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The Bridge
 
Use ~ Can strengthen the lower-back and hip muscles, helping to stabilize the spine.

How to do the Bridge;

* Begin laying on your back with your arms straight out by your side. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.

* Slowly lift your hips up off the floor, contracting your glutes (your buttocks) and your hamstrings in the process.

* Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 10 times.

More exercises from spineuniverse.com  

Poison-laced drinking water killed some of the world's oldest mummies, which are found in the harsh northern deserts of Chile, a new study says.

Arsenic, which occurs in high levels in drinking water in Chile's northern Camarones Valley, the deadly element likely poisoned the coastal Chinchorro people for centuries, starting at least 7,000 years ago, mummy-hair analyses show.

"I believe [these] ancient people were continuously exposed to arsenic by drinking contaminated water with high arsenic levels [that is] endemic to the Camarones region," said study leader Bernardo Arriaza of Chile's Universidad de Tarapacá de Arica.

The Chinchorro, who wouldn't have been aware they were ingesting the tasteless and invisible toxin, may have suffered from skin, lung, bladder, and kidney cancers, among other serious effects of long-term arsenic exposure.

After they died, the poison victims were sometimes mummified, their internal organs removed and replaced by soil and reeds. Some 7,000 years ago the Chinchorro became the first society known to practice mummification, which transcended social class and included adults, children, and even fetuses.

Arriaza hypothesizes that fetuses and newborns were especially susceptible to arsenic. Because the earliest mummies are fetuses and infants, he suggests that high miscarriage rates may have inspired the mummification process.

But the threat's not just in the past: The valley's drinking water still contains a hundred times more arsenic than is considered safe by the World Health Organization. The contamination has forced area residents to get their water elsewhere, Arriaza said.

Source: National Geographic

Why did people abandon a life they knew, to embark on a dangerous journey to a land where they would have to carve out a precarious existence from scratch?

The Mayflower was the first ship to carry the Pilgrims, a group of radical Puritans escaping persecution, to New England. On 21 November 1620, while still on board, they agreed the Mayflower Compact, a contract which said that they should elect their governor and assembly themselves. Not everyone who left England for America was so democratic.

People quit England in the 17th century, risking the hazardous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, for different reasons, depending on their place in society. Religious fundamentalists like the Puritans went to escape persecution; rich people went to make a profit; poor people to find work.

When Queen Elizabeth I reigned (1533-1603), the earliest pioneer leaders were risk-takers, not safety-conscious merchants. They were gamblers driven by visions of dazzling wealth – such men as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh made huge profits from overseas adventures.

Many came from the West Country and were devout patriots who worried about poverty in England. They were motivated not only by greed but also by the idea that England's idle poor could be taken to North America to work the land.

Some of the poorer volunteers for these expeditions went in search of honest work, others imagined an easy life in a Utopia where gold and other precious metals were easy to find. Such dreams were doomed to disappointment.

Where did they go?

In Elizabeth's day, England was just a small Protestant island on the edge of Europe, in a Western world dominated by the rival Catholic powers of Spain and France. The Spanish Empire was gigantic, covering South America and Mexico, the Caribbean and the Netherlands; the French were busy in northern America (now Canada). From the middle of Elizabeth's reign, as English pirates found riches in the Caribbean by looting Spanish ships, some entrepreneurs spotted an opportunity. The region between what are now Florida and New England was relatively untouched by Europeans – ripe for colonisation.

But colonies were expensive and risky investments. Settlers had to be transported nearly 5,000km (3,000 miles) across the sea. They needed utensils, clothing, seed, tools, building materials, livestock, arms and ammunition.

Source: Channel4.com

Once upon a time there was a young man who was engaged to marry a pretty girl. After a while the bridegroom-to-be became suspicious of his fiancée and her mother. You see, they were both witches.

The day came when witches go the Brocken, and the two women climbed into the hayloft, took a small glass, drank from it, and suddenly disappeared. The bridegroom-to-be, who had sneaked after them and observed them, was tempted to take a swallow from the glass. He picked it up and sipped a little from it, and suddenly he was on the Brocken, where he saw how his fiancée and her mother were carrying on with the witches, who were dancing around the devil, who was standing in their midst.

After the dance was ended, the devil commanded everyone to take her glass and drink, and immediately afterward they all flew off in the four directions of the wind. The bridegroom-to-be, however, stood there all soul alone on the Brocken, and freezing, for it was a cold night. He hadn't brought a glass with him, so he had to return on foot.

After a long, difficult hike he finally came to his fiancée's. However, she was very angry, and her mother scolded him as well, for having drunk from the glass. Mother and daughter finally agreed to turn the bridegroom-to-be into a donkey, and that is what happened.

The poor bridegroom-to-be was now a donkey, and he plodded unhappily from one house to the next, crying a sad "ee-ah, ee-ah." A man felt sorry for the donkey, took him into his stall, and gave him some hay. But understandably the donkey did not want to eat, and was driven from the stall with blows.

After wandering about for a long time, long-ears finally came back to the house of his fiancée, the witch, and he cried out pitifully. The fiancée saw her former bridegroom-to-be, standing there before her door as a donkey with bowed head and ears hanging down.

She regretted what she had done and said to the donkey, "I will help you, but you must do what I tell you. At a child's baptism, place yourself before the church door and let the baptismal water be poured over your back, and then you will be transformed back into a human."

The donkey followed his fiancée's advice. The next Sunday, a child was baptized, and the donkey placed himself before the church door. When the baptismal service was over, the sexton wanted to pour out the baptismal water, but the donkey was standing in his way.

"Go on, you old donkey!" said the sexton, but the donkey did not yield. Then the sexton became angry and poured the water over the animal's back. Now the donkey was redeemed and was transformed back into a man. He hurried to his fiancee, married her, and lived happily with her from that time forth.

More witch legends at pitt.edu

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