March 2011 - Posts

Kamikaze, commonly translated as "divine wind," were suicide attacks by Japanese military aviators against Allied naval vessels in the closing days of World War II. The planes were loaded with explosives and the objective was to destroy as many warships as possible. The men gave their lives in service to their country. 


A Japanese samurai was a member of the military nobility in pre-industrial Japan. The men who served in these ranks followed a set of rules known as "Bushido," which emphasized the virtues of loyalty, honor, obedience, duty, filial piety and self sacrifice.


The kamikaze and samurai represent old Japan. Or do they? 


Fast forward to today, and you find a new breed of brave Japanese warrior – the Fukushima 50.


Ever since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, these brave workers have been struggling to prevent a meltdown to four reactors that were critically damaged during the event. They have been repeatedly exposed to dangerously high radioactive levels as they attempt to bring vital cooling systems back online. 


They have been quoted as saying they have committed themselves to die, if necessary, to save Japan. If they don't die from radiation sickness now, they'll likely die from cancer in the future.


Bushido is defined as "the code of the samurai, stressing unquestioning loyalty and obedience, valuing honor above life." The word comes from the combination of two words: "Bushi," which means "warrior," and "do," which means way. So it literally means way of the warrior.


There are 50 warriors trying to save Japan, and by doing so, perhaps the world. Sounds like a cheeky plot for some Saturday morning cartoon. Unfortunately, this time it's real.

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The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America will release its annual Allergy Capitals list this week. The list contains each year the 10 worst allergy spots. 


How does it compile this list? Well, using pollen scores as well as the allergy medications and allergy specialists per patient, researchers rank the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. to determine which spots pose the biggest problems for those who sniffle most. The list is intended to serve as a tool for people so they can work with their doctors to determine a viable plan of action.


But before you look over the preview of this year's list, remember that you shouldn't just pack up and move. It may be bad this time of year where you live, but there are allergens everywhere. You'll just sneeze in a different location at a different time of year if you move.


Here's this year's top 10 (not in official order):


1. Knoxville, Tenn.

2. Louisville, Ky.

3. Charlotte, N.C.

4. Jackson, Miss.

5. Chattanooga, Tenn.

6. Birmingham, Ala.

7. Dayton, Ohio

8. Richmond, Va.

9. McAllen, Texas

10. Madison, Wis.


What can you do to help relieve your allergies? There are some natural treatments you can do. 


• To keep allergens at bay, keep your windows closed in the morning and at dusk, and avoid exercising during those times. Take a shower after being outside to scrub off allergens. Be sure to keep your pet clean too if he comes inside.

• Use a net pot to flush out allergens in your nasal passages.

• Eat spicy foods containing capsaicin, which can clear up your congestion and reduce irritation caused by pollen.

• Eat oily fish like salmon, tuna, herring or sardines once or twice a week, or take one to three grams of omega-3 fatty acid supplements each day. It's a good anti-inflammatory.

• Get your vitamin D. Get outside in the sunshine for 10 minutes a day, eat some egg yolks or herring, or take cod liver oil. It's good for you and may offer some asthma and allergy protection.

• Ginger and turmeric are good for reducing nasal and sinus inflammation, and are high in antioxidants.


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The Grinch has determined that it was in his best interest to expand beyond the holiday season – so he got a job in North Palm Beach, Fla.


Children were peacefully doing what children have done for years – running a lemonade stand – in Prosperity Harbor, a North Palm Beach neighborhood, when a formal complaint was filed by the homeowners association. The complaint was based on the homeowners association code, which says no signs or businesses are allowed in the neighborhood.


Come on, Grinch. It's just a lemonade stand.


http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid34762914001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAB_wnNRk~,WN9MweAQd_tBaI99JKgDAcW3bUx7peWv&bctid=864621356001

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Snark. It's defined in the Urban Dictionary as a combination of "snide" and "remark" – it's a sarcastic comment, which uses sarcasm or malice. Snarkologists are known for their biting, cruel humor or wit, which is commonly used to verbally attack someone or something.


Snarking is all over the Internet; it lives and breathes on any site or blog that contains comments, insults, jabs or "dissing." Many people blame the Internet for snarking when in fact, it's been around as long as mankind. 


But it is true that the Internet has made it oh, so convenient to be snarky. Someone tick you off at the grocery store? Hit back on Twitter. Don't like the way someone drives? Post a sarcastic comment on your Facebook page, or write an entire diatribe on your blog.


So, some would say, you can blame the Internet. But the Internet didn't invent sarcasm, it just merely provided a universal distribution system, which allows anyone to post any snarky comment for an unlimited number of eyes and ears to take in. 


We have to admit, it does seem that Twitter and Facebook have become a truly awesome venue for snarkologists everywhere. We have enjoyed reading some rather dishy bits of snark ourselves in the world of both social media giants.


But keep in mind – what you snark lasts forever once it's put "out there" on the Net. It's there for all the world to see – and that includes your spouse, your children, your boss and yes, your mother.


Snark cautiously.

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Till Krautkraemer's New York City beverage company, MeatWater, creates dozens of flavors of water for the upscale market of hearty gourmets who want their meat from a bottle instead of a plate.


Among his new flavors introduced earlier this year were poached salmon salad and Caribbean shrimp salad. He's also introduced Peking duck, tandoori chicken, bangers & mash and German sauerbraten.


Called "high efficiency survival beverages," the company's offerings also include chicken and beef salad flavors, as well as primary flavors of beef jerky, beef stroganoff, cheeseburger, chicken teriyaki, dirty hot dog, fish & chips, Hungarian goulash, Italian sausage, Texas barbecue and wiener schnitzel.


If you are a lady and you prefer something a little more "delicate," you can partake of the stuffed quail or venison confit flavors.


For the fly boys in the bunch, you can get barbecue, buffalo or pig wings flavored water.


If you prefer your water during meals, you can get breakfast flavored waters in basic, English, brunch omelette or pizza Prosciutto flavors. You can get midnight snacks of fried oyster, grilled clams or mountain oysters or your water can taste like your favorite sandwich. As long as your favorite sandwich is liverwurst, a gyro or cuban, or a jambon, brie and beurre on baquette with dijon mustard.


And for the big spenders, there's "special" water flavors…currywurst, escargot, gefilte fish, haggis, Irish stew, pork dumpling, moule frites, pork hocks, pulled pork, sauerbraten, shrimp pad Thai and taco chorizo. There's also military-style meals ready to eat pork chops, beef burrito and sashimi.


The company is testing the waters on a carpaccio flavor, as well as a sushi flavor.


With the exception of the, um, brown, waters, these bottled concoctions don't look any different than the other bottled waters that contain extra vitamins and what not.

The company claims its drinks have 22 amino acids, which are "known as the building blocks of life," along with protein. So it's supposed to be healthy.


MeatWater also claims that those who drink it regularly will see a decrease in body fat, improved recovery abilities and an increase in strength. The company says that by drinking its product, "you can cut down on exercising and eating time, and have more time to enjoy yourself."


Wow. Sushi flavored water. We couldn't get past that one. Raw tuna, fluke and eel with rice and vinegar. Boy. That just sounds…yeah.


But the one that really made us want to run out and purchase this stuff (not) was the "Horrible Haggis" flavor. It contains real sheep stomach and Scotch whiskey. 


We just threw up in our mouths a little bit.


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Anybody can be an Internet star these days. Just ask Emerson, a 5 1/2 year old baby who was both freaked out and amused by the sound of his mother blowing her nose. He looked terrified, then laughed. His folks posted it on YouTube and boom, more than 10 million views later, the kid gets a guest spot on "Good Morning America."


If you've been under a rock and haven't seen the video, follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=N9oxmRT2YWw.


It's not like in the good old days, when a star had to earn it. The world is mourning the loss of Elizabeth Taylor this week, and many are calling her the last real star from the "real" Hollywood. Whether you were a fan or not, you have to admit the woman was a star. She knew how to "turn it on" when the cameras were rolling. 


Unlike Emerson. During his appearance on GMA, he managed a weak smile, but didn't cackle like he did in the YouTube video. Even when his father played airplane with him, he only smiled. No laugh.


Pity. The kid could have been a real star. 


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News broke this week that "All My Children" may be cancelled, causing millions of bon-bon eating stay at home moms to recoil in horror.


Not really. The audience for this long-running soap is much more diverse than that. The popular soap, which first aired in 1970, may be the latest victim of poor ratings and the public's insatiable appetite for reality television. People just don't care about the "unreality" that is a soap opera anymore.


Even a recent move from New York to Los Angeles may not help. Neither will Erica Kane's (Susan Lucci's character) battle to figure out which of the two men she's currently involved with will be her next husband. Cue cheesy, dramatic organ music.


But maybe that's the problem. Erica's been in this pickle many times before. Story lines on soap operas tend to follow the same pattern. Someone's pregnant by her friend's husband, while someone else has accidentally pulled the trigger of a gun, injuring a major character, who's now in a coma while his wife's trying to decide if she wants to leave him for, wait for it.. her best friend who pulled the trigger. Again…insert organ music here. Dum, Dum, Daaaaah!


Perhaps the viewing audience has developed a we've-seen-it-all mentality, having, well, seen it all. Soap operas don't tend to stray far from their proven formula.  They haven't changed much since they first began airing.


But what has changed is the viewing audience. We've grown less patient in our microwave society. We can't wait days, or even weeks, to see how a story will play out. We want to get online and read the spoiler as soon as the credits begin to roll on an episode.


But you can't deny the pioneering spirit that "All My Children" had back in the day. Lucci filmed an abortion story line back in the 1970s that was unheard of at the time. 


If soaps completely die out, it will be the end of an era. Whatever will the bored housewives in Pine Valley do from noon to 3 p.m. each day?

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Geez. We hope no one goes to the mall with a bunch of stones in his pocket. 


A Minnesota man will live for one month inside a glass apartment at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. It's all part of The Human Do.ing Project, sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. 


Scott Jorgenson, 45, of St. Paul, said he agreed to do the project because he wanted to make a lifestyle change.


"I want to enjoy my life when I retire. This opportunity came up and I had to go for it," he said.


Jorgenson will be allowed to leave the apartment to shop and walk around the mall, and the public can get involved by both observing him and by voting on his daily "do's." 


A rep from BCBS said the goal of the project is for Jorgenson to learn new ways to move more and eat better and, in the process, others will learn and grow with him.


The site states that the project is based on a simple idea: by moving each day, you can improve your overall health, achieve a healthy weight and reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other illnesses.


Suggestions on the site include taking a 30-minute walk each day, using the stairs instead of the elevator, and adding more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet.


To find out more about the project, vote on what Jorgenson should do, or read his blog, go online at www.do-groove.com. You can also follow the project on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thehumandoing and on Twitter, @TheHumanDoing.


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Today is the first official day of spring for the year. For some, this day has meant record-breaking amounts of rainfall. For others, it's laughable, since there's still snow on the ground and more expected. 


But what the heck is the "vernal equinox" that is the first day of spring?


Well, technically, it's when the sun passes directly over the earth's equator, and is believed to be one of two days out of the year (the other is the autumn equinox) when day and night are both exactly 12 hours. But this actually happens a bit before the spring equinox and after the autumn equinox. 


But that doesn't mean the first day of spring doesn't rock. For one thing, there will be more day than night, which we can all celebrate. Both the spring and fall equinoxes are the only times during the year when the sun rises directly in the east and sets directly in the west. So if you're going to get lost, now's a good time to do it, as it will be easy to find your bearings.


We can also look forward to warmer temperatures, as we head from spring into summer. 


Aside from all of this, just look around you. It's a time of rebirth and growth. It's time to come out of hibernation. Everything's in bloom, and it's as if the earth is reborn.


So get out there and celebrate today – you've got a lot more daylight in which to do so.

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Pardner, real cowboys don't like their rodeos gussied up.


That's the consensus after the opening of a recent rodeo in Houston, Texas, which featured the usual rodeo events, along with a wine garden, live jazz and educational seminars about picking the right wine to serve with various foods. There was also a massage booth, a flower arranging competition and a children's show that featured an owl, a kangaroo, a porcupine and a sloth – no rodeo animals.


The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo organizers say they're just trying to broaden the event's audience, while staying true to the "essence of rodeo." Yeah. A wine bar will take care of that.


But those who favor a more traditional event aren't buying it. Calf roping and steer wrestling have been dropped from the event, which was the last straw for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, which wanted no part of this year's event. Since the PRCA didn't support the event, the points earned by participating cowboys won't count toward qualification for the national finals. 


Others say the event, and others like it, will attract crowds without all the extras, just as they've always done. 


We agree. When we go to the rodeo, we expect cowboys, bulls and broncs. Leave the wine sippin' to the city folk.

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Millions will travel to Blarney Castle, about five miles from Cork, Ireland, this week to kiss the Blarney Stone. Legend has it that kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of gab, or verbal eloquence. It's all a part of the whole St. Patrick's Day celebration for many.


The legend states that Cormac Laidir MacCarthy, the builder of the castle, appealed to the goddess Cliodhna for assistance when he was hit with a lawsuit. She told him to kiss the first stone he found on the way to court, and he did so. He pleaded his case with such eloquence, that he won. The Blarney Stone has since been said to impart the ability to deceive without offending. MacCarthy incorporated the stone into the parapet of the castle.


To kiss the stone, there is a ritual. To touch the stone with your lips, you must climb to the castle's peak, then lean over backwards on the parapet's ledge. So you shouldn't go up there alone, or you'll have to depend on a castle employee for help. 


Tripadvisor.com has ranked the Blarney Stone as the most unhygienic tourist attraction in the world. There is no scientific fact behind that statement, however. Just the "eww" factor that comes from putting your lips on a rock that millions of other lips have touched.


If you can't make it to Ireland to climb the tower and smooch the stone, you can do so virtually to celebrate today's observance of St. Patrick's Day. Just go online at http://www.irelandseye.com/blarney/1.html, and click where it says "kiss here." You'll get a certificate for your efforts.


Germ free.

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First there was the tsunami. Then came the earthquake. Then thousands of Japanese citizens were forced inside because of radiation from a stricken nuclear plant. Japan has, without a doubt, had more than its fair share of disaster in recent days. 


But while witnessing the devastation in Japan and the subsequent nuclear crisis, U.S. residents are asking if we're ready for a nuclear disaster. The answer appears to be no.


In the past, hurricanes and tornadoes have damage nuclear plants in Ohio, Florida and Louisiana. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires that every plant be built to survive an earthquake larger than the strongest ever recorded in the are where it will be built. But that standard means they've failed to anticipate the "Big One." It would behoove the nuclear construction and engineering experts to study and adapt to what is happening at the nuclear facility in Japan.


So if we continue this line of thinking, we also must ask: What would we do if there was a radiation leak?


Run fast would be the obvious answer. But being proactive and educating the public about radiation and preparedness would be the better answer. Last summer, the Obama administration began making plans to educate citizens about radiation in the event of a nuclear attack, detonation or release. The advice given? Stay put if you are indoors. You'll get a tenth of the radiation you'd receive if you were outdoors, running.


Although it's somewhat decent advice, it doesn't offer much confidence. There's no doubt that committees will convene in the coming months in Washington to debate how to proceed on this subject matter. Stay tuned. 


In the meantime, you may want to dust off that bomb shelter and stock up on bottled water and canned tuna.

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What is wrong with you people?


A tsunami and earthquake combine to cause a major crisis in Japan and you crack jokes about it? Really?


Gilbert Gottfried, best known for his work voicing the Aflac duck, posted a series of tasteless jokes after the crisis. He has since been fired. He has, since being fired, apologized.


Rapper 50 Cent also posted some ignorant comments, and said he just didn't care what people thought. He says he posted the comments for shock value. He later posted, "Let's pray for anyone who has lost someone."


Dan Turner, press secretary for Mississippi Gov Haley Barbour, has also felt the stab of remorse. He resigned his post after some "off-color jokes" were sent via e-mail to other staffers. One of the jokes was about Japan, the other was about former Attorney General Janet Reno.


Come on, guys. Seriously? More than 10,000 people have died. Thousands have been injured and left homeless. And now dangerous levels of radiation have leaked from a crippled nuclear plant, forcing the Japanese government to order 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors today after an explosion and a fire at the facility. 


This is no time for jokes. At least about the tragedy. There is room, however, for some jokes about a has-been comedian and a rapper who hasn't had a hit in years. Those jokes, well, they just write themselves.

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Move over, eHarmony. Thejmom.com is the new thing.


A pair of Chicago siblings have created a Web site allowing Jewish moms to match up their children – and they say their mom inspired them to do so.


Brad Weisberg, 30, and his sister Danielle, 26, said the site allows Jewish moms to network with other parents to put their kids together in romantic pairings. 


Weisberg said he let his own mom check out his online dating profile (on a different site) and she picked out 10 matches for him almost immediately – matches with women he hadn't even thought of looking at.


He and his sister quickly realized that moms look at the deeper stuff – interests, family values, morals, etc. – while a 20- or 30-something might just look at a photo and keep going. 


The site is currently offering a free trial.


Mazel tov.

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We won't even try to pretend that we like NASCAR. We refuse to call it a sport. It's driving in a circle. Continuously. For hours at a time. 


But we do understand that even this huge waste of time has its heros. Dale Earnhardt Sr. was certainly a giant in the racing world. His death in 2001 following a crash at the Daytona 500 shocked fans and those who, like us, just don't like racing. No matter how you feel about NASCAR or any other competition, you're not human if you can't mourn the loss of someone who meant so much to so many devoted fans and supporters. 


And even though we think driving in a big ol' circle is just silly, we have to admit we're a bit enraged that a North Carolina eBay seller is trying to auction off the hearse used to transport Earnhardt's body. The starting bid is $1.5 million. 


The seller, who calls himself "chmark1968," is based in Huntersville, N.C. He says the 1996 Lincoln Town Car hearse is the "last ride of Dale Earnhardt Sr.," and that the car transported the seven-time Winston Cup champion to his final resting place three days after the crash.


But it's a known fact that Earnhardt's body was not transported to the mausoleum until several weeks after the funeral.


The auction ends Tuesday. If you're thinking of bidding, you will definitely want to get that CARFAX.

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