Monthly Archives: August 2014

5 Attractions You Can’t Miss on a Trip to Florence

The capital city of Italy’s Tuscany region, Florence (or “Firenze” as it’s known to the locals) is one of the most important historical places in all of Europe. Known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, this bastion of art, architecture, and culture is full of must-see attractions, and it draws in more than 1.5 million tourists every year. Whether you only have 24 hours to spend in Florence or have the luxury of staying for a matter of weeks, here are five attractions that are not to be missed.

1. The Duomo – The Italian word “duomo” simply means cathedral, but in Florence, it refers more specifically to the Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiore. Designed in 1296 by Arnolfo di Cambio, the building completed construction in 1436 with its famous dome—which is the work of the famed Italian artist and architect Brunelleschi. Located in the beautiful plaza square known as the Piazza del Duomo, the enormous structure can hold up to 20,000 people. The exterior of the cathedral is made of pink, white, and green marble, and its enormous bronze doors are adorned with intricate carvings that depict the life of the Madonna. Adventurous travelers can buy tickets to climb the 463 steps to the top of the iconic dome, from which you can enjoy some of the most spectacular views in the entire city.

2. Galleria dell’ Academia – You have undoubtedly seen Michelangelo’s David in history books and travel brochures throughout your life, but you can witness the majesty of the history’s most famous statue in person at the Galleria dell’ Academia. The 17-foot marble statue was completed in 1504, and it serves as the centerpiece of this historic art museum. You can also view several unfinished works by Michelangelo as well as paintings by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, and del Sarto.

3. Ponte Vecchio – The first bridge ever to cross the Arno River from Florence, the Ponte Vecchio is one of the few surviving relics from the city’s medieval days (many others were destroyed during World War II). Built in 1345, the pathway across the bridge has been flanked by shops selling gold and silver jewelry since the 16th century’s Medici era. Photographers love the bridge both because it’s an excellent landmark to photograph and because it provides an excellent vantage point of the city and river below.

4. Galleria degli Uffizi – Renowned as one of the most famous Renaissance art museums in the world, Uffizi (Italian for “offices”) began construction in 1560. Originally an office building for Florentine magistrates—which is where its name comes from—the gallery has been displaying artistic treasures since the House of Medici fell from power in the early 18th century. Uffizi is home to thousands of priceless works of art dating from the middle ages through modern times, and its most famous pieces include  Titian’s Venus of Urbino, Boticelli’s Primavera, and Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch.

5. Piazza della Signoria – Located at the heart of the city and featuring Florence’s prominent town hall and political center (Palazzo Vecchio), Piazza della Signoria is the most famous of the city’s squares. Its crown jewel is the open-air sculpture garden, which features works by some of history’s most famous Florentine artists (including a reproduction of Michelangelo’s David). The L-shaped square is also home to many other historical buildings that date back to the 13th and 14th centuries, and it is surrounded by popular shops and restaurants for tourists to enjoy.

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Movie Review: The Fault in Our Stars

Not since Harry Potter or The Hunger Games has a film based on a young adult novel been so highly anticipated as the 2014 adaptation of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. The major difference about this movie, however, is that it’s not an action-packed adventure set in a fantasy world. Instead, it’s a very small-scale romance dealing with the reality of cancer. The movie is both hilarious and heartbreaking (often at the same time), and it already seems destined to become a classic.

Author John Green has become a fixture of the young adult genre over the last decade. His novels such as Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns have been critically acclaimed and commercially successful. Still, no one could have predicted how popular Green’s fifth book, The Fault in Our Stars, would become. The novel debuted in the number one spot for children’s books on the New York Times Best Seller list, and it remained on top for seven consecutive weeks. Reviewers couldn’t praise the book highly enough, and it quickly found an audience among adult readers in addition to teens. The novel has sold almost 10 million copies internationally, and it has been translated into almost 50 different languages. It came as no surprise, therefore, when 20th Century Fox snatched up the movie rights in 2012.

The Fault in Our Stars sets itself apart from almost any other “teen” movie ever made in the way that it deals with the reality of living with a life-threatening illness. 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) suffers from thyroid cancer and is undeniably terminal. Her life gets turned upside down at her cancer support group when she meets 18-year-old Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort)—an enigmatic young man in remission from osteosarcoma. The two teens fall in love and experience a once-in-a-lifetime whirlwind romance that rivals film history’s best onscreen relationships.

Without spoiling too much, it’s safe to assume that a movie about kids with cancer (which has been advertised as the tearjerker of the decade) is going to have its fair share of unfortunate events—like “The Notebook” and “A Walk to Remember,” it’s never destined to end happily. Still, a movie without any hope manages to maintain a very “hopeful” tone and may make you question everything you’ve ever thought about illness, death, and oblivion. It’s all but guaranteed that you will cry, but you’ll also laugh out loud and may almost feel envious of these two sick teens who find a way to really live in spite of their dire situations.

Woodley—who got her start on ABC Family’s Secret Life of the American Teenager and was an Oscar nominee for her role in The Descendants—gives an incredible performance that should put her on the short list of award contenders this year. Her Hazel is lovably wry but completely believable, and she truly carries the film. Elgort makes it easy for audiences to fall in love with Augustus at the same time Hazel does, and he is able to display a raw vulnerability underneath his character’s bravado. Also memorable are Willem Dafoe as the despicable author Peter van Houten, Nat Wolff as eye cancer survivor Isaac, and Laura Dern as Hazel’s mother.

As with all book adaptations, fans of the original source material may be wary about how the tone and story of the novel will translate to film. For The Fault in Our Stars, any trepidation you might have about seeing the movie can go out the window. The film is extremely true to Green’s book, and the few minor changes simply make the story work better on screen. On the whole, whether you have read the novel or this is your first introduction to the epic love between Hazel Grace and Augustus, The Fault in Our Stars is an excellent adaptation of a compelling story.

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6 Things to Do in NYC When It’s Raining

You planned out your vacation so carefully. You were going to head to Central Park all morning before taking a trip to the Statue of Liberty in the afternoon. Then you woke up, opened the curtains, and discovered a downpour. Rain in New York City can throw a wrench in even the best laid plans. Since the city revolves so much around walking everywhere, and since many of its biggest tourist attractions are outdoors, a rainy day can easily turn into a day wasted in your hotel room unless you make an effort to find something else to do. Luckily, New York is also filled with great attractions and activities that aren’t affected at all by a drenching storm. Here are a few ideas for things you can do in NYC when it rains.

1. Visit a museum – New York City is filled with museums. Whether you are interested in science, art, history, or any of a variety of other topics, you will likely be able to find a museum that will fascinate you for hours. If the rain forces you to spend the entire day inside, plan on going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) or the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Both of these enormous buildings literally have miles of exhibits to walk through, and you will likely only scratch the surface of their contents even if you spend the whole day there. From dinosaurs to astronomy to ocean life, you can find something at the AMNH to interest any visitor. Similarly, The Met features huge galleries of paintings, enormous sculpture gardens, and even displays of medieval suits of armor and ancient Egyptian tombs.

2. Walk around Chelsea Market – Of all the places to loiter in Manhattan, it is very easy to spend a day perusing Chelsea Market. Take a veritable culinary tour around the world by sampling cuisine from all different cultures. Pick up a bottle of fine wine and then go across the way to the cheese shop and ask the proprietors what to pair it with. Next, you can go shopping at one of the clothing boutiques, the bookstore, or the any of the other specialty shops. The best part is that all of these stores are connected via an indoor walkway, so once you set foot inside, you will be able to stay out of the rain for hours without getting bored.

3. Shop at one of the world’s biggest stores – If you are a fan of shopping and want to find your mecca, look no further than one of the two giant department stores in the heart of the city. Head to Macy’s in Herald Square, and you can enjoy browsing through the world’s largest store. Occupying a full square block and nine stories, the retailer is filled with history. If you prefer a higher-end shopping experience, go to Bloomingdales at 59th St and Lexington Ave. Shop around this enormous department store for a few hours, and you can join the thousands of others on the street carrying around the signature brown bags.

4. See a Broadway show – You will have to make note of what day of the week it is if you want to catch a show during your rainy day. Most Broadways shows offer matinee performances on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and you can get discounted tickets for many plays and musicals either online or at the TKTS booth in Times Square. What better way is there to forget the gloom outside than to spend a few hours getting lost in the magic and spectacle of a great piece of theater? Of course, even if you can’t get to a matinee, seeing an evening show is a fantastic way to spend a rainy night.

5. Find a good book – It’s a time-honored tradition to hunker down with a good book when it rains, but this doesn’t have to be a boring activity when you’re in NYC. Finding your next great book can be as exciting as reading it. Head to the beautiful New York City Public Library in Midtown, and you can spend hours perusing the remarkable collection. Even if you don’t find anything to read, you will still be awed by the architecture. If you are more in the mood to buy a book, go to The Strand in Greenwich Village. This used bookstore boasts that it contains “over 18 miles of books” so you will definitely be able to find one that interests you.

6. Go outside – Of course, it will depend on how hard it’s raining as well as any other dangerous factors like thunder and lightning, but sometimes the city can be a beautiful place to explore in the rain. Pick up a sturdy umbrella at a nearby drugstore and just make the most of your day despite the weather. Head to Central Park or a similar location and enjoy the tranquility that the rain brings. You certainly won’t be the only one. After all, the city that never sleeps doesn’t shut down every time there’s a little downpour.

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7 Things You Shouldn’t Bring with You to College

Preparing for the great adventure that is your college years can be both exciting and a little difficult. While you’re probably itching for the independence that you will finally get when you move out on your own, you might still be a little nervous to be leaving home for the first time. To make matters even more stressful, there are so many things that you need to remember to pack before you make the grand trek to your new dorm. Just as important as the things you need to pack, however, are the things you shouldn’t pack. Either because they’re inappropriate for you to bring or because you just won’t need them, here are some things that you should leave at home when you go off to college.

1. High School Gear – While you may have gotten used to wearing your letterman jacket or your cheerleading t-shirt all the time in high school, you won’t want to advertise these things in college. Heading off to the world of higher education is a chance to start over and redefine yourself. You don’t want to hinder this ability by making it seem like you’re pining for the “good old days” at Central High.

2. Important Paperwork – You may need access to your birth certificate or social security card when you first start school or get a new job, but you shouldn’t keep these items lying around your dorm. If any of your original documents get lost, it can be a real pain to replace them. Find out what you will need, and have your parents send you the documents when they’re necessary. Once you’re done with them, then you should send them back home where they can stay safe.

3. Candles – While you may be a big fan of the aromatherapy your candles provide when you’re at home, chances are that open flames are off limits at your residence hall. Rather than risk getting in trouble with your new R.A., you should just leave your candle collection at home.

4. Drugs and Alcohol – There is no surer way to make a bad first impression when you first move into your dorm than bringing alcohol or illegal drugs along with you. Whether you offend your new roommate or alert the R.A. that you are going to be a partier, showing up with these items will put up major red flags. If you do choose to partake somewhere down the line, that will be your decision, but don’t mess up your chances at succeeding in college right off the bat by breaking a major rule before you’ve even moved in.

5. Expensive Jewelry, Electronics, etc. – Remember that you’re going to be moving to a new place and be surrounded by strangers for the first few weeks of school. Dorms are never the most secure of locations—people leave their doors open all the time—so don’t make yourself an easy target for thieves by displaying all your expensive possessions. You will be able to survive at school without several pairs of diamond earrings.

6. School Supplies – Of course you will need things like notebooks, pencils, and other supplies to get through your classes, but it can be hard to know exactly what you’ll need until you’ve actually started school. Only bring the most basic school supplies with you until you receive your syllabi from your professors and know what you will actually need for each class.

7. Pets – While you may be heartbroken to leave your lizard, ferret, or fish tank at home, the dorms are no place for a pet. Most colleges prohibit animals at residence halls, and you are very unlikely to find a roommate who appreciates your birdcage taking up a good portion of your precious shared space. The separation may be tough, but your pet will be much better off at home.

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The History of Memorial Day

As May begins to wind down and temperatures outside start to heat up, people begin to put away their winter clothes and break out their barbeque grills in preparation for Memorial Day weekend. While traditionally associated with the start of summer these days, however, Memorial Day has a rich history behind it that is both steeped in nationalism and tinged with controversy. Discover the original intent behind the holiday, and maybe you’ll find that you want to celebrate a little differently this year.

While no one can quite agree when the tradition of Memorial Day got started, places its origins in 1865 in Charleston, SC. At Planters’ Race Course, a former racing arena that was used as a Confederate prison during the Civil War, a group of ex-slaves went to work digging up a mass grave of over 250 Union soldiers, properly interring them, and giving them individual graves. Then on May 1st of that year, over 10,000 people gathered in that spot to lay roses on the graves, sing spirituals, and recite scripture. This could be remembered as the first Memorial Day., on the other hand, notes that according to the federal government, Waterloo, NY is considered the official “birthplace” of Memorial Day as it hosted an annual community event honoring fallen soldiers for several years before the holiday’s declaration.

Informal celebrations continued over the next few years, but it wasn’t until 1868 that a formal holiday was proclaimed. May 30th of that year was dubbed “Decoration Day” and intended as a day to celebrate fallen soldiers from the Civil War by decorating their graves with flowers and other adornments. General James Garfield gave a speech at Arlington Cemetery and observers decorated over 20,000 graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers.

At first, the ties to the Union made several Southern states refuse to celebrate the holiday, but after World War I, it was extended to observe fallen American soldiers from all the country’s wars. At this point it was renamed Memorial Day. In 1971, Congress set Memorial Day as the last Monday in the month of May, changing it from the fixed date of May 30th. The move had its opponents who claimed that setting up the holiday as part of a three-day weekend makes people less likely to remember it for its actual meaning.

In 1915, the tradition of wearing a red poppy in celebration of the holiday was begun by Moina Michael after she read John McCrae’s World War I poem “On Flanders Fields.” According to, Michael was inspired by the poem and sold silk poppies to her family and friends with the profits going to support veterans in need. After the American Legion adopted the tradition in 1921, it has since spread worldwide.

Today, the origins of Memorial Day are largely forgotten by the majority of the American public. At Arlington National Cemetery, however, the traditions are kept very much alive. Individual American flags are placed on each of the more than 250,000 graves there each year. The president and vice president also give speeches at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At 3:00pm local time all over the country, Americans are encouraged to observe a moment of silence in honor of the nation’s fallen heroes.

So this Memorial Day, in between opening up the swimming pool and eating your barbecued hot dog, take a moment to remember the meaning behind the holiday. From its roots in the wake of the Civil War through today, Memorial Day is one of America’s most meaningful national holidays.

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What to Do with a Stray Cat

It happens to people all the time. You’re sitting in your house or apartment and you hear a faint meowing coming from outside your door. You open the door to find a pair of adorable little eyes staring up at you looking longingly for a home. You try to ignore it at first, but after a couple days it becomes clear that you have made a new friend. So what do you do when a stray cat chooses you to direct its pleas? There are a few steps that should always be taken in this situation, but many of your options are really up to you.

The first important distinction to make in this situation is the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat. Though domesticated animals by practice, some cats have never properly lived in a home and have no desire to do so. These cats should be treated differently from strays. Feral cats are usually afraid of humans. They don’t like being touched or picked up, and they generally try to fend for themselves when it comes to food. Unfortunately, most feral cats find that they can’t subsist on their hunting abilities alone, so they often adopt a human caretaker purely as someone to put out food for them. If the cat you hear outside runs away when you try to come to his aid and has a “scrappy” look about him, he’s probably feral.

You can choose to start feeding him, but in doing so, realize that you are setting up an agreement between yourself and the cat. Once he associates you with food, the cat will know to keep coming around, so be ready for the responsibility of providing continued sustenance. Your other option is to just ignore a feral cat. Eventually he will move along to try to find someone else willing to fill a food bowl.

Not all stray cats are feral cats. If the cat that haunts your porch is willing to let you approach and pet him, he’s probably used to being around people. Furthermore, if the kitty looks like he’s not used to fending for himself independently, it’s a safe bet that he was either lost or abandoned. Both options are equally likely, so don’t immediately assume the cat is unwanted. If the cat seems especially friendly, the best first step is to take him to a local shelter or veterinarian and have him scanned for a microchip. It could be that someone out there is frantically looking for their lost cat, so you could be part of their reunion.

In order to get the cat into your car, you’ll likely want to restrain him somehow since driving with an unfamiliar animal isn’t the best idea. Find a neighbor who owns a cat and ask if you can borrow their carrier to make the trip. This way you can be sure you won’t end up with your backseat torn to shreds by rogue claws.

If the shelter or vet finds the owner, that’s great. Your job as a responsible citizen is done. If not, you’re left with several choices. Your first option is to leave the cat at the shelter. While many shelters have fees to surrender an animal, this will almost always be waived for the good Samaritan bringing in a found kitty. Unfortunately, you must come to terms with the shelter’s rules. Most shelters all over the country are well over their capacity and have very high kill-rates as a result. There are no-kill shelters out there, but they are rare. Realize that by leaving your found cat at the shelter, he might not have longer than a few days to be adopted out.

Your next option is to bring the cat back home with you. Put up signs around your neighborhood advertising a “found cat.” If your kitty was lost by someone in the area but isn’t microchipped, you could still find the owner this way. Be sure not to include too much information about the cat on your signs. If the owner comes looking, he should be able to describe his lost cat to you. Do your best to make sure you’re actually relinquishing to cat to his proper home because, unfortunately, there are bad people in the world whose intentions are less than honorable.

If you don’t hear from the kitty’s owner within a week or so, you’re unlikely to find him. Now you can decide if you want to keep the cat as your pet. If so, that’s great news. Make sure you do your research about how to be a good cat owner and provide your new friend with a good home. This includes taking your new kitty to the vet immediately to have him microchipped and given a thorough checkup. If you already have cats at home, keep your new cat separate from them until after the vet has been able to test him for the slew of communicable diseases that can be passed between cats.

If you can’t have or don’t want to adopt the cat, that is perfectly understandable. After all, you didn’t ask for this kitty to show up on your doorstep, and extenuating circumstances like allergies or no-pet clauses in your lease might make keeping him impossible. Still, there are a few things you can do to try to make the stray’s life a little easier. Once again, you’re left with the decision as to whether or not to feed the cat. Once you do, the cat will consider you to be the source of his food until he has a better option. If you decide not to feed the cat, he will eventually move along to find someone who will.

If the kitty seems comfortable outside and you have the means to partially “adopt” an outdoor cat, you can take responsibility by feeding your furry friend and let him live his life outside. With this option, you’re agreeing to keep the cat fed and watered as well as to take responsibility for his medical expenses if the need arises. If you live in a warm climate, many cats can survive outdoor year-round meaning your lease forbidding animals or your allergies wouldn’t be a problem because you would keep the cat outside. If the cat looks less hearty, however, it’s only fair to realize that he wants to have a home again.

Once you’re sure that the cat’s proper owners aren’t coming for him and know that you can’t take care of him, try doing all you can to find him a new home. Ask around at work, school, or among your friends. If the cat seems friendly, hopefully you’ll be able to find someone you know you can trust who is looking for a new pet. Invite them over to meet and play with the cat to see if it’s a good match. You could make your friend and your found feline very happy.

In the meantime, while you’re helping the lost kitty with his home search, try your best to set up his temporary quarters as comfortably as possible. Buy a little cat food to put out and keep a bowl of water constantly filled. Keep an eye on how much he is eating, and remember that not all cats are used to dry food. If the kitty seems to be turning up his nose at your cuisine, you can try adding a little water to the dry food, you can cave and get a few cans of wet food. If the weather is nice, the kitty should be comfortable sleeping outside, but if it’s cold out, do your best to give him a warm place to sleep. If you’re allowed animals where you live, leave the cat in a small space like a bathroom overnight where you can be sure he won’t do too much damage. If you’re not allowed pets, putting out a cardboard box with a blanket could be the trick to making sure your feline friend doesn’t freeze.

Once you’ve exhausted all the options you know of, hopefully you’ll have found a new home for your lost kitty. If you’re still left without any leads, try calling around to find a cat rescue or a no-kill shelter in your area that could take him in. Many rescues have long waiting lists, but if you can keep the cat happy and healthy for a little up to a few months, a spot might open up.

All of these options might seem like a lot of work for an animal that just showed up on your doorstep. Don’t feel guilty if you simply can’t put too much effort into finding a new home for this stray. The more you can do for the lost animal, however, the better chance he has of finding a new life with someone who will love him as much as he deserves.

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Prepare Your Kids to Go to Sleepaway Camp

While going away to sleepaway camp for the summer is one of the most exciting rites of passage that some kids get to experience at a certain age, it is also one of the scariest. For probably the first time ever, they are going to be in a new place, among new people, 24 hours a day, without you close by. Some kids naturally adapt to this idea and are excited, but some may have some trepidation. No matter how your children seem to feel about going to camp, there are a few steps you should take to prepare them for the experience.

Try to find out as much about the camp, and the daily experience of living there, as possible. If you can manage a visit before your children go, that’s great, but if not, there are still a wide variety of resources you can utilize to find out about the camp. Visit the camp’s website and read everything they have posted, whether about the daily schedule, the activities offered, the social events, or any other information they have. Get in contact with someone who runs the camp and ask if they can refer you to another parent whose children have previously attended. If so, try to find out as much as possible about what their kids both liked and didn’t like about the experience. Once you have all of this information, talk it all over with your kids. The less there is for them to be surprised by, the better they are likely to enjoy their time there.

Before your children leave, try to acquaint them with some of the elements of being at camp while they’re still at home. Take them hiking or camping for a night to see how they do dealing with the outdoors, the dirt, and the bugs. Make sure to spend some time outside at night so they aren’t afraid of outdoor sounds or the dark. Teach them how to take care of themselves by doing some of the things you may do for them at home, including making up a bed, doing laundry, and washing the dishes. Finally, arrange for your child to spend a few nights at a friend’s house without having communication with you while they’re gone.

Involve your children in the process of packing for camp. Make sure that they bring some comforts from home with them so as to make the new environment less scary. While the camp may provide a list of what to bring, it’s a good idea to Google packing lists from other sources to make sure there’s nothing you’re forgetting.

Homesickness is something that almost every camper goes through to some extent, so do your best to prepare for it in advance. Address the potential of feeling homesick with your kids and try to help them figure out how they’ll work through it. Since camp counselors are trained in dealing with the emotions of the kids, you can recommend them as a great resource. Find out the camp’s policies on phone calls or e-mails home. Some camps only allow letter-writing, so make sure to give your kids plenty of stationery to be able to write to you as needed. Find out how often they’d like to receive letters from you. If it’s as often as every day, oblige their wishes as it will likely make the experience much better for your little camper. Writing a letter for your kids in advance and sending it ahead so it will be there when they arrive might make for a nice surprise on their first night away from home.

Finally, make sure that you get your kids excited about going to camp. Focus on all of the new experiences they’ll get to have, the friends they’ll meet, and the great memories they’ll get to make. Show them positive movies and TV shows that show a good depiction of the camp experience like The Parent Trap, Salute Your Shorts, or old episodes of the Disney Channel reality show Bug Juice, which you can find online. The more you get your kids excited for the experience, the less reason they will have to be anxious about it. Prepare them as best you can, and your kids will have a great time at camp.

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Important Considerations Before Getting a Tattoo

There’s no denying that tattoos are getting increasingly popular among people in the mainstream. No longer just a symbol for goths, bikers, and tough guys, the concept of body art has taken new groups by storm. One thing has not changed, however. The decision to get a tattoo should never be taken lightly. Unlike cutting your hair, getting a piercing, or trying a new style, tattoos are permanent, and you want to be 100% sure that you will be happy with your decision for the rest of your life. Here are a few considerations that you should think about before you decide to head to the tattoo parlor.

  • What design do you want and why? – If you are considering getting an image permanently stamped onto your body, there had better be a very good reason why you want it there. The tattoos that hold up the best are those with some sort of significance to you, which you can be sure you want to present to the world. While snakes, skulls, and Chinese lettering are all some of the most popular tattoos, many people get them without considering the reason why. Getting a generic tattoo will likely lead to you regretting the decision down the road, so try to think of something original and be able to stand behind the reasoning for why you’ve chosen your design.
  • Where do you want to get it? – The decision of where on your body you want your tattoo can be one of the most difficult because there are so many factors to consider. If your tattoo is on display for the world to see at all times, you will be sending a message about yourself to anyone who meets you. Don’t just consider how your friends and family will perceive your new tattoo (though you should consider that too), but put yourself in the shoes of a stranger meeting you for the first time. It’s impossible, for instance, to ignore a face tattoo like Mike Tyson’s. In fact, many tattoo artists refuse to do tattoos on faces or hands because of the inherent risk that you will regret the decision later on. Even beyond the impression that you make, you need to think if your tattoo could potentially make you unemployable in a certain career down the line. Some companies have a policy that they won’t hire anyone with a visible tattoo. Even if you don’t foresee ending up in this position, you have to understand that having one on your wrist, neck, or arm could make you ineligible for some jobs. Next, you should think about why you are choosing the position of your particular tattoo. Do you want to be able to see it throughout the day? Do you want it to be visible no matter what clothes you’re wearing? Like the design, the location of your tattoo is a decision that requires some serious thought.
  • Who do you want to do your tattoo? – Some tattoo artists are true artists while others can be considered hacks with a needle. Make sure to do your research when you are choosing the person you want to do your tattoo. Remember that the best artists will generally charge much more money than those who are just looking to make a quick buck. Also, be sure to discuss any questions you might have about health and safety before you get into the chair. Finally, you should do everything you can to guarantee that the style and vision of the person doing the tattoo is in line with what you’re imagining.
  • Is there any chance you’re going to regret your tattoo? – You have to think long-term when you are getting a tattoo. The reason why so many people end up shelling out the money to get their tattoos removed down the line is because they didn’t consider the big picture. Ask yourself if the tattoo you’re considering has anything to do with a current fad that could fade in time. Think about what the area of skin that you’re planning to use as the canvas will look like in 40 years. Will it be permanently altered by pregnancy, wrinkles developing, or skin sagging? Remember that you are in this for the long haul. Don’t get a tattoo of your boyfriend or girlfriend’s name if you’re not absolutely certain that they are “the one.” Above all, make sure that you are sober and in a good frame of mind when you get your tattoo. Though you may be itching to run to the tattoo parlor the minute you have a fun idea, this is something you really shouldn’t rush into. Take the time to be certain about your design and location, talk to people that you trust, and after an appropriate amount of time has passed, you can move forward in the process.

For every person who regrets their tattoos, there are just as many people who are completely happy with their decisions. By stopping to think about these few considerations, you can be sure that your new body art is something you will be proud of for the rest of your life.

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How to Treat a New Sunburn

No matter how careful you try to be when you go outside for long periods of time, everyone will end up with a sunburn at some point in their lives. While bad sunburns can be dangerous, and frequent burns will put you at a higher risk for skin cancer, a mild burn every once in a while isn’t typically something to worry about. Still, when you return home from the beach or your local amusement park to find that your skin is red and painful to the touch, it can quickly ruin your day. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when treating a sunburn in order to relieve the pain and speed up healing.

  • Take a cool bath or shower – Even though you have gotten out of the sun, your skin will continue to feel worse until it starts to cool down. Try taking a bath or a shower in water that is just below lukewarm. Don’t use soap or any other products that could act as irritants. Instead, just let the water take away some of the sting. You can repeat this process as often as you want over the first few days when your burn feels the most tender.
  • Take a Pain Reliever – Over-the-counter pain relievers can be your best friends when you first notice the pain of a new sunburn. Start taking ibuprofen immediately after your burn starts to hurt, and continue taking it for the first 48 hours. Not only will the medication ease the pain, but it will also reduce some of the swelling and redness associated with your burn and may even help prevent long-term skin damage. If you don’t have ibuprofen, you can also take acetaminophen to help with the pain, but it won’t have any effect on the swelling.
  • Drink Plenty of Water – Because your body will react to the burn by drawing fluids from inside your body toward your skin, you may potentially start to feel dehydrated. You should, therefore, drink plenty of fluids in the first few days after you get sunburned. The best antidotes to dehydration are water and sports drinks. Contact your doctor if you start to feel dizzy, have a bad headache, or feel overly tired, as these can all be signs that your attempts to hydrate aren’t doing enough.
  • Put on Lotion – Different people’s opinions will vary as to the best products to apply to a sunburn. For immediate relief, you can apply aloe vera or some type of cortisone cream, though you should only use these products for the first few days. You can also put regular moisturizing lotion on your skin until the burn has faded away. While it probably won’t relieve the pain, lotion can help with itching by keeping your skin from getting too dry. Other home remedies for topical application include tea bags, witch hazel, skim milk, and vinegar, though none of these has been scientifically proven to help a sunburn.
  • Prevent it From Recurring – While no one ever intends to get a sunburn, it is among the most easily preventable injuries if you take proper precautions. After you have recovered from your burn, try to always take the proper steps to keep it from happening again. Wear sunscreen whenever you plan to spend more than a few minutes outside. You can also protect your face and scalp by wearing a hat when the sun is particularly strong. Multiple sunburns can be very detrimental to your long-term health (in addition to being painful), so always do your best to prevent them from happening.

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How to Explain Twitter to Your Grandmother

The digital age is clearly here to stay. Most toddlers understand how to use a smartphone before they have mastered using the toilet, and you may struggle to remember what life was like before the Internet was always at your fingertips. Still, a huge generational gap exists between those people that grew up with computers in their homes and those who are still trying to master how to check their email. If your family is like most, you probably have at least a few relatives to whom technology is simply a foreign language. While they may have no real desire to become technological wizards, they likely still hear the latest computer trends being discussed on a daily basis. Trying not to be entirely out of the loop, one of your relatives may ask you to explain social networking sites like Twitter, but if you get too technical, they probably won’t understand your answer. If your grandmother doesn’t know the difference between a hashtag and a hash brown, therefore, here is a basic way to explain what Twitter is all about to someone who isn’t actually interested in participating.

Twitter is one of a number of websites called “social networks,” which allow you to connect with other people on the Internet. You create a free account, which you can access from the website or an app on your smartphone. Twitter users compose “tweets,” which are short messages that can be up to 140 characters. When you tweet, everyone who “follows” you on Twitter will have that message show up on his or her “Twitter feed.” Tweets can be random thoughts, questions, news, or anything else you want to write about. They can also contain links to websites, pictures, or videos.

Other users can search for and decide to follow your account so they can see your tweets. You can also search for the accounts you want to follow and add them to your Twitter feed. Whenever anyone you follow tweets something, it will show up for you to see. If you find a certain tweet particularly interesting, funny, or just enjoyable, you can choose to “favorite” that tweet. You can also “retweet” it, which displays the message to all of your followers, regardless of whether they follow the original account that wrote the tweet. The more followers you have, the broader your reach will be, and the more people you follow, the more interesting your Twitter feed will become.

If you want to direct a tweet to a certain account, you can type the “@” sign, followed by their user name. Twitter will then notify them that you have mentioned them in a tweet. You can carry on conversations with other users by writing “@” mentions back and forth.

Because Twitter is more of a “one-way street” than other networks like Facebook, you can follow people even if you don’t know them personally. Many celebrities and companies have Twitter accounts with millions of followers so they can disburse information to their fans quickly and easily. When you hear someone talking about news they heard on Ellen DeGeneres’ Twitter, therefore, you should know that they’re not “friends” with her, but rather they just follow her account.

The last bit of Twitter lingo you might be wondering about are “hashtags.” If you’re watching a TV show or reading a website, you may see mention of a phrase preceded by a “#” sign. These phrases are called hashtags on Twitter, and they are a stylistic way of letting people know what subject you are tweeting about. Each hashtag is actually a link, and when a user clicks on one, they will be taken to a list of other tweets with the same hashtag. If the popular event on a certain evening, therefore is an episode of The Bachelorette on ABC, you could click on the hashtag #TheBachelorette and see what people around the world are saying about the show. You can check what hashtags are “trending” in your area and around the country to discover the popular topics of conversation on a certain day.

While there are still several more intricacies about Twitter, this basic overview should hopefully help you or a loved one understand the gist. Twitter is a great way to feel involved on the Internet because you can connect with people who share your interests (or who you are interested in) even if you don’t know them personally. Though the number of people in the world is growing exponentially, social networks like Twitter help make like-minded people feel closer even if they’re physically apart by thousands of miles.

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