Thursday, October 19, 2006

International Travel

International travel opens your mind to the diversity of humanity. Does a foreign vacation seem an impossible dream? It isn't. Come see why.
You need not be rich to engage in international travel. A well-planned itinerary is as close as your computer keyboard. You can find a good airfare if you plan ahead and travel in the so-called “shoulder” seasons, generally in fall and spring. You'll find the cheapest fares in winter. If you're traveling to Italy or Spain, this can be a plus, with mild winter temperatures. If you're really adventurous and footloose, look into courier deals. Airfare on international travel can be free!
Think outside the box when booking accommodations. Whether your trip is for a week or a month, look online for housing for rent on a daily or weekly basis. Rentals may include kitchen equipment, linens, telephone, internet connections and laundry facilities.
Having a kitchen lets you prepare some of your meals yourself. You can save a bundle of money and time just fixing your morning coffee and breakfast before going out sightseeing. Laundry facilities also save time and money. Send email postcards to friends and family with a click of your mouse. More time and money saved, letting you make the most of your vacation time.
Experiencing a different culture is a great adventure. It's the little things that really reach out and grab you. For example, European society is similar in many ways to American society. Yet, daily priorities are different. Food is a much more drawn out event than our eat-and-run habit. Meals are enjoyed slowly, seasoned with the camaraderie of your companions. And it's actually quite safe to go out at night in any major European city!
Try new things! Walk around your neighborhood and discover the bookstore, grocer, hardware, night club or restaurant. Neighborhood businesses reflect the tempo of life in your chosen destination. Jump into the culture, and rejoice!
International travel exposes you to new cuisines. You may never taste an authentic Spanish Paella, empanada, French Pistou or Italian pizza unless you take the leap and immerse yourself in your international travel destination of choice.
Part of the experience of international travel is getting around. Be adventurous! Large cities, such as Paris, have inexpensive and ultra-efficient access to anywhere you want to go.
With today's many restrictions on baggage, plan for only carry-on luggage. You'll avoid lost luggage, and walking and waiting time at the carousel.
You can pack everything you need for a month's stay anywhere in a carry-on. It's easy to find a foreign equivalent of an American drugstore and pick up any toiletries you may need. These items take up space in your luggage and tend to leak under cabin pressure. Shop duty-free shops at the airport for perfumes, colognes and the like.
International travel is a blast! Wherever you've dreamed of traveling, do an “armchair” search. You may find it's within your reach!


Charles Shulz began writing and drawing a strip cartoon in 1950 that was to become one of the most successful strips of all time. This was Peanuts and it ran until 2000, syndicated in newspapers across seventy five countries and translated into forty languages. Shulz didn't have anyone to assist him in the process, preferring to do all the work himself. The strip spawned several animated television specials, some of which won Emmy awards and feature films. Newspapers still run repeat cartoons today.
The world that Shulz created was a big influence on future cartoonists. His characters became household names, especially Charlie Brown and his faithful beagle, Snoopy. Peanuts dealt with the often painful process of growing up and coping with school and friends. Charlie Brown is the focus of the stories, an insecure boy who bears his defeats in baseball philosophically. A lot of people could identify with him. There are no adults in the cartoon; the children are seen in their own world, interacting with each other. Shulz uses the strip to express aspects of his own childhood and makes comments on society.
Snoopy is the character that is merchandised the most. He is more than a pet, and is humanized as he walks on his hind legs and types out his would be novel. He spends most of his time on top of his kennel and is never seen going inside the kennel. Snoopy fantasizes about being a World War I fighter pilot, complete with scarf and goggles. Woodstock, a scrawny looking little bird, is Snoopy's best friend. He is a very strange dog indeed and an integral part of Peanuts.
Other characters play important roles in the strip. Lucy is famous for her health booth, where she charges five cents for psychiatric counseling. Schroeder is a serous boy who sits at his toy piano, playing classical music. Linus is fond of Bible passages and needs a security blanket at all times. Peppermint Patty throws Charlie Brown into confusion by flattering him and showing an interest. There is also Marcie, with her head in a book, and the grimy Pig-Pen who walks around in a cloud of dust. Peanuts was so successful because fans cared about all the characters and recognized situations from their own growing up.
Shulz died in 2000 and was commemorated in a museum and by statues of his Peanuts characters. The airport near his hometown was named after him. His contribution to popular culture is appreciated and Charlie Brown and his friends will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Mini Dress

Mini Dress
There are certain fashion items that should only be worn by the young. One of these is the mini dress. Sadly, the world of mini is long behind me but I remember the glory days from the 1960s and 1970s. Just as showing a bit of ankle in the 1920s was scandalous, so the mini dress revolution caused controversy amongst the older generation. It was ok if you had the legs for it and it did liberate people. It also gave us choice. Different situations demanded different dress and skirt lengths. We could decide between full length, mini or midi. Later, the even more controversial micro burst onto the scene, a length that was barely more substantial than a belt!
Images of young ladies parading down the King's Road in London were part of the Swinging '60s scene. London was the capital of the fashion world, Twiggy was the top model and Mary Quant was the top designer. Clothes were as important a part of the scene as the music. The mini dress came in traditional materials such as cotton and also in modern deviations like PVC. Crocheted outfits were also fashionable. They were often worn with a matching peak cap.
Patterns were either very colorful or in black and white. Psychedelic, flowery designs were popular as well as paisley and geometric patterns. There were black and white checks and stripes. The mini dress was a bold statement and caught the imagination of the young. It was only women who were not confident about showing their legs that didn't support the mini enthusiastically. Men certainly appreciated the trend. Mary Quant was the designer who did the most to popularize the mini dress and she was producing dresses and skirts, which sat around six inches above the knee.
There were many arguments up and down the land in households where the length of the mini dress became grounds for conflict. Young schoolgirls would take up their dresses and mothers would let them down again. The dress code in the office could also lead to a war zone, as bosses struggled to hang on to some authority in the face of the rising hemline. A line was drawn in the sand when it came to hot pants. The mini dress had invaded and it soon spread to the rest of the western world. Gradually, the fuss died down and other trends came and went over the years. The mini dress was fun to some people and a thorn in the side for others.