7 Ways to Stay Positive Even During the Toughest Times

A lot of people pride themselves on being optimists, and TBH, if you can stay positive with everything that’s going on in the world today, major props to you. For most people who consider themselves the glass-half-full type, it’s a lifestyle. They try to look at everything that comes their way, from relationship troubles to work mistakes, with a positive spin. But a recent study investigated whether optimists still stay more positive than pessimists when things get really tough, and what they found was pretty surprising.

smiling positive happy radiant black woman

Scientists analyzed nine previous studies to see how both optimists and pessimists brace themselves for receiving important and potentially negative news, like medical test results. They found that even though people who identify as optimists tend to be more positive in general, they too start assuming the worst as the moment of truth about something important nears. It’s easy to understand this instinct, since some people tend to believe that preparing yourself for the worst will ultimately make it less shocking if it happens. On the other hand, some people would rather stay positive whenever possible, since it’s easier to fight off stress and anxiety when you have a sunny outlook. Here, we’ve gathered some of our favorite expert tips for staying optimistic when you’re dealing with some super hard stuff.

Smiling woman enjoying coffee


1. Learn to reframe negativity. “The trick to positivity is not avoiding pessimism,” says Elaine Taylor-Klaus, a certified professional coach. “It’s really about how quickly you can redirect your focus from negative to positive. Critical thinkers are going to see problems to be solved, but the ability to ‘reframe’ the conversation is the really important skill for people to practice.” She recommends getting into the habit of acknowledging negative thoughts and then asking, “What else is possible here?” This can guide you back into a positive mindset more quickly.

“Bottom line: Negativity happens,” she says. “Positivity is a choice, and the quicker you learn to reframe, the more time you’ll spend in a positive space. Then, over time, the more likely you are to turn directly to a positive interpretation of events.”

2. Ask yourself if this will matter a month or year from now. Sometimes things seem crucial AF in the moment, but might be inconsequential even just a few days after that. Just think about high school drama. “When we can leave the past behind and even know in the present moment that this feeling won’t last, it can help to remind us that time heals and life goes on,” explains Sharon Stokes, life-fulfillment coach.

Smiling volunteers lifting construction frame

3. Give back. Volunteering is an amazing way to change your entire perspective, says Lyssa Menard, a clinical health psychologist, founder of Strategies for Change and assistant professor at Northwestern University’s medical school. “There are many organizations that don’t require an ongoing commitment, so sign up for an event that’s meaningful. Research shows that giving to others is one of the quickest routes toward happiness. While happiness and positivity are different, they’re correlated,” Lyssa says.

4. Role play to be more objective. Playing a little mind trick on yourself can work wonders, says Lori Scherwin of Strategize That, a career coaching service. “We’re often better at helping others than ourselves,” she notes. “Make the situation more objective and less personal to you. For example, consider if it were anyone else in the situation (like your best friend, partner or colleague). How would you see the same ‘problem?’ What advice might you give them to get out of it?” she asks. This will help you shift from being super hard on yourself to more objective, and most likely, more positive.

Smiling architect using digital tablet career work office

5. Make changes to things that are within your control. Spending time worrying about something that you can’t change isn’t really worth the effort. Instead, “Focus on areas where you have agency,” suggests Holly Burton, a career coach for women in male-dominated industries. “You may be stuck in a role you don’t love at work, but you could probably work a few extra hours a week and take on a project that interests you. You could also schedule some proactive meetings with your boss to make an action plan to develop the skills you need to make a lateral move,” she says. In most situations, whether they’re career-related or not, it’s possible to take actions to make things better for yourself.

6. Practice radical acceptance.Jasmine Powers, business and goal coach, suggests trying out the idea of radical acceptance, which is basically accepting the things you cannot change, even if they’re not right or you don’t agree with them. She explains: “If you’re looking to buy a white sedan, you start to notice all the white sedans on the road because your mind is focused on that. In the same way, we often affect our experience because of focusing on good or bad. By working to be mindful of positive things and being extremely grateful for even seemingly insignificant things, we’ll notice even more things to be grateful for.” Another mind trick for the win!

7. Try this gratitude challenge.Adwoa Dadzie, a career strategist and HR executive, has a seven-day happiness challenge that’s definitely worth a try. First, journal about one event each day for seven days that made you feel happy and/or thankful and include the specifics of why it made you feel that way, going deep into the details. Second, send one random thank you email or text to someone each day, either personally or professionally. This message should include what they did and why it’s worthy of the shout out. Detailed gratitude journals are proven to improve your life satisfaction, so try to stick to a gratitude practice, even in the good times!


Understanding 21-gun salute

21-gun salute is the most commonly recognized of the customary gun salutes that are performed by the firing of cannons or artillery as a military honor.

The custom stems from naval tradition, where a warship would fire its cannons harmlessly out to sea, until all ammunition was spent, to show that it was disarmed, signifying the lack of hostile intent. As naval customs evolved, 21 guns came to be fired for heads of state, or in exceptional circumstances for head of government, with the number decreasing with the rank of the recipient of the honor.

While the 21-gun salute is the most commonly recognized, the number of rounds fired in any given salute will vary depending on the conditions. Circumstances affecting these variations include the particular occasion and, in the case of military and state funerals, the branch of service, and rank (or office) of the person to whom honors are being rendered.

The tradition of saluting can be traced to the Late Middle Ages practice of placing oneself in an unarmed position and, therefore, in the power of those being honored. This may be noted in the dropping of the point of the sword, presenting arms, discharging cannon and small arms by firing them, lowering sails, manning the yards, removing the headdress or laying on oars.

A Dutch man-of-war firing a salute. The Cannon Shot, painting by Willem van de Velde the Younger.

The gun salute might have originated in the 17th century with the maritime practice of demanding that a defeated enemy expend its ammunition and render itself helpless until reloaded, a time-consuming operation. The gun salute had been established as a naval tradition by the late sixteenth century. A man-of-war which visited a foreign port would discharge all its guns to show that its guns were empty. Since the ship would not have enough time to reload before it was within range of the shore batteries, it was clearly demonstrating its friendly intentions by going in with empty guns.

Salute by gunfire is an ancient ceremony. For years, the British compelled weaker nations to render the first salute; but in time, international practice compelled “gun for gun” on the principle of equality of nations. In the earliest days, seven guns was the recognized British national salute because seven was the standard number of weapons on a vessel. In that day, gunpowder made from sodium nitrate was easier to keep on dry land than at sea. Thus those early regulations stated that although a ship would fire only seven guns, the forts ashore would fire three shots to each one shot afloat, hence the number 21.[

The system of firing an odd number of rounds is said[b to have been originated by Samuel Pepys, Secretary to the Navy in the Restoration, as a way of economizing on the use of powder, the rule until that time having been that all guns had to be fired. Odd numbers were chosen, as even numbers indicated a death. With the increase in quality of naval gunpowder by the use of potassium nitrate, honours rendered at sea were increased to the shore salute. 21 guns became the highest national honor.

There was much confusion because of the varying customs of maritime states, but finally the British government proposed to the United States a regulation that provided for “salutes to be returned gun for gun”. The British at that time officially considered the international salute to sovereign states to be 21 guns, and the United States adopted the 21 guns and “gun for gun” return on 18 August 1875.

United States

On 16 November 1776, the West Indian port of St. Eustatius returned a 9-gun salute for the 13-gun salute given by the U.S. brigantine Andrew Doria. At the time, nine guns was the customary salute to an independent republic. This First Salute was specifically ordered by the Dutch governor of the island, and marks the first formal international recognition of the United States as an independent republic. The flag flown by the Andrew Doria was the Grand Union Flag, 13 alternating red and white stripes with the British Flag in the union. The Stars and Stripes received its first salute when John Paul Jones saluted France with 13 guns at Quiberon Bay in 1778 (the Stars and Stripes was not adopted as the national flag until 14 June 1777).

The practice of firing one gun for each state in the union was not officially authorized until 1810, when the United States Department of War declared the number of rounds fired in the “National Salute” to be equivalent to the number of states—which, at the time was 17. The tradition continued until 1841 when it was reduced from 26 to 21.[c

USS Constitution renders a 21-gun salute to Fort Independence during her Independence Dayturnaround cruise

In 1842, the United States declared the 21-gun salute as its “Presidential Salute”. While the “National Salute” had been formally established as the 21-gun salute, the current tradition holds the salute on Independence Day to be a 50 rounds—one round for each state in the union. This ‘Salute to the Nation’ is fired at noon on 4 July, on U.S. military installations, while the U.S. Navy full-dresses ships and fires 21 guns at noon on 4 July, as well as on Presidents’ Day.[c

In April 1914, during the Mexican Revolution, the Tampico Affair occurred, and escalated as a result of a twenty-one gun salute (or more specifically, the lack of one). Nine unarmed U.S. sailors were arrested in TampicoTamaulipasMexico, for entering an off-limit area at a fuel loading station. Despite being released, the U.S. Naval commander demanded an apology and a twenty-one gun salute. The apology was provided, but not the salute, giving President Woodrow Wilson reason to order the U.S. occupation of the port of Veracruz.[Due to an arms embargo from the United States, issued to try to lessen the bloodshed of the revolution at its border, Mexico was forced to seek arms from European, and to a lesser extent Asian countries. During the occupation, a large German arms shipment aboard the SS Ypiranga was illegally seized, before being released and turned away by the U.S. occupation force. These events ultimately drove a wedge between Mexican-U.S. and German-U.S. relations, and after the start of World War I on 28 July 1914, would cause Germany to seek to influence Mexico into declaring war on the United States, in order to halt U.S. arms shipments to the Allies, and attempt to prevent the then isolationist United States from joining the Allies.This effort ultimately backfired, after culminating in the sending of the Zimmermann Telegram from Germany to Mexico, which urged Mexico to declare war on the United States, promising support and the return of much of the territory lost during the Mexican–American War, which, after being intercepted, caused the U.S. to enter the war on the side of the Allies on 6 April 1917, and due in large part to the arrival of fresh U.S. troops into the war, largely a stalemate in its first years, would lead to the surrender of Germany on 11 November 1918, after helping to overpower the German Army, already fatigued from a long and costly war.

On Memorial Day, batteries on military installations fire a 21-gun salute to the nation’s fallen. As well, batteries at Naval stations and on ships, fire a salute of 21-minute guns and display the ensign at half-mast from 8 a.m. until completion of the salute.[c

Today, a 21-gun salute is rendered on the arrival and departure of the President of the United States; it is fired in concordance with four ruffles and flourishes, which are immediately followed by “Hail to the Chief“—the actual gun salute begins with the first ruffle and flourish, and ‘run long’ (i.e. the salute concludes after “Hail to the Chief” has ended). A 21-gun salute is also rendered to former U.S. Presidents, foreign Heads of State (or members of a reigning royal family), as well as to Presidents-elect. In such a ceremony, the national anthem of the visiting dignitary’s country is played, following the salute.[c

In accordance with the ceremonial standard operating procedure (SOP) of the 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) the various gun salutes are assigned as follows: each round in a given salute is fired one at a time. The number of cannon used in a battery depends upon the intervals between each round fired. This includes, for example, a three-gun battery firing two of its guns with five-second intervals between rounds and one gun remaining at the ready in case of a misfire; such a battery would be used at an Armed Forces Full Honors Funeral, or for State Arrival Ceremony of a foreign dignitary at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. A four-gun battery has its first three guns firing rounds at three-second intervals, with the fourth gun (again) at the ready in case of misfire.[c

The SOP also provides each gun salute a two-man gun crew (one loader, one gunner) for each cannon, as well as a five-man “staff” of soldiers to give the fire commands. The staff includes an Officer in Charge, a watchman (who marks the intervals and signals each gun to fire), an assistant watchman (as a backup), a counter (who keeps track of the number of rounds fired and signals the last round to the Officer in Charge), and a Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (who marches the battery into place as well as signals the backup cannon to fire in case another gun misfires).[c

Naval vessels now have saluting guns installed which are used solely for such purpose.

Nineteen-gun salutes are reserved for the Vice President of the United States, foreign deputy heads of state, cabinet members, Speaker of the House of Representatives, President pro tempore of the Senate, Chief Justice of the United States, state Governors, foreign heads of government (such as Prime Ministers), chiefs of staff and general officers in the U.S. military of five-star rank. For each flag rank junior to a five-star officer, two guns are subtracted (e.g., for a four-star admiral, a 17-gun salute is prescribed; a three-star general would rate a 15-gun salute; a two-star, 13 guns, and a one-star, 11 guns).

A gun salute is not to be confused with the three-volley salute often rendered at military funerals.

Deaths of Presidents:

U.S. presidential death also involves 21-gun salutes and other military traditions. On the day after the death of the president, a former president or president-elect—unless this day falls on a Sunday or holiday, in which case the honor will be rendered the following day—the commanders of Army installations with the necessary personnel and material traditionally order that one gun be fired every half-hour, beginning at reveille and ending at retreat.

On the day of burial, a 21-minute gun salute traditionally is fired starting at noon at all military installations with the necessary personnel and material. Guns will be fired at one-minute intervals. Also on the day of burial, those installations will fire a 50-gun salute—one round for each state—at five-second intervals immediately following lowering of the flag.


Thanksgiving – Part 1

Thanksgiving – Part 1


Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in Canada, the United States, some of the Caribbean islands, and Liberia. It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.


Prayers of thanks and special thanksgiving ceremonies are common among almost all religions after harvests and at other times. The Thanksgiving holiday’s history in North America is rooted in English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. It also has aspects of a harvest festival, even though the harvest in New England occurs well before the late-November date on which the modern Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated.

In the English tradition, days of thanksgiving and special thanksgiving religious services became important during the English Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII and in reaction to the large number of religious holidays on the Catholic calendar. Before 1536 there were 95 Church holidays, plus 52 Sundays, when people were required to attend church and forego work and sometimes pay for expensive celebrations. The 1536 reforms reduced the number of Church holidays to 27, but some Puritans wished to completely eliminate all Church holidays, including Christmas and Easter. The holidays were to be replaced by specially called Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving, in response to events that the Puritans viewed as acts of special providence. Unexpected disasters or threats of judgement from on high called for Days of Fasting. Special blessings, viewed as coming from God, called for Days of Thanksgiving. For example, Days of Fasting were called on account of drought in 1611, floods in 1613, and plagues in 1604 and 1622. Days of Thanksgiving were called following the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 and following the deliverance of Queen Anne in 1705.  An unusual annual Day of Thanksgiving began in 1606 following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and developed into Guy Fawkes Day on November 5.

United States

Thanksgiving, currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November by federal legislation in 1941, has been an annual tradition in the United States by presidential proclamation since 1863 and by state legislation since the Founding Fathers of the United States. Historically, Thanksgiving has traditionally been a celebration of the blessings of the year, including the harvest. What Americans call the “Holiday Season” generally begins with Thanksgiving.

One visit to Goldwiser and you will make it your favorite place to buy and sell your precious metals!!!

More about Thanksgiving Holiday in Part 2 of this series.

(Information obtained from From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


World faces weather CHAOS

World faces weather CHAOS as climate change threatens to shut down Atlantic Ocean’s flow, warn scientists

Scientists are warning of extreme weather patterns in Europe, the US and Africa as global warming wreaks havoc on the Atlantic Ocean’s circulation

A CATASTROPHIC slow-down of the Altantic Ocean could plunge the world into climate chaos – sparking freak weather events, scientists warn.

The Atlantic’s flow – which helps control the Earth’s climate – has dropped in strength by 15 per cent since the mid-20th century, experts have concluded in a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Nature.

 The global circulation system, pictured, is weakening and could lead to extreme weather across the globe, warn boffs

The global circulation system, pictured, is weakening and could lead to extreme weather across the globe, warn boffs

That’s a decrease of 3million cubic meters of water per second, the equivalent of nearly 15 Amazon rivers.

The current is partly why Western Europe enjoys mild temperatures, and meteorologists are linking changes in North Atlantic ocean temperatures to recent summer heat waves.

But its slowdown could kickstart severe weather cycles in Europe and across the world, and cause a rapid increase in sea levels on the US East Coast.

And if it continues at this rate, it may result in a complete circulation shutdown, which would be a catastrophic “tipping point”, warn researchers.

Such a scenario was the premise of the 2004 disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow.

“We know somewhere out there is a tipping point where this current system is likely to break down,” said study co-author Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

“We still don’t know how far away or close to this tipping point we might be… this is uncharted territory.”

The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) is a critical conveyor belt for the earth’s climate.

It shifts warm, salty water from the tropics along the Gulf Stream off the US East Coast to the North Atlantic, where it cools, sinks and heads south.

 A climate tipping point was central to the film The Day After Tomorrow

A climate tipping point was central to the film The Day After Tomorrow

The faster it moves, the more water is turned over from warm surface to cool depths.

But the melting of Arctic sea ice and Greenland’s ice sheet due to global warming can interfere with this sinking process.

Recent research has confirmed that melted ice water is lingering on the ocean surface, where it could be disrupting the AMOC system.

The latest study highlights a curious pattern of ocean temperatures that match the impacts of weakening Atlantic currents – specifically a strong warming off the US East Coast paired with a cooling south of Greenland, which is sometimes dubbed the cold “blob”.

Boffins found that the odd alignment, which has resulted in regions of both record cold and warmth next to one another, has been developing since the 1950s, and matches what a high-resolution climate model predicted would take place.

 Scientists believe the shift in the Atlantic's circulation may already be causing rising sea levels along the East Coast of the US

Scientists believe the shift in the Atlantic’s circulation may already be causing rising sea levels along the East Coast of the US

Another study in the same issue of Nature also found that the AMOC has slowed and is now weaker than at any time in more than a millennium.

This study meanwhile draws from sediment grains deposited by the deep-sea currents; the larger the grains, the stronger the current.

The researchers then used a range of methods to reconstruct near-surface ocean temperatures in regions where temperatures are impacted by AMOC strength.

That way they were able to determine that the weakening began around 160 or 170 years ago when the “Little Ice Age” in the Northern Hemisphere ended.

And that trend is thought to have continued to the present day.

“In terms of this initial drop in the AMOC, it’s very likely that’s a kind of natural process,” said Jon Robson, a researcher at the University of Reading and one of the study’s co-authors.

“It’s very likely, based on other evidence, that human activities may have continued to suppress the AMOC, or maybe led to further weakening.”

To avert a climate calamity, scientists are urging for an immediate reduction in the emissions of carbon dioxide.


You’ll (Probably) Never Find the Buried Treasure In Hermann Park

You’ll (Probably) Never Find the Buried Treasure In Hermann Park

Hey, everyone — there’s a 40-year-old treasure buried in Houston’s Hermann Park that’s worth more than $1,000!

But don’t get up from your lonely, disgusting cubicles just yet, you greedy office rat. Finding this treasure won’t be easy.

Here are the obstacles you face:

First you’ll have to navigate and decipher a set of nightmarish, Tolkien-style riddles and illustrated clues left behind by a sci-fi and fantasy author who seems to have had no idea how to create a working puzzle. (He died in a car crash in 2005, so there’s no way to hit him up on Tinder for the answers, ya cheater.) The puzzles aren’t nightmarish because they’re scary; they’re nightmarish because they make about as much sense as driving on 290 at 5 p.m. with a belly full of LuAnne Platters from Luby’s.

Second, there’s an irritating local internet culture of “I-knew-about-the-treasure-first” fortune hunters who have been actively thinking and planning and talking about the Hermann Park treasure since way before it was cool, so back the hell off, new guy.

They’ll mock your naive ideas and enthusiasm in secret Facebook groups and forums filled with wild conspiracy theories and inter-community arguing while a guy named Mark, who excavated a section of the Houston Zoo with a backhoe back in 2005, will kindly explain exactly why your’e wrong.

Finally, if you manage to get through the first two obstacles and arrive at the point where you’re dodging park security so you can start digging, it’s important to note that what you’re looking for is most likely buried underneath the Houston Zoo’s gorilla exhibit (but also maybe not).

You see, back when the treasure was buried in the ’80s, Hermann Park was completely different. It’s gone through decades of renovations and gorillas since then, so everything anyone looks at while they’re out hunting for treasure needs to be viewed through the dual lenses of “What Hermann Park looked like in 1981” as well as “Isn’t there something else I should be doing right now?”

I’m talking about the treasure that Byron Preiss buried and wrote about in his 1981 book “The Secret: A Treasure Hunt.” 

According to the rules laid out in “The Secret,” the treasure — a ceramic key that’s enclosed within a ceramic case that’s contained within a protective Plexiglas cube — can be traded in with Preiss’ family for a valuable ruby worth upwards of $1,000. The same goes for 11 other ceramic keys that Preiss buried around North America and left clues about in his book.

Only two of the keys have been discovered — in Chicago and Cleveland — and the rest are presumably still up for grabs.

And while a quick internet search will show you that this treasure hunt has been publicized in various reports over the years, including a February 2018 episode of the Travel Channel’s “Expeditions Unknown,” a thorough examination of the Houston treasure is still hard to come by.

Sure, there are a couple surface-level ABC 13 and chron.com reports that looked into the legend and immediately gave up, and an obscure podcast is currently exploring the details behind all of Preiss’ treasures. But where’s the Houston deep dive that explores the local search in minute detail?

Tragically, this article is not that deep dive. There are just way too many details and theories and side histories surrounding the Houston treasure to explain the story completely without going insane. Believe me, I tried (in a lazy kind of way). People who have years of experience searching for the treasure (with a backhoe or otherwise) aren’t that interested in talking about it with the media and the online forums and theories are a vast madness machine that you’ll never escape from.

I even went out to Hermann Park twice and looked directly at various dirt areas while thinking really hard, but nothing happened.

Still, here’s enough information to get you started on your own search:

The Houston treasure — like all of them — can allegedly be found via the careful reading and examining of Preiss’ book. I won’t go into the other cities’ treasures because Go ‘Stros, but as for Houston’s, what you’re looking for in the book is a seemingly-meaningless illustration of an elf-genie thing, a star, and three pillars with animals and globes on top of them.

Longtime treasure hunters have deduced that this image in “The Secret” not only points you to Houston, but also to where the treasure is buried in Hermann Park. There are a few reasons for this (the coordinates for Houston are hidden in the trees, for example, and the pillars in the illustration match pillars that used to be in the zoo back in the 80s). Also a poem on page 49 about fortresses and lions gives you some extra clues, as well as extra reasons to feel sad and hopeless about this entire endeavor.

Despite the obvious, hard-to-answer questions that surround the search, like “When do I get my thousand bucks?” and “Did the zoo train conductor just call the cops on me for digging up a protected oak tree owned by the city?” a small group of dedicated treasure hunters have continued looking for that sweet, sweet ruby.

Discussions, debates, maps, and deranged theories about where the treasure might be located get posted in secret online groups every day.

The Hermann Park Conservancy politely fields inquiries from amateur treasure hunters to discourage them from digging up the park.

Mark, the guy who used the backhoe to dig the 30-foot trench in the southern end of the zoo in 2005, also brought a ground penetrating radar in to inspect the entire area.

And still the hunt continues. People in the know (not me, if you haven’t figured that out by now) agree the treasure might never be found because the clues Preiss left behind are so maddeningly opaque and terrible.

“Preiss was not a good puzzle maker,” said George Ward, who has been researching “The Secret” and its ceramic keys for more than a decade and co-hosts Shhh — The Secret, the podcast about the hunt. “The clues he put in his book are notoriously hard to figure out and also they’re just bad. Like for one of the keys his clue pointed to some tall grass. That’s not a lot of help 40 years later.”

Even worse for anyone in Southeast Texas looking for a quick $1,000 payday, Ward says Houston is probably the least likely of the remaining treasures to be found.

For one thing, like I mentioned before, there’s currently a gorilla exhibit built on top of where Preiss probably hid the Houston key — inside the Children’s Zoo. Back in the early ’80s, when Preiss hid the keys and published “The Secret,” a small scale zoo for kids was located toward the southern end of Hermann Park. It was demolished in the early 00s to make way for the apes, but back then a lot of clues in Preiss’ book allegedly aligned with landmarks within the zoo.

(If you’re interested in knowing more, Mark explains it all in this March 1 episode of “The Secret” podcast, where he goes into detail about destroying a zoo water main with his backhoe and nearly flooding the elephant habitat.)

For another thing, Preiss died in a car accident and no one has any real idea where the treasure is. If the guy with the backhoe can’t find it, then all hope is probably lost.

Or, then again, you should probably quit your job and go look for it right now.


How To Carve a Pumpkin for Halloween: The Easiest, Most Foolproof Method

How To Carve a Pumpkin for Halloween: The Easiest, Most Foolproof Method

(Image credit: Cat Meschia)


Carving a pumpkin isn’t rocket science, but it’s still wise to have a game plan. Before you lop off the top of that pumpkin and grab a handful of gooey squash guts, take a look through our basic guide to carving the best Halloween pumpkin.

Follow these steps and you’ll end up with a cute and classic jack-o’-lantern with easy, no-fuss cleanup afterwards.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Pick a Long-Lasting Pumpkin

You want your pumpkin to last through Halloween and beyond, right? This starts with the kind of pumpkin you pick out. Read our tips here for picking a good, long-lasting pumpkin, and prepping it for preserving:

Get Your Workspace Ready

First rule of pumpkin carving: Do it somewhere you don’t mind getting messy, ideally outdoors. Line your work surface (a sturdy table or the ground) with something you’ll throw away later — like butcher paper, newsprint, or flattened brown paper grocery bags. If using the latter, simply cut down one side of the grocery bag, then cut off the base of the bag so you have a big rectangle of brown paper. Layer a few of these on the table and you’re good to go.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Gather the Right Tools for the Job

Once you’ve got your work surface ready, it’s time to assemble the proper tools. You can totally get a pumpkin carving kit from your local drugstore, supermarket, or Halloween pop-up shop. Or you can use a few tools from your kitchen. (See: To Carve Pumpkins Safely, You Only Need These Two Tools.) Just make sure you have everything you need at the ready so you don’t have to traipse back through your kitchen with pumpkin-gut-covered hands.

2 Key Tools for Pumpkin Carving

(Image credit: Coco Morante)

Draw Before You Carve

In addition to your carving tools, you’ll need a pen for drawing your design onto the pumpkin, and couple big bowls — one for the seeds (the best part of pumpkin carving!) and one for the rest of the pumpkin goo and throwaway bits leftover from carving. And that’s about it, really!

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Don’t Throw Away the Seeds!

Whatever you do, save those pumpkin seeds! They’re so, so good roasted simply with oil and salt. It’s not hard, but we have all the steps for you, just in case.

The stepsHow To Roast Pumpkin and Squash Seeds

How To Carve a Pumpkin

What You Need

  • 1 medium-sized pumpkin (or as many as you want to carve)
  • Brown paper grocery bags, newsprint, or butcher paper
  • Sharpie or other permanent marker
  • Pumpkin carving kit (including a scraper, carving knife, and a wire modeling tool) or a serrated knife, ladle, and an X-ACTO knife
  • Two medium bowls (one for seeds, one for pumpkin guts)
  • Kitchen towel
  • Tea light candle and long match or lighter with extended nozzle


  1. Set up your workspace: Line a sturdy table with flattened grocery bags, newsprint, or butcher paper. Have your permanent marker, carving tools, and bowls nearby.
  2. Draw your design: After you’ve determined the best side of your pumpkin for a face, use the permanent marker to sketch out eyes, a nose, and a toothy grin.
  3. Draw your lid: Outline a circular lid around the pumpkin stem, about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Add a notch in the back if you like — this makes it easier to line up.
  4. Cut out the pumpkin lid: With a slim pumpkin carving knife (the carving tool with a toothed blade like a mini-saw) or serrated knife, cut along the outline of your pumpkin lid. Make sure you slice through the pumpkin at a 45-degree inward angle, so you’ll be able to replace the lid without it falling in.
  5. Remove the pumpkin seeds: The seeds are all attached to the pumpkin and each other by thin strings. Grab the big bunches of seeds with your hands and place them in one of the bowls, to be cleaned later.
  6. Scoop out the insides of the pumpkin: Using a ladle or the scraper that came with your kit (or a metal spoon if you don’t have this tool), clean out the inside of the pumpkin until no stringy bits remain. Discard the pumpkin guts in the second bowl.
  7. Wipe off the pumpkin: Use the kitchen towel to wipe off the outside of the pumpkin so that it will be easier and safer to carve.
  8. Cut out the design: Make straight cuts into your pumpkin along the lines of your design, removing the pieces and discarding them in the refuse bowl.
  9. Clean up the details: Go back in and scrape out any stringy pieces or jagged lines with an X-ACTO knife or the wire tool from your carving kit. You can also scrape off the marker lines while you’re at it, though they won’t be visible in the darkness of night.
  10. Light your pumpkin: Insert a tea light candle in the bottom of your pumpkin. Use a long match or lighter to light the pumpkin and replace the lid. Tip: If you’re having trouble lighting the candle, try going through the mouth of the jack-o’-lantern instead of the top.
  11. Make roasted pumpkin seeds: Clean and dry the pumpkin seeds, then toss with oil, salt, and any desired seasonings, and roast in a low oven until golden brown. For more specific instructions see our tutorial: How To Roast Pumpkin and Squash Seeds.



Chocolate (blue background).jpg

Chocolate most commonly comes in dark, milk, and white varieties.
Main ingredients Chocolate liquorcocoa butterfor white chocolate, often with added sugar

Paul Gavarni Woman Chocolate Vendor (1855–1857)

Chocolate is a typically sweet, usually brown, food preparation of roasted and ground cacao seeds. It is made in the form of a liquid, paste, or in a block, or used as a flavoring ingredient in other foods. The earliest evidence of use traces to the Olmecs (Mexico), with evidence of chocolate beverages dating to 1900 BC.[1][2] The majority of Mesoamerican people made chocolate beverages, including the Maya and Aztecs.[3]

The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop the flavor. After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted. The shell is removed to produce cacao nibs, which are then ground to cocoa mass, unadulterated chocolate in rough form. Once the cocoa mass is liquefied by heating, it is called chocolate liquor. The liquor also may be cooled and processed into its two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butterBaking chocolate, also called bitter chocolate, contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions, without any added sugar. Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter or added vegetable oils, and sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milkWhite chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk, but no cocoa solids.

Chocolate has become one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world, and a vast number of foodstuffs involving chocolate have been created, particularly desserts including cakespuddingmoussechocolate brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. Many candies are filled with or coated with sweetened chocolate, and bars of solid chocolate and candy bars coated in chocolate are eaten as snacks. Gifts of chocolate molded into different shapes (e.g., eggs, hearts, coins) have become traditional on certain Western holidays, such as EasterValentine’s Day, and Hanukkah. Chocolate is also used in cold and hot beverages such as chocolate milk and hot chocolate and in some alcoholic drinks, such as creme de cacao.

Although cocoa originated in the Americas, recent years have seen African nations assuming a leading role in producing cocoa. Since the 2000s, Western Africa produces almost two-thirds of the world’s cocoa, with Ivory Coast growing almost half of that amount.

thanks to wilipedia



Sugars (clockwise from top-left): white refined, unrefined, unprocessed cane, brown

Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. The various types of sugar are derived from different sources. Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose, and galactose. “Table sugar” or “granulated sugar” refers to sucrose, a disaccharide of glucose and fructose. In the body, sucrose is hydrolysed into fructose and glucose.

Sucrose is used in prepared foods (e.g. cookies and cakes), is sometimes added to commercially available beverages, and may be used by people as a sweetener for foods (e.g. toast and cereal) and beverages (e.g. coffee and tea). Other disaccharides include maltose (from malted grain) and lactose (from milk). Longer chains of sugars are called oligosaccharides or polysaccharides. Some other chemical substances, such as glycerol and sugar alcohols, may have a sweet taste, but are not classified as sugar.

Sugars are found in the tissues of most plants, but are especially concentrated in sugarcane and sugar beet, making them ideal for efficient commercial extraction to make refined sugar. In 2016, the combined world production of those two crops was about two billion tonnes.

The average person consumes about 24 kilograms (53 lb) of sugar each year, or 33.1 kilograms (73 lb) in developed countries, equivalent to over 260 food calories per day. As sugar consumption grew in the latter part of the 20th century, researchers began to examine whether a diet high in sugar, especially refined sugar, was damaging to human health. Excessive consumption of sugar has been implicated in the onset of obesitydiabetescardiovascular diseasedementia, and tooth decay. Numerous studies have tried to clarify those implications, but with varying results, mainly because of the difficulty of finding populations for use as controls that consume little or no sugar. In 2015, the World Health Organization recommended that adults and children reduce their intake of free sugars to less than 10%, and encouraged a reduction to below 5%, of their total energy intake.

Ancient times and Middle Ages[edit]

Sugar cane plantation

Sugar has been produced in the Indian subcontinent[4] since ancient times and its cultivation spread from there into modern-day Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass.[5] It was not plentiful or cheap in early times, and in most parts of the world, honey was more often used for sweetening. Originally, people chewed raw sugarcane to extract its sweetness. Sugarcane was a native of tropical South Asia and Southeast Asia.[6]

Different species seem to have originated from different locations with Saccharum barberi originating in India and S. edule and S. officinarum coming from New Guinea.[6][7] One of the earliest historical references to sugarcane is in Chinese manuscripts dating to 8th century BCE, which state that the use of sugarcane originated in India.[8]

In the tradition of Indian medicine (āyurveda), the sugarcane is known by the name Ikṣu and the sugarcane juice is known as Phāṇita. Its varieties, synonyms and characterics are defined in nighaṇṭus such as the Bhāvaprakāśa (1.6.23, group of sugarcanes).[9]

The Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides in the 1st century CE described sugar in his medical treatise De Materia Medica,[10] and Pliny the Elder, a 1st-century CE Roman, described sugar in his Natural History: “Sugar is made in Arabia as well, but Indian sugar is better. It is a kind of honey found in cane, white as gum, and it crunches between the teeth. It comes in lumps the size of a hazelnut. Sugar is used only for medical purposes.”[11]

Sugar was found in Europe by the 1st century CE.[12][11] Sugar remained relatively unimportant until the Indians discovered methods of turning sugarcane juice into granulated crystals that were easier to store and to transport.[13] Crystallized sugar was discovered by the time of the Imperial Guptas, around the 5th century CE.[13] In the local Indian language, these crystals were called khanda (Devanagari: खण्ड, Khaṇḍa), which is the source of the word candy.[14] Indian sailors, who carried clarified butter and sugar as supplies, introduced knowledge of sugar along the various trade routes they travelled.[13] Traveling Buddhist monks took sugar crystallization methods to China.[15] During the reign of Harsha (r. 606–647) in North India, Indian envoys in Tang Chinataught methods of cultivating sugarcane after Emperor Taizong of Tang (r. 626–649) made known his interest in sugar. China established its first sugarcane plantations in the seventh century.[16]Chinese documents confirm at least two missions to India, initiated in 647 CE, to obtain technology for sugar refining.[17] In South Asia, the Middle East and China, sugar became a staple of cooking and desserts.

Crusaders brought sugar back to Europe after their campaigns in the Holy Land, where they encountered caravans carrying “sweet salt”. Early in the 12th century, Venice acquired some villages near Tyre and set up estates to produce sugar for export to Europe. It supplemented the use of honey, which had previously been the only available sweetener.[18] Crusade chronicler William of Tyre, writing in the late 12th century, described sugar as “very necessary for the use and health of mankind”.[19] In the 15th century, Venice was the chief sugar refining and distribution centre in Europe.. THANKS TO WIKIPEDIA.1122 Spring Cypress rd Spring TX 77373.


The 9/11 Memorial and Museum

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum

Located in New York City, The 9/11 Memorial honors the lives of those who were lost during the terriorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Occupying eight of the 16 acres at the World Trade Center, the Memorial is a tribute to the past and a place of hope for the future.

The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.

The Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest man made waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood. Architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker created the Memorial design selected from a global design competition that included more than 5,200 entries from 63 nations.

The memorial is located at the World Trade Center site, the former location of the Twin Towers that were destroyed during the September 11 attacks. It is operated by a non-profit institution whose mission is to raise funds for, program, and operate the memorial and museum at the World Trade Center site.

The 9/11 Memorial is free of charge and open to the public daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The names of every person who died in the terrorist attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001 are inscribed in bronze around the twin memorial pools.

The best way to experience the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is through an expert-led tour. All tours are 60 minutes unless noted, begin promptly at the scheduled time and are intended for adult and teenage visitors.  Tickets are available for this guided tour, times are about every 30 minutes.  Discount prices are available for seniors, veterans and students.

In just a few days, it will 17 years since the 9/11 attacks occurred.  Be sure to remember all persons that lost their lives on that day.

9-11 Memorial

If you are visiting New York and have the opportunity, please visit the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.  It’s well worth the trip.