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Watch Your Head

            If you are tall and sometimes wish you were shorter, you might want to think about some of the blessings of being tall.

One benefit of being tall is the ease of getting items on the top shelf of a cabinet. A tall person might have to stand on their tippy toes and stretch a little, but they are able to reach things on the top shelf without much effort. They rarely need to grab a stool or chair to stand on like people of shorter stature. An added blessing to this scenario is they don’t have to worry about the wobbly chair they are standing on breaking and bringing about an unplanned trip to the emergency room.

A second blessing of being tall is being able to see over the heads of others when attending a parade, lighting show, concert, or anything where a crowd of people might be standing in front of them. People of average height arrive at these events hours before they start hoping they will find a place to stand in the first row. Tall people can arrive a few minutes before the event starts and have an unobstructed view.

The taller a person is, the more they can eat because their body needs more nutrients to stay healthy. Tall people can go back for seconds without feeling guilty; what a blessing! This doesn’t mean though they can eat an extra piece of cake and it won’t add inches to their waistline. Too many calories mean more pounds no matter what your height.

In ancient cultures anthropologists say being tall was a sign of wealth and people with height were revered. Things haven’t changed much. Today, height is associated with greatness and dominance. There are highly paid professions where height matters. The National Basketball Association says the average height for a basketball player is 6 feet 7 inches. Male runway models are between 5 feet 11 inches and 6 feet 2 inches. Female runway models are 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet. Litigators earn big salaries, and ones above average height are perceived by jurors as more believable because their height makes them appear strong and confident. This is especially true in the United States where tall people appear to have higher self-esteem.

There seems to be a day for everything; there is now an International Hug a Tall Person Day. It was started by a group on Facebook because they felt tall people do not get a lot of hugs. This group defines tall as 6 feet plus for men and 5 feet 10 inches for women. Because the majority of people who are of average height don’t know how to give a hug to a person several inches taller than them, the group provides hugging instructions. There is a debate about the exact date of this event; some people recognize February 11th as International Hug a Tall Person Day and others celebrate it on June 5th. What a blessing for tall people this is; two days a year devoted to being hugged!

There is a downside to being tall; tall people have to always be aware of the sign that says, WATCH YOUR HEAD.

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Keep Your Eye on the… Screen?

For most people, the term “sport” spurs ideas of athleticism or images of players competing on a field or court in an all out test of athletic skill. While these ideas and images are not wrong, the definition of “sport” is quickly changing to encompass new genres. As computers become more powerful and readily available, a new type of sport has begun to surface. Officially recognized by ESPN, esports, is on the rise. Short for “electronic sports”, this new category is redefining the existing values of the sporting industry by shedding light onto players with non-traditional skill sets.

Video game development companies as well as several independent companies have built arenas to showcase competitions of professional esport teams, generating a lot of buzz from the video game communities. With over 40 million players, Overwatch, a competitive, team-based game developed by Blizzard Entertainment, is one of the leading games with an esports league, among many others. During a tournament, the arena will be packed with an audience of enthusiastic gamers, watching gameplay of the competitors on screens that cover entire walls of the arena. As expected, the audience of these tournaments extends far beyond the arena. With commentators describing every action and play of the game, each tournament is broadcast worldwide through a live stream over the internet. The Overwatch League streams have peaked at over half a million viewers worldwide, proving the world’s interest in the genre.

Of course, just like any other sport, not all 40 million average players will be professionals. For example, the Overwatch League only has 12 professional teams. While there are more players on minor-league teams, there are less than 100 players on these professional teams. However, these players are the best of the best. Just like in traditional sports, esport competitors train a minimum of 50 hours per week and often much more. With less than 100 spots available and the intense hours spent staring at a screen, this elite group of players have become role models for the non-professional players of the game. Some large companies, including Coca-Cola and Red Bull have also begun to sponsor the players in attempts to capitalize on the growing fan base.

While esports is far from the typical idea of a “sport”, it is actively increasing in popularity. Hundreds of thousands have already recognized it as one of the next great sport genres, and the numbers continue to grow. Could esports become the next great American (and worldwide) pastime?


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Happy Birthday, George!

Each year on February 22, America celebrates the birthday of our first president, the illustrious George Washington. Although his main claim to fame lies in his political leadership, Washington’s biography hosts a variety of unexpected truths and trivia. On what would have been his 288th birthday, join The StickerTalk on a historical hike through the engagingly insightful life of Mr. George Washington.

Because he suffered from chronic toothaches, Washington had all of his teeth removed at age 57 and sported a set of dentures for the remainder of his life. While commonly regaled folklore states that his false teeth were carved from wood, modern research revealed that his prosthetic chompers were actually comprised of ivory, gold and lead mixed with fragments of both human and animal teeth.

When Washington was not leading armies into battle or providing political guidance for the fledgling nation, Washington proved a very prosperous farmer, boasting a whopping net worth of over $500 million in today’s money! One of Washington’s cash crops, somewhat surprisingly, was hemp; however, colonial farmers used the now-contraband plant exclusively to make paper and rope. Washington also distilled moonshine, but, being the original model citizen, did so with the proper government licensure.

Washington harbored a fondness for animals throughout his lifetime. In fact, the former president was the first agrarian to introduce the mule to the American farming landscape by crossing his own horses with donkeys owned by the King of Spain and the Marquis de Lafayette. Washington also kept several hunting hounds and sometimes assigned his prized pooches some very interesting monikers. Some of his favorites included Sweet Lips, Tartar, and Vulcan.


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The A-1 Armadillo

Texas Flag Armadillo Sticker

If you live in the United States and happen to reside in Texas or one of the other Gulf Coast states, you have seen a short-legged mammal with an oval-shaped bony plate covering its back, legs, head, and tail walking along the side of the road.  Its plate is usually referred to as its shell or armor. The shell is a greyish-brown color with between 7 and 11 band-shaped breaks going around it. It has a pointy snout on a long head with small black eyes, long claws, and a tapering tail. This mammal species, the nine-banded armadillo, averages 2 feet 6 inches in length and weighs on average 12 pounds. The nine-banded armadillo has a life span of around 10 years in the wild and is the only species of armadillo found in the United States. It is found in abundance along the Gulf Coast because of the warm, moist climate, but it has been spotted as far north as the state of Missouri.  It was named the small mammal of Texas in 1995. The name armadillo is Spanish and means little armored one.

During warm months in the United State the armadillo is rarely seen. It leaves its burrow only at night in search of food. During the cooler months it can be seen in the day taking advantage of the warmth from the sun.

Ten percent of an armadillo’s diet consists of plants, small reptiles, and baby mammals. Most of the time it feasts on invertebrates like beetles, larvae, worms, termites, cockroaches, grasshoppers, ants, maggots, and snails. These delicious appetite pleasers can be a nuisance in and around a home so a pet armadillo might sound like something to consider getting.  Be aware though, an armadillo can be a carrier of the bacterium that causes leprosy in humans. You would have to handle it frequently or eat its meat to contract this disease from an armadillo.

The long claws of the armadillo are needed to dig a burrow where it lives to avoid extreme weather and predators. A burrow is between 7 and 8 inches wide and 15 feet deep. The armadillo likes to dig a burrow in forested areas and grasslands with porous, loose soil.

The armadillo has a variety of predators. These include cougars, coyotes, wolves, alligators, bobcats, and large raptors. When it comes to escaping its enemies, the armadillo is smart. If alarmed, it can move with surprising speed and quickly dig a shallow trench where it can hide. The predator will try to break the armadillo’s shell or grab its tail, but eventually it gives up and moves on to find another food source.

Man is also an enemy of the armadillo. Humans harvest them for their meat and shells. Thousands are killed each year by vehicles, some intentionally and some by accident.

The nine-banded armadillo likes to live a solitary life except during breeding season. A female armadillo begins to reproduce after one year and continues every year until death. Within the life span of one female, she can have up to 56 young.  Each birth usually produces four identical quadruplets.

If you live in an area where there are armadillos, take a minute to find its beauty.


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A Subterranean Spectacle

Oval Carlsbad Caverns National Park Sticker

Hidden under the towering peaks of Arizona’s Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns National Park hosts a horde of otherworldly wonders and spooky surprises. Believed to be the oldest network of caves on the planet, this collection of colossal caverns offers both nature lovers and history buffs an opportunity to exercise their expertise as the park represents a fusion of both natural splendor and American ingenuity. In this edition of The StickerTalk, strap on your spelunking gear as we explore the underground universe contained in Carlsbad Caverns!

Once called the “Grand Canyon with a roof on it” by Will Rogers, everything about Carlsbad Caverns reflects its sheer size. The national park encompasses an area of 46,766 acres and includes an excess of 115 individual caves. One of the largest caves contained in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, simply referred to as the “Big Room” boasts ceilings that reach elevations of 100 feet in addition to a hole known as the Bottomless Pit (although it has a very definite depth of 140 feet).

The animals of Carlsbad Caverns National Park are as interesting as they are diverse. Perhaps the most noted resident of the caves, Carlsbad Caverns plays host to over 400,000 bats. In fact, the cave network was mined for its ample supply of bat guano in the early twentieth century before it became a tourist attraction. Other local species of fauna include the kangaroo rat, javelina, and a curious species of microbe currently being tested as a cure for cancer.

For those who love a good scare, Carlsbad Caverns National Park offers up its infamous Slaughter Canyon Cave. With no artificial lighting or paved walkways, visitors to this portion of the park must brave the natural wiles of the cave including humidity, looming rock formations, and, you guessed it, lots of guano.


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Straw or No Straw? You Decide

Plastic Straws Only Provided Upon Request Sticker

 You are planning to go on a picnic. You spot your grandparents straw picnic basket and think how much fun it would be to use it. You dust it off and open it up. Inside you see plates, cups, utensils, and food storage containers. Realization hits; you will need to bring everything home, wash each item by hand since nothing is dishwasher safe, and then place the items back in the basket. Grandma’s picnic basket is returned to its spot on the shelf and you get out the plastic cooler and plastic plates, cups, food containers, and utensils.

Did you know plastic as we know it today, did not exist until 1907 when the first synthetic plastic was invented. Because of the way plastics are manufactured, they cannot be truly recycled. You think you are doing a good thing when you toss your plastic items into the “recycle trash,” and technically you are because every little bit helps, but only about 9 percent is actually recycled. Most plastic waste ends up in landfills where it can take thousands of years to decompose. The USA National Park Service estimates that more than 500 million single-use plastic straws are used and thrown away each day in the United States. That adds up to 175 billion plastic straws each year. Thus, the need to reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse. All over the globe countries are becoming aware of this increasing environmental problem.

Plastic bags, straws, utensils, cups and plates make life easier for many of us. But, if not disposed of correctly, they can cause injury to animal life as well as our environment.  For example, have you ever dropped a plastic straw into a body of water where sea turtles live? That straw might have ended up stuck in the nose of a poor sea turtle that cannot defend itself against these strange plastic objects that are invading its habitat.

Countries, large and small, are implementing changes to protect the environment from the harmful effects of single-use plastic items like bottles, cutlery, cups, carry out containers, and drinking straws. The UK and Europe are currently considering proposals to ban the use of various plastic products. India’s goal is by 2022 all single-use plastic will be banned.

Many countries have already implemented these bans. Rwanda is one of the leaders in realizing the harm plastic throw-away products cause. In 2008 the country banned plastic bags. In 2016 Morocco completely banned the production, sale, and import of plastic bags. England’s Queen Elizabeth currently does not allow plastic straws or bottles on the royal estates.  In the United States, California and Hawaii have taken action on banning the use of various plastic products. They are the environment conscious leaders in the 50 states that make up the United States of America.

Now that you know the facts on how harmful one-time use plastic items can be, maybe you will rethink using grandma’s picnic basket and have fun taking a step back in time.


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The StickerTalk Celebrates Valentine’s Day Around the World

Will You Be Mine Valentine Stickers

A celebration of love and goodwill, Valentine’s Day heralds visions of candy, cards, and stuffed animals. Although these motifs may seem universal, each culture entertains a unique mode of revelry. In this edition of The StickerTalk, join us on a virtual globe tour to explore Valentine’s Day around the world!

  • In Denmark, pristine snowdrops replace roses as the floral emblem of the holiday. Men in Denmark additionally enjoy anonymously penning and gifting funny poems to lovely ladies. If a woman can successfully extrapolate who gave her the poem, she will receive an Easter egg from her admirer later in the year.
  • South African women take a leaf from the ancient Romans in a Valentine’s Day tradition called Lupercalia. In this festivity, ladies wear the names of their love interests on their sleeves, helping the local men uncover the identities of their secret admirers.
  • Revelers in Italy take Valentine’s Day very seriously! Unlike the American version of the holiday that encourages coworkers, classmates, and casual friends to exchange gifts, Italians reserve gifts exclusively for romantic partners. Chocolates, poems in a variety of languages, and leisurely strolls represent hallmarks of the holiday. Additionally, another prominent Italian tradition holds that the first man an unmarried woman sees on Valentine’s Day will be her future husband, prompting single girls to wake up before daylight to take advantage of the prime pickings!


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Winter Weather Wonders

groundhog day

On the frigid morning of February, 2, 2019, Americans from coast to coast celebrated Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of an early spring when the meteorologically-inclined rodent proved unable to see his shadow. While the American holiday of Groundhog Day may seem eternally rooted in tradition and folklore, other cultures and eras have developed other quirky customs for foretelling future weather patterns. In this edition of The StickerTalk, join us on an intercultural journey to revisit past predecessors of Groundhog Day and explore coexisting equivalents of this American staple.

  • In a “bear”-ly believable twist on Groundhog Day, several nations in Eastern Europe replace the relatively small groundhog with a wild bear! Local folklore, much like the American tradition, states that a lengthy winter is imminent if the bear sees its shadow upon emerging from hibernation.
  • Although Punxsutawney Phil most commonly claims the limelight, other groundhogs across the country simultaneously try their hands, er… paws, at weather forecasting on February 2. Perhaps the most learned of these furry forecasters is Georgia’s own General Beauregard Lee, a groundhog boasting honorary doctorates from both the University of Georgia and Georgia University. Other groundhogs renowned for their weather prediction prowess include Staten Island Chuck and Jimmy the Groundhog, both better know for their tendency to munch on their handlers than for their uncanny accuracy.
  • Due to a shortage of groundhogs on the American frontier, some pioneers relied on the humble hedgehog to predict the arrival of spring. However, these settlers were not the first to utilize the hedgehog’s forecasting skills. Farmers in England could reportedly divine wind patterns by the way hedgehogs built their nests, enabling them to more effectively nurture and protect their crops.