7. Castles in the Air

Life during the Middle Ages was hard. People were always at war. Therefore, castles were built to protect people from their enemies.

The castle was the home of a lord and his family. It was also the home of the soldiers. The soldiers were there to protect the castle, the load and his family. They also protected the village from attack. The castle was also the prison and the treasure house. It was even the center of local government.

Most castles were built on a hill or high ground. This made the castle easy to defend. A moat ( a deep ditch filled with water) was built around the castle. A drawbridge, which could be raised and lowered with winches and chains, lay across the moat.

During the Middle Ages, most castles were built in the shape of a square. They had a large tower in each corner. These towers were usually made of stone. A thick stone wall ran from tower to tower and formed an area called the inner ward. A large central tower was called the keep. This was always the very strongest part of the castle. The load and his family lived on the upper floors of the keep. The soldiers lived on the lower levels. The keep had many secret rooms and getaway passages. It was here, in the keep, that all the village people would hide during times of great danger. There were many underground tunnels leading to the keep. The other towers were used for the prison. The great hall was the place for town meetings. The kitchen and bake shop were also part of the castle.

The space outside the towers and wall was called the outer ward. This outer ward was surrounded by another wall. This second wall also ran around the whole village. The top of this wall had a walk for the soldiers and battlements (high stone shields). From behind the battlements the soldiers could hide and shoot their arrows and cast stones at the enemy.

At the end of the Middle Ages, castles disappeared. They were replaced by forts. But many rich homes, homes of loads and earls, were still built in the shape of a castle. Castles have always held the interest of people. Even today in European countries the old romantic castles are a big tourist attraction. Many people flock to see these buildings of time.

6. Happy Birthday to You

What do the candles on your birthday cake mean? They simply tell your age. That’s all. They don’t tell what kind of jobs you can do. They don’t say how healthy you are. Yet, your age has become a figure that can control your life. Your income, your social benefits, your way of life greatly depend upon your age.

Yet a person’s “calendar” age may not be a good measurement to use. You may be sixty-five years old by the calendar. Still you may feel and act even younger than a person who is fifty-five.

As a result, employers today are starting to depend more on “functional” age. The actual date of birth is becoming less of a factor. An older worker has a great deal to offer his company. He is wiser, more experienced and uses better judgment than new employees. As a rule, he knows how to make a decision and when to make it. He knows when to speak up and when not to. Most important, he probably knows when to listen, something that is usually not seen before middle age.

Even the idea of middle age may change, too. People are living longer. People may soon be living to ages well over 100. When this happens, middle age would then be placed at seventy. Since our country is faced with shortages of many goods and services, we should start to think of a person’s ability to contribute, regardless of age.

History tells us of people who reached their peak after middle age. Verdi wrote “Othello” when he was seventy-three. Cervantes wrote Don Quixote when in his middle years. Ben Franklin invented bifocal lenses when he was in his seventies.

Pearl Buck, a great writer, once talked about her eightieth birthday. She said that she was a far better person at eighty than she was at fifty or forty. She said that she had learned a great deal since she was seventy. She felt that she had learned more in those ten years than in any other ten-year period.

In fact, Pearl was right. Studies show that smart people tend to get smarter at they grow older. The brain is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more it develops. Each one of us has something that can be used to help society and ourselves. Let’s not let the candles on a birthday cake stand in the way.

5. Safety First

There are things around the house that can hurt a child. For example, baby’s crib and playpen are not always safe. These things can sometimes be an area of great danger to an infant. You should take care when you buy such items. When choosing a crib or a playpen, be sure that the slats are spaced no more than two-and-one-half inches apart. With slats like this, the baby cannot catch his head between them. Be careful, too, of loose slats that could come out. A missing slat leaves a gap. The infant’s head could easily get caught.

Even thin plastic, the kind you get from the cleaners, can be a very dangerous thing in a baby’s world. It should never be used to cover a crib mattress. It should not be left where a baby could grab it and pull it over his face. A baby has no defense against this kind of thin, sticky plastic. The plastic can cling to his mouth and nose, cutting off his air supply.

We know that every home contains a great number of things that are tempting to a baby. These objects can do a lot of harm when baby is in the hand-to-mouth stage. Before putting a child down on the floor to play, check the floor carefully.

Keep things like buttons, beads, pins, screws, or anything small out of baby’s reach. Look out for anything small enough to fit in the infant’s mouth. Small objects can get lodged in the throat and cut off the child’s air supply.

Toys are not always safe either. The most dangerous toys for a child under three are those small enough to swallow. Do not let a young child play with marbles or small plastic toys. A void toys which come apart easily. Do not buy stuffed animals or dolls with tiny button eyes or ornaments that can be easily pulled off. Never let a child chew on balloons. He might bite off a piece and choke.

Do not feed a young child popcorn, nuts, or small, hard candies. Doctors find that young children do not know how to eat things like these. These foods can easily get sucked into the windpipe instead of going to the stomach. The same is true of pills. Use liquid medicine. If pills must be used, they should be crushed.

4. Busy Little Carpenters

Most people think of termites when they think of insects that live in wood. But there are other kinds of wood-nesting insects. Unlike termites, carpenter ants and carpenter bees do not eat wood. They simply nest in it. But they are still a problem because they can do a lot of damage while making their nests.

Carpenter ants are easy to spot. They are large and reddish-brown or black. Workers are from 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. The workers have strong jaws and will bite when disturbed. Indoors the ants feed on sweets and other foods.

Colonies of carpenter ants are started by mated queens. The queen seeks damp wood for her nest. Once started, the nest is moved into dry, sound wood. The ants carve out their living quarters. They keep them clean and smooth. Sawdust from the nest is carried outside and dumped. If you see large ants around the house, beware! It is usually the first sign of a nest. The nest may not be inside, however. It may be in a stump or hollow tree near the house. But who knows when they might decide to move in.

Wood that has become damp should be watched carefully. Places that come under attack are porch pillars and supporting timbers. Other places to look are sills, joists, studs, and window and door trim. It is a good idea to poke the dampened wood with a sharp object. If the wood gives way and ants come tumbling out, the nest likely been found.

Besides carpenter ants, there are carpenter bees. Carpenter bees look a lot like bumblebees. They range in size from 1/4 to an inch long. Some are as large as bumblebees. However, carpenter bees have bare, shiny abdomens. The abdomens of bumblebees are covered with rows of thick yellow hair.

Carpenter bees cut an entrance hole across the grain of the wood. Then, they build their homes with the grain of the wood. They usually build their nests in dead twigs or branches. The damage caused by one or two bees is slight. But if they are not stopped, they can cause much damage over a long period.

By watching the bees, the nests can usually be found. It’s good idea to stop them before they spread and cause problems. The only good way to control pests is to poison their nests.

3. Cold Weather Care

Enjoy the great outdoors, but be careful. People who are outside when it is very cold and windy tire quickly. Also, body heat is lost fast. If you must go outdoors, take extra care.

Cold weather itself, without any work on your part, puts an extra strain on the heart. If you add to this the strain of hard work, you are taking a risk. Hard work includes shoveling snow, pushing a stalled car, or even just walking too fast or too far.

If you do go out, be sure to dress warmly. Try to wear light wool clothes that do not fit too tightly. Outer garments should shed water. wear a wool hat. Protect your face and cover your mouth to keep very cold air from your lungs. Wear mittens instead of gloves. They allow your fingers to move freely and will keep your hands warmer.

Watch out for frostbite and any other signs of danger from being in the cold too long. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling in the fingers, toes, tip of the nose, or ear lobes. These areas may become white or pale. If you see such signs, get help right away. Do not rub them with snow or ice. This treatment does not help and could make matters worse.

Do not drink alcohol when you are out in the cold. This makes you lose body heat even faster. You may feel warmer at first, but you will end up colder than before.

Try to keep your clothes and yourself dry. Change wet socks right away. Remove all wet clothing as soon as you can to stop loss of body heat. Wet clothes do not help you to keep in body heat.

If someone with you shows signs of illness from the cold, take action quickly. Even if someone claims to be all right, you should still act. Often the person will not realize how bad off he might be. Get the person into dry clothing and into a warm bed. Use a hot water bottle which should not be hot but warm to the touch. Use warm towels or a heating pad or any other source of heat to warm the bed. Put the heat on the drunk of the body first. Keep the head low and the feet up. Give the person warm drinks. If symptoms are very bad, call for a doctor right away.

2. Drug Facts

It often helps to know something about drugs. A drug is a chemical substance. It can bring about a physical, emotional or mental change in people. Alcohol and tobacco are drugs. The caffeine found in coffee, tea, cocoa, and cola drinks is a drug.

Drug abuse is the use of a drug, legal or illegal that hurts a person or someone close to him. A drug user is the person who takes the drug. There are many kinds of drug users. We have the experimental users. These people may try out drugs once or twice. They want to see what the effects will be. Recreational users take drugs to get high. they use drugs with friends or at parties to get into the mood of things. Regular users take drugs all the time. But they are able to keep up with the normal routine of work, school, housework, and so on. Dependent users can’t relate to anything other than drugs. Their whole life centers around drugs. They feel extreme mental or real pain when they need drugs.

All drugs can be harmful. The effect of any drug depends on a lot of things. How a drug acts depends on how much or how often it is taken. It depends on the way it is taken. Some drugs are smoked. Others are swallowed or injected. Drugs act differently on different people. The place and the people around you affect the way a drug works.

Sometimes people take more than one drug. Multiple drug use is not only common, but also harmful. A deadly example is the use of alcohol and sleeping pills at the same time. Together these drugs can stop normal breathing and lead to death.

It is not always easy to tell if someone is on drugs. In the early stages, drug use is often hard to see. Sometimes people like drugs or need drugs so much they can’t do without them. We say they are dependent. Only a few kinds of drugs, like the narcotics, can cause physical dependence. But almost any drug, when it is misused, can make you think you need it all the time. By this time it is too late and the person has been “hooked.”

Tobacco, alcohol and marihuana are three very common drugs. These three are called the gateway drugs.” They are the first ones most people use and become dependent on.

1. Let’s Keep It Clean.

Did you ever stop to think how important water is? All animals and plants are mostly water. A person’s body is abut 65 percent water. Each of us needs to drink at least five pints of water each day. Big animals need about 15 gallons of water a day.

Water has other uses, too. It is used for washing and air conditioning. It is used for household work and gardening. Steel, gasoline, paper and most other products are made with the help of water. Power plants use water for cooling. Farms, of course, need water to grow food.

Water is even used to carry goods and people around the world. Water is used for swimming, boating and other kinds of recreation. Water is the home of many animals and plants, such as fish, whales, clams and seaweeds.

We can easily see that life would be impossible without water. That is why it is so important to keep our water clean and usable. Yet, polluted water is becoming very common.

Water that has become polluted is unsafe to use. Pollution can happen when sewage and other untreated wastes have been dumped into it. Polluted water can smell, has garbage floating in it, and be unfit for swimming or boating. But even water that looks clean and smells good can be polluted. It may be loaded with germs and dangerous chemicals that you cannot see.

People pollute water in a lot of ways. One way is to allow bathroom and factory wastes to flow through pipes and into waterways without being treated. Another way is to allow soil, fertilizers and industrial wastes to wash from farms, building sites and mining sites into waterways after a rain.

Bacteria can feed on some wastes. Other wastes can be diluted by water in waterways. But nature can only do so much. Man is making more waste than nature can handle. More and better wastewater treatment is needed.

It is a fact that not all towns properly treat their drinking water. Many people think that the water they drink is safe. Most of the time it is. But about 4,000 Americans become sick each year by germs in unsafe drinking water. Many more cases not reported.

Clean water is so important to our lives. We should make an effort to make sure we will have enough of it.