Jewelry Boxes – A Guide to the Best Jewelry Box Makers

[ad_1] Whether you are buying the most basic kind of jewelry box or are in the market for high-end luxury boxes, it is a good idea to know which companies make the best boxes and to be able to identify the brand names associated with quality jewelry boxes. So, let me give you a short guide … Continue reading “Jewelry Boxes – A Guide to the Best Jewelry Box Makers”


Whether you are buying the most basic kind of jewelry box or are in the market for high-end luxury boxes, it is a good idea to know which companies make the best boxes and to be able to identify the brand names associated with quality jewelry boxes. So, let me give you a short guide to the makers of jewelry boxes in the various price ranges.

If you are looking for the most affordable jewelry boxes, then you will be able to find a variety of high quality, mass-produced boxes. In this price range, a good choice are the products offered by the Mele Jewelry box company. They do a good job of combining quality construction and classic style with attractive prices. Over 100 styles are offered each season in prices ranging from $25 to $375

Their designs include child ballerina boxes, white wood girls jewelry boxes, travel jewelry cases, women’s wood jewelry boxes, men’s valet boxes and floor standing jewelry armoires.

Mele’s wood boxes are available in a variety of finishes including oak, cherry and walnut. They also offer faux leather and genuine leather boxes as well.

In case you are wondering about the manufacturer, the Mele Jewelry Box Company was founded in 1912 and managed to survive the Great Depression by building the boxes that held the Purple Heart’s given to war veterans.

They prospered in the late 1940s after introducing a jewelry box with an automatic tray that rose when you lifted the lid. In 1948 Life magazine listed it as one of the top ten holiday gifts. This was followed by a children’s box with a spinning ballerina, which also became top selling item. By the 1950s the company was established and was a household name. 50 years later, Mele remains as a leader in its field.

Another affordable brand to look for is Royce Leather. They do a wonderful job of producing quality genuine leather jewelry boxes, jewelry travel organizers and watch boxes at reasonable prices. Their most popular products are travel wallets which sell for $40-50 and watch cases which range in price from $60-100. These items can be personalized with your initials and are available in a variety of colors. Royce’s leather products feature hand-selected leather hides and quality stitching.

Royce has been in business for 35 years and they have established a reputation for finely crafted and innovative leather products.

In the mid range of jewelry boxes one of the leading manufacturers is Reed & Barton. Their jewelry boxes range in price from $100 to $400. They are crafted in old world style and tradition and big enough to house full jewelry collections. The two most popular Reed & Barton jewelry chests are the “Regal” jewelry box and the larger “Athena” jewelry box. Both are popular gifts for Christmas, weddings, anniversaries and graduations. 

Reed & Barton boxes, with their traditional design and generous jewelry storage, make a perfect heirloom jewelry box gift. Their newest styles which are more contemporary have also been well received by those looking for a fresh take on the classic jewelry chest. Reed & Barton is a well-known company, renowned for producing high quality flatware and giftware. They have been in business since 1824.

In the luxury range of jewelry boxes the RaGar name is a brand to look for. Their boxes are distinguished by original designs, high gloss finishes, brass hinges and luxurious linings and range in price from $100 to 1450. Every RaGar jewelry box is shipped in a two piece white gift box. In the past 15 years RaGar has established itself as a leading manufacturer of luxury jewelry boxes.

Another high quality box maker is Jere Wright Global. Their Constantine line of products are handcrafted with exquisite attention to detail.  Each individual jewelry box takes over 20 days to complete.  The care and attention this manufacturer gives their products is clearly evident in over 80 unique styles including exotic wood jewelry boxes, fine leather jewelry travelers, watch cases and winders and crystal trinket boxes.

When you are shopping for jewelry boxes, whatever the price range, lookout for these quality brands and you will surely find a quality gift item or box for your own cherished jewelry collection.


Linkin Park Biography


The Group’s History

Linkin Park is a new metal rap/rock group from Agoura Hills, California. This great group started out with three high school friends with Rob Bourdon, Brad Delson, and Mike Shinoda. Once these three friends graduated from high school in 1996, shortly there after they decided to form a rock/ rap group called Xero. The band would eventually recruit Joe Hahn, Dave “Phoenix” Farrell, and Mark Wakefield. After Mark Wakefield left the group in 1998, he was later replaced by Chester Bennington, and the rest is history. The group would later change their name to Linkin Park and in 1999 Linkin Park signed their first record deal to Warner Bros. Records. 

The Break Through

On October 24, 2000 Linkin Park released the critically acclaimed album “Hybrid Theory” which was a mega smash commercial success. The album sold 4.8 million copies during the first year of release and ended up being the best album of the year in 2001. Singles off of the album like “One Step Closer” & “Crawling” established the group as staples on alternative rock radio stations across the country. Linkin Park won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for the single “Crawling,” and was also nominated for two others: Best New Artist and Best Rock Album for 2001.The band was awarded two awards by MTV for Best Rock Video and Best Direction for “In the End”. With the overall success of Hybrid Theory, the band catapulted into mainstream success. Around the same time, Linkin Park received invitations to perform on high-profile tours and concerts, such as the Family Values Tour, KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas, and Ozzfest. But they didn’t stop there. Linkin Park also formed their own tour called Projekt Revolution, and it featured notable artist like, Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill, and Adema. The band released a DVD in November of 2001 called Frat Party at the Pankake Festival documenting their performances and experiences. With the success of Hybrid Theory, the band performed over 320 concerts within a year. In 2002 the group made a remix album called Reanimation, and the album featured several guest like Aaron Lewis, Jonathan Davis, Black Thought and many more. The first week of sales for Reanimation were 270,000 copies, and the album claimed the number 2 spot on the Billboard 200. 

The Follow Up

By the time the band released their second album “Meteora”, they were already established as rap/rock royalty. During the first week alone Meteora sold over 800,000 copies and the album ended up selling nearly three million records by 2003. Linkin Park also did a collaboration album with hip-hop mogul Jay Z entitled Collision Coarse, which capitalized on the trend of song mash-ups. This is when you make a new song out of the recognizable pieces of two existing songs. Collision Coarse went to the top of the Billboard Charts. 

Round Three (2007)

Minutes to Midnight was their third solo project and would be one of their most successful albums of to date, selling over 625,000 copies in the first week of release alone. Minutes to Midnight sold over 2 million copies in the US, and put four singles on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks charts. In 2008, Linkin Park won an award for Best Rock Video at the MTV VMA’s. 

“The Dawn of A New Day”

In September 2010 Linkin Park released their long-awaited album, “A Thousand Suns.” The lead single off the album entitled “The Catalyst,” made history by being the first song atop the Billboard Rock Songs chart. By the end of 2010, “A Thousand Suns” reached #53 in the Year-End charts of Billboard Top 200 albums and #7 in the Year-End Rock Albums category. 

Current Band Members 

  • Mike Shinoda- rhythm guitar, keyboard, production, rapping
  • Brad Delson- lead guitar, background vocals
  • Joe Hahn- background vocals, keyboard, samples, turntables
  • Dave “Phoenix” Ferrell- bass guitar
  • Rob Bourdon- drummer
  • Chester Bennington- lead singer


The Game Changer

Hybrid Theory is known around the world as being one of the best studio albums that was ever recorded. Linkin Park took rap/rock music to another level and is by far the group’s greatest album of to date. Linkin Park gave the perfect blueprint on how to take music to another level. 

The Band Discography

Studio Albums

  • Hybrid Theory (2000)
  • Meteora (2003)
  • Minutes to Midnight (2007)
  • A Thousand Suns (2010)


Other Albums 

  • Reanimation- remix album (2002)
  • Live in Texas- live album (2003)
  • Collision Coarse- with Jay Z (2004)
  • Road to Revolution Live at Milton Keynes (2008)


There is no denying that Linkin Park is one the best rap/rock groups of our time and that their musical style is nothing short of pure genius.


History As She Is Now Rarely Told – A Reflection On Oliver Cromwell By Frederick Harrison


Let us take form the bookshelves a copy of Frederick Harrison’s summary biography of Oliver Cromwell and note that this particular dark green, well travelled hardback was published in 1896, the same year that it was awarded as first prize to a member of the Zion Chapel, Wakefield, in recognition of the recipient’s regular attendance for the half year ending April 26 that same year. Then let us read the book.

It is always intriguing to see how historical fact tends to be interpreted through the lenses provided by the milieu of the particular age when the opinion was expressed. For what is immediately surprising about Frederick Harrison’s rather populist text is that it is broadly sympathetic to Oliver Cromwell and his achievements. There is, of course, the venerable late Victorian tendency to imagine that we are actually at play with the young Protector, some three centuries or so prior to writing, during the years that the subject, himself, could probably barely recall. And Harrison also imagines he could quote from his subject’s own words while working in phrases of his own as if they represented the authentic voice. But these are merely stylistic detail. It is the content of this book that genuinely surprises and deserves comment.

For the most part, the author’s pithy text details the political and social forces and also the influences that combined to create the zealot, if that might not be too strong a word, who rose from middle class roots to become the revolutionary leader of England and arguably the greatest military leader the country ever produced. This latter skill, as the book repeatedly emphasises, was based on professionalism, thoroughness and good people management. How modern does that sound? The answer is less than first sight, if God’s presence was always assumed to ensure the victory.

What will surprise the contemporary reader of Harrison’s biography is that overall the author proffers a generally positive gloss on Oliver Cromwell the man and politician, as well as the military leader. Though the account may not be described as definitively anti-Royalist, there is certainly no hint of the now prevalent romanticised or cavalier version of the conflict on show. Cromwell is presented, as in his most famous portraits, warts and all: but on the other hand Charles’s failings figure proportionately larger, because they were more reprehensible and surely less justifiable.

One wonders how it is that in 1896, towards the end of a queen’s long reign, a text such as Harrison’s Oliver Cromwell might have taken such a position. Would it be possible in 2014, towards the end of another long reign by a queen, for a mainstream, possibly populist author to propose a generally anti-Royalist position on England’s Civil War?

Though Harrison describes in detail, with generous quotes from Cromwell’s own hand, how the eventual Protector saw God in everything, and especially his own success, the author also draws parallels with the rise of socialism, rationalism and democracy. He specifically describes the defeat of Charles as the end of the medieval concept of monarchy, where an absolute ruler uses his assumed proximity to God to justify every human whim. Note that his opponent still used God’s presumed judgment as reason for actual success, but crucially not as his right to expect it. In this context, England’s Civil War was a revolution similar to that which later deposed the monarchy for good in France. What it lacked, perhaps, was a stress on rationalism provided by the coming of enlightenment, science and industrialisation, and thus its protagonists stepped back from permanent constitutional change. Perhaps the pragmatism of the age prevailed.

But Harrison does here and there indicate that England at the time was not prepared, as the American colonists were a century later, to effect such radical change as establishing a Republic. Succession was the issue. How could it be realised without chaos in a time when ordinary peoples’ rights did not extend to suffrage? The revolution and Civil War did end for ever the medieval concept of Divine Right and that was progress enough. For more far reaching reform, we would need to wait for an age that was more open to non-conformism, individuality, socialism and equality. And that is perhaps why this copy of Oliver Cromwell by Frederick Harrison was offered as a prize for attending the Zion Chapel in Wakefield in 1896, because it then did fit the assumptions of its own time. England’s industrial north was by then nurturing socialism, and non-conformist religion was at the heart of its growth.

One wonders in 2014 if it might be possible for even such a mildly anti-Royalist position to be expressed in the English mainstream and, perhaps more importantly, where such a standpoint might be awarded as a prize for dedicated youth.


A Glance at The Positive Aspects of Teaching ESL Abroad


In the recent times, many nations need proficient English teachers. They are looking for those talented and experienced people, who could come to their country, stay there and teach the particular language in the local schools. This procedure will not only benefit the educational institutions but would also prove helpful for the aspiring teachers. Let us consider some reasons, which make teaching in foreign countries beneficial for prospective educators.

Six Reasons to Teach Abroad

1. If you love travelling; meeting new people and having new experiences is your passion, in that case educating abroad is the easiest way to live your fervor. By having a career in a foreign nation, you could enjoy vacations in the neighboring countries, without spending much.

2. Living abroad would help you to learn a foreign language, which would be beneficial for your career. You could join the various institutes and thus, have a great exposure.

3. Although moving to a completely new country would seem intimidating at first as you have to leave behind everything familiar. However, such an experience is sure to develop you personally and make you ready for all sorts of challenges in life.

4. Teaching ESL abroad would help you to work with children of different backgrounds. This would successfully broaden your perspective. As a teacher, you should motivate and encourage your pupils for betterment.

5. Educating in foreign lands could also help you in future. Having an international experience would open many new vistas and opportunities in front of you.

6. A career in any foreign nation is the ideal way of supplementing your income. The schools abroad would give residences, transportation cost and arrange all facilities, thus, the entire salary would go into your pocket.

However, to teach English abroad, you need to have certain necessary qualifications and certifications.

Mandatory Qualifications needed to Teach English Abroad

1. TEFL stands for Teaching English in a Foreign Language. By having this certificate, you would be eligible to teach the language to those people, who live in countries, where English is not a native language.

2. TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language. This certification allows you to teach the language to emigrants, who are living permanently in the English-speaking countries.

3. TESOL is the acronym for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language. This certification combines other two trainings of TEFL and TESL.

For teaching ESL abroad, you must have a bachelor’s degree in any subject and either of the three above mentioned certificates.


Lycia – Sailing Through the Centuries – A Cultural Gulet Cruise in Turkey


Lycia in southern Turkey is packed with some of the finest wonders of the world, with a coastline perfect for sailing. Today there is a whole raft of nautical charts and coastal pilots available for people cruising there. Yet only 200 years ago this coast in the Eastern Mediterranean was a complete blank on the earth’s atlases. The man we have to thank for its transformation, for literally putting this part of Turkey on the map, is a celebrated figure in all things maritime. His name is an absolute constant on shipping forecasts and various instruments, for it became the scale on which all winds are rated: Beaufort.

Of course the coast of Lycia was well known and used long before Francis Beaufort, a British Admiral, began his survey in 1810. It was directly on one of the main shipping routes in antiquity, the way between Greece and Egypt and in Christian times on the pilgrim trail from Constantinople to Jerusalem. Anybody who was anybody in ancient times seems to have sailed along its coast or changed ships there – from Anthony and Cleopatra to St. Paul, Brutus to Hadrian.

Yet these sailors are relatively recent compared with those who were travelling on one of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever made. The world’s oldest shipwreck lies off the Lycian shore, revealing the extraordinary length of time that people have been navigating along this coast. When the Ülü Burun wreck was dated to 1,350 BC, it sent shockwaves through maritime history. Here was a 3,350 year old vessel – a time capsule from the Bronze Age – and no ordinary little boat at that, but one carrying an extraordinary cargo that gives some idea of the sophisticated trade going on here in the dim and distant past. Aboard were tons of copper, ingots of glass and lapis lazuli, pellets of purple dye, swords and tridents, a wax book, and even a musical instrument similar to a lyre, probably used by the crew to entertain themselves of an evening. A golden scarab of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti is a clue as to the ship’s possible origin.

Today travellers can cruise in comfort unimaginable in the Bronze Age or even Beaufort’s time. The very best way to see the Lycian shore is aboard a gulet. The word probably derives from the French goulette, or schooner. For generations these two-masted wooden vessels, sometimes also known as caiques, have been used for transport and fishing along the southern coasts of Turkey. Typically designed with a sharp bow, broad beam and rounded aft, they are now designed and fitted with comfort, not trade in mind. Hand crafted in Turkey they come fully crewed, with a captain, cook, and additional deck hands. All passengers have to do is lie back, gaze at the horizon, and relax.

Much of the Lycian coast remains completely unspoilt. Soaring limestone mountains drop sheer into azure seas, carving the shore into a cavalcade of tiny coves, hidden bays, and pristine beaches. Hillsides are swathed in pine and olives trees. The ruins of countless ancient cities, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine cram the coast, limiting development to a few isolated areas. It’s the incredible combination of historical wonders, sailing, and superb swimming that make this coastline a truly magical destination.

Back in 1952, Freya Stark, one of the greatest women travellers of the 20th century, sailed along this shore and fell madly in love with it:

‘Every bay or headland of these shores, every mountain top round whose classic name the legends and clouds are floating, carries visible and invisible signs of its past… There are not so many places left where magic reigns without interruption… and of all those I know, the coast of Lycia is the most magical.’

Where the native Lycians came from and when is shrouded in the mists of time, but the civilisation they developed is utterly unique. Set between the Persian Empire to the east, and the ancient Greeks to the west, they borrowed ideas from both, fusing them into an exceptional architectural style, best seen in the tombs they’ve left behind. There are giant monolithic pillars crowned with grave chambers made of marble dating back some 2,500 years. Hewn out of cliff faces are gigantic tombs fashioned to look like Greek temples. Other burials were fashioned from the living rock to look like houses, complete with roof timbers, exactly like the wooden grain stores used in the surrounding countryside to this very day. Most common are the Gothic looking sarcophagi, thousands of them still litter the region, some decorated with the head of Medusa or ferocious lions to ward off tomb robbers. The lids of these sarcophagi curve up to a narrow point, which if you look at them upside down, appear like a ship’s hull and keel, a significant motif for such a seafaring people.

Many of the greatest Lycian sites are directly accessible from the coast. Cast off after breakfast from Göçek, one of the main yachting centres in the region, and within a couple of hours you can have travelled back 1,400 years. Moor up at Gemiler island, less than a kilometre in length, and you’ll be able to explore the remains of a small Christian community from Byzantine times, that’s been surveyed by Japanese archaeologists over the past two decades. Clinging to the island’s slopes are no less than five churches, littered with geometric mosaics and fallen columns carved with crosses. The northern shore is packed with houses and shops equipped with cisterns where rainwater was collected and probably sold on for a tidy sum to passing shipping. Climb up through the trees and you’ll find an ancient processional way used by pilgrims en route to the cathedral church on the island’s peak. Time your visit correctly and you’ll reach the top ready to experience one of the very finest sunsets imaginable: the sea sparkling with gold as ranges of craggy hills turn into shimmering silhouettes.

Just inland from Gemiler lies Kaya Koy, a place brimming with atmosphere and mystery, the setting for Louis de Berniere’s latest novel. This is a genuine ghost town, abandoned by its Greek inhabitants when Turkey and Greece swapped populations in 1923. It’s not very old by the standards of other ruined towns along the coast, but wandering along its empty streets past crumbling houses and chapels is both pleasurable and inspiring, and makes you realise quite how well the truly ancient sites have survived.

Back on the gulet, life is like one long list of heavenly pleasures: a morning dip into the warm turquoise waters; a spot of snorkeling beside the rocky shore; an adventurous turn on the windsurfer as a breeze comes up; a short expedition in the kayak to scout out a hidden inlet. Needless to say if you want to conserve your energy, there are relaxation opportunities galore, from reading and sunbathing to a full blown snooze. Then there’s the parade of tasty treats sent out from the galley, a real cornucopia of freshly prepared mezes and main dishes; stuffed eggplants, grilled lamb, multicoloured olives, spicy meatballs, feta cheese, and a whole host of salads tossed with local lemons and olive oil. On top of that is the bounty of fresh seasonal fruit: from mulberries to melons, pomegranates to strawberries. Turkey is a gastronome’s paradise and the ship’s cook never fails to conjure up mouthwatering sensations each and every day.

As you set sail from another languid lunch stop and the boat’s captain checks his position on the GPS, spare a thought for Captain Beaufort cruising along this coast at the start of the 19th century. He complained in his diary how little he had to go on to find his way:

“the only accounts extant were those left by the ancient geographers… there was no nautical description of the coast, nor any charts whatever by which the mariner could steer”

His task was utterly painstaking. Dragging a 100 yard long steel chain marked with flags and poles on the shore, they took meticulous sightings and sextant angles, and plotted the resulting position points. Slowly but surely his team of surveyors worked their way along the coast, putting Lycia on the map, despite the heat and overgrown vegetation:

“their shoes cut on the rocks, soaked by the quagmires, or burned in the red hot sands were of but little use’.

One of the prettiest places along the whole coast is Üçağız, which means ‘three mouths’. This tiny fishing village is connected to the interior by a thin rutted road that twists tortuously through a wild landscape of knife edge rocks. Not surprisingly the village is there because of the sea. It’s beautifully protected by two giant spits of land as well as the long thin mass of Kekova Island which forms a natural breakwater. This has been a vital harbourage for some 2,500 years, and its history lies all about. On one side is an incredible necropolis (literally ‘city of the dead’) of stone sarcophagi standing up to ten foot tall and dating back to the 5th century before Christ; on the other; the storage buildings, churches, and houses of the Byzantine town a 1,000 years later. The modern village of Üçağız is tiny compared to its predecessors. Here you can find a few small places to stay; a couple of shops selling food and carpets, a tiny mosque, some restaurants and a bar. That’s it. It’s a perfect place to moor up and idle away a couple of days.

Sail east and the Taurus Mountains suddenly recede from the shore revealing a large fertile plain at Finike, which is the source of many of Turkey’s oranges. A glorious hour’s drive inland rises up and up to the ancient site of Arykanda. Set high on the side of a mountain this Greek and then Roman town literally has it all. It’s been dubbed the ‘Turkish Delphi’ because of its spectacular location and excellent preservation, but unlike the site in Greece you’re more than likely to be the only visitors there. There are all the usual trappings of a prosperous antique city – agora, stadium, temples, baths – but the setting makes it truly stand out. The view from the top of the theatre down a steep sided valley to the distant mountains is simply heart-stopping.

There is more to Lycia than sailing and archaeology. One of the great highlights of the region now is the Lycian Way, Turkey’s first long distance footpath. Rated by the UK’s Sunday Times as one of the ten best walks in the world, the trail follows 500 km of ancient tracks and mule roads that linked the region before the coming of the car. Waymarked with red and white stripes, many sections of it follow the coast, so it’s perfectly possible to drop anchor and venture off for a gentle stroll or serious hike. Some gulet operators now offer specialist walking cruises, so you can trek along some of the very best stretches of the Lycian Way, with a boat ever present offshore, providing luxurious transport, dining and accommodation. What could be finer than walking along a Roman road or shepherd’s track, discovering remote ancient cities with breathtaking vistas, and then having a swim off the gulet at the end of the day?

In many parts of Lycia you can head a short distance inland and step back in time to a simpler, pre-industrial age – to a countryside worked much as it would have been in America and Europe a few centuries back. Go in the right month and you’ll find women in colourful trousers sickling down golden wheat grown on slender hill terraces. Walk along dirt roads and you’ll hear the tinkle of goat bells filling the air, with a goatherd ushering on his flock of shiny black charges. Very occasionally you might even come across some semi-nomadic charcoal burners arriving into harbour with the fruits of their labours after several months living and working in the forests.

It’s the timeless quality of Lycia that is one of its greatest attractions. Although a lot has changed since Francis Beaufort first mapped the coast and many of its ancient cities, there’s a great deal that he would recognise today. His survey revealed a magnificent coastline and an untapped wealth of archaeological wonders. It wasn’t long before a whole army of European treasure hunters were out looking for the best ruins to ship home. When the first consignment of Lycian ‘marbles’ – statues, temples, and tombs – arrived at the British Museum in London they caused such interest and excitement among the public that there was a Gothic architectural revival. Fortunately there’s a vast amount left to be seen in Lycia, and more and more is being uncovered by archaeologists every year. These ancient sites form a perfect backdrop to a splendid sailing vacation. In many cases it’s possible to sail directly into the ancient harbour of a Lycian city and moor for the night. How much better can cruising get? Sailing the Lycian Shore really is the experience of a lifetime.


Ubon Ratchathani – A Retirement Haven


When planning for your retirement you should consider the possibility of retiring to Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand.

Why should Ubon Ratchathani be included on a list of places to enjoy your leisure days? It is a foreign country. The native language is Thai. It is far from your homeland.

Many people, when the are nearing the age of retirement face the realization that they must adjust their lifestyle. Retirement income is often much less than during their working life. Where do you make the cuts?

Ubon Ratchathani is the largest province in Thailand in terms of land mass. It is located in the northeastern region and is bordered by the Mekong River and Laos to the East and Cambodia to the south.

One of the main points for making a new home here is the cost of living. It is easy to maintain an excellent quality of life for a fraction of what it will cost in western countries in Europe, Scandinavia and North America. You can secure quality accommodations, including all utilities, for less than you have been paying the bank for your car payment. You can enjoy three meals a day of tasty Thai food for less than a single meal back home. Medical care is surprisingly affordable at one of the four major hospitals in Ubon.

You can easily travel to Ubon Ratchathani by plane, rail, bus or private auto. The city benefits from being serviced with multiple schedules daily with three major modes of transportation. The buses and trains originate and terminate between Bangkok and Ubon but there are ways to make connections for domestic travel. The buses can take you around Ubon as well as around Thailand.

There is a small but growing community of western expats who call Ubon home. You can meet others to socialize with. If you want to get a taste of your homeland there are stores and shops to acquire the ingredients your need.

If you enjoy traveling you will discover it is quite cheap and convenient to get around Thailand from Ubon. You can walk the beaches of Phuket or Samui Island for a fraction of what you would pay in Hawaii or Florida. Take a trip north to the Lanna culture and mountains of Chiang Mai.

From Ubon you can be in Laos enjoying a step back in time or head south to Cambodia and visit the awesome magnificence of Angkor Wat. The journey to these places is only a few short hours. If you are wanting to visit friends and family back home it is a one hour flight to Bangkok to make your connection.

Living in a foreign country has requirements that never come to mind when at home. The local immigration office is just a 45 minute drive from Ubon city. All the foreign embassies are a train, bus or plane ride to Bangkok away.

Retirement is a time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You should seriously consider Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand as an option to maintain or even raise your quality of life.


Hawaii – How Filipinos Call It Home


Back in the year, 1906, the agricultural people of northern Luzon, called “sakadas”, set out and found Hawaii. Almost immediately, these immigrants found themselves knee-deep in trouble.

Apparently, agents working for the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association in Luzon had convinced these workers of housing, free transport—even $18.00 per month wages—to relocate to the Hawaiian Islands. Naturally and without hesitation, these “sakadas” imagined great wealth and in just a few short years, returning home.

Unfortunately, they had no idea how little of their hard-earned money would in fact be saved.

Hawaii’s plantations were already full of stable workers, which were mainly dirt cheap and fueled by the sweat of Japanese immigrants. But the Japanese were becoming weary of the lousy pay, all the legal restrictions and even the out-right bigotry toward them, something that dominated life in those times.

Plantation owners referred to the Japanese as the “yellow peril” which meant people who were trying to confiscate the land and somehow trade it to land barons in Tokyo. The Japanese were now at a point of organizing—even unionizing—to attempt better working conditions and treatment.

But the wealthy plantation owners, who were ruthless and corrupt, intimidated the Japanese by procuring people who were desperate, thus assuring and perpetuating cheap labor. The Filipinos became the lowest paid peoples working in Hawaii during this period.

Resentment by the lower classes, exploitation by the owners and having to endure the absolute worst in living conditions became a daily existence for the “scabs”, as the Filipinos were called. Sad times lay ahead for they were the first to be fired from inferior jobs, lowest for any promotions and the most discriminated against in respect to pay for equivalent work.

Just when the Filipinos believed that conditions could not get any worse, Hawaii found itself in political chaos. In 1898, just eight years previously, the United States had annexed the island kingdom, which was a boon for business and the plantation owners— but an outrageous maneuver for all of Hawaii’s social order.

The issue with the planters (owners) was to totally stop any chance of non-white residents to benefit from American-style privileges, such as the right to assemble to protest, the right to cast votes in an election—especially the right to negotiate via a union with an employer. Oddly enough, plantation owners started a campaign to gather up what they considered to be the most illiterate peasants in the Philippines. The thinking was to bring these people into the workforce in Hawaii as they would be the least likely to be aware of any rights.

In the early stages of the 20th Century, this new workforce, comprising of mostly men, found themselves far away from families as well as being totally isolated from their own village life. In addition to these depressing situations, none could speak English—which gratified the white elite

While being transported to Hawaii may have been a good thing for many, the fact remained that the Philippines themselves were going through harsh and repressive times. The Spanish had had a firm rule on them for over 300 years—a colonial rule unacceptable to the Filipino people. In June 1898, the Philippines became independent after winning a revolution from Spain. However, that independence was short-lived once the United States annexed them as a territory. The Filipino people were a free people but were referred to as U.S. nationals.

Migration to Hawaii by Filipinos (nationals) was common and simplistic. Some 8,000 of them came to Hawaii in the 1920s annually. Not much time would elapse before Filipinos exceeded Japanese numbers, thus becoming the biggest ethnic group laboring in the fields of Hawaii.

Unfortunately for the Filipinos, the Great Depression created massive unemployment throughout Hawaii. These people now found themselves in really dire straits! The United States had granted the Philippines their independence in 1935 and now Hawaii’s Filipinos discovered themselves stranded with no status anymore as a “national”—in effect, “a man without a country”. These poor and forlorn citizens of “nowhere” came to accept the notion that of all the ethnic groups in Hawaii, Filipinos most assuredly had been dealt the worst cards.

To state that Filipinos are the most diligent people in Hawaii would be an understatement. A case in point is the story of a Filipino who set sail from Honolulu, Hawaii, all alone, in a 24-foot craft, headed to the Philippines. During his voyage of eleven months, he had encountered several typhoons and unimaginable hardships. When arriving safely in the Philippines, many people had questioned his motivation. His reply was that he needed to prove the Filipino will and spirit!

That will and spirit has been the framework of survival for the Filipinos in Hawaii. Consider the fact the Philippines consist of over 2,000 islands with 80 languages and dialects. The early islanders saw a continual influx of cultures and bloodlines. Spain was influential in unification of the islands’ diversity, Catholicism and the demeaning customs of 300 years brought on by colonialism

Sadly, the U.S. Census in 2000 referred to Filipinos—not as a group— but as “Asian”.

In today’s Hawaiian culture, Filipinos consist of 15% of the islands’ population, but only 16.4% of the workforce. Most workers within this group are women. This is significant as other cultures have mostly men workers.

Like the rest of the United States, Hawaii remains at a low point where Filipinos must work menial jobs. However, a positive shifting of this concept is evident as Filipinos are teachers, political leaders, sports figures, lawyers and administrators. Filipinos continue to migrate to Hawaii more than 1% annually. Only the Vietnamese are the “other Asian” people increasing their numbers in the state. Nearly 50% of Hawaii’s Filipino families continue to speak their native tongues. Within this group, less than 20% speak English.

Notwithstanding the many challenges facing Filipinos in Hawaii, the point can be made that they as a people will be influential in all aspects of life throughout Hawaii—most notably over the next century. The most tell-tale sign of this positive trend is illustrated by the fact that between 1994 and 1998, nearly 60% of the total annual immigration of Filipinos to Hawaii became naturalized citizens of Hawaii.

That is truly a fitting image of the Filipino community embracing the “Aloha Spirit”.


The Olympic Games – A Brief (And Bizarre) History


It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of modern-day Olympics. With so much drama, so much romance, so much pizzazz, it is hard to imagine this world-wide spectacle being anything less than perfect. But you don’t have to dig too deeply to discover a humble and oft-times peculiar origin. Truly, it has taken several decades of Hollywood magic to produce the polished sports event we take for granted today.

According to Roman legend, the original Olympic Games were founded by none other than Heracles, the super human son of Zeus, no doubt as an opportunity to demonstrate his god like strength in front of the ladies. An alternative legend tells the story of Pelops, a Greek romantic, and father of the Olympics. In a desperate attempt to win the hand of his bride, Hippodamia, Pelops challenged her father, the King of Pisa, to a chariot race. To give himself the edge, Pelops replaced the king’s linchpin with one made of wax, which melted during the race, throwing the king from his chariot and killing him. Upon winning the race, the girl, and the entire empire, Pelops declared this the first Olympic Games – forever instilling the qualities of cheating and deception upon the games.

The ancient Olympics had their own version of celebrity appearances, including Homer, Socrates, Aristotle and Hippocrates. Even Plato got in on the games, winning not one but two gold medals in the pankration event.

The original “games” really only entailed one game, a 192 meter dash known as “the stade” – which was run entirely in the nude (once again giving Heracles an excuse to strut his stuff). In fact, the word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek “gymnos”, which literally means “school for naked exercise”. Later additions to the Olympics included boxing, jumping, discus and javelin, which gladly did include clothing. The surprising exception to this events list is the marathon race. This famous run, including the torch, were never part of ancient Olympics, and were not added to the venue until over 1500 years later.

The ancient games lasted nearly 1200 years, from at least 776 BC to 393 AD, when the Roman emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the games because he felt they were pagan and evil. And so the Olympic Games slept for over a thousand years until 1892, when a young Frenchman named Pierre de Coubertin proposed the idea at a meeting of the Union des Sports Athletiques in Paris. His pitch failed miserably. But ever the optimist, Pierre tried again two years later, this time in front a meeting of 79 delegates representing 9 countries. The delegates voted unanimously in favor of the revitalization, and so, in 1896 in the city of Athens, the Olympics were reborn.

The 1896 games were a disaster. As the games were poorly publicized, they never received the international support needed. Contestants were not backed by their respective countries, and in fact were forced to travel to Greece at their own expense. Several of the contestants were tourists who just happened to be in Greece on holiday.

Due to poor planning, the 1896 games was held in very cold weather, though it consisted entirely of “summer” events. In her book First to the Wall, 100 Years of Olympic Swimming, Kelly Gonsalves describes the first swimming event: “Not only did they battle 12-foot waves, but the weather in Greece was unusually cold and the water was a frigid 55 degrees Fahrenheit.” The book goes on to tell the story of Garner Williams, an American Swimmer, who despite spending a fortune to train and travel to the Olympics, jumped out of the water after only a few moments into the race yelling “I’m freezing”.

Other athletes also had difficult experiences at the Olympic games. After traveling on foot from Rome to Athens, a one month journey, the Italian athlete Carlo Airoldi was banned from the games because he was a professional. As the book The Olympic’s Strangest Moments describes, Dorando Pietri was denied his marathon gold because an over-anxious official helped him cross the finish line.

The Olympics are typically thought of as an event of world unity, though history would have something else to say. The official Olympic flag, designed in 1914 by Pierre de Coubertin, contains five interconnected rings, the symbolize the “five significant continents of the world”, leaving Africa completely off the map. 1936 brought the games to pre-war Germany, an opportunity to demonstrate the superiority of the “Aryan” race, or so thought Adolf Hitler, who campaigned heavily to secure the games. Of course, many will remember Jesse Owens, the African American runner who proudly taught the Germans a thing or two. The win of Luxembourg’s Josef Barthel in 1952 was met with an embarrassed silence. As no one expected a Luxembourg athlete to win, the orchestra at the medals ceremony was without the score to Luxenbourg’s national anthem.

Over the years, several attempts have been made to improve the Olympics. Both motor-boat racing, and bicycle polo were introduced, and later removed from the games. Hollywood was literally brought in to add some pizzazz in the 1960 Winter Games. Walt Disney was elected head of the organizing committee over opening ceremonies, which included special effects, ice statues, and the releasing of 2,000 white doves.

Scams, politics, wins and heartbreaks: these words apply equally as well to the modern day Olympics as to ancient. If the Olympic games have taught us anything, it’s that society never changes, even after thousands of years. If Pelops could visit our games today, while he might be impressed with our bright fireworks and Hollywood illusions, I think he would feel quite at home with the true game on display: human nature.


Top 10 Things to Do in Calgary Canada


Are you and your family going to visit Calgary, Canada? Have you already planned where to go and what to do when you arrive there? If not yet, then this article of the top ten things to do in Calgary should giving you a good starting point for planning your trip to Canada.

1. Heritage Park – This is a historical village that replicates the settlements of Western Canada, which is developed in the 1800s. It covers 127 acres of land next to Calgary’s Glenmore Reservoir. The attraction is family friendly and appeals to people of all ages.

2. Calgary Zoo – The Calgary Zoo is a home of over 1,000 animals all over the world. Kamala, the famous painting elephant, the Botanical Garden and the Prehistoric Park for dinosaurs are some of its famous attractions.

3. Spruce Meadows – This is an equestrian facility in Calgary. Watching a tournament with the family will surely be one of the most memorable events you will ever experience with your travels in this region.

4. Prince’s Island Park – It is a recreational island situated in the Bow River. Services offered includes hiking, biking and fishing that will be perfect for stressed-out urban families.

5. Stampede Park – This is the site of Pengrowth Saddledome, the home of the Calgary Flames NHL ice hockey team. The park also hosts the 10-day Calgary Exhibition and Stampede that offers the spectator experiences in rodeo, chuck wagon races, art exhibit and sale, trade fair, agricultural fair & exhibitions, midway, Indian Village, and much more.

6. The Military Museum – This museum is packed with war scenery dioramas that will surely interest everyone to learn more of the Canadian military history.

7. Canada Olympic Park – This park is good for families who love to ski. Mountain biking, luge rides, bungee trampolining, outdoor wall climbing, and mini golf are also available during summers.

8. AeroSpace Museum – This museum features the history of aviation in Western Canada. It was founded on the year 1960. This is a perfect for the family. Operation hours are usually 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Here, you could learn the stories of the pioneers who dreamed of flying. Discovering the trailblazers who adopted aircraft for trade and recreation are found here. Canadian heroes who fought in aerial wars and set their eyes on the outer space can also be experienced at this location.

9. Glenbow Museum – Glenbow Museum is both history and art museum. It is known as the largest museum in Western Canada. There are exhibits on everything about the traditions of piercing and tattooing and the life of certain tribes from Western Africa to Canada.

10. Calgary Tower – This tower offers visitors the most spectacular view of Calgary. It stands 525 feet above the ground. The visitors are asked to enter the Observatory Deck with glass floors. This way, they will experience a thrill when they look at the view beneath their feet.

Whether you choose one or all of these things to do in Calgary, your trip to Canada is sure to be a rewarding and memorable experience. Remember, if you are an American citizen, you need to bring your valid passport, as you will be required to present it when traveling to Canada. Have a safe trip and enjoy!


What Makes A Country Into A Sporting Giant?


This year sees the Beijing Olympics take place in august. The sporting world will be a buzz of anticipation as it waits to see who will win the major sporting medals and what stories or triumph over adversity will surface. Hopefully this version of the Olympics will be free from the drug scandals that seem to go hand in hand with all major sporting events nowadays and hopefully countries and athletes will be able to leave their political points of view behind them to give us the best possible Olympics, one remembered for events on and around the track rather than off it. No doubt we will have the same countries competing for the lion’s share of the medals with a few success stories from athletes from the smaller countries. But forgetting about the odd sports person that goes against the grain what is it that makes certain countries better at sports and athletics than other countries.

Different countries approach sporting events in different ways, for instance the former Eastern Bloc countries of East Germany and USSR felt that it was in the political interest of their country to try to be seen to be supremely good at athletics to show that they were stronger nations than the U.S.A. Of course the truth about these countries came out some years later when it was discovered that their athletes were part of a performance enhancing drug program.

The U.S.A and the larger, more developed countries of the world have better facilities as well as getting children involved in sport from an earlier age. Many countries in Europe and America hold after school clubs for certain sports that help to develop sporting skills in children from a very early age, helping them to develop a sporting awareness, a competitive edge as well as helping to keep them fit, active and have an interest in sport. But there are some countries that take this one step further still by taking promising children out of main stream school and educating them at a sporting academy that will not only give them an education but also help them to develop their skills at their chosen sport under the guidance of qualified coaches.

One such country that has reaped the rewards of sporting academies is Australia, a country of approximately 21m people who regularly turns out better sports men and women than countries that are much larger and have a better sporting history such as the U.K the has a population in excess of 60m people. Australia is now seen as a country of sportsmen and women, at each Olympics they seem to provide another set of new and up-coming medal winners who take their sport by storm. Granted the weather in Australia is favourable for sports, the nice weather lends itself to being outside and taking part in some sort of activity whereas being in a country like Great Britain in November when it is cold, dark and wet does not lend itself to anything other than being indoors. Certain areas of Australia are perfect to all year round training and these areas generally attract a lot of interest from the sports academies, areas such as Warrnambool in Victoria offer the perfect climate and terrain for many sports. So the weather does play a large part in helping to develop sports men and women but the sports academies in Australia also teach the basics of nutrition and the concept of fitness to their students so they understand how to treat their bodies to help them get the maximum performance out of them.

The Australia sport academy plan focuses mainly of swimming, athletics, rugby, cricket and cycling, all of which are sports that Australia has excelled in the past 15 years. This is not a coincidence, this has been a carefully planned program to ensure that they get the very best possible results from the athletes that they have, and it has worked. From a very early age Australians are taught the opposite of children from other countries, it is bad to lose and it is good to win. How they go about teaching this in a dignified manner is something that only Australians will know, all I can say is that you never see an Australian who is a bad loser, just ones that do not like losing and enjoy winning.

So it appears that as far as smaller nations go Australia have got it just about right by having the ideal weather for sports training, the sports academy Australia set up is pretty unique in the way they teach children an aspiring athletes about the winning ethic as well as about the human body and diet and the way Australians view sport as a whole, which is that it is something to be enjoyed but you try your best to win as second best is not in the Australian mentality.

So let’s all look forward to a good scandal free Olympics in which athletes from the smaller countries can try their best to dethrone the reigning Olympic champions from the bigger more powerful sporting nations.