Tips To Make Matcha Tea Even Better And Tastier

Matcha is the newest health craze out there. Healthy food lovers are using this green tea powder like it’s the healthiest thing around. This little ingredient is so versatile, it’s being added to almost every food/drink you can imagine: smoothies, sparkling tonics, popcorn, you name it and a dash of matcha will make it even tastier. This emerald green powder will turn your healthy snacks into a green, power-packed potion of health and wellness. This hot health food has almost inspired a cult-like following among the health/fitness community. The U.S. has finally woken up to what the Japanese have known for centuries. Matcha is just great for your health!
 

We’re not just saying this, the science backs up the hype. Some 900 studies have shown that matcha is a super-food. Matcha has been linked to cancer prevention to improving skin, hair, and nails. A study shows that it even helps suppress hunger pangs and speeds up metabolism naturally. Another study, conducted earlier this year, pointed out that matcha can also reduce the risk of depression.
 
All of this is brilliant, you say, but you still can’t get past the fact that it tastes like moss that you scraped off a tree? Don’t blame matcha, blame your attitude! The truth is you have been a victim of bad quality matcha, or it may be that you aren’t making it right. Read on and find nine tips that will lead you down the path of buying, brewing, and creating yummy matcha foods. So, get ready for a healthy mean and green boost of power!
 
Find the Right Grade
 
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Yup, there are grades. Make sure you look for hyper-premium or ceremonial grade matcha. Stay away from the culinary grade. The culinary kind tastes awfully bitter. It’s used to color drinks and baked goods, definitely not something you want to drink. High grade powder is finer, has a smoother taste, and dissolves quickly. The newest growth of the plant is used to make these, so it has more antioxidants which is an added health boost.
 
It Should Originate From Japan
 
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Did you know that the majority of matcha available in stores today is culinary grade? Yup, according to Eric Gower, the owner of Breakaway Matcha and knower of all things tea, says that there is a lack of packaging regulations. Some manufacturers simply write ceremonial grade on their labels even if the product is the lower culinary grade. The best way to make sure you get the real thing is to find premium grade matcha from Japan. The Japanese products follow a formal, but unspoken set of regulations.
 
Check the Color before Buying
 
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Matcha plants are grown in the shade. This makes the leaves go into hyper-drive and produce more chlorophyll, and this is what gives matcha that brilliant green color. Emeric Harney, the tea expert at Harney & Sons, recommends buying powder that has a vibrant color, having an almost fluorescent tint. If it looks dull, don’t waste your money.
 
You Won’t Find a Bargain
 
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If you’re trying to find a bargain, stop looking. Great quality matcha is really fine — difficult to produce and takes a lot of time, therefore, it’s rare and expensive. Try to recall Econ 101 supply and demand logic you learned: low supply means high cost. For example, the best grade matcha available from Breakaway will set you back about $150 per 30 grams and another quality supplier, Matcha Love’s ceremonial grade blend retails at $17 per 20 grams.
 
Use Warm Water for Brewing Not Boiling Water
 
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Eric Gower recommends a water temperature of 150-175 degrees if you want the best tasting matcha. The amount of water and powder you use depends on personal preferences. The more matcha you add to the water, the more frothier and thicker the tea will be.
 
Go For Cold-Brew If On a Budget
 
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The combination of ice and matcha is one of the most refreshing things you will ever taste. It’s also light on the budget. When drinking matcha over ice, you can use a slightly lower grade without compromising the taste. The cold actually cuts the bitterness. Henry Crosby, the co-founder of the iced matcha drink Motto, says that ice does not cover the flavor and simply lowers the bitter taste.
 
Matcha Is Not the Same as Green Tea
 
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A lot of people think that matcha is powdered green tea. This is very wrong. Matcha is made by mixing finely ground tea leaves with warm water. Drinking matcha basically means you are eating the tea. You take in more of the antioxidants that help prevent cancer and boost metabolism. Drinking tea prepared by steeping leaves in boiling water does not give you as big of an anti-oxidant boost. If you look at the numbers, a cup of matcha gives you 10 times as much antioxidants as compared to 1 cup of regular green tea.
 
Coffee Jitters? Matcha Might Be the Perfect Option
 
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The powder is a source of calm energy. The electrifying burst of energy when you sip a cup of joe comes from caffeine and l’theanine (an amino acid). The caffeine is what gives you that instant jolt, the l’theanine slowly releases energy and helps improve cognitive performance. Matcha is an excellent source of this amino acid.
 
Savor the Taste and Let It Linger
 
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This is a bit unusual, but matcha is also great for the teeth and gums. In fact, dentists in Japan recommend that it should be used as a mouthwash. It attacks harmful bacteria that cause plaque along the gums and between teeth. A study in the Journal of Periodontology found that people who drink matcha daily showed a decrease in all indicators of periodontal (gum) disease that the researchers checked.
 

 

Spectre: Falls Drastically Short, Even By Action Thriller Standards

The days when the very mention of a 007 movie captivated the audience are long gone. Now, unless a film is brilliant in every way, the audience wouldn’t waste a penny to watch it, far less spend time in spreading a good word about it.
 

So that way, Spectre didn’t really enjoy the usual launch pad that 007 films of yore enjoyed, which meant it had to have a certain amount of standalone brilliance to shine through in the crowd of works that the film industry brings.
 
Unfortunately, the film fails to do this on several fronts. And when one considers the fact that this was a James Bond 007 movie, this fact turns out to be even more of a disappointment. When it’s a 007 movie, the audience’s expectations automatically rise to a certain level. Well, the biggest regret in case of Spectre is that it doesn’t even meet the expectations of a normal film-going audience that expects a well-rounded action thriller.
 

Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli and directed by Sam Mendes, Spectre hit theaters on October 26th in the UK earlier this year and opened to the US audience a few days later on November 6th, although the reviews of the shows in the UK pretty much told the world that this one was a rare 007 disaster.
 
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For starters, considering that the budget for the film was somewhere to the tune of around $250 million, there was talk of whether or not the film would even manage to break even. So you can imagine how disastrous the opening was. Eventually, the film did manage to scrape through to this point in spite of initial fears and until November 11th, had raked in $310 million, certainly not a number that would term it a success, but certainly enough to save it from the tag of a financial disaster. Of course, the box office performance certainly doesn’t warrant Spectre an acquittal on other fronts.
 
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The 148-minute long ordeal was Daniel Craig’s last outing as the suave spy James Bond and the super-spy’s 24th, and it seems like Craig was among the few who truly dedicated their soul to the film, irrespective of it turning out to be a writing catastrophe, among other things. It was indeed a surprise to see the audience welcome the film with largely negative reviews, especially since the experts of the industry had termed the film a success through earlier screenings. We are sure Craig must have been among those to see the film take off on a high with most professional critics providing it the thrust, only to see the audience shoot it down. Of course, there were a fair number of negative reviews to sit up and take notice but the miserable show with the audience proved that the numbers were greatly divided on this one.
 

Of course, the film certainly wasn’t an entirely drab affair – the $310 million in the coffers so far will tell you that. The film is surely an enjoyable affair too – you certainly wouldn’t walk out of the theater in the middle of the screening. Yet, it does indeed fall short of what we expect from a 007 film. Some reviewers have openly proclaimed that this was the worst James Bond movie in three decades, while others have said it doesn’t even stand tall against other mediocre action films that hit the audience on occasion.
 
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Firstly, the fact that this was a James Bond film hit it the hardest. Come on, we all know how the weight of expectations can weigh something down no matter how grand it is and to an extent, the fate that Spectre has met is a result of this paradox. Then again, the film has relied too heavily on past elements and doesn’t have anything fresh to offer in several departments, something that happens to occur in franchise stories. So here is Bond taking off on a solo mission yet again, defying the rules that made him the man he is, and frankly, this plot is one that has been explored too often.
 
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Although the sequences of the film live up to the standards set by the average action thriller, the boredom with which most of the characters participate in these sequences is almost depressing in some cases. The plot keeps too many elements under wraps and in the end, nothing really comes together in a dramatic climax. When compared to the awesome opening sequence that is shot in a single swoop of extraordinary talent and impeccable planning, the rest of the movie sure pales in comparison.
 
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At the end of it all, Spectre is momentarily brilliant with flashes of dazzling brightness that truly lift it up to the levels of its predecessors. Sadly, the moments are far too few. If only the entire movie was wrapped in this cloak. It would have been a perfect goodbye for Daniel Craig, and yet another gem for James Bond fans to lust after.

 
 

WowWee Mip Robot

The WowWee MiP RC Robot is a tech savvy and one of the cutest toys on the market. It packs in a bunch of features with different play modes and several responses. This toy robot is equipped with emotions and loves to play with you.
 
The WowWee MiP RC Robot is designed with an inquisitive and responsive personality that is communicated clearly through its motion, sounds, and RGB LED eyes. It has a unique two wheel design upon which it balances itself and conveniently navigates its surroundings. It is capable of following hand gestures and following several objects around the house.
 
This little robot can also balance several objects on its two wheels while standing still or moving. It has presets modes including roam, stacking, dance, and programming. It comes accompanied by a tray accessory that can be plugged in and is ideal for children aged from 8 to 15 years.
 
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This playful WowWee MiP RC Robot is basically an interactive humanoid robot that functions best with a smartphone. It has a sturdy and durable design with a spherical head, adjustable arms, and a trim lower body. It comes in two colors, black with white stripes or white with black stripes and offers an uncanny resemblance to the lovable robot Wall-E.
 
It measures 9 inches in height and has a fitted microphone, IR sensors, and LED eyes. It runs on 4 AAA batteries and requires no remote control, which indicates that your hand gestures are enough. It is capable of making several noises to express its feelings.
 
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With several different playmodes such as Tricks, Roam, Track, Dance, Cage and Stack, this little interactive robot is sure to keep you busy for endless hours of entertainment and fun. Make sure to download the MiP app that goes with it!

Buy Now / $77.65

 

 

5 of the Most Underrated Places in the World

When most people think of traveling, they think of traveling to the most extravagant, beautiful places around the world. According to Travel and Leisure, Kyoto, Japan was the world’s best city of 2014. Although the entire world is beautiful and has so much to offer, travelers tend to follow the status quo and visit what is known to be a good visit.

Each city is different from the next, offering a variety of foods, cultures, races, languages, fashions, and more. There are so many places in the world that fly under the radar simply because not enough people know, or talk about them.

Taipei, Taiwan

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Back in the 1980-1990’s, Taipei was home to about three million and enough smog to clear every single one of them out. Today, Taipei is one of Asia’s most beautiful cities to visit. The city has come a long way since the smog issues after adopting a more environment-friendly route. Taipei is now covered in acres of greenery, hiking trails, and bike paths along the mountains. This city is perfect for the outdoor and adventure lover! The public transportation system is very easy so there are no more worries of a smog overload. Taipei is known to have some of the world’s best Chinese food, which also makes this the perfect place to visit for a foodie! Locals tend to be very friendly and resourceful for those that don’t speak their language, so don’t be shy.

Tucson, Arizona

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Most people, especially Americans, never think of an American city to be an extravagant place to visit. Tucson is surrounded by mountains and Saguaro National Park, which gives this city so much of its beauty. The city of Tucson also has a rich heritage and cultural roots implanted so deep that nowhere else is like it. Downtown Tucson is filled with historical buildings that have been brought back to life, including the theater The Rialto that was built back in the Roaring Twenties. Downtown holds a large variety of shops, restaurants, and bars, so you will surely never run out of things to do! On every second Saturday, a few blocks are closed off for the street fair. There are artisans, street performers, some live music, and plenty of good food.

Glasgow, Scotland

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Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the third largest city in the United Kingdom. People tend to think that London and Manchester have the best music scenes in the UK, but Glasgow has them both beat. Performers like Franz Ferdinand and Belle and Sebastian started their road to success in Glasgow’s clubs. Keeping the artsy theme, Glasgow is the perfect city for an architecture enthusiast. The city’s architecture is astounding, and the Glasgow School of Art holds a bright and promising future. Glasgow is also known for having the cutest little vintage shops, so don’t forget your wallet!

Nara, Japan

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As mentioned earlier, most people travel to Kyoto, Japan since it was named the world’s best city of 2014, but many will never get to experience the beauty of Nara. While Kyoto is home to beautiful gardens, shrines, and Buddhist temples, Nara is filled with just as many gardens, shrines, and temples. Nara also has a large amount of machiya, which are traditional wooden townhouses. Nowadays, a lot of machiya have been transformed into restaurants and cafes. This creates more business for the city, but also keeps the beautiful, serene atmosphere that you can only find here, making it a one of a kind experience.

Adelaide, Australia

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Adelaide is nicknamed “the city of churches,” so to some, that can a bit off-putting as a vacation destination. Most visitors tend to travel to the bigger, more well known cities of Australia, so Adelaide is often left as an afterthought. If you ever get the opportunity to visit here, you will see some of the most beautiful art and scenery you can lay your eyes on. Adelaide is very well known for its 125-acre botanic garden that’s open all year round. This city holds a variety of art festivals at the beginning of the year, and also has several art galleries that you can enjoy any time of the year. The cafe scene is very lively and gives Adelaide a specific ambience that you can only find in this city. A lot of Australia is hot, but Adelaide was graced with a mild climate so you can enjoy virtually everything year round, making it a great place for anyone.

 

 

Fistful Of Dynamite: The Red Dead Series

We’ve always had a fascination with stories of the American frontier. So many images surface in our minds: the dusty towns and endless dry trails, peppered with tumbleweeds and painted every dusk by the deep red sun setting in the Western face of the frontier.

But Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Revolver wasn’t so much a love letter to the cowboy myths of our American zeitgeist, as it was a piece of bold storytelling, taking the traditional revenge tale and wrapping it in the guise of a stale Spaghetti western, complete with the outlandish characters, rugged heroes and gun-slinging action that defined an era of legends and hardship.

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You play as Red, a tough bounty hunter, orphaned at a young age when his parents were murdered by an amoral Mexican general. Red moves through the vestiges of the West, giving help to the helpless and laying law to the lawless. When Red discovers his parents’ killers are still at large, he sets out to avenge his family and settle the score once and for all.

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Red Dead Revolver sounds more like a movie than a game, and that’s no mistake. It’s an homage to the many Italian Spaghetti Westerns of the 60s and 70s. You can see it in the grainy effect on the visuals, which mirrors the cheap film they had used, and the soundtrack that reproduced the classics originally scored by Ennio Morricone (think of the wha-wha-wha in “The Good the Bad and the Ugly”).

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The game originally was owned by Capcom, which had been developing a game in the spirit of the 1985 classic Gun.Smoke. Capcom soon decided to cancel the project in 2002, though, which is what led to Capcom picking up the project and giving it to proprietary developer Rockstar San Diego.

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Rockstar had already built their reputation on the highly successful Grand Theft Auto III and Mafia: City of the Lost Heaven, so fans and critics alike were excited to see the publisher wind the clocks back to the beginning of the 20th century, when cowboys were fading but the West was still just as wild. The game got positive reviews from critics, released on May 3, 2004, on the Xbox and Playstation 2.

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Where Red Dead Revolver was about revenge, Red Dead Redemption was a story about, you guessed it, redemption. Protagonist John Marston, a former outlaw, has his family kidnapped by the government. In exchange for his family, Marston must become a bounty hunter to track down the remaining three members of his old gang. But there was a whole lot more to Red Dead Redemption that made it such a compelling sequel.

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For one thing, Red Dead Redemption follows an open-world format, where players can explore the West on foot and horseback, interacting with the world as they please and discovering new areas. Choices are important to the game, as making amoral ones can affect how NPCs interact with the player. Much like Grand Theft Auto, the game also uses a wanted system, which is triggered when Marston kills an innocent civilian nearby witnesses. Marston can evade his pursuers, but a bounty will still be placed on his head.

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Gunplay is tweaked considerably in Red Dead Redemption, as players can use a well-designed cover system to avoid enemy fire. Players can auto target enemies, free aim and even use blindfire in these situations. Players can also target specific body parts of their enemies, in case they intend to take down their target non-lethally. The added gunslinger mechanic also gave players a bullet-time ability akin to Max Payne, where they could take out multiple enemies in a flash moment to level out the odds.

Combine this addictive gameplay with a pseudo-RPG setting in the cinematic Americana that Rockstar created – it’s no surprise Red Dead Redemption now is considered one of the best video games of all time. It won numerous awards in 2010, going on to sell over 12.5 million copies.

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Rockstar even put out a standalone expansion, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, which plunges the Wild West into a classic zombie epidemic, where Marston must find a cure to stop the infectious horde from spreading.

While a novel, and somewhat humorous, way to expand Red Dead’s universe, the expansion has become something of a fan-favorite for multiplayer enthusiasts, as the online mode allows up to 16 players to fight against and with each other in a recreation of the single player setting.

 

A Connection Between Citrus Fruits And Melanoma?

A recent observational study published in the Journal of clinical Oncology suggested an association between citric fruit consumption with the development of malignant melanoma.
 
According to the study, people who ate citrus fruit 2-4 times a week had an increase of 10% in the risk of malignant melanoma than people who ate citrus less than twice per week. The senior author Dr. Abrar Qureshi, from Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital, has already stated that this is a one-of-its-kind study and that also observational, therefore it cannot predict the situation of the entire US nor can its results be interpreted as 100% authentic.
 
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Dr. Qureshi worked on the study in collaboration with the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He further stated that “Malignant melanoma is a potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer. Though there have been some amazing advances in the treatment of cancer, its prevention by using the rays of the sun and skin cancer screening is recommended.”
 
Although the study concludes a preliminary association between malignant melanoma and citrus fruit, it didn’t specifically state that melanoma is caused by the intake of citrus fruit. The authors have welcomed more studies and research work in this regard.
 
The study included data from two other previously conducted studies. They included 63,000 women in this study from the Nurses’ Health Study and 41,000 men from another study. Both of these studies were conducted from the mid-1980s to 2010.
 

The participants provided information regarding their diet; how frequently they ate grapefruit, oranges, or drank orange juice. This estimated their “overall usage of citrus.” The study did not include other citrus fruits such as lemons and limes. Participants also reported health events such as the diagnosis of melanoma which was then cross checked with their medical records.
 
With a follow-up of 20 years, the study reports 1,840 cases of melanoma. People who ate citrus fruit 2-4 times a week had an increase of 10% in the risk of malignant melanoma than people who ate citrus less than twice per week. Melanoma risk was seen to rise proportionately with an increase in citrus consumption. A 36% risk of malignant melanoma was seen in people who ate citrus more than 1.5 times a day. The study reports grapefruit to have the greatest association with melanoma.
 
Dr. Qureshi explained that citrus fruits contain furocoumarins (photoactive compounds) which make people more sun sensitive and make even usual sun exposure more damaging to skin cells. He didn’t advise reduced consumption of these fruits since they are very important for health; however, he is in favor of more studies on furocoumarins.
 
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According to Marianne Berwick of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, 30 out of 100,000 individuals suffer from coetaneous malignant melanoma yearly in the U.S. It is the fifth most common melanoma in the U.S. and ranks sixth worldwide, he told Reuters Health. Berwick also supports further work up on this preliminary study.
 

 

Orlando: When You Should Plan The Trip

Orlando is one of the best places to vacation. The time you choose to visit Orlando will affect the cost, quality, and your plans. The number of tourists is high during seasonal periods, the costs rise, the demand for hotels heats up, people compete for the best restaurant reservations, and the lines at theme parks will stretch on and on.
 

Another important consideration is the weather. At certain times of the year, Orlando’s subtropical climate can often make your trip a little less enjoyable. Even though Orlando is known as a year-round holiday destination, the number of visitors will vary according to the season, usually depending on school vacation schedules, the type of local events and festivals being held, and the weather of course. Another factor is the number of business travelers that are in town for meetings – this tends to affect the number of available hotel rooms, the room cost, and airfare.
 
The travel calendar is conveniently divided into three seasons so pick the one that suits your needs the best:
 

  1. High season: March-April, mid-June till mid-August, and mid-December-early January
  2. Low season: May-September, November-early December, and January
  3. Inbetween season: February, late May till mid-June, mid-August- August, October

 

Weather in Orlando
 
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Orlando has a subtropical climate; the average temperatures will range from 48 degrees in January and reach a high of 92 degrees in the months of July and August. Rain showers are common year round, but normally brief in duration. From June through September, the weather is hot and steamy; sudden and heavy thunderstorms will occur almost every afternoon. Be sure to bring light clothes with moisture-wicking fabric; don’t forget a raincoat or poncho if you travel during these months. The other months are mostly milder and drier, but you might feel chilly so pack multiple layers, particularly if your trip is planned during November through April. Include an umbrella, and sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) is a must have item.
 
If you’re planning to visit during late in the summer or early fall, be prepared that there might be a chance you encounter a tropical storm or hurricane. National Oceanographic and the Atmospheric Association says that the Atlantic hurricane season officially starts from June 1st and lasts until November 30, with a maximum activity period occurring in September. Orlando escaped being hit by any major hurricanes for years, then in 2004, a multitude of hurricanes hit, causing the parks to close.
 

Crowds and People
 
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The theme parks are wildly popular and swarmed with people – this happens whenever kids are out of school, so here is a quick breakdown of the crowd levels during major holidays:
 

  • Spring break which falls in March and April tends to be the busiest.
  • The weeks around Christmas and New Years are the second most crowded times.
  • Memorial Day to Labor Day also bring a lot of visitors, this level peaks in July.

 
Expect to see bigger crowds out on the weekends and other holidays. Day trips are popular with Floridians and they pack the parks, mostly during special events. The most popular and exciting events are the Walt Disney World marathon and the MardiGras at Universal. Individual parks at Disney may be especially crowded on days when Disney resort visitors get early admissions.
 

Closure Timings
 
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Orlando never slows down much; you will be able to visit water parks in January even when the temperature is 50 degrees or spend your Christmas with Mickey at Magic Kingdom in Disney. During slower times, operating hours in parks are reduced and Mickey gets some rest. Disney closes one of its two water parks in the winter, but on a rotating basis, mostly for cleaning purposes. When visitor numbers are low, the major rides will be closed for maintenance.
 

Maximum Saving
 
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The seasonal hotel savings are straightforward to get — the simple rule is you’ll pay less for services when there are fewer visitors in town. The most expensive time, when room rates go up is during Christmas week, and second comes spring break. During most other holidays and major local events you will find that the rates are higher. Hotels that cater mostly to business travelers may have lower rates during summer. This is due to low bookings in summer when convention bookings are not frequent.
 
The month of September normally sees the fewest tourists and you will get the lowest rates, but the hurricane season peaks during that time so it is bestto be avoided. The other slow months such as January, May, and November (apart from major holiday periods) will be safer bets.
 
The prices for attractions, parks and restaurant rates do not vary too much throughout the year.
 

When should you Book?
 
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There is no perfect answer to that question, it all depends on what your needs are. Generally you will by more likely to find a better deal and probably have your pick of airline seats along with hotel rooms if booking is made at least a month in advance. Plan to book even further ahead if you aim for peak travel-season time. It is possible to book at the last minute as well, however, you will find your options limited and you might end up paying a little more, especially during peak holiday seasons.
 
The famous destinations for dining are Disney’s restaurants, their shows are also popular and high in demand, some of the most fun experiences are booked solid and have long waiting periods, so if you want to take advantage of these, book early.
 

 

Top 10 NBA Careers Ruined By Injury

Injuries are an unavoidable reality in the sports world, yet some injuries tend to change the course of promising careers. The NBA is undoubtedly the greatest men’s professional basketball league in the world and this list brings together the Top 10 NBA Careers ruined by injury.
 
Maurice Stokes
 
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Maurice Stokes was an NBA player during the 1950s. He played for the Cincinnati/Rochester Royals, and during one of his games, Stokes landed on his head – sending him into a coma. Later he suffered paralysis due to the brain injury that was a form of post traumatic encephalopathy. The devastating incident took his life in 1970. At the young age of 37, this player’s life and career ended tragically.
 
Larry Johnson
 
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As a part of the Charlotte Hornets and the New York Knicks, this professional NBA player contributed to the game with full force on the court. However, after he suffered a terrible back injury that reduced his ability to be physical during the game, Johnson later on became more of a perimeter player and helped his team instead of being the up front and primary driving force that he once was. He barely played 10 seasons before retiring due to his back injuries.
 
Yao Ming
 
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This Chinese professional played for the Houston Rockets. He was well known for being one of the best centers in the game and standing tall at 2.29m (7’6″), he was the tallest player whenever he was on the court. Yao Ming was at the brink of achieving success when he developed osteomyelitis in his big toe. This kept him away from games in his fourth season. An additional injury, a broken bone in his foot, also contributed to him being sidelined during year. To add to his misfortune, Ming later suffered a broken knee and a micro-fracture in his left foot a year later. It was due to this that his career came to an end even before he could taste success.
 
Larry Bird
 
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Playing for the Boston Celtics, Larry Bird was destined to become an all-time great. The 12-time NBA All-Star was named the league’s Most Valuable Player for three consecutive seasons from 1984 to 1986. His chronic back problems led to premature retirement in 1992. Bird is presently serving as a team president in the Indiana Pacers.
 
Chris Webber
 
Chris Webber was one of the players who had an extraordinary flair for dunking and passing. An unfortunate knee injury in 2003 caused the talented player to opt for early retirement in 2008. Webber had to undergo micro-fracture surgery for an injured knee and after the surgery, Webber’s swiftness and movement on the court was limited and he didn’t have the same agility as before, resulting in the untimely and unfortunate end of his career.
 
Penny Hardaway
 
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Penny Hardaway was an eccentric point guard in his days in the NBA. He started his professional career in 1993 with the Phoenix Suns, but his most dynamic years were as a member of the Orlando Magic. In 1998, his career suffered an untimely end due to a knee injury.
 
Kevin Johnson
 
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Currently the mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson is the first African American to serve the office. Johnson was a man on fire when he played on the court, but his NBA career went downhill after he was affected with a hernia. The condition slowed him down and delayed his progress. If not for this, people say that Johnson, along with Barkley, would have definitely made a couple of title runs in the West.
 
Grant Hill
 
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Having played for four different teams, the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Clippers during his tenure in the NBA, Grant Hill was considered one of the best players out there. His initial six seasons with the Pistons were smooth and catapulted his fame to great heights. The next twelve seasons though were plagued by injury, causing Hill to retire in 2013, though it was a popular opinion that if it wasn’t for those injuries, Hill would have had a far more brilliant career.
 
Shaun Livingston
 
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Shaun Livingston is a 24-year old whose injuries have plagued him to the extent that he actually lost out on almost half of his games in the first three years of his career. In 2004, Livingston chose to enter the 2004 NBA draft over attending college. In 2007, he suffered a gruesome knee injury that affected the entire area around his knee. He took over 2 years to recover from the injury. Luckily for him, he battled back and eventually found himself on a championship winning Golden State Warriors team in 2015 – but not nearly as spectacular as he could’ve been without the injury.
 
And how can you not love that ‘fro?
 
Jay Williams
 
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Injuries, apparently, do not just happen on the court. Jay Williams was a Duke University Blue Devils player who played professionally for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA. Williams had a near-death motorcycle accident that tore three ligaments in his knee. Williams underwent therapy to revive his leg, but was constantly nagged by the injury that in turn affected his playing. His contract was later bought out by the Bulls for $3 million. If it weren’t for the injury, Williams could’ve had an impressive career for himself.
 
These players on the list gave their best to the game while they were on the court, but for some, their injuries minimized their impact while for others, the injuries were just too much to overcome.
 

Featured image: Chris Webber
 

 

Top 10 Best Van Damme Films

Jean-Claude Van Damme is a name that has the perfect image of all brawn and brain attached to it. Van Damme has earned his name among some of the top action heroes in Hollywood. Jean-Claude Van Damme’s name was originally Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg and the actor had not always aimed at getting into movies.
 
Guided by his father, Van Damme started martial arts training at the age of 11, and while participating in numerous matches and championships, he found himself winning most of them most of them.
 
However, in 1980 Jean-Claude suffered an injury to his nose in one of the matches and was unable to continue as a martial arts fighter. This led him to take up alternate jobs that included carpet laying, pizza delivery, a limo driver and with the help of Chuck Norris was also a bouncer at a club in Los Angeles. To his good luck he later met a Cannon Pictures producer who helped him star in his debut film.
 
While his journey into the world of films may have been a shaky one, his career was just as confident and stable as one of his revolving kicks! Jean-Claude Van Damme has some great movies to his credit and here, we have listed some of them for you.
 

Bloodsport


 

 
The film Bloodsport is the one started off Jean-Claude’s career in action films and in this one, Van Damme played the role of a U.S. Army Captain. Fans would definitely recall the complete split done by Van Damme, among some of the extreme martial arts stunts and as the name goes, the movie included a lot of martial art stunts, brutal kicks and punches and a lot of bloodshed.
 

Kickboxer


 

 
This one had Van Damme show off some of the most extreme martial arts stunts he had learned. The story revolves around Van Damme travelling to Thailand to avenge his brothers beating in a fight with the martial arts champion Tong Po. The final fight in the movie is worth every minute and both fighters display some of the most unbelievable martial arts stunts. Even today, viewers find themselves biting their fingernails even at the thought of the dangerous in this fight.
 

Double Impact


 

 
Van Damme fans go crazy watching the martial arts champion in action so imagine getting the opportunity to see two Van Dammes in a single flick. Twice the action! Twice the heat! Every fans dream come true! In Double Impact, Van Damme plays the role of twins who get separated and meet after 25 years. They unite to fight the bad guys. While one of his characters had the usual cropped hair and rugged look, the other flaunted a slick look with his hair gelled back but both Van Damme characters with the tightly toned muscles were indeed a treat for martial arts fans and flailing hearts.
 

Hard Target

 

 
Directed by the creator of Face Off and Mission Impossible II, this movie was John Woo’s American directorial debut. Van Damme plays the role of a merchant seaman who rescues a young lady from some thugs. Later he goes on to help the damsel-in-distress avenge her father’s death.
 

Sudden Death


 

 
Sudden Death is a movie based on the story of a normal man’s fight against terrorists. With the amazing martial arts stunts performed by Van Damme, the movie was no doubt one of the greatest films the actor has starred in.
 

Universal Soldier


 

 
Van Damme fans love to see their idol perform in some bloodshed and hardcore action and with this movie, Van Damme gives them just that! Van Damme’s acting always sets him apart from other well-known action heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steven Seagal and in this project, Van Damme plays the role of dead soldier who has been brought back to life as part of a secret Army project. He played opposite the famous Dolph Lundgren. The picture earned decent revenue of over $36 million.
 

Timecop


 

 
Timecop is one of Van Damme’s sci-fi action films, similar to Universal Soldier in terms of its genre. Released in 1994, this movie is about a man who travels in time over a decade to stop the evil works of a politician. This is, till date, the highest grossing film starring Van Damme. While the film generated revenue of over $100 million, even critics state that this movie is one of Van Damme’s best works as far as his acting prowess is concerned.
 

Lionheart


 

 
Van Damme fans are well aware and quite used to the kind of movie plots he acts in. This film again is one that includes revenge, fight tournaments, bloodshed, murder and survival. None the less, this is one of Van Damme’s essential performances. In this movie, Van Damme starred along with Michel Qissi, who also starred as Tong Po in Kickboxer.
 

Cyborg


 

 
Cyborg was the first of director Albert Pyun’s trilogy and was again one of Van Damme’s few sci-fi movies. The plot of the movie is set in the post-apocalyptic future and Van Damme plays the role of a mercenary. Ironically, the film was made on a small budget with spare costumes from another movie that hadn’t been used! However, the movie gained importance owing to the excellent martial arts stunts by Van Damme. There were a number of blood-filled scenes that had to be edited from the movie considering the fact that it required an R-rating to be released.
 

The Expendables 2


 

 
The Expendables 2 was released in 2012. The original movie, The Expendables, to which this is a sequel, was released the previous year. However, due to Van Damme’s busy schedule, he was unable to be a part of that movie in 2011. Starring alongside some of the most celebrated action heroes of all time, this movie is definitely one of Van Damme’s best. However, it is said that Van Damme stayed away from the rest of the cast that included Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, Bruce Willis and Chuck Norris so that he could focus on his character. Van Damme sure takes his acting very seriously!
 
Now that you’ve caught a glimpse of Jean Claude Van Damme’s best works, you can get back to your martial arts practice sessions!
 

Venice: A Breathtaking Family Holiday Destination

Families and youngsters alike love the city of Venice. Why? This unique city, with its picturesque scenery, wonderful cuisine and breathtakingly beautiful canals is stunning beyond imagination. Each intricate passageway is interlaced with its own history and secrets, offering tourists something tangible and yet amazingly intangible memories to take back home. Venice is a city like none other.
 
Taking In Venice In A Day
 
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Roam around Venice and take in all its beauty through a walking and boat tour. Find your way in the city through its elaborate maze of alleys, canals, and bridges. In the tour, you will get to visit the San Marco Square, as well as the famous Doges Palace. Have an amazing cruise along the Grand Canal and learn the history of the monuments lining this waterway.
 
Riding The Venice Gondola
 
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Let the Gondola ride take you seamlessly down the waterway. On this 35-minute ride, you can enjoy the sights of the city in the afternoon or evening. The traditional gondolas take off from Santa Mario del Giglio Square in Central Venice with each flotilla having a total of eight gondolas.
 
Your gondola ride will take you to enchanting palaces like Palazzo Barberino and many Renaissance buildings bordering the waterway.
 
Touring Murano, Burano, And Torcello
 
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These vibrant islands spread around the city of Venice are famous for their handicrafts and architecture.
 
The island of Murano is famous for its glassware houses and skilled glass-blowers as well as a museum showcasing their talent. The island, dating back to 1291, consists of nine islets crossed by a wide canal.
 
The island of Torcello, dating back to 5th and 6th centuries, also houses rich a history showcased in the form of striking portico.
 
The island of Burano is not far behind with its colorful and intriguing fishermen houses painted in bright colors.
 
Shopping Around
 
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The Rialto market and the Rialto Bridge are both not to be missed. The Rialto market is a bit cheaper as compared to the expensive and crowded Piazza San Marco. You could also go for a long, sunny walk along the Giudecca canal.
 
Touring the Museums
 
5-Venice 

The Museums of St. Mark’s Square, Doge Palace and the Correr Museum are all covered by a €16 admission ticket which is valid for up to 3 months. The Correr Museum houses an interesting collection of globes. At the end of the visit, do not forget to pay a visit to the museum art cafe.
 
Other museums worth visiting include the Mocenigo Palace, The Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Museo Ebraico and Ca’ Pesaro.
 
Eating Your Heart Out
 
6-Venice 

Alle Testiere, the renowned seafood restaurant near Santa maria Formosa, serves warm, fresh food to only 22 people in a welcoming and cozy environment. The chef churns out daily creations on the latest finds that day, straight from the fish market!
 
Another place to hit up is Locanda Cipriani, a charming summer lunch destination. Other notable restaurants are Osteria di Santa Marina, Da Fiore, Vini da Gigio and Ribot. Ribot offers you an amazing terrace for al fresco dining experience.

 

 

Socializing Is Good For Your Health. No Joke!

If you ask people about their understanding of the term ‘age well,’ they are most likely to give you varying answers and most of them are going to revolve around physical well-being including eating a healthy diet, daily exercising, and going for annual checkups.
 
What you are likely to never hear is how an engaging social life is going to help you age well.
 
Research has proved that people who have an inclination toward loneliness are likely to have a chance of dying by 30%. This also stands true for people who claim that they prefer to be alone. These people don’t realize, but they are at risk.
 
Socializing is good for humans. It does not matter if you like it or not. There are countless articles written to emphasize the importance of how those who enjoy being by themselves can shorten their life span.
 
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According to a research, people who call themselves introverts also experience happiness when they socialize as compared to when they are alone. The importance of living an actively social life has been effectively dealt with by Dan Buettner in his book The Blue Zones Solution. In his book, he talks about how to live your life in a way that you live up to a hundred years without actually feeling that old. The foremost reason that he gives is of socializing more. Socializing not only improves health, but also keeps a person happier. He attributes loneliness to similar detrimental actions such as smoking.
 

Isolation and loneliness are categorized in the same category as smoking or obesity is. It has also been implied that socializing determines our life span more accurately than our exercising and eating habits. This also leads us to the conclusion that we should be choosy and picky about the people we hang out with.
 
Buettner asserts that it is not only the quantity of social interaction that matters but also the quality. How much happier we are and how much weight we have put on is dependent on the kind of people we hang out with. So it only makes sense when you are advised to find people who can positively influence you. Buettner suggests that people join social clubs or volunteer for social work in order to develop their social skills and cultivate their talent.
 
One study claims that you are likely to experience the same level of happiness from joining a social group and meeting once a month like you will experience when your salary is doubled.
 
socialize-2 

Eric Barker describes the value of an engaging social life by saying that the relationships in your life are worth a lot more than what you earn annually. If you won’t connect with others, you are likely to turn stupid which may eventually kill you in a world full of clever, sly people.
 
The bottom line of the story is that if you want peace of mind and a healthy mind, then you need to leave the comforts of your couch and go out to meet your friends at dinner tonight.
 

 

Breaking It All Down: The History of Red Faction

When developer Volition, Inc. dropped production on their game Descent 4, they took with them a new technology that was radically different from what video games could do at that time: destructible environments. Very destructible environments.

Some games had dabbled with this concept before (try Duke Nukem 3D) but never before had a game placed players in a world where they could shape the environment to their will, blasting gigantic craters into walls and tearing buildings down to scratch.

Today, we take that idea for granted, thanks to Minecraft and Battlefield. But before Red Faction, gamers had never seen anything like that. Red Faction blew up FPS gaming, literally.

Red Faction

Released May 21, 2001, Red Faction showed off its destructiveness, utilizing the innovative Geo-Mod engine. Standing for geometry modification, Geo-Mod doesn’t destroy objects through specific, scripted sections. Instead, players alter the terrain and environment at their will, scripting-free. This capability was so impressive, Red Faction even came with a “Glass House” extra level, where players could chisel out endless tunnels and caverns to their heart’s content.

Red-Faction-2001

Indeed, Red Faction was far different from other first-person shooters at the time, and critics raved about the limitless possibilities of reshaping levels through big cinematic explosions and frantic action-packed destruction. No more narrow corridors and walls impervious to bullet holes – the deep, cavernous architecture of Martian tunnels and desert wastes had a feel that any fan of Total Recall could admire, and Red Faction’s story similarly carried distinct dystopian sci-fi elements, with a flair for the revolutionary call, of course.

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Set in 2075, the Earth’s natural resources have become so depleted, the ubiquitous Ultor Corporation has taken to using exploitive mining operations deep inside the Martian depths, and Parker, a downtrodden miner with a revolutionary heart, sparks a rebellion that sees him going toe to toe with Ultor and its ruthless hired guns.

Red Faction II

The game’s sequel, Red Faction II, was released October 15, 2002, and it continued where the events of the first game left off. With the Earth Defense Force (EDF) now controlling Ultor, the top secret nanotechnology revealed in the previous game is revealed to have changed hands with Mars’s deadliest factions, including the Commonwealth, a dystopic military group led by a deranged despot.

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Red Faction II didn’t go over as well with critics when it was first released. The campaign runs a bit shorter than the original, and with no online multiplayer, Red Faction II wasn’t cashing in on the online craze at that time. There is a local multiplayer, though, with an exceptional split-screen mode, as well as a bevy of interesting new features to the gameplay, like the ability to dual-wield weapons. Red Faction II’s graphics were also updated greatly (the PC port was less impressive), with sophisticated AI bots making solo-play on multiplayer a fan favorite.

Red Faction: Guerilla

Not so often does a franchise take a tried and true formula and go for a risky change, but that’s exactly what Volition did with Red Faction: Guerilla, and fans were all the more grateful for it. Released June 2, 2009, seven years after the last installment, Red Faction: Guerilla, took the franchise out of the repetitive tropes of FPS action and switched perspective into third person. But perhaps the biggest change was Guerilla’s introduction to a more non-linear, sandbox style to its campaign mode. Roaming through an open world environment, a terraformed landscape of harsh Martian terrain, players had to seek out six separate regions of the map, completing missions to “free” those areas from the authoritarian grip of the EDF

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Guerilla was a darling title for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Running on the highly enhance Geo-Mod 2.0 engine, players could level whole buildings to the ground, decimating their enemies as they decimated the terrain. The game featured a handy weapon upgrade system, where players could scan the land for “salvage,” a currency spent on new improvements to their arsenal. Many times, the more generous the destruction, the more salvage a player could yield, which obviously led to endless fun. The new installment also got its own online multiplayer, an addition fans and critics alike had been clamoring for since the beginning.

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The game was a huge success, and while critics found the story slightly weaker than past installments and perhaps more repetitive because of its open-world structure, to many, Guerilla is one of the best Red Faction games the series ever produced.

Red Faction: Armageddon

Guerilla’s success may have made some fans scratch their heads when Volition decided to go back to the game’s linear roots with Red Faction: Armageddon. Released June 7, 2011, the game was a strong return to the IP’s history of mission-based campaigns, incorporating some new toys into the mix, like the novel magnet gun, as well as plenty more destructive fun.

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The new decade also saw the franchise branching out into spin-off titles with the vehicle-based Red Faction: Battlegrounds coming out to promote Armageddon’s release. Fans even got to enjoy their first Red Faction feature film adaptation.

Red Faction: Origins, a television film produced by the Syfy network, tied together the storylines from Guerilla, giving fans some juicy canon to enjoy before jumping into Armageddon’s highly cinematic campaign.

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But despite the creative success of Armageddon, the title proved to miss out on being a financial one, and publisher THQ quickly fell into bankruptcy by the end of 2012, leaving this beloved franchise out in the cold.

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For a year, many thought Red Faction would be lost to obscurity, that is until Nordic Games picked up the IP at the last moment. While Volition’s general manager Dan Cermak made it clear the developer wouldn’t be making anymore Red Faction games, there is still hope for this IP. Today, fans continue to speculate what developer may be game for the challenge of bringing back those Martian wastelands, so we can tear them down all over again.