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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 04/24/12

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

WHAT MAKES THE GRAVEYARD A SPOOKY AND SCARY PLACE?



    Under the watchful gaze of crumbling saints and baby-faced cherubs, you hurry down a path lined with mausoleums. Eventually, you pass crops of headstones casting long, narrow shadows in the moonlight. Each engraved with the epitaph of the dead person's life. You run past sunken graves and dying flowers, hoping that the sound you hear is just the wind and you're trying to shake the feeling that something is following close behind you.
    Maybe you've never taken a midnight stroll through your local cemetery. But if you have ever set foot in one, you've likely felt a hint of fear and uneasiness that is their legacy. Maybe you were attending a funeral of someone dear and close to you, touring graveyards or simply fleeing things that go bump in the night.
    Whatever your reason for strolling among the tombstones, you probably felt something noteworthy about the experience-something different from all the other spaces and places that fill our lives. After all, graveyards are the final resting place for many of our dead. People say their last goodbyes there, sometimes returning year after year to leave flowers or say a few words.
    No matter where we travel in the world, cemeteries are silent and solemn settings. Whether the grounds are finely manicured or left to the weeds, graveyard exist as the place where the living contemplate many mysteries, traumas and heartbreaks associated with death.
    Why are many people afraid of graveyards? Is it the thought of all those decaying bodies (zombies) under the dirt or the idea of an old crusty are coming out of the grass to grab your foot and pull you into their final resting spot with them? Or is it something deeper?







    Cats often receive a bum rap for hanging out in cemeteries, but can anyone blame them? Graveyards offer a cat everything they could ask for: all the best spots to nap, trees to use as scratching posts and a selection of small animals to prey on. What more could your averages sized cat want with your dead relatives soul when there are many squirrels and birds around to occupy their time?
    To cats, graveyards may be another place to sleep away the afternoon, but to we humans, they represent the mystery and the outrage of mortality. Whether we like it or not we're all going to die. You may think you've accepted that fact, but it's an issue humanity has struggled with for ages. Unable to avoid it, we've tried to figure out what lies beyond its doors. Will we live forever in a golden paradise, be reincarnated as a cow (or a cat that spends all afternoon in a cemetery) or simply cease to exist? We've pined for understanding since the times of the great pyramids and stared into the eyes of guillotined heads, hoping to catch a glimpse of something other than the emptiness of nonexistence.
    Fear exists as a response to stimuli that threatens our survival as a species. We're programmed to fight or run from anything that might cause death, and we approach death with this same attitude. We flee from it every day by distancing it from our thoughts and lives. In most parts of the world, we've handed the duties of interring the dead over to morticians, which limits our intimacy with death.
    Fighting death is trickier. To avoid staring down mortality, we've redefined what death is. We choose to see dying not as something our bodies eventually do, but something that eventually happens to our bodies. We cast ourselves as the victim of death, which is the reason grim reapers and other death-stalking beings permeate our beliefs. If death is a natural counterpart to life, there's nothing we can do about it in the end. But if it's something inflicted on us by an outside force, then perhaps we have a fighting chance.
Society often sets aside the angel of death and instead chooses to practice what some people call "the deconstruction of mortality." That is, we break down the insurmountable mystery of death into smaller pieces we can digest easily: biological functions, diseases and mental dysfunctions. If prayer or bribing the reaper doesn't work, maybe multiple organ transplants will.
    Pray and think about death all you want, but it's still going to happen at some time.







    Disposing of a body isn't difficult. Bury it in the forest, cremate it or just leave it out for the vultures--a rite Zoroastrains in India still practice. Not only are these methods cheaper than buying a fancy casket and a cemetery plot, but they also allow "Mother Earth" to reclaim the decaying material faster. The use of stone mausoleums, coffins and embalming only slows down the decomposition process.
    But then again, burials aren't really about the dead--they're about the living. We do our best to stave off some of the bad properties of death. And while immortality isn't an option, tombstones and stone monuments serve as long-lasting markers of the life that was. Aunt Betty may be out of your life for good, but a slab of engraved granite will serve as a reminder that she existed. Cemetery stonework also serves to encourage a sacred atmosphere, enforcing notions of afterlife and further establishing the site as a kind of sacred place between life and death.
    We humans fear death, yet we work hard to maintain hallowed spaces where the dead are memorialized and at least partially preserved. On top of that, we heap religions full of resurrection prophecies and thousands of years' worth of superstitions, folktales and ghost stories. We're constantly repressing our feelings about death or magnifying them to tremendous proportions. Maybe you avoid cemeteries and nursing homes, or actively try to speak to the dead through TV psychic mediums-either way, you're striving to avoid the real relationship that exists between life and death.
    We've poured a lot of sacrament, superstition and fear into our graveyards, which makes for quite a powerful atmosphere. Not only do graveyards play on past memories of loss, they also invoke potentially potent themes of supernatural terror. It's not just horror movies that contribute to this frightening reputation. Cemetery preservation groups and historical societies sometime get in on the action with haunted tours.
In more extreme cases, people actually suffer from colmetrophobia, the fear of graveyards. The condition involves a heightened, unrealistic fear of graveyards that actively interferes with a person's life. But unless walking past a cemetery makes your heart race, your fear probably doesn't qualify as a phobia.
    For the most part, the only things you really have to fear in graveyards are collapsing tombstones and monuments. Besides that, living, breathing humans are responsible for more graveyard assaults than all the vampires, zombies and ghouls combined.

5 CATEGORIES OF TASTY CHOCOLATE TREATS TO DIE FOR!!




    I know there are thousands, if not millions of chocolate lovers out there. I happen to be one of those people and have tried several different chocolate treats in my lifetime. So what do I consider to be the top chocolate treats? I find that there are several different chocolate treat categories and there are treats in each category that are better than the rest. This article will stick to foods you can buy in almost any grocery store. These chocolate treats are low in price but high in taste.





Candy bars:

   We've all tried several varieties of this chocolate treat, but which ones are the best? Throughout my life, my tastes have changed and I've had several different favorites. My favorites lean now to either the milky way bar , with it's chocolate and caramel, or a nice big snickers bar, with the chocolate and caramel and a little dose of peanuts to go with it.






Ice Cream:

   Let's face it, just plain old chocolate ice cream is wonderful. It's right up there with vanilla. Vanilla you say? But I thought this was about things chocolate. You're right, but vanilla is like a canvas of a painting you can add anything to it to make it whatever flavor you're craving at the time. Anything from hot fudge to chocolate chips, a little or a lot, it's up to you to decide. When we talk ice cream it's all about the quality of it and the QUANTITY of it. We can go to the local market and get anything from rocky road to brownie batter ( chocolate ice cream with chunks of brownies. The ice cream world is your oyster, shuck it and eat it all up!!!







Cookies:

   When most of us think of a cookie, it's probably a nice, chewy, gooy, dunk in your milk, chocolate chip cookies. My family can't even wait for them to go into the oven, they'd rather eat cookie doe instead. You can make up a batch of them and after they come out of the oven, take some chocolate chips, put them in a microwave safe bowl, and when the chocolate has melted, dip half of the chocolate cookies in it for a little bit of a chocolate high!









Snack Cakes:

    Nothing says comfort food more than a box of individually wrapped ding dongs or ho ho's! A couple of them with a glass of ice cold milk hits the spot. I don't think there's a snack cake made that isn't good.






Candies:

   When you think of loose chocolate candies, does anything come to mind? Anyone?? Anyone??....You in the back row, with your hand up, what is it?.......I box of See's candy sir! Nuts and chews if you please!!.....Good answer! Good answer!
Anything from truffles to chocolate covered almonds with caramel and everything in between. Like Forrest Gump always says, "Life is like a box a chocolates! You never know what you're gonna get!" So be sure that it's a good quality chocolate, not a box of some unknown companies chocolates that you got at the Dollar Store (that sure doesn't taste like the chocolate I'm used to!).
    While there are several other chocolate treat categories, these are some of the best. I hope this article made you think of all of the different flavors and smells coming this holiday season and make sure you eat it in moderation. So next time when you're having a craving for more of that ding dong or those nuts and chews, there will be some more for you to eat, that little stash you keep for yourself, your family doesn't know about.















FERIA NACIONAL de SAN MARCOS FROM MEXICO!





    The Feria Nacional de San Marcos (San Marcos Fair) is a national fair held in the Mexican state of Agualscalientes every year for three (sometimes four) weeks. Most of the events related to the fair, however, occur in the city of Aguascalientes, the state capital. The exact date of the fair varies every uear but is set around April 25th, the Feast Day of San Marcos.



Beauty Queens


    Initially the fair was tied to the vendimia (harvesting of grapes) since wine production used to be an important activity in Aguascalientes. Nowadays, it is an important tourist attraction that is heavily associated with bullgighting and cock fighting. It is estimated that seven million people visit the fair every year and as a consequence, hotels are usually filled to capacity, however some locals rent out their houses to visitors and go on vacation during this time.






Activities

    The San Marcos National Fair is organized by an independent foundation that oversees the governance of what happens at the fair, but is supported by the state and city governments of Aguascalientes.
    The fair is host to a large range of activities, of which bull and cock fighting are the most popular. Usually a concert is given by a prominent Mexican singer after a series of cockfights; this event tends to draw more attention than the fights themselves.



San Marcos Plaza Bullring


    Located in the main fair venue are an assortment of sponsored stands and mechanical games, as well as stages where various concerts and theater plays are performed. the livestock fair and the charreadas still remain an important part of the celebration. Parties where traditional Mesican music is played (tamboras) are also celebrated on the streets of Aguascalientes. Finally, a casino is licensed in downtown Aguascalientes just for the occasion.
    Concerts, art exhibits and other cultural events complement the fair in many locations around the state. The award ceremony of the National Award for Youth Art occurs in Aguascalientes during this time as well.





History
    The fair was celebrated for the first time around harvest time from November 5th to November 20th, 1828, as a showcase of the state's produce and livestock. During that time it was in direct competition with the fair of Acapulco, Jalapa and San Juan de los Lagos.






    The celebrations centered in the Parian (a word borrowed from the Filipino language), a market in the city of Aguascalientes, until 1848. In 1842, the outside balustrade of San Marcos Park was built on a plot of land donated by the Catholic Church. the balustrade is of neoclassical style and is still preserved to this day. Once San Marcos Park was completed the date of celebration was changed to April to coincide with the festivities to honor the patron saint, San Marcos.






    Construction of the San Marcos Plaza bullring started in 1896 and was completed in only 48 days. From that date bullfighting was included in the festivities. It was not until 1992 that the much larger Monumental Plaza de San Marco was built, with seating capacity of 15,000 people.
    Since 1924, the winner of the beauty pageant has been crowned "Queen of the Fair". In 2006, after some electoral controversy, three queens were appointed.





    In 1958 the fair was elevated to the rank of "National" by President Adolfo Lopez Mateos. On April 26th, 2009, the fair was canceled due to an epidemic flu virus that was roaming in Mexico. This is the first time in 181 years that the fair was canceled.