Day: May 23, 2017

AWARD: MYSTERY BLOGGER

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I was nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award by Roda via her blog at GrowingSelf. We connected a few weeks ago and I’m still exploring all the amazing content on her site. She has fantastic photographs and a really cool approach to documenting everything going on in her life. Please find a few minutes to stop by her blog and say hello.

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What is the Mystery Blogger Award?
“The “Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion” ~ Okoto Enigma.

How Does It Work:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Mention the creator of the award
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • Nominate up to 10 people
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

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3 Facts about Jay:

  • My initial major in college was English Education, as I wanted to be a middle school English teacher. Then I decided, if I want my own kids, I couldn’t teach other students all day long and then come home to my own, so… I switched to English and added in several minors: Communication, Spanish, Business and Writing. I’m very diverse. Then what do I do… get a job in technology for 17+ years. And I don’t have any kids.  What????
  • I keep my food separated on my plate. If two things touch, I usually can’t eat it, unless it’s a dish cooked together, e.g. shrimp and grits or chicken and waffles. Those are totally fine combinations!!!
  • I am not a fan of vegetables. I can eat most of them raw, but if you cook them… I so won’t eat them. Except eggplant and mushrooms. Those were put on the planet to kill me.

Rona’s Questions:

1) Are you a city mouse or a country mouse?

  • I live in NYC, but if I had to pick a place to settle, it would be the country.

2) What is your Superpower?

  • I can read quickly. I can add numbers pretty fast. I tend to guess people’s secrets.

3) Who is your role model?

  • I don’t have one. 😦  I find things I like and want to add to my own personality from many different people, but I’ve yet to find a single person that I’d want to emulate 100%.

4) What Star Wars character would you be?

  • I’d want to be Han Solo.

5) What is one word that describes YOU?

  • Introspective

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My Nominations:

I am not going to select any specific names other than the last 5 people who commented on my blog… after doing several challenges, I’ve decided to offer it up to anyone who wants to participate… as it’s meant to be fun and social. So, the last 5 are:

E. Michael Helms, writer

Lashaan (Bookidote)

susandyer1962

lifeofangela

therobinsnest2017

Jay’s Questions:
1) What other country would you choose to live in?
2) Would you clone yourself if you could?
3) Where can you usually be found on a Saturday at 10pm?
4) What was your scariest dream?
5) Who surprises you more often than you’d expect?

Jay’s Favorite Post
I think it’s the 365 Daily Challenge intro… got the whole thing going!

 

I appreciate everyone who reads my blog, and especially those who comment and provide interactive conversation. I’d tag you all, but I don’t want to overwhelm you.  Thank you.

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Review: Rip Van Winkle

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Rip Van Winkle Book Review
4 of 5 stars to Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving. In Washington Irving’s short story “Rip Van Winkle,” Rip’s wife Dame constantly nags her husband because all he ever does is sleep, put off his chores, and play with his dog Woof. The other women in the village are tolerable to him only because Rip doesn’t have to listen to their hassling all day long. He isn’t married to any of them but Dame. Irving’s satire is a humorous attempt to display wives as barbaric slave-drivers who are better off being dead than being tyrannical women, who exist only to burden their husbands.

YIKES! It’s a good thing this was written over two centuries ago… or Irving would be rightfully slaughtered in today’s world. The next few paragraphs are considering when this was written, and not my personal opinion… just cutting an excerpt from a paper I wrote years ago on this story, reflecting on how men treated women in fiction during that time period.

Washington Irving’s story makes some women out to be horrible creatures who are always torturing their husbands. However, there are some women who are basically good-natured and acceptable creatures. In Irving’s short story, Rip Van Winkle is “a great favorite among all the good wives of the village” (Lauter 1296). These women, who are not made out to be the old hags, even go as far to blame Dame Van Winkle for all the fighting that goes on in the Van Winkle house. Irving tells his readers that men see their own wives as shrews who love to fight with their husbands. Other women are tolerable though. “The women of the village, too, used to employ him to run their errands, and to do such little odd jobs as their less obliging husbands would not do for them” (Lauter 1296). Rip would do any work that someone else asked him to do, but if it was his own work that his wife flogged him about all the time, he would shrug it off. Dame, his wife, was too shrill and bothersome to want to do work for and she showed no mercy on him.

Rip simply wants to be free to live his life in the way that suits him, not in the way that suits someone else. “If left to himself, [Rip] would have whistled life away in perfect contentment; but his wife kept dinning his ears about his idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing on his family” ( Lauter 1297). He doesn’t want to have a meddlesome and annoying wife around to tell him what to do all the time. Dame Van Winkle is such a barbaric woman that she has the ability to frighten almost anyone, including Rip’s dog, whose name, coincidentally, is Wolf. “The moment Wolf entered the house his crest fell, his tail dropped to the ground, or curled between his legs, he sneaked about with a gallows air, casting many a sidelong glances at Dame Van Winkle, and at the least flourish of a broomstick or ladle he would fly to the door with yelping precipitation” (Lauter 1297). Dame Van Winkle expects too much out of her husband and Rip is too busy in his own world. Dame Van Winkle is being used as a symbol for the many women in real life who were feverishly nagging wives and annoying slave-drivers.

Irving doesn’t say that all women are annoying slave-drivers though. He simply states that as wives, women are meddlesome and overbearing. When they are not married to them though, men, Rip in particular, find less problems with women.
When Rip returns and learns that his wife died during those twenty years when he fell asleep in the forest, Rip comments on how “he had got his neck out of the yoke of matrimony, and could go in and out whenever he pleased, without dreading the tyranny old Dame Van Winkle” (Lauter 1297). He is happy and free from the old nag now. The narrator also tells us that “whenever her name was mentioned, however, [Rip] shook his head, shrugged his shoulders, and cast up his eyes; which might pass either for an expression of resignation to his fate, or joy at his deliverance” (Lauter 1297). Once Rip’s wife is out of the picture, he becomes a care-free happy man again. “Having nothing to do at home . . . he took his place once more on the bench at the inn-door . . .” (Lauter 1297). In fact, Rip lived with his daughter, a woman other than his wife, and was at his happiest. He no longer had to contend with Dame’s nasty attitude and arrogance.

Irving has shown that men are better off without wives since they are so rudely insolent.
Through “Rip Van Winkle,” Washington Irving is able to show how women in general were considered “tolerable creatures,” who can even make you laugh and take care of you. However, once you are married to them, it is a different story. Wives, specifically Dame Van Winkle, are constantly demanding things from their husbands and treating them poorly. Perhaps, Irving is commenting more on matrimony, but the basic view he shows is that women become overbearing heathens once they marry a man. Wives exist only to torture men and the men are better off without them according to Irving’s story.

My input today: I’m not sure how he got away with publishing this one… couldn’t it just have been a story about a men who fell asleep for a very long time, and when he woke up, life was different!? YIKES! I mean… “a wife being a nag” has been a theme persisting thru-out time, often used in a joking manner… but this was over-the-top! I wonder if this is where it all started…

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: Rappaccini’s Daughter

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Rappaccini's DaughterBook Review
3+ of 5 stars to Rappaccini’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” many characters suffer from moral ambiguity. Thus, readers of this story often have a hard time discerning which characters are “good” and which ones are “evil.” Hawthorne specifically creates these twists in his masterpiece “Rappaccini’s Daughter” to provide his readers with mysterious, dramatic, and multi-dimensional characters who are never strictly good or solely evil. When characters are strictly one-sided, readers automatically feel hatred or love for the characters, and the story’s plot becomes predictable.
If the plot of a story becomes predictable, then the entire story becomes dull and flat. This predictability occurs as a result of characters with one-sided and insipid personalities. Eventually, readers know exactly what to expect, and are not happy when there are no big surprises or sneaky twists. However, when an author creates characters who have both good and evil qualities, (s)he produces a mind-blowing story in which there is no predicting what the characters will do or how the story will end. For example, in “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” Baglioni says and does many different things that send chills up the readers’ spines. Although Baglioni is gentle and kind when he gives an antidote to Giovanni, he is not completely innocent. He has an extreme hatred for Beatrice and her father Rappaccini. Baglioni feels that the two garden dwellers are extremely corrupt people who are only in Padua to destroy the society. When Hawthorne creates these two sides to Baglioni, making him a pivotal part of the action, he shows that almost anything could happen in the story. It isn’t as if Baglioni is simply a kind old man who would do anything for his fellow man; Baglioni could do anything from breaking into a murderous outrage to leaving Giovanni suffer the consequences for pursuing Beatrice without the knowledge of who she is really. However, readers are thrown a very unpredictable ending where Baglioni is concerned. After his antidote has killed Beatrice, Baglioni shouts out “in a tone of triumph mixed with horror,” which shows that he feels both victorious over the supposedly evil Rappaccini and scared that he has killed a woman. This ending raises many questions: Did Baglioni purposely try to end the curse by killing Beatrice? Was his antidote an accidental death for the poor woman? Was it a combination of both fear and hope in Baglioni’s mind? The turbulent description of Baglioni leaves the readers wondering who he really is, which in turn, makes the readers then wonder how the story will end. There is no foreshadowing in the story about Baglioni being the one to give the antidote to Beatrice, either saving her or killing her. The shady areas of his character help give the plot an aura of mystery so that the story is unpredictable. Hawthorne purposely intends to challenge the readers as to which characters are good and which are evil so that he can hold their attention, keep them guessing and keep them thirsting for more.
When Hawthorne challenges his readers about the characters’ virtues, he takes advantage of the opportunity to give the characters multi-faceted layers, thus creating more than one-side to their views on good and evil. However, with one-dimensional personalities, characters tend to do the same thing all the time. If they are totally evil, then the readers most likely hate the characters. On the other hand, the characters can also be extremely “good,” which annoys readers. Readers don’t particularly care for goody-two-shoes. Also, when a character thinks on the same track all the time, readers might begin to like that character and only root for him/her, all the while missing the point of the story. In “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” the characters of Rappaccini and Beatrice both trouble the audience. No one is one hundred percent positive of either of their innocence or their deception. As a result, readers are enthralled by the story, constantly in wonder as to whether Rappaccini planned the whole poisonous game. Also, Beatrice seems to have a shady side in which she is either in on the game or completely oblivious to it. “Hawthorne’s wife asked him how it would end, whether Beatrice was to be a demon or an angel? Hawthorne replies, with some emotion, ‘I have no idea!” (Mack 97). Even Hawthorne wasn’t sure until the end how he wanted the characters to turn out. In the end, one never knows. It’s up to an individual’s interpretation of “good” and “evil.”
When it comes to distinguishing between “good” and “evil” among the characters in Hawthorne’s short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” readers have difficulty. Hawthorne uses Beatrice, Baglioni, and Rappaccini to show how multi-faceted characters create suspenseful, dramatic, and enigmatic story. When a character is totally one-dimensional, readers often dislike them and the plot is unpredictable. Rita K. Gollin, a noted scholar, sums it up best by telling all Hawthorne readers that “he makes [his audience] probe beneath surface appearances and permits no simplistic judgments: characters are not simply good or bad but mixed. [Readers need to] evaluate them in terms of their interfusion of mind, heart, and imagination, and what they nurture or destroy” (Lauter 2115).

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: Anne of Green Gables

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Anne of Green Gables Book Review
3+ of 5 stars to Anne of Green Gables, the first book in a series by L.M. Montgomery, written in 1902. I read this book nearly 30 years ago and had to refresh my memory a little, before writing the review. I’d forgotten it was part of a whole series. I read more than one, but not sure which other ones. I recall this first one… a tale about an orphan girl, acclimating to a new family, meeting friends and neighbors. On the outskirts, it’s a coming-of-age tale about a young girl becoming a woman and learning about the realities of life. It’s both a funny book to read and an educational one with some lessons. It’s something every kid should read, just to understand how good they have it… or if they are adopted, to learn how to deal with it. Anne’s a beautiful person, forgetting age for a few seconds. And whenever she’s around, it sorta feels like the comforts of home. If you haven’t sampled it, read one of the books in the series just to see what life was like for a girl like her over a century ago. It’ll be a positive read, even so many years later.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: Scarpetta’s Winter Table

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Scarpetta's Winter Table Book Review
After 9 books in the “Kay Scarpetta” thriller and mystery series, Patricia Cornwell gives a Christmas present to her fans with a unique edition called Scarpetta’s Winter Table. In this book, there’s no real mystery… it’s just an in depth look at what’s going on the lives of the key characters in the novels… from Lucy to Pete to Kay… you learn more about their home life, family relationships and every day happenings… without wondering what crazy killer is on the loose. It’s a fun way to read about each of your faves without getting bogged down in the drama of the mystery hunt. A fun read… something to keep you interested in the series. All authors should do this in a series! 3+ of 5 stars.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: The Cat Who Moved A Mountain

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The Cat Who Moved  A MountainBook Review
3.5 of 5 stars (rounded up) to The Cat Who Moved a Mountain, the 13th book in the “Cat Who” cozy mystery series, written in 1992 by Lilian Jackson Braun. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any kookier with this series, Qwill up and moves to the Potato Mountains. He needs some time away from everyone and everything in Pickax, to that he can decide his future. The 5 years he was required to live in Pickax in order to keep the K-Fund inheritance are up, and he’s to leave… but does he want to? That is the question… at least until he meets the Big Potato people and the Little Potato people, in reference to which side of the mountain the inhabitants live on. But when someone is murdered, it’s those bad lil taters that caused… but Qwill doesn’t think so, and he’s soon swept up in trying to solve the crime, forgetting about his own decision. What’s fun about this book is it sets the stage for Qwill’s decision to remain in Moose County, even after the inheritance is officially his to keep. But seriously… potato people? I had to look it up. No such thing in Michigan… but there is a Potato Mountain in California. Coincidence?

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

365 Challenge: Day 72 – American

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American: originating or coming from the United States of America (USA)

As I wandered the apartment this morning, prepping for an interview and thinking about the 365 daily post, the word American popped into my head. In the first five weeks of the challenge, I choose the primary ethnicity groups that made up who I am.  I suddenly realized I never spoke about being an American. But what exactly does that mean and how has it changed over the last ~ 250 years. Two key things to clarify before I start babbling: (1) I am not political and (2) This will not be a “rah-rah” post about the greatness of my country — not because it isn’t, but because that’s not the type of blog I would post, given I’m more the kind of person who asks questions rather than provides answers. Back to the topic at hand…

Over the last ~250 years since America was created in the late 18th century, people have defined themselves as American based on the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. I agree with all of those beliefs, and I am proud and grateful for all of the liberties we have; however, what does it mean to be an American in today’s society? I believe it’s changed over the years, based on how we’ve grown as people and as a country. Not so much as in “How do other countries view us?” as that would be getting political, which I won’t do on a blog. But… what do you think of when you say “I am an American.” For me, a few key “normal every day” things come to mind… and I mean this seriously, not as a joke:

  • Apple Pie

  • Hot Dogs & Hamburgers

  • Hollywood

  • Stock Market

  • Tipping

  • Convenience

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There are tons of other things I could have added, some judgmental and some humble, but I am not going for a controversial post… I’m going for the casual feel of “oh, yeah, that just feels American to me.”

  1. Apple Pie
    • There is the saying “as American as apple pie,” which is a well-known quote.
    • There’s the movie “American Pie,” which provides a pretty strong commentary on what it’s like growing up in American high schools and colleges.
    • Towns fight over the best way to make apple pie: type of crust, covered or uncovered, which apples, sweet or fruity…
    • I enjoy apple pie, but it wouldn’t be my first dessert. Desserts in my world require chocolate.
    • I don’t think I represent America well, when it comes to apple pie.
  2. Hot Dogs & Hamburgers
    • Quintessential BBQ food, especially on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.
    • Have been turned into a gourmet food in some places, i.e. how many different ways can you re-invent this staple of the “American diet.”
    • I won’t eat hot dogs as I’m not a fan of mystery meat, even when it’s “all beef.”
    • I’ll have a hamburger every once in a while, but I much prefer filet mignon or steak tartare. I’m obnoxious, I know.
  3. Hollywood
    • Included because it’s where everyone goes and talks about, when it comes to entertainment.
    • From Old Hollywood in the 1920s and 1930s to today’s super-idolized gossip and drama, it’s been a staple defining the country for an entire century.
    • Everyone talks about TV/Film Hollywood stars; it’s the go-to conversation more than books, plays, sports… it’s a universal standard for things to talk about.
    • I enjoy films and TV shows. I talk about them. But I’m more apt to talk about books. I don’t follow or track celebrities, nor do I care if I pass one on the street. It’s a secondary thing in my life, not a driver.
  4. Stock Market
    • Driven the world’s economical impacts for many years. I’m not saying it’s the only driver, but it’s been an influential piece for nearly two centuries.
    • It’s on the news every day, especially lately!
    • It’s used as a way to judge “how the world is doing” instead of looking at how people treat one another.
    • I know a little bit about it. I invest in it. I check a few key numbers each day, but that’s more because I like watching counts go up/down and measuring numbers from day to day, regardless of if it’s the stock market or the weather.
  5. Tipping
    • The US seems to have its own tipping standards, and the rest of the world is not a fan of how it works here.
    • In all my 40 years, I still struggle with understanding exactly when to tip and when not to, i.e. maintenance in my building, deliveries, services. I probably over-tip as a result, but it’s painful even for Americans!
    • I always thought 15% to 20% was the scale. 15% if it was so-so, 20% if it was stellar. Now, I see 22.5%, 25% and 30% on receipts, taxi screens, etc. So confusing!
    • My standard now is 20% for 8 out of 10 occasions. If I had a problem with the service, I’ll drop it to 15%. If it was awesome, I’ll leave 25%.
  6. Convenience
    • In the past, it feels like the motto was either “Work hard and you’ll achieve your goals,” or “Nothing worth having is easy.” Or some paraphrasing around those messages.
    • Now, it feels like the focus is “How can we get something done quicker, faster, cheaper?” Certainly has been prevalent in history before, but now… with technology, it’s all about pushing the envelope even more.
    • Everything is being designed to accomplish more in as little time or space as possible
      • On one hand, this is great if we are saving our environment or resources.
      • It’s exhausting us and causing more illness.
    • I feel like people often think “they take it easy in America” when it comes to just doing or saying whatever we want. I would agree we are definitely all about the convenience, but at the same time, we take the worst vacations (meaning we work the entire time, and there’s little work-life balance).
    • Me personally… eh, I tend to try to do as much as possible in as little as possible time, so I probably fit this one fairly well.

So…. 6 things I think of when I hear the word “American.” All non-political and non-controversial. I’m not focusing on the land of the free… all important stuff, but I purely wanted a reflective moment, not an argumentative one.

How about you? What other attributes do you think are American? Which of these do you fit in? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve noted?

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.