WHAT THE NEW DECADE WILL BE CALLED

Come January 1, we’ll dump the “two-thousands” and get cozy with the “twenty-tens.” So say the language experts. In 2000, there were “uncertainties,” said David Crystal of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, so we ignored the example of 1900 (“nineteen-hundred”), and we said “two-thousand.” Why? “Twenty-hundred” is awkward, said Jesse Sheidlower of the Oxford English Dictionary. The media is also quickly adopting twenty-ten since it’s easier to say, has fewer syllables and takes less time than two-thousand-ten.

What will you be saying?

Decade’s worst movies (based on profit)

The decade’s worst movie clunkers according to The Hollywood Reporter:

1. “The Adventures of Pluto Nash” — 2002, Eddie Murphy film about a Sci-Fi gangster yarn, cost a whopping $100 million but pulled in a measly $4.4 million at the box office.

2. “Battlefield Earth” — 2000, John Travolta was an evil alien in the Sci-Fi epic based on a novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard which cost $75 million, but grossed $21 million.

3.  “Land of the Lost” — 2009, Will Ferrell was miserable in this comedy about a prehistoric world in the Earth’s core that cost $100 million and grossed $65 million.

4. “Gigli” — 2003, then lovebirds Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were known as “Bennifer” when they fizzled in this mobster romance that cost $54 million, but made only $6.1 million.

5. “Town and Country” — 2001, Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn starred in this comedy about middle age romantic high jinks that cost $90 million and returned $6.7 million.

6.  “Catwoman” — 2004, Halle Berry seemed ‘purr-fect’ as the super kitten, but the $100 million flick only grossed $40 million.

7. “The Invasion” — 2007, you’d think the $80 million remake of the body snatching classic starring Nicole Kidman and James Bond hunk Daniel Craig couldn’t miss but it did, grossing $15.1 million.

8. “Rollerball” — 2002, the remake about a brutal futuristic sport combining the violence of ice hockey, football and Roller Derby cost $70 million, but grossed just $19 million.

9. “Grindhouse” — 2007, Quentin Tarantino was behind this 1950s style double feature of a zombie thriller and a hot rod movie that cost $67 million and earned $25 million.

10. “The Spirit” — 2008, even a superhero couldn’t save this comict book based adventure which cost $60 million, but grossed $19.8 million.

CHRISTMAS PERILS

Christmas tree fire – How often does that happen?

Christmas trees account for about 200 fires annually, resulting in six deaths, 25 injuries and more than $6 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Prevention? Make a fresh cut to remove at least half an inch of wood from the base of the trunk, and place the tree in water. Keep it away from heat sources, do not leave lights on unattended, and discard the tree promptly after the holiday when it has become dry and easier to ignite.

Drunken driving – How often does that happen?

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 38 percent of all traffic fatalities during the 2007 Christmas period and 41 percent during the 2007-08 New Year’s Day period involved a drunken driver (compared with 32 percent during the rest of the year). This year could be especially risky because Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Fridays, and the incidence of drunken-driving fatalities typically rises on weekends.

Prevention? If you’re going to drink, don’t drive. Plan ahead to have a designated driver, call a cab or ride the Metro. If you do over-imbibe, sleep it off on your host’s sofa. And even if someone sober is driving, wear a seat belt.

Weight gain – How often does that happen?

The claim that most Americans gain five pounds from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is a myth; most gain only one pound, according to an oft-cited 2000 study in the New England Journal of Medicine. But don’t reach for the figgy pudding yet: The study also found that most people never lose that pound during the spring and summer.
Prevention

Tips from Michelle May, physician and author of “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat”: Listen and adhere to your body’s satiety cues. Sit down to eat. Deal with food pushers with a polite but firm “No, thank you.” Be a food snob; if something doesn’t taste as good as you expected, stop eating it and choose something else.

Holiday plant poisoning – How often does that happen?

In 2008, American poison control centers received 426 calls regarding exposure to American and English holly, 132 calls about mistletoe and 1,174 for poinsettias. (“Exposure” usually means eating the plant, but the centers receive all kinds of zany calls, including people who rub the leaves on their skin and develop a rash.) None of these cases resulted in death, but effects of ingestion can include vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. The National Capital Poison Center lists holly and mistletoe as poisonous but poinsettia as nonpoisonous, though it “may cause irritation.”
Prevention

Keep these plants out of reach of children and pets. Call the National Poison Control Center, 800-222-1222, if you suspect ingestion.

Package-opening injury – How often does that happen?

Hard plastic “clamshell” casings, plastic bindings and wire ties send many revelers reaching for box cutters or knives on Christmas morning. About 6,000 Americans end up in the emergency room each year because of packaging-related injuries (so that includes birthday presents as well as Christmas gifts), according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Prevention

Last year, Amazon.com started its “frustration-free packaging” program, which promises “no wire ties, no clamshells, no wrap rage.” But if you find yourself confronted with an apparently impenetrable wrapper, take a deep breath (despite the excitement or anger). Then remember these tips from the Pennsylvania Medical Society: Avoid opening difficult packages in a crowded area, do not use your legs to keep the product stable and use blunt-tipped scissors.

Sledding accident – How often does that happen?

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22,780 people were injured while riding sleds, toboggans, snow disks or snow tubes from 2004 to 2005.
Prevention

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that children younger than 12 wear helmets. Scout the sledding hill to make sure that it’s free of obstacles, and don’t pick a slope that ends in a street, parking lot, pond or other hazard. Never go down a hill headfirst; sit upright, face forward and use a sled that you can steer.

Eggnog salmonella – How often does that happen?

There are no specific eggnog-related data, but the CDC estimates that one in 50 consumers could be exposed to a contaminated egg each year. If that egg is thoroughly cooked, the salmonella bacteria organisms will be destroyed and will not make the person sick.
Prevention

No, a dash of rum does not kill the bacteria in eggnog. If that’s what you’re serving, make it safely from a cooked egg-milk mixture, heating gently until it reaches 160 degrees, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Or just buy pasteurized eggnog from the grocery store.) While we’re on the subject: If you’re baking cookies, don’t lick the spoon if there are eggs in your batter. If you don’t trust yourself, modify the recipe by using an egg substitute.

FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT CHRISTMAS

Did you know that royalties from Bing Crosby’s recording of “Silent Night” and Adeste Fidelis all go to charities? Here are some other fascinating facts about Christmas you may not have known:

  • The word “carol” comes from a Greek word meaning to dance and to play the flute.
  • America’s first Christmas carol was written and sung in the language of the Huron Indians. Called Jesus Is Born, it was composed by Father Brebeuf, a French missionary to the Indians, in 1630.
  • Alabama was the first state to grant legal recognition to Christmas in 1836. By 1890, all states and territories acknowledged the holiday, including the District of Columbia.
  • It was illegal to celebrate Christmas Day in the Massachusetts colony from 1659 until 1681.
  • The first true Christmas cards were written by St. Francis of Assisi and his followers in the 13th century. The idea was to tell biblical stories in song in order to reach more people.
  • The first Christmas card as we know it was sent in 1843. The greeting: “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.”
  • There are at least two towns named Santa Claus in the U.S.A. in Indiana and Idaho.
  • There’s a Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean and a Christmas Island in the Pacific’s Gilbert Island.
  • The first department store Santa Claus in the nation was James Edgar of Brockton, MA. As owner of the Edgar’s Store in Boston in 1890, he donned the Santa costume himself to begin the tradition.

Consider this..Holiday Eating No-No’s

Consider this fact presented by Women’s Health magazine: The average American eats 600 additional calories per day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Translation: That’s an extra six pounds. Yikes! But if you know which foods are the worst culprits for your waistline, you can battle back more effectively:

  1. Worst Classic Holiday Drink: Eggnog — At 350 calories and 19 grams of fat, eggnog, even without the booze, is on the naughty list because it consists of milk, cream and eggs. If you want a festive seasonal drink, choose homemade hot chocolate instead. Just limit how much whipped cream you squirt on top.
  2. Worst Holiday Appetizer: Crab Cakes — When crab is blended with mayonnaise and then rolled in bread crumbs and cooked in a vat of bubbling fat, you end up with an appetizer that weighs in at 400 calories and 19 grams of fat. Each. That’s more calories than three dozen shrimp.
  3. Worst Holiday Party Cocktail: Gin and Tonic — It may taste light, but a gin and tonic has 210 calories and 22 grams of sugar, thanks to the tonic water. Choose Champagne instead for one-fourth the amount of sugar.
  4. Worst Holiday Party Snack: Spinach and Artichoke Dip — In addition to the spinach and artichokes, this dip has mayonnaise, sour cream and cream cheese, which add up to a whopping 285 calories and 17 grams of fat per serving. And that’s without the crackers or chips! If you simply must have some, limit yourself to dip on one cracker.
  5. Worst Holiday Entree: Prime Rib — This coveted holiday cut of beef comes from one of the fattiest parts of the cow, which means you’re ingesting 750 calories and 45 grams of fat with just one serving. Beef tenderloin is a tasty alternative at a fraction of the calories and fat.
  6. Worst Holiday Dessert: Pecan Pie a la Mode — There is no pie that has more calories, fat and sugar than pecan. Even though some of the 810 calories and 65 grams of fat come from the healthy nuts, most come from the corn syrup and sugar filling. A better alternative after a filling heavy meal is angel food cake. Made from egg whites, it’s virtually fat-free.

TEACHERS’ MOST FUNNY/INTERESTING GIFTS FROM STUDENTS

‘Tis the season for students to give gifts to teachers. From a survey of teachers, here are some of the more interesting gifts they say they’ve received.

  I had a student who wrapped up his lunch money. He had skipped lunch that day.

  I received a used roll of duct tape.

  One year a child gave me a plate with crumbs on it. There had been cookies on it, but the kid ate them on the way to school.

  My aide received one earring. When she asked about the other one, the student said he gave it to the librarian.

  I got an avocado wrapped in aluminum foil.

  Once I received a box of chocolates and shared them with my students. Soon the kids were all spitting them out. When I looked at the box, I realized they were full of cognac.

  I received a box of chocolates one year. At home, I put it in the freezer. A few months later, I opened the freezer and took
out the box. Inside was a tie.

  A child once gave me the most unique Christmas gift ever: a mug that said “Happy St. Patrick’s Day.”

  I received a wall calendar that was about to expire

(From Justin) : Share your unique or funny gift with us! Register to be a user of this website and comment. It’s free and fun to do.

HOW TO PICK THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS TREE

Decide Where to Place the Tree – Avoid placing your tree near a heat source (sunny windows, radiators, heating vents, and fireplaces). Try to keep the tree out of high traffic areas where it might be bumped or overturned, or where someone might trip on light cords. Avoid any spot that might be dangerous, such as next to a fire in the fireplace or up on a wobbly table.

Measure Twice – Before you go shopping or hunting for that “perfect tree,” you’ll need to decide where it will fit in your home. See placement tips above, but once a spot is chosen be sure to measure BOTH the ceiling height and the width of that space. Write these numbers down on a piece of paper. Also, measure your tree stand to determine the maximum diameter of the tree trunk you can use in it. Finally, measure the height of your tree stand as well as the height of your treetop decoration. Use all these measurements to determine the perfect height and width of the tree you’ll select for your home.

Take a Tape Measure – Take the tape measure with you when you shop. You’ll need it to measure the trees you consider so you don’t take home a 7″ diameter tree trunk for your 5″ diameter stand or a 9 foot tall tree if your ceilings are only 8 feet.

Before Leaving Home – Take heavy gloves to protect your hands, and a tape measure to help select the right size tree. Find an old blanket to protect your car from pine needles and sap. Take twine or rope to tie it securely to the car (unless you know the tree lot will provide this). Locate a saw so a fresh cut can be made before placing the tree in water. Fill a bucket with lukewarm water so your tree can start drinking water as soon as it gets home and has a fresh cut. Find your tree stand (or determine if you’ll need a new one) and set it up. Confirm the maximum tree trunk diameter that will fit into the stand.

Tree Stands – Choose a tree stand that is sturdy and the right size. Pay attention to the size of tree trunk that each stand will accommodate. The taller your tree, the bigger diameter of the trunk. If you have a tall, wide room, be sure to get a large stand for the large tree you’ll select. If you’ll put your tree on a table, a smaller stand will work fine. Look for tree stand models that hold lot of water. You’ll spend less time refilling the water pan throughout the season. Get a stand that is easily adjustable so the tree can be leveled. For more, see our article on Top Picks for Tree Stands.

Choosing a Tree – Trees with shorter needles (such as Fraser or Noble Fir) are often easier to decorate than others, as they offer some space between branches for decorations as well as some stronger stems to hold heavier ornaments. Learn more about the many types of Christmas trees and find out the characteristics and uses of each type. Get more information on types of trees.

Space Between Branches – Keep in mind that a tree looks better when the ornaments hang straight. Many trees today are groomed to be lush and full, so aware that ornaments may hang at an angle on these sheered trees. For ornaments to hang straight you’ll want a tree with some space between the branches. To test a tree, take an unbreakable ornament with you and hang it on several branches to see if there is room for it to hang straight.

Select a Fresh Tree – How can you tell if a tree is fresh? The needles should look shiny, green, and fresh — not dry or brown. They should not fall off when you pull on a branch. Read more about Selecting a Fresh Christmas Tree in this article from About.

Transporting your Tree – If possible lay the tree inside your car or trunk for the drive home. This will be difficult unless you have a large van or truck. If you drive with the tree on the roof of your car, you must tie it securely to the car. You may want to wrap it in a tarp or old blanket.

Make a Fresh Cut – Once you are home cut off at least 1/2″ from the bottom of the trunk so the tree will begin to soak up water immediately.

Get It the Right Height – Depending on your ceiling height, measure and cut more off the bottom of your tree so it fits perfectly in your space. If you’re not going to display the tree inside your house right away, stand it in a bucket of warm water in the corner of your garage, sheltered patio, or basement, out of the sun.

Make Sure It Is Stable and Level – Your tree should stand perfectly vertical. If your carpeting is thick or uneven, you may need to put down a piece of plywood so the tree stand sits on a flat, level base.

Protect Your Floor – Place a plastic or other waterproof covering on the floor where your tree will stand so you don’t ruin the carpet or get watermarks on hardwood flooring.

Place the Tree in the Stand – To keep loose needles off your floor, you may wish to get the tree in the stand outside. Whether you install it inside or out, you will need to tip the tree on its side and tighten the leveling clamps of the stand around the base of the trunk. Next, with help, lift the tree to a standing position, being careful not to damage the feet of the tree stand. Then make any needed adjustments in vertical alignment so the tree stands straight. Finally, carry your tree (with the stand attached) inside and into the room it will live in and fill the water reservoir of the stand with water immediately.

Optional: Secure the Stand to a Base – If you have a very large tree or are worried about it tipping over, you should try to attach your tree stand to a large, flat piece of plywood before you put the tree in the stand. This will broaden the base of the tree and give it stability.

Adjust the Top – You may need to make small adjustments on the top of your tree, depending on your ceiling height and the type of ornament (angel, star, etc.) that will be placed on the top. If your tree is too tall, clip away any stray branches that may be in the way, but avoid chopping off the tallest vertical branch if you can. This is usually a stiff branch and will be a steady foundation for the tree top decoration. Use any clippings you may have to decorate your mantle or to make a centerpiece.

Trim Any Straggling Branches – If any of the lower branches look imperfect or hit the furniture or walls, trim them off. Try to trim at an angle that is about parallel to the floor, so cuts are less noticeable. Use these extra boughs and branches to decorate your mantle or table, keeping them in water until you arrange them.

Water, Water, Water – Always keep your fresh tree in a stand that holds lots of water. Check the water level daily. For the first few days, you may even need to refill the water every few hours! (Set a timer to remind you to check it.) After about a week the water intake will slow down and daily refills should be fine.

Water, or more? – Plain water is all you need to keep your tree fresh, though there are water additives and sprays you can purchase that promise to keep trees fresh longer. Ask about them where you buy your tree, or at a local garden center.

How to Water – The best way is also the hardest way. You’ll need some towels, a water jug, and some patience. Climb in close to the tree stand. If you can’t see the water level, place one finger into the water reservoir and begin to add water slowly. (A watering can with a long spout is helpful.) Stop adding water when you feel the water on your finger. Wait a few moments to make sure no water leaks onto the floor.

Secure It – If you have children or pets running around and are concerned about them knocking the tree over, be sure to secure it to a wall or a stable piece of furniture. Tie it securely in several places with fish line, twine, or cording attached to small eyehooks. Be sure that the tie lines are out of reach and won’t pose any danger to children or animals.

When Christmas is Over, Recycle – Call your waste management company or city hall to find out how to recycle your tree for mulch.

Do Not Burn Your Tree! – You should never burn your Christmas tree or branches, as this could present a severe fire danger. Dispose of your tree according to local regulations via trash collection, chipping for mulch, or recycling.