Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Star Superstitions

How Many Star Superstitions Do You Know?

For eons, mankind has been creating myths about the heavens. Superstitions and stories about these mysterious celestial bodies helped people ‘understand’ their relationship to these majestic space bodies.

Here are a few of the folk myths, legends and lessons that have been passed on from generation to generation.

Hands to Yourself: Pointing at the stars, in some societies, can be just as frowned upon as pointing at a stranger in public. Many legends about the ancient behavioral belief stem from the notion that the stars were gods or other supernatural beings who peered down at Earth from the heavens. Such activity was ‘rude’ and could anger that deity.

Make a Wish: Given the magic associated with shooting stars, there’s no surprise there are many beliefs linked to them. While many cultures suggest that gazing upon these stars brings good luck, some believe shooting stars are more specific in their purpose. For example, if worried about finances, say the word “money” three times before the star burns out. The hope is that this can lift one out of poverty.

Lucky Stars: Some shooting stars can affect your life without any action on your part. However, the type of luck you end up with could depend on something as random as where the star is positioned in the sky. If you spot a fallen star on your right, it means good luck, while one on your left will unfortunately indicate bad luck.

Make it Count: Counting the stars may be a good way to pass the time on a clear night, but superstitious folks should skip counting them in favor of other pastimes. For some people, it is considered a sure way to bring on bad luck. Some legends state that if you attempt to count the stars in the sky, you'll die when you reach 100.

Stars at Sea: Like farmers, fishermen and other seafarers have their own star-related superstitions and beliefs. By observing the direction that a shooting star travels, it is believed that sailors have long been able to predict which way the winds will blow. The North Star has served as a powerful navigating tool at sea, allowing sailors to calculate latitude and determine the correct course to reach their destination.

Farming Superstitions: Farmers have used the stars to predict the weather. One superstition from England warns that there will be a poor harvest when the evening star is low in the sky.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Funny and Smart

Can Smart Be Fun?

Becoming smarter can actually be fun. Here are some silly ways to check out.

Carry around a book: Try to carry around a book at all time, and every time you get bored or have a second to spare, crack it open. This allows brain activity to be consistent active, and reading is much better for your brain than any smartphone game.

Balance in weird positions: Balancing in unusual positions is a perfect example of how body and mind can interact. It can cause unpredictability rather than repetition, which allows your brain to stay engaged. Next time you’re at work and want to enhance the intelligence of your “body brain”, try to balance in a weird position.

Go to bed just like grandparents do: Getting a normal amount of sleep is largely underrated in today’s society. However, it is essential for creating new memories (newly developed neural pathways from whatever you learned that day). Next time, try to make a bed plan that allows your body at least 8 hours of sleep. Trust me, your brain will thank you. 

Eat the same meal every day: This is one cognitive advantage that allows you to preserve free will, by not having to make tiny decisions throughout the day about trivial things like choosing a meal. So, next time instead of leaving it up until just before you eat to decide, pick a meal you could see yourself eating almost every day. Spend your “interesting” brain power on more important things. 

Stare at the wall: In today's society, little time is usually given to just relax and escape the distractions of TV, music, etc. Unfortunately, these distractions can keep us away from creating ideas, or being aware and paying attention to the concept of creating or building out ideas when we do have them. So instead of waking up and immediately hopping onto social media outlets, try to enjoy the quiet and observe your thoughts. 

Bet against yourself: It might sound crazy, however betting against yourself can create artificial incentives that can get you motivated very quickly. Some economists and psychologists consider betting against yourself to be a “commitment device” that can help your brain.

Sprint into work (or school) in the morning: Our brains are programmed for convenience. Everyone has the urge to park as close to the building as possible. If your wanting to give your brain a boost to start the day however, this is not the best strategy. Research has shown that running gets blood and oxygen flowing to the brain, which enhances cognitive performance afterwards.  

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Winter Foodlore

India’s Winter Masala

India’s garam masala (‘hot spice’) is popular during the cold months. It is a combination of spices that have been lightly roasted and powdered together. Stirred into curries and soups, sprinkled onto rice, and sometimes added to pies, it has been said to dispel the winter woes.  Here are the ingredients:
Cloves: In winter, they can help improve blood circulation and digestive system. 
Cardamom:  Folklore has it that this warming spice can balance the body’s Ayruvedic energies (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) that circulate in the body.
Black Pepper: Once a sought-after spice, it boosts appetite and helps to ward off viruses.
Cumin seeds: Used for centuries to cure colds and treat coughs. This earthy, flavorful spice maintains reproductive health and is also a powerful disinfectant.
Cinnamon: Herb lore reports that it brings relief from arthritis, sharpens the brain and fights bacteria.

How Much Do You Know About Black Pepper?

According to some legends if you sprinkle pepper onto some soil in a flower pot, a small plant will magically spring life. It will be ready to grant you three wishes.
The Philadelphia Pepper Pot Soup was made during the Revolutionary War to take advantage of the lack of food supplies the Continental Army had to work with. Peppercorns, along with meat scraps were said to ‘fire’ the army up so that, at last, they won the war.

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