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“Hope”

A poem by Michael Eaborn.

Hope isn’t enough for this low point in my life.

Money has been proven to vanish from sight.

Society has flipped and turned on its side.

Wrong becomes right.

It’s survival Flight or Fight.

Optimism becomes Pessimism.

The reality of unsound goals.

Like a Massive Ship

Poked with massive holes.

A moment of complete worthlessness

Light covered by fogginess to the heart

Seeking to tear happiness apart.

Darkness is what dwells in this place

A man is left alone

As he wallows in what he’s done.

Lizzo Said She’d Like to Do a ‘Special Naked Performance’

On the heels of the body policing discussionsparked by Lizzo‘s (incredible) thong outfit at last weekend’s Lakers game, PopCulture.comrevisited a recent radio interview in which the star said she’d be down to do a show in the nude.

As the publication notes, while speaking to 3FMahead of her show in Amsterdam last month, Lizzo talked about the possibility of quite literally baring it all for a future performance. 

“I would do a special naked performance,” she said, though she made it clear the show would only work in a few specific markets.

“I would only do it in Vegas or Amsterdam,” Lizzo stated, before adding that she’d also have to enforce some audience rules. “Everyone would have to give up their cell phones — your phone would be safe, but I think we’d do it like that. Then it would just be ‘everybody, let’s go.'”

And while there’s no word on when exactly in 2020 she’d like to do this show, it’s refreshing to continually see Lizzo do whatever the fuck she wants while flouting the near-constant scrutinyshe faces.

That said, as she reminded us in the wake of all the outfit hubbub, “This is who I’ve always been. Now everyone’s lookin’ at it, and your criticism can just remain your criticism.” 

“Your criticism has no effect on me. Negative criticism has no stake in my life,” she continued — and let’s just hope all the recent bullshit doesn’t affect her plan for this performance as well. 

Photo via Getty

Racist Lady In Canada

A woman’s tirade against staff at a Burnaby Shoppers Drug Mart on Monday — captured on video and being shared widely on social media — was rude and racist, says the man who filmed it.

In the video, posted on Facebook by Allen Tseng, a white woman is seen berating the Asian staff for “speaking Chinese” in front of her. The unidentified woman calls one staff member “rude as f–k” for not speaking English.

“Speak English in Canada,” she says while pointing her finger at a female customer service agent. “You’re rude, you are rude. Go somewhere else.”

The woman continues her profane rant against three employees while a young boy looks on beside her. According to Tseng’s post, it happened Monday at the Shoppers Drug Mart at Kingsway and McMurray Avenue.

“I just want to put this lady on blast for being extremely rude and racist. And hopefully show her there (are) consequences to this type of behaviour. It’s sad to see this sort of racism still in 2019 and in Greater Vancouver,” Tseng said in his post.

Tseng didn’t see what touched off the dispute but said the female staffer who took the brunt of the abuse was working to assist the woman.

“The Asian lady was trying to help. She was asked to help by (a manager), but they spoke to each other in their own native tongue and that’s when the misunderstanding happened,” he said.

Tseng said the staff members were all visibly shaken after the woman left the store.

“It made me feel sad for the employees that they had to be verbally harassed like that,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Loblaw Canada, which owns Shoppers Drug Mart, says the company has been in touch with the Burnaby store and will offer additional resources and support to staff if required.

“The incident that took place on Monday was unacceptable and extremely disappointing to see. It has absolutely no place in our stores. We believe fully in two-way respect between our employees and our customers and were appalled to see that behaviour,” Catherine Thomas said in a statement to Postmedia News.

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Why We Need Action on Gun Safety

Massacre is a noun. It is an indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people. I would use this as another name for a Mass Shooting. The shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas was a massacre.

On the morning of August 3, 2019, at approximately 10 a.m. local time resulting in the deaths of 20 people and at least 26 injured, making it the deadliest shooting of 2019. A single gunman is suspected of committing the shooting. He was apprehended by police shortly afterward and arrested. An ongoing FBI investigation suggests the shooting may have been a hate crime or act of domestic terrorism; no charges have been filed.

At least 20 people were killed on Saturday in an armed attack at a Walmart in El Paso, the nation’s second mass shooting in less than a week after three fatalities at a garlic festival in Gilroy, Calif., last Sunday.

Saturday’s bloodshed in Texas represented the 31st mass killing by firearms in 2019. A mass killing is defined by the Justice Department as three or more killings in a single episode. There is no legal definition for the term “mass shooting,” despite its frequent use by gun control groups and the news media.

Here are some of the deadliest shootings in 2019. (Death tolls do not include the shooter.)

July 28 — 3 killed
Gilroy, Calif.

An annual garlic festival in an agricultural community south of San Jose turned deadly when a 19-year-old man opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle that he had bought legally in Nevada. The shooter killed himself in the attack. The victims included a 13-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy.

July 6 — 5 FOUND DEAD
St. Louis County, Mo.

The bodies of five men who had been fatally shot were discovered in an apartment building by police officers in north St. Louis County, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The victims ranged in age from 37 to 65. Two men were arrested in the killings, which the police said were connected to “drug activity,” as reported by The Post-Dispatch.

June 8 — 5 killed
White Swan, Wash.

Five members of the Yakama Nation were killed in White Swan, a remote community on the Yakama Indian Reservation in central Washington State. Four people were arrested in the shootings, the latest act in a cycle of criminal activity on the reservation, which is nestled between the Cascade mountains and the Columbia River. Two of the men charged in the killings took a child hostage at gunpoint, the authorities said.

May 31 — 12 killed
Virginia Beach, Va.

A city engineer quit his job and then went on a shooting rampage at Building No. 2 of the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. The suspect, a former soldier, was armed with two handguns and a cache of ammunition as he targeted his former co-workers in offices and hallways, according to the authorities. His victims were civil servants in the public works and public utilities departments and a contractor who was at the offices to discuss a permit. Until the attack in El Paso on Saturday, the shooting at Virginia Beach was the greatest loss of life in a mass killing this year.

Feb. 15 — 5 killed
Aurora, Ill.

A disgruntled employee who had been fired from his job returned to a suburban Chicago factory with a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun with a laser sight, which the authorities said he used to kill five of his former co-workers. The shooter was not supposed to have a weapon, as his gun permit had been revoked a year earlier because of a felony assault conviction. The victims included an intern who was on his first day of work and a grandfather of eight.

Make America Gasp Again

This guy just keeps getting crazier by the day. He keeps talking about Obama’s Administration. One thing Mr. “So called President” Trump: The mess you’re in is your fault. You keep running your big mouth to other countries and getting yourself in trouble. You can’t even talk to our NATO Allies without starting trouble. You are a disgrace to your own country. If you think for one second We, The People, are going to just allow you to embarrass us, you have another thing coming. You are a 70 year old man who tweets constantly. You can either continue your irrational temper tantrums on Twitter or you can delete your account, resign, and go live under a rock. 

Donald Trump was voted by the deplorables. The people who disagree with every basic human right(sounds a lot like Tomi Lahren) are the supporters of Donald Trump. The Peanut Gallery is what they represent. All his supporters are going through ‘buyer’s remorse’. They were too dumb to know that this clown was lying, that they got scared over those emails. Now that they are at risk of losing their insurance, they are now regretting voting for him. I don’t feel sorry for them. They were the one’s who claimed that Trump was a “savior sent from God” and all this other garbage. They said that Trump was going to be great. They said that Russia had nothing to do with the Election. They said that Muslims and Illegal Immigrants were Murderers, Rapists, and Terrorists. The reality is that they are in denial. For starters, his base supporters are Racist Extremists. They never think of Domestic Terrorism. 

Domestic Terrorism, in the simplest definition, is Terrorism from the inside. A great example of it is Dylan Roof. He was the  Charleston Church Shooter. He didn’t feel any remorse when he killed 12 African American church goers. Just pure hate on the African American Community. Another Example of Domestic Terrorism is the Portland Killer. The Trump Supporter who attacked a Muslim with a knife. The one who probably called her a terrorist. These are the real terrorist. Not the millions of Muslims. Not the Illegal Immigrants who have no criminal background. The real Terrorists are the ones who murder people due to their hate. Then there those who use their religion to justify it.

DO NOT USE YOUR RELIGION TO JUSTIFY YOUR HATE OF ANOTHER!! Before some of my readers get upset, I just want to say that everyone can believe in their own religion. It just crosses the line when there are some that use their hate “in the name of the bible”. One of the problems that I have with Trump supporters are that some claim to be extremely religious, aka Evalangicals. Some of them are the ones who hate people for being homosexual. They use the bible as a defense to attack other religions. Before they attack Muslims, they need to know this:  The real reason you have a problem with them is because they actually believe in their God. If these do called “Evalangicals” that voted for Trump were religious, they would have seen a snake in an orange mask. They can’t say Trump is very religious. He has been married three times, lies constantly, sources say he has raped someone, etc. 

The problem is that those people who voted for Trump have dug themselves into a hole that they are unable to get out of. They were too ignorant to see the lies. They believed a billionaire, with no political experience, could “Make America Great Again. They believed that he could “Drain The Swamp”. Well if you ask me, the swamp needs to be drained. By swamp I mean Trump’s Administration.

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A Food Champion’s Guide to the Top 10 Taco Bell Items

Whether I like to admit it or not, I enjoy working at Taco Bell. Taco Bell is DANG good and endlessly satisfying to your tastebuds and to your wallet. Having experience to many a Taco Bell fanatic and become one along the way myself, these are some of the absolute best items on the menu. In this blatantly indulgent journey through the best Taco Bell items, prepare to find yourself in need of one of these crave-worthy entrees immediately. 

10. Cinnamon Twists

Cinnamon twists are cinnamon- sugar dusted nostalgia. Before there were fries or chips, the Taco Bell side to have were these cinnamon twists. Accompanying most meals, whether you wanted them or not, the cinnamon twists are synonymous to the entire experience. Love ’em or hate ’em, you’ll probably find yourself mindlessly chowing down on one whilst wishing you had another taco left in the bag. 

9. Chicken Quesadilla

Don’t roll your eyes! It’s simple, it’s plain, it’s delicious! In my more reluctant years, my go-to was always the chicken and cheese quesadilla, and old habits die hard. No matter the newest cheesy taco goodness that gets added to the menu, this will always be a staple of the Taco Bell experience. It can be a snack, a meal, or even a side to another taco—the possibilities are endless! Make sure to include the jalapeño sauce too; it adds another creamy, spicy dimension that kicks the chicken quesadilla up to the coveted spot on this list!

8. Meximelt

While the Meximelt is admittedly a glorified beef taco, it feels like the hidden treasure of the drive-thru that makes my inner- foodie squeal. This beef and cheese combo inside a warm soft taco is the ooey gooey goodness that makes me wonder why it’s not a more popular find on the menu. This Mexican comfort food may have been overpriced at $2+ during it’s run, but it can easily be duplicated by ordering a “beefy mini quesadilla with meat and cheese only” for only $.99! That alone gets major props in my books!

7. Nacho Fries

The latest addition to a seemingly perfected menu came with the announcement that nacho fries would be joining the menu for only $1 and some change… say no more. The expectations were high and these fries didn’t disappoint. They accompany any—yes any—meal off the menu and are dirt cheap. The fries are crispy, flavorful, and paired with a cheese dip that’s great, but definitely not necessary to make the fries a success.

6. Freezes

This non-alcoholic, sugary treat is marked down daily for three hours during Taco Bell’s, “Happier Hour” and the world does not talk about this enough. With constant flavors including the “Mountain Dew Baja Blast,” and “Skittles Strawberry,” as well as limited edition flavors like, “Watermelon,” there are endless opportunities to find the freeze of your dreams. During “Happier Hour,” the frozen beverages are $1 between 2pm-5pm, giving you the perfect afternoon sugar high and an aesthetic cup of color that’s Instagram-worthy. 

5. Crunchwrap Supreme

This handheld tortilla with a crunch is pure innovation in taco form. While I prefer this number without tomatoes, there’s no shortage of ingredients. With meat, lettuce, sour cream, a crunchy tostada shell, nacho cheese, and tomatoes, this blend of flavors is key to making this indulgent taco sheer perfection.

4. Quesarito

The Quesarito stole my affections from my initial love of the chicken and cheese quesadilla. I’ll always hold the quesadilla close to my heart, but the Quesarito has climbed the ranks and created the same love and then some. Available in beef, steak, and chicken, the Quesarito closely mimics the quesadilla when ordering the chicken option.

With the added rice inside the nacho cheese-lined layer of tortilla, this burrito is unlike any burrito that has ever come before it. When the craving for a dense dish of meat, cheese, rice, and a grilled exterior hits in the late hours of the night, this item will have you marveling over the sheer level of cream and cheesiness. 

3. Doritos Locos Tacos

Whether they’re the prized possession packed in your lunch box in third grade or the special foundation to a taco salad at the ballparks, Doritos are a staple chip to have on hand. With shell flavors ranging from Nacho Cheese, Cool Ranch, and Fiery Doritos, you’ll be hard-pressed to not find a taco for your enjoyment. Replacing the average taco shells with Doritos will leave your fingers with the cheesy dust we love to lick off later.

2. Cheesy Gordita Crunch

I would trade every item previously mentioned for one bite of this masterpiece. A true gift to the senses, the Cheesy Gordita Crunch is savory, crunchy, soft, delicate, satisfying, and downright beautiful. In any form that it can be ordered—regular  or with a Doritos shell—it’s the showstopper amongst everything else on the Taco Bell menu.

Similar to biting into a cloud, and then a satisfying crush of crisps, this meal does it all. This menu item combines the features of a quesadilla, hard shell taco, gordita, and chalupa whilst somehow breaking the mold of them all and creating an experience that’s equal parts fluffiness and crunchiness.

1. Nacho Fries Box

With all that being said, here’s why this is my #1 “DANG THAT’S GOOD” spot. The nacho fries box is all of the best Taco Bell items for only $5! This bargain is a game-changer, but with an included drink, a Cheesy Gordita Crunch, a nacho cheese Doritos Locos Taco, seasoned fries, AND cheese dip, this is the epitome of Taco Bell. Whether you’re a taco-loving newbie or a seasoned vet, this is the most delicious, affordable, and tempting combination of Taco Bell items ever. 

Hopefully, you have a location near you so you’ll be able to enjoy any of these Taco Bell items at any hour. With this insight into the very best of the best, I hope you gain an appreciation for this fast food paradise just like I did.

“Racist” (Parody of Fuq Boi by Hey Violet)

[VERSE]

A song about Trump

And he looks like a chump

Always asking people am I racist?

Well my friends think he is

That he’s full of shit

‘Cause he’s constantly tweeting on twitter

And when there’s dumb things he’d say

I bet he says ’em to hate.

And did I mention he looks like Oranges?

I know he’s short and he’s plump

But I won’t give a fuck

Don’t want his hands or his lips coming near me.

[CHORUS]

‘Cause he’s a racist.

And they’re all the same

Like a stain on your life’s reputation

Yeah you’re a racist.

I’ve been through it before

I’d rather cut off my ears

Then hear you scare me with fear!

‘Cause you’re a

‘Cause he’s a

[VERSE]

There’s this Commander in Chief

I have always liked the least

So I went snooping around on his socials

In all the tweets that he tweets

He seems to enjoy a defeat

And his favorite hashtag is MAGA!

[CHORUS]

Cause he’s a racist.

And they’re all the same

Like a stain on your life’s reputation

Yeah you’re a racist.

I’ve been through it before

I’d rather cut off my ears

Then hear you scare me with fear!

‘Cause you’re a

‘Cause he’s a

[SPOKEN]

Alright listen up people far and wide

There is a growing epidemic

And it does not just affect America but the whole world

Keep your families inside, keep them safe

We must eliminate these people

And if you elect this president

He will exterminate each and every one of them!

[CHORUS]

Don’t want no racist

‘Cause they’re all the same

Like a stain on your life’s reputation

Yeah you’re a racist

I’ve been through it before

I’d rather cut off my ears

Then hear you scare me with fear!

‘Cause you’re a

‘Cause he’s a

‘Cause you’re a

‘Cause he’s a

‘Cause you’re a

Parody and lyrics by: Michael Eaborn

Original Credits:

Songwriters: Julian C. Bunetta / Nia Lovelis / Rena Lovelis / Miranda Diane Miller / Casey Thomas Moreta
Fuqboi lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Why I Believe Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar Broke The Law and Should Be Held Accountable.

Actions have consequences… first rule of life. And the second rule is this – you are the only one responsible for your own actions.

The news about Belcalis Almanzar, also known as Cardi B, and the scandal that has made its round in the news and social media. In a old Instagram Live video, she is ranting on about what she had to do to get by. She admitted to drugging men’s drinks and robbing them in hotel rooms. Being a huge celebrity, it was no surprise to me that her fans came to her defense. One issue that has come to my attention are the crimes she committed. People have been asking why isn’t she being investigated? I am not a fan of her music. That being said, it would be easy for someone to say that I have a personal vendetta against her. People are arguing that “rape is different than robbing”. Well I disagree. After researching on this scandal, I’ve learned a lot about different laws. Also how this scandal is in some ways similar to the Bill Cosby case.

The law is different in each state. For example, the state of Washington has RCW 9A.36.021, a law which states:

“…someone who “administers to or causes to be taken by another, poison or any other destructive or noxious substance” is guilty of Assault in the Second Degree.”

The law includes sedatives or other sedating type drugs within this definition. This is a class B felony and is punishable by imprisonment up to 10 years.

Bill Cosby was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for DRUGGING and ASSAULTING. Looking at all points of views, he didn’t just rape women. He also drugged them, making them unconscious. Supporters of Cardi B have beeAt face value, this is completely different from what Cardi B did.

At the time, Cardi B was a stripper in New York when she DRUGGED and ROBBED men. By drugging, she potentially committed second degree assault and violated two laws: NY PL 120.05 and NY PL 10.00(10).

NY PL 120.05 states:

“….where “serious physical injuries” resulted from the assault, and the assault was carried out with the intent of causing such injuries.”

NY PL 10.00(10) states:

“….“serious physical injuries” as “a physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes death or serious protracted disfigurement, protracted IMPAIRMENT OF HEALTH or Protracted loss or impairment of any bodily organ.””

It can be challenged in court that she committed 2nd Degree Assault, when she intentionally drugged each men in order to rob them. This would be a CLASS D FELONY, which is punishable by up to 7 years in prison (NY PL 120.05)

In addition to 2nd degree assault, she may have committed Petite Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree, when she robbed men. Both crimes violate NY PL 155.25 and NY PL 165.40. They are considered to be “A” misdemeanors and are punishable by up to a year in jail.

Furthermore, in the state of New York, a person is guilty of assault in the second degree when: a purpose other than lawful medical or therapeutic treatment, he/she intentionally causes stupor, unconsciousness or other physical impairment or injury to another person by administering to him/her, without his/her consent, a drug, substance or preparation capable of producing the same.

In conclusion, to say that rape and robbing aren’t the same is irrelevant. They are crimes and in this case, they involve drugging someone and assault. Bill Cosby is serving three to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting someone. Cardi B may not have raped anyone but what she possibly did was commit a series of crimes. Should she be investigated and convicted, she would be facing fines and serving time in prison. Fortunately for Cardi B, the laws in each state are different, which could could give Cardi B the benefit of the doubt.

IBM’s AI Automatically Generates Creative Captions For Images

Writing photo captions is a monotonous — but necessary — chore begrudgingly undertaken by editors everywhere. Fortunately for them, though, AI might soon be able to handle the bulk of the work. In a paper (“Adversarial Semantic Alignment for Improved Image Captions”) appearing at the 2019 Conference in Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) in Long Beach, California this week, a team of scientists at IBM Research describes a model capable of autonomously crafting diverse, creative, and convincingly humanlike captions.

Architecting the system required addressing a chief shortcoming of automatic captioning systems: sequential language generation resulting in syntactically correct — but homogeneous, unnatural, and semantically irrelevant — structures. The coauthors’ approach gets around this with an attention captioning model, which allows the captioner to use fragments of scenes in the photos it’s observing to compose sentences. At every generating step, the team’s AI model has the choice of attending to either visual or textual cues from the last step.

In order to ensure the generated captions didn’t sound too robotic, the research team employed generative adversarial network (GANs) — two-part neural networks consisting of generators that produce samples and discriminators that attempt to distinguish between the generated samples and real-world samples — in training the captioner. A co-attention discriminator scored the “naturalness” of novel sentences via a model that matched scenes at the pixel level with generated words, enabling the captioner to compose by judging the image and sentence pairs.

Avoiding bias in the training data set — another common problem in captioning systems, which often suffer from overfitting (i.e., analysis that corresponds too closely to a particular set of data) and subsequently generalize poorly to scenes where learned objects (e.g., “bed,” “bedroom”) appear in unseen contexts (“bed and forest”) — required building a diagnostic tool. To that end, the researchers propose a test corpus of captioned images designed in such a way that bad model performance indicates overfitting.

In experiments that tasked human evaluators from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to identify which captions were generated by the AI model and to judge how well each caption described the corresponding image, given several real and synthetic samples, the researchers report that their captioner achieved “good” performance on the whole. They believe that their work lays the groundwork for powerful new computer vision systems, which they intend to explore in future work.

“Progress on automatic image captioning and scene understanding will make [AI] systems more reliable for use as personal assistants for visually impaired people and in improving their day-to-day life,” wrote the researchers. “The semantic gap in bridging language and vision points to the need for incorporating common sense and reasoning into scene understanding.”

Re: Leadership – I am Fuming!

Dear Donald Trump,

I am a supporter of the Democrat party. I have always found your party’s politics somewhat crazy and your individual views rather deplorable. I believe in the values of honesty and morality.

Your morality is deplorable and your conduct, crumpled.

Recently, I have come to feel worried about Leadership. I am affected by this daily because I care deeply about the leadership of this country.

Since taking an oath to defend and uphold the constitution, you have repeatedly failed to to uphold the constitution. As President, you have spoken out against Women’s Rights and argued in favour of Border Walls, resulting in the rise of Hate Crimes. I have lost all hope that you will rise to the challenge and lead the country.

I am writing you to ask that you delete your Twitter account and also, hopefully stop telling lies. But that will deem difficult, considering your relationship with honesty and transparency. Your presidency is standing in the way of progress.

As Commander in Chief, you are to help lead the United States of America.

Thank you for taking time to read my letter, oh entertaining one.

Michael Eaborn

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Why Movie Buffs Need To Watch These 14 Free Movies On YouTube

Google quietly began rolling out the youtube.com/movies section in 2011. Since then, its library of titles for rent, purchase, or streaming has grown considerably, adding up to more movies than you could watch in a lifetime. If you don’t want to pay for a streaming service like Netflix or HBO, you can view some free movies on YouTube, but it’s tough to find stuff that isn’t illegally uploaded or poor quality.

Many of the movies that are available are documentaries, campy horror or action flicks, and older titles from Hollywood’s Golden Age, and it’s not easy to make an educated choice when you’re faced with something you’ve probably never heard of. In most cases, the highest-quality films are also supported by ads, so you’ll need to deal with a few commercials for the best video experience.

In order to help save you some time in your search, we’ve sifted through the site to bring you this list of the best full-length — and, of course, free — movies on YouTube.

  • 1.) Canadian Bacon

  • The final film of acclaimed comedic actor John Candy, Canadian Bacon is also the only non-documentary movie directed by Michael Moore. The film chronicles the lead-up to a war between the U.S. and Canada that’s drummed up by an American president looking to bolster his polling numbers. Along with Candy, the ensemble cast include Alan Alda as the president, as well as Bill Nunn, Kevin J. O’Connor, Rhea Perlman, Kevin Pollak, G. D. Spradlin, and Rip Torn in supporting roles. Dan Aykroyd, Steven Wright, and various other familiar faces make cameos in the film, which satirizes the relationship between the U.S. and its northern neighbor.

  • 2.) The Terminator

  • In 2029, as human forces battle for survival against an army of evil machines, the malevolent A.I. known as Skynet decides to stop the fight before it even begins. And so, Skynet sends an assassin robot back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, mother of the human savior John Connor, before John is born. Unfortunately, Skynet didn’t plan for Kyle Reese, a freedom fighter who’s more than able to handle anything that the Terminator throws at him, or Sarah, who’s a lot tougher than she seems.

    Before you see Terminator: Dark Fate this November, catch up on the film that transformed Arnold Schwarzenegger from a buff camp icon into a legitimate action star, established James Cameron as one of the best sci-fi filmmakers on the planet, and spawned countless catchphrases. Trust us: It still holds up.

    3.) Bull Durham

    The baseball season is in full swing, which makes it a great time to revisit Kevin Costner’s charming 1988 romantic comedy. In Bull Durham, Costner plays “Crash” Davis, a minor league veteran who returns to the game to help the talented but rough pitching prospect Ebby LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) reach his full potential. There’s just one problem: Susan Sarandon’s Annie has also pegged Ebby as her latest project — i.e., summer fling — even though Crash is clearly her better match.

    Bull Durham is one part love triangle and one part tribute to the hard and relentless grind that minor league baseball players face year after year, and while it’s not as beloved as Field of Dreams in the pantheon of baseball flicks, it’s the perfect way to spend a breezy summer evening — provided that you can’t make your way to the ballpark for real, of course.

    4.) With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story

    With the recent passing of comics icon Stan Lee, there is ample reason to get reacquainted with the man who co-created Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Avengers, Hulk, the X-Men, and so many other world-famous superheroes and their supporting cast of colorful characters. This 2010 documentary chronicled the life and career of the man who helped make Marvel Comics a household name and changed the face of the comics world for generations. While the film offers an origin story of sorts for Stan “The Man” Lee, it also provides a touching look at his life away from all of the superheroes and larger-than-life adventures, as both doting husband and father.

    5.) Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

    Steve Martin and Michael Caine play two very different types of con men locked in a competition to swindle an heiress out of $50,000 in this 1988 comedy directed by Frank Oz. While the premise of the film certainly isn’t groundbreaking, the performances of Martin and Caine in their roles as competing tricksters has made this film a comedy classic, with Martin at his silly best in the role of a conniving goofball, while Caine’s character employs more refined, cultured means to separate his marks from their money.

    Set amid the beauty of the French Riviera, the film earned Caine a Golden Globe Award nomination, and later inspired a successful Broadway musical of the same name starring John Lithgow and Norbert Leo Butz.

    6.) Better Off Dead

    Although it was panned when it initially hit theaters, John Cusack’s 1985 teen comedy Better Off Dead went on to become a cult classic due to its famously weird tone, which mixed traditional teen coming-of-age laughs with dark humor (the title comes from the lead character’s desire to kill himself after a breakup) and some bizarre animation sequences created by director Savage Steve Holland. Cusack himself wasn’t a fan of the final cut of the film, but eventually softened his criticism as the years went by and the film became a cult hit.

    Along with Cusack in the role of suicidal teenager Lane Myer, the cast of Better Off Dead also includes Curtis Armstrong (“Booger” in Revenge of the Nerds) as Lane’s best friend, Charles De Mar.

    7.) Fists of Fury (aka The Big Boss)

    Bruce Lee’s first major film, Fists of Fury (titled The Big Boss outside the U.S.) was the movie that first earned him the attention of Hollywood and much of Asia, showcasing his formidable martial arts skills and seemingly boundless charisma. The feature casts Lee as Cheng Chao-an, a young man who travels from China to Thailand to work in an ice factory with his cousins. A vow he made to his mother never to fight again is soon tested, however, when a drug trafficking operation based in the factory puts his cousins in danger.

    A surprise hit around the world, Fists of Fury became the highest-grossing film in Hong Kong’s history when it was released (only to be surpassed by Lee’s next film), as well as a bona fide box-office success in U.S. theaters. The initial cut of the film was brutal even by today’s standards, but it’s been cut significantly over time for domestic and international audiences. The version of the film on YouTube is one of the more tame cuts, but it’s still a phenomenal showcase of everything that made Lee a cinematic icon.

    8.) The General

    While Charlie Chaplin remains a household name more than 40 years after his death, Buster Keaton is an oft-overlooked film pioneer, and one of the first true silent film stars. The General met mixed reviews and poor box office returns upon release in 1926, but has since become regarded as Keaton’s greatest film and an all-time classic.

    Adapted from Union soldier William Pittenger’s memoir, The Great Locomotive Chase, The General follows a Confederate train engineer forced into action after the father of his love interest (Marion Mack) is wounded in battle. The film includes two train chase scenes that proved to be the most expensive stunts ever in a silent movie, and features some impressive historical detail, all things considered.

    9.) Kung Fury

    A rare example of a successful Kickstarter film, Kung Fury promised its backers a spectacular homage to ’80s action films, and it delivered. Director David Sandberg also plays the lead, Kung Fury, a detective who gained superhuman fighting abilities after being simultaneously struck by a bolt of lightning and bitten by a cobra. Kung Fury uses his supreme combat skills to clean up the filthy streets of Miami, but faces his greatest challenge when no less a villain than Adolf Hitler (Jorma Taccone) arrives, intent on conquering all of time through his own mastery of kung fu.

    If it’s not apparent already, Kung Fury is a film that makes no attempts at seriousness. That’s not all, either; a full-length sequel is on its way, with Michael Fassbender, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and David Hasselhoff involved in varying capacities. Yeah.

    10.) Reefer Madness

    If you’ve never heard of Reefer Madness, you might be living under a rock. No matter your views on marijuana use, this absurd 1936 movie was made to “educate” young Americans on the dangers of drug abuse, but really it’s a propaganda film produced by a church group and distributed by notorious exploitation producer Dwain Esper.

    In the film, pot abuse drives several young adults to violence, murder, and (of course) madness. At the end, Dr. Alfred Carroll (Josef Forte) breaks the fourth wall (uh, spoilers?) to warn viewers that their children might die after consuming marijuana. After a sort of reappearance in the 1970s, Reefer Madness took on a new life as a parody film for supporters of drug reform and cannabis legalization.

    11.) Night of the Living Dead

    A seminal entry for American horror cinema, George A. Romero’s classic follows seven people who find themselves trapped in Pennsylvania as the terrifying walking dead surround them. They have to try to survive without understanding the terror that lurks outside. The movie has been noted as the first zombie film, and its influences can be seen in everything from 28 Days Later to Shaun of the Dead. Romero’s debut — he wrote, directed, edited, and acted in the film — made him into a superstar, quickly revolutionizing the genre on a budget of a mere $114,000.

    12.) Free to Play: The Movie

    More than a year after the Overwatch League was founded, esports are still carving out a niche and establishing itself as a legitimate form of entertainment. Those who don’t game on a competitive level might not understand the level of dedication required for such endeavors, not to mention the physical and mental tolls placed on young players who train for hours on end each day.

    Free to Play, a documentary from game developer/distributor Valve Entertainment, focuses on two athletes and one coach who are competing in the 2011 International Defense of the Ancients (DotA) tournament. It explores the stresses the players are forced to deal with, and deftly compares the struggles of esports athletes to those of traditional athletes.

    13.) His Girl Friday

    One of the best second-wave feminist films, His Girl Friday is a hilarious farce with electric chemistry between stars Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. Hildy (Russell) may be newspaper editor Burns’ (Grant) protégée (and ex-wife), but when she announces to Burns that she’s leaving the business to get married, he concocts a scheme to delay her departure. Hijinks ensue and Hildy, not quite as unwitting a pawn in Burns’ game as he thinks, shows that the student has surpassed the master — while discovering that the student might also still be in love with the master.

    14.) Nosferatu (1922)

    This silent adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is often regarded as one of the most influential films in the history of cinema. After failing to acquire the proper rights to Dracula, German film studio Prana Film rebranded the legendary vampire as Count Orlok, and resorted to calling vampires “Nosferatu.” While it won’t scare the pants off you, director F.W. Murnau perfectly tells the story, harnessing the haunting atmosphere associated with German Impressionist cinema to great effect (in Nosferatu, you can see the influences of such seminal works as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari). Production designer Albin Grau birthed the film’s concept after speaking with a Serbian farmer who believed his father was one of the undead.

    The Mighty Stranger At Barnes and Noble

    A Narrative Poem

    by Michael Eaborn

    I met a man selling books,
    For money he wanted to swap,
    But I really wanted some guidebooks.

    “Got any guidebooks?” asked I.
    “For that’s how I’ll spend my money.”
    “No guidebooks here!” said the guy.
    He seemed to find it quite funny.

    “We’ve got some lovely cakes,
    I’ll give you a very fine price.”
    “I’d rather have some snakes.”
    The man blinked rapidly thrice.

    The man seemed exceptionally smart,
    And his manner was strangely amused.
    He wasn’t what I would call multipart,
    Great disdain he noticeably oozed.

    Like others, he thought I was odd,
    Some say I’m a bit mighty.
    Still he gave me a courteous nod,
    As if he thought I was plenty whity.

    So in search of my goal I departed,
    But before the book shop could I leave,
    The man came running full-hearted,
    “I can help you I believe.”

    “Books, guidebooks, you shall find.
    Cakes, snakes, you can get.
    You must now open your mind,
    And get down to Barnes & Noble Market.

    So to Barnes & Noble Market I decided to go,
    In search of the guidebooks I craved.
    The winds it did eerily blow.
    But I felt that the day could be saved.

    There were stalls selling rings,
    Comic books in many shades.
    There were even stalls selling wings
    People were scattered from many trades

    I was greeted by a peculiar lady,
    She seemed to be rather mighty
    I couldn’t help thinking she might be quite shady.
    I wondered if she was at all whity.

    Before I could open my mouth,
    She shouted, “For you, I have some guidebooks!”
    I headed towards her, to the south,
    Past some cakes and books.

    “But how did you know?” I asked,
    “Do you want them or not?” she did say.
    Silently, the guidebooks she passed.
    Then vanished before I could pay.

    As I walked away I hard a crackle
    Or was it, perhaps, a hushed cackle?

    Auto Praise for The Mighty Stranger At Barnes & Noble – A Narrative Poem

    “Wow! I’ve always wanted to buy some guidebooks from a creepy witch!”

    – The Daily Tale

    “To truly appreciate this poem, you need to see it as a metaphor. I mean, literally wanting to spend all your money on some guidebooks, really?”

    – Enid Kibbler

    “I love how to poet has used rhymes to bring this alive. Snakes and cakes – I mean, wow!.”

    – Hit the Spoof

    Inside Creative Writing’s Premier Talent Factory

    By Michael Eaborn

    March 31, 2019

    The remarkable number of notable writers who have studied or taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop includes Flannery O’Connor, Robert Lowell, Dylan Thomas, Rita Dove, Sandra Cisneros, Kurt Vonnegut, John Irving and Marilynne Robinson. In “A Delicate Aggression,” David O. Dowling, an associate professor at Iowa’s journalism school, tells the “cultural and industrial history” of the workshop through a series of biographical portraits. He captures writers “in their formative years taking their first tentative steps toward professional careers, forming alliances and rivalries among intimidating world-renowned faculty and high-powered peers.” He writes about the program’s blend of mentoring and marketing, its rigor and its wiles. Below, he discusses the workshop’s founder, Irving defending Vonnegut’s honor in a fight, how Ralph Waldo Emerson helped to inspire this book and more.

    When did you first get the idea to write this book?

    I had written a book called “Emerson’s Protégés,” published in 2014. It was about how the promotion of young literary talent took place in Concord, Mass., and how the growth of creative writing happened within this enclave, this literary circle. Then I thought: How does that promotion move into the 20th and 21st centuries? I wanted to follow how the growth of young talent becomes institutionalized.

    I didn’t have to look too far. Doing some preliminary research, I strolled into Prairie Lights bookshop and asked the bookseller Paul Ingram what they had in the way of histories of the workshop. He took me over to a big shelf of books, and said:

    “Everything here is either a memoir or retrospective collection of commemorative pieces. These are all inside jobs.”

    There wasn’t one book there by someone who wasn’t an alumnus or a former faculty member. “So,” Paul looked at me, “someone’s got to write this book.”

    What’s the most surprising thing you learned while writing it?

    Too many to tell you. One was the business savvy of many of the authors — their ability to move themselves into favorable positions in the marketplace. For example, Flannery O’Connor advocated for herself in a way that demonstrated her business acumen by essentially pulling out of a deal that she had originally arranged with a publisher — standing up for herself and having the wherewithal to know when she was working with an editor who was blind to her talents.

    Kurt Vonnegut hosted wild parties at his house. And John Irving got into a barroom brawl with someone who insulted Vonnegut, his adviser, by calling him a “science fiction hack.”

    David O. Dowling Credit: Paul Jensen
    David O. Dowling

    I thought this was going to be a Darwinian shark tank, with writers suffering in isolation as they struggled to survive the workshop method. Paul Engle was the first and most noteworthy director of the workshop. His father was a horse trainer. Engle saw the workshop as breaking the writer, the way you would break a horse. If you can survive, as he said, without losing too much blood, then you’d be able to handle the critics and editors who were going to be so tough on your work. So I was expecting more individualism, but I saw lots of collaboration, lots of humor, lots of mutual support and unlikely alliances of support forming.

    In what way is the book you wrote different from the book you set out to write?

    I first thought of doing a biography of Engle. But then I realized that no comprehensive history of the workshop had been done. There were important questions about intellectual history that hadn’t been answered. Publishers were showing up at Vonnegut’s parties, which turned into handpicked parties, where the best of the students would be matched with the publishers and put on a fast track. I learned that this book was going to be about the writer and mass culture, about media industries and the intellectual history they shape.

    Engle solicited the attention of mass culture — for instance, trying to get Esquire magazine to sponsor a conference. And it got all the way to the point where the workshop wasn’t reaching out; others were reaching out to the workshop.

    Who is a creative person (not a writer) who has influenced you and your work?

    I’ll go back to the foundation of a lot of my thinking, research and writing, which is the Hudson River School of painters; specifically, Asher B. Durand and his painting “Kindred Spirits.” It depicts Thomas Cole and William Cullen Bryant standing on a rock discussing something. What that signifies to me — that moment and the Hudson School as a whole — is a collection, a constellation of creative artists. The link to Emerson and the Transcendentalists is there, of course. There’s a reciprocal enrichment. Indeed, one of Emerson’s protégés was a painter, Christopher Cranch, who made the “transparent eyeball” illustration of Emerson as an eye on long legs walking through nature. That’s where I go for my source of inspiration: that very fertile ground for creativity that happens in circles.

    Persuade someone to read “A Delicate Aggression” in 50 words or less.

    It brings you inside the mechanism of fame that has produced America’s most important writers since World War II. It tells of their struggles and triumphs, the lasting impression the Iowa Writers’ Workshop forever left on them, and the influence they had on the world’s most powerful creative writing program.

    Sen. Chris Murphy Calls For College Athletes To Be Paid: ‘It’s A Civil Rights Issue’

    When Sen. Chris Murphy watched Duke basketball All-American Zion Williamson crash to the floor with an apparent injury during a late-February game against North Carolina, he couldn’t help but consider the 18-year-old’s future.

    Williamson had emerged as the most exciting player in college basketball and the likely No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. If he stayed healthy, he would soon be a millionaire. But if the injury sapped his famous athleticism, a teenager who had already generated millions for Duke, for TV networks, for advertisers and for the NCAA could be left with little for himself.

    It is with Williamson in mind that Murphy planned to release the first in a series of reports about what he calls a “broken” college sports system. The report, titled “Madness, Inc.,” includes anecdotes, statistics and a call for sweeping change that would lead to paying college athletes. Murphy does not specify who should pay the players and how he would like that to work, but he questions how universities can spend lavishly on coaches salaries and sports facilities while restricting compensation for Williamson and other top athletes.

    “Here was a kid who had already made so much money for his college, [Nike], the broadcasters,” Murphy said in an interview. “And had that injury been a little more serious, he would have gotten nothing. Everybody would have made millions of dollars off of Zion Williamson and he would have gotten nothing.”

    Williamson returned after only a few missed games, avoiding the worst-case scenario, but his injury underscored for Murphy something he’d already come to believe over years of watching college sports: that the athletes who power the $14 billion college athletics industry deserve a slice of the revenue they generate.

    “This is a civil rights issue,” Murphy said. “These are kids who may not officially be employees but are essentially working for a for-profit industry who aren’t getting compensated.

    “It’s also a civil-rights issue because the majority of these athletes, at least playing big-time football and basketball, are African-American,” he continued. “And the vast majority of the people getting paid and making millions off of them are not. When everyone that’s making money is white and most of the people who are doing the labor and not getting compensated are African-American, that’s a civil rights issue.”

    Murphy has been consistent in criticizing NCAA “amateurism,” tweeting as far back as September 2017 that, “Everyone is getting paid — above and below the table — except the kids.” In December, he tweeted that it was “immoral” for college coaches to be paid millions while players were compensated only in scholarships.

    Murphy isn’t the first public official to propose allowing college athletes to be paid, though he is among the most prominent. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) introduced a bill earlier this month that would let athletes profit from their images and likenesses, such as through sponsorship deals. Legislators in California and Washington state have proposed similar legislation. And long-shot Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has gone a step further, arguing that players should be compensated by the NCAA directly.

    As the idea of paying college athletes has gained support among players, politicians and the public (while also making progress in the federal court system), it has faced fierce resistance from most college sports power-brokers, including the NCAA itself. Opponents argue that allowing top athletes to be paid would be unfair to smaller athletic departments, that it could violate Title IX’s guarantee of equality between men’s and women’s sports, and that it might undercut the reason some fans enjoy college sports.

    “Part of the magic is that they are playing for some other reason other than personal compensation,” said former University of Hartford president Walter Harrison, who serves as part of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. “And if you start to compensate them then obviously they’ve lost some of the luster, and you’re really making them professional athletes.”

    Harrison said The Knight Commission, unlike the NCAA, supports allowing college athletes to be compensated for their names and likenesses.

    Polling data shows that fans are split on whether athletes should be compensated beyond the value of their scholarships. A 2017 Washington Post poll found that only 38 percent of American believe players should be paid based on the revenue they generate but that 66 percent say they should earn money for the use of their names and likenesses.

    To Murphy, the argument over how athletes are compensated should be about what the athletes deserve, not necessarily what fans want.

    “This isn’t ultimately about making viewers happy, it’s about the fundamental unfairness of kids who are providing a service to a for-profit industry not getting any of the rewards,” Murphy said. “The cat’s out of the bag. College sports isn’t a not-for-profit endeavor. This isn’t simply about kids playing sports for the enjoyment. This is about adults telling the kids that they’re playing sports for their enjoyment and then the adults going and becoming filthy rich off the kids’ athletic endeavors.”

    Murphy may have a high-profile ally in Connecticut, where UConn football coach Randy Edsall has been one of the few college sports insiders to publicly support the idea of paying college athletes. Last March, Edsall railed against the NCAA in a lengthy press-conference diatribe and argued that players deserve a cut of the revenues they generate.

    “You see all the money that’s being made by the conferences, that then gets distributed to the universities. None of that has really gone to the players,” Edsall said. “I’ve got an issue with that.”

    Murphy notes that the fight for college athletes compensation can appeal not only to liberals who see it as an issue of labor rights and social-justice but also to conservatives who believe in free markets. He said as he continues to publish reports he will continue to discuss the issue with colleagues.

    “There may ultimately be a need for congress to move legislation,” he said, “but it would be much better if the NCAA took steps on their own.”

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    The Ultimate Guide To Writing Your First RFP Response — And Making It Kick Ass

    If you’re a small business owner embarking on your first response to an RFP (Request For Proposals), you’re probably feeling both excited and apprehensive. You know that winning an RFP competition can be lucrative… but the RFP response process has a bad rap.

    Feeling apprehensive as you approach writing an RFP response?

    Proposal writing goddess Isabel Gibson, who’s worked on more than 85 RFP responses over 25 years, writes, “Proposals are notorious for burning people out, and at a minimum can certainly be miserable: a mad scramble to meet the deadline, amid conflict within the team.” (The quotes from Gibson in this article are from her book, Proposals: Getting Started and Getting Better, which I highly recommend.)

    Bear in mind, however, that RFP responses vary in length and complexity and so are more or less manageable. Communications Consultant Carla Dawes has been involved in more than 30 RFP responses over the past 13 years and she says:

    “I’ve written proposals completely on my own, worked with teams as small as three people writing a 50 page proposal for small enterprise, and on teams as large as 75 people creating proposals that are binders and binders of technical writing and drawings. I remember once delivering a proposal to Public Works and Government Services Canada (now PSPC) that was one and half pallets of boxes filled with binders. That proposal took a coast-to-coast team of more than 30 of us nearly four months to produce.”

    You aren’t tackling anything as big and involved! So the situation may not be as daunting as the nightmare you imagined.

    Maybe you’ll never love writing RFP responses (also called bids or proposals), but at least you can head into your first battle well armed. I wrote this Ultimate Guide to share what I’ve learned about best practices for writing RFP responses, and to pass on advice from professionals in different industries who are experienced at either writing or receiving RFP responses. There are links to further reading at the end.

    Although the points below are in approximate chronological order, some of them will happen simultaneously. Somebody on your team works on costing the project while someone else starts researching the issuing organization, for example. And some are not chronological steps at all, but points to bear in mind at different stages of the process (e.g. copy-paste with care). But let’s start at the beginning.

    1. Read and understand the RFP

    You can’t get very far until you’ve understood the RFP, so that’s the first step. Gibson writes that, regardless of the size of an RFP and its corresponding response, RFPs have the same six parts:

  • Introduction to the opportunity and the client
  • Description of the response process
  • Description of the Work (products, services, reports, other deliverables)
  • Contract terms and conditions
  • Response instructions
  • Evaluation process and criteria
  • Keeping these six parts in mind will help orient you when looking at an RFP for the first time.

    Every single one of the experts I interviewed emphasized the importance of making sure you understand the RFP.

    Dawes says, “Read the entire RFP as soon as you receive it. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve been on teams where not everyone has even reviewed the requirement! All members of your team should read the RFP in its entirety and note any questions you need to discuss and/or ask the client. That is step 1!”

    Not all RFPs are well written, and some are written by committees, with parts copy-pasted from other documents. It’s not surprising they’re sometimes unclear. But even if they are well written, they can use unfamiliar terminology. Put in the effort in to understand the language at the beginning of the process.

    An official question period is a standard part of the process. Use it. Get as clear as possible in the time available on the client’s requirements and needs. (I’ll refer to the organization or company that issues the RFP as the ‘client’. The organization or business that responds to it — that’s you! — I’ll call the ‘vendor’.)

    If you don’t understand something in the RFP, ask questions.

    LCol (Ret’d) David Robinson, who reviewed proposals when working on aircraft procurements, says, “Some bids fail to meet the mandatory requirements either because they are bidding on a contract they cannot fulfill or they fail to understand the requirements.” He thinks the most common mistake in RFP responses is “failing to ask questions when [vendors] do not understand the RFP, resulting in a non-compliant bid.”

    However, don’t break any rules when you approach the client during the RFP process. For example, a government office might issue an RFP and state that they have a specific staff person assigned to answer vendors’ questions. So you would break the rules if you call up your acquaintance who works in the same office to ask them a question.

    This levels the playing field to a certain extent. If you don’t have connections at the organization, but your competitor does, you both have to communicate with the same person.

    But Software Consultant Daniel Mallett cautions, “Be careful with asking questions, though, because sometimes they’re made public, in which case your competitors might see your questions and the answers.”

    Gibson has a different kind of caution:

    Proposal newbies always wonder why the veterans are so cynical about asking questions. Like newbies everywhere, they have a touching faith in the efficacy of the process. So they craft their questions and they wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually, they get an answer that doesn’t really give them the information they need, and they have to decide whether they have time for another cycle.

    This is one reason it’s best to influence the RFP before it’s even issued, which incumbent vendors and those with some other personal connection to the client can sometimes do. Nevertheless, ask questions anyway. Increase the chances of a helpful response by making sure your questions are clear, concise and polite. Explicitly reference the place in the RFP that your question applies to. Make it easy for the person responding to the question and reduce the chances of getting an unhelpful response like, “Read the RFP”.

    2. Pay attention to the evaluation criteria

    RFPs typically state the criteria the client will use to rank the proposals they receive. This will help you see where you need to focus your attention. If cost is 10% of the grade but methodology counts for 40%, you’ll know that clearly explaining the details of your methodology is more important than offering rock bottom prices.

    Mallett says, “It’s obvious really. Focus on the factors that account for the biggest scores. Think about how you could respond before you start, so you don’t waste your time responding if it’s not a good idea.” If your main selling point is that your products are low cost, an RFP where cost is only 10% of the grade may not be a good fit for you.

    3. Figure out your price

    On the one hand, you want to win the contract by quoting low. And for government projects, Robinson says, “Cost is usually, in some way, the most important factor. Lowest bid usually wins.” Gibson agrees: “In government procurements, assuming that low price is the real basis of contract award is the safer way to go”.

    On the other hand, you don’t want to base your price on wishful thinking and thus unintentionally under quote. Diane Brayman reviewed numerous RFP responses in her former role as Manager of Visitor Services at the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. She recommends figuring out, honestly and with actual data, how much it’ll cost you to complete the proposed project competently. She notes:

    Being cheapest isn’t necessarily the best. In fact, offering an unrealistically low cost can be a red flag, as it may suggest that you don’t fully understand the scope of the project. Admittedly, some contracts are awarded based solely on cost, provided the mandatory minimum requirements are met; however, more complex projects will focus heavily on understanding and meeting the creative and/or technical aspects of the project. As well, some government contracts are awarded on a “cost per point” basis, which means that the bid price is divided by the total points awarded for all the other criteria. Therefore if you have a very strong proposal you could still win the contract even if your price is not the absolute lowest one. Study the evaluation criteria carefully as the methodology should be made clear in the RFP as to whether the selection will be based on lowest price or overall value.

    Make sure you know what’s included in the scope of work. If something is outside the scope, but you assume it’s included (perhaps because you’ve always included it in the past), then this will unnecessarily increase your quote and make you less competitive.

    Figure out the minimum amount of profit you’d be happy with.

    So your estimate has to be based on good information, not guesswork, and, at least for government projects, “the profit margin you bid should be the minimum you’ll get, not the maximum”. [Gibson]

    As you get into more detail, your estimate of your costs may change, and this may change your decision about whether to respond to the RFP. For big, complex projects, it’s impossible to do pricing near the beginning of the response process. There are too many unknowns at that stage. But for a smaller project, you can at least have a ball park figure at the beginning.

    You can offer additional options, but make sure it’s clear that these are indeed options, and not part of your base offer. Make sure your base offer is compliant and don’t include anything additional if it’s going to increase your cost.

    Of course, assuming you’d like to do business with the client beyond this project, consider settling for less profit this time around because you anticipate a long term relationship. So for your first ever RFP, it might be sensible to get in the door with a lower level of profit than is ideal.

    This is called “buying a contract”, which Gibson defines as follows: “Bid lower than cost or lower than cost-plus-a-reasonable-markup to be more sure of winning a contract. Use it to break into a new industry or to discourage other competitors from entering your own.” But keep in mind Brayman’s point above — don’t give the impression you’re ignorant or unrealistic about the costs.

    If the client is a non-governmental organization, or a private business, you may have more leeway when it comes to pricing. You might quote higher than your competitor but use your marketing skills to sell your value to the client.

    4. Decide whether to respond

    Once you understand the RFP, know the criteria it’s evaluated on, and have figured out roughly how much to charge, you’re in a position to decide whether to bother. If 50% of the scoring is for experience, but you’re new to the industry, consider skipping this one.

    Be realistic about what you can achieve. There’s no point turning in a half-assed RFP response (and it could even harm your reputation) but creating a good one — even a small, non-technical one — takes a lot of time and effort. The president of Guido & Associates Engineers Ltd., Ken Guido P. Eng., says you must be “sure the investment in responding to the call is appropriate for the size of the overall project or requirement.” Given your chances of success, and the likely return on this project, is your investment of time, effort and money worth it?

    Even a small proposal sucks resources from other activities, both marketing and operational. The opportunity under consideration must be worth the ‘opportunity cost’, as it were: the estimated value of opportunities foregone to pursue this one. [Gibson]

    Even if your chances of winning are low, it might be worth responding anyway. First, it’s practice for when you have a better chance of winning, especially if you make sure you get feedback at the end of the process. And second, it can put you on the client’s radar. Maybe they won’t choose you for this project, but they’re now aware of you and may keep you in mind for something else they might need in future.

    Once you’ve decided to respond, Landon Aldridge, VP Operations at SkyFire Energy Inc., recommends planning first:

    As a first timer, I would suggest breaking up all of the parts of the response and putting a plan together on how you want it to read/look. Estimate the time involved for each part and build a schedule based on that. Give yourself some bonus time at the end just in case things don’t go as planned. If possible, have the response ready the day before so that you have time for small changes/clean up. Keep track of how much time each part took and use that data for the next proposals.

    5. Do background research

    Once you’ve decided to go ahead, research the client beyond the words in their RFP. Can you find out more about their needs, their pain points, their budget (if this isn’t explicitly stated)? Can you find their recent strategic plans and annual reports online? See if they’ve been in the news in the last little while. If you can figure out how this project likely fits into their overall business plan, make use of that information when you present the benefits your business can provide.

    You already know their immediate intention for this project. Let’s suppose it’s to get a new website. How does that intention fit into their broader business goals and needs?

    Do background research on the client.

    Maybe they need a new website because their image has been tarnished and the website is part of an overall re-branding. Perhaps their old website isn’t mobile-friendly, so you can infer they’ve been losing traffic. Is the goal of their fresh look to attract new customers? They may be unsure of all the benefits of a new website. Guido says you should “be aware of who your customer is and what kind of help they need. Sometimes, you may need to educate them”.

    You’re likely familiar with the marketing advice to focus on the benefits you can provide for your customer or client, rather than on the features of your product or service. Knowing the client’s broader goals will help you focus even further, and decide which of those benefits to emphasize.

    Even though they’re obvious to you, don’t assume the benefits are obvious to the client. And make sure the benefits are clear to both technical expert evaluators and intelligent lay readers. For the expert, make sure you don’t gloss over any details; for the layperson, keep it simple but don’t talk down to them.

    When you get to the editing and design stage, make it easier for both types of reader to find the content that’s relevant to them by using side bars or boxes. A box that goes into the details enables the layperson to skim or skip that part, while the expert knows to pay attention. A call-out box can highlight the overall view of the project and emphasize the importance of reading and understanding that part.

    6. Get clear on why you are the best choice

    You now have a good understanding of what the client needs. But why should they choose you? You need to sell your value. Even if you offer the lowest bid for a government contract, you still need to persuade the readers that you offer value for money.

    Why should the client pay you instead of any of the other (possibly cheaper) respondents? Or why should they choose you instead of not hiring anyone this time around and putting off this project? Get clear on what’s special about you. Do you have lots of experience with this type of project? Or this type of client, so you understand their needs? Are you local? Do you have a large team with lots of diverse talent? Or a small team able to dedicate itself to this project? Do you have a fantastic portfolio to show off? Whatever it is, get clear on it.

    Instead of listing your generic selling points, Gibson recommends developing “a handful of statements that capture what’s unique about you and your solution for this opportunity, for this client”. These are your themes that you want to weave throughout the entire proposal.

    Experience is always good, but don’t despair if you haven’t done a project that’s exactly the same as the one in this RFP. Brayman says, “If you don’t have direct experience, show how your skills in a different area are transferable to this project.”

    Notice that apart from taking notes so you don’t forget anything, you haven’t even started writing yet! For a good RFP response, thorough preparation is essential. But now let’s turn to the writing.

    7. How to complete the checklist

    Sometimes the client will include a checklist of things they’re looking for, with a Yes/No column for potential vendors to fill in. Brie Lam was the Director of Business and Product Development, Operational Risk & Regulatory Compliance at IHS Markit Canada. She says that the client may filter proposals based on this checklist, so she recommends that you adjust your responses accordingly.

    A yes/no checklist might be to filter vendors, so respond carefully.

    If you’re a good fit for the project, you don’t want to get filtered out — but you need to be honest too. She says, “For example, if you are able to partially cover a client’s needs, a positive response of Yes… with clarification that you are able to partially cover may be the best approach.”

    8. What to write first

    Where should you start? With a table of contents and an outline.

    The table of contents gives you the big picture of all the sections to include and the section numbers, so you can cross-reference easily. Your outline gets a little more detailed and includes the sub-sections and points you’ll make in each section. This outline is your guide throughout the writing process. Refer to it repeatedly to keep on track.

    After that, it’s more important to start somewhere, rather than get stuck because you don’t know how to write the beginning. This goes for any type of writing actually. Just. Get. Words. On. The. Page. If you know what to say in section 3, write section 3 first and worry about sections 1 and 2 later.

    And always give yourself permission to write a bad — a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad — first draft. Remember William Zinsser’s words in his classic book On Writing Well: “Professional writers rewrite their sentences over and over and then rewrite what they have written.”

    Writing a bad first draft is fine. Keep editing until it’s good. And then edit some more, until it’s excellent!

    Revision is an essential part of the writing process, not a sign that you’re bad at writing. But before you can revise them, you need words on the page to revise!

    The order that you write the sections doesn’t matter. They will all be revised, and parts may get moved from one section to another. The order in which you submit the response does matter though. If the client asks for items to be submitted or presented in a particular order, make sure you follow those instructions.

    In fact, Brayman recommends that you follow the order of the RFP, even if the instructions don’t specify an order. This is because that order made sense to the client when they wrote the RFP, so it’s likely that your response will make sense to them if it follows the same order in return. It also helps you make sure you cover everything in the RFP. She also recommends including a table of contents at the front of your proposal, even if the client doesn’t require one. Pay attention to the required order when you prepare your table of contents and outline.

    (Oh, and do take the word or page count seriously. The client’s not joking.)

    9. The executive summary

    The executive summary (if one is required) will likely be near the beginning of your proposal, and it summarizes what’s to come. But it’s not just a condensed summary of your entire proposal. In particular, you need the executive summary to grab the reviewer’s attention. The reviewer may decide whether to invest the time in reading the rest of your proposal on the basis of your executive summary. So in a sense the executive summary is a sales tool — but not in salesy language.

    Brayman says, “It gives the reviewer an overall view of what to expect as to the benefits of going with that contractor. It should not be too long (the rule of thumb is 5-10% of the length of the proposal) and it should be persuasive, not too general but not getting into specific details either.”

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    Throughout your proposal, you should use the client’s language as much as possible — but this goes a bazillionfold in the executive summary. The executive summary is where you talk about their problems, their needs, their pain points, their goals… and how they will benefit if you’re chosen.

    The client needs to feel heard and understood when they get your response in front of their eyeballs. If a vendor doesn’t even understand the client’s problem, why should the client bother reading on?

    10. Copy-paste with care 

    Don’t embarrass yourself with sloppy copy-pasting.

    It’s good to have some boilerplate ready to go, for proposals as well as other purposes. Mallett says that his company requires employees to update their resumes every six months, so they’re always current if they’re needed on short notice — and RFP responses often require a speedy turnaround time, which is another reason they can be stressful and unpleasant.

    So, by all means, copy-paste your team’s (short!) bios, your company’s (short!) history, and your testimonials or case studies, but for almost everything else — the benefits you can offer, the timeframe, the pricing — you need to be thinking about the client. This proposal must be tailor made for this client. An ill-fitting, off-the-rack item will not do.

    When it’s time to write your second RFP response, don’t copy-paste from your first one. Restrict copy-pasting to your boilerplate material (bios, company history and testimonials). Each client needs special treatment, which is why RFP responses are a lot of work. (And, heaven forbid, you don’t want to accidentally copy-paste in the name of one of your previous clients! *Cringe*)

    11. Explain your pricing 

    Be as explicit as possible when you explain your pricing.

    In your proposal, be as explicit as you can about pricing. This is definitely something the client wants to know about. If you’re too vague or seem secretive, they won’t like it and they won’t like you. If your answer to how much something will cost is, “It depends” then do your best to explain what it depends on. So you can say things like, “In such-and-such circumstance, our fee will be $x; but in these other circumstances, it’ll be $y.” Your background research in the preparation stage should have given you some information to guide you here.

    And remember that you need to sell your value, especially for private sector RFPs. (For public sector RFPs, price is usually paramount but you still need to show you provide value for money.) Your bid might be higher than your competitor’s, but you might have more to offer because you have a better understanding of the project than they do. As Rachel Clarida, Principal and Registered Interior Designer at Hatch Interior Design, says:

    We were recently awarded a contract even though our proposal was somewhat higher than a competing firm because we not only showed that we were well suited to the project based on our experience, but also because we added optional services that were not included in the RFP but that we felt were important to executing the project properly.

    12. Provide evidence that you’re the best choice

    Before you started writing, you got clear on what makes you right for this project. Now you have to show that to the client.

    Make good use of statistics to support your case.

    The client will want to see examples of your previous work that are relevant to this project and this client, and the more recent the better. But you’ll need to work with what you have. If your most relevant project is not very recent, avoid drawing attention to its date if you can. The reviewer is looking for reasons to reject each response they get and they need to pick something to go on. If you’re confident that you’re a good fit and could do an excellent job of this project, don’t draw unnecessary attention to details that might get you rejected for no good reason.

    If you have testimonials or case studies already available, that’s awesome. This social proof should focus on the benefits your customer or client gained. If you have statistics on how you helped previous customers or clients, that’s fantastic. If not, showing the general benefits of the type of thing you do is better than nothing. So even if you don’t have any data on how the website you made for a prior client increased their web traffic, if you have data on how mobile-responsive websites generally increase traffic, that’s good to include.

    13. Appearance matters

    For some businesses, it’s obvious that visuals are important. Clarida, who is an interior designer, says, “For us, photos of our work say more than 100s of pages of words can, so we include high quality images of past projects to help illustrate what we can do.”

    But appearance matters even for businesses that are not visually-oriented. After all, easily distractible humans will be reading your response, not mindless organizations or companies.

    Team photos break up text, add a human touch, and show a little of your company culture — such as whether your office is formal or relaxed.

    Brayman says, “Make sure your response is well organized, looks good, has a nice layout etc. Use good quality visuals. Your proposal is like a job interview. Appearance matters.”

    Features you can use to add visual variety:

      Bulleted lists
      Graphs/charts which make data easier to digest
      Tables
      Headings in a different colour or font
      Logos
      Team photos to add a human touch
      Icons to highlight key points
      Call-out boxes for optional material such as technical details

    14. Answer the questions, be clear, and don’t skimp on the details

    Non-compliant responses that fail to answer the RFP’s questions are common. (So you’re ahead of the game if you just manage to answer the questions!) But not only do you need to answer all the questions, you need to make sure it’s clear that you have done so and to answer each question so it’s as easy as possible for the evaluator to grade.

    Don’t annoy your reader with useless fluff.

    Gibson writes, “Be obvious. Make it clear that you’ve met the requirement. If you’re offering more: first, be sure you want to do that, and then make it stand out. If you’re just giving lots of detail, make the main points clear. Make it easy for them to see that your answer is compliant.”

    What’s the scope of the project, for the price you’re offering? For example, Clarida says, “We are careful to indicate that we have included up to three meetings in a specific phase of the project… It is important to set realistic expectations in your proposal.”

    Bullshit is the enemy of clarity. Brayman says, “Be persuasive, but don’t BS. Be clear, direct, concise. Don’t bother with fluff. If it’s a government RFP, they’ve seen so many responses that they’ll see your fluff for what it is. And it annoys them.”

    In addition, Mallett adds, “Don’t lie. Don’t exaggerate.”

    And finally, go into detail. Don’t just say what you’ll do. Explain how and why.

    15. Editing: Content

    Once you’ve got a full draft, it’s time to edit. Move things around. A paragraph you wrote for one section could be better in a different one. (When I’m working on a big writing project, I like to use paper, pencil and highlighters at this stage. The visual and tactile feedback helps me get a better handle on the overall organization. But you do you.)

    Answer ALL the questions that were in the RFP. Not the questions you wish they’d asked.

    Make sure you’ve included everything and answered all the questions in all their parts, and everything is ready in submission order. Nothing less than 100% compliance is good enough. If you fail to submit even one mandatory item then you needn’t have bothered at all. All your work is wasted.

    Don’t answer what you wish they’d asked, or what you think they should’ve asked. Answer what they did ask. If you want to add something that responds to a concern you’re judging the client has but didn’t state, that’s fine. But answer the stated question first.

    Gibson writes: “Nothing screams ‘Boilerplate!’ louder, or puts evaluators to sleep faster, than reading answers to questions the RFP didn’t ask, or wading through three pages where one would have been sufficient.”

    When you read through at the end, check for a couple of things: Does the client’s name appear more often than yours? Good! That’s how it should be. The client cares about what they can get out of this transaction. Also, when you read each paragraph, is it focused on the benefit to the client, rather than on the features of your product or service? As you read through, keep asking yourself if you’re addressing the question, “What’s in it for them?”

    16. Editing: Writing style

    Aim to make your response as short as possible, while keeping the necessary information. As Lam says, “Concise responses are more likely to be read in full.”

    Check for repetition. Given that different reviewers might be assigned different sections, you might consider making the same point in two sections if it is particularly significant. But definitely don’t make the same point twice in one paragraph.

    Delete unnecessary words and sentences.

    Make your readers’ lives easier and they’ll like you better.

    Don’t use a fancy word like ‘utilize’ when there’s a perfectly good simple word like ‘use’. It doesn’t make you look smart, it just makes your writing harder to read. Have some empathy for the readers who have to wade through your proposal and all of your competitors’! Make your readers’ lives easier and they’ll like you better.

    Use the client’s language as much as possible. Their terminology, not yours; their spelling choices, not yours; their acronyms, not yours. Don’t introduce new jargon if you can avoid it.

    ‘Professional’ doesn’t have to mean dull as dishwater. Use lively language and short paragraphs. Vast walls of text are very unfun to read, especially on a computer screen. Vary the lengths of your sentences.

    And, for the love of Zeus, get someone who hasn’t been working on the document to proofread it.

    The Grants Director at the Edmonton Arts Council, Stephen Williams, has reviewed only a few RFP responses in 15 years and typically receives grant applications. But he thinks that much the same advice applies: “My advice is not rocket science — be clear, understand what you are being adjudicated on, know who your audience is, and don’t submit typos or math errors.”

    17. Learn for next time

    If you don’t win, you should make sure that your experience improves the next time you write a proposal. Store boilerplate information properly so it’s easily accessible, and keep it up to date. Same goes for any research you did. Create templates that can be re-used and just require adding in text specific to each proposal.

    Mallett says, “If you’re rejected, you should get feedback from the proponent. You’ve invested time and effort and that feedback is the minimum you can expect in return.”

    Good luck, and go make that proposal kick ass!

    Acknowledgments

    Many thanks to the following who generously shared their time and expertise: Landon Aldridge, Diane Brayman, Rachel Clarida, Carla Dawes, Ken Guido, Brie Lam, Daniel Mallett, David Robinson and Stephen Williams. Thanks also to Isabel Gibson.

    ‘You Know You Make Their Day’: Superheroes Visit Apache Manor Through Tulsa Pop Kids Reading Program

    Daniel Blankenship remembers Darth Vader and a few Stormtroopers giving him a copy of “Clifford the Big Red Dog” as a kid growing up in Flint, Michigan. Initially terrified Vader would go dark side on him if he didn’t read, it put Blankenship on a path to reading and coming to love the characters on the pages.

    Now the production coordinator with Tulsa Pop Kids, Blankenship spent time Friday handing out comic books at Apache Manor with a little help from Snow White and The Flash as part of a Tulsa Housing Authority program to bring the superheroes to kids.

    “I am a product of what we’re trying to do but through a different program,” Blankenship said. “We’re trying to get a child’s mind interested in reading something they’re interested in. I went from reading (Clifford) to classics, and Charles Dickens is my favorite author.”

    The kids at Apache Manor weren’t exactly begging for a copy of “Great Expectations,” but Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and Superman were instant hits at the event.

    Lisa Henderson, Apache Manor’s social services coordinator, normally handles programming for adults in the complex. But events like Friday’s for kids are not only for fun but also to learn. The new program is the start to a reading program throughout the summer that will end with field trips through donated tickets, Henderson said.

    THA residents often face the barriers of transportation to take kids to see the heroes they’ve seen on TV. Tulsa Pop Kids program, already having visited Parkview Terrace Apartments in west Tulsa, brings the superheroes to kids up close.

    Christopher Fusco, dressed up as the Flash, walked in to a line of kids wanting pictures and to meet the Scarlet Speedster. His first time doing an event with THA, Fusco said it’s usually the adults who care the most about the costume, but inspiring the kids makes the red costume worth it.

    “Seeing something like that or Mickey Mouse at Disney World,” Fusco said. “You know you make their day, and it’s the one thing they think about all day.”

    How Writing A Goodwill Letter Could Help Improve Your Credit Score

    SPENCER, NC— A high credit score is essential to get approved for financing and to get loans at favorable rates. Unfortunately, even a single past mistake could knock more than 100 points off your score.

    If you have a late payment or other adverse credit event in your past, it can be frustrating to see the impact this has on your score even years later. But, did you know you might be able to do something about it? You could write a goodwill letter.

    What is a goodwill letter?

    A goodwill letter is a letter you write to a creditor who is reporting a late payment on your credit report or who is reporting something else negative on your credit history, such as an account that was sent to collections.

    When you write a goodwill letter, you ask the creditor to remove the adverse event from your credit report. You’re not disputing that the late payment or other mistake happened — you’re just asking the creditor if they might be willing to stop reporting the negative info as a gesture of good faith.

    How to write a goodwill letter?

    When you write a goodwill letter, specify what specific piece of negative information you want removed from your credit report. And, provide a little bit of information about why you’re asking the creditor for this favor.

    You could explain that you’ve always paid your bill on time but a family emergency or a medical situation caused you to be late on a payment. Or, you could explain the bill was sent to your old address and you missed it. Your reasons for the request will be your own, but you should always make sure your letter is polite, short, to-the-point, and makes clear exactly what you’re asking the creditor to do.

    If you’re not sure where to get started, you can look online for samples and templates you can use. You should also include supporting evidence if you can. For example, if you missed a payment because you got into a car accident, consider including the police report from the crash to show you aren’t lying.

    Who should you send your goodwill letter to?

    You could send your goodwill letter to the finance or billing department of the creditor who is posting the negative information. However, some experts suggest you may have better luck sending the letter to customer service or even hand-delivering the letter to a manager at a local branch of the financial institution if you can.

    You’ll want to make sure the letter was received and got to the right hands, so you should also follow up with a phone call or email around 30 days after sending a letter.

    Will a goodwill letter work?

    Many people have had success writing goodwill letters to get late payments or even more serious adverse events removed from their credit report. But, there’s no guarantee a creditor will be responsive to your request to stop reporting the negative information.

    Creditors are under no obligation to stop reporting negative information that’s accurate. They’re much more likely to do so if you’ve generally been a good customer, if you have some justifiable reason for the adverse credit event, and if you are polite in your request. If you’ve repeatedly paid late or are currently behind, on the other hand, there’s a very slim chance the creditor will want to help you out.

    If you are unsuccessful the first time, you could always try again in a few months and hope you get a customer service agent who is more willing to help you.

    Writing a goodwill letter can be worth the effort!

    Writing a goodwill letter takes only a few minutes and it could lead to a big increase in your credit score if your creditor is willing to stop reporting a late payment or other negative info. Since getting a negative removed from your report can be one of the fastest and easiest ways to boost your credit, writing a letter is worth a try.

    Why You Should Never Underestimate The Influence Of Mistakes

    I have become famous through my writings and published books. I have thousands of social media followers. In addition, Google has verified me. I’ve learned that there are to choices we make when becoming famous: Either become a positive influence or a negative influence. Michelle Obama is a positive influence. With Audible by Amazon, I had the opportunity to read her book “Becoming” for free.

    Becoming is the autobiographical memoir of former United States First Lady Michelle Obama published in 2018. Described by the author as a deeply personal experience, the book talks about her roots and how she found her voice, as well as her time in the White House, her public health campaign, and her role as a mother. The book is published by Crown and will be released in 24 languages. One million copies will be donated to First Book, an American nonprofit organization which provides books to children.

    Why should you never underestimate the influence of a mistake? Well, as we know, humans are bound to make mistakes. From those mistakes we learn how not to make them. when it comes to being famous, mistakes can end your career or cause irreparable damage to your reputation. Society has shown us that celebrities sometimes say some of the most senseless statements. Unfortunately, certain statements can be controversial.

    A great example is Logan Paul, an actor and popular Internet personality. He is facing backlash for insensitive comments he made this week during an episode of his podcast, Impaulsive.

    Logan Paul White boy with blonde hair Logan Paul via Hello Giggles

    The social media sensation who’s only 23 years old, has upset some listeners while discussing New Year’s resolutions with cohost Mike Majlak.

    While joking about trends like “sober pvegan January” and “fatal February,” referring to a return to drinking and meat-eating. This was followed by Paul stating, and laughing like he had the perfect one liner,

    “It’s male-only March. We’re going to attempted to go gay for just one month”

    Karma is the great law of “cause and effect”, which controls the destiny of all living entities. Being famous doesn’t exempt you from the reactions caused by your actions. Being a celebrity with a massive social media following and negative publicity, he was quick to receive backlash from the online community. Twitter users were quick to condemn and speak out.

    “Logan Paul joking about being gay “for one month” while countless LGBT+ around the world are killed & committing suicide for their sexuality, is disgusting. He continues to be an awful representation of the YouTube community & shows he truly has learned NOTHING over the last year.”

    — Daniel Preda (@MisterPreda) January 11, 2019

    Being gay isn’t a choice, being gay isn’t a phase, being gay shouldn’t be used for a trend and subscribers. Grow up Logan Paul. pic.twitter.com/peCFmpBSpe

    — Skai Jackson ♡ (@skaijackson) January 11, 2019

    “Logan Paul joking about being gay ’for one month’ while countless LGBT+ around the world are killed & committing suicide for their sexuality, is disgusting,” tweeted social media personality Daniel Preda.

    “Being gay isn’t a choice, being gay isn’t a phase, being gay shouldn’t be used for a trend and subscribers,” added Disney Channel star Skai Jackson. “Grow up Logan Paul.”

    Even Michael Eaborn responded: “Your Actions have consequences. You have so much power being famous. In the words of Fictional Character Benjamin Richard Parker: “With great power comes great responsibility!”

    In response to the backlash, Paul was quick to justify his comment by replying to GLAAD’s tweet Friday, writing:

    very poor choice of words… my fault. let’s get together and talk about it on my podcast next week?

    — Logan Paul (@LoganPaul) January 12, 2019

    Last year, Paul incited outrage when he posted a YouTube vlog showing the body of an alleged suicide victim in Japan. Since then, Paul has deleted the video, apologizing because he was losing money, and later rectified his mistake by creating a video dedicated to the educating and prevention of suicide. I give Logan Paul credit for at least taking responsibility for his actions.

    “I know I’ve made mistakes, I know I’ve let people down,” he said in the clip. “But what happens when you’re given an opportunity to help make a difference in the world? It’s time to learn from the past as I get better and grow as a human being.”

    “When you’re given an opportunity to help make a difference, you should make it something positive. Use this opportunity to evaluate your actions before you execute them. Spider-Man has to learn “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

    In a later vlog, Paul stated,

    “I know for a fact everything I do from this point on will get criticism, it will get backlash, because I’m a very polarizing dude. You either love me, or you hate me… I’m not going anywhere.” 

    Well there’s a quote that says “The only mistake, is the one in which you don’t learn.”

    We are all human. We all make mistakes. But when the same mistakes keep happening, we start to fall. Is this fall of Logan Paul ? What do you think? Comment below.

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    6 New Year’s Resolutions That Have Nothing To Do With Weight Loss

    (Published via KTEN)

    You can’t walk past a magazine rack without seeing at least 17 different headlines about losing weight, burning fat, or flattening your tummy. These messages peak twice a year: In the beginning of the new year and right before “bikini season.”

    The truth is, your health involves so much more than your weight, and your body size and shape aren’t an exact representation of your health status. It’s great to pursue your healthiest self, but chasing weight loss isn’t always the best way to go.

    Instead, we asked various professionals in the health and medical community to share ideas for other wellness goals you can pursue instead. As with all goals, the key is to make sure they are specific, realistic, and sustainable. “Any resolution should be attainable and lead to a healthier you,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, founder of NutritionStarringYOU.com.

    1. Add an extra 30 minutes of sleep to your nightly routine.

    Getting enough sleep is a struggle for everyone, and sleep deprivation has numerous consequences on your everyday life. Vowing to “sleep more” is too vague, so Harris-Pincus suggests setting your goal on getting just an extra half hour of sleep. It’s a reasonable amount, and it can help you make long-term changes.

    2. Pack your lunches and snacks on work days.

    Brown-bagging your meals Monday through Friday has major benefits. “Getting take-out [and] vending machine snacks on a regular basis can add up financially and potentially worsen conditions like prediabetes, diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol if you aren’t making healthy choices,” says Michelle Hyman, MS, RD, CDN.

    Hyman also points an added perk of packing a lunch: You’ll avoid the long lines and free up some of your lunch hour. This might “allow you to eat and enjoy your packed lunch slowly and mindfully, or even take a walk,” says Hyman. Here are all the benefits of eating more slowly.

    3. Floss daily and brush teeth twice a day.

    Be honest: How much are you flossing every day? If you’re like 84 percent of Americans, you don’t floss every day, according to a survey by the American Dental Association. Find out how bad it is to never floss here.

    Flossing daily (and brushing teeth for two minutes twice a day) helps cut down on plaque buildup on the teeth and along the gum line. “Plaque irritates the gums, causes cavities, and leads to a host of dental issues from gum disease to receding gum lines,” says Jennifer Silver, DDS, dentist at Macleod Trail Dental.

    To make flossing and brushing daily an easier task to sustain, Dr. Silver suggests setting a reminder on your phone, watching video clips while you clean your teeth, or finding a buddy in the household to hold each other accountable.

    4. Train for a 5k (or marathon) with a buddy.

    Many people set goals to “start exercising,” but that’s just too vague to yield results. Plus, many make the mistake of exercising just for weight loss. If the weight loss doesn’t happen, or if you plateau, this can quickly result in frustration and lead to quitting your fitness regimen.

    A better way to approach a new exercise routine is to train for something, suggests Chris Cucchiara, NASM-certified personal trainer. This could be anything from a basic 5K to a natural bodybuilding competition. Training for a race or competition “sets you up for more sustainable success [so] it isn’t about weight loss anymore,” says Cucchiara. “It is more about the end goal.”

    Another way to kick up the motivation is to run a race on behalf of your favorite cause or charity. “Linking weight loss to something emotional will provide you with a big enough reason why you will keep going when you want to quit,” says Cucchiara.

    And, as you already know, having a buddy to do it with you increases your likelihood of sticking with it. Not only will it make the activity more fun and social, but a buddy can hold you accountable on those days you just don’t want to train. Here are more tips to train for your first 5K.

    5. Practice positive self-talk.

    It I sounds “fluffy,” but tweaking the way you talk to and about yourself has real effects. Negative thoughts can hold you back “in the gym, at work, and in relationships,” says Maggie Winzeler, exercise physiologist. She adds that “many people who experience better overall health (internal, mental, and aesthetic) when they stop beating up on themselves and expressing disappointment in their progress and achievements.”

    To make this more concrete, Winzeler suggests, “For every negative thought or verbalization, follow it up with one positive affirmation. “Another idea is to write down at the end of each day three things that made you happy or proud that day.

    6. Organize your life with a planner.

    Your elementary school teachers tried to instill this habit in you every time they made you pull out your planner and write down your homework, and they were onto something. In addition to helping you remember to practice your spelling and get the best grade possible, having a planner simply cuts down on some of the chaos in life, whether you’re 8 or 80.

    “The more organized you are, the less stress you will encounter,” says Lisa N. Folden, DPT, physical therapist, naturopathic lifestyle coach, and owner of Healthy Phit Physical Therapy & Wellness Consultants in North Carolina. “Stress has more negative effects on the body than many other factors. Decrease stress at all costs.” Here are strategies to relieve stress.

    Dr. Folden suggests using your planner to keep track of work, family, and fun, and to write down “goals, grocery lists, menus, and appointments so that you are aware, on time, and prepared for your daily life.”

    Want to make money by walking?

    As a guy who is working on his weight, I have found that incentives help reach my goals. That being said, I have started using a free app called Sweatcoin! Sweatcoin is an amazing app that tracks your steps and pays YOU for walking!

    Download Sweatcoin. It pays walk!

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    Homelessness, a lesson in humility: Rowan Helping Ministries gave me more than shelter

    (Published via Salisbury Post)

    My name is Michael Eaborn and I lived at Rowan Helping Ministries.

    We are told growing up to shoot for the stars; that it’s okay to make mistakes because we learn from them. We are encouraged to be the best version of ourselves.

    One thing in life that I’ve learned is that there are people you meet who could either be good for you or bad for you. Being adopted at age 5, I’ve learned a lot. From being diagnosed with autism, it has made life both challenging and a blessing.

    Being a victim of bullying and an outcast in school, I’ve learned what it means to have a family. A family that doesn’t just consist of brothers, sisters, etc. A family that consists of those who guide me on the road to success. Alongside my family is God. When I need the extra guidance in life, he gives me tests. Tests such as becoming homeless.

    On Feb. 1, 2017, I was introduced to Rowan Helping Ministries. The thought of being in a homeless shelter was overwhelming at first. The thought of being in a homeless shelter should make anyone think the worst. The “criminals” and “addicts” that are said to be in a homeless shelter isn’t 100 percent true. Many people have problems that have left them without a home. Situations in life they have no control over such as unpaid hospital bills, house fire, or like me, needing to learn how to be humble, responsible and disciplined.

    I became homeless the first time due to not following the rules of the house. For procrastinating on the simplest of tasks such as keeping your room clean.

    God has a reason for everything. Rowan Helping Miniseries provides assistance for those who need it to get back into society. I’m thankful for what they have provided. They have shown me what it’s like to live independently by placing me in the Eagles Nest Program. They have provided me with ways to manage my money. They have provided me the opportunity to grow in character and judgment. Rowan Helping Ministries isn’t just a homeless shelter. Its guests form a diverse family who share experiences from different viewpoints. It’s a place to learn and expand skills.

    Rowan Helping Ministries provides its guests numerous classes such as employability labs that teach how to build a resume, obtain employment, and apply for job applications through job postings and assistance from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College instructors. With their help, I have worked at three different jobs. In addition to job skills, career advancement is provided with the assistance of RCCC counselors.

    Rowan Helping Ministries continues to help me on a daily basis. In September 2017, I moved into the Eagle’s Nest Program, which gives the guest independence in living by providing an apartment. To assist me in making choices that are beneficial and a step forward on my journey I was recommended to Mrs. Barker, a life coach who has strengthened my faith in God, has encouraged me to write more and  someone who has motivated me to better myself. Having Mrs. Barker in my life has been a blessing.

    In June 2018, I had to go back to the shelter. I was asked to leave because I couldn’t stay organized, with numerous reminders.

    God has a plan for everyone. Mrs. Barker has encouraged me to attend church every Sunday. Interfering with my work schedule, I can’t make it to church, so I attend the church service in the cafeteria Of Rowan Helping Ministries. In addition, if I can, I voluntarily attend most Bible study on Monday nights.

    This has opened my eyes to what life really is. Rowan Helping Ministries isn’t just the “local homeless shelter.” It’s a place that provides a roof over your head. It’s a place where breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided by volunteers who have God in their hearts.

    Being homeless, at first I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know I lived in a shelter. Looking back, I’ve learned that it’s how you look at the situation, that determines how you impact your future.

    Being homeless is a lesson in being humble. Being homeless can happen to even the purest of hearts. For me, being homeless has been an eye-opener to being an adult. It has made me want to better myself. Homelessness has motivated me to put effort in the little things I do.

    Rowan Helping Ministries has helped me by assigning me daily chores to keep the facility sanitary. This has taught me responsibility and organization. In addition, I have learned accountability through self-reminding, to keep my bed area clean and full completion of my assigned chore, to avoid a violation. Accumulating five violations will put me out of the shelter.

    In conclusion, being homeless is how you look at it. You can blame others and refuse help. Or you can take the advice from positive influences and travel on your road to success. Rowan Helping Ministries has helped me on that road. Sometimes things may seem unfair at first but when you have nothing else, turn to prayer and guidance from God.

    I found God at Rowan Helping Ministries.

    Michael Eaborn lives in Spencer.