The trials and tribulations of a new knitter...

The Benefits Of Using A Smartphone

Many people have made the switch from standard phones, also known as dumb phones to smartphones. Even though the latter are often more expensive, they offer numerous benefits because they bring together the functionality of a cellular phone and a computer in a hand-held unit. Apart from giving you the ability to make calls and send SMS, you can also connect to the Internet on the go with your smartphone, letting you research, go shopping, browse news, read and answer emails, and check social networking accounts anytime and anywhere you want.

In addition to that, smartphones are essentially a versatile personal digital assistant because they come with an address book, calendar, task scheduler, voice recorder, calculator and several other useful features. On top of that, office-related tasks may be accomplished on smartphones thanks to the myriad of productivity apps you can install on them. Unlike laptops, smartphones allow you to carry out tasks on the go, even without a table. They will also take up less space in your baggage so you won't mind taking them throughout your out of town trips. They also come with at least one camera, music and video players, and a GPS feature.

Smartphones have been in existence since the 90s but have become mainstream only after Apple launched the very first iPhone in 2007. There are numerous operating systems used in smart phones, but the most popular are the iOS, which is used only on Apple gadgets, and Android, which is an open-source operating system from Google that is used on numerous handsets. Android is the dominant mobile operating system generally speaking and this is most likely because Android-powered phones are cheaper and there are a number of brands that use the said platform.

In the past, the iOS had the largest number of available apps, but now the numbers seem to be changing. By June this year, there are roughly 900,000 apps on the iTunes store, and about 980,000 on the Google Play Store. Who has higher quality apps is definitely a subjective argument, but Apple tends to secure more big-app names ahead of other platforms. One oft-mentioned criticism against iOS is that it isn't as flexible with regard to the programs permitted on their platform. In particular, iOS has a policy where third-party web browsing applications, such as Opera, Firefox, and Chrome, need to use Apple's web engine, which many consider as poor.

Customizability is also among the selling points of Android devices. An iPhone can only be customized once it is jail-broken. One frequently disregarded, but very useful feature in Android is its system-wide sharing feature which lets you pass data, such as text, photos, and links, between several programs.

Facebooking, Which Dancer Are You?

Returning to social media and Facebook theme, we highlight further insight into Facebook. There is a new dance that we could compare to the Waltz, the Samba and such classic human movement concertos we define as dance.

Facebook has choreographed a few new dances, although we have personally witnessed movements similar to the Pas de deux and the Bop. One conjures up images of a Nureyev and Fonteyn classic.

Facebook dance movements can be classified as such:

  1. A member is on chat merrily chatting away until one logs-in, then whoosh, they miraculously dissipate and have the audacity to take an encore by peeping ten minutes later and immediately dissipating again, instead of soaking up the rapturous applause. This new dance lacks elegance and style and is akin to the Bop.
  2. Member is posting away and commenting and "liking" until you log-in, then their fingers are frozen,and once again whoosh they dissipate, now Facebook has a generic time stamp, and the like they just clicked on says - "30 seconds ago" This is called the Ghost Dance.
  3. Thirdly, they later send you lame messages, "oh gosh I just missed you, wanted so badly to chat" This dance is called the "Bollockero"
  4. This is a personal favorite Facebook dance, it is called the marathon dancer, they are always on chat at three in the morning and again at Midday, low and behold, their icon appears on the left with a green illumination marker as testimony to their chat status. Not even Nureyev had this kind of stamina. One can check for signs of sweat on their brow, there is never a trace of it.
  5. Finally, there is the "cause" dancer, who collects silver plated gold hearts, purple hazed gemstones, diamond toothy smiles, and then the sweetest one of all "the happiest Facebook character on Facebook." This dance is so elegant that the intrinsic movements are barely discernible and the participant sweeps their page with such grace and demeanor that choreography is indefinable. More commonly known as, "Pass de Award Dance."
The Facebook dance academy is a burgeoning institution, the familiar jive we revered in the fifties and sixties has become the 'Duck and Dive' of the millennia.
Which dancer are you?
In conclusion, one aspect of Facebook that should be an improvement is the good old Profile Photos; Photo- Shop has never had such great usage as it presently enjoys. Profile pictures exude a youthful and spiritual character of all Facebook members.Please use Photo-Shop but be cognizant of your own limitations, colleagues and clients alike will look out for any anomaly.

You do not want to look like a prize turkey the day before Thanksgiving, lest you want to stir up the ire of the American Humane Association, rather be the splodge of cranberry on the lily white damask linen, this has an artistic or Jackson Pollock undertone to your character.

Perhaps if Facebook introduced a swimsuit version to their profile picture, honesty and sanity would prevail. Imagine a swimsuit photo of Mark Zuckerberg in his bathing trunks on a frosty wind swept Chicago day. I would wager a dime to a dollar that Marks own team members would not recognize this edition of his profile photo. Preferably, I would prefer a photo of my neighbors' wife in her swimsuit best!

Having spent almost my entire life on my feet, my height and posture has given me a perspective very few normally enjoy.
This perspective I call "head spotting" and this ultimately leads to characterisation of people you interact with on a super fast platform.
I thank everyone from the past and anyone from the future, they have contributed toward my character, perspective and social interaction in a meaningful way.

Vernon RC Boxall


Addicted to Upheaval

How much can our (literally) poor economy take? In the middle of high-stakes negotiations to raise the debt ceiling, new unemployment numbers were released that show significantly lower job growth than expected and needed. Foreign economic turmoil continues to wreak havoc on our fragile recovery. On top of this, both political parties have shown an increasing desire to play politics with our economy and risk defaulting on our debt obligations. This is not a moment of crisis: we are already there.

It all stems from a few bad habits. Unfortunately, there is no Debtors Anonymous for entire countries or governments. We continuously spend beyond our means when we know we can't take in what we need. Our chronic spending is bankrupting our children before they even have a chance. Just recently, President Obama announced that social security checks might stop coming if we cannot reach an agreement on the debt ceiling. Sure sounds like a solvent program and economy when we will default on our promises to our own citizens.

We also have a nasty partisan habit. Both parties are guilty of kicking the pork barrel down the road, waiting until the last minute to fix disastrous problems. In the name of electoral politics, we've let programs like social security and Medicare become so unaffordable that they will either dry up or consume any last hope of economic growth. On our debt problem, leaders of both parties are considering tactics that will lead to political gain, evidenced in the statements they make blaming others for their problems. In the short term, we will no doubt have to sacrifice politics for the common good. In the long run, it will make sense for both parties to do what is right for the future. Instead, this is what we get in return for our tax dollars.

Our worst bad habit however is our failure to make significant structural changes necessary for our long-term future. This goes beyond even reforming entitlement programs. What we need is a reform for the way we spend money, for example. It doesn't mean simply raising the retirement age, because this is only a short term fix. We have an aging population that poses a great problem: who will care for our growing number of seniors? Some jobs are simply gone and not returning. On the issue of foreign policy, we are still adapting to modern warfare and terrorism but do not address our standing around the world that causes the deep-seated hatred. On immigration, we simply have no clue what we are doing. These problems cannot be fixed by even the best reform acts our Congress can come up with. We need to recognize the relation between our actions and their consequences. We need to think and act consciously and comprehensively. This is the real solution to our crisis.

In the meantime, what do we do? These changes cannot be made overnight, obviously. The first thing we have to do is vote to raise the debt sky. Though our spending is through the roof, we cannot default on our obligations and send our economy into further downward spiral. No more short term fixes; we deserve a budget that sets us on a sustainable path for the future. Next, we have to start holding our politicians accountable for what they do. Whether you like the tea party or not, this is something they do well. On both sides of the aisle, we need effective politicians who are results-oriented and willing to put our country above their own interests. No more "politics as usual." Finally, we all need to own our responsibilities as American citizens and initiate these changes beginning at home. One thing that has not changed is that we can all make a difference. It is our right, and it is our duty.

Andre P. Audette is author of the blog No Politics As Usual - Challenging partisanship, calling out corruption, and confronting "politics as usual." Read it online at

Terra Brockman reveals the farmer's moons: the tasks and fruits and nature of each month. This is a great book for those who want to start eating seasonally, but don't know what's in season. Yet there is also plenty of inspiration for a lifelong home gardener like myself. This book is a revelation to the hard work it takes to bring fresh vegetables to the table, and I am very grateful to farmers like Henry who do so in a sustainable way (i.e. raising animals AND growing crops to be in a manure/fertilizer balance). It is also sobering to realize that if it takes this much work to provide the quality and variety that the small farm provides, then our food system is in big trouble! Not many souls would be willing to work this hard for such a meager reward. They must have a love of the work and a desire to do the right thing, so I hope that this book will spur people to support their local organic farmers.
But this book would be a bore if that were all it was about. No, it is peppered with simple recipes, and Terra manages to surprise and delight with warm stories of family and garden lore, even stepping aside to allow Henry's daughter to describe a day of weeding with her brothers. I've been gardening for decades, yet I never knew what Terra told me about spring ramps, or that there was no red rose before 1950, or how to grow shiitake mushrooms on a freshly cut oak log. The variety of vegetables that Henry grows (hundreds of varieties) made me green with envy, as it is difficult to find an heirloom tomato or a unique varietal at the farmer's markets I attend here in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I can't stress it enough - support your local organic farmers! You will be rewarded, and someone from the future will thank you.
Diana Abreu

Can Meat be a health hazard

Authors note: This article is intended for those who currently consume commercially raised meat (that includes chicken, fish, lamb, pork, beef...) and processed meat products.

Picture this: you are standing at the shelf of your local supermarket looking at the chickens and thinking “which one shall I buy?”. Does it really make a difference? You could buy two of those normal chickens for the same price as that free range organic one? In the following article I wish to outline some reasons as to why I recommend paying extra for a higher quality and ethical product.

Commercial Meat – a health hazard

Not all meat you buy is the same. Commercial meat production has sadly through greed and corruption turned a healthy product into a health hazard. Not to mention an animal welfare disgrace. This is far from an exaggeration. Commercial animals are kept in confined, cramped pens, given growth hormones to speed their delivery to the abattoir, antibiotics to stop the spread of disease from their conditions, and even fed products like genetically modified soy (mostly grown in Brazil at the expense of the Amazon rainforest) that given to humans in light of current research is very dangerous to health!

Antibiotics everywhere

Each year, in the U.S. alone farmers dump over 9 million pounds of antibiotics into the food and water supply of farm animals. This however is not intended to primarily fight or prevent disease but to fatten up livestock, which is sadly a side effect of the antibiotics (1). Grains (often contaminated with fungus or fungicides) are also used to fatten up livestock at the expense of the traditional and healthy grass feed.

Processed meats and cancer

A recent report from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on the dangers of eating processed meats (including bacon, sausage, hot dogs, salami, ham, and smoked or cured meat) concluded that by adding 1 ounce of processed meat to your daily diet elevates your stomach cancer risks by as much as 38 %. The review looked at 40 years worth of studies on the relationship between these meats and stomach cancer (cited in

What about those dangerous saturated fats you ask?

Here are some “interesting” facts:
- Between 1910 and 1970: animal fat consumption decreased from 83% to 62%
- Butter consumption decreased from 18 pounds to 4 pounds per year
- Margarine, shortening and refined oils consumption increased 400%
- Today, CHD (Coronary Heart Disease) causes at least 40% of all U.S. deaths (2)
- The fatty acids found in arterial clogs are mostly unsaturated (74%) of which 41% are polyunsaturated (3)

Could nature has designed a product like breast milk with so many saturated fats like butyric, caproic, caprylic, capric, lauric, myristic, palmitic and stearic acids? Breast milk is the source of nourishment to ensure the growth, development and survival of children. Do you see the discrepancy in that? Unfortunately all the studies that point to saturated fat as the culprit put deadly man-made trans fatty acids in the mix.

To learn more on the truth of saturated fats and the real killer trans fatty acids I recommend you read my previous article “Fat facts: good guys or bad guys”. (2)

I hope this article has given you a strong enough reason to believe that paying extra as often as possible for a healthy, ethical, free range, hormone free and unprocessed meat product is really worth it.

Finally check out this short cartoon parody based on the Matrix Movies to see the truth behind commercial meat production:

Your 3D Coach
Craig Burton

1 Wolcott, W. The metabolic typing diet, 2000, Broadway books.
2 Burton , C., Fat Facts – Good Guys or Bad Guys?,
3 Lancet, 1994, 344:1195

About the author
Article by Craig Burton. Craig is a prominent European based holistic health and fitness coach and founder of 3D Personal Training Systems. Craig is a Sports Science graduate with postgraduate accreditations in nutrition, massage, athletic training, and corrective exercise therapy. He is the author of "The 21 Day Roadmap to Health" available at Receive your FREE 3d pts tools including the 7 Part Series: Success Strategies for transforming the body, mind and spirit, our FREE monthly Peak Performance Newsletter and our FREE questionnaire to find out more about your current health status at

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Bananas: The Best Fruit Ever

Bananas, arguably the most distinctive of all fruit because instead of coming from a tree like other fruits, it comes from large plants that are of relation to the orchid and lily family.

Bananas are a perfect part of anyone's diet, since to maintain a healthy lifestyle, one should meet one's daily requirement of five fruits and vegetables. It's no wonder bananas are one of the most popular fruits in all of America. They provide a source of energy and they are available year round. Similar to other fruits and vegetables, bananas do not contain any sodium, fat, or cholesterol. With bananas being a part of a healthy balanced diet, one may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer as well as heart disease.

Bananas are also a good source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, fiber and are rich in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is important because a lack of it can cause insomnia, weakness and irritability. Potassium is important for helping muscles flex and bend properly during active work and it also reduces the chance of cramping up. Potassium may also help in reducing the chance of high blood pressure and stroke. It regulates blood pressure. An average-sized banana obtains about 400 mg of potassium and contains 110 calories with 4 grams of fiber. On top of being easy to digest, they also contain many carbohydrates, one of our main sources of energy.

Even those who get sugar cravings can be satisfied with a banana as its great taste can be a substitute for unhealthy sweets such as candy bars and gum. The banana even provides it's own wrapper with its peel, just like any other kind of tasty sweet. However, the difference is that it is healthy.

Bananas may also naturally help people overcome depression, as research shows that serotonin and norephinephrine exist in bananas.

Bananas also are great for babies. There's a reason why bananas are often the first food that's solid given to babies. They are easy to digest because they don't have fat and not many babies are allergic to them. The taste is also great and the amount of energy provided is great for kids that are growing up.

Yellow bananas are selected for eating and green ones should be used for ripening or cooking. Ones with brown specks should be used for baking cookies, bread and muffins. As they ripen, the starch in bananas turns into sugar, which makes them taste sweeter and sweeter. They're also great as a side dish for foods like cereal, salads, smoothies, shakes and yogurt.

Bananas should be stored at room temperature until they reach the ripeness that you prefer. Once that happens, you can put them in your fridge for storage. The banana peel will get darker in the fridge but the banana itself will still stay perfectly fine and tasty. One way to ripen bananas faster is to put them in a brown paper bag overnight. It works well with other kinds of fruit too.


Homemade Chocolate

It is easy to make impressive and delicious homemade chocolates for family and friends at Easter or anytime. You can purchase Easter chocolate molds at most specialty or discount stores and a wide variety of chocolate at your local supermarket. With a bit of time and patience you will soon be turning out gorgeous homemade chocolates.

Types of Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla. It is stronger and richer than milk or white chocolate and is usually the preferred choice for cooking.

Milk chocolate contains the same ingredients as dark chocolate but has added milk solids. It is sweeter, creamier, softer in texture and less intense than dark chocolate.

White chocolate doesn't contain cocoa solids, only cocoa butter blended with sugar, milk solids and flavorings, such as vanilla. It is rich, creamy and sweeter than milk chocolate.

Eating chocolate - dark, milk and white - can be used for cooking. Dark varieties include bitter, semi-sweet and sweet. Bitter chocolate has up to 80% cocoa liquor and butter with a minimal amount of sugar. Sweet chocolate has a higher proportion of sugar and vanilla to cocoa butter.

Good-quality cooking chocolate can be found in the baking aisle of supermarkets. It is similar in taste to eating chocolate, but a small amount of cocoa butter has been replaced with vegetable fat to make it easier to melt, able to set without tempering. Cheaper than normal eating chocolate.

Compound chocolate is sold in blocks or buttons and can be found in the baking aisle of supermarkets. The cocoa butter has been replaced with vegetable fat or oil, making it easier to melt and to set at room temperature without tempering. It lacks the flavour and texture of other chocolates, but is perfect for kids' cooking.

Melting Chocolate

Chocolate can be melted in several different ways including on the stove, in the microwave or in the oven.

Stove Top – put chocolate in a clean, dry, heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure no water or steam enters the bowl of chocolate, or it the chocolate could seize. Stir constantly over medium to low heat until the chocolate has melted.

Microwave – put chocolate in a clean, dry, microwave-safe bowl. Cook for 1 minute on medium/high then stir. Cook for another 30 seconds then stir again, continue until chocolate has all melted.

Stove – preheat oven to 160 C. Put chocolate in a clean, dry, heatproof bowl. Turn oven off then place the bowl in the oven for 10 minutes minutes. Remove and stir, then place back in oven if required for several minutes, remove and stir again.

Tips for Melting Chocolate

* Break chocolate into even sizes pieces before melting.

* Use a metal spoon to stir chocolate; wooden and plastic spoons retain moisture that can cause the chocolate to seize.

* Always use a metal, glass or ceramic bowl to melt chocolate.

Making Homemade Chocolates

1. Melt your chocolate, (see above), then stir thoroughly to remove all lumps.

2. Pour melted chocolate into the moulds until they are filled to the top.

3. Tap the moulds with your fingertips to remove air bubbles from chocolate.

4. Let chocolates set, until hard.

5. After your chocolates have completely set and hardened, carefully pop them out of the mold.

6. Use a butter knife to trim off any excess chocolate around the edges.

Tips for using Chocolate Moulds

* Never wash your chocolate molds with soapy water. The soapy water will remove the shine of the mold, making it difficult to get the chocolate off. Just wash in hot water.

* Always dry your molds carefully after washing. Water spots can also cause spots where the chocolate won't release easily from the mould.

* If your molds are sticking, very lightly coat them with a thin layer of vegetable oil.

* If you make a mistake, or if extra chocolate dribbles in the wrong places - don't touch it while it's still wet. Place the chocolates in the fridge or freezer to harden, then you can easily just pick off the parts you don't want there.

How to Store Chocolate

Chocolate should be wrapped in alfoil and placed in an airtight container. Store in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. Do not store in the refrigerator.

Unopened chocolate has a shelf life of 12 months and opened chocolate, properly wrapped and stored has a shelf life of 3 months. (However it would never last this long at my house!)

Chocolate Terms

Seize – Chocolate will seize up when small amounts of liquid mix with it, it becomes a thick grainy mass that cannot be remelted or used.

Chocolate Bloom – White spots that appear on chocolate, caused by the chocolate being heated and cooled too quickly. This can also occur when chocolate is refrigerated, it does not affect the quality and can still be eaten.

Tempering - A technique used to stabilize chocolate with a high cocoa butter content through a melting and cooling process so the chocolate will set firm and shiny at room temperature.