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Urban planning and design have taken leaps and bounds in recent years with a strong focus on green space and a growing desire to take part in environmentally-conscious initiatives. As developers and landscapers coordinate projects for new construction, both residential and commercial buildings are offering new and innovative ways to improve outdoor landscapes, streetscapes, and urban sites.

Vegetative planning and design has evolved to developments in ecoroofs; ecoroofs are an exciting format and layout for buildings that capture the concept of a garden sitting atop anything from a garage, industrial building, or even single-family home. If you’ve ever wondered if there’s space available for your own garden beyond your land lots around your home, consider the possibilities of an ecoroof. Whether it’s a flat or sloped structure, the garden can be cultivated and maintained from a (literally) new angle!

Ecoroofs contain levels of layers comprised of asphalt, synthetic material, and real soil. The materials are pulled together with water-proof membranes to help create natural barriers for water runoff and drainage. In Europe, ecoroofs are being made with recycled clay for roof tiles. Recycled clay has been prized as a strong growing medium for fresh vegetation and irrigation. Eco roofs make use of vegetation mats, potted plants, and seed strings to create beautiful and flourishing mini-scapes.

The impact of ecoroofs on the environment has enormous positive potential. There are multiple benefits of a vegetated roof system that can offer a distinct design and layout for many sites. Plant enthusiasts and communities can benefit from an increased gardening workspace, but also contribute to healthy plant life, insects, and even animal habitats. Large-scale ecoroofs such as those found on large apartment complexes, housing structures, and commercial buildings show promise of neighborhood-cultivated communities. They provide a unique and dynamic space for growth, design, and harmony with the natural environment.

Re-roofing and installation can take time, energy, and resources, but the final product can be very rewarding. Re-roofing costs to cultivate an ecoroof on a standard home can range from $15-$20 per square foot for new construction, and $20-$25 per square foot for reconstruction. A building permit is also required from your city’s office of planning and development.

Whether you’re interested in cultivating a garden, a small landscape project, or adding a unique feature to your building or complex, an ecoroof is a growing trend that offers a fresh take on city-based greenscapes and structure. According to the Portland, Oregon Bureau of Environmental Services, an ecoroof can significantly reduce an area’s erosion and pollution levels, and possibility save various forms of wildlife and wildlife habitat. As more urban developers and planners pick up on the concept and trends across busy city centers, we may have an opportunity for some new landscape designs and raising awareness for sustainable environments.

The commercials are all over the television, claiming that Smooth Away is the best new way to remove unwanted hair; they say that it is simple, easy to use and painless, and even exfoliates your skin. But what are the cons to this ‘miracle’ product, is this really the end to razor blades and shaving gel, bumps and dry, ‘knicked’ up skin, or should we not be so quick to toss those blades in the bin?

Upon receiving my Smooth Away system, I had recently shaved my legs and decided to wait for the hair to fully re-grow before testing the new product. The advertisements say that millions of tiny micro crystals finely remove hair, since I didn’t really understand what that meant;

I wasn’t sure where the ‘crystalized’ hair would go. I decided that I would sit on the floor of the bathroom with an old towel under my legs.

The instructions said that I should rub one way in a circular motion and then in the other way, and that the legs would be smooth, hairless and exfoliated. As I proceeded to do this it quickly became apparent that a significant amount of pressure would need to be applied while rubbing the pad in the circular motion in order to see the results. I have to admit it really was quite amazing, the hair was disappearing, although I’m not really sure where it went, and my skin on my leg was so exfoliated that it was a different color than my other leg, it even had that tingly sensation you get after a facial at the spa. However this was after 10 minutes of circular rubbing in opposite directions, and I was only done one leg!

My husband decided to try it on his beard and chest, as the commercial says that it is ideal for men as well. My Husband being of African American descent has a thicker, coarser hair than mine. He found that it was very difficult almost impossible on his rougher beard, and still difficult but manageable on his chest hair. As he regularly has his ankles taped for sports he regularly shaves them as well, and found that the Smooth Away system worked for his ankles. However the time factor, as well as the less than perfect results he experienced, discouraged him from replacing his razor.

I asked a girlfriend, of East Indian descent, if she would try it on her arms and legs, while her hair is straight, it is thick and and plentiful. She did not find it any more difficult than I had, and also enjoyed the exfoliation part of the process. However also like myself, she was discouraged by the lengthy amount of time it took, as well, with the amount of work needed to see the results.

The Smooth Away system is a great alternative to shaving, or other hair removal methods, however when purchasing the product I wouldn’t be so quick to assume shaving is a thing of the past. While the exfoliation aspect of the Smooth Away, and its low cost, make it an ideal addition to your beauty routine, there are numerous negative aspects that add fault to it.

Firstly, in order to see results you need to apply significant pressure to the pad while using it, therefore some may say it is a lot of work, however to determine just how much work it is; you would need to determine someone’s definition of a lot of work! Secondly, from start to finish the process of removing hair is very time consuming, and could not be done properly if you only had a few minutes to get out the door!

Lastly, the crystal pads used to remove the hair wear out after time and need to be replaced, depending on where and when you purchase the system, you get a number of replacement pads, however when they run out they need to be ordered, which is time consuming, costly, and a bit of a hassle.

I believe that the Smooth Away system is a great compliment to your hair removal products; it most likely will not replace anything for you. I personally use mine less than I thought I would, however I find that I get my total money’s worth, when I use it prior to hitting the beach, since the dead skin has been removed, your legs tan easier and faster!

With school beginning and summer drawing to a close, Christmas will be upon us before we know it and grandparents all over will be asking “what do I get my grandchild that they really want?” I can tell you this, from one mothers’ point of view, there is nothing like time spent with a grandparent to brighten a child’s day.

And even if you are miles apart there are so many ways you can keep in touch with your grandchildren. Believe me when I say, that even implementing one of the ideas listed below will prove to pass the test of time with your grandchildren in a way that no plastic doll or electronic gadget can. The list below comes not from your pocketbook but from your heart and to a child, that is the best gift of all.

1. set up a “regular” time you call to talk to the kiddos…not Mom or Dad just kiddos then they know THEY are the important ones!

2. video tape yourself reading age appropriate books and send it to them along with a copy of the book so they can “read along” if they want to!….that way they will always have Grandma to read to them if Mom or Dad are too busy or they simply want to connect with you!

3. Send them 2 craft kits with a self addressed envelope so they can send back one of the creations to you….that way you have a connection (key chain kits are always a hit for the “backpack” crowd)

4. write them an ACTUAL letter….not email but a REAL letter they can hold in their hand…it needn’t be
a lot…even a note tells them you are thinking of them!

5. take pictures of yourself around the house or better yet have someone follow you around one day and videotape your day….if the grandkids have access to a camera they can do the same….these can be GREAT fun to share!

6. join a social network such as and start your own private family group. Publish a note to your grandchild every day with a riddle or question they have to find the answer to. OR help them with their homework online. The internet offers so many ways to keep in touch these days!

7. Send them an 18″ square of muslin (if you send 2 or 3 they will have some practice ones too) and a small tube of fabric paint…ask them to put their handprint on the square and send it back to you…then make one of your own hand…..using these 2 squares, make a pillow for them edging the squares in fabric that matches their room……that way they always have you close!

There are so many simple ways to connect with your grandchild. Even a simple note, handwritten by you to arrive with the afternoon mail is special. I know, I have letters my grandmother wrote me over 30 years ago and they are still as special today as they were when I opened them three decades ago

If you have elementary-age school children, and you want them to learn how to make healthy choices to eat better and get more exercise, The Incredible Adventures of the Amazing Food Detective by Kaiser Permanente is something you should add to your list of acceptable Web sites for your children to visit.

The free online video game was developed for children in Kindergarten through 3rd grade. The site is based on the games, and former PBS TV show, Where In The World is Carmen San Diego.

The graphics and sounds are wonderful. Both you and your child will enjoy playing The Incredible Adventures of the Amazing Food Detective game. My nine year old nephew loved playing this game — and so did I!

To play The Incredible Adventures of the Amazing Food Detective Game, you’re given an assignment to investigate and solve for each child, specific to that child’s health problem. While there are areas where the ability to read is beneficial, the main investigator explains nearly everything that you need to know to “solve” a case.

  • The scenarios they depict and want you to investigate are common to many children. The children and their health issues are:
  • Cole – Eats too much junk food
  • Catherine – Not very strong
  • Michael – Doesn’t exercise enough
  • Antonia – Needs to play more
  • Emily – Eats too much
  • Enrique – Teeth and bones are weak
  • Matthew – Tired all of the time
  • Althea – Skips breakfast

When you click on a child, the main investigator will tell you what the problem is, and give you clues to “solve” it. It could be clicking on a soccer ball to indicate getting more exercise and less TV, to choosing a quick and healthy breakfast. While it helps to read, the game is intuitive enough and the main investigator tells you enough that you could play it without being able to read. Play it with your child anyway, you’ll help your child learn and have fun together at the same time.

After solving the case, there are two additional options. Each character that you investigate has a series of three short mini-games that reinforce the solution to their problem, and each also has a series of activities that you can print and do off-line.

The online mini-games are quick and fun. Your child will love going back to them over and over again. The games are specific to the health concern, and serve as a great reinforcement for healthy behavior.

One of the off-line activities is always a healthy recipe, and other items to print that are fun, handy and useful.

For instance, one of the off-line activities is a healthy goal setting chart. The chart is designed to be used for the entire month, and include such things as “I watched less than one hour of TV or video games,” and “I ate 3 to 4 cups of fruits and vegetables.” I liked the charts so much that I’ve printed some for my own family to use, and my daughter is in high school!

You’re probably thinking, great, another video game that will suck my child into the black hole of video games. Nope, not this one. When the game senses that you’ve been playing long enough, it stops and forces you to take a break – and the main investigator even tells you that it’s time to get active!

Best of all, this site is available in English, or in Spanish.

If you want to encourage your kids to learn healthy habits, playing the free online game, The Incredible Adventures of the Amazing Food Detective is a great way to teach them, and reinforce, healthy behaviors that will help them for life.

I can’t wait for the next installment.

  Ohh! How yez all doin’?

Brooklyn Tony again, on the case, gettin’ yez all straightened out about these here Olympics.

I don’t know about you, but in my house, we got a little TV confusion since the Games began.

My father, who if he didn’t have the TV to watch every freakin’ wakin’ moment would probably walk into traffic, went a little bats the other night.

He goes out of the room for a little bit to visit the bathroom and turn it into a hazardous zone, and then touches base in the kitchen, where he goes deep with the mortadella and the provolone, and when he comes back, weaving under the weight of three plates, he gets a little surprise.

“Ohh!!”, he yells out in a voice they had no trouble hearing three blocks away.

When I come running into the room, he’s staring at the screen, which is supposed to be showing a nice little bloody unlimited fighting cage match, which usually involves two guys who look a whole lot like most of the males in the room at the last family reunion, and instead there’s a Chinese girl about 32 pounds playin’ johnny-on-the-pony wit’ a sawhorse.

  • “You change the channel, numb nuts?”, he says to me.
  • “Me? No.,” I says. “That’s the Olympics. They ain’t showing the fight.”
  • Pop didn’t take this in his stride. Tell you the truth, I don’t think he’s got one.
  • “Nah, nah, nah. I stopped watchin’ Wide World of Sports in 1975.”
  • But bein’ that the Olympics is on, like, nine channels simulterrainally, you can’t get away.

So Pop is stuck lookin’ at stuff he don’t understand, and it occurred to me that I could help him and everybody else out by explainin’ what the hell is goin’ on. So here goes:

Brooklyn Tony’s Handy Guide to Olympic Sports

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way right now. If you don’t know what basketball, baseball, swimming, bicycle riding, soccer and boxing are, forget about the Olympics and report to the nearest precinct because you’re a freakin’ alien. This leaves us with your lesser known sports, which I will now explain.

Badminton: This is like tennis, except the two guys are whackin’ around this thing that looks like a flower with a rubber ball on the bottom. 21 wins, and it’s usually two Asian guys goin’ at it because they practice this stuff all the time. You gotta be kiddin’ me.

Rowing: This ain’t bad. Four mooks in a canoe rowing backward until they practically croak. They all gotta do the same thing at the same time, and the only thing that looks different is how they breathe, which there’s usually one mope in the boat who’s got plans for the emergency room when the thing is over.

Taekwondo: OK. Here the boys mix it up, usin’ the feet, and basically tryin’ to beat the crap outta each other. But they got a lotta penalties, too. For instance, If you deck the other guy, you can’t stand over him and say things about his girlfriend and his grandmother, like you do in the street. No good. They take points away, and you could wind up puttin’ a guy on the Sleepy Express and still lose the match because you also smacked him in the face a little bit. Gimme a break.

Shooting: If there was an Olympics in my neighborhood, this would be the only event. We got gold medal guys on every stoop. Take Johnny Mal Olio. This degenerate practices shooting so much, about the only time he ain’t holdin’ a gun is when he’s eatin’. Problem is, in the Olympics, they ask you to shoot at circular targets that are far away, and clay things they throw up in the air. This could cause a problem for Johnny, bein’ that his marksmanship to this point has involved human bodies at pretty close range, a process he refers to as “closin’ the book,” during which event judges have so far been somewhat unnecessary.

Water Polo: Another Olympic sport wiseguys would be good at. The basic idea is two teams playin’ soccer in the water and usin’ their hands instead of their feet. From what I could tell, if the other guy got the ball, you could pretty much throw him a beatin’ and take it away, and if he gets drowned, hey, he’s supposed to know how to swim before he gets in the freakin’ pool, no? Beautiful.

Fencing: This is a sport where you get dressed up like a cross between a beekeeper and an astronaut, and go at it with swords. Which was news to my friend Rocco the Degenerate Worm, who happened to get wind of the fencing competition during the Olympics held in Los Angeles some years back.

Screaming “that’s for me!,” after reading about it in the newspaper, he quickly made his way to the site of the competition. At the front gate of the venue, Rocco was met by a security guard who was very interested in seeing some official Olympic credentials with Rocco’s name correctly spelled on them.

“Yeah, yeah,” said Rocco. “Don’t worry, I’m a fencer.” The guard was unmoved in the extreme.

“Alright, pal,” Rocco crowed, “wrap your regulations around this,” and grandly opening the full-length raincoat he was wearing on the 85-degree day, displayed a very well-chosen set of silverware, and a selection of choice Rolex timepieces.

“Ain’t no Bulgarian takin’ a medal from me,” said Rocco proudly. “This is fencing .”

Kundalini yogis believe that energy exists, like a coiled snake, at the base of the spine. Through Kundalini yoga, this energy can be released to travel upward along the spine, causing spiritual awakening. Kundalini energy is carried through three nadis, or channels. The shushumna is parallel to the spine, and the ida and pingala, which spiral around the spine. The intersection of the channels forms the chakras, or energy centers of the body. 

Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa

Yoga Journal has featured a number of Kundalini yoga teachers over the years. One of the most popular is Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. Born Mary May Gibson in rural Illinois, Kaur Khalsa has had a lot of unusual experiences. She attended San Francisco State in the 1960s. After that, she lived in a tent with a friend, doing without money or a car and scrounging for food. She moved to Maui, where she lived for three years before moving back to California. She became a Sikh after a friend introduced her to Kundalini yoga at an ashram in Tucson, Arizona in 1970, where she met Yogi Bhajan.

Today, Kaur Khalsa has her own yoga studio, Golden Bridge Yoga, which has locations in Los Angeles, California, and in New York City. Kaur Khalsa also teaches meditation and pre- and post-natal care. She has several books and DVDs out on the market.

The Three Gurus

The following three gurus have been friends since the 1970s, and all took their vows from the late Swami Muktananda.

Swami Shankarananda was born in New York and migrated to Melbourne, Australia. He is the spiritual director of the Shiva School of Meditation and Yoga. He is also a meditation master in the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. He has been a member of the Columbia University national chess championship team and a United States chess master. He has also taught Renaissance poetry and English literature at Indiana University. He met American guru Ram Dass in 1970. He then traveled to India and studied with several important masters of meditation and yoga.

Shankarananda uses a classical practice, which involves bringing attention to the primary chakras, and asking oneself a series of questions. He also uses deep breathing and mantra chanting in his meditations.

Swami Chetananda, the abbot of the Nityananda Institute in Portland, Oregon comes from a different tradition. His spiritual lineage is descended from Ghagawan Nityananda, a renowned Indian sage. Chetananda was ordained in 1978, and has traveled extensively. He studied Kashmir Shaivism in Srinigar from 1980 to 1986. He adopted the practice of Triki Yoga, which regards every ethnic group and lifestyle as equal.

Chetananda understands the difficulty in silencing the mind. He believes that by focusing on the breath and the flow of energy through the body, the mind’s thoughts will become like background static.

Master Charles Cannon is the founder of the Synchronicity Foundation in Faber, Virginia. He uses technology-enhanced music to assist students with their meditative efforts. He has an educational background in the arts and philosophy. He spent many years in India studying with Paramahamsa Muktananda. He has been ordained as a monk in the Vedic/Tantric tradition. His CDs use Holodynamic Vibrational Entrainment Technology (HVET) in specific frequency ranges. The Synchronicity Alpha series, for example, are in the Alpha range of 8 – 14 Hz. Synchronicity Theta soundtracks feature a lower vibration of around 3.5 – 7 Hz, for a deeper meditative experience. Synchronicity Delta soundtracks are recorded in the Delta range of 0 – 3.5 Hz for the deepest form of meditation.

Being from a different kind of generation, I’ve often wondered if there was an art to finding a job. Many, many older, “wiser” people have always told me I should work out a resume; I should dress super nice, and be super friendly. I’ve been told since high school “don’t wear your tongue ring to the interview!” or “put on a skirt!”, but ultimately, are those the steps that got me hired?

As a former “recruiter” or part of the “hiring personnel”, I know that the company looks for candidates that will closest match the company image. They want someone they know will look the way the company does and can represent themselves as the company’s image, so taking out my lip ring and nose ring are an almost necessity, to most every potential employer. (I still strongly disagree with this strategy, and policy, believing it to be a type of discrimination, but unfortunately, “it’s a wicked world that we live in.”1)

I also understand that, while a skirt may not get me a job, looking like a bum won’t either. Now, that normally means no t-shirts and jeans, however, if you’re/I’m applying for a clothing store and that’s their style, I would probably not go there dressed in a business suit! That’s not how they want customers to see their company. Image, to a recruiter, is huge.

Personality; this is where I always get messed up. I’m outgoing, helpful, respectful, and polite. However, if I talk too much, I can appear “chatty”, which is bad, because time is money, as the old adage says. If I’m too polite, I can come across nervous or shy. By trying to help an interviewer pick the right word or phrase, I can appear too eager or disrespectful, even though I’m just trying to be nice. All of this, of course, depends on the interviewer, and is hard to adjust or predict. The thing I have found that works best is to be honest. As a recruiter, I understood people got nervous. Nerves make us forgetful, shaky, awkward, and even rude, in same cases. The interview is where you are giving the recruiter a first (and sometimes last) impression of who you are, but it never hurts to be honest and simply say “I’m sorry. I’m nervous.” I can’t say this excuses the mistake or behavior for the recruiter, but in some cases, as the interviewer, I could see if the nerves really were the problem, or if it was something else, and the apology either helped, or had no affect, but it never hurt.

As to resumes, I have always been told to bring a couple resumes to an interview, “just in case”, however, I’ve never been asked for a resume in an interview or later. I, personally, never requested a resume from a candidate I interviewed. Most of the information we needed came from the application, which asks for recent or relevant work history. It asks how long you worked for a particular employer and under what circumstances you left or were asked to leave. It asks if you have been convicted of anything and what or why. All of these pieces of information are important to a recruiter because it gives an impression of work ethic, and morals. If you are applying for a bank teller position, but you’ve been fired under suspicion of stealing from a previous job, you are most likely not going to be hired by a bank, where you are directly responsible for working with money everyday! However, if you are applying for a business position, something like human resources, or pay roll, you might want to bring a resume with you, which can include references, education, and other accomplishments. In those cases, your potential employer make ask for your resume, and you may look unprepared if you do not have one with you.

Overall, when applying and interviewing for jobs, use your common sense. If you are looking for work as a business professional, you are going to need to look better, act better, and be better prepared than if you are applying for a fast food job. Think things through, and be prepared for what you think the job may be like and act accordingly.

If you are interested in maintaining your CD’s in working condition, you must pay some attention to the procedures for proper maintenance which will make them last an increased length of time and play better. You may be building up a personal collection of CD’s or you may be making copies to use, but it is advisable that you learn you should care for your discs.

It is essential that you should not forget the specific components and materials that have gone into the production of the CD. There are inner layers made of metals which are compatible with optical options and laser reading, as well as outer layers including adhesives which protect the disc. The designers of CD have built them with specific insulation against cold and heat, and with a life span of up to hundred years. However if proper care is not given the discs could be spoilt.

The primary precaution to protect your CD’s is to put them away in a place of safety. The protective layers of the CD are where the tracks are recorded and therefore should not be removed by scratching. Scratching not only damages and removes the protective layer itself but also the metal that is under. With such a scratch, the data recorded in the tracks is lost.

At the same time keeping your CD’s clean is a priority. Various materials are to be found that will enable you to clean your CD’s without damaging or scratching them. If your CD seems to have been giving some trouble and it has not been kept in safe storage, you should rectify the matter as quickly as possible by cleaning it and preventing the loss of data.

In addition to damage being caused to the CD by it being out of its case, touching can also cause harm. The recommendation is to hold your CD’s from their outside edge or at the holes in the middle. These empty spaces contain no information and so there will not be adverse effects caused by grease, dirt or any other substance getting lodged in the area for data. If by any chance you happen to touch the inside section of the CD, you should not neglect to clean it thoroughly to keep grease away.

If you have built a collection of CD’s for yourself, you will have to be careful about what goes onto and inside your CD’s. For instance a permanent marker should never be used to write on CD’s. For labelling purposes this might seem an easy option, or you may even use a cheap design to label the CD. However the chemical in the marker ink absorbs oxygen which in time causes damage to the protective layers, allowing the deposit of dirt and other injurious substances, and eventually causing loss of data.

For the optimum maintenance of your CD’s whether they are part of your personal collection or part of your stock for duplicate sales, the simple care of the discs should always be foremost in your mind. This will ensure your discs are dirt free and longer lasting providing you with access to enjoy all your music etc.

Having poker parties is one of the countries favorite pastimes. It’s a time when friendships are formed and good times are had. One of the most important ingredients in a good poker party is the food. There are numerous choices when it comes to the type and style of poker party foods that a host can serve the guests.

One type of food that is a favorite at the poker table is sandwiches with chips and dips. There are a lot of things one can do with bread, some condiments, and some meat and cheese. A popular option is to let quest prepare their own sandwich the way they want it. Just have everything out and offer different types of meats and breads and cheeses, have some lettuce, pickles, and tomatoes already sliced and ready.

With the chips just get several types maybe some bbq flavored or sour cream and onion as well as regular flavored chip and maybe some corn chips. Supply pre made dips or make your own its up to you but one of my favorite dip recipes is this:

  • Cindy’s cheese dip
  • 1 block velveta cheese
  • 1 can of rotel (if you want spice get the hot rotel)

Melt cheese over low heat then add rotel once cheese is melted. If it’s to thick add a quarter cup of milk and stir in keep adding until you get the right consistency that suits you. You can also cook this in a crock pot. Just add all ingredients turn on low and let melt and be sure to stir it every so often. This makes a lot so it’s great to refrigerate and use on nachos another day.

The drinks served are just as important as the poker party foods. Everything from alcohol to soda pops can be served. Alcohol tends to be a favorite beverage at a large number of poker parties. Iced tea is another good choice because it can be served sweet or unsweetened with lemon or without. If you do decide have alcohol just drink responsibly. One of my favorite drinks is simple to make and a tart tangy treat.

  • 3 ounces vodka
  • 7 ounces orange juice (I prefer the natural orange)
  • 2 ounce cranberry juice
  • Put ice in glass and add all ingredients and stir.
  • If you don’t like a strong drink you can cut down on the vodka and substitute with the orange juice.

A great poker party idea for decorations is poker themed plates to serve your party poker food on. There are several places online to order from. One example is a website called They offer a large selection of poker party supplies at good prices too. Just have fun and be creative with your poker party ideas and be sure to serve great tasting poker party foods and drinks and your poker party will be a success.