Gunning Daily News

Spooktacular: Five Frightening Destinations

October 22, 2012 5:54 pm

Your location will very likely contribute to how hard you party on Halloween. While the spookfest is raging in the U.S., Halloween celebrations change throughout the world. For instance, while we party it up here in the U.S., the day is not widely celebrated in Australia. Here is a breakdown, of where you can find the best costume parties come October 31

United States
You can't go past America for a massive dose of all things Halloween. Salem in Massachusetts specializes in scaring holidaymakers year round, but October is definitely the spookiest time to visit with scary tours, séance events and a vampire’s masquerade ball.

Scarier still, spend the night of Halloween at one of the America’s most haunted hotels, The Stanley Hotel in Colorado -- the hotel that inspired Steven King's novel, The Shining. Rooms start from around $180 per night. Add a ghost and history tour for $15 -- or a spine-chilling five-hour ghost hunt at $60 for the ultimate in terror.

Philippines
All Saints Day on November 1st is a day of festivities in The Philippines marking the beginning of the Filipino "Araw ng mgba Patay," the celebration of the Day of the Dead. Instead of trick-or-treating, groups of singers, known as pangangaluluwa, dress in scary costumes and go door-to-door to entertain in return for treats. Family reunions are taken to the next level with families gathering in cemeteries alongside the tomb of their dearly-departed for a grave-side spruce-up and a family picnic.

Paris

Halloween and cemeteries go hand-in-hand, so a visit to the world's most popular cemetery, Père Lachaise in Paris, is for true enthusiasts. One million people are buried here with the remains of a further two million stored in the ossuary and columbarium. Since its establishment in 1804, the cemetery has become quite the place for famous people to call home, with permanent residents including Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Jean de La Fontaine, Edith Piaf, Proust and Chopin among many others. Entry to Père Lachaise is free.

Romania
For some people, the scary part of a visit to the ruins Poenari Castle in Romania might be the 1,480 steep concrete steps into the place where many people were tortured, worked to death or murdered (usually by impalement—not by climbing the stairs). Others might be more frightened by the thought of the notorious previous owner Vlad III Tepes, also called Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad Draculea -- or just plain Dracula. This castle is the real-deal (not to be confused with tourist attraction Bram Castle); it's not frequented by many tourists and was scary enough to be the only place to freak out a TV crew filming the world's most haunted locations for the Discovery Channel, leaving them running screaming from the castle.

London
With a bloody history of nearly 1,000 years, the Tower of London (sometimes catchily-called Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress which is home to the Crown Jewels) is said to be the most haunted building in England. The site of many beheadings, murders, hangings, and mysterious disappearances means the tower is busy with tortured souls -- including the headless body of Anne Boleyn and two more of Henry VIII's wives as well as Sir Walter Raleigh, Lady Jane Grey, child princes Edward V and Richard Duke of York, among others. Tickets to visit the tower are $31.

Sources: http://www.cheapflights.com.au/, momondo.com.

How-To: Control High Blood Pressure

October 22, 2012 5:54 pm

High blood pressure is sometimes called the 'silent killer' because it has no symptoms, except in extreme cases. It's critical that the millions of people who have high blood pressure learn how to control it, before it's too late.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 76 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. The high force of blood flow can damage arteries, the heart, kidneys, eyes and the brain. If uncontrolled, high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get your high blood pressure under control. These include eating healthfully, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking.

Eat healthfully.
When it comes to eating healthfully to help keep blood pressure down, it's not just about what to avoid -- such as lowering your intake of saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars -- but about what to add to your diet so that it is rich in nutrients and fiber. In fact, many experts believe that antioxidants show great promise for reducing high blood pressure and supporting heart health.
To help keep blood pressure down, make sure your diet includes plenty of:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • High-fiber foods
  • Lean meats
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy foods
  • Fish containing omega-3, such as salmon, trout and herring
  • Heart-healthy antioxidants

One example of a heart-healthy antioxidant is pterostilbene, which is found naturally in blueberries. Studies have shown that pterostilbene may provide health benefits, including support of heart health, anti-aging capabilities, glucose and oxidative stress-level management, cognitive functions, weight loss and other metabolic disorders. In fact, results from a recent study from the University of Mississippi showed that pterostilbene had statistically significant results for blood pressure in adults.
Pterostilbene is closely related to resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes, but has properties that provide added benefits over resveratrol:

  • It can easily enter into the blood stream.
  • It has better absorption from the blood stream for use by cells.
  • It is effective at activating proteins which help lower cholesterol levels and contribute to anti-aging.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight raises your blood pressure and blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as lowering the amount of good cholesterol, according to the AHA. So losing even a little weight can reduce blood pressure in many overweight people. The best ways to do that are to modify your diet and get moving.

The Surgeon General recommends that adults engage in moderate physical activities for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. These activities:

Can be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and can be spread throughout the week.

Include flexibility and stretching exercises.

Include muscle strengthening activity at least two days each week.

Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about how you can increase your physical activity safely and modify your diet to help you get to a healthy weight.

Don't smoke. Smoking damages blood vessels and speeds up the hardening of the arteries, making it a major risk for heart disease and stroke. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor about programs to help you quit.

If you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, don't wait to get it under control. Take action now so you can have a healthier future.

Source: www.pteropure.com.

Word of the Day

October 22, 2012 5:54 pm

Agent. Person authorized to act by and on behalf of another.

Q: What Should I Consider when Remodeling the Bathroom?

October 22, 2012 5:54 pm

A: Don’t jump too quickly to discard reusable fixtures. If your tub is in relatively good shape, consider having it re-glazed instead of replaced, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. As for the walls around the tub, cultured marble sheets are cheaper to install than marble tiles and also easier to clean. Fiberglass is also less expensive than tile. If space is extremely limited and you cannot “steal” it from other areas of your home, purchase a jetted tub and shower combination or install a pedestal lavatory instead of a vanity cabinet with a sink. Remember, installing a large jetted tub can overtax your water heater, so consider adding a water heater that is dedicated to the tub to prevent problems later.

Preparing for a New Babysitter

October 19, 2012 5:20 pm

For young parents, having time alone during ‘date nights’ can ease stress, refresh harried outlooks, and help keep romance alive. But even if your little one is in daycare during the day, the prospect of leaving the child with a sitter at home can be a little worrisome.

Meryl Teague, who teaches babysitting classes for the YWCA, offers parents five tips to help ease their minds when preparing for a new sitter:

Make a list of resource people
– Create a list of people who can be called upon in the event the sitter needs help. Start with your own cell phone number. Then add your physician’s number and the numbers of one or two nearby relatives or friends who could be helpful.

Outline the child’s routine
– Knowing when your child routinely naps or snacks, how much television is allowed and when, and when meals and medicine are due, makes the sitter more confident and the child more content.

Go over the house rules – Write down any house rules your child is expected to follow, such as putting toys away, not eating in the living room, or not jumping on the couch.

Set out needed items – If you will not be home before bedtime, lay out the child’s pajamas and any favorite bedtime toys or blanket. Prepare and refrigerate meals or snacks that will be needed while you are gone, and leave a note regarding any medication the sitter will be expected to administer.

Prepare your child – If your child is old enough to understand, explain that someone new will be coming to play with them while you are away. No matter the child’s age, try to arrange for a short transition time, when the child can watch you interacting with the person who will be staying after you leave.

Kick Off Your Retirement Planning

October 19, 2012 5:20 pm

Regardless of how far you are from retirement, if you want to secure your financial future, you should begin planning now. Unfortunately, less than half of American workers have taken the time to calculate exactly how much money they will need to retire comfortably, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. One of the reasons the numbers may be low is because many people find it difficult to even start the planning process.

National Save for Retirement Week is the time to take the first step. "We want people to know that they can take control of their retirement," says Joe Monk, senior vice president and chief administrative officer, State Farm Life Insurance Company, Vice President, Health and Mutual Funds, for State Farm Insurance Companies®.

To jump start your retirement planning, Monk offers three easy tips:

  • Start the conversation with loved ones. Talk about where you are, and what your goals are for the future.
  • Formalize your plan. Work with a respected financial professional who may have a better understanding of all the options available.
  • Commit to your plan. Committing to a plan enables people to have more choices and be aware of options.
"Having a plan helps people get a clearer idea of what they'll need later in life and enables them to set attainable goals, track progress and adjust the plan if necessary," says Monk. "Following the plan gives people a better chance of enjoying their retirement."

Source: http://www.statefarm.com

Denim 101: Find the Perfect Pair of Jeans

October 19, 2012 5:20 pm

(BPT) - As American as apple pie, jeans are a go-to wardrobe staple. So why is shopping for jeans such a difficult task? With so many fits, cuts, washes and more to choose from, it might seem like an endless journey to find that perfect pair you'll wear over and over again. With this quick and handy guide you'll have the low-down on denim so you can find options that look good and feel great.

Strategies for jean shopping

First when shopping for jeans, be sure to allow enough time to try on a variety of styles so you can find the right pair for your body shape. Go to a store that has many options and don't rush your time in the dressing room. For example, at Target you can find Denizen from the Levi's brand jeans that offer seven different styles, so you're sure to find one (or more) that work for you. When you try on a pair, try sitting, squatting and moving to see how the fabric flexes and shifts.

Common jean styles and cuts
Straight - If you want a versatile style that is as appropriate for a lazy Sunday afternoon as it is for a business-casual working environment, a straight fit jean is for you. This classic look neither tapers nor flares, with denim cut straight down from hip to ankle, elongating the leg and creating a conservative style appropriate for both men and women.

Skinny - A necessity for most women, the skinny jean is also a popular style for men. With a retro edge perfect for a narrow figure, this style is meant to fit snugly with tapering around the ankles. This is a great option for ladies this fall since skinny jeans can be easily tucked into tall boots for a fun, hip autumn look. The skinny jean is equally as versatile for men and can be worn casually with sneakers or dressed up with work boots.

Slim straight - If you like the idea of a slimmer cut, but skinny styles are a bit too extreme, try slim fit jeans instead. Available for men, this style is tailored slim through the leg, but has a straight fit through the seat and thigh with an easy to wear straight leg opening.

Relaxed - The opposite of the structured skinny jean is the relaxed fit jean. This is often the go-to option for men who frequently prefer a comfortable jean over a more tailored option. This simple, yet versatile style fits at the waist and has a loosely tapered leg. If you want even more room than found in a relaxed cut, look for loose-style jeans.

Boot cut - For jeans that pair fashion and function, boot cut is the way to go. Available for both men and women, boot cut style jeans are slightly flared toward the leg openings. This cut is stylish for men and works well for most female body shapes because it balances the body's curves and can draw attention away from the midsection.

Choosing the right rise
Low-rise jeans sit an inch or two below the navel and are popular with teens and young adults. Mid-rise is the most common option, designed to fit comfortably on the lower stomach and offering ample coverage in the back. High-waisted jeans are preferred by some to conceal curves and prevent gapping in the seat.

Jean colors and washes
Today's jeans come in every color and fade imaginable, such as Denizen from the Levi's brand jeans that come in 24 premium finishes at Target stores and on Target.com for men, and 12 finishes for women. A good basic finish to have in your wardrobe is raw denim which means the dye hasn't been washed down. These dark blue jeans go with any outfit and have a slimming effect. Alternatively, washes can create many different tones of denim. Like the vintage look? Seek out a vintage wash or dirty wash. Like lighter blue jeans? Look for stonewashed options. When deciding what jean colors are best, think about what would blend with your current wardrobe and select accordingly.

With this easy guide you can avoid the denim maze and find the right pair for you. Remember, it's not uncommon to have multiple pairs of jeans - a couple conservative options for work, a couple casual options for evenings and weekends - so try on a variety, you might be surprised at what you like best.

Word of the Day

October 19, 2012 5:20 pm

Acceleration clause. Stipulation in a mortgage agreement that allows the lender to demand immediate payment of the entire loan balance if any scheduled payment is missed.

Q: What can I do to minimize chaos, danger and stress once a home improvement project has begun?

October 19, 2012 5:20 pm

A: Plan ahead. Since your home will become a worksite once the remodeling begins, inconveniences will arise that can be minimized with a little planning. Begin by having a frank discussion with the contractor to set guidelines and develop a clear understanding upfront about the various project stages and the processes involved. Talk, for example, about where building materials will be stored, how to best protect your belongings from dust and debris, areas of your home that will be off limits to workers and whether you will need to vacate the home for any reason over the duration of the work. If a kitchen or bath will be out of commission, plan accordingly. It’s okay to move the refrigerator, microwave and toaster oven to the basement or another designated area where you can prepare meals to avoid eating out.

Equally important are the rules that dictate how workers can conduct themselves in your home. Will they be able to use your bathroom and the telephone? Will they be prohibited from smoking, playing their radios or using profanity? Finally, remember to preserve a safe haven in your home where you can flee the chaos and dust and attempt to maintain your sanity.

Debt: Another Four Letter Word

October 19, 2012 5:20 pm

The word debt is made up of four letters, and for many people, it has the same connotation as many other four letter words. However, not all debt is bad. For example, most people could not afford to pay cash for a home, but instead must acquire a mortgage loan. Because a home will most likely increase in value during the time it takes to pay off the mortgage, mortgage debt is considered a good investment. In general terms, good debt is defined as debt that allows someone to invest in the future, such as business loans, student loans, mortgages and real estate loans.

Bad debt is generally defined as debt acquired for something that immediately loses value or has no potential to increase in value. Using that definition, a car loan would be considered bad debt. Many people purchase vehicles and are upside down (owe more than the car is worth) in their loans mere months after purchasing. It is also a common practice to purchase a meal with a credit card that has a balance that may not get paid off for three months or more. The meal that was enjoyed at the time and forgotten later ends up costing more because it is not paid for when consumed. Paying interest for dinner, even a nice dinner, charged to a credit card is bad debt.

Money Management International (MMI) offers the following tips to avoid and reduce bad debt:

  • Don't carry balances on your credit cards. If you do purchase something that cannot be paid off at the end of the month, make certain you can pay it off in 90 days or less.
  • Purchase a used or less expensive new vehicle and make sure you make a substantial down payment. A smaller loan will help assure you do not become upside down in your auto loan.
  • Don't use credit cards to purchase clothing or consumables unless you will be paying the balance off each month.
  • Be wary of spending more than you can pay off each month on rewards credit cards. Paying interest charges will negate the promised benefit of the rewards.
Source: MoneyManagement.org