Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Ouija Board, Strange and Mysterious--A Brief History

Perhaps you've used a Ouija board, know someone who has, or merely seen them being used in movies and television shows. Also called spirit boards or talking boards, they're a flat board with letters, numbers, the words yes, no, hello, and goodbye. The Ouija board goal is to summon the spirit(s) someone wishes to communicate with. The spirit then communicates by spelling out words using the planchette (the thing you put your fingers on that the spirit moves around the board pointing to the specific letters and numbers).

While the Ouija board's origins only date back to mid 19th century America during the age of spiritualism, the concept of holding a device that points out words from an otherworldly source is ancient. Early accounts of this date back to 1100AD in China. It was considered a valid method of contacting the dead.

In the late 19th century, the average lifespan was less than fifty years. The desire to communicate with departed loved ones at a séance wasn't that uncommon. However, those events were often frustrating and expensive. Spiritual mediums were unreliable and charged a lot of money to send and receive messages from beyond. That created a market for a cheaper method of contacting the dead from the comfort of one's own home.

And the Ouija board answered that need.

It was introduced to the public in 1890 by a businessman named Elijah Bond. His original product was called a Talking Board and was supposed to answer facts about the past and predict the future. It was introduced as nothing more than a fun throwaway game, completely unrelated to ghosts or the occult. By World War I, large groups of people were convinced that the movements of the planchette had an otherworldly origin.

The first person to rename the talking board as the Ouija Board was Elijah Bond's employee, a man named William Fuld. Conflicting reports say the meaning of Ouija came from the ancient Egyptian word for good luck or it was a combination of the French Oiu and German Ja, both words meaning yes.

Some Christian denominations believe Ouija boards lead to demonic possession. The scientific community has criticized the paranormal beliefs associated with Ouija boards. But—however you feel about them, they're thought of as being spooky.

If you believe that Ouija boards really do connect with the dead, you're in good company. Many famous and successful people during the last one hundred years have used Ouija boards—English writer G.K. Chesterton, rock musician Alice Cooper, Pulitzer Prize winning poet James Merrill, Italian president Romano Prodi, and Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson.

Have you ever used an Ouija board, either seriously or as an entertainment source?

Sunday, September 23, 2018


It's a familiar scene in real life—your first date with him, either someone you just met or maybe someone you've known for a while but the two of you have never been on an actual date until now.  The evening went really well, you both had a great time.

Even though you wouldn't normally end up in bed with a guy on the first date, somehow this time is different.  He seemed like a terrific guy and you definitely wanted to see him again.  It's as if the two of you were really meant for each other.  Destiny has brought you together.  Fate has decreed it to be so.

Maybe you go to his place or perhaps you go to your place.  Either way, you end up in bed.  A night of hot sex—in fact, the best sex you've ever had.  Then the cold and occasionally cruel light of dawn hits you with reality.

It's now that dreaded morning after!  Terribly awkward or truly comfortable?  Is he really the right guy for you?

I recently found a list of Do And Don't For The Morning After…ten items on the do list for that comfortable and blissful morning after and ten items on the don't list for that awkward morning after…to let you know if he's really the one for you.

The List Saying 'This Could Be The Guy':

1)  He cooks breakfast, goes on a food run, or makes a pot of coffee without being asked.

2)  He walks your dog.

3)  He likes to get it on in the morning.

4)  He's into showering together.

5)  He makes jokes, but never at the wrong time.

6)  He plays DJ while you're getting dressed.

7)  He warms up his car for you on a cold winter day.

8)  He remembers where you left your earrings last night.

9)  He gives you not one, but two clean towels and wash cloth for your shower.

10) He makes your bed, even if he does a crappy job of it.

The List Saying 'This Definitely Is not The Guy':

1)  He's in a cranky mood and doesn't want to get it on because he's not a morning person.

2)  He wants to know why you don't have a specific brand of gourmet coffee.

3)  He doesn't leave your place until late afternoon even though you've hinted that it's time for him to scram.

4)  He's in a rush to leave/get rid of you or is obviously panicked at waking up next to another human.

5)  He won't have breakfast or even a cup of coffee with you and doesn't offer you a thing to eat, not even a glass of water.

6)  He takes forever getting out the door in the morning because first he has to check his email, then he watches Sports Center or some dumb internet videos.

7)  He overdoes it when spritzing that vile smelling cologne.

8)  His shower contains a gnarly-looking loofah his ex-girlfriend left 2 years ago and some kind of questionable soap.

9)  He doesn't take out the trash until it's overflowing and then some so that his apartment smells like the dump.

10) He complains about the comfort of your mattress and pillows.

Anything you'd like to add to the do or don't list?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

10 Weird Allergies

Allergies are caused by the body's defense system overreacting to some substance it comes in contact with. We're all familiar with the allergies to everyday things such as mold, pollen, specific foods, and animal dander. There are 40 to 50 million Americans allergic to these common bad guys. But you'd be surprised at the uncommon allergies people can develop.

Here's a list of 10 (in no particular order) weird and unusual allergies.

1)  Water Allergy
Water is absolutely mandatory for our survival, but there are those rare people who get the hives from water. The hives and itching usually go away in 15 to 30 minutes and antihistamines will relieve the symptoms.

2)  Exercise Allergy
This type of allergy has only been officially reported in medical journals about 1000 times since the 1970s. Of course, unofficially is a different story…at one time or another I imagine most of us have professed an allergy to exercising. :)  In mild cases the result is hives. But in more severe cases it can lead to anaphylaxis, a dangerous condition where the blood pressure drops suddenly and there is difficulty breathing. This is the same type of reaction as severe food allergies and is treated as a medical emergency, usually with injections of epinephrine.

3)  Sun Allergy
Solar exposure can result in hives with the itching and stinging symptoms relieved with antihistamines, but not prevented. Sun allergy is very rare. The hives appear within 30 minutes of exposure to the sun and will clear up within minutes of getting out of the sun. Needless to say, avoiding the sun can prevent this reaction.

4)  Electricity Allergy
Those who claim to suffer from electro sensitivity say they are sensitive to electric fields generated by products such as cell phones, microwaves, computers, and power lines. The symptoms include headache, ringing in the ears and fatigue among other complaints. The experts say this is one type of allergy that you don't have to worry about because it doesn't exist. There have been several studies done and almost all of them have come up empty.

5)  Shoes Allergy
A poison ivy-type rash on your feet after you've worn leather shoes could be allergic reaction to the chemicals used in the leather tanning process. This type of allergy is known as contact dermatitis and can be diagnosed with a patch test. Contact dermatitis is somewhat of a catchall term for a common skin condition resulting from contact with many possible irritants. The solution to shoe allergy? Wear socks or shoes made from something other than leather.

6)  Allergy to Money
Another type of contact dermatitis can be an allergic rash on your hands after handling coins. The culprit would most likely be the nickel metal in coins, also an alloy found in the manufacture of jewelry, zippers, and eyeglass frames among other things. The best treatment is to avoid the substance. Good luck with that one.  :)

7)  Allergy to Touch
This is known as dermographism and is another form of hives. The literal translation is skin writing and was named because with this type of allergy a person can write his name on his skin using nothing more than the pressure from a fingernail. That pressure on the skin causes an itchy hive reaction. This reaction can also be the result of tight clothing or even toweling off after a hot shower. The resultant itching can be controlled with antihistamines.

8)  Cold Allergy
This allergy is very rare, but potentially dangerous. It can be life-threatening if a person with this allergy is suddenly exposed to extreme cold, such as diving into very cold water. This can cause a massive release of histamine, which can severely drop the blood pressure. Handling this kind of allergy is to focus on prevention such as avoiding exposure of large areas of skin to the cold.

9)  Allergy To Pollinated Fruit
Millions of Americans have allergies to pollen and some of them could also experience a type of allergy known as oral allergy syndrome. This happens when someone allergic to pollen eats a fruit that contains the same protein as the pollen. This is a cross reactivity and can happen between such things as ragweed and bananas, grasses and tomato, and birch trees with apples, plums, or peaches. The symptoms are itchy mouth and throat and sometimes swelling of the lips and will go away if you swallow or spit out the fruit with treatment usually being unnecessary.

And finally…talk about weird allergies:

10)  Semen Allergy
This is an extremely rare type of allergy in women. Symptoms are hives and swelling in the vaginal area after sexual intercourse. The best treatment is to use a condom. For women who want to get pregnant, there are shots to treat semen allergy.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

10 Things You May Not Know About Vikings

So…you think you know all about the Vikings?  Those seafaring Scandinavians who raided and settled coastal sites in the British Isles and beyond between the 9th and 11th centuries?  You've watched the movies and television shows, have been exposed to the caricatures and stereotypes.  But I'll bet there's a lot about the Vikings you don't know.

1)  Vikings Didn't Wear Horned Helmets
Forget all those Viking warrior costumes you've seen in those movies, television shows, and pictures seen with the characters wearing those elaborate horned helmets.  Descriptions from the Viking age don't mention it and the only authentic Viking helmet ever discovered is horn-free.  This concept seems to have originated with painters in the 19th century, possibly inspired by ancient Norse and Germanic priests who wore horned helmets for ceremonial purposes long before the Viking Age.

2)  Vikings Were Known For Their Excellent Hygiene
What with all that boat rowing and decapitating their enemies, the logical assumption would be that Viking men must have stunk.  However, excavations of Viking sites have revealed tweezers, razors, combs and ear cleaners made from animal bones and antlers.  Vikings also bathed at least once a week, much more often than other Europeans of that time period.

3)  Vikings Used A Unique Liquid To Start Fires
The Vikings collected a fungus called touchwood from tree bark and boiled it for several days in urine then pounded it into a substance similar to felt.  The sodium nitrate in urine allowed the material to smolder instead of burn.  This gave the Vikings the availability of taking the fire with them on the go.

4)  Vikings Buried Their Dead In Boats
The Viking's boats were very important to them so it was a great honor to be buried in one.  It was believed that the vessels that served them well in life would see them safely to their final destination.

5)  Vikings Were Active In The Slave Trade
Many Vikings became rich through human trafficking.  They captured and enslaved women and young men while rampaging through Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Slavic settlements then sold them in giant slave markets in Europe and the Middle East.

6)  Viking Women Enjoyed Some Basic Rights
Viking girls married at age 12 and took care of the household while their husbands sailed off on adventures.  However, they had more freedom than other women of their era.  They could inherit property, request a divorce and reclaim their dowries if their marriage ended.

7)  Viking Men Spent Most Of Their Time Farming
Most Viking men swung scythes rather than swords.  True, some were callous pirates who only left their boats long enough to burn villages but most planted crops and raised cattle, goats, pigs and sheep on their small farms.

8)  Vikings Skied For Fun
Scandinavians developed primitive skis approximately 6000 years ago.  By the Viking age, Norsemen regarded skiing as an efficient way to get around and a popular recreation activity.  They even worshiped Ullr, the god of skiing.

9)  Viking Men Preferred Being Blond
Brunette Vikings, usually men, used strong soap with a high lye content to bleach their hair and in some regions also their beards.  These treatments also helped with a health and hygiene problem—head lice.

10)  Vikings Were Never Part Of A Unified Group
They probably didn't even call themselves Vikings.  The term simply referred to all Scandinavians who took part in overseas expeditions.  During the Viking Age, the land that is now Denmark, Norway and Sweden was a patchwork of tribes that often fought against each other…when they weren't busy creating havoc on foreign shores.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

10 Warning Signs Of Midlife Crisis

The silver-haired 55-year-old suddenly trading in his life in the suburbs, his wife of 30 years and his sensible car for a Harley motorcycle and a 21-year-old girlfriend is certainly the stereotypical image of midlife crisis.

Obviously every period of doubt or depression that occurs in middle age is not connected with the panic about getting older. But how do you know if what you are experiencing is actually the anxiety of midlife crisis or not, especially in today's youth obsessed society?

I recently read an article about ten warning signs that say you might be going through midlife crisis. I'd like to share them with you here.

1)  You have a growing sense of regret over unattained goals.

2)  You have new feelings of being self-conscious around more successful colleagues.

3)  You now place a new emphasis on remaining youthful when the effort previously seemed unimportant.

4)  You desire to spend more time alone than previously, or with certain peers who could be characterized as youthful or as those who are comfortable in their own skin.

5)  You have developed a new tendency to abuse alcohol.

6)  You place a new importance on acquiring unusual or expensive items when the same purchases were previously considered frivolous or impulsive.

7)  You are experiencing a sharp increase in self-criticism with a corresponding decline in self-compassion.

8)  You now obsess over your physical appearance in areas where you previously didn't pay that much attention because everything was okay.

9)  You place an unusual amount of pressure and stress on your children to excel in a variety of fields.

10)  You enter relationships with younger partners than previously considered viable.

Even though midlife crisis is usually and traditionally associated with middle-aged men, it certainly applies to women, too. Now, where did that 25-year-old bronzed stud of a lifeguard disappear to (she asks as she slowly rakes her gaze across the men on the beach)?