Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's resolutions are for farmers

New Year's resolutions are for farmers - a little over 4,000 years ago, ancient Babylonians made the first New Year's resolutions when they pledged to return borrowed farming equipment in time for the new year. Back then, the start of the new year coincided with the start of the agricultural season on March 23.

Early Romans adopted this start time as well, making the start of their year March 1. Then along came Julius Caesar, who changed the first day of the year to January 1 in honor of the god Janus, thus creating our modern New Year's day. The Roman god Janus had two faces, so he was able to look back (on the old year) while looking forward (on the new year).

So now, in 2009, it is once again time to make New Year's resolutions. More than a new year, we are also on the brink of a new decade (hence in influx of 'best of the 2000's list - click here, and here, here, here and here for some of my favs), so its a good time to think about what you might like to resolve to do in the next 10 years. Unfortunately, according to some individuals (who decided to leave me a voicemail message sharing their perspective, no lie) the world is going to end in 2012, so if you have a resolution for the new decade, you better get on that.

Here are my possible resolutions for 2010...
  1. Take better care of myself i.e. sleep more, worry less, buy good foods, refrain from mixing beer and liquor, work it out
  2. Keep a neater apartment (no, its not a huge mess, but the dishes to have a tendency to pile up when I'm busy)
  3. Help my dog get unfat - she's getting a little Spunkyish

When it comes to New Years resolutions, try to choose things you will actually be able to accomplish. To quote What About Bob?, take baby steps. The majority of people forget their resolutions by the beginning of February. Lets take my resolutions and break each one down into a smaller obtainable goal:
  1. Stop eating truffles
  2. Buy paper plates
  3. Switch to diet dog food
See! Three very easy-to-accomplish resolutions! Now you try. First, list the stereotypical "lose weight" and "be a better person" resolutions. Then, take a closer look and find one aspect of reaching that goal and resolve to do that one thing. Next, enjoy success! Need some extra help achiving your goals? Check out the Count on Yourself program by Risa Olinsky.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The anchorages of the Brooklyn Bridge were once used as wine cellars

The anchorages of the Brooklyn Bridge were once used as wine cellars. Back in the day (around 1883), the vaults located in the bridge anchorages were rented out offset some of the cost of the bridge construction. City records show that space was rented out for wine storage.

But why store wine in a bridge?

The 60,000-ton granite anchorages of the Brooklyn Bridge contain dark, cold spaces which reach up to 50ft in height, and maintain a temperature of approximately 60 degrees - an ideal temperature for storing some wines.

Sorry winos, the chambers of the Brooklyn Bridge are no longer used to stockpile vino. Nowadays the vaults are filled with bridge maintenance equipment.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Thank you for being a wonderful mom and an incredible friend. Hope you enjoy your special day :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

People who play dreidel like winning free stuff

People who play dreidel like winning free stuff. What is dreidel you ask? It is a game played by children (or gambling adict adults) during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah (the festival of lights). The dreidel is significant because the Hebrew letters written on each side are an acronym for the miracle of Hanukkah, "A Great Miracle Happened There" or if you are playing in Israel, "A Great Miracle Happened Here."

The game consists of a special four-sided top called a dreidel and gold foil covered coins called gelt (can be substituted for other counters such as coins, peanuts or Benjamin's if that's how you roll). The object of the game is to win all the tokens. Here is how you play:

1. Split the gelt evenly among all players

2. Everyone puts one in the middle

3. Player 1 spins the dreidel

4. If the dreidel lands on:
NUN - do nothing
GIMMEL - take everything in the pot
HEY - take half the pot
SHIN/PEH - add to the pot

5. Spin and repeat 2-5 until one player has everything

Still don't get it? Check out this video tutorial:

Since it is December, and has snowed, I believe it is time for a holiday contest. As I celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, I felt it was best to incorporate both into my contest. Here is how it works. Below there is a picture of my Hanukkah setup. All you have to do is guess how many coins are in my Hanukkah cup (yes, there are coins that are NOT visible).

Guess correctly and you win....

A CHRISTMAS SUPER AWESOME FUN PACK! Inside you will find everything you need to have a Holly Jolly Christmas this year including...

* Giant Ho! Ho! Ho! pen
* "You've Been Naughty" coal
* "I Heart Santa" socks
* Reindeer Antlers
* A horrific pet costume
And more!

You will also win the Hanukkah gelt and a dreidel of your own (if I can find one, apparently no one is capitalizing on Hanukkah this year, because I went to TWO stores and there was NO Hanukkah merchandise). Runner ups will also receive goodies for their participation.

To enter, post your guess in the comments section below with your name and e-mail address by 11:59 PM on Friday, December 11 - the first night of Hanukkah! The winner will be announced on Saturday. One guess per person. Please no duplicate guesses.

Good luck!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

There is a 23 percent chance that it will be a 'White Christmas' in New Jersey

There is a 23 percent chance that it will be a 'White Christmas' (1 in of snow on the ground) in northern New Jersey based on data collected by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

Based on years of data, there are only three locations the US which are guaranteed that classic blanket of snow on Christmas morning, Marquette and Sault Ste Marie in Michigan, Hibbing and International Falls in Minnesota, and Stampede Pass in Washington.

Seeing a 'White Christmas' at home is something that people in the southern states will rarely ever experience. Whenever my southern relatives would visit during the winter we would always hope it would snow for them, and when it did, they would run out and enjoy it, even if it was just a dusting.

Every Christmas, my family on my Dad's side gets together and we sing Christmas carols. Old and new, we all know every word and have our favorites, giving each song a special meaning. As each year passes, it is singing these favorite tunes that help us remember the people who are no longer here, but who we will always keep alive in our hearts.

My Aunt Sarge lived in Florida, but was originally from South Dakota where it isn't rare to wake up to blanket of white on December 25th and her favorite carol was "White Christmas." While there are many versions of the song, she would ask me to sing it for her, by myself, in front of my family. She made me feel so special. This was a common side-effect of being around her, as she always made it very clear how much she cared for the people around her.

As "I'll Be Home for Christmas" will always be dedicated to my grandfather, "White Christmas" will now forever be sung the memory of my Aunt Sarge.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Cynthia Sarge Branigan. You will be missed.