'American Idol': Austin Cattle Call Auditions in the Heart of Texas with John Wayne and Casey Abrams

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This was one episode of "American Idol" I was looking forward to. First, it was coming from one of my favorite cities. Second, I was looking forward to seeing more high quality auditions this time around. Last but never least, the first Wednesday night episode not on for two grueling hours. It was on for one hour. Unfortunately it messed up my time with another show I was flipping back over to from time to time. Obviously I did not miss that much. Since Austin, Texas is known as the "Live Music Capital of the World" I can't say it was all that from the auditions. Leave it to "American Idol" to do it their silly way season after season.

Apology from "American Idol" Producers – Lame

Case in point of this show doing it their way started with some nonsensical hype coming from Ryan Seacrest. He announced on Twitter and his radio program an apology would be made on "American Idol" later that night regarding Steven Tyler's behavior. They showed the written apology at the start of the show followed by some audition clip we've never seen. Steven Tyler made some reference to a person's last name. Why show a written apology and then Tyler doing a dirty deed afterwards? This was nothing but a publicity ploy to bring more viewers to this declining show that's getting more irrelevant every year.

Highlights of Austin Auditions

There were a few auditions that stood out for me. The rest simply did nothing for me or I did not see them due to the other show I was watching from a former "American Idol" judge. Hollie Cavanaugh was very nervous and crying, but managed to pull herself together when Jennifer Lopez gave her a second chance on her audition. This time she turned everyone around including the new resident "mean" judge, Randy Jackson. Hopefully Hollie will pull herself together in Hollywood.

It was certainly a refreshing change of pace to see a very handsome cowboy in the audition room. He needs to get further in the competition, because John Wayne Schulz will have a huge fan base in no time. However, as far as vocals are concerned Casey Abrams, a Seth Rogen double, was the best of the night. He was featured at the end of the show naturally.

Last Thoughts of the Episode

I'm grateful "American Idol" did not have a slew of sob stories for this episode, unlike last week's barrage. There was another audition I liked from Austin, but her voice not so much, was Courtney Penry. She did this chicken move for the judges that was actually spot on. Courtney also has a crush on Ryan Seacrest. In typical Idol fashion we saw take after take of dreadful auditions that need to be retired soon from the show, but that's never going to happen. Enough of that and it's on to Los Angeles auditions Thursday night. One more week and these tedious auditions will soon be over and done with. Hallelujah

SOURCES:

American Idol – Official Site for Videos, Photos and Community, American Idol.com

Stephanie Krikorian, "'American Idol' Season 10: The Austin Auditions, TV Recap", Speakeasy – The Wall Street Journal

Len Melisurgo, "'American Idol' recap: Steven Tyler issues 'apology' in Texas", The Star-Ledger – NJ.com…

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

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How old is that tomato in your hand at the local super market? A few days? A week? How long until it will begin rotting once you get it home? What types of pesticides were used on the crop? All of these questions are impossible to answer as a shopper looks at fresh produce at a local grocery store. The only way to know for sure how your produce was grown is to get it straight from the farm– a complete reality for shoppers living in cities and suburbs with community supported agriculture (CSA).

Community supported agriculture is not a new idea, but it is gaining in popularity as families become more vigilant about the foods they eat. Plus, with the affordability of online communication such as websites for farms, and emailing to send out crop lists and delivery times, CSA is easier than ever for everyone's participation.

Just like buying shares in a company, community supported agriculture allows families to buy shares of the farm crop for a season. Now, this doesn't mean a share of the entire crop a farm grows, but rather CSA farms have set fields or rows dedicated to CSA crop yields. Share prices range based on the number of people you expect to feed.

Each week the CSA farm designates a variety of vegetables and fruits as a share. For example, one week in spring for a farm in the Southeastern United States a share could include various amounts of beans, carrots, beets, corn, strawberries, peas, squash, lettuce and greens, cabbage, tomatoes, and turnips. Once the farmer sets the amount of produce one share equals for the week, families receive produce amounts based on the number of shares purchased.

CSA is not without risks. Families buying shares will not get a refund if poor weather or other problems affect the CSA crop yield. However, the chances of not getting anything are very slim. Also, shoppers are not protected from poor weather conditions or crop blights at the grocery store either. When adverse growing conditions affect regions, the prices on produce at the local grocery store increase accordingly.

Delivery of CSA produce is handled differently by each farm. CSA farmers may elect to have share buyers pick up the produce at the location, or at a centralized location between the farm and urban living areas. Many CSA's are managed in a grass roots style, so families can also arrange to "carpool" the vegetables with other CSA participants and switch off pick up weeks. A rarer option is personalized delivery of CSA produce, and when available there is an extra cost.

A final benefit of participating in a CSA is taking the family to the farm. CSA farmers are glad to show families where the crops are grown and teach children how their favorite vegetables and fruit go from seeds to snacks. Additionally, there may be pick your own days where CSA participants can bring their own containers and pick strawberries or beans directly from the fields. Ask about pick your own days near the end of growing seasons for specific produce, or gleaning opportunities.

Participating in a CSA not only helps farmers and urban families, but also give a greater environmental impact. By supporting locally grown produce at nearby farms, CSA participants are cutting down on the amount of produce shipped via truck across the country.

If you ever wanted to support your local farms, buy fresh produce free of pesticides and artificial enhancements, and reduce green house gas emissions, then participate in a community supported agriculture program in your area. You can save money on produce, and bring the freshest food to your family's table. There is a reason the top restaurants rely heavily on locally grown produce– nothing tastes just quite as good.…

Tips to Design and Register Cattle Brands

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Branding your cattle is a way to safe guard them against theft. It is also the law in states such as Montana, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico. In most states, you have 30 days from the time you purchase your cattle until you brand them to remain free of any entanglements of the law. It is fairly simple to register a cattle brand. The tricky part is to design a livestock brand.

Avoid closed characters on your registered cattle brands

When you are designing a cattle brand to register with your state livestock department, keep in mind that close characters are easier to botch and harder to heal when your brand your cattle. The area within the closed area is more likely to be damaged. It will usually peal completely away and will be harder to read. Characters such as O, P, B, or anything that is connected should be avoided.

Choose two to three characters for your registered cattle brand

The more characters a brand has, the harder it is on the cattle, the person who does the branding and even the person researching the brand for registration. There are so many possible combinations and places to brand cattle, that keeping it simple will actually be healthier for your cattle.

How Registered Cattle Brands are read.

Generally, a registered cattle brand reads from left to right and from top to bottom. Thus, the arraignment of your characters is important when selecting a cattle brand to register. Another part of registering a cattle brand requires that the location of the brand be registered as well. In other words, where will you brand your cattle? On the left or right? On the hip, ribs, shoulder or neck. Some states also allow cheek brands to be registered as well. Keep in mind that if you register your cattle brand as a right hip brand, you must always brand your cattle on the right hip. Someone else may have the same brand registered; only the left hip is designated for their brand.

Once you have designed your brand, you will need to take it to your state livestock department to have it registered. At the office, they will research to ensure that the brand is not duplicated by anyone else. The registered cattle brand is good for three years in New Mexico. Registered cattle brands are also considered a salable asset. If you are having trouble designing a brand from scratch, consider purchasing an unused brand that is registered to someone else.

New Mexico Livestock Board

Colorado Brand Inspection Division

Montana Department of Livestock…

After School Snacks for Children: Keep it Healthy

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After school snacks are a necessity for most children. Lunch was hours ago, and even if it wasn't, most kids get off the school bus ravenous. It's easy to have convenience foods on hand for the busy hours that span from after school through dinner time. But, prepackaged convenience snacks often aren't the best choice. They are loaded with fat, calories, sugar and preservatives. Luckily, there are some healthy choices that are more delicious and just as easy to prepare as prepackaged snacks.

Fruit

A crisp, crunchy apple or a juicy, ripe orange both make quick, delicious snacks. Most fruits need minimal, if any, preparation to eat. The natural sugars and high fiber content will give your kids energy and fill their stomachs as they wait for dinner. The extra vitamins that fresh fruits are loaded with are another plus of this convenient snack.

Garbanzo Beans

Otherwise known as chick peas, garbanzo beans are a high-fiber powerhouse. Kids love to munch on these protein-filled snacks. Simply open a can, dump the beans in a strainer and rinse. The beans are ready to eat plain and will provide lots of energy for active children.

Frozen Berries

For those with a sweet tooth, frozen berries are a good snack choice. Blueberries taste like hard candies when frozen. Not only do they become super sweet, but they are the nutritional gold standard. Buying a bag of frozen berries from the grocery store is an economical way to get berries into your children's diets. They are available throughout the year in the frozen foods section.

Toast

Toast made from healthy, whole-wheat bread and spread with all-natural preserves is a delicious after school snack. Served with a glass of cold milk, it provides healthy carbohydrates and protein to give your school kids energy enough to plow through the toughest of homework assignments. As an alternative to jam or jelly, cinnamon sugar or honey make wonderful toppings.

Cheese

Cheese can be expensive, but it is a filling snack. Served with fruit and crackers, it is the equivalent of a small meal. This is an especially good snack on those days when dinner is going to be a little later than normal. It will keep the children from getting hungry and spoiling their appetites with other, less healthy alternatives.

Smoothies

Plain yogurt, fruit juice, a banana, and frozen berries mixed in a blender will make a fun snack that feels like a treat. The fruit will sweeten the yogurt naturally, so there is no need to buy anything other than plain yogurt. These are great served on a hot day, especially when the kids will be running back outdoors for play time with their friends.

Popcorn

Skip the microwave popcorn, which is loaded with preservatives and artificial flavorings, and make popcorn in an air popper. Add melted butter and a light sprinkle of salt for a very filling after school snack.

Snacks don't have to come in individual serving-size packages with cartoon characters on the label. The healthiest snacks are packaged a little more plainly, but are just as delicious and more filling than any of the prepackaged snacks. These healthy alternatives will keep your school-aged child on the right track to a healthy lifestyle.…

Shadow Dog

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My little shadow died today,

Tears fall for he went away,

As a pup he would run around,

Acting like a funny little clown,

Always loving me no matter what,

Than he grew old and slowed so,

For I knew one day he would go,

To a place where dogs run free,

And that is where he went to be,

Rest in peace my little friend,

 

 

 …

How to Raise a Healthy Child with Healthy Habits

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I don't recall anyone ever giving me a handbook on how to raise a child; a healthy child for that matter. Basically, soon after delivery you were on your own; bid farewell by the hospital staff and wheeled out to the parking lot. "Good luck!" was the words echoing in your ears as you drove off.

You feel completely isolated and unsure of what to do next; however, caring for babies is the least of your concerns. At least for babies, health and nutrition equal breast milk and/or formula. Besides, babies have a way of expressing their wants and when they want it. Not so is the case for a growing toddler, experiencing the taste of real food for the very first time. This is when you need to instill good nutrition and healthy eating habits.

Establish Healthy Eating Habits

Yes, it's cute to see a child's eyes light up with expression of oohs and ahs from the very first taste of something yummy (like sweets). But… by introducing unhealthy choices rather than foods filled with nutrition, you're running the risk of creating some unhealthy eating habits. Be consistent with offering healthy food choices such as plenty of fruits and vegetables and you'll have a better chance of your child retaining that life style as he/she grows. Resist the urge to tempt your toddler by setting some ground rules for yourself and what you keep in your cupboards. Remember, it's a strong, healthy child you want to raise not Willy Wonka.

One obstacle I'm positive you'll have to overcome when it pertains to junk food is Grandparents. All Grandparents, even my children's feel that they're entitled to feed your child what ever they want. Though I can't guarantee you'll be completely in charge of the situation, I would suggest that you talk to them about the healthy lifestyle you are trying to maintain for your kids. Perhaps they will respect that/or not.

As your child grows and exhibits self-sufficiency, they're need to raid the refrigerator becomes more obvious. Again, keep an ample supply of easy-to-grab snacks that are inviting and pleasing to the eye, along with being nutritious. Keep a drawer or a cupboard especially designed for their snacking needs. Cull the carbonated beverages or drinks filled with sugar. Instead make available ice water, milk, and the occasional 100% juice. Choice is essential but choice with limits is necessary for strong and healthy children.

As a rule of thumb, meals are eaten at the table and not in front of the television, in their bedrooms, or while continuing an activity. In my experience as a parent, these evil habits have led to over-eating, not eating enough, and forgetting what they ate because they were so consumed with every other thing going on around them. Like me, a working parent, I know that it's sometimes very difficult to commit to certain meal times; however, establishing some kind of routine will help them in the long run.

Promote Exercise and Healthy Activities

Nutrition is not the only key to raising a healthy child; it's exercise and activity as well. Keeping a child active is becoming more trying then it used to be. Unfortunately, kids are spending more and more time consumed by video games or the television. More unfortunate are the parents that are allowing it. Instead of mustering up the energy to get your child moving, it's more convenient for us to let this unhealthy activity continue. As a child of the 60's I never had the modern-day conveniences they do now. We played outside from dawn to dusk. Nobody had to tell us to get out and exercise; playing was exercise. But now, to create healthy activity we also have to lead by example. Yes, we parents are also guilty of lounging around on the couch with our little remote controls or laptop computers.

Encourage your child to participate in at least one physical activity; whether it's a sport, a game, or riding a bike. And yes, as parent, we also have to contribute to this effort. Put limits on certain un-fulfilling activities and promote healthy ones. My children decided to take part in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I feel that this was the best choice for my boys because their range of likes and dislikes varied considerably. Plus, the scouts promote a healthy and active lifestyle which in return took a lot of the load off my shoulders. They participate in several outdoor activities per month and are excited about staying fit. Surrounding them with positive influence has created a welcoming environment.

By developing healthy eating and activity habits at an early age, I have established healthy and strong children for their lifetime, which in return could trickle down to their children.

Sources: Personal Experiences…

Urban Agriculture: Raising Pigeons

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Pigeons are seen by many as the rats of the sky. As a bird that is well adapted to human interaction, pigeons tend to flock in cities and urban environments where they become a messy nuisance. On the other hand, the ability to interact closely with people has made them an excellent animal for raising, and their ability to live in close quarters has made them a primary agricultural product for city dwellers.

Pigeon Background

Pigeons are Columbidae. This family of birds is madeup of both the pigeons and the doves. Were you to ask the difference between a pigeon and a dove, the honest answer is "the name." Pigeons and doves aren't different at all, but people seem to call them pigeons when they dislike them and doves when they like them.

They are a diverse and adaptable family, living in almost any climate and having a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Some, like the crown pigeons, are quite large and intimidating. Even the common pigeon we think about comes in many colors and sizes, and if you dig into the bred lines, they become even more diverse.

Pigeon Fanciers

Keepers of pigeons are called pigeon fanciers. Like many agricultural pursuits, this can be done for food or for pets, and many keep the pigeons as a combination of both. They breed easily, eat cheap food, and are largely simple to keep. These pigeons are domesticated from the Rock Pigeon, and since they have been kept for so long, they have a variety of interesting traits to choose from.

For instance, pigeons have a natural homing instinct. This allows them to return to their origin over distances of up to 1000 miles. This was used in wartime to carry messages from armies to the city, and today it is a sport. Competitors bring doves which are released at great distances to see which doves can return home the fastest. As strange as it may sound, it is a popular sport and people breed and train pigeons for just this purpose.

Another skill some pigeons have is "tumbling" in which the pigeon randomly begins a freefall with rolling motions before recovering only moments from hitting the ground.

Finally, there are pigeons bred for show or food. These are almost always the pretty ones shown in competition, and like dogs or cats, breeding is a serious endeavor. No matter what you want to pursue, there is a pigeon fancier for you.

Keeping Pigeons

Among the advantages of pigeons is that they require minimal space. A small shed can be turned into a coop with some effort and some wood, and their food requirements are pretty simple. Learning to keep pigeons isn't a hard task. In fact, in many cities people kept pigeons on the roof, interacting minimally with the ground below. This is also a good way to keep your neighbors happy.

If you like eating bird, or simply want a hobby with an affordable livestock, pigeon keeping may be for you. Be sure to check out my sources for more information on becoming a pigeon fancier.

Sources:

PigeonWeb: http://www.pigeonweb.net/pigeon-fanciers

National Pigeon Association: http://www.nationalpigeonassociation.co.uk/…

All About Community Supported Agriculture

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Most of us are aware of the many difficulties farmers have, within recent years, encountered. Many farmers have been forced to shut down the farm for good; others are following closely on their heels. We won't discuss the reasons behind all of that right now; let's concentrate on how we can help our own local farmers. Have you heard of Commuity Supported Agriculture (CSA)? It's a way that we, as normal food consumers, can pay in advance for some of our foods and that money goes towards supporting your regional farmers. In exchange, as the crops come in, you're first in line to receive the goods.

There are good and bad elements involved with CSA. For example, some farmers save their best produce to sell at farmers markets and other places while providing CSA members the smaller or inferior produce. Not fair. Should you try a CSA group, ask for referrals so you can talk to others who are involved with that particular group. See if they've been satisfied with their memberships. Or, participate in a CSA group which breaks down the farmer's categories, like produce, meat, and dairy, and try out one category before joining others.

Some CSA groups make you sign up for every category as a total package. Others allow you to choose categories. You pay a certain amount for the entire package, or for the chosen categories, in advance. This money will go to help the farmers plant, tend and harvest. Later, when the crops come in, you will receive 12 or 24 weeks of those foods – depending upon the group and/or subcategories. Some groups have a pickup once a week. Others have two per week. Most seasons run from June through August. Make sure you understand the entire program before signing up with a Community Supported Agriculture group.

Some foods will be chosen by you whereas others are pre-selected and you simply pick them up. Amongst foods that you select yourself are fruits and vegetables. Others which are chosen for you include most any meat, fish or foul. Some packages offered by the CSA groups include meats, fruit, vegetables, beans, grains, milk and eggs.

The amount of each food you receive is dependent upon the share package you sign up for. Half-shares feed one to two people. Full shares feed between four and five people.

Check to see if you have a CSA group in your town – many large cities have them. It's also possible to start your own CSA. Read more about the groups, how to volunteer, prices on the packages or how to start your own CSA by visiting Local Roots, NYC.…

New Zealand Fiber and Protein Diet Review

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The New Zealand Fiber and Protein diet is based on research that showed the food formula resulted in 8 times more weight loss.

According to Woman's World magazine, women in a New Zealand study were eating 2,000 calories per day and dropping weight by combining fiber and protein.

Te Morenga, the New Zealand scientist from the University of Otago, had volunteers follow a low-fat diet and others a fiber and protein diet. The protein and fiber dieters in the study got 30 percent of their calories from protein and 35 grams of fiber.

The results of the fiber and protein diet were spectacular. The subjects in Te Morenga's study who ate the protein and fiber combo lost 8 pounds for every one pound lost in the low-fat traditional diet group.

I recently tried the Bistro MD diet delivery program. One of the reasons I think Bistro MD results are so great is because their meals are extremely high in fiber and protein. For example, the Bistro MD chicken and lentils meal has 23 grams of fiber and 46 grams of protein. That's extraordinarily high for one meal!

Protein shakes such as Fit Smart combine protein and fiber for fast weight loss results. In fact, it's part of the Fiber 35 diet plan that encourages dieters to consume 35 grams of fiber per day.

Some of the benefits of a high protein diet are the same as the benefits of a high fiber diet: they both fill you up.

According to Women's World magazine, getting 30 percent of your calories from protein is an important key because it triggers fat burn. Resistant starches, such as those found in beans and bananas, also stimulate fat burning.

To try out the protein and fiber diet, I did not have to go to any trouble since I could do the Bistro MD meals for a week to test out the diet.

If you rather do it yourself, simply follow these guidelines for the protein and fiber diet:

No. 1: Include beans and other resistant starches to your diet. Add a banana to your Fit Smart smoothie, for example.

No. 2: Have at least one serving of protein at every meal (at least four a day)

No. 3: Limit fat. When you choose fats, opt for olive oil or peanut or almond butter.

No. 4: Fill up on fiber: Fill your plates with fruits and vegetables. Select the healthier breads such as Ezekiel sprouted grain bread , Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas or Ezekiel sprouted grain cereal or creamy buckwheat . Buckwheat soba noodles are especially good for weight loss.

Although there is no calorie counting in the New Zealand fiber and protein diet, it's always a good idea to have your metabolism tested and match your eating to the number of calories you burn at rest or your RMR. Eating enough should give you the energy to burn calories through exercise. The fiber and protein diet should help you maintain lean muscle mass and feel satisfied.

Related dieting articles

HCG diet review

Hollywood bikini diet tricks

T-Type hourglass shape diet

Source: woman's world magazine…

Hypertension and Diet

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A recent New England Journal of Medicine discussed the treatment of hypertension with dietary changes. While many patients in the United States are on hypertensive medications, newly diagnosed patients should know that there are "lifestyle changes" which can help improve the blood pressure, and which cost less than medications and don't have their side effects.

Steps that you can take to lower your blood pressure include:

  1. Decreasing your intake of salt, listed as sodium on food packages. Surprisingly, many processed foods contain a high amount of sodium, such that consumption of regular portions can lead to excessive daily consumption of salt which will increase your risk of hypertension. In addition, fast food and food served in restaurants may contain very high levels of salt, such that eating out frequently increases your salt consumption well above the daily recommended allowance. While decreasing your salt intake will initially lead to foods tasting much blander, eventually in a couple weeks foods will taste just as good with much less salt.

This may be why major food corporations, such as Campbell's Soup, have been gradually reducing the salt content of their soups. The American heart association recommends limiting salt intake to 1.5 g per day, which is significantly less than the average American consumes.

  1. Eating a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables. In particular, the Mediterranean diet has been found to have multiple beneficial health effects and can help you lower your blood pressure. The DASH diet (see below) is also highly recommended as a frame work you can use to plan your weekly shopping and meal preparation, and can help you reduce your blood pressure.
  2. Getting regular exercise

How Can I Follow the Dash Diet?

The DASH diet is highly recommended by many physicians, and has the backing of several professional organizations, such as the American Heart Association, and can be found online at http://dashdiet.org/. Following this diet can lower your blood pressure in just 14 days. In addition the DASH diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

In addition, there is a DASH action plan book which helps with the preparation of healthy meals, and can be bought online from retailers such as Amazon.com, more information can be found here: http://dashdiet.org/dash_diet_book.asp.

It is comforting to know that even small changes in your diet, and in your exercise routine, can lead to significant improvement in your health. Cutting just 200 calories a day from your diet can lead to the loss of many pounds over the course of the year. If you're concerned about your weight or blood pressure you should consider talking with your doctor or with a nutritional expert as those were monitored on a weight loss or hypertension control program are far more successful. Even if you don't have hypertension, following a low salt diet and adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet can you avoid heart disease and other health problems later in life.

Sources:

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/362/22/2102

http://dashdiet.org/…