From Housewives to Heroes: The Evolution of Female TV Characters

The 1960s were a time of great cultural upheaval, and television reflected this transformation. The small screen brought a new kind of entertainment that allowed young girls to explore their wilder nature, but only through the lens of magic and fantasy. Two iconic shows that encapsulated this phenomenon were Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.

Magic Women, Apprehensive Men

Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie were groundbreaking television shows that portrayed iconic females with magical powers, sexy, daring, and confident. However, both these female characters had men, their husbands, that were apprehensive, overly conventional, and borderline oppressive. They were always interfering in order to contain their wives’ extraordinary skills.

In Bewitched, Samantha Stephens (played by Elizabeth Montgomery) was a witch who had married a mortal, Darrin Stephens (played by Dick York and later Dick Sargent). Darrin was often apprehensive about Samantha’s powers and tried to keep her from using them in front of his colleagues and friends. Meanwhile, Samantha chafed under Darrin’s attempts to suppress her true nature.

Agnes Moorehead’s portrayal of Endora, Samantha’s witty and powerful witch mother, made her a favorite character for many. Endora knew how to wield her witchy and feminine powers to great effect and couldn’t understand why her daughter would submit to her husband’s oppressive expectations. She despised mortals, especially her son-in-law Darrin, whom she refused to address by name, instead calling him Derwood, What’s-his-name, Darwin, and Dum-Dum to his chagrin. Endora’s character was the saving grace of the show for many young girls, as they eagerly anticipated the day when Samantha would finally overcome her domineering husband, only that never happened.

The same formula was repeated in I Dream of Jeannie, where Tony kept his own personal wish-granting blonde bombshell and her remarkable abilities under wraps and sealed in a bottle.

In I Dream of Jeannie, the titular character (played by Barbara Eden) was a genie who was discovered and freed from a bottle by an astronaut, Tony Nelson (played by Larry Hagman), only to realize that simply being released from the bottle did not guarantee her freedom to do as she pleased, no matter how good or selfless her intentions might be. Tony was initially amazed by Jeannie’s powers but soon became apprehensive about the chaos she could unleash. He spent much of the show trying to keep Jeannie’s magical abilities under control and hidden from the outside world.

Unconventional Female Characters Of 60s TV

The Avengers, featuring Emma Peel (played by Diana Rigg), paved the way for the evolution of female characters as portrayed on TV. Emma Peel was a spy who could hold her own against any male adversary. She was confident, intelligent, and independent, making her a refreshing and inspiring role model for young girls.

Many shows continued to portray women in traditional roles, such as homemakers or secretaries and presented them as subservient to men. Examples include Donna Reed Show, Father Knows Best, and Leave It to Beaver.

From Bewitched to Wonderwoman

The evolution of female characters on TV has been a slow but steady process. It wasn’t until the 1970s that shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda presented women as independent and self-sufficient, with careers and personal lives that didn’t revolve around men. These shows paved the way for future shows like Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman, which featured strong, capable female protagonists who could hold their own against male adversaries.

Today, female characters on TV have evolved even further, with shows like Killing Eve, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Big Little Lies presenting complex, nuanced female characters who are flawed but relatable. These characters are no longer constrained by the male gaze or the limiting roles of traditional gender roles, and they are free to explore their wilder nature and individual gifts and potentials without constraints.

Women are no longer relegated to traditional gender roles, and they are now portrayed as complex, multifaceted characters who are capable of achieving greatness. One example of this is the show Killing Eve, which features two female protagonists, Eve (played by Sandra Oh) and Villanelle (played by Jodie Comer). Both characters are intelligent, confident, and unapologetically themselves. They are not defined by their relationships with men, and they are not afraid to take risks and pursue their goals. Killing Eve subverts the traditional male-female dynamic by presenting two equally matched female adversaries, who are both intelligent, skilled, and capable of outsmarting each other.

The Crown, which follows the reign of Queen Elizabeth II (played by Claire Foy and later Olivia Colman). The show portrays the Queen as a powerful, intelligent, and dignified leader who is not afraid to stand up to men in positions of power. Throughout the show, the Queen is faced with various challenges, including the sexism and misogyny of the era, but she remains steadfast in her convictions and never wavers in her commitment to her duties.

Finally, there is the show Orange is the New Black, which features a diverse cast of female characters who are all struggling to navigate life in a women’s prison. The show explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and empowerment, and it presents its female characters as complex, multidimensional individuals who are not defined by their crimes or their pasts. The show subverts the traditional male-dominated prison narrative by focusing on the lives and experiences of its female characters.

The 1960s were a time of great change for women, and television played an important role in reflecting and shaping this transformation. Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie were groundbreaking shows that portrayed magical, confident women, but on the other hand they also clearly highlighted the apprehension and oppression of their male counterparts. These shows were a clear reflection of an era when TV Studios knew the time had come to change the narrative, yet they remained adamant about giving female characters any free rein.

The 1960s marked a significant period of change for women, and television played a vital role in both reflecting and shaping this transformation. Two shows, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, were pioneers in portraying magical and self-assured women. However, these shows also highlighted the unease and oppression experienced by their male counterparts. These programs were an apt reflection of a time when TV studios recognized the need for a narrative shift but were reluctant to give female characters complete autonomy.

Shows of the era, such as The Avengers, paved the way for the evolution of female characters on TV, leading to more complex, nuanced, and relatable characters in today’s shows. As the world continues to change, the representation of women on TV will undoubtedly continue to evolve and improve.


From Sci-Fi to Reality: The Evolution of 3D Printing and Smart Fabrics

Fashion has always been a space for innovation and creativity, but in recent years, technology has taken center stage. From 3D printing to smart fabrics, designers and brands are exploring new ways to create and wear clothing that pushes boundaries and expands possibilities. The intersection of fashion and technology, 3D printing, and smart fabrics are changing the game.

From Sketch to Reality: The Rise of 3D Printing

Iris Van Herpen’s Meta Morphism Collection using 3d Digital Printing

3D printing has been around for decades, but it’s only in recent years that it’s become more accessible and affordable for designers and brands. Essentially, 3D printing allows for the creation of physical objects from digital models, layer by layer. In fashion, this means that designers can create intricate, customized pieces that would be impossible to make by hand. For example, fashion house Iris van Herpen has used 3D printing to create fantastical, otherworldly designs that seem to defy gravity.

The Future is Smart: How Smart Fabrics Are Changing the Game

While 3D printing is all about creating physical objects, smart fabrics are about integrating technology into textiles themselves. Smart fabrics can have a range of features, from moisture-wicking to temperature regulation to biometric tracking. For example, a shirt made with smart fabric might be able to monitor your heart rate during a workout, or a jacket might automatically adjust its temperature based on the weather. Some smart fabrics are even able to generate electricity, meaning that clothing could potentially charge your phone or other devices.

Nadi X” yoga pants have built-in sensors that vibrate to guide wearers into proper yoga positions. Another is the “Oura” ring, which tracks sleep patterns and provides personalized recommendations for improving sleep quality. 

Hexoskin Smart Shirts are made with a smart fabric that tracks your heart rate, breathing rate, and movement in real time. The data is sent to your smartphone or smartwatch, allowing you to monitor your fitness levels and make adjustments as needed. The shirts cost anywhere from $199 to $598.

Vollebak Graphene Jacket is made with a graphene-coated smart fabric that can conduct electricity. It’s designed to be ultra-durable and weather-resistant, making it ideal for outdoor activities. The jacket costs around $695.

Sensoria Smart Socks are made with a smart fabric that can monitor your running technique, including foot landing and stride length. The data is sent to your smartphone, allowing you to track your progress and make improvements. A pair of Sensoria Smart Socks costs around $199.

Myontec Mbody Shorts are made with a smart fabric that can track your muscle activity and fatigue during exercise. The data is sent to your smartphone or tablet, allowing you to monitor your performance and adjust your workout as needed. The shorts cost around $699.

Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard is made with a smart fabric that allows you to control your phone and other devices with simple gestures, like swiping or tapping the sleeve. It’s designed for cyclists and commuters who need to stay connected while on the go. The jacket costs around $198.

It’s worth noting that the prices for smart fabrics can vary widely depending on the complexity of the technology involved. Additionally, some smart fabrics require additional hardware, like sensors or batteries, which can also impact the overall cost.

Sustainability and Ethical Concerns: The Dark Side of Fashion Tech

As exciting as fashion tech is, it’s not without its downsides. One major concern is sustainability. 3D printing requires a lot of energy and often uses non-biodegradable materials like plastic. Additionally, the production of smart fabrics can be resource-intensive and presently rely on non-renewable resources.

There are ethical concerns surrounding the use of technology in fashion. As with any new technology, there is a risk of exploitation of labor and resources, particularly in developing countries where regulations may be laxer. It’s important for designers and brands to consider the environmental and social impact of their fashion tech innovations.

The Potential Benefits and Drawbacks of Integrating Technology into Clothing

If smart fabrics were to become mainstream, it would bring a whole new level of functionality to our clothing and could potentially revolutionize the way we live our lives. We could see a huge improvement in healthcare and wellness, with smart fabrics that monitor our health and help us make better choices. Imagine a shirt that tracks your heart rate and alerts you when it’s time to take a break or a jacket that adjusts its temperature based on the weather outside. Additionally, smart fabrics could help us reduce our carbon footprint, with clothes that generate their own electricity, provided they are made from sustainable materials.

However, there are potential downsides to consider. Smart fabrics are expensive and are presently not accessible to everyone. The integration of technology into our clothing raises concerns about privacy and data security, with companies potentially collecting and using our personal data for their own purposes. And finally, there’s the question of what happens to these smart fabrics when they’re no longer useful or wearable. Will they be recyclable or will they end up contributing to the growing problem of e-waste? 

Overall, while the potential benefits of smart fabrics are vast, we must also be mindful of the potential drawbacks and work to address them as we move forward.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Fashion Tech

The future of fashion tech is both exciting and uncertain. As 3D printing and smart fabrics become more accessible and affordable, we can expect to see them become increasingly mainstream. Customized and personalized clothing could become the norm, with consumers having the ability to design and print their own garments from home. Additionally, smart fabrics are likely to become more advanced, incorporating new features like augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

Beyond 3D printing and smart fabrics, there are other technologies on the horizon that could revolutionize the fashion industry, such as nanotechnology or Biodesign. Virtual reality and augmented reality could change the way we shop for clothes, allowing us to try on clothing virtually and see how it looks and fits before making a purchase. Wearable technology, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, is already popular and we may see even more advanced forms of wearable tech in the near future.

Fashion and technology have always been closely intertwined, but the rise of 3D printing and smart fabrics has taken this relationship to new heights. From customized, intricate designs to clothing that monitors your health and charges your devices, the possibilities are endless. However, as with any new technology, there are important considerations to keep in mind. Designers and brands must weigh the benefits of fashion tech against the potential environmental and ethical costs.

Smart fabrics may be the future of fashion, but they can also come with a hefty price tag. I mean, sure, your shirt can now monitor your heart rate and your socks can track your running technique, but can they also pay your rent? It’s important to remember that while these fabrics are incredibly innovative, they may not fit everyone’s budget. So if you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry – you can still achieve fashion-forward looks and great workouts with good old-fashioned fabric.


From Kitchen Catastrophes to Culinary Conquests: A Guide to Healthy Cooking from Scratch

I’m going to get right to the point. You can’t develop healthy eating habits if you don’t enjoy preparing your own meals from scratch. If you don’t enjoy, slicing, dicing, chopping, shaving, and grating there’s little hope, I’m sorry to say.  You’ll need to learn how and when to steam, grill, sautee, boil or fry! Imagine that.

What it comes down to is the source of food you ingest. The less it’s been fiddled with by people, and processes, the better. What does this mean exactly? It means that readymade dishes, precut, or processed foods are out of the question. It means that if you want chicken soup or vegetable soup, you don’t use bouillon for flavor and then pour in a precut frozen vegetable medley that tastes of absolutely nothing. It means that if you’re in the mood for pasta you don’t get to use carbonara sauce out of a jar. 

An important aspect of developing good eating habits, that many seem to miss, is developing good taste, which is intimately connected with an appreciation for the flavors, scents, and textures of fresh ingredients. 

Let’s say you’re a burger lover, I’d find it hard to believe if you told me you can’t tell the difference between MacDonald’s and a homemade grilled burger with a lean cut of beef.

When you set out to prepare a meal, think of it as a work of art. Think of the colors, flavors, and presentation, and bring it all to life with your own hands. It doesn’t have to be a three-course meal, it can be a simple meal prepared with attention, fresh ingredients, and love. 

It can be challenging to make healthy food choices when we are busy and constantly on the go. However, preparing all meals from scratch is one of the most effective ways to ensure that we are consuming nutritious food. 

Does Preparing Meals from Scratch Really Make A Difference?

If you are ready to get healthy and have a fine figure, great hair, and glowing skin then you will need to do your part. Prepare meals from scratch from basic ingredients, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, and meats, rather than use pre-packaged or processed foods. It means you’ll need to chop fresh garlic, onion, and ginger, instead of using their powdered counterparts, which have little or none of the benefits. You’ll thank me when you taste the difference. You’ll also need to bring your own meals to work or school. 

If you don’t know how to cook, and you don’t know where to start, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook are loaded with recipes, advice, and hacks for prepping your meals from scratch.

Benefits you will reap when you prepare meals from scratch

  • When you prepare meals from scratch, you have complete control over the ingredients that go into your food. This means that you can avoid processed and artificial ingredients that are often found in pre-packaged or fast foods. You can also adjust the amount of salt, sugar, and fat in your meals to suit your dietary needs and preferences.
  • Fresh, whole foods are typically more nutrient-dense than processed foods. Nutrient-dense foods provide a high amount of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients per calorie, which can help keep you full and satisfied for longer. Additionally, preparing meals from scratch means that you can incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your meals, which can improve your overall nutrient intake.
  • Preparing meals from scratch can also save you money in the long run. While pre-packaged and fast foods may seem more convenient, they can be more expensive than making your own meals. Additionally, when you prepare meals from scratch, you can purchase ingredients in bulk and plan meals in advance, which can help reduce food waste and save money.

Handy tips for preparing meals from scratch

Planning your meals in advance can help you save time and ensure that you have all the ingredients you need on hand. Try to plan your meals for the week and make a grocery list to help you stay organized.

Cooking in bulk can help you save time and ensure that you have healthy meals on hand throughout the week. Consider making a large batch of soup, chili, or stir-fry that you can portion out and store in the fridge or freezer.

One of the benefits of preparing meals from scratch is that you can experiment with different flavors and spices. Try using fresh herbs, spices, and citrus to add flavor to your meals without relying on salt or sugar.

Preparing meals from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple meals like roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, or a quinoa salad can be healthy, nutritious, and easy to prepare.

Preparing all meals from scratch is the only way to ensure that you are consuming healthy, nutrient-dense food. We all know it can be a challenge to make healthy food choices when we are busy, but by planning ahead, cooking in bulk, and experimenting with different flavors, you can incorporate healthy eating habits into your daily routines. 

Cooking from scratch can be a daunting task, especially for those who are more comfortable with a phone app than a pan. However, with a little bit of practice, patience, and a willingness to make a mess, even the laziest of cooks can become culinary masters. 

By preparing your meals from scratch, you can improve your overall health and well-being and impress your friends and family with your newfound culinary skills and healthy glow. Embrace your inner chef and start experimenting in the kitchen. 


The Day the World Stopped: Imagining a Future Without The Internet of Things

The world is in a constant state of flux, and the things that we hold dear today may be forgotten and abandoned tomorrow. This is particularly true in the realm of technology, where advancements are made at an astonishing pace, and the latest innovation can quickly become outdated and obsolete in a flash. 

NFTs and cryptocurrency are two of the most exciting new technologies to emerge in recent times, capturing the imagination of the world with their potential to revolutionize how we create and exchange value. But what does the future hold for these technologies? Will they remain a vital part of our world, or will they eventually fade away into obscurity like so many other innovations before them? 

The Future of NFTs: Will They Stand the Test of Time?

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique digital assets that are verified using blockchain technology. They can represent anything from digital art and music to tweets and memes and are becoming increasingly popular as a way for creators to monetize their work. 

The question of whether NFTs can be considered art is a subject of debate among art experts and enthusiasts. Some argue that NFTs can be considered a form of digital art, while others contend that they are simply a means of monetizing digital content. Ultimately, the answer to this question may depend on one’s definition of art and personal opinion.

At the end of the day, the value of an object is subjective and can vary greatly depending on cultural context, historical significance, and personal preference. Whether NFTs are truly valuable works of art remains to be seen with the test of time. 

While they have certainly generated significant interest and attention in recent months, it is difficult to say whether they will maintain their value and cultural significance over the long term.

It is worth considering that many classic works of art have consistently increased in value over decades and centuries, and will continue to be enjoyed and admired whether or not the internet of things survives. Works by Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and so on.These have become iconic symbols of art and culture, valued not only for their aesthetic qualities but also for their historical and cultural significance.

While NFTs have generated a lot of excitement and revenue in recent months, there are concerns about their environmental impact. The process of creating and verifying NFTs requires a lot of energy, as it involves complex mathematical calculations that are performed by powerful computers. This energy consumption contributes to carbon emissions and exacerbates the problem of climate change. There are efforts underway to develop more sustainable methods of creating and verifying NFTs, such as using renewable energy sources and more efficient algorithms, but the issue remains a contentious one.

As the philosopher Arthur Danto once said, “Works of art are not merely the subjects of art-historical judgments but are also the vehicles of meaning.”

Whether it is through traditional forms of art or emerging technologies such as NFTs, the value of art ultimately lies in its ability to convey meaning, evoke emotion, and connect us to the world around us. As we continue to explore new forms of artistic expression and technological innovation, it is important to remember that the true value of art transcends the fads and trends of the moment and endures through the ages. Whether NFTs will hold an important place in the history of art, remains to be seen

Environmental and Economic Implications of Digital Currencies

While cryptocurrency has the potential to revolutionize the financial industry and provide greater privacy and security for users, it also has significant environmental implications. 

Like NFTs, cryptocurrency mining requires a lot of energy, with estimates suggesting that Bitcoin mining alone consumes as much energy as the entire country of Argentina. This energy consumption contributes to climate change and exacerbates the problem of resource depletion. There are efforts underway to develop more sustainable methods of mining and using cryptocurrency, but these efforts are in their early stages and it remains to be seen how effective they will be.

Cryptocurrency may be one of the most fascinating technological innovations of recent times. However, it is worth remembering that nothing is permanent in the world of technology and innovation. 

Things come and go, and what is popular today may be obsolete tomorrow. A great example of this is the humble cheque. For decades, people placed their trust and gave value to a simple slip of paper in transactions. Yet, today, cheques have largely been replaced by more advanced forms of payment such as credit cards, electronic transfers, and mobile payments. As the philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only constant in life is change.”

As we continue to explore new technologies and innovations, it is important to remember that everything is subject to change and that what is popular today may not be popular tomorrow.

From Smart Homes to Smart Cities. The Internet of Things

It’s hard to imagine a world without the internet of things (IoT). We rely so heavily on the technology that surrounds us, from our smartphones and laptops to our smart homes and cars. The impact of losing access to these interconnected devices would be profound, disrupting not only our personal lives but also the economy and society as a whole. Without the IoT, we would no longer have the ability to remotely control our homes or cars, monitor our health and fitness, or seamlessly communicate with friends, family, and colleagues around the world.

We would lose the benefits of predictive maintenance in the industry, automated agriculture, and smart transportation. We would find ourselves cut off from the information and services we have grown to rely on, from online shopping to telemedicine to online education. In short, the world without the internet of things would be very scary at first, and a much less efficient and connected place.

In addition to the disruptions to our personal lives and daily routines, the absence of the internet of things would also have a profound impact on the global economy. Businesses and industries around the world have come to rely on the IoT to manage their logistics, supply chains, and operations. A sudden loss of internet connectivity would cause havoc and chaos, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Manufacturers and retailers would no longer have access to real-time inventory data, making it difficult to manage production and distribution. Shipping and logistics companies would be unable to track and coordinate the movement of goods, causing delays, disruptions, and losses. Financial institutions and stock markets would also be impacted, with trading floors going dark and transactions coming to a standstill. The world without the internet of things would be a world without the backbone of our modern global economy, causing untold disruptions and chaos.

The IoT has made our lives more efficient and convenient, but there have also been significant environmental implications. The energy required to power all of these devices and the data centers that store and process their data is significant and growing rapidly. Additionally, the production and disposal of these devices have contributed to resource depletion and environmental pollution. 

There are efforts underway to develop more energy-efficient and sustainable IoT devices, as well as to encourage the use of renewable energy sources to power them, but these efforts are still in their early stages and it remains to be seen how effective they will be.

Implications of our ever-evolving technological landscape

While NFTs, cryptocurrency, and the Internet of Things have and continue to revolutionize various industries, their environmental impact cannot be ignored. There are ongoing efforts to develop more sustainable methods of creating, mining, and using these technologies, but it remains to be seen whether these efforts will be enough to mitigate their impact in today’s resource-depleted world.

  • NFTs: One estimate suggests that the creation of a single NFT can consume as much energy as an average European household uses in a month (Source: Wired).
  • Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin mining, which is the process by which new bitcoins are created and transactions are verified, requires powerful computers to perform complex calculations. This process consumes a significant amount of energy, with estimates suggesting that Bitcoin mining alone consumes as much energy as the entire country of Argentina (Source: Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index).
  • Internet of Things: The energy consumption of the Internet of Things is difficult to quantify precisely, as it depends on a variety of factors such as the number and type of devices, the amount of data being transmitted, and the energy efficiency of the devices and data centers involved. However, one estimate suggests that by 2025, the IoT will consume more than 20% of global electricity, with data centers accounting for the majority of this energy consumption (Source: International Energy Agency).

Overall, these examples demonstrate the significant energy consumption associated with NFTs, cryptocurrency, and the Internet of Things, and underscore the need for more sustainable approaches to developing and using these technologies.

There is a distinct possibility that if we don’t start to do things differently, we could lose access to the resources needed to produce electric cars, laptops, NFTs, cryptocurrency, the Internet of Things, and many other technological innovations. The depletion of natural resources such as water, minerals, and metals could pose significant challenges to the continued development and sustainability of these technologies.

To address this issue, it is important to consider more sustainable approaches to the design, development, and use of technology, by investing in new materials and processes that are more environmentally friendly and efficient, as well as developing technologies that are designed to be recycled or reused, and encourage a shift towards a more circular economy, where resources are used more efficiently and waste is minimized. 

It is clear that the continued development and sustainability of technology will depend on our ability to adapt and adopt more sustainable practices. By prioritizing sustainability in the design, development, and use of technology, we can work towards a more sustainable future for all and continue to enjoy the comforts we have grown accustomed to and depend on.


Beyond 4-Letter Words: Why We Need to Rediscover the Art of Cursing

Insults and curses have been around for as long as language itself. But it wasn’t until the modern era that we started to rely on four-letter words to get our point across. In earlier times, insults had a certain elegance and class to them. They were more clever and witty and often used to deliver a cutting blow to one’s opponent.

Take for example the exchange between George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill. When Shaw sent Churchill tickets to the first night of his new play, with a note saying, “I  am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; Bring a  friend, if you have one.”

To which Churchill replied  “Cannot possibly attend the first night, I  will attend the second…If  there is one.”

Another example of a clever insult comes from a member of Parliament to Disraeli. He told Disraeli that he would either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease. Disraeli’s response was quick-witted and sharp, as he said, “That depends, Sir, whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.” Disraeli’s response was a subtle way of letting the MP know that he was onto his game and not intimidated by his threats.

These men were swashbucklers by comparison to public figures nowadays. They had the knack and a cunning way, without resorting to crass language or outright name-calling.

Even Clarence Darrow’s famous quip, “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure,” is an eloquent and subtle comment on the human tendency to take pleasure in the misfortunes of others, without being overtly cruel or offensive.

In medieval times and if you’re at all familiar with Shakespearean plays, curses played a big part in communication. These curses were often poetic and elaborate and used to convey a strong sense of emotion or anger. For example, in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV, Part 1, Hotspur curses Prince Hal, saying “O, that I was a mockery king of snow, standing before the sun of Bolingbroke, to melt myself away in water drops.” This curse is not only vivid and poetic but also conveys the speaker’s intense frustration and anger toward Prince Hal.


Insults and curses have been around for as long as language itself, and they have evolved over time. These are excellent examples of insults as opposed to curses:

  1.  “You are a walking advertisement for the benefits of sterilization.” – Gregory House (TV Show: House)
  2. “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.” – French Knight (Movie: Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
  3. “You’re as useless as a screen door on a submarine.” – Foghorn Leghorn (Cartoon Character)
  4. “You are so old, your birth certificate expired.” – Unknown
  5. “I’d agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.” – Unknown

Contemporary Insults

Insults have evolved over time to reflect changes in society and culture. In the past, insults often relied on wordplay, clever metaphors, and references to historical or cultural knowledge. They were seen as a way to demonstrate one’s intelligence and wit, and to impress others with their mastery of language.

However, in contemporary times, insults have become more direct and crass, with a focus on name-calling and personal attacks. The rise of social media and online communication has also contributed to this trend, as people are more likely to say things impulsively and without much thought.

As a result, insults have lost much of their original elegance and sophistication, and are now more likely to be seen as crude and offensive. While there may still be some instances of clever insults or witty banter, they are increasingly rare in today’s culture. Here are some examples of contemporary insults:

  1. “You’re a basic [insert stereotype here].” – Used to insult someone for conforming to common trends or behaviors.
  2. “You’re such a Karen.” – Used to insult someone who is perceived as entitled or demanding, often in reference to the stereotype of a middle-aged white woman who complains or makes a scene in public.
  3. “You’re a snowflake.” – Used to insult someone who is perceived as overly sensitive or easily offended, often in reference to the idea that snowflakes are delicate and easily broken.
  4. “You’re a simp.” – Used to insult someone who is perceived as being overly devoted or subservient to another person, often in reference to a man who is seen as trying too hard to impress or gain the favor of a woman.
  5. “You’re a troll.” – Used to insult someone who is perceived as intentionally trying to provoke or upset others online, often through the use of inflammatory or offensive comments.

Cursing through the centuries

From the sophisticated wordplay of the Renaissance to the explicit language of the 21st century, let’s take a look at cursing through the centuries.

  1. Ancient Greece: In ancient Greece, cursing often involved calling on the gods to punish someone. For example, someone might say “May the gods strike you down” or “May Zeus curse you and your family.”
  2. Medieval Times: During the Middle Ages, cursing often involved invoking the devil or other evil spirits. People might say things like “Go to hell” or “May the devil take you.”
  3. Renaissance Era: In the Renaissance, cursing became more sophisticated and creative, with insults often taking the form of clever wordplay or puns. For example, in Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing,” the character Benedick says to his rival, “I do much wonder that one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors to love, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn by falling in love.”
  4. 19th Century: In the 19th century, cursing often took the form of polite insults that masked the speaker’s true meaning. For example, a woman might say to another woman, “Your new hat is certainly…interesting,” which could be interpreted as a thinly veiled insult.
  5. Modern Times: In the 20th and 21st centuries, cursing has become increasingly vulgar and explicit, with many curse words being related to sex, bodily functions, or blasphemy. Examples include the F-word, the S-word, and using “Jesus” or “God” as an expletive.

The difference between insults and curses

There’s a difference between insults and curses. Insults are typically directed toward a specific person, while curses are more generalized and can be directed toward anyone. Insults are often used to demean or belittle someone, while curses are used to express anger or frustration towards someone or something.

Insults are often more immediate and personal, while curses can have a more long-lasting impact. Curses can be used to express a desire for revenge or to inflict harm on someone, while insults are usually more focused on insulting the person’s character or behavior.

In terms of language, insults tend to be more direct and to the point, while curses can be more poetic and imaginative. Curses are often used in literature and mythology and are a part of many cultural traditions around the world.

In today’s Western culture, cursing typically refers to the use of profanity or obscene language to express anger, frustration, or other strong emotions. It can be considered a form of verbal aggression or a way to assert one’s dominance in a conversation or social situation. Here are some examples of commonly used curse words:

  1. Fuck is one of the most well-known and widely used curse words, and is often used to express anger, frustration, or emphasis. This versatile word can be turned into an adjective, a noun, or a verb!
  2. Shit is also commonly used to express anger, frustration, or disgust.
  3. Bitch is often used as an insult toward women, but can also be used towards men to imply weakness or subservience.
  4. Asshole is often used to insult someone for being selfish, insensitive, or rude.
  5. Godamn is often used as an exclamation of frustration or anger and is considered offensive by some religious groups.

Now compare these with what curses sounded like once upon a time:

  1. “May your beard grow ever longer.” – Unknown
  2. “May you die a thousand deaths.” – Unknown
  3. “May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits.” – Unknown
  4. “May you live in interesting times.” – Chinese Curse
  5. “May the wind always be at your back.” – Irish Blessing (which can also be used ironically as a curse)

In some cultures, cursing is very closely tied to religious beliefs and traditions. For example, in many Islamic countries, cursing or insulting the Prophet Muhammad or other religious figures is considered a serious offense that can result in legal punishment. Similarly, in some Hindu cultures, cursing or using profanity is seen as a violation of religious teachings that emphasize the importance of purity and self-control.

By contrast, in North American culture, many curse words are based on sexuality and bodily functions. This reflects a cultural emphasis on individualism, freedom of expression, and a lack of strict social taboos around sex and bodily functions.

Catholic countries like France and Italy have a long history of religious influence on their cultures, language, and cursing. In these countries, taking the Lord’s name in vain is considered a form of blasphemy. For example, in Italy, the expression “Porco Dio” (literally meaning “God’s pig”) is a common curse word that combines a reference to God with an animal considered impure in Catholicism. Similarly, in France, expressions like “Nom de Dieu” (meaning “Name of God”) and “Sacré Bleu” (meaning “Sacred Blue,” a reference to the Virgin Mary) are sometimes used as expletives or expressions of frustration.

In addition to these religiously based curse words, Catholic countries like France and Italy also have their own unique slang and profanity that reflect the cultural and historical influences on their language. For example, in Italy, the expression “cazzo” (meaning “dick or “fuck”) is a common profanity that can be used in a wide range of contexts, while in France, expressions like “putain” (meaning “whore”) and “merde” (meaning “shit*”) are widely used curse words.

The use of cursing and profanity in Catholic countries like France and Italy can be complex and nuanced, reflecting a mix of religious, cultural, and linguistic influences. While certain religiously based curse words may be seen as taboo or offensive, other expressions may be more widely accepted or even embraced as a part of everyday speech.

It’s worth noting, however, that the use of curse words and other forms of profanity can vary widely between different cultures and subcultures. In some cases, certain words or phrases may be considered highly offensive or taboo in one culture, but completely acceptable in another. Ultimately, the meaning and impact of curse words depend on a complex interplay of linguistic, cultural, and social factors.

Insults and curses are a part of human language and expression and can be used for a variety of purposes. In modern times, it seems that insults and cursing have lost much of the wit, elegance, and intellect that they once carried. While contemporary insults and curse words may be effective at expressing anger or frustration, they often lack the creativity and nuance that characterized insults and curses of the past.

In our fast-paced, digital world, language is often reduced to quick, simple, and often crass phrases that prioritize shock value over artistry. We’ve lost the art of witty insults and creative cursing, and we may have also lost something deeper – a way of expressing our emotions, challenging authority, and engaging with the world in a way that is both creative and thought-provoking.

Perhaps it’s time to re-examine the way we use language and strive to bring back the wit, elegance, and intellect that once characterized the art of cursing. Words have power.


From Incestuous Relationships to Strategic Alliances: The Evolution of The Rich and Powerful

In a time long ago, the halls of power were filled with whispered rumors of secret marriages and scandalous affairs between family members. The rich and powerful were known to keep their bloodlines pure by marrying within their own kin, all in the name of maintaining their grip on power. 

There have been many powerful families, throughout history who married family members to consolidate power and maintain their wealth and influence. 

  1. The Habsburgs: A powerful European dynasty that ruled over much of Europe for several centuries. They practiced consanguineous marriage, which means they married within the family to maintain power and wealth. This led to a high degree of inbreeding, which caused genetic problems and ultimately contributed to their decline.
  2. The Medicis: A wealthy and influential family that ruled over Florence, Italy, during the Renaissance. They often married family members to maintain their power and wealth. For example, Lorenzo de’ Medici, also known as “Lorenzo the Magnificent,” married Clarice Orsini, who was his second cousin.
  3. The Ptolemies: A dynasty that ruled over ancient Egypt for almost 300 years. They practiced consanguineous marriage to maintain their power and control over Egypt. For example, Cleopatra, the last Ptolemaic ruler, married her brother, Ptolemy XIII.
  4. The Tudors: A powerful English dynasty that ruled from 1485 to 1603. They often married within the family to maintain their power and wealth. For example, King Henry VIII married his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon, and later went on to marry Anne Boleyn, who was his second cousin.

It’s worth noting that while consanguineous marriage was more common in the past, and is generally frowned upon today, it is not entirely uncommon for some wealthy families to still practice marriages between close relatives, although such information is generally kept private and is not publicly disclosed. 

Times have changed, and the rules of the game have shifted. Nowadays, it’s possible to stay on top without resorting to such unsavory practices. There are endless ways that wealthy and powerful families can hold on to their fortunes without resorting to marrying family members:

  1. Estate Planning and Trusts: Wealthy families can use estate planning and trusts to transfer their assets to future generations while minimizing the impact of taxes and other costs. This can help to ensure that their wealth stays within the family.
  2. Investments: Many wealthy families invest their wealth in a variety of assets, such as real estate, stocks, and private equity. By diversifying their investments, they can protect their wealth from market fluctuations and other risks.
  3. Philanthropy: Wealthy families can use their wealth to support charitable causes, which can help to build a positive reputation and create a legacy for future generations.
  4. Family Offices: Many wealthy families establish family offices to manage their assets and investments. These offices can help to ensure that the family’s wealth is managed effectively and that the family’s financial interests are protected.
  5. Education and Training: Investing in the education and training of their children and future generations helps them develop the skills and knowledge necessary for ongoing generations to manage and grow their wealth.

So by diversifying their investments, planning their estates, supporting philanthropic causes, establishing family offices, and investing in education and training, the wealthy ensure that their wealth remains within the family for generations to come. But for some, it doesn’t stop at wealth.

Many wealthy families around the world not only have strong political ties, but some of these families are also well-known for their influence on politics, including:

  1. The Rothschild Family: This European family has a long history of political influence and wealth. They are known for their success in banking and finance and have been involved in politics for generations.
  2. The Bush Family: This American family is well-known for their political influence, with several members having served as presidents, governors, or other high-ranking officials.
  3. The Kennedy Family: This American family has been involved in politics for generations, with several members serving in high-ranking government positions. They are also known for their wealth and philanthropic activities.
  4. The Saud Family: This Saudi Arabian family has significant political influence due to their control of the country’s oil wealth. The family has been ruling the country for over a century and has strong ties with many governments around the world.
  5. The Murdoch Family: This Australian family is known for their control of a media empire that spans the globe. They have been involved in politics and have been known to use their media outlets to influence public opinion.

There are many wealthy people today who came from humble beginnings, showing that success can come from hard work, determination, and perseverance:

  1. Oprah Winfrey: Oprah was born into poverty in rural Mississippi and was raised by her grandmother. She went on to become one of the most successful talk show hosts in history, as well as a media mogul and philanthropist, with a net worth of over $2 billion.
  2. Jeff Bezos: Bezos grew up in a middle-class family in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He went on to found Amazon, which has made him one of the wealthiest people in the world, with a net worth of over $180 billion.
  3. Howard Schultz: Schultz grew up in a housing complex for low-income families in Brooklyn, New York. He went on to become the CEO of Starbucks and is now worth over $4 billion.
  4. Ursula Burns: Burns grew up in a housing project on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She went on to become the CEO of Xerox and was the first African American woman to head a Fortune 500 company.
  5. Ralph Lauren: Lauren grew up in the Bronx, New York, and worked as a salesman before starting his own fashion company. He is now worth over $7 billion.
  6. Richard Branson: Branson grew up in a middle-class family in London, England. He went on to found the Virgin Group, which includes over 400 companies and is now worth over $5 billion.
  7. JK Rowling: Rowling was a struggling single mother living on welfare in Edinburgh, Scotland when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. She went on to become one of the most successful authors in history, with a net worth of over $1 billion.

But make no mistake, their humble beginnings have not stopped wealthy figures such as Jeff Bezos have political clout, primarily due to their financial resources and ability to influence public opinion through their business ventures. While Bezos himself may not hold an elected office or be directly involved in political decision-making, his vast wealth and influence as the founder and former CEO of Amazon have given him significant political power.

Bezos has exercised his political clout through lobbying efforts. Amazon has spent millions of dollars on lobbying in Washington, D.C., on issues such as taxes, trade, and data privacy. This kind of influence can shape public policy in ways that benefit Amazon and other companies in which Bezos has a stake.

Additionally, Bezos has used his wealth to support political causes and candidates. He has donated millions of dollars to political campaigns and causes, including the Biden-Harris campaign in 2020. This kind of financial support can be critical to the success of political candidates and parties, and can also help shape the political agenda.

Bezos has the ability to shape public opinion through his media ownership. Amazon owns The Washington Post, which is one of the most influential newspapers in the United States. The newspaper’s reporting and editorial positions can have a significant impact on public opinion and political discourse.

Oprah Winfrey has significant political clout and influence, primarily due to her vast wealth, media empire, and philanthropic activities. Although Oprah has not held any elected office or been directly involved in politics, her endorsement of political candidates has been highly sought after. She endorsed and campaigned for Barack Obama in his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, and her endorsement is believed to have helped him win the Democratic nomination in 2008. 

Oprah also endorsed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in 2018, and her endorsement was seen as a key factor in the election. Oprah’s media empire, including her talk show, magazine, and media network, has given her a significant platform to shape public opinion and promote social and political causes. She has used her platform to address issues such as education, poverty, and civil rights, and has interviewed numerous political figures and world leaders, including Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama.

Finally, Oprah’s philanthropic activities have given her significant influence in the nonprofit sector and on social and political issues. She has donated millions of dollars to charitable causes, including education and healthcare, and has established several foundations and initiatives to support these causes.

Whereas in the past wealthy families were regionally focused, with their political influence largely limited to their home countries, today’s wealthy families have a more global outlook, with business interests and political ties spanning multiple countries and continents.

Another major difference is the increased visibility of wealthy families and their political activities. Thanks to social media and 24-hour news coverage, the public is more aware than ever of the political activities of wealthy families. This increased scrutiny can both enhance and constrain their political influence, as public opinion can be a powerful force in shaping political outcomes.

There is a growing awareness of the need for transparency and accountability in political activities. Wealthy families with political influence are now subject to greater public scrutiny and regulations, which can help ensure that their activities are above board and in the best interests of society as a whole, or so we would hope.

From ancient times to the modern era, wealthy families have played a critical role in shaping political power structures and decision-making processes. While incestuous relationships were once the norm, today we see more strategic alliances formed between families for political gain. It will be interesting to see how this dynamic will evolve and shape our political landscape in the years to come.


From Celebration to Action: International Women’s Day Must Move Beyond Tokenism

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global event that has been celebrated for over a century, serving as a reminder of the achievements of women and the ongoing struggle for gender equality. However, in recent years, there has been growing concern about the commercialization and tokenism that have come to define the event. 

While Women’s Day may offer an opportunity to raise awareness about women’s rights, it is no longer enough to simply celebrate women’s achievements and call for gender equality. In order for Women’s Day to truly make a difference, it must move beyond tokenism and become a catalyst for action that addresses the structural inequalities that perpetuate gender-based discrimination and violence.

The first Women’s Day was observed on February 28, 1909, in New York City, organized by the Socialist Party of America to honor the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against their working conditions. The event inspired the creation of International Women’s Day in 1910, which was proposed by Clara Zetkin, a German socialist, during the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen.

The primary purpose of IWD is to raise awareness about gender equality and advocate for women’s rights. It is a day to celebrate the progress made toward gender equality while recognizing the work that still needs to be done. Women’s Day is now celebrated worldwide, and each year has a different theme that highlights a specific issue impacting women globally.

This year’s theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” highlights the role of innovative technology in promoting gender equality and meeting the health and developmental needs of women and girls

What follows is a list of the themes for International Women’s Day starting from 1975 to 2019. I couldn’t help but notice the recurring theme of violence against women, over the decades.

  1. 1975: “International Women’s Year”
  2. 1976: “To Honour Women on International Women’s Day”
  3. 1977: “International Women’s Year”
  4. 1978: “Education and Training of Women”
  5. 1979: “United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace”
  6. 1980: “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All Women”
  7. 1981: “International Year of Disabled Persons”
  8. 1982: “Equal Access to Education, Training, and Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women”
  9. 1983: “Health is a Women’s Issue”
  10. 1984: “Women and Science”
  11. 1985: “Women and Survival in the Cities”
  12. 1986: “Women and the Family”
  13. 1987: “Women and Peace”
  14. 1988: “Women and the Environment”
  15. 1989: “Towards a Just and Sustainable Development”
  16. 1990: “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All”
  17. 1991: “Women and Education”
  18. 1992: “Women and Environment”
  19. 1993: “Violence Against Women: The Hidden Health Burden”
  20. 1994: “Women and the Peace Process”
  21. 1995: “Women Paving the Way to the 21st Century”
  22. 1996: “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future”
  23. 1997: “Women at the Peace Table”
  24. 1998: “Women and Human Rights”
  25. 1999: “World Free of Violence Against Women”
  26. 2000: “Women Uniting for Peace”
  27. 2001: “Women and Peace: Women Managing Conflicts”
  28. 2002: “Afghan Women Today: Realities and Opportunities”
  29. 2003: “Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals”
  30. 2004: “Women and HIV/AIDS”
  31. 2005: “Gender Equality Beyond 2005: Building a More Secure Future”
  32. 2006: “Women in Decision-making”
  33. 2007: “Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women and Girls”
  34. 2008: “Investing in Women and Girls”
  35. 2009: “Women and Men United to End Violence Against Women and Girls”
  36. 2010: “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Progress for All”
  37. 2011: “Equal Access to Education, Training, and Science and Technology: Pathway to Decent Work for Women”
  38. 2012: “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty”
  39. 2013: “A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women”
  40. 2014: “Equality for Women is Progress for All”
  41. 2015: “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It!”
  42. 2016: “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”
  43. 2017: “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”
  44. 2018: “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives”
  45. 2019: “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”

The theme of ending violence against women has been a recurring one for International Women’s Day, not only reflecting the global concern about the widespread issue of violence against women but also as an indication that more needs to be done.

Since the 1990s, the United Nations has recognized violence against women as a human rights issue and a form of discrimination. The 1993 International Women’s Day theme was “Violence Against Women: The Hidden Health Burden,” which aimed to raise awareness about the health consequences of violence against women. The 1999 theme was “World Free of Violence Against Women.” 

In 2003, the theme was “Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals,” which recognized that gender inequality and violence against women are major obstacles to achieving the goals of poverty reduction and sustainable development.

In recent years, the focus on ending violence against women has intensified, with themes such as “A Promise is a Promise: Time for Action to End Violence Against Women” in 2013 and “Women and Men United to End Violence Against Women and Girls” in 2009. These themes aimed to raise awareness about the need for a comprehensive and coordinated response to violence against women and to emphasize the importance of engaging men and boys as allies in ending violence against women.

Over the past 50 years, there have been over 1,500 reforms implemented in countries worldwide aimed at enhancing women’s economic empowerment. Despite this progress, legal gender equality on a global scale has yet to be achieved, highlighting the need for continued efforts to drive reform. To accelerate progress toward this goal, more initiatives in identifying discriminatory laws and regulations that hinder women’s prospects as entrepreneurs and employees must be put into action. More projects aimed to advance women’s economic inclusion and remove barriers to gender equality.

Over the decades, progress has been made in raising awareness about violence against women and improving the legal framework for addressing this issue. Many countries have enacted laws and policies to prevent and respond to violence against women, and there has been greater recognition of the need to provide support services to survivors of violence. Additionally, international efforts, such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, have put a spotlight on the issue of violence against women as a barrier to achieving gender equality and sustainable development.

However, despite these efforts, violence against women remains a pervasive and persistent problem around the world. According to the World Health Organization, one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to address violence against women, as lockdowns and other measures have led to a surge in domestic violence cases.

We’ve seen progress in raising awareness and improving the legal and policy framework for addressing violence against women, but more needs to be done to prevent and respond to this issue. Ending violence against women requires a sustained effort that involves multiple stakeholders, including governments, civil society, the private sector, and individuals at all levels of society.

Moreover, the commercialization of Women’s Day has diluted its significance for many people, turning it into another occasion for consumerism and materialism.

While many companies genuinely support women’s rights and use International Women’s Day (IWD) as an opportunity to promote gender equality, some have been accused of using the occasion to advance their own agenda without any real benefits for women, and in some cases it backfired.

  1. The sponsor of the iconic Fearless Girl statue, State Street Bank, faced criticism against the backdrop of a $5 million discrimination settlement for female and black employees. 
  2. The International Women’s Day Picasso exhibit at Tate Modern in 2018 generated significant controversy and criticism due to the artist’s well-documented fixation with one-dimensional female stereotypes and his treatment of women.
  3. NBCUniversal’s decision to rebrand the station ‘E!’ to ‘She!’ and feature a week of female-focused content was met with skepticism, given the company’s history of sexual harassment accusations and enforcement of silencing NDAs. 
  4. KPMG’s release of a video celebrating female leadership was called into question, as the company was, at the time, facing a class action lawsuit for denying promotions to women and penalizing them for taking maternity leave. 
  5. Bic South Africa’s assertion that women should ‘look like a girl… think like a man’ has been widely condemned as sexist and offensive.
  6. Nobel Peace Prize’s attempt to honor IWD in 2017 by highlighting the fact that women represented only 6% of total winners in the prize’s history has underscored the ongoing need for greater recognition of women’s achievements and contributions.
  7. McDonald’s: In 2018, McDonald’s flipped its golden arches upside down in honor of IWD, creating a “W” to stand for “women.” However, the move was widely criticized as a hollow gesture, given the company’s track record of paying its female workers less than their male counterparts and failing to address harassment and discrimination in its workplace.
  8. Hooters: The restaurant chain known for its scantily clad waitresses once ran an IWD promotion offering free wings to women who shred a photo of their ex-partner. The promotion was widely criticized for being misogynistic and insensitive to survivors of domestic violence.
  9. Spirit Airlines: In 2019, Spirit Airlines released an IWD ad featuring a woman in a tight-fitting flight attendant uniform with the tagline “Get home early to celebrate.” The ad was widely criticized as sexist and perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes.
  10. Pornhub: In 2020, the adult website released a series of IWD-themed videos and graphics featuring sexualized images of women. The move was widely condemned as exploitative and demeaning to women, with critics arguing that it undermined the very message of IWD.

These are but a few examples of companies that have been accused of using IWD for their own purposes without genuinely supporting women’s rights and gender equality. These examples clearly point to the need for a more transformative approach to Women’s Day that goes beyond the surface-level celebrations and engages in meaningful action toward gender equality. It is important we maintain the focus on the original purpose of Women’s Day, which is to celebrate the achievements of women, raise awareness about their struggles, and renew our commitment to creating a world where women can live free from discrimination, violence, and oppression.


Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

In the morning nothing feels quite right. At least for some of us. Do you hit the snooze button endless times before grudgingly dragging yourself out of bed, and only because your bladder is screaming at you? Do you have a permanent scowl until you’ve had at least two cups of coffee? Do you dream of a world where breakfast doesn’t come before noon?

We’ve all heard motivational quotes urging us to wake at dawn. Quotes such as, “The early bird gets the worm” or “Wake up early and tackle the day before it tackles you.” I have a far better phrase for you, and it’s from Alice In Wonderland: ” Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

I come bearing good news. There are six impossible things you can do before breakfast that might make your mornings a little brighter and more bearable.

I understand if you’re skeptical. The idea of doing anything remotely enjoyable before breakfast seemed like a far-fetched concept for me as well. However, give these ideas a chance. They’re not only achievable but have the potential to make your mornings something to anticipate.

Dance like nobody’s watching. Yes, even if you’re in your pajamas and your hair is sticking up in all directions. Blast your favorite song and let loose. Who cares if your neighbors think you’ve lost it? Besides who says they’re any better at mornings than you are?

Next: give yourself a pep talk in the mirror. I know, I know, it sounds cheesy and so cliché. But what have you got to lose? You can always brush your hair while you’re at it. Look yourself in the eye and tell yourself that you’re going to kick ass today. Say it like you mean it. Bonus points if you do it in 3 different accents.

An invigorating rush of cold water will snap you out of your morning haze and jumpstart your day. Not only will a cold shower wake you up faster than a shot of espresso it will literally shower you with a ton of health benefits as well as work wonders on your utility bills. Use your imagination, you can pretend you’re in an Arctic survival movie and feel like a badass.

Who says you can’t have bruschetta for breakfast? Or tiramisu? Or both? Give yourself something to look forward to in the morning. You might even find yourself getting excited about waking up early.

Do a quick workout. I’m not suggesting you run a marathon here. Just a few jumping jacks, some push-ups, and maybe a yoga pose or two. It will get your blood flowing and your energy up, and make you feel like you’re on top of the world.

And last but not least: Avoid starting your day with the news. Read and remember that laughter is the best medicine. There are perks to reading something really funny early in the day; you can share it with your coworkers and pretend you’re a morning person with a solar disposition.

So, there you have it, six impossible things you can try before breakfast to help you shake off the morning blues and start your day revving like a sports car ready to hit the road. Give them a go, mix and match them, and see what works best for you. Who knows, you might even become a morning person after all. Then again, there’s always more coffee.


From the Battlefield to the Runway: The Unexpected Evolution of Boots as a Fashion Staple

Historically, boots were primarily seen as practical footwear worn for protection from the elements and rough terrain. They were commonly worn by soldiers, workers, and outdoorsmen, but were not seen as fashionable.

In medieval Europe, boots became a symbol of wealth and status, with high-quality leather boots becoming increasingly popular among the nobility. Women also began wearing boots during this period, with many styles featuring intricate embroidery and decorations. However, boots were still primarily seen as practical footwear, worn for protection from the elements and rough terrain.

During the Industrial Revolution, advances in technology allowed for the mass production of boots, making them more affordable and accessible to the general public. This period also saw the rise of specialized bootmakers, who developed new techniques and designs to meet the demands of their customers.

Boots And Wartime Restrictions

Until the late 1780’s women only wore boots for horse riding, at some point they began wearing boots for walking as well and so it was that the fashion for boots gained popularity. Boots became the chosen footwear for bicycling and walking until skirt hems rose, and the shafts of boots grew taller. Unfortunately, wartime saw demand for leather required for military use and as a result, in 1917, boot height was restricted to eight inches in England.

In the 20th century, boots became an iconic fashion statement, with women’s boots taking on a wide range of styles, from practical and sturdy work boots to sleek and stylish high-heeled boots. The popularity of boots for women continued to grow, with many designers experimenting with new materials, textures, and colors to create unique and eye-catching designs.

Boot lovers can now choose boots for functional purposes, such as work boots, motorcycle boots, and climbing boots, or simply choose to wear boots as a fashion or sexual statement.

In the history of fashion, boots took a long time to catch on. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Practicality: Historically, boots were primarily seen as practical footwear worn for protection from the elements and rough terrain. They were commonly worn by soldiers, workers, and outdoorsmen, but were not seen as fashionable.
  2. Material Availability: Early boots were typically made of leather, which was a scarce and expensive material. This limited their availability and made them primarily accessible to the wealthy or to those who needed them for practical reasons.
  3. Cultural Norms: In many cultures, boots were associated with masculinity and were not considered appropriate for women to wear. It was only in the 19th century that women’s fashion began to embrace more practical footwear options like boots.
  4. Design limitations: In the past, boot design was limited by the materials and manufacturing techniques available. This made it difficult to create boots that were both functional and fashionable.

Despite these challenges, boots eventually caught on in the world of fashion. Today, boots continue to be a popular and versatile footwear option, with a wide range of styles and designs available to suit different tastes and needs. From rugged work boots to sleek high-heeled boots, boots have come a long way from their practical origins to become an essential part of fashion footwear.

It is difficult to pinpoint the first boot designer that rocked the world of fashion, as there have been many influential designers throughout history who have contributed to the evolution of boots as a fashionable footwear option. Here are a few designers who are widely recognized for their contributions to the world of fashion boots:

  1. Roger Vivier: A French shoe designer who is credited with popularizing the stiletto heel in the 1950s. Vivier also designed a range of high-heeled boots that became popular among celebrities and fashion icons.
  2. Nancy Sinatra and Beth Levine: In the 1960s, Nancy Sinatra’s hit song “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” helped popularize knee-high boots, which were designed by American footwear designer Beth Levine.
  3. Manolo Blahnik: A Spanish fashion designer who is best known for his high-end women’s shoes, including a range of stylish and luxurious boots.
  4. Christian Louboutin: A French fashion designer who is famous for his red-soled shoes, including a range of fashionable boots in a variety of styles and colors.
  5. Stuart Weitzman: An American shoe designer who has created a wide range of stylish and innovative boots, including the iconic 5050 over-the-knee boot.

These designers, among others, have contributed to the evolution of boots as a fashionable footwear option, experimenting with new materials, styles, and designs to create unique and eye-catching boots that have become popular among fashion enthusiasts around the world.

How did boots designed for practical purposes turn into a fashion item? A perfect example would be Cowboy boots. These were originally designed for practical purposes, such as horseback riding and ranch work. However, over time, they became a global fashion trend due to their unique design, cultural significance, and versatility. The pointed toe, high heel, and tall shaft of the boot were specifically designed to help the rider stay in the stirrups and protect their feet and legs from brush, rocks, and other hazards. As these boots became more popular among cowboys and ranchers, they gained a reputation for being tough, durable, and functional.

In the mid-20th century, cowboy boots became popularized through Hollywood Westerns and the rise of cowboy actors like Roy Rogers and John Wayne. These movies and icons helped to popularize cowboy boots as a symbol of rugged masculinity and American culture. Country music also played a role in the popularity of cowboy boots, with musicians like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash often wearing Western-style clothing and footwear. As country music became more popular around the world, so too did cowboy boots.

In the 1980s and 90s, cowboy boots experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to the rise of Western-inspired fashion trends. Designers like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein incorporated cowboy boots into their collections, and celebrities like Madonna and Lady Gaga helped to turn these into fashionable accessories.

Today, cowboy boots remain a fashionable accessory, worn by both men and women in a variety of styles and colors. This transformation from a practical piece of footwear to a worldwide fashion item is a testament to the enduring appeal of cowboy boots’ timeless design and cultural significance.


The association of certain boot styles with fetish fashion can be traced back to several factors, including cultural and historical influences, as well as the materials and design elements used in boot construction.

One of the main reasons certain boot styles have been appropriated by fetish fashion is their association with power, sexuality, and control. Boots are a form of footwear that is often associated with strength and protection, and certain styles like thigh-high boots, platform boots, and stiletto boots are designed to accentuate the leg and create a sense of height and dominance.

The materials used in boot construction also play a role in their association with fetish fashion. Leather, latex, and other shiny or patent materials are commonly used in fetish fashion due to their association with sensuality and eroticism.

Another factor that has contributed to the association of certain boot styles with fetish fashion is their historical and cultural significance. For example, the popularity of knee-high boots can be traced back to the 1960s, when they were worn by popular figures like Nancy Sinatra and were associated with the sexual revolution and women’s liberation.

While certain boot styles may have been appropriated by the fetish fashion community, their association with the genre does not necessarily define their overall style or purpose.

Here are some factors that have contributed to the association between certain boot styles and fetish fashion:

  1. Material: Leather, latex, and PVC are commonly used materials in fetish fashion, and boots made from these materials have a shiny, sleek look that is often associated with sexiness and eroticism.
  2. Height: High heels and platforms have long been associated with femininity, and are often seen as a way to accentuate the curves of the legs and hips. High-heeled boots in particular are a popular choice in fetish fashion due to their association with power and dominance.
  3. Coverage: Boots that cover a large portion of the leg, such as thigh-high boots, can create a sense of mystery and intrigue, and may be seen as a symbol of power and control.
  4. Symbolism: Certain boot styles, such as those with multiple buckles or straps, can be seen as a symbol of restraint or bondage, which is a common theme in fetish fashion.

The association between certain boot styles and fetish fashion is also influenced by cultural and historical factors. For example, the prevalence of leather and rubber boots in military and police uniforms may have contributed to their association with power and authority. Additionally, the popularity of punk and goth fashion in the 1970s and 80s may have helped to popularize certain boot styles, such as platform boots, which have since become associated with fetish fashion.

  1. boots offer a unique and stylish look that can’t be achieved with other types of footwear. From classic leather boots to trendy ankle boots, there are many styles to choose from that can complement a variety of outfits and personal styles.
  2. Durability: Boots are often made of high-quality materials, such as leather or suede, that can withstand wear and tear over time. This makes them a popular choice for people who want footwear that will last for many years.
  3. Comfort: While some boots can be uncomfortable or restrictive, others are designed with comfort in mind. For example, boots with cushioned soles or adjustable straps can provide a comfortable fit that is ideal for all-day wear.
  4. Protection: Depending on the style and material, boots can provide protection from the elements, such as rain, snow, and mud. This makes them a popular choice for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and gardening.
  5. Functionality: Certain types of boots, such as work boots or military boots, are designed with specific purposes in mind. These boots are often built to be tough and durable, with features like steel toes or waterproofing that make them ideal for certain types of jobs or activities.

Ultimately, the decision to wear boots as opposed to shoes or sports shoes is a personal choice that depends on individual preferences, needs, and style. While shoes and sports shoes may be more popular for certain activities or occasions, boots offer a unique and versatile option for those who appreciate their unique features and benefits.


El Sindrome De La Gata Flora

There are those who are never content with what they have and are often attracted to extremes that don’t normally find common ground. It’s a tendency that seems to be embedded deep in some people’s DNA, leaving them constantly yearning for more.

We’ve all heard the saying “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” often used to describe the pain of a lost love. But what if the reason so many of us end up longing for what we’ve lost is because of the pervasive myth that “the grass is always greener on the other side”? What if our innate desire for more, for something just out of reach, is what keeps us from truly appreciating what we have in front of us?

This colloquial expression, El Sindrome De la Gata Flora, a phrase commonly used in Latin American culture, refers to a situation in which a person is indecisive, fickle, or unable to make up their mind. The term “Gata Flora” literally means “Flower Cat” and is derived from the fable of the Cat and the Flowers, in which a cat is unable to choose which flowers to eat and ends up starving to death.

Are you or someone you know afflicted by this syndrome?

Is It Devine Discontent?

When you’re single you want to be in a relationship and when you’re in a relationship you start thinking about being single again?

If so, you might want to consider a long-distance relationship, it has its advantages and could prove to be longer-lasting for those afflicted by El sindrome de la gata flora.

El sindrome de la Gata Flora loosely translates to “divine discontent.”

The Literal Translation:
When you stick it in she screams. When you pull it out she cries.

A certain amount of anguish, restlessness, and confusion is guaranteed when hanging with a person who is afflicted by the Gata Flora Syndrome, whether in the bedroom or the boardroom, as you’ll never know where they or you stand.

The sindrome de la Gata Flora, very graphically describes that oftentimes some of us really don’t know what we want or what we feel. We all want a lot from life and this means making difficult choices.

You’ve reached the fork in the road, where to now?

The concept of “sindrome de la Gata Flora” highlights the difficulty of decision-making and the challenges of having multiple desires, goals, and interests. In modern society, we are presented with countless options and opportunities, and it can be overwhelming to choose which path to take. This can lead to a sense of indecision and a feeling of being stuck.

Don’t get blinded by Indecision

Whether dealing with difficult choices in our relationships, or careers, to overcome this syndrome, it is essential to reflect on our priorities, values, and long-term goals. We need to learn to make choices that align with our values and aspirations, even if they are not always easy or convenient. It is also essential to embrace the fact that making choices involves trade-offs, and we may need to give up some things to gain others.

Ultimately, the syndrome of the Gata Flora reminds us that life is full of difficult choices. Still, we can navigate them by being clear about our priorities and values, staying focused on our goals, and being willing to make sacrifices in order to achieve them.



Puglia is More Than a Destination: It’s a Feast for the Senses

Puglia is more than a destination, it offers a rejuvenating natural experience that delivers rich emotions, captivates your heart, and ignites all of your senses. This enchanted land of sun and hospitality, hugged by two spellbinding seas, is a fertile terrain where centuries-old history, customs, breathtaking vistas, and joie de vivre weave the fabric of everyday existence.

Picture gilded sandy shores descending into transparent turquoise waters.

Inland, unspoiled nature rules supreme, with magnificent valleys and softly undulating hills swathed in centuries-old olive groves, vineyards, and luxuriant forests. The region boasts an extraordinary heritage, including four outstanding UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Castel del Monte is an enigmatic fortress located near the town of Andria, Italy, and built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. Its octagonal shape and unique architectural features have puzzled historians for centuries, leading to many theories about its purpose and symbolism. Some believe it was a hunting lodge or a symbol of the emperor’s power, while others suggest it was used for astronomical observations or even as a secret meeting place for the Knights Templar.

The San Michele Arcangelo Sanctuary in Monte Sant’Angelo is a stunning example of medieval art and architecture. Built during the 5th century, the sanctuary has been a pilgrimage destination for centuries and is still considered one of the most important religious sites in Italy. The interior of the church is adorned with beautiful frescoes and mosaics, and its crypt is said to contain the tomb of Saint Michael the Archangel.

The Foresta Umbra Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests are located in the heart of the Gargano National Park and are home to some of the oldest and most impressive beech trees in Europe. The forest has been protected since the 16th century and is a unique example of the natural heritage of the area. Visitors can explore the forest on foot or by bike, and admire its stunning landscapes and rich biodiversity.

The town of Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its unique trulli houses. These traditional homes are made of local limestone and have conical roofs. Walking through the streets of Alberobello feels like stepping back in time to a bygone era.

In this ancient land, there is a deep reverence for ancient traditions and customs. From the cyclical celebration of nature’s bounty to the rituals honoring the earth and sea, the region is awash with the beauty of age-old practices. These timeless customs are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the land, and traditions that have been passed down through generations. To experience the poetic beauty of Puglia is to glimpse the essence of its people grounded in the ancient ways that still thrive today.

From the lively celebrations that light up the streets to commemorate their devotion to patron saints to the flavorful delicacies served at the table, Puglia’s ancient customs and traditions are woven into every aspect of life and perpetuated through rituals related to harvests, fishing, and the work of master craftsmen. 

Perhaps the most authentic experience of Puglia can be found at the table, where food and wine reign supreme. The region’s cuisine is a sensory explosion of exceptional flavors, where every bite tells a story of the land’s heritage and traditions. The secret to this culinary mastery lies in the ingredients, all locally grown and genuine, that produce the finest extra virgin olive oil and exquisite wines.

In  Puglia, visitors can immerse themselves in a world where time-honored practices continue to thrive, allowing them to experience the beauty of a land steeped in history and culture. You’ll feel at home everywhere you go. The spirit of hospitality is woven into the fabric of everyday life, making Puglia more than a destination and a place where travelers can truly feel embraced by the warmth of its people.

  1. Ostuni – Known as the “White City,” Ostuni is a stunning town with beautiful white-washed buildings that glimmer in the sunlight. Its winding alleys are a joy to explore, and visitors can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding countryside from the town’s hilltop position.
  2. Polignano a Mare – Perched on cliffs overlooking the sea, Polignano a Mare is a charming town with breathtaking views and a lively atmosphere. The town has a beautiful historic center, and visitors can enjoy exploring the narrow streets and alleys that wind through it.
  3. Lecce – Known as the “Florence of the South,” Lecce is a stunning town with beautiful baroque architecture and charming streets. Visitors can admire the town’s beautiful churches and piazzas, and enjoy delicious local cuisine in one of its many restaurants.
  4. Martina Franca – This picturesque town is known for its elegant architecture, historic landmarks, and thriving cultural scene. Visitors can explore its beautiful baroque churches and palaces, and enjoy the town’s lively events and festivals.
  5. Monopoli – A beautiful seaside town with a rich history, Monopoli boasts stunning beaches and a charming historic center. Visitors can stroll through the town’s winding streets, visit its beautiful churches and museums, and enjoy delicious seafood in one of its many restaurants.
  6. Locorotondo – This charming hilltop town has stunning views and a quaint, historic center. Visitors can explore its beautiful white-washed buildings, enjoy its delicious local wine, and take in the stunning scenery of the surrounding countryside.
  7. Cisternino – A beautiful town with winding streets, whitewashed buildings, and delicious food, Cisternino is a delight to explore. Its historic center is home to beautiful churches and palaces, and its restaurants serve some of the best meat dishes in the region.
  8. Gallipoli – A coastal town with a charming historic center, stunning beaches, and vibrant nightlife, Gallipoli is a popular destination for visitors to Puglia. Its beautiful old town is home to stunning baroque architecture, and visitors can enjoy delicious seafood in one of its many restaurants.
  9. Otranto – A seaside town with a beautiful castle, historic landmarks, and a lively atmosphere, Otranto is a must-visit destination in Puglia. Visitors can explore the town’s beautiful churches and museums, stroll along its picturesque harbor, and enjoy the stunning beaches that surround it.

Depending on how much time you have or if this isn’t your first time in Puglia and you should consider exploring the interior of Puglia. The towns in the heart of Puglia are a sight to behold. Here are some well-worth a visit:

These are some of my travel photographs from my time spent in Matera, Altamura, Gravina, and Polignano in June and July 2023.

  1. Matera – Although not strictly in Puglia, this stunning town is located just across the border in the neighboring region of Basilicata. It literally looks as though Matera was carved out of the rocks. Famous for its cave dwellings and historic center, Matera has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors can explore its winding streets and ancient churches, and learn about the town’s fascinating history.
  2. Altamura – This historic town is known for its beautiful architecture and delicious bread. The town’s cathedral is a stunning example of Romanesque architecture, and visitors can also explore its beautiful palaces and piazzas. Altamura bread is famous throughout the region and is a must-try for visitors.
  3. Nardò – Located in the Salento peninsula, Nardò is a charming town with a rich history and beautiful architecture. Its historic center is home to stunning baroque buildings and churches, and visitors can also explore the town’s impressive castle and archaeological museum.
  4. Gravina in Puglia – This picturesque town is known for its stunning natural scenery and rich history. Visitors can explore its beautiful cathedral and other historic landmarks, and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside from the town’s hilltop position.
  5. Ceglie Messapica – This charming town is known for its delicious food and beautiful historic center. Visitors can explore its stunning baroque churches and palaces, and enjoy local specialties like orecchiette in one of the many restaurants.
  6. Martano – A picturesque town located in the heart of Salento, Martano is known for its beautiful historic center and vibrant cultural scene. Visitors can explore its stunning baroque architecture, participate in local events and festivals, and sample delicious wines and food.
  7. Ostuni – Although already mentioned as a coastal town, Ostuni is also located inland, and its historic center is a must-visit destination for visitors to the region. Its stunning white-washed buildings and narrow alleys are a joy to explore, and visitors can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding countryside from the town’s hilltop position.

Who goes to Puglia without hitting one of its numerous stunning beaches? Here’s a list of the top beaches in Puglia. With 800 km of coastline and 2 extraordinary seas, Puglia boasts a wide variety of stunning shorelines and exquisite beaches. 

  1. Porto Selvaggio: This stunning beach is located in a nature reserve near the town of Nardò, and features crystal clear waters and a rocky shoreline. It’s perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and there are plenty of shady spots to relax in.
  2. Baia dei Turchi: This beautiful sandy beach near Otranto is surrounded by pine trees and features clear blue waters. It can get crowded during peak season, but it’s worth the visit.
  3. Punta Prosciutto: This long stretch of white sand beach near Porto Cesareo is popular for its crystal clear waters and soft sand. It’s perfect for families with young children, and there are plenty of amenities nearby.
  4. Torre dell’Orso: This beautiful beach near Lecce is framed by a picturesque tower and features clear blue waters and soft white sand. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby, making it a great place to spend a day.
  5. Polignano a Mare: This beach is located in a charming town known for its cliffside homes and beautiful old town. The beach is small and rocky, but the crystal clear waters make it a great spot for swimming and snorkeling.
  6. Pescoluse: This long stretch of golden sand near the town of Salve is known as the “Maldives of Salento” for its clear blue waters and stunning scenery. There are plenty of amenities nearby, including restaurants and beach clubs.

Planning Your Trip To Puglia

Puglia is a region with so much to see and do that planning your itinerary in advance is essential to make the most of your trip. I’ve been to Puglia three times and I still haven’t seen it all. If you are planning to travel around Puglia without a car, it is best to base yourself in one of the larger towns or cities, such as Bari or Lecce, and use public transportation to explore the surrounding areas. There are frequent trains and buses that connect the major towns and cities, and local buses and taxis are available for shorter trips.

On the other hand, if you are planning to travel by car, it is recommended to rent a car at the airport or in one of the major towns or cities. This will give you the flexibility to explore the region at your own pace and to visit some of the more remote towns and villages that are not easily accessible by public transportation. Be aware that driving in some of the larger cities, particularly Bari, can be challenging, so it is best to park outside the city center and use public transportation to get around.

When planning your itinerary, be sure to include some of the region’s major attractions, such as the towns of Alberobello and Ostuni, the city of Lecce, and the Gargano National Park. But also, consider visiting some of the region’s lesser-known gems, such as the cave churches of Matera, the historic town of Gravina in Puglia, or the beautiful countryside of the Itria Valley. Finally, make time to sample some of the region’s delicious food and wine, such as burrata cheese, orecchiette pasta, and Primitivo wine, which are all unique to the region.

From the stunning coastline to the charming hilltop towns, and from the delicious food to the warm hospitality of the people, Puglia is more than a destination, it is a place like no other. Its unique character is woven into every aspect of life, from the ancient traditions and customs that are still practiced today to the modern innovation and creativity that keeps flourishing with the younger generation. Whether you visit Puglia for its history, its culture, its food, or simply to soak up the sunshine and the stunning scenery, your heart will long to return again and again.


Journey Through Time: Explore the Oldest Natural History Collection in the World

If you’re planning a visit to the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, don’t limit yourself to just a couple of hours in Piazza dei Miracoli. There’s a wealth of sights and experiences waiting for you beyond this famous square. Venture into the Calci and Valgraziosa areas to discover a world of hidden treasures just waiting to be explored. Don’t miss out on the chance to immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of this beautiful region, step off the beaten path.

Imagine stepping back in time to the end of the 16th century and witnessing the birth of one of the world’s oldest natural history collections. That’s exactly what you’ll experience when you visit the Natural History Museum of the University of Pisa, located in the stunning Certosa di Calci. 

This awe-inspiring museum is home to some of the oldest and most fascinating collections in the world that have been curated over centuries. From fossils to minerals, and skeletons to naturalized animals, the museum offers a window into the diverse beauty of our planet’s natural history But that’s not all – the museum’s Cetacean Gallery is a must-see attraction, considered the most important in all of Italy. Set against the backdrop of the majestic Monte Pisano, the gallery features a remarkable collection of present-day and prehistoric cetacean skeletons, as well as life-size models of dolphins and whales. And towering above it all is the blue whale, the largest animal ever to have roamed the earth, greeting visitors of all ages.

There’s one exhibit that truly takes your breath away – the Cetacean Gallery. Housed in the loggia of the Carthusian Monastery, this gallery boasts the most important collection of its kind in all of Italy. From the towering skeleton of a blue whale – the largest animal ever to have existed – to life-size models of playful dolphins and majestic whales, the gallery offers a glimpse into the world of these magnificent creatures.

But the wonder doesn’t stop there. The Mammal Gallery is equally impressive, with over 300 specimens on display, showcasing both the museum’s historical collection and recent acquisitions. And if you’re a fan of freshwater biodiversity, you won’t want to miss the largest freshwater aquarium in Italy, home to over 100 species swimming in a staggering 60,000 liters of water.

With its permanent exhibitions and rotating temporary exhibitions, the Natural History Museum of the University of Pisa is a treasure trove of scientific knowledge and natural beauty. It’s a journey through time and space, a chance to witness the wonders of the natural world up close and personal.

In 1591 Grand Duke Ferdinando de’ Medici of Tuscany first began his eccentric collection of natural oddities and curiosities. This collection was one of the very first “museums” of its kind, boasting an incredible array of objects that fascinated and intrigued visitors from around the world.

Inspired by a German concept of a “Wunderland,” the collection grew over time to include an extensive range of minerals, zoo animals, skeletons, fossils, and a plethora of other small trinkets. Despite its eclectic mix of items, the collection was meticulously curated and organized, with a focus on scientific research and education.

In the 1980s the university recognized the value of this unique collection. They carefully gathered and organized the objects and established a permanent exhibition in the Certosa buildings. Today, visitors can explore this extraordinary collection and marvel at the strange and fascinating specimens that make up the Natural History Museum of the University of Pisa.

A visit to the Natural History Museum of Pisa will take you on a fascinating journey through time and across the globe. Whether you’re a seasoned scientist or simply curious about the wonders of the natural world, you’re sure to be captivated by this museum’s eclectic collection, not to mention the stunning grounds and astounding view of the surrounding Tuscan hills.


A Taste of Heaven: Val d’Orcia and Pienza

Escape to a world of picturesque charm, where every corner is a snapshot waiting to be captured. Discover the stunning Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled in the heart of Tuscany, where rolling hills, vibrant vegetation, and panoramic views come together to create a utopian town unlike any other.

Step back in time and marvel at the masterful architecture of Pienza, a town that embodies the perfect blend of Renaissance elegance and medieval simplicity. Taste the tantalizing flavors of locally-produced cheeses and wines, as you immerse yourself in the region’s rich culinary heritage. Stroll through the quaint streets and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, as you indulge in the simple pleasures of life that have been cherished here for centuries.

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Val d’Orcia and Pienza offer the perfect mix of architecture, food, and tradition. Come and experience the magic of this utopian city for yourself, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Nestled within the serene and stunning Val d’Orcia lies a small, yet enchanting village that simply begs to be explored. Pienza, located just 20 kilometers east of Montalcino and a stone’s throw away from Montepulciano, sits perched on a hilltop, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding valley.

view of Val d'Orcia from Pienza

This picturesque village is renowned for its history as the “ideal city of the Renaissance,” a vision brought to life by the illustrious humanist, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who later went on to become Pope Pius II. Using his wealth and influence, Piccolomini transformed his humble birthplace of Corsignano into the embodiment of a utopian city, perfectly representing the philosophy and principles of classical times and the Italian Renaissance.

As you wander through Pienza’s charming streets and alleyways, you’ll be transported back in time to a world where beauty, culture, and knowledge reign supreme. It’s a place where art, architecture, and natural beauty come together in perfect harmony, creating a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Pienza is the realization of a dream that has withstood the test of time. 

This charming village exudes the essence of the Renaissance in all its glory.

In the heart of Pienza lies the magnificent Piazza Pio II, a masterful example of architectural harmony and grace. Surrounded by buildings crafted from stunningly bright travertine stone, the square exudes an air of solemnity and dignity that captivates all who visit.

One of the highlights of the square is the “well of the dogs,” a beautiful fountain that adds to the tranquil and serene atmosphere of the surrounding area. Across from the well is the Cattedrale dell’Assunta, or Duomo, which houses some of the finest paintings by renowned artists of the era. The octagonal bell tower standing over the ancient crypt with the same shape adds to the grandeur of the cathedral, dominating the landscape and making its presence felt from afar.

To the right of the Duomo stands the imposing Palazzo Piccolomini, which boasts a magnificent Loggia and a delightful hanging garden offering breathtaking panoramas of the Val d’Orcia Valley. It’s no surprise that Franco Zeffirelli chose to film some scenes of his famous and romantic movie Romeo and Juliet at this location, using the Palazzo Piccolomini to represent the Capulets’ home and the site of the lovers’ first encounter.

In Pienza, every corner holds a treasure, every building a story, and every view a unique and unforgettable experience. So come and immerse yourself in the rich history and enchanting beauty of this charming Tuscan village.

Strolling along the narrow streets of Pienza is akin to gazing at a masterpiece painting of a Renaissance city come to life. The perfectly proportioned buildings create a sense of awe and wonder that transports you to another time and place. The meticulous attention to detail in every corner of the village is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the architects and artisans who created this enchanting town. Pienza is truly a living work of art and a must-see destination for anyone seeking to experience the magic of Tuscany.

While visiting Val d’Orcia don’t miss out on the sensory experience of a lifetime. We all know how good the wine and food are in Tuscany and that goes without saying. I’m referring to the stunning and invigorating natural hot springs across the Tuscan territory, from the Lunigiana up north to the Val d’Orcia in the south. While many hot springs are now part of enclosed spa centers, there are several very popular – and beautiful – outdoor hot springs remaining in Tuscany, such as Saturnia and Bagni San Filippo (see the photo below) that can offer a unique experience of Tuscany. But if you are not in the immediate area of those and want to enjoy some “warm waters”, just take a look at road signs near you and ask the local tourism office – most places with “terme” in their name mean there are “thermal waters” nearby!

The beauty of outdoor hot springs is they are accessible day and night. You have no idea what an awesome experience it is to bathe in natural hot spring pools and cascading waters, under a full moon. I was fortunate enough to experience this in Saturnia.

Val d’Orcia and Pienza are a true testament to the beauty and grandeur of Tuscany, offering an idyllic mix of stunning natural landscapes, magnificent architecture, delicious food, and rich traditions. The sheer beauty of the rolling hills, charming small towns, and impressive monuments is unparalleled, and the region’s cultural and historical significance is a testament to its enduring appeal. Whether you’re a lover of art and history, or simply want to immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere of the Tuscan countryside, Val d’Orcia and Pienza are sure to captivate your heart and leave you with unforgettable memories.


Surviving in an Overcrowded Marketplace: Harnessing the Benefits of SEO Content and Customer Reviews

Words are a powerful tool in the world of business, and they have been for a long time. In the past, when the internet was not as prevalent as it is today, television commercials and testimonials were the go-to methods for promoting products and services. These were effective in building trust and credibility, just like branding and customer reviews do today. In the digital age, however, the game has changed. With the explosion of e-commerce and online shopping, businesses need to be proactive in their approach to marketing and promoting their products and services. This is where SEO content and customer reviews come in – two essential tools for the success of any business in today’s world. In fact, customer reviews will benefit your SEO. In this article, we will explore the necessity and benefits of SEO customer reviews and SEO content.

With the rise of e-commerce and online shopping, customer reviews have become more important than ever. Nowadays, people rely heavily on reviews to make purchasing decisions. In fact, research shows that the majority of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. A product or service that has a high number of positive reviews is more likely to catch the attention of potential customers and drive sales.

On the other hand, businesses that lack reviews or have low ratings are less likely to be considered by potential customers. This is why it’s crucial for businesses to prioritize getting positive customer feedback and displaying it prominently on their website and social media channels.

There are numerous ways in which customer reviews can benefit the SEO of your online business. Here are the key advantages of leveraging reviews for your business’s online success:

Reviews Provide Valuable SEO Content

Reviews are not just a form of customer feedback. They are a source of SEO content that can significantly enhance your website’s online presence. Every review that a customer writes provides Google with valuable data regarding your business, products, and services, thereby improving your website’s positioning on search engine result pages.

Competitive Edge

In the competitive online marketplace, customer reviews can give your business the edge it needs to stand out from the crowd. Positive reviews from satisfied customers can differentiate your business and attract new prospects to your website.

Improved Search Engine Rankings

Reviews have become an integral part of SEO for online businesses, as search engines like Google trust and rank reviewed businesses higher than those without any reviews. Collecting reviews on your website can, therefore, improve your search engine rankings and visibility.

Increased Credibility

Positive customer reviews can quickly establish your company’s credibility and earn the trust of potential customers. People tend to trust the opinions and ratings of their peers when making online purchases, and Google also favors websites with reviews. In essence, reviews can significantly enhance your website’s credibility and SEO rankings.

More Reviews Lead to More Sales

Having numerous positive reviews on your website demonstrates that your business is established, reputable, and trustworthy. Reviews serve as a testament to your company’s values, mission, and excellence, and the more reviews you have, the more engaged people will be with your business. Responding to customer reviews also shows that you value your customers’ feedback and care about their overall experience with your business.

In conclusion, reviews have become a crucial standard for professional websites. Whether your business provides services, products, or both, potential customers are likely to seek out reviews to gauge the experience of others. Incorporating customer reviews into your website’s SEO strategy can significantly improve your online presence, attract new prospects, and ultimately lead to more sales.

Why SEO Content is Vital for your Business

SEO content is created with the goal of improving a website’s search engine rankings. This type of content is optimized with specific keywords and phrases that potential visitors would use to find a website through a search engine. 

The content may include blog posts, articles, product descriptions, landing pages, and more. The goal of SEO content is to make it easier for search engines to find and index a website, as well as to provide valuable information to potential visitors. 

By creating high-quality, relevant SEO content, businesses can attract more organic traffic to their website and improve their online visibility. If you’re a small business owner, seeking the help of a writer that specializes in SEO content can be incredibly beneficial. These professionals can help you improve your online visibility and reputation, making it easier for potential customers to find you and trust your brand. 

An SEO content writer can be vital in elevating a business’s online presence and credibility. Here are some ways that an SEO content writer can help:

  1. Creating high-quality content: An SEO content writer can create high-quality, engaging, and informative content that resonates with the target audience. This can include blog posts, articles, whitepapers, and other types of content that establish the business as an authority in its industry.
  2. Incorporating keywords: An SEO content writer can research and integrate relevant keywords in the content to optimize it for search engines. This can help the business rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant search queries, increasing its visibility and attracting more traffic to the website.
  3. Optimizing meta descriptions and title tags: An SEO content writer can optimize the meta descriptions and title tags on the website to make them more appealing to users and search engines. This can increase click-through rates and improve the website’s overall SEO performance.
  4. Building backlinks: An SEO content writer can create high-quality content that other websites link to, which can improve the website’s domain authority and search engine rankings.
  5. Establishing a brand voice: An SEO content writer can help a business establish a consistent brand voice across all its content. This can help build trust with the audience and establish the business as a credible and trustworthy source of information.

Overall, an SEO content writer can help a business improve its online presence and credibility by creating high-quality content that resonates with the target audience, optimizing it for search engines, and establishing a consistent brand voice. By doing so, your business can attract more traffic to its website, generate more leads, and ultimately drive more sales.

How A Freelance SEO Content Writer Can Help Your Business Thrive

Hiring a freelance SEO content writer can provide several benefits for businesses. Firstly, freelancers typically offer more flexible scheduling and can often work on short-term projects, making them ideal for businesses with fluctuating workloads. Secondly, freelance writers often have a diverse range of skills and experience, meaning they can provide high-quality content across a variety of niches and topics. Additionally, freelance writers can often provide more affordable rates than traditional agencies, as they have lower overhead costs. Freelancers also tend to work closely with their clients, offering more personalized and customized services. Finally, hiring a freelance SEO content writer can provide businesses with fresh perspectives and creative ideas, helping to enhance the overall quality and effectiveness of their online content.

By leveraging the power of SEO Content and online reviews, you can take your business to the next level and stand out in a crowded marketplace.


The Business of Aging

The world’s most lucrative consumers are aging, and a marketplace already flooded with anti-aging solutions and magic potions is finding new angles, and manufacturing new trends for aging women. Fads are nothing new, and as such nothing has changed. Take the Keto diet as an example, another fad diet that eliminates entire food groups, promising rapid weight loss and better health. The keto diet business is expected to generate over 15 billion U.S. dollars by 2027, by introducing a cornucopia of new products with a low-carb or no-carb claim. I wonder whether Acheta Domesticus (crickets) will feature prominently in Keto diets since they are considered a nutritious, protein-rich, environmentally sustainable alternative to meat.

Weight loss and fad diets have been trending for decades, and overweight public figures, actors, and actresses often bore the brunt. Remember how the media and public shamed Elizabeth Taylor for gaining weight as she aged? What would Elizabeth Taylor say today if she saw all the inflated, fake booty strutting the streets? Even Madonna had implants surgically placed in her buttocks to stay in vogue. Yet as much as cosmetic surgery is on the rise, this blade has a double edge. As of late, cosmetic surgery and fillers are becoming taboo, and even Madonna is being heavily scrutinized and criticized for her numerous interventions. The media’s approach is frighteningly passive-aggressive.

All my social media feeds have been flooded with posts showcasing and praising actresses for not wearing makeup, with bold statements on how they’ve chosen to age naturally, as though it were some new religion.

Political correctness is being used as a weapon, and those that are constantly in the public’s eye, either play along and spread the new gospel or get shamed and/or canceled. Why aren’t women allowed to age according to their own standards?

Women who let their hair go white are now being exalted and encouraged by the media, as they adhere to new social standards. At the 2023 Oscars, female celebrities that rocked different shades of white and grey hair were being pined after by the paparazzi. You may have seen Andie MacDowell’s stunning grey curls at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, which unleashed this particular trend. Once you discover how much time it took to get that perfect layered mane of silver hair, and the products used to achieve this natural aging look, you realize it’s just another trend.

Every major hair color manufacturer now offers varying tones of grey, white, and silver, and YouTube is brimming with DIY videos. I got 9.710.000 google results for videos on how to dye your hair white. I also got 61,700,000 results for white hair dye for dark hair. The global hair dye market grew from $21.19 billion in 2022 to $23.3 billion in 2023 and it is estimated it will reach USD 34.13 Billion by 2028.

In the 1700s, white hair became very fashionable for a short while, and everyone wore powdered wigs, with all of the ensuing discomforts, which ranged from creepy crawlers to mice nesting in their white, super-heavy wigs. Let’s see how long this trend lasts for us.

There’s a visceral reaction to women aging, whether they opt to intervene with surgery or not. For those women that have gained star status, it’s as though the public is let down by the fact that these ‘stars’ are mere mortals after all. They are being served up, by the media, to provide women the inspiration on their journey to faking aging naturally. The media are the executioners and the gullible public, the facilitators. It’s called catch-22, you’re dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.  


Is Change Good?

We’ve all heard it at least once. Uttered by a friend or family member, encouraging us or consoling us, telling us that change is good. But is change actually always good? I’ve been a great advocator for change and my life is a shining example of this, and it is for this reason that I can confidently say that change is not always good. 

Just ask the man with 3 kids who just lost his job, his wife, or both. Ask the kid who lost a leg or your neighbors who lost their homes in a flood. Some might answer that God works in mysterious ways. Another one of those flat-out absurd quotes that have been bouncing around far too long. I understand that in times of need people seek hope, but what good can it possibly do to believe that there is an entity up in the sky that has a plan cut out for each of us, and no matter how twisted and torturous this plan might be, it will magically all be ok in the end. Parents that have lost young children might not be so easily soothed by God’s mysterious ways.

What prompted me to write this article was the avalanche of pretty quote posts on social media. Have people become tired or are they simply at loss for their own words? These quotes are often overly simplified sentiments being presented out of context, such as ‘Change Is Always Good’. We live in an age where quotes are being slung at us left and right as some sort of medicine or special mantra that will magically dispel our strife and suffering. 

Quotes can be inspirational, however, simply because a famous author or popular public figure might have once stirred the hearts and minds of people, with an eloquent and touching phrase, does not turn those words into a talisman. Quotes online come in categories such as Stay True, Be Real, Stay Simple, and I Don’t Care quotes, to name but a measly few. We’ve got hashtags for the quote of the hour, the quote of the day, the quote of the week, and the month.

In my opinion, the internet has turned many people into self-proclaimed philosophers and counselors. There are quote Gurus crawling out of every social media corner. I ask myself whether, before the internet, people were so strung out on quotes to live their lives by and do their bidding. The only quotes I ever came across were those I read in books and those passed on to me by my family, but those are an entirely different breed of quotes. My mother turns 85 this year and I’m having a T-Shirt printed with her lifelong favorite quote and mantra; La Vita è Una Fregatura which translates into Life is a Ripoff.  You could say I inherited my pragmatic outlook from her.

Change is part of life, however, it is not always good. Distinguishing between self-induced change and change that is out of our control, such as natural disasters sweeping people’s homes and lives away, is a good start.

If you decide and choose to leave your job because you need a change and you know you can do better, as a supporting friend, I could say, change is always good, and in this instance, it would be ok, or I might be the kind of friend that tells you to think it through, maybe find another job before quitting, and since you’re already behind on your mortgage and one more missed payment might mean losing your home, you stop to think about it.

On the other hand, if you lost your job quite unexpectedly and not only were you not prepared, you actually loved your job and were distraught at the prospects that lay ahead, especially since you happen to be 59 years old, still don’t have enough years for a decent pension, and statistics indicate that your chances of getting hired at 59 are slim or next to none, then, as a good friend, I would commiserate with you and I would probably say life is a ripoff. 

Difficult times can teach us how to take a negative situation and turn it to our advantage. If so, then the question is not so much whether change is always good, it should be whether change makes us into better or stronger persons. If a man loses his job and his reaction is to shower his colleagues and employer with a spray of bullets, has the change done him good? Our reaction and response to change are the keys to whether or not we can make the leap to a better version of ourselves, despite difficult and unexpected changes.

Some thrive on change whereas others will do just about anything to resist it. Small changes can translate into big successes, such as a new diet and fitness routine or quitting cigarettes. These self-imposed changes are aimed at self-improvement and even these can at times lead to disasters, such as fad diets that create vicious cycles and no weight loss, or botched esthetic treatments. Change needs to be addressed with thoughtfulness and consideration for the fallout and probable outcome, whether it’s happening to us or we are making it happen.

Changes can make us feel assertive and in control of our lives, but change for the sake of change is a risky endeavor because no matter how much we prefer to have things go according to our terms, plans can backfire. 

I’ve made many changes throughout my life, moved and relocated to different cities, countries, and continents, and I have made several major career changes along the way, all orchestrated by me. Over the years, pondering over my life I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like had I not left a certain place, friends, or job and I’ve often asked myself whether change is actually always good. It would be pure speculation for me to think that had I done A instead of B, I might now be happier, wealthier, more successful, or a better person, but it often nags at me.

Change is all about adapting and whether or not one anticipated the change in question. Take the pandemic for example. I won’t elucidate on that event, I’m sure you get the gist. Change teaches us to be resilient. We are constantly changing as we grow and age and I suspect that although aging is a gradual change that we all anticipate, many would gladly renounce it. This points to the idea that change isn’t inherently good or bad, it is simply inevitable.  It takes courage and passion in life to overcome difficult changes and follow the burdensome path to becoming a better person.

Turn and face the stranger
Pretty soon you’re gonna get a little older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

David bowie

What’s Behind A Name and Should You Change Yours?

Have you ever thought of changing your name because it doesn’t resonate with your intrinsic nature? Perhaps you prefer a diminutive form of your birth name or you are one of the lucky ones who earned yourselves a suitable nickname attesting only to your finest qualities, for as we know many nicknames can be horridly cruel, making one the brunt of ridicule, and while some nicknames may be cute, we simply outgrow them.

What’s Behind a Name?

What’s behind a name? Sometimes the answer is everything. N. Scott Momaday, in his poetic account of the ways in which names and landscapes shape our reality, The Names: A Memoir, argues that the meaning of who we are is contained or hidden within our names. He believes that names can not only be revealing, but they may also conceal our identity or the identity of a place.

Perhaps this has never been truer than it is in our day and age, on social networks. Hell, they even have online profile name generators to meet the increasing needs of millions of virtual alter egos who ironically use false names, not necessarily to hide their identity, but in order to stand out and be noticed in the matrix.

There is a lot more to a name than meets the eye. Names are loaded with information, they often indicate gender, birthplace, ethnicity, and religion. In certain cultures, names refer to a person’s position within the family or the community. In Western culture, naming follows fashions and trends with yearly top 100 lists of names. There are names that belong to a distant past and those names that carry a negative connotation due to their origins and meaning. For example, the name Claudia means lame, Calvin is Latin for bald or hairless, Mara means bitter, Cameron means crooked nose, and Nemo means nobody.

Our names are like labels or captions that enable people to make quick assertions, and assumptions about us. There are numerous reasons one might want to change their name; to create a new identity, avoid discrimination, to not stand out and more easily fit in a new culture, or because they do not want to be found.

Actors, change their names because it’s better for business and authors might do so for anonymity. Some names are a burden, and others are intimidating, whereas some names are forbidden in certain countries. One could say that names have a certain power over our lives.

What’s in a name after all? Is it the sound, the way the letters flow seamlessly together, or is it what’s behind the name that matters? In an Interview, Alfred Hitchcock repeated the word Leprosy in such a manner as to convey to us that the word Leprosy, in itself, has a nice ring to it, and he argued that if we were to disassociate it from the disease it would be a lovely name for a girl. Personally, I wouldn’t risk it.

What’s In A Surname?

Surnames are a key to people’s identities since they refer to origin stories and historic patterns of migration. Surnames are a direct link to a person’s ancestry and heritage. In some countries, both parents’ surnames are passed on, but generally speaking the patriarchal custom of using the father’s surname still prevails. 

Renouncing a surname means severing the bonds of ancestry and a portion of family history, (in some cases wealth), that might stretch back centuries. Elite families remain elite for centuries. “Names retain their status (low or high) for 500 years or more in some cases.” This implies that social status associated with a family name is passed on through generations.

A study tracking 634 rare surnames, such as Pepys, Bigge, and Nottidge, in the UK,  has unveiled how wealth has been handed down through the generations“. The study concluded that the law of inheritance rules. They calculated that it would require 300 years before the descendants of very wealthy 19th-century families end up being of average wealth. In other words, if your family name were Rothchild, it would have its advantages to keep it, for both yourself and your offspring.

Your Name Could Be Your Life Saver

Many migrants change their names in order to avoid prejudice and not be discriminated against.

Xian Zhao and Monica Biernat conducted three studies to test how anglicizing ethnic names affect intergroup decision-making in hypothetical life-and-death situations. It concluded that a name can shape the way a person is treated and their prospects in life.

“Study 1 showed that White American participants were equally likely to help White and Asian immigrants with Anglicized names but were less likely to help Asian immigrants with original ethnic names. The same effect emerged in Study 2 but only among male White American participants. In Study 3, White pro-assimilationists were more likely to help White than Arab immigrants (with either Anglicized or original ethnic names), but White pro-multiculturalists were more likely to help Arab immigrants with Anglicized names than White targets. “

Names are like passwords or keys that open the way for opportunities or embarrassments, and at times they simply point to the remains of our past selves.

The Power of  Names and Naming

The Ancient Egyptians believed that knowing something’s real name gave them great power. An important part of the Judeo-Christian creation story lies in the power of naming and has ties to authority in the scriptures. The bible recounts the story of when God entrusted and empowered Adam with the task of giving names to everything put under his care. Names were considered labels and symbols, and more importantly, they were the key to the very nature and spirit of the being.

Behind everyone’s name, there is a story, there’s history, some carry a legacy, and others are imbued with religious or spiritual connotations. Take for example the numerous Hebrew names that translate into a gift from God, such as Ivan, Jani, Jannes, Jathniel, Jonathan, Jukka, and so on. There are many instances in the bible where the child is named after a prophecy.

In India, it is quite common for people, particularly Hindus, to choose their newborn’s names on the basis of their astrological chart, provided by an astrologer, who determines the sound a name should begin with. 

Can you imagine not being able to freely choose your child’s name?  In Denmark, parents are required to pick a name from a pre-approved list of 7,000 names, 4,000 of which are girl names and 3000 for boys.  These stringent rules were put into place to protect innocent children from the burden of ridiculous or silly names. There are several countries that regulate name-giving, however, Denmark is by far the strictest.

The Indigenous people of North America use names derived from nature that convey the person’s character or temperament, often referring to an animal in connection to desirable characteristics or particular traits. Some will be given more than one name during their lifetime, these names stand for significant character changes. Legal names are given, whereas Indigenous names are earned.

The Torah is filled with characters whose names change throughout. In fact, Judaic tradition supports the idea that one is not destined to live with the names given to them by others, and teaches that through their own choices and actions, each of them can name and rename themselves.

I was given one name at birth, chosen not by my parents but by a stranger who helped with my delivery into this world. Throughout my life and travels my name has been changed and adapted by friends and family alike, in Italian, English, and French. With so many variations to choose from I still haven’t decided whether it’s a good thing or not. As a writer, I’ve often considered the advantages of shortening and anglicizing my name, which translates perfectly to Maggie McGregor, then again my mouthful of a name is exotic and unique by comparison, which resonates with an important part of me, so I think I’ll keep it.

In her poem, Each Of Us Has A Name, the spiritual poet Zelda perfectly captures the essence of what is in a name.  (Translation by Marcia Lee Falk)

Each of us has a name
given by God
and given by our parents

Each of us has a name
given by our stature and our smile
and given by what we wear

Each of us has a name
given by the mountains
and given by our walls

Each of us has a name
given by the stars
and given by our neighbors

Each of us has a name
given by our sins
and given by our longing

Each of us has a name
given by our enemies
and given by our love

Each of us has a name
given by our celebrations
and given by our work

Each of us has a name
given by the seasons
and given by our blindness

Each of us has a name
given by the sea
and given by
our death.

Cover Image Art by Alfred Hernandez


Creating Change From The Bottom Up

Most of us are familiar with the concept that change starts from the top. I care to differ. In this article, I will share with you a story of how change that starts from the bottom, driven through action and example, can result in a solid foundation from which to build. 

A few years back I came into contact with a group of young inmates at Bollate Penitentiary, in Milano. My contact was Luca whom I met on a sunny but chilly January morning while having a coffee. I had the only table in the sun and Luca kindly asked if he could join me. We got to talking and one thing led to another.  He was a graphic artist who got leave three days a week, from the penitentiary, to work at Consorzio Viale dei Mille, an organization engaged in creating opportunities for inmates, the prison economy, and the cooperatives operating in prisons. He was working on another project, called Keep The Planet Clean, which piqued my interest immediately. That day both Luca and I left feeling as though our meeting was meant to be. We met on several occasions, and soon after I filled out the necessary documents in order to partake in a meeting with a compelling group of young inmates at Bollate penitentiary. 

When I entered Bollate I was led down a long bright corridor, almost one kilometer long, where Luca was waiting for me at the other end.  We made our way up a stairwell which led us to a room on the second floor, where I met the key players of Keep The Planet Clean, Matteo Gorelli, and Fernando Gomez da Silva, among others.

This group of inmates had taken the essential first steps in undertaking concrete actions, the kind of actions the planet needs more of because they can have a strong impact. It started with two inmates, Matteo and Fernando, who joined forces to make a difference in their restrained community and beyond its confines. They had a vision and the initiative to follow through. 

Their association, Keep The Planet Clean, had already patiently weaved a network of collaborations and partnerships with other non-profit organizations, associations, and entities that made environmental battles their mission. 

I sat in awe as I listened to a group of young men who showed a profound level of awareness and social responsibility. They did not claim to have a solution, instead, they had unanimously chosen to be the solution! I have attended my fair share of long intense meetings in my profession but rarely, if ever, had I come across such a cohesive group.

Matteo is straightforward, serious, and brutally honest, traits which I admire. He has a confident yet mysterious air about him. I also caught a glimpse of the pain mixed with anger, which fuel his passion. Matteo had set his sights on achieving redemption, through his exhaustive efforts, to create something bigger than himself, something that could reach out, touch, and reverberate far beyond the binding prison walls.

Matteo managed the association together with his colleague, Fernando.  The team of Keep the Planet Clean grew, in no time, to over 65 participants in the penitentiary alone. They had a newsletter that rocked, and a dedicated site in Milan, Italy, for events designed to inform and engage the community. 

Fernando was an effervescent mix of charm, goodwill, and vitality. His slightly skewed smile and steadfast gaze only added to his amiable and appealing disposition. In fact, the thought crossed my mind, that he certainly must have been detained by error.  The truth is that most of the detainees at Bollate were processed, by the penal system, at a young age. An age when many young people fall prey to wayward ways, whether by necessity or peer group pressure.  Fernando was far away from his home and family. A love story had taken him across the ocean, from Brazil to Italy, where his fate took on a dark twist. Behind his gregarious and light-hearted disposition, there was a brilliant, focused, and sweet-natured young man, dreaming of reconnecting with his family. The KPC project would become the trampoline that hurled him over the walls of Bollate Penitentiary.

Luca was the ambassador for KPC, outside Bollate. He was one of the first, of the group, to qualify for work leave, putting him into contact with the outside world. He was also the first to be released on parole. Luca is more than a talented graphic artist, he is an idea man, an innovator at heart, busy exploring new theories and practices in composting and vertical gardening. 

“Freedom is not a license to act but a license to exercise free choices in any given situation.” 

(Vera Nazarian)

This story deserves to be told from its humble beginnings. In 2015, Fernando and Matteo presented the prison management with an evaluation report on the waste of food in the structure. The report was the result of meticulous research and data collection, cell by cell, in the penitentiary, where the per capita quantity of waste was calculated, in a rudimentary way, by weighing it with a kitchen scale. 

The findings revealed that 4000 kilos of bread were thrown into the dustbin by inmates at the Bollate prison every month. Once they presented these findings in a report, the prison management immediately followed up on these two boys’ will and interest in implementing a system of waste collection and management. 

Following the acceptance of their waste management proposal and a period of experimentation, in less than two years the project was extended to the women’s ward, involving the entire penitentiary by November 2017. 

They succeeded in collecting, managing, and separating 91% of the total waste produced by the Penitentiary, which amounted to 19 tons/per month. With a population of almost 1300, not counting staff, this project was a turning point at Bollate. These numbers are difficult to reach, even for the most organized municipal administrations. This is a perfect example of activism that starts from the bottom, driven through action and example while engaging others, resulting in a solid foundation from which to build. 

The project’s humble beginnings from what is perceived as the lowest stratum of society, prisons and detention facilities, created the opportunity for a concrete form of redemption and activism, that could also be replicated in other penitentiary facilities. 

The group’s commitment to recycling and sustainability flourished beyond the prison walls. They set themselves to work on a series of improvements in public parks and schools where they implemented a recycling system by reallocating garbage bins and welding new structures to group together and color-code bins to encourage recycling in parks.

Another group of inmates dedicated themselves to re-using the plastic collected and created a variety of items that could be resold at markets, from lampshades using plastic cutlery, to tabletop Christmas trees and wreaths made by shredding and cutting plastic bottles, to name a few. In March 2019, the first issue of the bimonthly newsletter ‘Riciclami’ was published, a magazine that dealt with green and sustainability issues, completely self-produced in the penitentiary. The magazine was slick, with in-depth well-written articles that could compete with the best out there.  I subsequently met with the group several times, attended their community events, and shot a short documentary in Italian. 

With a change in direction of the penitentiary and the pandemic, any further initiatives by Keep The Planet Clean were put on hold indefinitely. This means no more contact with external players, no more means of selling goods made from recycled plastic and no one knows if and when Keep The Planet Clean will be resuscitated.

“The truth of human freedom lies in the love that breaks down barriers.” 

(Jürgen Moltmann)

But this story doesn’t end here. Matteo, Fernando, and Luca are now on parole and they’ve all been busy setting themselves up to continue their work outside the penitentiary. The pillars that sustained the KPC project are the same ones that propel them on their journey forward, raising awareness, economizing on waste production, recovery of the same, and the social recovery of people subjected to detention measures.

Matteo learned a lot from his experience in prison and has even graduated from Bicocca. He has embarked on a new adventure called MITIGA, a social enterprise comprised of inmates detained in the Bollate prison and designed to promote the full integration into the society of the prisoners themselves, often subject to the exclusion and social marginalization, once they are released. An important project not only for the reintegration of detainees but also to raise awareness of the collective and stimulate them to be rid of prejudices based on social stigma. Matteo’s commitment to sustainability is still a driving force behind MITIGA. 

Fernando, a former electrician, has designed a condominium waste meter, called Riselda, after his mother. The three functions of the Riselda project, in partnership with the “BiPart” social enterprise, MITIGA: are the digitization of waste in condominiums, a reward system, and the networking of neighborhood citizens. Riselda, in fact, is a sort of “intelligent” bin that has the function of weighing, tracking, and producing personalized information on the waste produced by each user, who is provided with a personal card, which allows them to print a sticker with barcode issued for the various types of waste. This waste meter which rewards virtuous tenants is an innovative approach to increasing awareness and engagement in densely populated city buildings. 

Fernando’s waste meter, Riselda is becoming the basis for engaging tenants who get rewarded with lower garbage taxes by converting the “points” earned by the most virtuous into discounts and shopping vouchers.

Luca, who had been actively involved with a greenhouse project at Bollate, focused on composting, for several years, which has led him to a unique compost recipe, using micro-organisms that turn food waste into a rich fertilizer, without attracting bugs or rodents.  Thanks to Matteo’s enterprise, MITIGA, Luca’s compost recipe, and Fernando’s Waste Meter are now being tested and applied in residential buildings, in Milan. 

If what we do is who we are, and our actions define us, these three ex-convicts and their cellmates who worked seamlessly together, for several years, have shown that change starts from the bottom up and most importantly from within. 


Stop Boring Your Audience

How many laborious and painful presentations have you had to sit through, and how many tiresome presentations have you hosted? No matter how great a speaker you may be, chances are you’ve bored more than your fair share of audiences. Remember that people only retain 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, and 70% of what they hear and see.

Speaker support presentations are useful tools to help engage your audience and pique their interest. Nonetheless, in an age of information overload, it is vital to produce engaging and easy-to-digest content that meets audiences’ expectations.  Static flat Powerpoint slide presentations are a thing of the past. If you want to get your audience’s attention, whether they be colleagues, employees, other businesses, or prospective clients, you need to hook them and dazzle them with a strong and powerful presentation.

I’ve been in the business of producing audio-visual digital content for years. I used to work in a corporate environment, where I sat through some grueling presentations. Your audience doesn’t need to see the bullet point list from your speech and if you are going to share numbers at least try and make it exciting by creating an animated chart? You’re probably thinking to yourself, who has the time, right? That’s where I come into the picture.

I can help you write your copy and create a well-designed, tailor-made presentation that will engage your audience and keep them listening. For those of you who have time and the knack, and would like to try creating your own dynamic presentation, check out the sample video below. It was created using 3 different free software tools for mac users:

  • Keynote was used for the initial slide show build, with 3D charts, text, video inserts, and transitions. An mp4 can be exported from Keynote to use as a guide for soundtrack creation
  • Garage band was used for the soundtrack and syncing to the movie file
  • iMovie was used to bring together the video and audio track, and export the final .mp4 file
Video created by Maddalena Di Gregoriio

I’ll be honest with you, it takes a little practice and a whole lot of patience to get just the right timing and pace and the right look. It took me two days to get this 45-second video just right. Don’t forget to stay in line with your branding when you design presentations.

If you don’t have the time to fuss over your presentations, hire a professional freelance digital content designer.


The Winter of Our Discontent

Many of you are probably familiar with Steinbeck’s novel, The Winter of Our Discontent, which essentially means now we are in a period of misery. This particular phrase perfectly sums up what I fear we are heading towards this winter.

Everything is reaching a boiling point simultaneously. It would appear it all started with the Pandemic and ensuing lockdowns that paralyzed and put a deep dent in our economy.

We never had the time to catch our breath that the war in Ukraine covertly switched places with COVID. Basically, we woke up, one morning, toting Ukrainian flags without asking ourselves why, breaking all ties with Russia, and the media diligently waving in a new cycle of terror and grief to keep us all on the edge of our seats.

The global drama has been intensified by a climate crisis that gained momentum this summer, with devastating consequences.

I won’t go into the gory details, I’ll leave those to mainstream media. Besides, it doesn’t take an expert economist to figure out that the combination of extreme heat, fires, droughts, flooding, supply chain, and transportation disruption means that we will be seeing a lot less food on store shelves and the inflated cost of certain foods will make these unaffordable to many people.

Let’s not forget the disproportionate price hikes of fuel and electricity, especially in Italy and Germany, that will bust most households’ finances apart and have already forced many out of business. In Italy, small and medium businesses are shutting down and some of the larger Italian companies are moving to countries such as Romania.

They tell us we will need to turn down the heat this winter and use less gas. In Italy most stovetops are gas. So shall we just eat cold sandwiches to save energy?

How about extending daylight savings through winter this year? Think about what a difference that extra hour of light would make. That extra hour of light at the end of the day would mean all households and buildings would save an hour of energy a day.

In Italy, where I live a small loaf of cheap industrially produced commercial sliced bread costs over 3€. As for fresh baked bread and goods, bakers are getting utility bills that are impossible to contain or pay for that matter. This will force many bakeries to shut down or cut back production and increase the prices of baked goods.

Rice, is also a staple, that traditionally even the poor could afford. That will no longer be the case. Droughts have destroyed rice fields in Europe and Asia this summer. The renowned Arborio Rice used to prepare the acclaimed Italian risotto will be hard to come by soon, as a result of the very poor yields, due to continued droughts this year.

So if you were worried about product shortages, such as microchips or construction materials, think again, because trust me, food and energy shortages will have tragic consequences.

Meanwhile the rich will keep partying and flying around in their private jets just as they did during the Corona Virus Pandemic.

The Rothchilds, Gates, Besoz, and Musks of this world will keep eating risottos, oysters, and caviar washed down with Crystal and taking weekend field trips on one of Besoz’s rocketships, burning a whopping 11,000 pounds of fuel per second just for liftoff. That’s two million times the rate at which fuel is burned by the average family car. The rest of us will need to make do, get a bike, walk, sleep in our parkas, stop showering and eat cold dishes.


How To Become An Astute Consumer

In this day and age, with the constant barrage of clever ads at every keystroke, people need to be smarter about what they buy, when, and why. There are a number of reasons for this. To start with, the pandemic, inflation and the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia have dug a deep hole in consumers’ wallets. The price of essential goods such as food, fuel, and utilities has skyrocketed in a short span of time, making day-to-day living a chore for many. Another very important reason is that consumers need to be part of the solution when it comes to waste management and sustainability issues.

For some time now, before entering any website I turn off all of the personalized ads and content cookies. The reason I am doing this is not so much for privacy, but for peace of mind. As a writer, I do a lot of research online, for blog articles, and product reviews, so you can probably imagine what my screen looks like when I go online. The sheer number of ads that populate my screen are more than a distraction, they are annoying.

Another reason I do this is that I don’t need to be teased, coerced, and prompted into purchasing anything at all. It’s ironic, seeing I am a copywriter and my job is to write content that titillates and engages consumers to either buy or subscribe so they can then receive ongoing emails written to persuade even the most difficult and discerning consumers to spend money. Perhaps it is precisely because I work as a copywriter that I have developed this intolerance for the subtle and conniving methods used to hook people online.

Advertising is nothing new, it wasn’t so long ago, that we couldn’t sit through a movie without the repeated commercial interruptions, which were usually a prompt to get a snack, a drink, or make a washroom run.

In the last 15 years, advertising and consumer habits have changed drastically. According to data, there are over 2.5 billion people shopping online.

Online Shopping

It was not so long ago that people used to shop locally. These days if you are a shop owner in a city or town wishing to attract more local customers you need to jump through hoops to stay in business. You’ll need a website and perhaps a few landing pages to direct customers to specific goods or services, you’ll need product reviews, testimonials, and a blog with articles that show new prospects that you are an expert in your field or that your products are superior, a better deal and so on. Then you will need to develop ad copy for social media and email marketing content to keep loyal customers and increase conversions. Wow, that is a lot of work and it comes at a cost. There was a time when all a shop owner needed to do was open the shop. Customers were acquired through word of mouth or simply because the service or product spoke for itself.

As much as shopping online has opened us up to a big wild world of endless consumer goods it has also opened up a deep dark vortex where people get sucked into a scrolling stupor. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and have enjoyed the convenience of online shopping as much as anyone else, especially during the pandemic lockdowns. But there is a downside to all of this. Let’s take for example the online fast fashion and high-tech industry that have grown in leaps and bounds over the last 15 years.

Fast Fashion Madness

The average consumer purchases 60% more clothing now than 15 years ago, however, these lower quality items being purchased last half as long. Cheap synthetic fabrics and badly sewn together garments create a vicious cycle that may be advantageous for fast fashion brands, just not as beneficial for the consumer and the environment.

For the last two decades, and thanks to e-commerce, fast fashion picked up speed, widened its reach, and increased production. Fast fashion brands such as Zara, H&M, and GAP, amongst others, released anywhere from 600 to 900 new garment styles a week.

Renewing our wardrobe, every season, by buying clothes that fall apart after a few washes might have been justifiable, in some warped sense, by low costs and consumers’ insatiable desire for variety, but that is no longer a viable option. The reliance of fast fashion on fossil fuels is nothing new to us and it’s undeniably the backbone of the fast fashion business model due to their reliance on synthetic fabrics.

While the responsibility to break the fast fashion model lies with the major stakeholders and policymakers, we as consumers have an important role as well. We must put an end to compulsive shopping and buy only what we really need when we need it. Consumers must contribute to achieving a more sustainable future, by buying less and developing an appreciation for quality. With quality comes durability. As consumers, the time has come to choose quality over quantity.

Learn to recognize quality so you can make smart purchases, and before buying any new item ask yourself, if you really need it, how often will you use it, and if it’s clothing ask yourself whether you will wear it at least 30 times. Unless the answer is yes, don’t purchase it.

Big Tech And The E-waste Dilemna

Another striking industry is technology. Depletion of technology metals is contributing to ecological, economic, and social deficits, with far-reaching global consequences. 

These metals are the dominant materials found in e-waste, representing approximately 60% of the total waste, comprising a multitude of items, such as household appliances, IT equipment, monitors, tools, medical devices, and much more. Data indicates that 82% of e-waste generated globally is not being recycled. 

The United Nations University estimates that an alarming 45 million tonnes of computers, televisions, mobile phones, and other electronic goods are thrown away every year. An average cell phone user replaces their unit once every 18 months. This doesn’t factor in the amount of peripheral computer equipment that is also thrown into dumps around the world, most of which end up in landfills. 

The UN University and International Telecommunication Union have estimated that the raw materials in e-waste are worth $62.5 billion annually. That exceeds the GDP of 123 countries.

I still have an iPhone 8 which I purchased used. It works perfectly well for all I need and sure I would love to have the cutting-edge camera that the new iPhone models have, but hey I own several SLR digital cameras, so I asked myself whether I really needed the new iPhone for the camera and the answer was a definite no.

Consumers Claiming Back Their Right To Repair

The laptop I’m using to write this has already started showing signs of extreme fatigue. Even with the battery charged at 100%, it turns itself off abruptly, if not powered by AC. It’s five years old and according to today’s standards, should have already been replaced. 

Electronic components have their own life, and it’s normal for some of these to need replacing in time. The problem is that in many instances, laptops, for instance, are glued, or parts are soldered together, so that if one part breaks you’ll need to replace the entire unit. This is particularly frustrating and problematic when batteries need to be serviced or replaced. It is a waste, to say the least.

It should be possible to take PCs and mobile devices apart, and for consumers to replace vital components when needed. Big Tech companies should offer spare parts for several years even once the model has been discontinued. 

There are many things that can be done to produce sustainable IT products. Standardizing cables for IT products would mean fewer cables to be manufactured and this would allow their re-use on multiple products by consumers. Companies need to start designing products that are durable, upgradeable, repairable, and reusable, whether these are computers or home appliances.

Creating a circular economy is part and parcel of the overall solution. In order for businesses to achieve a circular economy, they need to redefine growth and invest in business practices that benefit society as a whole.  

Big Tech companies need to own up to their responsibilities and become active stakeholders in implementing a circular economy with designs that take into account not only the use of an object but its lifespan and recycling as well. 

In the USA the ‘right to repair’ bill was introduced and has already gained traction thanks to backing from President Biden and Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak

In December 2021, Dell announced its plans for Concept Luna, a sustainable and repairable laptop. News has it that  Microsoft is looking into Xbox and Surface devices right to repair.  All Big Tech companies should jump on board because it won’t take long for consumers to realize and appreciate the benefits. 

Checklist to become a more astute consumer and get real value for your money

  • Choose quality over quantity
  • Buy products that have long life span
  • Buy only what you need.
  • Consume less, and you will waste less

There’s something to be said for frugality these days. Impulse control is what you need if you want to be unaffected by all the eye-candy online and not fall prey to sales pitches and compulsions. From a more philosophical point of view, we could say that supporting local businesses and buying and wasting less puts us on the path to living a sustainable lifestyle and contributing to the future wellbeing of the planet and humanity.


Confessions Of A Serial Boot Collector

When I was nine years old, in Montreal, I used to take a shortcut through a field to get to school. One winter day, crossing the frozen field, I crashed through the ice. Luckily for me, it was not deep. It was scary and freezing. I managed not to lose my boots which were weighed down with icy water. I walked in those wet soggy boots for the rest of that winter, they never dried up. I told no one, especially not my mother, for she was a very strict and incredibly thrifty woman, perhaps not by choice. Those boots were meant to be worn until I grew out of them. Raising three children on one measly salary, was a feat, requiring sacrifices and creative solutions.

My mother sewed all of our clothes. In order to save, she would get one pattern and enough fabric to sew 3 identical dresses for my sisters and me. That was in the 60s when Montreal was a fashion city and the city’s garment industry was still vibrant. Every day, on my way to school, I was awestruck by the colorful and audacious patterned fabrics, low-cut jeans, and platform shoes. Daring new designs such as collarless shirts and jackets, miniskirts, and fringes, never seen before. Everything was changing so fast. I couldn’t wait to work, earn my own money and buy my own clothes.

Funny how things work out though. In the early 70s, I left my family home, without their consent and moved across the country, to Vancouver. Life was tough on my own, working and studying, without any parental support. Not only could I not afford to buy trendy new clothes, but unlike Montreal, Vancouver was not a fashion city and the pickings were slim, to say the least. That’s when I started buying clothes in second-hand shops and vintage shops.

I would alter these, to fit me, or change the pattern altogether. I can’t even count how many zippers I sewed into sleeves and pant legs, during my punk years. At times I only bought a dress for its fabric, which I would sew into a unique top, dress, or jacket. I had fallen in sync with a whole generation of young people who were actively rejecting consumerism and the use of synthetic fabrics, whether by choice or circumstances. What happened since then?

My days of shopping in vintage and second-hand shops abruptly came to an end when I moved to the fashion capital of the world, Milan, in the year 2000.

Boots played a necessary role in my life from the day I started walking. Since I was raised in Eastern Canada, where winters are long and brutal, wearing boots for 9 months out of the year, was not unusual. I also worked in film for over a decade and I had to wear steel-toed boots on film sets, regardless of the weather conditions, winter or summer.

Following my incident in that frozen field in Montreal, I began having dreams that played out more like nightmares, for these were anxiety-ridden. There was a recurring theme centered on me being in a crowded station, street, or a dirty public washroom and suddenly realizing I was barefoot. I felt incredibly vulnerable and woke up distressed.

This might explain why I started collecting cowboy boots, tall and short and in a variety of colors. There was something about a well-crafted pair of cowboy boots that gave me a sense of security. These are sturdy, reliable, and comfortable, with a tall shaft that protects your ankles, shins, and calves and they last for years on end. I had a special walk-in closet for these and took good care of them, until the summer of 1999 when I decided to sell the entire collection, along with practically everything I owned, and relocated to Europe.

There are days, even 22 years later when I regret having parted with my cowboy boot collection. Especially given the price of quality well made footwear these days.

Once I left Canada, for the warmer winter climate of Italy, it didn’t take long for me to start working on my new collection with made in Italy boots. Initially, I insisted on wearing boots in summer, especially since it felt safer riding a scooter with boots than sandals. By 2003 with the first intense heatwave, I lived through in Milan, I put away the boots for the summer months.

In Milan, I discovered thigh-high boots to be the perfect solution for driving the scooter during the winter months and I developed a serious addiction to thigh-high boots which still persists. It is similar to having pangs for some distant lover.

Some boots I’ve worn to the ground, others are still sitting intact in my closet, worn a few times only, and these are in good company with a slew of jackets, shirts, and dresses from my corporate days that no longer see the light of day.

Several years ago I started having this nagging feeling that less was better. When I traveled I found I was perfectly happy with the few items I had stuffed in my carry-on luggage, although, even then I managed to pack stuff that I wouldn’t wear. I consequently gave away a good part of what I was not wearing to a you g mother and her teenage daughter.

How many different hoodies, dresses, jackets, and jeans do you have and yet you keep wearing the same two all year? Most people wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time and yet the fast-fashion merry-go-round keeps consumers spinning their wheels and filling up their online carts.

The average consumer purchases 60% more clothing now than 15 years ago, however, these lower quality items being purchased last half as long. Cheap synthetic fabrics and badly sewn together garments create a vicious cycle that may be advantageous for fast fashion brands, just not as beneficial for the consumer and the environment.

I went through my closet a month ago and the irony of it all is that items I purchased anywhere from 20 to 30 years ago are in better shape, almost new, whereas any garment purchased over the last 5 years is either looking shabby or ready to toss. I’ve have had to toss a significant number of boots, shoes, and jackets that literally fell apart within one or two years and could not be mended or repaired.

For example, boots made with fake leather that literally come unglued from the soles within a few months of wearing, cannot be repaired, since often there is barely enough material to work with or the material and workmanship are not conducive to repairs. Consumers have lost their right to repair anything from a pair of boots to their computers.

Fast fashion flourished in the early 2000s coinciding with H&M’s opening in New York and my relocation to the fashion city of Milan. That is pretty much around the time that polyester replaced cotton as the most in-demand fiber in the industry, and from thereon dramatic changes ensued in the production and consumption of clothing worldwide.

My mother, having been a seamstress, was what I would label a fabric snob. She was not impressed with synthetic fabrics and used to say they made her skin cringe. Of course, synthetic fabrics have come a long way since then, and now these cleverly imitate any number of quality fabrics.

For the last two decades, and thanks to e-commerce, fast fashion picked up speed, widened its reach, and increased production. Fast fashion brands such as Zara, H&M, and GAP, amongst others, released anywhere from 600 to 900 new garment styles a week.

Those days must be quickly coming to an end. The reliance of fast fashion on fossil fuels is nothing new to us and it’s undeniably the backbone of the fast fashion business model. Now with water and resource shortages, and vertiginous increases in fuel costs I’m imagining it will prove difficult for fast fashion to continue in its race against time, and inflation. Add to that the fact that more and more consumers are becoming aware of the importance to reduce waste and expenses.

While the responsibility to break the fast fashion model lies with the major stakeholders and policymakers, we as consumers have an important role as well. We must put an end to compulsive shopping and buy only what we really need, when we need it. Consumers must contribute to achieving a more sustainable future, by buying less and developing an appreciation for quality.

What should determine the value of an item? In my opinion durability and craftsmanship are synonymous with quality.

Renewing our wardrobe, every season, by buying clothes that fall apart after a few washes might have been justifiable, in some warped sense, by low costs and consumers’ insatiable desire for variety, but that is no longer a viable option.

If you stop to think about it fabric is one of the most important components in our daily lives, from the clothes we wear to the upholstery of our home furniture and cars, to our bed linen.  The fabric used will determine the value, comfort, and durability of the item in question. Not all fabrics are suitable for all applications and not all fabrics are alike when it comes to quality.

For example, cheap or ill-suited fabrics in upholstery will quickly turn that new sofa into a junkyard piece as the fabric stretches, thins, fades, easily stains, and rips at the seams. Have you purchased any faux leather items for your home or wardrobe, to see these flake apart in no time even when barely used? I’ve had two faux leather jackets fall apart on their own while hanging in my closet. Maybe these items should have an expiry date, like dairy products.

Buying knockoffs can be tempting but beware of fabric quality and stitching. The devil is in the details. This image shows a badly constructed Leger knockoff, which lost its shape after the first wash and is ready to be tossed.

As a consumer, you owe it to yourself to know the difference between valued fabrics and cheap fabrics. Whether you are buying new furniture for your home, a new suit, or a special dress, the fabric used and craftsmanship will make all the difference.

High-end, natural textiles typically come with a price, however, when building a solid, timelessly elegant wardrobe, these fabrics are worth the investment. Silk, cashmere, leather, and linen have long been highly acclaimed, sought after, and more expensively priced for obvious reasons.

If your closet is full and you still can’t figure out what to wear, it may be a sign that you have too much and it is time to let go and reduce. You may have outgrown some of your wardrobe items, they may no longer be in fashion and maybe it’s stuff that you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing now.

How many items can you count in your wardrobe that you’ve only worn once, if at all, and how many did you forget you even had? Buy less and when you do buy, opt for quality, because in the long run quality and durability will pay off.

Aside from having that favorite suit, dress, or jacket still looking and feeling new for many years ahead, clothing made with quality fabrics can be resold at a good value. My cowboy boot collection sold very well.

Whether you are investing in your home or wardrobe, learn to recognize quality so you can make smart purchases, and before buying any new clothing item ask yourself, will I wear this at least 30 times? Unless the answer is yes, don’t purchase it.

All this takes me back to my mother, that throughout her life remained frugal and thrifty even when she had the money to spend. It may have been due to her being a child at the end of WWII or finding herself married with three children by the age of 24, that made her a prudent and astute consumer, either way, it stayed with her for life. I am grateful for her example. I too, like many, was temporarily swept away by compulsive shopping, but I can proudly say I am healed.


Has Social Media Become A Tool Of Social Oppression?

Online censorship picked up momentum over the last few years, and as a result, many suddenly had something to feel offended by. Are being woke, censorship, and cancel culture intimately connected by obscure puritanical roots, or is there a more sinister plot?

Social media was the perfect platform for a contemporary revival of public shaming and scapegoating, which have been around for centuries. An excellent platform to aggregate and steer the masses. World leaders and mainstream media never had it so easy when it comes to swaying public opinion.

What Does Being Woke Mean?

Being woke means being aware of and understanding the real world, observing, and paying attention.

Some may think it’s a fairly new term being thrown around, when in fact the phrase was coined by Huddie William Ledbetter in Scottsboro Boys, in 1938, and immortalized by a union official, in an article to J Saunders Redding, in 1942.  

What exactly does being woke mean these days? According to online search results, the meaning of WOKE is being aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues. I suppose it depends on who decides what is important, at any given time.

I wish being woke meant that we have pulled the wool off our eyes and clearly see that social polarization, inflation, poverty, unemployment, censorship, and inequality are at an all-time high because that’s the kind of wokeness we desperately need.

The Past Is A Land To Be Cultivated

Remember when some got busy taking down statues and monuments of Christopher Columbus, who has been accused of favoring colonialism? Has anyone stopped to think that during Europe’s era of discovery Columbus was doing what many other explorers, being sponsored by their kingdoms, were doing? Should we erase all mention of colonialism in history books as well?

From statues, and monuments we moved on to language and waged war on Comedians. We are experiencing a redefinition of humor. Some comedians have sounded the alarm, stating that cancel culture is killing comedy. Chris Rock, Jennifer Saunders and others argue that ‘wokeness’ is stifling comedy. Has social media become a tool of oppression?

When the war between Ukraine and Russia broke out many chose to cancel Russian culture, by throwing great Russian philosophers, authors, and artists into the gutter in a gesture of protest. People seem so fickle to me when they make themselves so readily available to wave a new flag.

I agree with Italian Author Dacia Maraini when she states, in her book The past is a land to be cultivated, that canceling people and ideas of the past, because they don’t respect today’s sensibilities, is to deny history’s great metamorphic capacity. It means to defeat achievements, reject evolution, and dismantle the precious passages of time. It means we have entered a dangerous place in our collective mind.

As Spanish painter, Francisco Goya asserted the sleep of reason breeds monsters.”

What will future generations make of this? How will they judge our actions in a few decades? Will they condemn our beliefs as archaic and out of place, the way the west condemned the group known as ISIL, in 2015, when they destroyed ancient temples, religious icons, and monuments in Palmyra?

Algorithms Of Oppression

Safiya Noble, in her book Algorithms of Oppression, discusses search engine bias in a revealing look at how negative biases against women of color are embedded in search engine results and algorithms.  

Run a Google search for “black girls”—what will you find? “Big Booty” and other sexually explicit terms are likely to come up as top search terms. But, if you type in “white girls,” the results are radically different. The suggested porn sites and un-moderated discussions about “why black women are so sassy” or “why black women are so angry” presents a disturbing portrait of black womanhood in modern society. 

I’m of the opinion that our democratic process has failed us, and that these modern cultural online movements, such as wokeness, manipulate people into taking positions that support actions that they might not have agreed to otherwise. A very effective way of controlling people, by erasing or manipulating history, culture, and language.

We could take Malcolm X’s quote and replace the term Newspaper with Social Media.

People have become afraid of terms such as working class and socialism, even equating socialism to communism. That’s what they want you to believe.

Call it whatever you want, but in the end, it is the difference between living the truth or living a lie that has been insidiously perpetrated and is being dished out as the absolute truth or the only acceptable one.  

Many have fallen prey to the old strategic play: DIVIDE AND CONQUER.  Think about it.  It’s time for people to realize that they have the power. Let us remove these virtual leashes, and take our lives and conscience into our own hands. 


Will Insistent Droughts Lead To Water Wars?

The term Water Wars gets 654 million results on Google, and many of us are alarmed, and some, like myself, are imagining worst-case scenarios. A bleak picture, to say the least. We are living in an era where reality is scarier than any apocalyptic fiction, with or without zombies.

Lately, whenever I open the tap, whether it’s to wash my face or vegetables, apocalyptic scenarios play out. A skeletal future where food, water, heat, electricity shortages, and rations will be routine and diseases spread like wildfire. I see herds of people, globally, falling through the cracks. From those who had planned a serene retirement, to all the young who have little to look forward to.

If you type “water shortage” in Google you’ll get about 86,300,000 results and you’ll run across so many contradictory articles, that it’s hard to know what and who to believe, so I know I’m probably not alone with my dark visions of the future.

You Don’t Know What You Have Until It’s Gone

8 years ago, in a washroom where I worked, I expressed my disapproval of a colleague’s teeth brushing routine. She kept the water running the whole time. She gave me a look that said, mind your own business. She’s been on my mind this year since much of Europe is experiencing extreme drought and some districts were rationed during the summer months. I ask myself whether she’s changed her ways.

What causes me grief is that no matter how much some of us really make the effort to reduce waste, just as many don’t, including big businesses and corporations.

The general public is definitely becoming more aware of the value of water and more importantly the uncertainties posed by climate change. As the old saying goes, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”

Resource Shortages Induce Conflict

I recently discovered, while searching through google’s 86,300,000 results, that 53 international river basins are shared by three or more nations, however, these are mostly managed by bilateral treaties which can, and often do aggravate tensions in times of strife, such as droughts.

mass die off of fish in Poland's Oder 

Let me use this environmental disaster as an example; in July 2022, when tons of lifeless fish began washing up on the banks of the river Oder, which runs along the borders of Germany and Poland, it didn’t take long for the situation to deteriorate. Recent news reports make it clear that there is no functional cross-border environmental protection plan or program, and no efficient exchange of information between municipalities along the border either.

One would think that water issues, as in this case, would be a good enough reason for cooperation, instead, it seems it has become a source of conflict for various interest groups.

“Green politicians from the state of Brandenburg point the finger at Poland, speaking of a “failure to provide information” and call on the federal government in Berlin to intervene. Green politicians from Poland point the finger at the PiS in Warsaw.”


At the 1992 Earth Summit, Fidel Castro said ” Consumer societies are chiefly responsible for this appalling environmental destruction. Stop transferring to the Third World lifestyles and consumer habits that ruin the environment. Make human life more rational. Adopt a just international economic order. Use science to achieve sustainable development without pollution. Pay the ecological debt. Eradicate hunger and not humanity.”

Whether or not you were a Fidel Castro fan, it’s a little difficult to disagree with his argument. Maybe Fidel was having a good day laying all of the blame on his capitalist rivals at the Earth Summit, still, I believe he was right and that we’ve maxed out. The planet can no longer sustain continued increases in urbanization and industrial activities.

Are We Heading For Water Wars?

In the International Journal of Water Resources Development, Volume 35 dated July 2019, they argue we should take the water crisis with a pinch of salt. According to their reports, how much renewable water a country has is not a meaningful metric, however, they do state that the amount of available water will depend primarily on how well this resource is managed.

The International Journal of Water Resources Development advises us against this sort of thinking. The article maintains that it is wrong to think in terms of water shortages, because “A direct by-product of this current limited thinking has been the increasing focus on ‘water wars’ between countries because of lack of water, whereas the Palmer Drought Index paints a dreary picture, “2021 began with 82.0% of the West experiencing moderate to extreme drought. The percentage dropped to 79.0 percent by the end of February but shot up to 99.0 percent by the end of June 2021.”

That was 2021, can’t wait to see the data for 2022.

Fighting over water won’t magically produce more water. Many countries need to significantly improve water management practices, reduce the demand for all types of water uses, and control water contamination. Even volume 35 of the International Journal of Water Resources Development clearly outlines there is no feasible scenario where a country can increase water availability progressively, constantly, and cost-effectively without limits, forever. Only if countries improve water management practices, which some are gradually doing, water problems can be solved.

I’ve always been a conservationist and an active advocate for the environment. I’m that person who saves the water used to cook pasta or potatoes for watering plants. I’m that person who uses other people’s garbage to make works of art. I’m that person who will tell you not to buy a Nespresso or any kind of coffee maker that uses pods. I’m that person who will tell you to turn off your car, while you’re waiting for a friend who hasn’t shown up yet. I’m that person who gets on some people’s nerves.

I started one of the very first paper recycling projects, in downtown Toronto’s Dominion Twin Towers, when I was gainfully employed at Ernst & Young in the late 80s. At Sky Italia, in Milan where I worked for 17 years, I was actively engaged in creating environmental awareness, within the company, for several years.

During the years I was actively involved in introducing environmental awareness and recycling into corporate environments, reminding people to recycle, reuse and reduce waste, one of the harsh realities that I encountered was that regardless of the number of people that jumped on board, there were just as many that remained oblivious.

Regardless of your stance, as a business or individual, it wouldn’t hurt if we all made an effort to save ourselves by salvaging our planet. Let’s all work together to make the constructive changes we so desperately need. Together we can go a long way in creating a better more sustainable future for humankind. Small acts can lead to big changes.


Coffee Rituals

When I scroll through my social media feeds there seem to be a lot of inspirational quotes and idioms being shared and enjoyed. I’d like to call your attention to a very simple idiom, perhaps antiquated, yet more valid in our times than ever. I am referring to the idiom, Stop and Smell the Roses, which as we know is an invitation to take the time needed to enjoy and appreciate the finer and simpler things in life

I invite you to reacquaint yourself with one of the simple pleasures of life, which is a good rich, dark, fragrant cup of Java, prepared the old-fashioned way. A simple pleasure that many have simply forgotten, since preparing coffee at home has become an unremarkable daily activity. Where is the pleasure when you drop a sealed coffee pod in your Nespresso and push a button?

From stovetop, drips, and espresso coffee makers to Nespresso, the choices are endless when it comes to choosing how we want to engage in this daily ritualistic pleasure. This post is dedicated to stovetop coffee makers. A stovetop Moka or espresso maker, are, in my opinion, the best, cheapest, and simplest way to really enjoy the ritual of coffee making at home.

Stovetop Mokas typically produce a concentrated rich coffee brew, with a nice golden cream on the top as you would expect from a barista-made espresso. If you use less coffee and more water you’ll get a more diluted, less potent, black coffee.

You can add milk to whatever comes out of your Moka for lattes or cappuccinos.

For coffee devotees, it is no different than for tea lovers with tea rituals worldwide. Coffee also has an interesting history, for example, coffee rituals were observed as a sacrament in communal Ethiopian ceremonies, and to keep up energy.

Personally, I take an artistic ritual approach and as such, would never give up the pleasure of opening a sealed bag of fresh ground coffee and taking in the rich exotic aroma.

One of the small pleasures in life is waking up to a heavenly cup of aromatic coffee. There are many who couldn’t imagine welcoming a new day, without a cup of this dark rich nectar of the gods. A good, well-prepared cup of coffee is pure ambrosia to boost our senses.

If you are a coffee aficionado, then you know that not all coffees are created equally. To experience the full pleasure of coffee, you can’t beat coffee beans, set aside ground coffee and coffee pods, for alas these pale by comparison.

The selection of coffee beans is vast. Similar to wine, coffee can have a light, medium, or strong body, and the selection is further enriched with an array of flavored coffee beans to choose from. Flavored coffee beans are enhanced with flavored natural oils from spices, nuts, or herbs, once the beans have been roasted.

Chuck away your Nespresso and Nespresso lookalikes or any pod coffee maker if you want to experience the pleasures of java to the fullest and for a more sustainable lifestyle. Rituals are an integral part of many pleasure-related activities and the ritual of preparing a delectable cup of coffee is just as important in enhancing the overall enjoyment.


Make It Worth My While

I’m an existing customer and I’m your best customer. Make it worth my while and watch me turn into a loyal customer.

Growing your business should not solely focus on getting new clients. Getting your current customers to appreciate, value, and continue to use your products or services more often is just as important, and provides surprising opportunities for increased revenue.

Stop Rewarding Only New Customers

As a new customer, I might subscribe to your weekly or monthly newsletter to get a discount on my first purchase, but what happens after my first or second purchase?

Has anyone ever unsubscribed only to re-subscribe in order to qualify for the discount reserved for new customers? I have, even by simply using a different email account. Stop rewarding only new customers. Existing returning customers or long-standing subscribers should get some special attention and not only new customers should be rewarded with discounts.

Online businesses generally focus on new customer activation and not so much on current customers, whether these are active or not. 

It’s Cheaper To Retain A Customer Than To Acquire A New One

Although standards vary from company to company, most online businesses, according to popular surveys show that only 25-30% percent of customers actually order a second time over the course of the first year. This is a clear indication that most new customers lose interest after the first sale. Believe it or not, it’s a known fact that, it is cheaper to retain existing customers than acquire new ones, so it’s important to include a strategy, in your marketing plans, that focuses on retaining existing customers. An offer they can’t refuse, that clearly communicates your appreciation and keeps them coming back. Make it worth their while.

Make It Worth Your Customers’ While

Last year I purchased my favorite coffee online from the company that produces this specific brand, since not all stores carry it. What bothered me is I had to purchase enough to last me a year in order to qualify for free shipment. Recently I was on my last confection of coffee and when I went to a local grocery store I found the exact same coffee for 10 cents less a pack and I could buy two or three instead of 20.

It obviously isn’t worth my while to purchase this coffee directly from the producer’s online shop since it costs me more, with the added hassle of having to order and store a large quantity. So next time I can’t find it at the grocery store I’ll probably try something new, unless I receive an email with a discount offer on my favorite coffee if I return as a customer.

Why Retaining Your Existing Customers Is Important For Your Business

  • Customer retention is much cheaper than customer acquisition, so if you’ve come this far and a customer has made a purchase, it stands to reason that focusing on retaining that existing customer will increase your ROI
  • Customer retention increases loyalty and the lifetime value of customers
  • If you’re a retailer with an e-commerce business, you can double your revenue by simply retaining 10% of your existing customers

Through focused marketing and targeted ad content, you can give your customers a reason as to why they should continue to enjoy your product or services. Take for example California’s iconic “Got Milk?” campaign, produced in 1993, which saw milk sales rise by 7% in the first year. The ad targeted people who were already drinking milk and entirely focused on the consumer base they had. The campaign made a significant impression across state borders as well.


What Can You Do To Retain Existing Customers?

Online businesses rely heavily on email campaigns. So instead of focusing only on email campaigns that will increase customer activation rates, focus on retaining existing customers. Make them feel special. It’s not enough to send emails for your seasonal sales and offers. Include a voucher, coupon, or free samples, along with their first delivery. Help your new customer take action and return to your website or online store. Don’t cram their inbox with a series of emails they’ll never read or with a list of discounted products from your production, that may not interest them. Try putting a little effort into it by personalizing the email and the offer.

Following their second purchase make customers feel special by providing discounts custom made for them.

A company I purchase from online has a very robust customer retention program. Not only did I get a 15% discount and free shipping on my first purchase, but when I subscribed I also began receiving regular monthly discount codes via email, up to 30%. off, whether I had been active or not, promoting excellent products at very competitive prices, including my personal favorites. On top of it, they throw in free samples with every purchase for returning customers. I know for a fact this company did not let any of their first-time customers escape, instead, they turned them into advocates for their products.

  • Build and grow brand awareness among your existing customers
  • Provide seasonal offers, but also provide existing repeat customers with customized offers. For a seamless experience, you can direct customers to a dedicated rewards and referrals page on your website
  • Keep it simple. An easy-to-use interface for customers to take action and redeem their rewards, as simple as a Code they can apply at check-out.
  • The secret lies in turning your repeat customer into a loyal customer, one who will not consider alternatives

There is a difference between a repeat customer and a loyal customer. Loyal customers will tell their friends and family about your product or service, creating free organic word-of-mouth marketing for your business. Once you’ve built a solid loyal customer base, it will prove difficult for any competitor to take that away from you.

I am a professional content and copywriter. if your business needs well-crafted written content to acquire new customers or turn your existing customers into loyal customers, let’s connect.


Why Do Marriages Fall Apart In The First Five Years?

Lifespan of a Marriage

Marriage is a risky business.  Studies indicate that 20 percent of marriages end within the first five years and within 10 years it increases by 12 percent. The business of building a couple is an art that requires skills and techniques. There are rules. A successful marriage starts with getting to know all the rules, be these written, unwritten, spoken, or unspoken. 

How many couples start out like they put the ‘more’ in amore, ready to pave the way together towards a rosy future, and by the time the future arrives they are either at each other’s throats or entirely dismissive towards each other?  The most commonly reported contributors to divorce are lack of commitment, infidelity, and excessive arguing

A peaceful relationship is not free of conflict.  Be prepared for the occasional fight/argument and making up after a fight.  One method which is widely practiced, and preferred by men, is “make-up sex”. Nothing like a good fight to get the blood rushing, heated verbal congress can translate into a state of arousal, and consequently, stupefying sex. Careful though, don’t start fights with your partner just for the make-up sex, they’ll figure it out faster than you think, and you don’t want to turn sex into a bartering tool.

They (psychologists) say that men talk to get things done, whereas women talk to make emotional connections and this is where many marriages lose their footing. You’ve heard it before, ‘Men talk about things, women talk about people, relationships, and feelings.’ This limiting view on gender was widely perpetuated by the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Grey. While such black-and-white concepts about men and women are still being disputed, many couples still fall prey to these gender stereotypes.

Are you familiar with the movie, War of the Roses? The Roses may be caricatures, as a couple, but they also started out as lovebirds.  The rise and fall of their love story and the ferociousness of their fighting are not so far-fetched. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend you do.

You don’t fix things by trying to fix your partner, so this is where negotiating skills are useful. The purpose of negotiating is to see if you can get your interests met through an agreement.  Be Prepared. If you are not clear on what needs to be accomplished in a particular negotiation and how to get there, you can get lost in the process while getting bogged down in details and lose track of what you really want to accomplish.  An interest is why you want something, not what you want.

The most powerful negotiating skill is listening 

It is said that the most powerful negotiating skill is listening. It’s not that simple when you consider that 93% of communication is nonverbal. The tone of voice accounts for 38% and body language 55% of communication. What your body is communicating while listening to your partner may speak louder than words.

Who Calls the Shots? Imbalance of Power 

When one partner has more decision-making power it could prove to be a treacherous road ahead.

  • Who decides what you do together on the weekends and holidays? 
  • Who manages household finances? 
  • Who makes decisions on big purchases for the home? 
  • Who controls the TV remote?
  • Who’s on top?

Control Issues 

When one partner controls or manipulates the other, the relationship generally suffers the consequences. It’s quite natural to want control of your own life but not to the extent of controlling everyone around you into the bargain. 

Ineffective Communication 

This one is a definite clincher. Ineffective communication can turn into a weapon, it has the power to hurt, confuse and misinform the listener and can lead to excessive arguing.

Perpetuating cyclical arguments

If your relationship is stuck in a rut by perpetual cyclical arguments, here’s a short list of what NOT TO DO as a couple.

  • Withdraw – Give minimal responses.  Exit in the middle of a heated conversation. Be sure to send the message that you don’t care or can’t be bothered by what your partner is saying. 
  • Resentful Compliance – Be over-accommodating. Don’t say what you really think or feel. Now you’ve generated a good dose of resentment, telling yourself that your partner doesn’t understand you
  • Whine – Complain. Compete for the victim position. Be indirect about what you want.
  • Blame – Try to dominate the discussion. Refuse to take personal responsibility. Yell. Accuse. Point fingers

Excessive Jealousy

The first effect of excessive jealousy is that it causes continual fear, worry, and even paranoia in the one who is jealous.  Jealousy provokes paranoia, and paranoia provokes control and as a consequence, the object of jealousy will begin to withdraw. Jealousy, in a sense, becomes its own self-fulfilling prophecy.

Lying and Cheating 

These are blatant violations of trust and the rules dictating a relationship, so if you’re a lying and cheating type, be prepared to spend a lot of time in waiting rooms as you are headed straight for a marriage counselor or lawyer. Consider the possibility you’re not cut out or simply not ready for marriage.

In the business of building a couple, it’s not the stuff in small print on the marriage contract that comes back to bite you, it’s all the stuff that’s not written. 

Lack of Commitment

This one sounds like a total contradiction, I mean why would anyone get married if they suffer commitment phobia, relationship anxiety, or fear of commitment? Yet lack of commitment is listed as the main contributor to divorces with a 74% rating.

  • If you have a history of short-lived relationships, you might want to work on your commitment issues before considering marriage.
  • If you are terrified and not particularly keen on making future plans with your partner, don’t get married. If your partner is terrified of making future plans with you, don’t et married!
  • If you would rather avoid talking or thinking about the future of the relationship, don’t get married. If your partner would rather avoid talking or thinking about the future of the relationship, don’t get married!
  • Don’t feel bad, some people are just not cut out for the mainstream relationship model. Long-term relationships, monogamy, marriage, and kids are not a good fit for all of us.

There are many ills that can plague a marriage. When a couple can’t get their marriage back on track they can always resort to a therapist, a marriage counselor, a priest, or a lawyer, depending on what point they’re at and whether or not there is hope for reconciliation.

On the other hand, some might prefer the advice of Benjamin Franklin, who said, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterward”.


Is There A More Energetic, Happier, Healthier You Waiting To Be Awakened?

Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. Living the life you desire now is a matter of intention, gratitude, and the ability to act on the opportunities that fate presents you with. Fate represents the potentials and possibilities in your life, destiny is shaped by the choices you make.

We can make dreams come true by clarifying insights and through consolidated efforts and commitment to our vision of ourselves and our lives.

Is there a more energetic, happier, healthier you waiting to be awakened?

Everything starts in our minds. Our thoughts and feelings followed by ACTION shape our lives, and our destiny. The most important person you talk to is yourself. You are ultimately the one who makes choices and decisions.

Start being aware of your thoughts, and your intentions, to create the reality you want. Even during daily chores like washing up, and doing dishes, the thoughts that run through your mind are important. Are you always planning for tomorrow or thinking about what happened earlier, yesterday, or last year?  Are your thoughts positive, or negative? Most of this chatter happens without us being consciously aware.

Becoming aware of this process will help you dismantle any destructive or self-defeating beliefs and thought patterns. 

“If you were to hold a magnet in one hand and a needle in the other, the magnet would attract the needle to itself and hold it. The needle is powerless to change its destiny because its energy is scattered. However, if you were to realign the energy of the needle by stroking it with the magnet 20 or 30 times in one direction, the needle will become a magnet as well. We are much like that needle. We have the power to create our dreams when we use our energy efficiently. Sadly most people use their energy to create what they don’t want. ” (Neale Donald Walsch)

By doubting yourself, talking or thinking about what you don’t want, dwelling on problems, and thinking negatively, you create a spiraling effect that will attract exactly what you fear and don’t want. Our thoughts words and actions are the energy source we use to create what we want or don’t want. Avoid absolutes and exaggerations, such as, I always procrastinate, or I never finish what I start, I always overeat or I never stick to a diet, and so on.

Focus on what is possible and let go of playing the victim, with internal narratives that leave you feeling guilty for not succeeding. It’s a waste of energy and won’t manifest into anything constructive. It’s okay to fail, move on and try again with a new perspective and approach.

Don’t set unrealistic standards that you wouldn’t even expect others to meet. Expecting yourself to exceed even the best and then punishing yourself if you fail is another spiral best avoided. Focus on what is possible.

To achieve your goals, use your energy efficiently. Think and talk positively about what you want and in doing so you will attract people and situations to help you manifest your dreams. This is called synchronicity.

Synchronicity is a term coined by Carl Jung to describe the power we all have to create our own coincidences. These result from the energy we create via our thoughts, words, and actions.

“In 1952 C. G. Jung published a paradoxical hypothesis on synchronicity that marked an attempt to expand the western world’s conception of the relationship between nature and the psyche. Jung’s hypothesis sought to break down the polarizing cause-effect assessment of the world and psyche, suggesting that everything is interconnected. Thus, synchronicity is both “a meaningful event” and “an acausal connecting principle.” Evaluating the world in this manner opened the door to “exploring the possibility of meaning in chance or random events, deciphering if and when meaning might be present even if outside conscious awareness.”

Meditate and focus on the quality of life you want and ask yourself what changes you would like to see in your life. Replace your negative thinking and talking with positive thoughts, words, and actions. You have nothing to lose and only gain by becoming aware of your negative patterns and introducing new meaningful positive patterns of self-communication. Start to use your energy more efficiently and achieve your dreams and goals.

Syncronicity is an ever present reality, for those that have eyes to see.

Carl Jung

Who’s Getting Away With Murder?

In 2018, mainstream media took a big bite out of what would become an ongoing polemic discussion surrounding Global Warming. Four years later, the climate crisis, clad in fatalistic headlines, is competing for the spotlight with the Ukraine-Russia war. All of it enhanced by the grim backdrop of droughts, fires, and impending shortages, from fuel to food. To me, it reads as though it is the end of the world as we know it.

Some would argue that had the media given a voice to scientists, and those that have been shouting warning signals at us since the mid-60s, we wouldn’t be where we are now. What if the media had jumped on board during the American elections in 2000 and unveiled the dysfunctional electoral system in Florida that allowed George Bush to win against Al Gore? 

“Had Al Gore, a politician who understood global warming, been declared the winner of the 2000 presidential election, we might have dodged the bullet. If the U.S. Supreme Court had not awarded the election to George W. Bush, climate change would have become a major priority.”

Los angeles times

Would Gore have led the USA towards a 21st-century energy economy, pushing the development of solar and wind power and phasing out oil, natural gas, and nuclear, setting an example?

That’s all hindsight now, yet 21 years later in an article dated November 2021, the Los Angeles Times paints a picture of what the world would be like if Al Gore had won instead of Bush, as have many others. Unfortunately, hindsight is rarely as useful as foresight.

Turning my attention to more recent developments with mainstream media, personally, I would have preferred a different coverage of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, because it appeared to me that mainstream media was the engine behind public approval for this war, and all too eager to move forward, whether it was about spending, weapons or sanctions, anything in support of this war, also known as propaganda. Hell, Euronews saw it fit to do a rebranding of the news, with a new opener, showcasing frontline action on the border between Ukraine and Russia, with journalists in daunting combat attire. I noticed they recently removed it. I don’t remember mainstream media ever being so unanimous, not even with the Arms of Mass Destruction, during the Iraq war.

Mainstream media can be a vehicle of misinformation and, at its best, it often suffers the absence of clear intent. They hold the reins and they do not deserve to. They have repeatedly demonstrated that they are either puppets or invested in some conflict of interest. Whatever happened to investigative journalism?

Many do not want the truth published, from the powerful, to the pious and corrupt. The world is full of those who want to stay in the shadows.  In 2021 alone, 55 journalists were killed because they were exposing corruption and conflict, or afflicting the wealthy and powerful by revealing the truth. In your opinion is Julian Assange a criminal or a revolutionary?

A new kind of media is needed. Don’t expect Jesus to save us.  Real bonifide journalists and the likes of Julian Assange, who sacrificed his freedom for the truth, that’s as close as we get to the messiah spreading the truth among common people on earth. 

Real Journalism is rare and the few that still dare practice it, are being hushed through censorship, arrest, and death. If those in power can put a muzzle on the media, they are getting away with more than murder.


The Rare Magic Of Colmar

The moment I stepped into the historic center of Colmar I thought I had just gone down the proverbial rabbit hole and landed in a fairytale town, where the buildings, set along the banks of the Ill River, are made of cake, slathered in creamy colored frosting and chocolate tiled roofs, set against the sky.

Photo by Maddalena Di Gregorio

I had just driven from the Netherlands and was quite tired when I arrived. Much to my delight, this fanciful, vibrant town gave me an almost immediate lift, a rush, and injected me with boundless energy. Better than eating cake or going to therapy if you are feeling down and out.

Photo by Maddalena Di Gregorio

When you consider how urbanization affects mental health there is a lot to be said for a town like Colmar. In cities, people are exposed to many stress factors and run a higher risk of mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, according to studies conducted. Colmar is a magical place that permeates all your senses and awakens your inner child.

Photo by Maddalena Di Gregorio

I visited Colmar for the first time this spring. I had only ever seen images of its legendary Christmas markets, most of which were taken at night to enhance the festive holiday feel, abound with colorful Christmas lighting. I was delighted with what I found instead. Dazzling colors, canals, and half-timbered buildings whose architecture is a pastry chef’s dream come true. The streets twist and meander into small alleys that open into small squares where traders and merchants used to peddle their wares centuries ago.

Its mostly pedestrian center is a cornucopia of brightly tiled roofs and colorful facades. Walking the streets of Colmar will transport anyone back to their childhood, from the wooden turret right out of Rapunzel’s, the tiny cottages fitting for Snowhite’s seven dwarves, and a candy-colored bakery that has Hansel and Gretel written all over it. 

You might ask yourself why the buildings in Colmar are so colorful. Some of the buildings date back to the Middle Ages, and the colors were a symbol of the owner’s profession. For example, white was for bakers, yellow for cheese-makers, blue for fish vendors, green for gardeners, and so on. 

Photo by Maddalena Di Gregorio

This small and unique town is in the Alsace region where France meets Germany. It is here that the two cultures fused to create a truly unique experience. But there is more to Colmar than its fantastical exteriors. Colmar is a town with a rich legacy of history, culture, and remarkable culinary heritage.

Colmar is also an excellent destination for wine lovers. The Alsace wine region is famous for white wines such as Rieslings, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris wines. You’ll also find Pinot Noir rosés and a local sparkling wine known as Crémant d’Alsace. 

If you’re driving through France, Colmar is a welcome respite from the daily grind. A place that will unleash your imagination, inject you with a lighter sense of being and leave you enchanted.



The Great Resignation should be renamed ‘The Great Emancipation

According to major headlines, companies are facing the biggest crisis since the 2008 recession. With the tightest labor market in decades, there is one major difference, it’s the companies that are competing for people instead of people competing for jobs. No one ever suspected this would happen. People got thinking and developed a taste for a new way of life.

Startling numbers have left their jobs since the pandemic hit. Forsaking security for new adventures in self-discovery and re-evaluating their lifestyle. Some found better pay, others freedom and better work/life balance, and many, such as myself, have left the city.

The numbers alone have put into question the status quo of modern employment. ‘The Great Resignation’ has become the economic buzzword of the pandemic.

Certain aspects of life which we took for granted as a necessary evil in pre-pandemic times have been exposed as futile. There are pros and cons to remote working, and what works for one person will not necessarily be the best solution for another, but speaking strictly from a rational point of view it’s impossible to overstate the benefits of working from home, and not only in financial terms. The cost of commuting also has an impact on our carbon footprint. Since I started working remotely my diet has improved and I spend a lot less on lunch each day than I did when I was at the office 5 days a week. I’m happier and healthier.

People want more out of their short life, is that so difficult to understand? It depends on whom you are talking with. David Solomon, of Goldman Sachs, has publicly stated that “working from home is an aberration.” There are others as well, white collars that are disgruntled by a shift in power, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, who according to an article I read got in the habit of touring the empty Whitehall offices and leaving passive-aggressive “Sorry you were out” notes on his employee’s desks. Not exactly a winning strategy.

The problem is not just with office jobs. In Italy, the tourism and hospitality sector is undergoing difficulties. The usual throes of young and not so young people that used to line up for the seasonal work in hotels, restaurants, stores, and so on, are no longer flocking down for the summer months, to live in cramped quarters, work overtime, and get underpaid.

Even promotions and salary increases are not keeping people on board nowadays. These last three years we’ve seen a shift so great that it can’t be ignored. A deep crack in the narrative that we used to rehearse daily has seen people awaken with a new design for themselves. Many of us realized we could live with less so we unshackled ourselves from the ties that had us bound for years.

The world seems to have turned upside down.

People are fleeing western countries such as Canada and Italy due to their governments’ unduly rash and punitive methods employed to coerce the general population into getting vaccinated. Many are taking refuge in countries that used to be considered unstable, because they feel freer and safer, ironically. Belize, El Salvador, Albania, and Mexico have become coveted destinations.

I left my job and the city. Started working as a Freelancer remotely. I relocated to an exquisitely lush location surrounded by lakes, rolling hills, and mountains in the north of Italy. I pay 1/3 of the rent I used to pay in the city. I am now looking for property in the province of Puglia, my dream place. I can finally live the way I always wanted to, so why not?

I always envied people that left the city on Fridays to head to their homes in the mountains, on the lake, or on the coast. Now I’m living it every day. Sure I don’t have the money tree anymore (regular paycheck) but what I have now is invaluable by comparison. I have newfound courage and self-confidence in myself and my abilities. I don’t need a yearly performance review to tell me that I’m doing great, because my work speaks for itself and my clients’ satisfaction is undebatable proof of my accomplishments.

I rarely had this level of personal satisfaction during my years in a corporate environment, although my work was categorized as “creative.” Having said all this, I am of the opinion that this so-called Great Resignation should be renamed ‘The Great Emancipation’


Inexperience Can Be Expensive

As a freelancer, I am always on the lookout for new clients and new work opportunities. I have profiles on all the compulsory platforms for professionals, including LinkedIn. For well over 3 years I have been reading job posts and often I find myself incredulous at the job description and the exhaustive list of skills and experience required to qualify for the position. Essentially many companies are looking for hardcore veteran experience on an entry-level budget. They all want 20-year-old applicants with 20+ years of experience.

I’ve been contacted, on several occasions, by companies that were lured by my skills and experience, only to be turned down due to my age. Although they never admitted it, I know it was so.

Age discrimination is a terrifying reality, especially so for women.

Gendered ageism affects women at all stages of their career but most notably when they are under 35 and over 50. That gives women 15 good years, give or take.

Women face ageism earlier than their male counterparts. Lookism puts women under a lens, and as they start showing visible signs of aging they are set aside.

We live in a Gerontocracy, where leadership is namely reserved for elder men and to make matters worse women are being targeted, with long term implications for retirement.

A No-Win Situation – Not Enough Money to Retire and Limited Prospects for Work

Gendered ageism has long term implications for retirement, with more than half of those surveyed reporting that they do not have enough money to retire and nearly all (95%) of those over 53 – including those 65-70 – stating that they want or need to keep working.

Yet, more than a quarter 28% of women 59-65 thought their chances of continuing to work were “fair” or “poor”. The most common reason stated –

“My company does not value older workers”.


I was young and inexperienced once, but I paid my dues, worked diligently, and navigated my career from backstage, on movie sets, to Broadcast TV where I spent 20 good years, so to speak.

After my first 15 years, I was practically put out to pasture, with no more possibilities for growth. I had been discriminated against without just cause. My colleagues were as shocked as I was. I had earned myself a lot of love and a good reputation which spoke for my integrity as an employee. I sued the company, won the case, and went freelance. It was unfortunate for both the company and myself since I had an excellent record of performance, with yearly bonuses to prove it, but more importantly, I still had a lot to contribute and was not about to get sent to the slaughterhouse.

This story is not only my story it is the story of many. I was merely one of several aging employees being discriminated against. It is also known as mobbing. The objective is to exhaust and discourage you, by erasing you, giving you no work at all, and visibly cutting you out. Soon enough many colleagues start to feel uncomfortable at the thought of having coffee or lunch with you.

Many employees in Italy, where I have been working for the last 22 years, are faced with such a scenario, and just as many are too scared to take legal action, for a variety of reasons. I personally was not going to put up with it -but many do because they have a family, a mortgage, debts, and so on.

It is not uncommon for people in such a situation to spend years, day in day out, doing absolutely nothing. It is sad to see a brilliant mind, and dynamic person transformed into a stuffed animal. You can literally see their posture start to crumble, in time, like the damaged roof of a house. Someone once said ‘The sky is the limit when you have a roof over your head.’ What good is a house with no roof?

These acts, with the intent of violating the dignity of a person and of creating a hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment are more common than one might think.

I’ve always lied about my age because I knew it to be an issue right from the start. I used to add 10 years, whereas now I shave them off. Once I used to be underqualified, so I padded my CV and now I’m over-qualified, so I trim it down. You’re dammed if you do and you’re dammed if you don’t.

During my years in Broadcast TV, I saw the results of hiring inexperienced people. There are as many unappetizing roles in TV as in any other business. What makes these roles less desirable can be a combination of factors, from shift work to poor pay or no room for growth, and this leads to a high turnover of staff. These positions are often filled by inexperienced young newcomers hoping to break into the field, alas their level of inexperience leads to errors where there is little room for error. Losing video, or audio during a world cup game is not something to take lightly in PayTV.

Inexperience may turn out to be a costly proposition, for companies, in the long run. Recruitment is one of the highest staffing expenses, wheras an older workforce reduces the need to constantly recruit.

66 percent of baby boomer workers expect to work past age 65, a Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies shows.

source: cnbc

When I read posts and articles with pointers on finding a job for those over 50, I cringe. The advice ranges from, Embrace LinkedIn to combat the overqualified stereotype, play up your experience, and be sure you sound Tech Savvy.

When I was younger I always kept older company and sought the experience of those that were light years ahead of me in their profession, and I wouldn’t do it any different if I were starting over. I have learned more from experienced pros than I ever learned in school.

Companies that don’t realize the value of experienced older professionals, do so at a loss, with a higher turnaround, and increased margin of errors.

Research shows that older employees are more likely to show up to work on time, and less likely to call in sick.

Older workers also do not switch jobs as often as their younger colleagues. Older employees shine when it comes to maturity and professionalism – resulting in a strong work ethic

source: https://vantageaging.org/blog/benefits-of-older-workers/

Myths surrounding older workers contribute to the loss of top employees from many organizations. Experienced, older workers bring qualities and skills to the table that most employers struggle to find. They are knowledgeable, dedicated and still willing to learn. The knowledge and professionalism of experienced skilled professionals should be part of a company’s legacy instead of being tossed out.

I can only speak for myself, although I am certain a lot of people over 50 would agree with me when I say, ” I have more to bring to the table now, as a mature professional, than I ever had in the past. I have more experience, maturity, understanding, patience, vision, creative intellect, and know-how than I ever had, coupled with a burning desire to contribute, make a difference and share my consolidated skills and experience with new generations. Take a chance on me.


To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before

Space travel has fascinated the collective psyche for decades, or to be exact, since October 4, 1957, when the U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth. There have been ongoing Mars missions launching from Earth since the 1960s, searching for water and life. 

This red arid-looking planet, named after the Roman War God Mars, has been luring mankind since it was first sighted by Galileo Galilei in 1610 and has once again gained notoriety.

Numerous Mars-bound missions began in February 2021, starting with NASA’s Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter that reached Mars that month. The United Arab Emirates joined the race with their first interplanetary mission, introducing the Hope orbiter. The China National Space Administration’s Tianwen-1 orbiter completed China’s first successful mission to the Red Planet in 2021 as well.

Finding water on Mars is only one of the numerous obstacles we’re faced with in our attempt to colonize Mars. Consider this; the distance between Mars and Earth is 42 million miles. To send a signal between Mars and Earth, there is a three minutes and two seconds delay, and that’s on a good day. 

The position between these two astral bodies, as they orbit around the sun, determines the delay, so that by the time you reach Mars it could be up to 20 minutes, which would create a 40-minute hole in your two-way conversation. 

On his quest to bring people to Mars, Elon Musk’s Starship is being designed as a fully reusable transportation system, capable of carrying passengers and cargo to Earth’s orbit, the Moon, Mars, and beyond.  

But the question still remains, how will early settlers on Mars communicate with each other and with family and friends on Earth? What about streaming videos, real-time video chats, and GPS? Are people expected to give all this technology up and rely on old radio signals? What about 5G?

Feasibility studies for the use of 5G technology in space are being conducted, however, WiFi signals are not very data efficient and lose strength, with increased distances, due to their longer wavelengths. 

This simple animation by James O’Donoghue, at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), shows the communications delay that Mars mission controllers are faced with.

Without the means to efficiently communicate with each other, life on Mars is a dreary prospect and would feel like a plunge into the dark ages for most people.  

Imagine yourself as an ex-pat on Mars, unable to efficiently communicate with each other and earth, all the while dealing with harsh living conditions. What would you do? 

Many would just want to hop right back on that Starship, ready to start their nine-month journey back to earth. If you stop to think about it, there’s a lot at stake here. There are many scenarios that would prove difficult on Mars without improved means of communication. 

Imagine having to urgently report a medical emergency, a malfunction, or a security breach. By the time the message reaches its destination it may be too late for a timely intervention. The key to the successful colonization of Mars lies in resolving the communication gap.

NASA’s Laser Communication Relay Demonstration, which launched in 2019, served as an important proof of concept for laser technology. Laser technology could very well be the future of space colonization, as it offers more bandwidth in less time, and would cover all communications around the colony, with Earth and even the Moon for that matter! 

Interoperability standards for space communications also need to be established. Simply put, it would be preferable not to replicate the model used here on earth, where for example, an iPhone user can’t airdrop files to someone with an Android, yikes. It May sound crazy, but things will be complicated enough for those brave souls willing to be the pioneers of colonization in deep space, without these added complications.

Space Debris

The vision and design for a communications network between Mars, the Moon, and Earth point to networks of fully interoperable laser-beam satellites. These would be scattered across millions of miles, also known as ‘constellations’.

Starlink plans to deploy a staggering 42,000 satellites in Low Earth Orbit, Amazon’s Kuiper will launch over 3000, and OneWeb plans to have 648. Then there’s China, with a plan to launch an internet-dedicated mega-constellation of 13,000 units. By 2030 it is estimated that about 100,000 satellites will be roaming our orbit. This solution doesn’t come without its own can of worms.

Starlink’s satellite trails and their reflected sunlight are already causing disturbances to some telescopes. If the number of devices orbiting our planet continues to increase so dramatically, the problem of mega-constellations will have a far-reaching impact on astronomical research.

A somber irony considering that the very knowledge that allowed for the development of satellite technology has its foundations in astronomy.

Source: https://www.cloudflight.io/en/blog/why-satellite-mega-constellations-could-be-a-problem/

Elon Musk’s Starlink is positioning itself to offer settlers on Mars the opportunity to keep living and communicating the way they’ve become accustomed to on Earth, at least as far as communication and entertainment are concerned. Starlink could potentially even make SETI, also known as the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, a stronger component in the search for alien life. 

Regardless of the scope, ambitions, and investments being made in this race towards space, one thing is clear, a fast and reliable communication network is the key to success if we want to boldly go where no man has gone before. 


We Can’t Afford Another Tech Boom Here’s Why

Electronic waste disposal first made the scene in the mid-1970s, in the wake of the digital revolution which had been ferociously gaining speed since the late 1950s. It’s no coincidence that it was the year 1970 when the Recycling Logo, we’ve all become accustomed to, was designed by G. Anderson.

We embraced technology as it revolutionized the way we lived, worked, and communicated. In the decades following man’s first landing on the Moon, the digital revolution flourished and transformed life on Earth in ways most of us had not imagined. Little did Neil Armstrong know when he said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The space race allowed American companies to dominate the digital revolution and transformation, for decades to come.

For decades we rushed to buy newer, slicker, faster models, whether it was phones, TVs, cars, household appliances, you name it, we bought it, and we’re still buying today, even when we don’t need to, or don’t want to.  

Most electronic devices we’ve been purchasing, for the last 3 decades or so, were designed to be replaced with newer models. With repairs, no longer featured in the design, and consumers’ insatiable cravings for the latest trendy electronic gadgets, we’ve created a vicious and detrimental loop that’s difficult to break out of. 

​​The United Nations University estimates that an alarming 45 million tonnes of computers, televisions, mobile phones, and other electronic goods are thrown away every year. An average cell phone user replaces their unit once every 18 months. This doesn’t factor in the amount of peripheral computer equipment that is also thrown into dumps around the world, most of which end up in landfills. 

The UN University and International Telecommunication Union have estimated that the raw materials in e-waste are worth $62.5 billion annually. That exceeds the GDP of 123 countries.

We’ve come a long way since the Apollo landing on the moon. The flight computer, which the astronauts used to fly to the Moon, in both the command module and the lunar module, was the tiniest, fastest, most nimble, and most functional computer that had ever been created, at the time, and so it was that MIT and NASA catapulted the computer industry. 

At that time though, NASA was pretty much the only major client for computer chips. Let’s compare that to 2021 when a total of 169 industries were hard hit by a global chip shortage, which is still ongoing. As the cost of key materials to produce microchips increases, in the midst of global supply chain disruptions, consumers are starting to feel the pinch. Prices of PCs and other IT devices are steadily on the rise. Car prices have also risen, as car manufacturers focus on building more expensive models to compensate for the lack of chips. The globe is going through a tech boom again, and suppliers simply can’t keep up. 

We Can’t Afford Another Tech Boom Unless We Start Doing Things Differently

The metal industry is a multi-faceted reality, facing immense sustainability issues, with added concerns surrounding the depletion of technology metals. These metals are vital to the global economy since they are essential components in all high-tech electronic devices and cleantech applications, for domestic, commercial, industrial, and military use, worldwide. 

Depletion of technology metals could contribute to ecological, economic, and social deficits, with far-reaching global consequences. 

These metals are the dominant materials found in e-waste, representing approximately 60% of the total waste, comprising a multitude of items, such as household appliances, IT equipment, monitors, tools, medical devices, and much more. Data indicates that 82% of e-waste generated globally is not being recycled.  As is, we can’t afford another Tech boom unless we start doing things differently.

What Happens To The 82% Of E-Waste Not Being Recycled?

A pile of electronic waste on a roadside in Guiyu. Much of modern electronic equipment contains toxic ingredients and as much as 4,000 tonnes of toxic e-waste is discarded every hour. Vast amounts are routinely and often illegally shipped as waste from Europe, USA and Japan to countries in Asia because it is easier and cheaper to dump the problem on poorer countries with lower environmental standards. Workers involved in dismantling e-waste are exposed to serious health hazards.

82% of all e-waste, generated globally, is being informally recycled in developing countries.

Ninety-five percent of the e-waste in India is being recycled in the non-formal sector and only five percent of the e-waste volume is handled via formal units. In and around the metropolitan cities of India, there are over 3000 known units operating in the non-formal sector of e-waste recycling.

Informal recycling employs crude methods of recovery for valuable metals and poses risks to untrained workers, who are often children, due to the lack of infrastructure, weak enforcement of legislation, and no adequate precautions. 

The National Commission For Protection of Child Rights in India recently reported that the segregation of hazardous e-waste is done by children as young as eight. 

Children in Ghana have been documented, by Greenpeace, dismantling computers and TVs to recuperate the metals inside.  They are at risk, working in poorly ventilated enclosed areas, without any protective equipment, and no regulations, while pollutants are being released into water sources and the land.

Populations at large, are at risk due to the contamination of their land and water. On the other hand, informal e-waste management, and recycling, in developing countries, have resulted in employment opportunities and satisfied the demand for affordable electronic devices.

Asia, Africa, India, and South America, according to a UN report, are the primary destinations for discarded electronic products via recycling programs. 

The irony does not go unnoticed when one considers that the very regions that are stripped of the resources needed to manufacture electronic devices are exactly where the e-waste is eventually dumped. 

There could be some light at the end of this dark tunnel, with companies such as E-rase your E-Waste which aims to provide solutions to informal and hazardous e-waste management in developing countries. Located in Delhi, the Catalytic Reaction Engineering Laboratory research group at the Chemical Engineering Department, led by Dr. KK Pant are researching and implementing ways to achieve target metal recovery and energy production through an eco-friendly process. 

Dr. Pant’s team believes that this can be successfully implemented, on a large scale, so as to generate many jobs in the waste recycling industry, without posing risks to workers or the environment. The team has already set up a 10kg/h (Kilogram per hour) pyrolysis plant for E-waste recycling at IIT Delhi.

Is Recycling The Solution To E-Waste?

When e-waste is not recycled, chemicals such as lead, mercury, polyfluoroalkyl substances, brominated flame retardants, chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, and other persistent organic pollutants contaminate landfills, water supplies, and the land, so it stands to reason that e-waste management and recycling need to be improved on a global scale. 

When we think of sustainability issues, recycling is the engine that we hope will propel us to a cleaner, more sustainable future. It’s been over 50 years since recycling became a household term, we should admit defeat, or at the very least realize that recycling alone won’t cut it. 

The only way to navigate out of this mess is to look at the big picture. We are all part of the problem and as such, we all need to play our part in the grand scheme of creating a sustainable future. 

Consumer Habits Need To Change And Big Tech Companies Need To Respond Accordingly

The laptop I’m using to write this has already started showing signs of extreme fatigue. Even with the battery charged at 100%, it turns itself off abruptly, if not powered by AC. It’s five years old and according to today’s standards, should have already been replaced. 

Electronic components have their own life, and it’s normal for some of these to need replacing in time. The problem is that in many instances, laptops, for instance, are glued, or parts are soldered together, so that if one part breaks you’ll need to replace the entire unit. This is particularly frustrating and problematic when batteries need to be serviced or replaced. It is a waste, to say the least.

It should be possible to take PCs and mobile devices apart, and for consumers to replace vital components when needed. Big Tech companies should offer spare parts for several years even once the model has been discontinued. 

There are many things that can be done to produce sustainable IT products. Standardizing cables for IT products would mean fewer cables to be manufactured and this would allow their re-use on multiple products by consumers. Companies need to start designing products that are durable, upgradeable, repairable, and reusable, whether these are computers or home appliances.

Creating a circular economy is part and parcel of the overall solution. In order for businesses to achieve a circular economy, they need to redefine growth and invest in business practices that benefit society as a whole.  

The Right To Repair

Most e-waste management models around the world are based on the EPR concept which motivates the producers to reduce consumption of virgin materials. That isn’t enough. We need designs with a new vision. 

Big Tech companies need to own up to their responsibilities and become active stakeholders in implementing a circular economy with designs that take into account not only the use of an object but its lifespan and recycling as well. 

In the USA the ‘right to repair’ bill was introduced and has already gained traction thanks to backing from President Biden and Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak

In December 2021, Dell announced its plans for Concept Luna, a sustainable and repairable laptop. News has it that  Microsoft is looking into Xbox and Surface devices right to repair.  All Big Tech companies should jump on board because it won’t take long for consumers to realize and appreciate the benefits. 

The only viable solution to the e-waste dilemma is continued commitment to overcoming the challenges linked to e-waste management and recycling while focusing on business practices that benefit society as a whole, coupled with strong legislations that regulate the lifespan and recycling of all products. 

Perhaps we ought to heed the words of Jason Hickel, in his book Less is More-How Degrowth Will Save The World, where he states:

“Degrowth begins as a process of taking less. But in the end, it opens up whole vistas of possibilities. It moves us from scarcity to abundance, from extraction to regeneration, from dominion to reciprocity, and from loneliness and separation to connection with a world that’s fizzing with life.”
We all need to pitch in if we want to keep this sublime planet and a stunning masterpiece of creation, our home.


Long Term Food Security For Urban Areas

Urbanization, climate change, and food security are tightly linked issues. It is estimated that by 2050 more than 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas.

New strategies are needed to ensure food supply and food security for people living in urban areas.  

Food security means achieving a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice.

Cities Must Be Reimagined and Redesigned

Promoting local food production in urban areas is the key to integrating green and edible vegetation into their boundaries. Cities must be re-imagined and re-designed to incorporate agricultural practices in order to achieve sustainability.

Rooftops, courtyards, and public green areas can all be converted into vegetable gardens.

In Italy, an average of 44% of the population grows fruit and vegetables in urban gardens and private terraces.

The heritage of Italian vegetable gardens is rooted in a tradition born of a deep reverence for the earth, for growing and preparing food, and can pave the way to more sustainable urban living.

If you google “Italian vegetable gardens” you’ll get a whopping 137,000,000 results. Not only have Italian gardening traditions been maintained in Italy and abroad by Italian immigrants, in their backyards, they’ve also been adopted by other cultures. Classic Italian vegetable gardens can be found throughout Canada and the USA

Many years ago I relocated from Canada to Milan, Italy. It was in the city of Milan, where I saw my first communal vegetable gardens. 

In a city such as Milan, a private backyard garden is a rarity. Mostly I would see older Italians, tending after these communal gardens. They reminded me of summers spent at my aunts’ and uncles’ homes in Ontario. 

I grew up in an Italian immigrant family, in Canada, at a time when traditions from the old country were held onto with passion and commitment by the previous generations. 

My uncles and aunts each had an ‘Orto’, an Italian vegetable garden. At times most of the backyard was allotted to the vegetable garden. 

I witnessed frequent conversations about whether there had been too much or not enough sun and rain and which moon cycles needed to be observed for yielding the best results, as different vegetables require to be planted and harvested at specific times during the lunar phases. 

In these gardens, they grew aubergines, tomatoes, zucchini, fava beans, peppers both hot and sweet, string beans, rucola, carrots, lettuce, fragrant herbs, and so on. Italian vegetable gardens can produce a lot in very small spaces. Tiny backyard plots would feed an entire family and friends.

In the fall, endless jars of tomatoes, grilled eggplant, peppers, jams, and pickled vegetables would be stowed away for the winter months ahead

Unfortunately, these traditions were not always held onto by successive generations as many opted for a BBQ deck and/or a swimming pool in place of a vegetable garden.  

Promoting Local Food Production

Over the years, since living in Italy, I’ve seen a shift, with a passion for vegetable gardening taking a hold of the younger generation. Gardening is no longer only a pastime for the elderly.

Projects such as Coltivando, an urban vegetable garden, set up on 1000 sqm of land at the Bovisa Campus of Politecnico di Milano, is a perfect example of urban community gardening. The project was developed and designed with the collaboration of and for people from the neighborhood

Local authorities in Italian cities, organize and rent urban gardens. There are different parameters and systems for the concession of public gardens. Some municipalities may offer annual use in exchange for a small fee, while others may be reserved for certain age groups and there are those who open tenders for assignments, offering rent shares that vary according to income and age

Just 25 km outside of Milan, in the province of Lombardy, there is an experimental educational farm, the Minoprio Foundation, with the production structures consisting of greenhouses, tunnels, shadows, nurseries, vegetable gardens, and an orchard with old and new varieties of plants. 

The Minoprio Foundation enjoys and benefits from an estate of about 60 hectares consisting of a historical, agricultural, and naturalistic park.

Another initiative that got my attention is ​​MILANO GREEN WAY.  A five thousand square meters urban community green area, in the city of Milan, along the Olona river, in the Barona village district. This redevelopment project transformed a degraded urban area into a shared community garden. The project was curated by OPERA in FIORE, a  Social Cooperative, with the collaboration of inmates on leave, residents, students, and young gardeners.

With over 44% of the population growing fruit and vegetables in urban gardens and do-it-yourself terrace gardens Coldiretti’s analysis of the latest Istat data from 2019 showed a recorded growth of 18.5% in five years, exceeding 2.1 million square meters and estimates for 2020-21 indicate further growth with the introduction of vertical gardens in Milano’s latest architectural projects.

Data also shows that in one year the number of Italians living in conditions of utter poverty increased from 4.6 million to 5.6 million

To make matters worst, crop losses, from anomalous weather trends, coupled with a sharp rise in production costs, from fuel to fertilizers and an increase in energy costs, have taken their toll on Italian households.

Urbanization, climate change, and food security are tightly linked issues. It is estimated that by 2050 more than 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas.

Perhaps being locked in for months on end, due to the pandemic, and the resulting economic crisis has ushered in a new design for urban living, with a desire to reconnect with nature, save money and eat well.  

It’s truly delightful to see gardening traditions continued, whether on a small or large scale. These practices help us understand the importance of living close to the earth and do our part in creating a more sustainable future

 It is no longer possible to remain inactive and hope for better times.


A Daily Dose Of Happiness

What is happiness? If you look up synonyms for this elusive word you’ll find gems such as euphoria, glee, jubilation, seventh heaven, bliss, and elation.

How does one achieve such a state? Is it love, money, beauty, youth, health, success, or a combination of all of these? Hard to come by the full package, don’t you think?

I believe in a daily dose of happiness, no matter what. A permanent state of happiness is difficult to achieve and would be counter-productive. It is the difficult times in our lives that teach us to appreciate the good times.

It can be said that certain life circumstances and conditions contribute to one’s happiness, give or take.

Falling in love, getting a raise, your favorite team winning the game? But are these not fleeting moments of happiness? So what would make for long-lasting happiness? Winning the lottery? I imagine oodles of money would make many people happy, yet those same happy lottery winners could very quickly fall back into unhappiness, should their spouses, once they cash in half the winnings, choose to leave them, or if the lottery winner were to never walk again, following a head-on collision with a wild boar, while speeding on a country road in their new dream sports car.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but my point is simply that life is made of ups and downs, and these don’t come announced or have any particularly recognizable patterns. Life is full of surprises, some better than others.

I don’t believe in being happy all the time, it simply doesn’t work, doesn’t exist and the mere thought of having to be happy all the time is stressful. I enjoy crying when I have a good reason to cry. I enjoy arguing when I have a good reason to defend a position. I enjoy anger as well, as long as it is properly vented, in a constructive creative manner.

A full range of feelings must be given free reign, in order for us to keep developing our very unique identities. Life serves up all the experiences we need in order to realize our potential.

Perhaps it would be wise to get more acquainted with the sources of our unhappiness in order to navigate our way towards happiness. It’s a little like getting vaccinated. You become less prone to falling into the unhappiness rut, you react with a constructive resolution instead, and find ways to move beyond. Go ahead and scream at yourself in the mirror, but make sure you don’t take any shit from yourself…that’s the trick. Come to an agreement with yourself, no use beating yourself up. Make little adjustments to how you think and how you communicate with yourself.

The difficult times in our lives can help us appreciate the good times. Whether it is the loss of status or of a loved one, these are the defining moments that help us realize happiness, like life, is a temporal and fleeting occurrence.

Research shows that happiness is not the result of bouncing from one joy to the next, but typically involves times of considerable discomfort

Happiness is a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life, with a sense of purpose, meaning, and deep satisfaction. Research shows that happiness is not the result of bouncing from one joy to the next, it typically involves periods of considerable discomfort.

My secret is to find a daily dose of happiness. I do this by thanking the universe every morning when I wake up to a steaming cup of my favorite coffee, a flushing toilet, and the hot shower that follows. I cultivate my friendships as if they were all part of an exotic garden that I am the keeper of, and I take every occasion I can to immerse myself in nature and celebrate the beauty of life. Don’t underestimate the simple comforts in life and how they contribute to your happiness.


New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work and Here’s Why

New Year’s Resolutions are a secular tradition. A person promises themselves to embark on a mission of self-improvement, or simply promises to be more civil with nice gestures such as picking up their dog’s poo as soon as the New Year starts.  I say, hey why not start right away ?

Forget those New Year’s resolutions. Want to quit or reduce smoking, drinking, start working out? Want to start eating healthy, working less, reduce, re-use, recycle, give up your seat bus to elders, pay more attention to your family and loved ones? Watch less TV?

Want to give yourself a boost and get back on track? Been feeling sluggish, and life seems dull? New Year’s Resolutions aren’t going to do it.

This mass-induced ritual of self-betterment, that we embrace with the entrance of a New Year, is a futile gesture considering most people will not stick to the program they’ve set out for themselves. 

Studies showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail.

Often the program is unrealistic, and part of the reason that most people postpone it to the New Year is that they want to keep partaking in their old habits, be they good or bad, for as long as possible. In this manner, resolutions become sacrifices.

Resolutions are about self-betterment, about shedding old baggage and all that stuff that apparently prevents us from being our best, and from achieving our full potential.

This lady says it well…LIFE IS THE GAME WE PLAY

I believe, beyond any reasonable doubt, that in order to reach our full potential and give birth to OUR SELVES, we need to embrace our madness. We need to not care what others think or say about us, we need to stay true to ourselves against all odds. Simply put, it means you need to listen to your inner voice. Which one, you might ask, there are several.

If you pay attention, you will be able to distinguish your own inner voice from the voices of your elders, society, friends, peers and colleagues, the church, and the media. Your voice will stand out amongst all of that caucus that lives inside your head. 

Chase out all those voices that don’t belong to you, all those voices leading you astray, that tell you you’ll never make it, that you’re too fat, too young, too old, too tall, too small, your skin too dark, that your ideas are stupid. Chase them all away and embrace yourself, embrace your madness. 

No matter how crazy your ideas may sound, even to you, go for it! So instead of wasting time making a list of resolutions, you won’t keep, why not start thinking on your feet? Why not do something to stimulate your blood flow and get your juices flowing. Somewhere in there, if we dig deep enough we all have some crazy ideas, and these very ideas may be the key to harnessing our full potential and freeing us from boredom and a life afloat in dullness and repetition.

Embracing your madness means harnessing your passions and creating something from nothing.

Here’s a couple of ridiculous ideas that made these guys a fortune.

“Back in the 70’s some guy bought a bunch of stones from a builder’s supply store, packaged them in cardboard boxes with holes (so the rocks could “breathe”), and marketed them as serious “pets”. For a production cost of less than a dollar, Dahl sold each rock for $3.95. And sell them he did. By Christmas of 1975, pet rocks were all the rage.  As for Dahl, his aptly-named Rock Bottom Productions was rolling over…. in profits.”

IFart App has Ridiculously Rich Person Behind It: Joel Comm. Estimated Profit:  $400K Somewhere, in Joel Comm’s unique mind, the iFart was conceived, the whoopee cushion for the iPhone.  What’s even crazier? He thought people would pay for the app.  iFart retails for 99 cents, and the absolutely insane part about this all is that Joel Comm was right.

The more you define who you are, the more you unleash your potential.

Who cares how much you weigh and how many followers you have.  As new adventures enter your life, you will come into your own new skin as you shed old habits. The best part is you don’t have to wait for New Year’s eve to do so, and it doesn’t have to be a million-dollar idea. 

It can simply be getting off your butt right now, picking up the phone, and getting something in motion. Doing that thing that has been nagging at you for some time. Get involved with people and make things happen, small projects that can benefit many, simply by creating a common goal, and playing together to make it happen. 

Self-improvement is a full-time activity and requires healthy doses of feeling good about ourselves, very different from what people are usually feeling when they make resolutions.

If you absolutely must stay true to tradition then here’s one bit of advice. Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer support will increase your chances of actually sticking to your New Year’s Resolution.



Use It Or Lose It – Words Have Power

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

George Orwell, 1984

Through the study of language, we can discover some revealing things about any given culture.  It is said that the Eskimos have over 35 words for “snow” because its exact condition is very important to their thinking. Sanskrit has 96 words for love.

Approximately 359 million people speak English as their first language. Although the English language has only one word for love, it reportedly has over 500 words for the female genitals and almost as many for the male apparatus. Merriam-Webster dictionary has 23 synonyms for the term ‘sexual-intercourse’.

How language Affects Thinking

  • Russian speakers, who have more words for light and dark blues, are better able to visually discriminate shades of blue.
  • Some indigenous tribes say north, south, east, and west, rather than left and right, and as a consequence have great spatial orientation.
  • The Piraha, whose language eschews number words in favor of terms like few and many, are not able to keep track of exact quantities.
  • In one study, Spanish and Japanese speakers couldn’t remember the agents of accidental events as adeptly as English speakers could. Why? In Spanish and Japanese, the agent of causality is dropped: “The vase broke itself,” rather than “John broke the vase.”

Language shapes how we understand, space, time, and causality

It turns out that if you change how people talk, that changes how they think. If people learn another language, they inadvertently also learn a new way of looking at the world. When bilingual people switch from one language to another, they start thinking differently. 

  • Does language shape our thoughts and influence culture? 
  • Do English, Chinese, Russian and Japanese understand and remember experiences differently simply because they speak different languages?

These questions touch on major controversies in the study of the mind, with important implications for politics, religion, and sexuality. The idea that language might shape thought was for a long time considered untestable, at best, or dismissed altogether. 

New cognitive science research has shown that language profoundly influences how we see the world. 

New research shows us that the languages we speak not only reflect or express our thoughts but also shape the very thoughts we express. The structures that exist in our languages profoundly shape how we construct our reality, and assist us in being as smart and sophisticated as we are. 

“That language embodies different ways of knowing the world seems intuitive, given the number of times we reach for a word or phrase in another language that communicates that certain je ne sais quoi that we can’t find in our own language.”

Steve Kallaugher

What role does the media play in shaping our thoughts and our language?

News coverage of the pill (in the 60’s) and of the Clinton/Lewinsky episode proved to be 2 turning points in an accelerating preoccupation by the American Media with all things sexual.

The role of the media in shaping public perceptions and opinions regarding significant
political and social issues has been the subject of both speculation and research since its inception. Now the focus has shifted to Social Media. With so much going on globally, media has the power to influence not only our perceptions it also decides what is important and what isn’t.

The Julian Assange case is a striking example of how corporate media buried news about one of the most important political trials of our lifetime.

The “power of language” not only means language in service of power,  remember that language can also undermine power

While censorship is often conducted by corporations and governments to prevent words, images, or ideas from entering the mainstream, censorship of literature was around as early as 399 B.C.  The Catholic Church had been compiling lists of banned books since 1559, and only stopped the practice in 1966. 

“Of all the weapons of destruction that man could invent, the most terrible-and the most powerful-was the word. Daggers and spears left traces of blood; arrows could be seen at a distance. Poisons were detected in the end and avoided. But the word managed to destroy without leaving clues.” 

― Paulo Coelho


Brain Interfaces: Evolutionary Advance Or Decline?

Man’s evolutionary quest has taken us from the bottom of the ocean to deep space, now science and technology join forces to expand beyond our physical realm and explore new frontiers of communication.

Elon Musk’s Neuralink app, a new kind of brain interface being developed, one of several, would allow you to control your iOS device, keyboard, and mouse, just by thinking about it. When you stop to think about it, even the telephone was invented to meet the needs of long-distance communication.

Both the application and the implications are numerous. Consider the endless possibilities of increasing the brain’s channels of communication. These methods could be employed to treat a wide range of neurological disorders, restore sensory or movement functions, and without a doubt change the way we interact with one another.

Understanding the physical mechanisms of telepathy has inspired modern technology with the endless possibilities and applications of brain-to-brain communications. Much can be uncovered by studying the sensing, emitting, and receiving principles at work in telepathic communication.

In the realm of our physical senses-based world, telepathy has long been regarded as a controversial phenomenon. However, as of late, science and tech journals feature ever more studies, indicating telepathy holds keys to modern technological applications with designs to increase the brain’s channels of communication.

Telepathy is not science fiction. In fact, both science and technology are now drawing inspiration from the principles of telepathy to develop brain interfaces designed to increase the brain’s channels of communication.

Telepathy has long been a disputed phenomenon in the scientific community. On the other hand, it has often been perceived as a viable means of accessing the unconscious mind.

In the late 19th and early 20th Century telepathy was a topic of interest, discussed and written about, by Sigmund Freud, Thomas Huxley, W. T. Stead, and Oscar Wilde, amongst many other eminent men and women of the times. They put into question whether telepathy signaled an evolutionary advance or a possible decline.

In his book, The invention of telepathy 1870-1900, Roger Luckhurst investigates this question and many other questions, in a study that blends the history of science with cultural history and literary analysis surrounding telepathy.

Telepathy and mysticism have been intimately connected in man’s attempt to answer the most taunting questions about life. One could say that telepathy has been seen as a possible bridge to the metaphysical world.

Edgar Cayce, also known as the “Sleeping Prophet” spent over 43 years of his life as a practicing “trance physician” and telepathic clairvoyant. When Cayce passed away, on the 3rd of January 1945, he left an impressive legacy of his life’s work, 140,000 documented stenographic records of his trance readings, one of the most extensive compilations of psychic primary materials recorded to date.

Telepathic connections between twins have provided researchers with the means to study the phenomenon and have served as significant evidence of telepathy amongst humans.

 Dr. Lynn Cherkas, who studied Telepathy in twins, concluded that 20% of identical twins and 1% of fraternal twins had some type of telepathic experience with their twin. A most comprehensive survey on the history of research into twin telepathy is compiled in the book Twin Telepathy by Guy Leon Playfair.

Many people claim to have had some form of telepathic experience at some point in their lives.

Have you ever found yourself jolted out of reverie by your phone ringing and the name that appeared on your screen made your heart leap? Almost gave you the creeps? The very person you were thinking of!

Perhaps a distant friend or family member you’ve been out of touch with for years. Is it a coincidence that they happened to contact you at that particular moment or the exact day you happened to wake up thinking about them or had dreamt of them?

Often time it can be as simple as being in a room with another person and you know exactly what they are about to say, before they say it, at other times it can be a hunch that saves your life or the life of a loved one.

These types of experiences always leave us feeling as though there is some special deeper meaning to the event and give us momentary access to an otherwise invisible and complex network of communications that most of us are unable to willingly harness. They make us reflect deeply on life. The possibility of communicating at a distance by simply using our minds is both alluring and unnerving. It shakes up some fundamental belief systems.

Some people experience precognition, a feeling, or a presentiment of something about to happen or about someone, which reveals itself to be a real occurrence.

I dreamt of my grandfather’s funeral, as a child, and the following day we received news of his death. I had only ever seen my grandfather in photographs since my parents had relocated from Europe to Canada shortly after I was born, so I had no conscious recollection of my grandfather.

I have had several other premonitions over the years, one particularly stands out, involving a girlfriend I’d been quite close to and lost touch with when I moved from the West Coast of Canada back to the East Coast.

For days, following a vivid and preoccupying dream, I attempted to find her. There were few resources available, no internet yet. I managed to get an address for her brother and sent a letter, which eventually made its way to her. Years later, when we met up again, she admitted that upon reading the letter she was startled. How could I possibly have known that she was going through difficult and trying times, in a situation that had put her life at risk? The letter had been a wake-up call for her and as a result, she set herself on a new path and out of harm’s way.

How can an event that is occurring to a person at a specific time and place be simultaneously communicated to another person’s consciousness who is at a distance?

When telepathic communication occurs, place, time and distance have no bearing.

Extrasensory perception during the dream state has been studied for decades. In truth, the first attempt to study telepathic dreams experimentally is reported by G.B. Ermacora (1895) in a publication of the Society for Psychical Research. 

Most Telepathic experiences involve a direct transference of thought from one person to another. So essentially we have a sender and a receiver communicating without putting into play the usual sensory channels of communication, therefore considered a form of extrasensory perception (ESP).

Studies conducted on people experiencing paranormal phenomena have yielded significant results.

“Scientists at the University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon University created a brain-to-brain interface system that allows one or more people, called “Senders,” to influence the decisions of an individual, called a “Receiver”


Aside from the possible medicinal uses, brain-to-brain interfaces could find interested players across many disciplines, from sports to business, the military, and civilians. If this technology were to be used on the battlefield it would enable soldiers to send and receive commands and warnings, through a form of electronic or synthetic telepathy.

There is more than sufficient evidence pointing to telepathy and its scientific possibilities. Telepathy no longer resides in the realm of superstition. According to Forbes mind sharing is definitely coming. It will revolutionize how people learn, interact and experience new things. 

Consciousness, free will, and the meaning of life have always been at the core of man’s questions about our existence. It stands to reason that our evolutionary progress should eventually take us beyond the limitations of the five physical senses we rely on and science and technology are leading the way.

Some would argue that we are not ready for this leap and that our innate telepathic abilities are meant to be matured and accessed organically, so to speak, without the aid of technology.

These developments would greatly increase both the efficiency and power of select individuals and organizations to monitor, regulate and respond. Just as we use tools to shape our world, the tools we use shape us.

In our quest to make great leaps, with science and technology at the helm, perhaps we should ask ourselves the same question those luminaries from the early 20th century posed themselves, ‘will it lead us to an evolutionary advance or a possible decline?


Why Comedy Should Not Be Censored

Given the recent outcries from the LGBTQ+ community over Dave Chapelle’s recent material I’ve given much thought to WHY COMEDY SHOULD NOT BE CENSORED.

We’ve been Laughing at jokes about Blacks, Asians, Jews, Blondes, Mexicans, Americans, Italians, the size of dicks, tits, and noses, fat and skinny people, sex, religion, the KKK, politics, and more, for decades.

Comedy has historically pushed boundaries and poked at sensitive issues and topics. As with all other art forms, comedy is also hatched in a dark, deep personal realm where everything is unfiltered. Many comedians draw from personal experience.

Take Richard Pryor for example, who through his own personal experience and raw, uncensored brand of humor brought to light issues surrounding poverty, racism, and drug abuse.

Lenny Bruce was another pioneer who pushed the boundaries. “Lenny worshipped the gods of Spontaneity, Candor, and Free Association. He fancied himself an oral jazzman. His ideal was to walk out there like Charlie Parker, take that mike in his hand like a horn and blow, blow, blow everything that came into his head just as it came into his head with nothing censored, nothing translated, nothing mediated, until he was pure mind, pure head sending out brainwaves like radio waves into the heads of every man and woman seated in that vast hall. Sending, sending, sending, he would finally reach a point of clairvoyance where he was no longer a performer but rather a medium transmitting messages that just came to him from out there — from recall, fantasy, prophecy.”

“Lenny Bruce worshipped the gods of Spontaneity, Candor, and Free Association.

Comedy is an art form and as such should not be censored. People need to learn how to laugh at themselves again. Without shock, subversion, and a little bit of transgression and irreverence, comedy cannot fulfill its important social function. Laughter is revelatory and can awaken our awareness of injustices.

I read somewhere that humor can turn anger and frustration into fine art. Even science advocates the value of self-mockery

Comedy is very much like a pressure valve, releasing us from our daily challenges and existential strife. If you want to read more about the value of comedy and laughter in our lives.


Have We Forgotten How To Laugh At Ourselves?

Revisiting classic movies can be a seriously startling experience. Last night I watched some scenes from Death Wish 3. The story of a once mild-mannered liberal, New York City architect, played by Charles Bronson, who snaps when intruders break into his home, murder his wife, and violently rape his daughter. His frustration with the police, unable to find the intruders, leads him to moonlight as a vigilante, and gingerly gun down any criminal that crosses his path.

There is a scene, in Death Wish 3, where an elderly Jewish couple’s home is broken into by local scoundrels that have been terrorizing the neighborhood. This scene, by today’s standards, would be considered inappropriate, tasteless to say to least. The stereotypical representation of the elderly Jewish couple is both comical and dismal, not to mention the character that leaps in through their window, like a flying monkey version of Rick James, in a crop top, may he RIP.

This got me thinking and reflecting on some of the classic movies I grew up with, such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I asked myself, how does Mickey Rooney’s stereotyped performance as Holly’s Japanese neighbor, Mr. Yunioshi, fare by today’s standards?

Hell, they’ve even censored Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry for depicting racial stereotypes and caricatures.

Recently we’re seeing more and more censorship, and Disney is a perfect example. They’ve edited and censored everything from the movie Splash to Toy Store. What exactly are we concerned about?

They say humans start laughing as early as three months, in life.  “In a study of thousands of examples of laughter, the speakers in a conversation were found to be 46 percent more likely to laugh than the listeners.” This is because laughter is also a way for us to signal that we want to connect and collaborate.

laughing baby
They say humans start laughing as early as three months.

Laughter may have evolved as a way to enhance connectedness in societies but it goes far deeper. Have you ever asked yourself why people will laugh at the misfortunes of others and in the realization that a norm has been breached?

Plato, along with other ancient Greek philosophers maintained that people find humor in, and laugh at, earlier versions of themselves and the misfortunes of others because they feel superior. The bottom line is that people are attracted to authenticity since it stands to reason that by revealing our own flaws in a humorous way, we can build bridges so that others might feel comfortable lowering their guard.

Several centuries later Freud advanced the notion that laughter is a release, allowing people to let off steam or release pent-up “nervous energy.” This theory also explains why tabooed scatological and sexual themes and jokes hinting at those familiar thorny social and ethnic topics are amusing to some.

There are many definitions of humor, yet it still seems to be elusive. However, whether it’s slapstick, double entendre, or ethnic jokes that induce laughter, these all have one aspect in common; A person realizes that an ethical, social or physical norm has been violated and that this violation is not reprehensible. 

Chris Rock, Jennifer Saunders and more have argued that ‘wokeness’ is stifling comedy.

Shock, subversion, and transgression are essential elements of comedy. Nowadays we are experiencing a redefinition of humor. Some comedians are sounding the alarm, stating that cancel culture is killing comedy. Chris Rock, Jennifer Saunders, and more have argued that ‘wokeness’ is stifling comedy. Has social media become a tool of oppression?

Comedy has historically pushed boundaries and poked at sensitive issues and topics and as with all other artforms, comedy is also hatched in a dark, deep personal realm where everything is unfiltered. Many comedians draw from personal experience. Take Richard Pryor for example, who through his own personal experience and raw, uncensored brand of humor brought to light issues surrounding poverty, racism, and drug abuse.

I read somewhere that humor can turn anger and frustration into fine art. Even science advocates the value of self-mockery. In a recent study, researchers discovered that self-deprecating humor improves our health. It goes without saying that one shouldn’t use self-deprecation in order to camouflage insecurities, however in this study, it was observed that people who regularly poke fun at themselves exhibit greater levels of emotional well-being.

“In particular, we have observed that a greater tendency to employ self-defeating humor is indicative of high scores in psychological well-being dimensions such as happiness and, to a lesser extent, sociability,” the study authors wrote.

Having a good laugh is excellent for reducing stress and it makes us more flexible, creative, and effective in the face of challenges. Comedy is very much like a pressure valve, releasing us from our daily challenges and existential strife.

Without shock, subversion, and a little bit of transgression comedy cannot fulfill its important social function. Laughter is revelatory and can awaken our awareness of injustices, as well as open our eyes to what is wrong in our world and needs fixing. Laughing unites people.

“In order to truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it. “

charlie chaplin


Will Cryptocurrency Transform The Way We Do Business?

Although not all of us may be driven by money, most of us are familiar with how uncertainty about the future and the lack of confidence about a sustained income can lead to anxiety and insecurity, which in turn can upset our sense of well-being and continuity in life. I mean, astonishingly, even the wealthy live with fear, insecurity, and a sense of inadequacy surrounding their wealth, namely for fear of losing or of being cheated out of it. At the end of the day, it turns out that money is intimately connected to our emotional craving for stability and livelihood.

Since the pandemic has swept across the globe, financial insecurity has spread like mold and at the same time, we are seeing a silent revolution at work.

Money has been around for a good 3,000 years, whether a shell, a metal coin, or a piece of paper was used, the value was determined by the importance that people placed on the medium of exchange. Now Bitcoin, along with 10,000 different cryptocurrencies, has emerged as a new medium of exchange, and some have already seen astounding returns over the past decade.

From the moment that humans harnessed fire and chemistry, we journeyed from the Stone Age through the Bronze and Iron Ages, to our modern developed society, and to this day we remain dependent on metals and alloys for survival. The European conquests abroad provided them with constant new sources of precious metals and as a result, until the 16th century, metal coins were the sole form of currency in Europe.

American Express was vital to the evolution of currency and took us from metal to paper, to the invention of the credit card. Once a product only for the wealthy, accepted at only a few places, credit cards became available to millions of people, and the most accepted form of payment worldwide. Who would have thought that a plastic card would take us so far?

The Gemini card is bringing crypto to the mainstream and this is a serious indication that the world of crypto is growing, as digital currencies and blockchain technology keep edging closer to the mainstream by simply providing crypto in a way that doesn’t alter consumer habits. 

Many are embracing the idea of cryptocurrency simply because it removes central banks from managing the money supply. More and more companies are warming up to the idea of cryptocurrency. Institutions are climbing on board in a significant way for the first time, while the tourism industry is ahead of the game boasting some impressive partnerships with some of the world’s biggest online travel brands, all of whom are embracing crypto.

For example, 700,000 Expedia Group hotels and accommodations have been available via the crypto-friendly booking platform Travala.com since 2020, and it is expected that new generations of travelers will demand and embrace new forms of payment for travel.

Is Cryptocurrency going to pave the way? It is not an easy concept for everyone to wrap their head around, but what it boils down to is trust and the importance that people place on the medium of exchange, which will determine its value. Does anyone still write cheques? I haven’t for years, yet at one time, a cheque had a value, yet it was a simple slip of paper, and although many of us saw our fair share of bounced cheques, it was still an accepted medium of exchange.

The fact is that no one really needs gold nor paper, for that matter, but everyone needs to feel safe and to exchange goods and services. The market for cryptocurrencies has exploded and is currently estimated to be worth about $2 trillion, so it would seem many people have given it a vote of confidence. Crypto currency security may still be a concern, however innovative solutions are being found, by the cybersecurity sector, that address these concerns.  

Cryptocurrencies were the result of a radical desire for access to assets not controlled by governments and central banks. Ironically, regulations are now being considered to guarantee transparent pricing and security for investors. Many believe that new regulations could help cryptocurrencies become a bigger part of our daily lives.

Will cryptocurrency transform the way we do business? Some say it already has and it could eventually make banks obsolete. One thing is certain, cryptocurrency has transformed the money and finance landscape.  


Facial Recognition – Friend or Foe?

Many feel that Facial Recognition Technology may be the latest step on the march towards total surveillance and Totalitarian New World Order. Invasive surveillance is nothing new.  Monitoring, activities, behavior, and information for data mining and influencing people did not start with the internet. Electronic means of surveillance and data gathering were being deployed way before the advent of social networks and search engine bots. 

Research on facial recognition technology dates back to the mid-1960s when Woody Bledsoe along with Helen Chan Wolf and Charles Bisson began working together, and the US government has been putting the technology to the test since the 1990s.

We’ve come a long way since, as facial recognition is becoming increasingly more diffused, which leaves us facing ethical issues that have come into play. Issues that both businesses and consumers should consider.

Facial recognition is but the tip of the iceberg when you stop to think about the risks each and every one of us takes every day online. If you feel you are being watched or listened to, it may not be paranoia after all.

Corporate surveillance, data mining, and profiling, GPS tracking, and wireless tracking have enhanced surveillance to new dizzying heights, never known before. Following journalistic investigations, it was revealed that location data is tracked by a wider variety of parties for a greater number of purposes, and in ways that exceed our understanding or control. With companies hungry to feed us customized savory digital bait, the sheer volume of location data tracked, disclosed, and repurposed has become gargantuan and the tension has risen between innovation and privacy.

How Much Privacy Are You Willing To Sacrifice?

The biggest fear, surrounding facial recognition, is that identity theft would be rendered possible by anyone. For example, Google Glass has sparked debate over privacy, for the simple reason that a total stranger could quickly access all your social profiles, along with personal information about you, simply by snapping a shot of you while you are shopping, having a coffee or walking down the street. I could argue that a total stranger can also come across your FB profile picture and used it for similar purposes, which as we know has been done on many occasions. However the implications of Facial Recognition reach much further and deeper.

Those in favor of facial recognition will cite the many benefits:

  • Easier to track down burglars, thieves, and trespassers. The technology can also analyze the feed of private and public CCTV camera networks.
  • By singling out suspects among crowds, face recognition technology could help decrease stops and searches on law-abiding citizens.
  • It could be used to help find missing children and seniors.
  • Face recognition could make security checkpoints at airports less intrusive to passengers.
  • Facial recognition could be used to battle banking frauds.
  • Face recognition technology could be used to improve attendance at work by putting an end to time fraud. Employees would be required to check-in and out via a face-scanning device for work. 

Those against facial recognition technology, such as Civil liberties groups, are concerned over threats to privacy, violations of rights and personal freedoms, potential data theft and other crimes as well as the risk of possible errors due to flaws in the technology.

Facial Recognition technology promises benefits at a cost. How far are you willing to compromise and sacrifice your privacy?

I always envisioned a technology-driven future and amongst my favorite authors were visionaries, such as Arthur C. Clarke, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Frank Heinlein, H. G. Wells, and William Gibson.

We are living at a time when the boundaries between science fiction and reality have thinned exponentially and we are now faced with a perplexing scenario. The questions we all need to ask ourselves are, how much privacy are we willing to give up for the benefits derived from technology and most importantly what else are we giving up?


What Does An Adaptation Technologist Do?

Have you ever asked yourself who the people behind frontline aid work are and how did they end up dedicating their professional lives to pursuing solutions to age-old plagues such as war, famine, natural disasters or drought? These brave individuals are known as Climate Change Adaption Technology Specialists, and they help and train affected communities by introducing them to self-sufficiency and focusing on effective, sustainable, recovery solutions.

Implementing effective strategies for sustainability in aid work is very sought after. Assisting post-disaster and poverty-stricken areas by designing sustainable systems that can withstand climate change can make a real difference to the quality of life and help communities rebuild quickly. 

Most methods of adaptation involve technology, materials, equipment, and most importantly diverse forms of knowledge. The forms of technology for adaptation are often quite familiar and have been tried and tested over generations, such as coping with floods by building houses on stilts or by cultivating floating vegetable plots. Other more recent forms of adaptation involve the use of advanced materials, science, or remote satellite sensing. Take for example how Adaptive Technology is the focus of an extended Egyptian climate project.

If you have an adaptive mindset and enjoy fostering innovative solutions to global environmental issues, training is available worldwide.

Green Warrior Permaculture‘ specializes in frontline aid work and for anyone interested in becoming a professional Climate Change Adaption Technology Specialist, they offer a 2-year apprenticeship program. Once the initial 10-week hands-on internship is completed, the trainee will be assigned to various projects at one of their many field school sites. Students can develop projects to test their skills and gain experience alongside other Permaculture teachers and practitioners. “Permaculture Aid gets real results by helping the people restore their community using local resources. They grow their way out of poverty”. 

Students practice in the field, where they develop all the necessary skills to bring self-reliance to people needing aid. Students must complete several small-scale projects, such as construct safe wells, build community infrastructures, implement waste management solutions, or build nurseries, to list but a few. The projects are conducted in real communities, where students get to solve real problems.

Upon completion of the 2-year program, one is qualified to co-teach for 2 years, after which one can open their own Permaculture Field School, with the option of branching out on their own or by joining forces with a guild of trainers. 

A 10-week Climate Change Adaption Technology Specialist apprenticeship is also being offered, as a stand-alone course, for those with some previous experience. Courses can be customized for people with specialized skills or previous experience in the field. 

These courses are run through Green Warrior Permaculture’s new facilities at the ‘Centre of Advanced Permaculture’. All of Green Warrior Permaculture’s programs and field courses focus on how to adapt and mitigate climate events. More in-depth information on Green Warrior Permaculture field courses can be found on their website: https://greenwarriorpermaculture.wordpress.com/category/what-is-a-green-warrior/

If Green Warrior’s program is not the right fit or location for you, check out these other options for training as an Adaptation Technology Specialist:



The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat and the Expert Group on Technology Transfer carried out an extensive review of adaptation technologies and assessed their possibilities in five sectors:

  • Coastal zones
  • Water resources
  • Agriculture
  • Public health
  • Infrastructure

This review gives you a pretty good idea of the challenges that lie ahead for mankind and the opportunities to make a difference. The review is published as a technical paper, and can be found on the UNFCCC website (www.unfccc.int).

The global climate system has always confronted human societies with extreme weather events and we can expect future climate change will simply exacerbate these type of events, increasing their scale, duration or intensity, which should be possible to adapt to some extent by modifying or extending existing technologies.

If you are interested and would like to read an in depth publication which provides an overview of the old and the new, clearly showing us that we have been using existing knowledge to adapt to changing environments and that new adaptation technologies and methods are available and are being developed. Download this publication as a reminder of what is possible and how you can make a difference by becoming an Adaptation Technologist.


How To Tell Quality Fabric From Cheap Fabric

If you stop to think about it, fabric is one of the most important components in our daily lives. From the clothes we wear, to the upholstery of our home furniture and cars, to our bed linen.  The fabric used will determine the value, comfort, and durability of the item in question. Not all fabrics are suitable for all applications and not all fabrics are alike when it comes to quality.

I grew up with a seamstress for a mother. Spent many days down long aisles of fabric stores in Montreal’s St-Laurent area, the heart of the city’s garment industry back then. Rows and rows of shelves lined with fat rolls of fabric. An infinite array of textures and colors to choose from. You could always tell who worked in the store since they had measuring tapes hanging around their necks and long sharp scissors always on standby.

The best part of going fabric shopping with my mother was that I was allowed to touch the merchandise on display. This never happened anywhere else. I mimicked my mother’s meticulous perusals of fine threads. I listened to her rumblings when she was not satisfied with the quality or price. Without realizing it I was learning about the fine art of textiles through my fingertips and my mother’s unintentional coaching.

As a consumer, you owe it to yourself to know the difference between valued fabrics and cheap fabrics. Whether you are buying new furniture for your home, a new suit, special dress, or bed linen, the fabric used will make all the difference. If you are going to spend money on a classic suit, special dress, or important piece of furniture for your home or office, you’ll want it to last and to look good after some wear or use.

Cheap or ill-suited fabrics in upholstery will quickly turn that new sofa into a junkyard piece as the fabric stretches, thins, fades, easily stains, and rips at the seams. When it comes to clothes or bed linen, your comfort is largely dictated by the fabric used. High-quality fabric will ensure that your suit or tailored summer dress will not turn into an incubator on a hot day. 

When it comes to bed linen, the sensation on your skin when you come into contact with finely woven Egyptian cotton, versus regular cotton is notable even by a novice.  Egyptian cotton sheets may cost more, however, the longer you use them, the more cost effective they become. Let’s just say that you get your return on your investment. What makes Egyptian cotton special is partly the high number of threads per square inch. Egyptian cotton sheets resist pilling, easily absorb vibrant color dyes, and are so much softer than most other sheets. I purchased two sets of Egyptian bed linen and comforter covers, and I’ve never looked back. They look and feel as good as when I purchased these 12 years ago, the colors are as vibrant as day one, and every night when I slip into bed my skin thanks me for not having bought Ikea bed linen. 

If you’re like me your bed linen is part and parcel of your home decor, so why not invest a little extra in top-quality Egyptian cotton that you know you can enjoy for years to come. Enjoy not only for its esthetic values but also for that unprecedented and truly lush experience that only the finest of fabrics can give you. 

Textiles can be seductive, exciting, intimate, and, even shocking in some instances. Take for example to use of PVC for fetish wear. Lace, silk, and satin have long been considered sensual textiles. Why is this? Because as you touch these fine fabrics your senses are awakened through your skin and touch. Who doesn’t like the soft furry feel of mohair knit or the provocative touch of plush velvet? The delicious draping of silk taffeta is something for our eyes to behold. Textiles offer us a multisensory experience. 

How To Tell Quality Fabric From Cheap Fabric

Whether you are buying a suit or bed linen, start by reading the label. It helps if you have some knowledge of textiles. Here are some useful pointers to help you understand the difference between quality and cheap fabrics.

  • Fiber Weave: High-quality fabrics feature fibers that are closely and tightly woven together. There should be no obvious gaps between fibers as that’s often an indication of weakness in the fiber quality and they can tear easily. High-quality fabrics have a more well-balanced combination of vertical and horizontal weaves, which make for a stronger fabric surface.
  • Color: Look out for unevenness in tone throughout the surface of the fabric. There should be no streaks or spots. Test fabrics for colorfastness as well.
  • Thread Count. This refers to the number of thread strands per inch. A higher thread count means the fabric is tighter and more durable.
  • Finish. The fabric should show no uneven weaves, unusual creases, or stretching in the corners.
  • Price. Quality comes at a price, and usually cheap items are an indication that corners have been cut either by using cheap material or cheap labor (or both). The price point should match the item in appearance and quality.
  • Finished Product. High-quality linens and apparel have a distinct appearance. The seams should be well sewn. The buttons should be clean and even.
  •  Longer fibers, such as those in Egyptian cotton can be spun into a finer yarn. Fine yarn can be more tightly bound, which makes the resulting fabric stronger and more durable.

High-end, natural textiles typically come with a price, however, when building a solid, timelessly elegant wardrobe, these fabrics are worth the investment. Silk, cashmere, leather, and linen have long been highly acclaimed, sought after, and expensively priced for obvious reasons.

There’s also a case to be made for sustainability. Instead of buying a cheap garment which will fall apart at the seams and need replacing in no time, try spending a little extra and you will have saved in the long run. Aside from having that favorite suit, dress, jacket or sofa still looking and feeling new for many years ahead, clothing or furniture made with quality fabrics can be resold at a good value.

Whether you are investing in your home or wardrobe, learn to recognize quality fabrics, make smart purchases and you’ll never look back.  



A ray of light spills through a slight gap in the curtains, a slash across Anna’s face, like a glowing blindfold. The quality and color of the light suggests it is artificial light and still dark out. 

Anna is heaving, as another wave of nausea washes over her.  She will never get used to the state in which she wakes up, almost every day, lately.  The void in her head, the sickness in her gut.  

She fumbles for the light switch on the wall and the room is instantly bathed in bright incandescent light, which momentarily soothes Anna.  This momentary respite is cut short the moment she spots a man’s suit, on the armchair, across the room.  It is a pearl grey,  sharkskin suit.  She hurriedly hurls the covers off the bed.  It is clear from the indentation in the mattress and pillow, next to her, that someone else had been in bed with her. 

She leaps out of bed, naked, except for her flaming red ponytail and a pair of leather panties constructed entirely of intertwined leather laces.  Her arms and legs are exceptionally long.  Although she has a slender build, her breasts are round and full.  She looks around the room, it’s a hotel room, nowhere to hide really.  Did the mystery man leave without his clothes?  She can’t remember a thing.  She stumbles towards the washroom where she vomits violently.  She rinses her face, then takes a hard look at herself in the mirror. She rips off her red mane, to reveal a bleached blonde.  Next she rips off the false eyelashes and removes her contact lenses to expose steely, sharp, blue eyes which had been masked by the lush green lenses. The transformation is notable. 

As Anna heads back into the bedroom she spots a pair of feet protruding from underneath the bed.  Her initial reflex is to jump back.  She takes a deep breath, then haltingly approaches the bed and crouches.  She gently touches the left foot, there is no movement, then she shakes the entire foot, still no movement.  The palms of her hands are sweating.  She is uncontrollably shaking as she wipes her hands on the bed covers, then latches on to both feet and starts to pull with all her might.  

Anna’s sympathetic nervous system has been activated by the sight of the dead body under the bed. She is experiencing accelerated emotional, psychological and physical changes.  Emotionally, she feels intense fear.  Psychologically, her senses are heightened enabling her to make fast decisions.  Her heart rate has increased and blood flow diverted to essential parts of her body, furnishing Anna with increased strength and stamina.

She has dragged out most of the body from under the bed and can see it is a white older male in his late fifties, privy of clothing.  The corpse’s head is still hidden under the bed.  Anna gives the body one last pull.  Nothing. It appears the dead man’s chin is lodged against the lower edge of the bed frame.  Anna leans in and attempts to turn the man’s head on its side, so as to clear the bed frame.  The body has stiffened.  No matter how hard she tries, the head is not budging.  Rigor mortis begins with the eyelids, neck, and jaw.  

Anna is resolute as she stands up and positions herself with one foot on either side of the body. She then leans over and with gargantuan strength, lifts the front end of the bed just enough for her to use her feet to push the body outwards and clear of the bed. She is careful not to make any noise as she slowly places the bed back down.

Who is this man?  He seems familiar to her.  She feels his pulse, no sign of life. There is no blood.  Did he have a cardiac arrest?  She then spots the angry red markings on his throat.  Strangulation?   

She fetches the suit jacket and rummages through the pockets where she finds the dead man’s ID.  A dark realization wipes across her face.  Of course when you’ve never seen a person naked, it’s possible not to recognize them immediately, should you find them dead and naked under your bed. 

Anna turns back towards the naked corpse, “Judge Czerny, now how the fuck did you end up dead under a bed in a hotel room and what am I doing here?”  

Judge Czerny had presided over one of the cases Anna had interpreted, on behalf of a plaintiff and the plaintiff had lost.  Anna had secretly disagreed with Judge Czerny’s deliberation and final judgement, that still did not explain what he was he doing dead under the bed in a hotel room, with her.  She had quit legal interpreting once she started modeling. Almost two years had gone by since.

A calmness has descended upon Anna, the initial fear has been replaced with alienation. She throws on a bathrobe and hurriedly steps out of the room, carefully and quietly shutting the door behind her.  Her emotions have flattened, she has gone into automatic mode.  When someone finds themselves faced with an unavoidable task, as in Anna’s case, a certain mechanical involuntary reflex kicks in. 

She may have had sex with the Judge, either way her DNA was certain to be on him.  She would have to shower and scrub him to make sure no trace of her could be found on his body.  She would need to clean the room just as meticulously and leave Vancouver at once.  

It is 5 AM, the hotel is deserted as she silently creeps down the hall in her bare feet, she checks and is relieved to see there are no security cameras in the hallway.  She quietly makes her way to the end of the corridor where there is a storage room.  She finds an empty laundry cart and hurriedly fills it with towels and bed sheets that are all neatly folded on shelves.  She grabs rubber gloves, industrial strength cleaners and a scrub brush, tossing everything into the cart.

Once she is back in the room Anna proceeds to drag the judge into the washroom.  She struggles to set the body into a sitting position which is proving to be impossible. She would need to break his back to bend him.  She gets an idea.  

She runs out of the washroom and into the bedroom, where she grabs four decorative, weave rope, curtain holders and runs back to the washroom.  

She struggles as she pulls the body up from the armpits and into the shower stall. In order to stop the body from sliding down, she leans into it hard with her own body, keeping it in place, as she proceeds to tie the judge’s wrists to the safety bars, with the curtain holders.  A tub would have made the entire process so much simpler, she thinks to herself.

She puts on a pair of rubber gloves, grabs the cleaners and a brush from the cart then steps back into the shower.  She begins fiercely scrubbing down the judge, using a brush which is normally used for scraping stubborn stains from floors and floorboards.  She instinctively turns away when she reaches the judge’s genital area.  She is relieved there is no blood, just a dead body.  

Once she’s done scrubbing him from head to toe, being careful not to break his skin, she dries him.  Although she had used force, the skin had not changed color, it hadn’t turned red as it would have, had he been alive.  What strange thoughts are these, Anna asks herself as she hurriedly wraps the dead man’s body in the sheets. 

Once he is all rolled up, she ponders how to get his dead weight into the laundry basket. He is too tall to fit unless she can manage to fold part of him over. 

She rolls the dead body out of the sheets again and rolls him over on his stomach.  She grabs onto the left leg. If she can manage to get the knees in a praying position, it would work.  Luckily for Anna, in most rigor mortis cases, the manually perceptible resistance is not only related to the intensity of rigor mortis but also to total muscle mass. The judge’s legs were thin and lacking any real muscle mass.  

Once Anna has successfully bent both legs at the knees, she proceeds to use the curtain holders to tie his legs in this position.  She then wraps the body up, sets the cart on its side and rolls the stiffened corpse in. She tosses in sheets and towels to conceal the corpse.  The Judge’s clothes and wallet she would dispose of elsewhere along with the sheets that were on the bed.

Next she sets to the task of wiping down the room and furniture, she would leave no trace of ever having been here. Once she is done, she removes the rubber gloves and places them in the bag she will dispose of.  She dresses, makes the bed up with a set of clean sheets so as not to awaken any suspicion when the room is being cleaned.  She grabs the overnight bag which she had brought along and quietly exits the room.  It’s  now 6.30 AM, she is able to safely dispose of the body and leave the hotel unseen.  

What delineates good people from bad people? It is not always clear who is the aggressor and who is the victim.  




“Lucy, are you dressed yet? 

“Be right there Mom!”

“Hurry or you won’t make it back on time for lunch.  You know how your father hates it when lunch or dinner are served late.”

It is morning, on the eve of Christmas, in Montreal. Lucy’s mother is yelling above all the chatter in the kitchen.  Christmas is a highly charged time of year for an Italian family, immigrated from the south of Italy.  The preparations begin days in advance, with all the matriarchs busy creating their magic in the kitchen.

“How many times do I have to tell you? Don’t run down the stairs, I swear you’ll break your neck one of these days.” 

Lucy enters the kitchen ready to head outdoors into the cold. 

“What did I tell you about having your boots on in the house? Just because we’re at your aunt’s house, the rules don’t change.  Now do what your aunt tells you.”

 Barely eleven years of age, Lucy is the eldest of three sisters. A tall spindly girl with big brown eyes and thick stubborn hair, which drives her neurotic mother crazy, as nothing seems to tame Lucy’s unruly mane.

Her mother is high-strung, chain-smokes, and keeps a tidy house.  “You’re putting too much flour in the mix, it’s gonna bake as hard as your head.” She punctuates her comment with a fake slap across the back of her husband’s head.

The entire family has gathered at Aunt Angelica’s home for the Christmas holidays as is customary.  Aunt Angelica is the closest thing to a grandmother Lucy has since she’s never met her grandparents, who lived and died in Italy.  Her aunt Angelica is dressed in black, from head to toe.  Her widow’s pale skin and tiny frame are misleading, she is far from fragile. Aunt Angelica is a lioness, fierce, loyal and at times scary, or at least this is how Lucy perceives her.

“Lucy, remember,  light 3 large candles, one for uncle Fabio and 2 more for your grandpa and grandma, then 2 smaller ones for the twins, God bless their souls. Don’t forget to say a prayer as well, asking God to let them out of purgatory.”

“What is purgatory like Aunt Angelica?”

“Purgatory is like a waiting room Lucy, a place where you wait your turn, where all sinners go and have to wait their turn.”

“Like going to the Principal’s office at school?”

“Purgatory is not meant to be easy Lucy, it’s a place where we pay for our sins, in order to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the gates of heaven and that can take years.”

“Years?  That is a long time.” Lucy tries to imagine what years must feel like. Time is funny that way. She’s noticed that when she is waiting to see the Principal, for example, or the dentist, it feels like forever and even the clock on the wall moves slower.

“Some people sin more than others, so you see Lucy, the souls in purgatory need our help.” Angelica hands Lucy a pile of change, “Your uncle Fabio he was a good man, bless his soul, but he was no angel either, he could use a little extra help.”  Lucy puts the change in her coat pocket.

“Lucy, Lucy, men are weak when it comes to sins of the flesh, the flesh is weak. One day, when you‘re a woman, you’ll understand what I’m telling you.” Lucy makes a mental note, not to commit any sins of the flesh, as these sound serious.

Lucy understands more than the adults give her credit for.  She has seen some of the boys at school give away their lunch money so they don’t get beat up.  It’s all clear and straightforward to Lucy.   In order to avoid unpleasant circumstances, trade-offs are necessary even for the dead.

“Be careful now and don’t stop,” Lucy interrupts Angelica, “to talk to strangers, I know aunt Angelica.” Lucy gives her aunt a kiss on each cheek and heads out into the cold bright morning.

It had snowed all night, big fluffy flakes. The sun is blinding, as it bounces off the icy blanket of snow, as far as her eyes can see. This is North Montreal in the mid-sixties, flat open fields, ready to dig and start building as soon as the snow melts. Not a single tree left to stop the wind from blowing the powdery snow in swirls and gusts.

As Lucy makes her way towards the Church she ponders upon her uncle Fabio’s predicament.  She tries to put herself in his place or the twins, she imagines it can’t be very pleasant being in-between places, paying for sins.  On occasions, she’d been sent to the  Principal’s office, where she was told to wait outside, in a small adjacent room, and sit on a hard polished wooden bench.  On these occasions Lucy recalls her tummy feeling all knotted up in anticipation and fear of the punishment which might be awaiting her. The Principal is a very serious man,  just like God, he never smiles and whenever the children have done something deemed inappropriate, they are sent to the small room with no windows and the hard wooden bench, where they wait in angst to pay for their wrongdoings.  Similar to purgatory but not as bad, at least she gets to go home after detention.

Lucy and her sisters often spent the holidays at their aunt’s house, their aunt being the eldest Matriarch in the family who had immigrated to Canada. Lucy gets to sleep in her aunt’s bed, now that her uncle is in purgatory.  Placed on the dresser, in her aunt’s bedroom,  is a small oval picture frame with a black and white photograph of her dead uncle Fabio’s head.  His picture is lit by a tiny bulb, which is encased at the base of the frame. In order to avoid her uncle’s floating head and unmoving stare in the dark, every night, Lucy turns on her side, her knees curled up to her chin and pulls the blanket over her head.

Lucy has reached the Romanesque church with its two steeples.  She is playing with the loose change in her pocket.  She feels very small once she finds herself reaching for the immense bronze cast doors.  She steps into the cold, echoey interior, her boots make clickety-clack sounds that reverberate throughout the church. 

There is no one, it is empty at this hour. For the Christmas midnight mass, only a few hours away, there would be standing room only.

Lucy removes her mittens and dips the fingers of her right hand in the holy water recipient, a marble carved vessel, framed by three winged chubby cherubs.  She executes a quick sign of the cross, realizes she crossed over to her right shoulder instead of her left.   She immediately corrects this, then heads towards the bank of votive candles on the far left wall.

The morning light spills through the stained glass windows depicting the Sixth Station of Christ when Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. There is a strong scent of amber and frankincense in the church.  Lucy twitches her nose, she does not care for the smell.

She is debating whether to follow her aunt’s instructions entirely or make slight adjustments, as she did on previous occasions.  Lucy retrieves the coins with which she has been entrusted, to save the souls of unknown dead relatives. 

The church offers 3 different-sized candles, for different budgets, which clearly indicates, God is not one to judge the dead by the size of their candles.

Lucy lights 3 medium votive candles for the dead adults, they cost less than the large ones and one medium-sized candle for the twins to share, leaving her some spare change. 

She performs a rapid sign of the cross, accompanied by a clumsy curtsy in place of saying a prayer, as she had been asked to by her aunt Angelica.  Lucy doesn’t feel comfortable asking God for favors or anyone for that matter, she prefers to keep her transactions with God simple and detached as she does with the Principal. She finds it’s best not to get noticed at times.

She doesn’t exactly like churches either and the only time she goes is when her Aunt Angelica is around and during the holidays. Lucy is grateful that her parents are not churchgoers. They never pray at home, not before dinner, nor before bedtime. One last sign of the cross and Lucy hurriedly dashes for the doors without looking back.

Once Lucy is out on the street, she feels relief rushing through her.  She crosses over to the other side of the street, where she walks into a shop. The sweet scent of chocolate and vanilla brings an instant smile to her face, it is a nice respite after the amber and frankincense that still clung to her clothes and nose.

“The usual young lady?” Asks a friendly face, from behind the counter, at the pastry shop where Lucy has practically become a regular client.

“I will have two chocolate eclairs today please, thank you.”

“Two eclairs! That deserves a nice box with a pink ribbon then.” The man behind the counter places two eclairs in a small pink box with fancy gold script on the lid and a pink ribbon to match.  “There you go Miss, two chocolate eclairs, that will be 50 cents.  He hands over the box to Lucy and she places the change in the small plate provided on the counter.

On her way home, Lucy stops at a nearby park, where she brushes the snow off one of the swings and sits down, placing the box of pastries on her lap. She slowly unties the ribbon and opens it. She picks up one of the two eclairs and takes her first bite.  Her eyes close as she sinks her teeth into the crisp coating of dark chocolate, followed by the velvety cream filling flowing into her tiny mouth.  She saves the second eclair for later and heads back to her aunt’s for Christmas Eve preparations.

That night, as soon as her mother has folded Lucy into her aunt’s bed and turned off the lights, Lucy finds herself alone with her dead uncle’s floating head, again.  She has been practicing staring back at her uncle Fabio in the dark and she can now manage several seconds before shutting her eyes.  In the dark Lucy pulls out the pink box, from the night table next to the bed, slowly and quietly opens it.  Thoughts of purgatory and chocolate eclairs are colliding in her little girl’s mind, as her uncle’s severed head watches her biting into the pastry shell, savoring the cream and chocolate mix.

Lucy gasps as she sees her uncle break into a smile.  She shyly smiles back and as she does, the tiny bulb flickers and dies, her uncle vanishes, swallowed by the darkness.

The following morning, Christmas morning, Lucy is eager to tell her Aunt Angelica the good news.

“Uncle Fabio is out of purgatory Aunt Angelica, You don’t need to worry anymore.”

Angelica is moved by the child’s statement. “Sweet sweet child, it is true then, God does speak out of the mouths of babes,” she hugs Lucy, “the best Christmas gift I could ask for.”

Everyone is happy just as Lucy intended. The wait is over for Uncle Fabio.  Aunt Angelica no longer needs to worry about his soul.  There is one less soul to rescue, which means one less candle to light at church. One could say Lucy has found her own way of living with the dead.



Leo Roger’s shiny black patent leather loafers pitter-patter down the hall of the 31st floor, which is off limits to employees. Leo’s Secretary, Greta, sits at the end of the hall, in a padded shell-shaped cubicle, strategically positioned by the elevators, where she can greet, interrogate and deliberate on whether people are deserving or not of Leo’s time.  She has diplomatic immunity by sheer association with Leo and is the only person allowed into his quarters. Greta has the personality and the girth to make any man shake in his trousers.

She has been by Leo’s side since the startup of the company. She has grown old, getting underpaid for the privilege of looking after his affairs and being one of the few operatives granted close encounters with him. 

Greta was quite the looker as a young woman. Athletic build, swimmer’s shoulders, 19-inch waist, generous breasts, high cheekbones, full lips, fair skin, and dark blue eyes. She never married. She has been secretly in love with Leo since the startup. Not only have her youth and beauty slipped away, but her weight gain has also slowed her down and turned her breathing shallow and heavy.  Her neck is now the size her waist used to be as a young girl and the only dark blue that stands out now, is the blue in the circles around her puffy eyes.

Leo has also aged, although his pace is still sprite compared to Greta’s.  With age, Leo has shrunk, except for his midsection which has increased in girth and now makes his shoulders look oddly narrow.  He still sports a full head of hair which has gone from jet black to snow white.  

 “Yes Mrs. Rogers, I’ll take care of the reservations for you. No, no it’s no bother, that’s what I’m here for, ok, will do. Goodbye then.” Greta secretly disapproves of the new Mrs. Rogers.  She opens the top drawer of her desk where there are several chocolate bars, all neatly lined up, and picks one out.

Greta knows beyond a grain of doubt that Leo has been played by this woman, who conveniently got pregnant with twins!  There had been no children in Leo’s previous marriages.  She is much younger than Leo, forty years younger. She wants Greta to make reservations for a ski lodge. Leo can’t possibly keep up with her. She will take him to an early grave, Greta can feel it, as real as she can feel her arthritis kicking up. 

Her diet isn’t going very well and she’s only managed to lose two Kilos in 4 months. She knows it’s nerves, she eats because she’s nervous or anxious, although about what, she’s not sure. 

Leo has made his way to his personalized washroom facilities. The door opens up onto an anti-chamber, where four finely carved original Louis XV gilt-wood armchairs come to life. Curvy Rococo pieces, with a carefully pierced crest, chaotic and intricately carved rocaille over asymmetrical scattered hanging foliage and floral motifs.  These had been revamped with plush Royal Blue velvet. The wall scones flicker on and off and stay off, leaving Leo in the dark.  He makes a u-turn heading straight down the hall towards Greta’s cushioned cubicle.

One could say that for a man, such as Leo, who has reached his apex, there is a propensity towards the eclectic, which increases in proportion to the accumulation of wealth and power. Leo’s advertising company occupies an entire glass tower located on the most expensive piece of lakefront property in the city of Toronto. Leo no longer desires much. He has his own plane, helicopter, and landing pad, properties worldwide, two ex-wives, and a new young wife recently added to his portfolio.  He has been featured in all the important trade magazines. He could have run for politics had he wished. 

Greta hears Leo heading towards reception before she can see him. He looks tired. She can tell the twins are too much for a man Leo’s age. He should have been a grandfather at his age and certainly not a father to newborn twins.

“How are the Twins doing, Leo?

“The twins? Yes, they’re fine, they’re a handful, mind you, thankfully we seem to have finally found a suitable nanny.”

“That’s great news, now you’ll both rest better, you look like you could use it, Leo. At our age, we need to be more vigilant about our health.”

Leo has momentarily forgotten what he needed Greta for until his bladder reminds him. “Greta, please call maintenance and have them send an electrician up at once. There is something going on with the lights in the washroom, it’s pitch black in there.

“Use my washroom Leo, you don’t want to end up like Walter.”


“Yes, Walter had to have his entire jaw wired for six months after he fell and landed chin first on a piece of furniture. Had him on a liquid diet for six months, he lost all the extra weight he used to carry.”

“I see, well I best be  moving along, have a goodnight Greta and don’t forget to call maintenance.”

“Right away, Leo. Goodnight and drive safely.” 

Leo has his own elevator as he prefers not to consort with his employees. He never personally attends the meetings held for upper management or his shareholders.  Leo handles all his affairs with remote video conferences, which Greta presides over.

On his way down Leo realizes he should have taken Greta up on her offer, but he’s not about to turn back now. His prostate is acting up and his frequent need to urinate has become a compulsion.

The elevator doors open up onto the main lobby where there is a security guard sitting at reception.  There is a security room behind reception where the CCTV monitors are under watch by 2 guards 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  The hallways are empty, as Leo follows the signs, leading to the men’s washroom.

This particular washroom serves the main floor of the main building. An estimated 80 employees and visitors use it. There are four stalls. On this particular day, two of the four stalls are out of order. 

Leo enters the grimly lit washroom, the mirror above the sink is reflecting back a version of Leo, which looks like he has been stricken by Greenman’s Syndrome. He turns around to carefully peruse the four stalls facing him. He takes a handkerchief from his pocket, careful not to make contact with any of the surfaces, he checks the two functioning stalls individually, but neither seems to pass his inspection. After careful deliberation, he enters the last stall, which appears to be the cleanest. 

He needs to sit to urinate alas. “Sitting creates a more favorable urodynamic profile, which helps ward off prostate problems.” This is what his doctor had told him. 

He wraps the kerchief around his left hand, so he may hold the door shut without touching it and lowers his pants with his other hand. Leo is well aware the building is empty and the chances of someone walking in are scarce, still, habits are difficult to change. He is a terribly private man and had it not been such an urgent situation, he would never have found himself in such a position, literally and figuratively. 

He crouches, painfully attempting not to touch the toilet seat.  His cell phone rings.  As Leo reaches for his phone in his pants, now heaped around his ankles, he lets go of the door, which bounces open and slams him hard in the forehead.  He reaches out and shuts the door with his left hand. The call gets transferred to his answering service. He then closes his eyes as if to remember where he was when he got interrupted.  Very similar to when you fall asleep reading a book and the next time you open it, it goes without saying that you need to back up a few paragraphs or pages, in order to get back on track. The moment had been ruined.  Leo is finding it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand in the squalor and bacteria-infested washroom.  When he opens his eyes, he spots something on the door which makes him squint and curl his nose as if a very strong and vile odor had permeated the washroom stall.

Taped to the door there is a group photograph of the company cleaning staff, with brooms, mops, and buckets, posing as musicians. The message in big bold letters on the bottom of the picture says “LEAVE THE WASHROOM AS YOU FOUND IT!  

Leo practically leaps off the toilet seat rapidly and clumsily pulls up his pants as though the people in the picture were actually in the washroom stall spying on him. He rushes out of the washroom. He’ll have Greta investigate the washroom situation tomorrow. In fact, he would have maintenance do a check on all washrooms in both buildings. This was unacceptable.

Leo enters the parking lot, which is empty except for a few cars and a white van. He crosses over to the white van and does something which he would personally condemn. He stands behind the van and unzips to relieve himself. Unannounced, the sliding door to the van opens and a young man with a toolbox steps out.  Leo’s heart skips a couple of beats as he stuffs his penis back into his pants while stumbling towards his car.  

The young man with the toolbox is talking on his cell phone, but he still could not have missed Leo as he made his wobbly exit. The young man’s name is Max, and he’s the fix-it man around the company.  Max is young and easygoing. One could say he is a B-type personality, whereas Leo is most certainly an A-type, competitive, highly organized, control freak, ambitious, impatient, and highly aware of time management as opposed to the Type B which is generally more relaxed, less neurotic & frantic, with no particular need to be in control all the time. 

Max drops by his workstation where he picks up a ladder. He heads up to the 31st floor where he has an urgent maintenance request.

Max exits the elevator and walks out into the lobby of the 31st floor, where he spots Greta. She looks like a giant snail inside a shell to Max, whose imagination often gets the best of him.  It could be all the weed he smokes, he’s not sure himself.

Greta spots Max, she gets up from her overstuffed chair and shuffles her way around the crescent-shaped desk. 

Max notices her feet look incredibly small to be carrying such a load.

“Hello Max, that was fast!

“I was already on a call, so I thought I’d drop by here first.”

“Good thing you did, because Leo’s washroom needs tending to, he said the lights won’t turn on. It’s dangerous for a man his age to be moving around in the dark.”

“That explains why I thought I saw the CEO taking a leak in the parking lot, behind my van.”

Greta is incredulous, “that’s so not like Leo, it must have been an emergency. Now I trust this information will stay between us?” Greta is very protective of Leo.

“Sure, no problem.”

“Good, here you’ll need this to get into the Executive Washroom, down the hall, turn right, first door to the left. Leave the card on my desk when you’re done. I’m leaving now.” 

Max heads down the hall with his ladder hanging on his right shoulder and his toolbox swinging in his left arm.

He reaches the main door of the executive washroom, where an antique sign which reads LAVATORIUM is attached to the door. He uses the card Greta gave him and enters the washroom. The lights should have turned on with the sensor as soon as the doors opened. He fetches a flashlight from his pocket and finds the main light switch. The lights flicker for a few seconds before turning on. Probably one of the bulbs needed replacing, or loose contact.  

Max is frozen in awe, he sets the ladder and toolbox down as he takes in his surroundings.  

The washroom is larger than his entire apartment. Over 150 sqm. lavishly boasting all the amenities one might expect to find in a 10-star hotel.  Flat-screen TV, wifi, speakers, music, shelves lined with books and trade magazines, shower, sauna, jacuzzi for 4, and a designer bidet from Italy. 

He spots a set of sliding doors that lead to the relaxation area, pushes the button which slides them open and little miniature led lights on the ceiling turn on. They look like stars against the dark background. A waterfall is gently flowing into a pool. The sound of the running water makes Max want to pee. 

He heads back into the lavatory where he spots a remote, resting on a ‘Boca do Lobo’ designer side table, although Max doesn’t know what a Boca do Lobo is.  This extremely expensive table is strategically positioned next to a NEOREST 600. The Neorest 600, is a toilet with a wide range of digital features. 

He picks up the remote, pushes a button, and a small built-in monitor, mounted on the wall above the toilet, lights up with a menu displaying a variety of customizations.  Max proceeds to customize and enhance his washroom experience. 

First, the lid pops open with a sound suggesting it is vacuum sealed. A padded backrest, with neck support, slides into place.  

“So this is a lavatorium. Well, allow me then.”

Max is impressed, as he sets the temperature for the toilet seat to 27° Celsius, lastly, he sets the toilet to perform a ‘Cyclone Flush’.  

He grabs a magazine from one of the shelves, the remote for the TV, and makes himself comfortable. The look on Max’s face says it all, as he sits himself down on the throne to shame all thrones.

Once he’s done relieving himself, Max stands up, the NEOREST 600 immediately seals itself before performing the programmed cyclone flush. He’s getting hungry, it’s way past his dinner time. He grabs his cell phone and orders a pizza and beer, then proceeds to check out the rest of the amenities.

The following morning, Max awakens to the sound of whispering voices. He opens his eyes finding himself under an umbrella of vaguely familiar faces. It’s the cleaning crew. They are all leaning around him, heads bent and obviously concerned. There are sounds of relief as they see Max stirring awake. 

“He’s not dead,” screams one of the cleaning staff.  “He’s not dead,” the others repeat in relief. They all look genuinely happy to see Max waking up.

Greta has come to investigate what all the noise is about just in time to see Max as he leaps out of the jacuzzi, dripping wet in his birthday suit. He leaps across an almost empty pizza box and more than a few beer cans strewn on the floor when he spots a slice of cold pizza still untouched, he grabs it and places it between his teeth.

“Max what on earth are you doing here and this mess? What happened?”  Asks Greta, her voice shaken by the sight of the naked maintenance man and Leo’s Lavatorium, which is in total disarray.

“The lights are fixed, it was more complicated than expected and took all night, I must have dozed off. “Sorry about the mess and don’t worry about the parking lot incident, my lips are sealed.” Max grabs his clothes which are scattered here and there, then silently tippy toes out, as if this somehow makes him invisible.