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We really appreciate your visits! Every Friday, our goal is to provide you with a few laughs, some inspiring stories and some food for thought. We look forward to your visiting with us again next Friday! Y'all come on back now... ya hear!






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There are times when quitting something is the best choice... making room for other new and exciting things to fill your life

In our culture, quitting anything other than a bad habit has a negative connotation - but you argue that quitting is positive. What are some situations in which quitting is beneficial?

Rumination and self-doubt can be physically exhausting. If you find yourself in an endless loop hoping for a positive outcome, it’s likely you’re operating in an energy deficit. Prolonged periods can impact your health. So, watch your moods and physical sense of well-being; are you routinely exhausted? 

Unable to enjoy activities other than prescribed ones? If so, you may be in a locked situation where you should consider whether quitting is a healthier choice. This doesn’t just apply to your habits - you can quit a job, a relationship, or even a hobby that no longer fulfills you.

Why does quitting have to be learned?

We’re primed toward optimism, and culturally speaking we admire stick-to-itiveness. Quitting should be an equal opportunity choice, and choosing to quit is not instinctive. We have to train ourselves away from the unconscious associations that quitting is for losers and a sign of weakness.



Are some people naturally better at quitting than others? What makes a person oriented toward approach or avoidance?

Oddly enough, pessimists may have an edge in judging the likely outcomes of situations. Optimists by and large overestimate their likelihood of success and their predictions exaggerate toward positive outcomes.

As to questions of “approach” or “avoidance,” the tendency towards that psychological tilt is usually established early in life. Some of your approach may be genetic, of course, and part of your character make-up, but many tendencies may come from either integrating a parent’s style or the subtle rewards we received for following their approval.

If you had been encouraged to try options where you might fail - like applying to a top tier college, for example - you may be biased toward “approach.” If, on the other hand, you fear the consequences of rejection and stick to “safe” schools, you may have an avoidance temperament.

These tendencies usually radiate into other areas of life as well, encouraging some people to constantly expand their social circle while others are only comfortable with old friends. We can train ourselves to recognize these biases and allow for their unconscious persistence.

What are the factors that encourage people to persist?

Some factors are genetic and psychological as mentioned above, and others are moral and societal. Culturally speaking, most advanced societies treasure the notion of improvement and mastery.

Quitting interrupts that trope and forces us to evaluate our self-worth at a primal level: are we failures? Do we lack the moral fiber to experience discomfort and maintain our position in life? Are we doomed to an ongoing series of failures and disruptions?

The anxieties and fears raised by these associations may keep people locked into relationships or careers that are, in fact, troubling to their mental and physical well-being.



How can people tell it’s time to quit?

There is no single answer to that question. The first order of business is to examine the underlying issues which support the status quo. How prevalent is your anxiety about losing respect from key people in your life?

How impacted will you be by the concern that you have labeled yourself a “quitter”? Once you have established some equanimity about these questions, you can go on to evaluate the choice from the perspective of a value proposition - what are you getting vs. what are you giving up?

Our book takes you through the research of “choice” so you’re less likely to operate off unconscious biases and more likely to operate with a conscious sense of opportunity.

What are the basic steps to quitting successfully?

We have a number of different tables in the book which may help you decide your quitting style. It’s important to know the biases in your particular make-up that may orient you toward getting stuck or lurching precipitously toward the exit.

Once you have established the possible tendencies in your personal psychological construct, you are more likely to review options based on their current and potential future outcomes.

Our book is not a “how-to” manual; rather, it helps you understand through current research what the potential biases and blind-spots in your thinking may be and then how to form long and short-term goals to move your decision-making forward with a conscious sense of choice.



How should people manage the thoughts and emotions associated with quitting, especially regret?

There is no ultimate screen against regret, though some people charge ahead trailing less doubt and replay than others.

In order to use regret to keep you focused on how to succeed next time instead of letting it keep you stuck in the past, you should think about how your regrets relate to the goals you want - instead of defending the decision you regret, putting off new decisions, or transferring blame to others.

I also encourage people to operate with some time-limits on their “pity party” - such as taking a half hour for “why me” thinking - as needed - and then moving ahead with your next plan.

What is incomplete quitting?

Incomplete quitting, at least on the surface, often looks like a person disengaging from an unproductive goal, but it often leaves in place the mechanisms and motivations for persisting with it in the first place, preventing the person from moving forward towards new goals.

A person could temporarily sever a relationship, or suggest a new course of action, but not stick with their new resolutions and fall back on existing patterns - or even just threaten to, and never follow through at all. Whatever shapes it takes, incomplete quitting is marked by an inability to disengage.

If the regret loop keeps replaying and seems out of control, shadowing your capacity to move ahead with plans, you’re likely caught in an incomplete quitting cycle.

In the book, we have an example of a highly qualified person who kept reminding his friends and interviewers what a “mistake” he’d made in his career choice and what a hash he’d made of his young life.

He had not organized himself to move ahead in new directions and was cueing his audience to see him as a “quitter.” Not surprisingly, until he was able to acknowledge his self-doubt he was unable to develop new pathways.



Quitting is a prime opportunity for reframing a situation, imagining new possibilities, and reinventing yourself. How should people establish new goals to move them in a better direction?

The most likely source of encouraging success in new directions is actually writing down goals, creating objectives to get to those goals and establishing workable timelines.

All these can be modified or even eradicated as you move forward in your planning, but the act of committing your future plans to an organized series of thoughts and timetables seems to be a key factor in releasing yourself from rumination, stuck thinking and self-blame.

The transition from past analysis to future planning seems to reorient the psyche, though as I mentioned some time should be reserved to “what-ifs” and self-doubt.

Instead of sayings like “winners never quit and quitters never win” and “no one likes a quitter,” what saying about quitting would you suggest society adopt instead?

Review your options and remind yourself: the creative life involves constant choice. No single maxim should control the decision-making process.



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An Unforgettable Home-run

Sara Tucholsky hit her first home-run of her career. It wasn't the distance the ball hit that was memorable, but the meaning it carried. The opposing teammates showed great character when they stepped up to do the right thing at the right time.

Watch the video: https://youtu.be/jocw-oD2pgo



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In case you haven't heard, or you are oblivious to the news of the day... America's 'Debt Limit' is now again the latest fabricated crisis in Washington.

Today is December 2nd... and your taxes are still going up... and our country is virtually bankrupt. The U.S. government spends $10.5 billion dollars per day - of which $4.5 billion dollars is borrowed! That means we are going $4.5 billion dollars deeper in the hole - each and every day. Yet Obama pretends all is well. Obama's debt comes right out of your pocket... 

Our nation-state is no model of fiscal responsibility. When Barack Obama took office, the national debt was already an impressive $10 trillion. Today it is $18.5 trillion. The national debt is still growing at a rate of more than $50 million an hour. 

Here's Obama's "bull crap" for the week... 12/02/2016



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Democrat Socialist teachers and Professors across the country are promoting an anti-American agenda. Recently students at Hampshire University burned the flag on campus. A liberal conspiracy against America.

College students now offended by American Flag? Extremist liberal brainwashing tactics create communist colleges


Loyola University is worried that their students might be harmed by an offensive symbol... The American flag. Yes Really?

Student government leaders at Loyola University Maryland faced a barrage of pressure from the university administration to change the theme of a senior class party described as “very alienating, divisive and harmful” and against the university’s “core values,” according to emails provided to The Daily Caller. The theme? America.

The theme for Loyola’s annual “Senior 200s” party - one of four celebrations exclusive to seniors held throughout the year - was based upon a survey of Loyola seniors taken last summer.

The party was held on Nov. 18 and went off without a hitch, according to students who attended, despite warnings that the administration might have to get involved if students were offended.



Emails sent to student government representatives were provided to TheDC on condition of anonymity. Multiple student government representatives confirmed the emails’ authenticity on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from the administration.

Right before the presidential election, some student government members wondered if they should nix the America theme if Donald Trump won, according to internal SGA group chats shared with TheDC on condition of anonymity for the same reason.

The long and the short of it is that the American flag is ok just as long as the entire country agrees with liberals. Otherwise, it's a symbol for every sort of "ism" imaginable, a trigger, and a basically a Nazi rag. 

As William F Buckley famously said, "Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to hear that there are other views."



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Obama's extreme socialist ideology is more connected with Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, than he is with the American people. All had visions to be dictators. Unlike his idols though, Obama missed achieving the goal.

Socialist Obama praises Communist Fidel Castro

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, two patriotic Americans who were lucky to escape Cuba, had harsh words for President Obama's tiptoe through the tulips eulogy for Fidel Castro, the worthless communist dirtbag who turned the island nation into his own private prison colony.



Fellow Cuban-American Senate conservative Ted Cruz echoed his onetime rival's sentiment in a follow-up tweet:



Obama's defenders might argue that the White House statement in no way constituted "showering love" on Castro, but at best, it was an a historical whitewash. And for what purpose?

An empty gesture to appease the ongoing Castro regime with which Obama has sought to normalize relations?



In some ways, the Obama administration's tepid, forgiving commentary on Fidel Castro's demise is reminiscent of its response to virtually every provocation and misdeed of the Iranian regime. The protection of a political legacy appears to supersede all else. 

The essence of Obama's legacy: The abdication of moral authority to tyrants in pursuit of treaties that aren't worth the paper they're printed on. It's pathetic, and it won't be missed. 



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The Obama presidency has been an epic failure in every category... here is Obama's Nine Biggest Failures!

As President Barack Obama serves his final two months in office, the nation will attempt to evaluate his legacy. Was the UN-Affordable Care Act a step forward or a step back? Did Obama’s policies improve the economy? And how did the president handle the threat of terrorism?

Naturally, opinion will be mixed, and in some cases, extremely polarized.

Gun rights advocates believe Obama overstepped by issuing executive orders; gun control proponents don’t think the president has done enough. In 2013, a Gallup poll reported that Americans see the UN-Affordable Care Act as both Obama’s biggest success and failure.

Despite all the disagreement today, however, presidential legacies have a habit of becoming more clear over time. For example, America’s impression of former President George H. W. Bush has improved significantly since he left office.

Meanwhile, Americans view President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq very negatively now, despite popular support at the time. With this in mind, InsideGov looked at the past year’s worth of CNN/ORC polling to gauge how America might come to remember the 44th president.



Specifically, we tracked 14 surveys from December 2014 to January 2016, calculating the extent to which Americans approved or disapproved of the commander in chief across key issues like the economy, health care and terrorism.

For a few polling questions, more Americans approved than disapproved of the president’s stance or the contents of his proposals, as we’ll see later on this list. While it’s still very early, it’s possible these initiatives will be counted among Obama’s successes.

Meanwhile, there were several more areas where more Americans disapproved than approved of Obama’s performance, on average. We don’t know whether history will come to define these areas as outright failures for the administration. But the polling data suggests America could potentially criticize Obama on these particular topics in the years to come.

While Americans disapprove of Obama’s performance, on average, across all nine categories, the polling results were much more negative in some categories than others. We’ll start with the least negative category (climate change), then count down to the most negative of all.

#9. Climate Change

47% of Americans Disapprove of How Obama Handled Climate Change

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling climate change?
Approve: 45%
Disapprove: 47%
No Opinion: 8%*



#8. Job Performance

50.2% of Americans Disapprove of Obama’s Job Performance

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president?
Approve: 46.7%
Disapprove: 50.2%
No Opinion: 3.2%

Americans Think U.S. Is Headed in Wrong Direction

Do you think the policies being proposed by Barack Obama will move the country in the right direction or the wrong direction?
Right: 43.5%
Wrong: 53.5%
No Opinion: 3.5%

#7. The Economy

52% of Americans Disapprove How Obama Handled the Economy

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the economy?
Approve: 46.8%
Disapprove: 52%
No Opinion: 1%



#6. U.S. and Iran

55.3% Disapprove of How Obama Handled U.S./Iran Relations

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the U.S. relationship with Iran?
Approve: 41.3%
Disapprove: 55.3%
No Opinion: 3.7%

#5. Foreign Affairs

56% of Americans Disapprove of How Obama Handled Foreign Affairs

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling foreign affairs?
Approve: 41.8%
Disapprove: 56%
No Opinion: 2%

#4. Health Care

55.5% of Americans Disapprove of How Obama Handled Health Care

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling health care policy?
Approve: 42.5%
Disapprove: 55.5%
No Opinion: 1%



#3. Terrorism

55.5% of Americans Disapprove of How Obama Handled Terrorism

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling terrorism?
Approve: 41.5%
Disapprove: 55.5%
No Opinion: 3%

#2. Gun Policy

56.8% of Americans Disapprove of How Obama Handled Gun Policy

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling gun policy?
Approve: 38.8%
Disapprove: 56.8%
No Opinion: 4.3%

#1. ISIS

61.5% of Americans Disapprove of How Obama Handled ISIS

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling ISIS, the Islamic militant group that controls some areas of Iraq and Syria?
Approve: 34.5%
Disapprove: 61.5%
No Opinion: 4.5%



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Cool Photos


A woman poses underneath Wolfgang Buttress' illuminated Hive Installation at Kew Gardens on November 22, 2016 in London, England. The world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew launches a festive illuminated trail, lit by over 60,000 lights and includes eight artworks by British and international artists.




An Israeli firefighter plane helps extinguish a bushfire in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa on November 24, 2016. Hundreds of Israelis fled their homes on the outskirts of the country's third city Haifa with others trapped inside as firefighters struggled to control raging bushfires, officials said.




A Trump Tower worker cleans the waterfall at Trump Tower on another day of meetings scheduled for President-elect Donald Trump November 21, 2016, in New York.




Protesters hold candles during an anti-government rally in central Seoul on November 19, 2016, aimed at forcing South Korean President Park Geun-Hye to resign over a corruption scandal.




Aerial view of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano showing a plume of steam and ash on November 21, 2016 in Colombia.




Driver Max Verstappen drives in the second practice session at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on November 25, 2016. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday.





A photographer stops to capture the early morning ground fog on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on November 19, 2016.




People watch as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid balloon makes its way across Sixth Avenue during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in New York, on November 24, 2016.




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Friday-funnies...

My attitude... is based on how you treat me.

Always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.

"The greatest danger for most of us, is not that we aim too high and we miss it, but we aim too low and reach it." -- Michelangelo

Want to achieve greatness? Stop asking for permission!

When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator. -- Mahatma Gandhi



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Republicans can use Democrat trick to destroy Obamacare

When Democrats rammed Obamacare down our throats, they used a shady trick called "reconciliation." In a piece at National Review, Senator Mike Lee explains how this works:

Normally it takes 60 votes to move legislation in the Senate. But a reconciliation bill is considered “privileged,” so it can pass the Senate by a simple majority vote as long as it contains “policies affecting mainly permanent spending and revenue programs.”

Congressional Democrats used this very mechanism to force Obamacare through Congress on a party-line vote, to the president’s desk, and onto the backs of hard-working American families and businesses.

In that same piece, Senator Lee argues for using that same process to eliminate Obamacare, and it looks like he may get his wish. As Bloomberg reports: 

Republicans won’t have much room for error to successfully repeal Obamacare, a top campaign promise of Trump and congressional Republicans.



Even if they delay the repeal to allow more time to come up with a replacement, there will be pressure to use the legislative maneuver to push through other top GOP priorities, such as defunding Planned Parenthood.

But Senate Republicans would have to keep unified the 52 senators they expect to have when the new Congress convenes Jan. 3. The Republican plan would take advantage of reconciliation, a budget-related mechanism to circumvent the 60-vote threshold in the Senate and prevent Democrats from being able to block legislation on their own.

By striking early, the GOP could set itself up to invoke the same procedure again later in the year on a broader range of targets, including tax cuts.

The quick-strike bill, like one vetoed earlier this year by President Barack Obama, H.R. 3762, would likely set what amounts to an expiration date for the law’s financial underpinnings, leaving Congress to act at a later date on any replacement plan.

That’s because more than six years after the law’s passage, Republicans still don’t have a consensus on how to replace Obamacare. This is great news, but only if Republicans approach this intelligently. Expect Democrats to repeat the same faulty Obama language: "Republicans want to repeal Obamacare and replace it with nothing."



This is of course completely false, but it's important that the GOP assure beleaguered Americans sick and tired of a shoddy healthcare system that they won't be left out in the cold. James Capretta of the American Enterprise Institute has a suggestion. Pick a plan, get it scored, and stick with it:

Fortunately, the starting point for what the GOP should do in an ACA replacement plan has already been released. Speaker Paul Ryan and some of his colleagues in the House unveiled their blueprint for reform in June.

That plan has as a central feature the provision of a tax credit to households without access to employer coverage, and rules to protect people with pre-existing conditions who stay continuously insured. It is a plan that ensures all Americans can get affordable health insurance, protecting them against major medical expenses, if they want it.

There is no avoiding all political controversy in health care policy; there will of course be political attacks on House and Senate members who support Ryan’s plan. But the time for excuses is over. The GOP has no choice but to move forward with a serious plan, starting right now.

We agree with Capretta. It's absolutely critical that the GOP is united on this and has a competent vision to sell the American people. We hope Mr. Trump, Mr. Ryan, and Mr. McConnell can come together and sort this out as soon as possible.



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Trump already saves 1,000 American Jobs!

Per Leah Barkoukis over at Townhall, Donald Trump and co. have just reached a deal that will keep 1,000 Carrier jobs in the state of Indiana: President-elect Donald Trump seems to already be making good on his campaign promise to work to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States.

His incoming administration and United Technologies (UTX) reached an agreement that will keep roughly 1,000 jobs at Carrier Corporation in Indiana.

Carrier, owned by UTX, had plans to move production from a main factory in Indiana to Mexico, costing nearly 1,400 Hoosiers their jobs.

Under a deal negotiated by Vice President-elect Mike Pence and UTX CEO Greg Hayes, the company will now keep most of those jobs in Indiana, sources close to the matter told CNBC.

This is good news for the people of Indiana, but we hope the Trump administration avoids piecemeal, incentive laden deals like this going forward and favors a broader regulatory reform policy that helps the whole American economy grow.



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Gigantic underground oceans could be full of aliens

Scientists have claimed that massive oceans are hidden up to 620 miles beneath the surface of the Earth. These mysterious bodies of water could even hold lifeforms so unusual that some scientists would regard them as aliens.

Steve Jacobsen, a researcher at Northwestern University in Illinois, said a part of Earth’s core called the mantle could contain several oceans’ worth of water.

The deepest of the subterranean seas is believed to stretch about a third of the way down to Earth’s molten core. “If it wasn’t down there, we would all be submerged,” Jacobsen told New Scientist.

Jacobsen found a diamond in Brazil that contains imperfections that could only be formed in the presence of water. “This implies a bigger reservoir of water on the planet than previously thought,” he said.

The underground oceans are unlikely to resemble any lakes or seas found on the surface of the planet, with the water bound within rocks which soak up the liquid like a sponge.



This means it is unlikely to be home to any large organisms that are known to science. However, tiny microbes might just be able to survive in the hidden oceans.

Some scientists believe there is a “biotic fringe” in Earth’s core, which Live Science described as a “boundary where current knowledge predicts that no living cells persist” because the temperature and pressure are too high. But researchers are often astonished by the conditions that organisms can put up with.

One single-celled organism called Geogemma barossii was found thriving near the deep-sea hydrothermal vents off the northwest US coast — an environment which Harvard University described as “alien.”

Geogemma barossii was able to survive in temperatures of up to 248 degrees Fahrenheit — something many scientists believed was impossible. If this “alien” can survive in such extreme conditions, what else might be lurking down there in the depths of our planet?

Hopefully the “aliens” are as cute as this little squid:
Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVQ8usSBdAk



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"Happier Times" ... Joe Bonamassa live at Royal Albert Hall

Bonamassa is the best! Never in my life, has music changed the way I feel when I see and hear his soulful voice. I am now in love with the blues! Thank you Joe B.

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cf1nnEpA5fk

BONUS VIDEO: "Mountain Time" ... Joe Bonamassa live at Royal Albert Hall
Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3Z8zmyqb60



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With Do-Anything IoT button... is Amazon laying the groundwork for the physical interface of Consumer IoT?

I must admit, I was pretty excited reading the news of the Dash AWS-powered IoT button. After all, while I’ve written a lot about how the Dash button effectively demonstrates the power of a singular, simplistic physical interface for IoT, so far Dash button have been (purposefully) limited as single-brand purchase machines.

But what if Amazon enabled the consumer to use the button to purchase anything or, even better, set into motion any action in their connected home or connected lives? Now that would be something.

But alas, this is not that, at least not yet. In a post on the The Verge, Paul Miller does a good job of lamenting what could have been with this latest Dash button. “The real ideal would be a button we can register with an app and have it trigger any action on the internet. It would be the perfect way to make IFTTT physical.”

Exactly.... But imagine for a moment if Amazon truly did make an all-purpose, do-anything button for the Dash, one that didn’t require an AWS account? And imagine if such a button enabled consumers to connect to any number of third party smart devices, online services to initiate, engage or transact?

That would be huge and, as Miller says, probably do nothing for Amazon’s button line. And therein probably lies the problem, at least if you’re Amazon.

The Dash IoT button for developers starts down this path, but it’s not really a consumer product. It’s really a developer product and, because it’s a developer product, requires an account with AWS and all the technical acumen and hassle that comes with that.



But I’m still hopeful. By starting down this path, Amazon may be laying the groundwork for developers to experiment with the IoT button and create compelling integrations, ones which, I have no doubt, Amazon will begin to showcase as what’s possible with a do-anything button.

And who knows, maybe down the road they’ll release a more consumer friendly one that consumers can simply buy, register and simply assign an action? If I know anything about Amazon, I suspect they might be thinking exactly along these same lines.

But what about making money, you ask? OK, so while a general-purpose Dash button may not be as directly tied to Amazon purchases as the first generation...

The Seattle online giant might realize the power of owning the one-button IoT physical interface might actually be an indirect way to becoming an even bigger consumer IoT powerhouse they’ve already started to become with Echo and Alexa.

With a do-anything button, not only will the own the voice interface layer for our connected lives, but could start to pave the way towards owning the physical interface.

The benefits of having access to all the data associated with tens of millions of distributed buttons in our homes, our workplaces and everywhere would be amazingly powerful. And, yes, a little scary. But when’s that ever stopped Amazon?



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Why do we have Christmas trees?

The evergreen tree was an ancient symbol of life in the midst of winter. Romans decorated their houses with evergreen branches during the New Year, and ancient inhabitants of northern Europe cut evergreen trees and planted them in boxes inside their houses in wintertime.

Many early Christians were hostile to such practices. The second-century theologian Tertullian condemned those Christians who celebrated the winter festivals, or decorated their houses with laurel boughs in honor of the emperor:

"Let them over whom the fires of hell are imminent, affix to their posts, laurels doomed presently to burn: to them the testimonies of darkness and the omens of their penalties are suitable. You are a light of the world, and a tree ever green. If you have renounced temples, make not your own gate a temple."

But by the early Middle Ages, the legend had grown that when Christ was born in the dead of winter, every tree throughout the world miraculously shook off its ice and snow and produced new shoots of green.

At the same time, Christian missionaries preaching to Germanic and Slavic peoples were taking a more lenient approach to cultural practices - such as evergreen trees.

These missionaries believed that the Incarnation proclaimed Christ's lordship over those natural symbols that had previously been used for the worship of pagan gods. Not only individual human beings, but cultures, symbols, and traditions could be converted.

Of course, this did not mean that the worship of pagan gods themselves was tolerated. According to one legend, the eighth-century missionary Boniface, after cutting down an oak tree sacred to the pagan god Thor (and used for human sacrifice), pointed to a nearby fir tree instead as a symbol of the love and mercy of God.



Paradise trees

Not until the Renaissance are there clear records of trees being used as a symbol of Christmas - beginning in Latvia in 1510 and Strasbourg in 1521. Legend credits the Protestant reformer Martin Luther with inventing the Christmas tree, but the story has little historical basis.

The most likely theory is that Christmas trees started with medieval plays. Dramas depicting biblical themes began as part of the church's worship, but by the late Middle Ages, they had become rowdy, imaginative performances dominated by laypeople and taking place in the open air.

The plays celebrating the Nativity were linked to the story of creation—in part because Christmas Eve was also considered the feast day of Adam and Eve. Thus, as part of the play for that day, the Garden of Eden was symbolized by a "paradise tree" hung with fruit.

These plays were banned in many places in the 16th century, and people perhaps began to set up "paradise trees" in their homes to compensate for the public celebration they could no longer enjoy.

The earliest Christmas trees (or evergreen branches) used in homes were referred to as "paradises." They were often hung with round pastry wafers symbolizing the Eucharist, which developed into the cookie ornaments decorating German Christmas trees today.

The custom gained popularity throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, against the protests of some clergy. Lutheran minister Johann von Dannhauer, for instance, complained (like Tertullian) that the symbol distracted people from the true evergreen tree, Jesus Christ.

But this did not stop many churches from setting up Christmas trees inside the sanctuary. Alongside the tree often stood wooden "pyramids" - stacks of shelves bearing candles, sometimes one for each family member. Eventually these pyramids of candles were placed on the tree, the ancestors of our modern Christmas tree lights and ornaments.



Nicholas and Wenceslas

It also took a long time for trees to become associated with presents. Though legend connects the idea of Christmas gifts with the gifts the Magi brought Jesus, the real story is more complicated. Like trees, gifts were first a Roman practice - traded during the winter solstice.

As Epiphany, and later Christmas, replaced the winter solstice as a time of celebration for Christians, the gift-giving tradition continued for a while. By late antiquity it had died out, although gifts were still exchanged at New Year's.

Gifts were also associated with St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra (in modern-day Turkey), who became famous for giving gifts to poor children. His feast day (December 6) thus became another occasion for gift exchanges.

During the early Middle Ages, Christmas gifts most often took the form of tributes paid to monarchs - although a few rulers used the holiday season as an opportunity to give to the poor or to the church instead (most notably Duke Wenceslas of Bohemia, whose story inspired the popular carol, and William the Conqueror, who chose Christmas 1067 to make a large donation to the pope).

Like trees, gifts came "inside" the family around the time of Luther, as the custom of giving gifts to friends and family members developed in Germany, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia. Often these were given anonymously, or hidden.

One Danish custom was to rewrap a gift many times with different names on each wrapper, so that the intended recipient was only discovered when all the layers were opened.



Victorian Christmas

In the English-speaking world, the union of gifts, trees, and Christmas was due to the influence of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, a native of Saxony (now part of Germany).

German immigrants had brought the custom of Christmas trees with them in the early 1800s, but it spread widely after Victoria and Albert set up an elaborate tree for their children at Windsor Castle in 1841. At this point, Christmas presents were usually hung on the tree itself.

German and Dutch immigrants also brought their traditions of trees and presents to the New World in the early 1800s. The image of happy middle-class families exchanging gifts around a tree became a powerful one for American authors and civic leaders who wished to replace older, rowdier, and more alcohol-fueled Christmas traditions - such as wassailing - with a more family-friendly holiday.

This family-centered image was widely popularized by Clement Moore's 1822 poem, known today as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" (which also helped give us our modern picture of Santa Claus).

As many of us make trees and gifts the center of our own Christmas practice, we would do well to remember that they are ultimately symbols of the One who gave himself to unite heaven and earth, and who brings all barren things to flower.



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How they forecast cold weather

One day in early September the chief of a Native American tribe was asked by his tribal elders if the winter of 2011/12 was going to be cold or mild. The chief asked his medicine man, but he too had lost touch with the reading signs from the natural world around the Great Lakes.

In truth, neither of them had idea about how to predict the coming winter. However, the chief decided to take a modern approach, and the chief rang the National Weather Service in Gaylord Michigan.

'Yes, it is going to be a cold winter,' the meteorological officer told the chief. Consequently, he went back to his tribe and told the men to collect plenty of firewood.

A fortnight later the chief called the Weather Service and asked for an update. 'Are you still forecasting a cold winter?' he asked.

'Yes, very cold', the weather officer told him. As a result of this brief conversation the chief went back to the tribe and told his people to collect every bit of wood they could find.

A month later the chief called the National Weather Service once more and asked about the coming winter. 'Yes,' he was told, 'it is going to be one of the coldest winters ever.'

'How can you be so sure?' the chief asked.

The weatherman replied: 'Because the Native Americans of the Great Lakes are collecting wood like crazy.' 







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Today is cyber Monday, which means tomorrow is "Russia has your credit card info Tuesday." -- Jimmy Fallon

Experts are warning shoppers to check the spelling of websites on cyber Monday because there are lookalike sites that try to scam you with a slight misspelling of a store's name. Yep, they said if you want more info on this, just look it up on Goggle. -- Jimmy Fallon

Trump went on Twitter yesterday to claim that he actually won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of illegal voters and that any recount will change nothing. Speaking of nothing changing, Trump won and still says the election was rigged. -- Jimmy Fallon

Donald Trump said he will not try and send Hillary Clinton to jail. After hearing this, Bill Clinton said, "Hey, you promised." -- Conan O'Brien

Donald Trump is giving key positions in his cabinet to people who were loyal to him early on. So congratulations, Defense Secretary Scott Baio! -- Conan O'Brien





President Obama today awarded 21 people with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Said Obama, “You’re free! Quick, go before he sees you!” -- Seth Meyers

When asked this afternoon if he reads The New York Times, Donald Trump told reporters, quote, “I do read it. Unfortunately. I’d live about 20 years longer if I didn’t.” “Got your paper, sir!” said Mike Pence. -- Seth Meyers

Apple’s top designer has created a special Christmas tree that does not feature any lights or decorations. Said the designer, “I . . . didn’t know this was due today.” -- Seth Meyers

Today, the stock market hit an all-time high. Which is great news, because if there's one thing we've learned over the past decade it’s that if Wall Street executives are doing well, regular Americans are doing well. -- James Corden

The Dow Jones industrial average topped 19,000 today for the first time. When they heard that, Americans everywhere nodded in approval as if they actually know what the Dow Jones industrial average is. -- James Corden



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Trump silences his corrupt liberal critics... same ones who looked other way while Clintons skimmed $250 million for government favors

The liberal mainstream media had no interest whatsoever in the Clinton Foundation; but as soon as Donald Trump got elected, conflicts of interest became a big deal. 

Now Donald Trump is taking it off the table: President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday said he’s planning to leave his business “in total” to focus on running the country.

“I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my … great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Mr. Trump tweeted Wednesday.

“While I am not mandated to … do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses..” he tweeted.

“Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!” he tweeted.

The media has spent days covering the remarkable fact that Trump actually owns businesses and that he might use the office of the presidency to enrich himself. More time, it seems, than they spent investigating the shady dealings of the Clinton Foundation. Funny, isn't it? It's almost like they're biased.



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7 MILLION Bogus Hillary Votes! 3 Million Illegals + 4 Million dead people! Trump Wins Popular Vote by a landslide!

Three million votes in the U.S. presidential election were cast by illegal aliens, according to Greg Phillips of the VoteFraud.org organization.

If true, this would mean that Donald Trump still won the contest despite widespread vote fraud and almost certainly won the popular vote.

“We have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens,” tweeted Phillips after reporting that the group had completed an analysis of a database of 180 million voter registrations. We have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens.

-----

We are joining .@TrueTheVote to initiate legal action. #unrigged
— Gregg Phillips (@JumpVote) November 13, 2016


Completed analysis of database of 180 million voter registrations.
Number of non-citizen votes exceeds 3 million. Consulting legal team.
— Gregg Phillips (@JumpVote) November 11, 2016



“Number of non-citizen votes exceeds 3 million. Consulting legal team,” he added. According to current indications, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by around 630,000 votes, although around 7 million ballots remain uncounted.

Virtually all of the votes cast by 3 million illegal immigrants are likely to have been for Hillary Clinton, meaning Trump might have won the popular vote when this number is taken into account.

Vote fraud using ballots cast in the name of dead people and illegal alien voters was a huge concern before the election.

On the morning of the election there were 4 million dead people on U.S. voter rolls.

Although some states require some form of ID before voting, California, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C. all require no identification before voting.

That's just crazy... which is just how the Democrats want it. Millions of phony Democrat votes.



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One Pot Chicken Alfredo Penne

Everyone's favorite white sauce gets a rich, creamy boost of cheese, plus chicken and peas, in this super simple supper.

Ingredients:

1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk 
1 lb uncooked penne pasta
1 box (9 oz) frozen sweet peas
2 cups shredded or pulled deli rotisserie chicken
1 jar (15 oz) Alfredo pasta sauce 
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Steps:

1.) In nonstick 5-quart Dutch oven, heat evaporated milk, 4 cups hot water and the pasta to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high; cook 7 minutes, stirring frequently; do not drain. Meanwhile, microwave peas as directed on box; drain peas.

2.) Reduce heat to medium. Stir in chicken and Alfredo sauce. Cook 3 minutes longer, stirring frequently.

3.) Remove from heat; stir in peas and cheese.



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Dr. Oz calls majority of supermarket Olive Oil fake!

The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) has filed a lawsuit against television talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz after he said on his popular program that the majority of extra virgin olive oil sold in U.S. supermarkets may be "fake."

The legal moves comes after Oz said in a May 12, 2016, episode of the "The Doctor Oz Show" that "80 percent of the extra virgin olive oil that you buy everyday in your supermarket isn't the real deal, it may even be fake."

The TV host added that he was "curious if this was really true," so he then had a "certified olive oil expert" appear on the show for a blind taste and smell test of what he said were five popular Italian extra virgin olive oils available for sale in the U.S.

The expert said on the show that only one out of the five oils was authentic extra virgin olive oil.



The American trade group of olive oil marketers, packagers, importers and producers argued in court documents filed on Tuesday that Oz and others "made a series of false statements regarding the quality and purity of olive oil sold in supermarkets in the United States."

The group said in its filings that it monitors the olive oil market, and conducts independent tests on olive oils taken directly from store shelves. Its tests indicated that around 95 percent of the tested samples "meet or exceed IOC quality and purity standards."

The group also argued that the "expert" on the show had a bias because she works for the California Olive Ranch, which the group says has an interest in promoting California olive oils instead of imported olive oils.

In court documents, NAOOA said that viewers of this episode "tuned into the program to receive information about health and well-being," and relied on Oz's advice "when making dietary choices, like selecting which olive oil to purchase."

The group argued that Dr. Oz's statements caused harm to its business and reputation. The group is seeking damages and legal fees.



"Ultimately, too many consumers have been misled into buying a more expensive olive oil or not buying olive oil at all. Dr. Oz has a unique platform to help millions of people make better decisions about their health," NAOOA told "Good Morning America," in a statement.

"He should use that platform to provide accurate and properly documented information to consumers." "The Dr. Oz Show" told "GMA" that it plans to defend its story.

"'The Dr. Oz Show' plans to aggressively defend the story which was covered by numerous other reputable news organizations including CBS News’ '60 Minutes,' The New York Times and Time magazine.

We intend to refute the allegations, some of which stem from the discredited and constitutionally questionable veggie libel statute,” the show said in a statement.

Consumer Reports Test 23 Extra Virgin Olive Oils
Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TQz5ebsrJ0



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Every Touchdown from Week 6... 2016 NFL Highlights

The NFL YouTube channel is your home for immediate in-game highlights from your favorite teams and players, full NFL games, behind the scenes access and more!

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnnnJCP4NpA




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Thought for the day...




Can Trump Salvage the Sinking U.S. Ship?

When Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack O'Bomber, was sworn into office on January 20, 2009, the national debt was $10.62 trillion.

The United States currently has a national debt total of over $19.9 Trillion according to the US national debt clock as of the writing of this blog. That's an astonishing 87% increase in less than an 8 year period.

However, this past summer, during the US republican primary race, Dr. Ben Carson made a good point in mentioning that the $19 trillion dollar debt figure was actually quite misleading.

Most people never take into account that there is something called the Fiscal Gap, which at this point sits well over $210 trillion. Given the current approximated population in the US of 315 million tax slaves, that is $666,666.66 per person!

This number includes all the unfunded liabilities owed by the government which are not put on the books such as the expenses of social security, medicare, medicaid, and departmental program funding etc vs the expected revenues from taxes.

The two numbers should be equal or roughly balanced much like you balance your checkbook. When they are not in alignment it is referred to, politely, as a gap.

The only reason the United States is able to sustain such a massive gap and debt is because the dollar is a world reserve currency and as such, has the ability through the Federal reserve, to print infinite amounts of money. In the past, we have seen how destructive the renunciation of a nation's debt can be.



For example, in the case of Brazil in 1982, when it announced that it was unable to make payments on its debt, the US Treasury responded by extending a direct loan of $1.23 billion to keep those checks going to the banks while a more permanent solution was negotiated through the IMF.

Of course, these restructurings never end up working which is evident because five years later, Brazil once again was forced to default on it's then even larger $121 billion debt, a massive amount for the time, which rendered it so impossibly broke that it couldn't even buy gasoline for its police cars.

The result of a default or restructuring is always the same – the burden rests upon the shoulders of the taxpayers. The same was true of Argentina in 1982 when they too could no longer service their debt.

As always, their creditors immediately began negotiations for rollovers, guarantees, and new IMF loans which would inevitably plunge them even further into debt. By 1988, after the extension of new loans in the years prior, Argentina once again fell behind and stopped payments.

Getting back to the US, Trump is sending more mixed signals than a quarterback with Tourette's.

On the one hand, Donald Trump has appeared to have expressed interest in returning to a precious metals standard through his meeting with the former CEO of the bank BB&T, John Allison, who stated "the US should go back to a banking system backed by a market standard such as gold."



On the other hand, it was just confirmed that ex-Goldman Sachs banker Steven Mnuchin, is Trump's pick for Treasury Secretary. This is incredibly ironic considering Donald's staunch criticism of Killary's acceptance of money from the bank for speaking engagements.

This, along with many other potential appointments makes it seem as though Trump is just refilling the swamp, not draining it. The truth is though, that this is all noise. Trump has no real viable plan for debt reduction, which is the biggest problem facing the nation.

Even a return to a gold standard, which would be the best case scenario, would cause the biggest worldwide depression in world history as it would necessitate a reneging on the current debt which mostly underpins the world's financial system.

In other words, something major must be broken if you want the debt to stop piling up. There must be a washing away of sorts.

That said, Trump brings a whole array of unknowns with him and there are sure to be plenty of shake-ups, which spell opportunities for speculators. Trump brings new views and business plans for government... which has to be a vast improvement over the same old scams of the corrupt political hacks.




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