Author: Tammy Schneider

August 28, 2019 Off

The Killers: Day & Age Album Review: Brandon Flowers’ Hit 4th Album

By Tammy Schneider

The Killers: Day & Age Album Review: Brandon Flowers’ Hit 4th Album

Thankfully, The Killers are back. After the ambitious but awkward foray into experimentation and taking themselves too seriously that was Sam’s Town, Day & Age blasts like a rocket through its hazy leftovers into star-studded clarity and brilliance.

Maybe that was the intention, because there’s definitely a running metaphor itching to be described here. With track names like ‘Human’, ‘Spaceman’ and ‘The World We Live In’, this record swiftly announces that it’s here to self-observe humanity like a curious, rock music loving ET. It gives it a peculiar extra-terrestrial feel that allows it to soar to its pop synth melodic heights without falling foul of its self-conscious 80s roots.

And whats more, it’s fun. With wry, ridiculous peacock strutting bravado, silly glam trousers and heavily spangled arrangements, Brandon Flowers and Co are pure indie rock bling.

Pet Shop Boys, New Order and 80s Roots

‘Losing Touch’ sees Brandon’s lazy, wistful vocal harmonised over a moderately synthed arrangement with a repeatedly building percussive line, anthemic rock guitars and an injection of bold brass. The melody flicks between strains like a switch, nodding first to Pet Shop Boys 80s pop style origins, then to good old-fashioned rock. Like an overture, the atmosphere is set.

Next, lead single ‘Human’ takes the Pet Shop Boys and New Order influences, and runs with them, sailing straight past good grammar, but waving at Hunter S. Thompson (Are we human? / Or are we dancer? – supposedly a reference to Thompson’s comment that America was “raising a generation of dancers’), and finally arriving like a post-punk John Travolta on an emotional dancefloor.


The surreal ‘Spaceman’, about Flowers’ imagined abduction by aliens, has a mosh-pit-rousing chorus, heavily synthed with some vintage Killers guitars driving a rushing pace.

Bowie Funk and Swaggering Orchestra

‘Joyride’ is an interesting expedition into funk territory. Flowers’ tremulous Bowie-style vocals preside over a funkier rhythm spritzed with saxophone. Hell, there’s even a little bit of Abba in there, though there’s still a big synth + guitar Killers signature scrawled neatly and plausibly all over the track.

‘A Dustland Fairytale’ has an orchestral quality, with subtle strings and bold timpani complementing an unusual and swift percussive line. It has an arrogant swagger to it, beginning from a simple melody but growing into a thrashing epic where a white trash love story turns into castles in the clouds.

World Music Influences

And that’s where the band launches a global assault. ‘This is Your Life’ has a military style, snare drum beat introduced by an African inspired chant. Meanwhile, close your eyes on ‘I Can’t Stay’ and you can feel the vibes of a tropical island, complete with steel drums, coconuts and chicks/guys (delete as appropriate) in grass skirts. All these global influences are firmly grounded in the album through that classic Killers tone, and anchored by inspiring and melodic songwriting.

‘Neon Tiger’ starts as a belting 80s inspired power track, with lyrics that are almost as indie glam rock as Flowers himself. ‘The World We Live In’ meanwhile, sees a loop round back to vintage Killers.

Gothic Disappointment, Brave Ending and Sell Out Tour 2009

Is the album perfect? Well, no. Closing track ‘Goodnight, Travel Well’ is dire, put simply. It’s pointlessly heavy, dull, droning and repetitive. It aims for a dark, moody, almost gothic vibe, which just makes you want to shake it until it begrudgingly returns blinking into the radiance of the rest of the album. Talk about ending on a bum note.

Good job then, that there’s an attitude filled, stomping bonus track to finish things off properly. ‘A Crippling Blow’ has a total melodic shift between its racing angry fire-fuelled verses and its sweetly playful chorus, giving the unnervingly brilliant sensation of musical manic depressiveness. It’s edgy, and brave. That’s more like it…

This album needs no further comment. It’s unusual, ambitious, and deserves a close encounter…

Day & Age has made it onto a number of 2008’s ‘best’ lists, ahead of the band’s eagerly awaited sell out UK tour in February 2009. The album is out now.…

August 6, 2019 Off

How to Create Horse Arts

By Tammy Schneider

Most children love horses. You can turn this fascination with horses into craft projects for the entire family. Children can learn how to make horse jewelry, stuffed animals or clothespin horses. Most of these crafts are inexpensive and easy to learn. Pick a project that is appropriate for your child’s age.

Horse Pin

Create horse pins by using the thin, colored foam or cork material available at most craft stores. Purchase either stencils or cookie cutters in the shape of horses. Try to get a variety with some showing galloping horses or horses in a jumping position. This will give your child more to choose from.

Purchase decorative items like sequins, buttons or jewels to glue onto the foam, along with a pin back. Using the stencils or the cookie cutter, allow your child to trace the image onto the foam. When done, cut out the horse. Let your child decorate her horse with markers or the decorative items. When she is finished, allow it to dry. Glue the pin back onto the foam.

Clothespin Horse

This craft is recommended for older children, preferably age 6 and up. Paint three clothespins. Two sections will be the legs so your child may want to add hooves to the feet. Let dry. Glue the two clothespins with the hooves sections on the bottom together so that the leg sections are pointed downward. Glue the other pin to the front of the horse’s body, so that it faces in the opposite direction of the other two pins. This will give it a little distinction from the rest of the body and make it look like ears.

Let dry. Add yarn as hair, wiggle eyes and felt for the nose. Your child can also add additional decorations if he wishes. Just a warning with this craft, the ears will be as long as the clothespin. Parents may want to cut down the size of the ears if they feel like they do not look right.

Horse Stuffed Animal

This project is recommended for older children since there will be sewing involved. Either buy a pattern or use a coloring book page as a guide. Lightly punch holes through the page until it creates a light marks on the material. Using a cloth marker or pen, connect the marks until they re-create the pattern. Cut out the pattern. You will have to do this twice to create either side of the horse.

Line up your pattern and use pins to hold it together. Either hand-sew or use a sewing machine to sew the two pieces together. Match up the pattern so that the sections correspond, i.e. ears to ears, hooves to hooves, etc. Whatever section will eventually become the outside will be on inside. Sew the material together, but leave one 4- to 5-inch side open. Flip the material inside out. Allow your child to decorate the outside of the horse with markers or jewels. Once done, stuff it with some filling cotton. Sew the rest of the horse together.…

August 5, 2019 Off

The Gray Wolf

By Tammy Schneider

The wolf. Canis lupis. Oftentimes the center of legends and myths as the 'big bad', wolves have gotten a bad rap, which they do not deserve at all. But no matter your opinion on the wolf, everyone has heard of them and many of us live with their descendents: the domesticated dog, the closest resemblance of which is shared between German shepherds and malamutes.

After being hunted nearly to extinction on false claims and completely inaccurate portrayals, the gray wolf is making a comeback in the Great Lakes area, the Northern Rockies and southwestern United States, to name a few places.

And let's not forget to mention that they have also survived the ice age. The wolf is a tough, intelligent predator that can be found all over the world.

General Description
The gray wolf is a large, highly intelligent carnivore (meaning that they are meat-eating predators) that lives in a pack society. They, contrary to their name, can come in many colors, including solid white, black, cinnamon, brown, gray and combinations of those. At the shoulder wolves generally range from 26-32 inches tall or .7-.8 meters, and from nose tip to the end of the tall, they average 4.5-6.5 feet or 1.4-2 meters. In terms of weight, most wolves fall somewhere between 55-130 pounds or 25-59 kilograms. In general, male wolves are bigger than the females in terms of weight and height.

But that doesn't mean they can't be larger than that. The biggest gray wolf ever recorded in North America weighed in at a 170 pounds or 79 kilograms and was killed in east-central Alaska on July 12, 1939. The heaviest wolf recorded in Eurasia was killed in the Kobelyakski Area of the Poltavskij Region, Ukrainian SSR. It weighed 190 pounds or 86 kilograms.

The farther north a wolf pack is, the larger the members tend to be, and reversely so in the south (the farther south, the smaller), as is true of most animals.

In the wild, wolves typically live between eight and ten years of age. However, it is not unusual for wolves of around thirteen years of age to be seen in the wild.

In captivity, the oldest wolf lived to be seventeen years old.

Wolves are primarily carnivores, which means that they eat meat and are hunters. Although, they never pass up a free meal, making them scavengers. If another animal has died of sickness, old age, or for some other reason, a wolf won't hesitate to eat it.

Their usual diet consists generally of ungulates (animals with hooves), such as deer, elk, caribou, etc. These animals are hard to kill, however, and wolves will eat anything they can catch and kill, including beavers, squirrels, mice, rabbits, birds, and even fish.

In the truest sense of labeling a wolf's diet, one should call them an omnivore, as most wolves will eat anything they can catch and kill or find. This includes vegetables and fruit, particularly berries.

Unlike some animals, wolves never cannibalize their own young; however, they have been known to eat adults of their species in harsh winters and times of starvation, generally those that have died or are too weak to live. It should be noted that should they eat a wolf, it is generally a wolf not belonging to their pack.

Wolves hunt in groups (their packs) and generally hunt cooperatively to bring down large animals, which are dangerous to the wolves. They have been known, however, to kill animals such as bull moose and elk in an one wolf hunt. This not the norm though.

Gray wolves rarely attack anything that they do not intend to eat, which is why there are so few incidences of wolf attacks on humans. However, wolves are wild animals and are known to attack out of fear or self-defense. They should never be treated as one would treat their pet dog.

Gray wolves can survive in many different places as long as there is sufficient food and the climate is closer to cold than warm. An example of one of the habitats best suited to wolves is the Siberian Taiga, a boreal forest with long, (very) cold winters and shorter summers. It is located in Russia where wolves have the greatest numbers.

In addition to this, all wolf packs defend a territory, which varies greatly in size due to many factors. These include pack size, number of wolves in the area, the density of prey in the territory, etc.

Once common throughout North America, most were killed off in the mid-1930s, resulting in a much reduced range that includes: Canada, Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming. In 1995 wolves were reintroduced to the United States, and Yellowstone National Park is now one of the most favored places to see a wolf in its natural, wild habitat.

All animals have a classification and wolves are no different. They are classified in the following way:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canida
Subfamily: Caninae
Genus: Canis
Species: lupus

And all that basically means that wolves are animals who also happen to have a spine, are warmblooded, eat meat, and are mammals of the canine family.

Gestation and Pups
A wolf reaches sexually maturity at the age of one for females (though they never mate in the wild until the age of two) and the age of two for males. Usually the alpha male and female are the mating pair.

Wolves mate once a year between the months of January and March. The female has a gestation (or is pregnant for) approximately 60-63 days. The average litter is around four to six pups, but it can be smaller or much larger, depending on how harsh the winter is and how available food is. Litters of up to seventeen pups have been recorded. These are rare.

Pups are born in a den and are completely reliant on their mother and their pack. They are born defenseless, deaf, and blind, and weigh about one pound. They stay in the den for about two months, leaving occasionally to play outside after about the first month, and the mother takes care of them. She is brought food by other members of the pack, usually the father. During this time, the puppies eyes change from the blue of pups to the golden yellow-brown color of an adult and they gain sight and hearing. Their eyesight begins to develop around nine to twelve days after birth. They begin the process of eating solid food about one month after birth.

Most of puppies growth occurs in the first fourth months. During this time they may grow up to thirty times their birth weight.

Wolves are monogamous, meaning that they mate for life. If one half of the pair dies, the wolf will find a new partner. They are not incestuous.

Older females will generally give birth in the den they gave birth to their last litter in while younger females will tend to make their dens near their own birthplace.

Wolf behavior is so complex that it could take several articles just to explain. For brevity's sake, it can be condensed into the basics.

Wolves are very similar to dogs in their behavior. They live in pack structures (compare this to your family) headed up by the alpha male and female (mom and dad). It consists of their current litter, pups and younger members of previous litters (siblings), and other subordinates (grandpa, grandma, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.) Depending on territory size and food availability, the pack size varies. A pack averagely consists of four to seven members, but packs of up to thirty-six animals have been recorded.

They develop intense bonds with each other and are very family-oriented. The entire family pitches in to feed and protect pups, and they are known to help provide for their elderly members who are unable to hunt as well as they used to.

After a kill, the alpha male and female eat first, and then the rest of the pack, depending on rank. They will eat the same kill until it is gone.

Wolves spend their entire lives working – and playing – together. This results in a tight-knit family who follows orders very effectively. Wolves enjoy such games as you might see your pets playing, including 'tag', 'fetch' and wrestling with one another, even as adults. As pups, this is an important part of growing up. It teaches coordination, strengthens the muscles, and helps them when they are old enough to hunt.

They are highly territorial, clearly marking their boundaries and challenging any trespassers. They are often very dangerous and aggressive toward members that are not part of their pack and other animals, such as bears or foxes, that encroach upon their kill or pups.

Wolves have a complex communication system comprised of many vocals and a lot of body language. While it is true that wolves howl, they do not howl at the moon; however, on a lighter night, they will howl more often, giving the impression of howling at the moon. They also bark, whine, whimper, growl, and make other vocal communications.

Body language is perhaps more communicative than their vocals. They use it to coordinate hunts, show affection, and to show respect, as well as communicate in general. A subordinate wolf will fold its ears back and tuck its tail in between its legs to show submission. They may even lay down and roll over, exposing their stomach to their alpha, whereas alphas carry their tail high and keep their ears up to show their dominance.

An aggressive wolf will also have its tail raised and its fur standing on end to make it look bigger than it is with its teeth bared.

A wolf that wants to play will act just like your dog when it wants to play: by thumping its front paws on the ground and wriggling its rump in the air, bouncing around you excitedly.

Wolf communications can be very much so correlated to that of the domesticated dog.

Wolves have been domesticated. They are called dogs now. Or canis lupus familiaris.

The dog was domesticated 15,000 years ago, though some studies suggest that they branched away from wolves even sooner than that.

Domesticated wolves, unlike dogs, respond much better to hand signals and positive reinforcement rather than voice commands and the threat of punishment if they misbehave.

Status as a Species
Wolves are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) throughout the United States, excluding Idaho, Montana, and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. In Minnesota, they are only listed as threatened, and in Alaska, they are not listed at all.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the northern Rockies gray wolf on May 4, 2009, from the endangered list. That means up to two-thirds of the wolf population in that region can be killed. Of the approximately 1600 wolves there that would leave only 450 wolves approximately. Many are against this. For instance, the Defenders of Wildlife and other conservation groups are actively taking part against it. For more information, see this website.

The biggest threat to wolves is humans. In the wild, they have no real natural predators and more often killed by their pray or starvation than other predators – except humans.

One of the biggest problems is humans lack of understanding of these creatures and a deep, misguided fear of them.

Another problem is human encroachment into their territory, which leads to even more fear and the possibility of wolves eating livestock. This occurs because, a)humans take or scare their food off; b)livestock is easy prey and is often improperly guarded against wolves; and c)wolves only understand their own territorial boundaries and if the livestock is on their territory, it is, in their minds, free game. There are solutions to keeping wolves from attacking livestock that do not involve shooting the animals, such as proper fencing, dogs of the shepherd variety, and keeping dead, sick and dying animals away from the others.

"Gray Wolf – Canis Lupus – Defenders of Wildlife." Defenders of Wildlife – Protection of Endangered Species, Imperiled Species, Habitats. Web. 06 July 2010.,_gray.php>.

"Gray Wolf – Canis Lupus." Blue Planet Biomes. Web. 06 July 2010. .

"Gray Wolf." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 06 July 2010.>.…

July 1, 2019 Off


By Tammy Schneider

He prowls through the night
With a determination only seen in a rebel
He stealthily stalks his prey through the dark forest
Being as quiet as possible
The deer calmly continues to eat the grass before her
As if nothing in the world could go wrong
That she was safe from all harm
Or dreaming as though evil never existed in its shadowy form

The wolf pries closer still
Attracted to the warm scent of fresh meat
As it seeps off from the doe
And is blown around by the slight breeze
The deer snaps her head up and lays her ears back
Her heart pounds fiercely from the perception of fear
Alert to a threatening presence
She gracefully leaps into the air
Out of urgent need to save her life

The wolf out of hunger and desperation for food
Makes his move
Not caring now about the noise he makes
He quickly joins in on the game of chase
Growling and snarling with intimidation
The deer is too late in her movements of survival
As the wolf viciously attacks
Tearing open the flesh of her neck
Spilling sticky blood on the green grass of the forest floor

Once the struggle is over
A great feast will begin
The wolf will win…
The wolf has won…

June 30, 2019 Off

The Pull-Up Workout

By Tammy Schneider

Pull-ups and variations thereof, are a great way to work the upper body. The pull-up or chin-up is considered to be a compound exercise, because more than one major muscle group is being targeted. It's a multi-joint routine, also called multi-joint exercise. Compound exercises take the boredom out of exercise.

The muscles worked in the pull-up include the middle and upper back muscles (rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus), plus some shoulders (deltoids), biceps and forearms. That's a lot of muscles just for one exercise.

The problem with pull-ups is that you either can do them or you can't. But once you can do just one good, clean pull-up, you are on your way to doing a solid pull-up workout.

Whether you can only do one pull-up at a time, or 10 at a time, the routine is as follows:

Sling one of those V-handles over a bar that is above you. The V-handle is a pulley attachment that health clubs and gyms typically have near the cable pulley station. If you've ever used pulleys, you know exactly what I am talking about. The typical pulley station has a pull-up bar that joins the two sections of the station. This bar is where you will sling the V-handle. Then you can pull up by grabbing both sides of the V-handle.

I recommend starting off with V-handle pull-ups because this will help warm up the shoulders. Even though pull-ups recruit a lot of back muscle, the shoulders do get stressed quite a bit, especially on the way down, believe it or not. The V-handle allows the arms to be closer together than in a more standard pull-up, and this creates less stress on the shoulder joints.

Take a three minute rest after you do as many pull-ups as you can with the V-handle. Then repeat. Rest another three minutes. Your third set will be standard chin-ups. Do two sets, as many as you can, with three minutes in between. If you need to go to three and a half minutes, that's fine.

The fifth set is a combo pull-up/chin-up. One hand is positioned so that the palm is facing you. The other palm is facing away from you. Your body will be angled sort of sideways as you pull up. Rest three minutes, and then repeat, except switch hands, so that the palm that was facing you, now faces away, and vice versa.

The seventh and eight sets consist of any variation you'd like, but I recommend using those pull-up handles that jut out from the bar that joins the cable stations. Sometimes, a squat rack has these bars jutting out at its top. Just about every gym has these handles somewhere jutting out. I like using these because they force you to add a jump to the set; you must jump up to reach these bars, as they are often quite a height off the floor.

If you're over six feet, you won't have to jump much, but I've seen some that require a good jump to get up there (I'm 5-8). The jumping component adds to the drill. But DO NOT immediately pull yourself up after the jump, because this is cheating. Do not use the momentum of the jump to pull yourself up. Instead, after your hands grab onto the handles, settle your body so that it's hanging calmly for two seconds.

Then pull yourself up. When lowering from any pull-up or chin-up, lower with control, slowly. AND, most importantly, lower all the way before you pull yourself back up. In other words, hang nearly straight-armed before pulling back up. Most people lower only part-way before going back up, and this is cheating.

Benefits: reduces risk of lower back pain, strengthens rotator cuff, burns fat, increases upper body strength.…

June 19, 2019 Off

Closing Online Accounts When A Loved One Dies: Digital Estate Planning – Internet Accounts Like Facebook, Myspace

By Tammy Schneider

These days, many people have an active online life. Whether it is online banking, buying items on Ebay, playing online games or social networking, people are able to conduct many aspects of life online. But what happens to this online life when a person dies?

This new world of the Internet has grown so quickly that the law has some catching up to do. Creating a do it yourself digital will is one informal way to deal with this problem. Although this is not a formal will and it is only a complement to a real, legal will, a digital estate plan is a way to plan for an online legacy.

Internet Accounts to Think About In Digital Wills and Estate Planning

What web-based business should people consider when they are creating an estate plan for their internet life? This depends how deeply embedded a person is in the world of the web. Think about all of the following web sites, and more:

  • In a business plan, develop a strategy for takeover of any online aspects of the business or the sale of the business.Write these down in a legal, paper will and partnership or business contracts.
  • Plan who will inherit and have access to online assets such as stocks, online accounts, and Paypal. Add any money matters to an actual, legal will.
  • Decide whether to notify online friends in chat rooms and role-playing games. Who will notify these friends?
  • Determine whether accounts like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace need to be shut down, or whether they can remain open as a memorial.
  • Decide who will have the rights to the intellectual property on a personal web site, blog or a photo site like Flickr.
  • Discuss email accounts with loved ones – should they seek access to emails?
  • On a mundane but important note, list all bills that are paid or withdrawn from online bank accounts.

Intellectual Property and Internet Estate Planning

Some people use their blogs as a memoir, while others use them to track current events, family matters, or a hobby of interest. This writing is the property of the author. Consider whether the authority over this intellectual property should be given to anyone in particular. Write this into a paper will or into an informal, do-it-yourself internet legacy document.

Facebook, Myspace, and Email Accounts Have Specific Access Restrictions

Different web sites have different ways of dealing with a digital legacy. Facebook allows relatives to memorialize accounts or close them after a person has died. Like Facebook, Myspace will allow people to access an account once death has been confirmed. The account can remain as a memorial. People attempting to close the account will need their loved one’s email address and other personal information. Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail will provide access to the contents of an email account.

Plan for An Executor Of A Digital Will

Like any will, a digital will needs to have an executor. Choose someone who is able to deal with the legalities of accessing email accounts and closing or memorializing social networking accounts. Also consider that this person will be notifying online friends and reading email and blog posts: choose an executor who will understand the sensitive nature of these items.

Leaving or removing an online legacy is not something that people like to think about. However, just like tangible objects, a person’s digital life is something that needs to be considered in estate planning. Creating a do it yourself or informal digital estate plan is a good way to start.…

June 12, 2019 Off

Small Computer Desks: Efficient Solution for Space Constraints

By Tammy Schneider

These days most people cannot afford to have very big houses and have constraint of space, particularly when we are living in apartments. Situation in the offices is also similar due to high cost of commercial spaces or their high rentals. It is important to plan saving of the space. The most common thing used these days both in home and offices is a computer desk.

Small computer desks are becoming more popular due to their inherent saving of space. Thus they indirectly prove cost efficient in your office or home. The person can sit in a small space. The small desks are even suitable for children and young people. In case you have a very small room, a smaller computer table will be the right choice. A small computer desk is provided with several shelves for saving the space. All accessories such as printers, scanners etc can be placed in different compartments made by the shelves.

There are desks available with small compartment on top of the desk. These are more suitable, as they provide extra storage space for your stationary, documents, reference books etc. A separate stand is also a choice for accommodating the PC unit. The keyboard tray is pull out type, which is the best way of space deployment. But you require adjusting the height of the keyboard tray so that the wrist movement is convenient to work.

A small desk for your PC has two way benefits. They are inexpensive and at the same time they can be very easily assembled.

Those people who have lot of collection of CDs or DVDs also can get small desks where the proper compartments are provisioned to keep up to 100 CDs or DVDs disks.

By providing the shelves for discs, retractable tray for key board, compartments for PC accessories, printer, scanners, etc. and space for stationary the desk is quite compact and perfectly suits the need of small rooms in offices and at home.

You can efficiently utilize your space. It is important to see that the desk is comfortable to sit for all in a relaxed position without any strain on the legs or body. Leg space should be sufficient. If the desk is too small and inconvenient to work, it may affect your body's posture severely and may cause back or neck pain.

It is better to know about the material used for making the table and select the table made from right material. The computer desks available are made from high density MDF or plywood. MDF desks are stronger. Desks made of ply are not durable and may sag or droop down soon. Mostly the surface of desks is laminated with the PVC which gives nice look and resistance from abrasion.

It is better to have a small desk provided with plastic buffers under its feet. This helps to protect the floor from damages. The feet of desk should grip the floor properly. They will stop the desk skidding over the floor.

Most of the desks are designed on principles of ergonomics. Ergonomics, if you describe briefly, helps in proper designing of furniture or work places etc. so that the different parts of a human body are in proper positions and your posture is not harming you when working on desk. Desks are also space effective. They are a perfect purchase for a small room. You can buy a desk which is stylish in appearance. There is ample of choice from the latest trendy designs.…

April 16, 2019 Off

Summer Sports Activities to Keep the Children Busy

By Tammy Schneider

As the close of another school year is fast approaching, we find ourselves frantically hunting for things to keep our children active this summer. When the children run out of things to do, they usually just watch television or complain to us that they are bored. The best way to keep our children active is with sports.

One of the best activities that I have found to keep the kids going in the long summer break is the soccer program. They get plenty of exercise and they get to spend time with their friends. The program will teach the children all the basics of the game as well as working on their personal strengths and weaknesses. It shows them the importance of team work. They get practices daily and weekly games. The best part is that the coaches are local parents so there is also a good chance for the grown ups to have social time also.

If your child is not into soccer, then there is also the basketball camp. Usually, this is for the children who know the basics of the game. Like soccer, the children will have social time with friends and the opportunity to work on both their strengths and their weaknesses. The don't have weekly games as the camp will usually only run for a week, but they will work hard and be tired after each day. With this camp, they will spend the day working on different passing drills and practice their shooting ability.

The last sporting adventure for children that I found was the baseball camp. They will learn the rules of the game, and hone their ability to hit the ball. Again, this is a great way for them to learn the importance of team work. The children will be doing a lot of running and they will also be very tired after they participate in this activity. They will make life long friendships and they will thank you for the experience.

These opportunities should keep your youngster active for weeks and allow you the comfort of knowing that they are busy and having fun.…

March 22, 2019 Off

How to Conduct a Course Walk: Walking Courses at Jumping Shows

By Tammy Schneider

A rider can choose to conduct a course walk himself or ask an instructor or trainer to join them. Either way, jumping shows run much more smoothly when riders are prepared for every fence. Courses open for fifteen minutes or so between every class so riders can spend time in the arena on foot.

There are several things riders need to look for when walking courses at jumping shows:

  • Memorizing the course
  • Counting strides between jumps
  • Identifying tight turns
  • Calculating approaches

There is no rush to walk the course at a certain pace, and riders can feel free to walk it multiple times if it will help them gain confidence. This is why it pays to have an instructor along for the ride; trainers are more experienced and can point out things their students miss.

Spend More Time at Combinations

Combinations are the trickiest parts of jumping shows, so most of the rider's time should be spent calculating approaches and counting strides. A two-stride combination, for example, allows two strides between two fences. If a combination occurs right after a turn, riders need to concentrate on maintaining balance and gaining sufficient momentum to make it through the combination.

Make Note of Decorations

Some horses and ponies are more spooky at jumping shows than others, and loud, colorful or unusual decorations can result in spooks and refusals during competition. Riders should make note of these decorations and decide in advance how to handle them.

Show jumping fences with flowers, brush or simulated water tend to be the scariest. Some horses dislike solid fences, such as roll tops, while others are more intimidated by open, airy verticals. It is important for competitors to know the horses before they attempt course walks.

Consider Options Carefully

At some competitions, riders have options in show jumping fences, which means that they can choose between two obstacles. One is usually higher, wider or otherwise more difficult; it might be a skinny or it might create a tighter turn.

It is never a good idea to dismiss options in show jumping out of hand because there are usually advantages to them. For example, taking an option might require a tighter turn, but it might also shave precious seconds from the overall time.

Count Strides for the Individual Horse

Counting strides might seem unnecessary; after all, the course designer counted them, and he or she must be correct. However, it is important to remember that courses are built based on the average horse's stride. If a horse's stride is shorter or longer than average, counting strides matters.

For example, to count strides in a combination, a rider should stand at the center of the first jump with his back to the top rail, facing the next jump in the combination. Then he counts steps up to the next jump and makes calculations depending on his particular horse.

Look at the Course Diagram

At most jumping shows, a course diagram is displayed outside the arena. This shows where each jump is located in relation to all the others, and every obstacle is numbered in the sequential order in which it is taken.

Walking courses is important, but the course diagram serves its purpose. Riders should look at the diagram and find each obstacle in the arena. Course diagrams can also be used after the course walk is over, especially if the rider is far down on the list of competitors.

Walking Unusual Courses

A course walk is important not only in traditional stadium jumping, but also in other competitions. For example, in eventing, the show jumping course is often set up on grass, which presents its own set of obstacles. In this case, riders need to watch out for changes in elevation of the land and any muddy or uneven areas.

Course walks are also essential in cross-country jumping. It is often a good idea to walk the course the day before the competition so riders can take their time and ask plenty of questions.…

March 15, 2019 Off

The Babylonian King Writes to Akhenaten: Burnaburiash Requests a Menagerie and a Proper Escort for a Bride

By Tammy Schneider

A Diplomatic Marriage Negotiation is Finalized.

For some time the Babylonian King, Burnaburiash (ca. 1359-1333 B.C.E.), had been corresponding with his royal counterpart in Egypt, the Pharaoh Amenhotep III (ca. 1353 B.C.E.). Following the death of the pharaoh, Burnaburiash began a new relationship with his son, Amenhotep IV (ca.1353-1335 B.C.E.), who would soon change his name to Akhenaten. Records of this correspondence, known as the Amarna Letters, detail the final phases of a diplomatic marriage alliance between the two great kingdoms that had taken years to negotiate.

Burnaburiash begins Amarna Letter 10 (EA 10) with a standard greeting, but then breaks from the format he had displayed in earlier letters. The Babylonian King recalls a past relationship with Egypt, dating back to the founder of the Kassite Dynasty, Karaindash (ca.1415 B.C.E.), an ancestor now four generations removed. However, in the earlier EA 9 letter, for example, references harkening back only two generations had sufficed to validate the Babylonian Kings point.

Burnaburiash Asks for Carved Animals from Egypt

Despite the long standing relationship between the two powers, by the time of Letter 10 messengers had traveled between the kingdoms three times without an exchange of customary “greeting gifts.” To make matters worse, the last time gold was sent from Egypt it’s quality was so poor that it was almost unrecognizable as gold. Nevertheless, in this letter Burnaburiash appears ready to dismiss these transgressions, as long as his new requests are met.

After a break in the tablet, the text resumes with Burnaburiash's request for carved animals. "These can be either land animals or aquatic", he states. He goes on to tell Akhenaten that these carvings must be lifelike renderings. The King tells the Pharaoh that if there are no carvings available, then the finest craftsmen should be put to work right away, and if any are available then they are to be hurried to Babylonia without delay.

When this request is combined with a request for carved plant life that Burnaburiash makes in a later letter, Amarna Letter 11, it becomes conceivable that Burnaburiash was constructing a menagerie in Babylon. Scholars have formed no conclusions as to what the purpose of this collection of carved animals and plants could have been. However, it is possible that the Babylonian King was using these objects to gain further understanding of the Egyptian lands, or perhaps simply to enhance his own prestige.

The Death of a Queen and a Princess

Burnaburiash also sends along with his request for carved animals in EA 10 with a “greeting gift” for the Pharaoh. In an interesting twist the Babylonian King, who had at one time sought an Egyptian bride, makes a special gift to the princess Meritaten, one of Akhenaten’s daughters by Nefertiti. This unique gift is described as a necklace made of 1,048 “cricket-sized” gems of lapis-lazuli. Burnaburiash continues with a subtle reminder that neighboring kings may take notice if the amount of gold sent out of Egypt does not increase.

It is evident from the ancient texts that when Burnaburiash wrote again, in EA 11, much has transpired. The powerful wife of Amenhotep III, Queen Tiye, had died. Tiye had outlived her husband and moved with her son, Akhenaten, as he set out to build a new city named Akhetaten, at the site now know as Tell el Amarna. There are also indications that a Babylonian Princess, who was to be sent to Egypt to wed the pharaoh, had died in a plague. Fortunately another princess was available to be sent, and and the letter tells us that preparations were being made for this in Babylonia.

Waiting for More Troops in Babylonia

The Babylonian king wrote that several diplomats had already arrived from Egypt and had proceeded to ritually anoint the princess with oil, as was part of the official betrothal process. Yet Burnaburiash was concerned. The official who was to provide the escort, a man named Haya, who may actually be the future Pharaoh Ay (ca. 1322-1318 B.C.E.), only had a force of 5 chariots with him. The last time a bride had been sent to Egypt, an escort of 3,000 soldiers had been provided. Now, a mere 5 chariots was deemed by the King to be wholly inadequate. Burnaburiash also insisted that Haya had to be the one to take the princess to Egypt, and that he would remain in Babylon and await the arrival of more troops.

The complications over transporting the princess are eventually resolved and a large dowry is sent along with her to Egypt.Once again the diplomatic ties between Egypt and Babylon are strengthened by this marriage alliance between Akhenaten and the Babylonian Princess. Unfortunately, In a little more than a decade, Burnaburiash’s Babylonia would become consumed with affairs in Mesopotamia while Egypt would face a total war against the Hittites. These events would forever change the balance of power in the Near East and the alliance between the Pharaohs and the Kassite Kings would eventually fade into the past.