Friday, 26 February 2010

Junk collector or Antiquarian

By: AlienOverlord626, Contributor

Anyone who has ever seen the television program "Antiques Roadshow" knows that often people may have a small fortune in their houses without realizing it. An old rug can be worth thousands. In many instances the person inherited the item from a relative and had no idea of it's true value. The chance of this happening to the average person is pretty slim. It is possibe however to enter the exciting world of the Antiquarian (someone who collects antiques) with only a minimum of preparation and cost. Here are a few simple suggestions that will help the average person get started.

Start at your local Thrift store. Often people donate old, unused furniture and household good without thinking about their possible value. People love the new, shinny gadgets that come out year after year. They are incouraged to get rid of their old things and buy new ones. This is of course foolish. New furnishings are often designed to last only a few years while older furnature can last literally for hundreds of years. 'Gradma's old table may be worth hundreds more than that new glass table.

Which brings us to the next important thing: Learn what to look for. Valuable antiques will often have the name of the craftsman who made them on an underside. Plates, dishes and silverwear will have what is called a 'watermark'. This is simply the stamp of the person or company who made it and the date it was made. Designer clothing can often be found in such places and can be purchased for a fraction of their original cost.

Special note: The reason Antique stores aren't mentioned in this section is because the people that own them often know the real value of their goods and will charge much more than that just to cover costs and profit.

Yard sales. One person's trash can literally be another's treasure. A classic example is a man (Who shall remain nameless) who bought a set of wrought iron lamps for 35 dollars. He went home and looked them up to discover they were worth 900 dollars each! The man who did this understood the two most important rules for buying antiques. 1. If it looks valuable it probably is. 2.Gold is where you find it. That is an old expression that means you have to be looking for something to find it. The man I just mentioned has been doing this for years. He enjoys filling his house with high quality furnishings and artwork for a fraction of what new furnishings would cost.

There is no rule that says you have to look for yard sales in your own neighbourhood. By taking a Saturday to check out the yardsales in town it is possible to discover a secret world of treasure.

There is another aspect to this hobby that makes it particularly appealing these days, the savings a person achieve by furnishing their homes this way. The same man furnished an entire house for 300 dollars. There are a couple of things to consider though. The popularity of television shows about antiques means there is more competition than in earlier years. The second thing to consider is the economy. There was a time when only a few people frequented yard sales and thrift stores and most of those people were poor. Such is not the case these days. It is not unusual to see new cars in the parking lots of thrift stores and parked in front of yard sales. This is where homework comes in.

The average person will look at an old crank operated record player and not realize it's an old 'Victrola' and worth it's weight in gold (even at today's rates). The simple act of research can make the difference between buying old junk and making a prudent investment.

Collecting antiques is the only hobby where a person can spend twenty dollars and recieve something worth hundreds. It is worth well worth doing even if only for fun.

"One of the most obvious facts about grownups to a child is that they have forgotten what it is like to be a child." - Randall Jarrell

The Feeling of Fishing


People go fishing for the many reasons, for one they like the sport of it, reeling in the big catch after they have been trying to find it all morning. Trying to catch a good bass or catfish to fry up after a long day of work. Just going out and having a few drinks on the water with some friends and letting all the stress just seep out of you. No matter the reasons people go, it is defiantly therapeutic.

People in the deep south sometimes do a strange type of fishing where they shove their arm inside a whole in the bank and pull out catfish the size of a boat. There is one form called jug fishing where you get a milk jug or water jug and tie a heavy fishing line on it with a big hook, put on a small brim or crappie and throw it out in the water. The next morning you get up and see whats on the other end of the line. There is fly fishing which is with a lighter string and top water jigs such as bugs and feathery bait that lays on to of the water until the trout comes and takes it. It usually takes longer to reel them in because the line is so light and the fish are heavy, you can't let the tension get to tight or the line will snap.

Ice fishing is a dangerous and different kind of fishing, obviously in the north. You cut a whole in the ice on-top of the lake, drop in your bait and wait for a fish to bite. You have to be careful that the fish doesn't pull your line into the side of the ice and snap it. That is one problem with ice fishing but the fish are usually bigger and worth the cold and trouble.

Going out on the lake with a couple of friends or alone with a couple of drinks and a fishing pole can be the most stress releasing thing you can do sometimes. Just to feel the waves rocking the boat, the sun on your shoulders, and a good conversation is all the therapy you will need sometimes. Catching a fish is always a great bonus.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Chewing Gum Gets Healthy and Local

by Bonnie Alter, London

When it comes to creating new healthy eco products, chewing gum isn't the first thing that springs to mind or mouth. But if you are going to do it, just do it well. So welcome to the world of Peppersmith gum, a chewing gum made out of natural chicle and fine english peppermint.

There are no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives, and no aspartame and no petro-chemical bases in the gum. There are no sweeteners--they use wood sugar and mint grown in Hampshire.

The business was started last year by two friends, Mike and Dan who used to work at Innocent drinks. They say " because we're independent we can do things a little differently and plan for the future instead of just looking for short-term gain."

Their ingredients are natural and healthy... read more story at

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Who Got It Right With Olympic Architecture, Beijing or Vancouver?

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

The New York Times describes how the glorious stadia and facilities built for the 2008 Olympics are virtually empty, sort of a Field of Dreams where they built it, but nobody is coming.
Alas, after the 2008 Olympics, the ticket buyers haven't come. Right now, the Bird's Nest serves as a winter amusement park known as the Happy Ice and Snow Season. In April, a promoter may stage a celebrity rock concert to "establish China as a world leader for global peace and a healthier planet." Or not. After that, the government says it may build a shopping center there.

Meanwhile in Vancouver, everyone is complaining about the banality and cheapness of the Olympic facilities. Who got it right?... more story at

Sunday, 7 February 2010

New Pictures of Earth Tweeted From Space

photo of Casa Blanca, Morocco from space

by Stephen Messenger, Porto Alegre, Brazil

In what is perhaps the final frontier for Internet access, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi shared photos he had taken of Earth from the International Space Station via his Twitter page. In addition to scenic locations and sprawling urban centers, Noguchi's photos provide some of the first looks of Haiti's capital, Port-Au-Prince, just weeks after it was devastated by the recent earthquake. Like the first photographs of Earth from space in the 1960s were humbling in their depiction of our planet as a fragile blue marble in the vastness of space, Noguchi's photos not only remind us of our impact on the environment, but also how far we've come technologically. more story at