Wednesday, October 31

Giant Chucky the pumpkin, all 680 demented kilograms, is ready to greet you.

Trick-or-treaters on Dunn Avenue in Saanich can get up-close to the oversized demented face of Chucky carved into a giant pumpkin. Chucky is the creepy character existing inside a doll, from the Child’s Play horror movie franchise.“I try to stay current,” grower and pumpkin carver Bryan Sloat, 57, said with a laugh. Last year, he converted a giant pumpkin into the clown from the movie It. This year’s pumpkin is displayed at the front door of Sloat’s house at 906 Dunn Ave. There’s just a small space where he can slide his hand with candy through. He used a reciprocating saw to carve through the 20-centimetre-thick shell. A light bulb is positioned inside for illumination and blue plastic lids are used for Chucky’s eyes. Sloat said the pumpkin is the largest he has grown and he has won multiple ribbons at fairs in past years. This pumpkin, which is 1.4 metres tall, hasn’t made it onto a scale but he estimates it is about 680 kilograms. Sloat has refined his growing technique in the past two decades when he started growing huge pumpkins to entertain his young children and got into a friendly competition with a friend over who could grow the largest pumpkin. In early April, he germinates seeds from the previous year’s whopper in plastic containers. He sets them outdoors during the day and brings them inside at night. He leaves a red light shining over them indoors. When the plants are large enough, they get transplanted to the pumpkin patch, which is nine metres square. It has received a year’s worth of grass clippings. Special soil with fish remains, liquid fish fertilizer and kelp go in as well. Sloat waters his plants daily, growing one extra-large pumpkin and a couple of smaller ones. The smaller sizes go to a local pub where they are filled with beer to create a pumpkin keg. When Halloween is over, it’s a neighbourhood tradition to wrap a strap around the pumpkin and haul it down the stairs where it smashes open. The goopy remains fill about 10 wheelbarrows. The corpse is moved to the pumpkin patch to help provide nutrients for the next year.

The Shocking Truth of What Causes Addiction.

Gabor avoids quick-fix thinking when he tackles things like addiction, ADHD, sickness and the human spirit overall.
What is Really Behind Addiction: Ever notice how frequently the word “addict” is used? Just do a Google News search on the word and you’ll be shocked at just how often it’s used in a headline. Articles are plastered with mentions of drug addicts, sex addicts, gambling addicts, food addicts, shopping addicts, work addicts and internet addicts. “These people” are painted as out-of-control and often menaces to society who need to be stopped, jailed, medicated or otherwise cut off. But what if those diseased people weren’t sick at all? What if you suddenly realized you were one of them? Well, that’s what happened to me. In preparation for this podcast, I realized I’m an addict. I’m an addict who comes from other addicts, who has passed it onto my kids, too. I’m constantly looking for a way to not be with myself, a way to avoid the pain that I have, of not having meaningful bonds.A Different Way of Looking at AddictionPhysician and best-selling author, Gabor MatΓ©, shares the shocking truth about what auses addiction and the things we can do to address the problem. What’s cool about Gabor is that he avoids quick-fix thinking when he tackles things like addiction, ADHD, sickness and the human spirit overall. Rather, he shines lights on the often uncomfortable truths that live at the root of these things. Born in Hungary, Gabor survived the Holocaust, became a doctor and worked for over 20 years with patients with hard-core drug addictions, mental illness and HIV before writing In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, When the Body Says No, Scattered Minds, and Hold on to Your Kids(you can learn more on his website brief but information-packed conversation even helped me understand why I love podcasting. These conversations are sort of accelerated intimacy that create quick bonds with each person I talk to and anything that helps me bond lessens the painful void I have from having that very thing growing up. I remember hearing somewhere that the purpose of life is to create meaningful connections with others. After this conversation with Gabor, I know you’ll have a new point of view of exactly why that’s so important and how and why we as individuals, families and cultures have strayed so far from it. 

Unhealthy Lifestyles And The Rise of Hypertension Among African Millennials.

You don’t need to go far to find someone you know who’s struggling with
hypertension, this is commonly known as high blood pressure. There’s a family member, friend, or colleague you know who’s been on medication for a while. Two or three decades ago, it was common among the older folks, but now it looks like the younger generation has been hit. Many times high blood pressure is hereditary, but in recent times our lifestyle is to blame. We are a generation “on the go.”As early as 4 a.m., with barely five hours of sleep, many people are up and spending lots of time on the Internet and social media. We grab a muffin and a cup of coffee and hit the road. With no regular exercise or healthy breakfast, the day goes on and we have a ham sandwich or hotdog for lunch. We claim there’s no time for a proper lunch, so we eat whatever is quick and available. Eventually, our cholesterol levels rise and our blood sugar needs some intervention. We return home after sitting at our office desks for hours with a quick meal we toss into the oven. We snack on a lot of processed junk and fizzy drinks. Many are overweight or morbidly obese. We know we should do something about it, but we continue to procrastinate. Many people set out at the beginning of the year to lose weight, eat healthily, and remain fit, but then half of the year is gone and we are yet to set foot in a gym or stop eating junk. The young African is very ambitious and with that comes a lot of anxiety to be the best and accomplish lofty goals. We set unrealistic goals and can’t sleep when we fall behind these deadlines. Just because a colleague who is forty is married with two kids, owns his house, and has a great business, it doesn’t mean that’s the path for me. We all have different strengths and weaknesses; we cope with stress differently and have different purposes in life. There’s no harm in having great goals in life for yourself, your family, or career, but as long as we continue to compare ourselves with others and compete to outdo the other person, our blood pressure will continue to rise. Society has subtly defined some milestones that make many African millennials feel like there’s a race against time to accomplish every one. Don’t keep up with the Joneses whatever you see on social media isn’t the full gist as people don’t tell you everything. They post the expensive mansions and flashy cars, but they don’t tell you they are on blood pressure medications or that they struggle with depression. Let’s be true to ourselves and live our lives according to God’s plan. Having an ambition only to be the best and make all the cash to spend on ourselves and our families is very selfish. Let’s look out for opportunities to be a blessing to those around us and in our communities. Generosity and service have been shown to be a great way to reduce stress and related illnesses. Let’s stay content and live life simply, enjoying every moment and not always living in the future. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saving and investing for the future, but when our health is impacted, we need to stop and take a different direction. At the end of our life’s journey, it won’t be the quantity of junk we have gathered but the quality of life we’ve lived and the legacy we’ve left behind that we will be remembered and judged for.

Nigerian Bamgbopa Abayomi is Africa’s first international amputee footballer in Europe.

In the 2018 world cup, the Nigerian jersey was the most popular and beautiful jersey designed by Nike and selling out within minutes of release. Football stars like Nwankwo Kanu, Jay-Jay Okocha, John Obi Mikel, Obafemi Martins and most recently Alex Iwobi have made great names for themselves in Nigeria playing for the some of the best football clubs in the world. With such a position follows immense wealth and comfort which they more than often love to show off.Thanks to the achievements of the Nigerian Super Eagles, the diversity in football in Nigeria has seen rapid development as many more football teams have developed. Nigeria boasts of a younger male team, a national women’s team and an amputee team that seem to be doing well globally.The Nigerian amputee football team is officially known as the Special Eagles, and despite financial challenges and constraints, it has gone on to make the nation proud, qualifying for the Amputee World Cup on several occasions.Despite all the setbacks,  many amputee footballers have the hopes of playing for the Special Eagles team and defying several odds to make their dreams a reality.One of such footballers is  Bamgbopa Abayomi Alabi, Nigeria’s and Africa’s first international amputee footballer to play in Europe. He started out playing for the local and national team before breaking grounds into international football, where he plays for Gloria Varsovia in Poland. He is the only foreigner playing in the Polish Amputee Football League. For every footballer, the road to success has not been easy and will be even more challenging considering the fact that one is an amputee but Alabi, through dedication and perseverance, has risen and made himself, nation and continent proud. For Alabi, sports has always been a favourite pastime and crucial part of his life. Since childhood, he showed immense interest in sport particularly football and basketball. Popularly called Alabama, Alabi has always had the dream of playing international football. While in Bode Ijaiye primary school, he joined the football team and stood out amongst his peers. He carried on with his football career to Liabi Secondary School until he was involved in a tragic accident that left him disabled.The loss of one leg did not come in  Alabi’s way and he still kept the dream of playing football alive, taking time to practice whenever he could. He indulged in power-lifting to keep his form and structure in shape. Taking up the sports seriously, he represented Ogun, Ondo and Rivers state at the National Sports Festival, winning silver in 2004 and 102 respectively.In 2006, Alabi joined the Lagos Amputee football team, travelling to Lagos to practise and meet like-minded people playing and reaching their highest limits to achieve their dreams.  Through the Lagos team, Alabi joined the National Amputee football team, the Special Eagles and represented Nigeria in the 2008 and 2011 Amputee African Cup of Nations in Liberia and Ghana respectively. He also helped the team qualify for the 2014 Amputee World Cup held in Mexico. Unfortunately, due to low funds, the team was unable to partake in the tournament. Alabi was invited to France in 2012 to try out for an international amputee team where he successfully got selected to play for Athletes Club in France. After a while, he got a better offer in  Poland and first played for the Lampart Amputee Football Club until he moved to his current team Gloria Varsovia.  In 2014, he was named the second best player in Poland and was invited to join the National Poland Amputee team but respectfully declined in honour of his country. Currently, the best player in his team, Alabi now lives in Poland and is married to a polish lady. He has won his first league cup with his team but his major concerns are to uplift Amputee football in Africa working first on his home team, the Special Eagles, who are still struggling to play in the World Cup despite qualifying for it. In his free time, Alabi plays basketball as well.

Fitness instructors Michelle D. Hare and Jackqulyn Snowden-Brown are using African dance to ensure healthy living in black communities.

African-Americans suffer from more lifestyle diseases than other races in the United States due to unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise. Diabetes, hypertension, stroke, obesity and many other lifestyle diseases are much more prevalent in the 21st century.According to 2017 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate for African-Americans decreased by 25 per cent from 1999 to 2015. However, African-Americans ages 18-49 years are two times as likely to die from heart disease than whites. Also, African-Americans ages 35-64 years are 50 per cent more likely to have high blood pressure than whites. In an effort to control the grim situation, two African-American women, Michelle D. Hare and Jackqulyn Snowden-Brown, established the M.A.J.E.S.T.I.C. fitness company in 2005 to encourage black people to love themselves by eating well, exercising regularly and honouring their bodies. The dance and exercise enthusiasts use, among others, African dances and their over 50 years of combined experience in the fitness and dance industries to help schools, community organizations, churches, businesses, and individuals to attain good health. In an interview with Michelle D. Hare, one-half of M.A.J.E.S.T.I.C. (Michelle and Jackqulyn Energizing Souls Together In Christ), she took Face2Face Africa through her African dance journey and how it all started when she was just eight years old.“It started when I went to summer camp at an organisation called the African-American Cultural Centre. We had to do everything. We had to take ceramics classes, African history, theatre, African dance, African drumming etc. Starting at that young age is when I started developing my love of dance, in particular, African dance.“So, I eventually joined an African company and all of the materials that we learned were from West Africa, particularly Senegal. We also had masters classes from the African Ballet of Senegal,” says Michelle, who just moved to Atlanta to start new dance classes after years of success in Rochester, New York, where her business partner is currently teaching classes at a local recreational centre.Since 2005, they’ve been teaching dance classes and the most interesting genre is the African dance which is the most popular and intriguing.

 “The dance is just another way to exercise. We teach line dancing, soul line dances, cardio kickboxing and silver sneakers classes for a slightly less modern population. So we teach a lot of genres but the African dance is what’s so exciting and people seem to enjoy taking those African dance classes,” says Michelle, who had nursed a longtime dream of creating an African dance fitness video.I’ve been talking to my partner about creating African dance videos for quite a while … After Black Panther and Wakanda Forever, that gave me more permission to go for it and go do it because we saw how black America was really taking in the culture, our African culture and the pride itself … It’s not only just the cultural piece that you are getting, but it’s also the exercise that’s so important as well. She indeed released an African themed fitness video, thanks to Black Panther, and it is called Ngoma Jam ‘n Tone. Ngoma means dancing and music in Swahili and “that is exactly what you get with the video. There is live African drumming in both the cardio and strength training portions of the video,” Michelle explains. She couldn’t hide her love for Africa where she visited Ghana in 2015 with her father and explored the rich history and culture.“I went to Ghana three years ago and travelled with my father … It was quite an experience. It was empowering, inspirational. I didn’t really know what to expect and I saw a little bit of everything … It was such an amazing experience and I can’t wait to go back,” says Michelle who is planning on taking more trips to learn dance styles from East Africa, Southern Africa and Northern Africa.M.A.J.E.S.T.I.C. was born out of a passion for fitness and a healthy community which Michelle believes was an inspiration especially when many black Americans were suffering from heart diseases, stroke and diabetes.
“We [Michelle and Jackqulyn] met at work, we had full-time jobs and we both had a passion for fitness … We decided to start a business and in doing so, I also realized how many black Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and excess fat around the midsection, abnormal cholesterol and all those conditions,” she said. Michelle added that learning that some of her relatives had a history of diabetes and heart diseases inspired her to “use our fitness business to play a part to educate people to have a healthy lifestyle … Even though there is access to information, we still find that there are a great number of people who still lack knowledge about proper ways to eat and fill their bodies and proper ways to exercise.”As a fully insured and certified Minority/Women-Owned Business Enterprise with clearance by the New York State Department of Education, M.A.J.E.S.T.I.C. takes its clients through national group exercises, personal training, CPR, and first-aid certifications. Michelle D. Hare, who is gorgeously 43 years old, describes herself as a continued learner and plans to get a doctorate degree in public health and to use that to be a strong practitioner and advocate of health promotion throughout the world. The A-student had ended her dream of becoming a medical doctor and sports physician while in college by changing her major. She graduated with an undergraduate degree in urban policy studies and masters in public affairs. The sciences, however, caught up with her after all. Your passion is always your passion, what you love never leaves your heart. And some 15 or so years later, I went back to school and got a degree in nutrition and exercise sciences … I really like to understand the physiology of the body, the anatomy of the body in a different way. So all the classes that I run from, the organic chemistry, the biochemistry … I had to take them in this programme and I am proud to say I graduated with a 3.94. Michelle D. Hare believes that you have to stick to what you love or else your passion will keep knocking at your door until you surrender to it.M.A.J.E.S.T.I.C. has worked with clients including the National Sales Network, American Heart Association, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., City of Rochester, Urban League of Rochester, Wilson Commencement Park, local and national church conferences, among others.

As a black parent, would you consider raising your child in Africa or the U.S.?

Issues pertaining to racial discrimination against people of colour (especially blacks) in the United States is a very delicate and volatile one. Almost day in day out in the news, we hear of several such cases with some aggravating to fatal consequences for the not-so-lucky victims. In light of this, some black parents, in a bid to protect their kids and also guide them as to how to behave when they find themselves in situations like this have the “talk” with them. In as much as having to tell your young kid he/she may be profiled or discriminated against because of his/her skin colour may be uncomfortable, it is just about the right to do because that’s the reality of the situation. There are even instances where black immigrant parents from Africa, who as a result of past experiences find themselves in a dilemma of choosing where to raise their kids. In a tweet shared by Brandon Stanton, the author of Humans of New York, a Ghanaian professor who got his PhD in West Virginia candidly spoke about how he and his wife contemplated on where to raise their son. Read his sentiments and the final decision they took below: “We had a big discussion about whether to raise him in Africa or move to the states.  We both grew up in Ghana.  But I got my PhD in West Virginia, so moving to America was an option.  The job opportunities would certainly be better there.  Both of us are professors, and you’d probably laugh if you knew what we got paid here. Healthcare would be better too. You don’t hear of people dying in America because they can’t find an open hospital bed. But despite these things, we decided to raise our son here. Because he’d never have to think about the colour of his skin. We never have to explain what it means to be black. Or the rules of being black. One day in West Virginia I got an Amber Alert on my phone. All it said was: ‘tall black male.’ I was the only one in sight so I nearly panicked. Then another day I was walking to my dormitory. I’d just finished teaching a course. Someone drove by in a red truck, threw a hamburger at my head, and called me the ‘N Word.’ It was 3 O’clock in the afternoon. I don’t want to explain that stuff to my child. It’s exhausting to be conscious of your skin all the time. You either become militant or you become defeated. And I understand why it happens, but extremes

Krys Russell-Morris@krysgos
Replying to @humansofny
They could have a better life in America until he realized that they could not because of skin color.This is just so wrong.I apologize to you and your family. From Americans that aren’t racist douche bags. I’m raising my children to be better with good hearts. Change is coming.

Replying to @humansofny
Africans must begin to apply all they have learnt into building a civilisation in Africa not staying abroad for the sake money. Only this way can all blacks whether in America or Africa be respected globally. Good decision!

Taddeo Muriuki@tmuriuki
Replying to @humansofny
I can totally relate to this story having gone to college in North Carolina and Alabama.

Replying to @humansofny @afua_en
I applaud you and your wife for being so brave, honest and candid about such a sensitive subject. The black family is under threat in the US and UK, where I lived for over 20 years before moving back. You've earned a new fan. Many of us will be rooting for your success.

RICO πŸ’« SUAVE@moovenroosevelt
Replying to @humansofny
Great choice. My dad raised us in Ghana until we were old enough. He had the same fears for us because he had experienced much worse.
Replying to @moovenroosevelt @humansofny
I was raised in the Caribbean for similar reasons, moved back as an adult. I am greatful 4 the choice my parents made. I still remover my father sitting me down & telling me, “U are black...” I didn’t understand why. I knew I was black but here it took on a whole new meaning.
o and privacy

Saharish Khaliq@saharish_khaliq
Replying to @humansofny
That’s the wise choice you made .... being comfortable in your own skin at your very own place .. discrimination carried out on basis of skin color ... it’s pathetic well good luck to you happy family 😊
Have ever been in this situation before? If you ever find yourself in this dilemma, what would you do?

Nigeria’s agbada challenge is a lesson on how Africa should proudly display its culture.

Nigerians were thrilled by the premiere of yet another movie, Merry Men, which features seasoned actors like Ramsey Noah, Jim Iyke and famous musician and actor, Falz. The successful premiere comes at a time when the Nigerian movie scene is under critical watch, following Netflix’s acquisition of  Lionheart, a movie by Nigerian actress and first-time director, Genevieve Nnaji. the success of the new movie and the star-studded premiere is not what caught the eye of the world. It was the proud and colourful display of traditional agbada outfit that generated the furore. Agbada is traditional African outfit commonly worn by West African and North African men. The long sleeved flowing robe is worn proudly on occasion to show off masculinity and status. In recent times, the attire has been made popular by Nigerians, especially at weddings ceremonies.  The Agbada challenge came about when veteran actors such as Iyke, Richard Mofe Damijo and Noah were challenged by the younger generation of actors such as Falz, AY and Alex Ekubo to wear their best Agbada. The aim was to take the throne from media personality and former Big Brother Africa star, Ebuka who is tagged as the King of Agbada.
 The challenge was an excellent way to get people glued to their phones or their seats at the venue but more importantly, something that Africa can learn from. In the spirit of promoting culture and tradition, the Agbada challenge has demonstrated the strength of celebrities and social media in portraying Africa as what it is. A continent with a distinct culture and tradition that its people are proud of. It will not be a bad thing to have many more of such challenges and events themed around cultural outfits to promote Africa. For one, it was a proud moment and a breath of fresh air to see many celebrities, both male and female, wear the best of Agbadas on a red carpet and letting go of their western suits and gowns we are used to seeing them in. Africa should see beyond the strong influence of western culture and use the advantage of social media, and the impact celebrates have on the world to display its rich and diverse culture.

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