The 6 Biggest Misconceptions About the Bible (and God)

Considering going to the movies this holiday season? You already have preconceptions about many of the films at the theater — and even opinions on the actors and director. And that’s OK. It’s one way we make daily choices, based on past information and experience.

But how many of us pretend to have a “conclusion” about God, based on rumors and reviews? My hunch is that there’s a dullness — based on conscious and subconscious wrong thinking — that keeps people away from the Bible.

Here are six of the biggest misconceptions about the Bible, which form a lasting (and false) impression about God.

  1. Bible Stories Are Disturbingly Violent (Therefore God Is Violent)

Yes, there are violent stories in the Bible. The Old Testament feels like an endless list of casualty records — big battles, and non-stop bloodshed. (Read Joshua and Judges for some stories “Rated R for Intense Violence.”)

What’s the reason for all this death? And the bigger question: Why was God involved in helping the Israelites to wipe out their enemies?

Maybe there’s more to the story.

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Genesis 3:15 is one of the most foundational verses in the Bible. In fact, it sets up the story of the entire Bible. Not only is there a promised Seed — [but] this verse is also a declaration of war.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Within hours of the fall of the first man and woman, the gracious redemption plan was unveiled: The Seed would bring justice — through the family of Adam and Eve.

But it wouldn’t be quick. And it wouldn’t be easy. God takes his time (about 4,000 years) and gives humankind the freedom to fight. God is faithful to protect His promise, and protect The Seed, even if it means confronting those who tried to destroy it.

When you understand the Seed, and the promise of His redemption, the battles of the Bible start to make sense.

What if God is not a bully but is a protector?

  1. The Bible Is Random

Sure, the compilation of books can seem clunky at times — history books followed by poetry books and then an assortment of prophecy books. And our modern Bible is not exactly chronological — that can create challenges, too.

But with a view of the Bible’s big picture, and understanding of the Seed strategy, the Bible becomes less random and more of a thriller. (Or, less Hallmark movie and more action-suspense.)

  1. The Old and New Testaments Don’t Align

Why, all of the sudden, does the killing end (most of it, anyway) as we enter the New Testament? Why the shift in strategy — from [the] destruction of enemies to “turning the other cheek”?

One clear explanation is that The Seed had arrived — finally! — Jesus had fulfilled the role foretold in Genesis Chapter 3.

The reason the Old and New Testaments don’t seem to align is [that] God’s strategy changed.

The Old Testament strategy (Genesis 3:15) was to bring about this promised Seed, at all costs. The New Testament strategy was not to protect the Seed. Rather it was time for the Seed to die!

Christ died, was resurrected to life, and then returned to heaven. The Seed accomplished His mission. There’s no need to fight — not yet.

The Genesis 3:15 strategy progressed to a John 3:16 strategy — sharing a message of hope and life.

  1. Prophecies Are Confusing and Frightening

There’s actually some truth here. The book of Revelation is a bit deep and dreadful and can evoke emotions of fear and confusion.

Revelation speaks to a future season when things will be heating up again. There will be a return to warfare before the final death-blow to the serpent (the promise of Genesis 3:15 will finally be complete).

Revelation also attributes to the seemingly-random nature of the Bible. Why, after the Old Testament, does the earth enter a season of peace and grace, only to be whipsawed right back into judgment?

Consider Revelation as one of three “acts” of the Bible.

There are the Old and New Testaments — and a Future Testament (Revelation).

The New Testament is not a radical shift from the Old Testament, but rather a middle scene, before the final battle which leads to the restoration of all things.

With time and study, Bible readers can learn more about these prophecies. But seeing the Bible’s big picture can help.

  1. I Can’t Read the Bible

We all know the Bible is eleven-billion words and is impossible to read in a lifetime, right? Actually, the Bible is only 783-thousand words — about the length of 10 novels. You can read it in 60 days, in an hour per day.

An audio Bible takes about 75 minutes a day of simple listening. (And the concept of listening to the Bible being read is a scriptural concept. See Deuteronomy 31, Joshua 8, 2 Kings 23, and Nehemiah 8.)

  1. I Can’t Understand the Bible

Bible scholars” sometimes give the impression that it takes eight years of university and 10 years in a cave to comprehend the Bible. Who has time for that?

And if you’ve ever tried a hopscotch 365-day reading plan, Scripture seems even more disjointed. Deep dive studies are important but can make us think we must completely understand every facet of every verse in order to enjoy God’s Word.

You don’t have to know everything to learn many things. So, what’s holding you back?

Don’t Watch the Movie — Read the Book.

When you’ve heard a movie has “senseless violence” or is directed by a “creep,” it’s usually good to steer away from media that doesn’t lift you up. But misconceptions about the Bible can keep you from reading the Bible — which can keep you from seeing the big picture and knowing a powerful, loving God.

So don’t rely on rumors, ratings or trailers to judge the Bible. Don’t rely on my review. Read the Book.

You can read the entire Bible in 60 days, in just an hour per day. My free reading plans and commentary will help you see the beautiful, and stirring, storyline of creation.

Jeff Anderson speaks and writes about walking with God and leading your family into deeply rooted faith. He’s the author of “Plastic Donuts”, “Divine Applause” (Multnomah/Random House) and “Power Read the Bible”

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The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm

The Third Mushroom is a serious yet fantastical story about family, relationships, life, death, science, and so much more. Ellie gets home from school to find that her grandfather, Melvin, has turned into a 14-year-old boy. They start experimenting with jellyfish, and they put together a plan for a science fair project that will blow everyone away. In the process, they learn that it’s okay when life doesn’t quite turn out the way you hope. The author has a conversational writing style that makes the story easy to follow, although sometimes it seems to ramble a little. The science topics are well integrated into the story, and there are so many different concepts covered. The characters are well developed and very believable, including the adults. Ellie is a self-assured, inquisitive, and likable middle schooler, and her relationship with Melvin is especially great to read about. This is a good book for anyone aged 10-14 who likes science, fantasy, and cool experiments. I really liked the book even though I hadn’t read the first one. It’s a fun, interesting, and good story about growing up and also growing older.

Reviewed By: Yessenia – Age 11

All The Laws You Should Know About That Go Into Effect In 2019

2019 will see the enactment of a slew of new laws across the country (in California alone, more than 1,000 will be added to the books). In some states, minimum wages will go up, guns will be harder to obtain, plastic straws will get the boot and hunters will get to wear pink for a change.

Here are some of the noteworthy laws going into effect this year:

Tighter gun restrictions in several states

Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last February, thousands of protesters across the nation demanded stricter gun control measures.

In the wake of the shooting massacre at a Parkland, Florida, high school last year, California passed several measures to prevent domestic abusers and people with mental illness from obtaining guns. Californians who are involuntarily committed to a mental institution twice in a year, or who are convicted of certain domestic violence offenses, could face a lifetime gun ownership ban.

Under an expanded Oregon law that went into effect on Jan. 1, domestic abuse offenders or people under restraining orders are banned from owning or purchasing a gun. In Illinois, authorities now have the right to seize firearms from people determined to be a danger to themselves or others. A similar “red flag” law will go into effect in New Jersey later this year.  

At least six states — California, Washington, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois and Vermont — and the District of Columbia are raising the minimum age from 18 to 21 for the purchase of long guns this year, CNBC reported.

Washington state will also be enforcing several other gun control measures, including enhanced background checks, secure gun storage laws and a requirement for gun purchasers to provide proof they’ve undergone firearm safety training.

New ‘Me Too’ laws

In 2018, the Me Too movement spurred many people to come forward with their stories of sexual harassment and abuse — and prompted several states to pass new laws targeting sexual violence.

Several states are taking aim at workplace sexual harassment. California has banned nondisclosure provisions in settlements involving claims of sexual assault, harassment or discrimination based on sex. California employers will also no longer be allowed to compel workers to sign nondisparagement agreements as a condition of employment or in exchange for a raise or bonus.

By the end of 2019, publicly held corporations in the Golden State will also need to have at least one woman on their board of directors. Depending on the size of the board, corporations will need to increase that number to at least two or three female board members by the end of 2021.

In New York, all employees will be required to complete annual sexual harassment prevention training. Larger businesses in Delaware will have to provide such training to their workers, and legislators and their staff in Virginia will need to undergo such training every year.

Minimum wages get a boost 

Though the federal minimum wage has languished at $7.25 since 2009, at least 19 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Washington, will be raising their minimum wages this year. Each will boost its minimum wage to at least $12. Some cities like New York, Seattle and Palo Alto, California, will see their wage floors increase to $15.

So long straws and stirrers!

Under a new California law, restaurant customers will have to explicitly ask for a plastic straw if they want to use one.

As public awareness mounts of the hazards of plastic waste pollution, cities and states around the country have been targeting a major source of the problem: single-use plastic products like straws and food containers.

A new law in New York City bars restaurants, stores and manufacturers from using most foam products, including takeout containers, cups and packing peanuts.

Eateries in the District of Columbia are now prohibited from giving out single-use plastic straws and stirrers. In California, restaurant patrons will need to ask explicitly for a plastic straw if they want to use one. Restaurants can be fined $25 a day for serving beverages with plastic straws that aren’t requested by customers.

Former felons in Florida can head to the voting booth

In November, Florida voted to approve a ballot measure that enabled more than 1 million former felons to regain their voting rights.

On Jan. 8, Florida will restore the voting rights of all former felons except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense. Some 1.4 million possible voters will be added to the rolls — an addition that could have a significant effect on elections in the swing state.

Utah implements strictest DUI law in the country

Utah has lowered its blood alcohol content standard for drunk driving to 0.05 percent — the lowest limit in the country.

Under the new law, a driver who exceeds that limit and causes the death of another person will be charged with criminal homicide, a felony offense.

As CNN notes, all other U.S. states have a blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.08 percent for noncommercial drivers. Since at least 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board has been pushing to lower the limit to 0.05 nationwide. 

Pets to get more rights in California

Pets in California will no longer be treated by courts as physical property in divorce cases. Instead, judges can decide who gets custody of the family pet.

Under a separate California law, pet stores will no longer be allowed to sell cats, dogs or rabbits that aren’t from animal shelters or nonprofit rescue groups. That law, which took effect on Jan. 1, also requires that store owners maintain proper documentation of the backgrounds of the dogs, cats and rabbits they sell.

Hawaii legalizes physician-assisted suicide

Hawaii’s new law allowing physician-assisted suicide took effect on Tuesday.

Tobacco targeted in several states

Some states and cities are taking aim at tobacco products this year.

Smoking will be banned at all New Jersey public beaches and parks starting in July.

In New York City, a new ordinance bans pharmacies from selling cigarettes and other tobacco products. And Massachusetts has raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Nonbinary people can list their gender as ‘X’ in NYC

People who identify as neither male nor female can now list their gender as “X” on birth certificates in New York City.

New Jersey requires all residents to have health insurance

A health insurance law in New Jersey that came into effect on Jan. 1 requires residents to maintain coverage or pay a penalty. It’s the second state in the country, after Massachusetts, to enact an individual health insurance mandate.

Vermont is paying remote workers to move there

In an effort to promote economic growth, Vermont has offered to pay some remote workers to relocate to the state.

Qualified applicants can each apply for up to $10,000 in funding. The state has earmarked $500,000 for the initiative, The Associated Press reported.

Hunters in Illinois can wear pink if they want to

Not into the usual “blaze orange”? Hunters in Illinois can now wear equally eye-catching “blaze pink” under a new law.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) said the new shade could be even more effective in helping hunters stand out.

“[In the fall] we’re hunting in trees and in some fields, there are orange leaves. There is orange in the background, so it’s not always easy to see orange,” Rauner said, according to the Illinois News Network. “So we’re adding blaze pink to be one of the colors.”

Ohio kids will soon be required to learn cursive

In an age of text messaging and email, Ohio is attempting to keep the handwriting tradition of cursive alive. A new state law will require students to be able to write in cursive by the end of fifth grade. 

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50 Ways To Deal With Your Loneliness Besides Swiping Through Tinder And Crying Yourself To Sleep
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50 Ways To Deal With Your Loneliness Besides Swiping Through Tinder And Crying Yourself To Sleep

When you find yourself feeling lonely, Ask Reddit can help you cope.

1. I hang out with myself! I go to events alone, I go on little adventures around the city alone, I try to try a new restaurant once or twice a month and get dressed up for the occasion. I’m only 19 years old so it kind of bums me out that I don’t have friends but I’m starting to really like being alone, I think part of being ok with being alone is enjoying your own company.

2. I used to be lonely. But once I learned to forgive and love myself, I decided to get something for my place that I thought was really beautiful, to really liven up my apartment. It was relaxing and gave off a cozy atmosphere. After a while I ended up not only happy with who and where I was in life but I had an apartment that was a joy to come home and walk into. It made being there alone much much much better. I didn’t dread going home alone anymore. I was excited to go home and lay on my beautiful comfy couch and light my wonderfully scented new candles! Stuff like that. Then a boyfriend popped up when I least suspected it. Probably because I’d quit looking for it and gained some confidence.

3. I realize that even if nobody wants to be my friend, I can be my own friend. I learned a lot of cool things about myself through being lonely.

4. You learn to thrive on it. If you’re lonely that means you can do whatever you want whenever you want, so just pick something that interests you and dive into it.

5. I talk to my dogs, as crazy as that sounds. I can’t get out of the house much due to my health so they’re as close to human interaction as I can get.

6. I’m always trying to learn more things. It transforms the discontent of loneliness into the solace of solitude.

7. It only bothers me when I think about it. I know that periods where I’m actually around friends, I feel a lot better, but life isn’t that bad without them around, either. Most of my close friends live away from me, so it’s like stepping into a magical fairytale world for me when they visit for a weekend, or I go out to visit one of them. But I know that’s not how our friendship would feel if we lived in the same city; we get the privilege of this blissful time because it is so scarce. The rest of the time, I often wish I had more people around, but books can help with that. The rest of my time I put into hobbies and things that generally fall under “improving myself”, although I’m not really interested in the general self-improvement fad stuff. I’ve started barbell training (SS) in the past few months and it requires a lot of effort for me both in the gym and out, so I don’t mind if all my free time is spent eating, watching videos on YouTube, and sleeping. The only thing I think about when I wake up and when I go to bed now is how many pounds I can load on my back, crouch down, and get back up with. It doesn’t mean much, ultimately, but I feel good about the progress, and the points have substantially more worth than in video games (one of my other main passtimes).

Basically, think about why you’re “lonely” instead of just “alone”. A lot of it is a matter of perspective. I’m lonely when I’m around people, most of the time. I think what people really want is that contented feeling in their heart, and many people get it from relationships. But not everyone does, and some people do but can also find it elsewhere. I wouldn’t assume that finding people to hang around will improve your loneliness substantially. You may still feel empty and alone even with people around you.

I really think that if you are lonely alone, you will probably be lonely together… this has definitely been the case for me, at the very least. That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t issues that are making you feel worse with people than you should, even if you feel fine alone (don’t assume the inverse). Just because you feel fine alone doesn’t mean you’re not lonely around other people — you could have social issues that make it hard to relate or communicate with other people. Those may require a lot more specific attention to address and I’m definitely not the person to help someone with that.

8. Books. Nothing like good book to take your mind off the loneliness.

9. I remind myself often that I would rather come to terms with my loneliness and learn to enjoy it instead of filling that empty void with another human being.

10. Constantly reminding myself that the only person that the only person that I can always rely on to make myself feel better is myself.

11. I try my best to distract myself by diving into super complex or involved movies, books, tv shows, video games, etc. to take my mind off of it.

When I want somebody to talk to I go on reddit. You can usually find somebody wanting to talk.

12. Focus on hobbies. Take an interest in your future and focus on bettering yourself. I have a small group of friends who are a little far away, but they know I need my space. I embrace the solitude but try to push myself to be social.

13. I never even think about being lonely. I actually really love it. I mean I do see people on occasion and at work but I’m most happy alone. I like to work on myself, listen to music, do my own thing before going out again. There needs to be a balance. It made me very confident being myself and if anything I enjoy socializing even more because I’m myself and not the product of non-stop social drama. I’m calm and patient, I don’t care for he said she said bullshit and people seem attracted by that. I give great advice and people feel less anxious around me. You must find a balance of being alone and social. Too much of either is bad. I can always tell the ones who live for social attention. They are always uncomfortable, anxious and only talk about people instead of ideas. These people are scared to be left alone and it baffles me. Like I said, you have to find a balance that works for you. Avoid either extreme.

14. I try to immerse myself in things that interest me. And I stay in touch with the very few people I do have in my life. It’s bittersweet to think about the past. But that’s life.

15. Social media but don’t follow anyone you actually know in real life. Follow a bunch of uplifting accounts.

16. Watch Netflix, cook yummy things, study, read, basically keep myself occupied rather than moping around.

17. I comfort myself with the notion that in the end, no one can entertain me as well as I can.

18. Sometimes when I get the feels, I remind myself its perfectly fine to feel that way, and its fine to be alone. Then I find something to do, whether I build something like a raised bed for my garden or a doghouse, attempt to draw, go for a jog, play video games, shoot hoops, listen to comedy, watch YouTube, read a book, etc.

Other times, if I can’t fight it off with any of that, I’ll talk to family by text or call or go somewhere with lots of people just to people-watch and feel somewhat connected.

If that doesn’t help, ill get on dating sites and talk to my matches or at least send messages.

19. I try to avoid social media and remember that what people portray on there isn’t always how their life is.

I talk to random strangers on the internet, listen to lots and lots of music, read, laugh at memes, spend hours on reddit, watching tv shows (less nowadays), I try to go to the gym 3 times a week – keep myself in shape and build my confidence.

When uni kicks in I study really really hard and that takes my mind off the loneliness.

Most importantly though, I try not to dwell on it and rather think of all the things I still want to do and learn on my own – like learning more about myself for example or spending time re-learning the drums/piano.

20. Change the perspective. If you start feeling lonely — Flip it and reverse it. Think of the blessings you’ve been given (I’m not religious, just the best wording I can think of). What’s the problem No friends to chill out with? Well, Do you have food to eat? There’s something to be thankful for. No significant other/ spouse? Do you have a roof over your Head and somewhere to sleep? There’s something to be thankful for. No family at the holidays do you have employment? There’s something to be thankful for.

The way I see it, (and this is definitely not in meant to minimize the hardships of others in any way) is that when I’m feeling lonely, it’s because I don’t have bigger problems at the moment, and I am grateful that I don’t.

21. Multiplayer video games help a lot. Get paired with some randos and strike up a conversation. Play well enough and they’ll want to group.

22. ANIME: now you might think this is stupid and I’m just turning you into a weeb but for me, finding out the existence of anime help me a lot. I have friends but none of them are really close to me so we never hang out. Sometime I would feel like I’m being ignored or left out(maybe my fault I don’t know). But when you find something you love that does not need friends to enjoy it, then you’ll no longer feel the loneliness. Sometime you even want to be lonely.

23. Volunteering!

24. Be as busy as possible. Watch twitch streamers to “hangout” with them and chat. Play video games. Do something active. Go mountain biking or hiking.

25. I comfort myself by thinking that I’m not alone in my loneliness, and that I might meet people who are lonely too, and we won’t be lonely together.

26. I tend to clean and turn up some music.

27. I make a conscious effort to do things that make me happy. It’s surprisingly easy to just put it off.

28. Meditate.

29. I just accept it for now. I avoid things that can trigger it too.

30. I realize that Star Wars does such a great job of capturing my imagination that it makes me forget about it as I get absorbed in a new world and problems that are different from my own.

31. I’ve picked up playing D&D with groups online. It really helps. Gives me something social to look forward to at a regular time during the week, and people to talk to about it in between sessions.

32. I got a dog. 11/10 times would recommend a pet.

33. You are never alone if you love yourself.

34. Lots of porn…

35. You handle loneliness with sports, music, sleep, books, games, learning, cooking. You could find meaning in so many things in life, instead you chose to be alone and miserable. Loneliness is a choice.

36. Sometimes when I’m alone I talk to myself. Helps me think a bit better and makes me feel less empty.

37. Dog. Gym. Dog park. Books. More gym. Run. Run with dog. Work 40 hours a week.

When I was single I was reading a book a week. Gym, dog and reading really helps.

38. I work a lot. Try to travel some. Do stuff for other people. LOTS of internet.

39. When one pad starts sinking you jump to another. Make lots of friends and you will never run out of lily pads.

Always go out one day of the week with a friend/friends.

Find a hobby or activity that involves people.

40. If you are talking in terms of being alone, being at peace in your own company is a valuable “skill” to learn. You need to first accept internally that there is nothing wrong with being alone. If you are having trouble connecting with people or socializing and feel lonely because of this, try going on discord or some other voice chat enabled software and practice, get good enough to where you feel confident in face to face.

41. I like being alone. More time for myself. Might be selfish, but I need it at the moment.

42. I worked from 7am to 8pm today. Kept working through my lunch hour, just listened to music and worked on cars. Probably gonna do that tomorrow too. I do that quite a bit. On weekends I buy and work on cars then sell them.

It’s also how I work through stress among other things.

43. I think about how complicated it actually is to hang out with other people. How hard it is to come up with interesting things to say or do or talk about all the time.

That works. All the time.

44. Keep yourself occupied, hobbles, exercise, work if need be.

If in the budget and have the time for it: a cat or dog. Sometimes can help build self worth

45. I got anti depressants, and now its not so bad….i feel better about everything and so the need to fill that hole is no longer there. Honestly, its just not a good time for a girlfriend anyways.

46. I plug my guitar and make some noise!

47. Watch a horror movie before going to sleep. I’m definitely won’t be alone during that time.

48. By messaging friends, but that doesn’t compete with physical presence.

49. I suppose I deal with it by distracting myself with hobbies and whatnot, keep my mind off it, you know?

50. I used to listen to the same podcasts everyday to the point where I felt like I was chatting with my friends. I slept with headphones on, listening to the same shows over and over just so I could hear another voice in the room.

Image Credit: God & Man

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Barack Obama shared his favorite things from 2018 and you’re gonna miss him even more.

Former president Barack Obama stands in stark contrast to the current president in countless ways. One of the biggest discrepancies between Obama and Trump are their intellectual curiosity and appreciation of culture.

It’s well documented that President Trump refuses to read just about anything, unless it’s written about him. Whereas Obama has always been open about his love of knowledge and often shares what he’s currently reading on social media.

His literary tastes tend to focus on race relations, economics, technology, and current events.

As he has done in previous years, to mark the end of 2018, Obama shared a list of his favorite books, movies, and music of 2018. His choices reveal a preference for art house films and current hip-hop and R&B.

Honestly, he has pretty hip taste for a dad in his mid-50s.

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50 Thoughtful Last Minute Christmas Gifts For Procrastinators
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50 Thoughtful Last Minute Christmas Gifts For Procrastinators 

If you still haven’t finished your holiday shopping, you should think about buying these last-minute gifts suggested by Ask Reddit.

1. Mason jar + equal parts granulated sugar and veg oil + either a few drops of essential oil OR some lemon zest OR vanilla extract = boutique grade body scrub.

2. Buy tickets online for a upcoming play, dinner & show, concert, game, etc. Print out page of ticket confirmation and put it in a nice Christmas card envelope. It’s an awesome gift because people tend to love it more than clothing or other junk you usually give. And if you’re parents are like mine, they barely take the initiative to go to these type of events themselves or don’t even know about them. Experience > material goods.

3. Run to the grocery store, pick up chocolate morsels, butter, and cream.

Takes about five hours to make 200 chocolate truffles. Easy to make them different flavors as well. (Orange, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Cinnamon Honey are the good with milk chocolate. Peppermint, Khalua, and Matcha are good with dark chocolate. Peppermint and matcha are fantastic with white chocolate.)

4. At least for men, my go-to is always a beard or personal grooming kit. It’s likely something that they wouldn’t buy themselves, and many haven’t felt the exhilaration of a peppermint shampoo. Men deserve a little pampering and self care too!

5. I think mugs make a good last minute gift because they’re available at most stores, pretty cheap for a gift, and will actually be used by the recipient.

6. Socks. High-end, badass, toasty warm (if you live where it gets cold) socks. Smartwool/Darn Tough/etc.. They may “meh” at it early on, but will thank you later. Maybe even very later, but it’ll be appreciated (a lot) eventually.

7. Most people I know don’t have bluetooth hook ups in their car, FM Transmitters are absolutely fantastic, they’re relatively cheap and life changers for folks that like to listen to music while driving, Probably $15 and under.

One of those copper chef/gotham steel type skillets. They’re fantastic, less than $20, endless use.

8. Cookie/brownie mix in a mason jar with instructions on a card and a bow.

Or a visa gift card.

9. Fancy pasta, fancy jarred sauce, nice block of parm cheese, in a serving bowl with a kitchen towel. You can do this as expensively or as cheaply as you want.

I also loved a book called The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8 Lee (basically, a woman exploring Chinese food in the USA as well as her own Chinese roots, and the history of fortune cookies… really fascinating). She talks a lot about soy sauce in that book, so I’ve given that book with a bottle of “real” soy sauce many times. I love sharing things I love with other people, so that’s a gift I love to give.

10. Subscription box. Like coffee? Subscription box. Board games? Subscription box. Make up? Subscription box. Ties or socks or yarn or hot sauce or tea or beer or wine or Japanese candy or marvel or harry porter or fitness? Subscription mother-fuckin box.

11. Go to the dollar store and grab some over the hand oven mitts, then head to the grocery store and get cake & brownie mixes, hand write the baking directions on a decorated index card or slip of paper. Personalize each one with a message or somesuch. Bam.

12. If it’s someone you’re fairly close to, print out a photo of the two of you and put it in a frame. It feels thoughtful, but can also be done in less than an hour and is cheap.

13. Depends how well I know them, or if I’ve used the same trick before – but it’s probably a cast iron skillet. Costs $20 for a good one (rhymes with dodge), and I always get thanked for it, like a year later.

14. Aldi.

A million calories of chocolate for about twenty quid.

Enough to distribute to everyone.

15. Here is what I do every year.

I go buy gift certificates for my favorite restaurants, and gift cards from Best Buy. I then put them in Christmas cards with no name on them.

I keep some in the house and some in my car.

If someone gives me a gift, I say “Wait a minute, I have something for you too” and go get the card. I quickly write their name on it and hand it to them.

Its worked out perfectly for me for years. I give everyone that gives me something, and if I end up with extra gift certificates or gift cards, I just use them on myself.

16. I make them an elaborate Christmas card with an etymology of their name. It’s always a hit and has more meaning than a gift card.

17. Good pair of headphones.

18. I make very good gingerbread cookies and decorate them very elaborately, like I’ll draw a portrait of them in frosting or I draw a cartoon character they like. Im pretty good at it.

19. Chia pet. So many varieties. ‘Ironic’ gift for those recipients, awesome gift for the others.

Either way you are a hero!

20. Those soft-ass blankets you find in any store around Christmas time. And then I buy one more for me. Every goddamn year

21. For girls: anything from Anthropologie. They have a great gifts and the quality/craftsmanship is decent. That and they gift wrap beautifully for free! I use this for last minute birthday gifts quite often and it always impresses.

For guy: gift cards or booze. Guys appreciate utility.

22. Nail place… Women will go wild over a free mani-pedi.

23. A bottle of their favorite spirits, or for non-drinkers/kids, a book.

24. BOOKS!

There is a book on literally any topic ever.

Fan of Formula 1? Book.

Fan of Jujitsu? Book.

Like economic news? Book.

Porn? Book.

Lonely? Book.

Want to improve yourself? Book.

And you can get books everywhere. Online, in store, thrift stores, little free libraries, everywhere.

25. Houseplants!

I usually have lots of spiderplant babies and keep a few small pots on hand. Great for all occasions.

26. Those Hickory Farms meat and cheese gift boxes.

27. For a family – Get a tin bucket of gourmet holiday popcorn (caramel / chocolate flavored popcorn) to share.

For a dude – Get a bottle of fancy champagne or other booze like whisky or bourbon.

For anyone younger than 30 – Get an Amazon gift card.

For a kid – Give them a $50 dollar bill. They likely never handle money and if they do, the $50 looks so much better than the $20. Easy way to become the cool uncle.

For a girl – Get them a gift certificate to a local salon, a big blanket, or fun warm socks (not regular socks but those nicer holiday woven socks).

For your mom – Get her an ornament that has sentimental value, or, go to the mall (who does that anymore) and get them to hand paint an ornament on the spot with the family name & year on it.

For your dad – Get him NFL or NBA tickets.

28. Things that are consumable… everyone has way too many junk trinkets just because someone felt they had to buy something.

Ground coffee from a local coffee shop (if you know the person has a grinder, get whole bean, but not everyone does). They usually have fun Christmas flavors this time of year.

A bottle of dry wine or champagne.

Nice candles (go for ones that are soy based and have lids) or liquid hand soap.

29. Who wants lottery tickets?!?!?!

30. If we’re talking non-money gifts you know what’s a great go to? TJ Maxx. They are just a hodgepodge of random stuff and they have bailed me out so much when it comes to gift giving because with all the things they have you are bound to find something for everyone.

31. Home made egg nog, Irish cream, or Kahlúa. Most people will love one of the three, they are easy to make, made by hand, affordable, and our gifts that go away.

32. I’d bake a bunch of stuff or make fancy looking caramel apples. If I give people food, they seem to be satisfied.

33. I’ll do a blanket/candle/bottle of wine/nice beer and fudge,

OR a movie/board game and stop by the dollar store for a shower caddy, fill it with popcorn, movie candies, etc if it’s for a family. Do a caddy and filler per family member.

34. Starbucks gift card. Everyone loves Starbucks.

35. Lego. Lego for the nephew, lego for dad, lego for mom, lego for granny, lego for EVERYONE!

36. Spicery subscription for three months. Print out the confirmation and chuck it in an envelope. I’ve gifted this twice and both recipients said that they never wanted any other present from me – just for that subscription to repeat.

37. If it’s last minute, I tried to go to a clothing store I know they have clothes from. Throughout the year I’ll ask “bro, nice jacket, where’d you get it?” Then I remember their spot and get them a gift card.

Then to cover my ass cause some people are weird about gift cards I say “I saw a _____ while shopping but I couldn’t remember your size/didn’t know what color you’d like/etc.”

38. Magazine subscriptions. The New Yorker. Times Literary Supplement. New Scientist. Private Eye. Done them all.

39. Mom – Candles and epsom salts.

Brother – Steam/eShop card, or go to a second hand store and find a game I think he’d like.

Dad – Itunes Gift Card or some kind of sports paraphernalia.

Girlfriend – something that reminds me of her, or that I think she’d love (last Christmas it was a pair of socks that said ,”I’m a delicate fucking flower”).

40. I buy ten copies of the best book I’ve read all year and wrap em in newspaper.

Proof of success: I do this every year

41. A brick of batteries. Everybody needs batteries, nobody will say no to batteries, and they will think of you when they are in a pinch and realize you got them a BRICK of batteries.

Great practical gift.

42. Throw blankets from the 24-hour drugstore. They’re $15 and nice enough that I use them myself. This is also my go-to for any gift swap at the office/with people I don’t know super well.

43. Pictures! Take a picture of something the receiver will like, or find one you might already have, throw it in a cheap frame and WABANG

44. Go to CVS and get a gift card (they have Amazon, iTunes, random others). Swing buy a restaurant and grab a gift card for that place. Last ditch, don’t have time to get a hard copy of a gift card- just buy one online that you can email.

45. Luxury kitchen stuff.

There’s a great kitchen & dinnerware shop within walking distance of my home. I can get pretty dinnerware, flatware, glasses and linens in a range of styles, and they have durable, high quality cookware for the more practically minded people. It’s my go to gift-shop, because everyone eats.

46. Lava Lamp!

No one has one.

They’re 20$

Oh, and it’s neat.

47. I’d bring them all to a restaurant and pay for their meal-> easy way to make a party and present at the same time without having to worry about what to buy them since they can order themselves what they want

48. Pharmacies always have cheap last minute crap like travel manicure kits and hot sauce samplers.

49. You get a box of chocolate! You get a box of chocolate! And you get a box of chocolate! Everyone gets a box of chocolate!!!

50. Cash, candy, and/or alcohol.

Image Credit: Anthony Tran

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Butterfly Hill by Brendan le Grange

Book Summary:

A psychopath with mother issues. A policeman with his career on the line. A beautiful agent with unclear allegiances. And an ancient organisation guarding a secret that could get them all killed.

Hiko Shimizu is not a nice man, but he is ingenious. Ingenious enough to find a lost artefact capable of catalysing a revolution in China? Maybe. And that’s close enough to draw the attention of powerful forces that won’t hesitate to kill to keep their secrets safe.

Meanwhile, Matthys Rossouw is in hot pursuit, unaware of the full scale of the danger he faces. Butterfly Hill is the exciting follow-up to Drachen. Set in the hills above Hong Kong’s Lantau Island, it’s another high-stakes game of cat and mouse that races towards an explosive conclusion.

Seven hundred years ago a Dynasty died, how far will people go to keep it dead?

Amazon Link –

Book Viral Reviewed:

It is clear from the start of Brendan Le Grange’s Butterfly Hill that thriller fans are in for a treat. A daringly structured and cleverly executed International Thriller, it would be easy to summarise his latest release with a few commonplace adjectives. High octane, adrenalin-driven and bold, every chapter feels crisp and polished, but there’s nothing extraneous here as Le Grange weaves a plot of genuine intrigue.

This time around the focus is on Matthys Rossouw who remains relentlessly on the trail of Hiko. Overall it’s easy to read, yet highly immersive, as are all the best thrillers, and once again Le Grange brings us a host of cleverly imagined characters underpinned by an authenticity that eludes many of his contemporaries. With a visual quality to his writing, Elaine, in particular, stands out but when death throws an ever-looming shadow over events she is also the catalyst for a twist that sees an unexpected alliance formed. Add to this a narrative flow that’s natural and involving and all in all there’s more than enough here to sate the most voracious of Thriller Genre appetites.

Author Bio:

Brendan le Grange lives in Hong Kong with his beautiful wife and daughters, writing high-paced action thrillers when his day job allows. Luckily, that day job also allows him to travel to the exotic locales in which his books are set.

I Wish You Would Remember
Cataloged in Self-Improvement / Love

I Wish You Would Remember

I remember the first day we met, it was far from love at first sight. I remember being so mad at you for messing up our first date, but I was determined to have a good night. I was going to let you by me drinks and take me to the big game. Little did I know, you would become someone that would change everything.

I remember those butterflies. Those were my favorite. They scared me, but excited me all at the same time. I was so completely enamored by you, that I just wanted to know everything that there was about you. It was truly unlike anything I had ever felt.

I remember the feeling I used to get when I would see your name show up on my phone. It was this leap in my chest and my heart wanting to explode. The idea that you wanted to talk to me made me so happy. It’s still a feeling that miss and look for every time I see your name.

I remember your birthday. You don’t think I do, because I didn’t tell you “Happy Birthday” when you texted me that night, but I do. I couldn’t acknowledge it, no matter how much I wanted to. I didn’t want to let you know how much I still cared about you.

I remember the way you used to smell, not in a creepy way. It wasn’t anything significant, and it wasn’t this overwhelmingly delicious boy kind of overpowering feeling that you sometimes get, but God when I catch it now while passing someone on the street, it still makes me go weak at the knees.

I remember this crazy look in your eyes you had every time you looked at me. It was like you were looking into my soul and it made me feel completely unnerved. I had never had someone look at me the way that you did and it still haunts my dreams.

I remember the way that you used to touch me. That feeling I miss the most. Everything about it was intoxicating and it made me feel like I didn’t need anything else in the world. I felt safe. I felt wanted. I felt needed. I felt like that was all I ever really needed.

I remember the night I told you I felt nothing towards you. Lord knows that was a lie. Months later and you can still throw me off with one simple text. Your words still unravel me every time.

I remember the night that someone else kissed me after you were gone and crying the whole way home. He was a good guy, but he wasn’t you. I remember wishing that I could call you and hear your dumb voice one more time. I just remember wishing it was you and how I wish it didn’t go wrong.

But then I remember all of the sleepless nights.

I remember all of the times you called me screaming out of your mind. You blamed the alcohol, but deep down I knew inside, it was more than that. You just didn’t want to take the time to figure out what was really hurting you inside.

I remember all of the times you called me a bitch. You looked down on me every possible way. You tried to make me feel bad about myself and questioned why I continued to stay. You never got it through your head that I was in it for you, no matter how much you hated me.

I remember all of the times you made me feel guilty for my career. You thought I looked down on yours. You made me feel bad for all of the hours and extra responsibility that I took on, because I wanted to be independent. Still making you feel insecure about yours.

I remember the night that ended it all. I remember two shots too many. I remember the darts game that threw you over the edge. I remember the fear I had when you yelled at me. I remember that way you made me take the blame. I remember you not making an effort to want to repair it all. I remember I was so desperate to make you see, we could have made it through it all.

I know that you probably don’t remember half of these things, but I wish you would at least remember that you broke my heart in one crushing night, and you still do every time I see your name pop up on my phone. You may have moved on to someone else and still might not feel like we belong, but you certainly still know how to break me every time you call.

Image Credit: Diana Spatariu

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8 things you need to know about George RR Martin’s new ‘Nightflyers’ show

Sam Strike plays a telepath in the upcoming TV adaptation of George RR Martin's 'Nightflyers'.
Image: Jonathan Hession/Syfy

There aren’t many things qualified to fill the yawning hole between Game of Thrones seasons (not to mention books), but if there’s one thing that stands a decent chance it’s another George RR Martin adaptation.

Enter Nightflyers. Based on a novella Martin published back in 1980, it’s the story of a spaceship crew on a mission to investigate a strange alien signal.

Earlier this year, Mashable paid a visit to the studio where Nightflyers is being filmed in Limerick, Ireland. We spoke to the cast and crew, took a tour of the (very large, very expensive) set, and unearthed some details about the show.

From the inevitable GoTs comparisons to George RR Martin’s involvement, here are some of the main things we learned…

1. The show will be different to the book.

George RR Martin’s Nightflyers novella may be vast in scope, but length-wise it’s only 88 pages. The action is fast-paced, the back-story is minimal, and the ending is fairly decisive. The TV show adaptation looks set to be a whole different ball-game.

“I think all the characters are different from the book,” Eoin Macken, who plays the ship’s captain Karl D’Branin, told us. “They just used the book as a source material and they changed it all.”

This sentiment was echoed by the majority of cast and crew we spoke with on set.

“The ship has a whole different feel to it than the novella, which is an old, creaky, different deal,” Brían O’Byrne, who’s playing a character that doesn’t even appear in the novella, said. “We are encouraged to take our first script as the starting point, rather than the other source material.”

Gretchen Mol, who plays Dr. Agatha Matheson, told us she did read the original story — but it wasn’t very similar to the pilot script she read. Even the characters and their individual focuses, she explained, are different in the show. “There are a lot of things that have surprising twists,” Mol said.

Although certain characters and plot points will remain similar, it sounds as though Martin’s novella has been taken more as a core concept than an exact blueprint — something that show-runner Jeff Buhler has altered and ultimately expanded upon.

2. George R.R. Martin is involved, but not heavily involved.

If any Thrones fans reading this are feeling frustrated at the thought of another side project distracting Martin from The Winds of Winter, don’t worry. It doesn’t sound like the show’s taking up too much of his time.

“He’s had numerous contacts with Jeff and they’ve settled on a number of things,” supervising producer Sean Ryerson explained. “I think he’s the consciousness that’s rattling around in the attic whenever we do something.”

Despite that, Ryerson stressed that Martin isn’t involved with the series on a day-to-day basis. He was part of the initial discussions with Buhler, he’s listed as an executive producer, and he’s available — but he’s not writing or signing off on scripts.

3. It’s not going to be a space version of Game of Thrones

“In no way, shape or form will it fulfill that wish,” said Ryerson, when confronted with the idea that some people might tune in expecting a new, space-based Thrones. “This is something that’s entirely different, and George RR Martin’s got a pretty big imagination — and I think he’s got a big enough imagination to do different things over the course of his career, and this is certainly different to Game of Thrones.”

Jodie Turner-Smith, who plays a genetically engineered human called Melantha Jhirl, echoed this sentiment.

“I kind of shy away from it being, ‘Oh, it’s the next Game of Thrones’, because it’s a completely different genre,” she said. “If people go into it expecting something like Game of Thrones it’s not going to be what they get.”

4. …But it sounds like it’ll be just as dark.

While Game of Thrones would probably be best classified as fantasy drama, Ryerson described Nightflyers as more like psychological horror — a story that sees its characters crumble mentally.

“[The show’s] genesis is closer to what’s happening to people’s unconscious when they fall apart,” said Ryerson. “And how, when you begin to fall apart, does your unconscious exacerbate it, accelerate it, or do you have strength to fight it? […] A lot of people in this don’t have that strength. 

“They really, really wish they had. But it gets just so hard and so scary that they collapse.”

In short, it sounds as though Nightflyers will have at least one similarity to Thrones — it’ll be just as grim.

“If something’s going to happen [Martin] looks at it square in the face and does it,” said Ryerson. “And I think that’s what happens here too. People are in terrible psychological fear and he doesn’t look away and he makes you go through it.”

You can bet there are going to be numerous shots of people in mortal peril throughout ‘Nightflyers’.

Image: Jonathan Hession/Syfy

5. Not all the characters are going to make it out alive.

Okay, actually Nightflyers will have another similarity to Thrones: the deaths. Yep, judging by everything we heard on the set visit — including talk of characters being frozen and set on fire — it seems pretty likely that not everyone will be making it through the story unscathed.

Andrew McCarthy, who directed two of the show’s 10 episodes, pretty much confirmed this. He spoke about a storyline which sees the main crew encountering a new ship, complete with some new characters — and when someone asked about the fate of these new characters, his answer made clear the type of show Nightflyers will be.

“You know when you meet somebody in like, minute three of the show you go, ‘Ooh, dear,’?” He said. “We meet some new people and do we kill them off? I don’t know. We’ve killed a couple of people, but there’s some people that might not be killed.”

Anyone who’s read Martin’s novella will know that the body count is fairly high. We don’t know that the show will follow this exact same pattern, death-wise, but it seems fair to say that not getting too attached to people might be the safest approach.

6. Not all the action will take place on the ship.

Although most of the filming for Nightflyers has taken place in the Limerick studio — and, more specifically, inside the giant skeleton of a spaceship that has been purpose-built within the space — there will be some scenes that take place elsewhere.

The ship’s “memory suite” is one of the reasons for this. A new addition to the story, this is a room that characters in the story visit to re-experience specific recollections.

“These things are extremely visual,” Ryerson explained. “So D’Branin has the memory of his child and his wife and the way it was when the world was falling apart. And so we found locations here to do that.”

The ‘Nightflyers’ characters spend most of their time trapped onboard the ship. But there will also be exceptions.

Image: Jonathan Hession/Syfy

7. It sounds like everyone has their own personal demons.

Martin’s original novella is so short and action-packed there’s little time to get into the characters’ backstories. The show, however, has a lot more space to delve into these.

D’Branin’s obsessive thinking about his family is just one example of the various personal demons the ship’s occupants have to deal with, which become more and more pronounced the longer they’re confined within the ship. Thale, a telepath aboard the Nightflyer, has to deal with his own spiralling abilities. Royd Eris, the ship’s captain, has to contend with the difficult relationship he’s shared with his mother — something actor David Ajala characterised as the Eris’ own “internal horror”.

From the sounds of it, this is where the bulk of the show’s tension will come from; as the ship travels closer to the alien signal, everything gets increasingly claustrophobic — and the characters retreat even further into their own minds.

8. They’re clearly hoping the show goes on for a while.

The amount of money invested in the Nightflyers set was clear from the minute our tour began. They haven’t exactly built a full-size spaceship, but it’s not far off — there were huge, sprawling corridors, detailed designs and various teams busy at work throughout the epic construction. The investment was clear, and Ryerson was even clearer in his response to the suggestion that Syfy and Netflix might be hoping the show runs for a while.

“It’s an enormous investment,” he said. “If it doesn’t, ouch! We’ve invented film in Limerick, and I think over the next five years we’ll create an enormous film community here. 

“We’re pouring resourcing into training people, pouring resources into mentorships, into university, etc. We have a really big commitment and a strong feeling we’re okay – that we have something that will last.”

The ‘Nightflyers’ set is filled with sprawling corridors like this.

Image: sam haysom/mashable

The level of detail around the set was pretty clear to see.

Image: sam Haysom/mashable

Sometimes it was easy to forget we weren’t in an actual spaceship.

Image: sam haysom/masahble

Look, there was even weird gooey stuff on the table in one room.

Image: sam haysom/mashable

All 10 episodes of Nightflyers will be debuting across all SYFY platforms timed to the beginning of the linear telecast starting 2nd Dec. Episodes 1-5 will debut Sunday, 2nd Dec. through Thursday, 6th Dec. at 10/9c, and episodes 6-10 on Sunday, 9th Dec. through Thursday, 13th Dec. at 10/9c with limited commercial interruption across all platforms.

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New Hot Toy Lists for 2018 from

Looking for toys for kids both young and old? has put together 30 guides for parents and grandparents to find the *perfect* gift this Christmas. Each list has ten options to help you find exactly what your child/grandchild will want to find under the tree.

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