Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Vietnam

Photo: Pixabay
In the annals of American history, there may be no other country name that evokes such emotion as the country of Vietnam.  The history of this conflict is more than just a military struggle.  The impact that the Vietnam conflict had on American culture and foreign policy for many decades to come make it a truly watershed war in the life of a relatively young country.

Vietnam was not, on the surface as clearly a moral battleground as World War II or the Civil War had been.  That in itself made it more difficult for Americans to understand and become patriotic about as they had been in prior wars.  Yes, as in past conflicts, we found ourselves defending our allies, the South Vietnamese against the attacks of a communist neighbor to the north.  And in that way, it became a struggle to assist an ally, a military objective that America had long embraced.

But the war was not just with the North Vietnamese.  To a very large extent, the war was against the Chinese and the Russians who were using the theater in Vietnam to wear down the American fighting force.  It was a war that had been going on for many decades before the Americans got involved as a regional battle.  

Many foreign powers had gotten involved and left defeated so when America entered this conflict, it was a very different kind of war than we had been used to.  The armies mixed with the population.  There were no uniforms and formations and battle theaters as battle could occur anywhere at any time.  Combine that with a hostile jungle setting and the complete absence of any battle protocol and you had a formula for failure if not a very difficult road to success.

Vietnam also is a watchword for the tremendous resistance movement that rose up on American soil to try to stop the conflict.  This resistance movement became deeply entangled with a huge change to the social fabric in the rise of the youth movement, the hippies and the fast-moving surge of the civil rights and the woman’s rights movements.  This made the era of the late 1950s through the early 1970s tremendously difficult to navigate as a nation.

Vietnam did follow somewhat of a predictable path of invasions, major battles, setbacks and regrouping of our forces.  But the military faced a huge challenge in facing the many new war scenarios this difficult combat setting presented.  As the casualty count grew, without a clear cut definition of victory and with very few clear victories to demonstrate to the American people our superiority, the ability of civilian leadership to sustain the support for the war effort became jeopardized.

Vietnam very much represents a transition in how America viewed the conflict.  We came out of the huge successes we had seen our military bring in battle.  The defeat of Hitler and the axis powers in World War II gave America a sense of confidence, of divine calling, to prevail militarily and the concept that we are the good guys and we will always win.  But we did not win in Vietnam and that was and is a hard lesson to learn.



America demonstrated its devout dedication to the concept of supporting an ally in a warring situation when it committed troops to the Vietnam conflict.  But there were many lessons to be learned about preparation and going into a conflict with a strategy that had a high probability of success.  In wars to come in later years such as Grenada, the Balkans and the Liberation of Kuwait, we demonstrated that America had learned those lessons going in with a massive force and achieving victory before we got bogged down in a long civil conflict.

So we can applaud the bravery of our troops and the willingness of our leadership to learn from a tough war like Vietnam.  The lessons to be learned from Vietnam are still being worked out.  But in the end, we will be a better nation and a stronger nation because we put ourselves on the line for a friend, even if the outcome was not the desired outcome.




Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Airbrush Art-Your Airbrush Parts

Photo: Wikimedia
All beginner airbrush artists should understand the parts of their airbrushes and what these parts do. After all, how can you create great airbrush art if you do not truly understand your airbrush equipment? Take the time to gain knowledge of all the parts of your airbrush will help you to learn how to properly work your airbrush and also how to take care of it. 

If your airbrush is an internal mix then it will have a needle. The purpose of the needle is to control the paint flow. Any damage to your needle can cause very bad paint spray patterns. It is important to keep your needle from getting bend and either straightening the needle or replacing the needle.

The air cap and head assembly are on the front of your airbrush and they cover the tip of the needle. The purpose of these parts is to control the atomization of the paint spray. Should these parts become dented or damaged in any way you should replace them immediately. Damage to the air cap and head assembly will affect the performance of your airbrush. Thus like the needle, you will be unable to create desirable airbrush art. Both the needle, air cap and head assembly can be purchased at almost any craft or hobby shop that sells airbrushes and airbrush parts.

The airbrush trigger is what allows you to actually operate the airbrush. In a single action airbrush, the trigger controls the air flow. In a dual action airbrush, the trigger controls both the air flow and the paint flow. Beginners should really take the time to practice how the trigger works so that they can perfect their ability to airbrush. Your airbrush will have a back lever as well that acts to shut off the air flow and paint flow when the trigger is released. If this should become damaged then you could have serious problems with your airbrush. Don't worry though it is not hard to replace these parts should there be any damage.





Your airbrush will have a handle on which you can hold onto the airbrush with. Airbrush models come with either a solid handle or a handle with an opening. The purpose of this opening is so that you can adjust the needle without removing the handle in a single action airbrush. Most experienced airbrush artists will actually take their handle off so that they can deal with clogging issues without delay. So the choice is yours as to whether or not you want the handle on or off of your airbrush while you are creating airbrush art. 

Pay special attention to the threads on your airbrush. The threads are located on the head assembly and where the air hose connects to your airbrush. If these threads should ever become cross-threaded then you could end up with an air leak. An air leak will affect the function of your airbrush so make sure to take care not to cause any cross-threading in these areas.





Monday, January 7, 2019

Building A Radio Controlled Car Without Breaking Your Wallet

Photo: Pixabay
Across the nation, there are thousands of people who are extremely passionate about building and racing remote-controlled cars. If you ask one of them how much money they could spend on building a remote controlled car, you will be surprised at the answer. It is possible to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on top-notch equipment to create an insanely fast and good looking car. If you want to get into the hobby of building radio controlled projects, then you will definitely have to spend some money along the way. You will be faced with very expensive components. However, you don’t need to buy expensive parts for your first car. Read on to find out some of the ways that you can save money.

You should never buy cheap supplies just because they are cheap. If this is your first radio controlled car, you want to get an accurate feel for the hobby without spending too much. This is why you want to buy top quality parts that will make for a great car. At the same time, you may find that the hobby is not for you at all. You may burn out on it after just a few hours of putting together your model. If this is the case, that is another even better incentive to avoid buying expensive parts for your first car. Usually, hobbyists will start to invest more money and more time in their 2nd or 3rd car, after they know that they have the expertise to do it right.

The best way to build your first radio controlled car is to buy a kit that includes just the radio components and the motors. The radio control kits only cost 20 or 30 dollars at your local craft store. Buy it before you start to put the car together so that you can know what dimensions you need to allow for. You can build the car itself from cheap wood and glue (And time. Lots of time.) Go to your local hobby store or lumber store and look for some sort of light wood that you can use to make the car. You will use some sort of epoxy or superglue to hold it all together.

If you would like to take an even less do-it-yourself approach, you could buy a remote control car kit that includes the model for the car. Unless you are a master craftsman, this finished product will probably look better than anything that you could have made from scratch. These kits are very cheap as well. You won’t get much control over how the car looks, which is a huge advantage of building it on your own from scratch. If you want to make it look a certain way, all you have to do is cut the wood a little bigger or a little smaller. Ultimately it is up to you – both will give you good experience in building remote control cars, so it just depends on how much time you want to spend.



If you tried to race against some of the more advanced cars with your kit assembled car, you would be left in the dust almost instantaneously. Your car definitely won’t have much power and it probably won’t have much in the looks department. However, neither of these is important compared to the valuable thing that the new car has given you: experience. By sticking with the easy car when you first start getting into the hobby, you will be ahead of the game when you go to build a nice custom car. In addition to this, it will have allowed you to decide whether it is a hobby that you would like to stick with. So even if you are the type that likes to jump headfirst into things, just hold yourself back and stick with the inexpensive car kits.




Friday, January 4, 2019

Exploring the Country on a Snowmobile

Photo: Pixabay
There is plenty of territories out there that you can explore on a snowmobile. In the winter time the open areas become covered in snow, but with this type of equipment, you can get where you want to go in no time. Many people enjoy riding on a snowmobile just to have a good time. Others use them as a way of life due to the location where they live and the severity of the weather. 

It is a favorite past time though to engage in snowmobile races because they can go quite fast along the snow. The bottom of the machine is equipped with special skis that allow it to glide over the top of the snow instead of getting bogged down in it. They also use a very small amount of fuel so you can go quite a distance on them. 

Most snowmobiles are very easy to handle and you can ride with either one or two people on them. Even young children are able to operate snowmobiles with parental supervision. In addition to racing snowmobiles, they are often used for exploring and for climbing mountains. It is not uncommon for people to load up their cross-country skis and then drive to the top of the mountains on their snowmobiles. This is often done in pairs so that they can ride one snowmobile to the top, ski down, and have another to take them back to the top again.

The newer models of snowmobiles are able to operate at a rate of 100 miles per hour or more. This means they can be involved in very exciting races that take place along a straight away or over a particular course that is being used for the event. You do have to be very careful with a snowmobile though as you don’t want to be involved in an accident. Having the right equipment will help you avoid injuries if you can’t avoid the accident altogether. 

Some snowmobile races are in place among those that live in the area and want to entertain themselves. Others are sponsored by big-name companies that manufacture snowmobiles. They offer cross country races as well as those that take place on oval tracks and the competitors have to complete a set number of laps. You can win trophies, cash, and prizes if you win the various snowmobile events that are offered. 


The big names in snowmobiles are Polaris and Arctic Cat. Both of them continue to come up with advanced models of snowmobiles in order to get the consumers to buy from them. In very cold areas including Alaska and Canada, there are tourist locations where you can rent snowmobiles for the day to explore. This is a great option if you are thinking about purchasing one but you haven’t made up your mind yet. 

It is important to wear the proper clothing and safety equipment while operating or riding on a snowmobile. Too many people suffer from either frostbite or hypothermia because they aren’t dressed for the cold weather when they ride a snowmobile. You need to dress in layers to maintain your body heat. The outer layer should be a waterproof snowsuit. Make sure you have on a hat and gloves to prevent heat from leaving your body from your head and from your fingers getting frostbite.

Make sure you wear waterproof boots that will offer you good traction for when you get off the snowmobile to walk around or to add more fuel to the tank. You should always wear a helmet when you ride a snowmobile because you never know when something will be in the way. Sometimes there are things under the snow that you can’t see so an accident is unavoidable. Serious injuries and death can occur if you hit your head, and it can be a long time before help can arrive if you are exploring the wilderness on a snowmobile. 





Thursday, January 3, 2019

The American Revolution

Photo: Wikimedia
The American Revolution was a civil war between Loyalists to the British crown (aka Tories, about one-fifth of the population), supported by British expeditionary forces, and Patriots (or Whigs) in the 13 colonies that constituted British North America.

About 20-25% of the populace in the colonies - c. 600,000 - were blacks. About one-third of the white denizens were non-British. Local patriotism ran high. All adult, white, property-owning, men (about two thirds of the male numbers) were eligible to vote in elections to the lower house of the legislative assembly of the colony they resided in. Each colony also had its governor.

Some colonies (e.g., Rhode Island and Connecticut) were, in effect, incorporated under royal charter as semi-commercial ventures. Others belonged to the descendants of their founders (proprietary colonies such as Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware). Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire were royal provinces, under direct British rule.

Some of the colonists - for instance, the New Englanders - were among the wealthiest and best educated people in the world, better off than the British themselves. But, per capita, they paid only 3% of the taxes levied on a typical Briton. The colonies supplied the West Indies with most of their foodstuffs and consumed British finished products - but they were not economically crucial to the British Empire.

In the years leading to the War of Independence (1765-1776), the British actually repealed all the taxes on products imported into the colonies - with the single exception of tea (and even this tax was drastically reduced). The colonists' slogan "no taxation without representation" was, therefore, more about local representation than about foreign taxation. And even this bit ringed hollow. The Encyclopedia Britannica: "The assemblies had the right to tax; to appropriate money for public works and public officials, and to regulate internal trade, religion, and social behavior". The role of the British government was confined to foreign affairs and trade.

But both parties to the conflict breached this modus vivendi. During the Seven Years (French and Indian) War (1754-1763), the colonies refused to relinquish control over their militias to the British command and smuggled French goods into British North America (France being Britain's enemy). The British, on the other hand, began interfering in the colonies' internal affairs, notably (but not only) by imposing taxes and customs duties in order to ameliorate Britain's growing national debt and by rendering tax officials financially independent of the local colonial assemblies.

Add to this a severe recession in the colonies brought on by unbridled spending financed with unsustainable personal indebtedness and, not surprisingly, acts of resistance to British taxation - such as the Boston Tea Party - were organized mainly by smugglers, artisans, and shopkeepers. Secret groupings, such as the Sons of Liberty resorted to violence and intimidation to achieve their (mostly economic but disguised as "patriotic") goals. Even women got involved in a "buy American" campaign of boycotting British goods.

Many British merchants, bankers, politicians, intellectuals, and journalists supported the colonies against the crown - each group for its own reasons. The merchants and bankers, for instance, were terrified of a mooted unilateral debt moratorium to be declared by the colonies if and when militarily attacked. Others found it distasteful to kill and maim white British subjects (as the insurgents were). Yet others resisted imperialism, the monarchy, taxes, or all three. Even within the British Army, there was strong dissent and the campaign against the rebellious colonies was carried out half-heartedly and lackadaisically. On the other hand, British die-hards, such as Samuel Johnson, demanded blood ("I am willing to love all Mankind, except an American").

The denizens of the colonies tried, till the last moment, to avert a constitutional (and, consequently, military) crisis. They suggested a model of two semi-autonomous nations (the United Kingdom and the colonies), united by the figurehead of the King. But it was too little and way too late. Violent clashes between the citizenry and British units started as early as October 1765 with the First Nonimportation Movement, directed against the Stamp Act. They continued with the Boston Massacre (five dead) in 1770; the attack on the British customs ship, the Gaspée, in Rhode Island, in 1772; and the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

In April 1775, General Gage, governor and military commander of Massachusetts, suffered a humiliating defeat in a skirmish in Concord and Lexington. The Patriots were alerted to his movements by Paul Revere who rode all night to inform them that the "regulars (not the British, as the legend has it) are coming." He was one of many such scouts.

The Loyalists fielded 50-55,000 armed men and the Patriots countered by organizing "militias" - irregular units of ill-trained and undisciplined volunteers. The Continental Army was established only in June 1775, under the command of George Washington, a veteran of the French and Indian War. At their peak, the rebels mastered less than 100,000 men in arms - only 25-30,000 of which were on active duty at any given time.



The Continental Army was, in the words of General Philip Schuyler of New York “weak in numbers, dispirited, naked, destitute of provisions, without camp equipage, with little ammunition, and not a single piece of cannon.” Late pay caused frequent mutinies and desertions. In 1783, Washington had to personally intervene to prevent a military coup. Only repeated promises of cash bonuses and land grants kept this mob of youngsters, foreigners, and indentured servants intermittently cohesive.

Still, they outnumbered the British and the "Hessians" - the 30,000 German mercenaries who participated in the 8 years of fighting. In all of North America, the British had 60,000 soldiers as late as 1779. They had to face a growing presence of hostile French, Spanish, and Dutch armies, supplies, and navies. The Native-Americans (Indians) supported mostly the British, especially west of the Appalachians. This provoked numerous massacres by the Patriots.

The War spread to other parts of the world: the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, India, the Netherlands, the Mediterranean. The US Navy even invaded the British port of Whitehaven in 1778.

The conflict affected the civilian population as well with both sides committing war crimes and atrocities aplenty. With many men gone, women took over traditionally male roles and vocations, such as farming. Hyperinflation - brought on by $500 million in newly minted and printed money - led to mob scenes as storekeepers were attacked and warehouses looted.

The blacks largely sided with the British - but many joined the Patriots and, thus, won their freedom after the war. Virginia planters alone manumitted 10,000 slaves. By 1800, slavery was abolished in all the states north of Delaware.

All told, less than 7000 Patriots died in battle (and 8500 wounded). About 1200 Germans perished, too. No one knows how many British troops, Indians, and other combatants paid with their lives in this protracted conflict. About 100,000 Loyalists emigrated to Canada and thousands o others (mainly of African ancestry) went to Sierra Leone and the Bahamas. They were all fully compensated for the property they left behind in what came to be known as the United States of America (USA).




Wednesday, January 2, 2019

How To Create Your Own Airbrush Art Stencils

Photo: Pixabay
There are two forms of doing airbrush art. One way is that you can use stencils or masks to airbrush your artwork on to your project. The other way is that you can freehand the design onto your project without the use of stencils or masks. Most stencils and masks that you purchase are reusable. The stencils are made from different material depending on what the stencil will be used for. But no matter what material your stencils are made from they all have to things in common. One the stencils can start to get expensive purchasing. Secondly, you are limited to only creating designs based on the stencils that you can get your hands on. While these stencils can greatly aid you in your airbrush art, they also can hinder your creativity. So the best way to deal with having you use stencils and reduce costs as well as leaving your creativity open is to create your own stencils. 

If you can trace you can create your own stencils cheaply. All you need to do is find a design that you like and then trace it out onto paper. Make several copies of the design since you will be cutting on them. Also, the airbrush paint will get them wet and they can start to tear. You will need to keep the original design so that you can refer back to it. After you have made copies of your traced design start cutting out the areas that you need to cut out. Then place the homemade stencil onto your project and begin to airbrush your project. 

If you want to use a more durable material to create your stencils you can use the plastic pocket folders. These can be picked up rather cheaply from the store in the office supply section or hit the back to school supplies. You will need an X-Acto knife to cut your design out. Depending on the size of your stencil you can probably create more than one stencil from this plastic folder. If you purchase the see-through folders then you can use these for stencils even if you are limited to tracing your design onto the plastic folder prior to cutting it into a stencil for your airbrush art.



No matter what material you go with make sure that you remember to cut out your areas slowly. By taking your time you can make sure that everything matches up the way it should. If you are doing a stencil for say a dog then you would want to take your time and make sure that the eyes were the same size, the nostrils were cut out shaped the way they should be and so on. If you rush you could end up messing your stencil all up. The stencil is to aid you in creating your airbrush art and is a big part of the art process. If you have to then practice on a scrap piece of material till you get used to how the knife works and how to properly cut out the areas. This will help to ensure that you create a working stencil for your airbrush art. 





Monday, December 31, 2018

History And Fundamentals Of Karate

Photo: Pixabay
History:

Though Karate is often associated with Japanese martial arts, its true origin dwells in Okinawan combat techniques and Southern Chinese martial arts. It is basically a fusion of both arts and was introduced to Japan only in 1921. During this period, Karate was simply known as "Te", or hand, as called by the Okinawans. Chinese influence is evident in the original symbol for Karate - the "Tang Hand" or “Chinese Hand”. 

There were no specified or concrete Karate styles in the early days and simply generalized as Shuri-te, Naha-te and Tomari-te, named after the three cities in which they were formed. Each city had its own methods, principles, system and traditions of Karate.

The introduction, popularization and modernization of Karate to Japan are mainly credited to Funakoshi, an Okinawan master, venerably regarded by many practitioners as “The Father of Modern Karate”. Other prominent Karate experts in his time include Kenwa Mabuni, Miyagi Chojun, Choshin Chibana, and Motobu Choki.

Japan began introducing Karate as a subject in schools before the Second World War and soldiers in the army were often trained in the discipline. Competitions and different styles also started emerging as several universities started karate club programs during this period. 

The popularization of Karate in the West has its roots in the American military occupation of Japan and Okinawa after the Second World War and Japanese immigration to the United States. 

Fundamentals of Karate:

Karate mainly stresses on volatile combat techniques such as punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open hand methods. Grappling, joint manipulations, locks, restraints, throwing, and vital point striking are also parts of this discipline.

Karate training is divided into three main sections – 
• Kihon refers to the study of basic techniques, movements and components
• Kata or 'form', a fixed sequence of moves, is a series of movements and techniques linked together by the combative principles that the kata expresses.
• Kumite or 'sparring' evolves from well-defined kata to open attack and defense.

The Uniform – Color of the Belt and Ranks:

The Karate uniform is white and comprised of the Kimono (shirt), Dogi or Keikogi (pants) and a belt (white or colored), a combination introduced by Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo. The color of the belt is dependant on the rank and expertise of a practitioner. In accordance with commonly held standards, white belts are for beginners, and black for the highest rank. This, however, may differ from one organization to another. Each rank may also have subdivisions of its own even if the color of the belt is similar. 

Styles and Variations:

Karate styles can be broadly classified into Traditional and Full Body Karate. Traditional styles are those that developed in the early period of the 20th century and include variants such as Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Wado-Ryu, Shito-Ryu, Kushin-Ryu, and Shindo Jinen Ryu. Full contact karate includes styles such as Kyokushin-kaikan and Kansuiryu. Many of the styles have offshoots that developed into styles of their own. Although the concepts remain universal, each representation differs from one another.




Sunday, December 30, 2018

Porsche 356

Porsche 356 - Photo: Pixabay
The Porsche 356 is the first Porsche production automobile and it was sold from 1948 through 1965.  Although many consider Porsche 64 as being the first automobile produced by the German company, the 64 was never mass-produced and it was only a drivable test-mule. The 364 was created by Ferdinand Porsche and his son, Ferry Porsche, designed by Erwin Komenda and its engine features derived from the Volkswagen Beetle, designed by Mr. Porsche Senior.

The models available were initially coupe, cabriolet (luxury convertible) and then roadster (a stripped down convertible). Before being withdrawn in 1965, it went through several changes. The most desirable versions were 356 “Carrera” (often sold for well over $150,000), “Super 90” and “Speedster”. In the late '50s, the original selling price for a Porsche was $4,000.

In 1954, Max Hoffman, the only importer of Porsches into the United States needed a lower cost, racier version for the American marker. Therefore, the company created 356 “Speedster” that became an instant hit thanks to the low, raked windshield (easily removable for weekend racing), bucket seats, and minimal folding top. These days, this car is still very appreciated as it is sold for over $100,000 and it has been used in several films, including 48 Hours, its sequel – Another 48 Hours and Top Gun. In 1957, the production of Speedster peaked at 1,171 cars. In 1959 it was replaced by the Convertible D model, which featured a taller, more practical windshield, glass side windows, and more comfortable seats.

Year after year, the basic shape of Porsche 356 remained the same and was easily recognized and remarked, even though changes were made, especially in the mechanical area. Coupe and cabriolet models were produced every year up to 1965, with the last 356B Roadster built in early 1963. The final model build was 356 C that featured disc brakes and the most powerful pushrod engine Porsche so far: the 95HP “SC”.

In the year that Porsche launched 911, 1964, Porsche 356 production peaked at 14,151 cars. Still, the company continued to sell the 356C in North America through the end of 1965 as a lower-cost vehicle. When the customers complained the price for 911 was too high (almost twice the price of the 356), Porsche started producing the 912, using the 356 engine. The 912model was sold between 1965 and 1969.



56 years after the beginning of the production (2004), Sports Car International named 356C number ten on the list of Top Sports cars of the '60s. Today, the 356 is a respected car among the collectors, as it stood the test of time. Worldwide, thousands of 356 owners maintain the tradition, preserving their cars and driving them regularly.




Friday, December 28, 2018

Marklin Toy Trains - A Classic in Toy Train Collection

Photo: Pixabay
People who collect toy trains have a genuine passion for them. Some people prefer to only display them one time of year around the family Christmas tree, while others dedicate entire rooms or sections of their houses to showing off their collection. However, a toy train is not just a toy train. They are not all the same and some are more valuable than others. Anyone who collects toy trains as a hobby is familiar with Marklin toy trains. These trains have been around since 1891 and are a truly unique addition to any toy train collection. 

Marklin introduced a revolution in the toy train industry by introducing the very first inclusive set of trains in 1891. Marklin provided a fresh appeal to the typical toy train by introducing a series of standard track gauges and a variety of models with matching accessories. What came from this revolution was the ability to build on your initial train set by expanding your miniature railroad. It is thought that Marklin is at the forefront of developing the expanding toy train set.  

Getting a hold of one of the timeless pieces from Marklin is no easy task and can cost thousands of dollars. In fact, some of the pieces are so rare that they easily run in the six digits. For example, an international auction of toy trains and accessories recently held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania sold a complete Marklin station for $110,000. The station included an exceptionally rare Marklin #2609 locomotive that was built precisely to scale and marvelously painted by hand.

The unique toy train set was just as astonishing inside as it was outside. (As most Marklin train sets are, no surprise there!) The station included five interior rooms that were cleverly adorned with tables, chairs and other furniture you would expect to find aboard passenger cars from back in the day. It was originally thought that this rare Marklin station would sell for around $30,000; that is until it became the ultimate "bidding brawl" between American and Europe.  Two toy train collectors from opposite ends of the world both went to great lengths to snag the priceless item, but in the end, America prevailed in taking home the 29-inch long, 19-inch high beauty. 



That wasn't the only Marklin item that brought in much more money than originally estimated. A Marklin #2609 locomotive was sold for $82,500. The gauge III set boasted a live steam engine and precise hand-painted detail. The original sale estimate was set at $25,000 - obviously, this goal was blown away when avid collectors from around the world united in hopes of bringing home a classic Marklin station. Several other Marklin items were sold at the auction, but surprisingly not a single Marklin piece sold for less than $25,000. 

Now that you can see just how valuable these timeless classics are, chances are you won't find them for cheap. Ebay does occasionally place Marklin pieces up for bidding, but the results won't differ much from a live auction. You can purchase certain Marklin sets and accessories through marklin.com, but again, you will pay a pretty penny. 




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.




Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Famous Ford Flops

Ford Edsel -Photo: Pixabay
American automakers sometimes take the brunt of the criticism for producing models that are ugly, useless, or even downright dangerous. Ford has had its share of beasts through the years in addition to several winners including the current Mustang for which demand cannot be met. For the fun of it let’s take a look at some of the Ford models that have been derided down through the years.

Model T – What?! How can the car that introduced mass production make the list? Well, the car was fine, but Mr. Henry Ford’s statement, “…you can have any color you want as long as it is black” has been attributed with the rise of General Motors [who gave its customers a choice in colors] which eventually dethroned Ford as the top automaker in the world. No, the Model T was fine, but Mr. Ford’s marketing strategy was not.

Edsel – In September 1957, Ford launched a new division – Edsel – and introduced to America one of the weirdest looking cars. Sporting a “horse-collar” shaped grille – some equated it with a toilet seat – the Edsel line was hyped by Ford and rejected by consumers wholeheartedly. Expecting to build 200,000 Edsels in its first year of production, only 63,000 were built. Other “radical” aspects of the Edsel included a “floating” speedometer that glowed upon reaching a particular speed and an awkward push button transmission with controls attached to the hub of the steering wheel. Even with a quick makeover completed in time for the next model year, the Edsel limped along only to be pulled one month after the third model year vehicles were released.

Pinto – Hey, even I owned one! With a 2.3L inline four-cylinder paired with a 4-speed manny tranny, the Pinto was Ford’s answer during the 1970s to the onslaught of Japanese cars flooding the market. The compact rear-wheel-drive coupe, three-door hatchback, or wagon sold fairly well until disaster hit: the revelation that the Pinto’s gas tank was capable of exploding during a rear impact scared buyers away. Mercifully pulled after the 1980 model year; replaced by the popular Escort.



Mustang II – Ford tarnished the Mustang name during the 1970s with this forgettable and ugly model. Resembling a bloated and stretched Pinto, the Mustang II was weak, poorly made, and a terrible competitor against its arch-rival, the Camaro. All was forgiven by the early 1980s with the return of a newly designed Mustang. Today’s Mustang, on the other hand, is a sold-out success story as it took its styling cues from a Mustang of another era: the fastback cars of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Before you point your finger at Ford, don’t forget to recall some truly forgettable models, foreign and domestic. The Toyota Van was panned for its ugly styling and for having an engine that had to be dropped from the engine bay in order to do a tune-up; the Chevy Vega – a Pinto wannabe; AMC’s Pacer – the Jetson’s car; the Suzuki Samurai and Isuzu Rodeo – flip over specialists; the Yugo – a thinly redone 1960s era Fiat; and countless other cars not worth the mention. You hope that automakers learn from their mistakes, but don’t count on it. Maybe in another generation, we will see a truly forgettable Ford show up, but for now, there isn’t one in the lineup... hooray for that!