Travel Blogging and Making Money: There's More Than Meets The Eye


People that are dreaming of having jobs while traveling will instantly think about those famous bloggers that get to see the great wall of China or float down the Amazon river, while they take awesome pictures and stamp on their laptop. Those who are travel blogging constantly receive the question about how to earn while traveling. How is it possible? How do you do it? People are either surprised or they are in disbelief that these people are actually getting paid to travel. Making a travel blog is not really that easy, but if you really love to travel, this is the ideal job for you and is all worth it.

How to Get Paid for Traveling

Making a travel blog is not all that glamorous. During the first year, you will find it exhausting and rarely rewarding. It's just like starting any other business-it takes a lot of blood sweat and tears when you start. But the payoff is when you are able to experience diverse cultures and observe wide arrays of scenery that will surely take your breath away. That's when you will say to yourself that this is the best job in the world.

The first consideration when starting your travel blogging job is how in the world are you going to make money. There are different ways in which you can make money through travel blogs and all these will generate the cash you need to go on your next expedition. The cool thing is that you can produce money from almost everything. But before you start counting your pennies, there is a lot of work that needs to be done within the first year or two. Becoming a travel blogger requires a solid foundation in order for your blog to be a success. That means your content must be great … not good, not alright, "great". You need to be direct with the message that you are trying to convey, as well as branding yourself and the travel site.

Creating a travel blog requires informative and quality content in order to create qualified leads. Trying to generate a following from scratch is difficult, so you need to pay attention and observe other professional and effective travel sites. These all have a basic navigation system that is easy to understand, online tools, social media accounts, and other resources. Observe their network and followers, as well as their media kit with positive testimonials from real people.

I do not care if you're the most famous writer in North America, it is never easy starting a travel blog from scratch and make money. If you are already prepared to work hard, do not give up and put forth a lot of time & effort towards this new business, it will be a lot easier on you, mentally. But, if you do not have the right frame of mind, or not prepared to work your tail off, your journey as a travel blogger will be short lived. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

When making a travel blog, it is essential that you find a teacher or mentor that can guide you in this experience. Having a mentor will save you from the pitfalls, mistakes and the large amount of money you have to invest during the first years of your job as a travel blogger. Remember that if you are doing the things you love and not getting paid, it's a hobby. You have to look at this as your only source of income because it's your job. But, it's a pretty sweet job that allows you to travel the world and live the life you want to live.


War on the Border


As condemning civil war became a reality rather than a possibility, every state in the United States has a decision to make – whether to stay with the Union or join the nascent Confederacy.

For states where slavery had been abolished, the decision was clear. For those states where slavery was still a legal institution, the decision of whether to remain loyal to the Union or take sides with the Confederacy was much more difficult. For some of these states, the only option was neutrality. Neutrality, however, was an option that proved nearly as perilous as joining the fight.

Five states either openly chose neutrality or were slave states that refused to leave the Union, and became known as border states. Most of these states – Kentucky, Missouri, and West Virginia – had reasons for declining to take a side that varied from state to state; however, the reasons for abstaining from engagement in the war boiled down to the fact that in most of these states, slaves and those who were either against slavery were often split evenly.

Delaware was a border state in name only. Surrounded by free states, Delaware declined to leave the Union despite the fact that it was still a slave holding state. Although slavery had been widespread in Delaware during the colonial period, by the 1860s, slavery was on the wane. Abolishment of slavery had come to the legislature on several occasions, but had been narrowly defeated each time. Most of Delaware's African-American population was free by the time of the Civil War, and Delaware did not muster any regiments for the Confederacy.

Like Delaware, Maryland declined to leave the Union as well. However, dissent among slaveholders and those who opposed slavery was rife in Maryland, and the state sent troops to both the Union and the Confederacy. Complicating matters further was President Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, which had been addressed in the implicationment of several Maryland State legislators and the mayor and police chief of Baltimore, all of which had supported confidentiality.

Unlike Delaware, Maryland's close proxies to Washington made it the site of several battles and skirmishes during the war. The single bloodiest day of fighting during the war took place at Antietam in 1862.

Abraham Lincoln, himself a native of Kentucky, is known to have said of the state, "I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky." However, Kentucky was also the birthplace of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and this coincidence was typical of the division in Kentucky regarding the war.

Kentucky was a slave state, with a large population of slaves, but was also home to many who either did not own slaves or opposed slavery. Despite Kentucky declared neutrality, the state was occupied by both Confederate and Union troops, and sent men to both armies. Bloody battles occurred at Mill Springs and Perryville, and numerous other skirmishes occurred throughout the state. Part of the western side of the state attempted to secede from Kentucky, and was recognized by the Confederacy, but the Union presence in Kentucky overrode the Confederate sentiment, and the state officially remained neutral.

Missouri, not unlike Kentucky, was populated by both slave supporters and those who opposed the institution, and likewise became a battleground both for the Federal and Confederate troops, and its own residents.

Missouri declined to leave the Union, but Confederate sympathies were rampant in the state, supported by Governor Claiborne Jackson and other state legislators. Attempts by Jackson to arm the Confederacy rejected first in the implicationment of the state militia to Union Captain Nathaniel Lyon, which ended in a bloody riot, and finally in the exile of the state government to Confederate Arkansas. The provisional government, supported by Lincoln, added to the Union presence in the state, and much of the fighting in Missouri was done by guerrilla gangs such as Quantrill's raiders, who attacked Union troops and civil supporters of the Union alike.

Nowhere, however, were division more deep and destructive than in Virginia. When Virginia chose to secede, the long-simmering disagreements between the powerful southeast part of the state and northwestern part of the state, which considered itself disenfranchised, boiled over. Most of this ill-will centered on the fact that the southeast part of the state, which held a large number of slaves, was awarded more delegates than the northwestern region, where whites outnumbered African-Americans. Slavery, then, was an issue, but not in the sense that it was in other border states.

Upon Virginia's secession, the Wheeling Convention, named for the town of Wheeling, and maintaining of those from the northwest area, voted to repeal secession. This condemned in what was known as the Restored Government of Virginia, which established what became known as West Virginia, and separated the two parts of Virginia.

Not surprisingly, sentiment for both the Union and Confederacy was strong in the new West Virginia. Those who joined the Federal and Confederate armies were nearly equal in numbers. Guerrilla warfare in the new state was rampant, and lasted until 1865.

The border states were often the sites of some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, a fact that is both ironic and understandable. The "brother against brother" situations that typified the war were never more precalent than in states where the populace was as divided among themselves as the Union and the Confederacy were.


Celebrating Independently-Minded Women In America


Fighting For Women's Rights & Education

From early on, women bought for their rights – whether it was to own land, to give girls the opportunity for a good education, or for equal rights in the workplace. Here are some women who stand out in history:

Margaret Brent: In 1639, Brent became the first female landowner in Maryland. A close friend of Governor Leonard Calvert, he appointed her the executor of his estate. The Provincial Court appointed Brent as Lord Baltimore's attorney-in-fact in 1648 and, as part of her duties, she made sure soldiers were paid and fed and her actions helped to avoid mutiny in the colony. She was a significant finding settler of both Maryland and Virginia. She was also the first woman in North America to appear before a common law court.

Sarah Josepha Hale: The author of the nursery rhyme "Mary had a little lamb" was a fierce supporter of education for girls. After her husband's death in 1822, Hale launched her writing and magazine editing career to support her five children. She was instrumental in changing minds to allow girls into professions like teaching, and later medicine.

"In this age of innovation during no experience will have an influence more important on the character and happiness of our society than the granting to females the advantages of a systematic and thorough education." – Sarah Josepha Hale

Gloria Steinem: In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Steinem became nationally recognized as the spokeswoman for the feminist movement. She is a journalist and social and political activist and is currently speaking about the issues of equality through the world.

In 1920, American women got the right to vote – after 70 years of fighting for this right. Over the years, there were many women who helped fight for the right to vote. Here we highlight some of the most prominent:

Lucy Stone: In 1847, Stone became the first woman in Massachusetts to earn a college degree. She was a vocal advocate for women's rights and the abolition of slavery at a time when women were discouraged and even preverted to speak in public. Stone kept her maiden name after her marriage – something that was strictly frowned upon at the time. She founded the Woman's Journal, a weekly magazine about women's rights.

Lucretius Mott: Mott believed that the roles women played in society at the time were due to limited education, not inferiority. She supported equal political rights and economic opportunities.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Stanton helped form the first women's rights convention in 1848, with Lucretia Mott.

"Self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice." – Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Women In Politics

Not so long ago, women were not allowed to participate in political affairs. Here are some women who helped change the gender gap in politics:

Jeannette Rankin: Selected in 1916, Rankin was the first woman in Congress. Prior to joining Congress, she was a professional lobbyist for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and her efforts helped women in Montana to gain the vote in 1914.

"I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I will not be the last." – Jeannette Rankin

Eleanor Roosevelt: The wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, she dramatically changed the role of the first lady through her active participation in American politics. During her husband's presidency, Roosevelt wrote a newspaper column, cave press conferences, and spoke about human rights, children's causes, and women's issues. After his death, she became the delegate to the United Nations and served from 1945 to 1953. She also served as the chair of the UN's Human Rights Commission.

"Women are like teabags. You do not know how strong they are until you put them in hot water." – Eleanor Roosevelt

Madeleine Albright: In 1993, Albright became the US Ambassador to the United Nations. In 1997, she was appointed as the first female US Secretary of State. In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Albright holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University, as well as numerous honorary degrees.

Women In Sports, Adventure, And Entertainment

A woman can hold their own when it comes to adventure, entertainment, and sports. Here are some of the women who excelled:

Amelia Earhart: An aviation pioneer, author, and idol to many, Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She helped form The Ninety-Nines, an organization supporting female pilots. She was also an adviser to the aeronautical engineering faculty at Purdue University and a career counselor to female students. In 1937, she disappeared near Howland Island during an attempt to make a circumnavigation flight of the globe.

"The woman who can create her own job is the woman who will win fame and fortune." – Amelia Earhart

Florence Chadwick: Chadwick was 32 years old when she became the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways in 1951. She attempted the crossing ten times, of which she successfully completed four legs.

Katherine Hepburn: This leading lady was known for her fiercely independence and outspoken personality. Hepburn wore trousers before it was fashionable for women to do so and lived her life independently and out of the spotlight. During her career of more than 60 years, Hepburn won four Academy Awards for Best Actress. She died in 2003.


Many women have great results every day, but here are some pioneers:

Bridget 'Biddy' Mason: Born a slave, Biddy had to fight for her freedom in an LA court in 1856. California, where she lived at the time, was a free state, but her 'owner', Smith, wanted to move them to Texas, where slaves were not free, to sell his slaves there. After winning in court and becoming free, she worked in Los Angeles as a nurse and midwife. She became one of the first African-Americans to purchase land in the city. A real-estate businesswoman, she accrued a reliably large fortune for the time – nearly $ 300,000 – which she generously shared with charities.

Ellen Swallow Richards: Richards was an industrial and environmental chemist, and the first to apply chemistry to the study of nutrition. She was the first woman admitted to any school of science and technology in America, and also the first woman to obtain a degree in chemistry. She graduated from MIT in 1872.

Winifred Edgerton Merril: Merrill was the first woman in the US to obtain a Ph.D. in Mathematics and the first to receive a degree from Columbia University. She achieved her Ph.D. with high honors in 1886. She was instrumental in the formation of the Barnard College in 1889, New York's first institution to award women a degree in liberal arts. She also founded the Oaksmere School for Girls in 1906.

Elizabeth Blackwell: In 1849, Blackwell became the first female physician in the US and the first woman listed on the UK Medical Register. Originally born in Britain, Blackwell had to fight to get permission to study and work in the medical field. She advocated for the education of women in medicine.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Appointed in 1981, O'Connor became the first woman justice on the US Supreme Court, a position she held for 24 years.


Bail Bond Company


If you ever find yourself in a situation where a member of your family or a dear friend suddenly ends up in jail, and seeks your help, your best solution is to find a good bail bond company which can help you post bail. Without posting immediate bail, your family member or friend may end up spending hours in a jail cell.

Bail bonds are surety bonds which are used to guarantee the court that the accused will comply with the conditions of his temporary release. These bonds must be prepared and written by legitimate and professional bonding companies. In Baltimore, there are several of these bonding companies, yet, the right bail bond company should be picked with care, so that you can make sure you are getting the right value for the money you are paying.

During such a crisis, the last thing you needed would be to be duped by a fly-by-night bonding company, meaning, one that is here today, gone tomorrow. Read on to protect yourself from such possibilities, and to understand how to choose the right company.

1. The company should be legally operating in Baltimore for many years.

Choose a company which has been in operation for a long time, as this usually means it has the financial capacity to write bonds with huge values. An established company is more reliable than new ones, because it usually is more knowledgeable in dealing with legal matters.

2. The company should have several bail agents.

A good bond issuer should have many licensed agents, so that you would not have to wait in line for someone to come and attend to your case. Your family member or friend does not need to spend unnecessary hours in jail, and a fast acting bail company is what you need to service your requirements right away.

3. The company should have financing options.

You need to look for a reputable Baltimore bail issuer who requires minimum down payments and would accept credit cards for payments. Go for a company that offers loans or that will process your request even without collateral.

4. The company should be open round the clock.

Choose a bail bond company which has agents working 24/7 and is always ready to help. Your request for a bail bond is an emergency situation, therefore, a bail issuer who offers immediate release will do you a lot of good.

5. The company should have a money back guarantee.

A good bail bond company will give a 100% money back guarantee if the accused can not get out of jail. This is fair practice, and one that should be included in the contract terms between you and the bonding company.

Check out a good Baltimore bail bond company which has an online presence, so that you can immediately find information about their services.


Black Lives Matter – Actually, All Lives Matter – Our Challenges With Policing And Race Relations


One of the Black Lives Matter leaders commented that to solve this problem of racism and racial profiling leading to unfair treatment of blacks by police officers we need more community based policing. Sure, that makes sense, but could that really solve the problem? In the past it has cleaned up crime, but it has also led to the capture of more criminals and thus, a larger jail and prison population. Still, there has been a bit of research on this topic and I'd like to point out a very smart book to read on this subject, the book is:

"From The War On Poverty to the War On Crime" by Elizabeth Hinton, Harvard University Press, Boston MA, 464 pages, May 2016, 978-0674737235. By the way there is a great YouTube Video with the author done by the CSPAN TV Book Review Program, I definitely recommend it and then read the book after viewing it.

In the book, Elizabeth Hinton reminds us of the romantic notion of having the police live in the district, community that they are policing. We all believe this is smart policy, but rarely used in our modern American society – why? If it works, why are not we doing this? Fact is; in many cities across the United States we already are. Indeed, the City of Baltimore does, and yet, they still had a huge issue there with the shooting of a black man, while running away from police. This book and the recommended philosophy of community policing is also directly apropos to the Dallas Shootings and the pot boiling over on race-relations – policing robotics – gun control – Black Lives Matter protests.

Question remains; if community policing is the key, then why have a top down Federal Government set of guidelines and Federal Government intervention every time someone claims that a shooting was basically-based and for no reason. If we have community based policing, should not it be the community that gets to decide, not the media or the Federal Government?

Yes, it is true, I offer more questions than solutions, but these are the tough questions that we need to ask before we allow the Administration, or the media to blow events out of proportion causing more protests, that lead to more riots, more vandalism, more shootings and more racial tensions in this great nation. I ask that you please consider all this and think on it.


Youth Fitness and Exercise: Beware the Rise of the Machines!


We get pumeled with marketing and advertising for the "newest," "most cutting edge" and "next generation" of equipment for youth fitness, as you might imagine.

What's odd about this stuff is that it looks like "Mini-Me" versions of the same crappy, dangerous machines that parents and adults are getting unfit and unhealthy on in their "health clubs!" Fixed position, uni-planar, single movement "fitness" equipment that almost always creates injury patterns in the people who use them.

"Youth Fitness Equipment?" I think not … torture equipment, really.

Yes! Building muscle will help you lose body fat! Yes! Regularly performing resistance training will help build muscle! Yes! These machines were "engineered" to maximize (isolated) muscular output! (and maybe for use at Gitmo?) Yet a strange thing has happened to American adults, even those who use these machines to "get in shape!"

They've become so dependent on them that they're no longer capable of performing strength building exercises without the artificial "intelligence" provided by these contraptions! So when the time comes to apply their newly developed "strength," they either get injured or realize they are not nearly as "strong" as the numbers on their exercise machines would indicate!

Add to this the fact that more back, shoulder, knee, ankle and hip injuries are caused by the use of these torture machines in a year than in the NFL in 10 years, and it makes me wonder. It makes me wonder why we've shove our children onto this junkyard fodder in the first place!

We know that "free-form" functional exercises, those that mimic real-life and sports movements, not only result in better movement patterns (think injury-resistance), they burn more calories and build more muscle! That's right, functional integrated training eliminates the development of a far greater number of muscles than isolated, fixed position machine training.

Let's look at a very popular exercise machine for both youth sports and adult fitness, the leg press. Plate loaded, selectorized (think weight-stack-and-pin) or otherwise resisted, it artificially stabilizes the body as the exerciser tries to perform hip and knee extension. The design creates higher levels of lumbar strain during the eccentric lowering, or negative phase of movement. Extreme hip flexion at the bottom of the leg press prevents proper glute activity and puts a tremendous amount of stress on the knees.

Squatting done correctly increases knee stability. The leg press reduces knee stabilization, increasing the risk of serious injury. Additionally, many exercisers, especially young athletes, load far too much weight on the leg press, in a misguided effort to increase leg strength. This can result in spinal injury and, potentially, permanent damage to knees, back and hips.

Good squat form may be a challenge to master but squatting developments far higher levels of functional strength. Here's a great bonus: squats help athletes develop total body, multi-planar strength and power, compared with the limited strength developed on fixed position, specifically stabilized exercise machines designed to "isolate muscle groups." (More on this fallacy in the future!)

Speaking more generally, most exercise machines are simply not designed to support the adolescent body, let alone pre-pubescent kids!

Seated overhead press machines are typically designed in a way that places a great deal of stress on the lumbar spine. These forces far outweigh those produced during standing overhead pressing, when the core stabilization system is more recently registered for spinal stability. Athletes often end up in severe lumbar misalignment in an effort to lift higher weights.

Leg extension and leg curl machines fix the body in the sagittal plane (think straight-ahead) and create hip flexion and shear force at the knee (leg extension) or extreme lumbar extension (lordosis) and hip flexion (leg curl.) Both seriously reduce the body's ability to stabilize the knee and spine.

How then should children exercise in order to avoid the onslaught of the machines? Ground-based training, with an emphasis on bodyweight stabilization exercises first, with progression to bodyweight / implement based strength training, integrated along with speed, agility, balance, flexibility and power training, is the key to youth fitness and sports training success!

Better fitness levels for everyone? Higher levels of sports performance? And all of this while drastically reducing injury and extending athletic care? Yes, yes and yes!

The strategy is simple … resist the "rise of the machines!" Your future depends on it! Contact us today to learn how to become part of the "Resistance !!


Is Affliction a Real Threat to the UFC?


Like two glazing fighters in the ring, the UFC and Affliction are trading blows. Is Affliction a real threat, or will this be another 15-second fight before the final blow comes and the UFC reigns as champion once again?

Affliction has had a fairy tale start. With deep pockets like Donald Trump backing the company, they have been able to put a lot of money into their first card, but can they keep up the frenzied spending pace and still make money off of the venture? That remains to be seen. Fedor was not able to fight on October 11. This may be a good thing for Affliction since it means that they'll still have two fights left on his contract and they'll be able to make money off of him for a little bit longer . But the question remains, when Fedor's Affliction contract is up, who will get the next contract? And without Fedor, does Affliction really stand a chance?

Another long-term issue that may lead to Affliction's doom is the question of getting more fighters that are worth watching. They have Fedor for now, but they need a bigger roster of talented fighters. There is talk that Tito will sign on with them, but at this point a lot of fans are tired of Tito's drama. Let's face it; the UFC has a larger roster and more talent. By comparison Affliction is just an angry wasp trying to kill a bear.

The fans will decide the winner of this fight. The UFC has a lot of loyal fans, as evidenced by UFC ticket sales, but there are also fans who believe that competition will only make MMA better. And then there are those fans who do not like the UFC at all and are more than willing to pull out their cash for the competition. It's not like Affliction is unheard of either. Affliction is well-known by MMA fans thanks to using MMA fighters to market their t-shirts, so it is not like some upstart company is trying to make its way into the MMA market. Whether the more theatrical presentation that Affliction put on in July wins out, or the sporting event presentation that the UFC puts on, remains king of the MMA realm, remains to be seen. But just maybe, Dana White and the UFC are getting worried.

Since White's denials , it is obvious that the card that the UFC hastily dropped together on the same night as Affliction: "Banned" was an attempt to take viewers from Affliction's fight. It did not hurt that UFC's fight was free to watch on Spike. It looks like the UFC is more than a little worried about the Affliction threat. It remains to be seen whether this is a real threat, or just another second rate league that can not touch the legend of the UFC.


Flights Information


Flights Information entails notification of details concerning the arrival and departure of flights, availability of tickets, and the information regarding the various flights available to major cities around the world. In this fast paced world, where people are constantly on the move, they need to keep a constant tab on their flight schedules. The time of arrival and departure of flights as well as information in case of any delay or rescheduling is also made available. To help the passengers reach their destinations on scheduled time, flight information updates have been made available on the Internet as well as on various cell phone networks.

The technological advances have enabled all the major airliners to go on the World Wide Web and provide their passengers with the facility to book flights. People from all across the globe can check the availability of seats of their choice and make on line flight reservations. Prior on line reservations ensures a hassle free journey.

Air transportation has been made easy and affordable in recent years. Almost all major companies operate cheap flights to various parts of the world. The introduction of cheap flights has increased the number of passengers availing flights even for short distances.

Flights from different parts of the world fly to the Big Apple or New York. Cheap Flights to New York are also available. New York City is served by John F. Kennedy International Airport, the Newark Liberty International Airport and the La Guardia Airport. JFK serves as the hub of the Delta Air Lines, Jet Blue Airways and American Airlines. Flights to New York are also available from all the states in the Unites States of America.

Las Vegas, occupying the Western coast of the North American continent, is one of the popular tourist destinations in the world. Las Vegas is served by the Mc Carran International Airport. As many as 125 flights to different cities in the country operate from the Las Vegas Airport. It is in fact one of the busiest airports in the world in terms of air traffic and passenger movement. Flights to Las Vegas connect the city with other parts of the world.

The national capital of Washington DC is served by several airports. These include the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the Washington Dulles International Airport and the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport better known as the National Airport. Flights to Washington are conducted by several airliners. These airlines include the Midwest Airlines, US Airways and Northwest Airline KLM. Some of them also conduct cheap flights to Washington.

Flights to Paris mainly serve a couple of airports at the airport. Tourists flock the French capital in large numbers each year. Almost 500 flights from 132 different nations fly regularly to Paris. They carry almost 75 million passengers to and from Paris on an annual basis.


From The West Coast To The Deep, Deep South


This morning, I saw my first armadillo since my sister picked me up at the Houston airport and drove us 3 hours deeper into Texas. The prehistoric looking critter was ambling around out by the burn pile this morning. He finally waddled off into the woods.

Shifting from the West Coast to Deep East Texas has been quite a transition.
Mom can’t stay alone so I’m here as long as necessary. I forgot how different my home state of Texas is from every other place in the world.

A bobcat crossed the road on my way to town Friday. Before that, I saw an animal that I didn’t even know existed. It was like seeing a unicorn. I almost couldn’t believe it. It was a solid white deer. Others in town said they were rare but real.

I take that deer sighting as a good omen.
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It’s been quite a ride since I arrived in the deep, deep South. One man was trying to tell me he wanted to sell a ‘fakir’ so many times I finally had to ask him to spell it. Turns out, he was trying to say ‘half acre’ but had condensed it to five letters.

It is nothing short of code talking here at times. “The devil’s whipping his wife,” one man announced. After a moments thought, I remembered that to mean that it is raining while the sun is shining. We dress funny. We talk funny. I love us.

It’s not enough to wear a belt buckle.
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It doesn’t even count if it doesn’t look like the door off a car. Hats are de riguer and it’s going to need to be hand creased. Straws in the summer; felts in the winter. Just like it always has been.

There is one horse on our property that is a former champion.Lynx still stands proud and tall. He lives where I am staying and I was told he brought home many of those shiny buckles that cowpeople wear as trophies of rodeo wins. He’s over 20 years old but that doesn’t stop him from bucking around in the pasture before a storm.

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There is funny little horse called Pedro that keeps getting my attention. I’ve told him everything. He wanders around and follows me whenever he can. Last night, he patted me down for carrots and we saw a shooting star together.

The sporks (spoon/forks) are cross breeds between miniature horses and donkeys. There are a pair of them and they are the first hoofed animals that I have ever seen wrestle. They love to bray-night and day.

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Horse and cows are everywhere as well as donkeys of all shapes and sizes. Turns out they are more than lawn ornaments that eat, the smaller equines keep coyotes and poisonous snakes away.

I tried to get Pedro to chase away a chicken snake but he just stepped over it. They only get excited when their lives are in danger but the long, black creature was easily five feet long and I didn’t like him in the yard.

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Temperatures are just above freezing and Spring is start to show in the new growth on the trees. So goes life here in the Piney Woods of Deep East Texas. Stay tuned for updates and additions to our little slice of paradise called Misfit Island.


Soda Jerks: Heroes Of The Past


Originally, what was called a soda fountain was a device that dispensed carbonated soft drinks and fizzy water, but as time went on, it was used as a general term for an ice cream shop and lunch counter, which we know as soda fountains. These began to appear in drug stores and dime stores in the mid 1800s.

Benjamin Silliman, a Yale chemistry professor, introduced carbonated soda water to America as early as 1806 in New Haven, CT home of Yale. It caught on quickly and, along with three partners, he began expanding into New York City and Baltimore. By the mid 1800s they knew they had a winner, especially with the addition of light meals, where anyone could grab a quick sandwich along with a frozen delight. The idea of ​​drug stores was pretty ingenious, since cola syrups were instilled with fizzy water and originally sold as refugees. Soda fountains could be ornate with marble counters and Tiffany lamps or plain, usually with a mirrored back wall and the familiar goose-neck soda water dispenser which the servers, known affectionately as "soda jerks", who worked those black-handled spigots and filled up glasses, creating wonderfully bubbly drinks which ticked noses and delicious taste buds. Creating a popular meeting place for all ages, small town and large cities embroced them and customers often standing in line for a seat during busy hours, happily contemplating their orders. On warm summer evenings, a fizzy fresh lemonade cooled off thirsty patrons or better yet, a banana split could have been shared with a best friend or sister.

Most soda fountains stocked chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream (some even featured New York cherry, butter pecan and tutti-frutti) along with chocolate, strawberry and marshmallow syrups. To top things off, crushed nuts and maraschino cherries added to the visual delight of those glorious concoctions. Hot fudge sundaes were created to serve on Sundays when religions forbade the sale of fizzy water, thus prohibiting the popular chocolate ice cream sodas from being served. (Apparently the ice cream and syrup were not considered sinful but the soda water was – go figure.)

Sadly, in the 1950s drug stores moved in the direction of self service, eliminating lunch counters and ice cream alike, and fast food began to replace the lunch counter with hamburgers and shakes which bore little resemblance to their predecessors. Out with the old, in with the new as more and more space was needed for the hundreds of shelves displaying boxed and bottled products, replacing the soda jerks and less income-generating egg salad sandwiches.

Today, there are still ice cream parlors and vintage fountains sprinkled around the country, continuing the nostalgia of the originals, And in small towns, root beer stands still happily serve floats and soft serve ice cream, but it is not quite the same. Oh sure, you can go to Dairy Queen or Baskin-Robbins and get a sundae or even a banana split, but something is missing. Is it those hats, or is it just a piece of history?