South America 101-: Interesting and Little Known Facts

South America 101-: Interesting and Little Known Facts

South America is full of surprises, not the least of which is its location. Many of us believe South America is directly South of North America and the United States, when in fact it is further to the Southeast. Most, for example, don’t realize that Cleveland, Ohio is further west than most of South America. That’s just the start of some interesting and little known facts about South America.

  • South Americas major exports aren’t manufactured products but primary commodities like fuel, plants and food.
  • Brazil is the 8th largest auto producing country in the world.
  • The two most spoken languages in Brazil are Portuguese and German.
  • South America consists of twelve countries with Portuguese and Spanish being the primary languages.
  • In Paraguay visitors don’t knock on doors or ring door-bells. Instead, they announce their arrivals by clapping hands.
  • South Africa’s Andes mountain range is the world’s longest at over 4,300 miles.
  • Bolivia is home to the world’s largest salt flat.
  • Charles Darwin was only 26 years old when he first visited the Galapagos Islands.
  • Every country in South America borders Brazil with the two exceptions being Chili and Ecuador.
  • The highest point in South America is in Argentina in the Andes Mountain.
  • There are still indigenous ethnic groups in South America that have no contact with civilization.
  • At almost 12,000 feet, La Paz, Bolivia is one of the highest elevated cities in the world and is the world’s highest capital city.
  • About 70% of South Americans have smartphones with that number expected to increase to 80% by 2025.
  • Venezuela is the largest oil-producing country in South America and one of the largest producers of petroleum on the planet.
  • About 76% of all South Americans have access to the internet. That compares to about 54% of those across the globe.
  • Argentina was one of the first countries in the world to have radio broadcasting. It also has had two female presidents.
  • The southernmost point of South America is known as Cape Horn, and is noted for its unpredictable and dangerous weather and waters.

With over 300 languages spoken, South America is a large and diverse continent that has some of the planet’s driest areas, the tallest mountains, the largest rain forests and the longest river. It is worth knowing more about.

Tips to Making the Most Out of Your Garage or Yard Sale

Tips to Making the Most Out of Your Garage or Yard Sale

If you are interested in downsizing while making some extra cash, staging a garage or yard sale is an excellent idea. Make no mistake, preparing for and operating a garage sale can be work, but it can pay off with some extra space in your house and some bonus money in your wallet.

The key in staging a garage sale is making sure it as successful as possible. Here are some ways to make the most of your sale.

  • Make lots of signs. Use day-glow poster board to make signs for every major corner near your sale. The word “Sale”, the address and a large arrow are important in directing drivers to your sale. Make the large enough to see from 20 to 30 feet away.
  • Price items individually. Don’t leave your guests wondering what an item costs or having to ask. If you have a box of books, it is fine to have a sign that says $1 each, but otherwise put a price tag on each item.
  • Show items at table height. Many shoppers either won’t or don’t want to lean over to ground height to view or inspect items. Placing them at table height increases the odds your items will be seen and purchased.
  • Don’t take your sale personally. Your goal is to sell items. Don’t take it personally if someone makes you a “low ball” offer on an item. Simply decide whether you wish to take the offer or not.
  • Have some bags for shoppers. Start collecting disposable plastic shopping bags when you go shopping in the weeks prior to your sale. These will come in handy for shoppers who buy multiple items.
  • Have plenty of change on hand. Make sure you have plenty of five dollar bills, singles and quarters to use for change. Price items in 25 cent increments (.25,.50, .75., 1.25 etc.) so you don’t have to deal with pennies, nickles or dimes.

Be prepared for early shoppers and allow for as much parking as possible. Keep a book handy for those slow periods, and most of all, have fun with it.

A garage sale can help you clear up unused items, free up space, downsize and generate some extra cash. Make the most of yours!

Weird Facts About Our Presidents You May Not Have Known

Weird Facts About Our Presidents You May Not Have Known

Our American Presidents have been short, tall, heavy, and slim. They have been married, single, and divorced. They have come from various backgrounds and differing states. Here is a quick look at some weird and interesting facts about our presidents you may not have known.

You may have guessed that Abraham Lincoln was our tallest president. At 6’4” he was a full foot taller than our shortest President, James Madison who was a mere 5’4”.

William H. Taft was, by far, our heaviest president weighing in at 340 lbs. The next two heaviest include Grover Cleveland at 260 and Donald Trump who weighed in at 239. Four other presidents, including Chester Arthur, Bill Clinton, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson all weighed in at over 200 lbs.

While determining left-handiness is difficult for our early presidents at least 8 have been determined to be south-paws. These include recent presidents like Reagan, Obama, Clinton and George H.W. Bush.

James Buchanan, who served just before the Civil War, was the only lifelong bachelor to serve as president.

About seven US Presidents had red hair, although some only in their youth. Redheads include Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Van Buren, Hayes and Coolidge.

At the time, George Washington, John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin may have been the three wealthiest Americans in the country.

Fifteen of our presidents were vice-presidents before becoming the leader of our country. Only two, however, did not achieve the honor immediately after serving as VP. Richard Nixon and Joe Biden share that distinction.

Twenty-one states have been the birthplace of a President. Eight have been from Ohio.

Generally, our presidents have been wealthy, married and have either careers in politics or the military. They have also all been men.

Millard Fillmore, the 13th President of the United States was the last President not affiliated with either the Republican or Democrat party.

Although George Washington supervised construction of the original White House, he never lived in it. That honor went to John Adams and his wife Abigail. Initially, a mansion in Philadelphia served as executive offices until the White House was completed in Washington, DC.

Presidents have been loved and challenged. They have had buildings and highways named after them and statues created in their honor. Many have commonalities and others have stood apart. They all have served as the leader of the greatest country on the planet.

Five Largest Universities in The United States

Five Largest Universities in The United States

You may be able to name some of the colleges with traditionally the best football teams (Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State) or the ones known for their academics (Harvard, Yale, MIT) but could you list some of the public universities with the largest student populations in the country? Would you believe that list includes three from the State of Florida? Here is a look at the five public colleges in the country based on student size in the 2019-2020 school year.

  1. The University of Central Florida. UCF’s football stadium is known as the “Bounce House” due to its students habit of jumping up and down during games. It also frequently bounces from number 1 and 2 on the list for the most attended school in the U.S. The beautiful Orlando Campus featured a country leading enrollment of 71,456 students in 2019-2020 school year.The weather, beaches and amusement parks may play a role.
  2. Texas A&M University. Located in East Central Texas in the “Texas Triangle” area, Texas A&M boasts a student population of 69,465. The College Station Campus has traditions that include the 12th Man, the Midnight Yell, and the Bonfire Memorial. The university frequently tops the list of the most populous campuses but not in 2019-2020.
  3. The Ohio State University. Set in the State Capital of Columbus, Ohio, the Buckeye campus has 61,391 students. It is known for its giant football stadium known as The Horseshoe and its BDBITL (Best Damn Band in the Land) marching band. While the school is largely known as a football school, golfing great Jack Nicklaus attended college there.
  4. Florida International University. Another of the surprises on the list is FIU. Located in Miami, the school’s population was 58,787. It may not be known for its legendary football program, but it does boast the second best business school in the country.
  5. University of Florida. The third Florida school in the top five has a student population of 56,567. Its North Central Florida campus is located in Gainesville and famous alumni include Faye Dunaway, Erin Andrews and, of course, Tim Tebow.

Needless to say, it would make sense that these schools also have large alumni associations. By all means, school size isn’t necessarily a factor in determining the quality of education, but it can make it easier to meet more people.

Destination Gettysburg: A History Buff’s Dream Trip

Destination Gettysburg: A History Buff’s Dream Trip

No matter where you live or where you have spent vacations in the past, if there is a history buff in your family, you should plan a journey to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. You may have read about and even seen movies or documentaries detailing the story of the Battle of Gettysburg, but there is just nothing like experiencing it in person. It is a sacred place where you can almost feel the history. Thousands gave their lives here, and it is the site where one of the most influential presidential speeches of all time took place.

Gettysburg is not exceptionally easy to get to, and that alone adds to atmosphere. It is in Southeast Pennsylvania and while roadways to the site have improved, you will have to get off the Interstates. It is an extremely rural, hilly area. You’ll notice Gettysburg is a small town, with a population of under 8,000 people. The battlefield is sprawling however, and you should plan at least a full day.

The visitor center includes plenty of artifacts on display, a museum, theater, and obligatory souvenir area. While this is certainly a “tourist” attraction, there is a constant tone of respect that abounds. Most recognize this is the site where many Americans from both the North and South gave their lives.

Keep in mind, the battlefield itself is large, almost 17 square miles. While may choose to walk much of it the most popular ways to experience Gettysburg is through a bus tour or self-guided tour in your own car. Should you prefer, professional tour guides are available to accompany you on your tour (for a fee). There are also more unique ways to experience Gettysburg like through a scooter rental or even horseback.

Monuments are everywhere in Gettysburg, as states wanted to recognize their soldiers who gave their lives in the battle. In fact, decades following the battle, monuments and memorials were still being constructed. One of the most impressive structures, the Eternal Light Peace Memorial was created in 1938.

The sheer volume of things to see and places and monuments to visit is so extensive, you may wish to prepare for your visit in several ways.

  1. Watch a fact-based film or documentary about Gettysburg before making your trip.
  2. Research the ebb and flow of the battles there, and the main characters involved.
  3. Familiarize yourself with a map and layout of the community, battlefield, and visitors center.
  4. Research your “must-see” locations in case time or weather limits what you can take in.

Interestingly enough, the spot where Abraham Lincoln actually delivered his famous Gettysburg Address must be proactively sought out.

Whether you have a day, a weekend or a week, time at Gettysburg can be well spent. It provides a profound experience you will likely carry with you for years.

First Name Basis: Famous Folks We Know By a Singular Name

First Name Basis: Famous Folks We Know By a Singular Name

It seems every generation has its share of single-name superstars. Chaplin and Valentino were followed by Sinatra, Elvis and Liberace. They were followed by Twiggy, Cher, Yanni and Prince. Today, there may be more single-name celebrities than ever. Here are just a few of them and how their achieved single-name status.

Madonna

Many don’t realize that Madonna’s real first name is…Madonna. She was born in Bay City, Michigan in 1958 and named Madonna Louise Ciccone. She was named after her mother, who was of French Canadian descent and died when Madonna was just five.

Usher

The Dallas, Texas native was born Usher Raymond IV. It appears rumors of his name originating from seating people in a theater are greatly exaggerated.

Adele

Adele’s real full name is so charming and thymic it is almost a shame just to call her Adele. She was born in Tottenham, England in 1988 and given the name Adele Laurie Blue Adkins.

Sting

If it’s hard to believe Sting’s real name is Gordon Mathew Thomas Sumner it may be even harder to believe how he got the name “Sting”. He got the moniker in 1977 for his penchant for wearing black and yellow jerseys.

Drake

Drake’s given name is Aubrey Drake Graham, and he hails from Toronto, Ontario Canada. The musician also has been known by the nicknames Drizzy Drake and Champaign Papi. He is also known for his passion for the Toronto Raptors NBA team.

Pink

How does one go from Montgomery Township in Pennsylvania and the name Alecia Beth Moore to pop superstar Pink? The official story is that she took the name from Steve Buscemi’s character Mr. Pink in the film Reservoir Dog’s. She, however, has indicated the name is much more personal in nature. Today Pink lives with her husband and daughter in a $12 million mansion in Malibu.

Rihanna

When Rihanna was born in Saint Michael, Barbados she was given the name Robyn Rihanna Fenty. Although spelled a bit differently Rhianna in Welsh means “Great Queen and Goddess”. Who can argue?

Eminem

Marshall Bruce Mathers III used his first and last initials to get his rapper name, but he has also been known as just Em and, of course, Slim Shady.

 

You may not be famous enough to go by one name, but you’ll be treated like a rock star by our independent insurance agents. Contact us today for a no obligation review or price quote!

Weird Facts About Your Favorite TV Game Shows

Weird Facts About Your Favorite TV Game Shows

We all have our favorite television shows ranging from comedies, crime, dramas and even game shows. Let’s take a little peek behind the scenes to find some interesting, odd, and even weird facts about some of these game shows.

The Price is Right

This product-pricing game show is filled with interesting behind the scenes tidbits. If that giant wheel contestants spin to get as close to a dollar as possible to win a place in the Showcase Showdown looks heavy, well, it is. That wheel spins on a stainless steel shaft with roller bearings weighs about 2,400 lbs. That’s nearly as much as a sub-compact car. Speaking of cars, contestants must come up with the cash to pay taxes on any prizes won. That means when they are jumping up and down after winning a $30,000 car they are not likely thinking of the $10,000 in cash they will need to pay the taxes on it.

Wheel of Fortune

While camera angles make it look bigger, the actual wheel spun on Wheel of Fortune is only about six feet in diameter. Lighting and panels extend that to just over 16 feet. The wheel is heavier than it “sounds”, weighing over 2,000 lbs. If you’ve ever noticed all contestants are the same height, there is a reason for that. It is to make sure height doesn’t give one contestant an advantage over another. Platform heights are adjusted to contestants prior to each show. The five shows for a week are filmed in one day with about a 20-minute break between each show.

Jeopardy

This game show has won more awards than any other television show in history. Its most seen category is the difficult “Before and After” category. If a single contestant got every question correct during a complete game and bet and won it all on the Final Jeopardy question they would win $566.000. Many are surprised to learn that there are buzzer activation lights on the game board. Contestants who buzz in prior to the lights being activated will be locked out for about a quarter of a second.

Family Feud

Family Feud actually uses an independent polling company to get the answers to the questions it uses. Those taking part in the survey are not aware their answers are for the game show. If your family wants to get on Family Feud, choose its most energetic and personable members to be on your team. Family Feud, as most games shows, is always in search of interesting and even “over the top” contestants.

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Decoding the Beatles: Lyrics and Inspiration

Decoding the Beatles: Lyrics and Inspiration

The Beatles were together for less than a decade, but in that time produced a lifetime of music. While some of it was straightforward, some was complex and perplexing. Here is a look at some songs of the Beatles and the inspiration and meaning behind them.

“Hey Jude”

While John and Paul were frequently at odds, when John left his wife and son’s mother for Yoko Ono, Paul wrote a song to comfort John’s son, Julian. The song was original called “Hey Jules” but was later changed to “Hey Jude”.

“She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” and “Polythene Pam”

These songs were both inspired by fans of the Beatles. One tried to enter Paul’s home by using a ladder to enter his second floor bathroom. Pam was inspired by an early fan of the group who often attended shows at The Cavern. She was known to the band for her almost non-stop snacking from plastic bags.

“A Day In the Life”

This highly produced song, backed with a 41-piece orchestra, was a tribute to Tara Browne, who was an heir to the Guinness beer fortune, but died in a tragic car crash. Tara was friends with many rock stars at the time. Some speculated Browne had taken LSD prior to his death.

“For the Benefit of Mr. Kite”

Central to the circus/carnival theme of the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album on which it appeared, this song was inspired by an actual circus poster. John had acquired the poster, originally printed in 1843, detailing the talents and feats of Pablo Fanque’s Circus Royal and its appearance in Lancashire, England.

“I Want to Hold Your Hand”

No mystery here. This is a song about holding hands.

In just eight years, the Beatles had 20 number one hits and some 34 top ten hits. Their core catalog of 23 albums contained 213 songs. The band even was involved in five movies, including A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine and Let it Be.

Many forget that John, Paul, George and Ringo went on to varying degrees of success following their breakup in 1970. John’s legacy includes “Imagine”, “Instant Karma” and more. George’s biggest hit as a solo artist was “My Sweet Lord” and Ringo gave us “Photograph” and “It Don’t Come Easy”. It is Paul, however, who has had the most success with Wings and a long list of solo hits.

Four Major Sports That Just Aren’t What They Used to Be

Four Major Sports That Just Aren’t What They Used to Be

Things change. We get it. But sometimes those changes happen so slowly we barely notice them. That has happened recently with some major sports that used to dominate the sports pages and television. Here are four sports that used to occupy much of our time that simply have faded. Some have faded a lot. Others are still hanging on.

Harness Racing

Harness racing features horses pulling carriages called sulkies, originally made from a wood frame and eventually aluminum. Horses pulled these sulkies using a trotter or pacer technique. Harness racing was once a big deal, and county fairs throughout the country featured it. In fact, like thoroughbred racing, harness racing had its own triple crown for both Trotters and Pacers. Harness racing in some form has existed for thousands of years but interest today is at a low point.

Professional Bowling

It may be hard to imagine today, but there was a time when professional bowling dominated Saturday afternoon television. Names like Earl Anthony, Dick and Pete Weber and Marshall Holman were household names in the 60s, 70s and 80s. In fact, the Professional Bowling Association (PBA) is given much of the credit for the success of ABC’s Wide World of Sports as a lead in. Today, bowling is nonexistent on television and local bowling centers include day-glo bowling, bumper bowling and an array of dazzling lighting effects to maintain interest.

Professional Boxing

From the 1920s through the 1980s, boxing was the ultimate one-on-one sport. Great nicknames, over-the-top personalities and bigger than life rivalries dominated the sport and the interest of Americans. Superstars like Sugar Ray Leonard, Mohammed Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson, George Foreman and others provided the drama and launched American sports into the pay-per-view era. Lack of personalities, too many different title belts and the advents of the MMA greatly diminished the appeal of pro boxing.

Professional Poker

For a hot minute it seemed everyone was playing or watching poker. It appeared poker tournaments were on television 24/7. It was a sport for everyone where you didn’t need to be an athlete to excel. We were enamored with big personalities and even bigger payouts exceeding a million dollars. Superstars included Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson and others. Interest in poker, as a sport, waned in part, from simple over-saturation.

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Where Did THAT Expression Come From?

Where Did THAT Expression Come From?

Have you ever heard someone say a phrase and wondered how it originated? Why do we say, for example, ”Letting the cat out of the bag?” Here are some popular expressions and their probable origins.

Holy Toledo: If you have ever been to Toledo, Ohio, you may have noticed while it has its share of churches, there isn’t anything particularly “holy” about it. So where did this expression come from? It is believed it originated because of Toledo, Spain’s position as a Christian religious center and the number of great churches built in the city. This saying has nothing to do with Toledo, Ohio.

Shedding Crocodile Tears: One who appears to be insincere about demonstrating sorrow is said to shed crocodile tears. This is from an old, and inaccurate belief that when crocodiles ate, tears would form in their eyes. This included when eating human victims. Thus, crocodile tears may look sincere, but are not. The fact is crocodiles don’t even shed crocodile tears.

Jaywalking: This term comes from how jay birds would act when flying into major cities. They would be confused by the tall buildings, traffic and large number of people. These birds would often be seen acting erratically in busy cities, seemingly to be directionless. This became the name for people walking across traffic where no crosswalk was present, acting like these distracted avian.

Sleep Tight”: Old mattresses were often held together by ropes that kept them tight and comfortable. Keeping those ropes tight then, led to a better night’s sleep, leading to this expression often said when someone is going to bed.

Beat Around the Bush”: This generally refers to discussing a topic without addressing it directly. It is said the expression comes from trying to scare birds and animals out of bushes, so they could be caught more easily. Thus beating around the bushes helped the final goal without getting to it directly. One would need to beat around the bush as a way to get to the birds or game which was the mission in the first place.

By the way, “Letting the cat out of the bag” is associated with disclosing a secret because merchants selling piglets would often put them in sacks after selling them. When a customer wasn’t looking, merchants would sometimes replace the more valuable piglet with a cat. The buyer, of course, wouldn’t know this until arriving home and “letting the cat out of the bag.”

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