Blog December 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT

Posted On: December 28, 2017

Your future has nothing to do with your past,” the great motivator Tony Robbins tells us. That’s true, but only if you’re willing to accept the idea that things can get better.

Ask anyone who dropped 25 pounds and finished their first 10k run. Or the person whose career, company or industry got downsized, who retrained and got a new job, and who is now happier – maybe even making more money than ever before.

The truth is that things can get better, but only if we commit to making changes. Things don’t get better by themselves. As the old saying goes, you can only coast downhill.

If unhappiness motivates you to make a change in your life, it’s been called “divine dissatisfaction.” If you are willing to use that unhappiness as a lever for improvement, amazing things can happen.

Are you willing to work to bring about the change you want to see? If you are, then your future has nothing to do with your past.

 I can’t because I’m … (fill in the blank: too old, too young, too busy, not smart enough, discriminated against, whatever).

When you say these things, you are acting like a con artist. And you are the primary victim of your con. Mostly out of fear, we construct imaginary limitations around ourselves. We use these self-imposed limits to keep us from getting ahead – like an invisible wall blocking our progress.

This invisible wall keeps us from opening that new business, registering for that class, saying yes to that person who wants to date us, hire us, marry us or whatever.

Look in the mirror and paraphrase President Reagan’s famous 1987 speech at the Berlin Wall by telling yourself: “Tear down this wall!”

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BOXING DAY DEC.26

Posted On: December 26, 2017


December 26 is not only a day for Santa Claus to catch his breath but a public holiday known as Boxing Day in the United Kingdom and other British Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand. In spite of its peculiar name, Boxing Day has nothing to do with fisticuffs, the trashing of empty boxes left over from Christmas or the return of unwanted presents to department stores. The term is of British origin, and the Oxford English Dictionary traces its earliest print attribution to 1833, four years before Charles Dickens referred to it in “The Pickwick Papers.” The exact roots of the holiday name are unknown, but there are two leading theories, both of which are connected to charity traditionally distributed to lower classes on the day after Christmas.

One idea is that December 26 was the day centuries ago when lords of the manor and aristocrats typically distributed “Christmas boxes” often filled with small gifts, money and leftovers from Christmas dinner to their household servants and employees, who were required to work on December 25, in recognition of good service throughout the year. These boxes were, in essence, holiday bonuses. Another popular theory is that the Boxing Day moniker arose from the alms boxes that were placed in churches during the Advent season for the collection of monetary donations from parishioners. Clergy members distributed the contents of the boxes to the poor on December 26, which is also the feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr and a figure known for acts of charity. (Ireland celebrates December 26 as St. Stephen’s Day.)

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THE YULE LOG

Posted On: December 21, 2017

The History of the Yule Log


The custom of burning the Yule Log goes back to, and before, medieval times. It was originally a Nordic tradition. Yule is the name of the old Winter Solstice festivals in Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe, such as Germany.

The Yule Log was originally an entire tree, that was carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. The largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room! The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year's log which had been carefully stored away and slowly fed into the fire through the Twelve Days of Christmas. It was considered important that the re-lighting process was carried out by someone with clean hands. Nowadays, of course, most people have central heating so it is very difficult to burn a tree!

In Provence (in France), it is traditional that the whole family helps to cut the log down and that a little bit is burnt each night. If any of the log is left after Twelfth Night, it is kept safe in the house until the next Christmas to protect against lightning! In some parts of Holland, this was also done, but the log had to be stored under a bed! In some eastern European countries, the log was cut down on Christmas Eve morning and lit that evening.

In the UK, the log is called 'The Mock'. The log is dried out and then the bark is taken off it before it comes into the house to be burnt. Also in the UK, barrel makers (or Coopers as barrel makers were traditionally called) gave their customers old logs that they could not use for making barrels for Yule logs.

 

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THE COLORS OF CHRISTMAS

Posted On: December 19, 2017


THERE'S MEANING TO THOSE  RED & GREENS



There are several colors which are traditionally associated with Christmas. We know we see Red, Green and Gold. But why do we have them and what do the colors represent?

Most the colors and their meanings come from the western/northern European traditions and customs, when Christmas is in the middle of winter and it's dark and cold.

Green

Evergreen plants, like Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe have been used for thousands of years to decorate and brighten up buildings during the long dark winter. They also reminded people that spring would come and that winter wouldn't last forever!

The Romans would exchange evergreen branches during January as a sign of good luck. The ancient Egyptians used to bring palm branches into their houses during the mid winter festivals.

In many parts of Europe during the middle ages, Paradise plays were performed, often on Christmas Eve. They told Bible stories to people who couldn't read. The 'Paradise Tree' in the garden of eden in the play was normally a pine tree with red apples tied to it.

Now the most common use of green at Christmas are Christmas Trees.

Red

An early use of red at Christmas were the apples on the paradise tree. They represented the fall of Adam in the plays.

Red is also the color of Holly berries, which is said to represent the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross.

Red is also the color of Bishops robes. These would have been worn by St. Nicholas and then also became Santa's uniform!

Gold

Gold is the color of the Sun and light - both very important in the dark winter. And both red and gold are the colors of fire that you need to keep you warm.

Gold was also one of the presents brought to the baby Jesus by one of the wise men and traditionally it's the color used to show the star that the wise men followed.

Silver is sometimes used instead of (or with) gold. But gold is a 'warmer' color.

White

White is often associated with purity and peace in western cultures. The snow of winter is also very white!

White paper wafers were also sometimes used to decorate paradise trees. The wafers represented the bread eaten during Christian Communion or Mass, when Christians remember that Jesus died for them.

White is used by most churches as the color of Christmas, when the altar is covered with a white cloth (in the Russian Orthodox Church Gold is used for Christmas).


Blue

The color blue is often associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus. In medieval times blue dye and paint was more expensive than gold! So it would only be worn by Royal families and very rich people. Mary was often painted wearing blue to show she was very important.

Blue can also represent the color of the sky and heaven.

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POINSETTIAS

Posted On: December 14, 2017


Poinsettias at Christmas

Poinsettia plants are native to Central America, especially an area of southern Mexico known as 'Taxco del Alarcon' where they flower during the winter. The ancient Aztecs called them 'cuetlaxochitl'. The Aztecs had many uses for them including using the flowers (actually special types of leaves known as bracts rather than being flowers) to make a purple dye for clothes and cosmetics and the milky white sap was made into a medicine to treat fevers. (Today we call the sap latex!)

The poinsettia was made widely known because of a man called Joel Roberts Poinsett (that's why we call them Poinsettia!). He was the first Ambassador from the USA to Mexico in 1825. Poinsett had some greenhouses on his plantations in South Carolina, and while visiting the Taco area in 1828, he became very interested in the plants. He immediately sent some of the plants back to South Carolina, where he began growing the plants and sending them to friends and botanical gardens.

One of the friends he sent plants to was John Barroom of Philadelphia, who gave the plant to his friend, Robert Buist, a plants-man from Pennsylvania. Robert Buist was probably the first person to have sold the poinsettias under their botanical, or latin name, name 'Euphorbia pulcherrima' (it means, 'the most beautiful Euphorbia'). It is thought that they became known as Poinsettia in the mid 1830's when people found out who had first brought them to America from Mexico.

There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettias and Christmas come together, it goes like this:

There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.
'Pepita', he said "I'm sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy."

Pepita didn't know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the 'Flores de Noche Buena', or 'Flowers of the Holy Night'.

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.

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BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN OUT THIS TIME OF YEAR

Posted On: December 12, 2017


CANDLE BURNING AT BOTH ENDS THIS CHRISTMAS

Why do so many people get burnt out in the days leading up to Christmas?

Maybe it’s the realization of having to write to everyone you seemingly have ever known. So you sit staring at a pile of countless Christmas cards, that cost a fortune in printing and postage, and realizing that you don’t even have everyone’s addresses, or least not the correct ones. .

Or maybe it’s the present buying, the wrapping, the decorating, the cooking, and everything else. The returns, the fifty different scents in the room at once.

Maybe it’s the expectation of living up to the memories of past Christmas. And maybe just maybe, this is the problem with Christmas for so many people.  For many, the heart has gone out of Christmas, which, as everyone keeps repeating, looks like a shopping fest rather than a holy day. Yet we are seemingly driven to fulfill the requirements because of our beliefs or fantasies about what other people feel or expect.

Normally, if your heart has gone out of a situation, you stop. This way you avoid a burnout

But this is more difficult than it seems when it comes to Christmas. Christmas is all around us and bred inside us, and we don’t believe we can break the rules, change the rules, revise, or give it all up. We might not mind but others will. So we soldier on, push ourselves, and hope we will recover by New Year.

If you are feeling great about Christmas, great!! If not, take a deep breath, exhale. Think about what’s really important, then go ahead and enjoy what you are doing, and do as much as you enjoy even if it looks over the top.

The world won’t fall apart, and yes they probably don’t want that fruit cake anyway. Who knows, you may even find the joy that a festive season is meant to be about.

Merry Christmas!!


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WHAT LIGHTS DO YOU USE?

Posted On: December 07, 2017

 

 

A Long Way From Candles

The basic foundation of the Christmas light, the incandescent bulb has hardly changed for nearly a century, and is only now undergoing its first major revolution, as we we start replacing our old lights with energy-efficient LEDs.

The Lights You Know and Love

 

Incandescent lights are the ones that started it all. Even though they're well over a hundred years old now, the technology largely remains the same. The shapes and sizes of the bulbs, on the other hand, have been in constant flux. Now we're left with three major types of incandescent Christmas light bulbs                            

                                                                                                    

The Mini/Fairy Light: This is the big kahuna. If you haven't seen one of these by now, then you've probably never seen Christmas lights. Traditionally, the set is wired in series, hence the age old problem where if one bulb goes out, the rest won't light. But it's not hard to find sets that are wired in parallel nowadays.                  

These guys also have a lo-fi twinkle method built in. That little red-tipped bulb that comes with each set is made in a way that as the filament heats up, it rises and breaks the circuit. That, of course, shuts of the rest of the lights. When it cools down, it falls again to complete the circuit, and the lights (wait for it...) come back on.

                                                                                                                                                              

C7: Again, an incandescent light that comes in a different-sized glass housing. These are about the size of your thumb, and work in almost exactly the same way as a mini light.                            

                                                                                                 

C9: You get the picture by now. Same shape as the C7, but slightly bigger.                       

                                                                                                                                              

LED lights have been growing in popularity for the past few years. Regardless of what you think of their light output, there's no denying that they're much more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, and give off less heat. And who knows, maybe someday they'll match the color temperature of good-ol' tungsten lighting.      

                                               

5mm: These are the LED equivalent of incandescent mini-lights. They're small LED bulbs in a plastic enclosure. Usually the "white" level is way off from the "white" of incandescent lights.

    
                                                                      

G12 and G25: Just like with incandescent lights, you're going to find a whole lot of the same with LEDs, just in different shapes and sizes. These are globe shaped plastic enclosures, G12 is pictured.

                                                                                                                                                                                           

 

 So which ones do you use?

 

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A SURVEYOR SPEAKS ON BEHALF OF THE BOAT

Posted On: December 05, 2017


An independent marine surveyor speaks for the boat.

A marine survey is also a useful tool for buyers when negotiating price based on what repairs or upgrades the boat needs. And finally, insurance and lending companies that need to know the true condition and fair market value of a vessel often require it. Insurance company underwriters carefully read through a marine survey to make a determination as to whether the vessel is a good risk, and may require an owner to address certain deficiencies.

But a good survey is more than just an inventory of the boat's equipment. The surveyor will comment on each section of the inspected boat. Finally, near the end of the survey are the recommendations, arguably the most important part.

Recommendations are just that — issues the surveyor found on the boat that may need to be addressed. It's the "may" part that's important here. Typically, a surveyor will list recommendations in order of importance, often as A, B, or C. A-list recommendations (more properly called must-dos) are the most important ones to pay attention to, and you can be sure your insurance company will — not just for your boat, but for the safety of you and your crew. These are issues that, unaddressed, can cause your boat to sink, burn, become involved in an accident, or cause serious injury

Keep in mind that while surveyors inspect a boat with an eye toward industry safety standards, such as those written by the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), they recognize that newer standards were not in place when older boats were built. But some of those standards, like the need for carbon monoxide alarms or proper wiring, are critical enough that insurance underwriters may still require boats to comply with them.

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