How to Cope with Exam Stress

After a long and exhausting college term, it is time to prepare for the final exams, a major stress-causing factor for college students. Anxiety, lack of sleep, loss of appetite, moody temper and feeling sick are common symptoms of the pre-exam stress. However, there are things you can do to relax your mind and body and use the stress caused by the exams to your advantage.

Step 1: Breathe

It is pivotal that you learn how to breathe properly when under stress. Here are few easy steps you can take in order to learn important breathing techniques:

  1. Sit or lay down in a comfortable position. Keep your back straight and relax your shoulders.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Place one hand on your chest and the other one on your stomach. Make sure that when you breathe your stomach rises and falls while your chest stands still.
  4. Take deep breathes. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, slowly, and count to five in your head.
  5. Repeat the exercise for as long as you want to. This technique seems very easy but it requires daily exercises for it to happen naturally.

Step 2: Muscle Relaxation

Strictly connected to the breathing technique is the muscle relaxation. Following these few easy steps will help your body relax and your mind will relax consequently. Constant practice of this relaxation routine can help you achieve a broader awareness of your body and mind.

  1. Put on comfortable clothes and take your shoes off.
  2. Focus on your breathing before starting the muscle relaxation routine.
  3. Concentrate on each part of your body, starting from the bottom to work your way up. For example, take a moment to focus on your right foot. Feel it. Tense the muscle for 10 seconds, and then relax it, focusing on releasing the tension created by tightening the muscle.
  4. Enjoy the relaxed feeling and move on to the next part of your body.

Step 3: Eat Properly

If you tend to eat a lot, or not to eat at all when you are under stress, remember that healthy eating habits are extremely important to your body and mind.

  1. If you eat everything you can find around you when coping with pre-exam stress, stop and relax.
  2. Sit down with a complete meal.
  3. Make sure your meal involves vegetables and fruit and drink minimum 1.5 liter of water per day.
  4. Turn the TV off. Do not allow yourself to be distracted from your meal.
  5. Enjoy every bite, eating slowly.

Step 4: PQRST

To maximize your learning, it is important that you follow the PQRST steps. It is a studying technique that, when constantly practiced, it becomes very easy to follow and will allow you to memorize and learn a great deal of work load while saving time that you will be able to dedicate to other activities.

P = Preview. Quickly read the material to get a general idea of what it deals with.

Q = Questions. Write down questions that will help you remember what you need to focus on while reading.

R = Read. Read carefully and divide the text into sub-paragraphs, titling each one using keywords.

S = Summarize. Write short summaries using key words and main ideas that will help you memorize.

T = Test. Test yourself over and over to make sure you have learned what you were supposed to.

Step 5: Get Ready for the Exam

The night before the exam, try not to revise. Go out for a walk with friends, watch a movie, listen to music, and keep yourself busy, away from the books. Make sure you have everything ready for the next day, such as school material and clothes, thus avoiding forgetting something important the morning of the exam.

Practice the breathing technique before leaving your house, knowing that you will do your best, because your best is all that you can give.

Step 6: The Exam

If you feel anxious at the beginning of the exam, take a moment to breathe. Close your eyes and focus on breathing properly and relaxing your body. Open your eyes and read each question carefully, so to make sure you answer accordingly and in a satisfactory manner. When the exam is over, do not stress yourself going over the answers you gave. Relax, it is over now!

Beat Exam Stress

Coping with pre-exam stress can be very difficult but by following few easy and quick steps you will be able to use the stress to your advantage. Be motivated by what you can achieve, instead of feeling depressed by the fear of failure.

Here is a little short story for you, I had been out of school for 4 years and was studying to get Cisco certifications so I could get a decent job, I was so afraid that I would fail the test. I studied day and night but I was still so stressed, what helped me the most was the tips that I mentioned above, in the end, if you are prepared, then there is nothing to worry about. Best of luck to all of you.

Baby Nursery Ideas for Small Spaces: Creating a Closet Bedroom in Small Homes

Whether the baby’s room is too far from mom and dad, or there just isn’t enough space to create a baby nursery in the home, parents sometimes need to get creative with their children’s sleeping spaces. Learn how a walk in closet can be transformed into a baby’s nursery safely and easily.

Reasons for Creating a Closet Bedroom

There are several reasons why parents may consider the use of their walk in closet as a nursery for their baby. The baby’s room may be located far from his parent’s room and the parent’s feel better having him close by. Parents who live in small homes may not have a room for their baby just then, or they plan to have the baby share a room with an older sibling, but that’s not possible yet.

For these and other reasons, it may make sense to parents to utilize a walk in closet off the master bedroom as a temporary nursery. This keeps the baby close by and in easy reach of her parents, but separates the baby just enough that light sleepers don’t disturb on another.

Creating a Safe Space

If creating a closet bedroom, it’s important to factor in several things. The end result of transforming a walk in closet into a baby nursery should be a safe, cozy environment for the baby to sleep in, which means taking steps to ensure this safety prior to the baby’s sleeping there.

Begin by removing shelving and clothing that is anywhere near the crib or in the baby’s reach. A hard yank on a pair of pants in the night may bury the baby under both clothing and hardware, so take steps to ensure this won’t happen. Clothing can be temporarily moved to a wardrobe, strung from clothesline in a basement or garage, or folded neatly beneath the crib until the closet goes back to its original purpose.

Next, make sure there is plenty of air flow in the closet. If the closet does not have a vent for heating and cooling, it may be wise to remove the door and install a door with vents or slats in its face, allowing for air flow.

Without air circulating in the closet, the temperature of the room may become too warm or cool for comfortable sleeping. Additionally, without proper ventilation, the amount of carbon dioxide in the room can increase over time, putting the baby at risk for SIDS, so be sure that air can move freely.

If choosing to install a door with a vent or slats, consider also using a fan inside the room to encourage the air to circulate. This has the added benefit of creating white noise which can help masks sounds that would be blocked by a solid door.

Finally, make sure that the path to and from the closet is completely free of obstacles. Ideally, a room used as a bedroom should always have a second egress, or means to exit the room in case of an emergency. If this isn’t possible, make the area as easy to get to as possible, in case of fire or medical emergency. Leave as wide a path to and from the closet and possible, and make sure there are no locks, and that the door opens freely. Keep the baby’s crib or bed in easy reach and not behind changing tables or other obstacles to maneuver around. Remember that the closet bedroom should only be used as a temporary solution until a more permanent bedroom can be found.

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Turning the Closet into a Baby Nursery

Once the safety of the room has been taken care of, it’s time to begin personalizing the space for the baby. Make sure that the crib chosen fits into the room without sticking awkwardly out into the door way.

Since the walls of the nursery will be fairly closet to the crib, try using vinyl wall art to brighten the space for the baby. Vinyl wall clings can be easily removed without damaging the walls, so when the room returns to its original purpose, there is no need to repaint or redecorate the room.

Utilize high shelves to hang mobiles and other object from to entertain the baby while she is in her crib. Likely the space will have enough room for sleeping, but little else, so try to create a cozy and comforting space and not to pack in additional furniture. Changing tables and rocking chairs may be best left inside the master bedroom or another area of the home.

If a small table can be placed in the closet safely, this can be a great place to put a small light, fan or sound machine to help ensure the baby gets a good night’s sleep.

The bedroom closet can be a great way to slowly ease a baby away from his parents at night. Babies that are used to co-sleeping or being right next to their parents’ beds may not transition well to being far down the hall. A brief stay in a safe, nearby space can help ease the transition.

Make safety a priority, keep the room cheerful and cozy and if space is a priority, make a closet bedroom the baby’s first room and help everyone get a good night’s sleep.

Negotiation Planning When Buying a New Car: Tips and Strategies for Preparing to Negotiate for a Vehicle

It is often the case that car salespeople do not have a good reputation, and this is due – in part – to the feeling that they are intimidating or coercing the buyer into paying more for a new car than he or she would like to pay. The buyer can, however, negotiate an excellent price for the car with the help of a few simple tips, strategies and nuggets of knowledge. This article will explain how to carry out good preparation when buying a new car.

Do some Research

Before setting foot on the premises of any car dealerships, the buyer should thoroughly review the cars in the marketplace, and make a decision on the car to purchase based on how well it suits his or her requirements.

The buyer may wish to investigate such items as carbon emissions, repair and maintenance costs, and insurance costs, to ensure that he or she has a good idea of the likely long-term costs of each vehicle.

Decide on a Budget

A buyer should always be armed with the knowledge of how much he or she is willing to pay for a new vehicle, what the upper limit is, and what the ideal purchase price would be.

There are a number of services available that will provide the potential buyer with details of the average asking price for various vehicles. It is recommended that the buyer take advantage of these systems to ensure that he or she has up-to-date information.

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Review Incentives and Deals

Because the new car market is so saturated, there are a large number of deals and offers available, which can be taken advantage of. Each dealership is finding new and inventive ways of trying to better the deals offered by their rivals, and as such a good deal on a buyer’s ideal car can be found.

However, the purchaser should carefully study the ‘small print’, and make sure that the dealer is not attempting to recoup lost money elsewhere. It can be very rare that a dealership is willing to sell a car below ‘sticker price’ for no underlying reason.

In the UK, cars with new registration plates are released on 1st March and 1st September each year, and because of this many dealerships are looking to quickly sell any ‘old’ stock. This can result in a good price being agreed.

Know the Price

The ‘sticker price’ of the car – what is shown in the window – is not necessarily the amount that the buyer has to pay. Many dealerships will be willing to sell a vehicle for much less than this amount.

Similarly, the buyer should get a number of quotes for the same make and model of vehicle from various dealerships, and research the average purchase price to ensure that the best deal is struck.

Be Flexible

Entering into negotiations with a firm and immovable idea of the specifics of a car – the trim, model, year, etc. – will not give much flexibility, and therefore limited leverage as a negotiator.

A buyer should be flexible and open-minded in order to get the best deal, to avoid paying too much for what they could consider as a ‘dream’ car.

Record Information

The buyer should record details of all conversations had, quotes made and information gained and keep it in a file to keep with him or her when carrying out this vital preparation process.

This file should include such items as photographs, quotes, notes of all conversations, recommendations of various dealerships, and other information that can be presented during negotiations.

Find a Good Salesperson

A buyer should feel comfortable with the salesperson that they are dealing with, to avoid being pushed into an unsatisfactory deal. Some salespeople may attempt to use various tactics in order to coerce the buyer into purchasing additional items which they would otherwise reject.

If the salesperson allocated to the buyer is pushy, impatient or unhelpful, then it is perfectly within the buyer’s right to request an alternative salesperson. It is a good idea for the buyer to establish a relationship via telephone or internet with a salesperson they feel comfortable with before meeting in person.

Test Drive the Car

A weekday morning is the best time to test drive a car, as the dealership is unlikely to be busy. The buyer will therefore have more time to thoroughly inspect the car, assessing how well it handles, accelerates, and so on.

This is essential for ensuring that the car the buyer wishes to purchase through internet or paper research is acceptable in reality, and that any sales pitches made by dealership employees carry through into reality.

Once sound preparation has been carried out – through research, knowledge and patience – the buyer can then move on to negotiating a good price for the new car.

Solar Cells Power Portable Electronic Devices: Solar Technology May Be the Next Clean, Affordable Energy Source

Original solar cells were based on fragile silicon wafers, which makes production difficult, limiting, expensive, and energy intensive. Thin film solar cells were introduced as a more durable, less expensive option. Although more durable, the energy efficiency of the film is less than the silicon wafers and the materials possibly toxic – not a cradle-to-cradle solution. The latest solar technologies offer higher-efficiencies and are more economical. Many types of materials are being researched including organic alternatives and titanium dioxide.

Organic Plastic Solar Cells From Konarka Technologies

Konarka Technologies is one company moving into mass production of plastic solar cells this year. Konarka’s photovoltaic cells, that can be bonded to almost any surface, are lightweight and flexible which makes them ideal for charging cellphones, laptops, or iPods on the go. According to Kevin Bulis in the Technology Review article “Mass Production of Plastic Solar Cells,” Konarka opened a factory large enough to produce enough organic solar cells every year to generate one gigawatt of electricity. One of the first products targeted to use Konarka’s cells will be briefcases coated on the outside with a film of the organic solar cells that charge the laptop within. Konarka doesn’t require specialized equipment to make the cells, says Bulis. They modified equipment formerly used to make film for medical imaging into equipment that now produces solar cells and allows the company to scale up production at one-tenth the cost.

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Solar Technology From Solarmer Energy Converts Sunlight Into Electricity

Another company developing plastic solar cells for portable electronics is Solarmer Energy, Inc. Incorporating technology invented at the University of Chicago, their product is a cell that measures eight square inches and is expected to be eight percent energy efficient, according to the ScienceDaily article, “Plastic Solar Cells for Portable Electronic Devices Coming Soon.” The new technology uses a new semiconducting material called PTB1, which converts sunlight into electricity. The active layer of PTB1, according to the article, “is a mere 100 nanometers thick, the width of approximately 1,000 atoms.” Solarmer Energy plans to have a commercial-trade prototype later this year.

Cell Energy Efficiency Still Limited

Unfortunately, these newer plastic solar cells heading to market do not last as long as the earlier solar cells, lasting only a few years compared to the decades of the conventional silicon-based solar cells. They are also not as energy efficient yet, only converting up to six percent of the energy in sunlight to electricity, compared to conventional solar cells which convert 15%, according to Bulis. But as technology continues to blaze forward, the future looks bright for low-cost, flexible solar cells.

Urban Gardening – A Beginner’s Guide

Urban Gardening- How Big to Start?

The novice gardener should start small in an urban garden. One who has some experience gardening may plant more successfully. The best way to begin this undertaking is to plan ahead. The effective urban gardener begins planning the garden during the off-season when the weather is not conducive to adequate growing conditions. Typically this means months of planning ahead as to what to plant and where to plant within the urban environment. The novice would do well to begin with as few as three to five plants of the same species and add more every growing season until a fruitful garden can be established.

As knowledge of general gardening principals increases, one should plan to plant more varieties and increase the number of plants grown. Even one with vast knowledge of gardening should start small because the urban gardening environment is usually unlike other environments more suitable for gardening. This is not to say growing a garden in a city is difficult, but urban gardening does have unique challenges, especially lack of space.

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Urban Gardening- Dealing with Challenges

Challenges of urban gardening include lack of space, sunlight conditions, and urban wild life. Many methods are often used to combat lack of space. These methods include vertical growing, using raised beds, and the deep bed gardening method. Many vining plants can successfully be grown vertically on a trellis or in a step-fashion. Peas, pole beans, cucumbers, and even cantaloupe can be grown on a trellis to provide more ground space for planting other varieties of vegetables and fruits.

In fact, peas and pole beans require something to grow on to for most prosperity. Step-fashion refers to the method of planting seeds in order to attain the most sunlight. Lower-growing plants are grown facing the sun, and successively taller plants are grown in rows in order for each plant to receive adequate sunlight. This is usually done with the tallest plants against a building.

Raised beds can be an efficient use of space when space is limited to begin with. More plants can be grown per square foot in a raised bed than can be grown using traditional row-system gardening. Deep bed gardening can yield the same or better results than raised bed gardening. Deep bed gardening can be quite successful as part of the urban garden because it can be done in small spaces without much monetary cost.

Sunlight conditions can factor in as a challenge to urban gardening. Lack of sunlight can cause plants to produce less than ideal amounts of fruit. Too much sunlight can burn plants and cause them to die. Lack of sunlight can be compensated for by utilizing step-fashion gardening, above, and well-placed reflective surfaces. Painting a wall or fence white, for example, can improve sunlight conditions adequately. Too much sunlight can be compensated for by extra watering and providing light shade during the most intense sunlight. Fashioning together a tent with poles and a transparent cotton bed sheet can do wonders to improve conditions to a more favorable amount of sun.

Auto Accidents Leading Cause of Teen Death: Drunk Driving, Speeding and Texting Distract Young Drivers

For teenagers, getting behind the wheel of a car can be dangerous. In 2005, the U.S. CDC issued a National Vital Statistics Report which concluded that auto accidents are the leading cause of death amoung 15- to 19-year-olds.

According to research conducted by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), 19 percent of U.S. traffic fatalities were related to young drivers in 2007. The driver was the person killed in 41 percent of fatal crashes among 15- to 20-year-olds. Passengers are the next most likely to be killed, and the majority of them are also teenagers.

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Young Drivers Take More Risks Including Speeding, Drinking and Texting

Research conducted by the NHTSA shows that teenage drivers are at higher risk for fatalities because they lack driving experience, they aren’t mature enough, and they are more likely to take risks. These risks can be as simple as changing lanes inappropriately, but they also include speeding, drunk driving and texting while driving.

Alcohol consumption is a serious problem for young drivers. In 2007, underage drinking was a factor in 31 percent of teenage driver fatalities. Drinking tends to impair the driving skills of young drivers at lower than average blood alcohol concentrations.

Speeding is a major problem for young drivers. Of the young drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2007, 39 percent of males and 24 percent of females were speeding. Young drivers are more likely to speed on rural roadways where a majority of their traffic deaths occur.

A Survey of Teen Attitudes About Driving

TRU Research conducted an online survey of 1,063 teens on behalf of The Allstate Foundation. The findings, published in the article “Shifting Teen Attittudes: The State of Teen Driving ” on the Allstate Foundation website, came to the following conclusions regarding the way teens feel about their driving habits:

  • A majority of teens admit to texting or using a cell phone while driving. Forty-eight percent of girls and 36 percent of boys who took the survey admit to speeding and driving aggressively.
  • Girls are much more likely to admit that they will drive with distractions, such as cell phone use, in the future.
  • Most teens feel that they personally are good drivers,while other young drivers are less skilled.
  • As passengers, teens aren’t likely to tell the driver when they are concerned about safety issues. This is often due to fear of social rejection and concern about being ignored.

Seat Belts and GDLs Reduce Fatalities

There are simple ways to reduce this leading cause of death. The safety of young drivers can be increased through programs that encourage seat belt use and through the use of graduated drivers licensing (GDL).

In 2007, the National Occupant Protection Use Survey found that seat belt restraint use among 16- to 24-year-olds was only 77 percent. This is well below the overall average use of 82 percent. When restraint-use was known, 54 percent of automobile occupants killed were not wearing seat belts in 2007. Teaching young drivers and their passengers to wear seat belts can save lives.

Most states are now experimenting with the use of GDLs and finding that it decreases teen driver fatalities. A GDL requires young drivers to start with a learner’s permit, move to a provisional license, and then receive a full license. The provisional licensing stage includes various restrictions, including nighttime driving curfews and limits on the number of passengers. Restrictions are usually lifted at age 18.

All parents, guardians and teachers must take the time to remind young drivers that a license is a serious responsibility requiring strict adherence to safety rules.

10 Smoking Facts to Help You Develop a New Attitude Toward Your Cigarette Addiction

Let’s face it, smoking kills. While you’re smoking, others get affected by the smoke of your cigarette addiction. Retrospect on your attitude, your will to change your habits about your cigarette addiction if you want to quit.

Addiction lies in a realm of denial and rationalization. You use this realm to protect yourself from the candid truth of the risk of smoking to your health and those around you. You embrace the unreal truth for the sake of your stubborn beliefs of smoking. Here are some of those unreal truths that blinded you of the facts about the hazards of smoking.

Unreal: It is my body; it’s my right to do what I want.

Truth #1: Smoking is air pollution. It’s contributing to global warming, accidental poisoning, asthma and infant death syndrome. When you smoke people around you get affected, your life, and those around you who love you will be affected on how they need you in their lives.

Unreal: I can still protect the children from harm of the smoke by keeping my windows open.

Truth #2: It doesn’t do anything at all. Your children can still inhale the smoke thus is prone to the risk of the smoke to health.

Unreal: Smoking is not a good habit.

Truth #3: Smoking is addiction to tobacco not a habit.

Unreal: Everybody loves to smoke.

Truth #4: Not everybody smokes. Survey said in Canada, non smokers are the majority, and non smokers are approaching only to 18% of the national rate.

Unreal: It’s cool when you smoke.

Truth #5: In the contrary. When you smoke you look dumb stupid. It costs your pocket to drain and your health as well. Be wise to rationalize. In Canada, only those unemployed and lower income groups and those 12 years or less of grade education smoke. You don’t want to downgrade your intelligence and be like them by smoking.

Unreal: I am only smoking tobacco and not heroin or anything.

Truth #6: Cocaine, heroin or alcohol when it comes to addiction is not as dangerous in effect as Nicotine. Because cigarette is legally available, it’s the reason for easy addiction to result to health problems worldwide.

Unreal: It’s not bad because it’s legal.

Truth #7: Refer to smoking truth #6

Unreal: I am a social smoker when I’m with friends.

Truth #8: Refer smoking truth #6. The tendency of being a social smoker leads to your addiction. You harm your friends when you smoke.

Unreal: I’m still young; I’ll quit get when I get older.

Truth #9: Refer to smoking truth #6. Survey said, most people start cigarette addiction when they are teenagers.

Unreal: Tried many times quitting, but failed.

Truth # 10: It’s always not easy at the first time. Testimonials by most former smokers had several unsuccessful attempts before they succeed to quit.

More smoking facts

One secret to totally quit smoking is facing the facts of all the known smoking risk and stop your denial syndrome. Face the fact, smoking can kill you.

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For further reading, check out the link above to read more about how dangers of smoking and how you can quit today.

How to Roast Garlic with an Oil Drizzle

Garlic, as a cooking spice, is quite versatile. There are not many dishes or cuisines for which garlic is not a good complement either as a side dish, as an infusion or mixed into the meal.

For the best flavored garlic, learning how to roast fresh garlic cloves can give a subtle difference to the taste of a dish when compared to dried powdered or salted garlic or minced garlic that is pre-prepared and purchased in a store. It might come as a surprise how sweet and nutty freshly roasted garlic can taste compared to the mass-manufactured and pre-prepared garlic seasonings.

Buying and Storing Garlic

If bought fresh from grocers or farmers’ markets, garlic can be stored for several months in a cool and dry place in a pantry. There is no reason to refrigerate garlic prior to roasting.

Roasted Garlic Flavor

Garlic can be roasted using a toaster oven, convection oven or conventional oven, but garlic can also be roasted in a pan on a stovetop. Roasting garlic is the best way to bring out the nutty sweetness that garlic is known for, instead of the pungent aroma often found with processed garlic. In fact, garlic that is roasted doesn’t leave the bad breath scent for which garlic sometimes gets a bad rap, and there are many researched health benefits to consuming raw or roasted fresh garlic.

How to Oven Roast Garlic in Foil

Peel the desired amount of garlic cloves and cut off the pointed tops to release the aroma and interior oils. These pieces can be roasted whole or cut or chopped, and then placed inside foil. Leave the foil unsealed at the top. Drizzle the garlic with a favorite oil or flavored oil, add any complementary spices (any savory spice will work well, including: rosemary, thyme, basil, sage, paprika, sea salt, pepper and more).

Place the foil on a baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake at 350-375 degrees for 40 minutes, until the tops of the garlic are lightly browned but not burnt.

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Pan Roasted Garlic

Roasting garlic in a pan uses the same oil drizzle technique, except the garlic cloves cannot be unattended while roasting. Simply place the cloves in the pan, add a little butter, flavors and spices, and then drizzle the oil over the cloves. Turn the flame onto a low/medium-low heat, and use a spatula to constantly move the garlic.

Once the garlic has softened, and this might take as much as 15-20 minutes of constantly stirring, the flame can be turned up higher and the cloves allowed to sizzle until lightly browned and slightly firm on the outside.

Using Roasted Garlic

Roasted garlic complements most recipes or can be sautéed with onions, butter and a little brown sugar for a succulent side dish. Roasted garlic can be stored in an air-tight container, plastic bag or jar for up to a month in the refrigerator before it begins to lose its flavor, or it can be infused into an oil and kept for longer.

Metabolize Fat with Chromium: Vitamin Supplements and Food Sources Aid Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a problem that affects many overweight people. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions that affects people who are overweight or obese. It is this combination of factors that poses future health risks and heart-related problems for people who have trouble losing weight.

Chromium, a trace mineral, has been shown to have a positive effect on metabolic syndrome. Increasing your metabolism allows you to burn more fat even while sitting still. You can metabolize fat with chromium.

Use Chromium to Metabolize Fat

While some high quality vitamins to contain chromium, taking a 200 mcg chromium supplement each day can improve your health and help you lose weight.

Benefits of Using a Chromium Supplement

  • Chromium helps maintain blood sugar level.
  • Chromium metabolizes fat.
  • It turns protein into muscle, which burns more fat.
  • It converts sugar into energy.
  • Chromium reduces cholesterol.
  • It works to curb it cravings.
  • It acts as a natural appetite suppressant.

Ways to Increase Your Chromium Intake

A chromium supplement is an easy way to increase chromium in your diet. You can also benefit from increasing your metabolism by adding certain foods to your daily meals.

Food Sources Containing Chromium

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Raw onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Whole grains
  • Bran cereals
  • Potatoes
  • Liver
  • Processed meats
  • American cheese
  • Wheat germ

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Use a variety of these foods in your meal planning to increase your chromium intake and reduce body fat. Combine regular exercise, good nutrition and a chromium supplement to metabolize fat and lose weight.

Do Rehabilitation Centers Work?

How reliable are drug rehabilitation centers? Do they actually work? From what we see concerning celebrities, they are continuously revisiting rehab centers. Why? Does that mean it’s not as effective as it should be? It is certainly comforting to know that should a person feel that they’ve gone too far with a substance and cannot bring themselves to walk away, that at least there is a place where there’s hope for a second chance. Or a third or fourth!

The number of rehab centers are increasing around the world, and not all of them require fees. In the less fortunate areas and societies, we find that there are centers where street children can have the chance to get the treatment they need. The only issue is with such places, and especially for addicts coming off the streets; is that once they’re done with the program and they are clean, there’s no transition into a better place- they only have the same streets to go back to. And that doesn’t provide much encouragement to walk away. There are too many temptations and not enough opportunities to give hope to a better life without drugs and alcohol.

However, even those who do have the funds, and manage to enroll themselves into the best rehabilitation centers- even they end up giving into temptation. What does that say about human addiction and what does that say about these centers that are meant to help heal human addiction? It says that it isn’t as easy as we’d like it to be. And it also says that perhaps group therapy may have more cons than pros. Having addiction in common helps greatly in getting to a comfortable place where you don’t have to feel ashamed about your experiences. However, it’s not realistic. Once you are back out in the real world, you’re isolated again. I do not mean to undermine the value of rehabilitation centers because it is certainly an extremely important factor. But it worries me that it has become such a cliche. Whenever something is wrong, you just turn to rehab to fix your problems for you. And once you leave, you’re good for a while, and then you’re back to where you started.

Check out detoxofsouthfflorida.com to find out more about rehab centers in Florida, whatever it takes, you need to get into a rehab program. Trust us when we say this but it will change your life.

It runs much deeper than that. I believe that in order to heal it begins with a personal motivation. And then after that, rehab or external encouragement is needed. But the main secret weapon is to convince yourself that you have to do it. That there is no maybe’s or perhaps or just one more… we have to be more aware of our abilities and limitation.

Black Lung Disease: Coalworker’s Pneumoconiosis

History of the CWP

Coalworker’s Pneumoconiosis

Mine workers have been subjected to a number of respiratory diseases throughout history. CWP is caused by the inhalation of silica, although similar symptoms are found in heavy tobacco smokers. It is a disease which is the result of the lining of the lungs becoming coated with the coal dust fibers causing difficulties in breathing. In severe cases, CWP can result in death.

Black lung disease was not well understood until the 1950s. It is a disease common among strip miners, although this disease is not confined to workers in that industry alone. It became increasingly prevalent in the post World War II period when increased mechanization of coal mining operations resulted in an increased amount of dust released by the mining operation into the work environment.

United Mine Worker Union Stance

The United Mine Workers Union, under the leadership of John L. Lewis during the 1950s, decided that pursuing the black lung issue was not a viable option at the time. True, new mechanized mining methods produced more dust, but health issues took a back seat to economic issues. The coal industry was experiencing hard times and mining jobs were in decline. Increased production meant higher mine productivity and higher wages.

Coal Miners Health and Safety Act

Coal Health and Safety Act

Following the death of John L. Lewis in 1964, the union no longer objected to the classification of black lung as a disease. The Coal Mine Health and Safety Act (1969) passed by the U.S. Congress set up standards to reduce dust associated with coal mining. The Black Lung Disability Trust was created to provide pension and health care benefits for afflicted miners. The Black Lung Disability Trust Fund has distributed over $44 billion to victims and their families.

Following the enactment of the Coal Miners Health and Safety Act, it was the belief that once the disease was understood safety measures would help reduce the number of cases diagnosed.

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CWP and its Cost in Human Life

In the years from 1993 through 2003, more than 9,000 deaths were attributed to black lung. The trend of reported deaths seemed to be on the decline. Disturbing statistics have indicated that in the first decade of the 21st century, “black lung” diagnosis and death have increased and not decreased.

PlayStation Vita Launch Details Announced

Gamers in the US & Europe woke today to the news that the PlayStation Vita will be launching a little sooner than expected.

Background On The Vita

Playstation Vita

In January this year Sony wowed the gaming world by announcing that a new portable gaming system was coming. Originally named NGP, this hot new console had the gaming world talking but there were not many details known about the little system. At E3 in May, Sony changed the name from NGP to PlayStation Vita and released a whole spread of information about the console.

Some Of The Major Features On The Vita:

  • Dual Analog Sticks
  • Rear Touch Pads
  • Brand New Online & Offline Interfaces
  • Cross Game Chat (PSN)
  • Wi-Fi & 3G Versions Available

With the 3G version of the Vita going to be available, it will mean gamers can play online anywhere and not just in the home where internet connections are present. Sony have promised a new online experience, and the announcement of cross game chat, they are well on their way to doing so. The Vita also has the capability of HD graphics that as seen on the Uncharted game, match and almost better that of the PS3.

Vita Launch Details

As we know, Japan is getting the Vita before anyone else in December this year. Fortunately gamers in North America and Europe will not have to wait too much longer at all to get their hands on the new device. The PlayStation Vita will release here on February 22nd 2012 and will retail for the following prices:

  • PlayStation Vita Wi-Fi Version: $449.95
  • PlayStation Vita 3G Version: $549.95

Now it has to beg the question, what version of the Vita would be better for the consumer to purchase??? I would recommend the 3G version because it gives the opportunity to game online with your friends when you’re out and about, not just in the comfort of your home. It is really up to the buyer. Keeping in mind that the Vita will be a very online intensive system, the gamer will need to decide for themselves what version of the system is best for them.

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The Wait… Is Almost Over

Since the PlayStation Vita was announced, fans have finally been taking an interest in the portable gaming franchise again. They only have to wait just another few months. The prices are relatively cheap for a BRAND NEW system released by Sony. There have been a lot of questions and concerns about the Vita, but after every Sony conference fans are walking away just that little bit more excited about the system.

L.A. Noire Review: Blurring the Line Between Cinema and Gaming

With so many new and exciting games released week by week, it’s sometimes hard to know what to spend your money on. Is L.A. Noire worth your money?

The last weekend has been a blur of clues, puzzles, and grim murder scenes. There’s been suspects, fires, drugs, and most importantly, corpses. Some were there before Cole Phelps arrived, but a lot were there shortly after.

Phelps isn’t an average cop. He’s a great cop. He’s got a sense of intuition. He knows there’s something more to the case. He’s intelligent, he’s athletic, and he’s seen a lot he’d rather forget.

That’s you, by the way.

The Story

L.A. Noire is story led, there’s no denying it. It’s not about epic gun battles, or huge explosions. Yes, it has elements of action, like any decent story. Phelps will constantly find himself chasing suspects, shooting back at gangsters, and driving erratically through the streets of Hollywood. But these aren’t what makes L.A. Noire great. They’re to keep the player entertained, to keep them on the edge of their seat.

Ultimately, the game wants to tell a story. It feels like a episodic series. Each case has its own title, and feels like the next instalment of a crime drama. This story unfolds, gradually becoming deeper and more convoluted with each subsequent case. What starts off simple, is anything but. It’s a fantastic and gripping tale of a L.A. Cop, trying to be decent and honest, while struggling with his own personal demons.

It’s a classic. The cut-scenes alone could keep you entertained for an entire weekend. It’s captivating, and each new snippet of information is subtly and fantastically dealt. A game worthy of a movie. And with the new facial capture technology, MotionScan, it pretty much is.

Perhaps that’s why it’s so enthralling. There is no better acting in a game, and it’s not just voice acting. It’s actual, back to basics, sit a man down and watch his face, acting. The actors are fantastic, delivering tiny nuances of expressions, enough to help you decipher if they’re downright lying, telling the truth, or just hiding something they’d rather not tell you.

It’s only let down somewhat by the lack of attention to other aspects of the animation. Yes, the faces are perfect, but the in-game control of your avatar, Phelps, is still slightly jerky and unnatural. They’ve managed to improve it from previous Rockstar titles, but it’s still off, still unrealistic.

But who cares? The movement isn’t as good as the faces, but that’s because the faces themselves are perfect. They show every tiny twitch of an eyebrow, every glance to the side, every subtle smirk. The only problem with the perfection is returning to games without such great graphics. Once you’ve experienced it, everything else will pale in comparison.

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The Gameplay

The game itself, however. Isn’t as perfect as the story, or how it’s told. No one can deny that as an animated movie this would be a fantastic example.

As a game, it doesn’t have the same overwhelming grace to everything. It feels as though there are too many mechanics unused, too much repetition to be truly perfect.

It’s strange. It feels unbalanced at times, as though it almost managed to reach the stars, but fell short at Pluto. Some parts feel epic, like the way that objects can be manipulated with, the way they can be looked at from every angle until you find the clue.

But it holds your hand too much, feels too much like the tutorial is still running. Even by the end of the game, prompts appear telling you the controls. We know, we’ve been playing it for ten hours straight, we know how to cling to cover by now. We know how to fire our gun. Stop telling us!

It’s perhaps because there are so many great mechanics, some of which are overused, others barely touched upon. You can search a body, look for clues around crime scenes, interrogate and interview witnesses, have huge gun battles, and loads of other mechanics. But they’re always punctuated with instructional pop-ups, that appear regardless of how many times you’ve performed the action. It’s distracting and unnecessary.

Without these tutorials the game would have been a lot more immersive and challenging. There are times where there are slight variations in how the mechanic works, which would’ve only taken a moment to figure out, and left the player with a sense of satisfaction, but instead a prompt appears detailing exactly what to do. It’s annoying, and feels like having someone sitting with you who’s already completed the game, jabbering away and spoiling the experience.

The game wants to tell its story so much, that it gets in the way of gameplay. It doesn’t want you to miss out, or have you wander off, defeated, so it helps you along. But for gamers who are experienced, and know instinctively what buttons to press, it’s just aggravating.

The game is brilliant. It has some great features, that are sadly used either too often, or not enough. With some slight balance changes the game could have been absolutely perfect. A few less chases down side streets, and a few more discrete followings would have vastly improved the repetition, and wouldn’t have affected the actual story.

The tale of L.A. Noire is unmatched. It’s a brilliantly acted, fabulously animated work of art, and the performances are worthy of awards. The gameplay is intriguing and immersive, when it’s not telling you what to do, and has some fascinating mechanics that are unfortunately underused.

But it’s still great.

It’s strange. It’s saving grace is that just when you begin to become tired with the tedious nature of some of the cases, something completely new and unique appears. A change in how the game works, a new type of puzzle, or a novel way of solving a case. They happen just frequently enough to let L.A. Noire continue uninterrupted.

The Verdict

Overall, it’s great. It’s a definite purchase. A game to sit proudly on your shelf, right next to your classic movies. Yes, there are times where it drags a bit, but it always saves itself. If you feel like everything is too similar, too repetitive and redundant, relax. It won’t last long, because L.A. Noire has definitely got something completely different to show you.

It’s like the steady climb up the rise of a rollercoaster. You slowly plod upwards, ticking softly, building the tension and anticipation. Then you drop, and you’re rewarded with a sudden exhilaration and rush of adrenaline.

That’s L.A. Noire. And yes, it’s worth your money.

Swimming Pool Heater Basics: Extend Your Backyard Fun Area with Gas, Solar, or a Heat Pump

A backyard pool and deck is a great investment and provides a spot for family fun, grilling, and entertaining friends. But left unheated, the time it can be enjoyed can be cut short, depending on the severity of the local fall and winter temperatures.

How Pool Heaters are Powered

  • Solar Heater Models – These are gaining in popularity since the sun’s radiant energy is a renewable resource, making it economical to operate. But is it practical? It is if the solar collectors can be made to generally point south and are unshaded. They are generally mounted on the home’s roof, although they can be free-standing if enough real estate is available. The size of the solar radiation collectors should be 50 to 100 percent of the surface area of the pool. A pool cover will allow for minimal collector size. The pump should be properly sized because the larger it is, the more it costs to operate. These are also classified as electric heaters.
  • Gas Pool Heaters – Natural gas and propane-fired models remain the most popular. Operation is rather simple: the cooler water is pumped from the pool, through a filter, and then the heater’s combustion chamber which heats the water. It’s then returned to the pool. Since gas heaters warm the circulated water so quickly, they only need to run when needed, lowering gas utility bills.
  • Heat Pumps – Heat pumps great for warming water, just as they are for warming indoor air. Like gas models, the cooler water is pumped from the pool through a filter unit and through the heater. But the heat is generated by pulling outside air over the evaporator coil. The liquid refrigerant in the coil uses the temperature from the outside air to convert it to a gas state. It passes through the compressor which further heats the gas (basic thermodynamics). Next, passing through the evaporator, it transfers the heat to the pool water which is then pumped back into the pool.

It is also possible to hook up a tankless water heater to the swimming pool to heat the water but please consult with an expert first, check out homeluf.com for more information on water heaters.

Pool Water Temperature Recommendations

The American Red Cross suggests that pool water temperature should be maintained at 78 degrees Fahrenheit for competitive lap swimming (25.5 degrees Celsius). The recommendation for recreational swimming for the elderly and children should be maintained at 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher (26.6 degrees Celsius).

The bottom line is that each degree warmer the water is, results in 10 to 30 percent more in energy consumption and cost. For this reason, it is recommended to use a thermal pool cover when the pool is not in use and to only turn the heat up to the desired temperature right before using it.

Geothermal Heating – Cost Effective and Smart!

Among the many ideas floated to be part of the new “green” economy, is one with technology literally as old as dirt. It is somewhat ironic that geothermal or “geoexchange” is viewed as a “new” idea, as it is quite literally the oldest form of home heating available. The earliest human ancestors chose to live in caves where the temperature was moderated by the surrounding earth. Warmth in the winter and cooling in the summer is important to human comfort, and in the Midwestern United States with all four seasonal ranges, the opportunity for the creative application of engineering in heating and cooling systems is limitless.

Return on Investment

Berkley, Michigan-based Strategic Energy Solutions, a full service mechanical and electrical engineering firm, receives about 50% of its total revenues from the design and installation of geoexchange systems. Although the primary markets for geoexchange systems are the educational and civic installations, opportunities exist in commercial, healthcare, religious, and residential properties.

While initial costs can be from 10-40% higher than conventional HVAC systems, the return on investment based on utility bills alone can be as short as two years. There may also be Federal tax credits and grants to add to the bottom line. Once the return on investment is achieved, the geoexchange systems represent considerable ongoing savings to building owners year after year.

Perceived Barriers

If the economic recovery is going to be fueled in part by alternatives to traditional energy systems like electricity and natural gas, a few barriers need be overcome. First is the perception that geothermal is the “ugly duckling” of the alternative energy field. Solar power and wind power receive considerably more press and discussion. However, the technology required for geoexchange is relatively simple and well established. The ground source heat pumps geoexchange systems are based on common and proven technology. Despite this, the major manufacturers of the heart-of-the-system heat pumps are located in Oklahoma, Indiana, and Florida. Opportunities may exist for local manufacturers to join the geoexchange industry.

A second barrier to broader application of geoexchange is the limited availability of drilling resources. A geothermal system requires the installation of a heat exchange field consisting of a number of vertical holes drilled to a depth sufficient to allow for efficient heat exchange. These holes are filled by a relatively narrow plastic pipe made of UV treated HDPE, which is then surrounded by a heat transferring grout made of thermally enhanced bentonite clay.

For a recent application for a new human health building at Oakland University in Rochester, MI., the field consists of 256 holes drilled to a depth of 325 feet that will be covered by a parking lot. In Michigan, the legacy of drilling resources arises from the rural water well drillers. By contrast, other states have larger drilling resources left over from oil and gas exploration. To effectively drill a large field, it requires multiple drilling rigs and the skilled application of project management to complete multiple borings in a short period of time.

State and Local Regulations

In Michigan, a third problem is the lack of consistent statewide regulation thoughtfully targeting geothermal drilling. While the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (DNRE) has issued a “best practices” document, the lack of official regulation allows for a patchwork of counties and health departments statewide to apply local regulations mostly based on water well drilling. This does not allow for the growth of the industry, despite the economic advantages of geothermal HVAC.

An industry-wide association, the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) is studying the issues of a standardized “code” that could be adopted by jurisdictions, but, thus far, there are limited to offering a “certification: for installers. In 2008 the Department of Energy published a paper analyzing the state of the industry and the potential for growth.

No-brainer for residences

Steven DiBerardine, founder and president of SES, is a self-confessed “geojunkie.” He notes that with the current Federal tax incentives for the installation of geothermal HVAC, it is a virtual “no-brainer” for residential installation. “The 30% Federal tax credits available for residential applications pretty much cover the premium over the costs of standard HVAC on installation.” He says, “That means that the return on investment for residential users begins immediately.” He further notes, “We did our first geoexchange installation 12 years ago, and in the early days they were 2 – 3 years apart. In the late 90’s the cost of natural gas and propane rose dramatically, making geothermal more attractive. Since commercial buildings consume near 40% of this country’s energy output, virtually every building owner, in all industries, should be taking a serious look at the short and long term advantages of tapping the earth for heating and cooling buildings.”

Green savings and green returns

One advantage many engineers and owners appreciate from geoexchange installations is significant “green” credits, particularly under the LEED certification scheme. The SES corporate headquarters building on 11 Mile in Berkley (MI) is a showplace for energy efficient mechanical and electrical systems. So much so in fact that more than 200 visitors have toured the facility in the past eighteen months. The staff is happy to show off how the systems work and the comfort they provide the workforce. While there is also a wind turbine on the roof that draws a lot of attention, DiBerardine estimates that the turbine may have produced only $2 worth of electricity in ten months of operation.

Finally, Southeast Michigan’s primary electricity utility, DTE Energy, also allows for separate metering and more than a 40% reduction in electricity costs for geothermal pumps. DiBerardine observes that the key to cost savings is thoughtful engineering. Every application is different, and understanding and taking advantage of the unique characteristics of the site, the planned building, and even the intended use can make all the difference between a rapid ROI, and being left with simply a different and more expensive system than needed. In the end, while geothermal heating and cooling is as old as dirt, it is also a new, cost effective idea for our times.

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Internet-Based Work at Home Jobs: Become an Online Florist

Looking for Internet-based work at home jobs? With home-based business ideas, professionals can create their own opportunities online. Want to make money in a lucrative, creative industry? Become an online florist, specializing not in live plants but fabric flowers that last much longer (and in some cases, cost even more).

Internet-Based Work at Home Jobs

Starting a home-based business may not be as difficult as some professionals believe. Creating any business is a matter of finding the market, establishing the product and the price and fulfilling the customers’ demands. Want to become an online florist, earning income with a work at home job that’s both financially rewarding and full of opportunities for personal creativity? Start by shopping the competition.

Look at what other online florists have to offer, study different varieties of flowers and floral arrangements and search for good deals on fabrics. By doing proper research into the product, work at home professionals can find ways to deliver quality merchandise at an affordable price.

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Become an Online Florist

Become an online florist

Even the most talented individuals in the world can struggle to find work at home success if they don’t know how to properly market those talents. Want to become an online florist, making money from the Internet with a thriving home-based business? Successfully selling products online takes a little more than simply finding good deals on fabrics. What does it take to turn this idea into a lucrative career choice?

  • Identify the customer. Selling just isn’t possible unless professionals know who they are selling to. Online florists, especially those dealing in the fabric flower variety, have to know where they can find their primary market and just who that primary market is. Who wants to purchase fabric flowers? Decorators, party planners, brides, women looking for attractive accessories – there are lots of different consumers who might want this product. Focus on this to get a feel for the floral arrangements that will be sold – and purchased! – by online buyers.
  • Create the products. It’s incredibly important to know how much it will cost to create each product that will be sold online. This information is essential in determining the eventual price of each item that’s presented to Internet consumers. Look for bulk deals and find the most efficient ways to create high-quality floral arrangements and flowers to gain the most profit from these work at home efforts.
  • Present items on the marketplace. Even beautiful products may not sell quickly (or, at all) if they aren’t presented in the proper marketplace. Look for online selling sites and craft stores to showcase floral arrangements, and don’t be afraid to advertise on social networking sites. Use networking to get the word out, and seek out potential customers through online forums and groups.

Science on Television: Effects and Challenges?

Many Western nations are telly addicts; the British public watch an average of three and a half hours of TV a day (Ofcom, ). But they might not watch science programs. There are an ever increasing number of digital channels, to add to the terrestrial choice, each with its own type of science program. And science has to compete with all the other genres to engage the viewer.

Girl sitting in front of television

Internet Viewing

Interactive TV and availability on the internet are changing the way viewers watch. In 2016 in the UK, the number who watched TV on the internet more than doubled to 17 per cent, as compared with the previous year (Ofcom).

Effects of Science on TV

It’s probable that science on TV has many effects on the viewer. Testing for the impact is difficult, but the following are some of the effects that may result:

  • Educate, inform and entertain
  • An understanding of the process of scientific enquiry
  • Provoke speculation about science’s impact and application
  • Impact on perceived risks of science’s applications
  • Impact on levels of trust in science and scientists
  • Raise excessive or false expectations about, for example, a new disease treatment
  • Awaken interest in pursuing science as a career

Science on TV faces the double challenge of presenting science well visually and verbally.

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TV: a Visual World

Science TV programs should strive to be informative, without being unintelligible. Many areas of science (e.g. cosmology, physics or molecular biology) do not lend themselves easily to TV. This is a medium which is primarily valued for its ability to entertain large audiences with moving images.

Digital technology has helped hugely; visual information serves to reinforce the spoken word. Computer animation is a very powerful tool for science on TV, as seen in ‘Walking with Dinosaurs‘ (BBC/Discovery 1999). The first episode of this was watched by 15 million viewers, making it the most watched Science program in British TV history.

Role of the Presenter?

Presenters for science programs need to be personable. In programs where there is an anonymous voiceover format, someone with a clear, compelling and interesting voice is important. Many science programs consult experts in the field who lend gravitas and authority to the science. Viewers are more likely to trust these personal endorsements by scientists from well-respected institutions and/or with relevant qualifications.

Science on TV has to negotiate a path through the complex relationship between entertainment, information and education. Science on TV rarely shows the process of science – that’s too lengthy and often unruly – but it does provide a format for visualising science. This is as much of a challenge as the science behind it.

Transportation to Romantic Bruges in Flanders

Trains generally provide the easiest public transportation to Bruges (Brugge) in Flanders (Vlaanderen), northern Belgium. The closest airports to Bruges are near Brussels but regular trains allow for traveling times as short as 90 minutes from Brussels National Airport (BRU) and just over two hours from South Brussels Charleroi Airport (CRL). Occasionally, long distance buses go to Brussels while taxis and private shuttle services are available but generally not cheap. Although few travelers would regret sleeping over in romantic Bruges, the easy transportation does make Bruges an ideal day trip by train from Brussels or Antwerp.

  • The French name Bruges is usually used in English. However, locals use the Flemish (Dutch) name Brugge. Although English-speakers generally have trouble pronouncing Brugge, the Dutch name is worth noting as Brugge is more commonly used on signposts and railway schedules. Similarly, many other Belgian town names are spelled differently in Dutch, French, and English.

Travel by Car to Bruges (Brugge) in Flanders

Bruges is easily reached by car from the rest of Belgium as well as neighboring countries. Belgian highways are fast, well maintained and famously lit up at night. Bruges is around an hour’s drive (just over 100 km / 60 miles) from Brussels or Antwerp. The North Sea ferry ports Ostende and Zeebrugge are only a few minutes by car from Bruges.

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A private car may be the easiest way to reach Bruges but driving and parking in the old town are difficult – it is best to head straight to one of the large, well-signposted parking lots at the outskirts of the old town. The parking lot at Bruges station is relatively cheap and includes a free bus ride to the center.

Travel by Train to Bruges (Brugge) in Belgium

Trains are the easiest way to reach Bruges when using public transportation. Belgian trains are generally reliable and fairly cheap. For some journeys, return tickets are significantly cheaper than two one-way fares.

Direct trains are available to Bruges from the following major Belgian towns:

  • Brussels / Bruxelles

Inter-City (IC) trains to Bruges depart mostly twice per hour for the one hour journey from all three main stations in the Belgian capital: Brussels South / Zuid (Bruxelles Midi), Brussels Central / Centraal (Bruxelles Central), and Brussels North / Noord (Bruxelles Nord).

International travelers mostly have to change trains in Brussels to reach Bruges. Passengers from France and England should change at Brussels South while travelers from Amsterdam and Germany (Cologne and Frankfurt) may have to change at Brussels North when on trains not continuing all the way to Brussels South.

  • Oostende / Ostende

Oostende is a Belgian seaside town and arrival port for some ferries from the United Kingdom. By train, Oostende is less than 15 minutes from Bruges on the same Inter-City trains arriving generally twice per hour from Brussels.

  • Antwerp / Antwerpen / Anvers

At least hourly direct trains connect Bruges and Antwerpen (Anvers) in 1h20. Further trains require a connection at Gand-Saint-Pierre and take a few minutes longer.

  • Gent / Ghent / Gand

Regular trains are available to Gent / Ghent (Gand). The IC trains take just more than 20 minutes while the slower P and L trains can take up to 40 minutes.

Cheap Flights to Bruges / Brugge in Belgium

There are no airports at Bruges itself but cheap flights are available to airports near Brussels. Most flights to Belgium go to Brussels National Airport (BRU) while some low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and Wizz Air fly to the less convenient Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL).

  • Transportation from Brussels Airport (BRU) to Bruges

Bruges is easily reached by train from Brussels Airport (BRU). Regular trains from the airport to Brussels North station take 15 minutes. Change here to the direct trains to Bruges. The total journey from Bruges to Brussels Airport (BRU) should take around 90 minutes.

  • Transportation from Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL) to Bruges

Ground transportation from Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL) to Bruges is slightly more complicated. First, travelers have to get to Brussels South station to catch the direct Inter-City train from Brussels to Bruges. From the airport, the cheapest way is by bus to Charleroi train station and continue from there by train to Brussels South. Alternatively, travelers can use the slightly faster but more expensive bus from the airport directly to Brussels South station. Total traveling time from the airport to Bruges is around 2h30.

A direct Voyages L’Elan bus is currently available only once per day between Bruges and Charleroi Airport. The bus leaves Bruges at 3:15 am to reach the airport just after 5 am and return from the airport at 11:30 pm to reach Bruges at 1 am. At these odd hours, which are rather popular for low-cost airline flights, trains services are not available to and from Bruges. (During the high season more buses are usually available.)

  • When traveling at odd hours, with ample luggage, with limited mobility, or in small groups, it is often worth splurging on a private transfer service. Shuttle services to Bruges are limited but it is still worth comparing prices as fares may vary widely.

Bruges is a very popular holiday destination and well worth visiting for its lovely medieval architecture and brick Gothic buildings. The historic town center of Bruges, the belfry, and beguine are among the Belgian sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Interview with YouTube Star Michael Buckley

Michael Buckley offers advice on becoming a YouTube star, discusses how he maintains a positive attitude and how he hopes to expand his career.

Michael Buckley – One of the First Official You Tubers

Michael Buckley’s coverage of celebrity gossip on his YouTube show What the Buck is delivered at the pace of a machine gun with over-the-top flamboyance and side-splitting humor. Buckley began posting YouTube videos in 2006 and quickly propelled himself from YouTube subscriber to YouTube star. Today, he has over one million subscribers and in addition to ‘What the Buck’ he began the program ‘Dear Buck’ on his second channel where he offers advice to viewers on topics ranging from dating to eating disorders. Being openly homosexual and exuding a high level of confidence, all of Buckley’s videos are peppered with messages of self-acceptance and positivity.

We.com caught up with Buckley to discuss how he found success on YouTube, how he maintains a sunny outlook on life and where he hopes to take his career from here.

We.com: Explain how the “What the Buck” show originated. Has your background in theatre aided in the process of creating your videos?

MB: So the What the Buck Show originated back in the summer of 2005. A female friend and I were doing a local show on Public Access and then the next summer my cousin started putting clips on YouTube and it really just kind of spiraled from there. Has my background in theatre helped? I think so, I believe it’s given me confidence…It’s helped my enunciation…I was at a TV thing the other day and they were telling me, ‘Do you have a theatre background? Your voice is so booming’ (laughs)…My theatre background definitely gave me confidence.

S101: How quickly did you propel yourself from YouTube subscriber to YouTube star? With the influx of viral videos in years following your initial internet fame, what advice can you give to other YouTubers hoping to become popular?

MB: That’s a great question. I was just a normal YouTuber for probably four or so months and then by the fall of 2006 I was doing a little better…I would say within the year was kind of when [I began finding success] because I was featured on the front page of YouTube and a lot of other things; my account got suspended around the same time, so there was this great kind of intrigue and buzz [around me]…People are very interested in viral videos and things like that. That’s hard though, it’s hard to create a following on YouTube based on viral videos because it’s hard to tell what’s going to go viral. I always just tell people, ‘Do videos that you love,’ and I love doing celebrity gossip and I love doing advice on Dear Buck….Focus on creating content you love and if you really do want to be a big YouTube star look around and see who’s doing well and how they’re doing well and kind of take cues from that and that can inspire you to become a more successful YouTuber.

S101: You have met several celebrities in your career and Taylor Momsen was actually a fan of yours after you poked fun at her in a video. Have you suffered any backlash from celebrities due to your videos?

MB: I haven’t suffered any backlash, no. If I ever get emails it’s generally from reality show people…I always just write back, ‘You’re lucky I know your name, b**ch,’ (laughs)…If a real celebrity like Beyonce or Oprah [were watching my show] they wouldn’t care…Now that I am pretty well-known, most of them are actually thrilled when I mention them…I have only ever heard from one celebrity publicist who did not like one of my videos and asked me to change it….and they were really nice about it but I said, ‘I don’t work for your client…no.’ It was weird that in five or six years that I’ve only gotten one of those emails. [I told the publicist], ‘People know I’m being funny and I’m kidding…your client needs to not be worried about such things.’

S101: The ‘What the Buck’ videos focus on the entertainment world through a comedic filter. Other entertainment media that is not comedy-based is sometimes scrutinized for the messages displayed about topics like weight-loss, promiscuity (i.e. sex tapes), etc. What would your advice be to your young viewers who are exposed to this type of media?

MB: It’s interesting because my show is comedy-based and I’m always trying to just make fun of things and be silly, but at the end of the day I do try to give a little bit of a message in terms of acting appropriately and valuing yourself… From day one I’ve just always been like, ‘I make fun of everyone, I make fun of myself.’ My intent is to amuse, not to ruin anybody’s life and most of my audience knows now just to laugh and not to be offended.

If you think you can be the next YouTube star and you are asking yourself, how to promote my YouTube channel? Click the link and there is a short but helpful guide that will teach you the basics of YouTube and how you can grow your channel. The most important thing is to keep at it and never give up.

Social Media and the Committed: Friend or Foe?

Twitter, Facebook, chat rooms, etc. – these are all a part of an online club known as Social Media. And in this club, all the way in the back, is a door. A door that leads you straight into a dark, secret and extremely dangerous world. A world where people, whose paths would not have otherwise crossed, meet and chat…and sometimes do more.

Social media has made everyone and everything available to just about anyone. This ultimate availability may prove to test the boundaries of what we consider commitment.

But how does one define commitment…and more specifically, what causes its demise?

In this dark, secret place, two people (and hey, maybe more) share a connection, albeit a virtual one, it remains just that – a connection. Friendship and harmless flirting begins to enter into a more explicit and sensual arena, and soon the lines of this connection are blurred. For someone not in a serious relationship or in a very open relationship, this is all in the name of fun…but what happens when one of the parties is in a committed partnership? Should this “fun” be considered a breach in their relationship?

Some may argue that as long as these interactions are only acted upon virtually, and are done purely in the name of fantasy, no harm is done. But there are many who would disagree. After all, these connections involve real people who are directly affected by the others actions.

Virtual sex may be free of disease, but can it still be a killer?

In that heated moment, this once committed party committed to someone else. And while husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends may never become aware of this interaction…what if they did? Would they care? Would this breach be a killer of their trust, their love and ultimately, their relationship?

Commitment is defined as “[a]n engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.” By allowing ourselves to fulfill each and every fantasy we have at any moment, with whomever we choose (even if its not in the flesh), we need to ask ourselves how committed we really are.

The better question: If its all in the name of fun, why keep it a secret?

While you dont need to share every detail and every conversation you have when you are in a long-term relationship, it has long since been said that communication is the key to success. Engaging in such intimate activities with others and keeping them a secret could prove damaging, and makes one wonder is it really all in the name of fun or is it perhaps something more?

While answers to these questions will differ depending upon whom you ask, the only answers you should be concerned about are your own and those of your significant other. Relationships are tricky and the digital age is constantly changing, growing and testing the limits of just about everything. In this ever-changing, sexually-charged world, committed partners need to remember to keep the lines of communication open, and be sure to have clearly defined boundaries and expectations. Without these, everyone gets hurt.