Category Archives: CURRENT ISSUE

2014: The Year of Women in Politics?

Women in PoliticsOn November 4, 2014, midterm elections will be held in the United States where all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives; 33 out of 100 seats in the United States Senate (plus three more seats up for special election); as well as 38 state and territorial governorships and 46 state legislatures will be contested. The main question for most people is whether the Democrats will be able to keep their majority in the Senate because it would determine the policies of American government to a great extent in a foreseeable future. However, there is another exciting development related to it because the upcoming elections present an unprecedented opportunity for more women than ever to rise to political power.

Many political analysts predict that there is a real chance to change the traditionally male-dominated American political landscape to one where more women will have a real chance to impact the country’s politics. It is a well-known, albeit disconcerting, fact that although American women represent more than 51 percent of voting public, they still hold only about 20 percent of political positions. However, some influential political positions are contested by women this year, which can make a difference on how the political process will proceed in the country.

For example, for the first time in the history of West Virginia, there are two female contenders for a Congress seat this year: Natalie Tennant (D) versus Shelley Moore Capito (R) (Capito is predicted to be a winner at the moment). In Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) is running for a Congress seat against Mitch McConnell (R), although she is facing an uphill battle in a predominantly Republican state. Terri Lynn Land, Former Secretary of State in Michigan, is one of those who holds a lot of hope for a Republican party to win the position after Carl Levin had retired. And, of course, there are media favorites such as Susana Martinez, New Mexico’s first female governor who is surely a force to be watched; Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, who became popular after airing her views at such shows as Jon Stewart; and Mia Love, who potentially can become the first black female Republican in Congress and the first person of color to represent Utah. There are many women candidates running for Governor of states, like Wendy Davis (D) Texas, across the US as well which is sure to change the political landscape.

Why women can make better politicians? Although it may be politically incorrect to say so, but women are more flexible, better attuned to other person’s view, and are more willing to compromise. If one considers low poll rates for an American government at the moment, women can provide new hope for people. The ability of women politicians to achieve results was well demonstrated during the shutdown of the American government. Out of fourteen senators of the bipartisan committee which worked out the compromise, six were women (which is very impressive considering the number of women there overall), and they delivered. The shutdown was discussed, debated, and ultimately resolved. Such is a power of women: discuss, listen, consider, compromise and deliver. – Becky Kospanova


Child Free Lifestyle on the Rise

To Have or Not to Have: Childfree Lifestyle is on the Rise

bbbbbOne of the most frequent questions any married couple receives is, “Do you have kids?” and if the answer is negative, the inevitable follows, “So, when are planning to start having kids?” It is not surprising, of course. For centuries, marriage and parenthood were practically synonymous and—provided a couple did not have fertility issues—it was taken for granted that at some point they would have children. However, nowadays more and more people make a conscious decision not to have any children. For example, Pew Research Center found out that the value of having children in order to have a fulfilling relationship is gradually declining over years. To illustrate, 65% of people in 1990 agreed that children were important to relationship, but in 2007 only 41% did so. Consequently, nowadays every one out of five women of childbearing age does not have a child compared to one out of ten in 1970s (US Census Bureau).

What are the main reasons which make capable and, most of the times, financially secure couples forego the notion of parenthood? As with any human behavior, there is a plentitude of explanations. Sometimes, there is a relatively simple one such as unwillingness to pass genetic diseases. Modern level of medical science enables us to predict whether our children will inherit some diseases which are incurable; therefore, people can make a responsible decision not to risk to have a child with a potentially devastating disease.

Still, the majority of people who decide not to have children in committed relationships are perfectly healthy and driven by other considerations. Some of them are: concern about overpopulation; unwillingness to bring a child into a world where there are so many political, environmental, and societal problems; taking care of elderly or sick parents or other relatives which does not leave much time for children; financial constraints; unwillingness to jeopardize their careers; fear of pressure childcare might take on a relationship with a significant other; lack of patience when it comes to children; having bad childhoods and consequent fear of being inadequate parents themselves; unwillingness to pass on freedom childlessness allows and such.

aaaaThere is a certain stigma many people, especially women, carry if they decide to not have a child. They are often considered to be selfish and self-centered when compared to their counterparts with children. However, numerous studies have shown that while conventional wisdom dictates that children bring happiness to parents, things might be in fact different. Quite often, people without children report better satisfaction with the quality of their lives than people with children. For example, they have more money because childrearing is expensive; they are able to do many things such as traveling, working more hours, having time to pursue their hobbies and volunteering; they are able to focus on their partners more and, subsequently, have better relationships; and they are generally less stressed than people with children.

In the end, it is a very personal decision to have or not to have a child. While children, undeniably, bring a lot to a person’s life, some are just better without them. Given the current rate of population growth in the world, we are not in any danger of extinction, and as such we should be more tolerant and accepting of those who decide to be childfree. – Becky Kospanova


Cohabitation vs. Marriage

Cohabitation vs. Marriage: What Is Your Choice?

Couples Living Togeather 3Just a few decades ago it was socially and culturally unacceptable, or at least frowned upon, for couples to live together without being officially married. However, nowadays it is not only a common occurrence, but the trend is actually on the rise. For example, there were about half a million unmarried couples living together in 1960, by 2000 there were about 4.75 million unmarried couples, and by 2013 the number of such unions grew to a little bit over an eight million (which is an astonishing 1500 percent increase over the last half a century). What are the reasons for such a change and what impact does it have on a society as a whole?

One of the biggest reasons for such a change was the shift in cultural and societal norms in the country, starting with sexual revolution and the introduction of birth control pill. People felt liberated and the previously rigid norms of societal conduct became more fluid. Consequently, more and more couples felt that it was perfectly acceptable, and even advantageous, to cohabit, i.e. to share household and have intimate relationship without being officially married. For example, according to National Marriage Project report from 2002, “In recent representative national surveys nearly 66% of high school senior boys and 61% of the girls indicated that they “agreed” or “mostly agreed” with the statement “it is usually a good idea for a couple to live together before getting married in order to find out whether they really get along.” Thus, not only society as a whole became more open to the idea of cohabitation, but the belief that cohabitation is actually a more progressive form of family life which allows the couples to make sure that they are truly compatible before getting married became firmly entrenched.

Couples Living Togeather 2However, the evidence shows otherwise. According to National Marriage Project, couples which cohabitate report less satisfaction with the quality of shared life than their married counterparts; they break up more often and more easily; if they eventually get married, the rate of divorce among those who cohabitated previously to getting married is 46 percent higher than among those who did not cohabitate before the marriage; and it has an adverse effect on children. Why does it happen? Some researchers have suggested that people who decide to cohabitate rather than marry may already have lower commitment levels to their partners and, therefore, are more likely the end their relationship if something does not go the way they want. It holds especially true for those who cohabitate multiple times because they become more “habituated” to the idea of abandoning the relationship at the sight of trouble. In contrast, married couples are usually committed to long-term relationships and are decidedly more willing to find solutions to their problems such as improving their communication, seeking counsel, etc. Also, it has been suggested that when people choose to cohabitate, they do not apply the same criteria to their partners which they would have applied if they were choosing a marriage partner. Without a clear long-term commitment, people often get involved with “good-enough” partners, thus further diminishing the perspective of long-term and stable relationship.

Does it mean that cohabitation is a bad idea? Certainly not when approached with a right attitude and realistic expectations. The research has shown that when a couple decides to cohabit for a short period of time as a step to marriage, the rate of divorce is not higher than among those who did not cohabit. Of course, the idea that the cohabitation will surely lead to marriage needs to be clearly understood, articulated, and accepted by both involved parties.  – Becky Kospanova


Micro-Apartments: Yes Or No?

2013-WRThere seems to be a new movement growing n the USA; people, especially in big cities, are downsizing and starting to live in very small apartments and houses. Primarily, it is an economical decision because rent rates tend to be very high in large cities such as New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles and smaller dwellings look like a good option for budget-conscious renters. Moreover, it seems to work the best for single people who spend most of their time at work and socialize outside. Many of the buildings with micro-apartments offer communal amenities such as gyms, media rooms, and outside recreational areas which provide the tenants with an opportunity to meet their neighbors and socialize.

Is it a movement which will catch up? Worldwide, people live in places which are much smaller than what an average American is used to, especially in such countries as Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, India, Japan, and China. But, the question stands whether the American public ready for such a downsizing? As such, there were many reports which claim that living in small quarters might lead to depression, substance abuse, and domestic abuse; moreover, children who grow up in smaller places might develop learning disabilities. According to Susan Saegert, a director of Housing Environments Research Group, children who live in small apartments “can end up becoming withdrawn and have trouble studying and concentrating.” However, such claims need to be studied more because the experience proves them otherwise. After all, school children of Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries routinely outperform their American counterparts in all the school tests; and the lack of space does not seem to adversely affect them.

Moreover, life in smaller places can also mean being more environmentally friendly because one simply spends less energy and leaves smaller carbon print when living in a micro-apartment. If the culture of competing with Joneses was considered outdated, many of Americans might have well agreed to live smaller because it would save them money and effort. – Becky Kospanova


2013 – A Look Back

2013: Looking Back at What Was Happening

2013-WRThe 2013 year was a year full of events: from serious ones such as the U.S. government shutdown, contentious introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or commonly known as ObamaCare), and a NSA spying scandal to some rather silly ones such as perplexing popularity of “twerking” incessantly perpetuated by the infamous Miley Cyrus, the widespread posting of “selfies” which once again brought down former governor of New York Eliot Spitzer, and the unfortunate drug habit of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Of course, some of the biggest news of the past year was happening in political realm. A lot of people were dismayed, but probably not very surprised to learn that the U.S. government spied not only on its citizens but also on many foreign nationals. Edward Snowden, a former NSA employer leaked the facts about it; as a result, he was forced to seek political asylum in Russia. Of course, it did not add to the popularity of the government. Gallup poll—a well-regarded outlet to observe the nation’s feelings—demonstrated that job approval rate for Congress was 12 % in December, a slightly higher number from an abysmally low 9% job approval rate in November, 2013. All in all, 2013 annual job approval rate for Congress was 14 %, or the lowest one since Gallup started taking the poll in 1974. Similarly, Obama’s job approval rate is rather uninspiring; according to Gallup poll, it was 40 % in December 2013.

One of the biggest controversies introduced by the President Obama and which negatively affected his popularity to a large degree was the ObamaCare, the universal health insurance plan for the Americans, which led to the government shutdown in October 2013. While many critics argued that the plan was “socialist” and run against the values of market competition deeply ingrained in the USA, ObamaCare provided a major help (aside from Medicare and Medicaid) for many Americans who could not afford health insurance before. As such, Americans might take a little longer to appreciate the value of ObamaCare, but it still was an undeniably big step for the government.

Of course, there was much other news that dominated the media in 2013. There were tragedies such as Boston Marathon Bombing, death of Nelson Mandela, devastating tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, and wildfires in California, but also the stories of human achievement and perseverance such as the recognition by the Supreme Court of the right of gay marriage, Pope Francis’s encouraging acts which showed that Catholic Church is becoming more accepting, and the actions of many regular people who were kind and considerate to their countrymen (a cop buying shoes for a homeless person, a waitress buying a meal for government worker’s meal, and numerous donations to sick and poor).

What can be learned from looking back at 2013? Probably, the most important lesson is that people of all stations in life make history. One does have to be rich or famous to show a little kindness, compassion, and love. – Becky Kospanova


Timeless Classics Reggae/World

HousTone Records Announces The Release Of
Timeless Classics Volume III Reggae/World January 15th, 2014

Timeless-Classics-Vol-III-Reggae-World-Vol. III Reggae/World is a collection of Gold and Platinum songs recorded, by reggae stars and undiscovered artist from around the world. There are many people around the world that enjoy and listen to reggae; but many others that have not really listen to reggae music, mostly because they cannot understand the music and what the artist is singing. That is no longer a problem as Reggae/World features all well-known songs performed by Reggae and World artist from around the world. This CD is great for theme pool parties or just enjoying the great vibes and feeling that Reggae and World music offers from songs you know.

For more than 25 years HousTone Records has released LP/CDs, from the fields of Rock, Jazz, Classical, Blues, Country, New Age, Reggae, World Beat and R & B. One of the key elements in HousTone Records signing, processing, selecting and distributing artist’s products is, the artist must agreed to record for the CD two well known cover songs. This allows the artist music to be judge by fans for the talent they have, from the music they know.

UB40, Bunny Wailer, Big Mountain, Shaggy, Little Kirk, Aswad, Dennis Brown, Sammy Levi, Fauzi & Tribo De Jah, Johnny Dread, Tony Tribe, Fugees, Mikey Spice are just some of the artist on the Timeless Classics Vol. III Reggae/World compilation.

Hear their versions of some of your all time favorite songs like No Woman No Cry, Man In The Mirror, Me And Mrs. Jones, Ribbon In The Sky, What A Wonderful World, Now That We’ve Found Love, Girl From Ipanema, Wings Of Love, Killing Me Softly, Roxanne and many other million selling hits featured, on Timeless Classics Vol. III Reggae/World CD.

HousTone Records does not except unsolicited material. Artist can submit a request to have, 3 songs reviewed and one of the three must be a well-known cover song. Submit request by E-mail only but hard copy promo package must be sent by regular mail only.

HousTone Records: Making a difference by Marketing, Recording and Distributing One Act at a Time!

PO Box 8305-Houston, Texas 77288
PH: 713-866-4009, EXT 2


New Year Resolutions

New-Years-Resolutions 14

The advent of New Year stirs the desire to improve their lives for many people. As such, many imagine themselves thinner, healthier, and generally happier than they were in a previous year. Psychologists agree that it is productive to set goals: attainable, self-improving, and realistic. After all, it is in a human nature to want to improve things and what is the better time than the start of a New Year? However, when did the tradition to set New Year resolutions start? And, more interestingly, what are the most popular goals people generally set for themselves?

The tradition of making New Year resolutions traces centuries back. Historical research shows that ancient Babylonians, Romans, and Greeks made New Year resolutions to help the poor, pay their debts, and be better citizens. The goals of modern people seem to be more egocentric. Generally, people resolve to do the following:

1. Improve themselves physically (lose extra weight, eat more healthily, start going to the gym, abstain from alcohol and cigarettes, etc.)
2. Improve themselves mentally (think positive things, be nicer to immediate family, laugh more, enjoy life and surrounding beauty to a full extent).
3. Improve finances and career (pay the debts, apply for a dream job, perform better at a current job, obtain the long-sought promotion, or establish own business).
4. Get better education (develop a new hobby, learn a foreign language, start reading more, get a college degree, take some classes at a local college).
5. Volunteer (donate their time and effort to a worthwhile cause, help those in need, and get involved into community).
6. Improve themselves socially (meet new people, make a new friend, become active socially, travel).
7. Improve themselves spiritually (attend church more often, pray more, reflect on life).

Interestingly, recent research shows that in previous decades people were more concerned with doing good deeds for others, but nowadays people are more self-involved and mostly concentrate on themselves. Even then, most people fail to follow on their New Year resolutions; according to a study conducted by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol, as many as eighty-eight percent of people do not fulfill their resolutions, although initially fifty-two percent of people have absolute confidence in their eventual success.

However, there are ways to achieve success with New Year resolutions. For example, it helps to set them in steps—instead of generally resolving to lose extra weight; it is more productive to say “no” to a pound or two per week. More importantly, it is always easier to do things for others; it fulfills your sense of civic duty, it makes you feel better, and it makes a world a better place. Why not make this year a year to help others?
– Becky Kospanova


Live On Another Planet?

If You Could, Would You Live On Another Planet?

mars-one-729-620x3491People have always been fascinated by the Universe; Archaeological finds demonstrate that as early as 5000 years ago, people already tried to analyze and interpret the movement of celestial bodies; ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, Central America, China, and Greece built first prototypes of astronomical observatories. Nowadays, thanks to impressive technological and scientific advances, it is becoming more and more plausible to imagine people being able to live on some other than the Earth planet.

As it is well-known, first space mission occurred on April 12, 1961 when a Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin traveled into orbital space for one hundred and eight minutes in his space ship Vostok 1. Soon thereafter, an American astronaut Alan Shepard went into space on May 5, 1961; and John Glenn was the first American to go into orbit around the Earth on February 20, 1962. Moreover, twelve people, including Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969, have landed on Moon. Currently, many countries have space stations and space programs and the NASA had recently announced that it plans to develop a space capsule which will allow four astronauts to travel into deep space locations such as Mars, Moon, and different asteroids by 2016.

living-inspaceMoreover, in recent years a new phenomenon called “space tourism” or “citizen space exploration” has taken place. While very few people were able to take advantage of it due to its really astronomical price which goes anywhere from twenty to forty million dollars per person, people still seem to be intrigued by the possibility of living on some other planet in the future. Of course, there are numerous variables to consider: gravity, radiation levels, temperature, and the availability of life-sustaining recourses such as water. So far, NASA scientists reported the discovery of some Earth-like planets in the habitable orbit of sun-like stars which are not too cold or hot for water (essential factor for possible life). And, quite frankly, it does seem plausible that in an infinite universe there might be at least one planet capable of sustaining life besides the Earth.

As such, a hypothetical question arises—if some planet which potentially could sustain humans was discovered, would there be people willing to leave the Earth and start a new life there?

Of course, first and foremost it is a question of personal choice and available technologies. After all, there are always peopleMooncolony1 who like the unknown and our technological progress is truly astounding. Many things which seemed like something out of sci-fi books and movies are becoming a reality; and it is not so far-fetched to imagine that someday people will be able to develop technologies which would allow us to live on another planet. Also, there is another, much more gruesome, possibility that people will simply be unable to continue living on Earth due to some catastrophe such as ecological, nuclear, being hit by an asteroid, or overpopulation. While it is difficult to consider such awful scenarios, it is still better to be somehow prepared for them. Consequently, it is crucial that further exploration of space continues. – Becky Kospanova


Know Your Neighbor?

How Well Do You Know Your Neighbor?

Neigbors-2-BModern life is so much more different from what it used to be just few decades ago. Seemingly everyday, new technologies are developed which allow people to access all kind of information and communicate with people from anywhere in the world. However, at the same time the Americans seem to know less and less people who live right next door to them. It is a fairly new phenomenon because our grandparents and even our parents knew most of their neighbors rather well. But not anymore—for many Americans their whole interaction with neighbors is reduced to perfunctory hand wave and an occasional small talk in passing. For some, it is a perfect arrangement because they really do not have to be friendly with people with whom they happened to live nearby by chance; others might feel that they are missing an opportunity to get to know their neighbors, be helpful to each other if necessary, and maybe get a new friend.

Sociologists have been analyzing this phenomenon for quite some time. One of the best books on the subject, Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone” published in 2001, argues that the break of social bonds (taken in a wider sense to include involvement into civic clubs, church groups, etc.) leads to a number of problems in a society such as decreased safety of the neighborhoods, lower educational performance, reduced civic involvement into communities, decline in democratic responsiveness, and even health, happiness, and everyday honesty.

There are many factors which explain our reluctance or inability to establish relationships with our neighbors. Historically,how-to-deal-with-neighbors Americans have always been a nation which prized their privacy and the right to protect their properties; as a result, we are often disinclined to approach a neighbor out of fear to feel unwelcomed. Also, Americans move from one place to another much more often nowadays. Thus, we often fail to establish relationships with ever-changing neighbors. In addition, modern families are often two-career families and there is nobody home most of the day and, after a long day of work, people rarely have time to associate with their neighbors. After all, there is housework to do, dinner to be prepared, children to be taken care of—the list is long. Moreover, new technologies allow us to keep up with just about anything happening in the world; as such, simple, face-to-face interaction with your neighbors is often less interesting and stimulating for many. These are just few factors, and it is a fact of our modern life that sometimes it is simply easier not to get friendly with our neighbors.

However, there is something to be said about trying a little bit harder to become more neighborly. After all, you will always have somebody to watch over your house and pick up your mail when you go away; you might carpool with your perspective kids; you might acquire a new friend; your neighbors might notice any suspicious behavior around the neighborhood and alert you as well. So, turn off you TV and computer, step out of the house, and get to know your neighbors! – Becky Kospanova


Saggin Paints -True Meaning

Saggin pants 3After Several Restaurant Chains Announce That They will be refusing to serve customers with saggin pants; I elected to repost this story just to keep the public aware of the true meaning behind the issue.

Saggin Pants

Letter from a college student directed to Black young men and women.

The other day, a friend of mine visited me in the lobby of my dorm just to chat while her laundry was drying. As we were chatting, two young freshmen came by. One of the boys wanted to ‘talk’ to my friend (as in date). She asked him how old they were, and both of the boys replied 18. My friend and I both laughed hysterically because we are both 22 years old. After my friend left, the young men were still hanging around and one wanted to know how he could gain her interest.

The first thing I told him to do was to pull up his pants! He asked why, and then said he liked saggin’ his pants. I told him to come over to my computer and spell the word saggin’. Then I told him to write the word saggin’ backwards.


N-I-G- G-A-S

saggin pants 4I told him the origin of that look was from centuries ago. It was the intent of slave owners to demoralize the field workers by forbidding them to wear a belt as they worked in the fields or at any other rigorous job. In addition, men in prison wore their pants low when they were ‘spoken for. The other reason their pants looked like that was they were not allowed to have belts because prisoners were likely to try to commit suicide. And, saggin’ pants prevents you from running.

We as young Black people have to be the ones to effect change. We are dying. The media has made a mockery of the Black American. Even our brothers and sisters from Africa don’t take us seriously. Something as simple as pulling up your pants and standing with your head held high could make the biggest difference in the world’s perception of us. It is time to do right by ourselves. We need to love and embrace each other. No one is going to do that for us.

It all comes down to perception. What people perceive is what reality to them is. We have to change not only the media’s perception of us, but we need to change our perception of ourselves.

Remember all eyes are on you Black Man. All eyes are on you Black Woman. All eyes are on your Black Child. People point the finger at us and expect us to engage in negative and illegal activities, to manifest loud, boisterous behavior, to spend our hard earned money in their stores, buying goods we don’t need, or really want. We have allowed not only the media, but the government and the world to portray us as a ‘sub-culture.’ They have stripped our culture down to the point where the image of Black people is perpetuated as rappers, athletes, drug users, and consumers of junk food, expensive tennis shoes, expensive cars, expensive TVs, cell phones and not investing in homes for our families.

We are so much more!

To all our Black Men: Its time to stand up. There are billions of Black Women who want to do nothing more than worship the ground that you walk on. We are so in love with your potential. We want to have your back, we want to love, support and cherish every ounce of you’re being. But with that you have to show that you are willing to be the head of our households. You have to prove yourselves worthy of our submission. We need you to be hard working…Not a hustler. We need you to seek higher education, to seek spirituality. We need you to stand! And trust us; we will have your back. We know that it gets hard. We know you get weary. Trust and believe that there is nothing that a Black Man and a Black Woman can’t handle with GOD on their side.

To all our Black Women: It is also time for you to stand up. It is time for you to stop using our bodies as our primary form of communication. It is time to be that virtuous woman that Proverbs spoke of. You cannot sit by the wayside while our men are dying by the masses. You are the epitome of Black Love. It starts within you. You need to speak with conviction to let not only our Black Men know, but the world, that you are the Mothers of this world. You are so powerful. You are so beautiful. You need to love and embrace every blessing God has given us physically, emotionally and spiritually.

For all our Black Children: We need to love them. We need to teach them. We need to stand up for them. We need to protect them. We need to show them that there are no ‘get rich quick’ schemes. We need to tell them that they WILL die trying if they submit to a life of crime and deceit. We need to teach our children that no one will love them the way we can. And being a basketball player, a rapper, or a drug dealer is not reality. It’s not realistic and only a small percentage of people ever make it as a rapper or professional athlete. We need to teach our children that we can be more than rappers and athletes. We can be the owners of these sports teams. We can be the CEO’s of OUR fortune 500 companies. We need to believe in literacy. I am almost certain if we were to look back to the 1930s and 40’s, the literacy rates for Black American Children are probably still the same.

Please Share & Have a wonderful day.


Beer or Wine?

Beer or Wine: What Does Your Choice Say About You?

beer &amp_ wine 1Most people, after experimenting with different types of alcohol, choose their favorite drink and stick to it. There is a wide range of alcohol to choose from: hard liquors, different cocktails, dazzling variety of wines and, of course, many types of beers. As such, many people believe that a choice of drink can tell a lot about a person’s character and life style. What are some of the most widespread beliefs associated with favorite alcoholic beverage?

Two of the most popular drinks, beer and wine, have been around a long time, probably as long as humans themselves. Archeological discoveries demonstrate that people started producing wine and beer around 3000 BC on territories of such ancient countries as Iran, Egypt, Armenia, and Georgia (to name a few). Thereafter, the production of wine and beer has spread across the continents and both drinks have steadily gained in popularity. Of course, both drinks came to be associated with certain traits of character.

Beer is often a first alcoholic beverage for many people, and some stay faithful to it for years to come. Generally, it is a cheap, filling, and readily available drink, which can be enjoyed just about everywhere. While there is a wide choice of beer ranging from lagers, ales, pilsners, stouts, drafts, and bottles—it is still considered to be a rather democratic drink. Poor, simple folks equally love it as well as rich and powerful. Still, beer is often considered to be a somewhat lowbrow drink. Usually, someone who drinks beer is seen as a non-fussy, predominantly blue-collar, undemanding person who does not look for finer things in life. However, with the spread of microbreweries beer is becoming fancier nowadays. There are beer-tasting events held in many locations where beer can often cost as much as good wine.

Wine is also a very popular drink with many people. Most people come to it later in life and some become true connoisseurs of it. Wines beer-wine-spirits 3vary greatly in price depending on region and year it was produced. French and Italian wines, with their superior grapes and rich traditions, are often the most expensive ones; Australian, South African, Chilean, and American wines are often more affordable and some can be very good. While wine drinkers can sometimes come off as pretentious and somewhat snooty, many people drink red wine because of its health advantages; scientists assert that it is good for your heart. Interestingly, according to 2011 statistics provided by International Wine and Spirit Research and Vinexpo, traditional countries with highest rates of wine consumption such as France, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Germany were pushed over by US, where experts predict that by 2015 there will be 13 liters of wine consumed per adult per year. Two more countries, which are emerging as big wine markets, are China and Hong Kong. As such, wine is becoming a drink of choice for many people across the countries.

No matter what kind of alcohol a person prefers, the stereotypes associated with it are often no more than that—stereotypes. In the long run, your alcoholic preferences do not define your character; most importantly, your character shows if you can enjoy a drink responsibly.
Becky Kospanova


History of October

Bild-des-Monats_Oct 2One of the best months of the year—and many people concur—is October. The heat and humidity of summer are gone; the coldness of winter is still far away. October is the month of perfect weather and breathtaking beauty. In many parts of the country, people visit countryside and parks to admire autumnal views—leaves are turning vivid red, yellow, and orange; the sky is bright blue; the air is crisp and invigorating. However, the month of October is not just about the beautiful weather; there are also interesting traditions and rich history associated with it.

October derives its name from the Latin word “octo” which translates as “eight” because it used to be an eighth month in Roman calendar. Later, the months of January and February were added to Gregorian calendar, thus making October the tenth month. Still, the name stayed. It is quite an eventful month—many famous people were born and many great, and sometimes tragic, events have happened throughout the history in the month of October.

If you or your child were born in October, there is a good chance that one day you (or your child!) might become an American President.

The fact is that more American Presidents were born in October than in any other month of the year. Among them were John Adams (b. Oct. 30, 1735), Rutherford B. Hayes (b. Oct.4, 1822), Chester Arthur (b. Oct.5, 1830), Theodore Roosevelt (b. Oct. 27, 1858), Dwight Eisenhower (b. Oct. 14, 1890), Jimmy Carter (b. Oct 1, 1924), as well as a potential American President Hillary Clinton who was born in October (Oct.26, 1947). Not only famous politicians, but many artists, writers, composers, inventors and other distinguished people were also born in October. Some of them were Mahatma Gandhi (1869), St. Francis of Assisi (1181), Oscar Wilde (1854), Eugene O’Neill (1888), Noah Webster (1758), George Westinghouse (1846), Giuseppe Verdi (1813), and John Lennon (1940). Obviously, October birth date was a good start in life for a lot of people!

Also, many great events took place in the month of October both in the United States and in the world at large.

For example:October 1

· Two of the best American universities were founded in October: Yale University in 1701 and Harvard University in 1636.
· U.S. Naval Academy was founded in Annapolis, MD on October 10, 1845.
· Space Age began with the Russians sending its first satellite Sputnik I into orbit. With that, the United States launched the program with the aim to be the first on the moon.
· United Nations was founded on October 24, 1945 in an attempt to prevent future world wars and facilitate cooperation of the countries.
· Martin Luther King received Nobel Peace Prize on October 14, 1964.
· People’s Republic of China was founded on October 1, 1949 with the Mao Zedong as a Chairman.
· East and West Germany were reunited on October 3, 1990 forming Federal Republic of Germany.
· The first transcontinental telegram was sent on October 24, 1861 from San Francisco to Washington to Abraham Lincoln from the Chief Justice of California.

Apparently, October is an exciting month in many regards! There are many events, birthdays, and holidays to celebrate or, if anything else, one can simple enjoy the splendid October weather. – Becky Kospanova


15 Toughest Interview Questions

job-interview-VA 2You have submitted your resume and have been asked to come in for an interview. Are you prepared? The following are questions you can expect to be asked, or variations thereof. They could apply for any position you are being interviewed for. For purposes of this article we have used Firefighter”.

1. Why do you want to work in this industry?

Bad answer: “I like firefighting. I think it’s really cool.”
Don’t just say you like it. Anyone can “like” firefighting. Focus instead on your history with the industry, and if you can, tell a story.

Good answer: “I have always appreciated and admired those who put their lives on the line to protect our comminutes. My interest really piqued in firefighting however after I witnessed a post-crash rescue. I heard the calling as I watched the first response team pull the civilians to safety and out of harms way. It was then I knew that this is what I was meant to do.”

2. Tell us about yourself.

Bad answer: “I graduated four years ago from the University of Michigan, with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology – but I decided that wasn’t the right path for me. I switched gears and got my first job working in a fire department. Then I went on to work in another department and started participating in training courses. After that, I took a few months off to travel. Finally, I came back to start working again. And now, here I am, looking for a more challenging fire and rescue role.”
Instead of giving a chronological work history, focus on your strengths and how they pertain to the role. If possible, illustrate with examples.

Good answer: “I’m a very energetic and well-rounded person who can follow instructions well. I am a good communicator and quite a team player. At the last department I was with I initiated medic classes for the firefighters who were interested in learning first-aid techniques. Because it was such a success, the entire department is in the process of getting certifications for all members in different areas of response medical aid.”

3. What do you think of your previous boss?

Bad answer: “He was completely incompetent, and a nightmare to work with, which is why I’ve moved on”
Remember: if you get the job, the person interviewing you will some day be your previous boss. The last thing they want is to hire someone who they know is going to badmouth them some day. Instead of trashing your former employer, stay positive, and focus on what you learned from them (no matter how awful they might have been).

Good answer: “My last boss taught me the importance of time management – he didn’t pull any punches, and was extremely driven. His no-nonsense attitude pushed me to work harder, and to meet goals I never even thought were possible.”

4. Why are you leaving your current role?

Bad answer: “I can’t stand my boss, or the work I’m doing.”
Again, stay away from badmouthing your job or employer. Focus on the positive.

Good answer: “I’ve learned a lot from my current role, but now I’m looking for a newchallenge, to broaden my horizons and to gain new skill-sets – all of which, I see the potential for in this job.”

5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Bad answer: “Relaxing on a beach in Maui,” or “Doing your job.”
There’s really no right answer to this question, but the interviewer wants to know that you’re ambitious, career-oriented, and committed to a future with the company. So instead of sharing your dream for early retirement, or trying to be funny, give them an answer that illustrates your drive and commitment.

Good answer: “In five years I’d like to have an even better understanding of fire and rescue. Also, I really enjoy being the first to a scene. I work very well under pressure. Ultimately, I’d like to be in a commander-type position, where I can use my organizational skills and industry knowledge to benefit the people working with me, and those we are there to help.”

6. What’s your greatest weakness?

Bad answer: “I work too hard,” or for the comedian, “Blondes.”
This question is a great opportunity to put a positive spin on something negative, but you don’t want your answer to be cliché – joking or not. Instead, try to use a real example of a weakness you have learned to overcome.

Good answer: “I’ve never been very comfortable with public speaking – which as you know, can be a hindrance. Realizing this was a problem, I asked my previous department if I could enroll in a speech workshop. I took the class, and was able to overcome my lifelong fear. Since then, I’ve given a lot of safety presentations to school children across the county. I still don’t love it, but no one else can tell!”

7. What salary are you looking for?

Bad answer: “In my last job I earned $35,000 – so, now I’m looking for $40,000”
If you can avoid it, don’t give an exact number. The first person to name a price in a salary negotiation loses. Instead, re-iterate your commitment to the job itself. If you have to, give a broad range based on research you’ve conducted on that particular role, in your particular city.

Good answer: “I’m more interested in the role itself than the pay. That said, I’d expect to be paid the appropriate range for this role, based on my five years of experience. I also think a fair salary would bear in mind the high cost of living here in New York City.”

8. Why should I hire you?

Bad answer: “I’m the best candidate for the role.”
A good answer will reiterate your qualifications, and will highlight what makes you unique.

Good answer: “I’ve been a firefighter for the past five years – my boss has said time and time again that without me, the department wouldn’t function so well. I’ve also taken the time to educate myself on some of the non-standard techniques used in first response. I can react quickly in hectic situations, and can handle the responsibilities of a leadership role. What’s good enough for most people is never really good enough for me.”

9. What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?

Bad answer: I never finished law school – and everything that has happened since then has taught me that giving up, just because the going gets tough, is a huge mistake.”
You don’t want to actually highlight a major regret – especially one that exposes an overall dissatisfaction with your life. Instead, focus on a smaller, but significant, mishap, and how it has made you a better professional.

Good answer: “When I was in college, I took an art class to supplement my curriculum. I didn’t take it very seriously, and assumed that, compared to my Engineering classes, it would be a walk in the park. My failing grades at midterm showed me otherwise. I’d even jeopardized my scholarship status. I knew I had to get my act together. I spent the rest of the semester making up for it, ended up getting a decent grade in the class. I learned that no matter what I’m doing, I should strive to do it to the best of my ability. Otherwise, it’s not worth doing at all.”

10. How do you explain your gap in employment?

Bad answer: “I was so tired of working, and I needed a break,” or “I just can’t find a job.”
Employment gaps are always tough to explain. You don’t want to come across as lazy or unhireable. Find a way to make your extended unemployment seem like a choice you made, based on the right reasons.

Good answer: “My work is important to me, so I won’t be satisfied with any old job. Instead of rushing to accept the first thing that comes my way, I’m taking my time and being selective to make sure my next role is the right one.”

11. When were you most satisfied in your job?

Bad answer: “I was most satisfied when I did well, and got praised for my work.”
Don’t give vague answers. Instead, think about something you did well —and enjoyed— that will be relevant at this new job. This is an opportunity for you to share your interests, prove that you’re a great fit for the job and showcase your enthusiasm.

Good answer: “I’m a people person. I was always happiest — and most satisfied — when I was interacting with community residents, making sure I was able to meet their needs and giving them the best possible comfort in a tough situation. It was my favorite part of the job, and it showed. Part of the reason I’m interested in this job is that I know I’d have even more interaction with the public, on an even more critical level.”

12. What did you like least about your last job?

Bad answer: “A lack of stability. I felt like the place could collapse around me at any time.”
Try and stay away from anything that draws on the politics, culture or financial health of your previous employer. No matter how true it might be, comments like these will be construed as too negative. Also, you don’t want to focus on a function that might be your responsibility in the next role. So think of something you disliked in your last job, but that you know for sure won’t be part of this new role.

Good answer: “There was nothing about my last job that I hated, but I guess there were some things I liked less than others. My previous role involved traveling at least twice a month. While I do love to travel, twice a month was a little exhausting – I didn’t like spending quite so much time out of the department. I’m happy to see that this role involves a lot less travel.”

13. Describe a time when you did not get along with your coworker.

Bad answer: “I’m easy to get along with, so I’ve never had any kind of discord with another coworker.”
Interviewers don’t like these types of “easy out” answers. And besides, they know you are probably not telling the truth. Think of a relatively benign (but significant) instance, and spin it to be a positive learning experience.

Good answer: “I used to lock heads with a fellow EMT. We disagreed over a lot of things – from the care of civilians to who got what shifts to how to speak with a victim’s family. Our personalities just didn’t mesh. After three months of arguing, I pulled her aside and asked her to lunch. At lunch, we talked about our differences and why we weren’t getting along. It turns out, it was all about communication. We communicated differently and once we knew that, we began to work well together. I really believe that talking a problem through with someone can help solve any issue.”

14. What motivates you?

Bad answer: “Doing a good job and being rewarded for it.”
It’s not that this answer is wrong — it’s just that it wastes an opportunity. This question is practically begging you to highlight your positive attributes. So don’t give a vague, generic response — it tells them very little about you. Instead, try and use this question as an opportunity to give the interviewer some insight into your character, and use examples where possible.

Good answer: “I’ve always been motivated by the challenge – in my last role, I was responsible for training our new recruits and having a 100% success rate in passing scores. I know that this job is very fast-paced and I’m more than up for the challenge. In fact, I thrive on it.”

15. How would your friends describe you?

Bad answer: “I’m a really good listener.”
While being a good listener is a great personality trait, your employer probably doesn’t care all that much. It’s unlikely that they’re hiring you to be a shoulder to cry on. You’ll want to keep your answer relevant to the job you’re interviewing for, and as specific as possible. If you can, insert an example.

Good answer: “My friends would probably say that I’m extremely persistent – I’ve never been afraid to keep going back until I get what I want. When I worked as a program developer, recruiting keynote speakers for a major tech conference, I got one rejection after another – this was just the nature of the job. But I really wanted the big players – so I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I kept going back to them every time there was a new company on board, or some new value proposition. Eventually, many of them actually said “yes” – the program turned out to be so great that we doubled our attendees from the year before. A lot of people might have given up after the first rejection, but it’s just not in my nature. If I know something is possible, I have to keep trying until I get it.”

[Source: | Fire Link } Jul 2013 ++]


The Sapphires

Lois Peeler, Naomi Mayers, Laurel Robinson and Beverley Briggs, The Original Sapphires

At a time when Aboriginal women were taking their first steps towards equality it is all the greater an achievement that the Sapphires found success as an all-girl singing group entertaining troops in the Vietnam War. Add to this the race problems that were still prominent in Australia and you have one of the most awe-inspiring tales in the last 50 years.

The early days

The Sapphires 2012 Lois Peeler Laurel Robinson, Naomi Mayers lead singer, and Beverley BriggsTheir life began in a difficult environment which saw Laurel having to leave her home town in search of greener pastures caused by her struggle to find regular employment in her home town, a factor that she attributed to the race problems at the time. The Sapphires didn’t begin life as professional entertainers. As youngsters, their main goal, as was many other Aboriginal girls, was to survive in a society where they were treated as outcasts. In fact, their shows, which ranged from Country and Western to comedy acts, were more for the benefit of friends and family than anyone else. Any concerts that they did do were to earn enough money to survive, rather than in a bid to find fame and fortune.
A moral dilemma

After catching the eye of an Irish talent scout with vision the Sapphires made the transition from Country to Soul and their career began. However, it wouldn’t be long before the girls faced more difficulty, this time in the form of a decision as to whether to sing in Vietnam. Both Naomi and Beverly were vocal opponents of the war and as such, refused to go. It was at this time that Beverly’s sister Lols joined Laurel and they embarked on the adventure together.
Unlikely stars

The Sapphires The original Sapphires photographed in their St Kilda apartment 1966.  Left to Right Laurel Robinson, Naomi Mayers lead singer, and Beverley BriggsThe sheer notion of an Aboriginal all girls group-finding success in 1960’s Australia would have made many laugh at the time. Seen as outcasts, many were still the victims of racism and it’s fair to say it wasn’t the most pleasant of environments for Aborigines to live in. That is what makes the story of these women all the more rousing. Whilst they no doubt saw a chance to escape a difficult life and so grabbed it with both hands. It’s unlikely that they could have foreseen the impact that they would have and the giant steps towards all aboriginal equality that they themselves would have played a part in.
An inspiration for a generation

Since taking to the recording room the original Sapphires have returned to Australia where they now work in the Aboriginal medical service. However, these incredible women’s legacy isn’t so much about their success as singers as their success as Aboriginal females in the late 1960’s. Whilst the Sapphires are now enjoying life by working in the health industry, their story still serves as an inspiration and has no doubt played a role in the success of many other aboriginal entertainers, specifically women, who have gone on to conquer and to achieve their goals in a variety of different fields since the Sapphires set the benchmark.

A movie about The Sapphires was released in 2012, “Laurel Robinson, Beverly Briggs and Naomi Mayers are the three original members of the Sapphires, the first popular Aboriginal all-female group. The movie based on the band’s story is now the most successful Australian film of 2012. Laurel’s son Tony Briggs wrote the play it is based on, and adapted that into a screenplay.
The film depicts the Sapphires as Australia’s answer to the Supremes, and how they were talent-spotted to perform soul numbers for the troops in Vietnam. In reality, it was only Laurel, then 21, and her sister Lois who went to Vietnam. Lois was drafted in when Naomi and Beverly (who are also sisters) refused to go in protest against the war. The three original members – Laurel, Beverly and Naomi – now work at the Aboriginal Medical Service, in Sydney’s suburb of Redfern, where Naomi is chief executive. Here is an edited transcript of our interview with them. “ (Laurel Robinson)