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Yesterday I bought myself a bong

No, there’s nothing wrong with your eyes, I did in fact buy myself a bong yesterday. Actually I bought two and no, I’m not going to use them to smoke marijuana or any other illegal substance for that matter. Instead, I will be using them purely for decorative purposes.

My love affair with bongs dates back to my forties, when I visited Cairo for the first time. All over the city you had these quaint little coffee shops where men were hanging around all day and most of the night, smoking water pipes.

To be quite honest I can’t vouch that those guys were always smoking molasses or tobacco, but the atmosphere at these coffee shops was so laid back, so casual, that I would often spend hours at one of them sipping several cups of coffee and now and again taking a puff from one of the establishment’s complimentary bongs.

Many years later I came across them again, this time in Istanbul. They looked very much the same as the ones I recalled seeing in Egypt and they created the same peaceful ambiance I remembered from Cairo.

So when I stumbled across a website selling bongs it immediately interested me. They have a huge selection, from glass bongs to acrylic bongs and everything in between. There are even travel bongs, zombie bongs, percolator bongs and glacier bongs.

I eventually settled on a pair of beautiful Miniature Bottle Bongs. They’re perfect for showing off to your friends and family and they are surprisingly affordable as well.

Parenting challenges.

Being a parent is wonderful and the girls, Olivia and Sarah, bring such joy to both my wife and me, but that is not to say that parenting is without its challenges.  One of those is dealing with an upset child.  I have lost count of the number of times I have had to do this, sometimes repeatedly on the same day.  But you just get on with it because that is what parents do.  I have to say that sometimes I have been more successful at soothing whichever of the girls is upset than others.  I might have been upset myself or distracted by something else.  I might have been in a rush and thought that I would be able to deal more fully with the situation later.  It is never easy.  Of course, the wrong thing to do is to walk away from the situation completely because that is telling the child that what has happened does not matter.  Walking away is a big no-no as a far as I am concerned.

Nonetheless, I think it is important to take a gentle and caring approach even if the reason why the child is upset seems irrational.  Perhaps a parent has had to remove one of the child’s privileges, such as television before bedtime, for bad behaviour.  The child will be naturally upset and the parent might feel exasperated because they are trying to teach the child a valuable lesson and it does not seem to be getting through.  However, there is no justification for the parent becoming angry and a calm approach, explaining to the child why the parent has taken the action that they have, is best.  Besides, no parent trying to promote good behaviour is going to think it wise to engage in bad behaviour themselves, shouting at a child and making matters worse.

Of course, if a child is upset because they have hurt themselves, a parent will want to check out if there has been any physical injury.  If another child has inflicted the injury, and the parent has authority over that child, they can remove some of that child’s privileges as punishment while explaining calmly that what they did was wrong.

An upset child may also be an angry child so it is important not to let that anger get out of control.  I have found that if I am not judgmental and start to show a degree of empathy, the child starts to calm down and we can then discuss the situation in a more relaxed way.

Marked by teachers

I know that sometimes I need a question answered or something starts to puzzle me at the most inconvenient of times – even in the middle of the night – and it is sure to happen to students too.  That’s why I was delighted to discover on one of my many journeys around the web a site called markedbyteachers.com.

From what I can gather, markedbyteachers.com seems to be a very popular resource for those seeking guidance on writing a good essay.  All of the work featured has been written by students and the essays range from GCSE and A-level up to University standard and run across various subject areas.  Peace of mind comes from knowing that teachers and peer reviewers are on board to offer quality evaluations of the essays submitted as well as additional advice for students working their way through that critical assignment.  Well that sounds good to me…when I was at school – many moons ago I might add – it was more a case of write your answer and hope!

Looking through I thought that taking inspiration from these essays might be a problem if they are full of content that has been lifted wholesale from journals and textbooks. Seems markedbyteachers.com have thought of that too.  The essays posted on the site have all been registered with TurnItIn, the leading anti-plagiarism body based in the U.K. and one that is used and trusted by leading third-level institutions.  Accessibility is another important issue, and the essays on the site are available in .pdf format and as text-only files, compatible with screen readers for those who are visually impaired.

Before signing up, students can try the site out for free with a live demo.  I think that the opportunity to test something out first before I invest my hard-earned money is a sign of a quality product or service.

Golden oldie cinema.

Apparently, Hollywood wants older people to go to the cinema more often.  Its solution is to make movies with bigger roles for older actors.  I wonder if some generous-minded director would hire me. The trend began last year with the release of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which made more than £83 million at the box office.  It starred Maggie Smith and Judi Dench and its success is supposed to have proved that being old is no longer seen as being uncool.  I could have told anyone that.  A newer release said to appeal to older audiences is Quartet, again starring Maggie Smith, as a retired opera singer.  It is directed by Dustin Hoffman and is his first movie as a director, at the ripe old age of 75.  Good for him, and for all those other older stars getting a new lease of life.  Another upcoming movie said to appeal to older audiences is A Song for Marion, starring Terence Stamp as a grumpy old man who becomes involved with a choir.  I had a little chuckle to myself when I read that it was being labelled the “geriatric Glee.”

In one sense, the movie industry is trying to cash in on a trend and make more money for itself.  Younger people are watching a lot more movies online so the cinema audience is dwindling.  But in another sense, I see the trend as a positive one.  For years, all we have heard from marketers and advertisers is that younger people’s tastes are what count.  So it is nice to see the older demographic being listened to for a change.

The so-called pensioner pound is in high demand these days, with older people and retirees having a bit more disposable income to spread around compared to younger generations.  Interestingly, I read a report recently that suggested that shoppers over the age of 55 will drive the growth in online retail in 2013 and that online retailers should rethink their business models to cater for this market.  So much for the idea that older people are fuddy-duddies unfamiliar with modern technology.  It makes sense, though, to target those consumers who have both the time and the money to spend and who are not necessarily distracted by the financial problems that younger generations are experiencing

Men’s onesies.

Since I retired, I find that I have more time to sit around and relax but sometimes I want to be wearing something more comfortable than my everyday clothes.  At the same time, I am loath to sit around in my pyjamas in the day time.  To me, that just feels wrong.  So what is the solution?  Men’s onesies.

Some readers might be sceptical and say to themselves that they would never be caught wearing a onesie.  But I would recommend going online and seeing the range of onesies available.  Comfortable and cosy at the same time, a onesie is ideal for those cold days where all you want to do is sit around the house and relax.  Plus onesies are the latest trend, so the fashion-conscious among us are not going to want to miss out.

Typically, a onesie will come with a hood, so anyone who needs to make a quick dash outside in wintry weather will be fully protected from the harsh elements.  Onesies are also available with zipped pockets, handy for carrying small items around the house as I do my daily chores.

Some people might be embarrassed at the idea of wearing a onesie; men in particular.  I would argue that what is more important is wearing something comfortable about the house.  A fleece onesie on a cold day – that certainly brings to mind an image of comfort.  A onesie will be machine washable so I do not have to worry about getting mine dirty.  If I spill something on it, a quick wash will make it like new again.  I would recommend onesies for anyone seeking something different to wear in the house.

Jackpot City.

I will readily admit to liking casino games, but getting to an actual bricks-and-mortar casino is not always possible.  The great thing for people like me is that various web sites have come online in recent years catering to those who want to play casino games from the comfort of their homes, or even on the go.  If, like me, you fancy a gamble, then play here at http://www.jackpotcitycasino.com/ for the opportunity to win great cash prizes.

JackpotCity online casino is accessible from any number of different platforms, including iPad and Android, so there are many different convenient ways to play.  There is a broad range of payment options too, from Visa and MasterCard to Maestro, and the site is secure and encrypted, so I do not have to worry about unwanted access to my funds.  JackpotCity has been approved and is monitored on an ongoing basis by eCOGRA (eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance), an independent self-regulatory and compliance organisation based in the U.K.

For me, an important feature of JackpotCity online casino is that I get to play in my own currency.   That way, there is no confusion about how much I have won because I am playing in the denomination I am most familiar with.  I do not have to worry about converting prizes from one currency into another, so I can just sit back and enjoy the game that I am playing.

Speaking of which, there are more than 400 casino games on JackpotCity to choose from, ranging from slots and blackjack to roulette and many more.  I particularly appreciate JackPotCity’s use of the latest in graphics technology, which enhances the player experience.  Another nice touch is that some of the games are available for free.  It gives me the sense that the player experience is JackpotCity’s priority.