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Friday, July 30, 2010

Tokyo's 'oldest man' had been dead for 30 years
He was thought to be the oldest man in Tokyo - but when officials went to congratulate Sogen Kato on his 111th birthday, they uncovered mummified skeletal remains lying in his bed.
BBC News

Officials had planned a birthday celebration to honour Mr Kato but they found him dead

Mr Kato may have been dead for 30 years according to Japanese authorities.

They grew suspicious when they went to honour Mr Kato at his address in Adachi ward, but his granddaughter told them he "doesn't want to see anybody".

Police are now investigating the family on possible fraud charges.

'Living Buddha'

Welfare officials had tried to meet Mr Kato since early this year. But when they went to visit, family members repeatedly chased them away, according to Tomoko Iwamatsu, an Adachi ward official.

Authorities grew suspicious and sought an investigation by police, who forced their way into the house on Wednesday.

They discovered a mummified body, believed to be Kato, lying in his bed, wearing underwear and pyjamas, covered with a blanket.

Mr Kato's relatives told police that he had "confined himself in his room more than 30 years ago and became a living Buddha," according to a report by Jiji Press.

But the family had received 9.5 million yen ($109,000) in widower's pension payments via Mr Kato's bank account since his wife died six years ago, and some of the money had recently been withdrawn.

The pension fund had long been unable to contact Mr Kato.

"His family must have known he has been dead all these years and acted as if nothing happened. It's so eerie," said Yutaka Muroi, a Tokyo metropolitan welfare official.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Black Parents Shocked to Give Birth to White Baby Girl

IAN HOOTON/Science Photo Library/Corbis

A black couple living in the U.K. were shocked by the birth of a blonde haired, blue-eyed girl.

Ben Ihegboro must have briefly questioned his wife Angela's fidelity after the birth of Nmachi, and he conceded: “We both just sat there after the birth staring at her”.

As there is no known mixed-race background in either of the parents' families, geneticists are baffled by the newborn's surprise appearance.

Nmachi is the couple's third child, with Dumebi, 2, and Chisom, 4, each bearing a strong resemblance to their parents. Doctors rejected the possibility of the baby being albino. The real cause is unknown, with the only explanation being a "genetic quirk." (See pictures of the first years of four babies.)

Professor Bryan Sykes, head of human genetics at Oxford University, described the birth as "extraordinary," telling The Sun that for the baby to be completely white, both Ben and Angela would need to have "some form of white ancestry.'" The explanation for this lies in that mixed-race women carry some eggs containing genes for white skin and others for black; similarly men carry the same range of genes in their sperm. (See pictures of pregnant belly art.)

Professor Sykes commented: "The hair is extremely unusual. Even many blonde children don't have blonde hair like this at birth."

Ben said that his son Chisom "keeps coming to look at his sister and then sits down looking puzzled."

Well, Chisom, we're puzzled too!

Venezuela opens Bolivar's tomb to examine remains
by Ian James

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez gestures during a meeting with the athletes that will compete in the Central American Games at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Wednesday, July 14, 2010. The games will be held July 16-Aug. 1 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The painting at back portraits Venezuelan independence hero Simon Bolivar. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

CARACAS, Venezuela — Hugo Chavez has opened the coffin of his idol Simon Bolivar as Venezuela investigates the president's suspicions of foul play in the South American independence hero's death nearly two centuries ago.

Chavez announced the exhumation of Bolivar's remains Friday and displayed the intact skeleton briefly on national television, saying he wept when he saw the bones of the inspiration for his Bolivarian Revolution.

While historians have generally concluded that Bolivar died of tuberculosis in 1830, Chavez has another theory — that Bolivar was murdered — even though he acknowledges it may not be possible to prove.

State television showed footage of white-clad officials opening the coffin. Specialists will carry out DNA testing on the remains, which were well-preserved and include teeth in "perfect" shape, hair, remnants of a shirt and boots, Chavez said.

Those who opened the coffin wore surgical gloves, hair nets and gas masks. Chavez interrupted a speech late Friday to show footage of them rolling back a black cloth to reveal the skeleton while the national anthem played.

"Viva Bolivar," Chavez said. "It's not a skeleton. It's the Great Bolivar, who has returned."

Chavez opened Bolivar's tomb unannounced, spreading the news on Twitter shortly after midnight Thursday: "What impressive moments we have lived tonight!! We have seen the remains of the Great Bolivar!"

"Our father who is in the earth, the water and the air ... You awake every hundred years when the people awaken," Chavez continued. "I confess that we have cried, we have sworn allegiance."

The president often speaks under a portrait of "The Liberator" and quotes his words. Chavez has also renamed Venezuela the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and say he's creating a socialist system based on Bolivar's ideals.

Chavez has sometimes raised a sword that belonged to Bolivar at public events, and he views his presidency as a modern extension of Bolivar's struggle to liberate and unite Latin America.

"That glorious skeleton has to be Bolivar, because his flame can be felt. My God," Chavez said in another tweet. "Bolivar lives... We are his flame!"

Bolivar's remains have been kept since 1876 at the National Pantheon in Caracas, where foreign leaders visiting Chavez often pay homage at the tomb with flower-laying ceremonies.

Chavez said one key aim is "glorifying Bolivar" by removing his remains from a lead sarcophagus and moving them to a grander final resting place. He said the skeleton was temporarily moved to a vacuum-sealed plastic case, promising to place it in a gold casket.

The government also will build a new pantheon to house Bolivar's remains, Chavez said.

According to traditional accounts, Bolivar spent his last days bedridden and died at 47 of tuberculosis at an estate in modern-day Colombia.

However, Chavez has expressed doubts about the original autopsy and says he believes — based on his interpretation of writings about Bolivar's life — that he could have been assassinated by his enemies, possibly poisoned. Chavez first suggested in December 2007 that Venezuela should open Bolivar's coffin to examine the remains.

Opposition leaders called the opening of the coffin a ridiculous show and urged Chavez to focus instead on problems like crime, inflation and corruption.

Some prominent Venezuelan scholars dismiss the theory and accuse Chavez of trying to rewrite history to fit his beliefs.

Historian Ines Quintero called the sudden exhumation surprising and said the government should explain its aims and on what basis it is carrying out the study.

Earlier this year, a doctor from Johns Hopkins University questioned the tuberculosis story and said he believes arsenic prescribed as a medical treatment contributed to Bolivar's death. Dr. Paul Auwaerter, who presented his case at a conference on the deaths of famous figures, said however that he doesn't support the assassination theory.

Chavez said he has at times doubted that the entombed remains are those of Bolivar, but that as he gazed at the eye sockets in the skull, he asked: "Father, is it you?" And, Chavez said, "My heart told me, 'It's me.'"

Chavez did not offer specifics of the aims of the investigation beyond saying experts would use DNA testing to verify the remains are actually Bolivar's. He said experts took X-rays and samples to analyze. The team includes forensic experts, anthropologists and others, from Venezuela as well as Spain, he said.

More than 50 specialists have been involved, Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz said.

Earlier this month, Chavez oversaw another ceremony in which the symbolic remains of Bolivar's lover Manuela Saenz, credited by some with helping him liberate several nations from Spanish rule, were moved to the National Pantheon.

Saenz died during a diphtheria epidemic in 1856. Her body was burned and dumped, along with those of many other victims, in a mass grave in Ecuador. At the ceremony earlier this month, Chavez and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa placed earth gathered from the grave where Saenz was buried next to Bolivar's tomb.

Teen barters old cell phone up to a Porsche
After two years and 14 trades on Craigslist's barter section, the 17-year-old is driving a Boxster.
By Karen Datko

Steven Ortiz enjoys driving his 2000 Porsche Boxster S to and from school. But, put off by the $150 oil changes and other maintenance costs, the 17-year-old from Glendora, Calif., is looking to trade it for yet another ride -- once again via the bartering section at Craigslist.

Ortiz started out with an old cell phone and eventually traded up to that sweet convertible, according to a story by Rebecca Kimitch in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. It took two years and
14 swaps at Craigslist to reach this point. She wrote:
He traded that phone for a better phone, which he then traded for an iPod Touch. He traded that for a series of dirt bikes, a MacBook Pro, and a 1987 Toyota 4Runner.

At the time, Steven was just 15 and unable to drive his new acquisition. So he quickly swapped it out for a souped-up off-road golf cart, another more valuable dirt bike, a street bike, then a series of cars ending with a 1975 Ford Bronco. He spent a few months enjoying each acquisition before determining he was looking for something else.

He eventually swapped the Bronco, desired by some collectors and worth about $15,000, for the Porsche, worth about $9,000, Kimitch said. "It was actually a trade down, one that we can't really fault him for -- everyone needs to own a Porsche at least once in their life," wrote car enthusiast Ben Wojdyla on Jalopnik.

Bartering on Craigslist is, in fact, very popular these days. People who don't have money usually have something they can trade for the things they want or need. For instance, the guy who traded the Toyota for the MacBook "is a musician who really needed the computer for his band," Kimitch wrote.

Ortiz seems to be the anti-Kyle MacDonald, living a normal teenage life, except for the five or so hours he spends each day checking out Craigslist for excellent deals. He is inspiring. "Although Ortiz's story isn't the first time we've seen Craigslist-swapping writ large, it's the first one we've seen that doesn't include any outside help," Wojdyla wrote.

"This is the story of enterprise in hard times," penned Chris Matyszczyk at CNET News. "It is the story of a teen who dedicated himself to improving his lot. It is the story of how one young man turned an old cell phone into a Porsche. Without any money changing hands."

Do We Ever Outgrow High School?
Lately, some high-profile women are acting like mean girls. Is the fault theirs or ours?

What happens to mean girls when they grow up? Judging by some recent examples, they become CEOs, politicians, or reality-TV-show stars.

Let’s start with Carly Fiorina (the former head of Hewlett-Packard), a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in California, whose recent cattiness about the “sooo yesterday” hair of her opponent, Sen. Barbara Boxer, was picked up by a mike that was on when Fiorina clearly thought it was off. Fiorina has had to spend precious campaign time explaining and backtracking while stories focused on her gaffe rather than the issues.

A potentially more serious story concerns a “shoving incident” involving Meg Whitman, a Republican and former eBay CEO who is now running for governor of California. According to The New York Times, when she was eBay chief, Whitman became so angry at an employee that she “forcefully” pushed her. When the employee threatened to sue, the company countered with a reported settlement of about $200,000, and Whitman now praises the employee’s “thorough professionalism.” The story revived accounts of Whitman’s tough behavior as a boss who, according to the Times, “would often express sharp bursts of anger toward employees whose work or preparation she found lacking.”

Then we’ve got Bravo’s Real Housewives of New York City, which could be renamed Real Mean Girls of New York City because the stars are more upfront than most of us about the mean girl within. In one pivotal moment this season, Alex McCord (previously the meek one) pounced on former queen bee Jill Zarin—who had mocked McCord’s husband, child-rearing, and interior-design skills—with this zinger: “You are a mean girl and you are in high school. And while you are in high school, I am in Brooklyn trying to survive in this economy.” (To see more of this exchange, click here. It’s near the end.)

The fun and games so undid housewife Kelly Bensimon that, at one point, she appeared to have a breakdown and later accused the others of “systematic bullying.” Bensimon tried to explain herself later at a ladies’ lunch during which she said, “I just don’t like to gossip.” Housewife LuAnn de Lesseps (a.k.a. the Countess) replied, “That’s probably why you don’t have that many girlfriends.”

The housewives’ antics drew more than 2 million viewers per episode this season, according to Bravo, and the vast majority were women with an average age of 39—clearly, old enough to know better. But it’s also clear that women are fascinated by bad behavior in other women. “It’s like watching a train wreck,” says Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes and an expert on teen and young-adult behavior. Wiseman’s book was the basis for the 2004 movie Mean Girls, so she knows what she’s talking about. Wiseman has a pretty persuasive theory about why grown women in the public eye often lash out like immature high schoolers. “In our culture,” she says, “we get rewarded for mean-girl behavior, so we see adults behaving in ways that we typically assign to teens … Getting attention is the most important thing.”

Wiseman says there’s actually a biological reason why grown women aren’t supposed to act this way. The part of the brain that controls the ability to recognize future consequences of your actions and to choose between good and bad behavior reaches maturity at about age 25. But that doesn’t mean a switch flips at 25 and suddenly you are all grown up. In fact, Wiseman says that, as a teacher, she sees many girls who “start the process of understanding what choices they need to make with their friends” at 15 or 16 and, she adds, “some get there by 10th or 11th grade.” On the other hand, we see lots of women in their 30s, 40s, and beyond acting more foolishly than their daughters. “It’s not fair to say they are acting like a teenager,” says Wiseman, “because some teenagers are very mature.”

Bravo’s Andy Cohen, the network’s senior vice president of original programming and development, has a unique perspective on bad behavior with the five sets of Real Housewives (the others are in New Jersey, Atlanta, Orange County, Calif., and soon, Washington, D.C.). He agrees with Wiseman that cameras make a difference. In essence, he says, a persistent spotlight brings out the id—the unconscious desires that the women would ordinarily suppress in public. “I think the deeper we go every season with our wives, the more comfortable they are in front of a camera, the more heightened their relationships get,” he says. “I think this season didn’t necessarily bring out the best in everybody and I think it did become kind of like high school.”

The key plot point was the bitter breakup of Zarin and her former BFF Bethenny Frankel. We’ll spare you the details of the walk-up to the fight, but all women will recognize the basic elements: miscommunications, hurt feelings, angry voice mails, and ultimately, stony faces and perfunctory air kisses when Zarin and Frankel ran into each other on the charity circuit or at fashion shows. A high point in this story arc was what Zarin hoped would be a reconciliation lunch between the two at New York’s famous Le Cirque, a restaurant most of us could only afford if someone else was paying.

By this point, Frankel had become pregnant, engaged, and the star of her own spinoff Bethenny Getting Married—all without the support of Zarin. And, as all women know, missing such key events in the lives of your friends pretty much wipes you off their emotional maps. At the lunch, Zarin told Frankel, “I feel like we were married and now we are separated, and I don’t want to be separated.” Frankel replied, “Well, divorce can be ugly.” At the end, Zarin handed her a package of potato latkes, a traditional treat during the Jewish holiday Chanukah, which was around the time of this lunch. As the coauthor of Secrets of a Jewish Mother, Zarin knew she was bringing out the heavy artillery.

Cohen appears to be somewhat bemused by all the bad behavior. Referring to the Zarin-Frankel feud, he says, “It’s like Laverne and Shirley broke up, so who are you going to be friends with?” Though the Housewives shows are designed as escapist fun, Cohen thinks they can serve a more elevated function. “I call it sociology of the rich, or cultural anthropology,” he says. “I’m fascinated by psychology and human behavior … It certainly opens up conversations about friendships and parenting and relationships.”

But Wiseman says that paying attention to bad behavior just reinforces the idea that even successful women are superficial. “When you are being entertained, your defenses go down,” she says, and “you’re absorbing the message that women are stupid and inconsequential.” Not only does it “dumb us all down,” she says, “but, more importantly, it makes us expect less from others and expect less from ourselves, and allows this kind of behavior to be normalized.”

Women in the spotlight need to think before they speak—just like the rest of us. So, finally, a word to Zarin and Frankel: this hug was a great start.

Depoe Bay man dies chasing kite
By Todd Milbourn
KVAL News and the Associated Press

File photo of Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast

DEPOE BAY, Ore. – A man from the Depoe Bay area died Friday night after chasing his kite onto a rocky outcropping and falling into the ocean.

Oregon State Police said Saturday that Dennis Keith Brockus, 45, had been flying kites with his roommate when his kite got away from him. Brockus tried to retrieve it but fell into the ocean.

The roommate reported Brockus missing about an hour after he had gone to recover a kite from the rocky area. Authorities then launched a search.

Brockus' body was found about 50 to 100 yards from shore. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter retrieved him from the ocean.

Cow executed for seducing man for sex
By Diana Fasanella

Come hither my little boy toy

An Indonesian man claims he was seduced by a cow after he was caught having sex with it on the resort island of Bali.

Busti Ngurah Alit was caught by a neighbor in the rice paddy fields of the village of Yeh Embang in Jembrana wooing the cow, CNews reports.

The village chief Embang Ida Bagus Legawa said the 18-year-old man was standing naked while holding the back of the cow. Alit claims he didn’t see an animal but a beautiful woman.

”She called my name and seduced me, so I had sex with her,” said Alit.

The young man was then forced to marry the cow in a cleansing ritual for his unholy acts. He fainted during the ceremony that also required his clothes be thrown into the sea.

The cow didn’t fair as well. Chief Embang gave the owner of the cow approximately $562 before having the animal drowned in the sea to rid the village of bad luck.


Monday, July 19, 2010

The man who hated Pooh
By Tim Benson

The man whose drawings brought Winnie the Pooh to life spent the last years of his life hating the bear with very little brain.

The biggest regret in EH Shepard's life was agreeing to illustrate Winnie the Pooh for AA Milne, as it resulted in the bulk of his work, even during his lifetime, being completely overshadowed.

In his later years, Shepard was heard to describe Pooh as "that silly old bear" and resented his close identification with Milne's books.

Although he is best remembered today as the man who drew Pooh, Shepard himself saw these illustrations as very much a sideline. Instead his main occupation, from 1921 until 1953, was working as one of Punch magazine's leading political cartoonists.

Ernest Howard Shepard was born in St John's Wood in London on 10 December 1879. He found a talent for drawing at a young age and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy.

Bravery award

Although at first working as a painter, Shepard began to contribute joke cartoons and illustrations to several periodicals and journals. Punch cartoonist Linley Sambourne noticed his work and recommended he send in cartoons for publication. From his first published cartoon in 1907, he became a regular contributor until 1953.

EH Shepard felt his work had been overshadowed by the bear

During the First World War, Shepard served in France, Belgium and Italy. He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery in the field and by the end of the war reached the rank of major. Throughout the war in the trenches, he continued to draw sketches and illustrations of life at the front.

In 1921, Sir Owen Seaman, editor of Punch, formally invited Shepard to join the Punch "table", which meant an appointment to the regular staff. Shepard succeeded Leonard Raven Hill as second cartoonist in 1935 and then became first cartoonist after Sir Bernard Partridge's retirement in 1945.

According to his granddaughter, novelist Penelope Fitzgerald, he was ill-suited to being a political cartoonist. "He neither found it easy to get a likeness nor could he manage the sheer indignation which gives political satire its weight."

'Quiet humour'

However, RCG Price, in his history of Punch, believed that with Shepard's arrival "the rest of Punch began to look static".

Shepard's political cartoons are often full of literary allusions - with visual references to Sir John Tenniel's illustrations for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and for novels by Charles Dickens. His love of animals led him to include them as part of his composition wherever possible in his cartoons.

From the 1930s and through to the gruelling wartime years of the 1940s, Shepard's humour remained gentle and uplifting. According to cartoonist John Jensen: "Shepard moved from strength to strength, increasingly able to impose his quiet humour on otherwise grim and humourless topics."

When author AA Milne asked EV Lucas, another member of the Punch table, whom he would recommend to illustrate some children's verse, Lucas named Shepard. But Milne was reluctant to use Shepard, believing he did not have the style of draughtsmanship he wanted.

However, when Milne was finally persuaded to use Shepard in 1924 to illustrate his poems, When We Were Very Young, he was delighted with the result.

Growler - Pooh's inspiration

So when it came to illustrating Winnie the Pooh, Milne insisted that Shepard got the job.

Winnie the Pooh's face is now a globalised image

Though Milne was always pleased with Shepard's work, the two men were never close. "I always had to start again at the beginning with Milne, every time I met him," said Shepard.

In terms of his inspiration, Shepard's beautiful line drawings of Pooh were not taken from Christopher Robin's bear, but by Growler, the much-loved bear belonging to the artist's son, Graham.

When the Second World War broke out, Shepard was over military age so he enlisted in the Home Guard. But his son Graham, serving in the Royal Navy, lost his life when his ship was sunk in the Atlantic.


When in 1953, Malcolm Muggeridge took over from Kenneth Bird ('Fougasse') as the editor of Punch, he was determined to give the magazine a fresh look. The first change Muggeridge made was to sack Shepard as lead cartoonist, putting Leslie Illingworth in his place.

A letter written by Shepard as if it was from Pooh, which is now in the British Museum archives.

On 24 March 1976, Shepard died aged 96 at Midhurst in Sussex. His pencil and pen and ink drawings are now highly regarded and sought after.

In the past 10 years, original EH Shepard drawings have realised record prices, especially those of Winnie the Pooh which now sell for tens of thousands of pounds.

Despite the fact that his political cartoons are in some ways far more interesting and have far more work in them, they sell for a fraction of the price.

By Eddie Adams
Monday, Jul. 27, 1998

With North Vietnam’s Tet Offensive beginning, Nguyen Ngoc Loan, South Vietnam’s national police chief, was doing all he could to keep Viet Cong guerrillas from Saigon. As Loan executed a prisoner who was said to be a Viet Cong captain, AP photographer Eddie Adams opened the shutter. Adams won a Pulitzer Prize for a picture that, as much as any, turned public opinion against the war. Adams felt that many misinterpreted the scene, and when told in 1998 that the immigrant Loan had died of cancer at his home in Burke, Va., he said, “The guy was a hero. America should be crying. I just hate to see him go this way, without people knowing anything about him.”

I won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for a photograph of one man shooting another. Two people died in that photograph: the recipient of the bullet and GENERAL NGUYEN NGOC LOAN. The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn't say was, "What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?" General Loan was what you would call a real warrior, admired by his troops. I'm not saying what he did was right, but you have to put yourself in his position. The photograph also doesn't say that the general devoted much of his time trying to get hospitals built in Vietnam for war casualties. This picture really messed up his life. He never blamed me. He told me if I hadn't taken the picture, someone else would have, but I've felt bad for him and his family for a long time. I had kept in contact with him; the last time we spoke was about six months ago, when he was very ill. I sent flowers when I heard that he had died and wrote, "I'm sorry. There are tears in my eyes."

--Eddie Adams

* Picture lifted from this site.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"My Online Boyfriend Wasn't Real"
Michelle Satterlee, 21, thought she had found her soul mate online. But it all turned out to be a cruel hoax. Learn how she fell prey, and what she learned from the experience.
By Mina Azodi

I was starting my freshman year at the University of California at Davis when I received a message on a social-networking site from a cute guy named Jason. He was my age, lived an hour away, and said he knew an old friend of mine who had suggested we get to know each other. I don't typically read messages from strangers, but there was something about Jason that seemed genuine.

Still, I wanted to make sure he was legit. I hadn't seen or spoken to our mutual friend, Kara (not her real name), in a few years, but nevertheless, I e-mailed her to ask what she thought of the guy. She promised me that he was great. So I wrote to Jason on and off that school year ... but it wasn't anything serious.

That changed during the summer. I wasn't as busy as I had been at school, so I spent hours chatting with Jason online. His parents were divorced like mine, we both played basketball in high school, and he was really into art, which is my major. I'd never talked to a guy who understood me like he did — not to mention, he looked great in his photos. I was falling for him fast.

By the time my sophomore year started, we were writing to each other on MySpace and Facebook and texting each other constantly, but I was dying to talk to him and hear his voice. Every time I suggested it, however, he was too busy. And when we'd arrange to meet, he wouldn't show up. I was disappointed and angry, but he always apologized and had a good explanation. It sounds bizarre now, but I was too head over heels to think rationally ...

When I told my friends about Jason, they were happy for me — until they found out we'd never spoken. They told me to cut off contact, and in my gut, I knew they were right. But I couldn't shake the feeling that he was perfect for me. So I hid our relationship, skipping parties and slacking on schoolwork so I could spend time with him online. If I did go out with friends, he would ask me why I didn't want to chat and grill me about other guys. I always reassured Jason that I was interested only in him. I was too emotionally dependent on him to risk losing the bond we had.

By December, even my parents were worried. They noticed my grades slipping, and since we have a family cell-phone plan, they saw the outrageous bills resulting from all the texting I was doing. They wanted to know more about Jason. Without my knowing, they did some digging and figured out who the cell number really belonged to.

It belonged to Kara.

When my parents broke the news, I felt overwhelmed with disgust ... and embarrassment. I certainly thought about all the things I would say to Kara, but in the end, I decided not to confront her. I'd already had enough drama. So I texted "Jason" and told him I didn't want to talk anymore. Well, Kara went crazy. She texted me 25 times in one hour, asking me to reconsider, and promised to come visit me. It got so bad that I had to change my phone number.

I'm a smart girl, so people ask me how I ever could have fallen for it. I know how strange it sounds, but since Kara knew me and my family history, she understood exactly what to say to manipulate me and play on my emotions. Everything was too intricate and perfect to have been a scam by a stranger ... and I never would have suspected a friend. I'll never know for certain why she did it, but I do think it's possible she was attracted to me. She also may have been lonely and needed someone to talk to, but that doesn't make me any less angry. Looking back, I wish I had listened to my gut. At least I know I'll never ignore it again.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fan tries to grab trophy before final
The Associated Press

An unidentified man is restrained by security staff after trying to place a hat on the World Cup trophy.
Michael Sohn

A fan ran onto the field and tried to grab the World Cup trophy on Sunday, moments before the Spain and Netherlands players were due to walk out at Soccer City for the tournament's final match.

The fan ran in from a corner of the stadium and raced across the field toward the halfway line, where the trophy had been placed on a pedestal for the players to eventually parade past.

The fan was tackled just before he could get his hands on the trophy and was carried away by seven security guards, taken up the tunnel and past the waiting players.

Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro, who last lifted the World Cup trophy as winning captain when his team won the title in Berlin four years ago, had carried the trophy onto the field in its Louis Vuitton case. He then took it out of the case and placed it on the stand facing the many dignitaries in attendance.

After Cannavaro left the field, the trophy stayed alone on the grass awaiting the arrival of the two teams. It was eventually taken off after the Dutch and Spanish national anthems were played.

Both Spain and the Netherlands are trying to win their first World Cup.

In the semifinals, an Italian fan carrying a vuvuzela ran onto the field during Spain's win over Germany on Wednesday to protest the exclusion of a player from Italy's squad.

The fan entered the field near Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's net and sprinted almost to midfield before he was caught by security.

Friday, July 09, 2010

"Why I love large men"
Having been overweight in high school, she preemptively rejected any of the lanky guys who seemed interested in her. Was her preference for husky men real or was she trying to protect herself somehow?
By Anna Davies

I was with a few single friends at a packed bar on a Saturday night when one of them poked me in the ribs. "There's your boyfriend for the evening," she said, gesturing toward a tall, chubby guy perched on a corner bar stool, a bright-yellow shirt stretched taut over his belly. "He looks like Big Bird," she said. He sort of did. And I sort of liked it.

Until recently, my dating history looked like an open casting for a Judd Apatow film. I lost my virginity in college to a guy who had trouble wedging himself into a movie theater seat. When I was 22, my Jack Black look-alike boyfriend considered the half-mile walk to Jamba Juice a workout. The guys were "larger than life" in every sense. Still, I wasn't drawn to them for their fantastic sense of humor or their laid-back attitude. I liked them because they made me feel better about myself.

I was the tallest person in my elementary school and was overweight in high school. I lost 30 pounds in college — but not my water-polo shoulders or the enduring sense that I didn't quite fit in, especially when it came to dating. So after a few humbling misadventures with skinny suitors, I started to seek out larger guys. I'd feel a tiny thrill when one would call me petite, or when I'd notice how much bigger his forearm was than mine. Curling up with a big boy made me feel delicate, sexy, small.

Eventually, I began seeing a heavyset grad student who was all wrong for me but looked the part, so I persevered. One night after our eighth or ninth date, he ran his hands down my back and murmured about how strong I felt. I cried, assuming he meant I was fat. The next day, I got an e-mail: I think you're an attractive person. But I am unwilling to play psychotherapist and to help you work through your insecurities.

After that, I got an actual therapist and began addressing my body issues. I also started flirting with the lanky runners at my triathlon training sessions and the skinny hipsters I met in sticky-floored dive bars — guys whom I'd always rejected preemptively. And they flirted back. Then, during a long run with a cute jogging buddy, I confessed that I used to be overweight and was still hung up about it. He responded that he got his back waxed every six weeks and had to make sure the salon was empty before he'd go in. I melted a little bit. Romantic? Maybe not. But I realized that all of us, men included, have our issues. Even better, I was finally learning to stop fixating on guys' guts and start listening to my own.

He's Still Single…at 40?
Don’t let his single status scare you. Here are 5 great things you should know about over-40 guys.
By Bob Strauss

When I turned 40 a few years ago, the bane of my existence was every well-meaning article in women’s magazines explaining why guys my age were dicey propositions, relationship-wise. We’re too used to living on our own, the experts said. We have commitment issues or problems with intimacy (or both). Lost in the discussion were all the reasons an unmarried 40-year-old guy might actually be an excellent catch. Here are just a few:

We’ve learned how to take care of ourselves. Explains Beth, 50, of Ohio: “Only after you’ve been the one totally responsible for the household and all those incidentals of life — home, appliance and car repairs; balancing your checkbook; paying your bills on time; doing the laundry and dishes; learning how to dress yourself without requiring another human being’s opinion — can you have a successful relationship.” (This doesn’t, of course, apply to 40-plus guys who still live at home with mother and sleep in the same bed they’ve been sleeping in since they were five years old.)

We’ve thrown back a lot of fishes, kissed a lot of frogs, etc. Yes, there are some 40-year-old single guys out there who’ve never so much as held hands with a member of the opposite sex, but the rest of us have suffered through enough setups, blind dates and singles-only events to have a pretty good idea of what we’re looking for. Says Mary Jo Fay, author of When Your Perfect Partner Goes Perfectly Wrong: “If he’s been an active dater all these years and isn’t a hermit, then he has certainly experienced a variety of women. By now, a smart guy should know what he wants and what he doesn’t, and he won’t waste his time hanging out with the wrong gal.”

We’ve been busy establishing our careers. David Sternberg, a social worker in Washington, D.C., has an interesting (and logical) take on a certain breed of 40-plus single men: “A man may spend much of his 20s in graduate school and his 30s cultivating his career, which leaves very little time to pursue romantic relationships. And now he’s ready to do so — with the advantage that he’s secure in his career and probably financially stable as well.” An added bonus: Even those of us who aren’t big earners are more likely to be satisfied with and settled into our careers at this age. (If this doesn’t sound convincing to you, flash back to that 25-year-old barista who vaguely told you he wanted to “get into venture capital someday” as he let you pick up the check.)

We may not have heard the question right. If a guy has a legalistic frame of mind, he may answer no to the query, “Have you ever been married?” without going on to elaborate that he lived with his last girlfriend for 10 years and had a couple of kids. (On the other hand, if he doesn’t volunteer this information by the third or fourth date, you have bigger problems on your hands than his prior marital status.) Outside of certain communities, there’s no longer a stigma to living together in lieu of marriage, and some couples opt for the non-wedding route from strictly legal or financial considerations. You might want to cover your bases and ask something more specific, like: “Have you ever been in a committed relationship that lasted longer than two weeks?”

We don’t have enough energy to play the field. If you’re not quite convinced by the above arguments, here’s something to seal the deal: It’s a scientific fact that guys in their 20s and 30s and guys in their 40s and 50s have vastly different testosterone levels. Even if he was a lothario in his youth, a 45-year-old man will be less inclined to juggle two or more relationships because the logistics required will cut severely into his TV time. At this relatively advanced age, an unmarried man has exactly enough energy for three things: working, channel surfing, and loving and caring for the woman he’s finally decided to marry.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Ten Sleep Mistakes and Their Solutions
By: Care2

Although we may not like to admit it, many of the sleep problems we experience are the result of bad habits and behaviors. We stay up late or sleep in late. We eat foods that disagree with us or enjoy a drink late at night, oblivious to their disruptive impact on our sleep rhythms. Over time, we teach our bodies not to sleep. For relief, we often turn to sleeping pills, which mask, rather than solve, the problem and can lead to addiction. Ultimately for real success, with insomnia as with any chronic problem, one must look for the underlying imbalances and root causes and address those.

Mistake #1: Not keeping a consistent sleep schedule.
We often think we can compensate for lost sleep by going to bed extra early another night, but the body clock’s ability to regulate healthy sleep patterns depends on consistency. We stay up late on weekends, expecting to catch up on sleep later or use the weekend to make up for lost sleep during the week. Both practices disrupt bodily rhythms, and late-night weekends in particular can cause insomnia during the workweek.

Solution: Create a routine and stick to it.
Getting up and going to bed around the same time, even on weekends, is the most important thing you can do to establish good sleep habits. Our bodies thrive on regularity and a consistent sleep schedule is the best reinforcement for the body’s internal clock. Waking and sleeping at set times reinforces a consistent sleep rhythm and reminds the brain when to release sleep and wake hormones, and more importantly, when not to.

Mistake #2: Using long naps to counter sleep loss.
Long naps during the day—especially after 4 p.m. or even brief nods in the evening while watching TV—can damage a good sleep rhythm and keep you from enjoying a full sleep at night.

Solution: Nap for no more than thirty minutes.
If naps are absolutely necessary, make sure you only nap once a day and keep it under a half hour and before 4 p.m. In general, short naps may not hurt sleep; in fact, a short siesta for half an hour after lunch or a twenty-minute power nap before 4 p.m. works well for many people.

Mistake #3: Not preparing for sleep.
Expecting the body to go from full speed to a standstill without slowing down first is unrealistic. Our bodies need time to produce enough sleep neurotransmitters to send feedback signals to the brain’s sleep center, which will result in the release of sleep hormones to allow you to doze off.

Solution: Take the time to shift slowly into sleep.
Create an electronic sundown. By 10 p.m., stop sitting in front of a computer screen (or TV screen) and switch off all electronic devices. They’re too stimulating to the brain and will cause you to stay awake longer. Also, prepare for bed. Dim the lights an hour or more before going to bed, take a warm bath, listen to calming music or soothing sounds, do some restorative yoga or relaxation exercises. Getting your mind and body ready for sleep is essential. Remove any distractions (mentally and physically) that will prevent you from sleeping.

Mistake #4: Not giving your body the right sleep signals.
Our bodies depend on signals to tell them when to fall asleep and when to wake up, the two most fundamental ones being darkness and light. But we live and work in artificially lit environments and often miss out on the strongest regulatory signal of all: natural sunlight. When we do go to sleep, our bodies need complete darkness for production of the important sleep hormone, melatonin. Often our bedrooms are not pitch dark, thereby interfering with this key process.

Solution: At night, keep the room as dark as possible.
Find the culprits in your bedroom: the alarm clock readout that glows in bright red, the charging indicator on your cell phone or PDA, the monitor on your computer, the battery indicator on the cordless phone or answering machine, the DVD clock and timer. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your pineal gland’s production of sleep hormones and therefore disturb your sleep rhythms. Conceal or move the clock, cover all the lights of any electronic device, and use dark shades or drapes on the windows if they are exposed to light. If all of that’s not possible, wear an eye mask. If you get up in the middle of the night, try keeping the light off when you go to the bathroom. Use a flashlight or night light.

Mistake #5: Having a bedtime snack of refined grains or sugars.
These are metabolic disruptors that raise blood sugar and overstress the organs involved in hormone regulation throughout the body. This hormone roller coaster can affect sleep cycles by waking you up at odd times during sleep as the hormone levels fluctuate.

Solution: If you have to eat, have a high-protein snack.
It’s better not to have anything before bed, but at least a high-protein snack will not only prevent the hormone roller coaster, but also may provide L-tryptophan, an amino acid needed to produce melatonin.

Mistake #6: Using sleeping pills to fall and stay asleep.
Sleeping pills mask sleep problems and do not resolve the underlying cause of insomnia. Many sleep studies have concluded that sleeping pills, whether prescription or over-the-counter, do more harm than good over the long-term. They can be highly addictive, and studies have found them to be potentially dangerous. For short-term use, there may be a need for sleeping pills, but over time, they can actually make insomnia worse, not better. If you’ve been taking them for a long time, ask a doctor to help you design a regimen to wean yourself off them.

Solution: Learn relaxation techniques.
Aside from physical problems, stress may be the number one cause of sleep disorders. Temporary stress can lead to chronic insomnia and circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Many people tell me they can’t switch off their racing minds and therefore can’t sleep. Do some breathing exercises, restorative yoga, or meditation. These will calm the mind and reduce the fears and worries that trigger the stress.

Mistake #7: Using alcohol to fall asleep.
Because of alcohol’s sedating effect, many people with insomnia drink it to promote sleep. Alcohol does have an initial sleep-inducing effect, but as the body breaks it down, it usually impairs sleep during the second half of the night, leading to a reduction in overall sleep time. Habitual alcohol consumption just before bedtime can reduce its sleep-inducing effect, while its disruptive effects continue or even increase.

Solution: Take nutrients that calm the body and mind, getting you ready for sleep.
Don’t drink alcohol to help you sleep. Look for a calming formula that has some of the following: amino acids, L theanine, taurine, 5 HTP and GABA, and herbs like lemon balm, passion flower, chamomile, and valerian root. Taking calcium and magnesium at night is also helpful. For some people, especially those over fifty, melatonin can be helpful, too. This is because the body produces less melatonin with advancing age and may explain why elderly people often have difficulty sleeping and respond well to melatonin.

Mistake #8: Watching television to fall asleep.
Because we have no trouble at all falling asleep in the living room in front of the TV, many of us watch TV in bed to help us fall asleep. But when we do that, we invariably wake up later on. This sets up a cycle or conditioning that reinforces poor sleep at night. I have had many patients over the years develop insomnia due to this type of conditioning.

Solution: Get the TV out of the bedroom.
Don’t watch TV in bed. The bed should be associated with sleep (and sex).

Mistake #9: Staying in bed hoping to fall asleep.
If you can’t fall asleep within thirty to forty-five minutes, chances are you won’t for at least another hour, and perhaps even longer. You may have missed the open “sleep gate,” or missed catching the sleep wave. A sleep gate is the open window of time your body will allow you to fall asleep. Researchers have found that our brain goes through several sleep cycles each night where all sleep phases are repeated. These cycles last from ninety minutes to two hours, and at the beginning of each cycle, the body’s sleep gate opens. You won’t be able to fall asleep when your sleep gate is closed.

Solution: Catch the sleep wave.
If you find you can’t fall asleep within forty-five minutes, get up and get out of the bedroom. Read a book, do a restorative yoga pose, or do some other calming activity for another one and a half to two hours before trying to sleep again. Staying in bed only causes stress over not sleeping.

Sleep is like surfing; you need to catch that sleep wave. Have you ever been exhausted and yet you avoid going to sleep and then a few hours later when you’re ready for bed, you’re suddenly wide awake? You missed the wave.

Mistake #10: Making sleep a performance issue.
Often just thinking about sleep affects your ability to fall asleep. What happens frequently is that the way you cope with the insomnia becomes as much of a problem as the insomnia itself. It often becomes a vicious cycle of worrying about not being able to sleep, which leads to worsening sleep problems. Like so many things in life, sleep is about letting go, going with the flow. It needs to become a natural rhythm like breathing, something that comes automatically that you don’t think about.

Solution: Let go and go with the flow.
Use the time to practice breathing exercises or meditation and to become aware of how what you eat, what medications you take, what behaviors or certain activities can affect your sleep cycle. Increase your awareness by paying attention to your body and becoming conscious of how you react to different foods and situations. Use this time productively, instead of getting upset that you can’t fall asleep.

One final point.
For chronic insomniacs, especially if you’re a heavy snorer, make sure sleep apnea is not the cause. This is a serious condition that affects at least 12 million Americans, many of whom have not been diagnosed. Usually they are heavy snorers. What happens is that the tissues at the back of the throat relax, and in so doing, block the airways. The brain senses oxygen deprivation, and sends wakeup signals. There is a release of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormone. Not only does this interfere with sleep, it can increase blood pressure, raising your risk of heart problems and stroke. It can also interfere with insulin sensitivity, and increases your risk of diabetes.

Living Large: The Bad Habits That Catch Up with Us Later
By Sage Romano

In my teens and twenties, I relished the sun. I splayed myself under it every chance I got, encouraging my skin to turn a nutty brown, bragging about the depth of my tans and the intensity of my sunburns. Dried, peeling skin, mounting moles and freckles, the threat of skin cancer—I had no fear of such things. All I knew was as soon as the weather permitted, I was out on a beach towel in the sunniest spot I could find, with nary an SPF on my person.

Then I went to Cancun and discovered that my skin was clearly not as resilient as I believed it to be. I shunned sunscreen, as usual, and baked for hours under the searing Caribbean sun. The result was a blistering sunburn; to this day, I still have scars from it and can point out the rashes of freckles that resulted from it. It was a sunburn that kept me wrapped in damp towel in the shade for the remainder of the trip, and that has since inspired me to slather 45 SPF sunscreen on every inch of exposed skin every time I leave the house.

But the damage is done. The wrinkles have appeared, then deepened; the freckles and moles have darkened; my skin has lost its youthful elasticity. All because I spent more than half my life considering sunscreen “optional.”

Bad Habits Die Hard
Many of us arrive at our mid-thirties suffering from a sort of extended hangover caused by the indiscretions of our younger days. Here are just a few ways we might come to regret some of our activities:

Smoking Cigarettes: Let’s bypass for a moment such weightier concerns as cancer and heart disease and focus on how smoking might challenge your vanity. Smoking depletes the supplies of collagen in your skin, thereby aiding in the creation and deepening of wrinkles. Furthermore, the four thousand toxins found in your average brand of cigarettes are carried directly to your epidermal structure by your bloodstream, causing a thickening of the blood vessels close to the surface of your skin, reducing the supply of oxygen to your largest organ. This will help ensure that your laugh lines become far more than evidence of your constant mirth.

Drinking: Heavy drinking can create all sorts of nutritional deficiencies, including, but not limited to, deficiencies in iron, protein, and calcium—all elements that are essential to overall health. Compromising your body’s ability to maintain proper levels of these elements can result in osteoporosis, low body weight, and infertility. Basically, you will be guaranteed to look and feel old, unhealthy, and frail.

Sunbathing: How about a vocabulary lesson of sunbathing’s effects that will have you investing in SPF 50 in economy-size amounts? Telangiectasias, or tiny blood vessels that appear under the surface of the skin, especially the face, in purplish-red starburst patterns; solar lentigo, otherwise known as extra-huge freckles; and seborrheic keratoses, which are wartlike blemishes that rise up on the skin. All of this courtesy of UV radiation, which is, of course, a key ingredient in all that delightful sunshine. While the sun in moderate amounts, as with many things, is necessary to good health, too much of a good thing can have ugly effects. Was the perfect tan worth it? Rather, let’s hope you put on the sunscreen and the hat before it came to all of that.

Junk Food
: While it may have become clear to you that your metabolism isn’t what it once was, those Doritos you could hardly resist might stick with you even longer than you think. Monosodium glutamate, known commonly as MSG and found in an array of food items (mostly of the junk/fast-food variety), has been linked with dozens of health problems, one of the biggest being that it spikes insulin and encourages overeating. Also called by hard-to-pronounce names such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, plant protein extract, and sodium caseinate, MSG has been linked to insulin dysfunction in adults and in the offspring of mothers who consume MSG, not to mention it inhibits the hormone functions that help prevent obesity, premature aging, and diabetes. Yum.

Bad Money Management: So many of us in our thirties and forties are still reaping the whirlwind of the quick-credit era that started in the early ’90s. But the credit card payments are just one part of the problem; the average credit card debt per household is upwards of $15,000, which, in total, comprises 98 percent of the $853 billion U.S. revolving debt. With some APRs reaching into the 15–20 percent range, it’s almost assured that reckless spending of yours in your twenties will stick with you even longer than you thought.

Feckless Youth
“Youth is wasted on the young,” they say. But that is true only in a sense. When referring to the wayward behavior of those who have not yet reached an age at which they gain appropriate experience and perspective, then maybe it makes less sense. It’s when we’re young, in the full throes of the delusion of our immortality, that we smoke, we drink, we spend money wildly (whether we have it or not), we eat whatever we like, we exercise sporadically, choosing less routine rigors to keep our bodies in shape. No one can live so entirely in the moment the way the average tween can. Just because they lack the perspective to properly appreciate the spryness of their existence certainly doesn’t mean their vigor is wasted on them.

Probably the biggest way our old habits continue to haunt us has to do with the fluidity of youth, which can often trick us into bad practices that might stick with us in one way or another as we live through our thirties. Think of the life stage of someone in her early twenties. She is likely either in college or recently graduated; either way, she is a free agent, on her own for the first time, and the world and all its unhealthful enticements are hers for the taking. You might chalk it up to a “phase,” but psychology suggests that leaving the behaviors one develops at this age safely in the past is nearly impossible.

Still, that doesn’t keep us from having to grow up and face the infinite consequences of our infinite decisions, good and bad. And it certainly doesn’t do anyone any good to go through her adult life regretting all of her wayward behavior. It’s a much better thing to learn what you need to and take those lessons with you as you encounter new temptations, familiar and unfamiliar—we only live once, and all that. Best not to waste too much of it worrying. But enough worrying to see to it that you live full and long—now, that’s something worth paying attention to.

Put the Kettle On: Sixteen Unique Uses for Used Tea Bags
By Vicki Santillano

There are few occasions, in my humble opinion, that aren’t made better with a cup of tea. Black and green tea make mornings a little brighter, herbal tea makes stressful moments a little calmer, and any tea’s a terrific accompaniment to times spent with good friends or a good book. And because it’s chock-full of antioxidants that repair cellular damage (which leads to wrinkles and disease), we do our bodies a great service every time we enjoy a cup. That’s why it seems such a shame to throw out a tea bag after it’s served its purpose; surely the magic that lies in each pouch has use beyond the beverage realm? As it turns out, the last place we should throw used tea bags is in the trash—at least not immediately, anyway. There are multiple ways to heal health ailments and spruce up our beauty regimens, homes, and even gardens with the help of a brewed tea bag or two.

Treat Your Health Ailments
All teas have varying levels of tannins, the naturally occurring chemicals (also called polyphenols) that give tea its astringent, or bitter, taste; they’re released as the tea steeps. Caffeinated teas, like black and green, have more than herbal varieties, which is why they taste more bitter than their herbal counterparts. Tannins also have anti-inflammatory properties, meaning that tea can soothe more than just our stomachs and moods.

1. Allow the tea bags to cool after steeping, then place them on sunburns and minor burns (including razor burn) for relief. If the majority of your skin needs tending, brew a tea bath and submerge yourself in the cooled-off water.

2. Apply used tea bags to rashes and insect bites to ease itching.

3. Alleviate sore or bleeding gums by putting a cooled, used tea bag over the problem spot. Tannins constrict blood vessels, which will stop the bleeding, and they reduce the swollen tissues that cause soreness.

4. Put a soaked tea bag on a bruise to heal it faster. Ruptured capillaries, the smallest blood vessels in the body, create bruises. Since tannins constrict blood vessels, they stop the leaking that causes discoloration.

5. It’s said that the tannic acid in tea shrinks warts, possibly because of its bacteria-fighting properties. To try this method, put a warm tea bag on the wart for ten minutes per day, a few times per day. The wart should shrink after a couple of days.

Add a Natural Touch to Your Beauty Routine
Tannins do good things for your skin and hair health, too. If your eyes look tired or your hair looks dull, relief is just a used tea bag away.

6. To reduce puffiness around your eyes, soak a tea bag in warm water and place on each eye for twenty minutes.

7. You can use the same method above to reduce undereye dark circles, too. Dark circles are a form of bruising, which means that tannins can alleviate them in the same way.

8. Rinsing hair with a cup of tea can make it shiny and easier to manage. Do this only if you’ve got darker hair, though; tea can temporarily dye light hairs.

9. If you have light hair and want a natural change of color, rinsing with tea water on a regular basis could add a few fun highlights. It’ll be more subtle than dramatic, unless your hair is very fair.

10. Make your feet smell sweet by soaking them in a steeped-tea bath for twenty minutes every day. Use black tea to conquer particularly bad odors. The astringency in tea closes up the sweat-emitting pores that create the smell in the first place, and the tannins kill stinky bacteria.

11. Need a quick substitute for facial toner? The aforementioned astringency makes our faces less greasy, so quickly wipe a tea bag over your trouble zones and then blot with a clean towel.

Spruce Up Your Home and Garden
Not only do our insides and outsides thrive on tea, but it works wonders inside and outside the home as well.

12. Wipe down wood furniture and surfaces with a clean washcloth or rag dipped in cooled tea water. Pat dry with another cloth.

13. Clean dirty mirrors and pots and pans with tea. Just as its astringent nature cuts down on facial grease, it decreases grease on other spots, too.

14. Take the odors out of refrigerators and ashtrays by placing a used tea bag in them to soak up offensive smells.

15. Acid-loving plants like ferns, citrus trees, and gardenias thrive when you add a little tea-spiked water to their soil once in a while. You can also use tea leaves to increase the nitrogen levels in the soil, creating a nice fertilizer.

16. Throw used tea leaves in the compost heap to speed up decomposition. Don’t throw the whole bag in there unless you know it’s made of compostable materials, like paper. (Many don’t, so compost the leaves and put the bag in the trash if you’re unsure.)

After learning about the many uses for used tea bags, I might never look at a cup of Earl Grey or peppermint the same way. Instead of being saddened by the look of a used tea bag at the bottom of the mug, the symbol of a tasty beverage’s end, I’ll see the beginning of possibilities I’d never considered before. Gardening projects, gorgeous hair, a cleaner home—tea is truly good till the last drop, and then some.

13 Ways Facebook Ruins Your Relationship
By Marushka Mujic

I doubt most of you need anyone telling you Facebook may be ruining your relationship, considering it is most likely a reality you yourself are living. But, in the event that right now it all seems like one, enormous mess of awfulness too powerful to approach, destroy and rework, here's a breakdown, complete with labels, scenarios and love lessons, in hopes that you can tackle this virtual monstrosity and take it apart, piece by terrorizing piece.

#1 Your Relationship Status

Here's an immediate source of controversy contributing to the difficulty of early dating. Ever been here? You like a girl, she likes you. You date, you share a bed, you spend some time together, everything's going well and splendid. Then, oh no, she asks. "Are we like… facebook relationship status 'together?" You react poorly, (i.e. you don't change your profile settings) and suddenly, just like that, it's over. Well, friends, that's because to modern women, your facebook relationship status is the equivalent of a high school promise ring. It's a public announcement that you've picked someone to stand by. Problem being? You probably don't want to publicly announce anything of the sort. A good way to avoid this, is by deleting this setting from your profile all together and making some righteous speech to her about how you are a private person and feel it your right to remain secretive even in a "perversely invasive technological age." Good luck.

#2 Unfortunate Old Photos

If she's your facebook friend, she already knows too much. She's seen you two years ago when you had that stupid haircut, five years ago before you killed off your acne, last week when you got too wasted to stand upright. If there's flaws in your behavior (and let's be honest, hopefully there are or else you're certainly not human), she's already seen them. For this reason, be fickle about being tagged in photos. Untag wisely. It just may save you from some truly considerable trauma.

#3 Tagging Her Offensively

You know how sometimes when a woman asks you if she looks good and you reply, saying something you think is positive but actually provokes wailing sobs and fuming screams from her? This is like that type of miscommunication. A photo that you may completely harmless, may make her cringe, cry or call it quits on you. So instead of being presumptuous, just let her know you uploaded some photos and she can feel free to tag them herself. (NOTE: Do NOT only tag yourself and not tag her. She will definitely think you are trying to hide her. For more on this - read below)

#4 Lack of Online Affection

You may just be one of those sensible lads who doesn't like to constantly post on people's profiles. But, if you're dating a lady who is and you're trying to follow preliminary dating protocol, you better get hip to it. Girls like this eagerly await the day their newest flame will find the chance to post some witty comment to their profile. When you don't, they think you're either too lazy to care or trying to hide them from your internet friends. An ideal excuse: "To be honest with you, when I really like someone, I don't like to interact with them online that much. I think it cheapens the sincerity of our connection, don't you? It's so impersonal.

#5 Your Ex's Invade

Your personal history is scrawled across this public forum. She can scroll through a blog roll of your recent years and see who you date, how it went, what she looked like and the romantic love notes posted. As with the photo untagging, trying to be savvy about deleting these little blips when you're starting to see someone new and curious. They have the delete option above comments for this reason in particular. USE IT.

#6 Her Ex's Invade

You think you want to know about her ex's, but you don't. You never do. Unfortunately, now, you don't have much of a choice. They're there. They're posting on her profile, on her profile picture, telling her "Hey sexy, you still got it." This makes you livid. Chill your stuff, dudes. It doesn't mean anything. In fact, try to spin it positively by using it to your advantage. Be different from the dudes she ditched and use their internet trails as an example of what NOT to do.

#7 General Jealousy

Internet groupies are a huge problem for both sexes, no debate here. If you happen to have a lot of them, try never to respond to their advances in any way that she could misinterpret as interest (because she will). If she happens to have a lot of them, be grateful that the girl you currently get to lay is extremely attractive and wanted and only working her moves on you. If you have a strange feeling that you're NOT the only one she's working her moves on AND she has a plethora of facebook admirers, take it as a warning sign. What your thinking (fearing?) is probably right…

#8 Poking

Poking is the virtual, (I hesitate to say) "adult" manner of pinching someone playfully in elementary school. It means "I think you're cute, but I'm a coward." Unless you're already dating a girl, and you know she's the type that would get a kick out of something like this, don't do it. It's too controversially corny to be a good move and can potentially very quickly kill your game.

#9 Time Stealer

Spending too much time on your iPhone checking out the latest upload? STEP AWAY FROM THE ELECTRONIC APPLIANCE. Nothing can kill a physical relationship faster than an infatuation with cyberspace, particularly if it's for Facebook - a service that advertises interactive communities - because she will infer that your internet community is more important that your interaction with her. Moreover, to constantly post and upload, will only make you look all too available and uninteresting. Get a hobby, dude! It's healthy for you and way hotter than being able to type as fast as a 1950's secretary without a diploma.

#10 Becoming A Fan Of The Wrong Page

What groups you join, what pages you favorite, what you virtually promote - all of this goes into the boiler of her brain when summing you up. So, be sure to be choosy about what invitations and page suggestions you accept (i.e. pages with nicknames and/or connotations concerning raunchy sex, getting wasted, geeky group games, etc). Otherwise, what you thought of as a simple click to support a friend, may simply stop your sex life.

#11 Discovering Your Inbox

ALWAYS LOG OUT. I'll say it again. ALWAYS LOG OUT. If you're at her house and you happen to log on and then leave without doing so, she may (either accidentally or intentionally) snoop around your inbox. And while you may not remember having any problematic messages stored away, you never know who has recently messaged you from your past or what past messages will somehow surface to sabotage what you've presently got going.

#12 Discovering Her Inbox

You may not be a snoop, but the page is open and it's there, staring at you, begging you to sneak a look. Of course, I urge you not to do it. Not to protect or defend women, but to protect yourself. You will discover things that mean nothing and seem monumental. It's in the nature of Facebook to blow everything out of proportion and the last thing you need is to have your head contaminated with old messages from internet lusters who she's already forgotten about, in favor of you.

#13 Picture's Worth A Thousand Words

When it comes to Facebook pictures, know that she considers your profile picture the ultimate announcement. Whoever finds their way into your profile picture is, in her mind, given high priority in yours. So, even if your pal took a hilarious photo of you at a bar with three budweiser beer girls or of you and your best girl friend doing something hilarious together, avoid at all costs advertising this as a profile pick. To her, this means she's not good enough to be your favorite. And, even if this is absolutely true, it's something she absolutely doesn't need to know.

Why We Kiss: The Science of Sex
By Brie Cadman

Pecking, smooching, Frenching, and playing tonsil-hockey—there are as many names for kissing as there are ways to do it. Whether we use it as an informal greeting or an intensely romantic gesture, kissing is one of those ingrained human behaviors that seems to defy explanation. Its many purposes—a blow and peck for good luck on dice, lips to ground after a rocky boat ride, kisses in the air to an acquaintance, and the long slow smooches of Hollywood—have different meanings yet are similar in nature. So why is it that we love to pucker up?

A Kiss Isn’t Just a Kiss
Philematologists, the scientists who study kissing, aren’t exactly sure why humans started locking lips in the first place. The most likely theory is that it stems from primate mothers passing along chewed food to their toothless babies. The lip-to-lip contact may have been passed on through evolution, not only as a necessary means of survival, but also as a general way to promote social bonding and as an expression of love.

But something’s obviously happened to kissing since the time of the chewed-food pass. Now, it’s believed that kissing helps transfer critical information, rather than just meat bits. The kissing we associate with romantic courtship may help us to choose a good mate, send chemical signals, and foster long-term relationships. All of this is important in evolution’s ultimate goal—successful procreation.

Kissing allows us to get close enough to a mate to assess essential characteristics about them, none of which we’re consciously processing. Part of this information exchange is most likely facilitated by pheromones, chemical signals that are passed between animals to help send messages. We know that animals use pheromones to alert their peers of things like mating, food sources, and danger, and researchers hypothesize that pheromones can play a role in human behavior as well. Although the vomeronasal organs, which are responsible for pheromone detection and brain function in animals, are thought to be vestigial and inactive in humans, research indicates we do communicate with chemicals.

The first study to indicate that chemical signals play a role in attraction was conducted by Claud Wedekind over a decade ago. Women sniffed the worn t-shirts of men and indicated which shirts smelled best to them. By comparing the DNA of the women and the men, researchers found that women didn’t just chose their favorite scent randomly. They preferred the scent of man whose major histocompatibility complex (MHC)—a series of genes involved in our immune system—was different from their own. Having a different MHC means less immune overlap and a better chance of healthy, robust offspring. Kissing may be a subtle way for women to assess the immune compatibility of a mate, before she invests too much time and energy in him. Perhaps a bad first kiss means more than first date jitters—it could also mean a real lack of chemistry.

Men Sloppy, Women Choosy
Behavioral research supports this biological reasoning. In 2007, researchers at University of Albany studied 1,041 college student and found significant differences in how males and females perceived kissing. Although common in courtship, females put more importance on kissing, and most would never have sex without kissing first. Men, on the other hand, would have sex without kissing beforehand; they would also have sex with someone who wasn’t a good kisser. Since females across species are often the choosier ones when it comes to mate selection, these differences in kissing behavior make sense.

Men are also more likely to initiate French kissing and researchers hypothesize that this is because saliva contains testosterone, which can increase libido. Researchers also think that men might be able to pick up on a woman’s level of estrogen, which is a predictor of fertility.

Crazy for Canoodling
But kissing isn’t all mating practicality; it also feels good. That’s because kissing unleashes a host of feel-good chemicals, helping to reduce stress and increase social bonding. Researcher Wendy Hill and colleagues at Lafayette College looked at how oxytocin, which is involved in pair bonding and attachment, and cortisol, a stress hormone, changed after people kissed. Using a small sample of college couples that were in long-term relationships, they found cortisol levels decreased after kissing. The longer the couples had been in a relationship, the farther their levels dropped. Cortisol levels also decreased for the control group—couples that just held hands—indicating that social attachment in general can decrease stress levels, not just kissing.

Looking at oxytocin levels, the researchers found that they increased only in the males, whereas the researchers thought it would increase in both sexes. They hypothesized that it could be that women need more than a kiss to stimulate attachment and bonding, or that the sterile environment of the research lab wasn’t conducive to creating a feeling of attachment.

Kissing, therefore, plays a role not only in mate selection, but also in bonding. At an Association for the Advancement of Science meeting on the science of kissing, Helen Fischer, an evolutionary biologist, posits multiple reasons for lip locking. She believes that kissing is involved in the three main types of attraction humans have: sex drive, which is ruled by testosterone; romantic love, which is ruled by dopamine and other feel-good hormones; and attachment, which involves bonding chemicals like oxytocin. Kissing, she postulates, evolved to help on all three fronts. Saliva, swapped during romantic kisses, has testosterone in it; feel-good chemicals are distributed when we kiss that help fuel romance; and kissing also helps unleash chemicals that promote bonding, which provides for long term attachment, necessary for raising offspring.

Sniff, Snuggle, and Turn Right
Yet, not all cultures or mammals kiss. Some mammals have close contact with each others’ faces via licking, grooming, and sniffing, which may transmit the necessary information. And although chimps may pass food from mother to child, the notoriously promiscuous bonobos are apparently the only primates that truly kiss. And while it’s thought that 90 percent of the human population kisses, there’s still the 10 percent that doesn’t. So it seems that as much as we use kissing to gather genetic and compatibility information, our penchant for kissing also has to do with our cultural beliefs surrounding it.

Whether we live in a place where kissing is reserved for close acquaintances, or somewhere where a casual greeting means a one, two, or three cheeker, one thing does remain highly consistent: the side to which people turn while kissing. It’s almost always to the right. A 2003 study published in Nature found that twice as many adults turn their heads to the right rather than the left when kissing. This behavioral asymmetry is thought to stem from the same preference for head turning during the final weeks of gestation and during infancy.

One of the best things about kissing, however, is that we don’t have to think about any of this. Just close eyes, pucker up, and let nature takes its course.

Think Before You Ink: How to Get Rid of Tattoos
By BettyConfidential

Remember Johnny Depp’s “Winona Forever” tattoo? How about Angelina Jolie’s “Billy Bob”? It took more than just Softsoap and a marker to turn them into “Wino Forever” and map coordinates, respectively, after their celeb owners fell out of love with their tattoos’ namesakes. So what are the options if you change your mind once you’ve already been inked? spoke to laser tattoo removal specialist Dr. Roy Geronemus, Director of the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York.

The best way to zap an unwanted tattoo, according to Geronemus, is laser removal. In fact, most professionals almost never recommend anything else. So forget about ineffective or outdated methods like creams (no matter how many times you use them to dissolve a tattoo, they won’t); excision (removing the whole tattoo as well as the skin beneath it; it leaves prominent scars, not to mention the agony factor); and dermabrasion (removing layers of skin in a process similar to sanding; it’s just not as effective as laser removal and can damage skin).

With laser tattoo removal, the laser beams—short, intense bursts of light—break up the tattoo ink both on the outer skin and under it. After that, says Geronemus, “Some of the ink is eliminated externally; [the rest] is carried away by cells in the body.”

Although laser tattoo removal has a terrific success rate—Geronemus said about 90 percent of tattoos can be removed—he cautions that sometimes it “just isn’t possible to remove them completely.” What raises the odds against a successful removal? Among the biggest factors: the age of the tattoo and the color of the ink. “Older tattoos come out faster,” Geronemus says. Surprisingly, red ink and black ink are easily removed because of the amount of light they can absorb, thus allowing the laser to break them up more extensively. Greens and yellows take more time.

Skin color is also a factor; removal works best on lighter-skinned people since the lasers work by differentiating between the colors of the tattoo and the color of the skin. If there isn’t that much difference, it’s harder to target the tattoo. (And some tattoos shouldn’t be removed at all—Geronemus doesn’t recommend removing cosmetic tattoos, such as permanent eyeliner or tattoos used in breast reconstruction, because they’re in very delicate areas.) As for the risks, Geronemus says there’s a chance of scarring or losing your natural skin pigment, especially if you’re darker-skinned.

Treatment costs vary from region to region, but according to, an informational site for consumers, the average national cost is $411.75 per treatment. An average of five treatments required, with a few weeks between each. (However, Geronemus says that some tattoos can be removed in one to two sessions.)

Although the removal process isn’t nearly as painful as getting the tattoo in the first place, even patients who get local anesthesia usually experience discomfort similar to having a rubber band snapped against an arm.

All in all, we’re lucky that there’s a way to remove some truly regrettable tattoos that don’t look nearly as good as they did when we were younger and more reckless. But we’re even luckier if we can remember to carefully consider a tattoo before we get it, keeping in mind that the marks are meant to last a lifetime—and our relationship probably won’t.