Archive for June, 2012

Valentine S Day

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday? The history of Valentine’s Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first ‘valentine’ greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It’s no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial — which probably occurred around 270 A.D — others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to ‘christianize’ celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification.

The boys then sliced the goat’s hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D. The Roman ‘lottery’ system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed. Later, during the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February — Valentine’s Day — should be a day for romance. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England. Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America.

According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)

Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum. The first commercial Valentine’s Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap”.

Rana Asif

Charles “sonny” Liston, an Undeserved Tragic Ending

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

The idea to write an article about Charles “Sonny” Liston came to me late last night as I was watching a program about him on ESPN Classic, which concentrated on the life and career of the man who at one time was the world heavy weight champion of boxing. I for my part must confess before I go further in this article that I am not nor have I ever been what could be considered a real boxing fan, though at one period in my life I did follow the sport more closely. This interest of mine starting back in the 70’s when I followed the career of Mohamed Ali (nee Cassius Clay), who on one particular Christmas my mother even bought me an action figure of, as such was the popularity of this now legendary boxer.

As a matter of fact, it was back in the 70’s when it was difficult not to hear about boxing even for someone like me who was in his preteen years and frankly speaking found the sport quite boring, even if my father watched bouts with me from time to time. I naturally with a father who followed the sport learnt about several boxers besides Ali, like Frazier, Foreman and Norton.  Eventually the 80’s and 90’s came and as I grew older I learnt about other fighters in other weight divisions, such as “Sugar Ray” Leonard, Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Duran, Thomas “hit man” Hearns, Marvin “Marvelous” Haggler along with Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks and many others though I never did became a great enthusiast of the sport even if I did watch the “big fights” when ever I could. This being at least what I did till the 90’s came to an end as so did not only my interest in boxing but my curiosity as well to even want to know who the champion was at any given time or weight category.

As for the boxer Charles “Sonny” Liston, I must say that before last night’s program; I barely knew who he was. I naturally was aware that he had been a boxer in the heavy weight division who was noted and still is for being one of the hardest hitting fighters of all time along with Foreman, Tyson, Marciano, Dempsey and Joe Louis. Needless to say apart from these facts my knowledge also included that he at one point had become World Champion by rather easily defeating “Floyd Patterson”, who incidentally was the first man to loose and regain the heavy weight title. I however in all that concerns Sonny Liston, must also claim that what I mostly knew him for was being the man, who would go on to be defeated twice by Mohamed Ali back in the 60’s. First in a fight which Ali won despite Liston being the heavy favor, 8 to 1 to be precise and then in a second fight which ended in a first round knock out, that as far as I knew or even considered the matter had been the end of his career. I before last night had not even read or been informed that he had been dead for many a year as I did not imagine him to be of an age, that would have made him so old that it would be impossible that he might still be alive.

I found out many things about “Sonny” Liston, last night apart from his real name being Charles and not “Sonny” as this was a nick name which Ali once joked on before their first fight in the form of “there will be a total eclipse of the Sunny”. This being a spot of humor which even brought a chuckle to Liston, himself. In all the things I found out about this man, whom I had known so little about was that in a way I felt sorry for him, getting the impression that he perhaps though this is of little consequence deserved better then what he got not only from life but the fans of the sport which he contributed so much to.

The facts on this program were stated that Liston was born in Arkansas, as the son of a share crapper, though not only is the precise day of his birth unknown so is the year making it that nobody really knows how old he was for instance when he fought Ali for the first time. Naturally his not having known his exact date of birth is hardly cause to claim his was a difficult life, however the poverty that he must have known growing up is something I can barely begin to imagine.

Liston however may have been born in to a family of 13 children or 25 this I know to versions, one from ESPN and another from Wilkipedia. Regardless of which number is true or which is false, it is not hard to see that Liston’s life must have been full pain in his childhood, as it was said that his father beat him everyday until he finally ran away from home at a very early age. Thirteen perhaps though this again given what we know or rather don’t know about his date of birth is another question mark. Sonny Liston however ran away from his father at this age but in a sense did not really run away from home as he left Arkansas to join his mother and cousin who were living in St. Louis. Sonny Liston, had escaped the torments of his father but his life had not really improved all that much as he still did not know how to read or write and with opportunities being what I read they were at the time for African-Americans took to crime out of dire need.

It was actually thanks to this life of crime that he ended up in prison. Looking back it might have been a blessing in disguise that he was caught and sent to prison after participating in the armed robbery of a gas station, as it was there were Roman Catholic priest discovered that he had a talent for boxing which even got him released early.

After prison, a brief amateur career would follow in which he would win many tournaments, most notable the golden gloves. During his one year amateur career he would also defeat Ed Sanders, who later would go on to win the gold medal in the Olympics in the heavy weight division. Seeing his potential, the mafia that had gotten him started in professional boxing knew they had a fighter who like Primo Carnera many years earlier could become a champion capable of bringing big earnings, which is exactly what happened.

Sonny Liston, would go on to win the world heavy weight crown by defeating Floyd Patterson and in the process accumulate an impressive record that only included one loss out 40 fights with the remaining 39 being all victories. His lose coming at the hands of Marty Marshall, a fighter whom he would go on to defeat on two occasions; to prove that he could beat just about anybody. It was after having beaten Floyd Patterson that he was the champion of the world and perhaps should have gotten the respect he had earned, for what more of an American success story (as if stories of the sort could be limited to America) could their be then a man, over coming so much to become what he had.

At this point in the story that is the life of “Sonny” Liston it is easy to see with logic how “Sonny” himself might have felt that he had put his past behind, he had after all paid his debt to society for the crime of participation in an armed robbery by serving time in prison. Of course we should try to keep things in perspective that his was neither murder nor drug dealing nor pedophilia nor rape, not that I claim that armed robbery is not series but then again it is not any of the above mentioned. Sonny had won the world heavy weight championship in convincing fashion; as no one could have any doubts that he deserved to be after knocking out the then champion Floyd Patterson. First in a title bout and then in a rematch which like the first bout also ended in a first round knock out, with the only difference being that the second bout lasted a full two seconds longer.

This however was not to be as “Sonny” Liston’s past was not behind him, a fact which was clearly evidenced when he after having won the title flew back home to his adopted city of Philadelphia, to find absolutely nobody waiting for him at the airport. Sonny naturally having just been crowned world champion expected to find people from the press for whom he had even prepared a statement for, perhaps even the mayor but contrary to what should have been he was ignored completely by everybody, including those from the city he was living in at the time. It was clear that people did not respect him or even what he had accomplished believing that he; the evil man had beaten Patterson, who was the good man.

It was true he fought for the mafia but then again so did many other fighters at the time as they were the ones whose money basically promoted the sport but for some reason this was seen as evil in the case of “Liston” though it had not been in the case of Carnera. One could even look at the casinos in Las Vegas which were also controlled by the mafia and furthermore it was these casinos which invited many of Hollywood’s stars to perform. Stars such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and others who by virtue of headlining in places controlled by the mafia in a sense were also working for them but yet those stars who did so were not looked down upon as was “Sonny” Liston.

“Sonny” Liston tried to intimidate his opponents with his stare and brawn before fights but this was nothing which had not been done by other fighter before or since such as Dempsey many years before or Tyson; after all boxing is what could be called a blood sport where the point is to physically beat one’s opponent. Yet, this was another reason why Liston was not liked by the boxing public.

“Sonny” Liston’s reign however did not last long, despite him being a boxer who many considered to be invincible, after all he had won all but one of his nearly forty fights. As it turned out in his second title defense, “Sonny Liston” would loose to a young boxer, at that time going by the name of Cassius Clay. This a boxer who after becoming champion would change his name to Mohamed Ali.

Much has been said about Liston’s fights vs. Ali, ranging from that the fights were fixed because the mafia bet against Liston and even that Liston himself bet on Ali to cover his gambling debts however I for my part fail to understand something. Liston was an 8 to 1 favorite to defeat Ali, yet why is something I have never heard anybody ask. Looking at the facts; Ali was 21 at the time, which with us not knowing Liston’s exact date of birth would have made Ali at least 10 years younger then Liston or perhaps as much as 15. As it is possible; based on what Liston’s mother claimed, who would have had no reason to lie that Liston might have been born in 1928, which would have made him 35 at the time of his first fight with then Cassius Clay. Liston apart from being considerably older then Clay was also a boxer who was less technically sound, slower and 3 inches shorter. Clay at that time for his part had a record of 21 and 0 and was an Olympic champion, which made him more then the unknown many were calling him at the time. Of course Liston did have certain advantages over Clay. One of them being the ability to hit harder then Clay and with both hands. Another being an equally long or if not longer reach then Clay, as he was known for having a very long reach even for his height, which was slightly over the six foot mark. Liston also had fists measuring fifteen inches which till very recently were considered the biggest in boxing history. All of this making me believe that perhaps the odds should have been even or perhaps slightly in either man’s favorite but not 8 to 1 in Liston’s, unless somebody was thinking of making a lot of money by betting on Clay.

Liston went on to loose to Clay twice, after which he naturally lost his belt though he did not quit boxing afterwards. Liston in what could be considered his post Ali bouts fought 16 times out of which he lost one fight while winning the remaining fifteen against opponents such as Henry Clark, ranked 5th at the time. Actually “Liston” might have even won back the heavy weight title when Ali was striped of it, in a tournament which was organized among the top contenders with Liston being chosen among them. Liston however would not be champion again as it was in this tournament that he was knocked out by Leotis Martin in the 9th round, after Liston had dominated the previous 8 rounds.

As an interesting note, Liston won his last bout by TKO against a fighter by the name of Chuck Wepner. The man who in 1975 would go on to battle Mohamed Ali for 15 rounds in a fight that would serve as inspiration to a then struggling actor by the name of Sylvester Stallone to write the film “Rocky”. This a film whose plot is loosely based on Chuck Wepner’s bout against Ali with its main characters being taken from those of Wepner and Ali. Regarding the film Rocky however I would say that Rocky’s personality is not as close to Wepner’s as his opponent’s (Apollo) is to Ali’s.

“Sonny” Liston’s image, in what could even be considered a slightly ironic twist would go on to appear on the cover of The Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, this despite Liston’s refusing to meet with them when they came to America while he was the champ. Liston actually claiming The Beatles were “punks” which was in contrast to Cassius Clay (later Mohamed Ali), who not only meet The Beatles but had photos taken with them. This happening despite neither the Beatles fully knowing who Ali was nor Ali knowing who the Beatles were. Ali in fact would go on to ask someone after the photo session “Who were those little fagots?”, which might have lead to his not being included on the cover of the “Sgt. Pepper” album. As perhaps the Beatles don’t mind so much being called “punks” even if their music was miles from that sort of music but take more exception to being called by a name that refers to them as not being heterosexuals or one which the British use for cigarettes.      

Liston died in 1971 but like with his date of birth the exact date of his death is also not known as his body was found after he had been dead for at least a few days. The victim of a so called “heroin overdose” though in my opinion I think it is easier to find someone who would believe the world is flat then somebody who could believe Liston overdosed on drugs given the following facts.

1) Liston though courageous in the ring was terrified of needless being stuck in him to the point of refusing to go on a tour of Europe which could have made him a lot of money, simply because he had to be given shots. Injections which he was too afraid to get even from a doctor which makes one think were he would have found the courage to inject himself.

2) Bags of heroin were found near Liston’s body however drug paraphernalia was not apart from a syringe, which would not have been enough for anybody to inject him or herself with. This because other devices are required such as an appendage to wrap the arm and a spoon to cook the heroin in.

3) Liston, did however have needle marks which were from an injection but these were confirmed by medical records to have been given to him by a recent hospital stay due to having been in an car crash a few days before he supposedly took the heroin that killed him.

4) An autopsy of Liston’s body found no traces of heroin, what so ever! It is this factor that should convince anybody that Liston could not have possibly died of a heroin overdose. This reminding me of a woman who tried to sue McDonald’s, on the grounds that she almost chocked on a bone, only to find out that the Fish Mac does not contain any fish what so ever. This due to its being made of products that do not include fish but more or less taste like fish. Liston however had traces of morphine and codeine in his body but not in an amount that would have made them deadly.

One might say with all this evidence how could any person, with some degree of intelligence claim that Liston died of a heroin overdose? Yet, despite all the above mentioned factors the police listed Liston’s cause of death as a heroin overdose which as we can plainly see was probably a cover up for a murder.

It is with the aim of proving a point which I have already made in another article (Not Always Finding The Truth Or Facts In American History) that I wrote this one and that being that it is not always wise to believe the truth we are told for it might turn out that what is presented to us as such is in fact something else. With regards to “Sonny” Liston I must say when I heard him speak on the ESPN program on his life, he did not give the impression of being stupid or anything of the sort or even inarticulate. On the contrary he seemed friendly and even modest despite being world champion at the time when the interview took place. Liston’s perhaps were simple words but what he said made sense and his sentences were by no means incoherent but rather of a man of ideas.

Liston, however is remembered for many things such as being a quitter, after his first fight with Ali though he once fought with a broken jaw. He is also remembered for being a bully though this he only was in the ring, unlike other boxers like Tyson who once hit another boxer in the eye in barroom brawl and later raped a woman or was convicted of it or Monson (Argentina) who threw his wife out a ten floor window. Liston, when looking back was an aggressive boxer but not a dirty one like Go?ota from Poland who would stoop to hitting below the belt. Of course Liston is also remembered for dying of a heroin overdose which given the now known facts is impossible that such could have been the case. I however in spite of not being a boxing or Liston fan for that matter, feel Liston deserves better then to be remembered for the above mentioned. This because Liston to a certain extent like Obama, (Current President elect of the USA) was somebody who overcame many obstacles to become a world champion in boxing in a time when life in America was truly difficult for blacks or African-Americans.            



Christmas Stocking Stuffer Ideas: Gifts That Work For Everyone

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas already. Thousands of people have started Christmas shopping early due to the economic situation. It’s much easier to spread out christmas shopping over months instead of waiting until December. Even Walmart recognized the situation for shoppers by lowering prices on the most popular toys early starting October 10th.

There are thousands of lists throughout the web that are specifically geared for specific people. Stocking Stuffers for him, for her, for teens, golf lovers, coffee lovers and so on and so forth. Are there any lists that have universal stocking stuffers that can be used for anyone? In an attempt to make shopping a little easier, I’ve put together a list of things that you can put in any stocking!

Gift Certificates: Maybe not always the most thoughtful gift, but it works well for stockings. You can always buy thoughtful gifts to go under the tree. Find a gift certificate to the person’s favorite store or a place they frequent often. A Starbucks gift card would be great for someone who has to have their morning Venti White Chocolate Mocha before a hard days work at the office. Or perhaps an Itunes gift card for your teens so they can download the latest album from their favorite band! Those type of gift cards you would not have to add a lot of money either, maybe $10 to $15.

Batteries: You know you will end up having to buy them anyway for the the oodles of toys under the tree, the handheld poker game for your husband or the new watch for your sister who can never seem to get to family events on time. You might as well put them in a stocking instead of wrapping them separately.

Ornaments: This is more of a thoughtful gift and one my own family practices. Each year my husband and I buy each other an ornament. You can find websites online that will allow you to put a digital picture on an ornament for memories and some allow text also. Imagine “Our 1st Christmas” “Baby’s 1st Christmas” and so on. They create lasting memories for everyone. This is great for kids in multiple ways also. Usually at school kids will create little ornaments for their parents out of clay, paper, or popsicle sticks that they could put in their parents stocking. Also by getting your kids an ornament every year, by the time they move out, they will have a bunch of ornaments that they could put on their own tree! It’s also a great way to remember your phases or hobbies since their are ornaments for everything from Bob the Builder to your favorite football team.

Event Tickets: Tickets are a great thing to stuff in a stocking. Mainly because they are small and cover every hobby, like or passion you can think of. Concert tickets for your 17 year olds favorite band. Movie tickets to the latest Pixar movie for your kids. Sporting event tickets to a hockey game for your husband. Event tickets to a craft expo for your wife. You could even give Lottery tickets if you have a family member who likes to play the lotto. Whatever your family’s passion you can find a ticket to cover it.

Chocolates and Candy: Always great as a filler, for the stocking anyways, not so much for your tummy. This would also be great to put in different types of chocolate or candy you might not always buy. Like green tea flavored Kit Kats from Japan. I’ve tried them and absolutely love them! You can’t buy them in the U.S. to my knowledge but that is the beauty of online shopping. Find something unique and different, but make sure to throw in a candy cane or two just in case the unique candy you picked out wasn’t as appealing to their taste buds as it was your eyes!

Magazine Subscriptions or Books: As I’m sure you know there is a magazine for any topic you desire. Get a subscription to fit your family’s hobbies. Books are great as well at least paperback novels, I think it might be difficult to put a large book in a stocking. You can find books from their favorite author, or books for your children, some of the older Beatrix Potter books are stocking stuffer size. Even if you have a baby or toddler, buy board books for them to look at and for you to read to them!

Journals, Diary’s or Planners: They are all along the same theory, buy one that is useful for the person you are picking it up for. A planner for mom or dad to keep track of the numerous soccer meets or work meetings, maybe a diary for a little girl, or even a small sketchbook for a boy or for small children to scribble in. Give them something to be creative with or something that is useful!

Craft Supplies or Pens: You can pick up different craft supplies for kids, crayons, markers, scissors etc. Those things could also be handy for moms as well! A nice ballpoint pen for adults, because everyone needs something nice to use at work that isn’t going to run out of ink in a week.

These are only some of the things you can pick up. The list is endless!

Rosie Dawson

Paul Harvey, The Man and The Birds.wmv

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

A great story about what really happens during Christmas!

Duration : 0:4:45


Christmas Stories,Santa as a Child

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Santa share his new classic story of how he became The Real Santa for this generation.

Duration : 0:6:39


Personalized Video Greeting From Santa Claus – Old Vacation Footage

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Free Personalized Santa Video Greeting can reach every boy and girl this year, and that is just what Santa wants. Santa believes that every child should be able to see and hear Santa all year long, reminding every boy and girl to be good. By every boy and girl receiving a Free Personalized Santa Video Greeting this year they will be reminded to be good and that Santa is always watching and thinking of them!

Duration : 0:2:26


Operation Christmas Child Juan’s Story

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Operation Christmas Child brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes and the message of Gods unconditional love. Anyone can participate in this simple, hands-on project.
Last season, 713,294 shoe boxes from Canada were collected and distributed to children in more than 15 countries. Each gift is a special reminder to a child that he or she is loved. Delivered by teams of local pastors, charities, and civic leaders, Operation Christmas Child gifts provide opportunities to make a lasting impact on children, families and communities. Often, the shoe boxes open doors to provide other aid, allowing Samaritans Purse to provide resources for a better tomorrow.
Operation Christmas Child focuses on the true meaning of Christmas Jesus Christ Gods greatest gift. Separate from the shoe box and when culturally appropriate, we offer children The Greatest Gift of All, an illustrated Bible storybook in the local language. When possible, children can further explore a faith in Jesus Christ through a voluntary Bible study program.
The shoe boxes dont leave Canada on their journey overseas without first making an impact on the people who pack them. The project fosters compassion in Canadian families, individuals, and businesses by expanding their world view and showing how it is greater to give than to receive.

Duration : 0:6:12


Christmas with the Kranks

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

When their only daughter Blair leaves the family nest, Luther and Nora Krank (TIM ALLEN and JAMIE LEE CURTIS) decide to book an island cruise to beat the yuletide blues and just skip the holidays. But their decision to boycott tradition has the whole neighborhood in an uproar, and when Blair calls on Christmas Eve to announce a surprise visit with her new fiancÉe, the Kranks have just twelve hours to perform a miracle and pull themselves and their neighbors together to throw the best celebration ever! With fast-paced energy and support from DAN AYKROYD, CHEECH MARIN, JAKE BUSEY and M. EMMET WALSH, this hilarious adaptation of John Grisham’s best-selling novel, “Skipping Christmas” has become “an instant family classic!” (Gorman Woodfin, CBN) MPAA Rating: PG Motion Picture ©2004 Revolution Studios Distribution Company, LLC. All Rights

Duration : 1:39:13


Writing For Free Pays!

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

I am pleased to announce that because of the existence of the American Chronicle, and the kind tolerance of its editorial staff, particularly Peter who has had to endure a lot regarding yours truly, I have been noticed by a travel guide publisher. Because I was permitted to send in article after article to this online publication, I am able to take on some bigger, paid gigs.

The way this works is that you write, a lot, and send your stuff into the American Chronicle for no pay. Hopefully, you write something that people actually want to read and, on occasion, respond to. The guys and gals at the mysterious editorial offices of the Chronicle, if you are lucky, approve your articles and put them on their web page. Though you aren’t making money in the traditional sense, you are getting exposure. You can even mention that you have written a book or two and that you would appreciate it if lots of people buy many copies for Christmas presents.

Lo and behold, when I wasn’t even looking, a travel guide publisher wrote me and asked for samples of my writing and my resume. Of course, I did what they asked pronto! I also asked which butt-cheek I should kiss. Not really, but I felt like it.

This travel guide publisher responded. After swooning to the floor and picking myself up, I read that not only were they interested in me as a contract writer but they also want to publish one of my articles in an anthology they have coming out later this spring.

After a lot of excitement-caused sleepless nights and a lot of alcoholic beverages, I was finally able to reflect on how this has all come to be. I thought I would offer some words of advice to other aspiring writers.

First, write, write, and write some more. What I mean is, write something publishable every day. Write as though you have a daily column to get out by a deadline. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to get it published daily. The point here is that you need to produce a lot of material. And, it needs to be publishable. Make sure it is your best stuff.

Second, in this daily writing, be sure to address your niche. I write about Mexico almost exclusively because that is where I live and what I know. I write what I know and what I want to write about—life in Mexico.

Third, find a place like the American Chronicle to file your stories. Make sure, if the online publication allows you to post key words, you choose key words that you think someone will look for within your niche. For example, with almost every story I file, I put the words, “Mexico, Guanajuato, expatriation to Mexico, travel to Mexico, etc…” or some variation as the key words.

Fourth, if you are permitted to post personal info, a bio or your web page, then do so. You want your biographical information out there. You also want to have words in your bio that correspond to the key words in your stories.

Fifth, do not ever offend your editors. Do not be a cry-baby. Do not pitch fits. Do not think of yourself as a prima donna. There are enough of them in the world. Frankly, they are not well loved. In fact, do what your editors say. Always follow their suggestions, especially when they tell you to straighten up your act and fly right. I add, reluctantly, that I know this point from personal experience.

Though none of this is guaranteed to land you a paying gig, it can be the means through which you get discovered. The more stories you can file, with lots and lots of good key words, the better your chances of getting noticed.

I will keep all my readers on the Chronicle informed as to the progress of my new writing venue. I will continue to crank out the stuff that many of you apparently like reading.

I want to thanks the Chronicle, Peter, and all those readers who have actually read my work.

And, be sure to buy my books, lots of them, for Christmas presents this year.

Douglas Bower

Mallwalkers? Do You Walk the Mall Before the Stores Open?

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012, December, 2008 – We all know that walking is the best exercise. How many of us actually do it on a regular basis? Well that’s another story. There’s every good reason to do it, but in many cases, we find excuses; its either too hot or too cold outside and so we say forget it. There is always walking on a treadmill at the gym, but that is costly. So what’s the answer to this dilemma? Mall walking! Especially at Christmas time.

I cant tell you how many times I have gone to the local shopping mall and there are groups of people everywhere just walking around the mall, and the stores are not open yet. Most times it’s a group of senior citizen ladies, and once in awhile you may see a group of senior men.
Mallwalkers? Do You Walk the Mall Before the Stores Open?

Today as I was walking through the mall, the stores were already open, but there were still people going for their daily walk inside the mall. They had no shopping bags or even purses with them so you could tell they were going for a walk. However, I did see one of the most interesting groups today, that I have ever seen.

There was a group of 6 women, all walking with their child/children in a stroller. They would do things along the walk such as, speed walk, or hop while pushing the stroller, turn around put their hands behind them and pull the strollers while walking…and on occasion they would stop in an open area and actually exercise! They were doing pushups and stretches. I thought this was amazing. I only wish they had something like this when my son was small. What a creative idea.

So are you a mall walker? Do people do this in your local malls, or is this something that maybe isn’t popular in other cities? Come share your thoughts and stories over at is a social networking site connecting the Baby Boomer generation. Share your thoughts, rediscover old friends, or expand your mind with brain games provided by clinical psychologist Dr. Karen Turner. Join today to discover the many ways we are helping Boomers connect for fun and profit.

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