5 Cool Ways To Make A Florida Winter Cooler

5 Cool Ways To Make A Florida Winter Cooler

No wonder Santa vacations here.

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Winter, the one season that you know is coming and leaving too soon, or not soon enough. For those of you that live up north, the snow can be having a nice, slow, and relaxing free fall. Or the snow is building up, tall enough to be scale models of actual buildings, causing delays and tedious labor.

Down south in Florida, we don't get snow, except for that one sprinkle in Jacksonville some time ago. Winter does not feel like it is here; the only way to know the season is here is to decorate the house with Christmas lights (sometimes all year long).

Whether you look at this time of year as a wonderland or not, there is always a chance to make the holidays cooler.

1. Turn down the A/C.

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You know the complaint, the one your mother always shouted. "Close the door! What are you trying to do, air condition the rest of Florida?" It is a better alternative than this heat wave. More of a heat pool with all the sweat Florida sheds.

If the snow will not fall, the temperature on our thermostats can. Dial down the A/C to 55, walk around the house in the buff, and pour a cup of hot chocolate.

You finally have an excuse to drink it and can enjoy the weather (machine) from the comfort of home.

2. Tropical holiday party.

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One minute it is hot, the next minute it is cold, sometimes it rains without warning; Florida cannot make up its mind when it comes to the weather. Indoors, however, you can predict that there will be warm front of cheer!

Lacking a fireplace? Build a bonfire or fire pit outside or at the beach. Still too hot outdoors? Throw on that swimsuit and have an eggnog by the pool. Celebrate the holidays like a Floridian.

3. Christmas in the park.

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Having a theme party is one way to celebrate the season, but having a whole theme park is the tree topper on the Christmas tree.

Family traditions can take place from the inside your relative's home, or you can share an experience together, this time with a new tradition. Bring the gift of joy and the holiday spirit into your lives with the festivals winter has to offer.

4. Beaches.

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Maybe the rides and festivals are not the destinations you were thinking of. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it will turn the Sunshine State into the Sundown State.

While the sun shines down, you can lie on the sand and enjoy the cool and warm but pleasant wind on your skin. Florida has hundreds of beaches to choose from, but all of them have that summertime feeling. Perfect bumming weather!

5.  Let it snow... somewhere else.

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Florida has a bad reputation and the news makes sure the world knows just how bad it can be. The headlines are crazy, like "Doggy Daycare by Day, Meth Lab Also by Day" or "Man High On Bath Salts Thinks He Took a Bath, Pisses Himself in Public Instead."

An overweight man in a beard promises "gifts" to "good boys and girls" at the end of each year while he vacations in the safety of Florida from his elves and his wife he calls, Mrs. Claws. Sounds like a Florida Christmas to me.

Sometimes the best way to celebrate a Florida winter is anywhere else but Florida. Not every year, just as a palette cleanser before a new year of possibilities. Possibilities from America's toenail we call Florida.

Florida could be cooler, no one denies that, so let every winter freeze over Florida. Just until spring.

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Here's Why You Shouldn't Donate to The Salvation Army This Holiday Season (Or Ever)

No, I’m not a grinch or a scrooge. I’m just a member of the LGBT+ community that is tired of seeing my community suffer at the hands of organizations that are supposed to help us.
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The holiday season is upon us, bringing mall Santas, twinkling lights, and the well-known bell ringers with their red buckets stationed outside busy department stores. The Salvation Army is a mainstay in the memories of our childhood holidays. I remember a number of years where my parents would give each of my sisters and I a handful of change to put in the shiny red bucket as we walked into Wal-Mart to shop for our family Christmas dinner. On the surface, the Salvation Army is an organization with good intentions of helping the less fortunate, especially during the holiday season. However, a quick Google search exposes the organization’s discriminatory practices.

The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian denomination and an international charitable organization. Their mission statement, as stated on their website, reads: “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

Despite their insistence of nondiscriminatory practices, however, there have been several instances of discrimination, specifically against members of the LGBT+ community. In July 2017, a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Brooklyn, New York, was found by the New York City Commission on Human Rights (NYCCHR) to be discriminating. Three other centers in New York City were also cited as being discriminatory. Violations within the four centers included refusing to accept transgender people as patients or tenants, assigning trans people rooms based on their sex assigned at birth instead of their lived gender identity, unwarranted physical examinations to determine if trans people are on hormone therapy or have had surgery, and segregating transgender patients into separate rooms. The NYCCHR had been tipped off about the mistreatment, and testers from the commission went to the cited centers and found clear evidence of the mistreatment. One of the clinics told the testers outright, “No, we don’t [accept transgender patients].” Another clinic’s representative said, “People with moving male parts would be housed with men.”

This isn’t the first time the Salvation Army has discriminated specifically against transgender people. In 2014, a transgender woman from Paris, Texas fled her home due to death threats she received related to her gender identity. The police told her, “Being the way you are, you should expect that.” She went to Dallas and found emergency shelter at the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center, run by the Salvation Army. The emergency shelter allowed her to stay for 30 days. Towards the end of her 30-day stay, she began looking for other long-term shelter options. One option many of the other women staying in the shelter had recently entered was a two-year housing program also run by the Salvation Army. When the woman interviewed for the program, she was told she was disqualified for the program because she had not had gender reassignment surgery. The counselor for the program later claimed there was a waiting list, but it came out that two women who arrived at the emergency shelter after the transgender woman had already entered the program. The transgender woman filed a complaint with Dallas’s Fair Housing Office, which protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. She was able to find other housing through the Shared Housing Project, a project that aims to find transgender people with housing who are willing to support those without.

The Salvation Army’s Christian affiliation drives the organization’s statements and beliefs. The church has a page on its website dedicated to its decided stance on the LGBT+ community that seems to paint a nice picture. Their actions, however, tell a different story. There have been several accounts reporting the Salvation Army’s refusal of service to LGBT+ people unless they renounce their sexuality, end same-sex relationships, or, in some cases, attend services “open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.” The church claims it holds a “positive view of human sexuality,” but then clarifies that “sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage.” This belief extends to their staff, asking LGBT+ employees to renounce their beliefs and essentially their identity in order to align with the organization. The Salvation Army believes that “The theological belief regarding sexuality is that God has ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman and sexual activity is restricted to one’s spouse. Non-married individuals would therefore be celibate in the expression of their sexuality.” Essentially, gay people can’t get married. Unmarried people can’t have sex. Therefore, gay people are forbidden from being intimate with one another. This is unfair to ask of any employee, especially considering that one’s relationship status does not interfere with how well anyone can do their job.

If you are still looking to donate to a non-homophobic and transphobic organization this holiday season, here are some great pro-LGBT+ organizations with outreach similar to that of the Salvation Army:

  • Doctors Without Borders: medical and emergency relief
  • Habitat for Humanity: homelessness and housing
  • Local homeless shelters: search the National Coalition for the Homeless’ website for shelters near you!
  • Local food bank: find your local food bank through Feeding America here.
  • The Trevor Project: a leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT+ young people ages 13-24.
Cover Image Credit: Ed Glen Today

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Cold Weather Means Binge-Watching Everything

It's that time of the year: hot chocolate, movies, and cuddles!

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Winter break is basically here and with all the free time, what better way to spend it than binge-watching every single movie and show possible. Here are some suggestions you might love!

1. "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina"

If you were as obsessed with "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" as I was as a child than this show will restart your obsession. It is a darker version of the original, but just as intriguing.

2. "Orange is the New Black"

If you haven't hopped on the "Orange is the New Black" train, isn't too late! The show will keep you on your toes so much that I think I even might have binged watched a little too quick!

3. "Disenchantment"

The perfect show to start of your break. Your brain is dead from finals week and this cartoon is precisely what you need: a little laughter and no thinking.

4. "Set it Up"

This may not be a television show, but the movie is yet another good, funny romance. Two interns struggling to gain time for themselves and their real lives end up wrapped up in their bosses love lives and eventually, their own.

5. "To All the Boys I've loved Before"

Yet another movie, but definitely a must see. When it first came out, ALL of my friends were watching it, so if you haven't seen it yet, I won't spill any details. Just try it out.

6. "The Kissing Booth"

The last movie, I promise, but this one is a little iffy for some. It is the utter definition of a classic romance movie. If all you need is a happy ending and a perfectly predictable movie... well, here you go.

7. "Big Mouth" 

Yet another no-brainer! "Big Mouth" is also a cartoon with laughter and it doesn't require much brain power. If you pay attention to the details, you'll realize it is much wittier and clever than you ever realized.

8. "Stranger Things" 

Three words: dangerous, creepy and thrilling. "Stranger Things" didn't catch my eye until someone forced me to sit down and watch it. If you get hooked, season 2 has even more twists and turns than the first season! Better yet, season 3 should be right around the corner and releasing with the new year so perfect timing for a binge-watching.

9. "13 Reasons Why"

Tragic and emotional is all I have to say. The mysterious, tragic love story for anyone and everyone.

10.  "Black Mirror" 

The random, strange stories told through this show have caught the world's attention, but there are endless episodes, so start from the beginning and work your way through in order. Each episode acts as its own, completely irrelevant to the previous episodes. No need to watch them in order!

11.  "Ozark" 

This one reminds me of "Breaking Bad!" If anyone loved that show, this might be for you. A money laundering father leads his family on a runaway after a deal goes wrong.

12.  "Safe"

A mysterious story with the main character, played by one of my favorites, Michael Hall, aka "Dexter". The story entails a missing daughter, a lost father, and a tragic secret from many years before. Better yet, it includes many other mysteries that I shouldn't tell you about. Do yourself a favor and go find out the answers to them!

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