Monday, June 29, 2009

There are more possums in New Zealand than people

There are more possums in New Zealand than people - 70 million of them, which is a disturbing ratio of 20 to 1. The Australian brush-tailed possum was introduced to New Zealand in 1873 for fur trading (someone call PETA).

Unfortunately for the Kiwis, the possums found abundant food and had no natural predators, so they quickly multiplied, and now run a muck of the countryside, spreading disease and eating everything (one little fur ball can eat up to a half a pound of vegetation a day) including endangered Kiwi eggs.

I came face to face with a possum this evening while walking my beast. Here in NJ we don't have cute little big eared possums, we have these evil burnt rat looking creatures...

There are some things on this planet that should clearly refrain from procreation.

For more information on possums, click here.

A special thanks to Katie Foley for editing my posts for grammar.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The first modern infomercial promoted local real estate

The first modern infomercial series promoted local real estate and was broadcast on XETV San Diego in the 1970s. The program ran for one hour on Sunday.

Nowadays infomercials run for hours at a time, and promote products from pimple creams, to juicers to hardware. These hour-long commercials usually feature colorful hosts and studio audiences in awe of the miracle product in front of them.

I have to admit, I am one of those people who gets sucked into infomercials. I own magic knives, oxiclean, the Pulse mix CD (I was young with my first credit card, don't make fun) orange glo, the magic bullet, some mop/dog hair remover and countless other amazing products. While I do love my job, I think it would be awesome to be an infomercial host.

One of the greatest infomercial hosts of all time, Billy Mays, passed away today - very sad. He promoted countless products, and had thousands of fans around the globe.

Here's a great video of Billy outside the studio, having fun ordering McDonalds as only Billy Mays could...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, died today, June 25, 2009 at the age of 50.

Very sad.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A morsel of chocolate will not kill your dog

A morsel of chocolate will not kill your dog, but larger quantities can be deadly. It isn't really the chocolate that is bad for the dog, it is a stimulant found in cocoa beans called theobromine, which can also be found in cola beverages, tea and acai berries.

Theobromine is tolerable for humans, but for dogs can cause poisoning, even death, because they are unable to metabolize it, and it can remain in the bloodstream for up to 20 hours. Symptoms of theobromine poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea, restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching and frequent urination.

It is very important to not give in to your dog, no matter how much they beg, whine, whimper and look up at you with those big (green devil) eyes for chocolate.

Just say NO

Dogs are affected differently by different kinds of chocolate. For example, here is how much of the following chocolates it would take to poison Chloe, my 20 lb Jack Russell-Beagle mix...
  • White chocolate - 250 lbs would cause signs of poisoning
  • Milk chocolate/Semi-sweet - 1 lb or 4 - 6 candy bars would be poisonous
  • Sweet cocoa - 1/3 lb would be poisonous
  • Baking chocolate - 2 oz would be poisonous
If you suspect your dog (or cat, bird, horse etc.) is showing signs of theobromine poisoning, take it for medical care immediately. Some websites offer tips on how to care for a poisoned animal, but personally, I'd rather leave it to the professionals. If you are looking for emergency animal care in NE NJ, I would recommend Animal Emergency & Referral Associates (love them), otherwise check your local Google search.

Other human foods that are bad for dogs include avocado, macadamia nuts, onions, grapes, raisins, garlic, foods high in fat, salt or artificial sweeteners, and alcoholic beverages...


For more info on dog and cat care visit Pet Place.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Graduates originally wore caps and gowns to keep warm

Graduates originally wore caps and gowns to keep warm. The first university was established back in 12th century England. Back then, higher education was run by the church, which was run by monks and clergy. These clergymen lived in churches - very cold, drafty, castle like churches. To keep warm, they wore... you guessed it... gowns (thick robes) and thus the clothing worn at graduation was created to be like that of the clergy who ran it.

In 1894 a group of scholars met at Columbia College to decide on academic dress, and in 1895 created the Depository for the Intercollegiate Bureau of Academic Costume, making the cap and gown official grad wear.

The cap that grads wear is also derived from clothing worn by religious figures, and is also referred to as a mortarboard, because it looks like the tool masons use to lay bricks.

Tonight I attended a very special graduation ceremony - my darling brother, Max Randall Branigan, was the 10th member of my family to graduate from Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ. He will continue his education at Rutgers University, where he has been accepted into the prestigious Mason Gross School of the Arts.

Congratulations Max!

Smart people love quickie contests!

Smart people love quickie contests! Yes - they do! Since it is Monday, and it has been raining for 10 years, I thought I would brighten your day with a little fun.

First person to guess what the following image is, wins it. (I'll also give a prize for most creative guess)

Ready, set, go!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Superfood for a Superdad

A 'superfood' is a food with high phytonutrient content (say what?), or in other words, has great health benefits. According to WebMD, everyone's favorite Internet doctor, some superfoods that can help you live a healthier, longer life are beans, broccoli, oranges, tomatoes, spinach, soy, pumpkin, salmon, oats, tea, walnuts, turkey and the ever powerful blueberry.

Since it's Father's Day, and my dad is pretty super, I decided to bake him a superfood (blueberry) pie - his FAVORITE. Blueberries are are jam packed with antioxidants, vitamin B6, C, K and dietary fiber. Including blueberries in your diet can decrease your risk of cancer and heart disease and also work as a natural anti-inflammatory.

Here's how I did it...

The Filling!
4 cups blueberries (frozen are fine)
1 cup sugar
Some flour (I rarely follow directions)
Dash of salt

The Crust!
1 bottom crust (store bought)
2 top crusts (store bought) then woven into beautifulness

Combine filling ingredients, pour into bottom crust. Cover with basket weave (or just cover if you are a beginner) crust. Use a baking brush to coat lightly with egg (for shine). Bake at 425 for 10 min, then 350 for about 45 more. It should come out looking like this:

Happy Father's Day to a super dad!

Love you daddy :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Merengue is a dance of sympathy

Merengue is a dance of sympathy, well according to one version of the story. There was a great hero who was injured in one of the many revolutionary wars of the Dominican Republic. When the hero returned to home, the villagers threw a great celebration where they danced dragging one foot, out of sympathy for the limping soldier.

Another version of the origin of Merengue is that chained sugar field workers were forced to drag their feet while harvesting to the beat of a drum, thus creating the dance.

Merengue is the official dance of the Dominican Republic, where it is regularly seen in bars and discotheques (especially ones with tourists who have a tendency towards the "drinky drinky").

El diablo bila berecha! haha

Would you like to dance Merengue too? Here's a little video to get you started.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It doesn't take a good job to "bring home the bacon"

It doesn't take a good job to "bring home the bacon." It doesn't take money either. While the meaning of the phrase today means to bring home money (getting that paper, dough, benjamins, c-notes, whatever you want to call it), the origin of the phrase is about being nice to your wife, not providing her with monetary support.

Supposedly, back, back in the twelfth century day, a church in the English town of Dunmow promised a side of bacon to any man who could swear to god that he had not fought with his wife for a year and a day. Back then, men who "brought home the bacon" were held in high regards for their good relationships with their wives.

The United States is one of the richest countries in the world and has a depressingly high divorce rate. Maybe that church had the right idea...reward people for treating each other with respect (by giving them bacon haha).

I'll start the trend with the fattiest creation I have EVER baked. Tonight I successfully replicated Bacon Cupcakes!!! (yes, replicated. Credit where credit is due, while I did put my own spin on my little coronary delights, the idea originally came from Kumquat Cupcakery - if you have the opportunity to try one of their creations, consider yourself lucky, they are AMAZING).

Now I know what you are thinking. Bacon, on a cupcake, EWW. But don't knock them till you try them. If you like the salty sweet combo of chocolate covered pretzels, then you will probably enjoy this treat.

Besides, there are farrr stranger ways to use bacon...who wouldn't want a bacon wallet to hold their cheddah? Check it out here.

For more creative ways to make your favorite fatty foods even worse for you, visit one of my FAVORITE blogs, This is why you're fat.

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go enjoy my cakes, and then have a very long date with my elliptical :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In case you needed a few more tips on rocking shades...

Autographs available upon request (haha)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Chinese were the first to wear their sunglasses at night

The Chinese were the first to wear their sunglasses at night... (haha) no, I mean to wear the first things that resembled sunglasses.

Back back in the 12th century day, Chinese judges would wear "glasses" made of thin lenses of smokey quartz to shield their expressions when they questioned witnesses. Note, Eskimo tribes wore "sunglasses" during prehistoric times, way before the Chinese judges, but they were not made of translucent material; they were thin slices of ivory with slits cut into them, (kinda like Kanye glasses).

The first eyeglass that resembled modern sunglasses appeared during the 18th century when James Ayscough began playing around with green and blue tinted lenses in an attempt to cure vision problems.

Glamorized by Hollywood (see fig. 1), sunglasses became popular in the beginning of the 20th century. In 1929 American entrepreneur Sam Foster began to mass produce sunglasses and sell them at the Jersey Shore, (how fitting) where they were extremely popular.


Now we have sunglasses that come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. How do you know what is in for this season? Maybe consult the experts...

The shades featured in the segment can be found at your local Solstice Sunglass Boutique.