Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ show is set in the Second Age. Here’s what that means.

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Amazon is taking us back to Middle-Earth’s Second Age in its upcoming Lord of the Rings show, giving us a much firmer grasp on what we can expect to see (or rather, what we know we won’t see).

The Twitter account for Amazon’s untitled Lord of the Rings show tweeted out an image of a map of Middle-Earth and the message “Welcome to the Second Age,” seemingly confirming that the show will take place long before the events of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, which took place toward the tail end of the Third Age. That means we won’t be seeing young Aragorn, but there’s still a chance that we’ll see Elrond, Galadriel, and possibly some other elves.  Read more…

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Breaking Down My Walls: How I Learned That Unconditional Love Means A Lot Of Forgiveness

Who doesn’t love days like these?

Source: Dean Mitchell / Getty

Conditions exist in every facet of life. When we leave our overpriced city apartments, we dress for the appropriate weather conditions. There’s conditions when it comes to keeping your job. You gotta show up on time, do the work, all that good stuff.

There are conditions in relationships, too. But it’s not something we talk about enough in our relationships with our family, friends, or significant others.

I’ve had several instances where I’ve felt loved under conditions and when I, too, have loved people conditionally. Whenever I realized this, I knew it was because I wanted to control the outcome. I wanted things to be done my way, I wanted to be right, I wanted to ‘win.’ Over the years, I learned that this thought process was problematic, and I wanted to understand where this mindset stemmed from. I realized that forgiveness, transparency and self-awareness were needed to understand. Were these conditions reasonable and realistic? Or were the conditions set as a means of control?

My introduction to conditions began with my interactions with my parents, as an adult child. If you have strict African parents like mine, you know there will always be reminders that you aren’t doing enough. They keep account of all the times you messed up since the day you were conceived. Around my mid twenties, I had a serious conversation with my Pops about unconditional love.

We had gotten into an argument because he had wanted to put this tracker on my phone. Needless to say, I was adamantly against this and made this known. My dad’s go-to response was to give me the silent treatment for three weeks. It was then that I finally decided to have an honest conversation about his response.

My heart was racing, but I had him on the phone, and decided it was time to really be transparent with him about his communication. I said to him:“If there’s something I can do to make you stop loving me, especially something small, then your love comes with conditions. We can agree to disagree without you shutting me out; that’s not love, and that’s not how we express love. As a parent, you love me unconditionally, regardless of whether you agree with everything I decide to do.”

Needless to say, it was a game changing conversation, and allowed us to really dialogue about where the ‘conditions’ were coming from.

I started to examine my friendships. In my opinion, best friends have an unspoken  commitment to working through difficult situations, no matter what because the love is genuine. I’ve been blessed to be able to really fight through some real stuff in order to mend things with those closest to me. It has not been easy; both parties had to forgive and let go in order to move forward. It’s in those moments, that I knew they were in this thing for life.

On that same note, there are friendships and romantic relationships that faded or were downright ruined because of the tally system. It does us no good to keep score of who forgives who the most, or to focus on winning an argument versus coming to a resolution. There are times when I had to take the loss and come to terms with the part I played in the downfall. 

When it comes to romantic relationships, I don’t think you can truly love a partner with conditions. The idea is that unless you’re protecting yourself from being harmed physically/emotionally, what are these conditions in place for? I think when we think about long term commitments like marriage, we don’t assume our partners will make mistakes. But we will, because we’re human. In order for us to grow and become more self aware, thoughtful people, we have to trust and hope that our significant other gives us the benefit of the doubt and forgives. Because ultimately, with pre-existing conditions, it doesn’t leave much room for redemption.

The problem with conditional relationships is it sets stipulations on what unconditional love and regard for another person should look like. It posits that forgiveness and the potential to move forward does not exist and never was a possibility between friends, lovers and family members. 

There are exceptions to this, of course. It’s important to have boundaries and to advocate for them the moment they are broken. But overall, giving the benefit of the doubt and allowing a potential change to occur shows a sign of emotional maturity.

If you’re keeping receipts, your intentions are never to forgive. It’s to use the gathering of info at the right opportunity. That’s not okay.

You can’t control people, you can only control yourself. You always owe it to yourself to set the tone for how you want to be treated at the beginning. That way there is no confusion. In any relationships, you should know when to call it quits, and when to keep fighting. If this person means everything to you, there are few stipulations that will stop you from mending something that is broken. It’s all about intentions, and something to keep in mind when navigating emotional bonds and communicating with the people that we care for. 

Mora Adeyi works full-time as a social worker, assistant professor, as well as a freelance writer. In her spare time, she loves napping, hanging with her girls, and binge watching romantic comedies. Mora has been writing on love for the past 9 years.

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Holiday Attire for Men: What It Means & How to Wear It

The source of confusion in this dress code is that it can mean anything from cocktail attire with a festive twist to the recent vogue for ugly Christmas sweaters.

Our most general piece of advice for the holiday or festive dress code is to gravitate to the more formal end of the spectrum which we’re going to lay out today. After all, no one is ever going to fault you for looking put together. The exception to this advice, of course, is if the hosts have clearly stated that the party is going to be more extravagant and playful in nature and that ugly sweaters are expected. In that case, by all means, do loosen up and have some fun.

Ugly Christmas Sweater

Ugly Christmas Sweater

Your safest bet, of course, will always be to ask the hosts for advice directly as a gentleman always makes the effort to follow a dress code as closely as he can; to do otherwise would be an insult to your hosts. One more piece of general advice here before we dive in, keep it varied and have a few options handy, after all, it’s a busy time of year for parties and you may be invited to more than one that has a holiday or festive dress code to it so having a few options at your disposal will never be a bad thing.

Tartan adds a bit of playfulness to any outfit

Tartan adds a bit of playfulness to any outfit

How To Meet The Holiday Attire Dress Code Stylishly?

The simplest answer is this, think of it as being an offshoot of cocktail attire with an extra holiday touch in terms of color or some playfulness that’s incorporated into your outfit such as wearing tartan which has been an established alternative when it comes to holiday wear since at least the middle of the 20th century. Regarding color then, do feel free to incorporate some of the standard colors of the holiday season such as red and green. With that said, however, don’t go for bright and gaudy hues as these are just going to make you stand out a little bit too much. Instead, go for something subtle, understated, and elegant.

Now let’s cover today’s subject through the lens of multiple different types of holiday parties, each with differing levels of formality and cover the related dress accordingly.

Office Appropriate Festive Attire

Regarding how dressed up you should be for such an event, just take a cue from the regular day-to-day attire at your office. In other words, think of how you should dress as being a somewhat typical office outfit, maybe just a bit more relaxed and with a seasonal element to it.

White Collar Office Parties

Firstly, if you work in a traditional white collar office environment, go for something that’s appropriately conservative. For example, a suit perhaps three pieces or double-breasted in a dark color like charcoal, navy, or in midnight blue, if you’re feeling especially elegant. Along with this, you could go for a dress shirt, ideally French cuffed and probably in a pastel color as white might be just a bit too stuffy for a festive party.

Oxblood derby shoes is a great option for Festive Attire dress code

Oxblood derby shoes is a great option for Festive Attire dress code

In terms of shoes, you’ll want to keep things appropriately conservative as well so you could go for the classic black cap toe oxford or if you’re feeling just a little bit more playful, something in a very dark brown color perhaps an oxblood. You could go for something like a monk strap or something incorporating just a little bit of broguing in its design but you don’t want to get too crazy and you probably won’t want to opt for light colors like tan either. After all, if your regular office attire consists of those black oxfords, you’ll want to keep it in the neighborhood of that kind of shoe even for a party like this.

Refrain from wearing this loud Christmas tie at a white-collar office party

Refrain from wearing this loud Christmas tie at a white-collar office party

As for your accessories, the novelty tie emblazoned with huge Santa heads is probably going to be a little bit too informal for a party of this nature. Instead, you’ll want to go for something like a dark burgundy or a similarly muted hue perhaps with a slight pattern to it. Although solids are of course a safe bet. Your pocket square can be a little bit bolder in comparison to your tie and can possibly incorporate some small patterns as well. Just remember that all of the elements of your outfit should ultimately remain harmonious.

You’re likely going to have the most latitude here with your cufflinks, they can be solid metal in any shade of course and can incorporate stones or other engraved designs. This type of party is just playful enough, however, that you could also do something with miniatures, say, for example, a tiny reindeer just so long as it’s understated and subtle. Have fun with it and try to strike that ideal balance between formal and festive.

Eagle Claw Cufflinks with Malachite Balls by Fort Belvedere combined with green tie bar and malachite pinky ring

Eagle Claw Cufflinks with Malachite Balls by Fort Belvedere combined with a green tie bar and malachite pinky ring

Tie bars, collar clips, and rings can also be worn as long as they are similarly understated and of course, matching your metals is always a good idea. Finally here regarding boutonnieres, something light-colored and small so as also to be understated would be an ideal choice.

 

 

Do not attempt to wear super bright colors as it may make you look clownish

Do not attempt to wear super bright colors as it may make you look clownish

Less Formal Office Parties

For a slightly less formal type of office party, we recommend that you go with a combination of sport coat and odd trousers. A patterned or textured sportcoat would be a good choice here with or without a tie. Something for example in herringbone, houndstooth, or a mottled tweed will provide a rustic quality that’s still appropriate for the season. Wearing a blazer with a tartan or other plaid pattern would be an ideal way to be seasonally appropriate, a little bit bold, and a little bit rustic all at the same time.

Opt for tweed if you are going for the rustic look

Opt for tweed if you are going for the rustic look

Finally, this would also be a great opportunity to break out something like a burgundy velvet jacket if you’re feeling especially avant-garde. Your shirt could be plain in color, either in a pastel shade or alternatively in a rich dark hue if you’re going for something a little bit more fashion-forward. Also, the shirt could feature a pattern just so long as that pattern doesn’t clash if you’ve also got one in your jacket.

Aleks Cvetkovics with denim shirt on top of a turtleneck sweater

Aleks Cvetkovics with denim shirt on top of a turtleneck sweater

In terms of styling and materials, choices like the Oxford cloth button down or OCBD would be appropriately semi-formal. A chambray shirt would be another good choice or alternatively, you could substitute the collared shirt altogether for something like a dark turtleneck sweater under your jacket. You can round out this look with some flannel trousers or corduroys.  As far as shoes are concerned, you could opt for something like wingtips or loafers just so long as they’re well shined.

Casual Office Parties

Brown sport coat with fair isle vest and Fort Belvedere accessories

Brown sport coat with fair isle vest and Fort Belvedere accessories

Our advice is largely the same as for semi-formal office parties but with a few key distinctions.

Ralph Lauren Cable Knit Cardigan Sweater

Ralph Lauren Cable Knit Cardigan Sweater

First of all, you can feel free to swap out the sport coat with a cable knit pullover or a cardigan sweater in a warm color. Alternatively, a fair isle sweater or sweater vest will allow you to stand out a little bit more while still looking rustic and traditional.

Allen Edmonds Chukka boots paired with dark denim jeans

Allen Edmonds Chukka boots paired with dark denim jeans

In addition to flannel trousers and corduroys, a casual office party would also be an appropriate time to break out dark denim or perhaps even colored chinos if you’re feeling especially bold.

Crazy Christmas Socks

Crazy Christmas Socks

Finally, you can add an accent with some brightly colored dress socks or maybe incorporate your crazy socks featuring Santa and his reindeer here and you can round out the look with some informal shoes or perhaps a dress boot.

Residential /Private Holiday Parties

SRS in a brown turtleneck sweater

SRS in a brown turtleneck sweater

Now let’s briefly cover some advice on what to wear to a holiday or festive party given in a residential or otherwise similarly private setting. In the broad strokes, you’re going to want to keep things a little bit more relaxed for a home party than you would for an office party but the breakdown we’ve just given for three different formality levels of office parties can still hold mostly true here as well. In other words, all of the suggestions we gave for specific combinations of garments still hold true for home parties as they did for office parties but when we gave you more than one option in some of our breakdowns, you would here opt for some of the less formal of those options.

SRS wearing a denim shirt with a sport coat

SRS wearing a denim shirt with a sport coat

For example, at a semi-formal or mid-level holiday house party, you could perhaps go for the turtleneck sweater before going for the button-down. Remember, the bottom line for house parties is always the dress code that’s printed on the invitation and/or the personal advice of the hosts. If the party takes place during the holiday season but the invitation says black-tie, wear a tuxedo and leave that tweed sport coat at home.

Non-traditional Black Tie ensemble with velvet DB jacket and midnight blue trousers, following the clack black tie style rules

Non-traditional Black Tie ensemble for the holidays with burgundy velvet DB jacket and midnight blue trousers, following the black tie style rules

CONCLUSION

While the holiday or festive dress code covers a wide range of levels of formality, it doesn’t have to be a source of anxiety. For a party at work, take a cue from your regular office attire and add a twist or two and for a residential party, take your cue from the invitation and the advice of the hosts and feel free to be just a little bit more relaxed and playful and yes, if ugly sweaters are expected, do loosen up and feel free to have a little bit of fun.

What sorts of combinations have you worn to holiday parties in the past? Share with us in the comments section below.


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Apple’s New Models Are Here. That Means You’ll Get Great Deals on Used Ones

It’s the second most wonderful time of the year: new iPad and MacBook season! (The first obviously being new iPhone season.)

Since Apple unveiled the iPhone XS and iPhone XR in September, we’ve been waiting with bated breath for the next generation of iPad Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini.

Well, that day has come, and it means one thing to Penny Hoarders: deals on gently used and refurbished Apple products.

That’s right. Those of us who don’t care about having the latest and greatest tech can catch some great deals on upgrading our slow-as-molasses MacBooks and first-generation iPad Bricks.

How to Find Deals on Used Apple Laptops, iPads and More

But before you buy the first MacBook you find in an unmarked van, there are some simple but important steps you need to follow if you want to avoid the duds and get yourself a deal.

1. Know Where to Look

New Apple products are never cheap, so most people will try to sell their old models on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or OfferUp, because it’s where they can make the most money.

If you meet a seller one-on-one, always meet in a public place, like a police station or Starbucks. You should feel safe, and there should be other people around.

You can find deals at pawn shops or online trade-in shops like Gazelle. If you want to buy from Apple, you’ll start to notice newer models on its “certified refurbished” page. As of this writing, you can find refurbished MacBook Air models made as recently as June 2017.

2. Research the Product You Want

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

There’s no store associate to guide your Craigslist journey. You’ll need to do your own research on what you want, what you don’t need and what’s a fair price for it.

There are some great guides online that can help you decide between Apple’s lineup of MacBooks, iPads, Apple Watches, etc.

Ultimately, you’ll probably have to be a little flexible on your desired specs if you want the best deal. But who knows, you could get lucky.

3. Test It Out

This is the single most important part of buying used or refurbished Apple products. On sites like Facebook Marketplace, you should always try before you buy. If you’re buying online, always get a warranty and try all these features ASAP:

  • Turn the device on and off.
  • Test the camera.
  • Test the sound.
  • Test internet connectivity and browsing.
  • Test the ports with a USB drive, headphones, etc.
  • Check out the tightness of the hinge.

You’ll also want to make sure the model and specs listed are accurate by checking the serial number on the product.

4. Make a Call (or Two)

Give Apple a call to see if the product you’re buying is refurbished or has been reported stolen. You’ll find suggestions online to call Apple store customer service at 800-676-2775 to find out if your product is refurbished.

When I tried it with a laptop I purchased recently, the customer service representative couldn’t answer my question, but he was able to talk to someone who could confirm my laptop wasn’t refurbished. So be persistent, even if the first person you talk to doesn’t know what you want.

You may also want to call the local police station to make sure the serial number doesn’t match with an item that’s been reported stolen.

5. Make Sure the Product Is Restored and Removed From Account

Alexandra Vincent/The Penny Hoarder

Once you’ve decided you want to buy the product, it’s your responsibility to make sure the product is restored to factory settings.

If you’re purchasing an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or even an iPod Touch, you’ll also need to make sure the seller removes the product from their Apple account so that you’ll be able to add it to yours.

6. Don’t Bring Cash

And finally, never bring big wads of cash to a one-on-one sale. If you’re buying anything that costs more than a couple hundred dollars, get a free money order from Amscot.

Pro tip: If you want to negotiate the price, get multiple money orders so you’re not tied down to the asking price.

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

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This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


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What Kavanaugh Means for Kenya

I must have been 12 when I found out that I was three months pregnant.

At the time, I didn’t have a boyfriend I could turn to—and, worse still, I didn’t know whose pregnancy I carried. At the age of 11, I was forced to become my family’s breadwinner, caring for my four siblings and my mother who suffered from Schizophrenia. I began sex work when I could secure neither formal nor informal employment, and when I became pregnant, I knew that my only option was to procure an abortion.

I couldn’t let anyone know about the pregnancy, let alone my intention to terminate it. Abortion was illegal in Kenya, where I am now a doctor, unless deemed medically necessary by a trained health professional—and I grew up in a community that viewed abortion to be deviant and wrong, so I knew even then that I couldn’t share my plight with friends or relatives.

Instead, I secretly sought the services of Quinta*, a renowned illicit brewer in Gatwekera, a village on the outskirts of Nairobi. She charged only $ 10 USD for the procedure—but as I didn’t have that kind of money, I intensified the sex work until I earned enough, having unprotected sex with multiple partners in the meantime.

Between 2010 and 2014, a staggering 25 million unsafe abortions are estimated to have occurred in developing countries each year. But I did not die on Quinta’s couch. I was lucky to have lived. I went on to complete my education through scholarships and achieved my dream of becoming a medical doctor.

Now, 17 years later, I am saddened when I see patients like Esther*, a 17-year-old who, like me, opted to procure a clandestine abortion due to fear and stigma—feelings that commonly affect how, where and when young girls and women seek care. By the time she came to me, damage to her reproductive system from the illegal abortion was so bad that the surgery required a multidisciplinary team: a urologist to repair her urethra, a gynecologist to repair her uterus and an abdominal surgeon to repair her intestines. In the end, she lost her uterus.

What happened to Esther is not unusual. Desperate women and girls will turn to unsafe procedures if they can’t procure legal ones.

Today, my sadness originates not only with the experiences of women and girls like Esther, but with what’s happening on the other side of the globe. Today, I worry about the politicization of reproductive health and the appointment of justices like Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court—because the negative rhetoric and associated funding cuts to family planning services are putting in jeopardy the slow wins happening across Africa.

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation likely marks the fifth vote needed to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case legalizing abortion nationwide. It also marks a dominance on the Court of anti-abortion Justices. (Jordan Uhl / Creative Commons)

In countries like Zambia, abortion is now allowed due to social-economic reasons. In South Africa, Cape-Verde and Tunisia, there are no limits on the reasons for demanding abortion services, nor based on the gestational age. I worry that the direction of lawmakers in the West on these issues could negatively influence the African leaders currently relaxing their abortion laws. I worry about the Trump administration’s dramatic expansion of the global gag rule, a policy that blocks U.S. federal funding for non-governmental organizations that provide abortion care, advocate to decriminalize abortion or even so much as mention abortion services.

And I worry that these threats could worsen in the wake of the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice who could to tip the balance on U.S. abortion laws, leading to a ripple effect on women’s access to abortion around the world. Whenever the Supreme Court is faced with the decision of whether to uphold abortion rights in the U.S., the Justices on its bench should consider the potential repercussions of their actions on women’s reproductive rights, health and lives in countries such as my own.

Just last month, Tanzania’s President Magfuli “advised” women not to use contraceptives just because they are “lazy” and “fear feeding the children.” What he forgot to mention is that in Tanzania, 556 out of every 100,000 women die during childbirth—making up 18 percent of all deaths of women age 15-49 in the nation. Unsafe abortions are among the top five causes of these deaths in Tanzania.

When developed countries politicize the female body, those of us in developing countries feel the effects—both through policies and culture. Three-quarters of the world’s unsafe abortions are still taking place in developing countries, and 93 percent of African women live in countries that criminalize abortion. Worldwide, up to 13 percent of maternal deaths are attributed to unsafe abortions and their complications.

Denying women sovereignty over their bodies drives stigma and discrimination. It creates obstacles to safe abortion access. It fuels the rates of unnecessary maternal deaths. And these ideologies tend to affect the poor the most, further perpetuating existing social-economic inequalities and disparities.

How many young girls and women will have to die before political leaders stop perpetuating patriarchal ideologies and policing the female body?

Stellah Bosire is an independent consultant and a 2018 Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow. She Chairs the Board of the National Gay Lesbian Human Rights Commission of Kenya. 

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Mortgage Rates Are Rising. Here’s What That Means if You Want to Buy a Home

Earlier this year, mortgage rates hit a seven-year high, fueling speculation that it was time to buy if you were in the market for a new house.

But mortgage rates have continued to climb since then — up nearly a full percentage point this year to 4.85% in mid-October. And data from the National Association of Realtors suggests potential homebuyers may finally be feeling the pinch.

Existing home sales have fallen 4% since January, and the number of new homes under construction has dropped 10% during the same period.

So far, a monthly mortgage payment on a $ 250,000 home has gone up about $ 150, Freddie Mac Deputy Chief Economist Leonard Kiefer told The Penny Hoarder. “And that is quite substantial.”

And with the Fed likely to raise interest rates further in the coming year, it will just get pricier to take out a mortgage in 2019.

“Economists across the board are starting to forecast higher rates,” Kiefer said. And a lack of new housing just keeps pushing home prices up.

Still, there is some pent-up homebuying demand. The U.S. has one of the tightest labor markets in years, so the market might see modest growth in 2019, despite rate increases.

So if you are ready to make the leap from renting to buying, there are concrete ways to find savings.

Mortgage rates and housing prices vary across U.S. cities and lenders, Kiefer said. So if you are still planning to buy a home, make sure to do your research on the local market. Also, shop around for the lowest mortgage rate possible.

Getting one additional quote before locking in a rate and buying a home could save you $ 1,500 over the life of the loan, according to Freddie Mac.

Once you find the right rate, here are some other slick ways to save money on your mortgage.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. He’s feeling the sting of regret for not shopping around for his mortgage.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


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