5 things you didn’t know about South Africa

South Africa is, well, obviously a country in the southern portion of the continent of Africa. This country is culturally and ethnically very diverse, with a plethora of residents who are all different cultures and speak different languages, and has 1,739 miles of coastline that borders the Indian and Atlantic Ocean.  Besides this basic geographical knowledge, there is so much more to the country of South Africa than meets the eye. Here are 5 facts about South Africa that you probably didn’t know.

1) South Africa has more languages than the United States– We already knew that South America was a culturally and ethnically diverse country in Southern Africa, however, this country has 11 official languages– which is more than the US has and it is “the Melting Pot” of the world.

2) South Africa and its nuclear weapon history– South Africa is the first country to date to ever assemble nuclear weapons and then dismantle them voluntarily. Out of the nine nuclear warheads from the Cold War, South Africa is the only country to dismantle their nuclear weapons out of the 23,000 weapons that are still in existence from the Cold War.

3) You were born in South Africa– We were all born in South Africa, as it is the “Cradle to all Humankind.” Johannesburg, a 180 square-foot of South Africa was declared a World Heritage Site as archaeologists have found thousands of hominids fossils here. Archaeologists have been digging here for decades and first came along its large amount of hominid fossils in 1966.

4) South Africa approved the first human artificial blood– The country has been in high demand of blood supply because one quarter of their population’s blood contains pathogens like HIV and Hepatitis C. The artificial blood they approved was the product from Massachusetts called Hemopure. This artificial blood was made from cows and was said to extend the shelf life of blood from 6 months to two years and work as an alternative to blood transfusions. However, this artificial blood did not live up to its expectations and has been discontinued.

5) South America’s constitution declares a monarchy– Despite its democratically ran government, it actually has a monarchy that is declared and provided in South America’s constitution. There is actually a current monarch, and while he does not hold direct political power, he does have a lot of influence over the country of South America, and its democratically elected politicians.

 

The latest from playstation and x-box

In the gaming world, there are two gaming consoles that are taking the gaming world by storm. PlayStation and Xbox have developed two gaming systems that use top-of-the-line technology to ensure that you have the most realistic gaming experience as possible.

These two are the front runners in terms of the best gaming systems, and with new hardware and technology, they bring forth years of great gaming experiences. When looking to buy a new gaming console, however, you will want to do research one both of these consoles before you decide to buy. Let’s take a look at a comparison between these two.

1) Xbox One: This gaming system can be found on Amazon for $399.99, and offers a wide range of online “premium gold” services that can be used on multi-player games, as well as other multimedia services online such as Netflix and Hulu for a $60 one-time fee. However, to access Netflix and Hulu, you have to have a Live Gold account. The Xbox One has a DDR3 RAM and, like the PlayStation 4, also has 8-core AMD CPUs, 8GB of memory, 500GB internal hard drives, and Blu-ray optical drives. The Xbox One also includes top notch gaming pads to use while operating games, as well as a large variety of games that have been recently launched for you to choose from for this particular gaming console.

2) Playstation 4: The Playstation 4 does not fall short of the glorified Xbox One. This gaming console, however, is $100 or more cheaper than the Xbox One and even has somewhat better hardware than the Xbox One console. The Playstation 4 has a GDDR5 RAM hardware system, as well as 8-core AMD CPUs, 8GB of memory, 500 GB internal hard drives, and Blu-ray optical drives. The only difference in hardware between the two is the RAM systems. The Playstation 4 and Xbox One are also nearly identical in terms of great gaming controlling and pads. The Playstation 4, just like the Xbox One, is also under a year old, so there have been hundreds of games that have been launched for you to choose from to play on this gaming console.

There are only two definite differences between these two, new and innovative gaming systems: 1) the price and 2) the RAM systems, which aren’t necessarily a make-or-break thing when picking out a console. Overall, the Playstation 4 is a much cheaper option, and it also features a better hardware system, as well as free online game play. No matter which way you go, you are picking to very similar gaming systems.

10 tips when building your own home

Building your own home brings upon a lot of excitement, a lot of work, and a whole lot of decisions that you have to make to customize and make your dream home. While this process is an exciting adventure, making these decisions can be difficult if you don’t have the right person advising you along the way. Here are a few tips to consider when building your own home.

1)  Interview an assortment of contractors– Before making a final decision on what contractor to hire, make sure that you interview several contractors. They can be excellent salespeople, and you want to be sure that you have one that you can trust, that is sensible, and wants to truly build you your dream home.

2) Make sure you understand the contract between you and your contractor– It is important to understand exactly what you are signing and if it is an incomplete contract or poorly written, do not sign it and reconsider hiring a new contractor.

3) Make concrete plans– You can never fly by the seat of your pants when building a house, make sure you know what you want and have a timeline of when you want these things to be completed. Not doing so could put you in the process of building a house for  a long time.

4) Put everything in writing– This goes hand-in-hand with your contract. Make sure the contractors sign and make a promise to what they are saying they will build.

5) Understand your budget– Make a wishlist for what you want for your house and research the costs for all of these things. If you are over your budget, decide which things from your wishlist are necessary and decide what you can live without.

6) Ask Questions– If you are not familiar with construction and building, make sure you ask plenty of questions to make sure the job is being done correct and the way it should.

7) Keep a professional relationship with your contractor– No matter if they are friends or family, they are building your home so make sure you keep a business-like relationship with these people.

8) Visit the site– Check on the building site often when you are hiring someone to build your house. Make sure that progress is coming along like it should be and that you know what is going on.

9) Make a timeline– Sit down with your contractor and have him help you make a realistic timeline of when things should be done. This will help the process move faster and help you keep track and plan to move in to your home.

10) Don’t be surprised– If things don’t go as planned, don’t be surprised. Things are going to come up and there will be issues. Understanding this before hand will help you when issues occur. Building your house will not be an easy, perfect process.

5 tips when investing in residential property

As the real estate market has picked back up in the market, many are taking this as an opportunity to invest in real estate property while the prices are still reasonably low. This investment has potential to be a great investment due to the quality price and the overall financial advantage you could gain with the overall growth in the real estate market.

While this investment venture has potential to be a smart one, there are some tips to abide by to ensure that your investment is worth your while.

1) Make sure you have a large down payment– Mortgage insurance does not cover investment properties, so at least putting down 20% of your payment will enable you to make the normal mortgage payments on your property that you are investing in. If you can handle a 25% payment, you will be qualified for an even better interest rate.

2) Use smaller, neighborhood banks– If you have any struggles or doubts financially, stay away from large, national corporate banks. These have very general policies that are put in place and that will most likely hold up for everyone, no matter the circumstance. Smaller neighborhood credit unions offer much more flexibility so that you can make your payments and lose the risk of any type of credit or funding issue.

3) Ask for owner financing– Requesting to pay a certain payment and future payments on your own terms can really benefit you in the long run. It used to be suspicious since anyone could get a bank loan, but issues with crediting make this type of financing much more acceptable.

4) Be a responsible borrower– If you take out a loan for this property, which most likely you will, make sure that you are a borrower that makes their designated payments at the requested time, and if you can, pay even more than your payment is. This will give you a sort of cushion, and if anything happens with future payments, you will be more likely to earn forgiveness for that payment if you are a strong borrower. This will also ensure that you will not have lowered credit.

5) Be creative with how you use your money– If you are looking to profit greatly from your residential investment, using home equity lines of credit and credit cards for renovating can be the best route to go, if you have decent credit and the means to pay these things off immediately upon receiving a bill. It is advised to be very cautious when using these forms of payment to pay for renovation costs.

What is “diversification” and do I need it?

The term “diverse” often means “a wide variety of,” whether it is a diverse group of people, food, things, etc. This term is also a very popular term in a financial aspect that everyone should research and consider when managing their own money.

Financially, “diversification” means “reducing risks by investing in a wide variety of assets.” If the assets do not move up and down in a perfect, synchronized manner, then an individual with a diversified portfolio has less risk than the weighted average risk of its assets. Diversification can also be used to increase your overall investment performance, but doing so requires a lot of active management of the portfolio.

There are two types of diversification of a portfolio. Systematic diversification is the obverse of systematic risk, which is more difficult to achieve. Greater systematic risk is noticed when assets move up and down together in a union-like pattern. If this happens, there is large systematic risk and little systematic diversification.  The other type of systematic diversification is idiosyncratic diversification. This type of diversification is increased by simply holding more investments, and is much easier to achieve than systematic diversification.

The best way to explain and give an example of diversification is the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” meaning do not only hold one stock because if that drops you are a higher financial risk. Having more investments an assets only means a lower risk of “dropping the basket and breaking the eggs.”

It is a good idea, in terms of financial growth and stability, for everyone to aim for a diversified financial portfolio. If you are not investing your money, you are not growing your money, which can severely hurt you in the event of a personal financial crisis. Having several assets and investments is a great idea for anyone who is managing their own money, and there are millions of great financial advisers to help you invest your money wisely and diversely.

One of the main issues in diversifying your portfolio is that, at the time that you are investing, you don’t necessarily know which assets will perform better. However, with that being said, this is why investing in several different and different kinds of assets is essential to your success in a diversified portfolio. The advantages of diversification definitely outweigh the disadvantages, however, if you are having second thoughts or need a professional opinion or assistance, it is best if you make an appointment with a financial adviser or accountant.

How to make all-natural sunscreen

Sunscreen– it is an absolute necessity every single day before exposing your skin to the sun, even in the frigid and cold winter months. After recent updates of skin cancer, sunscreen is a must-have for everyone, no matter your skin type.

Although sunscreen is something we should never go without, some of the store-brand sunscreens actually contain chemicals that are, again, very unhealthy and bad for your skin and body. There are some great organic sunscreen options, but these can be pricey. Learn how to make your own, all-natural sunscreen and save money, your skin, and possibly even your life.

Here’s what you will need:
-1/2 cup of almond or olive oil-1/4 cup of coconut oil (natural SPF 4)
-1/4 cup of beeswax
-2 tablespoons of non-nano, powdered zinc oxide. (2 teaspoons is naturally 20+ SPF, but more can be added for higher protection.)
-You also have the option of adding 1 tablespoon of shea butter, which is natural SPF 4-5, or vanilla extract to give off a better scent.

Here’s how to begin making your own, homemade sunscreen:
1) In a pint sized or larger container, combine all the ingredients EXCEPT for the zinc oxide. Make sure there is an attachable lid for this jar! Mason jars and other glass jars are great for mixing these ingredients and are handy to have around if you continue to make lotions.

2) In a medium sauce pan, fill with a couple inches of water and place on the stove over medium heat.

3) Attach the lid, very loosely, and place the glass jar with the ingredients in the saucepan filled with water over medium heat.

4) The water will continue to heat, and the ingredients in the jar will begin to melt. Occasionally, shake or stir the ingredients in the jar to disperse heat and make sure there is consistency.

5) Once all of the ingredients are melted, then you add your two (or however many) teaspoons of zinc oxide. Stir the contents and make sure all of your ingredients are dispersed evenly throughout the jar and mixed well.

6) Pour your sunscreen mixture into whatever jar you will use for storage. Tip: This homemade sunscreen does not disperse well in a lotion pump– it is advised to use some sort of tin or other jar to store your homemade sunscreen.

7) Stir occasionally as your sunscreen mixture cools to ensure that the zinc oxide is dispersed throughout your jar of ingredients.

TIP: Using this mixture within a 6 month time-span is ideal and will make your sunscreen more effective.

Home Remedies for Acne

Zits leave us hiding behind caked on makeup and bring down our self-confidence levels greatly. Acne is something that no one wishes for and everyone wants to get rid of. Since there are so many different forms of acne and everyone has such different skin types, it is hard to say one miraculous solution to having a perfect, clear perfection.

Dealing with acne can be difficult and very defeating, and it can also leave you with a drained bank account after paying for prescription after prescription of skin creams and supplements. Clearing up your skin, however, does not have to be expensive, and honestly, sometimes using natural treatments are better for your skin than caking on all of those chemicals on your face all the time. Here are a few home remedies for treating acne.

1) Sugar-Lemon Scrub– This scrub is exactly what it sounds like. Combine one teaspoon of sugar and one teaspoon of natural lemon juice and mix together. After they are mixed, use this as a scrub and massage your face for at least 30 to 60 seconds and then rinse with warm water. Lemon brightens your complexion, and the sugar is a great, natural exfoliant that removes dead surface skin cells and revives your skin for a better complexion.

2) Apple Cider Vinegar– Using 100% purified apple cider vinegar diluted in water is one of the greatest things you can do for your skin. It gets rid of nasty bacteria that is clogging up your pores, and it also balances out the pH levels of your skin, making it harder for bacteria to thrive. Using this as your daily toner once or twice a day is a great way to kill off problematic acne.

3) Strawberry-Honey Mask– This all-natural mask is good enough to eat. Mix 3, well-washed strawberries and one tablespoon of honey and apply to your face for 20 minutes. This mixture seems like an unlikely duo, but strawberries are high in Salicylic Acid, which is very effective in treating acne. Honey also rids your skin of toxic bacteria and is also a great anti-inflammatory to sooth red, irritated skin.

4) Ice– Obviously, ice acts as a great anti-inflammatory for injuries and wounds. Ice also acts as a great anti-inflammatory for our faces. For those red and irritated areas of our face we have from acne, take an ice cube and rub it along your clean, not yet moisturized skin for 15-20 seconds and your inflammation will go down and your face will resume to its normal color. This works especially well after you have popped a whitehead.

Top 5 Surfing Beaches in the World

Beaches offer an assortment of enjoyable activities for everyone. Whether you are looking to relax and lay in the sand and sunbathe, or you are looking to take a run along the sandy shores, beaches are a beautiful display of mother nature and marine life and they make wonderful vacation destinations.

Residents of cities lined along beaches often frequent the beach, and it becomes almost like a second home. Surfing is a sport that many beach town locals take up and revolve their day around the best time to catch the best waves.

Although most beaches all have waves or some sort of current, certain spots of different oceans do not have ideal surfing currents. There are several beaches that are some of the best surf spots in the world, and people come from near and far to surf these currents. Here’s a look at the top 5 best beaches for surfing.

1) Black’s Beach: San Diego, California– This beach has some of the best breaks in California, and is definitely a scene for seasoned surfers. During weekends and times of large currents, this beach is jammed packed with surfers.

2) Hanalei Bay, Hawaii– This euphoric beach town is a crowd favorite in the surfing community. Not only does it have great breaks, it also has picturesque waterfalls and is an overall beautiful destination for surfers and tourists alike.

3) Cloudbreak: Tarauva Island, Fiji– This surf spot along the coast of the South Pacific ocean has breathtaking views and is an all-around perfect spot for a tropical getaway. This spot is also the expert surfers dreamland, and if you are a beginner surfer, stay away from trying to catch waves at this beach. With waves reaching 10 meters in height, expert surfers will have a surfing experience like none other.

4) Supertubes: Jeffery’s Bay, South Africa– This is definitely one of the best surf spots in the world, mostly because its diverse waves in specific areas that are great for every surfers level of skill. At Supertubes, you can catch rides up to 300 meters long. This is a surfing location that has been featured several times in Surfing Magazine.

5) Pipeline: Oahu, Hawaii– This is the most prominently known spot for surfing, and this is the ultimate surfer’s paradise, not to mention the fact that it is located in the gorgeous sandy, crisp blue waters of Oahu. This surf spot is also another one for the experts, and many surfers only dream of being skilled enough to ride here.

The hottest surf spots don’t stop here– there are over 50 spots world-wide that are deemed the best for every surfer of any skill level.

5 salsa recipes that go with anything

Salsa is one of the most delicious and popular Mexican dishes that is known and loved from people of every culture. This delicious sauce is composed of spices, herbs and vegetables and is a great dipping sauce, as well as a great topping to add some kick to your favorite Mexican cuisine.

The great thing about salsa is its versatility– this dish is great to dip with nachos, pour on top of your favorite burrito or taco, and it is a great side dish to serve when you are entertaining. The other great thing about salsa is that there are so many fun ways to make this sauce, as well as ways to customize it and make your own. Here are 5 versatile salsa recipes for everyone’s tastes and different occasions.

1) Fresh Tomato Salsa– This is a very basic salsa recipe from Pilsbury that only takes about 20 minutes of prep time and you’ll only the following ingredients:
-4 medium tomatoes, seeded & chopped (2 cups)
-1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
-1/2 cup of chopped green bell pepper
-1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
-2 tablespoons of lemon juice
-1 tablespoon of lime juice
-1 large jalapeno chile, seeded & chopped

2) Betty Crocker’s Fresh Tomato Salsa– This salsa recipe is very similar to the Pillsbury recipe, however, there are a few modifications in ingredients that make this version of salsa differ from the above. The different ingredients in this salsa are:
-4 medium green onions
-1/2 teaspoon of salt
-cloves garlic
-And this recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of lime juice.

3) Quick Southwestern Corn Salsa– This salsa is for those of you who are constantly cooking on the go. It does not contain as much natural ingredients, however, it is a quick and delicious alternative to fresh salsa from the garden. You’ll need the following ingredients:
-1 can of Green Giant Steam Crisp Southwestern Corn
-1 cup of Old El Paso Thick & Creamy salsa
-1 small jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
-1/2 cup of fresh, chopped cilantro.

4) Hot Salsa– This salsa recipe is also a very general salsa recipe, but it is geared for those of you who love hot and spicy foods. It has the same ingredients as basic fresh tomato salsa, however, it contains a larger portion of jalapeno chiles and vegetable oil.

5) Salsa con Queso– If you love salsa and you love cheese, you’ll love this recipe. For salsa con queso, simply prepare your favorite salsa, prepare ground beef, and pour the contents into a crock pot along with Velveeta cheese, stir occasionally, and enjoy!

5 ways to quit smoking

Smoking cigarettes is one of the most addictive habits you can start. It has been made very obvious through various scientific studies and research that cigarettes contain so many toxins and other harsh chemicals that can be destructive to your body. Cigarettes highly effect your lungs, heart, and effect so many of your organs all the way down to your skin complexion.

While those who smoke are very aware of this dangerous, habit forming toxin that is a cigarette, it is extremely difficult to stop smoking them. However, thanks to new scientific findings and just a little will power and motivation, you can begin your journey to being cigarette free. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1) Create a Stop-Smoking Plan– Set a goal date on the day you want to begin your journey to quit smoking, but make sure it is a few weeks in the future so that you can mentally prepare yourself for it. Write that date down somewhere that you will constantly be reminded of it. Make sure it is not a date too far in the future so that you don’t talk yourself out of it. This plan will help set a goal so that you are motivated to achieve it.

2) Pick someone to hold you accountable– Pick a family member, significant other, friend, coworker (preferably a non-smoker)– tell the chosen person of your desire and plan to stop smoking and have them help hold you accountable to your goal. That brings another person into the situation that you will not want to let down other than yourself. If you are slowly weening yourself off of cigarettes, have this person be in charge of your packs of cigarettes and that way they will monitor your cigarette intake.

3) Fight off your cravings– Upon quitting smoking, you will find yourself in dire need of a cigarette and have a lot of cravings. Pick something that will help you get through the craving. Take slow deep breaths, chew a piece of gum, gnaw on a carrot or fruit, or take a drink of water and hold it in your mouth. No matter what tactic you use, it is better than succumbing to your cravings and having a cigarette.

4) Reward yourself– Pick some way to reward and celebrate each day or whatever time frame that you don’t have a cigarette. This will keep you motivated.

5) Turn to your doctor or medical professional– Talking to your doctor and seeking support from them will help you in the long run. Doctors are full of helpful information and will give you the support you need to make the journey to being cigarette-free.

It doesn’t matter how you stop smoking, it only matters that you do. Never be afraid to seek help and support from others during this difficult journey. The benefits of quitting smoking will literally save your life.

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