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The Mysterious Origins of the Cerne Abbas Giant

The sun was still low in the sky on the spring morning last year when Martin Papworth, an archeologist for the National Trust, arrived in the village of Cerne Abbas. Setting off along a wooded path at the foot of Giant Hill, he carried in each hand a bucket loaded with excavation tools. Cerne Abbas, in a picturesque valley in Dorset, about three hours southwest of London, is an ancient settlement. At one end of the village, beneath a meadow abutting a burial ground, lie the foundations of what was, a thousand years ago, a thriving abbey. Close by is a spring-fed well named for St. Augustine, a monk who was sent by Rome in the sixth century to convert Britain to Christianity, and who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury. According to legend, he caused the spring to stream forth by striking the ground with his staff. Atop Giant Hill lies an earthwork, possibly dating from the Iron Age: a rectangular enclosure, known as the Trendle, that may have been a temple or a burial mound. The object of Papworth’s interest was another mysterious man-made part of the landscape: the Cerne Giant, an enormous figure of a naked, armed man, carved into the chalk of the hillside.

The Cerne Giant is so imposing that he is best viewed from the opposite crest of the valley, or from the air. He is a hundred and eighty feet tall, about as high as a twenty-story apartment building. Held aloft in his right hand is a large, knobby club; his left arm stretches across the slope. Drawn in an outline formed by trenches packed with chalk, he has primitive but expressive facial features, with a line for a mouth and circles for eyes. His raised eyebrows were perhaps intended to indicate ferocity, but they might equally be taken for a look of confusion. His torso is well defined, with lines for ribs and circles for nipples; a line across his waist has been understood to represent a belt. Most well defined of all is his penis, which is erect, and measures twenty-six feet in length. Were the giant not protectively fenced off, a visitor could comfortably lie down within the member and take in the idyllic vista beyond.

Papworth was not, on this occasion, concerned with the giant’s most notable physical feature. He and a small team of colleagues planned to excavate the crooks of the figure’s elbows and the soles of his feet. Because of rainwater runoff on the steep hillside over the centuries, these areas have built up a dense layer of chalk mixed with silt and spoil, like the ingrained grime of a returnee from sleepaway camp. For as long as records have existed on the giant, he has been kept intact by the regular clearing away of weeds from the chalk trenches. Over the past century, at least, the figure has been even more clearly delineated by the introduction, every few decades, of fresh chalk carted in from elsewhere. Papworth’s goal was to dig through the layers of chalk and silt until he reached the level at which the soil had never been disturbed. He hoped that an analysis of soil samples recovered from those depths would date the giant’s creation, helping to solve the puzzle that the figure, with his raised brows and penis, has long presented: who inscribed such a ribald image on a hillside, and why did they do it?

Hill figures, or geoglyphs, are scattered across southern England, where chalk downs offer ready-made canvases to landscape artists. Some geoglyphs are relatively recent, such as the Osmington White Horse, a representation of King George III on horseback, which was etched into a coastal hillside about ten miles south of the Cerne Giant in 1808, to celebrate the monarch’s patronage of the seaside town of Weymouth. (Local lore has it that the image—which shows the king riding out of town, rather than into it—so offended him that he never returned.) Other hill figures are much older. The Uffington White Horse, an abstracted, elongated figure in Oxfordshire, looks as if it might have been drawn by Matisse but dates from the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age. Geoglyphs can have a clear significance, such as the Fovant Badges, a sequence of regimental insignia cut into a Wiltshire hillside during the First World War by soldiers training for the trenches. The meaning of other hill figures, such as the Long Man of Wilmington, in East Sussex, is more obscure. At two hundred and thirty-five feet, the Long Man is even taller than the Cerne Giant, and holds two staffs in his hands, like walking poles. The figure was long presumed to be ancient, but until recent decades no technologies existed for dating such an earthwork. Now they do, and analysis of the chalk on the hillside has revealed that the image was created in the mid-sixteenth century, making it a perplexing early-modern gesture rather than, say, a Romano-British cult figure or an Anglo-Saxon warrior.

The Cerne Giant has also been subjected to broad speculation about his age. “It is supposed to be above a thousand years standing,” an anonymous correspondent to the Gentleman’s Magazine wrote in 1764. The text was accompanied by an illustration—the earliest published drawing of the giant, including measurements—which indicates that in the mid-eighteenth century the giant had the additional physical feature of a ring-shaped belly button. It was only when this was—perhaps accidentally—merged with the erect penis directly below it, in the early twentieth century, that the giant acquired the prominent apparatus for which he is known today. “We need to make due allowance for scale,” Rodney Castleden, one scholar of the giant, has written, calculating that the penis as it currently stands is equivalent to nine inches for an adult male of average height—“a prodigious though not unknown length.” The giant’s unmodified member would, at human scale, measure “a perfectly normal” six inches.

Local folklore has long held that infertility might be cured by sitting on—or, for good measure, copulating upon—the giant’s penis. In the nineteen-eighties, the sixth Marquess of Bath, the late Henry Frederick Thynne, told a reporter that when he and his second wife, the former Virginia Tennant, were having trouble conceiving a child, they paid the giant a visit. “We were very much in the dark about what he could do,” Lord Bath recalled. “I explained the problem and sat on him.” A daughter was born about ten months later. She was christened Silvy Cerne Thynne, and the name of G. Cerne was given as godfather.

Among the first to propose that the giant had ancient origins was an antiquarian named William Stukeley, who, in 1764, noted that the inhabitants of Cerne Abbas “pretended to know nothing more of it than a traditionary account among them of its being a deity of the ancient Britons. ” He said that locals then called the giant Helis. As Stukeley saw it, the figure’s raised club suggested that it was a representation of Hercules, and therefore dated from the era of Roman occupation of Britain, which began in 43 A.D. Other antiquarians were more skeptical of the giant’s religious or mythic significance. In 1797, a scholar named Dr. Maton granted that the figure was ancient but dismissed it as schoolboy humor predating the schoolroom—“the amusement of idle people, and cut with little meaning.”

By the twentieth century, scholars were venturing more grounded theories to account for the giant’s existence. In the nineteen-twenties, Sir Flinders Petrie, an archeologist, argued that the figure’s proximity to nearby earthworks suggested that it was from the Bronze Age, which extended approximately from 2300 to 800 B.C. Stuart Piggott, another archeologist, linked the name Helis with that of an obscure pagan figure, Helith, who, according to a thirteenth-century chronicler, Walter of Coventry, was once worshipped in the Cerne area. (Few contemporary writers have championed this notion.) In the nineteen-seventies, a geophysical survey of the hillside led to speculation that a lion skin had once dangled from the giant’s left arm, which would explain the figure’s somewhat ungainly pose, and might buttress the Herculean identification. Two decades later, Castleden, the historian, carried out further geophysical investigations, which convinced him that it was a cloak, rather than a lion skin, that once swung beneath the left arm, “as if the Giant is running or because he is waving his arm like a matador.”

After exploring some bumps on the hillside, Castleden claimed to have made an even more sensational discovery: the outline of a face surrounded by a mop of hair, which might be, he speculated, “the lime-encrusted dreadlocks of a Celtic warrior decapitated in battle.” The evidence included by Castleden in his 1996 study, “The Cerne Giant,” was inconclusive: a belief that the giant is holding a severed head may be a prerequisite for perceiving one in the indistinct photograph included in the book. Castleden acknowledged that people doing detective work on the giant might be seduced by evidence that others couldn’t see. He declared himself unable to back up a suggestion, made by another author, that lower down the slope lie the traces of a gigantic terrier-like dog. Staring at Giant Hill could feel like staring at clouds.

The notion that the figure was ancient prevailed in popular discourse for decades, assisted by the giant’s incorporation into folksy rituals. Since the nineteen-sixties, May Day has been marked in Cerne Abbas by a team of Morris dancers in traditional English costumes, with bell pads on their shins, ascending the hill before dawn to perform high-stepping, handkerchief-waving choreography within the bounds of the Trendle. The event used to draw only a few committed onlookers, but in recent years as many as a hundred villagers have climbed up to watch the sun rise and the Morris men dance while draining a barrel of beer that has been hauled up the hillside. This is followed by a full English breakfast, and more beer, at one of the local pubs. Four years ago, Jane Still, the wife of the vicar of St. Mary’s Church, which was established in Cerne Abbas in the fourteenth century, launched the annual Cerne Giant Festival, to celebrate the figure as a genius loci—a protective spirit who symbolizes the interaction of humanity with the landscape. Still, a biology teacher, told me that she was persuaded by the theory laid out in the 2013 book “The Cerne Giant: Landscape, Gods and the Stargate,” by the Wiltshire author Peter Knight: that the giant had been created in the Iron Age, during which time he had aligned with the geometry of the Orion constellation. Last Halloween, another ritual was born, when villagers paraded through the town by candlelight, past the church and the Royal Oak pub, bearing oversized willow-and-tissue-paper puppets made under the direction of Sasha Constable, an artist who lives in the village, and with the help of Jig Cochrane, a puppet master. A representation of the giant was fifteen feet tall and featured a bobbing penis.

An equally rich counter-narrative contends that the giant is younger than the Royal Oak pub, which is thought to have been built in the sixteenth century, with stones repurposed from the abbey after it was demolished during the reign of Henry VIII. The fact that a powerful and wealthy monastery once lay at the foot of the hill is often marshalled as evidence against the idea that the giant dates back that far. Would the monks at the abbey—who included Ælfric the Grammarian, the preëminent Anglo-Saxon scholar and writer of the late tenth century—have tolerated the inescapable representation of such a carnal, and likely heathen, figure? (Ælfric’s works include the “Colloquy,” a Latin instructional text that consists of an imaginary dialogue about professions then characterizing village life: plowing, hunting, herding, and the like. No mention is made of a giant.)

The earliest documented reference to the figure is from 1694, when the ledger book of the parish churchwardens notes that three shillings was expended “for repaireing of ye Giant. ” The giant had been around long enough to need fixing up—at least a decade or two, but not necessarily any longer, given how quickly his edges can be blurred by weeds and weather. Yet absence of evidence is not evidence of absence: the first surviving reference to Stonehenge, in a work called “Historia Anglorum,” by Henry of Huntingdon, was recorded around 1130, but no reputable scholar would suggest that the stone circle wasn’t erected until the twelfth century. Indeed, some have argued that the lack of any earlier reference to the Cerne Giant could support his longevity: he might have been so familiar a presence as to be not worth mentioning. It is surprising, however, that the handful of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century travellers who described the area’s historical and architectural features failed to mention an enormous ithyphallic figure carved into a hillside.

The suggestion that the giant was created in the seventeenth century has a lengthy provenance of its own. John Hutchins, whose work “The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset” was published in the seventeen-seventies, reported being told by the steward of the local manor that the giant had been created at the behest of Lord Holles, whose wife had inherited the estate. Denzil Holles, who was born in 1598, was a well-heeled Member of Parliament. In the sixteen-forties, he supported the Parliamentary cause against King Charles I in the standoff that became the English Civil War, which culminated in the trial and execution of the king—and in the institution of a republic under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell. Notwithstanding Holles’s original Parliamentary leanings, he swiftly withdrew support from Cromwell, whom he regarded as excessively radical. Charles II, to whom the throne was restored after the death of Cromwell, rewarded Holles with the title of baron, in 1661.

Cromwell was sometimes depicted as Hercules. A statue at Highnam Court, a stately home in Gloucestershire, represents the long-haired Lord Protector with a club in hand, naked but for a tastefully positioned loincloth. Could Holles have ordered the creation of the giant as a political lampoon, like a seventeenth-century Banksy? In 1996, during a mock trial about this theory held at the Cerne Abbas Village Hall, the historian Joseph Bettey argued, “To appreciate that Holles was certainly capable of a grand gesture of defiance such as the creation of the Giant, it is important to appreciate his fierce, unyielding temper. ” In 1629, Holles had been among several M.P.s who forcibly held the Speaker in his chair while the House passed anti-monarchist resolutions. The mock trial, a daylong event open to the public, sifted through the evidence on both sides. In a vote taken before the proceedings, seventy per cent of the audience believed the giant to be ancient; afterward, support for the giant’s antiquity dropped to fifty per cent. (Around this time, a story began circulating in Cerne Abbas of a female resident of a certain age who insisted that she could tell reporters exactly how old the giant was: “Obviously, he’s in his early twenties.”)

Last summer, Brian Edwards, a visiting research fellow at the University of the West of England, Bristol, proposed an alternative seventeenth-century origin story. In an article in Current Archaeology, Edwards argued that the giant was indeed a Hercules figure, and pointed out that the date of the giant’s first recorded renovation, in 1694, coincided with an annual celebration of King William III’s birthday and also with the anniversary of his invasion of England, in 1688, when he was the Prince of Orange. Edwards said that, of all British leaders, William III was the one most often linked with Hercules. When I spoke to Edwards not long ago, he told me that he had never been convinced by the identification of the giant with Cromwell. “Cromwell was frequently drawn and caricatured in the seventeenth century, and they are all brilliant images of him, with his wild hair,” he said. “The giant looks nothing like him. The giant has no hair.” The giant, with his small ovoid head and startled features, does not look very much like William III, either—at least so far as we can tell, though none of William’s portraits show him without his wig on.

Martin Papworth and his team spent five days on the hillside, digging four holes at different points on the giant’s outline. They carefully trowelled through layers of chalk that had been introduced, during the past century, in re-chalkings conducted roughly every twenty years. Two feet down, they found a series of wooden stakes that they presumed had been put there in 1897. In a blog post, Papworth described a birthday celebration for one of his colleagues, Nancy Grace: “She filled the glasses, lined us up along the Giant’s 8m long penis,” and, after setting the timer on a camera, “just had time to settle herself comfortably between his balls before the shutter clicked.” By the end of the third day of digging, Papworth had reached chalk bedrock, the lowest point at which there was any trace of human intervention on the hillside. He wrote, “We had gone beyond the place where history could be linked to archaeology.”

Papworth had last spent time with the giant in the nineteen-nineties, when, as a young archeologist, he was part of a team that rebuilt the giant’s nose, after an examination of the site had indicated that this organ had once been depicted in three-dimensional relief, and had since eroded. (The nose is the one feature on the giant that is not outlined: it is a grassy bump in the center of the giant’s face, resembling the kind of fuzzy protrusion one sees on a Muppet. ) Around the same time, the Uffington White Horse was dated by a company called Oxford Archaeology by means of optically stimulated luminescence—a technique measuring the amount of nuclear radiation that a sample of sediment has absorbed since last being exposed to daylight. The longer a sample has been covered up, the greater the absorbed dose. For very old samples, the method cannot identify the precise year, or even decade, that the sediment last saw the light of day: rather, it yields a span of centuries. The Uffington White Horse was shown to have been created sometime between 1380 and 550 B.C. Optically stimulated luminescence, as imprecise as it can be, has a clarifying power: in the case of the horse figure, it proved that it is not a modern creation, or even a medieval one.

A plan was made to analyze the Cerne Giant using optically stimulated luminescence, but funding was lacking until 2019, when the National Trust—which has owned the land that the giant occupies since 1920—finally decided to pay for it. The results were to be published in the summer of 2020, to celebrate a hundred years of the Trust’s custodianship of the giant. Soil samples were collected for analysis on the final day of Papworth’s dig, just before Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the United Kingdom’s first lockdown measures on account of the coronavirus. The study of the samples, which was to be undertaken by Phillip Toms, the leader of the Environmental Sciences Group at the University of Gloucestershire, was delayed by the closure of the university, and commemorative events were cancelled.

“Thanks for coming to talk to me, guys. It really means a lot.”Cartoon by David Sipress

In the meantime, a separate analysis was undertaken by another member of the National Trust team, Mike Allen, a geoarcheologist who studies land-use history by sieving soil for microscopic traces of mollusks. The presence of certain mollusks in the soil can also provide information related to dating. There are about a hundred and twenty snail species in the United Kingdom, some of which have been found there for ten thousand years, ever since rising sea levels cut off the British Isles from the European mainland. But other species have been introduced much more recently—deliberately by the Romans, as food, and inadvertently in the medieval period, in straw used to pack goods shipped from the Continent. These stowaway snails—which measure only a few millimetres in diameter across their shells, and are typically found in even smaller fragments—are hard to detect, but their presence in a sample indicates that it dates from the medieval period or after. By last summer, Allen had some preliminary data suggesting that soil deposits contemporary with the giant’s creation contained these late-arriving snails.

“The indication of whether the giant was prehistoric or medieval was immediately answered,” Allen told me recently. “Clearly, with these snails, he is medieval—or later.” Allen admitted that he was disappointed by his own discovery. “I wanted him to be prehistoric,” he went on. “That kind of iconography is the type of thing we see in prehistory. There are prehistoric monuments in the landscape around him. There are Iron Age sites just above his head. And there are Bronze Age sites on the land over which he looks. We know that the prehistoric communities from the Bronze Age onward were living on the chalk downs, farming with herds of cattle and sheep. That was their home. To have them placing a marker in the landscape saying, ‘This is ours’—that would have been nice.”

About a year after Papworth climbed Giant Hill, I paid a visit to Cerne Abbas. England was still under strict lockdown: the village’s three pubs were closed, as was the church. Only the village shop was open. Canned goods were stocked alongside postcards and boxes of fudge bearing the giant’s familiar image. The village, which has a population of nine hundred, would be postcard-worthy even without the presence of its most famous resident. There are thatch-roofed houses, handsome Georgian façades, and, opposite St. Mary’s Church, a row of much photographed, half-timbered, chronically slumping cottages, which were built by the nearby abbey in the early sixteenth century.

I had arranged to meet Gordon Bishop, the chair of the Cerne Historical Society, and we strolled through the burial ground near the foot of Giant Hill. It was a pleasant, misty day, the skies softened with a skein of cloud; the grass was dewy underfoot. Bishop, a retired barrister, was skeptical that the National Trust’s investigation would prove anything definitive. Even if it appeared that most of the digging had been done in the seventeenth century, he said, that wouldn’t necessarily rule out the giant’s having been there before, especially if the figure had at some point been allowed to grass over or become thick with brambles. “Personally, I feel it’s a rather primitive figure,” he said, as we passed near where the abbey is thought to have stood. “If you were landed gentry, would you want to pay your men to make it, just to annoy Oliver Cromwell? Not likely.”

Homemade Cake Pops – Sally’s Baking Addiction

How was your weekend? We spent most of it celebrating my friend’s birthday. I made a whole mess of treats including this cake (as cupcakes), these cookies, and these cookies too– it’s been way too long since I made a batch of those in particular! The birthday girl loves chocolate and peanut butter and caramel so these 3 were a no brainer.

There’s no batter time (get it? batter?) than a happy occasion to indulge in your favorite treats whether that’s a birthday, shower, wedding, you name it. My mom and sisters threw my baby shower last month and one of the treats they surprised me with was a HUGE display of cake pops. I love cake pops, but hardly ever take the time to make them. Though I did whip up a batch for both of my sisters’ bridal showers in the past few years. (Remember the green and pinks cake pops? They were for a bridal shower!)

See? Special occasions call for super special treats.

The difference between these cake pops and others you may have tried is that these are 100% homemade. There’s no box cake mix or canned frosting, which results in a totally unique cake pop experience. You can actually TASTE the homemade. The love, the passion, and the care that goes into creating each adorable pop.

And guess what? Want to see the whole process from start to finish? Tune in on Facebook or Instagram LIVE on Weds at 1pm ET. (I’m LIVE every week at that time!) I’ll make a batch and answer all cake pop questions as we go along together!

So anyway! I first began making homemade cake pops when I wrote Sally’s Candy Addiction. In fact, this recipe is published in the book! I want to share it on the blog as well because I’ve gotten lots of questions about making from-scratch cake pops.

Today we’ll go over all my tips, tricks, and secrets to crafting the peeeeerfect pop as well as the homemade vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream used inside. There’s lots of ground to cover so let’s pop right to it. (Can’t stop with my nerdiness right now.)

Since we’re leaving the box cake mix and canned frosting on the store shelves, we’ll need to take a little extra time to prep both from scratch. I always make the cake the night before, then finish the cake pops the next day. Here’s the general process:

  1. Make homemade cake.
  2. Make homemade frosting.
  3. Crumble cake into homemade frosting.
  4. Mix.
  5. Roll into balls.
  6. Dip.
  7. EAT!

Super basic recipes for both the vanilla cake and frosting, but I do encourage you to use the correct size pan for the cake. This cake is too large for a typical 9-inch cake pan. You’ll need to use a 9-inch springform pan since it rises quite high. Or you can use an 11×7 pan instead. A 10-inch springform pan would work as well.

Cake ingredients are straightforward. The basic crew like flour, butter, sugar, vanilla, milk. Same goes with the vanilla frosting: butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, milk (or cream). The difference between this and what you get out of a box is the taste. You can totally tell these cake pops are special and it’s because you started with from-scratch components. WORTH IT!

Now it’s time to crumble the cake up and mix with your frosting.

(Crumbling the cake into the frosting sounds super weird when you think about it and that’s exactly what cake pops are– super weird when you think about it. It’s cake and frosting mixed together to form a truffle-like ball. Pop a stick in it and dunk into coating. Yep, it’s weirdly delicious and awesome and you need to embrace it.)

Left photo: cake crumbled into bowl of frosting. 

Right photo: the two mixed together. 

Once the two are mixed together, it’s time to roll the mixture into balls. And here’s my trick for doing so.

My Rolling Trick

It’s easier to roll the cake + frosting mixture into perfectly round balls if it’s cold. And what I do is roll the balls up right after the two are mixed together. They’re pretty misshapen because the cake + frosting mixture is super moist– and at room temperature. So then I chill the balls in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. After that, I give them another little roll to smooth out the sides. When they’re cold, they’re easier to smooth out and form perfectly round shapes.

So (1) roll (2) chill (3) roll again to smooth out the sides.

The cake balls need to be super chilled before dipping, so this trick gets both steps done!

Now let’s dunk. You can dip the cake balls into pure white chocolate, which is what I prefer for best taste, but that stuff is pretty expensive. And you need a good amount for all 40 cake pops! You can use candy melts/candy coating instead. I give both options in the recipe below along with notes for each choice.

Another trick: to ensure the cake ball stays secure on the lollipop stick, dip it slightly into the coating first. Then stick in the center of the cake ball. See photo above!

And another trick: the best way to allow the coating to dry and set– without ruining the perfectly round cake pop– is to place them right side up in a large styrofoam block or even a box. I used a box, as pictured below, for this batch. I just poked super tiny holes into it. Easy and cheap.

Cake pops will be dry within an hour or so.

Cake pops are a genius celebration-worthy treat to make ahead of time because they freeze beautifully. I simply freeze them in a large zipped-top freezer bag after they’ve fully dried. They’re great for up to 6 weeks, then just let them thaw overnight in the fridge.

I have a few more tips for ya! I went over these in Sally’s Candy Addiction because they’re pretty important to review before you get started.

Cake Pop Tips

  1. Frosting is the best part of cake, right? Well that doesn’t apply to cake pops. Too much frosting produces a super wet and greasy cake pop– not the deliciously moist pop you were expecting. This frosting recipe yields *just enough* to barely moisten those cake crumbs. Proper ratio is imperative here!
  2. The cake balls need to be extremely cold before dipping. Make sure you have enough room in your refrigerator or freezer for them. I always chill them on a large lined baking sheet.
  3. A 2-cup glass liquid measuring cup is the perfect depth for dipping the cake pops.
  4. Tinting the coating brings a fun POP of color! I usually stick to just white + one other color. Or two colors maximum. (Like these.) The teal color I use here is Americolor gel food coloring in teal.
  5. Sprinkles are necessary, of course. But you already knew that.

Besides lollipop sticks and the correct size cake pan, you don’t really need much else to get going!

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Homemade vanilla cake pops with vanilla buttercream from scratch- no cake mix or canned frosting!

  • 7 Tablespoons (100g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2–3 teaspoons heavy cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 40 ounces candy melts or coating (or pure white chocolate)*
  • sprinkles


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: I always make the cake 1 day ahead of time. Cover and keep at room temperature. You can store the undipped cake balls in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze them for up to 6 weeks. Allow to thaw in the refrigerator then continue with step 9. You can also freeze the finished cake pops for up to 6 weeks once the coating has fully set. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Glass Measuring Cup | Springform Pan | Silpat Baking Mat | Half Sheet Baking Pan | Lollipop Sticks | Americolor Food Coloring
  3. Coating: You can use candy coating/candy melts, almond bark, or pure white chocolate. If using almond bark or pure white chocolate, chop it up before melting. Melt it down with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to thin out so it’s easier to use as a coating. Semi-sweet, bittersweet, or milk chocolate work as well. Coarsely chop and melt down with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil to thin out. Keep warm over a double boiler.

A New, Cheaper Form of Meth Is Wreaking Havoc on America

In the fall of 2006, law enforcement on the southwest border of the United States seized some crystal methamphetamine. In due course, a five-gram sample of that seizure landed on the desk of a 31-year-old chemist named Joe Bozenko, at the Drug Enforcement Administration lab outside Washington, D.C.

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Organic chemistry can be endlessly manipulated, with compounds that, like Lego bricks, can be used to build almost anything. The field seems to breed folks whose every waking minute is spent puzzling over chemical reactions. Bozenko, a garrulous man with a wide smile, worked in the DEA lab during the day and taught chemistry at a local university in the evenings. “Chemist by day, chemist by night,” his Twitter bio once read.

Bozenko had joined the DEA seven years earlier, just as the global underworld was veering toward synthetic drugs and away from their plant-based cousins. Bozenko’s job was to understand the thinking of black-market chemists, samples of whose work were regularly plopped on his desk. He analyzed what they produced and worked out how they did it. In time, Bozenko began traveling abroad to clandestine labs after they’d been seized. His first foreign assignment was at a lab that had made the stimulant MDMA in Jakarta, Indonesia. He saw the world through the protective goggles of a hazmat suit, sifting through the remains of illegal labs in three dozen countries.

Meth was the drug that Bozenko analyzed most in the early years of his job. Large quantities of it were coming up out of Mexico, where traffickers had industrialized production, and into the American Southwest. All of the stuff Bozenko analyzed was made from ephedrine, a natural substance commonly found in decongestants and derived from the ephedra plant, which was used for millennia as a stimulant and an anti-asthmatic. A Japanese researcher had first altered the ephedrine molecule to synthesize crystal methamphetamine in 1919. During World War II, it was marketed in Japan as hiropon, a word that combines the Japanese terms for “fatigue” and “fly away.Hiropon was given to Japanese soldiers to increase alertness.

In the early 1980s, the ephedrine method for making meth was rediscovered by the American criminal world. Ephedrine was the active ingredient in the over-the-counter decongestant Sudafed, and a long boom in meth supply followed. But the sample that arrived on Bozenko’s desk that day in 2006 was not made from ephedrine, which was growing harder to come by as both the U.S. and Mexico clamped down on it.

There was another way to make methamphetamine. Before the ephedrine method had been rediscovered, this other method had been used by the Hell’s Angels and other biker gangs, which had dominated a much smaller meth trade into the ’80s. Its essential chemical was a clear liquid called phenyl-2-propanone—P2P. Many combinations of chemicals could be used to make P2P. Most of these chemicals were legal, cheap, and toxic: cyanide, lye, mercury, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, nitrostyrene. The P2P process of making meth was complicated and volatile. The bikers’ cooking method gave off a smell so rank that it could only be done in rural or desert outposts, and the market for their product was limited.

Bozenko tinkered with his sample for two or three days. He realized it had been made with the P2P method, which he had not seen employed. Still, that was not the most startling aspect of the sample. There was something else about those few grams that, to Bozenko, heralded a changed world.

Among the drawbacks of the P2P method is that it produces two kinds of methamphetamine. One is known as d-methamphetamine, which is the stuff that makes you high. The other is l-methamphetamine, which makes the heart race but does little to the brain; it is waste product. Most cooks would likely want to get rid of the l-meth if they knew what it was. But separating the two is tricky, beyond the skills of most clandestine chemists. And without doing so, the resulting drug is inferior to ephedrine-based meth. It makes your heart hammer without offering as potent a high.

Bozenko’s sample contained mostly d-methamphetamine. Someone had removed most of the l-meth. “I’ve taken down labs in several continents,” Bozenko told me years later. No one in the criminal world, as far as he and his colleagues knew, had ever figured out how to separate d-meth from l-meth before.

Back in the late ’80s and ’90s, when the ephedrine method had taken over, the market for meth had grown because of ephedrine’s availability—and because the substance could be transformed into meth with ease and efficiency. All you had to do was tweak the ephedrine molecule, and doing that required little more than following a recipe. But you had to have ephedrine.

The P2P method offered traffickers one huge advantage: The chemicals that could be used to make it were also used in a wide array of industries—among them racing fuel, tanning, gold mining, perfume, and photography. Law enforcement couldn’t restrict all these chemicals the way it had with ephedrine, not without damaging legitimate sectors of the economy. And a trained organic chemist could make P2P, the essential ingredient, in many ways. It was impossible to say how many methods of making P2P a creative chemist might come up with. Bozenko counted a dozen or so at first. He put them up in a large diagram on his office wall, and kept adding Post-it Notes with new ones as they appeared.

As Bozenko dissected that sample in 2006, its implications hit him. Drugs made in a lab were not subject to weather or soil or season, only to chemical availability: With this new method and full access to the world’s chemical markets through Mexican shipping ports, traffickers could ramp up production of P2P meth in quantities that were, effectively, limitless.

Even so, Bozenko couldn’t have anticipated just how widely the meth epidemic would reach some 15 years later, or how it would come to interact with the opioid epidemic, which was then gaining force. And he couldn’t know how strongly it would contribute to related scourges now very much evident in America—epidemics of mental illness and homelessness that year by year are growing worse.

Joe Bozenko at the DEA Special Testing and Research Laboratory in Virginia (Gabriella Demczuk for The Atlantic)

A few months after Bozenko’s discovery, on December 15, 2006, in a town named Tlajomulco de Zúñiga in the central-Mexican state of Jalisco, a methamphetamine lab exploded. Firefighters responded to the blaze, at a warehouse where plastic dinnerware had once been made. No one was hurt in the fire, nor was anyone arrested. But a fire chief called the local DEA office.

Abe Perez supervised the DEA’s Guadalajara office back then. The warehouse stood on a cul-de-sac at the end of a house-lined street, Perez, who is now retired, remembered years later. Residents “knew something was going on; the smells were giving them headaches,” Perez told me. But they were afraid to say anything. So they lived with it as best they could until the warehouse exploded, most likely because of a worker’s carelessness.

Perez and his agents urged Mexican police and prosecutors to obtain a search warrant for the building. The process was slow, and the day ended with no warrant. That night another fire erupted, at a warehouse across the street that, the agents learned, contained chemicals in blue plastic barrels and in bags neatly stacked on pallets. “The traffickers came in the middle of the night with gasoline and burned it, burned all the evidence,” Perez said. “But we were able to get photos of the place.”

Eduardo Chávez, another DEA agent, flew in from Mexico City the next afternoon. He and Perez stood outside the second smoldering warehouse. Each man had spent the early part of his career busting meth labs in rural California—Chávez in the area around Bakersfield, Perez in northeastern San Diego County.

That had been a different era, and each had gotten a rare view into it. Bakersfield was Chávez’s first assignment, in 2000, and to his surprise, it was a hotbed of meth production. Southern California was where the ephedrine-based method had been rediscovered, largely due to the efforts of an ingenious criminal named Donald Stenger. Stenger died in 1988, in custody in San Diego County, after a packet of meth he’d inserted in his rectum broke open. But the ephedrine method had by then become more widely known and adopted by Mexican traffickers moving up and down the coast between Mexico and California.

From the January/February 2016 issue: How DEA agents took down Mexico’s most vicious drug cartel

The Mexican meth industry had been pioneered in that earlier time by two brothers, Luis and Jesús Amezcua. They came to California illegally as kids, and eventually ran an auto shop near San Diego. The story goes that a local meth cook dropped by their shop in about 1988, asking Jesús if he could bring in ephedrine from Mexico. Jesús at the time was smuggling Colombian cocaine. But he brought ephedrine north and, with that, became attuned to the market that had been opened by Stenger’s innovation.

Ephedrine was then an unregulated chemical in Mexico. Within a few years, the Amezcuas were importing tons of it. Jesús traveled to India and Thailand, where he set up an office to handle his ephedrine exports. Later, his focus shifted to China and the Czech Republic.

The Amezcuas’ meth career lasted about a decade, until cases brought against them landed them in a Mexican prison, where they remain. But the brothers marked a new way of thinking among Mexican traffickers. They were more interested in business deals and alliances than in the vengeance and endless shoot-outs so common to the previous generation of smugglers, who had trafficked mostly in marijuana and cocaine. The Amezcuas were the first Mexican traffickers to understand the profit potential of a synthetic drug, and the first to tap the global economy for chemical connections.

At first, the brothers ran labs on both sides of the border. They set up many in California’s rural Central Valley—Eduardo Chávez’s territory—making use of an existing network of traffickers among the truckers and migrant farmworkers that stretched up from San Diego. At one bust, agents found a man in protective garments with an air tank on his back. He turned out to be a veterinarian from Michoacán who said he came up for four-month stints to teach the workers to cook.

Hell’s Angels cooks took three days to make five pounds of meth. Mexican crews soon learned to arrive at cook sites like NASCAR pit crews, with premeasured chemicals, large vats, and seasoned workers. They produced 10 to 15 pounds per cook in 24 hours in what came to be known as “super labs.” Soon the biker gangs were buying their meth from the Mexicans.

But toward the end of Chávez’s Bakersfield assignment, in 2004, the cooks and workers who’d been coming up from Mexico began to vanish. His informants told him that they were heading home. In California, law enforcement had made things hard; the job was getting too risky, the chemicals too hard to come by. The meth-cook migration would accelerate after Chávez left the state in 2004. Meth-lab seizures in the United States withered—from more than 10,000 that year to some 2,500 in 2008. Today in the United States, they are rare, and “super labs” are practically nonexistent. In Mexico, however, it was a different story.

The burned-down lab being surveyed by Chávez and Perez at the end of 2006 had been designed to produce industrial quantities of meth. Like many other labs that had been popping up in Mexico, it reflected the union of substantial capital and little concern for law enforcement. It used expensive equipment and stored large inventories of chemicals awaiting processing. Notes found on the scene suggested that the cooks typically got about 240 pounds per batch.

Like Joe Bozenko, the agents standing at the edge of the smoke and the stench that afternoon felt that they were glimpsing a new drug world. What struck them both was what they were not seeing. No ephedrine. The lab was set up exclusively to make P2P meth.

Working through all the chemicals on hand, by Bozenko’s estimation, the lab could have produced 900 metric tons of methamphetamine.

What’s more, this lab was not hidden up in the mountains or on a rural ranch. Tlajomulco de Zúñiga lies just 15 miles south of Guadalajara, one of Mexico’s largest cities, and serves as home to the city’s international airport. The area has everything needed to be a center of meth manufacturing: warehouses, transportation hubs, proximity to chemists. Trucks rumble through the area daily from the shipping ports in Lázaro Cárdenas, in the state of Michoacán, and Manzanillo, in the state of Colima.

The ephedrine method was still very much in use in 2006; Mexico, which had been reducing legal imports of ephedrine, wouldn’t ban them outright until 2008; even after that, some traffickers relied on illegal shipments for a time. And despite all the advances when it came to making P2P, in at least some respects the traffickers “didn’t know what they were doing yet,” Chávez told me. The explosion showed that. Nonetheless, years later he thought back on that moment and realized that it was almost as if they were witnessing a shift right then, that week.

About five years after the Tlajomulco lab exploded, in June 2011, Mexican authorities discovered a massive P2P meth lab in the city of Querétaro, just a few hours north of Mexico City. It was in a warehouse that could have fit a 737, in an industrial park with roads wide enough for 18-wheelers; it made the Tlajomulco lab look tiny. Joe Bozenko and his colleague Steve Toske were called down from Washington to inspect it, and they wandered through it in awe. Bags of chemicals were stacked 30 feet high.

Hundreds of those bags contained a substance neither Bozenko nor Toske had ever thought could be used to make P2P. Bozenko often consulted a book that outlined chemicals that might serve as precursors to making methamphetamine, but this particular substance wasn’t in it. Well-trained organic chemists were clearly improvising new ways to make the ingredients, expanding potential supply even further.

Working through all the chemicals in the plant, by Bozenko’s estimation, the lab could have produced 900 metric tons of methamphetamine. Against a wall stood three 1,000-liter reactors, two stories tall.

Nothing like this had been achieved with ephedrine, nor could it have been; no one could have imagined the accumulation of 900 metric tons of the chemical. Later, Mexican investigators would report that of the 16 workers arrested at the Querétaro lab, 14 died over the next six months from liver failure—presumably caused by exposure to chemicals at the lab.

Meth and paraphernalia (above) inside a tent on Skid Row, in Los Angeles. The area encompasses about 50 square blocks of the city; tents (below) line many of its streets. (Rachel Bujalski for The Atlantic)

Methamphetamine was having a cultural moment in the U.S.—“meth mouth” had become an object of can’t-look-away fascination on the internet, and Breaking Bad was big. The switch from ephedrine-based labs to ones using the P2P method was even a plot point in the series. But few people outside the DEA really understood the consequences of this shift. Soon, tons of P2P meth were moving north, without any letup, and the price of meth collapsed. But there was more to the story than higher volume. Ephedrine meth tended to damage people gradually, over years. With the switchover to P2P meth, that damage seemed to accelerate, especially damage to the brain.

One night in 2009, in Temecula, California, partway between San Diego and L.A., a longtime user of crystal meth named Eric Barrera felt the dope change.

Barrera is a stocky ex-Marine who’d grown up in the L.A. area. The meth he had been using for several years by then made him talkative and euphoric, made his scalp tingle. But that night, he was gripped with paranoia. His girlfriend, he was sure, had a man in her apartment. No one was in the apartment, she insisted. Barrera took a kitchen knife and began stabbing a sofa, certain the man was hiding there. Then he stabbed a mattress to tatters, and finally he began stabbing the walls, looking for this man he imagined was hiding inside. “That had never happened before,” he told me when I met him years later. Barrera was hardly alone in noting a change. Gang-member friends from his old neighborhood took to calling the meth that had begun to circulate in the area around that time “weirdo dope.

Read: A former meth addict talks about his experience with drug court

Barrera had graduated from high school in 1998 and joined the Marine Corps. He was sent to Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina, where he was among the few nonwhite Marines in the platoon. The racism, he felt, was threatening and brazen. He asked for a transfer to Camp Pendleton, in San Diego County, and was denied. Over the next year and a half, he said, it got worse. Two years into his service, he was honorably discharged.

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Barrera was filled with remorse that he hadn’t stuck it out in the Corps. He was home now, without the heroic story he’d imagined for himself when he joined the Marines. The way he tells it, he drank and used meth to relieve his depression.

He’d sometimes stay up on meth for four or five days, and he had to make excuses for missing work. But until that point, he’d held his life together. He worked as a loan processor, then for an insurance company. He had an apartment, a souped-up Acura Integra, a lot of friends.

But as the meth changed around 2009, so did Barrera’s life. His cravings for meth continued, but paranoia and delusions began to fill his days. “Those feelings of being chatty and wanting to talk go away,” he told me. “All of a sudden you’re stuck and you’re in your head and you’re there for hours.” He said strange things to people. He couldn’t hold a job. No one tolerated him for long. His girlfriend, then his mother, then his father kicked him out, followed by a string of friends who had welcomed him because he always had drugs. When he described his hallucinations, “my friends were like, ‘I don’t care how much dope you got, you can’t stay here.’ ”

By 2012, massive quantities of meth were flowing into Southern California. That same year, 96 percent of the meth samples tested by DEA chemists were made using the P2P method. And, for the first time in more than a decade of meth use, Barrera was homeless. He slept in his car and, for a while, in abandoned houses in Bakersfield. He was hearing voices. A Veterans Affairs psychologist diagnosed him with depression and symptoms of schizophrenia.

Even many years later, when I spoke with him, Barrera didn’t know how the drug he was using had changed and spread, or why. But as a resident of Southern California, he was among the first to be affected by it. Over the next half-dozen years or so, the flood of P2P meth would spread east, immersing much of the rest of the country, too.

Mention drug-running, and many people will think of cartels. Yet over the past decade, meth’s rising availability did not result from the dictates of some underworld board of directors. Something far more powerful was at work, particularly in the Sinaloa area: a massive, unregulated free market.

By the time Eric Barrera’s life began to collapse, something like a Silicon Valley of meth innovation, knowledge, skill, and production had formed in the states along Mexico’s northern Pacific Coast. The deaths of kingpins who had controlled the trade, in the early 2010s, had only accelerated the process. “When the control vanishes, all these regional fiefdoms spring up,” said a DEA supervisor who pursued Mexican trafficking organizations during these years. (He, like some other DEA agents I spoke with, asked that his name not be used, because of the dangerous nature of his work.) “We just started seeing more and more labs springing up everywhere.” The new labs weren’t all as enormous as the Querétaro lab that Bozenko had seen in 2011. But they multiplied quickly.

Beginning in about 2013 and continuing for the next several years, meth production expanded geometrically; the labs “just escape all limits,” a member of the Sinaloan drug world told me. “In a five-square-kilometer area outside Culiacán [Sinaloa’s capital city], there were, like, 20 labs. No exaggeration. You go out to 15 kilometers, there’s more than a hundred.”

Listening to traffickers on wiretaps, one DEA agent told me, made it clear just how loose the confederations of meth suppliers were by then. The cartels had not vanished, and many of these suppliers were likely paying one or another of them off. But the wires nonetheless revealed a pulsing ecosystem of independent brokers, truckers, packagers, pilots, shrimp-boat captains, mechanics, and tire-shop owners. In the United States, the system included meat-plant workers, money-wiring services, restaurants, farm foremen, drivers, safe houses, and used-car lots. The ecosystem harnessed the self-interest of each of these actors, who got paid only when deals got done.

“We’d waste hours listening on the wire,” the agent told me, “to people wasting their time calling around doing the networking as brokers, trying to set up drug deals, because they wanted to make money. There’s a huge layer of brokers who are the driving force [in Mexican drug trafficking]. Maybe they own a business or restaurant in Mexico or in the U.S.—this is something they do to supplement income. A large percentage of drug deals at this level don’t happen. But it’s like salesmen—the more calls you make, the more people you know, the more sales you get. So four or five people will be involved in getting 50 kilos to some city in the United States. This guy knows a guy who knows a guy who has a cousin in Atlanta … And with the independent transporters operating at the border, there’s no cartel allegiance. They’re all just making money.”

From 2015 to 2019, the Mexican military raided some 330 meth labs in Sinaloa alone. But arrests were rare, according to a person involved in targeting the labs. Far from being a deterrent, the raids showed that no one would pay a personal price, and more people entered the trade as a result. At one point in 2019, DEA intelligence held that, despite all the raids, at least 70 meth labs were operating in Sinaloa, each with the capacity to make tons of meth with every cook.

With labs popping up everywhere, the price of a pound of meth fell to nearly $1,000 for the first time on U.S. streets by the late 2010s—a 90 percent drop from a decade earlier in many areas. Yet traffickers’ response to tumbling prices was to increase production, hoping to make up for lower prices with higher volume. Competition among producers also drove meth purity to record highs.

Methamphetamine damages the brain no matter how it is derived. But P2P meth seems to create a higher order of cerebral catastrophe.

Pot was part of this story too. As some American states legalized marijuana, Mexican pot revenue faltered. Many producers switched to making meth and found it liberating. Marijuana took months to grow, was bulky, and could rot. “But with crystal meth,” the member of the Sinaloan drug world told me, “in 10 days you’ve made it. It’s not as bulky as pot, so in two weeks you’re crossing the border with it. Within two or three months, you’re big.”

In the Southwest, the drug quickly became more prevalent than ever. And supply kept flowing east, covering the country in meth all the way to New England, which had almost none before the mid-2010s. Since late 2016, the Midwest and South have seen an especially dramatic shift. Mexican traffickers had never been able to get their hands on enough ephedrine to cover those regions, but now that was no longer an issue. In place after place, they made alliances with local dealers to introduce their product.

Left: A man inside his encampment on a Skid Row sidewalk, after taking a puff of meth. Right: Another resident of the same encampment, who attributes his homelessness to a cycle of meth use he cannot break. (Rachel Bujalski for The Atlantic)

The Louisville, Kentucky, area is one example. For years, Louisville had a paltry meth market. A pound of it sold for $14,000. Then Wiley Greenhill went to prison. Greenhill was a minor drug dealer in Detroit who had come to Louisville in 1999, attracted by Kentucky’s vibrant street market for pain pills, which were fetching five times what they sold for in Detroit.

He eventually landed at the Roederer Correctional Complex, north of Louisville, where he struck up a friendship with an inmate from California. The inmate’s father, a businessman from Southern California named Jose Prieto, had gotten into debt with the wrong people from Sinaloa. The Sinaloans told Prieto that to settle his debt, he had to sell their meth. Greenhill was given the opportunity to buy it.

By 2016 Greenhill was out of prison, and the meth began to flow. At first Prieto sent small quantities through the mail. Soon the loads reached 50 to 100 pounds a month, driven east by women Greenhill hired.

Prieto proved eager to get his product out. He fronted Greenhill hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of meth on the promise that he would be repaid. Tim Fritz, a DEA agent who investigated the Prieto-Greenhill ring, told me, “Jose Prieto would say, ‘Whatever you need, we got it. Whatever you buy, I’ll double it. You want 10 pounds, I’ll give you 20—pay me later.’ ”

As months passed, the Louisville meth market expanded beyond anything the region had seen before. The trade spread to southern Indiana and nearby counties in Kentucky as the number of customers grew. Other local traffickers began to import meth as well. The price of a pound of meth fell to about $1,200, less than a tenth of what it had been just a few years earlier.

At the MORE Center, a Louisville clinic set up to treat pain-pill and heroin addicts, patients started coming in on meth. Before the Prieto-Greenhill connection, only two of counselor Jennifer Grzesik’s patients were using meth. Within three years, almost 90 percent of new patients coming to the clinic had meth in their drug screen. “I don’t remember having any homeless people in my caseload before 2016,” she told me. But 20 percent of her clients now are homeless.

Greenhill and Prieto were arrested in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and are now serving lengthy federal-prison terms. They left behind a transformed market. Primed by the new supply, meth demand has exploded, in turn drawing more dealers who have found their own supply connections. The price of a pound of meth remains low. To compete, some Louisville meth dealers now offer free delivery; others offer syringes already loaded with liquid meth so users can immediately shoot up. Similar partnerships, arrangements, and retail innovations have transformed regional drug markets across the U.S.

Habits, once entrenched, are difficult to change. If they weren’t, more Americans would have quit smoking soon after 1964, when the U.S. surgeon general issued his first report on its risks. American nicotine addicts kept smoking because nicotine had changed their brain chemistry, and cigarettes were everywhere. We stopped people from smoking, argues Wendy Wood, a psychologist at the University of Southern California and the author of a book on habituation, by adding “friction” to the activity—making it harder to do or limiting access to supply. We removed cigarette vending machines, banned smoking in public spaces. By adding friction to smoking, we also removed cues that prompted people to smoke: bars where booze, friends, and cigarettes went together, for example.

Something like the opposite of that has happened with P2P methamphetamine. “Meth reminds me of what alcoholics go through,” Matt Scharf, the director of recovery programs at Midnight Mission, a Los Angeles treatment center, told me. “There’s alcohol everywhere. Meth is now so readily available. There’s an availability to it that is not the case with heroin or crack. It’s everywhere.”

All of that meth has been pushed into a market already softened up by the opioid epidemic. That should not have mattered: Historically, meth and opioid users had been separate groups with different cultures, and the drugs affect the brain’s reward pathways differently. But as large supplies of P2P meth began to arrive, many opioid addicts already feared for their life. Fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid, was also spreading quickly. For many, Suboxone—which blocks opiate receptors and hence eliminates opioid cravings—was a lifesaver. They use it daily, the way a heart patient uses daily blood thinners to stay alive. Yet the counseling and continuum of care required to support the broader life changes necessary for addiction recovery are often absent.

From the May 2019 issue: Sam Quinones on how physicians get addicted too

Thus, as P2P meth spread nationwide, an unprecedented event took place in American drug use: Opioid addicts began to shift, en masse, to meth. Meth overdoses have risen rapidly in recent years, but they are much less common than opioid ODs—you don’t typically overdose and die on meth; you decay. By 2019, in the course of my reporting, I was routinely coming into contact with people in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia who were using Suboxone to control their opiate cravings from long-standing addiction to pain pills and heroin, while using methamphetamine to get high. Massive supplies of cheap P2P meth had created demand for a stimulant out of a market for a depressant. In the process, traffickers forged a new population of mentally ill Americans.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve talked with meth addicts, counselors, and cops around the country. The people I spoke with told me stories nearly identical to Eric Barrera’s: P2P-meth use was quickly causing steep deterioration in mental health. The symptoms were always similar: violent paranoia, hallucinations, conspiracy theories, isolation, massive memory loss, jumbled speech. Methamphetamine is a neurotoxin—it damages the brain no matter how it is derived. But P2P meth seems to create a higher order of cerebral catastrophe. “I don’t know that I would even call it meth anymore,” Ken Vick, the director of a drug-treatment center in Kansas City, Missouri, told me. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are afflictions that begin in the young. Now people in their 30s and 40s with no prior history of mental illness seemed to be going mad.

Eric Barrera, now an outreach worker to homeless military veterans on Skid Row, had used meth for years before the flood of P2P meth hit. His mental health took a sharp downward turn. (Rachel Bujalski for The Atlantic)

Portland, Oregon, began seeing the flood of meth around 2013. By January 2020, the city had to close its downtown sobering station. The station had opened in 1985 as a place for alcoholics to sober up for six to eight hours, but it was unequipped to handle people addicted to P2P meth. “The degree of mental-health disturbance; the wave of psychosis; the profound, profound disorganization [is something] I’ve never seen before,” Rachel Solotaroff, the CEO of Central City Concern, the social-service nonprofit that ran the station, told me. Solotaroff was among the first people I spoke with. She sounded overwhelmed. “If they’re not raging and agitated, they can be completely noncommunicative. Treating addiction [relies] on your ability to have a connection with someone. But I’ve never experienced something like this—where there’s no way in to that person.”

From the April 2015 issue: The irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous

On Skid Row in Los Angeles, crack had been the drug of choice for decades. Dislodging it took some time. But by 2014 the new meth was everywhere. When that happened, “it seemed that people were losing their minds faster,” a Los Angeles Police Department beat officer named Deon Joseph told me. Joseph had worked Skid Row for 22 years. “They’d be okay when they were just using crack,” Joseph said. “Then in 2014, with meth, all of a sudden they became mentally ill. They deteriorated into mental illness faster than I ever saw with crack cocaine.”

Susan Partovi has been a physician for homeless people in Los Angeles since 2003. She noticed increasing mental illness—schizophrenia, bipolar disorder—at her clinics around the city starting in about 2012. She was soon astonished by “how many severely mentally ill people were out there,” Partovi told me. “Now almost everyone we see when we do homeless outreach on the streets is on meth. Meth may now be causing long-term psychosis, similar to schizophrenia, that lasts even after they’re not using anymore.”

I called James Mahoney, a neuropsychologist at West Virginia University who had studied the effects of ephedrine meth on the brain in the early 2000s at UCLA. The psychosis he saw then was bad, he said, but it frequently appeared to be the result of extended sleep deprivation. In 2016, Mahoney took a job as a drug researcher and specialist in WVU’s addiction clinic. Less than a year later, the P2P crystal meth from Mexico started showing up. Mahoney was inundated with meth patients who came in ranting, conversing with phantoms. “I can’t even compare it to what I was seeing at UCLA,” he told me. “Now we’re seeing it instantaneously, within hours, in people who just used: psychotic symptoms, hallucinations, delusions.”

In community after community, I heard stories like this. Southwest Virginia hadn’t seen much meth for almost a decade when suddenly, in about 2017, “we started to see people go into the state mental-hospital system who were just grossly psychotic,” Eric Greene, then a drug counselor in the area, told me. “Since then, it’s caused a crisis in our state mental-health hospitals. It’s difficult for the truly mentally ill to get care because the facilities are full of people who are on meth.”

Mitchell told me that the most visible homelessness—people sleeping on sidewalks, or in the tents that now crowd many of the neighborhoods in L.A.—was clearly due to the new meth.

Symptoms could fade once users purged the drug, if they did not relapse. But while they were on this new meth, they grew antisocial, all but mute. I spoke with two recovering meth addicts who said they had to relearn how to speak. “It took me a year and a half to recover from the brain damage it had done to me,” one of them said. “I couldn’t hardly form sentences. I couldn’t laugh, smile. I couldn’t think.”

I spoke with Jennie Jobe, from rural Morgan County, in eastern Tennessee. Jobe had spent 20 years working in state prisons when she started a drug court and associated residential treatment center in 2013.

For its first few years, Jobe’s court handled meth addicts who got their drugs from local “shake and bake” manufacturers— small-batch cooks using Sudafed, and usually producing just a few grams of the drug at a time. These meth users were gaunt, she remembers, and picked at their skin. But they were animated, lucid, with memories and personalities intact when they arrived at her facility, detoxed after months in jail.

By 2017, however, people were coming to her treatment center stripped of human energy, even after several months spent detoxing from the drug in jail. “Normal recreational activities where guys talk trash and have fun—there’s none of that. It’s like their brain cannot fire.”

Treating them was daunting. Despite years of research, science has found no equivalent of methadone or Suboxone to help subdue meth cravings and allow people addicted to the drug a chance to break from it and begin repairing their life. And, like many others I spoke with, Jobe found that the human connection essential to successful drug treatment was almost impossible to establish. “It takes longer for them to actually be here mentally,” Jobe said. “Before, we didn’t keep anybody more than nine months. Now we’re running up to 14 months, because it’s not until six or nine months that we finally find out who we got.” Some can’t remember their life before jail. “It’s not unusual for them to ask what they were found guilty of and sentenced to,” she said.

Why is P2P meth producing such pronounced symptoms of mental illness in so many people? No one I spoke with knew for sure. One theory is that much of the meth contains residue of toxic chemicals used in its production, or other contaminants. Even traces of certain chemicals, in a relatively pure drug, might be devastating. The sheer number of users is up, too, and the abundance and low price of P2P meth may enable more continual use among them. That, combined with the drug’s potency today, might accelerate the mental deterioration that ephedrine-based meth can also produce, though usually over a period of months or years, not weeks. Meth and opioids (or other drugs) might also interact in particularly toxic ways. I don’t know of any study comparing the behavior of users—or rats for that matter—on meth made with ephedrine versus meth made with P2P. This now seems a crucial national question.

Once your eyes are open to the scale and human consequences of the P2P-meth epidemic, it’s hard to miss its ramifications in many areas of American public life.

Perhaps the most significant is homelessness.

In 2012, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, Craig Mitchell, founded L.A.’s Skid Row Running Club. Every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, 20 to 50 people—recovering addicts, cops, public defenders, social workers—meet around dawn in front of a local shelter to run for an hour through the greatest concentration of homeless people in the United States. The club’s broader mission is to support the area’s homeless community through mentorship and a focus on wellness.

Top: Barrera, distributing socks on Skid Row. Bottom: The Skid Row Running Club—recovering addicts, cops, social workers—seeks to support the area’s homeless through mentorship and a focus on wellness. (Rachel Bujalski for The Atlantic)

Los Angeles has long been the nation’s homelessness capital, but as in many cities—large and small—the problem has worsened greatly in recent years. In the L.A. area, homelessness more than doubled from 2012 to 2020. Mitchell told me that the most visible homelessness—people sleeping on sidewalks, or in the tents that now crowd many of the city’s neighborhoods—was clearly due to the new meth. “There was a sea change with respect to meth being the main drug of choice beginning in about 2008,” he said. Now “it’s the No. 1 drug.”

Remarkably, meth rarely comes up in city discussions on homelessness, or in newspaper articles about it. Mitchell called it “the elephant in the room”—nobody wants to talk about it, he said. “There’s a desire not to stigmatize the homeless as drug users.” Policy makers and advocates instead prefer to focus on L.A.’s cost of housing, which is very high but hardly relevant to people rendered psychotic and unemployable by methamphetamine.

Addiction and mental illness have always been contributors to homelessness. P2P meth seems to produce those conditions quickly. “It took me 12 years of using before I was homeless,” Talie Wenick, a counselor in Bend, Oregon, who began using ephedrine-based meth in 1993 and has been clean for 15 years, told me. “Now within a year they’re homeless. So many homeless camps have popped up around Central Oregon—huge camps on Bureau of Land Management land, with tents and campers and roads they’ve cleared themselves. And almost everyone’s using. You’re trying to help someone get clean, and they live in a camp where almost everyone is using.”

Eric Barrera is now a member of Judge Mitchell’s running club. Through the VA, he got treatment for his meth addiction and found housing; without meth, he was able to keep it. The voices in his head went away. He volunteered at a treatment center, which eventually hired him as an outreach worker, looking for vets in the encampments.

Barrera told me that every story he hears in the course of his work is complex; homelessness, of course, has many roots. Some people he has met were disabled and couldn’t work, or were just out of prison. Others had lost jobs or health insurance and couldn’t pay for both rent and the surgeries or medications they needed. They’d scraped by until a landlord had raised their rent. Some kept their cars to sleep in, or had welcoming families who offered a couch or a bed in a garage. Barrera thought of them as invisible, the hidden homeless, the shredded-safety-net homeless.

But Barrera also told me that for a lot of the residents of Skid Row’s tent encampments, meth was a major reason they were there and couldn’t leave. Such was the pull. Some were addicted to other things: crack or heroin, alcohol or gambling. Many of them used any drug available. But what Barrera encountered the most was meth.

Tents themselves seem to play a role in this phenomenon. Tents protect many homeless people from the elements. But tents and the new meth seem made for each other. With a tent, the user can retreat not just mentally from the world but physically. Encampments provide a community for users, creating the kinds of environmental cues that the USC psychologist Wendy Wood finds crucial in forming and maintaining habits. They are often places where addicts flee from treatment, where they can find approval for their meth use.

In Los Angeles, the city’s unwillingness, or inability under judicial rulings, to remove the tents has allowed encampments to persist for weeks or months, though a recent law allows for more proactive action. In this environment, given the realities of addiction, the worst sorts of exploitation have sometimes followed. In 2020, I spoke with Ariel, a transgender woman then in rehab, who had come to Los Angeles from a small suburb of a midsize American city four years before. She had arrived hoping for gender-confirmation surgery and saddled with a meth habit. She eventually ended up alone on Hollywood’s streets. “There’s these camps in Hollywood, on Vine and other streets—distinct tent camps,” she said, where women on meth are commonly pimped. “A lot of people who aren’t homeless have these tents. They come from out of the area to sell drugs, move guns, prostitute girls out of the tents. The last guy I was getting worked out by, he was charging people $25 a night to use his tents. He would give you girls, me and three other people. He’d take the money and we’d get paid in drugs.”

Megan Schabbing, a psychiatrist and the medical director of emergency psychiatric services at OhioHealth, in Columbus, Ohio, later described to me how meth use and this sort of suffering can reinforce each other. Schabbing spends much of her time on the job digging into the underlying causes of drug use among those who end up in the ER. Often there was trauma: beatings, molestation, rape, war deployment, childhood chaos, neglect. For many of these patients, she discovered, the delusions fueled by meth became the point—the drug’s attraction. “Many would tell me, ‘I can stay out of reality on the street’ ” by using meth, she said. “When they come to us, it takes them days to figure out who and where they are. But some patients have told me that’s not a bad thing if you’re on the street.”

If P2P meth pushed her patients toward homelessness, it also helped them bear it.

How could this crisis emerge so quietly and remain, in many ways, invisible to most Americans? One reason, perhaps, is the national focus on the opioid epidemic, which was itself ignored for a long time. In recent years, the headlines have been about pain-pill or heroin overdoses, then fentanyl overdoses, and the funding has followed. Besides, deaths, however tragic, allow for memorials, a chance to remember the deceased’s better days. Meth doesn’t kill people at nearly the same rate as opioids. It presents, instead, the rawest face of living addiction. That part of addiction, one counselor told me, “people don’t want to touch it.”

There is no central villain in the P2P-meth story—no Purdue Pharma, no dominant cartel. There’s no single entity to target, either. So the issue is often enveloped in a willful myopia. Advocates for homeless people seem reluctant to speak out about the drug, for fear that the downtrodden will be blamed for their troubles.

Left: A couple sits on a Skid Row sidewalk while a man sleeps next to them. Right: A woman near her tent in L.A., holding a wooden heart she found while searching for recyclables. She wants to kick her meth habit, she says, but cannot stop using. (Rachel Bujalski for The Atlantic)

The spread of P2P meth is part of a larger narrative—a shift in drug supply from plant-based drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin to synthetic drugs, which can be made anywhere, quickly, cheaply, and year-round. Underground chemists are continually seeking to develop more potent and addictive varieties of them. The use of mind-altering substances by humans is age-old, but we have entered a new era.

Drug demand is important in this new era. People need to understand what these drugs will ultimately do to them, and those who are using will need substantial help getting off them.

But it must be said: The story of the meth epidemic (like the opioid epidemic before it) begins with supply. In a previous era, most Vietnam vets kicked heroin when they got home and were far from war and the potent supplies they were used to in Southeast Asia. Today, supplies of meth are vast and cheap throughout much of the country.

Crystal meth is in some ways a metaphor for our times—times of anomie and isolation, of paranoia and delusion, of communities coming apart. Meth is not responsible for these much wider social problems, of course. But the meth epidemic is symptomatic of them, and also contributes to them.

If you spend time among meth users, you’ll notice certain habits and tics: fixations on flashlights, for instance, and on bicycles, which are endlessly disassembled and assembled again. Hoodies are everywhere. The hoodie is versatile—cheap, warm, functional. But as opioids, then meth, spread across America, the hoodie also became, for many, a hiding place from a harsh world. “When we put up that hood,” one recovering addict told me, “we’re making the choice to separate ourselves from everyone else—instead of someone pushing us out. I think it’s our way to hide from the world that doesn’t accept us. The hood is the refuge. It’s our safe place.”

Perhaps the best defense against epidemics like this one lies in choosing to look more closely and more sympathetically at the people in those hoods—to put a higher priority on community than we’ve done in recent years. America has made itself more vulnerable to scourges, even as those scourges grow more potent. But scourges are also an opportunity: They call on us to reexamine how we live. Until we begin to look out for the most vulnerable among us, there’s no reason to expect them to abate.

This article is adapted from Sam Quinones’s new book, The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth. It appears in the November 2021 print edition with the headline “The New Meth.” When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.

Sir Edward Elgar | English composer

Sir Edward Elgar, in full Sir Edward William Elgar, (born June 2, 1857, Broadheath, Worcestershire, England—died February 23, 1934, Worcester, Worcestershire), English composer whose works in the orchestral idiom of late 19th-century Romanticism—characterized by bold tunes, striking colour effects, and mastery of large forms—stimulated a renaissance of English music.

The son of an organist and music dealer, Elgar left school at age 15 and worked briefly in a lawyer’s office. He was an excellent violinist, played the bassoon, and spent periods as a bandmaster and church organist. He had no formal training in composition. After working in London (1889–91), he went to Malvern, Worcestershire, and began to establish a reputation as a composer. He produced several large choral works, notably the oratorio Lux Christi (1896; The Light of Life), before composing in 1898–99 the popular Enigma Variations for orchestra. The variations are based on the countermelody to an unheard theme, which Elgar said was a well-known tune he would not identify—hence the enigma. Repeated attempts to discover it have been unsuccessful. All but the last of the 14 variations refer cryptically to friends of Elgar, the exception being his own musical self-portrait. This work, highly esteemed by Hans Richter, who conducted the first performance in 1899, brought Elgar recognition as a leading composer and became his most frequently performed composition. In 1900 there followed another major work, the oratorio The Dream of Gerontius, which many consider his masterpiece. Based on a poem by John Henry Cardinal Newman, it dispensed with the traditional admixture of recitatives, arias, and choruses, using instead a continuous musical texture as in the musical dramas of Richard Wagner. The work was not well received at its first performance in Birmingham, but after it was acclaimed in Germany, it won British favour.

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Lifting the Curtain on Composers: Fact or Fiction?

You may be familiar with his first six string quartets, but is it true that Ludwig van Beethoven was married six times? Lift the curtain on the facts and personal lives of Beethoven, Bach, and other composers.

Elgar, a Roman Catholic, planned to continue with a trilogy of religious oratorios, but he completed only two: The Apostles (1903) and The Kingdom (1906). In these less successful works, representative themes are interwoven in the manner of the leitmotivs of Wagner. Other vocal works include the choral cantata, Caractacus (1898), and the song cycle for contralto, Sea Pictures (1900).

In 1904 Elgar was knighted, and from 1905 to 1908 he was the University of Birmingham’s first professor of music. During World War I he wrote occasional patriotic pieces. After the death of his wife in 1920, he curtailed his music writing severely, and in 1929 he returned to Worcestershire. Friendship with George Bernard Shaw eventually stimulated Elgar to further composition, and at his death he left unfinished a third symphony, a piano concerto, and an opera.

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Elgar’s principal works of a programmatic nature are the overture Cockaigne, or In London Town (1901), and the “symphonic study” Falstaff (1913). Of his five Pomp and Circumstance marches (1901–07; 1930), the first became particularly famous. Also highly esteemed are his two symphonies (1908 and 1911), the Introduction and Allegro for strings (1905), and his Violin Concerto (1910) and Cello Concerto (1919).

The first English composer of international stature since Henry Purcell (1659–95), Elgar liberated his country’s music from its insularity. He left to younger composers the rich harmonic resources of late Romanticism and stimulated the subsequent national school of English music. His own idiom was cosmopolitan, yet his interest in the oratorio is grounded in the English musical tradition. Especially in England, Elgar is esteemed both for his own music and for his role in heralding the 20th-century English musical renascence.

Cozy Butternut Squash Lasagna with Roasted Veggies

Serious question: is there anything better than layers of roasted veggies, noodles and cheese piled high and bubbling hot? Didn’t think so. Ever since I made my famous turkey lasagna years ago I’ve been in LOVE with creating deliciously savory, cozy lasagna recipes that warm you up from the inside out.

To celebrate fall and all things comfort food, I made you an incredible roasted vegetable butternut squash lasagna filled with everything you could want in a comforting dinner. There are 5 different types of veggies roasted to perfection and snuggled between layers of noodles, cheese, and two types of sauce. Instead of red sauce, we’re making a sweet & savory spiced butternut squash sauce, plus a traditional ricotta layer. All I can say is HOT DAMN this might just be your new fav lasagna recipe that just so happens to be vegetarian.

I highly recommend adding this goodness to your Thanksgiving menu for all of your veggie family and friends! I included plenty of ways to prep it ahead of time and even freeze it before or after baking so that you can have a wonderful dinner in no time at all. Happy cooking!

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What you’ll need to make this butternut squash lasagna

This delicious butternut squash lasagna is layered up with beautiful roasted veggies, a classic ricotta mixture, sweet & savory butternut squash, and of course, plenty of melted cheese. It’s truly the perfect vegetarian comfort food! Here’s everything you’ll need to make it:

  • For the roasted veggies: we’re using red bell pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, baby bella mushrooms and zucchini. A true rainbow of veggies in this lasagna! You’ll roast them up with olive oil, garlic powder, salt & pepper.
  • For the butternut squash: the squash will create a creamy, flavorful sauce layer instead of using traditional tomato sauce in the lasagna. You’ll start by roasting a large butternut squash (get all of our tips & tricks for prepping your squash here!) then blending the flesh with milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, salt and pepper.
  • For the noodles: you’ll of course need some lasagna noodles to layer it all up!
  • For the ricotta mixture: we’re alternating the veggies and butternut squash sauce with a savory ricotta layer made from ricotta, an egg, salt and pepper. Easy.
  • For the layers: what’s lasagna without melty cheese? I like to use shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan.
  • To garnish: add a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley for a beautiful garnish.

Easy ways to customize

Out of a few ingredients? Here’s what I can recommend substituting and customizing in this roasted vegetable lasagna recipe:

  • Choose your veggies. Feel free to mix and match the roasted veggies with any you have on-hand, or use more of one veggie than another! You really can’t go wrong.
  • Go gluten free. You can also make this recipe gluten free by using gluten free lasagna noodles.
  • Simplify the spices. Out of any of the warming spices? Feel free to use a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice instead!
  • Swap the squash. I love the flavor that butternut squash adds to the cozy sauce, but roasted sweet potato should work well or you can try my pumpkin lasagna.

Can I use no-cook lasagna noodles?

I don’t love using no-cook noodles because they tend to have a different texture, but if you’re in a pinch (or only have no-cook on hand) feel free to use them!

Our best lasagna-making tips

Homemade lasagna may look a bit intimidating because of all of the different components, but with these tips & tricks you’ll be making the BEST roasted veggie butternut squash lasagna like a pro:

  • Don’t overcook the noodles. Make sure to boil the noodles just until al dente, not fully cooked, because they’ll cook more when you bake the entire lasagna. No one likes mushy noodles!
  • Use room temperature ricotta. The ricotta mixture is easiest to mix with room temp ingredients, so I suggest letting the container of ricotta and the egg sit out a bit to come to room temp.
  • Pre-cook layers to save time. This butternut squash lasagna is easy to make but it is a bit time-intensive, so feel free to cut down on the prep and cooking by r0asting the veggies and butternut squash up to 3 days ahead of time! Get all of our tips for roasting butternut squash here!

Prep this lasagna ahead of time

This butternut squash lasagna is the perfect make ahead meal to serve a vegetarian crowd (and makes amazing leftovers!) To make it ahead of time simply assemble the lasagna completely as directed, cover and place it in the refrigerator one day before serving. It’s the perfect way to save time if you’re making this for Thanksgiving. When you’re ready to serve, bake it up as directed and enjoy!

Two ways to freeze butternut squash lasagna

This easy butternut squash lasagna recipe makes the best freezer-friendly meal! Here are two great ways to freeze it:

  1. Bake first, then freeze. You can either bake it first, then cool to room temperature, slice into servings, place in freezer safe containers and then freeze. Or you can bake it, bring it to room temp, and then freeze the entire pan. Just make sure you double wrap it so the lasagna does not dry out. This is assuming you are freezing the entire pan. Once ready to reheat, thaw it out. Then bake, covered at 350 degrees F for 30-45 minutes or until heated through.
  2. Freeze before baking: To freeze before baking, simply assemble the lasagna as written in the instructions, then double wrap with plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Once ready to bake, thaw out then bake according to instructions.

More recipes for your Thanksgiving table

Get all of our amazing Thanksgiving recipes here, and more delicious comfort foods here! Remember to sign up for the Ultimate Thanksgiving Series, too.

I hope you love this cozy roasted vegetable butternut squash lasagna! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

Cozy Roasted Vegetable Butternut Squash Lasagna

Cook Time 1 hour 45 minutes

Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes

Wonderfully cozy roasted vegetable butternut squash lasagna packed with a rainbow of veggies and the perfect balance of sweet & savory flavor. This vegetarian butternut squash lasagna recipe is easy to make and filled with warming spices. Don’t forget those incredible layers of melted cheese in every bite! Comfort food at its finest.

  • For the roasted veggies:
  • 1
    red bell pepper, julienned or cut into chunks
  • 1
    yellow or orange bell pepper, julienned or cut into chunks
  • 1
    red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8
    baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2
    medium zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • ½
    garlic powder
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 2
    olive oil
  • For the butternut squash layer:
  • 1
    large butternut squash (at least 3 pounds)
  • 2/3
    milk (I like unsweetened almond milk, but any milk will work)
  • 1
    brown sugar or coconut sugar (or pure maple syrup)
  • ¼
  • ¼
  • ¼
  • ¼
  • 1/2
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the noodles:
  • 10
    lasagna noodles
  • For the ricotta mixture:
  • 1
    (15 ounce) container ricotta
  • 1
  • 1/2
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the layers:
  • 3
    shredded mozzarella cheese, divided (approximately 12 ounces)
  • 1/2
    grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • To garnish:
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Add all of the veggies for roasting to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Use your hands to toss the veggies together then spread them out in an even layer. Set aside while you prep your butternut squash.

  3. Use a sharp knife to cut off both ends of a butternut squash, you’ll cut about ¼-½ inch off each end. Next cut the butternut squash in half vertically. Place the butternut squash upright or vertically on a wooden cutting board that’s very secured to your counter. We don’t want the cutting board or squash to wobble as you cut it. Use your knife to cut the butternut squash vertically down the middle. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds of the cut butternut squash. Place the butternut squash halves flesh side down on a separate medium baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

  4. Place both veggies and squash in the oven on two different racks. Roast the veggies for 30 minutes or until they are slightly golden then remove to cool down. The butternut squash will take slightly longer; about 1 hour total or until the squash is very fork tender. Set aside to cool for a little bit before scooping out the flesh. Keep heat in the oven.

  5. Make the butternut squash sauce: transfer the flesh of the butternut squash to a high powered blender or bowl of a food processor. Add in milk, brown or coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and set aside.

  6. Do this step while the veggies and squash roast: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the lasagna noodles for 5-6 minutes, then drain. Immediately lay the noodles flat on an oiled baking sheet or cutting board so you can easily assemble the lasagna when ready. Another option is to soak the lasagna noodles in very warm (hot) water for 20-30 minutes if you do not want to boil them. (Note: you can also use no-cook lasagna noodles, but they aren’t my favorite!)

  7. In the small bowl, add the ricotta, egg, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined. Set aside.

  8. To assemble the lasagna, spread 3/4 cup of butternut squash mixture over the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Place 5 of the cooked lasagna noodles on top, laying 4 vertically and 1 horizontally. Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture on top of the noodles, followed by half of the roasted veggies, then top with ¾ cup shredded mozzarella. Next, add 1 heaping cup of the butternut squash mixture on top of the mozzarella and then sprinkle with 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese.

  9. Repeat layers once more: adding remaining noodles (4 vertically & 1 horizontally), the rest of the ricotta cheese mixture, remaining roasted veggies, ¾ cup shredded mozzarella, then top with any remaining butternut squash sauce and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Finally, top with remaining 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese.

  10. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes until cheese starts to brown just a bit. Garnish with extra parmesan and either chopped basil or parsley. Cool for 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving. Serves 12.

Check out the full post for all of our tips on how to cut down on prep time, make the lasagna ahead of time, and how to freeze it two different ways!


Servings: 12 servings

Serving size: 1 serving (based on 12)

Calories: 300kcal

Fat: 14.7g

Saturated fat: 7.5g

Carbohydrates: 28.7g

Fiber: 3.1g

Sugar: 4.9g

Protein: 15.4g

Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats

Bulldogs Cruise to 43-6 Win Over Missouri


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L. McConkey

S. Bennett

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ATHENS, Ga. — Stetson Bennett threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns, Georgia’s offense amassed 505 total yards, and the defense was as stout as ever in the top-ranked Bulldogs’ 43-6 win over Missouri on Saturday afternoon at Sanford Stadium.

Georgia (9-0, 7-0 SEC), which clinched the SEC East Division championship last week, didn’t lead from start to finish as it has in nearly every game this season. Missouri (4-5, 1-4) struck first Saturday, taking advantage of a long punt return to go up 3-0 on a Harrison Mevis 36-yard field goal with 5:50 left in the first quarter.

It was just the second time all season that Georgia has trailed. The only other time was when Auburn took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on Oct. 9, and the Bulldogs won that game 34-10. Missouri’s lead Saturday didn’t last long, either

On Georgia’s next drive, the Bulldogs converted a third-and-10 on their 35 when Bennett fired a strike toward the sideline to Adonai Mitchell for 11 yards. Later, facing a fourth-and-6 at the Tiger 35, the Bulldogs didn’t hesitate on the decision to go for a first down rather than attempting a long field goal. Bennett dropped back and lofted a perfect pass into the left corner of the end zone, where Arian Smith pulled it in for a 35-yard touchdown just before going out of bounds.

Georgia’s next points came on special teams, where Nolan Smith, who forced a fumble and intercepted a pass against Florida, blocked Grant McKinniss’ punt on the ensuing drive, deep in Tiger territory. The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone before a Bulldog could recover it for a touchdown, resulting in a safety and a 9-3 lead with 14:12 left in the half.

Moments later, after Missouri kicked off to Georgia, Bennett hit Jermaine Burton down the left sideline for 46 yards to the 1-yard line. On second-and-goal from the 1, with defensive linemen Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter in as blockers, Zamir White easily ran the ball in for a touchdown and a 16-3 lead with 11:37 on the clock.

Georgia’s defense then forced the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs with a fourth-and-3 stop from the Bulldog 38. Missouri quarterback Tyler Macon was immediately overwhelmed with pressure from all sides and his scramble for a first down came up a few inches short.

The Georgia offense came up with a couple of big plays on the next drive: a 31-yard completion from Bennett to Kenny McIntosh, who made a great, one-handed grab, and a screen pass to Brock Bowers that the big tight end ran down to the 2. But the Bulldogs ultimately had to settle for a 20-yard Jack Podlesny field goal and a 19-3 lead with 5:05 to play in the quarter.

James Cook took a direct snap and ran the ball in from the 1 for Georgia’s final touchdown of the first half. Cook had a 17-yard run earlier in the drive, and on the scoring play he originally lined up wide right before a shift had him in the shotgun and Bennett out wide. His touchdown put Georgia up 26-3, with 26 unanswered points after the Tigers struck first.

Burton, who came up just short of scoring earlier in the game, took a screen pass and turned it into a 12-yard touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter, putting Georgia up 33-3.

In his first action since the Vanderbilt game on Sept. 25, JT Daniels took over at quarterback midway through the third quarter and the scoring surge continued. He completed a 7-yard pass to tight end John FitzPatrick on fourth-and-3 in Tiger territory and two plays later hit wideout Ladd McConkey for a 7-yard touchdown and a 40-3 lead.

Mizzou connected on a 42-yard field goal with 7:58 left in the game, ending Georgia’s run of unanswered points at 40. Podlesny kicked a 25-yard field goal with 2:33 to play, putting Georgia up 43-6, and in the final seconds the Bulldog defense produced a goalie stand at the 1 to keep the Tigers out of the end zone.

Former Georgia coach Mark Richt attended Saturday’s game, his first between the hedges since he and the Bulldogs parted ways in 2015. Richt, a two-time SEC Coach of the Year, called on the Dawgs before the game and was featured in several pregame videos.

During halftime, Richt was joined on the field by more than two dozen of his former players and received a commemorative game ball from J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics Josh Brooks. The crowd gave him several rousing ovations in appreciation for his 145 wins in 15 seasons, SEC championships in 2002 and 2005, and numerous other contributions to UGA and the Athens community.

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease earlier this year, Richt and his wife Katharyn moved back to Athens in March. Richt coached at Miami for three seasons after leaving Georgia and retired in 2018; he works as an analyst on ACC Network and was broadcasting from his Five Points home Saturday before making the short trip to the stadium where he spent so many game days in the fall. 

The Bulldogs are back in action next Saturday (3:30 p.m. kickoff) when they visit Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. Georgia’s final home game is Nov. 20, against Charleston Southern.

Affluent Residents Have Flocked to Tokyo’s Low-Rise, Single-Family Enclave Aoyama Since the Pandemic

Synonymous with luxury and style, Aoyama is one of the most exclusive, elegant and sought-after areas in
Located in the Japanese capital’s Minato Ward, it is flanked by some of the city’s most famous districts—Shibuya, Shinjuku and Roppongi. However, Aoyama is cut from a more refined cloth than its better known neighbors. 

Understated but upper class, it is known for its high fashion boutiques, hard-to-book restaurants, avant-garde art galleries and exquisite minimalist architecture, not to mention tree-lined boulevards and generous green spaces, all of which make it a particularly desirable address in the middle of the metropolis. 


Aoyama is split into two areas: Kita-Aoyama, or North Aoyama, on the north side of the street Aoyama-dori, and Minami-Aoyama, or South Aoyama, on its southern side.  

The street Gaien Higashi-dori draws Aoyama’s eastern boundary from the Kyoto University of Art and Design Gaien Campus in Meiji Jingu Gaien Nikoniko Park, which stands at the northeastern corner of the district, until it meets the Metropolitan Road Route 413. The southern edge of Aoyama encompasses the Aoyama Cemetery, the grounds of the Nezu Museum and crosses Roppongi-dori Avenue, skirting south and then west around 7-chome Minami-Aoyama. 

Aoyama’s western border traces the edges of Kokugakuin University Shibuya Campus and Aoyama Gakuin University Aoyama Campus, before meeting the northwestern boundary, that follows Lohas Street and continues on that same trajectory, leaving the Meiji Jingu Stadium to neighboring Shinjuku, until it finds the Gaien Campus of the Kyoto University of Art and Design. 

More: All Are Welcomed in Salem’s Exceedingly Friendly McIntire Historic District—These Days, Maybe Even Witches

Price Range

Prices in Aoyama are high, even when compared to Tokyo’s already elevated averages. According to Japanese real estate platform Utinokati, the average cost per square meter of a pre-owned condominium in the capital is ¥916,000 (US$8,030). Brokerage Japan Property Central currently lists a two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit on the 20th floor of a building in Aoyama that was completed in 2004 for ¥260 million or ¥2.65 million per square meter, nearly triple the city average. 

The same is true of pre-owned houses in the area. Also on Japan Property Central’s portfolio is a three-story, two-bedroom and one-bathroom house in Minami-Aoyama that was designed by renowned architecture firm Sakakura Associates in 2005. The asking price is ¥618 million, or ¥1.64 million per square meter, significantly more than the city average for existing homes: ¥551,000 per square meter, according to Utinokati. 

As for new builds, apartments in the Grand Hills Minamiaoyama development, which is scheduled for completion in February 2022, start from ¥165 million for a 70-square-meter two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit. 

More: Monte Estoril, Portugal, Offers an Upscale Coastal Town With a Buzzing Seaside Promenade

Housing Stock

Aoyama is known for its architecture, so it comes as no surprise that the neighborhood is home to some standout residences, including those designed by Atelier Tekuto and Conran and Partners. Additionally, the area boasts low-density zoning and many low-rise buildings, affording residents a rare sense of space. 

The neighborhood is a mixture of detached houses, many of which are minimalist, ultra-modern concrete constructions, evoking a uniquely Japanese Brutalist aesthetic. At the other end of the spectrum, new luxury condominium developments tend to tower over older complexes, although the former remain a rarity in the area and often stand on the periphery, like the aforementioned Grand Hills Minamiaoyama, which when completed will be 18 stories tall. 

Parking spaces often accompany detached properties, and are sometimes available in apartment blocks, many of which offer 24-hour security and communal spaces. 

Looking down to S shape street in Aoyama ichome district in Tokyo.

vladimir zakharov / Getty Images

What Makes It Unique

Of Aoyama, Zoe Ward, director at Japan Property Central, said: “It has a great combination of low-rise and wealthy residential neighborhoods with large homes, along with schools with high reputations, such as at the Aoyama Gakuin University. Like Ginza, it is also where the major fashion and luxury brands want to have a presence. It is also a highly central location, being close to Shibuya, Roppongi, Akasaka and Azabu.”

Because of the area’s reputation as a hub for art, architecture, fashion and design—all of which convenes in the trendy Omotesando area—there is a certain cachet to owning an Aoyama address. This is where Japanese and international labels—among them Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamato and Prada, whose Herzog and de Meuron-designed store is a destination in itself—have their flagships. It is also home to high-end, independent stores selling vintage designer apparel, traditional crafts and homewares. 

Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan

maple/a.collectionRF / Getty Images

However, Aoyama is not just about spending money and looking stylish. Aoyama Cemetery offers respite from the urban hustle and insight into the area’s history. In spring, the cemetery’s cherry trees erupt in powder pink blossom, while its elevated position grants it great views of the city all year round. 

Equally restful, the Nezu Museum houses a collection of more than 7,400 works of Japanese and East Asian art within a poetic structure designed by celebrated Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The grounds also encompass a landscaped garden. 

More: Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square Is All About Location, Community and an Iconic Park

A covered walkway at Nezu Museum in Aoyama, Tokyo.

Romain Tordo / Unsplash

The neighborhood is also known for its jazz clubs, ranging from the U.S.-implant Blue Note, which regularly attracted international talents in pre-pandemic times, to the intimate Body & Soul Club, which has been on the scene for more than 40 years. 

Luxury Amenities

As Ms. Ward mentioned, Aoyama is known for its excellent educational institutions. For younger children there is the Clarence International School, in Omotesando, a preschool for those aged 18 months to six years. The British School in Tokyo’s Shibuya Campus, which is no more than 15 minutes by car from central Aoyama, takes students from nursery through school year 3 (ages 7 and 8). 

There are also a number of options when it comes to further education, such as Kyoto University of Art and Design Gaien Campus, which opened in 2010 to serve as a Tokyo outpost of the Kyoto-based institution and its sister university, Tohoku University of Art and Design. Aoyama Gakuin University, in neighboring Shibuya, is one of the country’s oldest higher education facilities, which offers undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as housing a research institute. It is also home to two heritage buildings: Majima Memorial Hall and Berry Hall. 

There is no shortage of celebrated restaurants in Aoyama. Yoroniku serves seasonal yakiniku, or grilled meat, and its signature shaved ice dessert in sleek, contemporary surroundings; at Sushidokoro Minami, diners enjoy an omakase menu that changes with what produce is freshly available and a good selection of sake and Burgundy wines; for French fine dining, Florilège appears at number seven on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and has two Michelin stars to boot. 

Who Lives There

Aoyama attracts “high-income earners and their families,” Ms. Ward said. “There is also a slowly shrinking contingent of the original landowners who have been living here for decades and decades.” 

Notable Residents 

Aligning with the Japanese disposition for discretion, Ms. Ward only said that “it’s very likely that there are plenty of high-profile residents [in Aoyama].” Indeed, lauded fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, the founder of Comme des Garcons and Dover Street Market, lives in Aoyama, within walking distance from the CDG boutique. The late Japanese author and kimono designer Chiyo Uno lived above her Aoyama kimono shop. 


According to Ms. Ward, “residential prices have generally increased since the start of the pandemic last year” and are, broadly speaking, “up by an average of 10% over the past 12 months.” Yukiko Takano, global real estate advisor at List Sotheby’s International Realty agreed, noting that Aoyama’s property market “has been very active”. 

“Transactions in the luxury sector have been on the up-and-up,” she said. Although homes have sold at a brisk pace, she added that “new supply and remaining inventory has been on the decline. This has been pushing prices up.” 

“Aoyama did not have very many units to star with, but now there are even fewer,” said Ms. Takano. “Buyers should keep an eye on the market and jump if a good one becomes available.” 

Ms. Ward added: “Future supply looks to be somewhat limited around Aoyama due to a lot of low-density zoning and very few sites for potential developments. Historically, Aoyama has been a highly desirable location and I cannot see this changing in the future.”

Click for more profiles of high-end neighborhoods around the world

90,000 how to write in 2021 +





If you went to this article, then there are two options: either you are already writing posts, but for some reason they do not enter, or you are just going to write. This article will help in both the first and second situations. I will show you how to write Instagram posts to influence your audience through texts.

How to write for Instagram

There is no single formula for how to write profile posts correctly. As well as there are no topics for which you need to write on Instagram, and which not. Everything is individual. The main thing is to focus on your audience, test texts, look at statistics, find out what comes to users more. By the way, our article will help you with this, I will leave it below. And now I’ll tell you how to serve content to subscribers so that it gets a response.

Instagram analytics: TOP-10 services + 12 main metrics

Council number 1.Stick to structure

A clear structure will allow the reader to quickly swallow the post, benefit from it and wait for a new one. Otherwise, he will just throw it halfway.

Life hack 1: When writing a post, first bring the reader up to date, indicate the problem, describe its details, show the solution and draw a conclusion.

Lifehack 2: Do not ignore the working formulas of the selling text, use what has already been tested and works 100%. And yes, you don’t have to search for anything on the Internet.How to write selling posts on the social network, we have already written in the article.

Selling post on Instagram: 9 examples + 50 chips

Council number 2. Break the post into pieces

So you will make it as convenient as possible for the reader. No one will read a solid canvas, so select paragraphs, alternate their size. Follow the rule of one paragraph = one complete thought. But this does not mean that it should just break off, make a smooth transition to the next one.

Highlighting paragraphs

Life hack 1: As an option – breaking the text into paragraphs with subheadings. These can be, for example, the main questions that the paragraph answers: why, how to use, where to buy, etc.

Lifehack 2: Use text4instabot. This is a Telegram bot to which you send text with paragraphs written in notes, documents, any editor, and he will automatically fill in the necessary spaces, paragraphs and send you a text ready for publication.

If writing text is difficult, read our article about ready-made posts for Instagram

Advice No. 3. Search for “brand voice

Or “Tone of voice”. The concept includes a greeting, acceptable humor, recognizable phrases, etc. Tone of voice will help you better understand your readers and potential customers and bring you closer to your audience. The use of phrases, for example, familiar only to a narrow circle of people, gives the client the impression that he is the chosen one and special.

Custom style

Life hack 1: Personalize your text. Come up with an appeal to your subscribers and always use them in publications, for example, “novice designer”, “for all capricorns”, bloggers often call their followers by their own name – “ivlice”.

Lifehack 2: Write calls in the text with hashtags. So the publication can be easily found among others, if they suddenly lost your account (accidentally unsubscribed, changed the profile) or want to find a post, but do not know your profile.

Council number 4. Develop other topics

Get involved yourself, choose not only professional topics, but also those that are interesting to you. The audience immediately feels if the author is sincerely burning with what he is talking about.

Various topics

Life hack 1: Tell us about your hobby.If you teach people, for example, targeting, this does not mean that you have no hobbies and talents. It will be great if you link this topic to the main one in your profile. For example, give guidance on how to set the same target if a person is creating resin products and wants to sell them.

Lifehack 2: If the account was created for a company / store, then show in posts the hobbies and achievements of employees outside of corporate life, and how they did not prevent them from taking place at work.

Lifehack 3: You can get the first likes on a post through Bosslike services.It’s safe, and it will encourage subscribers to like your post too.

Advice number 5. Keep the text simple

Instagram is not a platform where people come to read abstruse metaphors and kilometer sentences. They go to the social network to get distracted from work, have fun and find communication. Therefore, write in an easy, simple and understandable language.

Simple text

Life hack 1: Say what you would like to state in a post for recording – video or voice.In this format, your manner will be more natural, and the sentences will be as simple as in conversation.

Lifehack 2: If you use narrow professional terms and you can’t do without them, be sure to explain their meaning in simple language.

Interesting. Do you want to learn how to beautifully design a profile, create bomb content, get hundreds of live subscribers every day and build a working promotion strategy on your own? Then click on the link and watch the course -> Promotion on Instagram from 0 to 1 million .

Council number 6. Use hashtags

An old chip, but for some reason they forget about it. They will help you get good coverage and get featured, but only if they are relevant to the topic of your post. Then you can be found by users who are interested in what you have to offer. Write hashtags related to your activity, company, product under the photo.


Lifehack 1: Use low-frequency tags, under which there are less than 10 thousand publications, or medium-frequency – from 10 to 500 thousand.A couple of high-frequency ones are also possible, but do not get carried away with them so as not to get into a shadow ban.

Lifehack 2: In addition to words, write hashtags in the form of phrases. You can write two words not only together, but also separately, for example, using an underscore, numbers, emoji.

On the subject:
Hashtag on Instagram: instructions on how to get to the top

Council number 7. Highlight enumerations

Decorate it with a list and number or highlight it with dashes, dots or checkmarks, and so on.This greatly facilitates perception. By the way, after each line, put an invisible space, otherwise the whole construction will go away.

Lists in post

Life hack 1: In addition to standard highlighting, use the same or appropriate emoji for each item.

Lifehack 2: Alternatively, highlight a keyword or phrase at the beginning of the list with caps and put a full stop, since some of the readers have enough of this, or may already know.

Council number 8. Use a separate line

Place it in the post to catch the reader’s eye. But this will only work if there is a large amount of text before and after a single line or word.

Spot selection

Life hack 1: In this way, highlight the key moment of the publication. This can be the main idea, or an offer for the client in the form of a discount, bonus, etc.

Lifehack 2: There are not so many ways to select text on Instagram, for a separate line, use caps and flashy emoticons – warning signs, red circles, paper clips, etc.d.

Council number 9. Write for your target audience

That is, on topics of interest to your target audience. To find them out, go to your most active followers and see who they follow. This will help you understand which topics to add to your content plan.

What is interesting to the audience

Life hack 1: Arrange a poll in a story, offer subscribers a choice of 4 topics. Then analyze and rely on this data when choosing topics for posts.

Lifehack 2: Go to your competitors and view their feed.Select those publications under which there are a lot of comments – reasoning, if there is a discussion – then the topic is interesting. Just don’t forget to adapt them for your blog.

Interesting. Do you want to cooperate with a blogger, but are worried that he winds up statistics for himself? Then we recommend TrendHero. The service will show the real activity in the profile and compare the interests of your target audience and the target audience of the blogger of interest. You will also see the quality of his posts and stories by coverage. Click & Check -> TrendHero

Council number 10. Continue with first paragraphs

It depends on them whether the entire text will be read. Therefore, create an intrigue, show undeniable benefits. And all this takes about 15 seconds.

First paragraph

Life hack 1: Start the post with the client’s fear and problems, this emotion will surely provoke him to read, for example: “After 30, the skin loses its elasticity, wrinkles and sagging of the oval of the face are inevitable. The woman loses her former attractiveness ”.

Lifehack 2: Tie the beginning of a post to a news feed that somehow touched you as a company or personal brand.A simple example is the quarantine innovations in the store.

By the way. If you want to learn how to run advertising on Instagram and become a real specialist, then click on the link and sign up for the training -> Specialist for advertising on Instagram .

Council number 11. Write regularly

So you will accustom your audience to a certain pace, and they will wait for your posts. Please note that the frequency of the text output should be within your reach.Don’t chase quantity, take quality.

Plan of posts

Life hack 1: Use a content plan – a pre-compiled schedule of publications of posts with already selected content for a certain period. So you will not puzzle over what to post tomorrow, you will be able to analyze what went better and what is worse, and you will post a variety of content.

Lifehack 2: To prevent your publications from being delayed, use auto-posting services, for example, Smmplanner. In them, you will prepare a post in advance, and the service will upload it to Instagram at the time and day you need.

Content plan for Instagram: 4 templates + instructions

Council number 12. Write longreads

Yes, Instagram is scrolled quickly, and, perhaps, a large text does not catch many people, but without long-read posts it is impossible. This is an opportunity for a company / personal brand to show how well you are in the business you are doing. Reviews, instructions, cases, investigations can easily fit into such material. And of course, you can successfully sell through it.

Part of the longread

Life hack 1: Break long posts into several, create intrigue by writing in the text – continuation in the next post. So the audience will not get tired and will wait for the next publication.

Lifehack 2: Add brief information about those readers for whom the longread will be useful. Then more readings will be from the target audience. For example, “A post for those who want to create an online store, but don’t know where to start.”

Council number 13. Think well heading

Heading – the door that leads to your post. And you literally have a second for the reader to open it by pressing the cherished “more” and read the entire text. You have 125 characters for this – the title should fit in this amount.


Life Hack 1: Start the headline with the word “Would you like …?” And then add the client’s acute pain: “Do you want to speak English fluently?”.

Life hack 2: Arouse the user’s curiosity with a negative headline, for example: “7 mistakes at the start of learning English”.

Lifehack 3: Include shocking stats in your headline , eg “9 out of 10 teens do it!” (about truancy from school and the development of attention with the help of mental arithmetic in your center).

How to write headlines: 6 dire formulas

Council number 14. Avoid the superlative

Leave the words “fairest”, “best”, “excellent” for fiction, and replace with descriptions of actual functions.

Simple adjectives

Life hack 1: If you are selling a service, tell us what benefits your customers will receive, what they will get at the end, and where it can come in handy. If you sell goods, for example, equipment, indicate the value, additional features, purpose, how to use it. All these qualities can be revealed in posts gradually, proving with examples how and what.

Lifehack 2: Do not neglect the indicative numbers. For example, it can be the number of products sold, the number of people trained, the results of customers.Let your readers see that you are talking about real things, backed up by statistics, and not about abstract assumptions.

Council number 15. Stop using formulaic phrases

No need to think that by using “thunderous applause” and “life is in full swing” you will show your expertise and erudition. Nobody will read the text stuck with cliches – this is outdated for a long time. Make the post lively and as natural as possible, the way you would talk to your subscribers live.

Creative comparisons

Life hack 1: If it seems that the text is dry and lacks emotions, explain some moments using a simple example from your life, or transfer the situation with one subject to a similar one with another.

Lifehack 2: You can create the desired mood in the text and revive it with the help of direct speech and dialogues. Of course, there is no need to shove the conversation “nothing about” into the post, put in the publication an excerpt from the dialogue, which will serve as a transition, proof, etc.d.

Council number 16. Check text for repetitions

When the same word is thrown from sentence to sentence, it speaks either of the spelling “tyap blunders”, or of the meager vocabulary of the author.


Life hack 1: You can check a future post for replay using the “Fresh Look” tautology service. But naturally, it is not perfect and only indicates a part of the repetitions.

Life hack 2: Proofread the text several times and replace repetitions with synonyms.You can quickly find the one you need and not bother with the help of synonym dictionaries.

Council number 17. Submit in the publication STA

Or call to action. For example, go to the site, save, leave a request, call, etc. When a person understands what he needs to do to get this or that result, then it becomes easier for him to act. Because he does not think, but simply does. Moreover, such messages create the effect of urgency of action.

The call in the text

Life hack 1: Remember, the easier the action, the higher the likelihood that he will perform it.Since no one wants to bother, read long requirements, and then also follow the path of actions.

Lifehack 2: Use the soft nature of the call, for example, try / test 7 days for free. This suggests that the user is not obliged to do anything, even if he takes an action, which means it is easier for him to decide.

On the subject:
Call to action: 4 formulas + 30 non-trivial examples

Council number 18. Learn to write storytelling

The main task of this approach is to make sure that the interlocutor from the first seconds begins to participate / empathize in the situation of the protagonist, which finally leads to the necessary goal – selling, performing an action, etc.d.


Life Hack 1: The more details you use, the better (but don’t go overboard). Not just gloves, but elbow-length red velvet gloves. I was not just walking, but I was walking through a dense stream of people, periodically adjusting my bag on my shoulder. They are necessary for a person to model the entire situation thoroughly and plunge into it as deeply as possible.

Important. Do not have time to reply to direct and lose potential clients? This problem can be solved with the help of The chatbot will automatically respond to customers and suggest a suitable product or service. To do this, you need to set up your personal account and create response options for dialogue with the user. Click & Test ->

Lifehack 2: Facts or emotions alone will not go far. Therefore, use everything 50 to 50. Support each of your eloquent statements with an argument, and do not leave each argument said dry.

Council number 19. Check text for errors

They turn off the reader, even if the post is super interesting.It’s simple: you don’t know how the word is spelled – replace it, or google the rule. In doubt about a comma, rephrase the sentence.

Spell check

Life hack 1: To check the text for errors, you can use the service. But he does not always highlight everything and often considers things that are simply unknown to him as mistakes.

Lifehack 2: If possible, give the text to the corrector with notes. If you do not have such a person in your state, then you can find him on the freelance exchange.

Council number 20. Don’t go overboard with emoji

If you use smiles, then know the measure in them. Yes, they can both add zest to the text and spoil it. A large number of emojis make the text difficult for the reader to understand.

Many emoticons

Life hack 1: Use emoticons only where you need to clarify an emotion, where it is not obvious. For example, where you omit the end of a sentence, you do not finish.

Lifehack 2: Choose those emojis that match in color to your account.For example, if you have one of the colors blue, mark the lists with only blue elements. This will help the audience remember you better.

in brief

Useful posts in your account are the main thing for which subscribers come. We’ve put together 20 tips for you on how to present thoughts so that they reach your audience. But work on an Instagram account is not limited to this. Therefore, forward to articles for other tools.

How to maintain Instagram: 50 chips in 2021 + 40 services
Online store on Instagram: 34 design examples
How many characters on Instagram: about a post and not only
Instagram updates: what’s new + how it works

90,000 15 Notion life hacks – for work, business and everyday tasks

Until recently, the Notion service was used by startups and small teams to work on their projects.But with the transition to telecommuting, it was also mastered by larger businesses. We tell you what you can find useful there

What is Notion and what is it for?

Notion is a modular solution that helps you manage tasks and projects by collecting all the necessary links, files and documents in one place. The service has a paid and a free version. The first one costs from $ 5 to $ 10 per month and has an expanded set of features and storage capacity.Works as an application on a smartphone or computer, as well as online, in a web browser.

Notion contains notes, task manager, organizer and creative workshop. It is especially useful if you have to work with different file and document formats – they can be combined into one project. Inside there is a workspace where you can create pages with attachments, a sidebar (sidebar) with a tree of pages, the main field for creating and editing blocks.

Sidebar Notion

What you can do with Notion

  • Work with texts using different fonts and headings, bullets, color markers, highlighting quotes, stickers.
  • Work with data using tables, formulas, calendars, and lists.

    Gallery at Notion

    Table in Notion

  • Work with media files: photo, video and audio of any format, web bookmarks, galleries.

    Gallery at Notion

  • Set goals and objectives, create checklists – including for everyday activities.

    Checklist in Notion

  • Plan trips by collecting reviews, routes, guides, photos and videos in one place.
  • Plan a budget: track spending and income, monitor the stock market and the return on personal assets.

    Personal budget planner in Notion

  • Integrate with other services: Google Docs, GitHub, Figma, Miro, Invision.

The main feature of the service is that it consists of separate modules that you need to collect and customize for yourself. It will take some time, but as a result, you will get a universal working tool instead of CRM or a dozen applications and online services.

Who is Notion for?

  • For everyone for personal affairs: to make daily lists, not miss important appointments, set long-term and short-term goals.
  • Editors: to collect content for release, distribute tasks between authors and photographers, track the status and deadlines of materials.
  • For designers and developers: to collect briefs, references, files and all stages of the project, set tasks and control deadlines.
  • For HR professionals: to collect resumes, portfolios and test assignments from applicants, arrange them in stages, schedule interviews, monitor postings and vacancies.
  • SMM: to create content plans and post release schedules, assign tasks to contractors and analyze the coverage of publications.
  • For students and teachers: to upload study materials and lectures, keep track of the schedule, schedule meetings and webinars, submit papers for review.

This is what the Notion template for freelancers looks like.

Pros and cons of Notion

💡 Pros:

  • Versatility: there are 20 ready-made templates – boards, magazines, checklists, galleries – from which you can assemble your project with the necessary tools.
  • Convenient for teamwork: you can collectively edit documents and tasks online and create discussions. At the same time, you can mention team members in the comments so that they receive notification.
  • Easy to transfer data from Trello, Evernote Google Docs (in the upper right menu “…” → Import → select the required service).

    Import window from third-party services in Notion

  • Conveniently operate from any device, switching as needed.
  • Simple and intuitive interface.

    This is what the Notion interface looks like on a smartphone.

💣 Cons:

  • Difficult for a beginner to understand: many functions, blocks and templates that need to be collected and configured.
  • Finance spreadsheets are not as feature-rich as they are on Google.
  • Many CRM functions are missing: for example, synchronization with VPBX, internal analytics, integration with corporate services.
  • Limitations in the free version.
  • The interface is currently only available in English or Korean.

Life hacks for easy and fast work in Notion

💌 Import files

In the left pane (sidebar), click Import, then select the application from which you want to import files from the drop-down window.If it’s Evernote, Google Docs, Trello, or Asana, you’ll first need to sign in and verify Notion’s access.

This is how the menu for importing files from other applications looks like. You can transfer documents, photos and videos, tables and even posts from social networks

📅 Add date

Suitable for those who work with documents that go through many edits.Open the block, enter “/ date” at the very bottom, press enter and enter the desired date. This allows you to track all versions of blocks and documents, navigating to the desired one – more convenient than the version history in Google Docs.

An example of a command using a forward slash in Notion.In this case – date stamping

🖥️ Use blocks with code

Suitable for developers and those who work with them in a team. Enter “/ code” at the end of the block, and in the window that opens, add the program code.

🌈 Mark blocks with different colors

This feature is analogous to Trello’s color cues. It helps you sort tasks by stages and performers.Enter “/ color” at the end of the block and select the desired color. You can highlight the text itself or the background to mark parts of the document.

👀 Insert links to posts in social networks, photos and videos

This function will allow you to add text, photo or video directly to the block so that you do not need to follow the links. Type “/ Video” at the end of the block to insert a YouTube or Vimeo video and “/ tweet” to insert a Twitter post.

📁 Add files from Google Drive and Google Maps

Type “/ google” at the bottom of the block and select Google Drive or Google Maps from the drop-down menu.This will allow you to attach documents, files, routes or the address of a point on the map.

🔮 Select the theme color you need

Go to Settings in the sidebar, select Appearance and theme – Light or Dark. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + L or D (macOS) and Ctrl + Shift + L or D (Windows) to switch between light and dark themes.

🔔 Add reminders

This is useful when you have a lot of tasks and want to keep track of deadlines.Enter “/ remind” at the bottom of the block and add the date and time to receive a reminder.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Manage projects and team

In Notion, you can use the Roadmap template to use the same features as in Trello.

Roadmap template in Notion

The application can be “combined” with a group chat in Slack so that you can discuss all changes in the project, exchanging data and files from Notion.To do this, click Updates in the upper right corner of the app and Connect Slack Channel in the drop-down menu.

✈️ Plan your trips and trips

In the Travel Plans template (Templates tab in the left menu, below) it is convenient to make travel plans by dates and routes (through integration with Google Maps), attach tickets and reservations, keep track of expenses for all travel participants.

This is what a travel planning template looks like.

🖌️ Plan a project in UI / UX design

For designers, Notion has support for popular platforms and applications.For example, at the end of the block, you can add an integration: “/ Figma” or “/ Invisinon” – for the corresponding services. This way you can add all the details, descriptions and layouts to the project.

☠️ Lock the page

You can lock a block or project page to disable editing. To do this, click on the “…” in the upper right corner and select Database lock.

📤 Export files

Upload HTML, Markdown, PDF and CSV tables.To do this, click in the upper right menu “…”, then – Export, then select the desired format.

File export menu

🌍 Open public access to page

Click Share in the upper right corner of the app, select Share to web and Allow duplicate as template.Now you can send a link to the page, and any team member can copy it, along with tasks and files.

💸 Save on payments

In Notion, you can reduce the tariff fee by using special options. Go to Settings → Earn Credits: the amount in your account is displayed here. It can be topped up:

  • for $ 5 – for each authorization in desktop, browser and mobile versions, as well as for importing data from Evernote;
  • for $ 3 – for installing the Web Clipper extension in the Chrome browser and saving the link through it, as well as through the Share menu in the mobile version.

All funds earned can be spent on partial or full payment for your account. You will not be able to withdraw them to your account.

90,000 How to write for Instagram: 18 simple tips

If you want to surprise me, find a person who will seriously assert that the main text on Instagram is the main text, not photos or videos.

“Instagram” is the territory of visual content. But this does not mean that you can score on the text!

I am talking about the nuances that will help you create an attractive caption for a photo on Instagram (however, it will work for text elsewhere).

Disclaimer: all observations are given in random order.

Do not know where to start fasting, start with: “so, in short, b **”

No kidding – just start writing like this, and then tell the thought that you wanted to communicate. Such an informal beginning will allow you to remove psychological clamps, fear of a blank sheet, and so on. Remember to only edit the post before posting.

If such a beginning seems too bold and rude to you, start with a more cultured version: “Imagine.”

Write to “friend” / understand CA

I sometimes meet resistance from novice authors: “I don’t know what to write about, well, do not write about the fact that I drank coffee”.

Hint: start “chatting” with a “friend”. It may be real, it may be fictional, but it should be similar to the target audience.

Start “telling” your “friend” about what you are doing, for whom, why, what is the benefit from your product. Then copy everything that you wrote in the “correspondence” and combine it into one post.

Everyone can chat with friends – use this superpower to create cool texts.

Don’t feel like writing – don’t write

In SMM or content marketing courses, it is recommended to publish posts daily. Such an attitude forces many to grind out content for Instagram, at best it turns out about nothing.

It is not at all necessary to publish every day to promote your account. You don’t have to write to promote your account.

If you don’t like writing, you can try a different format. Record a video, make a screencast, draw a comic. Look for your format, your way of communicating with subscribers, which will be comfortable and will allow you to convey the necessary information.

Don’t forget paragraphs

Any text will be easier to read if it contains paragraphs. Beat off fragments with different semantic accents from each other with an empty line.

By the way. We recently mentioned a telegram bot that helps you make beautiful Instagram captions with proper formatting.

Observe the rule: one thought = one post

The fewer ideas are included in the text, the easier it is to perceive. Do the boring exercise:

  • Ask yourself, “Why is this post needed?” / state the purpose of the post.
  • Ask yourself, “Does this text fit the purpose?”
  • Ask yourself, “Does this paragraph fit the purpose?”
  • Ask yourself, “Does this sentence fit the purpose?”
  • Anything that doesn’t match – delete!

Send large text to gallery

On Instagram it is better to write small notes, shorter than 2000 characters.Long text – cut it down.

If you can’t cut it in any way, try putting it in the first comment or taking a screenshot and sending it to the gallery. Both options are not very good, but I would choose “put text on photos in the gallery”, because this way you can further involve your subscribers in reading the post, and the first comment is better to use for hashtags.

How hashtags work on different social networks

Use subtitles in videos

If you publish videos in which what you say is important, put subtitles in the video.A lot of people watch videos without sound, and subtitles help to understand that “some important information is being transmitted.”

Some mobile applications immediately record video and transcribe whatever you say (like Clipomatic, Clips). You can shoot a video immediately with a teleprompter, reading out the prepared text, and then place it as subtitles in any video editor.

Work on the text constantly

Publishing every day is useful, but not necessary, but you need to work with the text every day!

Creation of text resembles fitness.The winner is not the one who bought a gym membership for six months, went to the gym once, worked out on all the simulators, and after two weeks walked with dead hands. The winner is the one who practices a little every day and each time monitors the exercise technique and increases the load.

Content is the same – it is more important to train yourself to work daily. Analyze old posts, look for improvement options. Analyze other people’s posts, reflect on why they turned out good, while others turned out worse.Read books, take courses (for example, on SMM in TeachLine), and so on.

Register CTA

Every post should have a call to action, without this post and not a post at all! Call for Diverse Action:

  • Ask subscribers for their opinion on a question
  • Tell stories and see if anyone has had something similar.
  • Ask to follow the links in your profile, make reposts, and so on.


Write about people

People like people, and most of all we like ourselves.When people read a text and recognize themselves in it, the text triggers more reactions. And it gives more coverage than the text is not about us.

Make a powerful introduction

There are no headlines on Instagram, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect a powerful intro. If the first sentence is about nothing, far fewer people will want to read on.

Remove 35% “without looking”

Any text can be shortened without losing its meaning. Remove verbal junk, repetitions, interjections, participles, and so on.With a 99% chance, your text will be better if it is shortened.

Use images

If you find it difficult to start writing – you know what, but do not know which side to approach – imagine yourself in someone’s place and ask: “How would he act in such a situation?” I like to ask myself: “So, Ilya, you don’t write, how would Martin Eden act in this situation?”

The decisions are not always correct, but I get off the ground and start writing.

Choose your favorite hero or the hero who would be able to act correctly in your situation.

Insert past incidents

Use storytelling.

For example, first define the purpose of the post, say: “I want people to buy subscriptions for 24 cups of coffee via direct, so it will be cheaper than buying a subscription in coffee machines.” Then identify the key association or thought you want to communicate. Let’s say “savings”.

Then take 5 minutes for meditation, take a deep breath and try to remember an incident from the past that would fall into this association.Tell this incident and tie it to your goal.

5 stories of how content marketing helps in life and work

Write from end

Posts can be divided into different structures and models: someone writes on AIDA, someone uses Shugerman’s slippery slide.

But try to move away from the structure and write the sentence at the beginning, which should be at the end. Then write the sentence that should come before the last one. If you still have time, write a sentence that should come before the penultimate sentence.And so on until the very beginning.

Write as you speak

Just read aloud what you have written. Truly out loud, loudly and expressively, not mumbling quickly to yourself. If there was not enough air or hesitated when they said something, rewrite it.

There is another option: first sketch out the theses, then begin to explain, and then transcribe into text.

Light it up!

If you write posts just because they need to be written, most likely it will not work out very well.It is much more profitable to write about things about which you cannot remain silent, about those which you are not interested in …

You can limit yourself to a choice and always write only on 2–5 topics in which you understand, that are important to you. And you can learn to get involved in any topic with which you work.


Actually, there are no rules.

If you try, you can find 100,500 people who will advise something else. Perhaps these people will be more professional writers than me.

But it doesn’t matter: just take it and try to follow the recommendations that you personally like. If you need help promoting on Instagram, you can contact Texterra.

How to create an Instagram profile: instructions for business

90,000 How social media influences our mood, sleep, mental health and relationships

  • Jessica Brown
  • BBC Future

Photo by Getty Images

BBC Future’s latest and greatest research into how social media, primarily Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, affect our mental well-being.

Three billion people worldwide, or about 40% of the population, use social networks on the Internet. We spend an average of two hours on them every day: we publish notes, exchange photos, react to posts of friends. 90,003 90,664 Every minute, social media users send almost half a million tweets and photos to Snapchat.

If social media plays such a big role in our lives, then it is very important to understand how it affects us.

Are we sacrificing our mental health and wellness for online communication and wasting our precious time? What does scientific research say about this?

Since social media is a relatively new phenomenon, definitive conclusions, of course, are still lacking.

The available studies are mainly based on the reports of the users themselves, who do not present information objectively enough.

However, the data of the studies carried out already allow us to draw certain conclusions. The BBC Future columnist reviewed the results of the most important of them.


Social media is a place where we often express our outrage at anything from poor services to political issues. It lets us blow off steam, but turns our news feed into an endless stream of negativity.

In 2015, researchers at the Pew Research Center in Washington tried to find out if social media actually frees us from negative emotions or, conversely, causes more stress.

Photo author, Getty Images

Signs to photos,

Research shows that mobile is bad for the quality of live communication

A poll in which 1800 people took part showed that women are much more prone to stress from social networks than men. They named Twitter as the biggest source of negativity, as it constantly reminds of unpleasant situations in the lives of other people.

Twitter, however, was also effective in reducing the effects of stress: the more women used it, the less stressed they felt.

Interestingly, this effect was not observed in men. According to the researchers, they don’t take social media as personally as women do. Overall, the researchers concluded that social media use was associated with “relatively low stress levels.”


In 2014, Austrian researchers found that 20 minutes spent on Facebook left users in a worse mood than after browsing other pages on the Internet.Obviously, this was due to the fact that using social networks seemed to them a waste of time, scientists say.

According to researchers from the University of California, good or bad mood can quickly spread between users of social networks.

In the period from 2009 to 2012, scientists analyzed the emotional component of more than a billion statuses of about 100 million Facebook users.

Analysis showed, for example, that bad weather increased the number of negative messages by 1%.One negative post, written by someone during the rain, influenced 1.3 messages from friends in other cities where the weather was sunny at the time.

It is good that the funny messages had a strong impact. Each sweet post inspired 1.75 posts, written on a positive note, the researchers found.

Although whether such statuses raised the real mood of users remains unknown.


Researchers have also tried to find out how social media affects overall anxiety, sleep and concentration.

A study published in the journal Computers and Human Behavior found that people who use a family and more networks have three times the overall level of anxiety than users of 0-2 platforms.

Author of the photo, Getty Images

Signs to the photo,

The attractiveness of social networks lies primarily in the fact that they perfectly imitate the pleasant sensations of the game.

However, how and why exactly social media causes concern, scientists do not know.

A 2016 study from Babes Bolyai University in Romania looking at the link between social anxiety and social media use showed mixed results.


While some past research has found a link between depression and network use, new intelligence in this area suggests the opposite effect.

Two studies involving more than 700 students have shown that symptoms of depression, such as low mood, feelings of inferiority and despair, are associated with the quality of online communication.

Those who received mostly negative emotions from virtual communication had higher depressive symptoms.

A similar 2016 study of 1,700 people found that the risk of depression and anxiety was three times higher for those who used multiple social media platforms.

Among the reasons cited by the researchers were, first of all, virtual bullying and a distorted view of the life of other people.

However, scientists are also looking at how social media can detect depression symptoms, which can help you seek professional help faster.

Commissioned by Microsoft, the researchers surveyed 476 Twitter users and analyzed their social media profiles, looking for message styles, emotions, interactions with other users, and signs of depressive behavior.

Using this data, they developed a questionnaire that predicts the risk of depression in seven out of ten cases even before the first symptoms appear.

Last year, scientists at Harvard University and the University of Vermont developed a similar tool for analyzing Instagram photos that has the same efficiency.The study involved 166 network users.


For most of their history, people have spent their evenings in the dark, and only in recent centuries have artificial lighting appeared in our bedrooms.

Research shows that it inhibits the production of the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleep. The worst effect on it is blue light from the screens of smartphones and laptops.

So, the habit of checking the news feed on Facebook or Twitter before bed is bad for the quality of sleep.

Last year, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh surveyed 1,700 people between the ages of 18 and 30 about how they use social media.

Photo author, Getty Images

Signs before photos,

The worst time to log on to social networks is before bed

Scientists have discovered that the blue light that our gadgets emit plays a significant role in disturbing sleep.

The worst effect was not the total time spent on the network, but the frequency of events in it, which testified to the “obsessive habit” of constantly checking for updates.

Researchers, however, have not fully clarified whether social networks cause sleep disorders or whether those who already suffer from insomnia spend more time on the networks.


Despite claims by several researchers that Twitter is more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, compulsive use was not listed as a mental health disorder.

However, social media is changing faster than scientists can study it.

Some researchers pay attention to different types of obsessive behavior in social networks.

For example, Dutch scientists have recently developed their own scale to identify possible addiction.

However, if addiction to social media does exist, it can be considered a type of general Internet addiction, which is an officially recognized disorder.

In 2011, University of Nottingham scientists Darius Kussi and Mark Griffiths analyzed 43 previous studies in this area and concluded that social media addiction is indeed a mental disorder and requires professional help.

They found a link between overuse of networks and relationship problems, poorer academic performance and less engagement in real-life communication.

Scientists believe that alcoholics, extroverts and those who compensate for the lack of real relationships with networks are more prone to such addictions.


Women’s magazines with photos of overly skinny models, besides processed in Photoshop, have long been recognized as a source of low self-esteem in young women.But now social media has begun to raise concerns among some activist groups.

Special filters in them, as well as lighting and shooting angle, allow you to create unrealistic photos.

Photo author, Getty Images

Signs before photos,

Viewing other people’s selfies can have a negative effect on self-esteem

According to a survey of 1,500 users conducted by the charity foundation Scope, more than half of young people aged 18-34 said that social media makes them feel themselves unattractive.

A 2016 study from Pennsylvania State University found that viewing other people’s selfies lowers self-esteem, as users compare themselves to photographs of people at the happiest moment in their lives.

And women tend to negatively compare themselves to other women’s selfies, researchers from Ohio’s Stretclyde University and Iowa State University found.

However, self-esteem is not only badly affected by the selfies of other users. A survey of thousands of Facebook users from Sweden found that, in general, women who spend a lot of time on this social network feel less happy and confident.

The researchers concluded: “Facebook users compare their lives with the career achievements and happy relationships of others, and such comparisons are often not in their favor.”

However, one small study found that viewing your account instead of other people’s photos can increase self-esteem.

Researchers at Cornell University in New York found this out in an experiment in which one group of students sat in front of a mirror while another looked at their Facebook account.

Photo by Josh Rose / Unsplash

Signs to the photo,

In some cases, social networks have a good effect on mood and emotional well-being

The social network had a positive effect on the self-esteem of participants. Researchers attribute this to the fact that mirrors or photographs force us to compare ourselves with social standards, while viewing our own profile on Facebook allows us to control how we present ourselves to the world.


In a study begun in 2013, researchers found that the more time people spent on Facebook, the less satisfaction they felt.

However, some other experiments have revealed the opposite. People with emotional instability are more likely to write about their feelings. As a result, the support they receive online helps them recover from negative experiences faster.

While this question is generally controversial, social media has a poorer impact on the well-being of people suffering from social isolation.


If at some point during a conversation with a friend, he or she took out his smartphone and started scrolling the Instagram feed, you’ve probably wondered about how social networks affect relationships.

This also applies to romantic relationships. Researchers from the University of Guelph in Canada asked 300 Facebook users, ages 17-24, “if they get jealous when their partner adds a stranger of the opposite sex as a friend.”

Author of the photo, Getty Images

Signs to the photo,

A poll in which 1800 people took part showed that women are much more susceptible to stress from social networks than men. Facebook is more likely to be jealous than men.

The researchers concluded that “the very environment of the social network promotes this feeling, and also heightens anxiety about the quality of their romantic relationship.”


In a study of 600 adults, about a third reported that social media causes them negative emotions – mostly frustration, which is caused by envy.

Causes her unflattering juxtaposition of her life with the lives of other people, and above all this concerns travel photographs.

The feeling of jealousy triggers the so-called “spiral of envy”, when people start to publish more of exactly the kind of photographs that make them envious.

However, envy is not necessarily a destructive emotion. It often makes us work harder, say researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

During the experiment, they showed 380 students photos and messages from Facebook and Twitter, which usually cause envy – the message about the purchase of valuable goods, travel and engagement.

But the feelings that they aroused in the subjects were characterized by the scientists as “benign envy”, that is, the one that inspires their own achievements.


A study published last year in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, which involved 7,000 people aged 19 to 32, found that those who spend a lot of time on social media are twice as likely feel socially isolated. They lack a sense of belonging to a group, as well as interaction with others and fulfilling relationships.

According to the researchers, in such people, social networks supplant personal relationships and make them feel lonely.

Photo by Jacob Ufkes / Unsplash

Signs up to photo,

When social media supplants live communication, a person feels lonely

“An idealized view of the life of friends and acquaintances can lead to feelings of envy and the false belief that they are happier and successful. Such thoughts increase social isolation more and more. “


It is clear that it is too early to draw final conclusions on many issues. However, we can say that social networks have very different effects on people, depending on many conditions, and above all – on the traits of their personality.

As with food, gambling and many other temptations of our time, overuse of social media may be undesirable for some people.

But, on the other hand, it would be wrong to say that they are an undeniable evil, because networks provide many advantages.

How to write posts on Instagram

Instagram is not only about pictures. Many users read posts, the descriptions of which can tell a whole story. Learned how to make correct descriptions for Instagram posts and adapted an article from the Hubspot blog. Blogger Yulia Petrova helped us in this.

The quality of your photos will always be the determining factor in promoting on Instagram. But beautiful pictures alone are not enough – a post description can kill the best post, or it can make it very popular.Good descriptions explain what the meaning of the photo is, encourages subscribers to take targeted actions – makes your content more enjoyable and accessible .

If you think of the texts for posts on Instagram as an optional part, then you are greatly mistaken: you lose the opportunity to use an important communication format. Here are some tips to help you write the best Instagram post titles.

1. Write some ideas for text

Surely it happened that the idea for a great description came up when you already published a post.What to do next time? Do not hurry. Instead, jot down a few ideas on paper or in a sticky note on your phone.

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Algorithms play an increasing role on Instagram, so a well-written title and description are required attributes. Think about what text you would like to add so that subscribers would like to interact more with your post: like, comment, publish in your “Stories”, share with friends in Direct.Ultimately, 90,899 engagement from your subscribers will be the determining factor for 90,900 success. See how algorithms affect the delivery of content in smart social media feeds.

And to publish to Instagram directly from your computer without hassle, use Amplifer – it will help you draw up a content plan and help you make text and a picture for publication

2. Move the most important to the beginning

Check out our basic social media posting checklist for some more helpful tips

The maximum number of characters on Instagram is 2200.But this is a formality. “Titles” in the tape are “cut off” after 3-4 lines – that’s about 125 characters. This does not mean that you should keep the descriptions very short, but subscribers should see the most important in these 3-4 lines. Therefore, make mentions and hashtags at the end. Take out the very pulp upstairs.

Yulia Petrova advises to put facts and a title at the beginning of the post topic: “In the title, display the topic of your text. Try to hook them. If the content is helpful, then immediately ask to save and like this post.And facts, if it fits the topic and content. Prices, addresses, other interesting facts – all this will involve the reader in your text even more. ”

3. Break the text into paragraphs

In Instagram, you still cannot add empty lines. But without them, some posts look very heavy and messy. Do not forget to use the @ text4instabot bot on Telegram. They will make the text more readable and slimmer.

Paragraphs help to visually structure the text, make it neat

4.Use Call to Action

The best way to increase your post’s reach and engage subscribers is with a call to action. Use active verbs to motivate people to interact with your post, rather than passively scrolling further. For example, you could write “Double tap if you think it’s important” or “Share your story in the comments.” Here are some more call-to-action ideas:

Ask question . Encourage people to share experiences.This will help you find ideas for new posts and adjust your promotion strategy. To increase engagement, answer questions and comments from subscribers, mark the ones you like with likes. Yulia Petrova agrees with this: “Use rhetorical questions in the text and be sure to write the question at the end of your text, so the reader is more likely to remember about it and leave a comment under the post”.

Direct people to the link in your profile description. Well-promoted Instagram profiles constantly update the links in the account description.They link to fresh content there: a new YouTube video, a new product announcement site, a new blog post, and so on. And then they mention this link in posts and ask to click on it.

Invite subscribers to tag their friends . Encourage your followers to share the post with friends by inviting them to tag their friends in their photos. Here are some examples.

Invite people to participate in the competition. Contests are great for engaging and developing your brand on Instagram.For example, ask people to post their photos using a specific hashtag. Think over the rules of the drawing and give a link to them in the profile description.

You may also find our material on selling texts for social networks useful.

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5. Use hashtags in moderation

Instagram hashtags are needed to link user conversations into a single stream.If you have an open profile on Instagram, then everyone who subscribes to a hashtag or simply watches posts with a mention of it will be able to see the post. We talked about how to use hashtags on social networks, including Instagram.

Hashtags connect people who are discussing or interested in the same topic. But use hashtags sparingly.

Some Instagram users add as many tags as possible to attract new subscribers, but the fact is that it usually looks like spam.If you use a ton of hashtags, then people will think that you are making low-quality content. Limit the number of hashtags to 3-4 and remember that if you want, you can not use any at all.

If the hashtag does not fit organically into the sentence, then add it to the end of the post. Remember that Instagram offers the most frequently used ones. Just start typing the name of the hashtag and the social network will display the number of times it has been mentioned.

6. Adapt your brand tone of voice to Instagram

Each platform has a key that works better than the rest.For example, a formal and formal tone will work well on Linkedin but will not work well on Instagram. The most popular posts on Instagram are written in a humane, authentic, cheerful tone, easy to understand.

Therefore, you need to adapt your brand voice to the tone of Instagram. Of course, some brands find it easier to do this than others. Try to find a balance between sincerity and seriousness.

It is important to know your audience and be on the same wavelength with it.Julia Petrova advises: “Express yourself clearly, in the language of the audience. If the reader sees a lot of incomprehensible words, he is unlikely to continue reading the text. ”

Connect Amplifer to manage all pages on social networks from one window: create a convenient content plan, evaluate efficiency and save time when working with social networks

7. Use emoji in moderation

How to use emoji on social media – Amplifer’s guide

Emoticons will help to add personality to your brand.This is why even big companies use them in their publications. You can also create chains of 3 emoticons that briefly and succinctly describe your message. Yulia Petrova notes that emoji tell the reader what emotions to feel when reading your text.

8. When in doubt, keep the description short

If you haven’t yet developed a voice for your brand on Instagram, then using short descriptions is a win-win strategy.


  1. Good content is the basis of promotion on Instagram.But the correct description will make it more popular.
  2. A call to action in the description is a good way to motivate subscribers to engage more with your post.
  3. Use no more than 3-4 hashtags. If the tag doesn’t fit organically into the sentence, add them to the end.
  4. A light, natural tone works well on Instagram. Adapt your brand tone to Instagram.
  5. Use emojis in moderation – they will help subscribers better understand how to experience emotions from the post.
  6. If you can’t write a long post, use a short description is a win-win strategy.
Post to Instagram from your computer

Add photos, videos and hashtags, schedule publications in the feed.

Russian State Library

Important information

Dear readers!

From October 30 to November 7, the Russian State Library will be closed in accordance with the order of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation dated 26.10.2021 No. 173.

Complete up-to-date information on the work of the RSL is constantly updated.
More details

The entrance lobby of the main building of the RSL is closed for restoration. The entrance to the library is through the 6th entrance, the passage is organized along the building of the RSL along Mokhovaya street. Passage plan

In connection with the repair and restoration work, the canteen in the Main building of the RSL was closed. For readers, there is a buffet in the Pashkov House and on the Marble Staircase in the Main Building.
More information

The exposition of the Museum of the Book and the reading room of the Research Institute of Rare Books are closed until November 30 due to renovations.

It is necessary to order books and documents in advance, before coming to the library. Paper claims are currently not accepted.

Documents can be ordered in the electronic catalog. The number of orders is limited. If the required document is not in the electronic catalog, use the form or call the department phones. More details

Phones for inquiries about the library: +7 (800) 100-57-90, + 7 (499) 557-04-70.

Users can enter the library without an appointment. If the number of users in the reading rooms exceeds 50% of the total capacity of the rooms, the library has the right to pre-register or restrict the entry of users until free seats become available.

Service in the library is carried out in accordance with the Temporary Rules for the Use of the RSL during the period of restrictions.

The Russian State Library is accepting a mandatory printed copy of dissertations at the address: Moscow, st.Vozdvizhenka, 1.
More info

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Ru, in which $ and. Only those players who have registered in the poker room through our website can participate in the tournament with a prize pool of $. If the player does not want to shine the cards, it may not be public. The poker player at the table can ask the dealer to show any participant’s hidden card. Vorskla ”took away the supernik from Lizi Conferences of UFA. The ticket price to the Poltava camp is more than ten thousand hryvnias.The results of the US Poker Open, the first series of high roller tournaments since the pandemic. In early June, Aria Casino hosted the US Poker Open series. Immerse yourself in a world of thrills, betting and winning and prove that you are a real winner. Play, chat and have an unforgettable experience. Umberto Brenes – the lucky Costa Rican Umberto Brenes has won the status of one of the. Dominic Nietzsche – thousandths of a school year Nietzsche – what. As a result, I lost five dollars in a month. He worked there for three months, quit because of a small salary and started playing again.In this case, only the best five cards are always included in the combination. Below are all the existing poker combinations in ascending order. Benefits for our players. Register for RedStar through our website and receive a number of additional bonuses with educational content. In this way, he will always be with you – you play online, at home or in a casino. You can always find on the right side of the PokerHarder website, regardless of which section of the site you are currently in.Two Pair is a poker hand that includes two pairs of identical cards + any one card. If in the course of the game the players have collected two equivalent combinations – the highest is the one in which the higher-ranked cards are made. Immerse yourself in a world of thrills, betting and winning and prove that you are a real winner. Play, chat and have an unforgettable experience. Table game poker set B. Set for poker in leatherette suitcase Zelart PKL for chips with SKL denomination. The room is reliable, there were no problems with anything.The client downloaded and installed without looking at antivirus or built-in protection. Two tournament tickets worth each. A deferred bonus that is available for days.

Multi-tabling and hotkeys

How to solve an internal error / on PokerStars. How to find fish on PokerStars. Therefore, rule # for any player is to understand and remember the seniority of the combinations. In total, there are possible poker combinations in hold’em, made up of two personal cards and five community cards, which are open on the gaming table.What you need to play poker: Short version. To play poker, you should learn the basic concepts of the game. The Q J hand is sometimes called “maverick” because of a song in a TV series that features the words “living on jacks and queens. The Mavericks were professional players who traveled the Wild West in search of a good game. In the example, two Aces are a pair. Pair seniority in poker works exactly the same as described above. Many people confuse the set and, although these are two different combinations, they are identical in strength.The set is collected when there is already a pair and one card on the board in the starting hand, and the trips – when there is a pair on the table and you have the third card of the poker combination in your hand. The results of the US Poker Open, the first series of high roller tournaments since the pandemic. In early June, Aria Casino hosted the US Poker Open series. They are sorted by start time, cost, bet limits, discipline and other parameters. Using the filter, you can select the games you want by type, number of players, currency, type of poker. This is called Burning Card and is done to ensure that no one accidentally sees the top card and to prevent possible cheating.Burned cards are placed next to The Flop or under the next OpenCard face up. You will accumulate points that fill the progress bar. As soon as you have earned the required number of points, you will receive a gift – a chest with random prizes. In this case, he can bet all the chips All In, and then one or more additional Side Pots appear, which limits the amount that he can win. In limit games, the betting limit is doubled and remains the same in the last betting round.Learn more about the mobile version of PokerStars. PokerStars Sochi is an online poker game for Russian players.

This will take two steps. After completing the registration, you will receive an email from the room – follow the link in it to confirm your email. If you continue to use the site, it will mean that you accept this condition. Before you continue to YouTube. If you have a small pair, it is better to fold such a combination. High card, despite its “venerable status”, is a very weak combination.A thousand dice version. Despite the seeming simplicity of the game of poker, this game is one of the most difficult. This will take two steps. After completing the registration, you will receive an email from the room – follow the link in it to confirm your email.

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