Vitruvian Dreams

Edwin is back on campus, on a gloriously sunny spring day, his favorite time of year, when the promise of love is in the air. He feels light on his feet and his joints don’t ache. As he brushes his hands through his hair, he is instantly joyed at finding a whole head of hair. He’s a young man again and he is at the height of his manhood.

He spots a group of young men from his fraternity and swaggers his way over towards them. There is a newcomer to the group, Patrick, who he is striking in every sense of the word. Even in his dream state, Edwin re-experiences the powerful magnetic draw, pulling at his every limb and organ, urging him to merge with Patrick. This is exactly how he had felt when he had first set eyes on Patrick.

He would do anything to live this moment forever. If he could stop time, this would be his final destination. Patrick’s smile is blinding, erasing everyone and everything else surrounding Edwin, till only he and Patrick are left.

Patrick and the bright light, which Edwin is reveling in, disappear without warning as Edwin gets sucked in and devoured by a beastly darkness clutching at him, plunging Edwin deep into emptiness. His downward chute comes to an abrupt halt. He finds himself naked, in a dimly lit room. In the center of the cold and barren room sits an antique gilded wooden bed, with four posts.

A man is tied naked and spread eagle, to two of the bedposts, oddly resembling Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. A golden-colored silk rope is tightly twisted around the man’s neck.

Edwin moves closer to the bed, but can’t see the man’s face because the head is bent forward and to the side in an unnatural position.

Edwin inches closer to the bed, when he finds the rope in his hands, which a moment ago had been tightly strung around the hanging man’s neck. He drops the rope, which is now searing through his flesh like molten metal. The stench of his fear and burning flesh combined with that of death permeates the room

“No, no, this can’t be happening again. A few more seconds is all I needed Patrick.” Edwin hurriedly starts to untie Patrick from the bed, all the while muttering to himself. “I never wanted this to happen, Patrick, you meant the world to me.”

The weight of Patrick’s dead body is proving difficult for Edwin to handle. The corpse falls forward, violently slamming Edwin to the floor.

Panic washes over Edwin as he scuffles and twists his way out from underneath the corpse. “This is just a dream, just a dream, nothing bad can happen to me here.”

“It was supposed to be a game, this was not supposed to happen, Patrick, believe me, I loved you, I’ve never loved anyone since you.”

In the ’70s the Fraternity initiation ceremonies had steered in many directions, and new grounds were being tested after the stonewall riots took place in 1969.

Edwin had swung both ways, at first. In retrospect, he realized he’d dated women so as not to stand out from the crowd, and to not disappoint his father, who was the sort of man who believed in perfection. An example in the community. Reliable, organized, and prudent. A man who loved to compartmentalize life. These same traits had another side to them, they had made his father overly critical and demanding, conservative and judgmental. Unable to look at a person as a whole person. Edwin had often wondered what his mother had seen in his father, aside from his being highly reliable.

His father had been a doctor and young Edwin had followed in his footsteps, although at the best of times it felt more like a shadow was following him. Edwin had been driven by the uncompromising desire to be special, to experience something more than the ordinary. As a young man, Edwin considered himself an intellectual rebel, unlike his father.

“Stop your daydreaming and get moving Edwin. Can’t you see the corpse needs immediate attention?” Edwin looks up to find his father leaning over, peering at Patrick’s naked corpse. He is not comforted by this new twist, since his father has been dead for many years.

Edwin’s father moves around the young corpse. “After four to six hours, rigor mortis begins to spread throughout the body. The pooled blood stains the skin a blackish color. Give us a hand here Edwin,” he says as he deftly turns the body over onto its back.

“At six hours muscles continue to spasm sporadically. Anaerobic processes, such as the liver’s breakdown of alcohol, continue. At eight hours the body starts to rapidly cool. This is called algor mortis.” He stands and turns to Edwin who sits terror-stricken, in a corner, holding on to his twisted limbs.

“My guess, Edwin, is this young man has been dead longer than 24 hours. You know as well as I do that Rigor Mortis ends at the beginning of this stage and the body becomes pliable again, but there isn’t much time.”

“We need to move quickly if we want the body to be presentable. If we fail to do so, the undertaker will not be able to position the body for presentation at the funeral, fold his hands and such.”

“Come on help me put him on this gurney.” A gurney magically appears, as often happens in dreams.

His father, it turns out, is as efficient in death and dreams as he had been in life. “Please let this be over. I want to wake up now,” Edwin screams.

His deceased father pays no attention to Edwin’s outburst and begins to move the corpse.

“Stop, don’t you touch him, you hear me?” Edwin cries. “You can’t take him away from me!” Edwin starts a painful crawl, on all fours, slowly making his way towards Patrick.

“At 24 to 72 hours, internal microbes putrefy the intestines and the pancreas begins to digest itself. This process liquefies the insides.” Edwin, are you listening?”

“In three to five days, decay starts to produce large blisters all over the body. We must hurry, otherwise, it will most likely not be presentable for viewing at the funeral. If we wait much longer, a bloody froth will begin to trickle from the mouth and nose.”

Edwin wakes up inside his dream pod, heaving and drenched in sweat and vomit. He bursts out of the pod, like a drowning man fighting for air. At first, he is disoriented, then relief washes over him. He’s back. His right hand unknowingly brushes his hair, or what is left of it, yes he’s back. He checks the timer and sees the dream program ran for exactly 15 minutes, as it had been set to run.

These had been the longest 15 minutes of Edwin’s life. Simply thinking of his father had been enough to conjure him up in the dream. A caricature of his father at best. Although Edwin realizes he is more shaken by his father’s sudden appearance than having to relive Patrick’s deathday, which is always painful and terrifying when it does happen. His father’s appearance and his rundown on the decomposition of Patrick’s corpse, with clinical precision, have left Edwin deeply shaken.

Since that fateful day, when Patrick ceased to be, Edwin has been in pursuit of atonement. Some way to pay for his unforgivable act of love.

The dream pod is Edwin’s golden chariot. The perfect vehicle to guide him towards redemption.

At first, the dreams had been devastating, but in time, Edwin began to enjoy the suffering and longings which the dreams unleashed in him. The threshold between pain and pleasure had long ago been blurred for Edwin.

When he dreams of Patrick’s death, even with all the gut-wrenching fear, pain, loss, and guilt, afterward Edwin feels lighter and serene for a short while, before returning to his otherwise hollow, guilt-ridden existence.

Words And Ideas Change The World

The words Dame, Damsel and Fishwife were long ago eradicated from the English language. The term “Art of Manliness” which was quite in vogue, was long ago relinquished, along with other words and phrases which referred to a way of life, values and beliefs which no longer applied.

PHRASES AND WORDS DISAPPEAR AS LANGUAGE EVOLVES

In the late 90’s we crossed a bridge, where technology and the internet forever changed our lives, and impacted our means and modes of communication, beyond return. Along the way we lost words, phrases and their meanings, and we gained new terms which gave shape and a means to communicate and express ourselves in ways which were more in line with our technologically driven lives.

Words such as “email”, “Internet”, “Facebook”, “Google”, “Youtube”, “emojis”, “Twitter” and “apps”, were not part of our vocabulary until not so long ago. The name Google has even become a verb.

The internet has pushed the boundaries of language. Barely one decade ago, many were concerned that social platforms were dumbing down language while fostering a generation of screen-obsessed illiterates. On the other end of the spectrum, you would find people, such as Linguist David Crystal, who described texting as “one of the most innovative linguistic phenomena of modern times.”

The media’s concern over the demise of language, due to the internet, has died down since the early 2000s. The internet has given us permission to break the rules. We’ve repurposed design principles and components, embraced lowercase text, punctuation is an optional when texting and we use emojis to convey tones, gestures and moods.

There is a theory which claims that you can’t feel or think things for which you have no words. With this in mind, is it possible we have lost something along the way, something which amounts to more than words or outdated phrases? Conversely, what have we gained?

Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, it is more accurate to say that not only language, but our use of language is evolving, so it can more accurately reflect and express the world we live in.

Some say the digital world has had an homogenizing effect on language. The meaning of phrases and words have been altered, creating what George Orwell might have referred to as “Newspeak,” a term which referred to idea that language can corrupt thought and that the powers that be use language to restrict, rather than broaden, ideas.

Take for example the term “politically correct,” which has taken on new dimensions as of late. The term “politically correct” has had a multitude of definitions, over time. It was used to describe what was considered to be politically wise, and was often used as a vehicle for ironic self-mockery. This phrase hasn’t just changed meaning, it has changed targets, especially when related to issues of multiculturalism and diversity. In her article ‘Politically Correct’: The Phrase Has Gone From Wisdom To Weapon, Kate Chow explains how and why.

In a contentious piece for the Hollywood Reporter Bill Maher stated Americans “have been choking on political correctness and overly careful politicians for the last generation or two and are sick of it.”

The internet may have set to pasture the rules of grammar and punctuation for our texting purposes, however never before has it been so important to observe the way we use words. Never before have so many people, globally, been alert, watching and listening. Never before have so many had an outlet to speak up.

In the virtual landscape, which has become our preferred way to communicate and gather data, we need to observe the way we use words and how words are being used on us. It is words and ideas that change the world. Words have power.

Would You Rather Go To Mars Or Rebuild Earth?

Almost two decades have been marked by record-breaking hurricanes, floods and heatwaves. It is snowing plastic in the Arctic, our shorelines and marine life are choked and bound in plastic, yet conditions continue to deteriorate further. Since the 2020 pandemic began, there have been an estimated 194 billion disposable face masks and gloves being tossed every month, washing up on shorelines, worldwide.  

Almost 15 years ago, ‘sustainability’ became an overnight household term. From one day to the next, practically every existing corporate company had put in place a sustainability program, recycling bins, dedicated staff and budgets. Never before have the concept and implications of sustainability reached so far, as they have in the last two decades. Yet in the blink of an eye, it has been put to rest with the arrival of Covid-19. 

The long term impact of our day to day actions, on the environment, have been a concern for mankind far longer than most of us realize. As far back as the 17th century, Forestry was the first economic activity where people were confronted with the long term issues surrounding forestry and sustainability.  

Following the USA’s first landing on the moon, in the 1970’s, there was a strong stirring with concerns for the future of our planet. In just a few decades we’ve reached a critical point. Now that we have the resources, tools, knowledge and technology to save our planet, those with the means to do so have turned their eyes, power and wealth towards Mars.

New Frontiers To Fight Over Are In Cyberspace Or Outer Space

In the midst of a global pandemic, China managed 140 launches into orbit. With an exhaustive five year program for their new orbital space station, the retrieval of Martian samples and a Jupiter exploratory mission, for starters. 

India launched its ‘Defense Space Research Organization’ which is charged with finding and implementing defense applications for India’s entire spectrum of space technologies and protecting India’s interests in space.

So far, NASA, China and the United Arab Emirates all launched missions to mars in July, 2020. Always follow the money if you want a glimpse of the future. We are living at a time when the new frontiers to fight over are in cyberspace or outer space. 

We all know where Musks stands when it comes to ensuring the survival of the human race. He is a firm believer that a permanent and self-sustaining presence on Mars is needed, in case earth is left uninhabitable and he has put his money where his mouth is.  

A Martian city is being designed in the Dubai desert, made up of pressurized bio-domes, covered with transparent polyethylene membrane, like those we’ve seen in many sci-fi movies and series. 

So far, NASA, China and the United Arab Emirates all launched missions to mars in July, 2020. Always follow the money if you want a glimpse of the future. We are living at a time when the new frontiers to fight over are in cyberspace or outer space and 2021 promises to be a competitive race for all invested parties.

We were promised a sustainable future, with cars that don’t burn oil, a future where central power stations would be redundant, and carbon emissions, a thing of the past. Where industries no longer dump toxic waste into our waters. We have the resources and the technology, to do all this and we are already seeing important changes in the automotive industry.

Surely between climate and marine policy advisors, and activists, technology and science, we should stand a chance of saving the planet, but will this happen? How can this happen when countries, governments, top scientists, researchers, architects and tycoons are invested in an evacuation program to Mars?

Regardless of the scope, ambitions and investments being made with this race towards Mars, one thing is clear, Mars represents something other than a solution to our dying planet, and it will permanently alter our world’s geo-political equilibrium. New powers will emerge. 

Earth Or Mars?

I have a foreboding that sometime soon the planet will be polarized and split into two, between those that believe the future of the human race can only be ensured by colonizing Mars and those that believe we can fix Earth. Which of these two factions would you side with? 

Call me old world, but I happen to love planet earth and have intuitively known, since I was a child, that it was the only planet I could call home. Sure, like most kids, I had my share of fantasies about space travel, and going to the moon, after all my generation grew up with the space race between Russia and the US and witnessed the first landing on the moon. 

As magical, life changing and mind bending it was to watch Neil Armstrong do his moonwalk, I was grateful we had earth. 

It has been said that Modern man often lives detached from his environment and has long lost the understanding that we are one with nature. Perhaps we don’t deserve this exotic paradise we named earth. Perhaps we deserve to live under plastic domes on a desolate, unwelcoming planet such as Mars?  If so, how will future generations feel about not having had the chance to live their lives as earthlings? In most sci-fi stories, they always want  to find a way back to earth, even if it means dying.

If nothing else, at least our stories speak loud and strong about our passionate love for planet earth.  In a world divided by frontiers, race, religion and politics surely we must be able to identify as earthlings, at the very least.

It is frustrating to see so much money and resources being invested in a space race, when these powers could join forces to save our planet. How ironic and sad, to think that all that awaits human civilization, in the near future, is a desolate, harsh planet where people live in bubbles, imitating earth. 

How To Take The Lead As A Newbie Copywriter

I felt compelled to write this article, following my own decision to embark on a career as a copywriter. There are many blog and copywriting gurus, out there, promising to share their trade secrets and help you pave the way to becoming a highly paid copywriter, double and triple the traffic to your blog or turn you into a famous blogger.

They’ll promise you writing material you can’t buy anywhere or from anyone else and zillions of hours of content and templates, all organized to save you loads of time, and double or triple your blog’s traffic.

There are no shortcuts and no get rich quick schemes. The best way to learn to be a writer is by writing, every day and reading what others write. I literally dove into writing overnight. I had been writing short stories, mostly fiction, for my own amusement and for some close friends. Last year I left my job of 20 years, in television, and I embarked on my writing path.

How I Got Started As A Copywriter

I took a few grammar and writing tests online, with a couple of agencies. I jumped on board with the first one that let me in, I was eager.

I will be brutally honest. The pay sucks and it is often difficult to get inspired by the topics of the articles being requested. Although that could have been a personal setback due to my bout with writing fiction. The client briefs can be totally incoherent, inexistent or exhaustive. Guess what, it’s the perfect bootcamp experience for any newbie copywriter.

Your Toolkit As A Copywriter

No matter where or how you decide to embark on the copywriting train, before you do so make sure you’ve done your homework and honed your skills before you enter the arena.

You must have polished writing skills, know how to write powerful headlines and have an awareness and empathy for user experience and marketing. After all, copywriting needs to reach the niche needs of consumers. Every sector has its own language, at times quite technical. It is imperative that you be able to swiftly grasp and synthesize the basic concepts you are to communicate in writing and do so in a way that elevates the brand and user experience. The tone and language you use needs to be in sync with the topic, the client’s brand and demographics.

Copywriting takes on different forms, from copy for advertising, websites, blog posts, UX writing, landing pages, brochures, product descriptions and reviews, lead magnets, white papers and more. Do some research and study these different formats. Do get familiar with SEO writing techniques as most web content requires this. Read as often as you write.

Set Goals For Yourself As A Copywriter

You need to set goals for yourself. My goal, starting out as a ghostwriter online, was to get promoted to a higher tier of writers, where I could access higher paying assignments, within a month. If I could get over 40 five star reviews and recommendations, I could make it, and I did.

In order to achieve this, I needed to get some repeat customers. I managed to secure three loyal clients, who gave me first dibs on their requests. In one instance, it was the client who contacted me after reading the first article I had written. I also tried to pick clients with multiple assignments and write at least two articles for them, this is was a good way of starting a working relationship with that particular client. In this manner, I secured two more loyal customers. They were very pleased with the two articles I had written and asked me if I would be interested in writing all their content, from there on.

I love baptism by fire. What I mean by that is, I enjoy learning on the go and under the gun, so to speak. I perform well under pressure. In those four weeks or so, not only did I manage to get promoted to a better pay rate, the most important accomplishment was writing article after article, day after day, for three different clients, who’s businesses, brands and message had nothing in common.

As a writer I spend 60% to 70% of my time researching and 30% to 40% writing. Writing 40 articles covering the ins and outs of any topic can be an education in itself. Having a couple of websites where you did all the copywriting, is an excellent achievement for a newbie copywriter and for your portfolio. It’s what gives you credibility as a copywriter.

Build A Track Record As A Copywriter

As I mentioned earlier, the pay sucks, but that shouldn’t matter when you are starting out. The reason being, if you are a newbie copywriter, chances are, you have no track record. You’ll need to build a portfolio and get reviews and recommendations. This is the only way to build credibility and gain trust from prospective clients.

This is exactly what I did, working on a poor paying platform, for a couple of months. I wrote for numerous clients, until three of them became loyal clients. They were very pleased with the writing and the turnaround time so I got an exclusive, which also pays a higher rate, although that was not where my motivation lay. My goal was to reach further, one step at a time and move off the platform.

For my first client, I wrote the web content for a Generic Viagra online store, all of it. From the About page, to disclaimers and a mountain of product reviews. I learnt everything there is to know about erectile dysfunction, every possible treatment available and what works best for whom. It was an interesting assignment, which definitely put my empathy and writing skills to the test. The five star reviews form this client were abundant and seriously complimentary. His astounding reviews were, in part, what helped me secure my next two loyal clients

For the second client, I wrote numerous blog articles, as a call to action, designed to attract local online businesses, to their marketing services. I gained a wealth of information researching the material, which has already proven useful in marketing my own small business. I received excellent reviews both on the writing platform and LinkedIn, and was tipped generously by the client.

For the third client, I completed a package of 40 articles with a call to action, for an aesthetics clinic’s website. As a result, I now have in depth knowledge of any and every procedure which can be performed on any part of the human body. Laser treatments are trending for anything from hair restoration to vaginal rejuvenation. You may be laughing right about now, or not. The fact is, the client has since offered me an exclusive long term blog writing contract for which I get to name my price.

What To Expect Starting Out As A Newbie Copywriter

Yes at first the pay is sad, but the paybacks are plentiful. You need to have realistic expectations and work your way up. Once you have what it takes, I call it ammunition, then you’re ready to play with the big guns.

To date, I have written articles promoting procedures, treatments and cures for every possible condition that ails humans. Following a mountain of DIY’s and product reviews, spanning from power tools to sex toys, I took a break and whipped up a few Bios for artists. I needed to change flavors. Then I moved on to wellness, which is a booming industry, especially following a one year global lockdown, due to COVID-19. Sex, as always, is a heavy contender in the virtual arena and maintains its poll position, so I took an assignment which masqueraded as an article on eroticism but was in fact a detailed review on different porn platforms. I was flabbergasted at how much porn has changed since blockbuster days. Wrote a couple of landing pages for online Cannabis dispensaries in the USA and Canada and these made me wish I lived there.

I enjoyed the variety and I find it keeps me fit and interested, as a writer. It’s almost as though I’m exercising different muscle groups, depending on what I’m writing about. It’s like wearing different hats and speaking different languages. You don’t need to go about it this way. You may be an expert in a certain area or prefer writing for a special niche and that’s a great way to go about starting your copywriting career.

Since I started my journey, only a few months back, I have secured two copious copywriting assignments on my own, one of which is a long term assignment should I be interested and I get to name the price for both jobs. By my standards, it’s a notable accomplishment, as a newbie copywriter. My secret? Keep it real.

Keep It Real And Take The Lead

If you choose to start copywriting, via an online writing platform such as iWriter, Upwork or fiverr, you should know the competition is fierce but don’t let that get in your way. Not everyone is as good a copywriter as you are, remember that!

Any unoriginal or plagiarized content is immediately rejected. You may write a 1500 word post for a blog and it might get rejected, even though it is an authentic original piece, without you even getting a chance to rewrite. If this happens have a look and see what, if anything, you could have done better and move on to your next assignment.

Sometimes the briefs are misleading or lacking the necessary information. You’ll need to reach out and consult with your client. Maybe their title or the subheadings they’ve requested are not effective. If so, you need to take the lead and propose alternatives that will knock their socks off. Your client will appreciate your genuine interest, commitment and professionalism. This is how you can secure loyal customers for yourself as a copywriter.

The request for written content, whether it is for social marketing or to populate websites, has increased exponentially. The subject matters are infinite and cover every topic imaginable and unimaginable.

However you choose to go about it, if you are serious about being a writer, then you need to write. No one can give you or sell you a magic, out of the box solution that will turn you into a famous, high paid copywriter or blogger, in a short time. It comes with practice, diligence, discipline and passion and there’s plenty of opportunities, to get started, if you are willing to do the work, keep it real and take the lead.

Becoming an accomplished writer is similar to forging a blade. A blade needs to be tempered through repeatedly heating, hammering and folding it, until the blade is fine, strong and sharp. The process can be demanding and laborious, if you want to secure your place amongst the sharpest of writers.

Why You Need A Brand Toolkit For Your Business

A brand is not your logo, it is so much more. It is your company’s culture, reputation, what it stands for. Your brand identity and your brand story are intimately connected. They are the emotional links and the lifeline between your company and your prospects. 

A brand kit it is a customized kit, designed to assure that your brand identity is consistent on your website and across all social platforms. If you run an online business, or use social media to promote your business online, your brand identity needs to be consistent across all your social media profiles. You will require banners, profile images, posts, stories and ads. All these have different formats and they should all be inline with your brand identity.

Designing an ad or a post in Facebook and slapping your logo on a picture won’t cut it. In order to keep your brand identity alive and make sure people recognize you, you need to have consistent branding. Here are some examples of a brand toolkit I designed for a client who is opening an online store specializing in high quality truffles and all natural truffle by products, such as condiments, oils and sauces.

The client is a truffle hunter, who lives with his hunting dogs, in Italy. He wants to distinguish his products and brand by making a connection with people who demand excellence and this means unadulterated products that are 100% natural. His product line is small, selective and top quality. In designing the elements, I took these factors into consideration. The choice of a brush stroke for the logo name was not a casual choice. The irregular symbol next to the logo has an organic feel, reminiscent of the irregular shape of truffles. The customized toolkit reflects the brand identity the client wishes to build and promote.

A brand toolkit can make all the difference. Whether you are a small or large business, the same rules apply when it comes to brand identity and consistency across all platforms. With a strong brand identity guideline and a brand toolkit you can boost communications and save yourself lots of time and grief.

Is Pornography A Valid Vehicle For Our Sacred Erotic And Sexual Expression?

Storytelling is the most powerful tool of communication we have, so it’s no surprise that erotic stories and art can be found, worldwide. These have been with us from early engravings in rock and have lived on to become a favorite theme in adult videos.

Erotic stories are a celebration of human sexuality. Practically every civilization has left a legacy of erotic art and stories, from the earliest civilizations onward. Exquisite examples of ancient erotic art can be found in Japan, China, India, Ancient Greece and Rome. Through art, sculpture and literature, to modern day erotic videos, humans have been recording erotic tales.

With the advent of photography, the first erotic images came to life, in London’s Victorian era, and the world has never been the same since. The fascination of the forbidden has always been a motivator and it was no different with erotica.  

Is Pornography An Evolution Of Earlier Expressions Of Human Sexuality?

Photography put into question the moral ethics of such images and a fine line was created between erotic art and pornography. To this day there is still a lot of confusion between these two. Is pornography simply an evolution of earlier expressions of human sexuality? Some high profile erotic video makers, such as Carrol Lee, argue that in order to remove the negative connotations associated to the term ‘pornography’ it should be reclaimed so as to represent a more contemporary view on human sexual behavior.

With the internet, we witnessed a global explosion of erotic content, from 1990’s on. Some would say the internet was originally fueled by pornography.  Nowadays, with a few simple keystrokes you can access erotic videos from any part of the globe. A long shot from mail order days and VHS rentals. 

This in itself clearly indicates we have come a long way and we no longer live our sensuality as a forbidden, sinful pleasure.

Who And What Are Erotic Videos For?

The erotic stories we share and pass on serve a purpose beyond voyeurism or entertainment. They can be a resource for couples wishing to reignite their love lives or to learn new ways of pleasing each other. Erotic stories can enhance our lives. These can help us open up to new ways of living our sexuality.  No matter how classic or unusual your tastes may be, there’s something for everybody. There are so many platforms to choose from, and the selection of online content so rich, it is practically intoxicating. After all, variety is the spice of life.

Similar to how a picture or video of a tasty grilled sirloin steak and baked potatoes can make you salivate and feel hungry, an erotic video can stimulate and titillate your senses, excite your imagination and make you hungry for some healthy fun. Your skin will flush and your heart rate increases, as your bodily senses are awakened and your sensual self comes to life.  

Sex is as important as air, food and water for human sustenance. The veil of shame and taboo, which religion had tainted human sexuality with for centuries, has been lifted in many cultures. Without this oppression, we can freely explore and express our individual sexuality and preferences without any stigma.

The list of online adult entertainment websites spans a truly vast and diverse landscape. 

Tube Sites

Tube sites are essentially porn video sites using an interface similar to YouTube and these have lots of freebies you can watch. Three top contenders in this category are XVideos, PornHub and XHamster

Live Cam Sites

Live cam sites offer a one on one live cam experience. At the top of the list you’ll find Jasmin, Bongacams and ImLive

VR Sites

Technology has turned video into a sensory experience with the application of virtual reality. The technology has been around for approximately five years. Special equipment is required, although the prices have dropped since these first appeared. If you want to try VR sites, check out Brazzers, The GF Network, Reality Kings or Digital Playgrounds.

Feminism And Pornography

Feminism, in great part, shaped how women perceive pornography. Since the 1970s, feminist preoccupation with pornography adopted widely differing positions, either for or against, with little middle ground. In the past two decades, we have seen a lesser interest from feminists with regards to pornography, as their focus shifted to other more pressing issues, such as economic justice, violence against women, LGBTQIA rights and constitutional equality.

The accelerating and far reaching effects of the internet, as well as the indisputable fact that sex is a commodity, has spawned the creation of women’s porn/erotica as a distinctive alternative to men’s pornography. In fact, feminists themselves, have noted and highlighted the ways in which cybersex can facilitate and provide opportunities for identity-bending, with users being able to assume different roles and characteristics, such as gender, age, sexuality, race, and physical appearance. Other benefits have also been noted, such as improved access to sex education, ‘safe’ sex, a unique opportunity for the sexual empowerment of people with disabilities and an array of opportunities for women to produce and distribute their own representations of eroticism.

No matter which way you toss and turn it, the adult entertainment industry continues to flourish, and has become a valid industry with talented people on both sides of the lens. They even have their own Oscar night, it’s called AVN Awards, to recognize achievements in the adult entertainment industry. 

Humans are complicated and creative and so is our expression of sexuality, which is reflected in the endless assortment of contemporary erotic video genres and as far back as Paleolithic cave paintings, the oldest surviving examples of erotic art. Erotic storytelling, helps us realize that there are others who also enjoy the same type of sexual play we do. It connects us to our own sexual nature and gives us the opportunity to be accepting of our own sexuality, as well as that of others. It is an occasion for mature consenting adults to freely explore the vast realm of sexuality.

Ten Things You Can Do To Help If A Loved One Is A Hoarder

Living with a hoarder can be treacherous and devastating. You will find yourself having to pave your way around mountains of clutter, that keeps growing day by day. Hoarding is a disorder. Those who hoard not only find it practically impossible to part with anything that comes their way, they also collect and take home any junk they deem to be valuable by their standards.

All surfaces, from the floors to counter spaces, will be cluttered with useless junk, that no one in their right mind would remotely dream of keeping, such as dated newspapers, complete and incomplete crosswords dating back 20 years, used toilet paper roles, outworn clothing, envelopes, old calendars, expired foods, expired flyers, little packets of condiments, sugar and salt from every restaurant outing, outdated coupons, empty containers and so on. In most cases, nothing of value is being hoarded. There are also cases where animal hoarding occurs, contributing to an unhealthy, nefarious environment.

The detrimental effects of hoarding, on the quality of life, are overwhelming and devastating. Studies indicate that hoarding affects over 6% of the population in the USA. That is a whopping 19 million Americans. These are reportedly conservative estimates.

Hoarding is an obsessive compulsive disorder which can range from mild to severe. Living with a hoarder, is a depleting, confusing, frustrating and hazardous. Finding a clean surface to work on is impossible. You will spend most of your time moving stuff around, trying to carve out a small space for yourself, in the mountain of junk that your home has become.

Hoarding makes day to day life impossible. If your loved one is a hoarder, you will discover that nothing is sacred, not even your bed. Hoarding creates a chaotic and unhygienic living environment, which takes its toll on healthy relationships and is not conducive in creating a safe and suitable environment, in which to raise children.

Hoarding gets passed on from one generation to the next. If your children spend years picking through clutter on the floor, to dress for school, there is a pretty good chance they will become hoarders as well. The old heredity versus environment debate, points heavily at environment being the key factor. Studies to date have not given any real indication that hoarding is genetically inherited and hoarding symptoms are found to start during childhood.

I was raised by an obsessively clean and organized mother, who prided herself on the indisputable fact that her floors were so clean, you could eat off them. My mother hated knick knacks and opted for a minimalist home environment. Any useless gifts that made their way into our home, were promptly hidden away, only to resurface temporarily, when the person who had gifted us was expected for a visit.

I was still in college the first time I discovered what hoarding was. I was visiting a young couple in their new home. When I stepped inside the door, I was stricken with horror at the sight of their toddler crawling through dirt and piles of garbage, which littered the floor and every surface of their home. I never visited again.

I have personally witnessed a situation where hoarding affected an entire family and ended in divorce. The two children, who grew up with a mother who hoarded, have both become hoarders, to their father’s dismay.

As a young woman, living in Toronto, I found a job at a local shop which sold maps and atlases, amongst other travel items. My job was to attend to shipments. On the first day I entered the premises, the stench which hit my nostrils, catapulted me into a cleaning frenzy, organizing and tossing away everything, which by my standards, classified as garbage. I distinctly remember filling up endless bags with half empty, take away containers. Some of these had been around so long that I saw an array of hairy mold specimens I never knew existed. I was not expecting to be rewarded for my hard work, but I certainly was not expecting the reaction I got, when the owner came to close down the shop, at the end of the day. It was inconceivable to me that anyone could be displeased, let alone angry, about a super clean up job. I had no idea what I was dealing with and my best intentions were apparently misplaced.

Because hoarders have a strong attachment to the items they collect, they can be quite opposed at accepting any help or throwing away anything. Often times hoarders are in denial and truly believe there is value in what they are accumulating. Compulsive hoarding can’t be resolved by simply cleaning out the house.

Look at it this way, if you were dealing with a drug addict or an alcoholic, would you resolve their problem by simply tossing the drugs or alcohol? The underlying problem needs to be addressed, otherwise the cycle will simply start again. Hoarders whose homes are cleared without their consent can become seriously distressed, even depressed, refusing any further help. There are things you can do to help a hoarder return to some semblance of normality.

Ten Things You Can Do To Help Treat Hoarding

  1. Find and join a local support group or team up with a coach to help sort and reduce clutter. Remember that relapses can easily occur if the right steps are not taken 
  2.  Challenge the hoarder’s thoughts and beliefs regarding the items they keep and try to make a pact for them not to pick up more junk each time they head out of the house. 
  3. Develop a plan to prevent any future clutter.
  4. Self-help books, support groups, individual talk therapy, medications and group therapy have been known to help hoarders get internally motivated to change their ways
  5. Returning to a normal life is a life long challenge for a hoarder. Staying in treatment has proven to decrease the chances of a relapse.
  6. If someone close to you is a hoarder, be certain to acknowledge that they have a right to make their own decisions at their own pace. To develop trust, do not throw anything away without asking for permission first.
  7. Be empathic and remember that everyone has some attachment to the things they choose to own.
  8. Make an effort to understand what importance, if any, the items they hoard hold for them. This process will assist the hoarder to gain a new perspective.
  9. Encourage and motivate them to come up with solutions to make the home safer, such as moving clutter away from doorways, halls and stairs.
  10. Team up with them, don’t go it alone. Never argue about whether to keep or discard an item; instead, through constructive communication, attempt to discover what will help motivate them to discard and organize the environment. Perhaps the promise of a social life? Together, you could organize a dinner at home with friends, to motivate them.

Through empathic communication you can help a loved one recognize that hoarding actually interferes with their core goals or values, their quality of life and their family’s wellbeing. These steps will assist them in paving their way back to a healthier lifestyle.

Why Sleep Is More Important Than Food

Have you ever stopped to think how much of your life you spend sleeping? The average lifespan, in 2020, according to surveys, was 79 years. Of those 79 years we spend an average of 26 years sleeping. For those who are light sleepers and have trouble getting to sleep, add another seven years, which are spent trying to fall asleep. To sum it up, we spend an average of 33 years of our lives in our beds.

The terror of sleepless nights is a grueling reality many are faced with. Tossing and turning, unable to switch off that internal chatter, falling into a dizzying loop, as the night slips away from us.

Do you ever have nights when it feels as though you have forgotten how to fall asleep? The harder you try, the further away sleep seems to be? You are not alone. Insomnia is a commonly reported sleep problem. Insomnia symptoms include trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, or both. Approximately one in seven adults suffers from chronic insomnia and one in three people, in the USA, reportedly use prescription sleeping aids.

Collateral Effects of Insomnia

Humans can go up to three weeks without food whereas we can only manage, give or take, one week without sleep. The collateral effects of sleep deprivation can literally destroy us, slowly crippling us, sucking the joy out of life. Like a leaky faucet, our life energy is being drained away, one drop at a time, with every sleepless moment. The collateral effects of insomnia can be debilitating, putting our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing at risk.

  • Loss of long and short term memory
  • Mood Changes – irritability
  • Inability to focus, be creative or solve problems
  • Weakened immune system, leading to frequent illness
  • Accident prone
  • Daytime chronic fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Low sex drive
  • Weight gain
  • Risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • Instability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations

Sleep is essential to keep our central nervous system functioning properly. During a night of normal sleep we go through four to five sleep cycles, which are in turn composed of individual sleep stages, broken down into two categories: rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and non REM sleep.

Breakdown Of Normal Sleep Cycles

The first three cycles of sleep are non REM sleep. The first stage is short, and this is the time we spend dozing off and transitioning into sleep.  The second stage is when the body and mind slow down as we settle into sleep. The third stage, is often referred to as deep sleep. This is when the body goes into recovery mode, and slows down further. During this stage our overall brain activity also slows down.

The fourth stage is REM sleep. During REM periods, brain activity shoots up to levels very similar to when we’re awake. During REM we experience our most intense dreams. Both breathing and heart rate increase during REM sleep and most of our muscles are paralyzed. This might sound frightening, however this paralysis is what  keeps us from acting out our dreams. In fact some people suffer from sleep paralysis issues, which is topic unto itself.

REM sleep is necessary since it stimulates areas of our brain that are essential in learning, making and retaining memories. “According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a study depriving rats of REM sleep significantly shortened their life span, from two or three years to five weeks. Rats deprived of all sleep cycles lived only three weeks.” 

During REM sleep, our brain exercises important neural connections. These are key to mental and overall well-being and health.

What Can You Do To Overcome Insomnia

  • Avoid daytime naps
  • Cut out caffeine – if you are not able to, then save it for mornings only
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday
  • Relaxing activities, such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath before bed are helpful
  • No heavy meals within a few hours before bedtime
  • No electronic devices before bed
  • Exercising regularly, preferably during the day as opposed to prior to bedtime
  • Reduce your alcohol intake

Creating a comfortable, relaxed environment for yourself can help you wind down. Is your bedroom cluttered? Give it a good clean and remove all paper and or work related stuff from your bedroom. Your bedroom should be a temple, a place where you can safely leave your body behind as you journey into deep sleep.

Are you easily awakened by noise and/or light? If you live in the city and suffer insomnia, then noise is most certainly a contributing factor to your sleepless nights. Sleeping with earplugs and an eye mask can improve the quality of your sleep.

Hi-Tech Gadgets To Combat Insomnia

Science and technology have provided us with many drug free alternatives for dealing with insomnia. Hi-tech insomnia gadgets provide a wide range of methods, from guided breathing exercises, to electrical brain stimulation, that help overcome insomnia and solutions for sleep apnea. Not all of us suffer insomnia for the same reasons. For some it’s noise, or anxiety, while for others it may be issues with breathing, such as sleep apnea.

You will find Hi-tech gadgets designed to intervene and target specific insomnia related issues. I myself, have had issues with falling asleep. I tend to be high strung and very sensitive to noise. I have found a very simple solution to help me fall asleep. A free App which gives me a choice of sound effects to fall asleep to worked wonders for me. They offer sounds of splashing waves, soft rainfall or thundering rain, white noise, nature and animal sounds. My personal favorite, which works for me every time, is the sound of a crackling fire, with crickets in the background.

If you suffer from sleepless nights, or have trouble falling asleep, consider a non prescription solution. We all know that pharmaceuticals often fix one thing at the expense of another. Long term use of prescription drugs, as a sleeping aid, can lead to serious side effects, including addiction, undermining your health and wellbeing.

The Rise And Fall Of An Empire

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The Rise And Fall Of An Empire

In the year 1878 George Eastman won the world’s attention with his gelatin dry plates. These would replace the clunky and messy wet plate photography which still prevailed at the time. Dry plates could be exposed and developed as needed, whereas wet plates, which necessitated a coating, had to be exposed and developed immediately.

The story of the Kodak Eastman company reads like an epic trilogy, covering the rise and fall of an empire. From the start, Kodak were pioneers in their industry. They introduced innovative products for photographers and film makers for well over a century.

  • In 1903 Kodak introduced their Non-Curling Film, which became the standard for all amateur photographers, for almost three decades.
  • In 1928 Kodak revolutionized the motion pictures industry with their 16 mm KODACOLOR Film. This was the first microfilm ever on the market.
  • In 1929 Kodak once again kept abreast of developing technologies by introducing their first motion picture film, for the emerging sound motion pictures industry.

Kodak enjoyed its position, as industry leaders in their sector, for over one century. In the early 80’s Sony released their first electronic camera. Digital photography, although it was in its embryonic stages, had already shown the potential to catapult the entire industry. An industry that could literally wipe out Kodak’s established, film-based business.

In the race against advancing digital technology, Kodak had roughly ten years to adapt. Something which proved to be difficult for the 131-year-old company, whose core business had been selling film. Despite all their best efforts, by 2008 Kodak was in trouble. Around that time Citigroup provided Kodak financing of $950 million to keep them afloat.

The world was left speechless, when Kodak ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2012, leaving its legacy business and selling off all its patents. It was the fall of a giant and it reverberated throughout the business world.

How could a colossal company such as Kodak have taken such a fall? In 2012, in an article entitled How Kodak Failed, Forbes referred to Kodak’s demise as a “staggering corporate blunder.” Kodak had entirely missed the opportunity to gain a foothold in the digital landscape, which ironically was a technology that Kodak themselves had introduced. Kodak’s strategic failure was heavily criticized, as Kodak’s film based business legacy was being ravaged by digital photography.

Kodak was not the only company that was unable to bridge the gap, during the digital transformation which rapidly replaced older technologies. In fact, Kodak is one of the numerous companies which met a similar fate. There was Xerox, who invented the photocopier and Motorola with their mobile phone. Let’s not forget Sun Microsystems who were behind the Java programming language and another giant, IBM. We can look further and find Olivetti, HP, Nokia, and Blockbuster, just to name a few. All of these companies failed to adapt to the new technology which had swept across the globe and forever altered the way people worked and played.

Regardless of all the other giants who fell, with the advent of digital technology, Kodak has been used as an example of failure. No company had been as successful, with their continuous breakthroughs and innovative products. They had monopolized the market with low-cost professional solutions for decades.

It was not for lack of trying that they failed since Kodak did invent the very first digital camera in 1975. It came with a digital cassette recorder, which was the modern-day equivalent of a memory card, back then. In 1991 Kodak unveiled the DCS 100, this was the very first commercially available digital SLR camera, designed with professional photojournalists in mind.

So what went wrong? How could a giant like Kodak fall? Kodak failed to develop the potential inherent in digital technology. Perhaps they were too slow or started too late. By the mid-1990s the market was already saturated with digital products that were extinguishing Kodak from the picture.

Some say that Kodak failed to recognize the transformative power of digital technology. Kodak kept investing in film and older technologies, whereas a more winning strategy would have been to embrace digital technology full-on. Kodak had the know-how and experience to once again be a leader in the new and exciting digital landscape. They made their move too late. Their business was already in decline and they were trailing so far behind their competitors, they no longer stood a chance.