Authorrivana_04

What First-Timers in a Nightclub Should Know

For every one of us, there might be a first time to enter a nightclub. Most people may have heard many stories, as well as seen the hype, and now they are ready to witness it directly.

However, before they go past the ropes, these are some tips to consider:

Q: What advice can be given to first time club goes to get inside faster and to take full advantage of their first experience at a nightclub?

A: The best thing to do is pay for a VIP table. In doing so, their first time experience will linger longer in their memory than an alcohol sticker shock. They should remember, though, to come early, bring their ID and have fun with every wow factor offered by the local venues.

Q: What additional pointers can other give them in terms of etiquette when standing in line outside the club and inside as well?

A: They should always be polite to have good relations with the staff. They should not request for anything that is not legal. Otherwise, they will be removed from the club.

Q: Will the saying “money talks” work in a nightclub? Will a tip offered to the staff or security help them get in faster?

Honestly, it will not let them go too far. For faster entry, getting table service is a more effective strategy. Or else, they should plan ahead to get themselves on the guest list.

Q: To get on the list, will it be best to speak with a promoter/club host first or talk directly to the club? How will this work?

A: Speaking with the club promoter/host is the best thing to do to make sure they will be taken care of. It will be easier to establish relationships, since hospitality is what motivates people. A promoter will get these first timers on the list and even help in getting their table set up. They will have a VIP host all through the night and to assist them the whole weekend.

Q: What should club goers expect during celebrity-hosted nights? Will they expect fans to be there for the red carpet? Do celebrities mix with the crowd?

A: During celebrity hosted nights, an ideal spot on the dance floor will let them fully view the night’s events. The red carpet can be too fast that it might be over without realizing what the flashes are all about. Many people say that celebrities seldom mix with the crowd, but some have seen it happen. Perhaps it really depends on their mood.

Q: What are the regulations when it comes to taking pictures/videos inside nightclubs?

A: GoPro’s and large camera equipment are usually not allowed. Anyway, smart phones, nowadays, are capable of taking good quality pictures to share on social media, and are acceptable at all venues.


Mind Mapping for Creating Characters

Whether you consider it using flow charts, whiteboards or even just free association, Mind Mapping has been around for some time now. People have used it for taking notes, brainstorming, and problem-solving. A Mind Map is a tool used to visually organize information or ideas. As a writer, it can be used for solving writer’s block or creating a workable outline. Today I am going to show you how to create a character sketch.

Character sketches can be very basic or incredibly detailed. It can include eye and hair color or blood type and your heroes first kiss. Many writers go online and look for pre-made character sketches that include hundreds of questions that may not apply to your work. This is where the idea of a mind map comes in handy.

For those who are not familiar with the process, don’t worry creating a mind map is not complicated. It can be done on a piece of paper, a whiteboard or using software programs. It doesn’t have to be expensive. There are several FREE programs that will do an excellent job, including xmind.net, mindmaple.com, and freemind.sourceforge.net. Some of these programs have paid versions, but as a writer, the free versions will do everything you need.

To create a mind map on any subject there are 4 basic steps.

Step 1 – Start by writing a single concept in the middle of a blank page.

Step 2 – Add related ideas to this concept and use lines to connect them.

Step 3 – Branch off each of these ideas to expand and create new thoughts.

Step 4 – Use different colors, symbols, and images to make each branch unique.

To help visualize this process I will use one of my own characters as an example. Every character you create will be different, but if you use these points as a starting place, it will be much easier.

My starting point is always very specific. I use my character’s name and a photo of what I think he or she will look like. Why do I add a photo? Because as the saying goes, “a picture IS worth a thousand words.” Personally, I put the name and photo inside a red circle at the center of the page, like a bullseye.

I add new ideas to focus on around my character. Each idea is placed in its own circle and connected by a wavy line. Why a wavy line? Because straight lines are boring and analytical, I am trying to tap into the creative side of my brain. I will also use a different color for each circle and the line that connects it, for the same reason.

I focus on six main points with each character. These include Family, Friends, Work, Skills, Physical and Secrets. At this point, it might be hard to come up with a photograph for each category, but you can use symbols like a question mark for the section that says Secrets.

This is where the fun begins. Under each main point listed, I include 5 additional sub-ideas. For example, under Family, I would list Mother, Father, Siblings, Other and History. Each of these would also have their own circle, and I would color that circle the same as the primary idea Family.

I can already hear someone saying this won’t work for me, my character’s parents are dead, or my character is an orphan. So? This is only to spark ideas. If the mother is dead, this will remind you of that and be a memory for your character to ponder about. If she’s not, you can describe what he liked or disliked about her the most.

The same idea applies to Siblings, if he has them he can tell stories of when his brother did this, or his sister did that. If he never had one, did he ever wonder what it would be like to have a brother or sister?

You might wonder why I included the word Other. Whether your character’s parents are living or not at some point someone else had a major impact on his life. That could be a babysitter, a scout leader or a teacher. All of us are created by those we have interacted with.

History would include things like who was the black sheep of the family, are all the women in this family short, have there always been anger issues? These are the things the character himself may not even realize affect his (or her) way of thinking.

I could write an entire article on how your character’s family affects the way they act or think or believe. That’s kind of the point of a mind map, you can go as deep as you want. By keeping it simple, (one word at a time) it allows your mind to keep filling in the blanks. Don’t believe me? Just say the word Mother out loud and see what images and thoughts pop into your head.

Most of the categories I listed are obvious, but I do want to take a moment to talk about Secrets. Every person on the planet has them and if you think you can create a character without them, you are sadly mistaken. It could be as simple as they never learned to swim, or as dramatic as they killed their own sister. This is also a good place to include habits. For example, if you wrote Taps, it could remind you when he gets nervous he always taps his fingers. If you wrote the word Ring, you would know she twists her ring when upset. You don’t have to write the whole reason why she twists her ring just write the word to keep your imagination going.

Key points to remember:

1st point – Keep is simple. One word at a time. You are not writing the story you are capturing ideas to include in the story.

2nd point – Use color. Bright, vibrant colors stimulate the mind. The more stimulated the mind, the easier it is to be creative.

3rd point – Use curved lines to connect thoughts. Why? Because if you just use straight lines, the brain gets bored quickly.

4th point – Add images whenever possible. Why? Because if a picture is worth a thousand words, then 10 pictures are worth ten thousand words. By using a word AND an image you engage both sides of the brain without limiting your potential.

Once you start using mind mapping to write, ideas will flow one after another. It’s actually very hard to have writer’s block if ideas come so fast you can’t keep up. It may not solve all your writing problems, but it will make things easier.

Award-winning writer/photographer Tedric Garrison has 40 years’ experience with these creative skills. As a Graphic Arts Major, he has a unique perspective on visual arts and believes that creativity CAN be taught. His photography tells a story and his writing is very visual.


Dyes & Pigments: Totally Dissimilar Colorants

The two important colorant sources are the dyes and pigments. However, there lies some difference in the features, manner of use, benefits and the sore points of each of them though quite often the terms, pigment, dye, colorant, dyestuff, paint, colour are incorrectly used interchangeably.

Colorants come from organic and inorganic sources and dyes constitute a large percentage of the organic colorants while the pigments come largely from the inorganic sources. Naturally sourced pigments are obtained from animals, vegetables and minerals sources; however, majorly pigments comprise of inorganic oxides and salts like chromium and iron oxides that get diffused in powder form in the medium of application. The coloring properties of the diffusion are determined by the form and size of the pigment particle. The dyes are divided into natural dyes and synthetic wherein the natural sources of dyes are the same as those of pigments while synthetic dyes are petroleum compound based.

Dyes and pigments both are equally important to humans for providing colour to all type of items but the major difference between the two lies in their basic manner of imparting colour. In case of dyes, colour is diffused at the molecular level as they are soluble in the organic solvent or water whereas in pigments the colour is diffused as particles because they are insoluble in either type of the liquid medium. Additional compounds are required for attaching the pigment particles to the substrate. For example, pigments for paint require addition of polymer in paint for diffusion.

The vibrancy of colour of the dyes is dependent on its chromophore molecule’s electronic properties. Colorants from dyes impart greater brilliance and show greater colour strength besides being simpler to process. Among the dyes, basic dyes are more known for their vibrancy and brightness and compatibility with anionic and synthetic materials. All basic dyes manufacturers in India will confirm their suitability for coloring cationic, synthetic items like acrylics. However, dyes as colorants exhibit low durability, solvent and heat stability and high levels of migration and acid red being one of them is no different.

On the other hand, pigment colorants are more durable, solvent and heat stable besides being migration and lightfast. But their cons include low colour strength and brilliance. Due to the starkly different features of dyes and pigments many efforts were made to enhance the properties of each colorant class. This led to the development of a new colorant class called as the Nanocolorants.

This class strives to combine the good processability and superior chromatic features of dyestuffs and better durability of organic pigments. Combining the advantages of both the colorants, Nanocolorants have emerged a better alternative and has demonstrated superior features proving highly useful in several applications such as preparing aqueous ink-jet inks, high-performance colour resistant polymer coloration, electro-photographic toners amongst others.

In any case, notwithstanding the features, dyes and pigments are indispensable elements for helping us to lead a color filled life.

What started as a small venture by Mr. Pravinchandra B. Shah bloomed, blossomed and expanded at a rapid pace and emerged to become Vipul Organics Ltd. a public limited company in 1974 under his able leadership, vision and whole hearted dedication.


All You Wanted to Know About Life Casting

In the ancient days, life-like, three-dimensional imitations of a deceased person’s body were created to transport him or her to the next world. This venerable art from the land of Egypt is now being practiced all over the world.

However, one no longer has to be dead to get a life cast done! Yes, realistic and perfectly detailed reproductions of the living and breathing human body are possible today. The 3D replica manages to capture every minute detail right down to the hair, skin texture, fingerprints and even the pores.

This cherished reflection can be captured from any part of the body and impressions of baby hands and feet are particular popular. So are pregnant bellies, intertwined hands, individual torsos and so on.

How is it done?

A life cast begins with making a body mold. In fact, this forms a crucial step and success depends on both the skill of the artist and the cooperation of the model. In fact, the model is only involved at this stage and the artist will work on his own during the casting.

The life casting artist will carefully instruct the model and decide on a pose that has to be maintained for a while. The artist will do his best to ensure that the model stays comfortable, secure and stationary.

The artist coats the body part with petroleum jelly or other release agent before slathering it with an alginate mixture. This alginate is a natural product that is derived from seaweed and is completely safe for the skin. Softer set variations are also available that is gentle for infant skin. Alternatively, the artist can opt to make the body mold with skin-safe silicone rubber too.

The mold making material is carefully applied on the body. Extra attention is needed when casting the face as the mold should capture the precise shape and yet the material should not enter the eyes, mouth or nose. Alginate molds are secured with plaster bandages to enable the mold to retain its shape.

The mold will set in a matter of minutes and it can be demolding by wriggling the face a bit. Now alginate molds should be cast quickly as the material tends to shrink and distort quickly. Plaster is generally the material of choice for making life casts. Resin life casts are also popular. It is even possible to make life casts in stone, metal or wood by using cold casting powders.

The casting material is carefully poured into the body mold. Care is needed to avoid air bubbles that can easily mar the perfection of the life cast. Once cured, alginate molds are usually broken away to reveal the life cast inside. The cast is then carefully finished (to correct any imperfections) and can also be painted or buffed as required.


Palaeocommunities in Upper Campanian Stratigraphy of Alberta

Abundant Ornithischian Fossils shed light on Late Cretaceous mega-fauna

With the re-examination of many of the lost quarries within the Dinosaur Provincial Park of Alberta more data on the palaeocommunities from this region has been collected. This has provided some intriguing information that may indicate a succession line of ornithischian genera (both ceratopsia and hadrosauridae) and lead to a greater understanding of the type of habitats preferred by many types of dinosaur.

Between 1898 and 1954 nearly 40 large palaeontological expeditions were sent out into the Dinosaur Provincial Park many led by the famous Charles Sternberg and his sons, collecting museum quality specimens for institutions such as the Royal Ontario museum, the American museum of Natural History and the then British museum (London Natural History museum). However, poor and incomplete field documentation as well as incorrectly catalogued field photographs has led to a number of these sites being “lost”. The rapid erosion of the messas and buttes within the local landscape has further complicated the finding of these fossil sites from just the photographic evidence alone.

Researchers from the Royal Tyrrell museum have been playing detective and gathering evidence so that these old quarries can be located and mapped using modern global positioning technology. Re-visiting these sites once they had been found again has yielded more specimens and important micro-fossils, overlooked by the scientists during the first excavations. It is a good job some palaeontologists are untidy, many of the sites have been found again as site rubbish dumps have been located. Dates when expeditions first visited a site have been calculated by studying old newspapers left behind by the original scientists. During the early to mid part of the 20th Century, expeditions would carry bundles of old newspapers with them to wrap fossils. Fragments of newspaper recovered from the dumps and from around old quarries has helped the Royal Tyrrell team to accurately date when these quarries were first explored.

Modern palaeontological techniques have helped produce more finds and the sites have been properly numbered and accurately recorded. This helped provide a clearer picture of the changes in environment and the resulting fauna over the 2 million years or so that the Dinosaur Park Formation represents (believed to cover 76 million – 74 million years ago).

Using this new information and the stratigraphic distribution of ornithischian dinosaurs, a time frame for major genera can be plotted. For example, no Chasmosaurines have been found in the Oldman Formation, but Chasmosaurs have been found in upper Campanian sediments dating from 76 million years ago, with Chasmosaurus russelli being found in the earliest strata with Chasmosaurus belli being found in later strata, indicating a succession. Another ceratopsian group, the Centrosaurines are confined to a zone of sediments about 40 metres deep dating from 76.5 mya to about 75 mya, after this their place in the fossil record seems to be taken by Styracosaurs.

A similar pattern of succession can be seen in the main hadrosaur types around at the time when these sediments were laid down. In earlier sediments, roughly equating to the time of Centrosaurine dominance in the ceratopsia fauna, Corythosaurus genera dominate. These give way to increasing numbers of Lambeosaurs such as Lambeosaurus magnicristatus.

This does not mean that the animals that preceded the later ones are directly ancestral to them, but it might indicate that certain genera were better able to adapt to the changing environment in this part of western North America during the latter stages of the Cretaceous. The Dinosaur Park Formation was deposited in the last stages of the transgressive phase of the Bearpaw cycle. Rising sea-levels would have made the area much more coastal and the climate would have been greatly affected by the encroachment of the sea. Perhaps the Centrosaurs and Corythosaurs were less able to adapt to the changing environment and preferred more inland habitats. This allowed the Styracosaurs and the Lambeosaurs to move in and out compete these other dinosaurs.
Ornithischian Faunal Zones within upper Campanian Stratigraphy of Alberta

Everything Dinosaur is a company run by parents, teachers and real dinosaur experts. It specialises in developing educational dinosaur toys, models, clothing and games and strives to help young people learn more about science through their fascination with prehistoric animals. Many of the items featured on the Everything Dinosaur website Everything Dinosaur have been designed and tested by the teachers and real dinosaur experts in the company.

To learn more about the products and services we offer at Everything Dinosaur click on our website links.

Our aim is to help young people learn more about Earth sciences through their fascination with dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. Team members are happy to provide advice and support supplying free quizzes, drawing materials, puzzles, games even recipes for dinosaur themed biscuits and birthday cakes. With something like 900 products on line including dinosaur party supplies, Everything Dinosaur has built up a strong reputation assisting parents, guardians and fellow teachers, helping young people to learn more about science through creative play.


5 Most Artistic Cities in the World

There’s no doubt that some cities across the world are an artist’s paradise. Filled with the world’s greatest works and home to some of the best performers of our time, these cities are more than likely on your bucket list if you are an artist or an art connoisseur. Let’s take a look at some of the greatest artistic cities in the world, and why you absolutely have to visit them.

1. New York City, USA
New York City boasts a wide variety of artistic forms, from fine art to the performing arts. NYC is also home to more fine art schools, performing arts companies, art dealers and creative museums and businesses than any other city in the US.

Manhattan is an artistic adventure like no other. Home to world-famous institutions, such as the Guggenheim Museum, an incredible work of art in itself, along with a variety of other hot spots.

Immerse yourself in the local street art and contemporary galleries of Bushwick in Brooklyn. Queens is an unmissable attraction hosting the Queens Museum and the incredible Socrates Sculpture Garden.

2. Paris, France
Another art lover’s paradise has got to be Paris, France! Home to over 1,000 galleries, the city is filled with iconic art. The most notable is The Louvre which houses the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo de Vinci. There is also an array of contemporary galleries to impress an artist. These include veterans such as Galerie Daniel Templon, to the newer Modus Art Gallery and La Maison Rouge. The Belleville neighborhood is also a must-visit destination for vibrant street art. The City of Light is jam-packed with art around every corner.

3. São Paulo, Brazil
The art capital of Latin America, São Paulo may not be as acclaimed as New York City or Paris, but the Brazilian megalopolis is overflowing with artistic attractions. Home to the second largest biennial, the venerable São Paulo Biennial, São Paulo is a must for your bucket list. The Museu de Arte Moderna showcases both modern and contemporary Brazilian art, as well sculpture gardens with 30 incredible works. If local, emerging talent is what you’re after, then galleries like Choque Cultural are where you need to be.

4. Berlin, Germany
One of the most varied art scenes in the world, Berlin is home to some of the longest-standing institutions. These include the Alte Nationalgalerie and Gemäldegalerie which showcase classic pieces from the 13th to 19th centuries. Modern 20th-century art collections can be found in the more-recently established Neue Nationalgalerie.

If alternative art is more your style, then Friedrichshain is the place to go for spaces like East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall that now displays the work of more than 100 international artists. Jonathan Borofsky’s sculpture, Molecule Man, is another must if you’re in Berlin.

5. Lagos, Nigeria
The largest city in Nigeria, Lagos, is fast emerging as a hotspot in the art world. Its thriving cultural scene is led by the Centre for Contemporary Art and the African Artists’ Foundation. The annual Lagos Photo Festival and National Art Competition are also attracting worldwide attention. With a variety of galleries like Omenka Gallery, you can delve into masterpieces by the best Nigerian and international artists.


Life Casting in Animatronics

The unique techniques of life casting have found favor in many other fields such as prototype tooling, prosthetics, taxidermy, architectural restoration and special effects for film and television. The advanced technology used in animatronics also incorporates life casting techniques in the initial stages of creating the characters.

Animatronics refers to making and using robotic devices to imitate a living being. The creatures could be humans, animals (like dinosaurs and sharks), plant life or even mythical creatures. Animatronics brings lifelike characteristics to the inanimate objects so that they can walk, talk and do other activities in a natural way. The movements could be mechanized or controlled by computers.

Animatronics is largely used in films (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Jaws, E.T., Jurassic Park, etc), television and advertizing. This differs from computer animation as the simulated creatures are actually physically present and moving in front of the camera. The characters in various amusement parks also wow visitors with the aid of animatronics.

Making the creatures

Animatronics uses puppets, models and other figures which are then animated to emulate lifelike movements. The character first takes shape as a sketch on paper and scale models are created for approval.

Once approved, an internal supporting frame is carefully built using steel or even wood at times. Once the desired shape is achieved, electronic and mechanical components are attached around the framework.

The figure is finally covered with body shells that give it the shape and look of a real creature. Flexible skin is attached to the exterior of the figure that completes the lifelike appearance.

The skin can be made of silicone, foam latex or urethane. First a mold is made by using alginate or clay. The mold should be in the exact shape and size of the animatronics figure. Molds can be made in parts to allow for more ease of use.

The body mold is reinforced using plaster bandages to form a shell mold. Once cured, it is carefully demolded and will have captured the minute details which will be replicated in the skin cast. An alginate mold should be used quickly as it tends to shrink. The silicone or latex is poured into the mold and allowed to cure. Once fully cured, the thin skin cast can be easily demolded as alginate does not stick to anything.

The cast will have a texture similar to that of real skin. It will be flexible as well to allow facial and body movements as required. The demolded skin is cleaned and finished before being carefully attached to the figure.

The animatronics figure gets the final finishing touches in the form of eyes, teeth, hair, feathers and other such realistic characteristics. The requisite color pigments may be added to the skin during casting itself. Else, special silicone/latex paints are used to color the figure as required.


Even the Tiniest Hand Can Hold a Diamond

I recently attended a circus wedding. I’m referring to a circus-themed wedding, not a wedding “under the big top,” though there were a great deal of fanciful shenanigans and enough clowning around that one might have difficulty differentiating the two.

Near the tented entrance stood a table replete with circus-oriented curiosities presented as tokens for the enjoyment of the guests. One could enthusiastically snatch up an adhesive Dudley Do-Right mustache or enjoy a taste of pure spun, sugar candy. Or, perhaps the more pragmatic guest (with December being right ’round the corner) might choose one of the red foam noses, making it doubly useful for Christmastime. But for me, it seemed a risky temptation of fate to choose the mustache as I had recently seen tiny hairs sprouting from my upper lip where there’d once been none. And, although easily tempted by candy, I admit to being somewhat of a cotton candy snob by believing that consuming it from a pre-packaged bucket robbed it of all the delights of its intended fluffy purpose and sticky intentions. My lack of pragmatism (but to my credit, my knowledge of that lack) eschewed me from the red foam nose as I would never be able to locate it in its time of need. Surely it would reappear one day from behind a dresser or from under a pile of books during a cleaning spree, probably around Easter, thereby making it a moot point at the end of my nose.

I was about to exercise my freedom not to choose, which is out of character for me as I love a freebie, when I noticed something magically appear on the third of the three-ringed centerpiece. Life-like, tiny human hands, each perched atop a straw, were placed in a vase to impersonate a diminutive bouquet of beige daffodils. There was a diabolical loveliness about them, and I was instantly amused. Without thought or hesitation I shook one free from its previous arrangement and chose the finger puppet of a tiny human hand to accompany me throughout the evening.

The tiny hand and I did not part company anytime soon. In the weeks that followed, I would often pull down my shirt sleeve and place the tiny hand onto my finger to allow the doll-sized, life-like version do my bidding. I shared tiny, nickel-sized, high-fives with the energetic grocery boys who loaded my trunk. To alleviate the monotony of bored waiters and waitresses, I tapped it against my cheek at restaurants as if trying to make a difficult menu decision. I sat in my car at stoplights and stroked my chin with the tiny hand, offering fellow drivers the sight of someone pondering the universe, and gave them an amusing story to share at the dinner table or between office cubicles. All of these tiny acts seemed to bring humor in some tiny way. And to think that I had a hand in that.

I grew quite fond of the Lilliputian extremity and its fleshy rubber digits, each the size of a matchstick-so fond, in fact, that I carried it with me in my purse, like a small phalangeal talisman. Then one day, I saw the opportunity to use my tiny hand to forge a bond with my teenage son. He and I were in the car together running errands, albeit somewhat begrudgingly on his part, and I could tell by the impatient fidgeting and ebbing conversation that he was becoming winded with fatigue by the process. Young people today have no stamina against the waves of boredom that beat incessantly against the shores of everyday life, so I took swift action and made a hasty decision, the same way I make so many-robust with good intentions and complete lack of forethought. I spared not even a moment to consider how this action would be perceived. I was going rogue.

I pulled into the drive-through lane of his favorite fast food haunt, and he sat upright with the exited expression of a dog who hears Kibbles falling into a bowl. We placed our order, and I opened my purse to retrieve my credit card. There sat the tiny hand, waving to me with a friendly-hello. Even tiny gestures deserve recognition.

I pulled down my sleeve, placed the miniature fleshy hand, finger-puppet style, onto my index finger, and wedged my credit card between its rubbery phalanges. My son stared at me and, with the teenaged economy of words said merely, “uh-uh, no way.” I interpreted this to mean-do it! I know teenaged-boy language. With the whoosh of the opening of the car window, I extended my arm towards the unsuspecting employee who was simultaneously reaching through his window to obtain my payment. He flinched and reflectively withdrew, but after a brief pause, he saw the humor of my tiny hand, now peeking from the end of my covered fist, and proceeded to extract my credit card from its minuscule grip.

His ensuing laughter grew exponentially until becoming what one in this milieu could only define as being “biggie sized,” and the mortification mixed with fascination emanating from my son was as satisfying as applause to a comedian. Comedy does not need to be a market produced and consumed solely by the young; we elderly can be wickedly whimsical.

The employee, still captivated by the tomfoolery, returned my card, being ever so careful as he wedged it between the tiny hand’s flexible fingers. As he delivered our fried fare, he announced that the laughter was worth more than the food, and it would therefore be, “On me”- which I mistook to mean the joke, not the food. I departed with a tiny wave, a miniature salute, and a polite “Thank You.”

As I pulled away, my son looked at the receipt and announced, “Damn, Dang… it was free, seriously!” to indicate that our meal had, indeed, been issued complimentary. I was surprised, flattered, and touched that my capricious act had brought about such gut-filling happiness-twice, as I watched my teenager down a dozen chicken nuggety things, empty a carton of fries and flush the entire wad down with a liter of soda. So, who says you can’t feed a family on laughter. Talk about a happy meal.

Moments later in an office supply store, in search of the perfect fine tip marker, the previous act of kindness and generosity on behalf of the fast food employee was still permeating the air, like the aura of perfume. I couldn’t shake this happy mist in my midst, nor did I try; I wallowed in it. It would not, however, be fully experienced (even after obtaining the perfect fine tip marker) until it was fully acknowledged. This act of kindness required retaliation of the cleverest kind.

Fat and happy, my teenager wanted to return home at this high point in the day, but I pushed him to his limits by saying, “But wait, there’s more” and he slumps back down in the seat. “We need gas… fuel, petrol” to which there is no response. I pulled into the station and park, not near the pump, but near the door. He made no movement to release the seatbelt, indicating his intention to wait in the car. Once again, I used my maternal lubricant to pry him free of his own stubbornness. “I’ll by you an ice cream, you big baby.” He gets out of the car and, as he’s been taught to do, holds the door as we enter the store together.

While the friendly, young cashier rang up the ice cream, I asked her for the one single, solitary item I came in for. “Which type of lottery ticket would you like?” was all she said, before a barrage of questions and recommendations came shooting forth from the helpful crowd of strangers in the store. I was naively unaware that this request would come with options or spark such assistance. “I want a random one for the next multi-million-dollar thingy.” And then I added, “Wait. I need two.” I turned to the ice cream eater and said, “One will be for us.”

Returning to the Fast Food establishment and tearing past the squawk box, I pulled up to the window. The same employee was still there. He pushed open his window, looking confused, as I had placed no order. This time he saw a lottery ticket folded charmingly in the tiny hand and securely wedged between the fleshy digits. “This is for you,” I said. He took the ticket and looked at it with a mix of surprise and confusion. I continued, “It’s the Lucky for Life ticket. Drawing is tonight at eleven. What you did before was very generous and now I’m paying it forward, and well, backwards, too, I suppose. I hope you win a bazillion dollars and when you do, I hope you do a lot of nice stuff for a lot of people. Have a great day.” I peeled off, leaving the plastic nametag on his shirt still unread.

The silence in the car lasted through three stoplights before my teenager spoke, “If we win, I get half, right?” he asked, between licks.

I slap the tiny hand to my wrinkled forehead, “Eureka!” I said to my son, who was busy shoving the ice cream down his pie hole. “Even better than that,” I said, “I’ll double your investment, which is… oh wait… you failed to invest, so-nada. You’ll get, nada.” I burst open with laughter, and although he tried ever so hard to look unamused, I saw the invisible smile on his face.

He shook his head and mumbled through the mash in his mouth, “That was cool, Mom. I wish I’d have gotten it on Snapchat.”

The following day, the newspaper headline read FAST FOOD WORKER WINS LOTTERY. The story that followed: Anonymous, small-handed, old woman donates lottery ticket to fast food worker who wins THE BIGGIE. Mr. Lucas Petitemain, in honor of his wounded warrior brother, plans to establish a foundation to provide bionic limbs to those in need.


Everything You Wanted To Know About Alginate

Alginate is a simple material that is made by processing naturally-occurring brown seaweeds from all over the world. This white, chalky powder surprisingly enjoys great patronage across diverse industries.

You will be surprised to read about some of the unexpected beneficial uses of alginate. Let’s find out more:

  • Medical and pharmaceutical – Alginate is used for different purposes in medicinal applications. The greatest advantage is that alginate hastens the disintegration of tablets thus allowing faster release of their medicinal component. The best part is that the alginate remains tasteless and odorless. Alginate is also used to lower cholesterol levels, treat hypertension, alleviate indigestion as well as for dressing wounds and burns. Not just this, alginate works well in health food and weight loss supplements too. The same powder has been used by dentists to capture dental impressions since many decades.
  • Industrial and technical – Alginate is used in various industries and proves especially useful for manufacturing textiles. This thickening and binding agent is used for substrate of color paste when applying patterns to print fabrics, particularly on cotton, jute and rayon. It is also used in the production of welding rods, fertilizers, ceramics, paper, adhesives, paints and dyes. Another benefit is that alginate allows for easier waste water disposal.
  • Food and beverage – Not many people may be aware that the organic and food-safe alginate has thickening, gelling, emulsifying, stabilizing and texture-improving properties that can be valuable in the kitchen. The sweeping use includes meat binding, preserving frozen fish, thickening sauces, softening breads, making icecream better, clarifying wines and keeping the foam in beer. Apart from this, alginate is even used by chefs to create those wonderful spheres with liquid inside that burst in the mouth.
  • Beauty and skin care – Alginate can make people look beautiful too. It is used to thicken various cosmetics and enables them to retain moisture. It can significantly improve the performance of specific products. This powder is used in different facial and spa treatments and is added to face packs too. It not just keeps the skin hydrated but can reduce wrinkles too. When added to lipstick, the same alginate helps the color to stay on the lip surface.
  • Art and craft – The use of alginate in artworks deserves a special mention. It is used by taxidermists to make molds of dead animals for recreating them in a lifelike state. The powder is also used by catch-and-release anglers for making a lifelike reproduction of their ‘catch’. Additionally, alginate is completely skin safe and can be used on live humans too. It is commonly used by life casting artists to capture molds of various parts of the body before making realistic-looking three-dimensional life casts.

Therefore, it is obvious that the humble alginates that are derived from the wild seaweeds carry immense potential for human beings. And alginates continue to stay completely safe across all their varied uses.


Different World Views of Art

Art through the centuries acquired different forms and conceptions. First of all there was naturalism, then developed romanticism, and then there was impressionism, followed by cubism, which was followed by surrealism and finally trends moved on to postmodern art. Here I would like to provide my understanding on various schools of art.

Naturalism proceeded out of mimesis. The aim of art was to mimic nature. A classic example of mimetic art would Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Mona Lisa lives through the ages for its enigmatic style. Another example would be the Last Supper by Da Vinci. Art became permeated heavily with religious motifs. What has naturalism contributed to the world? An answer would be representation of a mimetic ethos. There is very little to interpret in naturalistic art but we can admire its imitation of nature. I would also like to take Michelangelo’s sculpture of David. What would a postmodern interpretation take? It would perhaps couch it as being gay.

Another style of art that developed during the 18th century was romanticism. What is romanticism? The poet Wordsworth defined romanticism as the spontaneous overflow of feelings. Romanticism captured feelings on to the canvas. The canvas became permeated in rich colors of the baroque. Romantic painting is fanciful and ornamental. When we think of romanticism in the postmodern age we encounter a catharsis with the past. Goya’s exhibit: Saturn devouring his son can be taken as a classic example. The grotesque Saturn is portrayed as an admirable beauty. Romantic painters are endowed with passionate neurosis. Feelings and emotions lie with us to contemplate in ravishment.

Another school of art which developed during the beginning of the 19th century was impressionism. The great masters of impressionism are Van Gogh, Monet, and Gauguin. Impressionism is a unique style of art. Impression is marked by a wide usage of brilliant colors. Strokes were left like scars on the canvas. Impressionism was marked by a tendency of art to become modern. Van Gogh was a brilliant artist who etched out paintings in a style that marked a departure from his predecessors. When we look at Van Gogh’s starry night, we get a passion that is akin to listening of music. Similarly Gauguin’s painting: ‘where do we come from and where do we go’, highlights mythical allegories in brilliant dashes of color.

Another school of art which developed during the beginning of the 20th century was Cubism. Its master exponent was Picasso. With the advent cubism art left its mimetic modes and became the sole creation of the artist. Cubism had a tendency to portray art in abstract terms. Picasso’s La Demoiselles D’ Avignon presented harlots. Their features especially their breasts, hips and asses were made incongruous with oedipal fantasies. Another notable creation of Picasso was the Guernica. Guernica is fantastic rendition of the horrors of bombing Basque, presented in abstract terms. When we look at Guernica we become fascinated to the point of disgust. Cubism highlighted that art can be repulsive.

The next school of art which developed by the middle of the 20th century was Surrealism. My most loved surrealistic artists are Dali and Paul Delvaux. Dali’s most famous painting is the ‘persistence of memory’. Surrealism following Freudian psychoanalysis attempted to portray art with a conglomeration of reality and fantasy. In the painting, persistence of memory, we find melting clocks hanging on trees and covered by an embryo. The tree can be symbolized as a phallic construct. The melting clocks portray time as flowing with the literature of streams of consciousness. The embryo can represent the artist’s oedipal trauma. Delvaux most famous painting is the call of the night. In the ‘call of the night’ a barren land is seen with skulls. There is a nude standing on the open with luscious vegetation growing on her head. There is also a nude whose head is covered standing outside a building with a candle on her head. Delvaux is trying to portray ancient fertility rites in modernistic terms. The painting can also be interpreted as a sexual awakening. Thus surrealism attempted to portray dream with reality.

Next I would like to focus on postmodern art. Postmodern art is contemporary and tends to be a rebellion against existing artistic norms. In postmodern art normal objects are presented in unusual terms. For an example: we can take Marcel Duchamp’s inverted urinal. Postmodern art is also famous for inventing pop-art, where cartoons, comic strips and consumer products were drawn as artistic representations. Another interesting example of postmodern art is Rodin’s thinker. The thinker can be interpreted in two ways. One in a way that a person has constipation, another as an intellectual poised in thought. Postmodern art freed art from all inhibitions and pre-existing conceptions.