‘Teen Mom’ Season 4 Premiere: No Pain, No Gain

Take a look at the news. Wars are raging. There’s proof that a dingo really did eat that woman’s baby. But worst of all, there’s been a blistering drought: a drought of “Teen Mom.” After nine long months, your thirst is being quenched — so I hope you take yours straight up with a twist of neglect and a dash of Suboxone. Please refrain from operating heavy machinery while under the influence of this recap.

Women's Samurai (2) Print Long Sleeve T-ShirtAmber: It’ll be strange to watch Amber’s downward spiral this season since her smash-landing at rock bottom has already played out in a mess of increasingly depressing headlines. She attempted suicide twice and was sentenced to five years in prison on June 6 after violating probation and lying to the court. It’s an awful story that makes me hesitant to dole out my usual amount of biting criticism but hey, George Washington himself once said, “You’ve gotta be cruel to be kind, in the right measure.” Anyway, try to forget how this whole mess ends so that we can focus on how it begins.

In a voiceover, Amber explains that because her home was vandalized, a judge decided it was unsafe for Leah. Now, Leah’s a ward of the state and is living with Gary. But as you’ll recall, Amber and Gary can’t be in the same place … so it’s very difficult for Amber to get any time with her little girl. Hoping to put it all behind her, Amber takes a plea bargain to avoid more jail time. That means 30-60 days in rehab for anger management, substance abuse and mental health, and two years probation. Amber’s terrified that Leah will forget her, and as she tells Gary about her terrible day, it’s obvious that he still remains her (rather larger) rock. She sobs as she hears Leah’s little voice on speaker phone. That “hi mommy!” is the reason rehab’s worth it — and why it’s so incredibly hard to go.

Then, since Amber doesn’t have anyone else, cousin Krystal With a K comes over with her son — and another bun in the oven. For the love of formula, someone just let this chick on the show already! She seriously might not stop until she gets some recognition as the ultimate teen mom. Amber reads her the laundry list she plead guilty to: “First and third domestic battery, two class D felonies, and they took off neglect of a child.” She’s heading to Seasons in Malibu, which sounds a lot like a spring break hotel without any of the fun substance abuse. In Amber’s perfect world, Gary comes to visit, she gets the no contact order dropped, and they live happily ever after.

Over at Gary’s house, life’s all bath time and snuggles and nail clipping. Then, Jabba the Hutt (a.k.a. Gary’s mom) pops over for an update and we get to hear Gary’s feelings. He also wants to be with Amber, and his heart breaks when Leah asks, “Where’s mommy?” He might be a total push-over, but he’s a damn good daddy. You can see it in his eyes, which you can locate if you look above his chins.

Because Amber’s nervous about rehab, she calls with some questions: Can she bring her medication, and can she have a single room in case she gets angry and hits someone. It’s a “yes” to meds and a “no” to solo living, in case you cared. Then she goes off on a wild rant about how she’s totally different than she was two years ago when she was going off on wild rants. “I don’t know how sane I can stay anymore,” she admits. If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.

While Leah’s with Jabba the Hutt, Amber goes to chat up Gary. She asks for a glass of wine and chugs it like a frat boy. Then she, her new hoop nose ring and Gary go outside to the swing. The swing screams “NOO!” but they sit anyway. Amber asks Gary if he’ll be dating while she’s away — not ’cause she cares or anything, but because “Leah needs all the attention.” Gary innocently says he’s really glad Amber is getting help for “anger, self-esteem, regulation of medication,” and she totally snaps. Amber tells him to shut up, calls him a few choice words and makes a beeline for the house. “People wonder why I [F word] hit you in the face. You’re just a rude, mean person but I’m the bitch?! I’m such a bad person. I’m done!” Her terrifying explosion is startling proof of how ill she is, and it reduces Gary to tears.

Part two opens with a black screen and Gary’s 911 call. “I just spoke with my girlfriend and she had said something, she’s having a hard time with her life … I don’t want her to kill herself. She’s wanting to hang herself, so she said ‘call the police so they can find my body in the garage.'”

Amber was taken to the hospital and put on suicide watch for 72 hours. After leaving, she went straight to Seasons. Nearly two weeks later, she opens up to a spiritual therapist. Her medication has been readjusted, and she’s feeling angry, confused and defeated. She can’t find the words, so the witch places a hand on her stomach and asks her to do some deep breathing. That helps her regain her voice. “When I tried to kill myself, I felt like a piece of shit mom. All I could think about was Leah, but I just wanted to go.” Her fairy godmother explains: “If you really wanted to go, you would have been gone … You are supposed to be on this planet for a reason.”

Next, Amber talks to a grief counselor and shares that she’s spent her whole life holding in her misery. “Nobody listens,” she mews. The counselor asks her to close her eyes and envision her mom and dad, and Amber narrows her eyes and lowers her voice like a woman possessed. “Not good man. They put me through pain growing up.” She paints a picture of a childhood home full of hate and fighting — sort of like the one that she’s recreated for her daughter. She crumples over, and the sobbing takes everything out of her.

After her various therapies, she tells her caseworker, JJ, that she feels loved and well taken care of. Still, she’s struggling with detoxing from her medication and feels that staying past 30 days is the smartest move. JJ wants to bring Leah and Gary to visit, and Amber’s face lights up. They give Gary a call and he’s extremely excited, but it’s not as simple as “buy ticket, go visit.” First he has to petition the courts. Leah also has some big news she’d like to share: “I went poopy in the potty.” Everyone has a lot to think about.

Maci:
When we last saw Maci she was pressuring her boyfriend, Kaaaahhhhl to talk about marriage and babies. Girlfriend had completely lost her mind. When she found it amongst her son Bentlaaaay’s toys, she realized that slowing things down and focusing on school was a much better idea. That means trying to put Bentlaaaay in daycare again. The first time didn’t go so well: He basically threw himself at the door like a teeny tiny mental patient until Maci scooped him up. Now, in an attempt to teach him how to be “independent,” Maci and Kaaaahhhhl bring him to a swim lesson so that he can be terrified off of dry land. While Kaaaahhhhl jumps in and tries to calm down the water demon, Maci sits on the side of the pool in a Wacka Flocka t-shirt. Now that outfit’s just bad parenting. She tells Kaaaahhhhl that he’s doing an awful job. God, Kaaaahhhhll! Bentlaaaay has to learn to do this “by his self!” Eventually he gets down the water slide by his very own self and it’s all very exciting for people who enjoy the laughter of children.

Since they’re still wigged about putting Bentlaaaay in day care, they meet a pal of Maci’s who teaches pre-school and probably contributes to the education crisis in the United States. Bentlaaaay announces that he won’t be playing with any kids. He’d prefer to play with his trains. Then, he bites Kaaaahhhhl. He’s obviously going to be very popular.

The night before D-Day they ask Bentlaaay if he wants to go, because he’s a very rational human capable of making complex choices. He assures Maci that it’ll “be alright, mamma!” — reminding us that it may be the grown ups who are acting like babies here. Maci decides to let Kaaaahhhhl take Bentlaaaay in to daycare, but she goes along for the ride because it will definitely make it easier for Bentlaaaay if his mom and pseudo-dad are both acting totally freaked out. Kaaaahhhhl gets Bentlaaaay to practice his “funny face” and brings him inside. Bentlaaaay locates some trains and is in heaven. He doesn’t even try to maul anyone! What a big boy.

Meanwhile, Maci’s heading out of town to speak at a high school about pregnancy prevention. That means calling the guy who knocked her up in the first place — Raaaahyn — so that he can pick up Bentlaaay earlier than usual. He’s as difficult as ever and Maci hangs up on him. He doesn’t have a job, she explains, so what the hell is keeping him from coming over on time?

Over lunch with his motley crew of pals including one kid with some really distracting facial ticks, Raaaahyn defends himself. He was going to breath that day, and also maybe think about signing up for classes. There’s simply not enough hours in the day.

The stress of near-single parenting is like, really showing on Maci’s face. Gal pal looks like the “before” in a Proactive commercial. It probably doesn’t help that she and Kaaaahhhhl are arguing the night before she heads out to lead her after school special. He makes the mistake of calling her an idiot, and she tells him to pack his things and head to his mom’s house for a bit. It’s impressive that she won’t tolerate name-calling, but she definitely picked that fight. So, like any person in the wrong, she calls Kaaaahhhhl within minutes of his departure and has Bentlaay leave him a sad “I miss you” message in his sweet little baby voice. That’s not playing fair at all! But he’s obviously not checking his voice mail, ’cause he doesn’t call back.

Of course he returns eventually and apologizes, prompting Maci to pull the whole, “I want you to WANT to be sorry” thing. She explains that when Kaaaahhhhl talks nasty to her, it’s a reminder of what life with Raaahyn was like. Then she tells him he stinks and that she’s going to beat him and everything is OK. Love means never having to say “I’m sorry this fight continues to make no sense.”

Catelynn:
Cayler (Catelynn + Tyler) are meeting adoption counselor Dawn so that they can send Carly gifts for her second birthday, but Dawn’s got a present of her own: Brandon ‘n Teresa (Carly’s adoptive parents) are coming to NYC soon, and they’d like to meet up with Cayler for a joint graduation/birthday celebration. Cayler is in total shock! It’s tough to celebrate a life that you’re no longer in, after all. They may not be with their baby on her special day, but in two short weeks, they’ll be reunited. They’re both at peace with everything, and it shows. Even Catelynn’s meth-faced mom is more relaxed about the situation. But that could also be the meth.

They call Brandon ‘n Teresa to get an update and the birthday girl is very chatty. She’s a big fan of her package and fully supports the fact that Cayler is going to get a cake, too. (Well, she said “oh boy!” which I think loosely translates to “I similarly enjoy cake; that’s lovely that you’ll be indulging as well.”) They hang up and feel totally reassured about their decision. Everyone is in a great place — and that might not have been the case if they kept her, dropped out of high school, and “got a measly, crappy job to try to pay for her diapers.” Together, they light the candle on her cake and share their wishes for their absent daughter. “To grow up healthy, strong, and know that me and you loved her, and that’s the only reason we did what we did,” Catelynn says. “My wish for her is to make sure she knows that the life we chose for her is the one she deserved,” Tyler follows up with. All aboard to Awwww City.

Catelynn changes her hair color a few hundred times, Tyler locates his best 10-sizes-too-big baller jacket and chain and they head to their digs in NYC. In the photos from the meeting, Cayler is ecstatic. They’ve got smiles for miles. Carly is an exact replica of her birth parents, and the choice not to air the meeting was smart. There’s just some moments that must remain sacred.

After saying goodbye, Catelynn and Tyler reflect on their emotional day. “I’m a little bit heartbroken for some reason,” Catelynn whimpers. “Even though I was young, I still could have been a really good mom.” They allow themselves to cry. As much as they cheerlead each other into believing that they’re totally fine, this pain won’t ever go away. One can only hope that soon, it will dull.

Farrah:
Last season, Farrah decided to leave Sophia with her parents so that she could set up shop in Florida. As you’ll recall, Michael cried a lot and her crazy-eyed mom Debra talked in baby talk 24/7, so all in all, it’s a pretty stable widdle situation. Farrah and her new big boobs pop over to her mom’s house to get a vewy exciting suwpwise. It’s — drum roll please — a bigger room for Sophia! Since Farrah always sounds like she’s in pain/exasperated when she talks to her mom, it’s hard to figure out how she feels about it all. The room used to be Farrah’s, so she tells Sophia about all the completely age-appropriate memories the space holds. That’s the bed that mommy and daddy didn’t mean to make you in! That’s the closet he hid in when he came over without grandpa’s permission! All the reminiscing makes Farrah wonder if she can stand to lose Sophia too … even if it’s just for a few months.

Since she’s starting to doubt her mistake she heads to chat up her therapist for a good ugly monster cry session. She feels that leaving Sophia would be admitting parenting defeat. Though she’s obviously made up her mind, she’s scared to tell her parents, as it would mean a double loss for them. Then, her insanely tan mask cracks and she has a mini-sob fest. Mrs. Therapist Lady reminds her that she has to follow her heart, even if it means a potential beat down from mommy dearest.

Two weeks before she’s set to go, she drops the bomb. Debra’s face registers no emotion and Michael reminds her how hard it’ll be to raise a baby in a new place. “She doesn’t need to feel isolated and separated,” Debra explains. Farrah launches into a tirade, and Michael gives his blessing. Debra pulls the total trump card of parenting. “You just go do whatever you need to do, Farrah,” she deadpans. Her anger practically reflects off the oil slick of Farrah’s face, and everything fades to black.

Later, Farrah explains to Michael that he’ll get the distinct pleasure of packing her U-Haul and driving it for five days to Florida. Because he’s been brainwashed, he says, “That sounds good” and goes off to his quarters to gently rock back and forth. Debra’s slightly less composed. “I told [Sophia] that you’re moving away …” she says, her voice breaking. Farrah asks her to contain her emotions around Sophia, and semi-shouts that she’ll call them if she needs help. “I’m a big kid now!” she reminds us during her tantrum.

As Michael packs his heart out, Farrah seamlessly weaves between berating and abusing him. She also demands that he be a “little taller.” My mom (hi, mom!) always said “sharper than a serpent’s tongue is an ungrateful child” … and ironically enough, there are evil-looking cobras emblazoned on the side of the U Haul. I’m basically convinced that Farrah is the 11th plague.

Then, Farrah, Debra and Sophia go out to lunch and we see that the worst has happened: Sophia has inherited Farrah’s demon genes. When she gets angry, she hisses like a wild animal, screams like a maniac and says “Shut up.” Meanwhile, Debra re-reminds Farrah that she’s very, very sad. “I’m grieving it, baby,” she whimpers. Debra drains her wine — aptly named “Farrah Wine” — and says it’s “sort of vinegar-y.” Bazinga!

On her last day at home, Farrah decides to bring Sophia to see her dad’s gravestone on what would have been his 21st birthday. It’s emotional for Farrah, and she tells him she’s terribly sad that he never got to experience life. “I wish we could have gotten married, and I wish we could have spent more time together,” she cries. “It really hurts that I’m here by myself, ’cause I never wanted to be that person. But it’s OK that I am.” Though Farrah is definitely an evil being from hell, it’s important to remember that she’s also the walking wounded. Her anger and bitchiness is, at its core, just pain.

Wasn’t this fun!? God, I missed you, teen moms.

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What Sunglasses In New York And Vaccines Have In Common

Benjamin is running, running like he has never run before and if his heart had a pair of legs of its own it will be now much ahead of him.

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It dusk and the air in the wood is fresh and muddy and it has a quiet, gloomy atmosphere broken only by the heavy steps of his boots and by the fast thuds of his heart.

Running like crazy he doesn’s notice the bramble bushes and ends up caught in their thorns. He swears and curses in the most colorful and creative way.

His hooded green jacket, his favorite, gets torn and ripped as he tries to break free, the tiny thorns poke him and scratch him everywhere.

From the tree a shadow slowly approaches.

The first thing to appear is his mouth, big as a man face, full of teeth, sharp and all of the same size and length, it drools and stinks. Then Ben realizes there is nothing more after it. The whole creature is made of that hellish mouth and from it spawn four long, skinny limbs. Two long legs like the one of spiders and which end with big clawed feet. It has then two short arms, much shorter than the legs, so short they’e almost useless but which end too with tiny clawed hands.

h! bursts the hapless, 測ou’e like a T-Rex with hairy legs! but the monster is not fond of his sarcasm and roars like a lion before charging into the brambles.

The best defense he may use against the panic and the fear is joking, to mock the odd, the weird and the dreadful so that it may look less scary and more stupid. He feels somewhat in control of the situation thanks to this attitude, especially now that he really thinks to be conscious to be in a dream.

The impact smashes the bushes and frees Ben who without hesitation runs away without even turns back to check his pursuer but he exhausted already. Benjamin rubs his eyes once and then twice trying either to keep himself awake or to wake himself from such a nightmare.

A sudden rustling scares and distracted the hapless who almost falls down from a ravine. The gorge pops out from no-where just after some more bushes, rowans maybe, with their little tiny red berries that look so inviting and yet are poisonous.

The pit is deep, probably the height of two or three men and down in the burrow lies a pile of clothes, dirty and messy clothes, among the others there are shirts and t-shirts, jumpers, jackets, pants, skirts, long and short, for winter and for summer, hats, belts, shoes, a whole outlet of wearing gears.

He doubting about jumping and in no time the fiend catches up with him, he has no choice.

Ben sees it now, haven’s notice it before, the big legged mouth pops out from a brain-like body. It seems a proper brain alright. Viscid, pulsing, covered with mold and tiny mushrooms and pustules, little gross red and blue pimples that exert a green disgusting slime.

y man, that nasty! says the hapless, 測ou got some salad stuck between your teeth! the brainy mouth roars spitting saliva on Benjamin who disgusted gathers himself and jumps down.

Fortunately the fall is attenuated by the clothes but as soon as he looks up, ready to mock the beast, he sees it ready to jump too.

ome on! Are you kidding me? yells Ben seeing the demon in the air.

In that moment a big winged shadow appears and swiftly catches the brain in mid-air. In the colors and shadows of the dusk the hapless can see only a dark shade flying away holding the legged mouthy monster with dreadful claws, nor that he cares to see more, he glad enough to have survived the race and almost grateful toward the winged beast, as long as it doesn’s come back of course.

Finally he can calm down his lungs and refill them with air, he was indeed at his limit. should quit smoking. Dang yes I should! Perhaps from tomorrow gasp Benjamin leaning on his own knees.

淟et take a look around. Let try to understand where the hell I am and how to get back home, ok? he says to himself while peering and scouting around. The wood is back to a quiet mood and the whole place, at gloaming, is wrapped in a humid stench of mold and death.

A stupid dream, that what it is. Maybe I e fell asleep in front of the TV, watching some of those low class horror movies. Or maybe I just play way too much video-games. Dang! What kind of thing is to find one good guy, perhaps a fair looking one! Running away from a big clawed mouth just like that? Out of no-where I say! Why couldn’s I dream about zombies? That a classic, that makes sense!

Seven Designer Kids’ Clothes Your Boy Cannot Be Without

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Sure, boys will be boys – but boys will also be trendy rockers, cool surfers or retro street dudes. Whether it is winter or spring, boys deserve to have a few designer kids clothes items that have superior style and personality, and that match up well (so that getting dressed is easy). Whether he is at the age where cool baby clothes is on the agenda, or old enough to sport more serious runway fashions, here are some great pointers when shopping:

Fun shoes that are also comfortable are a must. Boys at any age need to have the support for climbing, skating, running or just kicking about in their crib. Accent his unique baby clothes with some cool Knuckleheads Infant Knuckleheads Logo Slippers or a pair of soft Heathers Treasure Box Big Black Boots. Or, get the older, active kid some sleek sneakers that’ll really take him places!

Nice socks are a necessity no man should ever be without – no matter what his age. Designer kids’ clothes deserve great foot fashions, and black or white Knuckleheads Logo Socks are the perfect example of items that are classic yet playful at the same time.

Just the right denims are staples in any respectable wardrobe of children clothes. Baggy greasers, dark bootlegs or light-wash wonders – boys love them all. This season’s bright colors and bohemian fashions work especially well with cuts and shades similar to that of Monster Republic Denim Robot Jeans or the Knuckleheads Infant Greaser Jeans.

Retro button-up shirts make real cute kids clothes. Because of their casual look, these shirts can be paired with nearly any daytime children clothes, and will also keep them looking cool at more dressy occasions or in the evenings. Check out styles like the Knuckleheads Pretty Boy Retro Shirt.

T-shirts, t-shirts and more t-shirts – need we say more? Buy him a good selection of favorites from designer kids’ clothes brands such as Christian Audigier, Rowdy Sprout and Kaos Recycled Clothing and he will be set for many months to come.

Hip jackets, even during the warmer days of spring, can keep him warm and dry in most conditions – and keep him looking his best too. For a playful look, treat him to a Boo Foo Woo Vintage Style Track Jacket or the more glamorous Christian Audigier Kids Boys Green Yellow Track Jacket. For the retro tot, invest in a very cool plaid jacket such as the Knuckleheads Grady Plaid Wool Jacket.

Trendy baby hats and kids head fashions will give his outfit an edge as well as keep him dry and warm in rainy or windy weather. Australian brand Munster Kids has produced a versatile military hat that works any day. Boys wearing a lot of street inspired designer kid clothes will love the Knuckleheads Skate Cap in brown or green, while the more retro dude will look great in the Houndstooth or Billy Pub hats, also by Knucklehead.

Shopping for these items can be done in a heartbeat. Now that you know what seven basic items every boy needs for his wardrobe, it’s time to hit the stores. Places that specialize in designer kid’s clothes and cool baby clothes are your best bet – since they tend to keep the most up-to-date selection of some of the best brands and products, you will have an easy and fun shopping experience. Check out the leading children’s boutique R&S Avenue for example, where you can find children’s fashion from all corners of the world. From Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers to the celebrity favorite Glamajama, you’ll find everything you need for his wardrobe there!

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Mega Milk / Titty Monster

Mega Milk, or Titty Monster, is an exploitable image of a woman holding her own large cleavage with a crazed expression on her face, while wearing a shirt which reads ega Milk The character is frequently redrawn to resemble other fictional characters, alongside with the facial expression become a common photoshop exploitable on other faces.

Origin

Men's Print Battle Against the Goliath Short Sleeve Tops TeesThe original image comes from the hentai doujin iny Boobs Giant Tits History by Shiden Akira, originally published in 2007[1]. The lot revolves around a brother who insults her sisters small chest, only for the two to later make up over some amily funtime

Page 3 (shown above, left) of an english scanlation by the (currently inactive) translation group Rhapfan of the doujin was spammed on 4chan across multiple boards around 2008, most prominently /v/, in an apparent attempt to force a meme with the line hut the fuck up you titty monster Due to the frequent spammings, interest in the original doujin grew, which led to the discovery of the pose on page 4 (shown above, right).

Vintage SESAME STREET Collectibles

The man who would be the Cookie Monster circled the parking lot in a beat-up, maroon van.

Inside, a pair of red and black boxers hung from the grab handle. A toothbrush and tube of toothpaste were stashed in the glove box. But his prized possession was stuffed in a large plastic bag: the furry blue costume of the iconic Sesame Street character.

Adam Sandler his legal name, but no relation to the comic actor slipped the outfit over a sweat-drenched blue T-shirt before putting on the head with the famously googly eyes.

Then he got to work, playing Pied Piper for children going in and out of the Los Angeles Zoo and, hopefully, persuading their parents to slip a few dollars his way.

In a city where people dress as characters from Spider-Man to Chewbacca for tips, Sandler Cookie Monster is far from singular. Nor is it unusual when they make waves for dubious reasons like full-on brawls on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (We’e looking at you, Mr. Incredible and Batgirl.)

But none of the other costumed characters is likely to carry a weight greater than Sandler. The 52-year-old has been dubbed a serial troublemaker from New York to San Francisco, and now L.A. He has been caught on video making anti-Semitic rants, got caught up in an extortion case involving the Girl Scouts and was accused of threatening to beat up another Cookie Monster.

All of this has made him one notorious faux Muppet.

淛ust here in the last six months, we e had quite a few problems with him, said L.A. police Det. Jeana Franco. his guy is like a national nuisance. /p>

See the most-read stories this hour >>

Sandler born Danny Mark Sandler in Ashland, Ore. denied threatening the other Cookie Monster and said businesses along Hillhurst Avenue were lying about his behavior and that Los Feliz residents provoked incidents. He added that the kids at the zoo love him.

“I tamed my behavior down since I’ve been at the zoo, since New York,” Sandler said. “This is a good place for me to be, because I’m only impacting one business. If I go to Santa Monica or something, it impacts 50 businesses. So it’s better that I’m here. And it’s calmer, no one is harassing me.”

The Los Angeles Police Department has gotten complaints from residents, businesses and from the fellow Cookie Monster. Because Sandler has not committed a felony, he has not been arrested, police said.

For the zoo, Sandler presents a conundrum. Outside, Sandler has told attendees not to shop at zoo stores because a Muslim group owns them, according to some complaints.

Because Sandler stands in a designated free speech area, he has the legal right to be there, April Spurlock, a spokeswoman for the zoo, said.

f you want to follow the law, his speech is constitutionally protected, said Eugene Volokh, a UCLA 1st Amendment law professor. f he threatens another person or if he does anything else illegal, he can certainly be prosecuted for that. But he needs to be prosecuted for the constitutionally unprotected material, not anything that constitutionally protected. /p>

Women's Custom Cthulhu Hero Short Sleeve  Tops TeesZoo staff monitors Sandler behavior and makes security officers aware if he is out of the free speech area or if his behavior is harassing or inappropriate, Spurlock said. The zoo has received a total of 67 formal complaints, in person and over social media, about Sandler since last year, she said.

he general thought was that Adam Sandler was scary, disruptive, made people feel unsafe, and was a poor reflection on the zoo, Spurlock said in an email.

On July 13, another Cookie Monster alleges, Sandler threatened to beat him up for stealing his business.

Out of costume, Sandler has also drawn the ire of Los Feliz residents and businesses who accuse him of making anti-Semitic remarks and of being aggressive toward passersby.

On Nextdoor, an online social network for neighborhoods, an April post about Sandler the hreatening man living in red van on Finley garnered more than 300 comments.

potted this guy on Sunday yelling anti-Semitic stuff at random people and yelling at diners on the porch at Alcove not to eat there because the restaurant had poisoned a small child and bribed congressmen to cover it up, one user commented.

A manager at a business on Hillhurst said that Sandler has screamed at customers, made anti-Semitic comments, threatened him and spit in his face.

scared, said Frankie Tirado, who said he has filed a battery report. would like to see him get some kind of help. I don’s think he belongs out on the street no one wants to hear the Cookie Monster say he going to kill their family. /p>

The L.A. city attorney office filed one count of battery against Sandler on Wednesday for the alleged incident involving Tirado, according to a representative.

On a recent afternoon, Sandler posed for photos outside the zoo. The following day, he refused to confirm that he was Sandler, but addressed questions related to his criminal history and said the press does not like him.

Department of Motor Vehicle records show the van that he drives is registered to an Adam Sandler.

He repeatedly walked away after answering questions, only to return a few minutes later to continue speaking, answering questions through the Cookie Monster head.

very fragile, I need my income right now, he said pleadingly. 淧lease don’s take this from me I have nowhere to go from here. /p>

Sandler added that he is Jewish and is not anti-Semitic.

In 2012, Sandler who previously dressed as Elmo was caught by more than one video camera shouting anti-Semitic and xenophobic remarks in New York City.

When he spoke to the New York Times that year, he said he had previously traveled to Cambodia and started a pornographic website called elcome to the Rape Camp. /p>

A 1999 Associated Press article named Sandler and referred to him as the website’s creator. He told the New York Times that he had been deported from Cambodia.

Idaho: Wine Tasting, SUP Yoga And 100-Mile Gravel Ride (PHOTOS)

When Rebecca Rusch invited me to participate in her inaugural Rebecca’s Private Idaho 100-mile gravel ride in Sun Valley, Idaho, I was excited but admittedly fearful. I knew any ride masterminded by Rebecca, the three-time 24-hour Solo Mountain Bike World Champion, dubbed “The Queen of Pain,” would be brutal. Despite my white-knuckled ways, I signed up for what promised to be a gravel-grinding, lung-busting, dusty century ride, set for Labor Day weekend.

Searching for strength in a bottle or many bottles, I decided to spend a few pre-ride days in Boise, exploring Idaho’s fledging wine country. With more than 50 wineries — up from 13 in 1998 — the area specializes in cool weather whites like Viogner and Riesling and sturdy reds, including spicy Syrah. Due to small production and restricted distribution, most Idaho wines never cross the state border, keeping them hidden gems.

The majority of vineyards are clustered in the southwest Snake River Valley, while a handful of wineries have tasting rooms in downtown Boise, which is where I started my tour. Melanie Krause, the talented winemaker at Cinder Wines, a 7-year-old winery named for the sandy cinder soil, poured me her racy Dry Viogner. It was a medium-bodied sipper with rich stone fruit, terrific acidity and generous long spicy finish that would be perfect with Thai food.

At Coiled Wines, the Dry Riesling was similarly bright but with nutty aromas and ripe white peach nuances. The winemaker Leslie Preston, who donned a soft blue “Riesling Revolution” T-shirt, is on mission to educate imbibers about Riesling’s beauty and diversity. She notes, “It’s the quintessential food wine and not all Riesling is sweet!”

The next day, I checked out Idaho River Sports and spent the morning stand-up paddling past old Weeping Willow trees along the gently flowing Boise River. Later, I joined instructor Nicole Vickerman and four yogis for an hour SUP yoga class on nearby Quinns pond. At home in NYC, I regularly practice yoga at Pure Yoga and SUP on the Hudson River, but this was a first. Under sunny skies peppered with puffy clouds, we dropped anchors to keep our boards in place. Balancing was trickier than I expected. I needed move slowly, while engage my belly to stay afloat and Downward Dog demanded my hands and feet press equally to keep the board stable. Standing on one leg for Tree Pose was the most challenging. Although, I used my paddle as a perch, I wiggled and wobbled, as if I had sipped too much wine.

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To wrap up my Idaho wine exploration, I headed to Koenig Winery & Distillery in the Snake River Valley, where I met Greg Koenig in his Austrian-influenced winery and tasting room that he hand-built. A pioneer in Idaho winemaking, Koenig opened his winery in 1999 and consults with several local vineyards, like Williamson Orchards & Vineyards. Similar to Washington State, known for world-class Syrah, Idaho’s grape growing region has warm sunny days and cool nights, producing grapes with dense fruit and excellent acid.

Koenig’s award winning Dry Riesling was crisp with delightful tropical fruit and generous finish. While, the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon had terrific structure, berry rich layers and lingering dark fruit finish that showcased Idaho wine’s aging capability. I brought a bottle of Riesling and a Cabernet-Syrah blend with me to Sun Valley for a pre-ride dinner at my friend’s Sun Valley home.

The Sunday morning of our 100-mile gravel ride was cool and breezy with clear cobalt skies. I stood in the bustling starting corral, among 200 fellow riders, chatting with two mountain bikers from Utah. They were straddling mountain bikes. I was happy to be using a Specialized Crux cyclocross bike, rather than riding my road bike with thin, slick tires. At precisely 8 a.m., Rebecca called out “3-2-1, go!” Our two-wheeled posse rolled through downtown Ketchum, along Sun Valley Road to Trail Creek Road, which led to the start of our first monster climb.

There were two divisions, the 100-mile Big Potato and 50-mile Small Fry that routed through Wild Horse Creek Canyon before returning to Ketchum. The 100-miler, also an out-and-back course, journeyed deep into the belly of Copper Basin, surrounded the rugged Pioneer Mountains.

The brawny headwind hammered. I tucked tight to my top tube and handlebars, trying to limit wind resistance on the first rolling section. As the road turned upward, the air thinned. Between huffs and puffs at nearly 8,000 feet, I chatted with a local guy who detailed the course’s highlights and pitfalls. We admired the gorgeous views of the lush valley below. Up the road, the lead group of riders shattered on the steep pitched road. Our conversation halted as we hit tricky terrain on the last quarter of the climb, where the pavement dissolved into a scree-strewn mess during a steep out-of-the-saddle, leg-pumping switchback. It was the first of many times I was thankful for my 32-inch knobby tires.

At the first of four aid stations, stocked with energy drink, gels, PB & J and pretzels, I slurped a chocolate Powergel and readied myself for the rough stuff. Navigating the steep loose gravel downhill made me whine for my mommy. While, some rad mountain bikers zoomed through steep, stony sections, I embraced my brake-hugging, breath-holding ways. My hands and forearms throbbed from squeezing the sturdy brakes until we hit the bottom. Just as I started to breath easy, grrrrrr, grrrrrr, grrrrr the knobby tires hissed along the bristling washing board dirt road. My brain felt like scrambled eggs from my helmet chattering on the frames of my Smith PV2 sunglasses.

After the Small Fry riders turned back, it was no man’s land. I was alone on an abandoned dusty road, cutting between low growing shrubs, in the underbelly of the Wild West. My only companions were emerald spruces scattered across the rocky hillsides. I slugged along, at times wondering if I was lost, until I spotted bike tire marks in the sandy loam.

My sweaty legs were caked in powdery dirt and sunglasses covered in a layer of filth. To add to the muck, four ATVs chugged by kicking up a dust storm that would make Charlie Brown’s pal Pig Pen jealous. But it didn’t matter, I was nearly back to the climb up the backside of Trail Creek Road — and I knew there was a kicking party at the finish.

As I descended toward Ketchum, I was thrilled to hit pavement. Rattled and ravenous, I spun my dusty red two-wheel steed into town where I was welcomed by rocking country music and enticing food aromas. Looking like jockey on a muddy track, I pumped my weary arm upon crossing the finish line.

Food trucks abounded, serving Thai, BBQ, burgers, beer and wine. To celebrate a long, hard, fun ride with friends, we quaffed wine and cheered Rebecca Rusch, who is now known as the Queen of Pain and Party Planning!

Spartan Race At Fenway Park

Women's Phoenix vs Dragon Print Long Sleeve Tee ShirtIt took Spartan Race directors five monthsnd a few Fenway field trips o plan, design, and build each of the Spartan Sprint 25 obstacles. Map provided by Spartan Race.

This past weekend, more than 7,000 Red Sox fans and hardcore exercise junkies swept the stands of Fenway 攏ot for your typical peanuts and Cracker Jacks ballgame, but for one of the most challenging obstacle racing events in the world: a Spartan Race.

This particular race was called a partan Sprint which was three miles of 22 obstacles, in, around, under, up, down, and through the oldest ballpark in the major leagues. It was also a test for Spartan to try out an entirely new format. ll of our races are in the woods, trail running through the mud and elements, says Brian Duncanson, Spartan Race director and cofounder. his was the first time we brought the race to an urban setting, and we couldn’s have picked a better place in America. /p>

The athletes who showed up this past weekend were thinking the same thing. Fenway added a unique element to Spartan usual gut-wrenching challenge view, and one with major historic significance. Participants were more psyched to run the bases in their favorite Boston landmark than they were about the hundreds of burpees and stadium stairs in front of them. kept dropping the sandbag because I couldn’s take my eyes off the Green Monster, one Red Sox jersey-sporting competitor exclaimed. Other racers duct-taped GoPro cameras to their chests, so that they could remember their hour of Fenway action for years to come. Those who weren’s decked out in Red Sox paraphernalia sported handmade T-shirts that commemorated the event. Fenway turned out to be more than just a draw. For many participants, it was their inspiration.

And inspiration was needed. The race took participants over picnic tables and under barbed wire, required them to navigate climbing walls, jump over barricades, scurry up ladders, and even throw a javelin. Some of the toughest obstacles included the Hercules Pull, which required participants to hoist as much as 80-pounds up 25-feet in the air, and the 60-pound sandbag run, which, according to Duncanson, spanned robably over a half a mile. Most finished in about an hour, and despite sweat, bruises, cuts, and a few tears, almost all were smiling as they crossed the finish line. The more experienced Spartan racers knew what to ask when they received their medals, here my beer? /p>

Spartan, along with every other type of obstacle or adventure racing, is growing at an exponential rate. e generally see around 150 percent increase in one of our events from year to year, Duncanson says. e’e trying to build a sport, something long-lasting. There are a lot of people who come out because it a fun, unique kind of experience, but we’e going to push this thing higher. Looking forward, Spartan plans to attract more elite athletes by amping up their prize money and giving their races more structure by having timed events. Right now, Spartan features a diverse group of competitors, from runners and CrossFit fanatics, to football players and firemen. Now they’e going bignd the evidence was there on Saturday, in the form of Kevin Faulk.

The former NFL running back retired last month after spending his entire 13 year career with the Patriots. Faulk was a key member of all three Patriots Super Bowl titles and was pleasantly surprised by the intensity of the event, even admitting that he would be significantly sore the next day. he hardest part was just understanding what each drill was, Faulk says. e done obstacle courses in practice before, but this was different. Kind of unusual. It got the job done. /p>

Like most of Spartan Race competitors, Faulk found the obstacle course and it mentality sort of addicting. t the competitiveness, he says. 淓veryone has some level of competitive spirit in them and this race brings it out. Faulk convinced he’l run the Spartan Fenway Sprint again next year, and may even try his luck at Spartan toughest challenge, the Death Race, next summer in Vermont.

And that the mentality Spartan Race is trying to build. Try one race, and if you love it, you’l run another. But next time, go bigger. In Spartan world, there are no limits.

Kevin Faulk poses with his kids after completing the Fenway Sprint. Photo by Madison Kahn.

A group of 30 friends, all sporting custom t-shirts. Photo by Madison Kahn.

Arriva Monster Energy Supercross

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Ralph Sheheen and Jeff Emig bring you the highlights from the Cup Class races at the Monster Energy Cup. Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, is the premier off-road motorcycle racing circuit in the world, produced with man-made tracks inside the world\’s most elite stadiums. Follow fan favorites Marvin Musquin, Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, Trey Canard, Jason Anderson, Chad Reed, David Millsaps, and former riding greats like Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto, Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael. Watch all the riding action, highlights, interviews and behind the scenes exclusive content for Monster Energy Supercross, the most thrilling action sport on the planet! WATCH LIVE + ON-DEMAND ?US & Canada: http://www.supercrosslive.com/en-US/tv ?International: http://www.supercrosslive.tv TICKETS & MERCH ?Get official merch at http://www.supercrosssuperstore.com ?Buy Live Event Tickets: http://www.supercrosslive.com/tickets FOLLOW MONSTER ENERGY SUPERCROSS Website: http://www.SupercrossLive.com Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/SupercrossLive Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/SupercrossLive Instagram: http://instagram.com/SupercrossLive Our Motorsports Channels: ?Monster Energy Supercross: http://www.youtube.com/supercrosslive ?Monster Jam: https://www.youtube.com/monsterjam ?AMSOIL Arenacross: https://www.youtube.com/Arenacross Join the Monster Energy SX Community: https://goo.gl/1bdky4…

Sustainability Must Have Deep Roots

Maybe it sounds strange that we could learn anything related to business from Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift. These two super stars of music exist on nearly opposite ends of musical taste. Both of them have rocked the top 40 with entirely different methods. Their sounds and styles are nothing alike and yet they both exist in an extremely difficult industry.

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Take Taylor Swift, she has a loyal following of teens and pre-teens that are followed closely by their parents. This eager group of fans can easily sell out the Staples Center in a matter of hours. Her concerts are packed with energy and sounds that range somewhere between Country and Pop. Mention anything about Taylor Swift to a 14 year old girl and you will likely hear someone who spontaneously recites compelling lyrics. This loyal group of fans follows Taylor’s every move from television, concerts to Facebook.

Lady Gaga has a different approach. Her unique style and passion won’t compel parents of a 14 year old to rush to a concert. She gathers massive attention with her compelling concerts that are aptly entitled “The Monster Ball”. With an impeccable attention to detail her fans are fiercely loyal to her every move. A single status update that most business owners would never release can get almost 30,000 people saying they “like” it!

Both of these platinum artists have millions of fans (over 4 million, and 7 million respectively) for their fan pages. They command attention from the social networks and translate that attention into concert ticket sales, CD’s sales, t-shirt sales and more. Although music is certainly their passion they have built quite an empire on Facebook.

Unless you are about to sign a recording deal with a major music label their numbers may seem a bit out of reach for your presence on Facebook; however, not as far out of the realm of reality as you might think. Consider the following methods to bring a raging base of friends who “like”:

Make it Easy For People to Find Your Business – At concerts Taylor Swift proudly shows her Twitter address on the vision boards. Kids on their mobile phones are able to join right then and there! When your customer’s are the happiest (like a concert) get them to do even more for you. Give them an opportunity to become a fan right there as easily as possible.
Spread the Word – These two artists are on TV and Radio daily. It’s nearly impossible to buy that much ad time so hit your exposure differently. Consider writing articles, blog posts, reach out to top bloggers and volunteer to give them an interview (even the top ones need content). Find as many places as possible to share your voice and value.
Monetize the Attention – Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga aren’t charities. They capitalize the attention they receive at every possible moment. On their fan pages, websites, concerts they are letting their eager fans make purchases. Consider having a store tab, like Lady Gaga, for your most popular items to convert that traffic into immediate income.

Maybe you won’t be able to pack a stadium full of 80,000 raving fans or maybe you can! By putting into action strategies that make it easy for people to find you, will get your business attention and monetizing that attention your business can experience massive growth with your Fan Page. The best part is that with all of that attention you still won’t be bothered by the paparazzi.

80 Best Photoshop Tutorials From 2017

They key to growth and skill improvement as a user of Photoshop whether you’e a designer or even a photographer is to be constantly seeking out new techniques within Photoshop. There no better way to get better at Photoshop than to be constantly learning by doing tutorials to refine your skills.

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This is always one of my favorite blog posts I love to put together towards the end of year, because it features all of very best Photoshop tutorials. This is a great one stop shop for sharping and refining your Photoshop skills with a round up that features a broad range of design tutorials, from text effects to Photoshop manipulations. All these tutorials where all created in 2017, so your learning the freshest latest techniques.

I hope you enjoy this post, and would love for you to share your favorite Photoshop tutorial from 2017 in the comments section below.

1. How to Create an Editable Animated RGB Glitch Effect in Adobe Photoshop

In this tutorial, we are going to simulate an animation of an RGB glitch effect using Adobe Photoshop.

2. Photoshop Gold Style Shiny Text Tutorial

Learn how to create a shiny gold Photoshop text using layer styles. You can use this gold Photoshop style to make different text effects that look like gold and diamonds jewelry.

3. How to Create a Composite Dreamscape using two photos in Photoshop

It about creating a composite dreamscape using two photos in Photoshop. As most of us like photography, it always nice to add some spark to your pictures with a simple technique.

4. How to Create an Easy Digital Glitch Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

This tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop layer styles, filters, and layer masks to create a quick and easy digital glitch text effect.

5. How to Use Tree Brushes to Paint Human Hair in Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use tree brushes to paint human hair in Photoshop by working through an interesting human photo manipulation project. The tutorial is suitable for beginner – intermediate skill Photoshop users.

6. How To Create a Watercolor Painting Effect in Photoshop

Watercolour paintings are a hugely popular art style that can be incorporated into your design projects, but you don’s need to be a master artist to create such imagery when Adobe Photoshop can produce realistic watercolour effects with a cocktail of built-in filters. In today tutorial I take you through a range of settings that will convert any photograph into a hand-made watercolour style painting.

7. How to Create a Metallic 3D Spiky Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

This tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop 3D tools and settings to create a spiky text effect with text and preset meshes, as well as a few textures, adjustment layers, and filters.

8. Vampire Blood Text Effect In Photoshop

In this tutorial you will learn how to create a vampire blood text effect in Photoshop inspired by Dracula, the famous Romanian vampire. We will create this creepy text effect using a horror background with fire effects and a dripping blood layer style.

9. How to Create Photoshop Puzzle Effect

In this Photoshop tutorial, we will transform a regular photo into a jigsaw puzzle.

10. How to Create a Floral Portrait Photo Manipulation in Adobe Photoshop

In this tutorial It will show you how to create a floral portrait of a woman with flowers, leaves, branches and butterflies. We’l not only combine different images using standard blending techniques but also learn how to make abstract elements.

11. Create cosmic art

In this tutorial, Adam Ismail shows you how to create a fabulous astronomy-themed composition using elements taken from public-domain NASA images.

12. Create an surreal portrait mosaic illustration

In this tutorial, Fabio will show you how to create a deconstructed image using a pattern made out of cubes.

13. How to Create a Creepy Halloween Text Effect in Photoshop

In this tutorial you will learn how to create a spooky Halloween text effect in Adobe Photoshop.

14. How to Create a Brain Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

It almost Halloween! In this tutorial I will show you how to create a brain text effect in Adobe Photoshop.

15. How to Create a Disc Cover in Adobe Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a disc cover design in Adobe Photoshop.

16. How to Create a 3D, Shiny, Inflated Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

This is a very special tutorial as it celebrates ten wonderful years of Envato Tuts+, and what better text effect to celebrate with than one inspired by balloons and confetti? This tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop 3D tools and settings, along with brushes and adjustment layers, to create a fun, shiny, inflated text effect.

17. How to Create a 90s Style Event Flyer in Adobe InDesign

Nineties style is making a big comeback in fashion and design at the moment. Tap into the trend with this flyer design, perfect for advertising club nights and music events. Inspired by the nostalgic branding of Saved by the Bell and Clueless, this layout is simple to put together and gives a contemporary twist to nineties styling.

18. How To Create an Infrared Photo Effect in Adobe Photoshop

A couple of weeks ago I created a showcase post of breathtaking infrared photography with surreal colours. Those featured examples were authentic infrared photos that were shot on infrared film, or digitally with an infrared lens, but I e been playing around in Adobe Photoshop to find a way to replicate the effect with a standard image. In today tutorial I’l show you how to reverse the colours of a landscape scene to switch the greens to vibrant pinks to mimic the popular false-color infrared style.

19. How to Create a 90s Graphical Photo Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Learn how to create the initial background before applying the shapes, model, and final colors to the composition.

20. How to Create a Quick & Easy Duotone Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Use a texture image and a gradient map, with some adjustment layers and filters, to create a super quick and easy duotone text effect.

21. Digitally paint a beautiful animal-headed portrait

In this Photoshop tutorial, she takes you through the process of how she creates her work, first roughly comping the arrangement of elements using reference photos and then applying layers of brushwork above them to produce the final piece.

22. Create realistic lens flares

You’l learn how to present exciting variations on an old theme through changing the position of the lens flares and creative use of the blending modes, brush tools and colour.

23. How to Create a Rock Blast Effect Action in Adobe Photoshop

24. How to Create a 3D Warehouse Sign Text Effect

In this tutorial you will learn how to turn your ordinary photos into energetic, rock blast photos. I will try to explain everything in so much detail that everyone can do it, even those who have just opened Photoshop for the first time.

25. Create an Easy Folded Paper Text Effect in Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial, you will explore an easy technique to simulate a folded paper text effect, like those we generally see in origami examples.

26. How to Create a Flame Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Pyrophobia is an inordinate fear of or hatred of fire. This tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop Flame filter, along with some flame, smoke, and spark image textures as well as blending options, filters, and adjustment settings, to create a blazing, fiery text effect.

27. How to Create a Vintage Rusted Metal Sign in Adobe Photoshop

28. How to Create a Wood Engraved Logo Mockup in Adobe Photoshop

29. How to Create a Double Exposure Portrait with Photoshop

Some people like aged, vintage objects, but these old objects can also trigger the fear of growing old. In this tutorial you will learn how to make a metal sign look old and worn in Adobe Photoshop.

30. How to Create a Graffiti Effect in Adobe Photoshop

Learn how to create graffiti art from your photos in Adobe Photoshop, using filters and adjustments.

31. Create A Fairy With Sparkle Dust Trail In Photoshop

32. How to Create a tranger Things Inspired Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

33. Create age Planet Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

Learn how to create a fairy pixie dust magic trail in Photoshop using overlay textures, blending techniques and glow styles. You can create beautiful fantasy fairy effects in Photoshop using these simple tips.

34. How To Create a Vintage Style Large Letter Postcard Design

The design we’l be creating in this tutorial is inspired by the classic style of Large Letter postcards. We’l use Adobe Illustrator to produce the 3D text style, then import the artwork into Adobe Photoshop to replicate the picture effects within each letter. The addition of some image filters and textures will give the digital design the aesthetics of a vintage print.

35. Create a deep-sea feel using Photoshop blending modes

The use of Photoshop blending modes is not technically difficult. Where the magic lies is in the conceptual ideas you bring to their use. Jono Hislop wants you to have room to breathe your own inspiration into blending modes, so his tutorial makes repeated use of them.

36. How to Create a Colorful Explosion Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

This tutorial will show you how to use a couple of colorful texture images, with a Photoshop action and some smoke and texture overlays, to create an easy, colorful explosion text effect. Let get started!

37. Create a Three-Color Illustration for Screen Printing

This tutorial shows step by step how to create separated artwork for a screen-printed T-shirt. Screen printing is regarded as the best method of printing onto apparel because of the quality it produces. It should not be confused with the inferior four-color heat transfer printing, which does not look as good or last as long.

38. The Mummy Movie Poster Photoshop Tutorial

39. Add Depth Of Field to a photo using Tilt Shift Blur in Photoshop

40. Add Depth Of Field to a photo using Tilt Shift Blur in Photoshop

Learn how to create The Mummy movie poster effect in Photoshop. We’l create an evil woman character with two pupils in the same eye. We’l also add some ancient hieroglyphics ink tattoos on the woman face. I hope you will enjoy creating the mummy poster effect in Adobe Photoshop.

41. How to Create an Endless Picture Within a Picture Illusion in Adobe Photoshop

A great project for putting your Photoshop skills to the test is to create an optical illusion. An optical illusion creates an experience for the viewer that makes them see something that isn’s there or is different than how it appears.

42. How to Create an Electrifyingly Patriotic Manipulation in Photoshop

Learn how to create this intense photo manipulation of a guy shooting lightning from his hands. In this tutorial you will learn various blending and lightning techniques.

43. Change colours in a photo to match 2017 visual trends in Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial, Tigz Rice shows how to create an image in this style from a photo shot against a white background – you could use one of your own or one from a stock site such as iStock, Shutterstock or DepositPhotos. Check out our list of where to find free images. It best if each of the model clothing and accessories are simply coloured, as our model Marnie are here.

44. Create 淓agle Warrior Human Photo Manipulation in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the process of creating 淓agle Warrior Human Photoshop Manipulation in Photoshop. We will mix a warrior model image with a couple of eagle images, and add some custom brush paintings to spice up the effect.

45. Brick Text Typography Surreal Photoshop Tutorial

Learn how to create a 3D brick typography in Photoshop using a free 3D action maker. We will combine the brick text effect with different images to create a surreal photo manipulation. I am waiting to see your results; you can use other textures like wood for example to create your own interesting text effects.

46. How To Create a Vintage Film Title Text Effect in Photoshop

In today Adobe Photoshop tutorial we’e going to have some fun replicating the classic film title styles from old black and white movies of the 30s and 40s. Three dimensional effects were often used, along with low key lighting. To replicate these aesthetics in Photoshop, we’l make use of the 3D feature available in version CS6 and beyond, which will automatically generate realistic lighting and shading to our text.

47. Create artwork with both real and digital brushstrokes

48. How to Create a Super Easy Liquid Metal Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

In this tutorial, Adi Gilbert explains how he produces beautifully-crafted illustrations using a blend of traditional brushwork, and digital techniques with a tablet, stylus and Photoshop.

49. How to Create a Wet Glass Action in Adobe Photoshop

In this tutorial, I’l show you how to create a wet glass effect on any photo. At the end of the tutorial, you’l have an action which will automate the entire process with a single click. This effect works with images of almost any size and resolution.

50. How to Create an Ashes & Embers Dispersion Action in Adobe Photoshop

In this tutorial, I’l show you how to create an ashes and embers dispersion effect on any photo. At the end of the tutorial, you’l have an action which will automate the entire process with a single click.

51. Create a Photo Manipulation of an Emotional Dancer in a Forest

In this tutorial I’l show you how to create a scene of an emotional dancer in a forest. You’l learn how to combine and blend different stock photos in a cohesive scene, adjust color, use layer mask, manage lighting, work with group and more.

52. How to Create a Hollywood Sign Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

53. How to Use Lightroom Presets in Photoshop

This tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop healing and stamp tools, along with its 3D tools and settings, to create a Hollywood sign inspired text effect.

54. Create a Vintage Style Poster in Photoshop

This tutorial demonstrates techniques to create a vintage style poster in Photoshop. We will also be using Illustrator for some simple operations. This is a fairly straight forward tutorial utilizing Photoshop drawing tools and composition techniques.

55. How to Create a Glossy, Puffy Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

This tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop layer styles to create a super quick and easy glossy, puffy text effect.

56. How to Create an Easy Neon Text Effect With Layer Styles in Adobe Photoshop

In this tutorial I will show you how to create a nice acid text effect, using layer styles.

57. Create a Fantasy Fish Scene above the Sky

In this tutorial I’l show you how to create a fantasy fish scene using a variety of photo manipulation techniques. You’l learn how to combine different stock images into a cohesive scene using blending, adjusting colors, masking and brush. You’l learn also how to focus on the details, work with lighting, manage your layers and more.

58. Create a Chocolate Tablet Text Effect in Photoshop

Learn how to create a chocolate tablet text effect in Photoshop from scratch. You can create any type of chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate using color adjustment maps. Also you can personalize the chocolate by adding text, shapes, etc.

59. How to create a fur action

In this tutorial I will show you how to create a fur action in Adobe Photoshop using a pattern, a brush, a layer style, and a gradient map. At the end of the tutorial you will have an action, ready to perform almost the entire process with a single click.

60. Amazing 80s airbrush portrait techniques

In this Photoshop airbrush tutorial, you’l learn how to create a beautiful, dreamlike painting full of subtle details and with a bold 80s colour scheme. Design duo KittoZutto show you how to create an airbrushed portrait in Photoshop that taps the glory days of Athena posters.

61. How to Create Realistic Feet-Inspired Hiking Boots in Adobe Photoshop

Do you love hiking? Upgrade your footwear with a unique pair of foot-inspired boots! In this tutorial, we’l go over how to manipulate a regular pair of feet to create an overall hiking scene using basic photo manipulation techniques.

62. 3D Paper text effect

This tutorial will show you how to use Photoshop 3D tools and settings, with some adjustment layers, to create a 3D paper text effect.

63. How to Create a Mysterious Matte Painting Landscape in Photoshop

Learn how to create this beautiful mountain landscape in Photoshop. This tutorial shows how to develop a amazing and meditative landscape of the mysterious East theme out of a plain background using photo manipulation, photo montage techniques coupled with some painting inside Photoshop.

64. That Warm Sunny Lens Flare look

Have you seen those trendy cool colorized photos that have color on the edges and really nice lighting? Perhaps you have wondered how its done? In this Photoshop tutorial, I will show you how. It called the lensflare look.

65. How to Create a Surreal, Emotional Scene With Adobe Photoshop

In this tutorial I’l show you how to create a surreal, emotional scene featuring a woman carrying a cage. First we’l build the background using sky and grass images. Later we’l add the model, cage, trees and birds and blend them together using adjustment layers, masking and brushes. We’l use several adjustment layers to complete the final effect.

66. Create Wizard Summoning Lightning Magic Scene in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you how I create a Wizard Summoning Lightning Magic Scene in Photoshop. We will construction a surreal landscape with a few stock images (castle, mountain, etc) first, then add the lightning effect with custom brushes.

67. How to Make Delicious Ice Cream Text in Photoshop

This tutorial shows you how to create yummy typography. You’l need Photoshop CS5 or newer to follow this tutorial.

68. Create Ocean Monster Attack Surreal Digital Art in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you the process used to create ocean monster attack surreal digital art in Photoshop. We will combine a number of objects such as city buildings, ocean and rocks to form the base on the image, and use an octopus stock photo as the monster. We will also add some tornado onto the image to finalise the effect.

69. Create Ocean Monster Attack Surreal Digital Art in Photoshop

It gives you the opportunity to add very special rainbow effects to photos and designs, primarily colorful light leak and vintage effects that will breathe new life into or enhance what is already pretty darn cool. We’e providing you with 45 effects that we handcrafted here in house. We know you’l love them.

70. Master Photoshop Select & Mask Workspace

71. How to Create an inFamous Inspired Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial, Justin Seeley will walk you through the new workspace and give you some tips on how you can use it to improve your cutouts. He’l cover things like making a rough selection with Quick Selection, examining our composite using the all-new onion skinning mode. You’l also learn how best to refine complicated selections like hair using the Refine Edge Brush tool.

72. Create a Fantasy Photo Manipulation of Magical Forest

In this tutorial I will show how to create a fantasy photo manipulation of magical forest. You’l learn how to work with forest stock and then blend them to make a perfect composition. We’l also learn how to create special light effects using basic to advanced lighting techniques. Moreover, I got two color variants for this tutorial and you’l get to know about it at the end of tutorial.

73. How to Create a Steampunk Inspired Text Effect in Adobe Photoshop

This tutorial will show you how to create different steampunk inspired elements, using shapes and layer styles with a bunch of gradients. Then, it will show you how to use those elements, along with a couple of textures and adjustments, in order to achieve a steampunk inspired text effect.

74. Create Dispersion Disintegration Effect in Photoshop

Learn how to create dispersion effect in Photoshop using this free action. You can create endless dispersion disintegration photo effects using the dispersion brushes included in this pack.

75. Blend different illustration styles to create a unique artwork

In this tutorial, you’l discover how to combine two different illustration styles in Illustrator and Photoshop.

76. How to create shattered statue

Photo composites often require several Photoshop tools and techniques to achieve a desired effect. In this tutorial we will combine several photos to create a statue from a photo of a model. We will then explain how modify the statue to create cracks, and molten rock using layer masks, adjustments, and several blending and painting techniques.

77. How To Whiten Teeth In Photoshop

In this tutorial, you will learn how to whiten teeth in Photoshop.

78. How to create a forest scene

79. How to create a forest scene

In this tutorial, I’l show you how to create a mysterious forest scene featuring a fantasy deer. First, we’l build the base scene with several images of forests and trees. Later, we’l add the deer and decorate his head with branches and leaves. After that, we’l do some basic adjustments and paint light for the scene. We’l use several adjustment layers to enhance the final effect.

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Through The Google Glass: Moto X

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I am not a YouTube star,” bubbles a cute brunette sporting the space age-like head mounted Google Glass glasses. “I am a Google+ girl!”

We are sitting in the Googleplex, the cathedral of technology. Before me rules one supremely confident Google VP circled by a clutch of adoring tech bloggers and “influencers.” A moment ago we walked up the digital equivalent of the yellow brick road, a staircase with our names rotating in multi-color glory.

This happened a few weeks ago. Bloggers, techies, minor celebrities and influencers had been invited to a social-media mad, tech version of what felt like a 60’s Love-In. We all had to sign NDA’s (Non-Disclosure Agreements) swearing we wouldn’t reveal what we were about to experience till August 1.

The Tech Love-In highlighted the colossal differences between Google and Apple. Masterminded by Guy Kawasaki, the brilliant erstwhile Apple evangelist and venture capitalist recently swooped up by Motorola (in turn bought last year by Google for $12.5 billion), this four-hour alcohol fueled affair was sculpted to fan rumors and seed the social media mavens who might boost Google’s late smart phone entry, the Moto X.

Whatever you think about Google, Kawasaki’s marketing experiment is changing the rules of corporate storytelling, branding and the art of buzz.

The Google+ girl sits next to another Glassed Cyborg, celebrated tech blogger, Robert Scoble. Tech love is in the air. The Google VP thanks the influential techies in the room for their unflagging support for Google’s slumbering network. They deserve Google’s thanks. In the past few days, Slate called Google+ a social network dud, while Tech Crunch termed it “Frankenstein’s Monster.”

But inside the Googleplex bubble all is good. Perceptions are contextual, I’m reminded, and its hard to forget the force that is coloring our minds. Here the invited bloggers express how they “love” Google. “It’s fantastic…It’s awesome, ” they gush at the VP. There’s even trash talking. Spits Google girl: “I am on a stinky iPhone.”

The Google VP basks in the glory, exhaling like a studio exec enjoying a fat cigar: “Times are good,” he says. “We do crazy things — self driving cars, and Glass.”

Scoble, the chunky Glassed blogger, chimes in: “I love the trend of automating things. I think that’s cool. I also sense Google is switching from an advertising model to a commerce model.”

He points a finger toward the contraption on his head that makes him resemble a cyborg: “This is giving me a little taste of that.”

The VP grins and opines on Google’s vision for advertising, sounding like a modern version of Mad Man’s Don Draper. “It’s the tax I pay to get the candy. I think we can shed that over time. To one that I want and the service provider wants. I should be delighted every time I get an opportunity.”

Let that vision soak in. Yes, soon we will want Google’s “tax.” We will be delighted with opportunities for discounts — not deluged with advertisements culled from our private search habits.

But just then something strange happens. Someone sounds like a journalist. “Android bites me every once in a while,” Scoble volunteers. “Apple never did.”

The room goes silent. Scoble bravely continues: “There are lots of little examples where Google bites you every once in a while.”

But this is not why we have gathered here, and just like that the Google VP is calmly saying that “things are getting markedly better,” and that our future couldn’t be brighter. We are, “at the beginnings of a contextual OS,” he says, describing the unfolding, ever-present mobile computing universe. “The phone will know we are in a meeting. Know we are shopping.”

Wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a big smile, Kawasaki stands before us with a projector beaming onto the three walls behind him. Next to him sits the classic egg-shaped translucent and blue colored iMac G3, the machine that helped recharge Apple’s resurgence in the late 1990’s, and ushered in a rainbow of color. It’s a metaphor for this hoped for Motorola comeback.

Just as film directors pursue widely different paths to make movies, so do Google and Apple adopt divergent ways to develop and market products. Apple would never invite a gang of tech influencers to see a critical new product three weeks before launch. That’s Kawasaki’s genius, and Google’s remarkable open source style openness. Indeed, one of the bloggers just told me that Apple never returns his calls. In the past year negative articles on Apple have spread like wildfire. Story matters, relationships matter and when bloggers aren’t cultivated that colors the narrative.

Decades ago I saw Steve Jobs present the NeXT Computer in the front row from fifteen feet away. He was a master. Today I’m only ten feet from the Motorola VP introducing the Moto X.

What’s different? Everything.

The Motorola VP opens with Motorola’s colorful new logo, which we’re told is “A lot like Google. It starts with you.” You is code for Corporate Anthropology. Motorola “looked at a ton of user data” the executive continues. “We’ve highly simplified things.”

At that, the VP, says, “OK Google Now, Call Alice,” and we hear a call to his wife, and then with “OK Google Now, Navigate to…” we hear driving directions, and then the question that seriously dates him. “OK Google Now, How tall is Michael Jordan?”

Nobody dares ask the obvious question. Can you customize Moto X to work without flogging Google? Say, “OK, Hal Now”. Or must you walk down the street mumbling, “OK Google Now…” to yourself? And while we’re at it, why the word “Now?” Why not, “O.K. Google Navigate to?”

The walls fill with images of attractive women checking their phones — more anthropology. Motorola learned that we constantly check for texts or the time. So they developed a subtle feature that shows the phone’s time and active notifications without turning on the whole phone, the Active Display.

Apparently we’re also constantly missing out on hot photo ops. Hence, Moto X is faster at readying the phone to snap a photo. Two seconds, not the usual 4 plus. All you need do is a fast “screwdriver” like twist of your wrist (don’t worry, nobody will notice), and Voila it unlocks the camera, and “focuses on the right subject.”

Best of all it’s, “Designed by you.” You can pick color, styling, accents, features, engraving. Motorola owns a plant in Texas: “You order the phone and we build it, and you get it in 4 days.”

The Moto X is an impressive looking and feeling phone, (the curved back and subtle composite materials) and that’s one of the oddest things. The VP didn’t really even hold or focus on the actual phone or a good hour. It was all about voice control, nifty processors, battery-life, cool features.

We just witnessed the antithesis of the Steve Jobs iPod, iPhone and iPad unveilings, which were always about the jewel-like beauty and mastery of form, about sparking our craving to touch and feel and buy.

Jobs didn’t tell audiences how he’d listened or done anthropology or studied “tons of user data.”

He didn’t design from the masses.

He took us places we’d never imagined — shrinking music to a thumb-sized wonder, ditching the keyboard of a cell phone for a screen and rocketing past laptops to the one-dimensional power and simplicity of an iPad.

/h2>

“O.K. Google Now!” I’m tempted to shout, after Google lets us play with a couple dozen phones and wines and dines us on a pleasant summer evening on the Google campus. “Will Moto X be a hit?”

I’m not sure. How many of us are itching to customize the color of our phone? Then there’s the gaping lack of a retail presence. This is not an easy market to crack. Apple has over 400 of the world’s highest grossing stores, while Samsung has succeeded in large part by spending $4.2 billion a year on advertising — 4 times that of Apple.

Yes, Google owns geeks but selling high-end gear is not automatic (as Blackberry and Microsoft are learning the hard way). And sometimes geeks are too freaky for the mainstream. After Saturday Night Live mocked the frenetic head shakes used to control Google Glass in a hilarious skit, it’s worth asking whether people want to be seen shaking their Moto X wrist to snap quick photos.

Then again, Google has been so absurdly successful in what that Google exec so eloquently dubbed the “tax I pay to get the candy,” that it can blow billions on anything — driverless cars, cyborg glasses, even on getting serious about smartphones six years after the iPhone’s debut.

Google is planning to spend half a billion promoting this phone, and its wallet is already open. Every blogger and influencer in the room has been promised a free unlocked Moto X phone, which will probably soon pull $600 or more on eBay.

Social media is not traditional media. This is my first (and likely last) Google Glass dinner and there’s something weird about hanging with geeks who could be watching Game of Thrones, filming you or doing anything but paying attention to the human three feet from their faces.

How To Know The Difference Between hite Trash And ednecks

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Commercial width:300px;height:250px” data-ad-client=”ca-pub-9239011108558980″ data-ad-host=”pub-6958755572607374″> How to know the difference between hite Trash and ednecks (a beginner guide)

First of all the main reason it so hard to tell the difference is because so many of these people end up having ixed marriages Ever heard the term hot-gun wedding Well some believe that initially originated from a hite Trash marrying a edneck It was a sight to behold I sure. Imagine it, the bride in all her splendor, wearing her oh heck just watch the video below you’l get the idea.

Redneck Wedding
Hillbilly Math!
How to spot a Hillbilly (Hicks):

These guys are easy to spot. Just think of the everly Hillbillies if you aren’s sure of the difference. These folks are mainly located in what known as the oonies which is usually in the middle of o-wheresville They most likely live somewhere that has no paved roads, either down near a body of water that nobody in their right mind would live near (ie: a toxic land fill or swamplands carrying West Nile Virus and who knows what else) or up in the hills far away from any kind of civilization you can imagine. (Hence the name “Hillbilly”). Their home consists of several pieces of mismatched plywood slapped together with very little effort and an outhouse in the backyard. (Think uni-bomber) If they have any electricity it would come from a generator that works only when you kick it. And they most likely pump their water from a well and haul it to their house (shack). You’l most likely see several bloodhounds on the front porch and chickens running loose everywhere. Ma will be wearing a Moo-moo that could substitute as a circus tent and Pa will be wearing the one pair of overalls he owns with his faded salmon pink long-johns underneath.

How to spot White Trash Folk

This is where most of us get confused is differentiating between the White Trash and Rednecks. In general the majority will reside in the Southern states, however growing up in Idaho I e seen my share of both. Typically White Trash can be distinguished by the way they dress and act. For example most women will be seen wearing halter tops with fat rolls hanging out and daisy duke shorts and these are the women in their forties and fifties even! Men will generally be seen wearing ife beater tank tops as they have acquired that name because of the type of men who wear them are usually White Trash and unfortunately beat their wives from time to time. These folks generally reside in single wide trailers in a very trashy trailer park. Meth labs and marijuana farmers are quite prevalent in these areas. When a White Trash woman is pregnant it not uncommon to see her hanging out at bars smoking and drinking with a T-Shirt that says 渒nocked Up If you’re wondering who is abusing the bulk of the welfare system than the White Trash Folk is who your dealing with. Furthermore if you e ever appeared on Maury Povich to either admit to or find out who the eal father of your child was ou might be White Trash Folk!

a real redneck wedding
How to spot a Redneck:
As I e stated above, Rednecks are prevalent in the Southern states, but truthfully they can be found just about anywhere in the U.S.
Rednecks come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Typically Caucasian, but other ethnicities have evolved through mixed marriages. Most Redneck women attire fits no specific fashion standards. Wal-Mart width:300px;height:250px” data-ad-client=”ca-pub-9239011108558980″ data-ad-host=”pub-6958755572607374″> The Freebird Mullet Wig Skull Cap Buy Now Why I call myself a ecovering Redneck:

Many people have asked me to write about my user name ecoveringRedneck As I mentioned before I grew up in Idaho, in a small rural community outside Blackfoot, called Wapello. I e lived in a lot of different cities and states, and to this day, the nicest people I know are from Idaho. Where I grew up there were not many opportunities to learn about art and culture. In fact, in my high school I recall seeing maybe two students that were African-American. The only other ethnicities I grew up around were Native-Americans, and Mexican-Americans. This does limit your knowledge and understanding of other cultures I believe. So as I traveled and moved around I self-educated myself and discovered the big world I had missed out on, and learned how to speak so that others didn’s think I was a complete ignoramus for that matter. In my parent defense, they both were very stern about using correct grammar so I didn’s sound as ignorant as most Rednecks. I am in no way ashamed of where I’m from. I wouldn’s be the person I am today if it weren’s for my edneck upbringing.
So there you have it folks, your complete edition of
he Beginners guide to recognizing the difference between “White Trash” and “Rednecks”? And why I call myself a “RECOVERING” Redneck……..”

Hope you enjoyed it. Keep in mind this was all in fun, and not in any way meant to be olitically correct or offensive to anyone.
See all y ll later.

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sendingPappy Scratch 3 years ago

You want funny, go to amazon.com and read up the book: “The Hick Stick Instruction Book”. It’s funny and full of good back acre spoofing. Best of all, it treats hicks the way hicks should be treated — gold varnished.

why’d u even write it 3 years ago

Look let’s get one thing straight u wanna call ur self a redneck and then say bad things about em white trash are who we get classified with but we aren’t that at all redneck hillbilly hick whatever you call em if u ain’t one don’t say things u don’t know to b true because a lot of the stuff u said is complete and utter bull crap.

Wow 3 years ago

@Kurt J: No offense, but New Orleans is not a cultural center, lol. Now, I used to live in Western NC. Talk about white trash! And speaking of that area, we now must throw any another species of white trash – hillbillies! Rednecks are not trash AT ALL. Hillbillies-check!

Kurt J. 4 years ago

@Recoveringredneck……Liked your article! Idaho is a very beautiful state,(so is most of the Pacific northwest for that matter- I lived in Washington State for 4 years when I was with the U.S. Navy), you should be proud to be from there! I live in southeastern Louisiana and we have lots of “rednecks” and the “white trash” types around here in spades! New Orleans is really the only cultural center in this state!

Sally 4 years ago

Nothing wrong with being poor of any color or working hard trying to make ends meet. White trash is easily identified because there usually with black trash. Don’t get me wrong, there’s good blacks but white trash often seek out the trash (criminal) blacks.

Bill 4 years ago

In my years as a redneck I think the main point you forgot is this. Rednecks are hardworkin and hard playin,loyal and very family oriented. White trash are very lazy, generally don’t work, or if they do it’s something that doesn’t break a sweat(drug dealing, stealing, fraud) and they are usually squabbling amongst themselves. Ya can’t judge a person Redneck or white trash by what they wear, drive or drink. That’s all superficial stuff. Redneck/white trash is a state of mind.

peanutroaster 6 years ago from New England

People used to strive to be better. Nowadays people seem to just give up and then say they are proud to be sloppy, fat, poor or whatever. Its just lazy.

AuthorTonia L. Clark 6 years ago from Idaho

Oh my that’s too funny!

Timetothink 6 years ago from Ballarat, Victoria Australia

Love it. I’m originally from Yuma AZ, and born a hog farmer’s daughter, and yes we had a water pump in our back yard. My first date was at the Monster Truck show at the Yuma County Fairgrounds and second at the Roping Roundup, (also at the fair)’ and my Dad and Brother built a buggy for hunting that looked like the Beverly Hillbilly’s buggy on steroids.

kim hazelwood 7 years ago

ha ha…. so funny!!~ i’m total trailer park white trash. complete with the occasional shelter, tornado and road trips with psychos! lol!

Christopher Floyd 7 years ago from Kansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.

I used to use the term hicks as an all-inclusive descriptive. In Oklahoma that’s what we called them. Or each other. Then a friend came back from the Navy imbued with the term “Whiskey Tango.” White Trash abbreviated in the phonetic alphabet. I’ve adopted that one. Me, I’m a Southerner who had to spend the first few years of his life in the Midwest. I’m about to move to southern Louisiana and am now going to have to get used to the all-inclusive and surprisingly non-racially motivated term Coonass.

Montana Farm Girl 8 years ago from Northwestern Montana

OMG too funny and too sad at the same time!!! Your description fits a lot of what we see here in Montana too!!!! lol…….

Lisa Hw, I see your point, Brittney Spears would fit in that category in my opinion. I figure trash like her get enough publicity, why add to it? I have very little respect for most hollywood types like her frankly

Lisa HW 8 years ago from Massachusetts

Humorous and fun Hub, although I do think you overlooked the seemingly large portion of the “white trash” population who appear as “Hollywood types” with wealthy clothing and lots of other expensive “stuff”, but who – under the clothing and outside the setting of expensive homes – are essentially white trash in disguise. A few fairly recent newsmakers who haven’t managed to hide their “white trash-ness” do come to mind. 🙂

I’m glad you all have enjoyed my Hub! Thanks everyone!

Laughing Mom 8 years ago

This is hilarious! And extremely accurate!

Fascinating insight on rural America. I grew up in Northern Wisconsin and the first time I saw a person with skin color darker than a Native American was when I was around ten. Your point of view gets pretty skewed when everything’s monochrome! I wish you best of luck on your continued recovery!

LondonGirl 8 years ago from London

very, very funny, thanks!

dineane 8 years ago from North Carolina

good stuff! Your ideas about the differences are pretty similar to mine – and I’m in eastern NC. Sometimes it’s hard here to tell the difference…White Trash occassionally infiltrates our redneck circles 🙂

C. C. Riter 8 years ago

We have plent of both right here in Ohio, including me. LOL I have 3 basset hounds

Christa Dovel Those redneck wedding cakes are hilarious! Very detailed too!

AuthorTonia L. Clark 8 years ago from Idaho

Thanks blangrehr, I haven’t been called a “Yankee” in years! Gotta love it!

blangrehr 8 years ago from Spartanburg SC

I was born in the hills of western North Carolina and raised in North Western South Carolina; I enjoyed your article. It was fun and surprisingly accurate for a Yankee. I look forward to more fun.

Christa Dovel 8 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

I love the Hillbilly Math video! My kids were watching with me, wondering which way is the correct way to do math… I’ll hafta learn ’em rite later!

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Louder Than Hell — The Definitive Oral History Of Metal: Go Buy This… Please!

Men's Hannibal Tripped Print Long Sleeve T-ShirtHeavy Metal is like farts. I only like my own.” – The Who’s John Entwistle, King of all bassists in Rock.

“I really hate this kind of music. But, my God, it’s fun to play” – Sara Lee, bassist of Gang of Four, Robert Fripp’s League of Gentlemen, Thompson Twins, B-52s, at the end of her first (paid… the only way I could get her to come) rehearsal with me and my “Lives At Leeds” semi-metal CBGB band, The Planets.

I never bought into Metal.

Before we go any further, just so I don’t lose every pissed off metalhead in my first sentence…

No smug condescension here, okay. Not one syllable. Incredulity? Yes. Holier-than-thou? No.

But, I’ve been playing guitar for 50 years next February. Fuck, I’m ancient! That informs my perspective (I know my shit). Ultimately, metal was/is too monochromatic for me, and, in general, the lyrical content left and leaves me cold. Hell, I hated when the mighty Led Zeppelin brought frickin’ gnomes and druids and “The Evil One” into rock lyrics’ purview [J R Tolkien’s entire trip bored the living shit outta me].

Beginning at the beginning of Metal…

Okay… here’s the ultra beginning.. Gustav Holst’s “Mars Suite” from his symphony, “The Planets”. Listen and learn. That flatted fifth (a Bb in the key of E, for example) starts here, as does the ominous pounding syncopation. Gustav, you have a lot to answer for, my bruhthuh!

But, to get to the beginning of modern day Heavy Metal…

While I didn’t feel this way (at all!) until I saw them live in 1976 (Ted “Please, please, just go away, you racist hack” Nugent opened and yes, he sucked). But, within the first two minutes of the first song, I realized Black Sabbath, the headlining band I’d come to see as a goof, were gods! Molten Metal Gods! Changed my whole head re: Music For Meatheads.

Turns out I was a meathead.

For the record, my favorite metal band and album of all time is Judas Priest’s “Screaming For Vengeance”. Rob Halford is my favorite metal vocalist. A vocal wizard! Glen Tipton, my favorite pure metal guitarist. And, I have to tell you, hate me as you will, I saw Iron Maiden open for Priest in 1981 and JP ate IM for breakfast, then took a quick poop.

My I’m-smart-enough-to-know-this-at-least bands are Slayer (quite the fuckin’ real deal), Supultura (“Fuck the Alternative Music!”), Pantera (dazzling as he was, overall, I wish Dime’s guitar sounded more like a guitar than a distorted synth… Anselmo was gone!).

My guilty pleasure, Ratt. Stephen Pearcy’s voice conjures up that guy in high school you wanted to pop in the fucking mouth, one real good tooth loosening snot-shot. And, I mean, how rock ‘n’ roll is that! And, I refuse to get into a pissing match over this, but, I rank Warren DeMartini as second to ol’ Eddie VH, everyone’s favorite typist. And their biggest track, “Round And Round” is a bona fide classic being played on about 1000 radio stations every single day.

I’ll let you know right now, the chapter on the L.A. Hair Metal scene of the 1980s that wrought Van Halen, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Poison, et al, is one of the most fun and ultimately, maybe the most poignant. No gang of idiots (used lovingly) ever had more fun before they made it as these guys. But, payback was a bitch. No genre in Rock’s history crashed and burned like the Hair Bands did. Guys on top of the world were bagging groceries less than 6 months after their last album went gold. The comedown is not pretty to read about. Like every other chapter in the book… not a punch is pulled. I fucking hated those bands and I was genuinely moved by their fall and how they (didn’t) cope(d).

All my yammered aside, metal is so pervasive, so established, and so ongoing it no longer even requires a capital “M”. And yet, it can’t shake its (sorta deserved) outside-the-laws-of-good-taste-and-decent-breeding… thank god!

As long as puberty keeps hitting the male of the species, you are never gonna see metal ( or – lower case, too – punk) die. The male hormone rages. The male human needs an outlet that doesn’t require heinously breaking the law. In the last 35 years or so, the Age of the Synth Revolution, the Age of Rap, nothing but nothing has replaced the electric guitar. Yes, market-share (aesthetic, financial, et al) shrank from, I’d guess, 95 percent saturation down to 75 percent, but, that’s about it. Yes, these figures are coming out of my butt, thanks for noticing.

There is simply no other musical genre that relies so utterly on electric guitars. There are a precious few metal outfits that have special dispensation for keyboards, but you can count them on less than Satan’s 13 claw-like fingers.

Metal is the Taliban sect in The Church of Electric Guitars… Metal zealotry is virtually unique in its lunatic religious intensity. Maybe one of Ga’s Little Monsters can compete… but, no… wait… wait… sorry I brought her up, okay. Okay?! Jeeez!

Which bring us to this here dive-into-the-abyss book, “Louder Than Hell – The Definitive Oral History of Metal” by Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman, out on !t Books… like now ‘n’ shit.

Man, I do not know where to begin…

But, it feels like Jon and Katherine began at the same place KISS did…
What kind of band would we want to see pondered Paul and Gene…
What kind of book on Metal would we want to read declared Jon and Katherine.
And then, they went for it!

The word ‘definitive’ is in the title… and, while there are at least several key bands left out (I suspect they foolishly declined to take part)… this 700+ page monster comes close enough for rock and roll, as guitarists say when sorta tuning on stage.

The amount of absolutely pure raw sewage that comes out of the mouths of these musicians is unrelenting. And, before we go any further, whatever else you think of them, make no mistake, metal stands for no punk nonsense… We suck on purpose… Fuuuuck that! These metal guys practice relentlessly. These guys are musicians.

Often hilarious, occasionally, “God, I wish I hadn’t read that!”, sometimes profound, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes infuriating (the way women are treated by some of these bands calls for castration), whatever, no one holds back on any subject.

Oh, you want examples, doncha… Of course you do!

How about guys picking through the chunks of their own vomit in their bus-bunks looking for the balloon of drugs they’d swallowed at the border they just got through… or a band I shall not name actually throwing feces at each other (yes, just like little monkeys!)… or, guys who lived for one thing and one thing only, hearing a groupie gasp “I’ve never done THIS before!… or, in the case of the extreme Black Metal scene in Norway, the actual no kidding full-blown arson perp-ed against landmark churches hundreds of years old. W T F ?!?

And for me, my very personal fave aspect of this subject matter, you also get the true nuts ‘n’ bolts of what it’s like putting a band together and trying to keep it together. As a guy who’s been in bands since 1965, I have never read a more accurate and thorough rendering of the struggle. I had a column up not long ago here at Huff Post about my own band and a reader commented rather crankily, “Why are bands always ‘struggling’? Why always that word?” This book explains that with a motherfucking sledgehammer.

One of the things that is made very apparent is how some bands are just flat-out sex-addict pussyhounds, some are crazed druggies, some are wretched drunks, and some are genuinely violent assholes. Even amongst this horde of cretins, some seem actually special in their repellent-cy… Yes, I’m looking at you, Dave Mustaine. Holy shit, dude, how’d you get the entire metal world to hate your fucking guts? Man!

An interesting although not altogether mystifying revelation… L.A. bands seemed to care nothing about anything that didn’t get them ripped and laid. Especially laid. New York bands seemed to just… want… to… beat… people… up. As in, punching and kicking and biting and stabbing… These are not a glib assessments according to the interviews in this book.

There is an odd and wonderful democracy at play here…

Bands as semi-obscure or ultra-niched as Cannibal Corpse or Cradle of Filth are given almost the same amount of ink as a band of Metallica’s stature. And you never hear from just the lead-singer. Hell, you get the roadies’ point of view, let alone each band member’s. The how-we-got-started stories of bands as diverse in fortune and fame as Judas Priest and say, 18 Visions are given the full monty details, much to my delight. I have been eternally fascinated by bands’ early days and how that chemical reaction occurs…

“Louder Than Hell” truly caters to the committed. The more you’re into metal, the more fun this book will be. Be warned, you’ll think 700 pages will take a long time, but, you’ll whip through this like you do a pint of Ben & Jerry’s after the prerequisite dozen bong hits.

At the risk of sounding like a fruity-sociologist, you come away from this book with a crystal-clear vision of this world. This is a deeply religious tribe. Connected and supportive. World-wide. Understood (deeply) regardless of language barrier.

Which isn’t to say there aren’t rivalries, feuds, and in the aforementioned Norwegian Black Metal’s case, actual murders by band members of band members. And no pussy-ass gats fired from drive-by Bentleys, no, these guys were into face-to-face stabbings… in the face [Be forewarned: the Black Metal chapter is a doozie!]. And… utterly unrepentant in prison interviews.

But, the metal community truly stands-in for family. The number of these band dudes from broken homes is not surprising but still kind of horrifying. Some of their stories make you gasp. It is very easy to see how they wound up in metal bands. But, most could’ve just as easily wound up in biker gangs or prison cells. As ugly as so much of this music is (‘made for an ugly world’ being the standard inarguable metal retort), it really has, in the case of dozens (among many thousands) of guys interviewed in this book, saved their very lives, although perhaps not their souls.

As what you might call a sympathetic outsider, I have to confess, having gone to Youtube and listened intently to over 20 bands in this book I needed to refresh myself with, or hear for the first time, I marvel at the absurdly sliver-wide differences between entire classifications of the various types of metal represented in “Louder Than Hell”‘s pages.

Speed Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal, Metalcore, Thrash Metal…
It’s a bit like Stephen Colbert’s bit… A great sub-genre or the greatest sub-genre? I mean, WTF?!

Every band in every one of these sliver-genres play almost identical riffs (lots of chromatics… E to F to E to Eb), all have operatically croaking, snarling, howling, bellowing, ‘cookie monster’-ing vocals. All tempos are either psychotically fast… to the point of almost no time signature at all… or grindingly slow, ponderous and ominous. All have lyrics obsessed with doom, gloom, loss, hatred, Satan, despair, violence, post-Apoco dread, Hell, women-loathing, misery, fear…

It’s really like these guys are still embracing their monsters-under-the-bed in the hopes they won’t be eaten.

Probably should address Satanism here… There are two types of “Satanic” metal acts. Most totally fake it for pure marketing cred purposes. I mean, Tommy Lee of Motley Crue into Satan?! Giggle. Then, there are those who are deadly serious. Europe’s Mayhem holds no-fucking-around black rituals before performances. They store dead animals for weeks so they can deeply inhale rotting death to inspire peak connective-ness to their uncompromising darkness. Your typical band shoots soft merch through t-shirt guns into the crowd at shows. Mayhem throws ’em actual putrid hog’s heads. The kids go wild.

For Satanic authenticity, I recall once (very briefly) owning the debut album of a Black Metal band wittily called Bathory, named for Erzsebet Bathory, a psycho Hungarian countess, the most prolific female serial killer in history. Rough body count: 650 virgins! The music and lyrics were so dark, so severe, so rawly evil, the lo-fi production, at least a dozen years ahead of its time, only added to the overwhelmingly heinous vibe. I tracked through side one while reading the lyric sheet. Took it off my turntable and took it the fuck back to the East Village record store I ran the very next day. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/binky-philips/stars-in-a-record-store_b_3294937.html I couldn’t keep it in my apartment. It was a musical ‘monkey’s paw’.

A major aesthetic complaint of mine: I am eternally baffled by the amount of saccharinely gooey multi-tracked harmony-ed lead guitar there is in even the most supposedly wicked sub-genres of metal…

“We interrupt this bludgeoning riff to take you all to… ‘Hotel California’!”

Or…

“Now that we’ve established a monstrous head of stream, let’s break into a Marshall-fueled Irish jig.”

Yeah, you, Iron Maiden! Okay, okay, yes, at least you’re REALLY GOOD at it.

It is interesting to note, the only metal sub-genre that actually bent some of metal’s religious-ritual-chiseled-in-granite Rules & Regs is what’s referred to as Nu Metal in this here tome. Korn and Tool, being the two biggest and best in this niche, both brought in flavors from the world of synths (just as Rap, the other truly renegade musical genre/culture started using guitars!). I’d put Nine Inch Nails in there, too, of course. Love Trent’s shit. But, you see, they’re Industrial Metal…

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Packers Nfc Championship Merchandise Attracts Manitowoc-area Buyers

Shopko in Manitowoc got updated clothing items into the store Monday morning, and is expected to continue receiving new merchandise throughout the week.
“We just got four different styles of printed T-shirts, short-sleeve and long-sleeve,” store manager Gary Allen said. “But we’ll continue every day for the rest of the week to get new stuff in, anything from pendants to caps, pretty much anything out there that is available.”
The Packers beat the Chicago Bears 21-14 Sunday for the NFC championship and a trip to Super Bowl XLV. Women’s Desgin Demon Heart Short Sleeve T Shirts Green Bay faces the Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 6 in Arlington, Texas.
Strong sales
Allen said the store already was experiencing “extremely strong sales” within the first few hours of the merchandise becoming available. Around 1:30 p.m. Monday, only one NFC champions T-shirt remained on the rack.
“It’s a win-win situation as far as numbers,” Allen said. “There was at least a dozen people around the rack every time I walked by.”
Allen said Packers jerseys, which are a standard sale item for the store, also have been more popular. He said they also will be stocking more jerseys as needed.
Gear coming
Jerry Randall, men’s clothing manager for Schroeder’s Department Store in Two Rivers, said the store is expecting to get NFC championship clothing by the end of the week.
The store plans to sell licensed NFL short-sleeve and long-sleeve T-shirts and crewneck sweatshirts.
“Around the 1997-98 season was the last time the Packers went (to the Super Bowl), so I’m sure we’re going to have a big call for merchandise,” Randall said. “Across the country, Green Bay has very loyal fans but I think (merchandise will a little be more popular) because it’s been a while.”
Randall said when the Wisconsin Badgers went to the Rose Bowl this year, the store sold similar merchandise and nearly sold out.
Allen said he expects T-shirts, mugs and hats to be the best sellers.
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How To Be A Red Sox Fan

Being a Red Sox fan entails a life of heartache, hope, and passion. You must have faith through continual failure, endure cyclic disappointment, and have the courage to believe that a group of mere men can come together to achieve acts of heroism.

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For those born and raised in New England, the Red Sox are passed on like family heirlooms generation after generation. They are a thread that runs through family history and tradition. As a rite of passage father proudly takes son to Fenway Park for the first time. Grandpa sits on the porch talking with the grandchildren about the Sox of yesteryear. Brothers play baseball in the streets of Boston, pretending to be their favorite player. But even a transplanted Red Sox fan, such as myself, that lives elsewhere and has discovered the team later in life shares the same love for the team that is seen in lifestyle, behavior, and beliefs.

From the first World Series win of 1912, the dream season of ’67, the devastation of ’86, and the angst of the ’99 postseason when the team rallied to defeat the Indians only to be slaughtered by the Yankees in the ALCS, a Sox fan’s mind is steeped in history. The dates of losses, victories, and monumental moments are lodged in your mind. You know that there was never a man who did more for the Red Sox, as a player, coach, and fan than Johnny Pesky. You know the day Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski retired. You are an expert on Babe Ruth’s infamous ‘curse’ and the New England rhetoric to reverse it. And of course, when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, a full 86 years after their last title, you had a single, teary-eyed thought that coincided with the collective conscious of all Sox fans: now I can die happy.

The life of a Red Sox fan is a tough one. Your behavior, sporadic and manic, is dictated by the team’s wins and losses. You are fanatic and neurotic, engaged in a love-hate relationship where the team’s position determines your disposition. After a loss you become withdrawn, staring at the world with suspicious sunken eyes and mumbling to yourself about that crucial catch in the 7th inning that could have changed everything. If it is a post-season loss you may stop eating entirely, call sick into work a few days, and ask everyone to leave you alone. As ESPN shows recaps you cry, consider re-avowing religious beliefs, and drink economy size cocktails. When they win leaps are made over the couch, the air is punched in exhilaration, and your life attains a holistic ecstasy where it seems as if nothing could ever be wrong. Fellow fans call to revel in mutual congratulations, talking of game specifics and yelling catch phrases of how ‘we’ kicked ‘their’ ass. Beers are cracked open, downed, and tossed across the room. (As the saying goes in Boston- win or lose we drink the booze.) You walk around with a lift in your step, boasting of post-season possibilities and chatting with optimism. The win is a testament to your faith, and you believe, beyond anything that has happened in the past and any predictions that are made for the future, that the team can keep winning.

As a Red Sox fan, your skin must be thick. For you will be made fun of, slandered, shit-talked, and shot down. Because the team is known for repeatedly losing critical games, strangers will come up to you and deface Sox history. They will recite famous losses, throwing salt in the wound and degrading your players with play-by-play mistakes. They will pat you on the back and say they feel sorry for you, smirking all the while. But there are those people who share your love for the team that smile instantly when they see your Sox affiliation and talk to you like an old friend. Immediately feeling a sense of camaraderie and close relation with them, these people are part of a nation of Red Sox fans that shares a common bond regardless of roots, race, or gender.

With fans forming a nationwide congregation, the Red Sox are like a religion. As a loyal follower you live by their doctrine. The creed of brotherhood, spirited strength, and integrity that the team lives by governs your conduct. This creed is exemplified in interactions both on and off the field by the front office of the Red Sox, with John Henry as owner, Theo Epstein as general manager, and Terry Francona as head coach, and by the players who have been a staple on the team for several years, Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon, and Tim Wakefield. Fenway Park, with its cramped seats, cracked pillars, and ramshackle hot dog stands, is regarded as a shrine and a place of worship. It smells of baseball and speaks of history. Seated in its stands are the Fenway faithful, those who have made pilgrimages of hundreds of miles, sold their car or maxed their credit card to get within its sacred gates. Game days are holy. If you have tickets you skip work, cancel dates, and postpone weddings.

Exhibiting affection for the team is also part of being a Red Sox fan. Memorabilia, existing in every aspect of your life, is part of your fanaticism. Your car has a bumper-sticker and/or license plate holder. A framed picture of the team or the ballpark hangs somewhere in your home. A Sox flag adorns either your front door or garage. At work Sox-related news articles hangs in your cubicle and a miniature Wally the Green Monster mascot sits on your desk. A pet, or child, is named after your favorite player. Your closet has the standard gear: hats- at least 5, jerseys, tee-shirts, even underwear.

But above all, above everything else and most important to a Red Sox fan’s existence: you must hate the Yankees. Dating back to 1918, the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry is rooted in the history of each team and subsequently in the culture of the fans. Cutthroat, cocky, and player stealing, the Bronx Bombers have wronged the Red Sox more than fans care to remember. Our retaliation exists in abhorring them like they are the devil in disguise and rejecting all things Yankee related. (That includes friends, family members, and lovers.) Combating their twenty-something World Series titles (who’s really counting) and their payroll of enormous portions that outdoes the Red Sox, you must profess the ‘Yankees Suck’ mantra and talk of them with disgust. You never publicly praise them, no matter how good their players are. And you must always be ready with an argument to prove how and why the Red Sox are better, and recount with fervor all the times when the Sox should have beat them but for the mysterious power of the Evil Yankee Empire. If the Red Sox are your religion, then the Yankees are the anti-Christ which you ward off, and you never, ever, think or speak of them with anything but hatred.

Heart, hope, and passion, that is what comprises a Red Sox fan. You must love them completely, hurt for them heartily. You must be willing to forgive when they break your heart (and if you are a gambler- your bank account) and hold them up when others put them down. A Sox fan is like no other fan. There is no going back, there can be no other team; you are a fan for life. You possess fractions of insanity, finding yourself saying things like: “Only three grand slams and a solo shot to tie!” when the Sox are down in the bottom of the 9th. In February you are filled with dreams of Spring Training, your heart begins to swell with fresh hope and no matter what has happened last fall you fall in love all over again. It is the sweetest thing to love them, they are your desire and demise; your double-edged addiction. They make you weary and wild, impassioned and impoverished of spirit. They leave the lore of their history with you and fill you with the promise of their harvest. You wait and you wonder and you predict all season long, and in the end they deliver– win or lose. They give you baseball: beautiful and pure and classic. They give you themselves.

They are the Red Sox. God Bless.

Toxic Fossil Fuels Are Invading Everyday Products, From Water Bottles To Kids’ Toys, Experts Warn

Men's Giddy Custom Long Sleeve T-ShirtNEW YORK — Armed with colorful plastic tubes brandished like swords, youngsters at Manhattan’s Tinker Tree day care center took swipes at a towering, cylindrical puppet named the “Fracked Gas Pipeline Monster.” The cardboard beast, emblazoned with evil red eyes, teetered and tottered with each enthusiastic blow until a final strike sent it toppling to the floor.

“Down with the pipeline!” cheered Natalie Cronin, who runs the Upper East Side facility.

Two-year-old Max Giampaolo stood grinning beside the slain monster, which now stared up from the floor at a “Speak for the Trees” poster hanging on the wall. The boy then dropped his weapon and crawled inside the pipeline.

Max Giampaolo, 2, crawls into the Fracked Gas Pipeline Monster. (Lynne Peeples)

As both a mother and an educator, Cronin, 40, says she has spent years attempting to insulate the children in her charge from a dizzying array of commonly used chemicals experts believe to be harmful — mostly through careful shopping for organic foods and natural cleaners, and even making her own playdough. But her efforts proved Sisyphean. She eventually realized that attempts to fully avoid the chemicals — which public health advocates say include potentially brain-damaging pesticides and hormone-scrambling plasticizers — are doomed in the modern world. Fossil fuels, Cronin says, are to blame, and she uses the pipeline puppet to teach her class about the dangers they pose.

“At the end of the day, it all comes down to fossil fuels,” Cronin said. “It can all be traced back to an industry that refuses to die.”

Fossil fuels are, after all, far more than just fuel. As oil, gas and coal are refined into well-known energy products that propel automobiles and heat homes, a host of lesser-known byproducts are stripped away and shipped off to petrochemical plants. Leftovers from natural gas refining — ethylene, propylene, butylene, xylene and toluene — “all go into virtually every conceivable consumer product that you can imagine,” said Dan Borne of the Louisiana Chemical Association during a January webinar presented by Pennsylvania State University.

“The chemical industry uses natural gas like a bakery shop uses flour,” he said.

It’s much the same story for other fossil fuels. While the vinyl of a U.S.-made kid’s raincoat probably started as natural gas, for example, one manufactured in China likely began as coal.

Not everyone believes that’s a bad thing. Plastics, preservatives and pesticides derived from fossil fuels, supporters argue, have revolutionized modern life, providing goods that last longer, are easier to maintain, and are far cheaper to manufacture. The current boom in the U.S. production of natural gas, which industry experts note burns cleaner than other fossil fuels, has reinvigorated a once-flagging petrochemical sector and opened up scores of new jobs. The industry has, in turn, spent lavishly to both support legislation that has helped to expand and nurture fossil fuel development, and prevent regulation that would more closely monitor the potentially negative consequences of industrial chemical use on public health and the environment.

While some companies are pursuing safer materials, the general consensus in the industry is that most toxicity concerns lack sufficient scientific proof and therefore don’t call for a change to the status quo.

Yet critics like Cronin say there is nothing inevitable or necessary about the saturation of modern life with oil and gas and their legion of polysyllabic by-products. “This is just how things have been done. Our entire culture is dependent on it,” she says. “And it’s not going away anytime soon — especially not without a lot of people pressuring for change.”

Natalie Cronin’s day care shelves are stocked with homemade non-toxic cleaners, silk scarves and the safest plastic toys she can find. (Lynne Peeples)

Toward that end, Cronin has gone beyond her well-researched shopping lists, rallying against projects that support what she now sees as sources of the problem. She’s held protest signs in Washington, D.C., opposing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project — which would ferry tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast — and held meetings in Manhattan with parents who share her concerns about pollution from extracting and transporting natural gas. Not only is there a heated debate over whether New York state should green-light so-called fracking — or breaking apart shale rock to extract natural gas — many are also concerned about a new high-pressure pipeline already under construction to deliver natural gas harvested in Pennsylvania to New York City. The pipeline enters Manhattan just a few hundred feet from a children’s playground.

That’s what inspired the “Fracked Gas Pipeline Monster” in Cronin’s day care classroom — now one of her kids’ favorite toys. “This is a monster that is hiding in a lot of places,” Cronin said. “It’s never too early to let them know.”

‘LIKE A BAKERY SHOP USES FLOUR’

Borne’s baking analogy is an apt one. Just as flour is the key ingredient in bagels, muffins and The Tinker Tree day care playdough, petrochemicals like butylene and xylene provide the building blocks, or feedstocks, for everything from plastics and paints to carpets and crop fertilizers.

Overall, the industrial sector used 27 percent of natural gas in the U.S. in 2010.

“The vast majority of Americans don’t very well understand how much their lives are impacted by this energy source through things they actually use,” said Penelope Jagessar Chaffer, a concerned mom and director of the upcoming documentary “Toxic Baby.” “They don’t have a sense of its reach — into things in our homes, things we wear, things we put on our face.”

“Fossil fuels are fueling these products,” she added.

Natural gas is just the latest fossil fuel to play a powerful role in modern manufacturing. Remnants from the processing of oil and coal have been filling products for decades, particularly since the end of World War II, when the U.S. found itself with a surplus of petroleum. During the war effort, the fuel was enlisted not only to power planes and tanks, but also to equip those vehicles with canopies and radar systems and give soldiers raincoats and bug nets.

These post-war leftovers combined with a newly-established infrastructure of refineries and petrochemical plants may well have spurred the pervasive fossil fuel-based culture still present today, according to John Warner, president of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry and a former chair of the Chemistry Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“People had stuff and looked into what they could make from it, rather than the other way around,” Warner said. “Now, unlimited and expanding gas development — another petroleum feedstock — fits into the same scheme, so we don’t have to invent or change anything.”

Others see this perceived rut as more of an opportunity than a problem.

In fact, according to Borne, the fracking boom couldn’t have come soon enough. He noted that a drop in the U.S. natural gas supply led the country’s petrochemical industry to “hit bottom” in 2009, before the rise of hydraulic fracturing allowed companies to tap into previously inaccessible deposits.

Today, industry officials tout great job prospects. A report released in May by the American Chemistry Council, a leading chemical industry trade group, estimated up to an additional 46,000 permanent jobs in the chemical industry if all of the proposed chemical and plastics projects are built.

One such project, a “cracker” plant to break down natural gas into lucrative petrochemical building blocks, has been proposed in western Pennsylvania by Shell Oil Company. But the region, which is at the forefront of fracking controversies, is already facing environmental problems. Drinking water wells located near fracking sites in the area are at high risk of contamination, according to a study published last week. Other recent research suggests that methane, a potent greenhouse gas, escapes readily during natural gas extraction.

Cracker plants themselves are known to emit large amounts of toxic air pollution, including nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds.

Cronin grew up in western Pennsylvania. She recalled knowing nothing about fracking or cracking during her youth, despite the persistent presence of pollution from another fossil fuel. She described a “bright orange” creek running through her yard that her dad, who worked in the energy industry, cautioned her never to touch.

“It was contaminated with sulfur from coal mining,” she said.

Cronin knows all about fracking now. After protesting the Keystone XL pipeline in February, she returned from D.C. to participate in a smaller stand against the more modest pipeline project that would tunnel natural gas under the Hudson River into Manhattan. While New York City touts the potential to replace dirty heating oil with the cleaner-burning gas, Cronin and other activists worry that the radioactive radon potentially released from natural gas will be delivered to their urban apartments.

Cronin also fears an explosion like the 2010 natural gas pipeline rupture in San Bruno, Calif., which took eight lives. The public doesn’t always realize, she added, that many explosions of that nature are tied to energy extraction. In April, 15 people were killed in an explosion at a Texas facility that stored fertilizer produced from fossil fuels, and explosions in June at two separate Louisiana petrochemical plants killed three. Both facilities were parts of a larger fleet that is expanding natural gas development.

“When something goes wrong and a plant blows up, it becomes easier to see where our stuff comes from,” said Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist and author of the environmental health book Raising Elijah. She described an explosion in 2004 at a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant an hour away from her rural Illinois hometown, and how her subsequent investigation led her to realize that the PVC tiles of her kitchen floor came from natural gas.

Today, Steingraber lives in upstate New York, a region that sits atop a motherload of natural gas trapped in deep layers of shale. She’s become a vocal opponent of using fracking to extract it.

As for Cronin, she’s “still fighting fracking here in New York,” pointing to multiple delays by the state government on a decision. “We breathe a little sigh of relief every time we can push it back further.”

CONNECTING THE DOTS

While fracking fights rage from Colorado to North Carolina, and opposition escalates with protests at construction sites along the proposed Keystone XL, another heated discussion is taking place about an overhaul of the nation’s toxic chemical regulation.

A proposed federal plan, first introduced by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) in 2005, would reverse the burden of proof on toxic chemicals — from the current assumption that a chemical is safe until proven toxic, usually after it’s already spent years on the market, to a requirement for the industry to prove a chemical is safe prior to placing it on store shelves. Less than two weeks before his death in June, Lautenberg co-sponsored a bipartisan and arguably weaker version of his legislation that is now working its way through Congress.

Due in large part to the current lack of thorough toxicity testing for chemicals in most consumer products, the jury is still out on potential dangers of using the products. A growing number of scientific studies, however, are hinting at increased risks of reproductive problems, diabetes and other health effects even from exposures to small amounts of some chemicals. At particular risk are developing children.

In February, experts from the United Nations and the World Health Organization declared that phthalates, bisphenol-A (BPA) and other hormone-mimicking chemicals prevalent in petrochemical-derived products, such as plastic water bottles and children toys, were a “global threat.” The experts noted growing evidence linking the chemicals with health problems like obesity and certain cancers, just as rates of those health problems have risen.

Wood blocks are one of the many fossil fuel-free products in The Tinker Tree day care. (Lynne Peeples)

Such findings are helping drive the push for toxic chemical reform, which could affect the way Cronin stocks her day care cupboards, the survival of petrochemical companies and even the make-up of the U.S. energy market — controlled by three of the most powerful industries in the world.

Judy Robinson, director of the environmental health non-profit Coming Clean, puts it simply: “To grapple with chemicals is to grapple with oil, gas and coal.”

It’s no coincidence, Robinson said, that the number three publicly-traded chemical company also happens to be the number two oil company: ExxonMobil.

Examples of the intertwined industries abound.

Lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee who voted for the so-called Halliburton loophole received more than six times as much money from oil and gas companies as people who voted against it, according to a report by Common Cause, a nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen lobbying group. The loophole essentially exempts the natural gas industry from obeying a federal law that protects drinking water from toxic chemicals. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who chairs the committee, accepted $80,000 for his campaign between January 2011 and September 2012 from the chemical industry, a separate Common Cause report found.

In Pennsylvania, the front-line of the natural gas rush, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett is widely criticized among environmental advocates for the $1.8 million in campaign contributions he received between January 2000 and April 2012 from the oil and gas industry. He signed a “Cracker Credit” in June of last year that will go into effect in 2017, ultimately providing Shell Oil Company with up to $1.65 billion in tax credits over the next 25 years should it move forward with its proposed petrochemical plant in the state.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the executive committee of the American Chemistry Council voted unanimously in February that “public policies should promote the availability of competitively priced natural gas and feedstock to support the continued growth of the chemical industry in the United States.” A 2007 report from the investment research firm Innovest singled out the biggest determinant of profitability for the chemical industry: energy resources.

Stephane Horel, a French documentary filmmaker, said things aren’t much different overseas.

Chemical and pharmaceutical companies including Dow, BASF and DuPont, she noted, are currently lobbying against tighter regulation of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the European Union, with the help of a suite of oil and gas companies including BP, Eni, ExxonMobil and Honeywell.

“We have a very powerful chemical industry,” she said. “But what we need to do is move to another type of chemistry altogether.”

The impetus for reform goes beyond chemical toxicity. Fossil fuel supplies across the globe are dwindling and methods used to acquire them are becoming more extreme: mountaintop coal removal, deepwater drilling, oil sands excavation and, of course, fracking for natural gas.

Eventually, Robinson said, we are going to hit the bottom of the barrel and will need a “sea change.” Unless we keep 80 percent of global fossil fuel reserves in the ground, climate scientists warn, we will face an unsafe and unstable climate.

During a highly publicized speech at Georgetown University last week, President Barack Obama announced a plan to reduce heat-trapping carbon pollution from the burning of fossil fuels and transition to clean energy, “for the sake of our children, and the health and safety of all Americans.”

“This does not mean we’re going to suddenly stop producing fossil fuels. Our economy wouldn’t run very well if it did,” he said, later suggesting that natural gas should act as a fuel to bridge the transition.

“We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least,” Obama said, “it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions.”

‘KICK OUT FOSSIL FUELS’

A silk scarf plucked from a pile on the playroom floor morphed into a cape the moment Gavin, Cronin’s 4-year-old, held it to the back of his Superman T-shirt and paraded around the day care. A few feet away, kids sat at a mirrored table pounding, molding and carving playdough colored brown with instant coffee and cocoa.

Children at Natalie Cronin’s day care mold and carve homemade playdough that has no harmful chemicals. (Lynne Peeples)

“These kinds of open-ended materials encourage innovation,” said Cronin, referring to the playdough and scarves, and suggesting that innovation is the “one thing that’s going to solve our problems.”

Applying Cronin’s tactics to problems brought on by fossil fuels means first coming up with alternative energy sources, novel ingredients to continue making the products people need, and ways to live comfortably without the stuff that, as critics argue, society only thinks it needs.

As the green energy industry develops methods for tapping renewable energy like wind and solar — a difficult task, environmentalists say, given diverted investments into further fossil fuel development — chemists are also trying to make products safer.

“If you were working from bio-based material that had breakdown qualities that made it inert and natural, then you’d have a better building block,” said Robinson of Coming Clean, noting that while there are always exceptions, materials that start off as fossil fuels tend to be the least safe.

But chemists, like green energy advocates, face a financial foe: Toxic chemicals currently have a market advantage over safer ones.

Steingraber, the ecologist and author, noted that “cheap sources of carbon” are a major obstacle to changing the way products are made. Warner, the green chemist, agreed. As carbon-based fossil fuel supplies increase, he said, the plummeting price tags make it very difficult for other source materials to compete.

“No one will invest if they can’t see a secure return,” Warner added. “Right now, they see gas prices going down. Everyone is focused on next quarter’s earnings, not the long term.”

Still, for people fearing unsafe products, there may be at least a couple of upsides to the shrinking natural gas prices and expanding fleet of petrochemical plants in the U.S., according to industry officials.

More U.S.-manufactured goods could mean fewer items on the market that pose toxicity concerns beyond their fossil fuel ingredients. Toys, shoes and other products imported from China, for example, are frequently flagged as tainted with toxic chemicals such as lead.

“There’s a strong argument to make for having these products developed in countries where there are very strong standards for environmental safety and health — such as in the U.S., Canada and Europe,” said Kevin Kolevar, vice president of Government Affairs and Public Policy at Dow Chemical Company.

Kolevar added that the glut of gas and its byproducts could even lower manufacturing costs for renewable energy technologies, such as solar shingles or materials for large wind turbines, which, like most other products, generally start out as petrochemicals.

Many environmental advocates argue that we can do without some of the petrochemical-derived products, such as agricultural chemicals. Petrochemical-derived fertilizers, like the stock that exploded at a Texas facility in April, are widely used on American monocultures. But Robinson noted that rotating crops and other natural strategies, albeit often more time-intensive ones, can also enrich the soil and fend off pests with healthier results for the land and the consumer.

Some chemical companies are investing in alternatives, both inside and outside the fossil fuel family. Dow spends around $1.75 billion a year on research and development “across the range to identify ways to make products safer, more effective, more efficient with more sustainable materials,” Kolevar said.

The U.S.-made dump truck that Cronin picked out for her class, for example, was constructed of recycled plastic and advertised as free of potentially harmful phthalates and BPA. Cronin not only chooses specific toys for her kids, she continues environmental lessons throughout the day — from composting to singing a song she learned at protests against the pipeline currently being built into Manhattan.

Youth Football Participants Of The Week 10-18-17 – The Seattle Medium

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A Spooky (In A Good Way) Experience At A Graveyard

Today is Saturday September 19th, 2009. My dear friend Terry Jackson would have been fifty-four years old. He was so very young to leave this world. I arrived in Eaton, Ohio yesterday where I will be staying for three days with his room-mate Donnie Stewart who is also very sad about Terry’s passing which took place May 9th of this year, 2009, the day before Mother’s day. After settling in one of the first things I noticed on the kitchen table was a beautiful birthday card with purple flowers on it. Donnie invited me to sign it. He had already written Terry a note telling him what a wonderful friend he had been and how much he loved and missed him. It felt good reading him say that he loved Terry. How many times do we forget to tell our friends how much they mean to us and how much we love them? Far too few if you ask me.

Men's Harlequin Cotton Long Sleeve Tee ShirtYesterday afternoon we visited Terry’s site at the graveyard. Donnie took a pair of clippers and snipped the dead rose blooms. We were both surprised at how big the rosebush has become. There was something like 25 fully bloomed roses and at least that many more that would soon bloom. It’s almost as though part of Terry’s beautiful sweet loving spirit is giving that rosebush life moving force and energy. He always did like flowers and I think of the times I’d visit him when he would take out that orange plastic water container with the long spout and water his flowers.

I still remember the tomato plant that I planted for him back at his old apartment in 2007. We called it “Mr. Mighty Giant Tomato Monster.” It grew to humongous proportions, even larger than my car. We were so surprised because I have never seen a tomato plant get so big. Terry faithfully watered it every single night. Even when his legs hurt so bad he could barely walk and a few times he fell down on the concrete porch and cut his knee, he still was adamant. I’d help him up and say, Terry, you don’t have to do this. You are going to hurt yourself. He would grunt as we both struggled to lift him up. The next day he would be out there again on the porch with that orange water spout container giving water to Mr. Mighty Giant Tomato Monster. When we got warning of the first frost I rescued the tomatoes and was surprised at how many there were. I went home with over 100 tomatoes and was enjoying them until mid December. It was as though his loving attention and daily ritual of watering them encouraged them to give “Life” their best shot. I was also impressed at how they seemed to know when to ripen. I never had more than three or four fully ripe ones at the same time. And I did not have to throw a single one out from over ripening. Who says that plants and flowers do not respond to love and attention?

As my thoughts returned to the present I noticed the yellow trimmers with the American Gardener logo on it and saw Donnie’s note titled: Terry: Flower Shop. Get Birthday Balloon. Laminate card and go to graveyard. At graveyard take balloon, card, trimmers and camera. I smile as I recall Terry often saying how Donnie had to write everything down. Although they were room-mates and lived in the same house Donnie would write Terry notes or email him when he had something to ask instead of just saying it to him in person. I found that amusing and kind of surprising. I suppose we are all eccentric in our own different ways.

Donnie went to work at noon today. After my morning exercise of doing my pushups (I only did 74 today when I usually do around 85) I went to Subway for lunch then headed out for a three mile hike on the trail at the park. A few tears trickled down my face as I recalled the walks Terry and I used to take there. Then when his legs got worse it became more difficult. I recall that time he had to stop and lie on the ground and rest. Going up the hill was very difficult and he almost fell several times. I did not ask him to walk after that because I really was not aware that his legs had gotten that bad.

After I came back to the apartment I looked at his king size bed that I had neatly made this morning. Donnie said that Terry would be more than happy to have me sleep in his bed; and he commented on how happy Terry always was to see me and how he looked forward to our monthly visits. As his health got worse and he slowly dwindled away it became increasingly more difficult for him to keep food down. The doctors had diagnosed him with cirrohsis of the liver over a year ago. He had had a big part of his right ear removed due to cancer and an imbalance of red blood cells and circulation problems made it difficult for him to walk. Terry got to where he threw up a lot and in the final few months he became a total hermit, not once stepping outside the apartment.

No matter how sick he became he would not give up the drinking. Perhaps he just could not. They say alcoholism is a disease. I know that Terry drank to numb himself and to get some relief from the constant chronic depression that he suffered from. It became much worse when the factory where he worked for some 23 years shut down in September 2003. How ironic that was right around this time in September when he lost his job. He tried to get a new job. He looked around and he and Donnie had a paper route for awhile. But I could tell that losing his job did a lot of damage to his fragile psyche and tender soul. I think that it is partly what broke his spirit and caused him to slowly give up on life.

It is kind of strange how everybody is built differently and how we all react differently to the hurdles and boulders that life tosses in our direction. I’m a fighter. A maverick and pioneer that plods ahead no matter what happens. Sure I have my crises here and there, problems as we all do. I fall into the deep pit and abyss of depression sometimes. But I do now allow myself to stay there. I just can’t. I am not built that way. I have lost jobs before and I always plugged away until I found something else and it was usually something better. But Terry, my sweet friend, was a fragile soul. He was content to go to work everyday with his room-mate Donnie who also worked at the same place. Terry put in his time and even got some recognition and awards for being a dependable and excellent worker. Donnie often told me what a good worker Terry was and I met his boss once who told me the same thing. Those are the memories I like to remember about him instead of how he slowly began to give up. For a time he lived on his credit cards and finally applied for bankruptcy. His red neon Pontiac that he loved so much was repossessed and even his cell phone. By then he simply did not care anymore.

Although it broke my heart to see his life go downhill, I always cared deeply for him. As deeply as one friend can care for another. I meant it when I told him that we were friends forever and I would never abandon him. I loved him with an undying devotion, much as a mother loves her child no matter what he or she does or does not do. Terry was a very simple man who was very childlike and that appealed to me because in many ways I am the same way.

I continued my ritual of honoring his memory. I looked in his closet. There were still many pairs of blue jeans hanging neatly although he and Donnie had left tons of clothing at his old apartment for whoever moved in next, or who decided to give them to Goodwill. He loved his blue jeans. I spotted the box on the closet and noticed the Boggle game in the box. He loved playing games and would twinkle and laugh in childlike glee every time he beat me at Monopoly, Rummy or Payday. He was a big kid at heart who would never grow up.

I looked at his tank tops. Terry was definitely a tank top man and not a tee shirt man like I am. He loved his bright tank tops in colors of red, yellow, orange and some greens. I looked at his CD’s and cassettes. How he loved Rose Ann Cash. SavageGarden. Cher. Pink. Aretha Franklin and Boy George. And his very favorite song of all time was “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” that Ray Stevens recorded. He’d play that song over and over so many times that I was about ready to walk a mile in my shoes so as to not hear it anymore. But I know that we are all obsessive compulsive about some things.

As I was writing down my thoughts I looked up from the computer on the shelf at the CD’s and DVD movies. The Brooks and Dunn was one of his favorite ones. Donnie emailed me one day and said that since Terry passed away that those CD’s would move sometimes. He wanted to know if I thought he was going crazy and losing his mind or if I thought that Terry could be around and giving him a sign. Why not I replied.

I thought back to what happened the last time I visited in August. After making the bed I was smoothing out the quilt folded at the edge of the bed. I felt the urge to look underneath the quilt. Then I felt the urge to pull back the sheet and I lifted up the mattress. Folded neatly was a pair of blue jean shorts. I lifted them up and cried as I recalled they were one of his favorite pairs. Then I felt the urge to look in the pockets. In the left pocket was a $50 dollar bill. I brought them down to Donnie who also cried when I showed the shorts to him. “They were one of Terry’s favorite pair,” he said, placing them on the back of the couch. “There is more,” I said. I opened my hand and then handed him the $50 dollar bill.

“I think Terry led me to these shorts, Donnie. I have been visiting you here every month since Terry died and I was never drawn to lift the mattress.

In a tearful voice Donnie said, “Mike, I am broke. I have no money for anything until I get my SSI check next week. I think Terry wanted to help out. I recall giving him a $50 dollar bill about a week before he died. Thank you so much, Mike. That money will come in very handy.”

“You can thank Terry,” I replied.

I looked at the exercise bike that I gave Terry a couple of years back. Since he had difficulty walking I figured that perhaps he could do a few laps on the bike. I really didn’t think he would exercise but to my pleasant surprise he did. He always did his exercise ritual around 5:30 p.m. after his favorite show “Ellen” went off. He loved “Ellen”. He’d begin by lifting his weights and do several sets. Then he would crawl on the floor and do his crunches and push ups and then he’d rest a few minutes and complete his ritual by climbing on that bike. For some reason I enjoyed watching him do his exercises. To be a man whose health had been declining over the past two or so years, he never gave up his exercise ritual, or not until the last month or so before he died.

Donnie came home from work at 3 p.m. I sat in the recliner next to his. I enjoyed this because Terry always took great pride in those two large recliners that he paid $600 a piece for each one. He always did like nice things. At 3:30 Donnie and I headed over to the graveyard. The Happy Birthday Balloon that Donnie bought for Terry kept bouncing and jumping about because Donnie had the windows partially down to let fresh air in the truck and to blow out the smoke from his cigarette he was smoking.

Once we arrived Donnie took the trimmers and took it upon himself to crawl on the ground and trim the grass. Then he told me to place the balloon where I wanted. There was a plastic clip attached to the bottom of the blue ribbon which was about three feet long. I clipped it on in two different places on one of the larger back limbs of the rosebush. A breeze stirred up and blew the balloon about. I was standing on the right side of the rosebush. A few moments later the balloon tapped me on the chest. I thought nothing of it due to the breeze. I stepped about a foot or so to the left. The balloon moved closer towards me and tapped me again. This is probably a coincidence, I thought and stepped a few more feet to the left. The balloon moved (as though following me) and tapped me again on the chest. By now my interest was piqued.

I sensed that something was up. I deliberately stood in place. The birthday balloon tapped me a couple of times but did not move more than a foot away. Donnie was looking at me as though puzzled but did not say anything. A few moments later I moved again towards the left. By now I was standing directly in front of Terry’s tombstone; it was facing me opposite by about four feet. The beautiful rose bush, an angel placed on the right side of the stone, some artificial flowers and a cherub placed on the ground completed the decorum very nicely.

I moved a few feet away and again the balloon followed me and tapped me. By now I could not keep silent any longer. “Donnie, I think something is going on here. I think Terry’s spirit is here. Have you noticed how this balloon is following and tapping me on the chest?”

Donnie had a look of surprise on his face and his eyes were kind of big. “Yes, it is quite strange.”

“I think it’s a sign from Terry,” I replied. “I think this is his way of letting us know that we are here celebrating his birthday with him and thinking of him.”

“I hope so.”

I continued slowly moving around Terry’s tombstone until I made my way back to the right side where the balloon originally started following and tapping me. I stood still and Donnie and I engaged in some conversation. Just to convince myself I was not imagining things, I moved a few more times and sure enough the balloon followed and tapped me a few more times. Then the breeze picked up a little bit and the balloon just bounced around in all directions. I found that I was missing my little balloon taps. I closed my eyes and mentally said, “Terry, if you are really here please have the balloon tap me one final time. It bounced around a little bit longer then the breeze slowed down. The balloon slowly made its way towards me. It did not tap me right away. It was as though Terry was having a little fun or maybe testing me. I was about to think that Terry had taken off when sure enough the balloon moved and tapped me right on my chest near my heart. “Thank you,” I said, silently. “This is the sign that I needed. Happy Birthday, my sweet friend and know that Donnie and I will always love you. You are the best friend that we ever had.”

There were tears falling down my face when we walked to the truck and headed back to Donnie’s apartment. I thought about the balloon experience and the birthday card that Donnie and I signed. Well we did more than sign the card. Donnie wrote him a half page letter and I wrote a couple of paragraphs. Donnie said he would have the card laminated on Monday and bring it back and put it next to the angel on the right side of the tombstone.

Then a thought occurred to me and I posed a question to Donnie. “Do you think that we perform such rituals to comfort the Living or the Dead?”

He looked at me but did not reply. I smiled and said softly ,”Maybe we perform our rituals to comfort ourselves and our beloved departed ones.

I knew that there were more tears that I would shed. It was not out of a desire to wallow in grief and sorrow. It was out of a genuine ‘missing’ of a dearly beloved friend who I had known for nearly eight years. Terry had taught me so much about the simplicity of friendship and human love. To be such close friends always surprised me because Terry and I really did not have that much in common. I had a college degree and had done graduate and doctoral studies. Terry did not complete high school. I was an intellectual, scholar, writer, poet, professional psychic, and I spoke French, Spanish and some German and Italian. I was a trained opera singer and had traveled quite extensively. Still there was something about him that touched my heart.

Perhaps it was being so different that so endeared me to this sweet unusual man. Visiting him was like going to a retreat for a few days. I did not have to deal with clients, books, marketing, Psychic Festivals, Emails, Phone calls, and such things. I always enjoyed the getaways and when I would leave I would always be sad. I’m sure that Terry felt the same way although I never asked him. There are some things that we just feel and know without talking.

It took so little to make Terry happy. Just hanging out on the back patio grilling hamburgers and hotdogs and listening to oldies music was his idea of a good time. While sipping his vodka and coke he’d often get up and dance. He was a very good dancer and the few times that we did go out, he would dance and people would notice and often compliment his dancing.

Terry enjoyed watching an occasional horror or science fiction movie. He loved playing cards and Monopoly. He was a homebody, and did not go out very often. Although he did not earn a lot of money at the factory he was always very good and responsible with his money. Perhaps his emotional maturity was something like that of a twelve year old boy, but that only endeared me more to him, and perhaps brought out the part of me that likes to ‘parent’ my friends. He loved teddy bears of all sizes and he had quite a collection from those I had gotten him for his birthday and Christmas. My friend Lori once commented that a grown man who collects teddy bears and always has to have a pillow to hold was not in his right mind. I told her that she was wrong and it was part of his simplicity, sweetness and innocence that made him special.

Perhaps in a previous life he was my child and that brought out the mothering side of me. I loved preparing care packages for him and often mailed them to him. He loved vienna sausages, peanuts, M and M’s, chocolate malt balls, potato sticks, and peanut cheese crackers. Some packages I would mail on his birthday or holidays and others I would put together on a moment’s whim and surprise him. The magical glow in his eyes when he would open his presents at Christmas and his Easter basket was far worth the cost and effort to put those goodie bags together. Although his spelling and writing were not very good, he still loved to write. I have an entire box of letters and cards he wrote me over the years. He always told me how much he loved me and I don’t believe that hearing those words from a parent, family member or spouse could mean anymore than hearing them from him. There was something almost other worldly about Terry. Something magical or even angelic. I could see how the coldness, selfishness, greed, and hatred rampant in this world could cause such a soul to retreat in his own little world.

I was told many years ago that we do not get to pick and choose who we love be they friends, lovers, family etc. We meet the souls we have agreed to meet and work out and balance more karma from past lives where our relationships were not in balance. Otherwise put, we come back to complete unfinished business.

I wonder if I will meet Terry in a future lifetime. I wonder how many lifetimes we come back over and over to be with those we love? I do not know the answer and perhaps we cannot know that answer until we cross over to the other side. Perhaps we are not allowed to know even then.

But what I do know is that it is a blessing when we open our hearts and let love in even when we have known great sorrow and disappointments from our experiences with human love. I believe that angels come in many shapes and forms. My sweet friend may very well have been an earth angel, albeit it a tortured one in many ways. I hope that maybe I was able to touch his heart and soul because in spite of his inability to control the inner demons that eventually took his life, I always knew that my friend Terry was a beautiful person. I try to remember that when I recall the bad times and sad memories. Things were not always good. We had some very tough times and big fights but they seem so insignificant now compared to the priceless precious memories that I cherish in my heart.

From now on every time I see a balloon I will think about my friend Terry and a smile will come across my face. September 19th, 2009 was a special day. I was blessed with a genuine experience of ‘spirit touch’ from my beloved departed friend on his birthday. I have the feeling we will somehow always be in touch. For that I give thanks!

Baby Step To Closet Organization

NOT EVERYONE IS NATURALLY MARTHA STEWART WHEN IT COMES TO HOME ORGANIZATION. WE ALL HAVE TO START SOMEWHERE, SO LET’s START WITH BEGINNER CLOSET ORGANIZATION TIPS!

Men's Print Bones Short Sleeve Tee ShirtI e realized that whenever I write a new blog post, I often make some random food or home decor confession. Today is no exception friends! Yet again, I have a confession to make. I secretly a closet junkie (gasp!). I know some of you out there may be slightly confused as to what a closet junkie is. Well, let me tell you. I, Alexa Mendoza, am quite an organized person. In fact, I often esteem myself on my organization and neatness. However, as of late, with the busy-ness of school, work, organizations, and fitness classes, I have been slowly but surely neglecting the cleanliness of my own room.

Let me just tell you that I not a huge fan of clutter. So, what do I do whenever I studying and there is clutter all around me? Well, I almost ashamed to say, but I e literally been throwing everything in a nice little pile on the floor of my closet. In one quick movement, presto, clutter is gone! The problem with that kind of rganization is that, although everything seems clean, over time that little pile in your closet is going to grow and you’e going to have an even bigger mess to deal with. So let bring an end to the tyranny of our secret closet messes! I coming out with all the junk in my closet and I saying, es! to a new, cleaner beginning.

Need closet organization ideas for small closets? I e got you covered. Worried about closet organization on a budget? Not to worry! Here my plan of attack against the clutter monster living in my closet.

1. Minimize Stuff

I’l be the first to admit that I have A TON of stuffrt supplies, clothes, random doodads and decorations, and other 渋mportant things that I saving for a day when I’l eed them. I’ like to clarify that I not a pack rat NOT one bit! However, since moving out of my parents house into my new apartment, I realizing the majority of the stuff that I had spread all throughout their house doesn’s quite fit into the storage space of my apartment bedroom. Plus, I don’s think my roommates would appreciate having my stuff everywhere! So out of respect, I e crammed more stuff than one room can handle into my bedroom.

If you e ever watched Clean House or any other home organization TV show, you know that the first step to cleanliness, specifically in regards to closet organization, is getting rid of clothes or (let be blunt) junk that we may be holding on to. If I can do it, so can you! The first thing you can do for easy closet organization is get rid of clothes that you no longer wear and donate them to your local Goodwill or any non-profit that takes clothes. See, looky there! Cleaning and getting rid of stuff can Men’s Eye of God Flower Mandala Neon 80s Desgin Long Sleeve T Shirts also be rewarding!

This closet organization tip is the hardest in my personal opinion. Getting rid of clothes can feel like ripping off a Band-Aid. It best done quick and easy. My biggest suggestion in getting through this step is really thinking about how often you wear a certain article of clothing. If you haven’s worn that shirt in a year, maybe it time to throw it out. Better yet, why not turn your closet cleansing into a social event. Invite friends over, turn on some tunes, and have a clothing swap party. Get rid of things that you don’s wear much anymore and trade with friends for clothes they don’s wear as often. Anything left over, get rid of ASAP. (One word friends: DONATE!)

2. Uniformity is Bliss

I used to go to a private school growing up, so I know what it like to always have to wear uniforms. I know that uniforms are not fun. However, when it comes to closet organization, uniformity is absolutely necessary! It makes seeing everything so much easier and accessing your clothes so much faster. If you have closet organization drawers, put like clothes with like clothes. I know this is something that is very commonsensical; however, I know it an issue that some face (me being one of those people!). Being busy, I know how tempting it can be to just toss all your random clothes into random drawers. Trust me when I say that once you put like clothes with like clothes and keep everything organized, picking outfits will be so much faster!

Via Marcus Design

I think two of the easiest ways to make clothes in your closet uniform are pairing things by color or matching by sleeve length. Closet organization by color is one of the best tips I can give you. I love when things are color-coded! When following this closet organization design, I can guarantee that it is going to take quite a bit of time. However persevere my friend! If you’e stuck in a rut, take a break! Why not organize your shoes? Every shoe, whether flat, high-heeled, or booted, has a special place. Give your shoes the special love they deserve. Plus, by properly storing your shoes, you are prolonging their lives!

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3. Take Your Closet to a Whole New Level

Via DIY Network

Alright friends, we’e taking closet organization to a whole new level. Now that we e gotten rid of old clothes and made things uniform, why don’s we take our closet organization systems to new heights by adding new (and exciting) features like shelving and drawer storage? Remember, we’e taking baby steps toward organization in our closets, so if upgrading your closet is not on your mind, don’s do it! However, I do suggest you think about doing it in the future! Why? Because in the long run, you’l appreciate the extra built-in storage and the built-ins might even increase your home value!

4. Personalize

Via

This closet organization idea is especially great if you have a walk-in closet! One of the cornerstones of interior design is having your home decor reflect you. This rule is applicable to every inch and square foot of your home 攅ven your closet! That being said, you can hang your favorite quotes or graphic art on your closet door. Put up inspiration from your favorite fashion icon or favorite designer looks. Or if you’e trying to attain a fitness goal, put up motivational quotes to look at every time you get ready in the morning. Whatever you do, just make it you!

Closet organization isn’s just about keeping things visually lovely and putting everything in its proper place. Whenever your clothes and shoes are more organized, the wear and tear of your clothes will significantly decrease! It amazing what putting things in order can do. So let come clean and bring peace and order to our closets!

I hope you enjoyed my closet organization hacks! Have you been inspired to clean loset? If so, let us know in the comments below! If you have a friend or loved one who is in need of some closet organization tips, be sure to share this post with them. Remember friends, sharing is caring! So, thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing.