Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The 8 Most Popular Mother's Day Gifts

Love, Bracelet, Gerbera, FlowerMother's Day is rapidly approaching. Yes, I know its still April, but May 12th will be arriving quickly and if you don't plan ahead, you'll be one of many who are trying to find the perfect gift the day before.  I usually manage to arrange something a few days in advance that can be delivered to my mother.

If you look at the internet, many websites list tons of suggestions down to the exact brand and price.  I figure you have to know your mother well to figure out what to get her.  For my mother, she loves growing flowers so I try to find some type of flower that is easy to care for and are pretty so I usually send her some sort of orchid.  I found one on Amazon that you drop an ice cube in like twice a week.  She loved it when I sent it.

Although there are tons of suggestions, most gifts end up falling into one of 10 categories.

1.  a gift of a relaxing day at a spa where mom can spend time getting pampered, massaged, and taken care of so at the end, she feels like the most important person out there.  Most mothers don't have time to indulge themselves and this is perfect.

2.  Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate.  Most mothers enjoy chocolate, especially if its one of the more expensive brands.  I love when I can swing one of those fancy bars with different flavors like ginger in dark chocolate or toffee with sea salt so some years I try to get one of those for my mom because she has a sweet tooth.

3. Flowers are always a nice choice in May, especially here in Alaska because in many places, the snow has not melted and there is still a layer of snow on the ground.  In addition, flowers are a nice touch that brighten a day and make you feel so special.

4.  If you can't afford a day at the spa for your mother, how about some beautiful candles combined with a great bath set and time out of the house so your mother can have her own quiet time to enjoy it all.

5.  My mother drinks coffee and is particular about the French press she uses so I keep my eye open for those on sale when her's is starting to get old.  On the other hand, my sister-in-law appreciates one of those fancy machines that will make coffee exactly the way she wants.  You might want to consider getting her either a coffee machine, or new cups.

6. Mother's Day is a great day for purchasing some perfume for her.  Maybe get another bottle of her usual or perhaps purchase a brand she has always wanted but never gotten for herself.

7. This is a time to buy her something she's been wanting but hasn't been willing to buy for herself.  It might be a cookware set, a cashmere sweater, or a pair of shoes.  One year I bought my mother a pair of Nike sneakers because she needed them and she'd never spend the money on the for herself.

8. If you mother has a garden, take her down to the local nursery to pick out something like a fruit tree or starts she'd love for her garden but wouldn't buy for herself.  I've gotten my mother rose bushes because she loves them but isn't willing to buy them.

These the most popular gifts given to mother's on Mother's Day.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Its Prom Season

Prom, School, Teen, Dress, Girl, Senior Its that time of year again, when high school students rent limousines, buy dresses or rent suits, get flowers, boutonnieres, get hair fixed, polish shoes, and panic as the night for one of the biggest events in high school approaches.

Many high school have their proms at hotels, with people arriving by limo so no one has to drive.  To afford it, several couples pool resources and afford the fancy wheels.

Out in the bush of Alaska, it is so different.  Usually the prom takes place in the school gym or cafeteria.  In my village, they decorate the entrance to the school building by the office, to the double doors going into the main part of the school.  They also decorate the gym which is opposite the office.


Kids, hang up everything from that fancy stuff you buy from the Prom people to black garbage bags hung over windows to keep light out.  The sun is not setting until close to midnight now and if they want the room to be dark, they have to effectively cover the windows.  They will hire someone locally to be the DJ because the person has a great selection of music and a set of speakers.

Dancing and food

The music is set up in the little area leading to the gym from the cafeteria because it is out of the way.  They bring tables in from the library and spread them around the foyer and a few in the cafeteria with chairs here and there so people can sit and eat.  They only have the music, the food, and lots of open space in the cafeteria.

The doors open about 6:30 for a 7:00 start so the girls can get here early enough to change.  You do not want to get ready at home, hop on the back of a snow machine, or ATV to drive to school.  I think there are like 3 maybe 4 cars in the whole village so its better to get ready at school.  During the day, the girls get their mothers, sister, or aunts to help fix their hair so its picture perfect to go with their fantastic gowns.

The boys dress in their suits at home before coming to school where they have either myself or one of the men help them tie their ties.  The guys only wear ties at graduation or the prom so people do not get much experience in this so one of the teachers has to do it.

photo op.

At 7 P.M, the dance begins where for no more than $30 for the pair, they get four hours of music, dance, and food. Through out the evening they snap photos at the photo place and have a great time.

This year, they had a space type theme but the back is covered by hand painted garbage bags.  Since prom ended up on a Sunday night, school is starting late. 

I hope you enjoyed a quick look at a prom in bush Alaska where things are very different than in most other places in the world.

Have a great day and let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Best Things to Buy in May

Pink, Magnolia, Flowers, Bl├╝tenmeerThe month of May is quickly approaching.  It starts in less than one week.  For shoppers, its always nice to know what to look for so they can plan ahead.

Check out thrift stores for sales because this is when people donate more due to cleaning out their closets after a long winter.

This month is when many gyms offer specials on their memberships because many of their members move to the outdoors to exercise with the nicer weather.  Its possible to haggle for a better price because they want to keep their memberships up.

If you want a new vacuum cleaner, now is the time to look for one because the new models are coming out in June and stores want to clear out the ones they have to make more room for the new inventory.  Another appliance that comes out with newer models are refrigerators.  Start looking for one in May because stores are beginning to lower prices to get rid of current inventory.

Look for athletic clothing during May.  Since more people are spending more time outdoors, stores are placing athletic gear on sale to get people thinking about being outdoors.  If you need an air conditioner, now is the time to buy it because as the temperatures go up, air conditioner prices also go up.  The same is true of swimsuits.  If you wait, till after Memorial Day, prices on swimwear tend to go up.

Do you need new summer clothing?  Start looking for sales about mid month because of Memorial Day coming up but the best prices happen just before Memorial Day.  Memorial Day is good time to look for mattresses because most stores are trying to move inventory.

May is also the month many stores are offering office furniture at a discount.  This is a great time to pick up swivel chairs, small desks, and shelving.  So if you want to spruce up your home office or you want to set one up, now is the time to look for office furniture.

Memorial Day also marks the beginning of the summer entertaining season so many places offer deep discounts on party supplies.   On the other hand, if you are a Star Wars fan, keep your eyes peeled on Amazon and Target for everything Star Wars to be on sale on May 4th.

Finally, keep an eye out on last minute Mothers Day gifts.  Although most sales have happened, some places still have a last minute sale so you can find something great.  I hope this helps you plan your shopping for next month.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

It's Not Funny Money

Bills, Money, Euro, Wealth, Rich Since the United States has been around for a couple hundred years, it has changed the type of bills and coins in circulation.  Some are familiar to us but many if you saw them, you'd think were fake.

1.  The United States issued $1.00 silver certificates from 1878 to 1964.     These bills could be turned in for $1.00 worth of silver.  Some of the bills had "One dollar in Silver payable to the Bearer on demand."

One interesting fact about this particular bill is that the ones issued between 1886 and 1891 bore the picture of Martha Washington, wife of George Washington. This was the first form of paper currency in this country to have the picture of a woman.

2. Back in 1775, the Continental Congress issued its own Continental currency because the 13 unified colonies needed some form of common money.  Unfortunately, this currency was only backed by the word that it would be repaid by money collected via taxes rather than being by backed by gold or silver.  The money died in 1781 because there was no standardized set value because it varied from colony to colony.  In addition, the British flooded the colonies with counterfeit Continental currency causing the government to incur a lot of debt by the end of the Revolutionary war.

3. In 1933, during the height of the depression, President Franklin Roosevelt demanded everyone turn in their gold bullion, gold certificates, and gold coins because the population were hoarding them and refused to use paper currency.  Soon after, paper money began circulating and was more popular.  In 1934, the government issued the $100,000 bill with Woodrow Wilson's picture.  it was only used to transfer money with the Federal Reserve.

4.  From 1861 to 1862, the United States Government issued a Demand Note in denominations of $5, $10, and $20.  The Demand Note was a type of paper currency the government put into circulation by using it to pay for war expenses including salaries.  These notes had a distinctive green ink on the back which lead to the term "Greenbacks" because confederate money didn't have anything on the back.   The name came from the fact the holder of this could turn the note in for an equal value in coin.

5. Fractional currency was also issued by the government during the Civil War.  These coins represented values from one to fifty cents but they were made out of a thin paper leading to this currency being called "shinplasters" after the type of paper used to make them.  All fractional currency disappeared in 1876.

6. The $1,000 bills were first issued during the civil war as a way of purchasing supplies such as ammunition for the military.  Once the war ended, the government restricted their use between banks or property sales.  The government quit printing them in 1946 but they remained in use until 1969 when Nixon took them out of circulation.

7.  In 1890, the Secretary of the Treasury issued a set of bills in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $1,000 denominations.  These were used by the government to purchase silver bullion from the Treasury and could be redeemed in coin, either gold or silver depending on which was better at the time.  These notes were also known as "Coin Notes".  They didn't last long and were no longer being issued by 1893.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the different types of bills issued by the United States government over the years.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Are You Sure Easter Is Over?

Cross, Christ, Faith, God, Jesus, CloudsI am sure you read the title of this blog entry and you automatically replied "Of course it's over.  It was this past Sunday!"  That is true but only for the churches who follow the normal religious calendar such as Catholics and Protestants.

There is, however, a group who have not yet celebrated Easter.  I am aware of this group because some are found in the state of Alaska.

The group that still has to celebrate Easter are often classified as "Eastern Orthodox". Eastern Orthodox churches developed in the Eastern Roman Empire around Byzantium and is often called "Byzantium Christianity". I am most familiar with the Russian Orthodox Church which came  when Russia sent people over to settle and hunt for furs.

Here in Alaska, the Russian Orthodox celebrate Christmas about a week later and Easter is also about one week later.  Most of the time Easter is celebrated on different days but every so often the two Easters coincide but that won't be until 2025.

One reason for this is that the Eastern Orthodox calendar is based on the Julian calendar while the Western group uses the Gregorian calendar leading to a difference of 13 days.  One thing that keeps the dates relatively close is that both groups agreed Easter should happen the first Sunday after the first new moon after the Spring Equinox.

Add in to this that some Eastern Orthodox churches have adopted a revised Julian calendar which allows them to celebrate Christmas on the same day as everyone else does but Easter is still calculated the old way.  I know the local Russian Orthodox groups here in Alaska still use the original Julian calendar because they celebrate these holidays at different times.

According to one source, the reason the Eastern Orthodox churches refused to change to the Gregorian calendar had to do with a canon which prohibited Easter from coinciding with Passover and the new calendar allowed this to happen.  They did not want to break church law.

Another reason for refusing the new calendar is that by accepting to follow it, they were recognizing the authority of the Pope who headed the Catholic Church. Thus it indicates a unity with non-Orthodox churches.  Others felt that the acceptance of the new calendar challenged the purity of the Orthodox beliefs.

I chose this topic because the Russian Orthodox Church have been in many of the villages I've lived in so I'm more aware of the differences than most people.  I hope you found this interesting.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

15 Weird Money Facts.

Dollar, Currency, Money, Us-DollarI watched a rerun of the new MacGyver second season.  The episode dealt with counterfeiting $100 bills out of $1.00 bills.  In it, MacGyver states the cold bug lasts on bills for up to 17 days instead of the normal 48 hours.  This made me wonder about other facts I didn't know about money.

1.  The Bureau of Engraving and Printing uses 9.7 tons of ink each and every day.  The bureau has two active places that print the money daily.

2.  In regard to MacGyver's claim, it turns out about 94% of the bills carry bacteria and 7% of those bacteria are hazardous to your health.  If you don't like germs, use your credit card.

3.  Between 1934 and 1935, the government printed some $100,000 gold certificate bills used primarily by the federal reserve banks.  The bills carried Woodrow Wilson's picture on them and they could not be held by the public or by collectors.

4.  The government printed other large denominations in $500, $1000, $5000, $10,000 bills until 1945 when the last ones were printed and the government totally discontinued them in 1969 when they outlawed anything bigger than $100 bill.  The remaining ones are found in private collections.

5. United States bills are not made out of paper.  They are made out of 75% cotton and 25% linen.  In Benjamin Franklin's day, people would often repair torn money with a needle and thread.

6. There is a farm in Delaware that turns more than 4 tons of bills pulled from circulation into compost every day.

7.  The $10 bill has the shortest life span of 4.5 years before it is withdrawn while the $100 bill lasts 15 years.

8.  At the end of the Civil War, it is said that between one third and one half of all money in circulation was counterfeit so the government created the Secret Service on July 5, 1865 to find and prosecute counterfeiters and prevent the spread of fake money.  It was only later, they began protecting the president.

9.  North Korea is the largest counterfeiter of American money.  Their counterfeits are so good, only certain machines at the Federal Reserve are able to detect them.  Since 2009, the government has collected around $45 million counterfeit money.

10. The design of the one dollar bill includes several references to the original 13 colonies such as 13 stars above the eagle, 13 steps on the pyramid, and lots more.

11. Over two-thirds of the $100 bills printed by the Federal Reserve are missing.  It is suspected they are overseas somewhere.

12. The $20 bill is the most frequently counterfeited denomination followed by the $100 bill.

13. Prior to the founding of the Federal Reserve, banks printed their own money.

14.  The ink used to print money is extremely high tech so it can be tracked, is magnetic, and has color changing properties.

15. If you look carefully at the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill with a magnifying glass, you will find all 50 states listed there.

I hope you enjoyed reading weird facts about money.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Best 8 Things To Buy In April.

Clothing Store, Shop, Boutique
 I do most of my shopping online because the local stores are not much bigger than a convenience store except you can't buy liquor but you can buy bullets. The village is dry so no alcohol is sold but that is another story.

Many items are best bought at certain times of the year.  I buy my Christmas stuff including my wrapping paper right after Christmas, when prices are down.  However, for most things, we can't do the day after so its good to know what you can purchase when to save money.

Since April is National Car Care Month, so many car parts stores have regular promotions on car accessories and other goodies.  Its also a good time to get your tires checked and your engine tuned up.  For many living in northern climates, its also the month cars must change from winter studded tires to regular tires.

Another thing to look at purchasing in April is a used car because dealers are stocking up on inventory since people tend to buy in the spring.  By buying in April, you can avoid the crowds but you need to find a dealer who is willing to negotiate.

If you have some accrued vacation time, you might want to go traveling during April because its the time between the winter holidays and summer vacation times.  This time between peak travel times offer lower plane fares and good hotel rates. Further more the crowds are thinner so you can see more.  April is also a great time to find deals on cruises.

April is also a great month to purchase jewelry because Valentine's Day is long gone but jewelers want to pick up sales around April 15th by having sales so people will spend their refund checks.  When people have money, they spend it on things they want.

In addition, April is the time to look for end of winter sales on things like snow-blowers.  If your snow-blower is dying, get a new one now when stores are trying to get rid of inventory till next winter.  Furthermore, many stores such as Home Depot offer specials on home improvement supplies so those Do-it-yourself type people can get a head start on their summer projects.

If you need some new clothing, April is a great time to get the best price on spring clothing because stores are trying to clear space out for their summer clothing.  What inventory they have, they will discount to move it out.

On the other hand, if you need to get new cookware, now is the time to buy it.  Many stores discount their pots, pans, and cooking tools ahead of the wedding season or Mother's Day in May.  In addition, check out thrift stores for things because spring is when people clean out their closets and donate usable items to thrift stores.

So if you are needing to shop, check these things out and see if you can get a bargain.  Have a great day and let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

Friday, April 19, 2019

7 Facts about Easter Bunnies and Candy.

Rabbit, Palm, Hand, Bunny, Small, TinyToday kicks off the three day religious weekend for most Christians.  Today is Good Friday and Sunday is Easter but over the years, traditions have begun which are not always about religion.

The Easter Bunny came to America via German immigrants in the 18th century.  The story of "Osterhase" is that a white hare left colored eggs for all good children on Easter Sunday.

American children built nests and leaves outside in their gardens for the eggs from the Easter Hare while Germans left out socks and hats to serve the same purpose. Along the way, it changed from an Easter Hare to Easter Rabbit and the nests switched to baskets filled with candies, etc.

The Germans were also responsible for the very first edible Easter egg made of a pastry surrounding a sugary center in the 19th century.  The first chocolate eggs appeared in Europe in the 19th century.  Originally, the first chocolate handcrafted Easter rabbits appeared in the 1830's and 40's but by the 1880's they were more common.  As candy making improved, companies began producing more and more types of candies.   Did you know that 76% of the people who eat a chocolate Easter rabbit, eat the ears first.

Another candy found in Easter baskets are jelly beans.  The earliest mention of jelly beans dates back to the civil war when a Boston candy maker urged people to send jelly beans to their loved ones fighting in the war.   By the early 20th century, jelly beans were sold in the penny candy section of stores and they joined the candies given at Easter.

There are also some interesting facts associated with Easter candy.

1.  Did you know that 81% of parents admit to stealing candy from their children's baskets.

2.  Over 91 million chocolate bunnies are sold in the United States alone.

3.  Peeps are the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy with over 700 million being consumed in the Untied States.  It takes just 6 seconds to make a Peep.

4.  Americans eat over 16 billion jelly beans every Easter.

5.  No one is sure how much the largest chocolate bunny weighs because one source sites 8000 lbs while the other one claims its 16,000 pounds.

6. The largest Easter egg hunt used just over 500,000 eggs in Florida and involved over 9,700 children.

I hope you have a great Easter Weekend.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a good day.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Will The Real Sherlock Holmes Please Stand Up!

Sherlock Holmes, Book, PatternSherlock Holmes, a man with the uncanny ability to sniff out the truth when its buried under a layer of misdirects, red herrings, and a lack of knowledge.

Besides the books, there have been multiple movies, a radio show or two, a couple of series, and an occasional visit to other series such as Fantasy Island and Star Trek.

As most everyone knows, Sherlock Holmes is fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle but are you aware the detective was modeled on a real life person?

Conan-Doyle based Sherlock on Dr Joseph Bell,  a well known forensic scientist who worked at Edinburgh University.  Conan-Doyle studied under Dr. Bell while studying for his medical degree.  It was while a student, Sir Conan-Doyle got to see Dr Bell in action.

Dr Bell would often impress students by determining a person's occupation and other details just by looking at his appearance and observing his mannerisms.  In addition, Conan-Doyle worked as a clerk for Dr Bell, so he was able to observe Dr Bell using his observational powers for diagnostic reasons.

Dr Joseph Bell was born on December 2, 1837 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School and received his degree in 1859.  As a student, he was extremely bright and even delivered a dissertation to the Royal Medical Society which they still have in their possession today.

His interest in medicine came naturally because his great - grandfather, Dr Benjamin Bell, practiced modern forensic surgery and is classified as a physician who practiced scientifically.  It is said Dr Joseph Bell inherited Dr Benjamin Bell's eye for detail.

At various points in his career, he acted as personal physician to Queen Victoria whenever she was in Scotland, wrote several medical textbooks, and became head of the Royal Physicians College in Edinburgh in 1887. Furthermore, he would lecture publicly on a regular basis impressing the average person because he could tell where a sailer sailed based on his tattoos, a person's place of birth based on his accent and word choice, or a person's line of work from their hands.

Dr Bell and Sir Conan-Doyle met in 1877 when Doyle went to medical school there.  Due to the work they did together, Doyle was able to observe Bell and if Bell was Sherlock Holmes, Doyle was his Watson.  Doyle wrote of how Dr Bell would look at a patient, ask a series of questions based on his observations before making conclusions.

In addition to working with Dr Bell, it appears he took Dr Bell's style of a long coat with deerstalker hat and clothed Sherlock in the same outfit.  Doyle even wrote Dr Bell a short letter thanking him and admitting the Doctor's influence on the character.  Dr Bell died in 1911.

So now you know more about the real man who influenced Sir Conan-Doyle's creation of Sherlock Holmes.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Who Is Mrs Sherlock Holmes?

Sherlock Holmes, DetectiveYes, there is a female detective who was nicknamed "Mrs Sherlock Holmes" due to her amazing observational powers and ability to solve crimes.  I'd never heard of her until I watched a rerun the other night.

This woman, Mrs Grace Humiston, gained the nickname when she solved the disappearance of Ruth Cruger.

She was born Mary Grace Winterton in 1869 to a family with some money and who were well known.  She grew up going with her father to court when he needed to testify due to his being an insurance claims adjuster.

Once she graduated from Hunter College, she became a teacher before marrying a doctor whom she later divorced because he had peep holes in his examining room.  After the divorce, she enrolled in New York University because they were the only place accepting women into their law program.  She started attending at night but did so well, the University moved her to the day time program.  She graduated seventh in her class after only two years.

As soon as she passed the bar, she opened her People's Law Firm designed to help the poor, immigrants in town and her fee's were modest.  Sometimes she didn't get paid, other times, it might be a sweater, she didn't care.  She was so successful, she opened satellite offices in other ethnic neighborhoods.

Soon, she began handling more high profile cases such as the case of young New Jersey housewife who killed the man who tried to rape her.  Although she claimed it was self defense, the police could not find a weapon on him and she spoke only Italian, she was found guilty and sentenced to hang.  Grace refused to accept this decision.  So she went out, checked everything and found the missing weapon in a drawer in the country corner's house.  This caused the courts to reduce her sentence to seven years in prison.

Another high profile case involved a woman who came to her claiming her husband had disappeared. Grace followed up on several leads only to discover him working in a turpentine camp in Florida.  Apparently, he signed up to work for the company only to discover the more he worked, the more he owed until he'd never work his way free.  She reported it and as a result, she was made the first female United States District attorney.  She worked to eliminate the practice of working till you were indebted to the company for the rest of your life, a common practice in the south.

On one trip, she discovered a cotton plantation in Arkansas working Italian Immigrants as slaves because they signed a contract allowing it.  Her report was shelved by President Theodore Roosevelt but that didn't stop her.  She went to Europe, found the people in Italy providing the workers and provided the information to Congress.

Other cases she worked on included proving a man who confessed to the murder of his boss and his housekeeper had been falsified by a corrupt detective.  After she married Howard Humiston, a lawyer, Henry Cruger hired her to find his daughter who disappeared the day before Valentines day.  Although the police department searched for her, they finally concluded she'd eloped with an unknown man.  Grace didn't believe that.  After a lot of work, she followed clues which lead her to discover Ruth had been killed when they found her body buried in the basement of a motorcycle shop.

This lead to the police hiring her as a consulting detective for missing girls. She quit her law practice and devoted herself to finding these girls but due to charging the army with secretly moving girls for sex slaves, she found herself in trouble and no longer allowed to investigate crimes.  She quickly disappeared into obscurity around the beginning of World War I.

Grace did all this before women had the right to vote and while society still considered them the property of their husbands.  I found her story so interesting.  Let me know what you think.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The 10 Most Popular Easter Candies

Easter, Easter K├Ârbchen, Easter Nest Aside from Halloween, Easter is the next day associated with candy, lots of candy.  Everyone has their favorites.  I love those malted milk eggs, the pastel ones with speckles and when you chomp on them, you bite into malted milk filling.

Although there are tons of candies sold at Easter time, some are more popular than others.  In addition, there are some most people would never think of missing at this time of year.  My brothers loved those marshmallow ones.

So which ones out of the ones available are considered the most popular?  The list is in no particular order.

1.  Jelly Beans.  Jelly Beans have become a traditional favorite at this time of year.  Most parents buy bags of them and sprinkle loose one in the grass filled basket.  The basket might be made by the child or purchased at the store but both perfectly acceptable.  Sometimes, jelly beans are stuffed into plastic eggs because they fit so nicely.

2.  M & M's produce pastel colored M&M's for Easter.  Although they taste the same as the regular, the pastel colors give it a more festive feel.  Furthermore, I've never seen Easter M&M's in anything other than regular chocolate.

3. Cadbury Creme Eggs are candy eggs filled with orang and white fondant to replicate the yolks and whites found in a normal egg.  Each one is wrapped in a beautifully decorated foil square, labeled as Cadbury Creme egg.  The writing is blue on a yellow background surrounded by blue again.

4. Hershey's Chocolate covered Marshmallow Eggs which are the ones my brothers absolutely adored.  The marshmallow is covered with milk chocolate that is gooey and wonderful.  I had to watch my candies or my bothers would "borrow" my chocolate covered eggs to eat.  Did you know you can use these in S'mores instead of using separate chocolate and marshmallows.

5. My favorite - Whoppers Robin eggs.  These encase the egg shaped malted milk balls in a crunchy chocolate shell, making them more Easter like.  These are usually pastel colored and the shells often have speckles on them to make them more realistic.

6. Chocolate Bunnies, those chocolates in the shape of rabbits.  Some are solid and some are hallow but they both melt in your mouth in rich chocolatey flavor.  The bad thing is they are so good, they don't last very long.

7.  Peeps, those yellow marshmallow chicks that have been around for a while.  Peeps look like chicks complete with dark eyes, illusion of wings, and beaks.  My brothers had fun eating these because they took great pleasure in biting the heads off first before throwing the rest in the mouths for the second bite.

8. Lindt Chocolate Carrots come wrapped in an orange foil so they look like carrots on the outside but on the inside they are made of hazelnut flavored Swiss chocolate.  I've never seen these but I'm told they are absolutely delicious. In fact, its suggested parents get some for themselves rather than giving them to the kids.

9. Reeces Peanut Butter Eggs, a peanut butter oval covered in milk chocolate and wrapped in a package similar to their regular Peanut Butter Cups.  My father always bought extra ones for himself because he's always liked these.

10 Russel Stover's Eggs come in a variety of flavors from Strawberry Creme, to Black Velvet, to Banana Whip.  They make 22 different flavors covered in either white, milk, or dark chocolate.  They offer two different peanut butter eggs, one is crunchy and one is smooth.  The two flavors that appeal to me most are the carrot cake egg, or the coconut macaroon egg.

I hope I covered your favorite Easter Candy in this list.  I also hope it brought fond memories.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Holy Week

Light, Chapel, Church, ArchitectureIts that time of year again when the village celebrates the week between Palm Sunday and Easter.  Its a tradition for the school to cancel all extra curricular activities so students and teachers can attend all Holy Week services.

We have one Catholic Church, a nondenominational church, and at least two off shoots who meet in people's homes.  The village strongly believes everyone should not be distracted by gym nights, sports practices, spelling bees or any other normal activities.

The Catholic church only has a priest visit once every 8 or 10 weeks but the church makes sure there is one for Christmas, and Easter.  Otherwise, the local deacons handle all services.  I believe the nondenominational church has a lay minister to handle all services.  Once in a while, they end up with a visiting minister from their parent church.  The other two groups, are run by lay ministers but one group has a speaker travel in from one of the villages down the road.

No matter the individual philosophies, they all want school to cancel all activities and the school is happy to do so.  When I first arrived, the school expected us to work on Good Friday but over time, they began giving the day off because too many workers took the day off to attend services.  The district couldn't do much about it because legally these workers were practicing their religion.

The churches in town tend to have services for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.  I believe the Catholic Church has a Virgil going from Thursday to Sunday to represent the three days before He rose.  I believe the other churches celebrate Palm Sunday and Easter but schedule extra bible studies focusing on events of the week.

On Easter Sunday, after all the services are over, the city usually arranges an Easter egg hunt somewhere in town.  Usually, there is still snow on the ground so the eggs get buried in snow with just a bit of color showing.  When I first came, one of the teachers organized an Easter egg hunt in the school library.  She'd stuff plastic eggs with candies and small toys, spread them around the library for kits to find.  They'd take the goodie out and return the eggs to her so she could use them again the following year.  When she left, the city took over.

It's been this way the whole 13 years I've lived here and I expect it will continue the same way for the future because the church plays a huge part in the daily lives of those who live here.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, April 12, 2019

He Made History Going The Wrong Way.

Fokker, Airplane, Warplane, Wings, OldThere was a man back in the early 1930's who made history when he headed back home but got lost and ended up across the world in a different country.

This man, Douglas Corrigan, began life in Texas but at the age of 18, he took his first ride in Los Angeles where he got hooked.

He kept going back to the air field every Sunday to take a flying lesson and hang with mechanics, learning more about engines.  In March 1926, he soloed and received a job offer from the men who ran the airfield.  He accepted but when he arrived at the factory, the airplanes were in various stages of construction because many people cancelled their orders.  Then Charles Lindbergh contacted the company to see if they could build him a plane.  They stated for $10,000, they'd have a plane ready for him in two months.

Douglas met Charles Lindbergh when he and a mechanic were sent out to a field to start the plane to see if he could fly.  Charles proved he could and the company built his famous plane  - The Spirit of Saint Louis.  The plane he planned to fly to Paris.

When he heard that Lindbergh made it to Paris, he decided he wanted to fly across the ocean but it would be a while before he could pursue his dream.  When the aircraft company moved to Saint Louis, Douglas stayed in California where he got a job teaching flying.   He often performed stunts, gave people rides but he was finally able to buy a plane.

At this point, he decided to he wanted to be the first person to fly from the United States to Ireland so he refurbished his plane, added extra gas tanks, etc but when the inspector checked it out, he only certified it to fly cross country. He kept applying to authorities to be allowed to fly to Dublin but they kept telling him next year or he needed a radio license even though he didn't have a radio.

Eventually, he flew to New York, then back to Los Angeles where federal officials caught up with him.  After a bit of work, he finally got his plane certified to fly to New York and back again.  While getting prepared he experimented with speed before deciding that 85 mph was the perfect speed.  On July 7, 1938, he took off, heading for New York.  On the way, his gas tank developed a leak so by the time he finally landed in New York, he was down to four gallons.

After landing, he filled his tanks tanks, got everything ready for a return flight.  On July 17, 1938 he took off but the plane was so loaded it took longer than normal for the plane to get off the runway.  He disappeared into a fog to the east.  Ten hours later, Douglas felt his feet get cold, gas leaked all over the place including his feet, so he grabbed a screw driver, punched a hole so the gas would drain from the cockpit.  After a long night, he landed in Dublin accomplishing his dream.

He explained his trip as having gotten turned around in the clouds as he burned off extra fuel because his compass had broken and he ended up in Ireland instead of California.  He'd arrive with no passport, none of the usual papers so the Irish customs agents had to contact the American Representative.

He was extremely lucky in that the only penalty he suffered was a suspended license until he returned to New York by boat.  His story made the newspapers and they gave him the name "Wrong way" Corrigan.  He made his mark in aviation history due to this.  He eventually admitted he'd intentionally flown to Ireland but not until the 1980's.   He died on December 9, 1995 at the age of 88

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Short History of Tanning

Vacation, Beach, Relax, Travel, Sun, Sea When I was a teenager, I remember all my friends worked on getting a nice deep tan because that was considered "the" thing to do.  I also remember seeing a male star who tanned so much, his skin on TV looked like tanned leather.  Now the pendulum is moving the other direction to a more healthy  skin color but have you ever wondered about the changing view of sun tanning over the years?  I have.

Originally, people desired paler skin because it indicated they had money and were of a higher class.  They didn't have to go outside to earn a living and the skin color proved it.  Women often used  hats, gloves, parasols to protect their skins but other times, they relied on chemicals to obtain and keep their skins pale.  For instance, many use Ceruse a popular skin whitener in the 16th century but due to the lead content proved quite dangerous.

As cities grew and the lower classes became crammed into certain areas, they were unable to go outside and began either working in crowded factories or in crowded apartments so they developed pale skin and diseases that went with this situation.  Around the late 1800's and early 1900's, inventors began creating machines to provide light to help increase people's health and eliminate rickets etc.

This lead people to going out more in sunlight to get healthier but they had to be careful or they might burn.  At this time, sun screens really did not exist so many turned to skin bleaching products designed to eliminate tans and freckles.   The attitude towards being tanned started changing in the 1920's when hemlines went up, corsets loosened up, and prohibited activities such as smoking, drinking, and dancing became fun.  Suntanning became a way of shedding the old Victorian standards.

Around 1923, French resorts began opening over the summer months instead of closing for the off season.  The rich began flocking to the shores to sun bath.  That was the same year Coco Chanel returned from a cruise with a beautiful tan.  Her new look combined with the fact she was a fashion designer made the tan a much needed part of one's look.

By 1929, Vogue magazine claimed that sunbathing lead to a whole new industry that produced swim suits, clothing and cosmetics designed to frame people's new skin tones.  About the same time, sun tan lotions and sun screens began developing. It is said that sunbathing really took off when bikini's and two pieces hit the fashion world.  

In 1971, Barbie joined the sun tanned crowd when they gave her blonde hair and a darker skin tone letting young girls desire the same.  Just seven years later, the first indoor tanning bed hit the market so that anyone could work on their tan, rain or shine.

Beginning about the same time Vogue made their observation in 1929, people began working on sunless tanning.  At first, these products were essentially a body make-up but during the 1950's a scientist noted that a medication gave people darker skin without staining their clothing. This ingredient -dihydroxyacetone (DHA) -became the basis of modern day sunless tanning products.

We occasionally see people sporting the extremely deep tans but there is a move towards a slightly lighter, more "natural" looking tan.  For myself, I'm wearing lots of sunscreen because I don't want to face looking way older than my age when I'm in my 60's and 70's.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day and stay safe.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

History of Comic Books

Batman, Comic-Con, Comics, BooksI have friends who collect a variety of comic books.  They buy the issue, put it in plastic before adding it to their collection while others grab the newest issue, read them again and again, not worrying about the value as a collectable item.

Cartoons both political and otherwise have been around for much longer but as far as "Comic Books" go, they've only been around for just over 100 years.

The first recognized comic book was "The Yellow Kid in McFadden Flats" published in 1897 because it had the words "Comic Book" on the back cover.  It contained black and white reprints of the popular "Yellow Kid" comic strips.  Soon other comic strips were repackaged into compilations and sold as "books" but the first monthly  comic book appeared in 1922 but it still contained reprinted black and white strips.  In 1933, "Funnies on Parade" began publishing full color strips in today's standard size.

The first real comic book published with original material in color hit the market in 1935.  It was produced by National Allied Publications, the forerunner of DC comics.  It was called "New Fun #1" The creators of Superman began working for this company in 1935 but they didn't actually introduce him until the first issue of "Action Comics #1" in 1938.  Batman joined the line up about a year later.

National Allied Publications major rival hit the shelves in October 1939 with "Marvel Comics #1".  The company was known as Timely Publications at the time but later became Marvel Comics.  Through the war, comic books were published rapidly due to the demand.  Most issues ran around 100,000 copies sold but Superman, Batman, and Captain Marvel comics sold in the range of 1.5 million copies.  This is the Golden Age of Comics.

After the war was over, the sales of superhero comic books began declining and some titles went out of print.  The focus changed to more serious topics such as crime, horror, romance, and Westerns but Superman, Batman, and Wonder Women managed to keep enough of an audience to survive.

In 1954,a psychiatrist published a book in which he stated comic books were corrupting teenagers in a variety of ways.  One of the Senate subcommittees became so alarmed, they called the author to testify in front of them and the Comic book companies responded by creating the Comic Code Authority as a way of monitoring themselves.

This code stated that good must always triumph over evil, crime should be portrayed as an unpleasant   activity, women should be portrayed realistically, and there should never be any werewolves, vampires, ghouls, etc.  This last bit cause many horror, romance, and crime comic books to cease publication.

This lead to comic book companies resurrecting many of the superheroes from the golden age, update them, and created new ones.  Many story lines of this time were no longer dark but silly and campy to meet the new code.  It also lead to silly characters such as Batbaby, Bat-Mite, and others.

In the early 1970's comics changed focus again with the shocking murder of Peter Parkers girl friend. It showed that even heroes cannot save their loved one. At about the same time, the code loosened things up a bit by allowing werewolves and vampires back in as long as they were handled in the traditional ways.

This change allowed horror comics to return with Dracula, Zombies, and Ghost Rider.  Most story lines became more social issues such as pollution, racism,  and social injustices.  This is when they began introducing super heroes who were African American, and other minorities.  In addition, they worked on clearing up plot consistencies over time with multiple universes.

The 1980's and 1990's brought us darker, less optimistic stories with the Watchmen, Batman: The Dark Knight, super heroes aging, dying, and retiring.  From here, comics moved back to being optimistic and hopeful.

I hope you enjoyed this quick history of the comic book.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Which Exercise Is Best For Your Age?

Physiotherapy, Weight Training, Dumbbell It is a well known fact that one should exercise most days of the week so you can age gracefully and stay in good shape.  We know women are encouraged to include weight training so they keep their bone density where it should be to prevent osteoporosis.

I'm one who exercises most days and changes things around but I never knew that there are appropriate exercises for your decade of life.  I understand the idea but no one had ever told me.

The thing is not everyone agrees on what exercise should be done at which decade.  When you are in your 20's you are usually young and healthy with little to worry about but its a good idea to start exercising.   One authority recommends
you do about 30 minutes of weights and 30 minutes of aerobics three times a week and 45 to 60 minutes of straight exercise three times a week with one day off.

 Another source recommends you switch between cardio, weight training, work on balance, and include some stretching.  This is when you should focus on finding the type of cardio you want to do for the rest of your life.  In addition, one should do weight training at least two times a week where you work all your muscle groups.

When you get to your 30's you should change over to one hour of circuit training four times a week with at least one more day of 45 to 60 minutes of high intensity exercise.  This is because your metabolism is starting to slow down a bit and you have to work harder to keep your weight down. The other group recommends you continue with the exercise you did in your 20's but add some resistance training twice a week because it can help your bone density.

Then in your 40's you need to increase your weights to either half an hour over four days or one hour for each of three days if you also work on your whole body.  You should do 45 minutes of cardio five days a week with one day off.  Its important to add in resistance training to help your body stay in shape.  Another authority recommends mixing moderate cardio with with strength exercises that work all the muscles groups.

By the time you hit your 50's they recommend women participate in 4 to 6 cardio sessions lasting 20 to 40 minutes per week. Watch the intensity so you can answer a question but not carry on a chat.  It is important to do two weight sessions per week each should last half an hour.   Another authority recommends walking several days a week and increasing resistance training for the bones and muscles.  One should also focus on strengthening leg muscles to help with balance.

In your 60's, one should perform 3 days of active movement such as a slow jog but not intense cardio and weights 3 days a week with lighter weights but longer more controlled repetition. Include a daily walk and lots of exercise designed to work on keeping your balance.  Another authority recommends that one keep moving and integrate yoga, pilates, and have a good variety of movement to help keep muscles in shape and work on balance. In other words focus on your muscles as you age.

In your 70's you should focus on low impact, stationary bikes, regular walks, and a modified resistance program to help your core stay strong.  The same for the 80's.  You might consider water aerobics to help with movement and balance.

At least with this information, I'm going to plan to  exercise appropriately as I age so I don't do damage to myself.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Unusual Taxes

Calculator, Calculation, Insurance I am always surprised when I visit California.  They often have some new tax on something.  Last time I visited San Diego, they had a tax on the tax charged by the place because the establishment had been classified as a "Resort".

I have a friend who is building a house out in the San Francisco area and he has to pay an extra tax on any wood he buying for his new house he's building.

If you look at history, taxes have always been levied in one way or another but not all the taxes made sense. Some are certainly unique.  For instance, in ancient Egypt the authorities taxed the cooking oil they could only purchase from the Pharaoh's people and they could not reuse it.  So they were taxed by the same people who sold it to them.

Then in the Middle Ages, many European governments taxed soap and many countries continued taxing soap until the 1800's.  In the early 1700's Peter the Great wanted men to be clean shaven like other European countries so he taxed beards.  Later in that same century, the French instituted a tax on all salt sold.  This is said to be one of the factors contributing to the French Revolution.

Europe is not the only place that instituted unusual taxes.  In Japan, they taxed whiskey based on the amount alcohol in it while in Canada, they began charging a tax on each Chinese immigrant in 1885 that continued till 1923.  They called it "The Chinese Head" tax.

Over in England, King Henry I allowed his knights to pay a tax to get out of fighting.  It wasn't much at first but when King John took over, he raised it 300 percent so few could afford it any more.  On the other hand, Oliver Cromwell taxed Royalists by taking one tenth of their property and then used the money to continue prosecuting them.

In 1660, England decided to tax fire places but this lead to people bricking in theirs so they didn't have to pay it.  The government decided to repeal it about 30 yeas later.  Then just before 1700, they began to tax houses based on the number of windows each one had.  In response, they began building houses with fewer windows.  This lead to an increase in health issues so the tax was finally repealed in the middle of the 1800's.

Just after the 1700's England also decided to tax decorated wallpaper but people got around it by buying plain wallpaper and painting decorations on it.  The same could be said when they tried to tax hats.  Milliners renamed their creations anything but hats but this lead to the government placing a tax on all head gear.  When I lived in Australia, they had a yearly tax on televisions that had to be paid.

Beginning in 1936, Pennsylvania placed a tax on alcohol so they'd have the money to rebuild a couple of towns destroyed by flooding but within 6 years, the towns had been rebuilt but the tax still remains because it provides about $2 million annually for the state of Pennsylvania.  On the other hand, New York City has a special tax on prepared foods so sliced bagels are taxed as both food and as a prepared food.

There are a few states that tax pumpkins if they are going to be carved but if they are not eaten. In Chicago any candy made with flour is taxed at a much lower rate than candy prepared without flour.  Then there is the "jock" tax which all entertainers and athletes must pay on monies earned there.

These are just a few unusual taxes from ancient times to modern.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Inventions That Saved Us Time.

Aer Lingus, Plane, Airplane, Aircraft I know we have it so much easier than most people who lived around 150 years ago or even before.  Think about how long it used to take to go across the country?  Or even travel to Europe, or doing laundry?

One of the first inventions is the printing press created back in 1440 by Gutenberg.  Before he invented the printing press, every book, every document was written by hand.  If you wanted multiple copies of anything, they had to be done one at a time.  People wrote on paper, papyrus, clay, or wax.  Once the printing press arrived, it became so much easier to make multiple copies of books and documents.  

Then came the Model T Ford, the first mass produced affordable car everyone could afford.  Other cars had been produce prior to 1908 but these cars were built individually and only the rich were able to purchase them.  When the first Model T's were made, they cost $825 in 1908 but by 1924 the price dropped to about $370.  The Model T Ford made it possible for people to replace their horse and buggies with something faster and easier to handle. This made travel faster.

The Jet Airplane made its appearance in 1939.  The first jet planes were turbo jets that sucked air in the front, ran it through the engine where it was heated before being sent out the rear.  It caused planes to go faster, making travel easier.  It would be another 15 to 20 years before airlines began using jets for regular service.  A trip from New York to Los Angeles dropped from four days to several hours, flying at a top speed of 372 mph. Eventually, one of the companies built the Concorde which flew from New York to London in just under 3 hours in 1997.

Just a couple years later, the first computer as we know them arrived but at this time they were big and bulky. It would be another few decades before computers got small enough they no longer took a whole floor and had lots of computing power.  Now computers are found in our watches, our phones, everything.  I include mobile phones because they have tremendous computing power.

One of the most recent time saving inventions, born in 1969 and used by most everyone is the Internet.  It was originally built to linking communications but has become the largest data base in the world filled with everything from movies, to shopping, to libraries, and so many more things.

Of course, others might disagree with these and argue that many of these only save time in terms of distance but if you get stuck in city traffic in your car, it might be faster to walk.  Many the woman might argue that the washing machine was one of the greatest time saving inventions because you no longer have to heat water, swish the laundry around in hot, hot, water, wring it out, and hang it out.  In other words, it could take way longer than the 40  minutes needed to wash a load.  It adds up when you have 6 load to do every couple of days.

My mother loves her dishwasher because she just throws dishes in, turns on, and she can spend time doing other things rather than getting all the dishes done.  I remember aunts who'd prewash all the dishes before stacking them in the dish washer but I think it was because they didn't always get food off successfully.

All of the inventions I've mentioned have made tremendous changes to the time it takes to do anything.  In a sense, many of these changed our lives so we'd be lost without them.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  I'd also love to hear if you have an invention you consider as a huge time saver.


Thursday, April 4, 2019

History of Comic Strips.

Vintage, Design, Old Fashioned, RetroGrowing up, I loved reading the comic section of the Sunday paper because all the comic strips were in color but I had to wait till my father finished reading them.  He referred to them as the intellectual section not the comics.

The first "comics" were actually satirical political illustrations in which artists drew caricatures of famous people in the early 1700's.  These drawings  poked fun at politicians and topics of the day.

In 1754, Benjamin Franklin published the first editorial cartoon in an American news paper.  The picture showed a snake with a split head and the words "join" or "die".  He hoped to encourage colonies to join the future United States.

Two magazines, Punch in the United Kingdom and  Harper's Bazaar in the United States started publishing in the mid 1800's and were known for their political cartoons.  In fact, Thomas Nast an American well known for his satirical illustrations is credited with inventing the political symbols for the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Up till 1827, all comics were composed of one panel only but then Rudolphe Topffer published the first multi panel comic.  Ten years later, he published an illustrated book called "The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck".  The book took off in Europe and then it was published in the United States as a newspaper supplement in New York City around 1842.

In 1865, the first syndicated comic strip began publication in Germany.  "Max and Moritz" followed the adventures of two young boys.  The first one appeared in 1892 in the United States. This one "The Little Bears" appeared in the San Francisco examiner in color, right next to the weather report.

 The one designated as the first real comic strip, "The Yellow Kid" appeared in 1895 in the New York World.  This comic strip caused other strips to be published including the Katzenjammer Kids.  The author of the Katzenjammer Kids started the tradition of using sawing logs to indicate sleep,  circling starts to indicate pain, and he was the first to use word balloons for dialogue.

In the United Kingdom, The Daily Mail commissioned Charles Folkard, a children's illustrator s, to begin producing a daily cartoon for children.  His strip, Teddy Tail, gained such popularity that other newspapers followed suite with their own comics.  The first cartoon strip aimed at adults appeared in the United Kingdom in 1921 with "Pop".  This sophisticated strip showed how the narrative could carry across panels.

In the early 1900's there were around 150 comics being published. By 1912, The New York Evening Journal began publishing a full page devoted to cartoon strips and single panel comics.  Within the next 10 years comics such as "Little Orphan Annie", "Gasoline Alley" and "Popeye",  were regulars.  "Gasoline Alley" began in 1918 and is still published today.  It is also the first comic strip to show characters age rather than staying the same year after year.

It was during the 1930's,  newspapers began publishing a complete section devoted to comics in color.  These sections were designed to sell more Sunday Editions.  Between 1930 and 1980, more and more comic strips were published and this time is considered the golden age for this art form.  Over the past few years, interest in newspapers have declined but interest in the internet has increased and its easy to find comic strips published on the web.

Along with the development of comic strips, the ability to syndicate them also grew.  Comic strip syndications act like an agent for the artists.  Syndicates get hundreds of submissions a year but only a few are actually accepted.  Early on, most syndicates owned all rights to the comic strips so if the creator retired, died, or moved on, they could still keep publishing the strips.  This was because the contracts lasted for 10 to 20 years.

Occasionally, the artist would retain rights to their creation but that wasn't particularly common until the 1940's and 50's when they'd sue for their rights. In 1985, a new syndication began which gave people  the ability to keep the rights to their own strips. This was a big step.

I hope you enjoyed this short history of comic strips. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  I'll cover how comic strips evolved into comic books on another day.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Changes in Women's Exercises Through Time.

Sport, Training, Abdominals, SixpackIf you are over 30 or even 40, you know that exercises has changed quite a bit over time.  There's been Jazzercise, Zumba, and so many others.  Lets look at the various types and how its changed over time.

In the early 1900's to about 1920, women stretched a lot, which eventually transferred to machines.  One machine, a Vibro Slim, was a belt that massaged the body and was perfect for the women wearing high heels, pearls, and dresses.  Others such as stationary bikes, or rowing machines were popular.

When the 1930's rolled around, the Glamor Girl workout became popular.  This workout required women to use repeated movements such as twisting so she could get rid of her spare tire.  Other movements such as touching your toes with your opposite hand were quite popular. This type of exercise continued through the 1940's.

In the 1950's the focus switched to calisthenics and Hula Hoops. The use of Hula Hoops took off when Wham-O released a plastic version anyone could purchase and they sold over 400,000 by 1957.  A 30 minute session with the hula hoop made a great workout.

In the 1960's   vibrating belts hit the exercise front again. These were marketed with the idea you'd put the belt over the part of your body, turn it on, and it would magically make your fat disappear. With minimal work, you'd loose weight and get a better body.

The 1970's brought us Jazzercise a high intensity form of exercise combining Jazz dance, ballet, pilates, yoga, and kickboxing.  This was the beginning of choreographed exercise because Jazzercise let the instructor set the routine to their choice of music.

In the 1980's women moved more using aerobic movement.  Aerobics was an off shoot of Jazzercise with fewer dance movements and more movements such as marching in place..  Although it began in the 60's, it did not become popular until Jane Fonda released a series of video tapes and books.  In addition, aerobics spread out into water aerobics and step aerobics.  I

Suddenly in the 1990's the focus moved to tight buns and thighs.  They used the Thigh Master to tighten their inner and outer thighs along with focusing on their rears.  They often used the Buns of Steel videos to help tighten rears.  In addition, Billy Blanks introduced his Tae Bo workout that combined martial arts, boxing, dancing, with hip hop.  It took off.  During the same decade, a cyclist from South Africa took cycling indoors and renamed it Spinning.

When the 2000's came, Zumba hit the scene with its latin inspired workout that combined salsa, tango, bachata, and flamenco steps.  It is found world wide and gives people a high intensity workout.  This trend was followed by the Cross Fit movement in 2010, combining gymnastics, weight lifting, pull-ups, and calisthenics.

Through all this time, people started or tried to start Gyms. For instance one of the first was Jack LaLanne who opened the first modern gym in the 1930's but people couldn't figure out why anyone would pay anyone to help them exercise. The other facilities such as the YMCA , mens health clubs or boxing clubs were private and specialized.  The first real gym, Gold's Gym, opened in 1965 but gained popularity when it was featured in a movie on body building with the likes of Arnold Schwarzenagger, and Lou Ferrigno ( the original Hulk).  Eventually gyms became coeducational and morphed into a variety of fitness places.

I hope you found this interesting.  Please let me know what you think, I'd love to hear, have a great day.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

History of Income Tax and the 1040.

Taxes, Tax Office, Tax Return, FormThe deadline for sending in your income tax is slowly approaching.  It falls on the day after Palm Sunday this year and can cause fear in the hearts of men.   I'm one of those who usually gets and extension because I'm in the boondocks, my tax person is elsewhere in the state, and it takes a while for all the forms to get to me due to the slow mail delivery.  This year, I'll actually get it done on time.

Income taxes have been around for a very long time.  The earliest records of people paying income tax date back about 4500 years ago when people were required to pay taxes in the form of livestock in Mesopotamia.

The United States Government has not always collected income tax.  In fact, up until the Civil War, the country didn't need to collect income tax due to raising enough monies using other sources but in 1861, the government passed its first income tax to pay for the war it found itself involved in.  About one year later, Congress passed the Internal Revenue which created the Bureau of Internal Revenue the predecessor to today's Internal Revenue Service.

In addition to collecting income tax, the bureau also levied excise taxes on everything they could from tobacco to jewelry but in 1872, Congress did not renew the income tax so it disappeared.  Income tax was not popular with the population so Congress passed the Wilson-Groman tariff in 1894 which in essence placed a 2% income tax on any income over $4000 but was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1895.

In 1898, the War Revenue Act of 1898 levied another death tax to fund the Spanish American War.  Soon, people began supporting the reinstatement of the income tax and in February 1913, Congress ratified the sixteenth amendment which gave the government the right to tax personal income.  They implemented a new system which withheld money for taxes at the source as it is today.

In 1914, the Bureau of Internal Revenue released its first form, the "1040" which is still in use today. The first year, the 1040 was used, people filled it out, and sent it in to be checked for its accuracy.  They did not have to pay tax with it but in 1915, people voiced concerns about the difficulty of filling out the form which lead to the Revenue Act of 1916 with the adjusted tax rates and income scales.

Originally, it was 1% for the bottom bracket or income up to about $20,000 to 7% for anyone earning over $500,000 but that was rapidly changed to 2% for the lowest bracket and the highest bracket ended up at 25% for income over 2,000,000.  The Revenue Act of 1916 also imposed the ancestor to what we know as an estate tax.  Over the years, the tax rate increased and the amount of the estate also went up so by 1941 the government taxed estates at 77% for a value of over $50,000,000 but by the 1980's the amount of tax dropped. Congress also set up the corporate excess profit tax which causes corporations to be taxed on profit above a "reasonable amount".

Over the years, the one page instruction document for the income tax return, has grown as the tax code has been amended, changed, and adjusted according to the demands of Congress.  The first income tax return from 1913 and 1914 is three pages long with one page of instructions and is not that complex compared to today's returns. By 1917, the income tax returns is more complex with two pages of instructions.  If you are interested in seeing what the forms looked like through the years, check this site out and enjoy.

Monday, April 1, 2019

The 10 Most Popular April Fool's Pranks For Adults.

April, First, April Fool'S Joke Welcome to April First also known as April Fools day. The day when people try to fool each other by playing tricks on each other in school.  Some people go full out while others look at it as another day.

Since I work at a school, I get too many "Look, your shoe is untied" or  something similar.  Fortunately, no one goes over board.  I personally do not celebrate it because one of my friends died on that day when I was in about 8th or 9th grade.  She went diving and trapped herself under a ledge on March 31.  We heard the next day but thought it was a joke because of being April 1.

Before I talk about the most popular pranks, I'd like to give you a quick history of the day. So how did this all start?  No one is really sure. We know that the Roman's and the Hindi's celebrated their New Years around April 1st.  In medieval times March 25th was celebrated as the start of the New Year.  Some say when Pope Gregory changed the calendar, many countries were slow to move their New Year's to January 1st so they continued celebrating it on April 1st.  The problem with this explanation is that when England finally got around to adopting the new calendar in the mid 1750's, they were celebrating April fools Day, so that does not appear to be a true connection.

Another story is that back when Constantine was emperor of the Roman Empire, the jesters in his court, claimed they could run the empire better than he, so in return, he named one of the Jesters as king for the day.   The jester decreed that the day must be one of absurdity and since it was so successful, it became a tradition.

In France, they place a fish on a person's back because they refer to April 1 as Poisson D'Avil or The April Fish.  No one is sure what but there is some suspicion it might be tied to Jesus because the fish represented early christianity.  In addition,  Napoleon earned that nickname when he married Marie-Louise of Austria in 1810.

So on to the pranks.

The fake tattoo is one of the popular ones where people either get fake ones, order custom ones, or get a pull on sleeve which allows someone to have a tattoo for the day.  If your coworker suddenly sports a cool new tattoo, there is a good chance it is temporary.

If you come across an article stating they are building a dome shaped freezer, large enough to cover 500 acres to protect the melting ice and polar bears, you've run across a false news item written for today specifically.

Then there is the fake out prank where someone puts this big intimidating sign on your desk that says "April Fool's Day" and nothing else.  You'll spend the day "waiting" for the prank to happen but it never does.

Out of the Science realm comes the wonderful new item that scientists have discovered a way to harness potential earthquake energy by turning it into usable electrical power.  The resulting power will be used by cities to run it's electrical plants, etc.  San Francisco is scheduled to begin using it in 2019.  Remember this is fake.

Want to gross your coworkers out?  Take a brown paper bag, sealed with duct tape and place it in the refrigerator. Don't forget to label it as something interesting like "Brains" or "Weasel"

If you want to freak people out, tell them that green pollution is on the rise due to the increased production and use of green products.  You can tell them the EPA measured pollution in several major cities and its been increasing due to the amount of green products being used.

Can't sleep?  Check out the REM goggles that help your brain simulate REM brain waves while you are wide awake.  In addition, they improve your memory, and experience a rested mind.  People will want to know where to buy these goggles so be prepared for that question is you share this fake news.

Another prank designed to drive people crazy is to place lice shampoo in the company restroom without being seen and then as people begin to speculate about it, scratch your head regularly. Just don't let them know you perpetrated the joke.

Of course, you can tell people that with the success of the forever postage stamp, the United States government issued the Forever dollar for $1.05 each with a conversion rate of 77 cents per Euro forever during a limited period in 2009.  You can tell the difference because they have the letter F on them.

Last but not least, one can gather all the plants in the office and relocate them into one cubicle or wrap everything in one person's cubicle.

I still prefer the ones the kids pull at school.  Have a great day and let me know what you think.  Have a great day.