Forget me Not – Mark Twain (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910)

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Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “the Great American Novel“.

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Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which provided the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. After an apprenticeship with a printer, he worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to the newspaper of his older brother, Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his singular lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. In 1865, his humorous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County“, was published, based on a story he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California, where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention, and was even translated into classic Greek. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.

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Though Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he invested in ventures that lost a great deal of money, notably the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter, which failed because of its complexity and imprecision. In the wake of these financial setbacks, he filed for protection from his creditors via bankruptcy, and with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, though he had no legal responsibility to do so.

Photo Credit: Baking Equals Love

Credit: Wikipedia

Money on my Mind – Stay Ready to Get Ready

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RAIN, EAT, REST, REPEAT – FOOD THAT BOOST YOU BRAIN POWER

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Here are seven foods you should add to your regular diet if you want to keep firing on all cylinders. These foods may not make you smarter, but they’ll help you stay sharp and think clearly–especially when you’ve been glued to your desk for 12 hours.

  1. Salmon. This is one of the best brain foods out there. Salmon is rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids that have been shown to enhance memory and cognition. Plus, Omega 3s have anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to reduce the incidence of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. Shoot for three servings of wild Alaskan salmon a week.
  2. Flax. This plant-based source of Omega 3 is perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Not only does flax improve brain function, but it helps reduce inflammation and improve circulation. Flax also helps lower cholesterol and balance blood sugar, making it a great supplement to include in any diet. Sprinkle a tablespoon of ground flax seeds to oatmeal or add a tablespoon of flax oil to smoothies or salad dressings.
  3. Blueberries. These berries contain flavonoids–antioxidants that have been shown to help improve your ability to learn and enhance motor skills. Flavonoids also help prevent degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Add a cup to your morning oatmeal or to a smoothie. Or simply keep them on hand for a quick and healthy afternoon snack.
  4. Nuts and seeds. This perfect afternoon snack is a good source of both Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids, which improve brain function. Plus, nuts contain vitamin E, which has been shown to help protect the brain from free-radical damage. Walnuts are best for brainpower. Cashews and sunflower seeds contain an amino acid that helps boost serotonin levels and alleviate stress.
  5. Eggs. Eggs are a great source of choline, a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which helps you concentrate and recall information. Studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s have depleted amounts of this important neurotransmitter.
  6. Dark green leafy vegetables. Kale, chard, spinach, and other dark green vegetables contain B-vitamins, including folic acid, which help shield your brain from the effects of aging. These veggies are also loaded in antioxidants that help protect against heart disease and cancer. Eat dark greens daily in salads or as a side dish.
  7. Chocolate. This treat is rich in flavanol antioxidants that increase blood flow to the brain, helping to protect brain cells. But the percentage of cacao is important–the darker the chocolate, the better. Enjoy a small square of dark chocolate after lunch for an afternoon boost.

Credit: Health Digezt

POWER FOODS FOR THE BRAIN: AN EFFECTIVE 3-STEP PLAN TO PROTECT YOUR MIND AND STRENGTHEN YOUR MEMORY

MONEY ON MY MIND – WAYS TO SAVE MONEY

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1. Shave some extra cents off your gas costs by checking out GasPriceWatch.com to find the cheapest offerings in your area. For example, you’ll find that the Chevron on Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles is selling gas for 22 cents less than a Mobil station a few blocks down the road. 

2. Nix name brands and start buying generic toiletries and cleaning products in bulk. Better yet, take shopping trips with friends to Costco so you can all split that bulk pack of toilet paper.

3. Join your local library. You might be shocked to find that its DVD collection is stocked and up-to-date (not to mention totally free). If you normally rent one movie per week from the video store or Netflix, you can save over $200 in a year!

4. Unplug your appliances like coffee pots, toasters, hair dryers, and computer cords when you leave the house. According to Energystar.gov, it costs you $100 per year to power appliances in standby mode (especially ones with features like clock displays). When you go on vacation, it’s a good idea (both for your wallet and the environment) to unplug large energy consumers like entertainment centers. 

5. Cliché as it may sound, skip your morning Starbucks latte. You’ll save about 190 calories and $3 per day. You can still make your homemade coffee feel special by adding a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg.

6. Get cash back on your clothing purchases. It sucks when you buy a piece of clothing full-price, then see it on sale a week later. Hang on to your receipts, because larger chains like the Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy will refund you the difference on items that go on sale as long as you present a receipt within 14 days of the original purchase.

7. Need new furniture? Before heading off to Ikea, check out Freecycle.orga site where users list things they don’t want anymore. Or, try your local Craigslist.com listings for moving sales (oftentimes people are in a pinch and will sell items for “best offer” just to get rid of them).

8. Work out for free. Look up donation-based yoga studios in your area so you can pay what you can (instead of a normal $12-$20 per class). Similarly, many yoga, dance, and Pilates studios offer new student incentives such as two weeks of classes for only $20. Can’t afford a personal trainer? Check out iTrain.com,where you can download personalized workouts for your iPod for as little as $7.99 a session. Other cheap options: Go for a hike in the fall foliage, jog outdoors, or organize a game of touch football with friends (a great excuse to get them to invite single guys!). 

9. Think about your cash. Always know exactly how much money you have on you. It will prevent mindless spending (and the shock when you realize you’re out). Also, plan out your day so you withdraw the money you need from your home bank, avoiding ATM fees.

10. Do your holiday shopping on the cheap by hunting down cool stuff at thrift and vintage shops where you can find heartwarming items for less than 20 bucks. Think music boxes, quirky costume jewelry, vintage postcards to frame, or collectors’ plates. 

11. Bring the party home. Ask friends to come over with a bottle of wine for a game night on Saturday. Offering a simple, homemade dessert like cookies or a pie won’t cost more than a few bucks if you already have the basic ingredients on hand. If you absolutely have to get out, then organize a get-together at a bar with a happy hours special. Make the occasion more festive by creating a Facebook invite with a quirky theme like “International Talk Like a Pirate Day!” One more tip: check out Myopenbar.coma site that lists events at bars with free booze in several cities including New York, Miami, and Chicago.

12. Do more research. It might be painful to actually look at the breakdown of your expenses, but it’s the best way to cut down on costs.  (Hint: you can probably get both used or at your local library instead of paying full price).

Credit: Cosmopolitan

Train, Eat, Rest & Repeat – Benefits of Squats

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  1. Builds Muscle in Your Entire BodySquats obviously help to build your leg muscles (including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves), but they also create an anabolic environment, which promotes body-wide muscle building.In fact, when done properly, squats are so intense that they trigger the release of testosterone and human growth hormone in your body, which are vital for muscle growth and will also help to improve muscle mass when you train other areas of your body aside from your legs.

    So squats can actually help you improve both your upper and lower body strength.

  2. Functional Exercise Makes Real-Life Activities EasierFunctional exercises are those that help your body to perform real-life activities, as opposed to simply being able to operate pieces of gym equipment. Squats are one of the best functional exercises out there, as humans have been squatting since the hunter-gatherer days. When you perform squats, you build muscle and help your muscles work more efficiently, as well as promote mobility and balance. All of these benefits translate into your body moving more efficiently in the real world too.
  3. Burn More FatOne of the most time-efficient ways to burn more calories is actually to gain more muscle! For every pound of additional muscle you gain, your body will burn an additional 50-70 calories per day. So, if you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you will automatically burn 500-700 more calories per day than you did before.
  4. Maintain Mobility and BalanceStrong legs are crucial for staying mobile as you get older, and squats are phenomenal for increasing leg strength. They also work out your core, stabilizing muscles, which will help you to maintain balance, while also improving the communication between your brain and your muscle groups, which helps prevent falls – which is incidentally the #1 way to prevent bone fractures versus consuming mega-dose calcium supplements and bone drugs.
  5. Prevent InjuriesMost athletic injuries involve weak stabilizer muscles, ligaments and connective tissues, which squats help strengthen. They also help prevent injury by improving your flexibility (squats improve the range of motion in your ankles and hips) and balance, as noted above.
  6. Boost Your Sports Performance — Jump Higher and Run FasterWhether you’re a weekend warrior or a mom who chases after a toddler, you’ll be interested to know that studies have linked squatting strength with athletic ability.1 Specifically, squatting helped athletes run faster and jump higher, which is why this exercise is part of virtually every professional athlete’s training program.
  7. Tone Your Backside, Abs and Entire BodyFew exercises work as many muscles as the squat, so it’s an excellent multi-purpose activity useful for toning and tightening your behind, abs, and, of course, your legs. Furthermore, squats build your muscles, and these muscles participate in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism and insulin sensitivity, helping to protect you against obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  8. Help with Waste RemovalSquats improve the pumping of body fluids, aiding in removal of waste and delivery of nutrition to all tissues, including organs and glands. They’re also useful for improved movement of feces through your colon and more regular bowel movements.

Credit: Fitness Mercola
 

Be Like Bacon (Francis Bacon) Knowledge is Power

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Happy National Animal Crackers Day – Which is your favorite Animal Cracker?

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These fun little crackers are usually in the shape of circus or zoo animals such as elephants, lions, tigers, bears, and monkeys.

Animal-shaped crackers were first brought to the United States during the late 1800’s. The demand for these treats skyrocketed so bakers began to produce them domestically.

Stauffer’s Biscuit Company was the first company to produce animal crackers in 1871 in York, Pennsylvania. Other local bakeries soon came together under the National Biscuit Company, or “Nabisco Brands.” It was not until 1902 though that the animal cracker’s box débuted its “Barnum’s Animals” circus theme.

Did you know that since their start in 1903, there have been 37 different animals included in Barnum’s Animal Crackers? Today more than 40 million packages of animal crackers are sold each year around the world. To celebrate National Animal Crackers Day, enjoy a box (or two) of some delicious Barnum’s Animal Crackers!

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Which is your favorite Animal Cracker?

LOVE WAS BURIED IN AMSTERDAM by RESTART URGENTLY NEEDED (BLW Contributor)

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My diary had her name. I wrote letters to her every night, hid them under my bed and hoped that one day, the little book would reach her. It was the summer of 1995 and I didn’t know if she was still alive.

We grew up together, she lived just two floors above me, in the same cuboid grayish building with white balconies along the front side. The stairway to her place, like a stairway to heaven, had no walls and was open to all the eyes of the passengers. 

We used to sit there on a blanket, I was Barbie and she was Ken. Jenna was older than me. When I was born she was the first to come to our place to fall in love with me. Her pale face and her blond hair had something exotic and passionate, only her blue lips and her heavy breath revealed that she was carrying something else deep inside her diseased heart. 

 She brought me little presents every day, went to the bakery with me, taught me how to read, provided me with the coolest comics and had patience with the complicated little Becky like nobody else. Every weekend we were selling our comics and books in our street and everybody who knew us would buy something. From the money we would buy new ones, better ones. We dreamt of having our own bookshop. She wanted me to be a writer, I wanted her to be a top model. She used to laugh over that, telling me she would faint after three steps on the catwalk. She could barely breathe. The disease was taking over, day by day she was worse. 

We hid in the bathroom and she took off her shirt. Her chest was full of scars, among them a big one, dividing her in two halves. She hugged me, explained what was wrong with her little heart and told me her secrets. She dreamt of falling in love. There was a boy in our street she liked but wasn’t sure if this was real love. Every day we would daydream about him and her being together, we would draw her wedding dress and giggle, we would feel disgusted when we thought about the two of them kissing, we would stop our jokes and suddenly be quiet, knowing that this was far from reality. 

She spent most of her days in a hospital. My father took care of her there and let me inside whenever possible. When she got her wheelchair we planned to destroy it and take the wheels to make two unicycles out of it. My mother would carry her in her arms when she came home, because she was too weak to move the wheels of the wheelchair. She would bring her to the stairway and put her down on our blanket where we could be alone and talk like we used to. She told me she had seen soldiers through the windows of the hospital. We made plans how she could get away in that wheelchair if they come to our street. We exchanged photos, just in case we would lose each other for a while. And we lost each other. 

It was the summer of 1995 when I got a package from the Netherlands with her mother’s name on it. Inside of it there was a letter addressed to my parents, one of my books and the pictures that I had given to Jenna. Those few pictures are the only ones which I have from my childhood. She had written messages for me on the pictures’ back and I rolled under a blanket, touched her handwriting and smelled if the photos had her perfume on. My mother opened the letter and broke down in tears. Jenna had survived the war and the terror, only to die of a heart attack in Amsterdam, during her first days of freedom.

Check out other great articles from RESTART URGENTLY NEEDED

 

Poetry & Art – The Climb

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NASA probe close to exploring Pluto – What do you think we will find on Pluto? Maybe, other life forms?

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An artist’s impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering Pluto and its largest moon

The New Horizons probe blasted off from Florida in January 2006 for a 3-billion-mile (5-billion-km) journey to the Kuiper Belt region of the solar system located beyond Neptune.

During that time, Pluto once known as the ninth planet in the solar system, was demoted to dwarf planet status after the discovery of similar icy bodies in eccentric, distant orbits around the sun.

New Horizons will pass about 7,750 miles(12,500 km) from Pluto’s surface on July 14.

With a diameter of just 1,430 miles (2,302 km) – roughly two-thirds the size of Earth’s moon – Pluto still looks like a bright dot in color images released by NASA on Tuesday.

For now, the pictures have more value to engineers than scientists. They are serving as a road map for control teams to tweak New Horizon’s approach.

The spacecraft does not have the fuel for a braking burn to put itself into orbit around Pluto. Rather, like the Voyager explorations in the late 1970s and 1980s, New Horizons will make its observations on the fly.

What do you think we will find on Pluto? Maybe other life forms or maybe a planet made out of Bacon…hmmm Bacon.

Credit: Reuters