place such as the office bathroom facilities or speak to her after work. Say you are sorry for telling her this but that she probably doesn’t realize she has a problem. Don’t bring up the name halitosis. It might alarm her if there was actually a name for it.

• Trust that the person receiving this news does not take offence although it would be hard not to. You will have to find a way to do this and at the right time at the right place. This would be the same as telling a colleague who sweats profusely and is always smelling, or someone who has spinach or food stuck in his teeth after lunch. You can do it by leaving a note in an envelope on the person’s desk or where only he or she would see it, but this would be much more hurtful as the person might think everyone knows about it. These are not pleasant measures to resort to but it still has to be done unless you can live with it.


Can you really be with only one partner for a lifetime?

Nothing lasts forever, not even love, not with the same intensity as the first time you met. We fall in love, we marry, we take vows, we promise, we disappoint, we forgive and we have hardly finished the wedding cake when one party aggravates the other and the couple’s true nature comes out. The fault is not with the couple. The fault is with the misunderstanding of the word love and what marriage means and whether it can sustain the rough parts as well as the good.

If you placed an ad for a companion and stated your wishes beforehand you would have more chance of finding a person you can walk with, dance with, live with because it is not a permanent set up. You can choose to leave just by giving your landlord one or two months’ notice of your move and you can date, fall out of love and depart without emotional debris and then place another ad. When you opt for marriage you sign up for a whole other deal.

We all want the same things in life; happiness, a great family, a guy we’re crazy about, but can you eat bread and jam seven days of the week? Can you go to the same couch in your living room to watch television for eight hours? Is your conversation always about the Kardashians and celebrities and nothing else? That would be a boring life. A marriage needs variety and you have to work at it by allowing each other to have their own space and interests which will also be good for the relationship. If you make no effort to spruce up your marriage and inject life into it, your neglect will be by your own hand and things will become boring and staid. A marriage has to be stimulated and both parties have to be invested.

This writer is not against marriage as it legitimizes children and has many benefits. The problem is that when we sign up for legal and emotional cohabitation, we should understand why we are doing it and what to expect. It is impossible to expect that constant high when you first met. There are many books written just on reasons for divorce; the trick is to keep it fresh and interesting. When you have a flower garden you know what happens if you don’t pull out the weeds and tend to watering daily; marriage is the same.


Jun 16, 2012

Would you date someone fifteen years younger?

I have done it and was not cut out for it. I was constantly aware of being 45 and him being 30. Consequently I did not want to go out a lot or introduce him to my female friends. They had already told me he was a delectable catch and wished they were so lucky to have a man of thirty that looked like that and was so crazy about me.

I was astounded too by my own behavior. I was a confident girl and never shied from challenge. I bought a new wardrobe, shoes I could hardly stand on, wore sleeveless things with tight pants. Wherever we went he showed me off; he wanted us to live together. I chose not to at the time. One weekend we were alone together and he came into the kitchen where I was making flapjacks. He sat on a bar stool. I will never forget. He was silent for a good long time and then told me to sit facing him. In four words he told me “I can’t marry you”. With that he left me sitting in shock, and with that I ran a hot bath and sat in it until my mother who had a key came to the flat and found me in a bath of cold water. I never saw him again. I never called him. I had a two-week cry and then picked up the bits and pieces of my life and moved on.

In hindsight I can say that the relationship would never have worked as it was built on a foundation of fear. In my gut I knew it was going to be hard work and maybe heartbreaking to enter such a relationship, but he was so gorgeous I couldn’t resist. Many years later I heard from a friend that he did not want to marry a Muslim girl. I am not surprised and don’t regret it. I learned some hard lessons from dabbling with babes. I was prepared to sell my soul to the devil. I ignored the tiny voice in my head which had always guided me. Luckily for me it happened at forty and not at sixty or sixty five.

There is a lot of pressure on women of forty or forty five who have mates much younger than themselves. They have to keep up, they have to think young, and settle for benign conversation. When you look at some of the celebrities today where the women are more than five or ten years older than the man you can count the number of procedures and just know it is not going to last. Last thing I heard, he is now married to a Muslim girl.


Life after divorce

There is nothing to console someone who has just come out of a divorce except to say that life will get better, that you will regain your power and strength, and that it becomes easier as time goes on. It is indeed a tough road to hoe. You have a career, you have to juggle work and kids, you are in charge of the finances. You feel sorry for yourself as it is only you and the kids. Wake up. You are now in the real world where what you do will determine your future. You have a right to grieve and go through all the stages of mourning, but at some point you have to come out of it and take stock of your life.

Divorce is very much like a death. You are mourning a loss; a loss of affection, of a partner and of someone you have become used to in ten or more years. In some ways it is more debilitating than a divorce as the person is still alive and you have fantasies of working it out and being together. Don’t despair. There is life after divorce.

Tips to help you through this period of grief

• Get out of feeling sorry for yourself and accept that it will be tough for some time to come, and then the sun will shine again and you will regain your strength.

• Hook up with single moms at a forum or in someone’s house and just enjoy the new friendships you will make.

• Here comes a tough one. Create a friendship with your former partner so that it makes it easier to deal with the rights of the children; where they will live, the schools they will attend, whether they will be going to church, and if so, the dates and times they will be with their father.

• Don’t be difficult and start out with outrageous demands. You want an easy after-divorce relationship for the sake of the kids.

• Talk to your kids and make time for yourself. Bear in mind that when there is too much change in a child’s life it becomes confusing for him.

• Encourage a good relationship between the kids’ father and the new person in his life. You will feel better after doing such a decent thing.

• Find a new passion such as gardening or writing and put yourself
• wholeheartedly in it.

• Make new friends and see how you flourish as a human being as time goes by.

• Most of all, value your time with your kids because all too soon they are grown up and they will leave to set up homes of their own.


Greatest fears of a single mom

If you are newly divorced, the papers have been signed and the rights of the children established, you might find yourself suddenly in a lonely place not knowing where to start. You have got used to a man looking after you, paying the bills, fixing the car, and the last person at night to lock the door. You question your own strength and wonder whether you will be able to make it on your own.

Of course you will be able to; you just have to believe in yourself. You might have to learn how to manage your finances, and pony up to the responsibility you will have when the kids are in your care. Your children, most of all, will need you as they miss their father and it will take time for these feelings of fear to subside.

Round table discussion with the kids

• Their father has left and you are the only one in charge. Meet in the kitchen with the kids and over hot chocolate tell them that you are still a family and that the only thing that has changed is that your father has a new address now.

• Tell them that their father loves them and that nothing has changed in that department. The two of you still love and respect each other but have decided to live separately.

• Tell them that they can speak to their father every day on the telephone or on Skype and that he is just a phone call and four miles away.

• Tell them too that their father will still attend parent nights or activities and plays at the school. If it is not a week night, they could also stay over at their father’s house.

• Don’t interfere with established routines such as a chore roster and a reward system for chores. Keep things the same as much as you can. Too much change for a child all at once is confusing.

• If the marriage ended because of another woman don’t speak ill of the woman as she might end up as their stepmother.

• Tell your kids not to embarrass their father in front of people because they are angry and want to take revenge.

• Spend individual time with each child when they go to bed. Take this time to feel out whether all is fine with your child.


Is it becoming fashionable to reveal you have Parkinson’s

A few years ago Michael J Fox announced that he had Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease of the brain, and people were astounded that he would come out and announce it in public. He made appearances on television and spoke about it, hoping to encourage the scientific community to find out more about it. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease and you can never cure it; if you are lucky it can be arrested with very expensive medication. The sooner you discover you have it the better your chance to stave it off and arrest it.

Celebrities who have come out

Not long after we learned about Michael J Fox we discovered that the great boxer Muhamad Ali also had contracted the disease and we saw both of these celebrities making appearances in the hope to spread information about it. In one such appearance Michael J Fox took no medication beforehand in order to show the progression of the disease and the physical symptoms if he was not taking it. He came out on the stage extremely nervous looking, his arms dangling and shaking, and his speech visibly impaired.

Just a few weeks ago another celebrity, co-anchor of “Good Morning America”, Robin Roberts, also came out and revealed that she had been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disease of the blood and bone marrow known once as preleukemia. My own diagnosis of Parkiinson’s is just a few months old although I probably had it for months already before I knew and was diagnosed.

Benefits of knowing that you are ill

There are no benefits having a degenerative disease as it will become taxing in the later stages. There are four stages and I am in the first stages. Probably Fox and Ali are in the third stages and they are otherwise healthy except for knowing they are ill, and have physical symptoms. Coming out and revealing this to the world takes courage, and when I was diagnosed I did not cry about it. I had the scans, am taking the meds and with a new way of eating feel healthier now than for years before the diagnosis.

Reasons for coming out

There are many reasons for coming out: we don’t want to be treated as invalids; we don’t want you to step back when you first meet us and learn we have Parkinson’s; we are not contagious so there is no need to step back. We also do not want you to feel sorry for us and constantly refer to our health. Fixing it in the mind is the first thing, and then you have to live it. Besides all the things such as bucket lists and what you would now do to prepare for the end is behind me. Every day is a bonus and I love life and live it to the fullest. Coming out and announcing my illness to my family and friends was my way to say that I am all right and do not worry about me.


Jun 15, 2012

How to use the right brain for inspiration and ideas

Long before I learned about the left and right brain, I was always a reader and a scribbler trying out new ideas. Not much attention was paid to it because it was just put down to my having a larger imagination than most kids. My scribbling became serious over the years and soon I was published. One day I read the book Writing the Natural Way by Gabriele Lusser Rico and my writing took a turn for the best.

The author, an English lecturer, found that even though his students improved their grammar and writing under regular tuition, their writing was turgid and flat and had no rhythm and recurrences and was quite frankly dull. I used the teachings in the book not only to improve my own writing but also to teach high school students privately in my home how to write. If you are interested in coming up with new ideas for a short story or article or any piece of writing, follow these instructions to liven up your prose.

Preparing for the writing process before you start

• Pick a quiet spot in your house where you can relax and write in an atmosphere which is conducive to you. I write in my room and even have my television and reclining bike in it. It is my personal space. Picking the right spot is important as you do not want to be interrupted.
• Be in a receptive mood and read the instructions below a few time. Take off the handset on the telephone. Have your pen and your blank paper ready.

Developing your characters

• Let’s say you want to develop a really great character, before you start writing, you are going to google the right brain for ideas on a clear sheet of paper. Write the name of the character in the middle of the page and draw a circle around it. This is your nucleus word from where all your character’s traits are listed. As you write down a word you draw a circle around it. You will experience a surge as the words flow from your brain.

• Do not stop to consider whether you really shouldn’t write that word you had in mind; the idea is that once you start, think of nothing but your description of Ruby and keep writing down word after word which pops into your head from the word and draw a circle around it.

• Remember the right brain is your fun instigator and wants you to step out of the box and be original; your left brain is the teacher and critic who stands ready with the cane to tell you not to s tart a sentence with but. Hogwash! You can break the rules depending on the prose.

• When you have finished googling the word Ruby and have a page full of scribbles you will have a wealth of information from which to build your character and give you a starting point. You will find after an hour of these exercises that your brain is tired. Take a break. Or continue to write until the urge dissipates. You can use this exercise not only for building a character, but also to structure your book where you do an outline and plot out the chapters.


Safe ways for teens to use the internet

Whether you like it or not, your teens are going to use the internet either for research and studying purposes or for social activity and it would be wise to stipulate the times they can use the internet on top of telling them how to use it and what to do and not to. There are all kinds of scams where people offer you big sums of money for a prize you did not win all in an effort to obtain your personal details, bank account codes, email address and so on. If they have those details they can find out where you live and cause all kinds of problems.

Tips for surfing smart

• When receiving spam where you are told you won the lottery and to supply your name and address, don’t even open up the email and just delete it.

• Don’t divulge your Social Security number under any circumstances. Legit companies would never ask you for these details. It should in fact be a warning to you.

• The same thing with codes and passwords. Some people have books filled with passwords and should keep these in a safe place. It would be a big job to get all those passwords again, and it would give the thieves an opportunity to raid your accounts or run it up with huge items.

• Never send emails with phone numbers, links, and passwords through the site; it is then revealed to everyone who can use the information against you.

• Always use a screen name so you can never be tracked down; also think carefully of the kind of screen name you create. Don’t be provocative or you will attract the wrong kind of people to your site.

• Use a screen name for a chat room and keep online friendships in the virtual world. You never know who you are talking to and it is easy to prey on kids.

• Don’t get roped in to meet anyone face to face. There are predators who surf the net looking for kids they can exploit and who are not who they say they are and could pose danger.

• Don’t give your real name to anyone and if you are talking to someone who makes you feel uneasy and you sense that something is wrong, click off and tell your parents so they can report it.


Stepparenting and the blended family

According to the experts one should not even think of remarriage for the first two years after divorce as it allows enough time for everyone, including two sets of kids, to get used to the idea that mom and dad are marrying again, and not to each other. There will be sibling rivalry, jealousy, confusion, and a lot of other problems if all this is not worked out beforehand.

• You should not come out of divorce and immediately remarry or immediately settle in with a new man. It is too much change all at once and will affect the children. Give them time to get to know their step siblings. Talk to them about some of the changes. If you are planning to move out of the city because of your husband’s job, don’t sell the house yet before some time has passed to see how you all get along.

• Take special note of the kids. Are they happy they have new siblings or are they fighting and pining and miserable because they have to share their father? You and your husband should talk to all of them and reassure them that it will all work out.

• Take care not to spoil your own kids and don’t exclude anyone from family discussions. Everyone should be able to say what they don’t like and what bothers them.

• Draw up a list or plan you will stick on the refrigerator listing the names of all four or five kids and what they are expected to do around the house. You can introduce a chore list and a reward system.

• Do family activities together and find something interesting to do or to visit that everyone can enjoy. Maybe your son is around the same age as his son and they bond. That’s all good.

• Never forget that you may be excited with the new arrangement, but your kids may not be. Talk to both sets of kids at the same time and listen to what they have to say. Invite them to be frank and not to be shy. Tell them that it may be difficult now to have so many people in the house, but it will become easier.

• Give them time to make the transition and keep the communication lines open. Only when all the above has been worked out can you think of remarrying.


Googling the right brain for words and ideas

Long before I learned about the left and right brain, I was always a reader and a scribbler trying out new ideas. Not much attention was paid to it because it was just put down to my having a larger imagination than most kids. My scribbling became serious over the years and soon I was published. One day I read the book Writing the Natural Way by Gabriele Lusser Rico and my writing took a turn for the best.

The author, an English lecturer, found that even though his students improved their grammar and writing under regular tuition, their writing was turgid and flat and had no rhythm and recurrences and was quite frankly dull. I used the teachings in the book not only to improve my own writing but also to teach high school students privately in my home how to write. If you are interested in coming up with new ideas for a short story or article or any piece of writing, follow these instructions to liven up your prose.

Preparing for the writing process before you start

• Pick a quiet spot in your house where you can relax and write in an atmosphere which is conducive to you. I write in my room and even have my television and reclining bike in it. It is my personal space. Picking the right spot is important as you do not want to be interrupted.

• Be in a receptive mood and read the instructions below a few time. Take off the handset on the telephone. Have your pen and your blank paper ready.

Developing your characters

• Let’s say you want to develop a really great character, before you start writing, you are going to google the right brain for ideas on a clear sheet of paper. Write the name of the character in the middle of the page and draw a circle around it. This is your nucleus word from where all your character’s traits are listed. As you write down a word you draw a circle around it. You will experience a surge as the words flow from your brain.

• Do not stop to consider whether you really shouldn’t write that word you had in mind; the idea is that once you start, think of nothing but your description of Ruby and keep writing down word after word which pops into your head from the word and draw a circle around it.

• Remember the right brain is your fun instigator and wants you to step out of the box and be original; your left brain is the teacher and critic who stands ready with the cane to tell you not to s tart a sentence with but. Hogwash! You can break the rules depending on the prose.

• When you have finished googling the word Ruby and have a page full of scribbles you will have a wealth of information from which to build your character and give you a starting point. You will find after an hour of these exercises that your brain is tired. Take a break. Or continue to write until the urge dissipates. You can use this exercise not only for building a character, but also to structure your book where you do an outline and plot out the chapters.


Jun 14, 2012

Can a plural marriage work?

As a Muslim woman from South Africa I am certainly aware of all the pros and cons of a plural marriage. When I was younger and did not know enough I condemned it outright. But I have changed my mind since then. Take statistics into account and you will see that women far outnumber men, and that with adultery, and stealing the affections of another woman’s man, it makes a lot of sense to at least consider it.

Cons of a plural marriage

• Jealousy is number one in this department. Where a plural or polygamous marriage is not understood properly and especially with younger women who will hate one another, it is not going to work and eventually one of the women or both of them are going to leave the marriage.

• Children of these marriages are confused and will be embarrassed by their parents if they are not in agreement with having a father and two mothers in the house. The children might hate one another too, as well as their parents.

• Because polygamy is frowned upon, there is a stigma attached to being part of such an arrangement and the husband will have his hands full with two angry women who are fighting over him.

Pros of a plural marriage

On the other hand, there can be benefit too for the women if they first decide for the right reasons to become a first or second wife and understand the process. Look, men are sexual creatures and they can bed women without falling in love. It is all about the sex, and little about fidelity. So if it is going to happen anyway is it not best to be part of this arrangement which can be very beneficial to you especially if there are children and the women are protected? Think about it. Men can never plead lifelong allegiance, and will cheat anyway if it is easy for them to get away with it. If you take the emotional equation out of it, you can have a lot of benefits, not lose the man, and have financial assistance to raise your kids. You will also have days off where he will be with the other woman, and there are two mothers for the kids.

Polygamy in Islam

God is not in favor of polygamy but because of the nature of man, God allows it. God does not recommend it. So it is not a sin to have more than one wife, IF the man is fair to both women, if the man can afford it, if all the parties agree, and not to exceed four wives. This is surely a better arrangement as more women will be cared for and protected. It is not for everyone, but it is better than adultery.


Imagery in The Grapes of Wrath

Reading John Steinbeck’s novel set in the Salinas Valley in California in the 1930s for the first time at around age 12 or 13, I was astounded at the richness of the story although I knew nothing about writing. I was still a kid, had hopes of becoming a writer myself, and never had I read a book with such wonderful imagery and never forgot the old turtle trying to cross the gravel road in the scorching heat of the hot Salinas Valley. Today I am a writer and often teach creative writing, and have read the novel about four or five times, even purchasing an extra two copies so each of my kids could have one.

Here is a description of one of the characters: “the man’s clothes were new – all of them, cheap and new. His gray cap was so new that the visor was still stiff and the button still on, not shapeless and bulged as it would be when it had served for a while all the various purposes of a cap – carrying sack, towel, handkerchief. His suit was of cheap gray hard cloth and so new that there were creases in the trousers.”

What a flawless and descriptive piece of writing. Steinbeck had described the inner character without mentioning vital statistics and the color of his hair, which happened to be the same color as the sun burnt wheat in the background. This was not a cardboard character. He had created a new kind of hero. It was hard to copy Steinbeck’s style of writing. It was effortless, real – so real that one felt it in the muscled struggle of the turtle as it moved agonizingly upward and out of the way of an oncoming truck.

“…over the grass at the roadside a land turtle crawled, turning aside for nothing, dragging his high-domed shell over the grass. His hard legs and yellow-nailed feet threshed slowly through the grass, not really walking, but boosting and dragging his shell along. The barley beards slid off his shell and the clover burrs fell on him and rolled to the ground. His horny beak was partly open, and his fierce, humorous eyes, under brows like fingernails stared straight ahead.”

The struggle of the turtle continues for two or more pages when the turtle finally reached the top and an oncoming vehicle swerved to hit it and struck the edge of the hard shell and flipped the turtle “like a tiddly-wink, spun it like a coin, and rolled it off the highway.” The storyteller is a master novelist and the book a sprawling tale, timeless and beautiful and which will speak to its readers for decades to come.


Leaving the children in the care of a pre teen to sleep at the boyfriend’s house

Mothers who do this to their children do not deserve the title of a mother. A child of nine or ten is not capable of looking after his brothers and sisters, and even ten minutes away from home leaving the kids unattended is irresponsible. Anything can happen. Some stranger might knock on the door and see that they are alone, and God knows what can happen. There can be a simple accident in the kitchen like the kids trying to make pancakes and a fire is started. What do you think they can do? And how will they save themselves?

In the first place, it is wrong to give your pre teen that kind of responsibility. He is a kid himself and will not have the wherewithal to save his siblings when he is in danger too. He might even be upstairs in the room playing computer games and not even hear what is going on. The children also become fearful as they realize that their mother is gone and only coming home the next day. And the later it gets the worse their fears will become. A mother who puts her children in jeopardy, whether for a man or not, should be prosecuted and have her children taken away. She is not deserving of them and does not have the skills to parent and keep her kids safe.

Dangers of leaving kids alone overnight

• One of the children could become ill during the night. Maybe they will know how to dial 911 but in their confusion and fear, it is likely that one or more of them will start to cry and there will be mayhem.

• There could be an accident where a glass falls on the floor, breaks, and there is glass all over the place.

• The water pipes can burst, a fire might be accidentally started, people might show up at the door, the toddler might be wet and unfed or put something strange in his mouth or fallen down the stairs; just anything can happen.

• The children have been given a key, but they have misplaced it and cannot get out of the house.

• Worse, they will start to fear that their mother will leave them as their father had also left them.

It is selfish, irresponsible, and just plain cruel to put babysitting on the shoulders of a young child and go out for a night of carnal pleasure. This kind of mother should be reported. She does not deserve the gift of children and should be locked up and have her kids taken away.


Handling an unsettling relationshhip

A relationship has gone stale and the parties involved have no clue what is wrong and whether they should stay on in a toxic relationship or bale ship. They are clueless, act like kids, and have neither the questions or the answers. The article provides solid advice on the kind of relationship they are in and how to go about maintaining a meaningful relationship.

I agree with Jessica Hess. If you have to ask a stranger what to do without offering enough information as to the problem area in your relationship, how can someone advise you? As well, even if you do provide information no one of us can tell you what to do. You know the person, his weaknesses and his strengths. Other people can't make this decision for you. To be successful in your relationship you should at least know how to articulate the problem and have some ideas. Here are some suggestions to help you determine what it is that you want to fix or change - and remember you can't change anyone; they must want to do it.

First, your letters give sparse information and I get the feeling that you yourself can't put your finger on the problem. So here is a first bit of advice. Don't play the damsel in distress when you seek help. Know what is wrong and what you want and ask for it.

Ask your partner what it is exactly that he wants and listen to what he has to say. Some women listen, but nothing sticks and they just ramble on and on and go in circles.

Discuss your problem quietly when the kids, if there are any, are asleep or not around. Children can be deeply scarred if they witness a parent in distress or fear they are leaving the house.

If your problem with your partner is so bad that you cannot discuss it with anyone because extracting information is like pulling teeth, seek the help of a marriage counselor or a psychologist to help you get to the heart of the problem. We don't always know what is best to do and we are homemade psychologists.

Anyone who has to ask someone else if they should break up makes one think that you don't really know anything about men and don't know yourself what is wrong. Usually, partners know exactly how they feel, and will list their complaints or grievances in one sentence - he cheated on me - he smacked me in the face - he stole money out of my purse - he did this or that.

Ask him directly what his problem is and whether he is interested in making the relationship work. If he is vague or shies away from the question or refuses to answer, it may be that he is no longer interested. Yes, you have to take that answer into account. We fall in love, and we also fall out of love.


Understanding the dangers of child abduction to keep your kids safe

Did you know that in the United States a child goes missing or is abducted every forty seconds? That is a startling statistic. According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), 840,279 adults and children went missing in 2001. Although the vast majority of these cases are resolved within hours, unfortunately not all cases have the same ending. Be prepared. One has to be ruthless in making sure the children are safe. It is not only strangers who kidnap children. It can be relatives and friends and acquaintances also. Maybe they have seen the children before and bank on the fact that the children will not pose a problem the next time they meet as they have met him. Here are some facts to make you think and prepare.

Family kidnapping, acquaintance kidnapping, stranger kidnapping

• Family kidnapping is mostly committed by parents, while acquaintance kidnapping is perpetrated for the sake of victimizing juveniles and teens. This happens mostly in a home environment. Stranger kidnapping has a toll of mainly females and are more often of a sexual and physical nature. This kind of abduction takes place outdoors most of the time and very likely will entail the use of a firearm.

• About 20 percent of the children reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are not found alive. It is said that the first contact between the child and the kidnapper occurs within a quarter mile of the house.

• It is important to teach your children never ever to get into a stranger’s car; not even Uncle Billy’s car or Auntie Jane’s. Most kidnappers grab their victims on the street and push them into their vehicles. When coming and going from school your children have to walk together in a group; the more children, the better.

• Have your children report to you if they see a strange man lurking around the neighborhood and seems not to belong in the area. Don’t go up to him; just get home and tell your father.

• The safety of your kids starts in the home. Educate them on the dangers of talking to strangers and running off alone into the nearby woods.

• Another startling fact is that about 74 percent of abducted children are dead within three hours of the abduction.

Child abduction is a frequent worry for parents. Ensure your children’s safety by educating them and telling them not to get in a stranger’s car, not to talk to strangers, not to go with strangers looking for a lost dog – not even the milkman who brings the milk to his door. Also make sure that if you have an infant in a car seat and stop at the shop to pick up something, that you don’t leave the baby in the car; anything can happen.


Jun 13, 2012

A divorced dad's rights in the US

Divorced dads today have more rights than ever before, especially when it comes to the care, love and maintenance of the children. A divorced dad’s rights are practically the same as a single mom’s rights after he has established paternity of the child. He cannot exercise parental rights until this has been done. If this has not yet been established he can still claim paternity if he was married to the child’s mother during the time the child was conceived as it is presumed then that he is the biological father. If he was not married to the child’s mother he will have to establish paternity through the state’s Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) which will allow him to request visitation as well as his right to support the child.

A divorced dad has the following rights

• He has the right to an ongoing relationship with the child, and without interference where he can have contact, and spend weekends and holidays with him or her.

• He has the right to see his children on weekends and during the summer holidays when they can have late nights and sleep-over at his house.

• He has the right to attend the children’s concerts and presentations and any school events as well as parents’ night.

• He has the right to provide financial support for the child. Fathers who don’t want to pay support for a child can end up in jail. The rules are strict when it comes to deadbeat dads.

• He has the right to prevent third-party adoption. What this means is that if the father is unmarried and his ex-wife is pregnant with a child he believes is his, he can prevent the adoption of that child to a third party.

• A divorced dad has the right to make decisions with his ex wife regarding the education, religion, medical care and upbringing of the child – which faith the child will follow and which church or synagogue or mosque the child will attend and on which Saturdays or Sundays. There is much written about a divorced dad’s rights on the internet if you want to learn more. Go online and find out.


Spring cleaning your house for summer

After a long cold winter it is time to freshen up your house by giving it a thorough cleaning. Here are some easy things to do to keep your house looking fresh and new:

• Do the outside chores first by cleaning up and removing any rubble in the yard and at the side of the house. Have your kids help as there are many small things they can pick up.

• Pick up dog poop which have accumulated, put it in a plastic bag and then in the bin.

• Remove all the old blankets and towels of the dog and wash them separately from your clothes. Hang the dog’s towels out on the line so they can look and smell fresh.

• On a hot day hose the kennel down inside and out and let it dry out before you put clean blankets and towels in the kennel.

• Fix broken tiles on the roof and check your gutters for leaves. While you are up on the roof check that there are no loose tiles and no leaks.

• Stand on the opposite site of the road and see the house from a distance the way other people would see it. If there is rubbish on the porch or old brooms and spades and broken gardening equipment, get rid of it.

• Put your budgies or parrots in the bathroom where the window is closed while you clean the parrot’s cage.

• Check the interior of the kitchen and bathroom to see if there are leaking taps and if your bathroom can do with a quick paint to freshen it up. You would be surprised by what a fresh coat of paint can do.

• Check your driveway for spots you intended to fill up with cement.

• Check your fencing and your gates to make sure there is no rust.

• Fix the garage door that you have been planning to do for a long time.

• Fix the cracks on the wooden stairs and give it a coat of paint before the summer ends.


Is your twelve year old daughter trolling the internet sites?

If your daughter is behind the computer all the time talking to boys on the phone and on Skype and meeting them behind your back, it is time the two of you have a talk. She is too young to put herself out there and is not aware of the danger she is subjecting herself to. Besides the danger which is the biggest concern, she should be with kids her own age and not messing around with boys.

Advice to Mom

• Ask your daughter to switch off the computer and come to the bedroom as you want to talk to her. However angry you are that she is behaving in this way, do not shout, scream or say something nasty you will regret.

• Spell out the danger of meeting strange boys in strange places and becoming a victim of rape or assault. Point to recent cases on television where investigators are looking for a dead body of a girl who was raped after getting in the car of a stranger.

• Appeal to her common sense. Tell her she is a big girl now and that there are certain things she just cannot do, and meeting boys behind your back or looking for boys on the internet is not proper behavior for a twelve year old.

• Tell her there is no way you are going to allow outings with boys she has met on the internet and that she is banned using the computer for a month. If she defies you there will be more consequences.

• If she has reached puberty, give her the puberty talk about hormones and bodily changes and tell her without mincing words that she is able to get pregnant now and should stay away from boys who are older than her. She just cannot be friends with a seventeen year old.

• Take your daughter out for a movie or something she wants to do and have a chat with her again. Tell her that if she shows interest in her school work and behaves her age that you will allow her use of the computer for an hour after school even though she is banned.

• Let her watch one of those Maury programs where young girls are pregnant, don’t know the name of the father of the baby, and have been ostracized by their friends. Let her speak to them and let them tell her how hard it is to be a single mother and if she wants that for herself.

• Tell her also that if she uses the computer again looking for boys to talk to that you will remove the computer as well as the television from her room and she will be penalized further.

This is tough love, Mom. This is a high risk age she is in. There are pedophiles on the streets; you can’t trust anyone. You don’t want to have this talk after something bad has happened.


Challenging the article written on virgins for the believers in Islam

As a Muslim I am deeply insulted to read an article by Madan Singh on spotless virgins in Islam and regretful also that no Muslims have challenged this article. The article is provocative, untrue and casts a dark light on Islam. I will go as far as to say that if Muslims actually believe it, it is a sorry day indeed, and I will become an atheist if any scrap of this article is indeed the Word of God.
In a nutshell, the article claims that combs of gold and virgins are given to men who reach paradise. In other words, the foundation of Islam is based on sensual pleasure when all through the Holy Qur’an God talks of chastity, charity, piety, and modesty.

Clarifying untruths

• While the author of this article mentioned earlier is right about the hadiths as the words of the Prophet Muhamad from God, all Muslims know that there are thousands of hadiths – sayings by the Prophet – which are true, and also those which have puzzled theologians who have to sift through these hadiths and separate the chaff from the wheat. God is not a pimp. The Quran asks us to use common sense and if there is ever a dispute over a hadith, it has to be thoroughly researched. Hadiths are so carefully researched and examined, that if there is a dispute, one must take the answer from the pages of the Quran and dismiss the validity of the hadith.

• Muslims know this and so do non Muslims. To state that every man will have 72 virgins, would make the Hereafter appear like a haven for sex. If this untruth is used for the purpose of converting people to Islam, it is wrong and also untrue as God states clearly in the Quran that there is no compunction in religion. A man should not be bribed to believe and you must not interfere with his faith.

• My third point is that God has a whole section on the rights of women and even allowed plural marriage so that a woman who has children and no husband can be protected and her children looked after.

• The article states further that for the believers there are combs of gold and spotless virgins. God is not interested in material things. All of the Hereafter is about your soul and what you have done for mankind; it is not tainted by worldly possessions and a man’s sexual strength. To intimate that Islam has a sexual foundation is a huge insult to believers in Islam.

Let me end this argument by saying that while the Arabic written word is the same for all printed Qurans, and is original, that there are translations also by specific scholars where things have been added. In my own hands I had a small copy of the Quran which were handed out to new converts. When I read the parts about the virgins and the combs of gold in this little Quran, I spoke to an imam about it. He said he did not know the answer and had not come across it. He was too afraid to stick his neck out and say more. It is one thing if you don’t understand; it is another thing to hand out Qur’ans where the translations have been tampered with.

In conclusion, Islam is a deeply spiritual religion and God is fair to both women and men. Use common sense. Would God provide sexual pleasure for men as a reward and give nothing to women? I ask you to read any portion of the Qur’an as translated by Yusuf Ali, and tell me if God is unfair. Sexual pleasure is not the bedrock of Islam. And all the hadiths are not authentic. Any Muslim scholar will tell you this. Combs of gold, sweat smelling like musk, 72 wives and 80,000 servants is not God’s language. It is the language of those who want to taint Islam.