Monday, January 27, 2014

Cordes Mansion

Located at the northeast corner of Cordes and Dogwood Roads in Germantown, the Cordes Mansion was razed in April 2007 for a subdivision that was killed by the recession.  These photos were taken about a week before demolition.  Built to a Spanish Colonial design, the Cordes Mansion was likely constructed in the 1930s or 40s, making it one of the oldest structures in this part of Germantown.

Front facade that faced Dogwood Road.

undefined Rear facade.

Grand staircase.

Rooftop terrace.
Stairs from the rooftop nowhere.
View of Swimming Pool

Rear Stairway
View of Patio

Whisteria Arbors
Right Side Oblique

Gate to Dogwood Road.

Source: cremedememph

Friday, January 24, 2014

Garlic Proven 100 Times More Effective Than Antibiotics

A significant finding  from Washington State University shows that garlic is 100 times more  effective than two popular antibiotics at fighting disease causing  bacteria commonly responsible for foodborne illness. 

Their work was published recently in the Journal of Antimicrobial  Chemotherapy a follow-up to the author’s previous research in Applied  and Environmental Microbiology which conclusively demonstrated that  garlic concentrate was effective in inhibiting the growth of C. jejuni  bacteria.

Garlic is probably nature’s most potent food. It is one of the reasons  people who eat the Mediterranean diet live such long healthy lives.  Garlic is also a powerful performer in the research lab. 

This work is very exciting to me because it shows that this compound has  the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and  in our food supply,” said Xiaonan Lu, a postdoctoral researcher and  lead author of the paper. 

One of the most interesting of the recent findings is that garlic  increases the overall antioxidant levels of the body. Scientifically  known as Allium sativa, garlic has been famous throughout history for  its ability to fight off viruses and bacteria. Louis Pasteur noted in  1858 that bacteria died when they were doused with garlic. From the  Middle Ages on, garlic has been used to treat wounds, being ground or  sliced and applied directly to wounds to inhibit the spread of  infection. The Russians refer to garlic as Russian penicillin. 

“This is the first step in developing or thinking about new intervention  strategies,” saif Michael Konkel, a co-author who has been  researchingCampylobacter jejuni for 25 years. 

Campylobacter is simply the most common bacterial cause of food-borne  illness in the United States and probably the world,” Konkel said. Some  2.4 million Americans are affected every year, according to the U.S.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with symptoms including  diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and fever. 

The bacteria also are responsible for triggering nearly one-third of the  cases of a rare paralyzing disorder known as Guillain-Barre syndrome. 

Diallyl disulfide is an organosulfur compoundcompound derived from  garlic and a few other genus Allium plants. It is produced during the  decomposition of allicin, which is released upon crushing garlic.

Lu and his colleagues looked at the ability of diallyl sulfide to kill  the bacterium when it is protected by a slimy biofilm that makes it  1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than the free floating  bacterial cell. They found the compound can easily penetrate the  protective biofilm and kill bacterial cells by combining with a  sulfur-containing enzyme, subsequently changing the enzyme’s function  and effectively shutting down cell metabolism. 

The researchers found the diallyl sulfide was as effective as 100 times  as much of the antibiotics erythromycin and ciprofloxacin and often  would work in a fraction of the time.

Two previous works published last year by Lu and WSU colleagues in  Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Analytical Chemistry found  diallyl sulfide and other organosulfur compounds effectively kill  important food-borne pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes and  Escherichia coli O157:H7. 

“Diallyl sulfide may be useful in reducing the levels of the  Campylobacterin the environment and to clean industrial food processing  equipment, as the bacterium is found in a biofilm in both settings,”  Konkel said. 

“Diallyl sulfide could make many foods safer to eat,” said Barbara  Rasco, a co-author on all three recent papers and Lu’s advisor for his  doctorate in food science. “It can be used to clean food preparation  surfaces and as a preservative in packaged foods like potato and pasta  salads, coleslaw and deli meats.” 

“This would not only extend shelf life but it would also reduce the  growth of potentially bad bacteria,” she said. 

The natural substance could also be derived without artificially  introducing harmful chemicals to disruptive its disease-reducing  abilities. 

Ironically, many researchers think that antibiotics may be just one of  several factors that contribute to intestinal blockage in young  children.

Author : April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role  reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and  eco-friendly initiatives. 


After Reading This, You’ll Never Look At A Banana In The Same Way Again


This is interesting. After reading this, you’ll never look at a banana in the same way again. Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes. But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

DEPRESSION According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

ANEMIA High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

BLOOD PRESSURE: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

BRAIN POWER 200 students at a Twickenham school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

CONSTIPATION High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

HANGOVERS One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

HEARTBURN Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

MORNING SICKNESS Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

MOSQUITO BITES: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

NERVES: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.. Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

ULCERS The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chroniclercases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

TEMPERATURE CONTROL Many other cultures see bananas as a ‘cooling’ fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature. So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has FOUR TIMES the protein, TWICE the carbohydrate, THREE TIMES the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals.. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, ‘A BANANA a day keeps the doctor away!’


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Voodoo Village - The Temple

"Voodoo Village" in Memphis Tennessee, somehow got stuck with that name in the sixties. The Village and it's owners, the Harris family, have suffered through countless indignities as a the residents of a grossly misunderstood urban legend. For better or worse, almost everybody who grew up in the Mid-South has a Voodoo Village story. For 50 years, the site has been the focus of harassment, vandalism, and now decay. Unlike the many exploitative clips you can find elsewhere, this film was made with the blessing of the owners. It was made with the help of Washington "Mook" Harris - the caretaker, produced by Perry Walker and directed by Eric Wilson in 2007. Mr. Walker has also published a book of photography of the artworks and the grounds. The goal of this film is to help people understand the true nature of the place - which is actually known as St. Paul's Holiness Temple. The temples and artworks were inspired by Biblical stories and Masonic iconography, not Voodoo. The Temple is the most amazing place in Memphis and a holy place if there ever was one. We hope to help the Harris family preserve the Temple before it turns back into earth, and let people know a little bit of the truth about this wonderful place.

Click Here to watch the video.

External Links:

Voodoo Village 50 Years
The Truth About Voodoo Village
Haunted American Tours 
Voodoo Village


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)

Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was an ambitious organization of people of African descent worldwide in the late 1910's and 1920's. The movement built upon Back-to-Africa movements of the late 1800's, which encouraged people of color to look to Africa both as an ancestral homeland and a hope for a future. The association’s founder, Jamaican-born Garvey, had come to the United States in 1916, and he took advantage of a wave of racial violence following the end of World War I to mobilize African Americans to eschew integration for black nationalist goals.

The message of racial pride, separation from white society, and emigration to the African continent distinguished the UNIA from other civil rights movements of the period. At its height, the UNIA owned restaurants, stores, a printing plant, and other businesses mostly in the New York City area, and had inaugurated the Black Star Line, a shipping company formed to trade with Africa and transport passengers to the continent. Garvey’s movement declined after he was found guilty of mail fraud and served two years in federal prison, 1925 to 1927. Garvey was deported upon his release from prison, and he spent his last years living in London, England. While it had been part of a mass movement in the early 1920's, the UNIA continued in decline without Garvey, though it still exists in the twenty-first century.

Most historians have treated the UNIA, with its headquarters in New York’s Harlem neighborhood, primarily as a northern and urban movement, ignoring the reality that many African Americans living in New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Detroit, Michigan; and Chicago, Illinois, in the 1920s had recently arrived from the rural South. The UNIA in fact had broad membership in the South and particularly in the cotton-producing areas of the Arkansas Delta. In the late 1800's, the Back-to-Africa movement had been extremely strong in Arkansas. Dozens of “Exodus clubs” formed in mostly rural communities, and approximately 700 black Arkansans emigrated to Liberia. In addition, more than two dozen black Arkansans left as missionaries to Africa in the 1890's and 1900's. A generation later, the Garvey movement picked up on this interest in the African continent.

At least forty-six divisions of the UNIA were organized in Arkansas, with most of them chartered in rural areas of the Delta between 1921 and 1924. Mississippi County had eight divisions, Monroe County had seven, and Phillips County, the site of the Elaine Massacre of 1919, had six divisions. Other Delta counties with more than one division included St. Francis (four), Crittenden (three), Cross (three), Jefferson (three), Woodruff (two), and Lee (two). Elsewhere in Arkansas, there was one division each in Sebastian, Faulkner, Ouachita, Sevier, and Lincoln counties. Oddly, no divisions were chartered in the black-majority counties in southeastern Arkansas, nor in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The more moderate and “respectable” National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had five chapters in Arkansas in the 1920's, however.

It appears that the Arkansas UNIA divisions were developed spontaneously by local leaders, not outside organizers. Marcus Garvey never visited the state of Arkansas nor the Mississippi Delta region. Divisions often were organized around churches, and a few UNIA leaders were preachers, such as E. B. “Britt” McKinney, who in the 1930's became an organizer and vice president of the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union. Other known UNIA leaders were wage farm laborers, sharecroppers, or tenant farmers.

The influence of Garvey spread far beyond the communities that had organized UNIA divisions. The movement’s newspaper, the Negro World, circulated throughout the black community in Arkansas as early as 1919. A man in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) was noted by the Negro World as one of the top forty-two distributors of the paper worldwide. When Garvey faced legal trouble and imprisonment, scores of letters, telegrams, and petitions from various locations in Arkansas poured in to Washington DC and New York showing support for Garvey. A count of those sending communications, signing petitions, or attending mass meetings of support for Garvey totaled 28,495 for Arkansas, a number greater than any other Southern state except Louisiana. Hundreds of donations for Garvey’s legal defense fund came to New York from locations in Arkansas with and without UNIA divisions, and the contributions ranged from five cents to a dollar.

Garvey’s plan for African Americans to colonize Liberia and to build up the African economy received more attention in 1924, and this plan particularly resonated among his supporters in Arkansas. When he called for contributions for the colonization through the African Redemption Fund in 1924, he immediately received fifteen-dollar donations each from UNIA divisions in rural Arkansas in Burton Spurr (Mississippi County), Round Pond (St. Francis County), Armorel (Mississippi County), Howell (Woodruff County), Indian Bay (Monroe County), Blackton (Monroe County), and Pine City (Monroe County). Correspondents wrote to the Negro World expressing their hopes for the redemption of Africa or emigration there. The Blytheville (Mississippi County) divisions of the UNIA sent two delegates to the 1924 international convention in Harlem to investigate the possibilities for a large party to emigrate to Liberia.

An additional Arkansas connection to Garvey’s movement was William LeVan Sherrill, one of the key leaders of the organization. Sherrill was born in Altheimer (Jefferson County) in 1894 and graduated from Philander Smith College in 1917. After service in the army in World War I, he lived in Chicago and then Baltimore, Maryland, where Garvey heard him speak at a UNIA meeting and made Sherrill a part of the leadership team. At the international UNIA convention of 1922 in New York, Sherrill was chosen as the organization’s representative to the League of Nations in Geneva and given the title of Leader of American Negroes and Assistant President General. He became the acting president of the UNIA when Garvey went to prison in 1925. Garvey later turned on Sherrill for failing to visit him or send money while in prison. Garvey charged Sherrill with disloyalty and with wasting the UNIA’s funds, and a special meeting of the organization held in March 1926 turned Sherrill out of his offices. Ironically, Sherrill in later years again became a top official in the UNIA. In 1956, he gave a eulogy at the unveiling of a bust of Garvey in his Jamaican homeland (Garvey died in 1940). By this time, the movement had no visible presence in Arkansas.

Source:  encyclopediaofarkansas

Armorel, Arkansas

Armorel is an unincorporated community located in Mississippi County, Arkansas. A largely rural area with most of its land devoted to forests and farms, population estimates are variously given as between 300 and 500 people. Most of the town lies between Arkansas Highway 18 and Arkansas Highway 312.
The town was founded in 1899 by lumber magnate and president of Lee Wilson and Company, R.E.L. Wilson as one of his many company holdings. Wilson was an eclectic and colorful figure with vast land holdings in the Delta area after the Civil War. Also a big believer in education, Wilson was one of the original trustees of Arkansas State University, then A & M College. He sat on the board from 1917 until his death in 1933.

The town's name was formed from the abbreviations of Arkansas and Missouri, along with the first three initials of its founder, R.E.L. Wilson.


Public education for early childhood, elementary and secondary education is available from the Armorel School District that leads to graduation from Armorel High School.

External links

Source: Internet

Wilson, Arkansas

File:Wilson AR 06 downtown.jpg
Downtown Wilson
Wilson is a city in Mississippi County, Arkansas. Wilson started as a company town in 1886 surrounded by rich farmland, and was sold by the Wilson family in 2010. The population was 903 at the 2010 census.


Wilson started as a company town for Robert E. Lee Wilson's nearby logging and sawmill operation founded in 1886. The village prospered when Wilson decided to use the cleared land for agriculture instead of selling it after logging. In 1900, a major archeological find occurred near Wilson when James K. Hampson discovered the Island 35 Mastodon. All residents of Wilson except the postmaster and railroad employees were employees who had access to company doctors for $1.25 annually ($17.47 in 2013 dollars), a rarity in the poverty-stricken Arkansas Delta. The company also employed people to work in Wilson's basic service industries, such as drycleaning and automobile repair, keeping the standard of living high.
Tudor-inspired post office, 2010
After Wilson's son, Wilson Jr., and his wife returned from their England honeymoon enthralled with the Tudor style in 1925, all subsequent public buildings were built with Tudor architecture, including retrofits to all existing public structures. The town incorporated in 1959, selling the houses to the renters living in them and gaining access to tax income it was previously excluded from as a company entity.  As technology advanced on the farm, fewer employees were needed and many moved from Wilson to seek other employment.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.8 km² (1.1 mi²), all land. The area is dominated by the Mississippi River flood plains, trees and fields. Along and parallel to the Tennessee–Arkansas state line, the former course of the Mississippi River as it was before the New Madrid earthquakes is still visible in the landscape almost 200 years after the events. The former riverbed has shrunk to small side arms of the Mississippi River which, dependent on the water level and precipitation, are still partly connected to the river.

The town is located at the intersection of US Route 61 (US 61) and Highway 14. This segment of US 61 through Wilson has been designated as part of Great River Road, a tourist route to display the heritage of communities along the Mississippi River.


File:Wilson AR 03 Lee Wilson and Co abandoned.jpg

Abandoned Lee Wilson and Company warehouse, 2010
Agriculture is the dominant source of income in the area surrounding Wilson, especially the cultivation of cotton. After the abolition of slavery, sharecropping was the primary means of income for low income families in the area. Mostly for the cultivation of cotton, land would be used by sharecroppers in return for a share of the crop to the landowner. Modern machines like the cotton picker have made the manual cultivation obsolete over time as they took over the work from the hand laborers.


Hampson Museum State Park, Wilson, Arkansas, 2010
The Hampson Museum State Park in downtown Wilson exhibits an archeological collection of early American aboriginal artifacts from the Nodena Site 5 mi (8 km) east of the town. The museum documents the culture of a civilization which existed in a 15-acre (60,703 m2) palisaded village on a meander bend of the Mississippi River in the area around 1400–1650 CE. Cultivation of crops, hunting, social life, religion and politics of that ancient civilization are topics of the exhibition.


One of the original Wilson family houses will be a temporary location for a small private academy. William Widmer for The New York Times

In 1964 the Nodena Site was declared a National Historic Landmark, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places two years later.


Public education for elementary and secondary school students is available from the Wilson-based Southern Mississippi County School District, which leads to graduation from Rivercrest High School.

WILSON, Ark. — The little farm towns here in Delta cotton country spin by, each rusting grain silo and boarded-up discount store fading into the next.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, comes Wilson, a collection of Tudor-style buildings with Carrara marble on the bank counter, a French provincial house with Impressionist paintings hanging on the walls and air-conditioned doghouses in the yards.

Wilson was once the most important company town in the South. It sits amid 62 square miles of rich farmland, most of which was once controlled by Lee Wilson, a man almost everyone called Boss Lee. He built his fortune off the backs of sharecroppers and brought Southern agriculture into the modern age.

For 125 years, the Wilson family owned this town. It ran the store, the bank, the schools and the cotton gin. For a time, the Wilsons even minted their own currency to pay the thousands of workers who lived on their land. Bags of coins still sit in the company vault. After the town incorporated in the 1950's, a Wilson was always mayor.

But now, the town — home to 905 people — is under new management, which plans to transform the civic anachronism into a beacon of art, culture and education in one of the poorest regions of the state.
It might seem a far-fetched notion, except that the man who bought it is Gaylon Lawrence Jr., 52, whose extensive financial holdings include more than 165,000 acres of farmland in Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi; five banks; the world’s largest privately owned air conditioning distributor, USAir Conditioning Distributor; and a major citrus operation in Florida.

Mr. Lawrence, a tall, can-do kind of man, who prefers to check his fields and watch the sunset than speak with reporters, had long coveted the storied Wilson land. It is one of the largest contiguous agricultural tracts in the Delta, its soil fed by the Mississippi River.

In 2010, when the Wilson family descendants were finally ready to sell, he bought it for an estimated $110 million, fulfilling a dream he shared with his father, now deceased. It just so happened that it came with a fading Tudor town that was losing its population.

“At first you are thinking, ‘How can I get this off my back?’ ” Mr. Lawrence said in an interview in the living room of one of the homes he owns in Wilson. “But then you look around and think how can you be a catalyst? I can’t really say I am the boss. I say I am here to help.”

Steve Wilson, in the original offices of Lee Wilson & Company, is a descendant of Lee Wilson. William Widmer for The New York Times

To lead the transformation, he hired John Faulkner, an academic with a background in architecture who had taught Mr. Lawrence’s two children at a private school in Nashville. Mr. Faulkner is a de facto town manager, historian and cultural adviser. He works with the elected town government, which contracts with the company for most services.

“We’re still learning where the lines are drawn,” said Justin Cissell, 34, a member of the town council.
Mr. Faulkner, tapping into money provided by Mr. Lawrence’s company, tackled the basics first. He persuaded the telephone companies to improve cellphone service. He painted the Tudor buildings on the square an appropriate British green. He cleaned up the town’s hardwood groves — rarities in the flat Delta region that the Wilson family planted 100 years ago.

Then he talked the owner of the Elegant Farmer, a favorite restaurant in nearby Memphis, to send a young chef and his wife to Wilson to reopen the shuttered cafe, promising in return a farm to grow food for it.
“A good cafe is the cornerstone of a town,” Mr. Faulkner said.

At one time, the Wilson family minted its own currency to pay the company’s sharecroppers. William Widmer for The New York Times

The food is a delicious anomaly in the region, but the prices have a few people grumbling. Who pays $14 for a hamburger around here?

Still, it is popular. Eating there on a recent afternoon were the nine remaining members of a Presbyterian church in nearby Bassett. The youngest was 70.

“It’s not Arkansas plate lunch portions, but it was good,” said Harper Oakes, 73.

More sweeping changes are coming. Plans are underway to open a small private academy called the Delta School to educate promising children of farmers and the region’s professional class, and Mr. Lawrence said he wanted to find ways for the town’s poorest to get ahead, too.

With help from the state, a museum will open in 2016 near the town square to showcase rare pre-Columbian pottery, from a Native American group called the Nodenas, that was recovered in the 1920's by James Hampson, whose nearby archaeological site bears his name. It will be the first new building on the town square in more than 50 years.

A chef from Memphis was brought in to open the Wilson Café. William Widmer for The New York Times

There are plans for concerts and British car shows and an artists’ co-op. And Mr. Faulkner is working with the family of Johnny Cash, hoping it will allow the town to rename its little theater in honor of the musician, whose childhood home is 13 miles away in Dyess.

All of it will be set amid a handful of stately mansions and Tudor buildings, most of which were built after one of Mr. Wilson’s sons came back from a honeymoon trip to England in the 1920's.

It all sounds a bit like something Walt Disney might have imagined. Not so, said Mr. Faulkner.
“This town has so much character we don’t have to make it up,” he said.

Still, the distance between a little Arkansas farm town and a regional beacon of renewal and culture seems vast. But Mr. Lawrence is a patient man, said his wife, Lisa.

“He doesn’t take no for an answer,” she said. “If this town is not re-created, he will die trying.”

Source: Internet /  nytimes

Target Cuts Health Coverage For Part-Time Workers, Citing Obamacare

target health care part time
Jan 21 (Reuters) - Target Corp said it will stop offering health coverage to part-time workers, citing new public insurance exchanges floated by the U.S. government.

Less than 10 percent of the company's 361,000 employees currently participate in the insurance plan that is being discontinued, Target said in a company blog post on Tuesday.

"By offering them insurance, we could actually disqualify many of them from being eligible for newly available subsidies that could reduce their overall health insurance expense," Target said.

The public exchanges set up under the health care law, also known as Obamacare, allow individuals to buy government-subsidized healthcare based on their income.

The health insurance coverage will be discontinued from April 1.

"Target will provide U.S. stores' part-time team members who are currently enrolled in Target's health coverage and who are losing access to that coverage a $500 cash payment," Jodee Kozlak, executive vice president of Human Resources at Target said in a company blog post. ()

The retailer joins a list of companies looking for ways to tackle rising healthcare costs. In September, Home Depot said it was shifting medical coverage for part-time workers to new public marketplace exchanges.

Walgreen Co, the largest U.S. drugstore, and more than a dozen other large employers have said they would offer their employee insurance for 2014 through the Aon Hewitt Corporate Health Exchange.

More than 2.1 million people have enrolled in private health insurance plans through new federal and state websites since they were launched in October as part of President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, U.S. officials earlier said.

Source: HuffingtonPost

9 Iconic Brands That Could Soon Be Dead

Did you know that Volvo is struggling to sell cars in America? Or that the sandwich chain Quiznos is in serious debt? Below are nine surprising companies that could actually be on the verge of dying. If they don't reshape their business models, you just might have to say goodbye to these big brand names sometime soon...

1. Quiznos
What set them apart: "Mmm... toasty." Toasted sandwiches. Founded in 1981, founder Jimmy Lambatos claimed what set Quiznos' sandwiches apart from others was that they toasted each and every one, because "heating anything brings out the flavors in food products."

What went wrong: Once every other sandwich chain started toasting their sandwiches, Quiznos just wasn't that unique anymore. Even worse, for a very long time, Quiznos kept its prices well above Subway's, which likely cost them with customers during the recession.

Where they are now: Quiznos has gone down from 5,000 stores at their peak to around 2,100, with hundreds of more locations close to shuttering. The Denver-based chain recently missed payment on a loan and is working to restructure its nearly $600 million dollars in debt.

Who's doing it right: Subway. In 2008, amid a huge recession, Subway surpassed the 30,000-restaurant mark. CEO Fred DeLuca credits Subway's success to their simplicity. "The preparation is mostly done in front of the customer. That simplicity is really what attracts our franchisees," he said. "You see it, and you can do it".

2. JC Penney
A list of all the JC Penney stores that will be closing in 2014
What set them apart: As one of the largest American mid-range department stores, JC Penney seemed to be making all of the right decisions until about four years ago. They were successful with store expansion and kept certain things when other department stores nixed them. For example, when Sears closed its catalog business in 1993, JC Penney became the largest catalog retailer in the United States. Also, by incorporating outside companies within their stores, like Sephora and Seattle's Best Coffee, JC Penney offered a diverse customer experience.

What went wrong: But by adding companies within their stores, JC Penney also lost its identity. They moved away from their target customer, the middle-income American, and started trying to appeal to a higher-income clientele. Unfortunately, their customer base wasn't interested in shelling out the money to get their nails done at a JC Penney.

Where they are now: In an effort to get back to the path of profitability, JC Penney recently announced they would be closing 33 stores and cutting 2,000 jobs.

Who's doing it right: Macy's. Although they also cut 2,500 jobs this year, the successful department store did so in order to maintain their current profit margins and to avoid the problems JC Penney is currently facing. It also doesn't hurt that Macy's has established itself as a permanent fixture of American pop culture, with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and its annual Fourth of July fireworks event.

3. Zynga
What set them apart: Founded in 2007, gaming company Zynga was at one point worth around $20 billion. They launched one of the most popular social networking games ever: FarmVille. It was one of the most popular Facebook games for months, but as of January 2014, FarmVille is ranked as the 45th most popular Facebook game.

What went wrong: In March 2012, Zynga experienced something of a turning point when it purchased OMGPOP, a gaming company behind the popular mobile game Draw Something. However, a noticeable drop in the game's popularity was seen after the purchase, with daily users dropping from 15 million to 10 million in the first month after the acquisition. Zynga experienced problems beyond bad investments. The company was known to be somewhat rogue and unorthodox: Several employees have spoken out against Zynga's workplace standards and getting stiffed out of stock options. Zynga also relied too heavily on Facebook, and as the social network changed, the company couldn't keep up.

Where they are now: The company hired a new CEO, Don Mattrick, the former head of Microsoft's Xbox business, who has slashed jobs and cut back on outside ventures and collaborations. However, their mobile problems still remain, and unless Mattrick can think of a way to successfully transition Zynga's online gaming platforms onto a mobile setting, the company could be facing some rough waters ahead.

Who's doing it right: Supercell. The Helsinki-based start-up is the highest valued mobile application company in the world. They have huge success with the mobile and tablet games, Clash of Clans and Hay Day. Their success could be because gaming is about as popular in Finland as it is in the United States, but players in Finland play more on their mobile devices. Also, it doesn't hurt that Finland has the world's highest proportion of people employed in technology.

4. Red Lobster
Cheddar Bay Biscuits
What set them apart: Red Lobster is still one of the only and definitely the biggest American casual dining restaurant dedicated to seafood. Also: Cheddar Biscuits. The restaurant always serves a basket of these garlic cheese biscuits as you wait for your seafood, and they have developed a huge fan following.

What went wrong: The problem isn't only with Red Lobster: Many sit-down restaurant chains seem to be doing poorly lately. Ruby Tuesday recently announced it was closing 30 of its restaurants. While most of these companies are blaming poor sales on the bad economy, the problem also lies in the fact that the economy has given birth to a variety of new and different fast-casual dining establishments. Many of these places also don't require waiter service. Restaurants like Panera Bread and Smashburger, for example, offer the same food prices without having to tip someone for bringing it to your table.

Where they are now: Red Lobster is in the most trouble in terms of fast-casual dining establishments. In December, parent company Darden Restaurants announced that it had intentions to sell Red Lobster or spin it off into its own company. However, Starboard, a big investor in Darden Restaurants, announced that they feel the company's decision to sell or spin off Red Lobster wasn't a good idea. They wrote a letter to Darden urging them to consider other options, such as improving operations and cutting company costs nationwide. "We believe a separation of Red Lobster as currently conceived could destroy substantial value," Starboard managing member Jeffrey Smith wrote in the letter.

Who's doing it right: Chili's. While this company isn't necessarily doing well, they have recently added delivery service to help boost sales. However, their delivery method is a novel and risky approach. They are only offering delivery for orders that are over $125 and they are asking employees to use their own cars for delivery to cut costs.

5. Blackberry
What set them apart: It wasn't called a "Crackberry" back in 2007 for nothing. Right before the iPhone was announced, BlackBerry phones were the most popular mobile devices on the market. They truly dominated in the "cool" factor, with every celebrity owning one.

What went wrong: Two new phones appeared: iPhones and Droids. These revolutionary touchscreen smartphones turned the Blackberry into a stale and antiquated device. Blackberry thought that their phone with a keyboard would still attract more professional and business-oriented people, but they were mistaken. Most people, regardless of whether they used their phone for business or pleasure, switched over to the iPhone or the Droid and Blackberry seriously lost its momentum.

Where they are now: In January 2013, Blackberry released its latest device -- a touchscreen smartphone. Even with popular integrated apps, the product failed to take off. Their sales have crumbled, and in September 2013, the company pre-announced second quarter earnings, reporting that they'd missed estimates by nearly 50 percent. They also announced they were cutting 4,500 workers and getting out of the consumer business, sparking up rumors that they would merge or sell the company.

Who's doing it right: Samsung. The creators of the popular Galaxy smartphone have risen to the top of the mobile game, due to the simplicity of their phone. In October 2013, Samsung beat Apple as the most profitable smartphone company in the Global Brand Simplicity Index 2013. The index measures the ease that consumers have with different brands, based on the simplicity or complexity of their “products, services, interactions and communications in relation to industry peers.”

6. The WNBA
What set them apart: This one's pretty obvious: Professional women's basketball. The Women's National Basketball Association was founded in 1996, comprised of 12 teams designed to be a counterpoint to the National Basketball Association (NBA).

What went wrong: Unfortunately, the public just isn't that interested in professional women's basketball. The league, which once had as many as 16 teams, has since been downsized to 12. Attendance at the games has also been horrible, with average regular season attendance per game at only 7,457 in 2012, compared to about 18,000 for the NBA. In 2013, the attendance rate improved by three percent.

Where they are now: David Stern, the protector of the WNBA, will retire in February. As the commissioner of the NBA for the past three decades, he has been a strong supporter of keeping the WNBA afloat. Without him, it's unsure how the association will fare financially.

Who's doing it right: The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Founded in 1950, the LPGA is the longest running women's professional sports association. Perhaps this is due to the higher prevalence and knack for female golfers to develop a "celebrity status."

7. Volvo
What set them apart: How many parents have relied on Volvos to protect their precious and inexperienced teenaged drivers? Volvo was long thought of as the typical safe and approachable vehicle, once packing high school parking lots.

What went wrong: Volvo competes with way too many car brands. The Swedish manufacturer is in direct competition with mid-luxury cars, like Toyota and General Motors, while also finding itself up against lower-priced high-end cars from Mercedes and BMW. Therefore, the demand for Volvo has suffered.

Where they are now: The company sold a total of 427,840 cars in 2013. Most sales occurred in China, which is predictable, since it has been Chinese-owned for the past three years. Sales were lackluster in its primary markets: Europe and the United States.

Who's doing it right: Volkswagen. One of Volvo's biggest problems seems to be their small selection of car choices and types. Volkswagen owns Audi, Porshe, Skoda and Seat car brands. This allows for a company with a diverse and large audience -- they can market their cars to people of all financial levels. In 2013, VW delivered a record 9.5 million cars and commercial vehicles, a 4.8 increase in sales.

8. Martha Stewart Living Magazine
What set them apart: Lifestyle personality Martha Stewart is extremely popular, so it only makes sense that her magazine and television show, both of which started in the early 1990's, would resonate very well with the American public.

What went wrong: Martha Stewart Living Magazine can't sell advertising pages at all. According to the Media Industry Newsletter, the magazine’s advertising pages fell from 1,306 in 2008 to 766 in 2012.

Where it is now: In the past five years up to the end of 2012, Martha Stewart Living's publishing revenue fell from $179.1 million to $122.5 million. It lost $62 million from 2012 to 2013, and its publishing revenue dipped to $19.4 million, from $27.6 million. They have had to discontinue two of their smaller magazines: Everyday Food and Whole Living.

Who's doing it right: Playboy. Since Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is undergoing a huge restructuring from a media company to a merchandising enterprise, the major transition could make shareholders uneasy. New York Times writer David Carr has suggested taking a hint from a different kind of major lifestyle brand, Playboy, and making the switch from being a public company to a private one.

9. Abercrombie & Fitch
What set them apart: About ten years ago, Abercrombie & Fitch was all the rage among preteens and teenagers. It was founded in 1893 in Manhattan and started out as a luxury sporting and excursion goods brand. In the early 1990's, the company re-shifted to target the 18 to 22-year-old group who aspired to wear popular "casual luxury" clothing. They succeeded immensely and created three offshoot brands: Abercrombie Kids, Hollister and Gilly Hicks.

What went wrong: Abercrombie & Fitch failed to realize that teens' values have shifted from the 90's to present day. Instead of wanting to fit the mold, Ashley Lutz at Business Insider says teens today want to be unique and not look like everyone else. Also, in today's economy, a lot of American parents find Abercrombie & Fitch's clothing to be too expensive. And, after all, they are often the ones footing the bill in this case.

Where they are now: The company’s stock has underperformed in the S&P 500 over the last five years and is down 30 percent in the past year. It also has been voted as one of "The Most Hated Companies in America" by 24/7 Wallstreet.

Who's doing it right: Urban Outfitters. While Abercrombie & Fitch and Urban Outfitters have both recently been criticized for over-characterizing their customers, Urban Outfitters offers enough diverse items to succeed. Also, Urban Outfitters gets a quarter of its revenue from e-commerce sales, far exceeding Abercrombie & Fitch's internet success.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the WNBA had been downsized to six teams. It currently has 12, after having as many as 16 .

Source: HuffingtonPost

Friday, January 17, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Time To Diet!

My soul is ripped with riot
incited by my wicked diet.
"We Are What We Eat," said a wise old man!
and, if that's true, I'm a garbage can.

I want to rise and feel good that's plain!
but at my present weight, I'll need a crane.
So grant me strength, that I may not fall
into the clutches of cholesterol.

May my flesh with carrot sticks be sated,
that my soul may be poly-unsaturated
And show me the light, that I may bear witness
to the President's Council on Physical Fitness.

And at oleomargarine I'll never mutter,
for the road to Plumpness is spread with butter.
And cream is cursed; and cake is awful;
and evil is hiding in every waffle.

Mephistopheles lurks in provolone;
the bane is in each slice of baloney,
Fat hides in a chocolate drop,
and sugar is in a lollipop.

Give me this day my daily slice
but, cut it thin and toast it twice.
I beg upon my dimpled knees,
deliver me from jujubees.

And when my days of trial are done,
and my war with malted milk is won,
Let me stand with the model throng,
In a shining robe--size 5-6 long.

I can do it friend, If you'll show to me,
the virtues of lettuce and celery.
If you'll teach me the evil of mayonnaise,
of pasta a la Milannaise
potatoes a la Lyonnaise
and crisp-fried chicken from the South.

I pray if you love me, shut my mouth.
~ author unknown ~

Monday, January 6, 2014

Michelle Obama's Hawaii Birthday Present

HONOLULU (AP) — First lady Michelle Obama is getting a few extra days of Hawaiian sun.
President Barack Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha returned to the White House on Sunday after a two-week vacation.

Mrs. Obama stayed behind to spend time with friends ahead of her upcoming 50th birthday party. The White House says the extra time in the islands is part of Mrs. Obama's birthday gift from the president.(on the tax payers dollar)

The first lady turns 50 on Jan. 17. The White House did not say when she planned to return to Washington.

p.s. Just wait until the 17th and we will pay again for a party in Washington.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

22 Maps That Show How Americans Speak English Totally Differently From Each Other

united states dialect map  language
Click Here to read this post and to view the pictures.

Click Here to See The Maps.


Cream Of Tartar

Never knew this! Great Share! Great Find! In my little world, items like cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) are not simply a super way to stabilize egg whites but also scandalously inexpensive cleaning secrets. This long-forgotten gem of a cleaning agent may be used with a little water or vinegar to lift even the most stubborn stains. 

Unattractive grout driving you batty? 

Mold and mildew stains got you reaching for the Prozac? 

Burner pans and casserole dishes giving you fits? 

Cream of Tartar is your new best friend. Cream of tartar is one of nature’s best bleaching agents. Cream of tartar, a.k.a “crusted wine,” is mixed with baking soda to create baking powder (bet you didn't know that.. okay, some of you probably did, you smartypants). While it is an acid, it’s not harmful. It’s an acidic salt which comes from grapes. 

Use a few tablespoons of cream of tartar with hot water or hydrogen peroxide and clean any aluminum pans which have discoloration or any rusty drains, pans, or stains. 

Do you have copper kettles? 

Mix some cream of tarter with lemon juice and rub the copper with it. Rinse and be amazed! 

How about a porcelain sink, tub, commode? 

Rub the porcelain surfaces with cream of tartar and watch the stains disappear. 

Fabric stains? 

No problem, Mix a few teaspoons of cream of tartar with some glycerin and use like spray-and-wash.

The results? Well, I’m here to tell you that this stuff cured the ring around Joshua’s shirt collars. 

Just need a great nonabrasive cleaner? 

Mix 2 teaspoons of vinegar and 2 teaspoon of cream of tartar in a small dish (use 3 or 4 teaspoons of vinegar and 3 or 4 teaspoons of cream of tartar if you have more items to clean). Apply with your cleaning rag or scrub brush and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Scrub. 

Wash with hot soapy water.  For more healthy recipes, tips, motivation and fun, join us here Renee & Friends Living Healthy   In my little world, items like cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) are not simply a super way to stabilize egg whites but also scandalously inexpensive cleaning secrets. This long-forgotten gem of a cleaning agent may be used with a little water or vinegar to lift even the most stubborn stains.

Source:  Renee & Friends Living Healthy

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Alexander Mouton House

Alexander Mouton house at Ile Copal. Location now within limits of city of Lafayette, Louisiana.

Dufour-Baldwin House

Dufour-Baldwin House
1707 Esplanade Avenue
   In 1822, in the area now known as Esplanade Ridge, city surveyor, Joseph Pilie, mapped the future avenue of Esplanade along the high ground of the ancient Native American portage that connected the heart of the city on the river to Bayou St. John.  When the street was finally completed several years later, it was a wide, European-style boulevard.  But, even before it was completed, the area had attracted prominent New Orleanians, especially, Creole residents.  By the mid-1800's, Esplanade Avenue was the preferred address of the city's upper class Creoles.  One letter of the time mentions that, "All of the most elite Creoles covet a home on the Esplanade."
   In 1859, Basilice Bedesclaux-Duchamp sold a lot on what is now the 1700 block of Esplanade, to Cyprien Dufour and his wife, Louise Donnet.  That year, architects Henry Howard and Albert Diettel designed the house you see on this page for the Dufours.  M. Dufour was a prominent attorney and essayist, who served over the years as New Orleans District Attorney, assistant Attorney General of Louisiana, state senator and member of the Constitutional Convention of 1851.
   The Dufours sold the home to Albert and Arthemise Bouligny Baldwin in 1870.  Mr. Baldwin was a leading businessman and philanthropist.  Mrs. Baldwin was a descendant of Don Francisco de Bouligny, a governor during the Spanish colonial period.  Their daughter, Arthemise, was Queen of Rex in 1896.  The Baldwin family remained in the house until 1912.
   Interestingly, one of the Baldwins' grandsons, Albert Baldwin Wood, designed the centrifugal pump and, later, the screw pump, that enabled water to be pumped from land situated below sea level.  Mr. Baldwin was an engineer and, from 1939-1956, he was the superintendent of New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board.  His pump designs went on to be used but throughout the world.  Many subsequent inventions - he was credited with 38 patents - became the industry standard and Mr. Baldwin's designs revolutionized sewerage systems all over the world. He came to be known as the ultimate authority on heavy duty pumps was asked to consult on engineering projects on almost every continent, including the famous Dutch pumping system.  However, despite his world travels and the acclaim he received, he remained with the N. O. Sewerage & Water Board until his retirement.
   It was said of him that he "...rendered the city of New Orleans one of the greatest services it had ever received from an individual."  Even today, not only in New Orleans, but almost all such pumps worldwide are based on the original development of Mr. Baldwin's design.  Since 1912, for all the times there have been rainstorms in New Orleans and the streets did not flood, we have Mr. Baldwin to thank.
The photo at the top of the page is a current one.  Unfortunately, I don't have dates
for most of the remaining photographs, but I've attempted to display them with what I
believe to be the oldest first, on down the page, to another current shot at the bottom.

Abandoned Ante-Bellum Plantation House, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Abandoned Ante-Bellum Plantation House, Vicksburg, Mississippi- photograph taken in 1936 by Walker Evans  American (Saint Louis, Missouri, 1903 - 1975, New Haven, Connecticut)   | gelatin silver print
Abandoned Ante-Bellum Plantation House, Vicksburg, Mississippi- photograph taken in 1936 by Walker Evans American (Saint Louis, Missouri, 1903 - 1975, New Haven, Connecticut) | gelatin silver print

The Hermitage (Savannah, Ga.)


Where: Hermitage (Savannah, Ga.)
McAlpin Plantation (Savannah, Ga.)

Date: 1960

Description:   Located at: Savannah River vicinity, Savannah vicinity, Ga.

One-story brick and stucco Greek Revival house with a high basement and a portico with heavy fluted columns, Doric in form but surmounted by what appear to be Corinthian capitals. The portico is accessed by a curving stairway. The rear facade is identical to the front. The Hermitage was designed and built by Henry McAlpine, a Scottish architect, who kept the name given by M. Montilet, the French Huguenot from whom he acquired the property in 1814. Bricks for the house and outbuildings were made by slaves from clay on the plantation, which also provided a source of bricks for other buildings in Savannah. The house has remained unoccupied since it was sacked by Sherman's soldiers. According to HABS, in 1934, the slave quarters adjacent to the house were still occupied by descendants of the slaves for whom they were built.

Photograph annotated: "HABS p. 72, The Hermitage, Savannah, c. 1830, demolished ~ 1930's."

Date of structure: 1820.


Egg Labels And What They Really Mean

Egg Labels - What Do They Really Mean
Have you seen the egg aisle of the grocery store lately? There are a lot of different choices for eggs.

And in case you have decided being a backyard chicken farmer just isn’t for you, here’s a quick overview of all of your egg choices–each of them appear to be clearly labeled on the egg cartons:

Omega 3 Enhanced Eggs:  These come from chickens whose food has been enhanced with Omega 3 enriched supplements {think flax seeds, flax oil, walnuts, etc.}.  The resulting eggs have a higher amount of Omega 3 fatty acids {you know, the ones they say we don’t get enough of}.  They also have a higher amount of cholesterol, so if that is a concern for you, be aware.

Humanely Raised:  These eggs are from hens that have been humanely raised, as opposed to conventional eggs where the hens are kept in tiny pens.  The carton should have a certified human label.  The chickens may or may not have access to the outdoors.  There are some regulations on this label that limit the density of the birds in their barn/warehouse.  They must also be allowed enough space to “perform natural behaviors”.

Organic:  Organic eggs {certified organic, at least} come from chickens that have not been given antibiotics, hormones, and their food has not been exposed to pesticides.  The thing to remember with these is that “organic” does not necessarily mean the chickens have a nice happy life–the chickens must be cafe free with some outdoor access, but federal regulations does not define that amount.

Conditions for the chickens can be awesome–or not.  It just depends on the producer.

Free Range:  Chickens are not in cages, and might roam freely for part of the day, but there are no regulations whatsoever on this label, so it is hard to say whether you are flushing extra money down the toilet.  Also, there are no restrictions on the birds’ diets.

Cage free:  This one is similar to free range, but chickens do not have to have access to the outdoors. Conditions can be a bit abysmal for the chickens and still get this label.

Animal Welfare Approved:  This label is much harder to find.  It is for independent family farmers with up to 500 chickens.  The chickens are free to spend unlimited time outside on pesticide-free pasture.  The chickens cannot have their beaks cut {ALL of the previous labels can and typically do cut the chickens beaks}.  The best place to find these is to contact your local farmer’s market and/or go out to the farm to check out the conditions.