Not the Smokey Eyes You're Looking For

I quit smoking when I found out I was going to be a dad. This was the catalyst that made me want to change my life for the better. After twenty years of trying different ways to quit, it was the thought of not being with her that helped me quit. I thought of my life, her life, without me in it. I want to be there for her every moment I can, for as long as I can. Roughly a month or so before I found out she was going to be in my life, I started working at an online contact lens retailer. It was here that I learned about contact lenses, the eye care industry, and overall eye health. I knew smoking was bad for my lungs, my heart, and my overall long-term well-being; and I guess it just never crossed my mind, but I also learned just how bad smoking was for my eyes. Not only do I want to be alive with my daughter in the long term, I also want to be able to see her grow and become the amazing woman I know she will be.

Working in the contact lens industry I've read a lot of horror stories about people who don't follow proper contact lens care directions and end up with gruesome results. Your eyes are the only organs that get their oxygen from their surroundings rather than from your body. When you smoke you pollute your environment and cause your eyes problems from the lack of oxygen. Every smoker has felt the sting of smoke in their eyes. When you wear contacts it compounds the inflammation, soreness, dry eyes and irritability. Plus when you smoke it not only leaves tar and nicotine on your fingers, but also on your contact lenses themselves causing a litany of issues which I will lay out below.

The CDC estimates the United States alone has roughly 480,000 deaths a year attributed to smoking. That's half a million people that die each year from a preventable habit! The health risks associated with smoking are well known and numerous: Lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, a reduction in my overall life expectancy are just several of the dozens of concerns detrimental to my long term liveliness. This number does not take into account those people who are still alive and suffering from the adverse effects of smoking. More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. For every person who dies because of smoking another 30 live with a serious smoking related illness.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) starts as a loss of central vision and makes it harder to read or see fine details in things. Smoking increases the severity and triples the risk of this disease, which is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65. There are two types of AMD, "dry" and "wet", with dry being the most common. Dry AMD causes fatty deposits to form in the back of the eye behind your retina, with vision getting worse slowly over time. Wet AMD causes tiny blood vessels to leak or break open, which in turn causes scar tissue to develop. Wet AMD is less common, but more quickly to produce harmful vision results.

Glaucoma is the gradual breakdown of the optic nerve cells that sends visual information to your brain. As the cells die, your vision slowly begins to deteriorate, usually starting with your peripheral vision. This is often not noticeable until a significant amount of nerve damage has occurred. Due to this, almost half the people who have glaucoma may not be aware they have it. There are two types of Glaucoma: Primary open-angle Glaucoma and acute angle closure Glaucoma. The former is the most common type, which by the time you are aware of it, can have already caused significant vision loss. The latter form of Glaucoma is less common, but can come on more rapidly due to increased pressure on the inside of the eye. Symptoms can include: eye pain, nausea, red eye, seeing colored rings around lights and blurry vision. Smoking can significantly increase the risk of developing open-angle Glaucoma, which can lead to blindness. Unfortunately, presently there is no cure for this horrible disease.

Smoking thins your blood, not allowing enough oxygen to flow to the parts of your body that need to breath; like your eyes. Smoking enhances your risks for developing diabetes and the potentially blinding complications that come with it; one of them being Diabetic Retinopathy. Diabetic Retinopathy causes tiny blood vessels in your eye to become blocked, leak or break down completely. When new blood vessels begin to grow they can cover your retina, which can cause extreme vision complications and even blindness. There are four stages of Diabetic Retinopathy: mild, moderate, severe non-proliferative Retinopathy and Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy; the last of which leads to permanent vision loss. People with all types of Diabetes are at risk for this additional complication. Roughly 40-45% of people with Diabetes have some stage of Diabetic Retinopathy, yet only half are even aware of it.

When you smoke it leaves a sticky brownish black residue on your fingers which you can wash off; imagine the gunk it is leaving on your eyes, this cannot be rinsed away. This gunk over time accelerates the erosion of the lens in your eye, which can lead to Cataracts. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, and smoking doubles your chances of getting them. Cataracts are a build-up of protein in the lens of the eye which causes cloudy or blurry vision. Generally cataracts take years to develop and can be undetectable in the early stages of growth. This is why cataracts for the most part start being noticeable in people age forty and older, although you can develop them when you are young or even be born with them. Symptoms may include double vision, cloudy, blurry vision, faded colors or a stark glare around light sources. Cataracts are estimated to affect roughly twenty million plus people in the United States over the age of forty; with this number set to double in the next twenty years. Strangely enough, out of this number, 61% of those affected by Cataracts are women. Cataracts can be classified by their location in the eye and length of time they have been present. There are a few types of cataracts: Subcapsular Cataracts develop in the back of the lens, Nuclear Cataracts develop in the center of the eye, and Cortical Cataracts form along the edges of the lens and point inward. The only solution to cure Cataracts is through surgery. This is an expensive and uncomfortable in and out procedure. Luckily for the majority of patients, the Cataracts don't return after they're removed. Only in about 10% of patients does a film begin to develop over the lens again. Beyond smoking and aging other causes of Cataracts can include: Excessive alcohol consumption, overt exposure to the sun and other UV rays, Diabetes, certain medications and injury to the eye itself.

Smoking ruins lives. Not only does it affect you, but the lives of those around you and the lives of those you love. I love my daughter more than I've ever loved anything else in my life. I want to live for her as long as I can, see her grow and see her experience life. I can't do that if smoking takes away my vision or worse yet my life. Whether it's your eyes, your lungs, your heart or any other part of your body; smoking is just not worth it.

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Labeling Yourself With "Binge Eating Disorder", "Compulsive Overeating Disorder" or "Food Addiction"

Nearly every self-help book or article I’ve read on binge eating disorder or food addiction has a section to help the reader decide if he or she really has binge eating disorder, compulsive overeating disorder or is a «food addict».

Often there’s a checklist with questions like, «Do you eat more than you intended more than 3 times per week?» Or «Do you hide how much you eat?»

These books or articles are often written by someone that has no personal experience with binge eating, or by people who believe in addictive disease. By asking questions like this, in their opinion, they’re setting you up to conclude you have a problem.

In my own opinion, I prefer to take an opposite angle: if you aren’t sure you have a problem with eating, you probably don’t. If you do have a problem or struggle with it, you’re aware of it.

I am not going to post information or spend time in my books or programs teaching you what binge eating, compulsive overeating or food addiction is. It’s different for everyone. If you feel you have a problem, you are well aware that you need to seek support for it. It would be arrogant of me to label you as someone that has a problem if you strongly believe you do not.

However, if you’re reading this and suspect you have an issue with overeating regularly, then you likely do have an issue to address.

I’m guessing your assumption is based on your experience with overeating food on a fairly regular basis, or often thinking that you know you’ll «cave in» and feel like you can’t stop eating.

You’re probably engaged in an internal debate about what to do: to eat less at certain times, to try to find a diet with food that you won’t want to overeat, to eat «safe» foods only in case you do overeat, etc. This conflict or indecision fits my definition of having an «issue» with food such that it’s not making you happy.

When learning about symptoms of binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating disorder, it can be easy to take on the label of «disorder» and see yourself as someone that’s afflicted with a «disorder.»

Why?

Because taking on the concept that you have a disorder and your binge eating is a symptom of it, a great responsibility can be lifted from your shoulders.

I remember thinking this when I was dealing with anorexia, and later bulimia, and then binge eating. I saw myself as someone with a disorder I would have to deal with for the rest of my life. It was this «thing» that was a part of me and required constant management.

Taking on this idea that I had a lifelong eating «disorder» that merely had changed forms, no longer did it seem like I was behaving stupidly and blindly. No longer did I feel an urgent need to quit binge eating, or to beat myself up for being weak. I was simply doing what people with eating disorders do.

While it’s certainly helpful to recognize if you have a problem with food, there’s a step that follows that will be what keeps you stuck or helps you overcome the issue: taking action. By seeing that there’s something that doesn’t make you happy, you now have a world of possibilities that can open up because you can choose to take new actions that WILL lead to you being happy.

You can work on developing your ability to recognize your conflicting thoughts around wanting to eat and wanting to feel in control. Those conflicting thoughts are the result of two parts of your brain in conflict… your «primal» animal brain and your «higher» logical brain.

When you can distinguish between the two parts and understand the motivations behind each, you quickly gain leverage on yourself and can overcome the behavior you are unhappy with.

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Discover Photography: The Art of the Image

Since the time of Stone Age Man, when images of the animals and men hunting were first used to decorate the walls of cave, we have been fascinated by the captured image. Although it was not until the invention of photography that truly made this fascination into an art form that everyone could enjoy regardless of artistic ability. People all over the world take pictures of themselves, relatives and friends, pets and landscapes whether or not there is a particular circumstance or reason for doing so. But how much do we actually know when it comes to photography? Below are some of the different kinds of photography that will help us learn more about the different ways of taking photographs.

Amateur Photography has grown in recent years with the advent of cheep digital cameras and this digital photography that has become easily accessible to the amateur due to the low cost of both equipment and reproduction of the images, that we will have a brief look at in this article.

Black and White or Monochrome Photography

The first are to consider is black and white or monochrome photography. This is not simply presenting an image in black and white. Black and white photography explores the contour and character, tone and texture, the aesthetic art and beauty of the subject. The two components of black and white photography that give depth and feeling to the image are the shadows and highlights, if we learn to use them then we can create great images.

Color sometimes obscures the texture and form of subjects, it draws our attention the way flowers attract insects and birds, and ripe fruit catches your eye on a tree. Sometimes that's what we want, but black and white can emphasize the texture of the subject.

The variety of ways that different colors convert to different greys means that you can quite fine control over just what parts of your picture will be light and dark, in addition to lighting levels. The absence of light can be as important as the highlights. Good deep shadows can give a depth and solidity to an image. It allows us to separate out the effects of color and luminosity, put another way black and white photography allows us to use color more effectively.

Action Photography

Action Photography may be where the photographer takes pictures of sporting event, or of children playing, anything intact where there is movement. Either set the shutter speed to freeze the action or try a slower shutter speed to blur the movement. This blur effect can create the sense of drama and movement. If the subject is moving across the frame try to track the subject, this is called panning, the effect once perfected is the subject is sharp but the background has the movement blur giving the impression of speed.

Shooting Action Shots of Athletes, people and animals in motion, and other moving objects create wonderful photo opportunities. However, capturing fast action on a digital camera can be challenging.

Certain settings on many digital cameras allow photographers to photograph action in a point-and-shoot mode specifically designed for moving subjects. Other times it is up to the photographer to manipulate the digital camera to achieve the best possible photos.

Digital cameras with less shutter lag capture better action shots. Regardless of your camera's specifications, you can further minimize shutter lag by pre-focusing before you snap the picture. To do this, hold down the shutter button halfway and then once the camera has focused; press it down all the way to take the shot.

Fast shutter speed allows photographers to capture great shots of moving subjects. If your digital camera supports a slower shutter speed, it is still possible for you to shoot some wonderful action shots. It may take some practice, but try panning the camera, keeping the lens on the subject's action.

Shoot in continuous mode if it is available to you. You might feel like the paparazzi when you first get started, but you will love how this quick mode doesn't let you miss a shot! Digital cameras that support continuous shooting work nicely for action shots because they are able to write all the photos to memory at the same time instead of one by one.

Anticipate the action and position yourself accordingly. If you are shooting sports, camp out by the goal line or find a good location where you can get clear shots of the athletes.

Invest in a good lens. Many action shots will benefit most from a digital camera with a 200mm lens, though you can interchange lenses for different effects. Zoom lenses work wonders for sports action shots.

Aerial Photography

Aerial Photography is best if you want to photograph a landscape or cityscape. Sadly we can't all afford to have our own helicopter, but great effects can be achieved from the top of tall buildings, bridges or mountains. So although true aerial photography may be out of reach, we can still have the illusion of aerial photography.

Travel Photography

Travel Photography is not just about your holiday snaps. It is about capturing something of the feel, the emotion, the essence of a place. It is about telling the story of the people and the landscape; it captures the mood and the setting. But you don't need expensive foreign holidays; travel photography can be your record of the next town or city or even neighborhood. As a is an exciting local city for me to explore, but with the added advantage that it is not far to travel to.

When photographing people in their local context there are a number of techniques that I try to use but keep in mind the principle of treating people with respect.

I've already talked about making shots contextual but one great way to do this is to think about what's in the background behind the people you're photographing. Ideally you want something that's not too distracting but that adds to the context of the place you're shooting in. Another technique for shooting shots of people that ignores the 'contextual' rule is to find a brightly lit position with a dark background. This can really help the face you're shooting to pop out and capture the viewer's attention.

Some of the best shots I've taken of people while traveling have been where I've tightly frames people's faces. This means either getting in close to the person or having and using a good zoom lens.

Go for natural (un-posed shots) – While sometimes the posed shots can work quite well they can also lack a certain authenticity. Photograph your subject doing something from their normal daily life, at work, the marketplace, home, or just crossing the street etc.

Most of the shots I've taken of people over the years while traveling have been of single subjects alone in the shot. This is partly just my style but is something I've become quite aware of in the last few months. Adding a second person into an image takes a photo into a different place. No longer is the shot just about a person and their environment but it somehow becomes relational. The viewer of the photo begins to wonder about the relationship and a new layer is added to your image.

Quite often it's the shots of people dressed in national costume that tend to attract photographers when traveling. While these shots can be very effective I wonder if they are always really representative of a culture. Quite often these people have dressed up especially for a show or tourist attraction and the majority of people in that country look quite different. Mix up the types, gender and ages of the people you take photos of and you can end up with a very effective collage of faces of a country.

It goes against the nature of most travel photography which is usually very fast and spontaneous, but if you can spend time with people, if you have the opportunity to sit with a person for a longer period of time and photograph them in a more extended manner this enables you to tell the story of the individual and can lead to some wonderful sequences of shots using different photographic techniques, lenses and situations, while the person becomes more relaxed around the camera.

Keep your camera to the eye for taking those spontaneous shots between the more posed ones. It's amazing what images that you can find when the person isn't 'ready' for you to shoot. These shots often include people interacting with others or expressing true emotion. I find setting my camera to continuous shooting mode often leads to some wonderful candid shots. If conditions permit don't replace your lens cap until you pack your camera away.

When it comes to choosing lens, I find that a focal length between 24mm and 135mm is a good range to work with. Going for wide angle lenses can also produce interesting shots but you will often find that they do distort your subject's face a little. Choosing a longer focal length can be useful for putting your subjects a little more at ease.

Underwater Photography

Underwater Photography has become more accessible with the advent of cheep underwater cameras. Whether you intend to take photograph in a pool, lake, river, or the sea underwater photography can be one of the most exciting and rewarding things to do.

The difficulties you encounter when in shooting underwater can be summed up in one word, "limitation." Communication and travel below the surface are limited. Natural light and visibility are limited. How you tackle these limitations depends on your skill underwater and your photographic equipment.

However the most important advice you can receive has little to do with photography, and everything to do with your safety. A watery environment can be a dangerous one, even if it is a swimming pool. No photograph is worth your life. Depending on the type of underwater photography you wish to practice, you must first acquire the appropriate specialized knowledge and training, and obtain certification from a qualified instructor. This applies to every aspect of underwater activity, from basic swimming skills to advanced sub aqua diving techniques.

This list is by no means exhaustive; they are just some of the various types of photography you can discover. There are so many other forms of photography from infrared to medical, street, landscape, portrait, macro and Panoramic photography. Photographic work can be divided into dozens of categories, many with lots of sub-categories. But for now, just go and have fun with your camera and discover the joy of photographing you chosen subject!

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FC Barcelona's Arch-Rival – The History of Real Madrid

Real Madrid – FIFA 'Team of the Century'; 31 League titles; 9 European Cups; a couple of UEFA Cups and World Club Champions titles.

Also, bizarrely, it is a club that has in recent years nurtured the custom of sacking successful managers. Jupp Heynckes went four weeks after winning a Champions League title, Fabio Capello and Bernd Schuster won the league title before one was basically sacked for being too defensive and the other for being too reckless. The prize, though, for what it's worth, goes to Vicente Del Bosque, current manager of the national squad, who was dismissed the day after winning the league in a room at the hotel in which his players were having their celebratory dinner!

Real Madrid originated in 1897 when a number of students and lecturers at the Institucíon Libre de Enseñanza began playing friendly matches on Sunday mornings. From these humble beginnings, Madrid Football Club emerged in 1902 – gaining its royal patronage and club name in 1920 from King Alfonso XIII. The club became founder members of the Spanish League in 1929 – when Barca won the inaugural title and El Clásico, as the fixture between the two clubs is known in Spain – began in earnest.

From the beginning, the rivalry was intense but it developed significantly during the years after the Civil War. There are, of course, many stories of the way Franco's government promoted the interests of Real Madrid in order to develop his, and Spain's, international prestige. Also, the manner in which Barcelona attempted to maintain a Catalan identity at a time when the language and flag were banned is well recounted. Barça became 'More than a Club' and the phrase Así gana el Madrid – that's how Madrid win – became part of Spanish sporting lore.

There are two of these stories, however, that perhaps shed most light on the situation in those difficult times.

In 1942, Barcelona had won the Spanish Cup – now known as the Cope del Rey but then renamed as the Copa del Generalísimo. The following season they were pitted against Real in a two-legged semi-final and won the first match convincingly, by three goals to nil, despite having their star player, Escolá, stretchered off. The second leg, though, was rather a different matter – finishing an astonishing 11 – 1 to Madrid. Not only was the Head of State Security known to have visited the Barça dressing room before the match to tell some of the players that their right to remain in Spain was being reviewed, but also the sending off of a player in the first few minutes made sure that the rest of the team got the right message!

The other classic example of the manner in which Barcelona feel they suffered during the Franco years concerns perhaps the most famous player ever to wear a Real Madrid shirt – Alfredo di Stéfano, who remains an iconic figure in the Madrid hierarchy even today. In 1953, the Argentinian center forward, described by Bobby Charlton as the most intelligent player he had seen, was signed by Barcelona from his Columbian club, Millonarios. After di Stéfano had appeared in a couple of friendly matches, and after an involved and underhand series of 'negotiations', the Spanish FA declared that the transfer was invalid and the player was triumphantly unveiled by Madrid. Two weeks later, he made his debut in a 5 – 0 victory over Barcelona in the Bernabéu – scoring four goals and starting his journey towards legendary status.

Even the transfer of Luis Figo in 2000 pales into insignificance compared to the machinations involved in the di Stéfano move.

With such a fierce, and continuing, rivalry between these two giant clubs, this puts the events of Barcelona's 3-0 away victory in 2000 into an even more dramatic perspective; that was the night that the Madrid supporters rose to their feet and applauded Ronaldinho after perhaps his best performance in the club's colors.

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