Tips on Remodeling Your Kitchen

Looking for tips on remodeling your kitchen? Well, you’re not alone. Kitchens are central to just about every home. From a homework hub and after school snack stop to the home of candlelit dinners and holiday baking, the kitchen is one of the most important and most used parts of a home. Investing in a kitchen remodel is one project that can serve not only to increase the functionality and appearance of your home, but many real estate agents suggest that kitchen remodeling can also serve to add significantly to the value of your home.

Start Smart: One of the most important tips on remodeling your kitchen is to start with a basic budget. While the cost of a kitchen remodel can be significant, remember how frequently you kitchen is used and that is will increase your home’s value. Decide realistically how much you can afford on remodeling your kitchen, and then create allotments for each part of the remodel, from appliances to accessories. You’ll be more likely to stay spend wisely, and ultimately save more money, if you’ve assessed your budget beforehand.

Shape It Up: While the classic kitchen design suggests creating a work triangle with the range/oven, refrigerator, and sink, today’s kitchen design can accommodate just any shape you can dream up. Things like over-the-range microwave ovens, cooling drawers, and pull out and adjustable shelving options allow more space and greater functionality than ever before. Many kitchens are designed with multiple workstations (i.e. separate sinks for and food prep and dishes for example) to provide the greatest use of space. Tips on remodeling your kitchen will work best and save you the most money of you evaluate what works best for your personal needs.

Do Your Homework: One of the biggest money saving tips on remodeling your kitchen is to research your appliances rather than walking blindly into a store and purchasing them. Read reviews and recommendations on appliances and evaluate what features you need and want in your appliance. Check a variety of store web sites or sign up for e mail alerts for sales to get the nest price for the makes and models of appliances you want. You may even want to check out the scratch and dent appliances to save even more – some of these imperfections are so minor they are virtually unnoticeable, and can save you 50% or more on your appliance.

Durability is Key: Fortunately, many of the kitchen materials offered today are durable and priced well. Tips on remodeling your kitchen on a budget often include using ‘look-alike’ materials to save a significant amount while still attaining stunning results for your kitchen remodel. If you like the look of ceramic tile, for example, but balk at the price or prospect or re-grouting your kitchen floor periodically, you may want to with an affordable priced ceramic tile laminate. Look for materials that you can afford, but are durable enough to do the job.

Find Your Style: One of the money-saving tips on remodeling your kitchen is to look for other sources besides hiring a potentially costly interior designer. Look through free resources, such as you local library, to find the styles that suit you most. Many local home improvement stores also offer free consultations when planning your kitchen remodel as well, or you may want to check with a local college to connect with interior design students to help plan your kitchen renovation.

The most important of the tips on remodeling your kitchen? Even within a budget, you should still choose the materials, cabinets, flooring, and surfaces that you are pleased with. Choose the look, design, and atmosphere that speaks to you – a clean, crisp, warm, and inviting kitchen that showcases your style is worth every penny.

Finding Hotel Acccomodations in Guanajuato, Mexico

We are American expatriates living in a town that not many Americans frequent–yet. Guanajuato, Guanajuato (I am not stuttering. It is the city of Guanajuato in the state of Guanajuato) is not your typical American tourist hangout. There are no beaches, there are no fantasy theme parks for the kids, and there are no eco-tours to see the whales. However, if you want a different experience, one that is a little like stepping back into time, and seeing what the “original” Mexico is really like, the city of Guanajuato is just what the doctor ordered.

We make a habit of stopping the “new” gringos who do find their way to Guanajuato and striking up a conversation. I must admit that we have pragmatic motives in doing so. My wife and I are writers and get some of the best material from “newbies” to Guanajuato. Many who have been to Europe comment how Guanajuato reminds them of Spain or Northern Italy. Indeed this is so. You would think that somehow a city from Spain or Italy had been magically transported to Central Mexico.

One morning while taking our breakfast in a local eatery, we met a newbie to Guanajuato. We asked her what she thought a middle-aged, middle-class traveler, like herself, would want to know about Guanajuato. Her response was that she had trouble finding accommodations that appealed to a middle-aged, middle-class person on a moderate budget. Her problem was the available guidebook information appealed to those who would want to spend $150.00-$250.00 USD a night or the backpackers who would be content in a dormitory-style hostel. There was no middle ground information for someone on a moderate budget who did not want to “bunk” with a bunch of young people.

This made perfect sense to us. The truth is she was right. It is hard in Guanajuato to find accommodations that appeal, in both price and ambience, to the middle-aged, moderate-budget traveler. Therefore, with that in mind, here is a list of accommodations my wife and I recommend that just might suit the tastes of the middle-aged, moderate-budget traveler.

(I hope this will encourage you to come see us in Guanajuato. Who knows, we may stop you on the street to see how you like our adopted Mexican home!)

1. Hotel La Casa de Dulcinea, Positos #44, Zona Centro, telephone: 473-732-2406
There are only nine rooms. There is no restaurant or phones in the rooms. There are small rooms with two double beds. Bathrooms (shower only) are inside the rooms and are small. For two people during the “low season”, the cost is $450.00 PESOS. During the high season: $680.00 PESOS.

2. Casa Carcamanes, Plazuela Carcamanes No. 8, Guanajuato, Mexico, telephone: 473-732-5172
There are rooms with baths, shared kitchen, and you can arrange to use the washing machine. Price is $150.00 PESOS per night. They also have apartments for rent. E-mail them for apartment rates at

3. La Casa Azul, Calle Carcamanes #57, Colonial Centro, Guanajuato, Mexico. 473-731-2288
Each room has a TV, a dorm-sized refrigerator, shared kitchen and dining room. There is a rooftop terrace for guest use as well as two shared living rooms. You can arrange to have your laundry done for a moderate price. All this costs a mere $150.00 PESOS per night.

4. El Zopilote Mojado, Propietaria: Ana Gleason, Plaza MexĂ­mora 51 & 53, Centro, Guanajuato, Mexico, telephone: 473-732-5311. Web site:
There are two rooms with shared bathroom and one room with its own bath. There is a rooftop terrace with tables and BBQ grill for guest’s use. There is also a small living room. Price: $500.00 PESOS per room, $750.00 PESOS for 2 rooms. Breakfast is an additional $40 pesos per person.

Remember that the prices quoted are in PESOS. To find out the current exchange rates, go to

Also, keep in mind the high and low seasons. This is so subjective that it is best to call or e-mail for their rates. During the month of October, all hotels, regardless of the price, will be booked. This is because of the world-renowned International Cervantino Festival. Be sure to call and book as early as possible regardless of when you plan on coming to Guanajuato. Though still largely “The Undiscovered Country” for American tourists, it is very popular with Mexicans and Europeans.

To find out more on traveling in Mexico go to our web site at, and click on the “travel” button on the upper left-hand side of the page.

Lasting Imagination

Almost 90% of all individuals lose their basic ability for creativity by the age of eight years old. One could look to many excuses or reasons why this happens, but it happens. One of the most commonly attributed reasons for this has been the apparent lack of emphasis on individual creative thinking during an individual’s normal day at elementary school.

Granted, a greater awareness of this problem and the necessity of creative thinking in life is being addressed, But there are new forces brewing that continue to adversely affect creativity. The most commonly pointed to being the multiplicity of mindless video games.

Recreational playing (meaning occasional playing) of video games may not be too harmful. Taking into account the nature of the individual games and their unnecessary levels of violence (another subject to be addressed). But when individuals become obsessed with the play, one is wasting all too much time in this mindless “entertain-me-attitude” activity. It then completely removes the opportunity for real creative play and activity.

At any rate, the purpose of this writing is not to discuss my personal feelings on the subject, which I suppose are obvious, or even not to discuss what not to do with one’s time. The purpose is to discuss what one can do to turn the tide and rejuvenate creativity inside oneself.

There are so many positive activities that encourage creativity. The following list is by no means comprehensive, but may, at least, stimulate you thinking as to all the many others at your fingertips:

1. Hobbies requiring physical activities
2. Hobbies requiring the use of the mind in collecting, assembly, and research
3. Journal writing
4. Creative writing and poetry
5. Various means and expressions of art
6. Scrapbooking
7. Personal analysis of problems or challenges in the world around us (armchair scientist)

In order to foster creativity, one must frequently think outside the proverbial box. Often there are more possibilities and solutions than we presently see. But we must be willing to open our minds to see the broader spectrum of possibilities.
One can increase their ability for creative thought with simple daily exercises. Functions performed in the mind while actually doing something else.
Something such as mathematical progressions: 17 plus 17 plus 17….etc. What is X squared, squared, squared….etc. Or something like how many words can be made ending in “ed”?
Something I thought of the other day: Create new words, then create their definitions. Some may actually already exist.
Someone mentioned the word “happify”. That’s a real word. It means “to make happy”.

Here is a list of new words I created:
? beautificate: to administer beauty upon a subject.
? liftificate: to discover the most elementary methods of raising an object up.
? felicitate: assisting the pursuit of happiness (not to be confused with “facilitate”).
? euphoritate: assisting the achievement of absolute joy.
? ecstatify: to lift one’s attitude into an intense delight.
? imagification: to assist others in enabling them to conceive of new concepts or ideas.
? fantalization: to fully imagine the reality of positive pending situations soon to come.
? studiousation: the act of applying oneself to intelectual pursuits.
? antiquantification: being engaged in the act of refuting seemingly solid evidence contrary or totally irrelevant to the research at hand.
? hyperstatistification: aggressively pursuing a research discipline requiring immediate attention.

Will any of these words make it into Webster’s Dictionary? Will any of yours? Who knows….unless you write them!
So get on your thinking caps and get busy. There is so much potential locked away in your mind, just waiting to be discovered and revealed to the world.
Imagination awaits the desire of your own heart.

Business Etiquette of the Netherlands

While visiting the Netherlands you’ll be expected to be punctual and organized. Schedule appointments two weeks in advance if you’re not far away, a month in advance if you are. Call within a few days to make sure all appointments are go. July and August are summertime in the Netherlands; try and avoid these months for scheduling appointments. December is not the best choice, either, since many people are on holiday vacation.

Business hours are usually from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays. Some banks have one night a week open for late customers. Most stores are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. although some stores stay open even later.

Business dress is usually dark and conservative with white shirts or blouses. Avoid colorful, busy ties and scarves. If others remove their jackets during business meetings feel free to do the same, otherwise keep the jacket. Casual clothing is jeans and tee shirts or long sleeve shirts but avoid wearing shorts in public unless jogging.

Business cards and other materials can be printed in English and needn’t be translated to Dutch on the reverse unless the materials are complicated and in-depth. In some countries business is conducted only after some casual conversation amongst the associates but in the Netherlands business discussions are normally started after introductions.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep during the business discussions. Even if they are made casually you will be held to your word. Any failure to produce what you’ve promised and all deals will likely be finished. Honesty and integrity are treasured traits. Be straightforward if you want to be respected.

Privacy is important in the work place and all doors are kept shut. Knock first and wait for a response and remember to always close doors as you exit. Don’t gossip about other associates and never point one out – whether for achievement or for failure. At the end of a business meeting shake hands with each person individually. Group waves are unacceptable in this culture.

Conversations concerning the countryside, your home land or the arts are fine but avoid topics concerning legalized prostitution and religion. Remember that some people refer to the region as “Holland” but Holland is only a part of the Netherlands.

Gifts, especially large or pricey ones, are not generally seen in a positive light. For one thing the person will consider whether or not they are being bribed when presented with an expensive gift. Another problem is that the receiver may worry about how to repay such generosity. Give gifts which are small and tasteful but not before you have gotten to know the person better.

When invited to someone’s home for dinner be punctual or just a few minutes late, gift in hand. Flowers, a potted plant or chocolates, or a book from the U.S. are nice choices. If you know there are children it’s thoughtful to present them with a small token.

During dinner keep wrists above table and resist resting them in your lap. Knives and spoons are used with the right hand, fork with the left. There’s rarely such a thing as finger foods so use utensils no matter what you are eating except for bread. After seeing others pick up certain foods with fingers, such as fries, you are free to do the same but err on the side of using utensils if you’re unsure.

When dining out a simple nod to the waiter after catching his eye will suffice. If that isn’t working raise your hand slightly or just call out, quietly, to the waiter or waitress.

Converse in quieter tones than the norm for America. Refrain from wild gesturing or extremely loud laughing. Tones and attitudes are more reserved here than in America.

If in a theater or another place where you must pass in front of people and go down a narrow row never turn your backside to the seated people. Instead, apologize and pass by, facing them. In some regions of the Netherlands it’s inappropriate to just say “hi” to someone who is older than you. Don’t use toothpicks in public and never talk to someone with hands in pockets.

You’ll likely enjoy your time in this beautiful region of the world but things are somewhat different than in the states. Try to fit in by dressing and acting in a demure manner and by knowing your business inside and out. This will impress your counterparts, particularly if you have a likeable personality. Show respect to those who are elderly and mind your manners at all times.

Travelling Abroad was Never so Easy

So you wanna go to Europe, but you’re short on cash. Your worldy friends tell you that you HAVE to go to Europe! You haven’t lived ’til you breathed the rain of Paris, France, or walk the streets of sunny Barcelona!
Wanna the know how to really do it? Listen up.

In my opinion, any kind of travel is hindered due to one of two things: airfare and lodging. Airfaire can be quite a burden, I understand. What with the current strikes with Northwest, Delta heading outta here, what can one do?

First, depending on where your departure point is, find out if you can save money by taking the bus (Grayhound), or the train (Amtrack), to a location closer to your destination. For example, when I left Minneapolis to leave for the U.K., I took the Grayhound buslines to Chicago, and then flew out to London, Gatwick from there. It saved me about 300 dollars per ticket.
Though the grayhound can have it’s own burdens, that’s 300 dollars that you can use at the coffee shops of Amsterdam.

Next, don’t depend on the “classic” airlines, like Northwest, see what other air liners are out there. I suggest British Airways. You can fly to the UK fairly cheap.

Alright, so you have your ticket to London, but now you’re stuck in the UK, and want to get out to greener pastures. Northwest? No, don’t even GO THERE! For whatever reason, travellers fail to relate to youngbloods that there are two excellent, economic airlines out there (only service in Europe). Rianaire and EasyJet. How does a flight from Spain to the UK for 20 Euros sound? Pretty excellent, hey? Well, they can give you some pretty steep rates if you have a lot of luggage, but hopefully (if you’re reading this), your a fiscal conservative and are just bringing a rucksack along.

Second, lodging. I can’t help you here if you only frequent ‘five-star’ hotels, but if you don’t mind chilliing with the natives, check out Hostels. Also, there are many websites where travellers, like yourself, can find people (around the world), to host you for free. Check out the Lonely Planet Website (and their Thorn Tree message board), you can get many excellent tips on how to save your money.

To prove my point, I travelled in Europe for approximately 40 days, and because I ‘net-worked’ (with friends and random hosts), I paid for only four night of stay. Not only did I save cash? But I met some really beautiful people that could open up their hearts.

Do’s and Don’ts (Chickenscratching’s Opinion)

DO visit Toulouse (or any of Southern France)
DON’T visit Paris (unless you at least attempt to speak travelling French)
DON’T be afraid of the gypsies in Spain
DO expect that your bag will be stolen in Spain
DO visit the coffee shop, The Gray Area (Amsterdam)
DON’T visit the UK (unless you’re of the utmost wit)
DON’T wear a fanny pack
DO take in the lovely wines available in Spain and France
DO drink Sangria

Really, you want to travel to Europe? It’s not much harder than travelling to Utah, Colorado or Hawai’i. I truly believe that as citizens of this World, we owe it to ourselves to seek out everything and anything we can; it is essential in order to understand our brothers and sisters. Not only that? But it gives under-ager’s of the US a chance to hit the bars, the liquor stores way ahead of time (21 will be anti-climactic for me, I’m sure).

Bonne Nuit!

Start an Online or Correspondence Course Today!

So you have been thinking about going back to college, but don’t know how you would find time for classes. With work, maybe kids, and just life in general, it is hard to find those extra hours for class and homework. Maybe you should consider online or correspondence courses. There are many to choose from and, depending on what type of degree or certificate you are looking for, it may be possible to complete without ever stepping into a classroom again.

Many highly regarded universities provide online classes. The majority shadow the semester and are taken right along with those that are physically in the classroom. You don’t necessarily have to log on at a specific time of day, but you do have to meet the same deadlines as far as turning in assignments and taking tests. Some of these classes also require you attend orientation or a class or two, but it is much easier to schedule one day within a few months than it is once or twice a week.

With online classes you often have contact with the instructor through email and may even be able to set up study sessions with other online students. This can be done in a chat room or actually in person. These classes tend to have a faster pace than other independent study, such as correspondence courses, as you will see.

Some schools have video courses, which are similar to online classes but the lessons are done either on video tapes (or DVDs) or on a local cable channel. One drawback to this type of course is that you have to choose courses from a local school, instead of the numerous schools across the country. Oh, and you have to be able to spring for cable too. No Dish Network for you. Still, these are convenient courses that give you college credit without having to leave the comfort of your living room.

Correspondence courses can be one of a couple ways. The traditional correspondence course is done through the mail and testing is done at a qualifying testing center. The requirements for testing centers may be different for every school, some allow you to have a library proctor your test, others require it be a college or university proctor. Once you have signed up for a class, you should be sent a syllabus and course requirements explaining all this and advised which textbook you will need. Once you receive your materials, you’re on your way!

Most schools have a time limit of nine months to one year to complete the course. You are often allowed one extension too, but always read through the rules and regulations so you know exactly how long you have to learn your new subject. This might sound like an excessive amount of time, but it all depends on what type of study habits you have. Since these types of courses are only loosely monitored – you send your assignments in to be graded, but you don’t usually have a instructor reminding you to complete them in a timely manner – it is easy to become lazy about completing your homework and you may find yourself running behind schedule.

Before starting this type of course it is a good idea to evaluate your study habits. Do you procrastinate? Is the subject of the class one that interests you, or will you be reluctant to pick up the book? Are you an independent learner, or do you need an instructor to help guide you? If you decide that this is the way to go, this is the perfect time to figure out where your study area will be. There is nothing worse than trying to learn new subject matter and finding yourself uncomfortable or distracted. Also having a designated study area may be helpful in reminding you that you have not yet finished that assignment and really need to start cracking down.

There are also classes that combine online classes and traditional correspondence courses. Although most of your course will be learned from a textbook, the assignments will be submitted through email instead of snail mail. There are also some courses that have a website dedicated to them and assist the student with each chapter or even have a portion of the lesson online. It is very helpful to be able to see something explained in animation or video or be able to ask your instructor a question via email before submitting your assignments.

Another type of class are those that award you with a certificate of completion at the end. You have probably seen commercials for these. They can be anything from Web Site Design to Interior Decorating to Paralegal. They claim that these certificates are equivalent to one that would be awarded at a traditional school, just be sure to research the school thoroughly to ensure proper credentials. Also, if this is a career you truly want to pursue, you might want to contact some of the local businesses and see if they will accept this type of certificate before spending a lot of money on something that will be of no use. These classes are closely related to the way that correspondence courses are run. You will receive your materials through the mail and that is how you turn in your assignments. One difference being that there usually isn’t a test involved with these types of courses, or if there is, it is open-book.

There are many reasons to choose a correspondence course instead of attending classes regularly. One is that they often can be started at any time of the year. You might want to start a new class while you are on vacation, or recovering from surgery, or even while on maternity leave, but you can’t always guarantee that that will coincide with the beginning of a new semester. Or there may be a specific class you want to take, but the one at your local college is full. Or one that is not even offered in your area, such as Texas History if you live in California. If you do choose to pursue a correspondence or online course, do a little research beforehand, find a school that has a large course load and see what the requirements are for each class. If after finishing your first course you decide that this is the way to go, then you will know what to expect from your school and be able to choose another course to tackle.

Learn a Little Leukemia

Leukemia is a form of cancer. All cancers are a result of excessive cells being produced somewhere in the body. In the case of leukemia, the blood is the affected body part. Blood cells are produced by bone marrow, a spongy material located in the center of large bones.

Bone marrow contains two types of stem cells, stromal and hematopoietic. Stromal cells become many different tissue types, including nerve tissue, fat, cartilage, and bone. Hematopoietic cells become the three types of blood cells found in the body: red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes), and platelets (thrombocytes).

Red blood cells transport oxygen to all body tissues, platelets are responsible for clotting blood, and white blood cells are a crucial part of the body’s immune system as infection-fighters. When functioning normally, blood cells divide and reproduce themselves in an orderly manner, keeping a proper balance of all types. When a white blood cell mutates and divides, a rapid reproduction of the abnormal cell begins. The abnormal cells increase in number and do not die off at the proper rate of normal white blood cells; this crowds out the other types of cells, causing an imbalance in the blood.

When the production of red blood cells is reduced, the situation becomes anemia, meaning not enough oxygen is getting to the tissues. If not enough platelets are being produced, the patient will bruise easily and cuts will bleed profusely. A lack of healthy white blood cells compromises the immune system and makes the person susceptible to many dangerous health situations; a fatality becomes a possibility with a minor infection.

All leukemias are classified as either acute or chronic. Acute leukemias are aggressive in nature and progress very quickly. It is marked by an abnormal growth of immature cells. Chronic leukemia, in comparison, progresses slowly and is marked by an excessive number of mature cells and a small amount of immature cells (known as “blasts”).

There are several types of white blood cells (leukocytes) circulating through the body, including lymphocytes and myeloctyes.

Lymphocytic (lymphoblastic) leukemia occurs when the malfunctioning cells are lymphocytes. Lymphocytes include T-cells and B-cells. T-lymphocytes are produced in the marrow but mature in the thymus (a gland located in the upper chest cavity.). B-lymphocytes are produced in the bone marrow and also mature there.

Lymph is a clear, watery fluid that contains lymphocytes. It travels along a network of thin tubes that are branched throughout the body via lymph vessels. Lymph nodes are bean-shaped clusters of lymphocytes located in various organs, such as the spleen, abdomen, pelvis, neck, and underarms. In acute leukemias, the developing lymphocytes do not mature, they build up in the lymph nodes, causing them to swell.

Myelocytic leukemia occurs when the abnormal cells are myeloctyes, such as basophils, esoinophils, and neutrophils (all bacteria killers). Myelocytes are also known as granulocytes, and myelocytic leukemia can be referred to as granulocytic leukemia due to the tiny granules that are found inside the cell.
The seven types of leukemia are as follow:

1) Adult Acute Lymphoctyic (Lymphoblastic) Leukemia(Adult ALL) and

2) Childhood Acute Lymphocytic (Lymphoblastic) Leukemia (Childhood ALL):

Both of these are marked by too many immature lymphocytes in both the bone marrow and the blood, and in many cases a decreased amount of platelets. This leukemia has a high success rate for cures and is considered by many to be the easiest to treat. This is the most common childhood cancer, accounting for approximately 85% of the cases.

3) Adult Acute Myeloid Leukemia (Adult AML), known also as Acute Non-Lymphoctyic Leukemia (ANLL) and

4) Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia (Childhood AML):

In these forms of leukemia, there are excessive numbers of immature granulocytes (myeloctyes) and they live longer than normal, healthy white blood cells.

5) Chronic Myelogenous (Granuloctyic) Leukemia (CML): Again, there are too many myelocytes that live longer than the normal lifespan and do not grow to maturity. This type of leukemia is different than the others in that the genetic material of the cells has the Philadelphia chromosome. Even when treatment has been completed, this chromosome remains.

6) Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL): This is the most common form of leukemia and tends to affect the portion of the population that is sixty years of age or older. An excessive number of white blood cells are created and they do not mature properly.

7) Hairy-Cell Leukemia (HCL): Under the microscope, the cancer cells of this rare leukemia appear to have hair growing out around their edges. HCL causes low numbers of all the blood cell types and the cancerous cells are found in the bone marrow as well as the blood.

In acute cases, symptoms develop and advance quickly. In chronic cases, the symptoms develop gradually. Extreme fatigue, frequent infections, night sweats, loss of appetite and/or weight, unexplained fevers, and easy bleeding or bruising are common symptoms to all leukemias.

Other symptoms that may be experienced due to the cancerous cells clustering in various body parts might include seizures, headaches, balance problems, muscle spasms, joint pain, bone pain, swelling of the testicles, vision problems, shortness of breath, stomach aches, and painful swelling in lymph node areas, such as the neck, groin, and underarm.

Treatment for leukemia varies based upon, among other things, what type it is, how far along it is, if the patient has other medical conditions that may affect the ability to tolerate the harsh standard treatments of chemotherapy and radiation.
Chemotherapy is the name given to a variety of cancer-fighting drugs. Depending on the medication, it may be given orally (through the mouth), intravenously (through the vein), intrathecally (through the spine), or subcutaneously (in a shot form).

External radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. This is frequently used on certain brain areas that are inaccessible to any of the chemotherapy medications. These areas are called “sanctuary sites” and medical science is currently unable to confirm or deny existence the existence of leukemia cells in these areas.

As a leukemia survivor, I can tell you that the treatment felt worse than the original sickness that sent me to the emergency room. But as a survivor I can also say that it’s worth the fight. If you are reading this because you have been diagnosed, my advice to you is to hang in there. Just take it one day at a time, one minute at a time. There will certainly be days when it feels like it’s not worth it, but when you come out on the other side of the long, dark tunnel, it will fade away to a memory in the light of living again.

As for me, they tell me I should have been dead on arrival at the hospital because my blood count was so bad, but by the grace of God, here I am, typing out my story and hoping to encourage someone else.

Summer Vacation Ukrainian Style

Rumor has it that a tiny stretch of territory on the northwestern corner of the Crimea has started to take on the appearance of Las Vegas. Only scarier and with more drugs, if you can believe that. It seems that scores of Techno fans have fled the clubs of Moscow and Saint Petersburg to establish here at the Black Sea, every summer, a republic, for which it stands, well, nobody is really quite sure yet (ecstasy maybe?). Their republic “has borders, but does not have territory, being a state, that from time to time changes its location.” Sure, I know, this sounds a lot like California, but there are some subtle differences here people.

Take their government, for instance. It seems to be working. Their party is a Party within a party, so to speak. They have drafted and implemented a functioning constitution. But perhaps even more peculiar than a working government is the fact that The “PreZident” of KaZantip, in all of his infinite wisdom, has taken it upon himself to appoint a MiniZter of Happiness. Now I haven’t been to The Republic of KaZantip yet. I’m not going there, either, come to think of it. But if this idea with the MiniZter of Happiness ever catches on over here I’m moving to North Korea.

There are said to be over 300 DJ’s in action at this place, cranking out Techno and House music twenty-four hours a day – from July 23rd to August 20th. You MUST have fun here. Otherwise you will be asked to go back to Burning Man or Ibiza or the set of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Your job is to get ecstatic (insiders say dance is sex here) and not to worry about politics. That’s what all the Beatniks and the Hippies and the Punks did. And look what happened to them. The place certainly seems to be in flux, in more ways than one, but its current location, no bigger than that (in)famous Woodstock farm and practically deserted all year, is next to one of the most beautiful beaches on the peninsula. There’s no doubt about it. The Virtual Republic of KaZantip has to be one of the most hedonistic states (of mind) in the world. And that’s probably why they put a wall around it. A wall? Hello? No joke. “The Republic is protected from the evil, terrible and absolutely not perfect outside world by an Iron Curtain, behind which the Great People of The KaZantip Republic live happily.” And the natives (the real ones) don’t seem to mind, either. Tourism is still the only means they have of making money around these parts.

Speaking of money, a permanent one month “viZa” will set you back 40 Euros, the whole thing is primarily financed through the sale of food and drinks, and although everybody is against globalization here, of course, they also get sponsoring by Coca-Cola and Philip Morris.

Please note that if you are planning to stay longer than 90 days you will need a visa with an “s”.

And by the way, a “brother state” is said to be in planning somewhere in Vietnam.

Questions? Me, too. But for whatever else this republic may stand, write your Zenator or take a look at .

Red Eye, a Movie by Wes Craven

Famed horror director Wes Craven decided to take a half-step out of his usual realm and create a movie in the suspense thriller genre. Last week, Red Eye opened in theaters across the nation. Should you spend $10 to go see it now? Or can you wait for it to come on cable? Read on to find out.

The film opens with actress Rachel McAdams ( Wedding Crashers, Mean Girls ), playing confident and collected hotel manager Lisa Reisert trying to catch the late night flight to Miami from Texas. The busy worker had flown away from her busy job to attend the funeral of her grandmother.

Once in the airport, she finds that her flight has been delayed thanks to inclement weather. It’s there, waiting in the airport, that she meets lead actor Cillian Murphy ( Batman Begins, Cold Mountain ) who plays Jackson, the young and charming man who buys her a drink in the downtime.

The story soon picks up after the flight finally boards and Lisa discovers her seat is right beside Jackson. Once the plane is in the sky, Jackson reveals his true intentions during the best dialogue of the movie. While never revealing any organization, Jackson is apparently part of a terrorist organization looking to kill the Deputy of Homeland Security.

You see, the Washington big-wig is a regular at Reisert’s Miami hotel and always stays in the same room. Jackson orders her to place a phone call to whomever it takes to change reservations and move the Deputy to a better location for would-be assassins.

Lisa obviously is scared and confused but soon learns that she has no other choice. As leverage, Jackson informs her that if she does not complete her order, that her father would be killed by an assassin in his Miami home. Lisa’s parents are divorced and we only see her father in the film.

The film revolves around Lisa trying to wiggle her way out of doing what she knows will lead to someone’s death. However, nobody else on the plane apparently overheard the constant bickering, crying or emotion between Lisa and Jackson.

Eventually, the plane lands and the film takes on a different feel to it. It goes from being a suspenseful thriller to more of an action movie while Lisa is chased through Miami. It’s here that Craven must’ve seen a “hot Summer movie” in the works but it doesn’t come off like it.

Overall, the movie is short and by the time it’s all over, you’re left with a sense of wasted time. The plot is a good one and the acting is very good from these two young Hollywood actors. Many are pegging Rachel McAdams as the next great young actress. There are some questions that are left unanswered.

For example, the relationship between Lisa Reisert and the Deputy of Homeland Security is glazed over as a frequent hotel consumer. It seems that there is something more as the man shows trust in her by not arguing with his change of rooms. Another oddity is the role of Secret Service, who flank the Deputy.

Would the best security team in the world simply shrug off a room change just as they arrive at the location? They do search the room heavily but you’d think that such a sudden change would warrant heavy rescheduling.

Finally, Lisa has kept a secret that has haunted her. She reveals it in the end of the movie and uses it as a source of inspiration in her fight against these terrorists. I don’t know much about terrorists or anything of the like, but if a single woman gives them trouble, shouldn’t they lose the title of terrorists.

Red Eye is another in the line of predictable movies that give the hero way too much power. There are points to the film that are done well but not enough in such a short film that would make it a must-see. If you’re a fan of Wes Craven, you should see this film at some point but use your own discretion as far as spending the hefty price at a theater near you.

Review Grade : 5 out of 10 / C+

Cruises: What’s with All the Hype?

What’s with all the hype surrounding cruises? To answer that right away, I’ll simply say that cruises are worthy of all of the hype that they recieve. First, let’s look at the concerns that arise in many people’s mind when they think of a cruise.

1. ‘I want to travel, not sit in a stupid boat.’
Many people are attracted to the locations of a cruise. However, the fact that you only are at port for several hours to one full day takes away from the excitement of travelling. Many are worried that they are simply paying to pass through, and they would rather spend time exploring and (very briefly) living in the country of their choice.
2. ‘I don’t want to be cramped on a boat for a week.’
The idea of being stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean does not sound too enticing. You may be worried about sinking, getting seasick, being ‘trapped’, becoming bored, and countless other things.
3. ‘This is gonna be boring!’
I was thoroughly fearful that there would be not much more to do on the boat except tan (something that I, as a black man, did not need), swim, and drink.

The above concerns should give you an idea of the common concerns that people have when thinking about a cruise. More than likely, you’ve had some of these concerns. The good news is that the cruise vacation succesfully responds to these issues, and here’s how:

Concern #1
The main reason that cruises are so succesful is that the boat itself is amazing. I’m confident that if the boat was not in top condition and with top features, the cruise as a whole would fail. It’s simply that important. And the reason for it’s importance should be fairly obvious: you are spending the majority of your week (or two weeks) on the boat. This is the prime reason that a person who really wants to travel and explore places can stilli have a lot of fun on a cruise. The cruise designers design the boat and it’s activities in such a way that people won’t want to leave (or if they do, they won’t be dissapointed when it’s time to leave the port). As an avid travel-enthusiast myself, I was not too thrilled at the idea of a cruise. My thought process was that I would be on the boat for the majority of the time, and although we might dock at Antigua, St. Thomas, Nassau, Puerto Rico, and Haiti, I would only be there for a few hours. Only on certain longer cruises will you actually stay at a port for multiple days, and on caribbean cruises, you’ll be at sea for the majority of the time. As I said, I was not happy at all with this. I wanted to stay in a caribbean hotel; explore an island and get the most of it; go to several beaches…

The fact is that on a cruise, you are paying for the cruise experience. If you do sipmly want to travel and experience a specific place, then by all means you should do it. I certainly wasn’t satisfied in that respect on my cruise. But, just because I did want to travel and see other countries, that does not mean that I ‘clash’ with cruising. At some point, the traveller must just accept that he is on the trip for the cruise, and not for the country. As surprising as it may sound, after a day on the boat, you may not want to get off.

Concern #2
Most cruise ships (the good ones, anyways) will be like a small city. In this way, the cruise manages to solve concerns of both boredom and being cramped. Despite the look of the exterior, cruise ships seem unbelievably bigger on the inside. While getting lost is not likely going to be a problem once you are used to the ship, feeling pressed for space just isn’t an issue. In fact, the only cramped areas I could find were the actual cabins. Perhaps they felt so small so that people would be encouraged to be active and move about.

Seasickness is another big concern….but it shouldn’t be. Unless passing through stormy waters (which you’ll likely only experience in hurricane season in the Caribbean), the ride will be smooth, silent, and relaxing. I personally didn’t even notice when the ship began moving from ports, and you only feel the slightest rocking when you are still, perhaps while laying down to sleep. However, the effect isn’t one of sickness, but rather of relaxation. You’ll be rocked to sleep.

Sinking, although it can always happen (as the Titanic succesfully proved) is not an issue. Ships are all stocked with more than enough lifeboats to accomodate passengers, and you’ll often be relatively close to port and other ships. Disasters are unexpected and can happen, but modern cruise-ship disasters are just particularly rare. All I can say is ‘don’t worry about it’.

Concern #3
The city-like feel of the ship’s interior means that if you are bored on the ship, you must be bored in most other places. In fact, a good cruise will have more things to do than many cities might have. Aside from the vast amount of static activities and places, cruises will offer daily/nightly specials, such as live shows, events, and port-related activities. Port-related activities on a carribean cruise for instance may be scuba diving lessons (done on the boat and then finished off at a port), boat excursions, tours both on land and in the water, and unique things that most might not even think of. Specifically, there was one activity in which people would put on a special diving helmet and be sent on a guided tour through the water. Of course, once you get into the actual ports you can do whatever you please. But don’t be surprised if the cruise sponsored activities turn out to be more fun.

Non-cruise sponsered activities usually entail walking or taking a cab. The caribbean islands are particularly tourist-friendly, as the islands are popular cruiseship ports. During ‘cruise season’ as natives call it, you’ll find plenty of street vendors (all of which were trustworthy and friendly in my experience), shops, and cabs. If you are on a caribbean cruise, you should definitely hire a cab and head to the beach. The beaches are simply amazing, with warm water, beautiful mountains and hills, and wonderful underwater life. If you find yourself on St. Thomas, ask for Koki Beach.

Extreme accomdation and extreme relaxation are why I was always happy to be on the boat. A good cruise will provide an atmosphere of luxury and service that most have never experienced in their life. My cruise (Royal Carribean cruiseline, by the way) had basketball courts, theaters, an ice-skating rink, swimming pools, bars, clubs (for both adults and youth), stores, restaurants catering to all tastes in foods, a cafeteria, an exercise center, a library, a spa, and even a rock-climbing wall. People who enjoy staying active had more than enough to do, and by the same token, those who like to relax had plenty to do to relax. Hot tubs, books, spas, deck chairs, and a beautiful view were the main relaxation activities.

The level of accomodation on a good cruise is simply astounding. My suite was constantly being attended to. There were two daily cleanings, and every night there would be some new snack item. Daily agendas and news were posted in our rooms, and there was an excellent all-night room service that came at no additional charge.

Of course, all cruises are not going to be the same. Every cruiseline, and every particular cruise offers a different experience. The level of accomodation for example can simply depend on your assigned server (on my specific cruise there was a server who was in charge of our room cleaning and dining hall table), or the general services of the cruise. The best advice I can give to someone interested in a cruise is to do research. The only line I have travelled on is Royal Carribbean. As can probably tell from my enthusiasm, I enjoyed it very much. When I’ve looked at reviews of the same line, I’ve seen both negative and positive reviews, which further enforce the idea that each cruise is a unique experience. However, I would feel safe saying that most of the common concerns that potential cruisers have are never realized. Take the risk, because chances are it will be one of the most enjoyable and memorable experiences of your life.