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Some historical facts - Enjoy

by Alexandra Zega

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee
in a pot & then once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery.......if
you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor"
But worse than that were the really poor  folk who couldn't even afford
to buy a pot...........they "didn't have a pot to piss in" & were the
lowest of the low

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water
temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to
Here are some facts about the 1500s:
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in
May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they
were starting to smell . .. . brides carried a bouquet of flowers to
hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when
getting married.
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house
had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and
men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By
then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence
the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water!"
Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood
underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the
cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it
rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall
off the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed
a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess
up your nice clean bed.. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung
over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.
Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would
get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on
floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more
thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping
outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh
(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)
In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that
always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit the fire and added things
to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They
would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold
overnight and then start over the next day Sometimes stew had food in it
that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge
hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.
Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.
When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It
was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon." They
would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and
chew the fat.
Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content
caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning
death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years
or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.
Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of
the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the
upper crust.
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would
sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking
along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial.
They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the
family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they
would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.
England is old and small and the local folks started running out of
places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the
bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these
coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the
inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they
would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the
coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would
have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to
listen for the bell; thus,someone could be, saved by the bell or was
considered a dead ringer...
And that's the truth...Now, whoever said History was boring ! ! !

Mortgage Rates Down to Lowest Level in Three Months

by Alexandra Zega

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®) in which the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 5.12% with an average 0.7 point for the week ending August 20, 2009, down from last week when it averaged 5.29%. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.47%.

The 15-year FRM this week averaged 4.56% with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.68%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 6.00%.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 4.57% this week, with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.75%. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 5.99%.

One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 4.69% this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.72%. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 5.29%.

“U.S. Treasury bond yields fell nearly a quarter of a percentage point over the week, and other long-term yields followed suit,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “Interest rates on 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to the lowest level since the end of May 2009, while initial rates on 5/1 hybrid ARMs declined to levels not seen since January 2005.

“Low mortgage rates are helping to reinforce the housing market. New construction on one-family homes rose for the fifth consecutive month in July 2009 to an annualized pace of almost 500,000 homes, the most since October 2008. In addition, homebuilder views of housing market conditions for the remainder of the year rose for the second month in a row in August to the most positive reading since June 2008, according to the National Association of Home Builders.”

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The Smart Way to Send Yourself Packing

by Alexandra Zega

luggage_homespun_8_19You know you shouldn’t do it. You tell yourself it will never happen again. You’ve learned your lesson. Next time will be different.

And then? Those good intentions fizzle, and you’re back at it: Hauling heavy luggage that turns you from a happy traveler into a beast burdened by your possessions. You’ve packed loads of clothes you don’t need, and you’re stuck waiting for your luggage, hauling heavy bags all over the place or rooting around in your carry-on for the one thing that you cannot find.

“Most people do overpack,” said Stephanie Solomon, Bloomingdale’s fashion director. But Solomon has a system (as do other successful travel packers), whether she is packing for a weekend getaway in the car or the trip of a lifetime overseas. With just a few basic guidelines, you can eliminate the hassle of overpacking.

Choose one basic color
“Pick a palette. A basic, like black. Add two colors and stick to it,” said Solomon, for instance, “black, white and red. Period.” Gregg Andrews, a Nordstrom national fashion director, agreed: “You need to think about looks that are strongly color coordinated. What is your neutral? Is it black? Is it brown? Is it navy? Then play off it. Pop it with other bright colors, so it all makes sense.”

Pack a few versatile basics
“If you can only wear something one way, one time, don’t pack it,” Andrews said. “It’s about how many outfits you can make with a few pieces, that’s the key to great packing.” Solomon’s musts are a basic black dress, one pair of black trousers “that fit you sensationally” and a black cocktail dress. If it’s coat weather, a classic trench in black or tan can work in any setting, “including evening,” she said. These few pieces with some tops, accessories and shoes - a max of one dressy pair, sneakers, flats and flip-flops - “will take you through a month, and you’ll always look very cool and chic,” Solomon said.

Let accessories change the look
“Costume jewelry is very important. Shoes are very important- the ultimate touch,” said Nicole Fischelis, Macy’s fashion director. She also suggests a standout belt or a “bold” jewelry statement, either a single piece or an armload of bangle bracelets. Solomon said a cardigan or jacket in the accent color is one way to ensure “you’re not dull.” Solomon recommends leaving expensive jewelry at home, but if you do take it, wear it continuously, never pack it, and don’t leave it unattended.

Avoid wrinkles
Skillful packers of both genders choose jersey and knits that can be rolled up rather than folded. Or put clothes in dry-cleaner bags before layering flat in luggage.

Smart moves
Flip-flops are a must to use as bedroom slippers, beach sandals and shower shoes. And, pashminas can do multiple duties as a plane blanket, beach coverup, evening wrap or colorful scarf accent.

Size matters, and so does weight
“Only pack what you can carry. If you cannot lift your bag yourself, you have too much stuff,” Finney said. Even if your suitcase rolls, you will need to hoist it up steps, onto buses or into the trunk of your car. If you’re buying new luggage, consider the weight when empty. It’s not a bargain if it’s already heavy before you put anything in it. Make sure wheels and pull devices operate smoothly. Check airlines for maximum carry-on dimensions, generally 45 to 52 inches (height plus weight plus length). Similarly, check for weight restrictions and charges for checked bags.

(c) 2009, Ellen Warren, Chicago Tribune.


Mortgage Bill Could Be Revived

by Alexandra Zega

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Monday of last week that if the financial industry is not able to complete 500,000 mortgage modifications by November he would pursue legislation ratcheting up the pressure on the industry.

Durbin is the main backer of legislation that failed to pass the Senate earlier this year that would have empowered bankruptcy judges to modify primary home mortgages. On Monday, he said he would consider resurrecting that bill, but is also interested in a range of alternatives that may find broader support.”

Durbin’s bankruptcy legislation, derided as “cramdown” in the financial industry, fell 15 votes shy of passing the Senate and for years has been vigorously opposed by the industry.

“Americans don’t have time for any more voluntary half-measures that fail to significantly reduce avoidable foreclosures,” Durbin said at the Center for American Progress, a liberal-leaning think tank.

The Obama administration met with the financial industry last week and worked out a goal of 500,000 completed mortgage modifications by November.

On Tuesday, the Treasury Department will release the first monthly progress report on the administration’s efforts to encourage mortgage modifications. Durbin said that he is also sending letters to the 34 banks and mortgage servicer companies that are participating in the administration’s loan modification plan, asking them to detail their efforts so far.

Durbin said he is still strongly in support of bankruptcy legislation as a way to force the industry’s hand.

“There is growing consensus that principal reductions are the key to sustainable modifications that won’t redefault, since a homeowner who has equity will fight harder to make the mortgage work,” Durbin said.

The financial industry has shown no signs of easing its opposition to the measure. The industry engaged in one of its heaviest lobbying battles this year to beat back the policy.

Among other options, Durbin said he is considering policies that would mandate arbitration between borrowers and servicers prior to foreclosure. Arbitration would allow homeowners and lenders to renegotiate the terms of the mortgage and avoid foreclosure. Congress could also help finance arbitration programs in cities and states.

Durbin also suggested that legislation could allow homeowners to stay in their homes for some time while they pay fair-market rent.

Additionally, lawmakers could pursue financial penalties against firms that fail to meet the administration’s foreclosure-reduction standards, he said.



Courtesy of Katelyn Ferral, The Hill

Chocolate 'cuts death rate' in heart attack survivors

by Alexandra Zega

Chocolate 'cuts death rate' in heart attack survivors 

PARIS (AFP) – Heart attack survivors who eat chocolate two or more times per week cut their risk of dying from heart disease about threefold compared to those who never touch the stuff, scientists have reported.

Smaller quantities confer less protection, but are still better than none, according to the study, which appears in the September issue of the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Earlier research had established a strong link between cocoa-based confections and lowered blood pressure or improvement in blood flow.

It had also shown that chocolate cuts the rate of heart-related mortality in healthy older men, along with post-menopausal women.

But the new study, led by Imre Janszky of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, is the first to demonstrate that consuming chocolate can help ward off the grim reaper if one has suffered acute myocardial infarction -- otherwise known as a heart attack.

"It was specific to chocolate -- we found no benefit to sweets in general," said Kenneth Mukamal, a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and a co-author of the study.

"It seems that antioxidants in cocoa are a likely candidate" for explaining the live-saving properties, he told AFP in an exchange of e-mails.

Antioxidants are compounds that protect against so-called free radicals, molecules which accumulate in the body over time that can damage cells and are thought to play a role in heart disease, cancer and the aging process.

In the study, Janszky and colleagues tracked 1,169 non-diabetic men and women, 45-to-70 years old, in Stockholm County during the early 1990s from the time they were hospitalised with their first-ever heart attack.

The participants were queried before leaving hospital on their food consumption habits over the previous year, including how much chocolate they ate on a regular basis.

They underwent a health examination three months after discharge, and were monitored for eight years after that. The incidence of fatal heart attacks correlated inversely with the amount of chocolate consumed.

"Our findings support increasing evidence that chocolate is a rich source of beneficial bioactive compounds," the researchers concluded.

The results held true for men and women, and across all the age groups included in the study.

Other factors that might have affected the outcome -- alcohol consumption, obesity, smoking -- were also taken into account.

So should we all be loading up on cocoa-rich sweets?

"To be frank, I'm pretty cautious about chocolate because we're working on weight problems with so many individuals," said Mukamal, who is also a practising physician.

"However, I do encourage those who are looking for healthier desserts to consider chocolate in small quantities," he said.

"For individuals with no weight issues who have been able to eat chocolate in moderation and remain slim, I do not limit it," he added.

The researchers caution that clinical trials are needed to back up the findings of their study.

In the meantime, however, a bit of chocolate may not be amiss, they suggest.



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