Dragon scale: Why it’s impossible to size up Tolkien’s Middle-earth

John Garth

A piece of fan art illustrating the relative size of Tolkien’s dragons raises a far more interesting issue than how big was Smaug or Glaurung or Ancalagon the Black. It’s an issue that should give pause for thought in any attempt to treat Tolkien’s legendarium as a piece of history, and especially in any attempt to depict it visually – whether in illustrations or movies.

The artist has ranged Middle-earth’s dragons in order of size, from Smaug (merely huge) to Ancalagon (truly gargantuan, even in the Godzilla order of things). The justification for this is provided here – the sizes depicted are inferred from Tolkien’s descriptions and from his artwork.

Key points are the size of Glaurung (or Glorund as Tolkien called him at the time) relative to the background of Nargothrond in the illustration ‘Glorund sets forth to seek Túrin’ (Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and…

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The Equal Teammate Is The New Trophy Wife

Keep fighting for gender equality, everywhere.

James Michael Sama

The term ‘Trophy Wife’ is familiar to many of us in less-than-flattering contexts. While sometimes it qualifies as a compliment in guy-speak when referring to a man’s beautiful wife, the connotation is that she essentially is just that – a trophy. She is likely young(er than him) and beautiful, but is probably well taken care of by her husband. See also: Arm candy.

A trophy, being a prize, is something to be obtained. It is a symbol of accomplishment to be shown off to friends, but has little other function to it other than just looking pretty.

Perhaps a few decades ago, this was an appealing prospective relationship to be part of, but today’s women are stronger, bolder, better educated, and more independent. They may make just as much as, if not more than, the man in their life. They know what they want, and what they don’t want is…

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10 Mistakes That Make Cravings Worse

Good article. Let’s not feel too guilty about eating sweets, but I love the idea of substituting for healthier snacks and fruit.

TIME

Cravings—such a dirty word when you’re trying to lose weight or keep it off. No matter what your “I-want-it-now” food is—pizza, burgers, ice cream, cupcakes—you probably wrestle with what you want to do (eat it now!) with what you “should” do (go eat veggies). Unfortunately, it’s true that many of our daily habits actually make cravings more intense and frequent, making healthy decisions harder. That doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. Learn the 10 biggest mistakes that make cravings even worse to get yours under control.

You skimp on breakfast

Maybe you’re not hungry in the a.m., but eating some calories now can keep cravings at bay later. In one study in the Nutrition Journal, overweight girls who ate a 350-calorie breakfast with at least 13 grams of protein had reduced cravings for sweet and savory foods compared to breakfast skippers. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but…

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Journey to Italian Citizenship: Can I still claim dual citizenship if my mother is born before January 1, 1948?

One year ago, I wrote about my personal experience going through the dual citizenship process. I am surprised and thrilled that over 1000 people have read about my little adventure. A few reached out to ask questions, or advice. So, thank you! It warms my heart to see other people going through the same process. It was difficult, but now a fondly remembered adventure.

After studying abroad in 2008-09, I was bit by wanderlust (as they say) to keep exploring. As a citizen of Italy and part of the European Union, I could live and work anywhere within the EU without having to go through the expensive and time consuming visa process. Dual-citizenship opened doors and I haven’t looked back ever since. Have I mentioned I’m getting married, as well?😉

This post answers MY TOP questions I get asked the most often, which are as follows:   

No. 1: Do I have to pay taxes to Italy and the United States?

marca da bollo
marca da bollo

When I first received my Italian passport I paid administration fees and the “marca da bollo” which means passport stamp. This stamp had to be purchased every year if you travelled out of Italy. For example, when I travelled around Europe (not Italy) no one cared about the expired marca da bollo.

However, GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!

On the 24 June 2014, the passport stamp was abolished! I wish I would have known when I travelled to Italy in July and spent another 42 EUR at the Florence airport. ::glares at Florence:: Ah well, live and learn! At least I know I never have to pay again. 

Other than the marca, I do not need pay taxes to Italy. I pay taxes living and working in the United Kingdom, of course. 

What about taxes in America?

This is not an easy answer, and I will refer you to the professionals on this one. Please see this website for any more information about paying taxes as an ex-pat.

I will note that my income in the UK is not super high which requires you to pay the US government, therefore, I do not have to pay double taxes in the US and UK. I fill out a form, and that’s that. 

No. 2: My mother was born before 1 January 1948, does that mean I can’t apply for Italian citizenship?

Italy loves its laws, and such, two important laws were passed for allow descendants to apply for DUAL citizenship. 

For example, the Law n. 555 of June 13, 1912 was passed partially to help protect minor children from losing their citizenship when their parents naturalized. Before this date, minors (considered less than 21 years of age at the time) lost their citizenship if their parent(s) naturalized in another country. If the ascendant that you are claiming citizenship through moved out of Italy before 1912 as a minor with their parent(s), confirm their parent(s) did not naturalize prior to this date or it could impact the consulate’s acceptance of your application.

The second, Rule 48 (or 1948) meant anyone born to an Italian mother and she was born BEFORE January 1, 1948, could not apply for citizenship. That meant, only fathers could pass the citizenship (called jure sanguinis, right of blood in English). This is gender discrimination against women. 

Now, if you asked me a few months ago, “Hey, my mom was born before January 1, 1948 … can I still go through the process?” I would have shook my head no and said, “I’m sorry. You’ll have to find another way, that’s just the law.” 

But apparently, there is another way. 

Lawyers are challenging this particular discrimination law and are winning. One lawyer in particular, Massimiliano Castellari, Founder and CEO of Castellari & Abogados Asociados, specializes in bringing gender discrimination cases to Italian courts.

I had the opportunity to speak to Massimiliano about his law practice. He is based in Bogota, South America and also operates at his satellite office in Italy. 

“The process itself can take anywhere from seven months to one year. My practice currently helps dual Italian citizens in almost 20 countries, and we’re growing. I help clients obtain documents needed, then facilitate getting them approved by the Italian courts,” Mr. Castellari explains, “The most important piece is obtaining all the correct documents. Without them to show an Italian judge, you cannot begin the lawsuit.”

I appreciate ambitious lawyers like Mr. Castellari. Those who are looking outside the box and helping people achieve their dreams. It’s a specialized field, as only a couple of law firms are challenging this patriarchal law. Although changing the law (at this time) would be unconstitutional, bringing these cases to Italian courts gives clients the approval needed to proceed with their dual italian citizenship endeavors.

I need help with this! Now what? 

If anyone is on the hunt with this discrimination law and have questions, do get in touch. I’m happy to help point you in the right direction and I’m curious to know how many individuals this has affected. You can have a look at Massimilano’s website, also he mentioned he would love to help any North American clients, too. 

Disclosure: I have not been paid for this blog post. All thoughts and opinions are of my own. 

The Crazy Genius Behind Solar Roadways

I cannot even tell how excited this makes me. I’ve been wanting to see this happen for years!!

TechCrunch

Here’s an idea crazy enough that it just might work: Pave the streets with solar-powered panels that have their own built-in heat and LED lights. That’s what Scott and Julie Brusaw hope to accomplish with their ongoing Solar Roadways project, which they just funded through a hugely popular crowdfunding campaign.

The husband-and-wife team has spent the better part of the last decade developing solar-powered modular panels that could be installed in roadways and parking lots, and would be able to collect power from the sun. Those panels could also keep streets clear of snow and ice, while illuminating them with LEDs.

Rather than paving streets and driveways with asphalt, the Solar Roadways panels would theoretically be able to decrease our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels by generating massive amounts of clean energy. Panels are made from ruggedized glass and connect to one another through a mesh network, so that even…

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Liebster award nomination

liebsteraward_3lilapples1I’ve been nominated for a Liebster award for my blog by another amazing blogger, Sarah Elizabeth Lane. I’ve never heard of this award, truthfully, but I like the idea behind it. It’s a great way for us newbie bloggers to reach out and connect with one another and it’s a nice incentive to keep writing! Who doesn’t enjoy a gold star now and then? Writing is damn hard, and it’s a lonely occupation. So thank you, my dearest Sarah, for the nomination. I have always been impressed with Sarah’s well-crafted stories, she makes writing look so easy, but we all know it isn’t! Plus, she has my heart as another lovely Italiana. Sarah, you have a beautiful soul and way with words I can only dream of aspiring to, not to mention, your self-effacing humor makes it so darn easy to love you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Now I get to answer some questions! So without further ado, here are my responses. Enjoy.

1. Why did you start your blog?

This is my third blog. I started my first one in the late 90s, another one when I studied abroad in Wales, and now this is my third attempt. Throughout my childhood I kept a journal. I’m not the best conversationalist, it’s just easier for me to write when I want to accurately convey my feelings. I started this blog as a way to communicate with other expats and Sci-fi/fantasy people. Truthfully, I write for myself. I’m not expecting to make money, it’s just a way to express my thoughts and share with the incredibly engaging and loving writing community on WordPress.

2. What was your dream occupation when you were a young child?

I’m pretty sure I changed my mind as often as I changed shirts! Two in particular stuck with me the longest: veterinarian and marine biologist. The vet thing didn’t happen because I couldn’t deal with animals dying around me and marine biology, to be fair, I considered until I was about 18. About then I realized I’d have to go to college for most of my 20s, and I could expect to make pennies on the dollar. It didn’t seem to add up to me. Should I have received a scholarship, perhaps that would have changed …

3. If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, in only two words, what would they be?

PURSUE SCIENCE! I had no idea that I was so passionate about astrobiology until later in life. I’ve read so much about astrobiology. I wouldn’t mind if my career led me to a science writer or communications specialist working at a Space Agency (ESA, NASA, you just wait!). Maybe there is hope for my science fiction career yet …

4. If you could get lost purpose, anywhere, where would it be?

I would love to get LOST in Italy. Florence was so incredibly beautiful, and getting lost was half the fun! All the secret alleyways with beautifully hidden hole-in-wall restaurants. I need another Italy trip. I don’t even want to go to any touristy locations, I just want to go to Italy and EAT.

5. What is your most prized possession, and why?

I still have my security blanket named Dee Dee. This is the only ‘thing’ which has been with me since the start of my life, until now. I’ve lost touch with people and given away objects, but DD has been with me forever. I knew Lewis was a keeper when he didn’t make fun of me and introduced him to DD.  :)

My goal is to eventually make a quilt and turn the few lasting bits into a square.

6. What is your favorite quote, and by whom?

My mom use to always say, “this too shall pass.” It seems really trite, but it’s become a mantra. Not only will things change (better/worse) but life does indeed go on. It’s an important thing to remember on bad days.

Another favorite Lord of the Rings quote (neeeeeeeerd!) by Tolkien, or really Gandalf, is when he says, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” It’s so true. How many times have we looked back thinking, if only… life is about seizing the opportunities when found.

7. What is your guiltiest pleasure?

For a few years I enjoyed watching Army Wives! That was my sinful pleasure. Now my guilty pleasure is drinking port and eating delicious  dark chocolate which has orange, vanilla and chili’s. It’s sooooooo delicious. I think I upgraded my guilty pleasure big time.

8. If you could spend a year anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there? Let’s pretend money is not an issue, per say, but that you’re not necessarily a Lottery winner either.

Belize. I’ve always wanted to go to Belize. When I was 25 my co-worker just came back from Belize with the most amazing outlook on life. She was positively glowing, and not just from the best tan I’ve ever seen, she genuinely looked 10 years younger. She sat down next to me and said, “Kassie, when you get a chance…. Belize. Just go. Trust me.”

I’ve never forgotten that.

9. Waffles, pancakes, french toast…or vodka?

OMG. Best question, ever!!! I really miss Saturday morning brunches. The British just have NO IDEA how to do a good brunch. Waffles and hot chocolate and mimosas, pleeeeeease.

But I’ll never say no to a bloody mary.

10. Name your go-to driving in the car/home alone/shower sing-along song.

Alanis Morisettte, “You Oughta know” and Metallica’s “Sad But True”

I’ve belted out these renditions more times than I can count. They are also my karaoke go-to songs and I know them by heart.

— and now to continue on the tradition. Here are my nominees —

Bridget Hoida

I met Bridget through her brother, Jeff Hoida, as we were in the same high school class together. Bridget is an amazingly talented (and published!!) writer. Her So LA is an amazing read, I couldn’t put it down. Oh, and she’s a teacher and helps students with their college applications. Bridget is someone I wish I met earlier in life, we could have been besties. Her creative energy is infectious, plus she’s a down-to-earth good-natured person.

To the baby in the restaurant

Lili and I had the most fortuitous meet-cute. We met in San Francisco, as we were both working for a short-term contract position. She asked me how to fill in a W2 form, which I thought “Has she never had a job before?!”

She explained she just moved over from England. And hey, guess what, she use to live in the same town as my British boyfriend! You couldn’t make this stuff up. We instantly bonded and have been friends ever since.

Lili writes a series of letters to individuals. Her conversational style is effortless. She’s a true talent, and I see her writing screen-plays one day. Her soul belongs in New York I feel. I’ve often told her she has the soul of someone older than her early 20-something would lead you to believe.

BexAdler

I hope Bex starts updating her blog again! I loved reading her book reviews. I have a tendency to stick to one particular genre, but through her different recommendations I’ve starting reading a bit more outside my ‘comfort zone’, so to speak. Not only did she also go to Sacramento State (woot!) she has also taught abroad in China and is now teaching in Oregon. Bex is ambitious young lady, and seasoned world-traveler. I keep hoping she’ll write a book about her experiences abroad one day.

If my fellow bloggers choose to accept their award, here are the rules:

1. Post the award on your blog
2. Thank the blogger who presented the award to you and link back to their blog
3. Answer the questions given to you by the nominator
4. Nominate a handful of bloggers  with less than 200 followers
5. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer
6. Notify your nominees by posting on their blog

— Here are your 10 questions, fellow nominees —

1) If you could re-do one event in your life, what would it be?

2) What do you like about blogging?

3) Describe your life at age 65.

4) N’Sync or Backstreet Boys?

5) If you could get into a verbal sparring match with one person, alive or dead, who would it be?

6) You life will be made into a movie. Who would play you?

7) What is your go-to drink?

8) Fill this in.  “When I see a group of hipsters in the street, I want to _____ ”

9) Gym or watching TV?

10)  Who has inspired you to make some of the decisions you’ve made today?

 

 

 

But I’m still American?

The excitement when I first held my red Italian passport. Standing at the airport, with two pieces of luggage and a backpack, saying goodbye to my family. To my life.

Moving to another country is a life-changing adventure. But, is it the right one?

I thought, what am I getting myself into. My great-grandparents left Europe to pursue new opportunities and here I am, returning to the start. Am I letting them down?

You think … what about friends and family members I love and cherish. All the happy memories created during high school, college. You are going to miss birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, graduations, babies, funerals, little ones growing up. I am saying goodbye to the California sunshine, lifestyle, and cuisine. Everything I have ever known.

IMG_6918
Pacific ocean near Half Moon Bay, California

Why am  I leaving? It’s my home, my country. Am I leaving for a better life or will I create something worse? Fear and regret. And yet, I still step on the plane.

One thing I didn’t anticipate is the in-between. While there’s no harm in returning, you’re a changed individual. Neither completely European or American. Your journey creates homesickness in your heart. I miss the heat. But, I miss the lush, emerald green of Britain. Can you belong to both?

IMG_6953
Raw beauty of NorCal.

Living abroad, you’re reminded that you are the OTHER. You’ll never completely understand the references, the jokes from past shows or their childhood memories. People will always question your logic and expect a rational answer; they just don’t understand when you can’t provide clear answers.

IMG_0252
The beauty of England

But despite all this you will feel more grounded than ever. I’m ITALIAN / AMERICAN. Perhaps my spirit has always resided in two places, but it took leaving to understand that part of myself. Why do we have to choose where we place our love? So you just stop thinking and start living and loving. You grow to accept the differences and choose to love even harder.

I love my country. I love my heritage. And I love the life I have created after two years of hard work. Soon, you grow to enjoy returning home all the more because home isn’t just one place. Home is HERE and home is THERE, equally and simultaneously.