Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Snowboarding For Beginners

Photo: Pixabay
If you are interested in taking up a new hobby, and you enjoy thrilling, fast-paced action, why not consider snowboarding?  Increasing in popularity year on year, snowboarding has always been highly fashionable and is no more accessible than ever, so you really have no excuse for not giving it a go if you are interested.  In this article, we will look at the equipment you will need, where to get started, and the things to watch out for when snowboarding.

First thing’s first - get yourself online.  Look around, and find out exactly what snowboarding involves.  It is a dangerous game, and highly physically taxing.  Additionally, it can be quite expensive, so you need to try to ensure it’s right for you.  Next, you need to look for a board to get you started, and some clothing for wearing on the slopes.  First off, forget about buying a top quality board.  You need to start off with something cheap and cheerful, designed for beginners.  You can find these easily online, and you may also be able to come across some models in your local extreme sports shop.  Alternatively, you could try to pick one up second hand from a friend, or from another snowboarder.  You also want to make sure you look cool whilst you're out there! Check out some of the highly fashionable snowboarding wear, and kit yourself out from hats to sunglasses to thick socks - make sure you’re prepared for the elements before you set off.

It is worth looking around to find lessons in your local area. Lessons range in availability, quality, and price, although you will often find recommendations or local adverts particularly helpful.  Again you could look online for some tips to get you on your way.  If you do take lessons, it is important to take on board what the instructor says from both a performance and safety perspective.  Additionally, get out there and practice between lessons if you ever want to improve.  If you stick at it and work hard, you will eventually see an improvement, and find the sport significantly more enjoyable also.

It is also good to note that snowboarding is a highly dangerous activity and people do get hurt.  Before you even think about snowboarding, take some lessons in safety, and make sure you are fully equipped both mentally and physically for avoiding injury to yourself and others.  Snowboarding is responsible for many accidents every year, and it is an extreme sport after all - if you’re of a weak disposition, it is perhaps not the best sport for you.  Having said that, snowboarding can easily be performed safely with a bit of common sense, and a bit of research, so make sure you’re prepared before you get out there.



Warnings aside, snowboarding is great fun, if you like this sort of thing.  Many people adopt the mantra that you should try everything at least once, and as far as snowboarding is concerned, this is definitely true.  Try snowboarding once, and join the legions of followers who enjoy snowboarding at every opportunity.  Chances are there are clubs and associations in your local town, so get yourself along and join in with like-minded people.  Your level of experience doesn’t matter, as long as you go along and participate, you will gain a lot from it, and you will definitely have a good time in the process.





Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. being arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for "loitering" in 1958.
Photo: Wikimedia
When you sit back and take in the phenomenal achievements of black history, it is natural to be moved to admiration by some of the great figures of black history including Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver and many more.  But one name stands head and shoulders above the rest and that is the name Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King’s legacy of change and his call for the end of racism and segregation in American society is without question the voice that has moved America as no other has done.  For while many have shown tremendous leadership, Dr. King clearly demonstrated a vision for the future of America in which black and white worked, lived, played and worshipped together as one society, not two.

The honor and reverence all American’s have for Martin Luther King, Jr. are evident in how honored his name has become since his tragic death at the assassin's hand in 1968.  All around this nation, virtually every U.S. city has named a major road after the great civil rights leader.  He singularly has a U.S. holiday named after him, an honor usually reserved for presidents.  He has been honored on the U.S. stamp and no school child gets through his or her elementary education without knowing the key phrases from Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.

Dr. King’s career in civil rights is inseparable from the early struggles of the civil rights movement from the late fifties going forward.  Our images of him walking side by side with his people unifying them behind his leadership and facing tremendous hatred and racial bigotry to take a stand in America to say without compromise that racism would not stand in this country anymore.  

Those images of Dr. King working and marching with others who shared his courage to step out and make a change for the better are indelible on the American consciousness.  For Dr. King was not a leader who sent his messages from the safety and comfort of a far away office.  No, he was there, in the midst of his people, marching on Washington's arm in arm with the everyday men and women of this country who banded together to fight the evils of racism.  It took tremendous courage for Dr. King to take to the streets with his people like he did and it was a risk that eventually cost him his life.  But his courage inspired thousands to be courageous too and be one people, one brotherhood who would no longer allow racism to be the rule of law in America.

Dr. King’s famous speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on a hot August 28, 1963, has become so central to our American heritage that it is quoted with reverence by scholars, students and all people seeking their own inspiration from this great man.  This speech ranks with Kennedy’s inaugural speech and the Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as words that have inspired this nation like none other have been able to do.  It is impossible not to get goosebumps reading these key phrases from that historic speech.

* I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"
* "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
* "Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

When reading Dr. King’s prophetic words to us all, his ideas become our ideas and we all become challenged to make his dream come to life.  And that is what is truly the definition of a great leader.




Saturday, December 22, 2018

Finland the last unspoilt wilderness

Rauma Finland - Photo: Pixabay
Why have your honeymoons in Finland? The largest unspoiled wilderness in Europe awaits you on your Finnish honeymoon! Not to mention picturesque islands, pleasant towns and cities with countless museums and art galleries to visit.
Helsinki is built on a peninsula, is both the cultural and financial center of Finland. Vibrant parks and tranquil waterways are found all over the city, and the sea breezes ensure that it is refreshingly free of smog. There are many notable art museums to visit, plus regular operatic and ballet productions at the city’s theaters. A short ferry ride will take you from Helsinki to Suomenlinna Island, where you can enjoy a picnic, explore a huge ruined fortress and visit several museums.
Turku, on the southern coast, was the capital of Finland until 1812 and is the oldest city in the country. Its cathedral and castle both date back to the 13th century, and are well worth visiting! Another notable castle of interest is the 15th-century Olavinlinna Castle in the stunning Savonlinna lakes area of Finland, which includes two museums.
Rauma is the largest wooden town still in existence in the Nordic countries and is a listed World Heritage site. Goldsmiths, lace makers and other artisans all work in the old town! There are many house museums and a lively market square. Rauma is without a doubt one of the most charming towns in Scandinavia!
To discover a unique culture with both Finnish and Swedish influences, visit the Aland province, which even has its own flag. Made up of over 6,400 islands, this beautiful region is best explored by bicycle or on foot. The midsummer festivities are celebrated in style here and you can witness performances of traditional folk dances all year round.

A relaxed country with numerous highlights, Finland is a tranquil, scenic and welcoming honeymoon destination!




Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas in the United States and Canada


Many of the celebrations in the United States that are associated with Christmas were traditions brought by German and English immigrants. Along with the well-known and practiced tradition of a brightly decorated Christmas tree, other traditions brought by these immigrants include Advent calendars, Christmas greeting cards, gingerbread houses and gingerbread cookies. 

Christmas in the United States today can be seen as focused around family, travel, shopping and decorations.

Family and travel go together during Christmas in the United States because family members often have to travel fairly long distances to be with each other at one location. The growth of cities that have primarily an economic activity, suburbs for residences, as well as the fact of different industries being found in certain geographic locations, are among the reasons that family members often live great distances from each other in separate states.

Christmas and its festivities, therefore, present a wonderful opportunity for many members of the family to gather in celebration and see each other in an intimate setting. The traveling involved makes the Christmas season a busy time of the year for rail and air travel.  The occasion of seeing many family members at Christmas is also linked to the activity of shopping that is an important feature of Christmas in the United States. The Christmas season officially begins on the Friday after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday and which now ranks second in shopping for a single day to the Saturday before Christmas.

         Much of the shopping that is done is to purchase gifts for friends and family. Gifts for family members are usually exchanged after dinner on Christmas day when everyone gathers in the room with the Christmas tree. Gifts are usually left at the base of the Christmas tree in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day. 

Gifts may also be exchanged before Christmas at parties held by friends and parties held at workplaces.

Second, to gifts, shopping is also done at Christmas for decorations. While the Christmas tree may be the centerpiece of attraction, garlands, wreaths, candles and decorative lighting placed outside on lawns or along rooflines are also used to create a beautiful holiday appearance for homes.

Canadians enjoy Christmas activities that are similar to those celebrated in the United States. That is so because in the 1700s when some German immigrants in the United States migrated to Canada, they continued to practice many of the activities associated with Christmas. The geographical proximity of the two countries also means they share many things, so similarities in Christmas traditions wouldn't be an exception. 

One thing that accounts for the difference between the two countries, however, is the Eskimo population in Canada. Eskimos in Canada celebrate a festival during winter and have other traditions that are absent from American Christmas celebrations.

A practice also exists in Nova Scotia in which small groups of masked individuals march around about two weeks before Christmas. These masked groups attract attention by creating a stir with much bell ringing and engaging in a noisy caper in an aim to get candy, sweets and goodies from onlookers.



This tradition bears some similarity to Jonkonoo celebrations in the neighboring islands of the Caribbean. Those celebrations also involve masked individuals, including some that appear on stilts that make them as tall as trees. The parade of Jonkonoo regale onlookers with various antics and present a minor scare to some children, who are then calmed with candies and other treats.

In Nova Scotia, onlookers can try to calm the noise and rowdiness just a little if they can correctly guess the identity of the masked person. A correct guess puts an end to the noise as the mask is removed, exposing the individual. For their part, maskers also play nice by friendly nudging answers from children about whether they have been naughty or nice and handing out candies and treats accordingly.





Thursday, December 20, 2018

Basic Components for a Home Theater

Home Theatre - Photo: Wikimedia
Many people never bother looking into purchasing a home theatre through sheer fear of the decisions that may need to be made in the process. Many among these aren't even sure of exactly which components are included in a home theatre or which ones are needed in order to create an effective and entertaining home theatre. For this reason, many people simply do not bother going through the process of looking at their options when it comes to these wonderful systems on the market today much less ever bother actually purchasing one.

If you are one of the many who have experienced some degree of confusion when it comes to the individual parts and pieces that are included in a home theater system and what they do, hopefully, you will gain a better understanding once you've finished reading. The first thing to understand is that there are varying degrees when it comes to home theaters. The following components are the makings of a very basic home theater that will provide excellent functionality. They are not however inclusive of every possible piece or part that could make up a home theater system.

Off to the basics, the first thing you'll need when creating a home theater for your family to enjoy is a television. It might seem a little too obvious to some but I have yet to find a box kit that includes a television-mainly because the choice of screen is for many the most personal aspect of selecting a home theater. There are essentially three choices in today's television market: front projector, rear projector, and plasma. There are variations within each of these and the prices fall anywhere from modest to quite costly. This is the component that most home theater owners spend the most time contemplating and it affects the types of components that will be most effective later on in terms of things such as high definition and other choices you can make.

A receiver is another important component. You will probably have a DVD player or recorder of some sort as part of your system; you may have a Tivo and cable box or satellite and will probably have speakers of some sort for your system. The receiver is the box you plug them all into-it receives all of these inputs and correlates it so to speak. This is the ultimate traffic director when it comes to your home theater and I suggest you spend a good portion of your home theater budget making sure that this is a good quality part.



Speakers are where your sound will flow. One of the best things to me about a home theater is the ability to experience surround sound very similar to what I experience in theaters while having the ability to put my feet up or snuggle under blankets (which simply can't be achieved in a theater). Speakers come in all shapes and sizes and are also quite personal for some consumers while give and take for others. You can purchase these are part of a kit in order to make the selection process easier.

Finally, you have your DVD player or recorder. If a high definition is important to you, you now have that option. If your television isn't HD ready or capable, I'd pass and go for an older (less expensive) model of DVD player until something more up-to-date is called for. These items are a great start for any home theater and you can build, expand, and upgrade over time for an even better system. Enjoy!




Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Earliest Airports

Kill Devil Hills - Replica of hangar used by Wright Brothers - Photo: Wikipedia
Open spaces such as racetracks, golf courses, polo fields and fairgrounds made for the earliest airfields. These offered flat and smooth surfaces with predictable winds, which were essential for initial gliders and fixed-wing aircraft to take flight.

Together with locations situated on prairies or close to water where winds could be predicted, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, were popular choices for early controlled and powered flights.

While Huffman Prairie near Dayton, Ohio entertained the Wright Brothers’ groundbreaking 1905 flights of the Flyer 3 and the Parisian ground of the Champ de Maneoeuvres, Issy-les-Moulineaux witnessed Louis Blériot’s pre-1910 flight models, neither of these grounds facilitated passenger flights.

The first commissioned airports were in Germany in 1910, which were primarily for the Delag-operated Zeppelin airships. Delag then constructed airship sheds in many German cities situated near rail hubs from 1913. These could handle passengers and maintenance of their airships. Prior to World War I in 1914, close to 34,000 passengers across 1,600 flights had been attended to in these airports.

By 1912, the United States had 20 airports, which were mostly converted from fields and country clubs. In comparison, over the course of World War I, 67 military airfields were established on farms and parks, although with the understanding that most would be reconverted when the war ceased.

There was even a failed attempt at a passenger service in South Florida in 1914, where a waterside building was modified to cater to passengers and aircraft supplies. With the close of World War I, 980 fields were listed as official airfields. Yet, unfriendly golf courses and insufficient racetracks rendered most of them unusable by aircraft.

The first regular airmail flight took place on May 15, 1918, on a polo field situated in downtown Washington, D.C. Dry Nevada lake bottoms, gas stations found on roadways, and even packing crates which housed airplane deliveries, served as “aerial garages”, otherwise known as hangars and maintenance shops. The post-World War I military parade grounds of Le Bourget and Tempelhof were converted into airports.

By 1919, five air stations, including emergency stops, were constructed by the U.S. Postmaster Otto Praeger between New York and Chicago. The Federal Government convinced local Chicago businessmen to contribute to a $15,000 hangar, with potential profits from passenger travel.

In 1920, scheduled international flights became commonplace in the United States with passengers traveling by Aeromarine West Indies Airways between Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba. With 145 airports by the end of 1920, the airport system slowly began to take shape across the nation.

Early Post Office air stations featured 2 perpendicular runways and a tower with a light beacon of the intensity of 500,000-candlepower. These stations eventually evolved into 2,000-foot by 2,000-foot square designs by 1924, which facilitated multi-directional takeoff and landing regardless of the wind.

Airport fields were typically the size of 70 to 100 acres, with gravel or cinder covered surfaces to assist drainage. The fields were relatively bare, commonly with only one hangar, and bare essentials such as gasoline and oil storage, and telephone connection – all spread out to guard against fire or crash accidents. Most were built on the square postal air station design, although variety came in the form of perpendicular T-shaped strips or rectangles.

From the 1930s prior to World War II, pilots relied on airmarking to fly during the day. To aid navigation and identification of airports, rooftops or hillsides were visually marked. The 50,000-candlepower beacons were used for night flight instead.

The growth of airports began slowly in Canada, but it eventually grew to 77 air harbors by 1930 from an initial 37 in 1922. The Prairie Air Mail Service started to link Winnipeg with Calgary and Edmonton, where its older municipal airport opened its doors in January 1927.

Across the world, airports continued to experience growth. Australia saw 181 public airports with passenger flights and support capabilities by April 1936. This was on top of the 200 designated open landing areas. The Soviet Union had a massive airport linking system, which stretched across Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Leningrad, Kiev and Tashkent, north of Afghanistan. The Soviet airline Aeroflot served the world’s biggest domestic air network, with over 500 million passengers catered to by 1975.



Despite the majority of airlines preferring to fly from grass or water, and perhaps protestations from Henry Ford, the first laid hard surfaced runway in the U.S. was publicly unveiled in Newark, New Jersey, on October 1, 1928. It measured 1,600 feet in length. In 1929, Pan Am became the first airline in the U.S. to build its own airport – the Pan American Field. Part of the 116-acre field was rented to its competitor Eastern Airlines. As a precursor to radio communication between airplanes and ground staff, Pan Am used a radio station for Morse code signaling in 1930.

The Berlin Zentralflughafen Tempelhof was widely recognized as one of the world’s largest building in 1938. With simultaneous boarding facilities available for 300 planes and a handling capacity of 300,000 passengers annually, the Tempelhof roof could also accommodate 100,000 visitors watching airplane arrivals and departures. Its model of charging visitors admission fees was duplicated by countless airports trying to cash in on the public’s growing flight fascination.