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Charleston Tea Plantation

Charleston, South Carolina, welcomes thousands of visitors every year. The City Market, plantations, and the riverfront are popular tourist attractions. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind unique experience in North America though, take time to visit the Charleston Tea Plantation located on Wadmalaw Island. It is a short scenic drive from the busy city.

If you are fortunate enough to visit the plantation in April or May at the time of the First Flush (the first cutting done after the plants have awakened from being dormant), you will have the opportunity to taste a tea with a unique flavor. This tea is only available once each growing season.

For a small fee, you can take a trolley ride around the plantation providing you an up-close view of the tea bushes and the history of the plantation. The trolley is available January through December, but only during the harvesting months, April through October, will you see the “green giant” and the workers busy in the fields. The “green giant” is a blend between a cotton picker and a tobacco harvester and is the only one of its kind in existence. The “green giant” cuts off the tops of the bushes and collects the leaves, doing the job of 500 laborers. The plantation prides itself in not using pesticides or any chemicals.

Inside walking tours of the processing plant are available throughout the year. If you visit during the harvesting months, you can see the leaves going through the processing steps.  The first step in processing the leaves is placing them on the withering bed.  Then, they are put through the Rotor-Vane where the leaves are torn into tiny pieces and crushed. Fermentation, also referred to as oxidation, is the third step for making black tea. After 50 minutes this step is complete. Green tea is not fermented. After oxidation, the leaves fall from the bed to a moving belt where they go into a 250-degree oven for 20 minutes. After drying, the shriveled leaves pass across various size screens where they are sifted to ensure all stalks and fibers are removed. To remove the tiniest impurities, the leaves pass under static electricity rollers.

The plant nursery is open year-round to visitors. Here new 5-inch plants, created from existing bushes on the plantation, are treated with tender loving care. It takes five years for each plant to reach maturity. Once mature, each bush will be productive for hundreds of years.

Hot and cold tea are available in the gift shop for sampling. There are several flavors available and you will want to taste them all before deciding the ones you want to take home to enjoy with friends. The American Classic, which can still be purchased today, was the original tea produced on the plantation. It was the first tea ever to be made with 100 percent tea grown in America. It can be said with confidence, “this tea is American made.”

So, on your next trip to Charleston, take time to taste the tea, Charleston Plantation Tea that is!

Tea A Brief History and More by David Bigelow

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Mixed-Up Mammals

A recent fad among dog owners entails crossing various breeds of dog to create unique hybrids with adorable names. The labradoodle, morkie, and chiweenie represent a few of these new pedigrees of pooch, but what happens when two completely separate species are mixed, resulting in an entirely avant-garde animal? It may sound like a plot from a B-grade science fiction movie, but the world’s zoos, farms, and houses are teeming with a multitude of maverick mammals.

The extraordinary offspring of a dromedary (one-humped) camel and a llama, the cama was first bred in 1998. The cama was intended to serve as a revolutionary line of pack animals capable of carrying large burdens while remaining wholly obedient to its master. This unusual camelid additionally produces wool much like a llama’s that can be woven into plush fabrics. While the cama does not have a hump like its camel ancestors, it can withstand the harsh, unforgiving desert climate. As of 2008, only five of these animals have ever existed; experts estimate that the cama should enjoy a lifespan of at least thirty years.

The beefalo, a moderate rarity on America’s agricultural landscape, is produced by breeding bison with domestic cattle. This cutting-edge creature is prized by particular palates for its especially lean and savory meat. The beefalo is also capable of producing much more milk than run-of-the-mill dairy cows. Ranchers favor the beefalo for its relatively low maintenance requirements. Because the beefalo often inherits an exceptional hardiness traced to its bison background, it requires much less space than domesticated cattle and prove much better at foraging for food. A perfect pairing of the two species, beefalo are much easier to handle than wild buffalo thanks to its kine kindred.

For cat owners preferring to live on the wild side, look no further than the Savannah cat! A mixture of short-haired domestic cats and African servals, the Savannah cat exhibits fur markings resembling those of its wild ancestors but showcases much more domesticated behavior. Depending on how many generations have elapsed since its genetic domestication, a Savannah cat can weigh up to thirty pounds and stand eighteen inches at its shoulder. Owners tend to describe these cats as loyal, and many report that their Savannah cat loves to go swimming. However, owning a Savannah cat is definitely not for everyone. Some states have enforce legislation barring its citizens from owning Savannah cats, and their fiery nature may be too intense for families with small children.


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How Will My Garden Grow?

Decisions, decisions, decisions so many decisions to make about having a veggie garden. What will I plant? Where will I plant? What do I need to prepare before planting? If you are a beginning gardener, these are questions you need the answers to before you get your hands dirty.

The first step is to do some important research. Purchase a book for beginning vegetable gardeners. Or, save your money (spend it on plants) and look on the internet. You need to find the zone you live in so you can see what grows in your area, when you need to plant it, how much sun it needs each day, how much water it needs and when, and what you need to do to prepare the soil for your selections. Plants vary in the ground nutrients they need to be productive. You treat them right and they will give back.

You have done your research and are ready to get started planting, but wait; you need to make one more decision. Are you going to plant directly in the ground, make some raised beds for your plants, or use containers? The amount of ground and where it is located will help you with this decision. If you do a ground garden think about how much sun will the area get during the growing season and be sure it is close to a watering source. Raised beds can be built on a wheel base so you can move the beds in or out of the sun as needed. Containers can also be placed on a wheel base for easy moving. An advantage of a raised bed is you can build it to a comfortable height for you personally so you do not have to bend over and end up with an aching back. If you decide on a raised bed or containers, be sure they have drainage holes in the bottom. Line them with small rocks to retain some of the water though. 

Here is one of the best uses for white vinegar; put it in your garden as an insect deuterate and a weed killer. Insects are turned off by the odor and weeds just do not like it. Yet, your plants will thrive! (Use vinegar in your flower garden too.)

Something else you have around your home that you can use to keep your plants healthy is eggshells. Bugs, especially slugs and snails, hate eggshells. The ragged edges keep them away as they are afraid to climb over them. Wash and let the eggshells air dry thoroughly. Then, break them up and place them around the plant. Think of them as a protective wall keeping the unwanted invaders away from the valuable treasure. (Use them in your flower garden too.) Your plants will get nutrients from the eggshells to keep them healthy. The eggshells will decompose so you will need to keep replacing them.

If you like to help the environment, there are two things you can do when gardening. First, get a covered container to collect rain water in to use for watering. You can buy rain barrels at a local home improvement store or garden center. You can also look on the internet and make your own. Second, you can make your own organic compost which will be full of good things your plants will love. Composting is a great way to recycle table scraps.

So, if you spend time caring for your garden, how will your garden grow—healthy, healthy, healthy!

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Flying Pigs?

In the United States there is a FLYING PIG MARATHON that has been run in Cincinnati, Ohio, since 1997. In the 1800’s Cincinnati had the nickname “Porkopolis” because of the meat packing industry and all the stockyards there. During this time, pigs could be seen running through the downtown Cincinnati streets to the stockyards. In the 1980’s, sculptures of various animals started popping up in cities across the United States. Tampa, Florida, has turtles; Whitefish, Montana, has moose; Beaufort, South Carolina, has shrimp; Smithfield, Virginia, has pigs; and Cincinnati, Ohio, has FLYING pigs. These sculptures were the inspiration for the name of the marathon.

Where did the saying “when pigs fly” come from and what does it mean exactly?  It is not known for sure where or when the saying originated. Many give credit to Germany and others to Scotland. Why pigs? Well, think about it. Take a minute and envision a pig. Pigs instinctively root in the earth, a habit that cannot be broken. This is a sure indication pigs belong on the ground not in the air. Now, put a pair of wings on the pig. Will those wings be able to get a bulky, 600-pound pig in the air? Even if the wings are enormous, they will not keep a pig in the air flying over roof tops. It is definitely an impossibility. Today, “when pigs fly” is a saying used mainly in the United States. It is a humorous way to say something is never going to happen (it is impossible). In the United Kingdom the saying is “when pigs might fly” or “when pigs may fly.” Whichever phrase is used, it means the same thing; it’s an exaggerated comparison suggesting something is completely impossible. In Romania they say, “when the pig shall fly” and in Finland the expression “when cows fly” is used. The most common expression in French to say something is physically impossible is “when hens will have teeth.”

The saying, “when pigs fly” appears in books and movies. Lots of children’s books have the phrase as their title. There is a “when pigs fly” board game and a flying pig game app. “When Pigs Fly” is even the title of a song. Flying pigs decorate various jewelry pieces such as a necklace, ring, brooch, and bracelet. People love to collect flying pigs and they can be found in all sizes, colors, and materials. Flying pig signs decorate the walls of houses, offices, eateries, and shops. They can be seen in yards, on coworker’s desks, in every room of the house, in restaurants, and on bumper stickers. Flying pigs decorate baby clothes. Men can buy novelty neckties with winged pigs on them. Women can dress in various styles of clothing decorated with flying pigs. Flying pig fabric can be purchased so anything that can be made out of fabric can be made with flying pigs on it (cushions, quilts, stuffed animals).

Look around and you might see a flying pigs!
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Outrageous Organs

The organ has long been a favored instrument of church ensembles, rock bands, and classical masters. The instrument’s swelling tones prove incredibly versatile, capable of satisfying any musical taste. Traditional organs rely on a series of pipes to produce sound, but craftsmen have taken a few creative liberties while reimagining this iconic instrument.

Fiery in its own right, the pyrophone is also known as the explosion organ or the fire organ. Like its name implies, the pyrophone’s dynamite melodies are sourced from the systematic combustion of gasoline or propane. Of course, if played correctly, a certain part of the organ remains ignited for the duration of the performance. This unusual instrument was invented in 1875 by a maverick inventor named Georges F E Kastner. Although the pyrophone is more than a century old, it is currently experiencing a revival as more young musicians are drawn to its explosive aura.

The Great Stalacpipe Organ of Luray Caverns, Virginia, holds the title of world’s largest musical instrument. Located beneath the rolling hills of Shenandoah National Park, this symphonic singularity was first played in 1956. Its inventor, Leland W. Sprinkle, carefully crafted the organ over a period of three years. The Great Stalacpipe Organ utilizes electricity to operate. When a key on its keyboard is struck, it triggers a rubber mallet that gently taps a stalactite. The grand variety of shapes and sizes among the caverns’ rock formations allow the organ to produce a large range of pitches, making it the frontrunner in a new style of rock music!

On the shores of Zadar, Croatia, stands the Zadar Sea Organ. Proclaimed by its designer to be an experiment in instrument design, this oceanic organ has bathed its visitors in haunting melodies. Interestingly, the 230-foot-long Sea Organ has never been played by human hands. Instead, the wind and waves of the Adriatic Sea wash over its thirty-five pipes, creating harmonic echoes that draw thousands of tourists to experience its natural nots.


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Is it Football or is it Soccer

During WWI, as the story goes, on Christmas Eve 1915 there was a temporary truce between English troops and German troops. Out of nowhere a football (soccer ball is the term used in the USA and will be used in this blog) appeared and these two countries put their political views aside and played soccer! What an example of European’s love for the game!

                Today, soccer is played and watched all over the world. Some people claim it is the most popular sport in the world. This thought can be reasoned by the fact that the 2018 Men’s World Cup was watched by 4 billion people around the world (this is about half the population of the world). Soccer has a following of loyal fans who feel pride for their country and passion for the sport. True soccer fans spend hours collecting and trading World Cup stickers and cards. They will spend hours leisurely looking at them and searching the internet for ones they want to add to their collection.

                Soccer is an easy sports game to understand. The game has two 45-minute halves making each game 90 minutes of playing time. The objective is to get the soccer ball into the opponent’s goal as often as possible in that period of time. With each goal made the team earns one point. Players are not allowed to use their hands; they must kick or head the ball into the opponent’s goal without moving the ball consecutively themselves. There are 11 players per team and, as in all sports, various positions (goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders, and forwards). Learning the basic terms like offsides, corners, penalties, and yellow and red cards will make watching the game more enjoyable.

The (FIFA) Federation International de Football Association sponsors grants and programs to provide its affiliates financial and logistical support. The FIFA has the responsibility for organizing the major international soccer tournaments which include the Women’s World Cup and the Men’s World Cup. Because of the large number of qualification matches, they are held every four years.

Eyes around the world are currently watching the 2019 Women’s World Cup. They are anxious to see which country will be the best in the world. The next FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held in 2023. The host country has not been selected yet. Some countries that have submitted bids are: Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and South Korea.

                The first FIFA Men’s World Cup to be held in three countries will be in 2026. The continental United States, Canada, and Mexico have been selected to host the event. Sixty games will be held in the United States. The cities selected are: Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Kansas City, Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nashville, Boston, Cincinnati, Miami, Orlando and Seattle. The 10 games Canada will host will be held in Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto. Mexico will host 10 games in three cities: Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City.

                In the United States, the year 2026 might see parties for the Men’s World Cup Soccer games as popular as Super Bowl parties are now.

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The Fabric of America

The year is 1776. Philadelphia seamstress Elizabeth Ross is struggling to eke out a livelihood. Shortages induced by the American Revolution have crippled her family-owned upholstery business, and her husband, a militiaman, was recently killed while guarding ammunition from the clutches of invading British troops. Shunned by her Quaker family for her decision to marry outside of their denomination, the newly widowed Ross, though seemingly abandoned, quickly takes the reins of her floundering enterprise, relying on her plucky personality and professional prowess to navigate the often-unpredictable challenges of wartime.

Only months after burying her husband, Elizabeth “Betsy” Ross encounters a customer who will change the course of the young widow’s life: George Washington. The patriot general, along with his colleges George Ross and Robert Morris, commission the creation of a banner that will unite the thirteen rogue colonies under the common cause of freedom. According to legend, the three men present Ross with a sketch of the proposed emblem, a flag with thirteen alternating red and white stripes and thirteen white, six-pointed stars arranged in a circle on a blue field. Ever practical, Betsy suggests five-pointed stars as they are much easier to cut and sew. Washington agrees to this alteration, and the five-pointed star has appeared on every American flag since the creation of Ross’s radical design.

Over the course of her life, Betsy Ross continued to sew emblems of unity for the American people in spite of overwhelming adversity. Ross married sea captain Joseph Ashburn in 1777. Later that year, the Ashburn house was taken over by British troops in need of housing. With the war still raging in 1782, Joseph Ashburn embarked on a quest to the West Indies for vital materials desperately needed by the rebelling colonies. Betsy became a widow once again when her husband did not return from his voyage; captured and imprisoned by the British, Captain Ashburn died in the infamously brutal Old Mill Prison in England months after the last major battle of the Revolution had been fought. Betsy married for the third time in 1783, a union that lasted until 1817 when her husband, John Claypoole, passed away from natural causes. Over the course of her harrowing life, Betsy had seven children with five surviving to adulthood.

Even the face of tragedy, Betsy Ross never allowed her resolve to waver. A tried and true patriot, this American icon sewed her way into the pages of history. In addition to creating the original American flag, Betsy also fabricated flags for multiple American garrisons and the new government’s Indian Department. While some historians dispute her role in the development of America’s first national flag, the legend of Betsy Ross continues to inspire Americans to overcome adversity, bridge divides, and bind together under our shared love of freedom.


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Canada Day

July 1 is Canada Day.

            On July 1, 1867, the United States northern neighbor, Canada, remembers the day when the British North America Act stated that Canada would become an independent dominion of England. The Act combined the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canada province (which eventually was split into Ontario and Quebec) into one country. From 1879 to 1981, the event was called Dominion Day (some called it Confederation Day). In 1982 the name was changed to Canada Day.

            Canada has a federal Holidays Act which states that if Canada Day, July 1, falls on a Sunday, it will be observed on July 2. This leaves Sunday as a religious day.

            On July 1 each year, Canadians (if they live in Canada or not) express personal pride for their country. It is a day Canadians celebrate their nation’s history, culture, and achievements. If they are fortunate to be in Canada on that day, every community will have one or more ways to celebrate. Communities have parades, carnivals, festivals, barbecues, air shows, boat shows, fireworks, and musical concerts. Like all celebrations, there will be a large selection of food and drink; there will be something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. Since Canada supplies about 80 percent of the world with maple syrup, people can find “something maple” in a variety of dishes. Maple syrup candy is a “purchase must.” The maple leaf, which is on the Canadian flag, is associated with Canada by people in countries over the world. On Canada Day people will find a large range of items with the maple leaf on them to purchase. Canadians living in Hong Kong, Mexico, China, and even the Canadian forces in Afghanistan gather together to celebrate their Canadian patriotism.

            This is one day Canadians proudly wear their countries colors of red and white; there will be a lot of red and white plaid and flannel. Children, and some adults, will cover their face with white face paint and strategically place a red maple leaf (sizes vary) somewhere on their face. Many will have temporary maple leaf tattoos on their arms and ankles.

            Since fireworks are illegal except on certain holidays, firework programs are an anxiously anticipated part of Canada Day activities. For safety reasons, it is encouraged people who want to see fireworks attend one of the many community displays. Individuals wanting to set off their own fireworks must abide by the regulations for their province and city. A number of types of fireworks are illegal (Roman candles, star wheels, cherry bombs) and in certain areas fireworks cannot be set off.

            Canada Day will be celebrated on Monday, July 1, 2019. It might be fun to celebrate Canada Day and then travel across the border to one of the northern states in the USA and celebrate Independence Day on Thursday, July 4. People can just add some blue to their Canada Day outfit of red and white. Why not make it a patriotic week! facts-about-canada-day-a-holiday-of-national-pride-for-canadians/

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Give Nursing a Shot!

World's Greatest Nurse bumper sticker

A profession resting soundly on a foundation of humanity and compassion, nursing has existed for thousands of years. Historians believe the earliest nursing school may have been founded in ancient India around 250 B.C. This school, however, only admitted male students, effectively barring women from the practice. A few centuries later in 300 A.D., Roman nurses found employment in early forms of hospitals, surprisingly complex establishments that helped shape the world’s vision of the occupation.

While the profession of nursing saw many advancements and improvements during the Middle Ages, the development of modern nursing largely occurred within the last two centuries. British nurse Florence Nightingale is often credited with spearheading the formation of this new breed of nurses. Nightingale earned her claim to fame when she led a group of female nurses to aid British forces engaged in the Crimean War. Following the conclusion of her service, Nightingale channeled her thoroughly tempered skills to found nursing schools in hospitals across Great Britain.

The Civil War profoundly shaped the face of American nursing. In 1862, during the middle of the conflict, the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston, Massachusetts, became the first American nursing school to open its doors to female prospective nurses. However, the Civil War also inspired a surge of informally trained nurses. Both men and women flooded to bloodstained battlefields to bring hope and comfort to wounded soldiers. First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln served as a volunteer nurse for injured troops as did famous poet Walt Whitman. Former schoolteacher Clara Barton is arguably the most famous nurse of the Civil War although her admitted field of expertise centered around the collection and distribution of vital supplies and the location of missing soldiers following the surrender of the rebellious states.

In the late 1800s, more nursing schools were founded on American soil, forging what was formerly a ragtag spread of loosely trained nurses into an effective force of experts in practical healthcare. Both World Wars further intensified the demand for professional nurses. Nurses began to serve as official military personnel to care instead of humanitarian volunteers. Additionally, more nurses became a more critical element in clinics and hospitals while others found their niche practicing as nurse-midwives in the ranks of America’s poorer working classes.

Today’s nurses continue this rich tradition of excellence. A field comprised of over three million people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds, nursing is constantly ranked as one of the best careers to pursue. A recent Gallup Survey indicated that the nurse is the most trusted professional in America, to boot. While nursing offers a plethora of financial and emotional rewards, this occupation harbors challenges daunting enough to intimidate even the strongest of hearts. Besides serving as a constant witness to pain and suffering, a nurse’s duties are physically unforgiving as the average nurse walks five miles per shift. The need for nurses proves perpetual, making it ever more imperative that new heroes rise up to meet the challenges of a world crying out for compassion.


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Falling for Adventure

Oval Canadian Flag Niagara Falls Sticker

A destination famous for attracting honeymooners in droves, Niagara Falls remains a cornerstone of the peerless North American landscape. This collection of cataracts contains three separate waterfalls, Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. The falls straddle the border of the United States and Canada, often making a trip to this legendary landmark an international affair.

Niagara Falls proves a notorious hotbed for thrill seekers. School teacher Annie Taylor Edison was the first stunt person to traverse the falls in a barrel in 1901. She was 63 years old at the time of her trip! This hazardous hobby has since been outlawed; barrel-borne daredevils can now be fined up to $10,000 for their dangerous endeavors. However, new legislation could not stay in the way of Nik Walenda, a tightrope-walker who (legally) traversed Niagara Falls on tightrope in 2012, beginning on American soil and ending in Canada.

While many tourists venture to Niagara Falls to enjoy and encounter with nature, some are surprised with how close of an encounter actually occurs! Several reports of tourists exploring the wooden decks near the base of the American and Bridal Veil Falls being hit by falling, flailing fish have surfaced. Thankfully, no one has been seriously injured. Experts estimate that 90% of fish that go over Niagara Falls survive the drop, the foam at the bottom of the falls acting as a cushion.

Besides service as a source of awe and an opportunity for contemplation, Niagara Falls additionally plays a critical role in the production of hydroelectric power for the surrounding region. In fact, about 75% of the Niagara River’s water is diverted to a nearby dam, leaving about a quarter of the current to plummet over Niagara’s rocky cliffs in proud pageantry. The hydroelectric power plant receives a larger percentage of the water flow at night, ensuring the production of clean energy while daytime tourists still witness the natural spectacle of the falls. Niagara Falls is currently New York’s largest supplier of hydroelectric energy.

Niagara Falls reaches a soaring height of 165 feet at its tallest point. Although Niagara Falls is not among the tallest cataracts in the world, it still claims the titles of North America’s widest and most voluminous waterfall. An impressive 3,160 tons of water rushes over its rim every second, making the sheer mass of airborne water worth the trip to the American-Canadian border.


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A Bevy of Beagles

According to recent polls, the beloved beagle is currently the fifth most popular breed of dog in the United States. This popularity, however, claims retrospective reaches in American history. Lyndon B. Johnson, the thirty-sixth president, owned three beagles named Him, Her, and Edgar. The British share our fascination with the breed as Queen Elizabeth I owned several pocket beagles, a pint-sized predecessor of the modern beagle. Additionally, beagles have appeared on the silver screen, in comic strips, and throughout the pages of favorite novels as loyal, loving companions.

A relatively small dog, the beagle proves a surprisingly versatile breed. First bred to assist their Roman masters on rabbit hunts, the modern beagle is the culmination of thousands of years of selective breeding. Their white-tipped tails were intended to serve as signal flags while tracking animals, and their long ears help beagles pick of even the faintest of scents. Their noses house an estimated 220 million scent receptors, an impressive article of anatomy considering humans only have about five million.

Many experts agree that the beagle remains the most vocal dog breed in existence. In fact, the English word beagle was originally derived from the breed’s French moniker, begueule, meaning “open throat” or “loudmouth.” Beagles showcase three distinct vocalizations: the bark, the howl, and the bay.

The beagle fills a litany of labor positions. This breed’s keen sense of smell makes it a perfect security officer, often policing airports in search of contraband items in passengers’ luggage. The Department of Homeland Security has dubbed this canine crew the Beagle Brigade. Beagles also use their powerful noses to detect bedbugs and to aid biologists in determining if captive female bears are pregnant.

If considering the possibility of making a beagle part of your family, be aware that these athletic animals are master escape artists capable of scaling fences, burrowing under barriers, and even climbing trees! However, the beagle’s sweet demeanor and infectious energy make this dog an ideal addition to almost any household.


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World Sea Turtle Day

There seems to be a day for almost everything and the magnificent sea turtle has not been forgotten. June 16th is World Sea Turtle Day. Sea turtles are air-breathing reptiles which means they have to come to the surface of the water periodically. There are seven species and all are endangered.

Sea turtles are found in tropical or subtropical ocean waters all over the world. The only ocean where you won’t find them is the polar regions. Most of a sea turtle’s life is spent swimming in the oceans. Dozens of countries have the unique privilege of having their beaches used as the place the sea turtle will lay between 50 and 200 eggs. A unique thing about sea turtles is the sand determines the gender of the egg. If the temperature of the sand is cool, more males are hatched; if the temperature of the sand is warm, more females are hatched. The eggs incubate for approximately 60 days. It is very important that the eggs are not disturbed during this time. When the eggs hatch, hundreds of baby turtles race towards the ocean. Unfortunately, for many their life is cut short; they are eaten by various predators; crabs and gulls are just two of their enemies. Sea turtles serve a useful purpose, they help control the population of jellyfish, sponges, and other sea creatures.

The Leatherback is the largest of the seven. It is between 4 and 8 feet long and weighs somewhere in the range of 500 to 2,000 pounds. Leatherbacks eat jellyfish exclusively.

The Green sea turtle is right behind the Leatherback in size. It is about 4 feet long and weighs up to 500 pounds. Green sea turtles eat only plants. They act like a lawn mower keeping sea grass short so it remains healthy. The Green sea turtle is the only one of the seven that basks in the sun. It likes the shores of the Northwestern Hawaiian Island chain, the Galapagos Islands, and Australia.

The Loggerhead sea turtle can reach 4 feet in length and weigh around 400 pounds. It lives in the Pacific, Indian, and the Atlantic Oceans. From a human’s viewpoint, these sea turtles have an expensive appetite; they mainly eat crustaceans like lobster and crab. Loggerheads can be spotted from both coasts of the United States, but (in the USA) they only nest on the Atlantic beaches of Florida.

The Flatback turtle can weigh 200 pounds and reach 3 feet in length. It breeds and nests only in Australia. It lives in the tropical coastal waters of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Australia. It feeds on soft corals, shrimp, crabs, and seaweed.

The Hawksbill sea turtle weighs up to 100 pounds and can get up to three feet in length. It loves to eat sponges (natural ones that live in the water). Look for them in coral reefs, rocky areas, lagoons, mangroves, oceanic islands and shallow coastal areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The Olive Ridley sea turtle is the second smallest. It weighs up to 100 pounds and 2.5 feet long. Although it is small, it has a big appetite; it likes variety (crabs, shrimp, lobster, etc.). It lives mainly in the tropical waters of the three oceans.

The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle is the smallest of the seven. It is about 2 feet long and weighs about 100 pounds. Its favorite food is crab. It lives in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean as far north as Nova Scotia. It primarily nests in Tamaulipas, Mexico.

We hear about swimming with the dolphins; how abut swimming with sea turtles!

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Fresh Faces

The StickerTalk family is proud to announce the addition of two new members! Allow us to introduce you to StickerTalk’s latest recruits:

Peyton Garner is a recent honor graduate of Buna High School’s Class of 2019. In addition to graduating with honors, Peyton was also the president of the BHS chapter of Christians in Action and a member of the National Honor Society. Peyton served as Second Lieutenant of Buna High School’s drill team and competed with the BHS powerlifting team. Peyton will continue her education this fall at Lamar State College Orange where she will complete her basic courses, working towards her dream of becoming a physical therapy assistant.

Hannah Dawson is beginning her senior year at Buna High School as a member of the Class of 2020. Hannah is an avid participant in the BHS band program, serving as flute section leader and performing as a twirler. Hannah is also a member of Buna High School’s chapter of the National Honor Society. After graduation, Hannah hopes to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant or an accountant.

Both of our new members showcase natural optimism and devotion to excellence, characteristics sure to make a positive impact on our team as they continue their training and take their place in the StickerTalk family.

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A Brush with Baking

Journalist Regina Brett once stated, “If baking is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation.” Indeed, the art of has manifested in many forms during this generational transfer. Archaeologists combing the ruinous remains of ancient Egypt have recovered an early form of yeast utilized to bake an archaic variation of sourdough bread. Experts have also uncovered evidence that ancient Roman bakers were the first to formulate a recipe for cheesecake, a creamy concoction still enjoyed today. Ancient Greeks proved especially fond of pudding. However, the pudding of ancient Greece strays far from our modern understanding of pudding as a sweet treat; Greece’s bygone bakers prepared their puddings by stuffing animal organs with meat and grain. This meaty meal can be consumed in modern Britain where bakers are famous for their kidney and steak puddings.

Modern bakers continue to conjure a variety of interesting ingredients to create culinary masterpieces. Japanese chefs have earned worldwide fame by infusing their sweet treats with pit viper venom, an ingredient the chefs take much care in obtaining. In fact, these brave creators coat their bodies in ice cream to prevent the pit vipers from using their heat-sensing ability to strike their human handlers. During the 1800s, pineapples represented a status symbol as only the wealthiest families could afford to import this exotic fruit. Historical records show that members of the lower class could rent a pineapple to display as a centerpiece at gatherings to create an illusion of supposed splendor. Of course, desserts containing pineapples were coveted as a luxury few could savor. Prior to the American Civil War, baking took on a political hue as debate ensued over the ethicality of a common baking ingredient: cane sugar. Because cane sugar was largely produced by slave laborers, many abolitionist bakers opted to substitute maple syrup in the place of cane sugar.

Bakers have remained a determined lot, creating and breaking a plethora of world records. Bakers in Canada produced the world’s largest chocolate brownie. This sugary behemoth weighed in at over two tons. Not to be outdone by the neighbors to the north, Texan bakers constructed a life-sized gingerbread house calculated to contain a whopping thirty-five million calories. In 2014, the largest cake to ever exit an oven appeared in international headlines, a confection containing two hundred and sixty layers.

Baking has also been integrated into the world of medicine. Renaissance physicians borrowed the marshmallow to treat sore throats… no pun intended! Although no longer an accepted practice, the pharmacists of yesteryear took to the kitchen to produce marzipan as an aid to patients suffering from poor health. Additionally, psychologists have divined a method for utilizing a person’s choice of pie to reveal key aspects of their personality. For example, those preferring chocolate pie are defined by their loving nature, while lovers of apple pie tend to be practical.


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Cryptic Critters

Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster: all of these fabled figures are classified as cryptids. Experts in this field of study, called cryptozoologists, define a cryptid as an unusual animal that appears in folklore but careens outside the accepted limits of scientific possibility; meager amounts of evidence often support the idea of a cryptid’s existence. While many cryptozoology enthusiasts regard Bigfoot as the holy grail of their impossible quest, a plethora of additional crafty creatures have allegedly eluded the scientific community for centuries on end, offering an opportunity for imagination and discovery for those adventurous enough to dream.

The cadborosaurus, nicknamed Caddy, is most frequently spotted in the waters of the North American West. From the sandy beaches of California to the icy realm of the Inuits, the cadborosaurus is frequently described by eyewitnesses as a titanic sea serpent with the head of a camel. Many believe this aquatic giant to be a survivor from primeval eras, a living dinosaur. Perhaps the most notable evidence for Caddy’s existence was recovered in 1937 in Naden Harbor, Canada, when whalers discovered what could be the remains of a cadborosaurus. However, the sample disappeared before experts could examine the body, leaving details of Caddy’s actuality subject to speculation.

The mokele-mbembe represents another enigma of the animal kingdom. A possible relative of the Loch Ness Monster, this prehistoric creature is rumored to roam the jungles of the central Africa. Witnesses characterize the mokele-mbembe as a dinosaur-like reptile with a lengthy neck and tail. Some even describe a single horn protruding from this cryptid’s head, intended for defense against the area’s hostile elephants. The mokele-mbembe supposedly frequents the Congo’s waterways, especially Lake Tele. According to folklore, this living fossil dwells in caves it carves out in riverbanks. Although the mokele-mbemebe is rumored to keep a herbivorous diet, this cryptid proves extremely territorial, fiercely warding off any human unfortunate enough to trespass in its domain. While the reality of the mokele-mbembe’s existence is only bolstered by eyewitness accounts, it continues to captivate both locals and inquisitive visitors from abroad with its unmatched mystique.

The thylacine, although now considered a cryptid, once freely roamed the wilderness of Australia and Tasmania. Also called the Tasmanian tiger, this carnivorous marsupial angered the region’s sheep ranchers by preying on domestic flocks; in retaliation, ranchers relentlessly hunted the thylacine. Experts declared this species extinct after the last known thylacine died in captivity in 1936. Hundreds of sightings have poured in since the late 1930s, but biologists have yet to discover conclusive evidence that the thylacine still exists. If you ever find yourself in untamed Tasmania, be on the lookout for a small, dog-like animal with light brown fur and about sixteen black stripes across its back.


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Live It Up With Our New Light Dots™!

Light dots

Businessman Neil Blumenthal once said, “Creativity flows when curiosity is stoked.” Here at StickerTalk, our curiosity was recently piqued when Great Smoky Mountains National Park reached out to us concerning a unique opportunity for ingenuity. This picturesque national park sponsors an observatory event centered around the synchronous firefly, an illuminating insect native to the Smokies. Because the synchronous firefly is nocturnal, allowing its brilliant bioluminescence to be easily admired, visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park often utilize the LED flashlights on their cell phones to find their way through the firefly’s dark habitat when searching for an ideal spot to view this natural light display. However, the bright lights tend to disturb the fireflies, leading park officials to request that firefly watchers wrap their phones’ flashlights with red or blue cellophane; colored light seems to eliminate most human-caused agitation to the fireflies during their light show. However, this arrangement proved cumbersome at best. The solution? Enter StickerTalk Light Dots™!

The talented design team at StickerTalk harnessed their curiosity to engineer a brand-new product. Printed on a special transparent vinyl, our Light Dots™ act as a color filter to your smart phone’s LED flashlight, adding a pop of color to the flashlight’s beam. Our red Light Dots™ will be distributed this year by rangers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park before the synchronous firefly viewing begins, making it easier for park guests to navigate the landscape without bothering the wildlife.

The uses for our new Light Dots™ are not confined to the great outdoors. Use a Light Dot™ to achieve the perfect lighting for that social media selfie, or apply a colorful Light Dot™ to your phone’s flashlight before waving it to the strains of your favorite band’s new song at the next concert you attend. Stack multiple dots on your flashlight for a richer, deeper color. Also, you can remove a dot and then stick it back on several times before it needs replacement. Whether you’re enjoying a concert, snapping selfies, taking in a firefly display, or simply adding some flair to your tech, our new Light Dots™ are the perfect product for any occasion!


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How High Will It Go

Twirling has been around forever. Once upon a time, although It isn’t documented, somewhere a long time ago someone put something between their fingers and spun it around, tossed it in the air, and caught it; twirling was invented! Today, people twirl batons (some lighted and some with fire), spin knives, fire knives, rifles, flags, and maces (a type of club made of wood or metal).  Some of these are not for the faint-hearted.

Originally, very few women were twirlers. WWII opened the way for females and they quickly outnumbered men in this sport. As men joined the military, women took their place and they remain the dominate gender in twirling today. In recent years, more males are discovering the physical power and skill needed to be a competitive twirler. They are returning to this demanding sport bringing their own style with them.

Twirling is a sport that is a combination of several other sports. Along with mastering twirling skills, twirlers must learn how to march and do basic gymnastic and dance moves. Just like all sport competitors, twirlers put in long hours learning and refining their skills. They have to look graceful while doing something that is physically demanding to their body. Like skaters have to keep moving on the ice, twirlers have to keep what they are twirling constantly moving.  Gymnasts do cartwheels, backflips, splits, and illusions. Twirlers do these moves while keeping what they are twirling in motion. Skaters, gymnasts, and twirlers incorporate dance moves into their routines and have to be able to interpret music so the music and moves flow together. They make it look easy, but it isn’t.  

When it’s time for the competition, parade, or other event, twirlers perform in glittering costumes, simple outfits consisting of shorts or long pants and a top, or something in-between.  One constant is a continuous smile. Very few see the bruises, burns, cuts, blistered feet, and bleeding nails. Sore muscles are a norm and broken bones do happen. Like all athletes, the love of the sport makes enduring these things worthwhile.

The United States Twirling Association (USTA) and the National Baton Twirling Association (NBTA) sponsor twirling competitions. The World Baton Twirling Federation (WBTF) governs the sport on an International level. Competition categories include solo, pairs, and teams. Twirling is ahead of other sports as far as recognizing genders to be equal in sporting competition.  Males and females compete separately in solo (one baton). In two and three baton events they compete against each other. Judges score competitors on difficulty, variety of tricks, technique, gracefulness, showmanship, and routine flow. Participating in competitions provides an opportunity to make lasting friendships with other twirlers from all over the world. An added bonus is the possibility for traveling is endless.

Colleges and universities recognize the value this sport has to their institute and offer twirling scholarships. The website provides a list of colleges and additional information on scholarships. The website also gives the names of twirling organizations in numerous countries.

Twirling is a physically demanding sport done in countries all over the world, yet it is not an Olympic sport. Many who love to watch twirling would like to see it as an Olympic event. Maybe it will be in the future.
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Wyoming’s Wilderness

Wyoming State Flag Magnet

In 1890, Congress and President Harrison officially annexed Wyoming into the Union as the 44th state. Nicknamed the Equality State, Wyoming has gained national renown for being the first state to grant its female citizens the right to vote; however, Wyoming’s rich history began long before its establishment as a member of the United States. In this edition of The StickerTalk, we invite you to lace up your hiking boots and join us on an expedition into Wyoming’s natural wonders.

A land famous for its breathtaking natural beauty, Wyoming is the home of America’s first national monument, Devils Tower National Monument. Native American legend claims the distinctive marks down the sides of Devils Tower were caused by bears attempting to scale the butte. When President Theodore Roosevelt signed the proclamation that established this unique landmark as a national monument, he forgot to add a possessive apostrophe to the name, making the official name “Devils Tower” instead of “Devil’s Tower” as intended. This typo has yet to be corrected.

Perhaps the most famous animal in Wyoming is Steamboat, a bronco that bucked his way into the state’s history books. Named for the whistling noise he made while bucking, Steamboat was born in Wyoming in 1896. For the remainder of his life, Steamboat was called “the horse that couldn’t be ridden,” throwing even the best bronco busters who attempted to break him. To honor his contributions to Wyoming’s culture, Steamboat is pictured on state license plates and on Wyoming’s commemorative quarter.

Nature has also provided the workforce of Wyoming with a steady source of job security: coal mines. Wyoming’s first coal mine was opened in 1867 near the town of Carbon. Near the end of the 20th century, Wyoming led the nation in coal production, producing a staggering three million tons per week! Today, the largest coal mine in America is the Black Thunder mine on the outskirts of Wright, Wyoming.

Considered to be a myth by skeptics, the jackalope hails from the city of Douglas, Wyoming. A cross between an extinct species of deer and a predatory rabbit, the jackalope sports a pair of antelope-like antlers and is rumored to run at incredible speeds up to ninety miles an hour. Cowboys of the Old West also claimed the jackalope possesses the ability to imitate human voices and enjoyed engaging in their campfire sing-alongs on the open range.


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The StickerTalk Celebrates Mother’s Day

Mothers Day

Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once stated, “The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father.” This sentiment is nationally celebrated on Mother’s Day each year. However, long before Mother’s Day became an official American holiday, maternal love and support was honored in a variety of primitive forms. Perhaps the earliest version of Mother’s Day occurred in ancient Greece. Worshippers celebrated Rhea, the mythical mother of many of the Greeks’ gods and goddesses, during a spring festival staged in her honor. Borrowing from Greek tradition, the Romans dedicated the Ides of March to the reverence of Cybele, a maternal goddess in the Roman religion; this spring celebration, called Hilaria, spanned three days and involved parades, masquerades, and visits to the temple.

Millenia later, American activists began campaigning for national recognition of the self-sacrificing contributions of mothers. These early feminists included such historical figures as Julia Ward, the lyricist behind “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and social pioneer Ann Jarvis. Julia Ward launched a successful crusade for the city of Boston to recognize the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day. Ann Jarvis’s campaign for Mother’s Day to gain national attention began after the Civil War. Jarvis worked to unite mothers on both sides of the conflict. Although Jarvis passed away before Mother’s Day became a national holiday, her daughter Anna Reeves Jarvis spearheaded a movement that resulted in President Woodrow Wilson officially recognizing Mother’s Day in 1914.

Today, Mother’s Day has spawned a multi-billion dollar industry; an excess of twenty-three billion dollars were spent celebrating the holiday in 2018. Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year for restaurant as about 87 million people treated their mother to an effortless meal last year. The most popular gift for mothers tend to be the greeting card, and the carnation typically serves as the official flower of Mother’s Day. No matter the gift, take some time to celebrate the women who love you this Mother’s Day!


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All First Time Parents Feel the Same Way

The fun has just begun for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. On May 6, 2019, a baby boy was born to Meghan and Harry. They might be English royalty, but today they are experiencing the same emotions as all first-time parents. Immediately after giving birth, Meghan might have felt overjoyed with happiness, exhausted, and drained. How might Harry have felt? He expressed to the news media he, “was over the moon!”

May 6 begins the “bonding” of these three who are connected for life. Bonding (forming a deep connection) is pleasurable for infant and parents. Meghan, like many mothers, might feel she and her son started bonding while he was in the womb. With each kick, hiccup, and summersault, mother and son grew closer. Once Meghan and Harry held their newborn son for the first time, the emotion of love must have intensified. The physical acts of cradling and gently stroking their son will promote an emotional attachment. Infants, children, teens, and adults thrive on feeling unconditional love. A newborn is never spoiled by being held.

What might the first week Meghan and Harry bring their son home be like? Their life might be hectic at times, their daily plans changed within minutes, and they might yearn for eight or more hours of uninterrupted sleep. It is important that the three of them take time each day to bond. This is a special time for them to relax and hold each other and grow closer.

Their daily routine might consist of:  changing diapers 10 or more times a day, feeding their son every 2 or 3 hours and burping him (over time they will know how often they need to burp him and what position is best), and letting him listen to music, singing, and talking. While he is asleep, they will check on him often to ensure he is still breathing. Even though hiccups are normal and cause no discomfort to a baby, Meghan and Harry will probably hold their son to let him know they are there to protect him. All babies cry, sometimes they have a reason and sometimes the parents cannot figure out why. It’s those times Harry and Meghan might feel helpless and frustrated. It won’t take them long though to learn what soothes him. One reason a newborn will cry is overstimulation caused by too much commotion or activity. With all the visitors the first week, it will be important for Harry and Meghan to remember this and keep visitors to a minimum. When it comes to visitors, they might feel it in the best interest of their son to tactfully remind visitors to wash their hands before touching their little bundle of joy. Newborns have a weak immune system and are susceptible to infection.

Each day Meghan and Harry will be excited, proud, and anxious to see what new experiences this little person will bring them. By the end of the first week, their confidence with handling the daily needs of this love of their life will have grown.

Welcome little one from everyone at StickerTalk.
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Gardening is Good for the Soul

Everyone at some time feels stressed to the max and everyone has their own way of dealing with it. One of the best stress releasers is gardening. We all know the saying, “bigger is better,” but when it comes to a therapeutic garden, size does not matter. What is important is the time you spend working in it and enjoying it. At times we feel we have no control over our life. Sowing, weeding, raking, and trimming will give you a feeling of control, control over your garden. Gardening will become a satisfying experience.

Interacting with nature, brings a healing affect; it gives you physical and mental well-being. Some have the time and yard space to maintain an English garden with paths and lots of texture, fragrance, color, shape, sound, and possibly taste. Others with limited time and space find pleasure with maintaining containers or raised beds. They provide the same relaxing pleasure of texture, fragrance, color, shape, sound, and possibly taste found in spacious gardens, but on a much smaller scale.

Spend time moving the dirt around in your garden or container. Take those gardening gloves off and feel the earth between your fingers. Think about the texture, what is mixed in with the dirt like small rocks or an earthworm. Look for a hidden treasure as you sift through it; you might find an old button, a penny, a lollypop stick, or even a lost gold chain from years past.

Put your nose down into the center of the flower and take a deep, long breath. Take in the fragrance of each flower. Think about how different each flower smells; some have a sweet scent and others give off a musky fragrance. You need only to stand close to some flowers and their scent is so strong you can smell them from a distance. Others, you will get as close as you can to them, but because their scent is so faint there is hardly any frangrance.

Study the variety of colors. Yellow is not one yellow. Red is not one red. Notice how they vary in shade? There is pale yellow that seems almost white. There is bright yellow like the sun. There is lemon yellow, banana yellow, pear yellow, etc. Red goes from a deep almost black red to a light pinkish-red. There is bright red like a golden delicious apple. All colors have a multitude of shades. Look for them. Look at how they blend with each other and other colors.

Studying the leaves is also calming. Count the numerous colors of green. Look for the leaves with yellow or brown on them. Some might be spotted because of disease. When you discover new growth, rejoice knowing life is continuing.

Look at the pedals on the flowers. You will find some that form a tubular flower, some are spread wide exposing the seeds that will eventually drop to make new plants, others are wavy almost looking like lace, and still others fold over each other forming a tight ball.

Gently break a leaf off and listen to the sound; did it snap? Rub your finger nail across the leaf; did it sound rough?

Some flowers are edible. If you have some in your garden, taste them. Think about the flavor they leave in your mouth.

Find pleasure in your garden. Let it bring you calmness and peace.

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Gone Fishing

Bass fishing has become a multibillion-dollar industry. Professional fishermen are no different than other sports professionals; they are constantly looking for the best gear they can afford. Just like there are numerous tennis rackets and golf clubs to choose from, there is a large selection of rods, lures, reels, lines, and electronic depth and fish-finding instruments. Bass fishermen invest as much as possible in the type of boat they purchase to throw their line over. The industry sells specific boats designed exclusively for bass fishing. If that is too big of a ticket item, many will purchase a kayak with a trolling motor. Kayaks allow the fishermen to fish in places large boats cannot access.  Drift boats, canoes, and John boats are also used.

There are different types of bass, but it is the black bass, of which there are several species, that is considered game fish. The largemouth black bass is the most popular freshwater game fish in America. A black bass over 8 inches is classified as a largemouth bass. Insects, baitfish, treadfin shad, gizzard shad, and crawfish make up the main diet of the largemouth bass. The best time to fish for bass is when they feed which is at dawn and at dusk. (Smallmouth bass are under 8 inches and eat insects, baitfish, and crawfish.) Largemouth bass are native to the United States, Canada, and Mexico. They were introduced to Japan in 1925. Since 1925 other countries have imported them; they can now be found in 67 countries.

Bass fishing is a huge sport in North America and other countries. Russia, China, and France (plus Japan) are just a few of the countries where fishing for largemouth bass has become an established sport. Many fishermen still use the old-fashioned plastic worm for bait and it works well. Different fishing techniques are used to catch bass. Dragging is used with spinning and casting gear. The boat moves slowly and the fishermen can cover a lot of territory. This technique works well in deep water. The simple, yet effective, technique other fishermen favor is the drop-shot which can be done using all types of rods and reels. A third technique is called the shaky head. The bait is usually a plastic worm on a jig head with a long shank hook.

The world’s largest tournament-fishing organization is the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW). Its members are made up of the USA, Canada, Portugal, China, Italy, South Korea, and Spain.

Bass tournaments are held in 30 of the original 48 states in the USA. Many of the top bass professional sports fishermen from Japan and other countries travel to America to enter the tournaments there.  Tournaments are not only open to professionals; there are tournaments for beginners and youth also. The Bassmaster Classic is a world-wide competition (professional fishermen from Japan and other countries participate) and the winner is honored with the title of World Champion! 

If you are just looking for a relaxing day by the water, grab a tree branch, tie a thick string to one end, attach a worm to the other end, and toss it in the water over a river bank. There is nothing better than a day to say, “gone fishing”!

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What the Inside of Your Car Says About You

When people open your car door do food wrappers, soda cans, water bottles, etc., come tumbling out? Or, when someone opens your car door will they find a clean seat waiting for them? People will size you up by the contents of your car. Even if the outside has just been run through the car wash, if the inside is a mess you will be judged by that impression.

Various psychologists have come to the following conclusions of what the inside or your vehicle tells others about you. They might be correct or way off base when it comes to you personally; you decide.


Before a passenger can sit down, you have to take time to clear the seat of your personal possessions (clothes, books, laptop). You don’t value your personal things.


When using a vehicle for business and driving clients around (realtor, Uber), a messy inside could be a deterrent to customers, especially if this is their first time to meet you. A car cluttered with business paperwork and other business supplies leaves people thinking you are not responsible or efficient. Just taking a little time to make sure the inside of your vehicle is clean could bring you increased sales.


If the inside of your vehicle is full of food and drink containers, you are a slob and don’t care about your or others health and cleanliness.  Who wants to worry about sitting on a sticky seat or touching a fast food carton that still has half of a week old sandwich.


Every vehicle should have an emergency kit. Just make sure it contains items that are needed in a true emergency like bandages, alcohol wipes, first aid cream, and gauze bandages. If possible, keep the kit in the glove compartment or under a seat out of view. A tool that breaks the window (hopefully you will never need it) and a working flashlight are two things to keep in the front driver’s door compartment. Some people like to carry a blanket. If you are one of them, just be sure it is folded neatly and placed in a plastic container in the trunk so it stays clean. Do not stockpile canned or prepackaged food and water. If people see all this “stuff” in your trunk, they might think you are expecting dooms day to come any time.


Other items you do not want to keep in your vehicle are a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, and other things that you can buy at the nearest store if needed. If you feel compelled to care one or all of these personal care items, be sure they are out of the sight of your passengers. If they do not know you, it might cross their mind that you are living out of your car.


If you are a procrastinator when it comes to “convenience” car repairs, you need to think about the impression you are giving to others. For example, if your driver’s side window won’t go down anymore because the motor needs to be replaced, get it replaced as soon as you can afford it. You might view it as an inconvenience to go to the repair shop and you will get it done when you have extra time, but others might view it as you are broke; never a good message to send even if it is true. Successful people look successful before they become successful!

Remember, your vehicle inside and outside gives people an opinion of you; take time to make it a good one!
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The Life of the Photinus Carolinus (Synchronous Firefly)


I see a light in the distance,

It is a small light.

On, off, on, off,

Never stopping.

I try to get closer,

It flies away.

Someone says,

“put the light in a glass jar.”

Someone says,

“That’s cruel.”

I say,


It’s a light,

Just a light.”

Someone says, “not just a light,

it’s a synchronous firefly!”

I belong to the beetle family. Some of you might call me a lightning bug. I live in the forests in the western Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, USA, and the eastern part of the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, USA. Seek me out in cove forests (dense valleys between ridgelines) near a small stream and an undisturbed forest floor covered with fallen leaves. You will never find me in developed areas or areas with any amount of lamination.  My home is in the deep, dark forest. My life begins as larvae and during this stage I feed on small insects and snails. After one or two years I reach maturity, stop eating, and become a synchronous firefly. This is when my life changes completely; people from all over pour into the forest to see the enchanting light show put on by other male synchronous fireflies and me. We fly between 2 and 6 feet above the ground displaying synchronous flashes to attract females. Depending on the temperature and moisture in the soil, this will occur any time between the middle of May and the latter part of June. Usually though, it takes place the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June. My life span as an adult is approximately 21 days, but these are busy and important days if my species is to survive. I flash, I mate, and I die. The female stays on the ground (she cannot fly) where she gives faint flashes, mates, lays eggs, and dies. My life is completed.

If you are interested in viewing the synchronized firefly, the best way to see this breath-taking display of flashing illimitation is on one of several guided tours. The Elkmont Campground in Smoky Mountains National Park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is probably the most popular one. Because of the tremendous annual response, the park has instituted a lottery system for reserved places. If you do not have one of the lottery spots, you will be turned away. There is a guided tour also out of Ashville, North Carolina. This one sells out six months or more in advance each year. All the guided tours require some moderate hiking at night. At times, it will be pitch black in the forest. Certain environmental factors will cancel the tour because the fireflies may not flash. This could occur on cool nights when temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Earlier in the day if it rained and the evening is misty there is no guarantee the light show will take place. When there is a bright moon, the firefly show will start later than on crescent moon nights.

This light show is just another phenomenon of the wonders of nature God has provided for our enjoyment.
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Do You Have a Bunny Buddy?

Rabbits are popular pets. There are about four dozen domestic breeds to select from. Each breed has its own distinct characteristics. Rabbits range in size from 2-pound dwarfs to more than 20-pound gentle giants as some people like to describe them.

Owners of rabbits love to brag about how intelligent their pet is; just like any pet owner once they start sharing stories about their pet, they can’t be stopped. Many rabbits will respond to their name when called. Some recognize other words too. They are easy to litter box train; easier than cats rabbit owners will boast. Using repetition, rabbits can learn to do various things at their owner’s command (sounds like a trick performing rabbit).

Just like cats and dogs, rabbits come in a variety of fur types and colors. There are mixed breed rabbits too. These have very individual looks which might be why their owner fell in love with them. As they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” A mixed breed rabbit might have one ear up and one ear down. Others might have both ears out to the side. They must bring a cheery smile to their owner’s face each morning; how could they not?

For the safety of the pet rabbit (and the contents of the house) they need to have a cage or caged area in the home. But, to have a happy rabbit, it cannot stay in a cage all the time. All rabbits, no matter what their size, have lots of energy and need running room. They are quickly bored and must have things to entertain them or they will find a way to entertain themselves. For example, they like to chew and if not provided with ample toys they will chew on items their owner will not appreciate (table legs, shoes). Owners do not have to spend a lot of money on toys for their pet. Rabbits are happy with a simple cardboard carton or paper towel roll. Inexpensive baby toys, like plastic keys on a ring, will keep them busy for hours. Straw door mats that have not been treated with chemicals are a good purchase. Old towels or fabric will keep them occupied as well.

Each rabbit has its own personality. They can be aggressive, independent, or playful. Some just like to sit quietly and enjoy getting attention. Whatever the rabbit’s personality, they all require daily social interaction. One way to ensure they get this is to place their cage where people congregate.

Certain things will cause a rabbit to become highly stressed. One thing they don’t like is change. They do not want to be in unfamiliar surroundings so joining their owner on vacation is out of the question. They are definitely home-bodies! Small children can cause a rabbit stress also. When a small child reaches to grab a rabbit, the rabbit might become frightened and feel insecure. Seeing those outstretched arms coming at it, an alert goes up and the child is viewed as a predator. For this reason, it is important for adults to teach children the correct way to pick up a rabbit and carry it (specific instructions are on the web). If not, the rabbit could be seriously injured. The child also could be injured because a scared rabbit, acting in self-defense, might scratch or even bite this small human predator. With adult supervision though, children can learn how to lovingly treat a rabbit. As the child gets older, it will have a bunny-buddy for life.

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Piggy Wiggy Moves In

If you want a hypoallergenic pet that is not your ordinary cat or dog, think about a PIG! Before you run out and get one though, there are some important things to consider.

Let’s look at some positive things about owning a pet pig.  As stated before, pigs are hypoallergenic. They also do not shed which means less mess to clean up. Their life span can be up to 20 years. (This can be a positive or negative depending on the owner’s age.) Pigs need the mental stimulation of a typical three-year-old child. (Again, this can be a positive or a negative. If you already have a three-year-old in the house you might want to wait till that little person gets older.) You can provide stimulation by teaching them tricks. Pigs can learn to walk on a lease. Be sure to lather your pet in sunscreen on those daytime walks and take water to drink for you and your pet. Pigs are easily house trained.  If you already own a cat, pigs and cats get along well together. Pigs are social animals and hate to be alone. They will not bond with humans quickly, but they can eventually become your best buddy. They love to have their tummies rubbed and they love to snuggle. An annual trip to the vet for vaccinations and hoof trimming is all you need to plan for since pigs are generally clean and healthy animals. Be aware though, if the pig is allowed to get overweight, it can have leg problems.

The negatives to owning a pig are all things that can be worked with if you are willing to put in the time and make changes. Living in an apartment is a definite negative. So, unless you are willing to move to a place with a yard space for only your pig, forget pig ownership for now.  The reason for the outdoor space is because your pet pig, which does not sweat, needs to cool itself in a mud hole or a small wading pool. The mud also serves as a sunscreen. They have a natural instinct to root so they need to have a space of their own they can tear up. Pigs are territorial animals and will take over your home making it theirs. It is imperative to let the pig know you are the leader of the pack or they will become aggressive towards you feeling they are in control. Pigs do not like to be alone for long periods of time. If no one is home during the day you might want to get two pigs. If left alone inside a house they have been known to rip up carpets, eat drywall, and turn over plant and trash containers. They can learn to open the refrigerator and cabinets looking for food. Pigs love to eat! They love fruits and vegetables and your local livestock store sells food specially mixed for pigs. If you have a cat or dog, never leave their food where the pig can eat it. There is too much protein in cat food and dog food for pigs and it will be harmful to them. Dogs are a natural predator of pigs so think about this if you already own a dog or are planning to get one.

Be sure to check the zoning ordnances in your area to make sure you can own livestock as pets. Also, check to make sure there is a veterinarian close to your home who will treat pigs. Pigs do not do well when feeling stressed and can get pneumonia which can kill them. If your pig is not spayed or neutered when you get it, it is to your benefit to have it done. Females that are not spayed can develop urine problems. Plus, they can have their first litter after three months. Males that are not neutered will leave a musky scent on clothes and furniture.

After learning about the positives and negatives of having a pig for a pet and you still want to give it a try, look for your new pet at an animal shelter. Shelters make sure the pig is healthy and well-socialized before letting it be adopted. An older pig will have reached its full growth so you will know the size your pet will be when you leave the shelter. The normal size for a pig is 600 pounds. The reason so many people bring their pig to a shelter is because they find out mini in pig size isn’t really mini. They purchase a mini pig weighing between 20 and 30 pounds not knowing there are 15 to 20 breeds of mini pigs that range from 150 to 180 pounds when fully grown. If you purchase your mini pig from a breeder and they show you the parents who are still small, do not let the parents size deceive you. Pigs can have their first litter at three months of age, long before they are fully grown which can take up to five years.

Pigs are not the pet of choice for most people, but they make great companions for many.
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You Get a Line, I’ll Get a Pole

Fishing has served as a form of recreation for thousands of years. Countless anglers flood to lakes, rivers, and oceans each year in attempt to land a legendary catch, making fishing one of the most popular pastimes across the nation. In this edition of The StickerTalk, we invite you to grab your tackle box and reel in a fresh catch of fishing fun facts!

Many ancient societies depended on fishing as a source of food and relaxation. Ancient Egyptians fished the blue waters of the Nile, an action depicted on the intricately painted walls of their burial chambers. Archaeological evidenced suggests that the anglers of ancient Egypt employed nets, harpoons, and the familiar line and hook to catch fish. Ancient Grecians, on the other hand, held fishermen in disdain. They believed that the unglamorous nature of angling warranted a much humbler rank in their social hierarchy.

Besides providing an opportunity for carefree contemplation, fishing also represents a thriving field of agriculture. An estimated 21 million people earn livings as anglers, and an additional 200 million depend on the practice of fishing for sustenance and revenue. Chinese fishing fleets comprise the world’s largest fishing industry.

While many anglers have found their niche in fishing for smaller species, extreme participants of the sport seek out larger quarry. The largest recorded fish caught was a white shark reel in off the coast of Australia. This colossal catch weighed in at 2,664 pounds. The angler who landed this frightening fish reportedly used a porpoise as bait.

Unsurprisingly, fishing offers a plethora of health benefits. Fishing can improve strength and muscle tone if an angler frequently reels in large catches. Improved balance and stamina may also appear in avid anglers. The psychological advantages of fishing include decreased levels of anxiety, quality bonding time with family and friends, and heightened senses of patience and self-reliance.


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Saving Memories

My first camera was called a Brownie even though it was black. It came with a strap that hung around my neck and when I waked it bounced up and down. I would insert a roll of film, take 12 picture and take the roll to the store where they would develop it. Each picture was a mystery until it was printed. Unlike digital cameras today, there was no way to view the picture before printing.

I had a 10” by 13” scrapbook where I kept my pictures. I would dip a wooden popsicle stick into a jar of milky white paste, smear the back of each picture with a generous portion and permanently adhere the picture to the construction like paper in the album. Along with my photos I included memorabilia like napkins from various places, dried flowers from a neighbor’s yard, postcards from places I went and postcards from friends. There was a small braid of my hair, some of my school report cards, and articles and pictures I cut out of magazines. With the turn of each page I would see memories I wanted to remember and share with others. For each memorabilia I included a few sentences about it. Today this is called journaling.  I never knew what I was doing had been around for centuries.

In the 15th century in England people created what was called “commonplace books” where recipes, poems, quotes, letters, and other things the owner of each book wanted to keep indefinitely were housed.  By the 19th century, women were creating scrapbooks to document their daily life. Playbills, tickets stubs, and small trinkets were added to the items mentioned above that were saved in “commonplace books.”

Today, scrapbooking is a hobby extremely popular in the United Kingdom and the United States, with over 4 million scrapbookers in the United States alone. People spend billions of dollars on scrapbooking supplies like brads, ribbons, embellishments, stickers, glitter, and paper in all sizes, weights, and colors. An added value to the scrapbook is handwritten journaling. This opened up the need for journaling supplies. Scrapbookers insisted on archival quality materials and the business industry complied.

By the 21st century approximately 1,600 companies were making scrapbooking products. There are magazines full of scrapbooking ideas and retail stores specializing in scrapbooking items. Many of the stores provide a room for “scrappers” to meet together and share ideas and supplies while working on their scrapbook pages.  Scrapbookers can gather together to share their craft at conventions, retreats, and even cruises.

Some people contribute the growth of scrapbooking to the increase of interest in genealogy. People want to preserve their personal and family history for future generations. It’s like having a time capsule filled with things you want the future generations to know were important to you.

With the digital age here, computer generated pictures, journaling and printed scrapbooks are becoming popular with the younger generation.

If you scrapbook the original way or digital, on each page you are creating a little bit of you. There is no right or wrong to make a scrapbook. Be creative, be yourself, be the person you want others to remember. That’s what Mark Twain did. His scrapbooks contained souvenirs, clippings, and pictures of his travels.

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Should I Walk or Should I Run?

Walking and running are great ways to get up out of that chair and do something that benefits YOU. The one you choose depends on the benefits you want to receive and how active you are currently. Let’s explore each separately.


There is the “stop and smell the roses walker.” This walker does not follow a strict routine; the pace is relaxed and leisurely. The walker can stop to chat with others, take a coffee break, and plop down on a bench along the way and take in the beauty around them. The length and amount of time for each walk can be different. This type of walking relieves stress and calms the emotions.

The second type of walker is the “recreational walker.” They keep a steady pace when walking, but do not do it religiously on a set schedule; structure would take the recreation out of the activity. This type of walking, like the first type listed, can be done spontaneously. No specific outfit is needed so it is a great lunch time stress-releaser. A good pair of walking shoes are a must to prevent injury.

The “brisk walker” takes walking seriously. A set schedule is maintained and goals are set. Brisk walking is an excellent moderate intensity exercise for reducing health risks. Walking at a brisk pace for 45 minutes will help burn away the dreaded belly fat that accumulates around the heart and liver.

The last type of walker is the “racewalker” who participates in marathons. Like any competitive sport, racewalkers train constantly to be the best in their specific category of competition.

Overall, walkers experience few injuries. It is a low impact exercise so the knees do not take a beating. Walking done at a brisk speed and regularly can reduce the risk of hypertension, diabetes, and cholesterol. Walking provides cardiovascular health benefits too.


There is no such thing as a “stop and smell the roses runner” or a “recreational runner.” Running is serious business and cannot be done sporadically. There are “marathon runners” who thrive on the challenge of competition.  Training for a marathon requires discipline in all aspects of living. Long hours are dedicated to preparing for it. Diet restrictions must be adhered to daily.

Someone who is sedentary should start with brisk walking and advance to running. To prevent injury and to benefit from running, a regular schedule should be followed. Runners set personal goals for distance and time for completing that distance.

Because running is strenuous on the body, common injuries runners suffer are runner’s knee, hamstring strains, and shin splits. This is why they purchase the best running shoes they can afford.  Outfits specifically designed for running are another investment they make.

Running can aide in weight loss, reduce the risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Running boosts energy levels, improves mood, and cardiovascular health.

Whichever form of exercise you decide on, the important thing is to get up from that chair and move!
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Enigmas of Easter

Hearts God Love Cross Sticker

A commemoration common to an overwhelming majority of Christian denominations, Easter celebrates the ultimate triumph of Jesus Christ over the power of evil and death. Always falling on between March and April 25, Easter is observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring, a patterned determined by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Although the origins of the religious aspects of Easter typically remain unchallenged, the history of the holiday’s non-scriptural facets prove a mystery of tradition.

While the genesis of brightly dyed Easter eggs is difficult to trace, many scholars believe that the tradition of Easter eggs originated in Medieval Europe. One common theory holds that Medieval Christians would hard boil all eggs gathered during Lent to preserve the eggs until the fast was completed. When Lent was fulfilled, Christians would either enjoy these boiled eggs or offer them as an Easter gift of goodwill to those who could not afford to own their own chickens.

Another popular opinion claims that the Easter egg sprang from pagan origins. Anglo-Saxons equated the symbol of the egg with life and rebirth and utilized the egg in rituals celebrating the arrival of spring. Of course, the theme of resurrection was not lost on Christians who easily adapted this form of pagan revelry into a metaphor of worship.

In spite of the complexity of the Easter egg’s inception, the origin of the Easter bunny is relatively undisputed. A tradition ferried over the Atlantic by German immigrants, German folklore describes the existence of an egg-laying rabbit known as the Osterhase. German settlers, primarily in Pennsylvania, encouraged their children to build nests for the Osterhase so that it would leave behind a gift of brilliantly-hued eggs. While it remains indefinite why the hare was chosen as the symbolic bearer of Easter eggs, a prevailing theory points to the Germanic belief that bunnies are born with their eyes already open, a characteristic associated with eternal life.

No matter the tradition or custom, all Easter celebrations point towards Calvary, a symbol of everlasting hope and unfailing love.


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Smiles spread happiness! Smiles spread goodwill! Smiles spread the feeling of peace! People of every age, nationality, language, and race speak the universal language of a smile. These facts and other facts have been confirmed by studies conducted at several universities.

The brain does not know the difference between a fake smile and a smile that started in your heart. So, when you are not in a smiling mood, smile. Others will smile back. You will find your blasé attitude disappearing. This is because your entire body is affected in a positive way. Smiles tell your body: things are good, go ahead and relax, and there is no reason to be stressed. When your body thinks this, your heart rate slows down, your blood pressure lowers, and your brain feels happy. With each smile, the production of the stress hormone cortisol is reduced significantly. Smiling releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin into the bloodstream. These are good for you. In fact, endorphins are a natural pain killer. So, even though you don’t feel like smiling when you are in pain (who would), try to smile and you will find you can handle the pain easier. Sounds silly, but it works. Smiling also helps the immune system to function more efficiently with the release of neurotransmitters. Smiling can brighten your outlook on the future.

Another reason to smile is smiling can add years to your life. With each smile you exercise the facial muscles which lift the face; thus, smiles make you look younger and you appear more attractive. When you feel tired or depressed, a big smile will hide it from others.

People like to surround themselves with positive people. When you smile, people see that positive person; they see that person they want to be around and get to know better. They also see a confident person they can trust. They view a person who smiles as a fun-loving person and an optimistic person.

Smiles can be your friend in the work place. Your smile will make those around you feel comfortable and at ease. Smile when introduced to someone new. Smile when you are on an interview. Smile at your customers. Smile at business meetings. One thing to remember though, do not smile too much or at the wrong times. If you do, your smile will have a negative influence.

With the invention of the ultrasound, it was discovered babies smile in the womb. Why babies smile before birth has not been determined. Maybe they are thinking about all the pranks they are going to play on their parents! What is known though is, we do not have to learn to smile; smiling is a natural function.

We unconsciously smile when someone smiles at us. When you see an infant or young  child smile at you, you spontaneously smile back. The smile isn’t planned, it just happens. Smiles are contagious.  If you don’t believe it, just smile and watch others smile back!
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Not Your Ordinary Balloon

It doesn’t matter what your age is, what your social background is, or what country you reside in; everyone loves balloons! This blog is not about big commercial balloons that float high over skyscrapers in holiday parades. It is about balloons that are twisted into various shapes right before your eyes. They appear at numerous public and private events like parties, fairs, restaurants, hospitals, and assisted living homes. The audience is mesmerized by each twist and turn of the balloon. Unknowingly some hold their breath with each twist and let their breath out with each turn. They wait anxiously for the creation to appear in its finished form. Some in the audience cannot contain themselves and start yelling out dog, giraffe, flower, sword, etc., whatever they think will be the finished creation.

People who create art with balloons have several descriptive titles (balloon benders, balloon artist, and twisters, but the technical name is balloonologist. Whatever name you refer to them by, they are people who twist special modeling balloons into various sculptures. The sculpture can be made using a single balloon or multiple balloons; how many balloons are used to make one creation depends on how elaborate the shape. Twisters use Qualatex 260Q modeling balloons. The numbers tell you the balloon is 2 inches in girth and 60 inches long. Very seldom do you see a balloon bender using lung power to blow up balloons. It is quicker (and more sanitary) to use a hand pump. To really speed things up, many use a dual action pump which propels air when pushed in as well as when it is pulled out.

Serious balloonologists attend conventions where they can take instructional classes to fine-tune their skills. Balloon sculpturing is an art and, like all art, can be frustrating at times for the artist. The conventions provide a great way to form friendships with other twisters from around the world and share business information and concerns.

There are elaborate sculpture competitions. Participants come from Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States. The balloon entrees can be very sophisticated. The sculpture can have sound. It can have button activated movement. It can have tape, glue, wire, paint, and other decorations attached. The balloon artist can select from numerous categories for the competition. The size of the balloon sculpture is one determining factor.

Today balloon art can be a high paying career. It takes years though to reach this level. Corporate clients pay thousands of dollars for high-end balloon twisting entertainment. There is a demand, like ice sculpturing, for elaborate balloon sculpture displays at various social and corporate events.

Balloon artists have shared their techniques by posting videos on the Internet.  They are fascinating and entertaining. A fun family activity could be to watch a video on how to make a sword or dog (these are good for beginners) and then make one together. A balloonologist in the making might just be discovered.
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The Flute’s Flights of Fancy

A musical instrument transcending generations, cultures, and traditions, the flute has proven a staple of auditory artistry for centuries. While the anatomy of the instrument varies from setting to setting, all flutes are essentially an open tube that creates sound when the musician blows air into it. Of course, the material used to make the flute along with the instrument’s design plays a critical role in a flute’s tone color or timbre.

Flutes have existed since the dawn of civilization. The book of Genesis credits a man named Jubal with the invention and initial mastery of the flute. Some of the first flutes were carved from crude materials like animal bones. Eventually, craftsmen began utilizing other materials such as gold, jade, wood, and brass to create innovative instruments.

Most cultures have incorporated some version of the flute in their traditional music. Native Americans carved flutes from wood to use in a variety of contexts. From courtship to healing rituals, Native American flutes served as a sacred facet of social and spiritual life. In China, an ample supply of bamboo plants primarily lended itself to virtuosity. However, the Gudi, another prominent Asian flute, was traditionally fashioned from the hollow bones of birds. Societies located near the ocean discovered how to convert sea shells into musical instruments, and Indian versions of the flute carried great religious significance.

The majority of flutes seen in today’s concert bands, orchestras, and symphonies are of European descent. Jacques Hotteterre sparked the evolution of the modern flute in the seventeenth century when he created a flute with detachable sections by dividing the flute into a head joint, body, and foot joint. Roughly two hundred years later, German craftsman Theobald Bohm added his own modifications to Hotteterre’s design by manipulating the outlay of the flute’s keys.

Today, flutes continue to serve as a flagship of Western music. Although mastery of the flute requires endless hours of dedicated rehearsal, this instrument proves simple enough for children to learn. If in search of a creative hobby, try a fling with the flute!


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Love Them or Leave Them-Snakes that is!

If you have a fear of ALL snakes, take your vacation or better yet think about moving to Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, New Zealand or the Falkland Islands. Snakes are nonexistent there.

If you are okay with snakes in general, but apprehensive when you see one in the wild for fear it is poisonous, the Caribbean Islands and the islands located in the Pacific Ocean are good choices for you. They do not have venomous snakes on land, but there are poisonous sea snakes just off land areas located in equatorial waters. Another place to visit or move to is Madagascar. Ninety species of snakes have been identified in this country. Even though a small number of these are venomous, they are harmless to people due to the arrangement of their fangs. If you want to live or visit the United States, Alaska is venomous snake free and Hawaii has no native land poisonous snakes.

Australia has more venomous snakes than any place in the world and is home to nine of the top ten. It is the only continent with more venomous snakes than nonvenomous. So, if you have a fear of snakes, especially venomous ones, stay in the densely populated areas when visiting Australia.

The most venomous snake in the world is the inland taipan found in Australia. Because it lives in sparsely populated areas, it seldom comes in contact with people. Since the 1980s, the inland taipan has been called by many the fierce snake because of its powerful venom. The average length of the inland taipan ranges from five to a little over 8 feet. The female’s diet and amount of food available play a large part in her reproduction rate. After mating, she selects an abandoned animal burrow or a deep crevice in which to lay her one to two dozen eggs. They hatch in approximately two months.

One of the world’s deadliest snakes holds the honor of being the fastest land snake in the world and the second longest snake in the world. It is Africa’s black mamba. You can find black mambas in rock crevices, burrows, abandoned termite mounds and hollow trees. They like the low, open woodlands of South and East Aricia. During daylight hours they hunt for food or relax in trees enjoying the warmth from the sun. If you spot one, there might be others near. They have been seen traveling in pairs or small groups. Mating session for the black mamba is spring and summer. The female will lay 6 to 25 eggs at one time. She leaves them in a damp, warm burrow to never be seen by her again. After about three months they hatch and fend for themselves. The babies are between 16 and 24 inches long. When full-grown, they are 8 to 14 feet long and live up to 11 years in the wild.

North America has over 20 species of venomous snakes. Forty-nine of the 50 states have at least one venomous snake. Hawaii has no land venomous snakes.  It is extremely rare to see a yellow-bellied sea snake, which is highly poisonous, in the waters along Hawaii’s coast, but they have been spotted a few times. Alaska has no venomous snakes. The snake most feared in North America is the cottonmouth. It is the only semiaquatic viper in the world. It is a very strong swimmer and is found in and around waters across the Southeastern United States. The Cottonmouth snake mates once a year in the Spring. After three or four months, the eggs hatch inside the female and she gives birth to as many as 16 venomous juveniles. The juveniles range from 8 to 14 inches long.

Snakes, including venomous ones, are not aggressive unless provoked. If you know you are walking in an area where they live, keep a look out for them. If you avoid them, they will avoid you.
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What Zone Are We In?

Most of the countries in the world today, but not all, use standardized time zones developed in 1878 by a Canadian named Sir Sanford Fleming. He reasoned, there are 360 degrees of longitude. Longitude is defined as the angular distance between a point on any meridian and the prime meridian. Each hour the earth rotates 15 degrees which means in 24 hours, one day, the earth rotates a complete 360 degree circle. The International Prime Meridian Conference, consisting of 22 nations, met in Washington D.C., U.S.A. in 1884 to adopt an international standardized time zone. The longitude of Greenwich, England was chosen as the prime meridian and would have the distinct privilege of zero longitude. This was a logical selection since sailors for centuries had used Greenwich as the standard by which to measure an hour. Due to the curvature of the earth, the distance between the 24 time zones is greatest at the equator and is zero at the poles. Time zones gave consistency to noon being the middle of the day when the sun is highest in each zone. The terms noon and midnight would have the same meaning wherever the time zone was located.

Before the days of mass transit, the world moved at a slower pace. Time was set by the sun. When it reached its peak each day, clocks were set to Noon. Most towns had a “town clock” which was used by individuals to set their personal watches or clocks. Daily travel between towns required resetting of watches to conform to the time in each town. Railroad stops were based on the time at each location. This made train schedules confusing.

With the increased use of railroads to move people and products over long distances, it became essential to have a set time schedule for all locations and used by all train operators.  Arrival and departure times needed to be uniform for the safety of the railroads and the delivery of the train’s cargo (people, animals, produce, material). Britain was the first country (1847) to adopt a standard time for railway operators. It was followed by New Zealand (1868) and the United States (1883). This was before Greenwich Meridian Time was adopted.  By 1929 most countries were using a type of time zone. Nepal (1986) was the last to convert.

Even though it has been 135 years since the International Prime Meridian Conference, some countries today use variations of Sir Fleming’s time zone proposal. Here are a few examples. China has one time zone, but according to Fleming it should have five. In the Middle East and South Asia several countries use half-hour time zones. The North and South poles use Coordinated Universal Time.

The United States Congress made the four time zones (Pacific, Mountain, Central, and Eastern) in the continental U.S. mandatory in 1918 with the Standard Time Act. Today the United States with the addition of the states of Hawaii and Alaska and including U.S. territories cover nine time zones.

Because of the internet and real-time events, there might be a need for time zone changes in the future. Then again, some things can stay the same no matter what else is changing in the world. Only time will tell.,8599,1933079,00.html

What Zone Are We In?  By Denise V

Most of the countries in the world today, but not all, use standardized time zones developed in 1878 by a Canadian named Sir Sanford Fleming. He reasoned, there are 360 degrees of longitude. Longitude is defined as the angular distance between a point on any meridian and the prime meridian. Each hour the earth rotates 15 degrees which means in 24 hours, one day, the earth rotates a complete 360 degree circle. The International Prime Meridian Conference, consisting of 22 nations, met in Washington D.C., U.S.A. in 1884 to adopt an international standardized time zone. The longitude of Greenwich, England was chosen as the prime meridian and would have the distinct privilege of zero longitude. This was a logical selection since sailors for centuries had used Greenwich as the standard by which to measure an hour. Due to the curvature of the earth, the distance between the 24 time zones is greatest at the equator and is zero at the poles. Time zones gave consistency to noon being the middle of the day when the sun is highest in each zone. The terms noon and midnight would have the same meaning wherever the time zone was located.

Before the days of mass transit, the world moved at a slower pace. Time was set by the sun. When it reached its peak each day, clocks were set to Noon. Most towns had a “town clock” which was used by individuals to set their personal watches or clocks. Daily travel between towns required resetting of watches to conform to the time in each town. Railroad stops were based on the time at each location. This made train schedules confusing.

With the increased use of railroads to move people and products over long distances, it became essential to have a set time schedule for all locations and used by all train operators.  Arrival and departure times needed to be uniform for the safety of the railroads and the delivery of the train’s cargo (people, animals, produce, material). Britain was the first country (1847) to adopt a standard time for railway operators. It was followed by New Zealand (1868) and the United States (1883). This was before Greenwich Meridian Time was adopted.  By 1929 most countries were using a type of time zone. Nepal (1986) was the last to convert.

Even though it has been 135 years since the International Prime Meridian Conference, some countries today use variations of Sir Fleming’s time zone proposal. Here are a few examples. China has one time zone, but according to Fleming it should have five. In the Middle East and South Asia several countries use half-hour time zones. The North and South poles use Coordinated Universal Time.

The United States Congress made the four time zones (Pacific, Mountain, Central, and Eastern) in the continental U.S. mandatory in 1918 with the Standard Time Act. Today the United States with the addition of the states of Hawaii and Alaska and including U.S. territories cover nine time zones.

Because of the internet and real-time events, there might be a need for time zone changes in the future. Then again, some things can stay the same no matter what else is changing in the world. Only time will tell.,8599,1933079,00.html
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And the best in show is—these are the last word the judge says before announcing the top bird over all others in the show. Judging categories are Best in Class, Best in Section, and Best in Show.

If you have never been to a bird show, add it to your bucket list; you won’t be disappointed. Before the show begins, you can purchase toys, cages, food, and other bird accessories from vendors. There are baby birds and adult birds of all kinds available for purchase. It is a great way to introduce yourself to various birds and learn from the vendors about their likes and dislikes. The majority of the baby birds have been handfed so they are not skittish of humans. Most vendors will let you pick them up and hold them. If you are thinking of adding a bird to your family, be sure to ask the vendor to let you handle it. You need to spend time with the exact bird you are thinking of purchasing; birds of the same breed, just like other animals, have their own personality. You want to match the personality of the bird to your personality. Some birds are very active and noisy while others are quiet and subdued.  Birds for sale range from the finch family to the big parrots. If you want to try your hand at breeding, many vendors have breeding pairs for sale. Be careful though when buying adult birds for breeding. Find out the age of the bird as it might be past breeding age. Some times a vendor will sex birds. Again, depending on the method they use, it might not be 100 percent accurate.

Every bird in a show, is judged while perching in a special cage approved for shows. These cages are required. The back, sides and bottom of the cages are solid and usually made of wood. The front of the cage is wire. There is one perch in the cage. The floor of the cage has to be covered with noncolored seed and one water tube is required per cage. The size and type of bird determines the size of the show cage. The bird needs to be able to perch comfortably, but not able to fly around in the cage.

Show preparation begins three months before the show date. The birds spend several hours each day in their show cage to get acclimated to it. They are fed a high protein diet and sprayed with cool water every day which gives them healthy feathers. The feet are cleaned with mineral oil to keep them from getting cracked or dry. Care must be taken when applying the mineral oil to prevent any from getting on the bird’s feathers. Some shows require show entries to be banded.

Only birds that meet show standards should be entered in a bird show. The birds are divided into categories for judging. The judges are extremely knowledgeable about the show standards for each category. Birds are judged from crest to claw. Judges look for a well-balanced body proportion. They should not see any frayed or pin feathers (new growth). The bird’s feathers should be clean and tight. Tail feathers should be the proper length and there should be no missing feathers. Wings should lay flat against the body and not cross over each other. Eye position is judged and there should not be any discharge. Beaks cannot be overgrown or scaly. There should be no nasal discharge. Legs should be strong. Toes should have no abnormal bends or curves and no toes can be missing. Claws should be normally worn. Last but definitely not least, vents cannot be dirty. Overall, the judge is looking for the healthiest and best-groomed bird in each Class, then each Section, and last the Best In Show.

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The Humdinging Hummingbird

Spring is in full swing, ushering the return of blissful temperatures, picturesque wildflowers, and the ever-amusing hummingbird. World renowned, the hummingbird hold a Guinness World Record for its compact stature, but don’t let their size fool you! These feathered fairies are by no means small in spirit. In this edition of The StickerTalk, grab your binoculars and join us on a bird-watching binge to uncover the secrets of the hummingbird.

Experts estimate that over 300 different species of hummingbirds adorn the world’s gardens, forests, and tropics. America’s most prevalent breed of hummingbird is the ruby-throated hummingbird. Cuba’s bee hummingbird is lauded as the smallest species of hummingbird, measuring on average about two inches in length and weighing just under two grams.

The hummingbird’s unique anatomical features allow it to possess superhero-like qualities. While most other birds can only fly forward or higher, the hummingbird can fly in all directions. Upwards, downwards, backwards, and forwards, this flying jewel is the only vertebrate capable of hovering. A hummingbird can effortlessly exceed speeds of 30 mph in flight and boasts better senses of sight and hearing than people.

Despite the hummingbird’s relatively minuscule brain, the bird showcases an astounding intelligence. The master of a mighty memory, the hummingbird can keep mental record of which flowers it has feasted on and how long it takes for each flower to replenish its nectar.


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The Perfect Job – Chocolate Taster

  By Denise V

If your entire body craves this delicious, creamy, and healthy treat, chocolate, you might want to pursue a career as a professional chocolate taster. Just as professional wine tasters have a specific procedure to follow to judge the quality of a fine wine, there is a specific procedure for judging the flavor and texture of quality chocolate.

A fun way to find out if this is the career for you, host a chocolate tasting party.

Here are the things you will need to do:

  1. Select a place in the house or outside that is quiet and relaxing for the tasting area.
  2. Have a minimum of four different brands of chocolate.  (Dark chocolate is the healthiest.)
  3. Store the chocolate in a dry, dark, cool place until you are ready for the tasting party.
  4. The chocolate must be room temperature when tasting begins.
  5. Serve the chocolate from the lowest percentage of cocoa content to the highest percentage. (When you read the ingredients on the package, the percentage of each ingredient is listed from highest to lowest.)
  6. Provide a small plate of apple pieces for each person so they can cleanse their palate before and between each chocolate piece.
  7. Prepare the score cards. Here is a sample card.

1)      Is the piece of chocolate
a. Shiny______________________
b.  Glossy_____________________
c.  Consistent in color___________

2)   Breaks with
a.  Sharp sound________________
b. Crisp sound_________________
c.  Clean Edge__________________

3)      Feels
a. Smooth_____________________
b. Even_______________________

4)      Aroma
a. Pleasant_____________________
b. Inviting______________________

5)      Melts in the mouth quickly_____________

6)      Tastes rich__________________________

7)      Smooth texture on the tongue__________

8)      Velvety texture on the tongue__________

9)      Grainy texture on the tongue___________

10)    Bitter or unpleasant after taste__________

YES TOTAL _________

Here are the steps for tasting chocolate:

  1. Begin by cleansing the palate with a piece of apple.
  2. Next, study the piece of chocolate. It should have a shiny, even, glossy surface. The color isn’t what makes one chocolate better than another, but it should be consistent. (Where the beans were grown and the technique used to roast them determines the color.)
  3. Break the piece of chocolate in half and listen to the sound it makes as it breaks. The sharper and crisper the sound, the better the quality of chocolate. (The higher the cocoa quality, the louder the snap sound.)
  4. Look at the broken edge to see if it has a clean break. The cleaner the break, the better the quality.
  5. Take time to feel the chocolate. It should feel smooth and even as your finger moves gently across it.
  6. Now smell the chocolate. As you rub your finger over the chocolate in Step 5, the chocolate might start to melt. As it melts the aroma is released.
  7. Place the chocolate in your mouth and let it melt. Do not chew.  Quality chocolate will feel smooth with a velvety texture while melting in your mouth. Close your eyes and concentrate on the flavors that come into your mind. Take time and enjoy this step.
  8. After the piece of chocolate has completely melted, pay attention to the last flavor that is lingering in your mouth. Quality chocolate will not leave a bitter or unpleasant taste. This last step is referred to as the finish.
  9.  Complete the tasting score card.

Repeat Steps 1 through 9 for all pieces of chocolate in the tasting.  When the tasting is completed, reveal the brands of chocolate that were in the tasting. Total the score cards and announce the winner.


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California: Birthplace of Bigfoot

Land of the Golden Gate Bridge, the giant redwoods, and Hollywood Boulevard, California also plays host to a much more elusive icon. Known by many monikers, the Bigfoot, also called the Sasquatch, yeti, and ape-man, is said to inhabit the vast expanses of Californian wilderness. In this edition of The StickerTalk, saddle up for a trip to the Golden State as we comb California’s forests, ravines, and hills in search of the legendary Bigfoot!

The current surge in Bigfoot interest traces its roots to the Californian woodlands. Filmed near Bluff Creek, California, the infamous Patterson-Gimlin Film spurred much of the residual Sasquatch-centered mania. California’s fame as America’s Bigfoot capital has garnered national attention as the National Forest Service has even renamed a stretch of California Route 96 the “Bigfoot Scenic Byway.”

Recently, a Californian hiker found herself face-to-face with a creature strongly resembling a Bigfoot. When she reported her experience to the California Department of Fish and Game, authorities advised her that what she saw was most likely a bear. Irritated and infuriated, the hiker decided to sue the state of California in attempt to gain official recognition of the Sasquatch as a species. Unfortunately for Bigfoot fanatics, her case was dismissed.

While California remains a mainstay in the Bigfoot research community, you can organize your own Sasquatch-hunting expedition wherever you live! Check out local records of Bigfoot activity in your area before setting out. Most experts believe that the Sasquatch is more active at night, but visual evidence, such as broken limbs or footprints, may be more visible during the day. Keep your ears open for vocalizations, whistles, and other abnormal noises, and be sure to write down anything you may find!


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Choo Choo, All Aboard!

The world runs on rails and has since the 1800s. The first successful steam locomotive was developed in Great Britain. Today in countries all over the world, people and materials are transported quickly within and between countries. The train, not airplanes, brought about the world-wide need for standardized time zones.

The fascination with trains quickly grew and provided an excuse for model train sets. The first train sets that were mass produced appeared on the market as early as 1891 in Germany and quickly spread to other countries. As the train industry advanced so did the want for small scale models. Model train sets were on their way to becoming one of the most popular hobbies in the world.

Model trains started as a toy for boys that only wealthy families could afford. As technology advanced, model trains became affordable to the masses. Today though, railway modeling or model railroading (name various by country) is a family hobby. As soon as the youngest family member becomes mesmerized watching the train move over the oval or circle track, the privilege to be called a model railroader or modeler is theirs. The hobby of model railroading truly is for all ages.

Hobbyists have free-rein on how much money, time, and energy they decide to devote. Creativity is endless. When time is a concern and immediate enjoyment is the goal, many purchase inexpensive generic packaged sets. Others prefer to build or buy exact replicas of train cars and layouts (landscape) of real locations and periods of time. Still others let their imagination go wild and create a fantasy model train, and a fantasy layout taking place in a fantasy time period of the past or future.

The International Model Train Club has members in over 23 countries and on all seven continents. What a diversity of cultures! In the United States at least 36 of the 50 states have one or more model train clubs. There are conventions and rail-fan trips devoted to model railroad enthusiasts. Joining a club can give you an excuse to travel and it is a great way to make new friends. People from all backgrounds are drawn to this hobby. It attracted Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, Tom Hanks, Michael Jordan, Ed Dougherty, and others. The one thing that brings them together is the fun of building and watching model trains.

The love people have for trains can be seen in restaurants throughout the world. Many have model trains on display protected under glass. Some have trains running across a ledge to entertain their customers. Others have ingeniously devised a system where the train delivers the food to the table.

  There are train-themed craft breweries, many located in former railway stations or depots. The theme carries over to the names of their personal brews.  For example, there is the Boxcar Brown Ale, the Rail Spike IPA, the Station Master Wheat Ale, the Switchman’s Stash IPL, the Pullman Porter, the Rail Hopper IPA, and the Coal Train American Stout.

Looks like model railroading is here to stay!

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Luck of the… Welsh?

Happy St Patrick's Day Hat Sticker

A celebration that makes other holidays turn green with envy, St. Patrick’s Day offers a heaping helping of Irish culture and folklore to revelers around the globe. This holiday was designed as an observance to honor Ireland’s patron saint; however, St. Patrick’s Day’s domain now reaches far beyond religion and into the secular celebratory sphere. In this edition of The StickerTalk, we invite you to the rolling, green hills of Ireland to unearth some surprising secrets surrounding this cultural celebration!

Although St. Patrick is often referred to as Ireland’s foremost saint, St. Patrick was not Irish. A native of Wales, the benevolent clergyman traveled to the pagan country of Ireland to spread Catholicism, resourcefully equipped with a shamrock to visually explain the concept of the Trinity. St. Patrick proves a man shrouded by legend. One folktale claims the missionary eradicated all of Ireland’s snakes while another legend states that St. Patrick created the Irish tradition of Leap Day proposals by allowing impatient women to propose to their beaus on February 29 every four years.

A plethora of superstitions are associated with St. Patrick’s Day. While the most well-known custom is arguably the wearing of green, the holiday’s original color was blue! Irish superstition also holds that St. Patrick’s Day is the luckiest day to get married unless, of course, St. Patrick’s Day should fall on a Saturday as Saturdays are the most unlucky days of the week according to Irish tradition.

St. Patrick’s Day, although decidedly Irish in nature, is observed across the globe. In Sydney, Australia, the famous white silhouette of the Sydney Opera House was tinted green in honor of the holiday in 2010. A labor union in Chicago, Illinois, annually dyes the Chicago River green on March 17, and the President receives a gift of shamrocks from the leader of Ireland every St. Patrick’s Day.


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The StickerTalk Celebrates the Redbud Festival

Die Cut Texas Buna Redbud Sticker

The second Saturday in March ushers in the annual pomp of the Redbud Festival for StickerTalk’s hometown of Buna, Texas. This spring celebration began with the establishment of the Miss Buna Pageant in 1957, an effort by the Buna Volunteer Fire Department to raise money for their fledgling organization. A truly down-home event, the first Miss Buna competitions involved a homemade velvet robe and a cardboard crown for the newly crowned Miss Buna along with donated stage décor from a local funeral home. Eventually, the pageant spawned a parade and a subsequent carnival. Named in honor of Buna’s abundance of brilliant redbud trees, the Redbud Festival continues to bring members of the community together for several days of celebration. In this edition of The StickerTalk, join us on a nature hike into the forests of East Texas to explore the floral facts and historical roots of Buna’s blossoming redbuds.

While the redbud tree is primarily valued for its ornamental qualities, parts of the plant are edible! Native Americans used its bark and roots to cure illnesses such as the cold and the flu. Redbud flowers contain more vitamin C than oranges, making it a nutritious snack for anyone who can stomach its rather sour flavor. Additionally, the redbud’s branches have been utilized to make baskets, bows, and tools.

A common nickname for the redbud is the “Judas tree.” Folklore holds that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from the branches of a redbud after betraying Jesus Christ, causing the tree’s formerly white blossoms to turn red with shame.

Like most of us, the redbud tree boasts some, er… interesting relatives. Because this tree is a member of the legume family, it shares its lineage with both peas and beans! Perhaps the easiest way to observe this relation is to examine the redbud’s seedpods. Upon closer review, redbud seedpods bear a striking resemblance to pea pods.


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Express Your True Colors

What Is Your Favorite Color?

When someone asks you what your favorite color is, think before you answer. The color you name tells a lot about you, at least about your mood on that day. The color of the vehicle you drive, the colors of the rooms in your home, the color of the fabrics and furniture you surround yourself with, and the color of the clothes you wear do also.

            Take a minute and close your eyes. Now, envision yourself in one of these scenarios. You have an important event to attend tomorrow. You search through your closet for just the right outfit. You find it and separate it from other things so you can find it quickly tomorrow. Tomorrow arrives, you grab the outfit and say, “I can’t wear this.” A new day brings new emotions. You are in the local home improvement store shopping for paint colors for various rooms in your home. Before you decide, think about what emotions you want to feel in the room. The same principle applies when purchasing a vehicle. The colors you select for these purchases are governed by your emotions and your frame of mind at that time. That is why you might initially love a purchase and the next day or a week later, you wish you had selected a different color. If possible, avoid making an expensive purchase if you feel depressed or negative. That’s why people say never to buy a big budget item on impulse. Let’s look at some colors and learn what feeling and emotions people associate with them.

Warm colors like red, orange, and yellow stimulate.  Cool colors like blue, green, and purple relax.

            RED When you want to get attention and project an image of power and confidence, go with red. Red stirs up the feeling of excitement. It raises blood pressure, speeds respiration, and increases the heart rate.  

BLUE This color reflects stability, safety, dependability and trustworthiness. It has the opposite effect of red on blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. As red raises blood pressure, blue brings it down. It also slows respiration and slows the heart rate. Blue is a cool shade and causes calm and relaxed feelings.

            GREEN Nature lovers are drawn to shades of green.  Green is restful to the eyes. It is a great color for large areas as it has a calming effect and helps you to relax and relieve stress.

            YELLOW If you want to feel and want others to feel happy, cheery, energizing, and uplifting yellow is the color to select. When you think of sunshine, you think of yellow; they seem to go together.

            ORANGE If you want to arouse excitement and fill a room with energy go with orange. This is a color seen many times in corporate conference rooms.

            GRAY This is a great color for a subtle effect. Gray allows other colors used with it to be noticed and to standout as the main color. If you want to blend in and not be noticed at an event, wear gray.

            PURPLE To give the impression of luxury and sophistication select purple. Light purples are also restful.

WHITE  This is the color of perfection. White gives the feelings of safety, purity, goodness, and innocence.

            BLACK To be perceived as independent, confident, strong, elegant, and sophisticated go with the color black. It also gives an impression of authority and power.

 So, choose your colors carefully.

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The Last Great Race on Earth

Oval K-9 Working Dog Sticker

An annual tradition beginning on the first Saturday of March, the Iditarod represents a culmination of Alaskan history and tradition. The first Iditarod race occurred in 1973 as a way to preserve the sport of dog sled racing while simultaneously commemorating the critical role mushing played in a diphtheria epidemic in 1925. When children in Nome fell ill with the deadly disease, teams of sled dogs rushed a vital serum all the way from Anchorage. Running a course similar to the trail these merciful mushers followed almost a century ago, modern mushers and their teams face hundreds of miles of rugged terrain, harsh weather, and even moose attacks!

The frigid journey from Anchorage from Nome takes over a week to complete. Current record-holder, Mitch Seavey, completed the course in 8 days, 3 hours, 40 minutes, and 13 seconds. However, the Iditarod trail has taken up to thirty-two days to for some mushers to traverse. Following time-honored tradition, the Iditarod Trail Committee lights the Widow’s Lantern, a tribute to the guiding lights of roadhouses on the original mail supply trail, in Nome on the morning of the first Sunday of March. The lantern is not extinguished until every musher has crossed the finish line.

The true stars of the show, the sled dogs, prove themselves world-class athletes, the canine equivalents to Olympians. Before the race commences, these ambitious animals must undergo a slough safety precautions, including blood work, ECG examinations, and microchipping. Although unorthodox musher John Suter included poodles in his sled teams decades ago, modern mushers typically rely on three key breeds: the Siberian husky, the Alaskan Husky, and the Alaskan malamute.

While many racing fans are unable to make a pilgrimage to Alaska to witness the Iditarod firsthand, there are still a multitude of ways to stay engaged during the Last Great Race on Earth! Stay tuned to your local news station as most media providers cover the event, and be sure to explore, the official website of this historic race.


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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

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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.


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The Delightful Development of Dentistry

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A practice specializing in oral health and nervous patients, dentistry proves a fascinating field of study that springs from the first glimmers of civilization. Historians theorize that the first dentists existed in early Indus Valley communities. Although the Indus Valley dentists left no literature behind, medial pioneers in ancient Samaria published a string of dental theories that served as pillars of the industry for thousands of years. One of these Sumerian ideas stated that tooth worms were responsible for decay; this primitive belief took several millennia to be refuted, dismissed by the dental community after modern ideas took hold in the eighteenth century! Greek philosophers, namely Hippocrates and Aristotle, devoted untold effort to the discussion of dentistry but were unable to decode the deeper details of the trade, including the true cause of tooth decay. During the Middle Ages, most dental services were provided by either general physicians or barbers, their scope typically limited to tooth extraction and early forms of dental prosthetics. The first person to successfully outline key concepts of dentistry was Pierre Fauchard, a French medical professional who wrote “The Surgeon Dentist, A Treatise on Teeth,” arguably the first viable text on the science of dentistry. Since Fauchard’s groundbreaking endeavors, dentistry has evolved into an occupational beacon of efficiency and diversity. Both African Americans and women were employed in the field before the turn of the century. In spite of constant discoveries and advancements, most Americans did not embrace everyday dental health regimens until the conclusion of World War II when GIs returned home with a newfound appreciation for oral care; after witnessing residents of foreign countries devotedly brushing, flossing, and regularly visiting dentists, post-war Americans readily invested in the practical application of dentistry. An occupation characterized by perpetual innovation, dentistry’s colorful past can only be outshined by its promising future.


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Lunar Eclipse: Fact vs. Folklore

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On the night of January 20, 2019, eyes lifted heavenward to witness a spectacle in the skies. Captivating millions of curious souls, a total lunar eclipse unfolded over the course of the evening; as the moon turned an eerie shade of rusty red, the Earth’s shadow slowly, yet temporarily, devoured all traces of moonlight. Although modern astronomy easily explains this natural phenomenon, each culture has developed its own mythology behind the lunar eclipse. Join us on an ethereal excursion as The StickerTalk separates lunar eclipse fact from fiction.

The Fiction

People have observed lunar eclipses with a combination of awe and fear for centuries. The vast majority of cultures interpreted this event as a bad omen. For example, ancient Greeks believed that a lunar eclipse meant the gods were about to unleash their wrath on the king, and many nations superstitiously claim that the moon’s dimmed beams will cause chaos for expectant mothers and their unborn babies. However, other groups viewed the lunar eclipse with hope and goodwill, using the supposed magic of the occasion to improve themselves. Tibetan eclipse watchers believe that their good deed are multiplied during the celestial celebration. Before modern technology and theories could prove that an alignment of the moon and the earth caused lunar eclipses, a plethora of explanations existed to clarify the phenomenon. The Incas though a gargantuan jaguar was eating the moon while Norsemen thought a pair of sky wolves were stalking lunar prey.

The Facts

While our most recent lunar eclipse was a total lunar eclipse, there are actually three distinct types of lunar eclipses: full, partial, and penumbral. In a full lunar eclipse, Earth passes precisely between the sun and a full moon. Most lunar eclipses last no longer than 3 hours and 45 minutes. Blood moons typically coincide with total lunar eclipses; when sunlight passes through the earth’s atmosphere, it takes on a reddish tinge before it is reflected from the moon’s surface. The total eclipse of the moon coupled with this unusual variation of hue is not only visually thrilling but is also a riveting subject of scientific study.


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The Tremendous Trombone

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Distinguished by its unmatched timbre and unique assortment of physical traits, the trombone continues to remain one of Western music’s most popular instruments. The modern trombone traditionally is confined to roles in symphony ensembles, concert bands, or jazz groups, but the horn’s historical foundation proves much broader in nature. In this edition of The StickerTalk, join us as we meander through a medley of matters to take a closer look at the timeless trombone.

Historical Hecklers

Although most listeners revel in the trombone’s soothing sounds, the instrument represents a tool of auditory torture to others. Famed author, Mark Twain, was a noted critic of the instrument, calling the horn itself “unholy” and its tones “discordant sounds.” A surprising counterpart to Twain in cynicism, Sigmund Freud claimed that the instrument caused him to feel “uncomfortable.”

Ancient Origins

While some scholars believe that an early predecessor of the trombone existed in biblical times, most historians agree that the first trombone, an instrument called the sackbut, was invented during the Renaissance. The first recorded appearance of a trombone occurred at the Duke of Burgundy’s wedding around the year 1470. Before long, instrument found its way into the first Protestant churches when Martin Luther published his belief that the angel Gabriel’s horn was, more specifically, a trombone. For centuries, the trombone was featured in sacred pieces as a tribute to the archangel’s alleged favorite instrument. Symphonic composers seemed reluctant to include trombones in their work until Beethoven utilized the unusual instrument in his now-iconic Fifth Symphony.

Unmatched Anatomy

Most modern wind instruments possess multiple keys or valves to allow a musician the ability to produce a variety of pitches. The trombone, however, mainly relies on its characteristic slide when playing varying notes. The trombone’s sound results from the vibration of a musician’s lips against the mouthpiece and is amplified by the flaring bell.


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The Succulent: Sleek and Savvy

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A diva of the desert, the humble succulent has taken fashion and design landscapes by storm. The plant’s unique appearance lends an air of natural beauty to home décor displays, clothing, and jewelry, making the succulent a rising star in a variety of industries. In this edition of The StickerTalk, join us as we rediscover the roots of the succulent’s obscure origins and eventual flight to fame!  

  • The succulent’s name is derived from “sucus,” the Latin word for juice, since the plants’ plump leaves store the sap and water that allow it to thrive in otherwise hostile environments. Because succulents were first grown in sweltering portions of the globe such as Africa and South America, these flowers naturally prove able to stand up to a variety of adverse conditions.
  • While most succulents appear green in color, assorted hues including pink and yellow are additionally common. Succulent plants also showcase a layer of chalk-like residue on their leaves. Not only does this substance add a fashionable flair to an already prepossessing plant, but it helps defend the succulent from pests and overwhelming temperatures.
  • The term succulent may actually refer to a number of plant species. Surprisingly taking root in the succulent family tree are both the snake plant and the asparagus. Additionally, some species of aloe and cacti carry the description of succulent.


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The Bodacious Belgian

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A breed characterized by its large stature and gentle demeanor, the Belgian horse boasts a rich tradition coupled with a powerful build. The Belgian traces its impressive pedigree back to the Middle Ages. Early Belgians, a breed known as the Flemish “Great Horse,” carried medieval knights into battle. In fact, Richard the Lionhearted, one of history’s most prominent proponents of this breed, proved so fond of the horses that he arranged for a large number of the gentle giants to be transported from their native home in the Low Countries to the island of England. The Belgian’s sheer mass later lead farmers and drivers to employ these gentle giants as draft horses; a newborn Belgian foal weighs an average of 125 pounds, later growing to an astounding 2,000 pounds at adulthood! First introduced to American arenas and fields in the late 1800s, the Belgian has since galloped its way into the hearts of horse lovers across the nation, captivating multitudes with its unmatched grace and style.


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A Resolution Revolution

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The resolution: a tradition typically embraced during the initial onslaught of the new year’s temptations but eventually abandoned for the sake of comfort and routine. While many consider new year’s resolutions a fairly modern blight on humanity’s resolve, these annual objectives have existed since ancient times. Approximately four thousand years ago, ancient Babylonians created resolutions for the upcoming year that would ensure favor with their deluge of deities. Centuries later, Roman farmers continued the tradition by setting a new year’s agenda outlining the duties they hoped to fulfill in the upcoming year. Other Romans made vows to Janus on the first day of the year in order to secure prosperity and prospective. However, since the era of the Roman Empire, new year’s resolutions have taken a downward plunge with just over nine percent of resolutions reaching completion by the December 31 deadline. Only twenty percent of new year’s resolutions survive into February to boot! In spite of this depressing data, there is hope for those who wish to better themselves in the upcoming year. Because most people set goals such as maintaining healthier lifestyles or exercising greater financial caution, new year’s resolutions serve as agents of inspiration, beckoning complacent crowds into a happier state of mind. And yes, new year’s resolutions can be kept! Experts suggest employing strategies like setting small, realistic goals and limiting the amount of resolutions you set to improve your chances of attaining your objectives. With a little bit of determination and a sound method of execution, no new year’s resolution need be feared!


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New Year, Time-Honored Traditions

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New Year’s Day traditionally embodies sentiments of hope and lauds the coming year’s abundance of opportunities. While these uplifting themes prove universal throughout most languages and cultures, the medium of celebration varies from nation to nation. In 2018’s final edition of The StickerTalk, our blog surveys the assorted array of international customs and curiosities surrounding the cross cultural motif of January 1.

  • Farmers in Romania traditionally wish each of their animals an individual greeting of “Happy New Year!” as Romanian legend states that January 1 is the only day of the year that animals can verbally communicate with their masters. However, if an agrarian is able to understand one of their animals, bad luck is said to await them in the new year.
  • Professional divers in Russia annually plunge into the icy depths of various bodies of water to plant a tree underwater on New Year’s Day. Clad in festive attire, strong swimmers in the Shchitovaya Bay retire a Christmas tree to the bottom of the lake, ceremoniously performing dances and enjoying a champagne sipping charade after their charge has been deposited in its near-freezing new home. Similar celebrations occur under the waves of the Lena River and under the already frozen surface of Lake Baikal.
  • An Irish New Year combines the sentimental with the seemingly senseless. Families in Ireland honor loved ones lost during the previous year by setting places for them at the dinner table with corresponding vacant seats. Some families also leave the door unlocked to allow the easy passage of their late friends and relatives into the house. Another Irish tradition observed on January 1 involves the beating of bread against the walls of an abode. According to folklore, this delicious din will drive away evil spirits, ensuring good luck in the coming year.



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Christmas Around the World, Take Two

Christmas Around the World, Take Two

A cross-cultural celebration, Christmas has been translated into a multitude of languages and customs. Although we here in Southeast Texas religiously observe Christmas with such treasured traditions as sweet potato pie, fried turkey, and short-sleeves, curiosity is nevertheless piqued by the international and exotic; so, in what has become an annual endeavor, The StickerTalk invites you to embark on an international expedition to explore Christmas traditions around the world!

  • English folk tales claim that the devil died when Jesus Christ entered our world. To commemorate this triumph of truth and virtue, Christians congregate at certain churches to hear the tolling of the “devil’s knell,” a tradition in which church bells are rung to celebrate Christ’s inspiring victory over evil. Perhaps the most famous ringing of the devil’s knell occurs at All Saints Church in Dewsbury. A single tenor bell rings once for every year that has passed since the birth of Christ, commencing at approximately 10 p.m. and ending exactly at the stroke of midnight.
  • Jolabokaflod is observed in Iceland on Christmas Eve night. According to tradition, each person receives a new book on December 24 and dedicates the remainder of the day to delving through its pages. This celebration traces its roots back to World War II when Icelandic citizens found their customary Christmas gift exchanges thwarted by material rations. However, paper continued to flow freely, making books the perfect Christmas gift.
  • Christmas in Uganda and other East African countries showcases stark differences from the American version of the holiday. The nation’s extreme poverty severely limits commercialism, allowing Ugandans more clarity in the religious aspects of the celebration. New clothes to sport at church along with gifts of home-grown food serve as heartfelt replacements for first-world luxuries while rocks, leaves, and other natural items are gathered as Christmas presents for Jesus. The customary Christmas meal typically features roasted goat as the headlining dish.

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A Tree-Riffic Tradition

A Tree-Riffic Tradition

“Sprucing” up the holidays since the 1500s, Christmas trees typically prove a common sight during December. Like many customs, this annual evergreen exposition has experienced evolution over the course of past centuries and varying cultures. Join The StickerTalk as we needle into the lifeblood, er… sap, of the tradition of the Christmas tree!

  • Many historians credit German Christians with the innovation of the Christmas tree. Decking an evergreen with apples and other assorted fruits, these unorthodox pioneers symbolically celebrated the purity mankind abandoned in the Garden of Eden. These German “sweet trees” crossed the Atlantic where Americans eventually embraced this European endeavor with Franklin Pierce becoming the first American president to decorate a Christmas tree in the White House in 1856.
  • While tinsel has been a popular Christmas tree decoration since the 1930s, its mythology remains disputed. The most popular legend recalls the story of a poor widow attempting to surprise her children with a decorated tree on Christmas morning. Much to her chagrin, spiders littered the tree branches with webs overnight, laying waste to her heartfelt efforts. However, Jesus noticed her anguish and transformed the cob webs into brilliant strands of tinsel.
  • Artificial Christmas trees first came onto the market in the 1800s. German inventors dyed goose feathers green and attached the dyed down to wire branches. It wasn’t until 1958 that mostly aluminum trees were manufactured. Many environmentalists oppose artificial evergreens due to their unrecyclable nature. Real trees, they assure, can serve many roles after the holiday is over. They can be used in fish ponds and erosion barriers to help ensure environmental stability.

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Merry and Bright

Merry and Bright

A custom of quintessential quality, the annual display of Christmas lights has a deep-rooted history in civilized society. The tradition of lighting a Christmas tree is believed to have been established by Martin Luther, the priest responsible for the Protestant Reformation. A lover of nature, Luther attempted to replicate the serenity of starlight shining through tree branches by placing candles among the branches of an evergreen tree he had placed in his house. Electric lights became vogue after President Cleveland decked the White House in an ornate display of Christmas lights in 1895. Families who were fortunate enough to afford then-costly lights payed an electrician an average of three hundred dollars to wire lights on their Christmas trees, a fee equaling nine thousand dollars in modern money. America’s lavish love for Christmas light displays continues to require an amazing amount of monetary resources. Americans spend approximately six billion dollars on holiday decoration each year as well. In addition to the initial purchase price of light strands, energy usage and subsequent bills seem to spike around Christmas. Americans use more electricity during the holiday season than the entire nation of Ethiopia utilizes during an entire year!

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An Evening With Elves

An Evening With Elves

From careful connoisseurs of conduct to skillful surveyors of sweets, Santa’s task force of elves fills a multitude of roles during the Christmas season. While some aspects of an elf’s life and labor seem universal, its appearance differs from culture to culture. Join The StickerTalk as we embark on an elven adventure to explore the innumerable international interpretations of the Christmas elf!

  • In Icelandic legend, Santa’s elves are replaced with thirteen trolls collectively called the Yule Lads. Children leave a shoe in the window in anticipation of the Yule Lads’ nightly visits from December 12 through Christmas Eve. If the child has been well-behaved, the trolls deposit sweet treats in the shoe. However, the Yule Lads leave behind rotting potatoes.
  • Denmark celebrates Christmas with the help of Nisse, a gnome who enjoys pranks and mischief. Said to be clad in gray, woolen garments with a signature red hat and bright white clogs, Nisse traditionally passes by Danish houses on Christmas Eve. If he is left an offering of porridge or ride pudding outside a house, he will continue his journey without attempting to trick the people living there.
  • In some cultures, Santa is accompanied by a variety of villainous vagrants instead of a troop of jolly elves. French children fear Santa’s character foil in Père Fouettard whose name means “the whipping father.” Père Fouettard, as his moniker implies, whips children guilty of disobedience during the previous year. The Christmas Cat, the Père Fouettard’s Icelandic counterpart, preys on people who have not received the gift at least one new article of clothing, and the German Knecht Ruprecht serves as Santa’s negative reinforcement.

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Frozen Follies

Frozen Follies

The snowman represents a frosty facet of holiday nostalgia, a frozen friend of millions of children. An international icon, the snowman’s fame reaches far and wide as the majority of northern cultures celebrate the snowman in a variety of forms and fashions. In this edition of The StickerTalk, we invite you to indulge in a flurry of facts about this sleeted celebrity!

  • The first snowman is thought to have made an appearance in the 1380 in The Book of Hours. About a century later in 1494, a young Michelangelo received a commission to sculpt a snowman for a powerful Italian ruler. Snowmen made history yet again in 1690 when haggard Dutch watchmen at Fort Schenectady formed snowmen to serve as decoy guards to potential attackers. However, their plan failed, and the fort fell to a combined force of French and Native American soldiers.
  • Snowmen serve an integral part in a multitude of world record titles. The world’s tallest snowman towered over adoring crowds at an astounding 122 feet tall! This frozen feat hailing from Maine was named Olympia in honor of a beloved state senator, Olympia Snowe. While Maine boasts the largest snowman, London, England, lays claim on the world’s smallest snowman. British scientists at the National Physical Laboratory created a microscopic snowman using tools typically used to handle nanoparticles, an artistic achievement measuring only 0.01 millimeters.
  • Although the arrival of wintry weather is often anticipated by many, the Unicorn Hunters club at Lake Superior State University were so ready for spring in 1971 that they celebrated the onset of higher temperatures by burning a paper effigy of a snowman! In an unorthodox act turned annual celebration, the students at the university celebrate the snowman burning by eating hotdogs and hamburgers while appreciating the fire’s desired heat.

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A Rendezvous With Reindeer

A Rendezvous With Reindeer

Santa’s preferred beast of burden and a zoological favorite among the young and young at heart, the humble reindeer headlines each December as the North Pole’s crowning critter. Traditional folklore states that a team of reindeers powers Santa’s annual international escapade, but how much additional information about this unique animal is considered common knowledge? Join The StickerTalk on an icy expedition to the Arctic tundra to rub shoulders with the reindeer.

  • The magical clicking of a reindeer’s footsteps is actually due to a rather unexpected abnormality. When a certain tendon passes over one of the deer’s foot bones, it produces the reindeer’s characteristic click! Reindeer are extremely social creatures, typically living in herds numbering from 50,000 to 500,000 members, and many experts believe that the sound of clicking hooves help the animals stay together.
  • Reindeers boast an armory of assorted oddities that help them survive in their native northern stretches of tundra. Because nights in the Arctic are especially extensive in the winter, reindeers possess the capability to see ultraviolet light, a talent that grants them vision even in complete darkness. Also, their hooves change shape and texture from season to season to allow greater traction during icy winters and better mobility on soft ground in the late spring and summer.
  • Although most the vast majority of Christmas commentators claim that Santa’s reindeers are all male, some zoologists contest this belief. Since male reindeer usually shed their antlers in November and early December, the fully antlered reindeers that are hitched to Santa’s sleigh each Christmas Eve are likely entirely female!

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The Perfectly Pleasant Poinsettia

The Perfectly Pleasant Poinsettia

A traditional icon of Christmas, the poinsettia’s striking colors have added an abundance of cheer to holiday celebrations for centuries. It is said that the poinsettia was first introduced to American greenhouses by Joel Roberts Poinsett. Poinsett, the first American ambassador to Mexico and the plant’s namesake, was enamored by this Mexican flower, bringing some back to the United States to cultivate and share with his fellow flower enthusiasts. In fact, December 12, the anniversary of Poinsett’s death in 1851, is annually celebrated as Poinsettia Day. The poinsettia has carried a variety of nicknames, however. Names like “lobster flower” and “flame-leaf flower” pay homage to the poinsettia’s signature shade of fiery red. In some Hispanic countries the flower is called “Flores de Noche Buena,” meaning “Flower of the Holy Night” in English; some believe the poinsettia’s association with the Nativity is due to its star-like shape that often reminds worshippers of the Star of Bethlehem. Others claim that an old Mexican legend propelled the poinsettia’s rise to prominence. The legend tells of a poor Mexican girl named Pepita who could not afford a gift for the Christ Child on Christmas Eve. Weeping in regret, she encountered an angel on her way to the chapel who told her to bring an offering of weeds. When she presented her bundle of weeds to the Baby Jesus, they miraculously sprouted into rich red poinsettias. The poinsettia’s rich tradition in folklore as well as its natural allure insure that this dazzling flower will herald the arrival of the Christmas season for generations to come!

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Dazzling December

Dazzling December

As the year winds to its conclusion, the month of December finally begins, bringing numerous holidays, frosty weather, and a plethora of time-honored traditions. In this edition of The StickerTalk, join us as we discover some of December’s most delightful details.

  • The name “December” traces its roots back to Ancient Rome, “decem” being the Latin word for “tenth.” While December is the twelfth month in modern Gregorian calendars, it formerly occupied the tenth spot in the annual lineup of months. When the Romans introduced the months of January and February to the calendar, they chose not to change December’s moniker.
  • Believe it or not, December is the perfect month to plant certain species of flora. Holiday favorites like poinsettias and Christmas cacti make a great December addition to your garden!
  • Many causes are advocated during the month of December. December is Human Rights Month and Read a New Book Month. On a lighter note, December also plays host to National Fruit Cake Month and National Handwashing Awareness Week.

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