With text and email so prevalent today, it seems the art of the handwritten letter has fallen by the wayside. Yet now may be the perfect time to reintroduce the timeless practice of sending handwritten letters, not only for nostalgia’s sake but also as we are forced into social distancing for a potentially extended period.
If you are simply looking for a way to brighten someone’s day, this is also a good time to consider sending letters en masse to nursing homes and the like.
But do we even know how to write letters anymore? How do they begin and how do we sign off? Do they need to be written in cursive, with perfect grammar?
The traditional “Dear John,” still works when addressing people you know; for more formal letters, a “Dear Mr. Smith” and a colon suffices. As for the handwriting – make it legible, whether that’s in print or in cursive.
Here are some additional tips from etiquette guru Emily Post:
* Share news and information, mix good with bad news, respond to questions asked or the news shared in a previous letter, and ask about the recipient.
* In friendly notes, the most frequently used closings are “Cordially,” “Affectionately,” “Fondly,” and “Love.”
* A formal social or business correspondence is usually signed, “Sincerely,” “Sincerely yours,” “Very sincerely,” or “Very sincerely yours.”
* A good choice for closing a letter that’s in between formal and more intimate is “Kindest regards” or “Warmest regards.”
* Signatures: sign with first and last name if you’re writing to someone you’ve never met face-to-face; put your last name in parentheses if you’ve only spoken with the person on the phone; use your first name or nickname on letters to friends or business associates who know you.
How Star Wars revolutionized toys, merchandising and film
While 2021 won’t see a new Star Wars film on the silver screen, that galaxy far, far away will still have a huge impact on the holidays. Indeed, Star Wars arguably reshaped the relationship between media and toys.
Back in the late 1970s, movie director George Lucas made 20th Century Fox an irresistible offer, agreeing to cut his Star Wars director fee by $500,000 in exchange for keeping merchandising rights. Fox jumped at the deal because movie-themed toys then were mostly an afterthought. Movie-themed toys could drum up sales while movies were still in theaters but were quickly forgotten after the theater run wrapped up.
Then Star Wars became an out of this galaxy hit. Yet what was perhaps more surprising was the massive, sustained demand for Star Wars toys. Indeed, toy company Kenner, which originally held the rights to produce Star Wars-themed toys, couldn’t keep up with demand. During the holidays, they actually had to send out IOUs.
George Lucas established one of the biggest movie franchises in history. But just as importantly, he reshaped the modern toy industry. Now, tying in ancillary products, including toys, clothing, video games, and more, is a major strategy for many film studios.
Consider the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rather than turning to on-staff comic buffs and storytellers to decide which superheroes to base movies around, Marvel executives sought insights from kids. Children were shown drawings of various superheroes and were asked who they’d like to play with as toys. Iron Man came out as the clear winner and as a result, Marvel Studios launched the MCU with an Iron Man flick.
Hasbro, which partners with Disney to make Star Wars, Marvel, and other themed toys, generated nearly $1.1 billion in revenues through their partner brands in 2020. While this marks a drop from the $1.2 billion in 2019, it’s still a substantial sum. The Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association estimates that total licensed merchandise sales reached $262.9 billion in 2016.
Tiny homes and the law: 3 things you should know
Do you dream of downsizing, adopting a minimalist lifestyle, and getting closer to nature? If so, a tiny house might be right for you. However, it’s important to be aware that this type of dwelling, while increasingly popular, often still falls into a gray area in terms of the law. Here are some things to keep in mind as you explore your options.
1. Size and style matter
A major decision you’ll need to make regarding your tiny house is whether to build it on a foundation or on wheels. If you opt for a stationary home, it’ll be subject to local bylaws regarding house sizes. The minimum ranges from 70 to 1,000 square feet depending on where you live. If you want a moveable tiny home, however, it may need to be registered as a recreational vehicle.
2. It can’t go just anywhere
How tiny houses are zoned in a particular area can greatly limit where you’ll be allowed to build or park your home. For example, in many municipalities, it’s illegal to take up permanent residence in a recreational vehicle on a property that isn’t zoned for mobile homes. This means you might be required to build your tiny house on a foundation.
3. Building codes still apply
While there can be a bit more flexibility if your tiny house is registered as a recreational vehicle, these homes usually need to comply with the local building codes. Among other things, you may need a minimum ceiling height, at least one full bathroom, and a window that can be used as an emergency exit.
The bottom line is that building requirements and other regulations for tiny homes vary widely by state and even municipality. Therefore, it’s crucial that you do plenty of research before committing to this lifestyle.
Global seaborne shipping carries vast quantity of goods
If you have seen empty shelves at your local stores in the last few months, that might be because of the traffic jam in ocean shipping, which is responsible for much of what we buy.
Maritime shipping networks transport an estimated 80 percent of goods. Roughly 90 percent of bulk dry manufactured goods, including electronics and clothing, are transported across the oceans.
Many goods are shipped in standardized ISO shipping containers that typically measure 8 feet wide and either 20 or 40 feet in length. That said, shipping containers may vary in size depending on the goods shipped. Ultimately, container trade is responsible for roughly 60 percent of seaborne trade.
Shipping is often measured in Twenty-foot Equivalent Units with one 8 x 20 container counting as a single unit, or TEU. In 2000, global container port traffic measured just under 225,000,000 TEUs. As of 2018, worldwide container port traffic came in a bit under 800,000,000 TEUs.
Shipping company Costamare reports that there are 5,461 container ships currently in service, with a total capacity of 24.6 million TEUs as of August 2021. The Organization of Economic Development believes that maritime trading volumes will triple by 2050.
Container ships aren’t the only type of ocean cargo ships. In some cases, special ships are built to transport specific products, such as automobiles. With roll-on roll-off cargo ships, you can drive cars directly into covered cargo holds, where they are then secured. Upon reaching the destination port, cars can be driven off the ship and prepared for overland transport.
7 cell phone etiquette tips
In today’s world, cell phones are everywhere you look. However, sometimes using your phone can be distracting, rude, and even dangerous. Here are seven ways of minding your mobile manners.
1. Put your phone away during meals. If it rings, ignore it or excuse yourself and take the call in another room.
2. End conversations before you pay. It’s rude to expect to be served by a cashier or restaurant worker while you’re talking on your phone.
3. Lower your voice. Never shout when you’re on the phone, especially when you’re in public.
4. Never text and drive. It’s dangerous to take your eyes off the road for even a few seconds. There are laws against this practice for a reason.
5. Don’t use your phone in meetings. It’s distracting and shows that you’re not pay¬ing attention to what’s going on.
6. Turn your phone off when required. There are certain places where you shouldn’t use your phone like the movies, hospitals, waiting rooms, libraries, and churches. At the very least, remember to turn your ringer off to avoid disrupting others.
7. Be present. It’s common for people to turn to their mobile devices in uncomfortable situations and when they don’t know what else to do. Using your phone as a crutch will prevent you from engaging with others.
Being courteous applies to how you use your cell phone. Always be polite and respectful, and try to set a good example for others to follow.
December Celebrity Birthdays!
Do you share a birthday with a celebrity?
1 – Riz Ahmed, 39, actor (The Night Of), rapper, London, England, 1982.
2 – Nelly Furtado, 43, singer, Victoria, BC, Canada, 1978.
3 – Patrick Chamoiseau, 68, author (Chronicle of the Seven Sorrows), Fort-de-France, Martinique, Dec 3, 1953.
4 – Cassandra Wilson, 66, jazz singer, Jackson, MS, 1955.
5 – Margaret Cho, 53, actress (All-American Girl), comedienne, San Francisco, CA, 1968.
6 – Craig Newmark, 69, founder of craigslist, Morristown, NJ, 1952.
7 – Tom Waits, 72, singer, songwriter, actor (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), Pomona, CA, 1949.
8 – Nicki Minaj, 37, singer, rapper, Onika Tanya Maraj, St. James, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 1984.
9 – Reiko Aylesworth, 49, actress (24), born Chicago, IL, 1972.
10 – Melissa Roxburgh, 29, actress (Manifest), Vancouver, BC, Canada, 1992.
11 – Mo’Nique, 54, actress (Precious), talk show host, born Monique Imes, Woodlawn, MD, 1967.
12 – Lucas Hedges, 25, actor (Manchester by the Sea), New York, NY, 1996.
13 – Jamie Foxx, 54, actor (Ray), producer, born Eric Marlon Bishop, Terrell, TX, 1967.
14 – Vanessa Hudgens, 33, actress (Spring Breakers), Salinas, CA, 1988.
15 – Garrett Wang, 53, actor (Star Trek: Voyager), Riverside, CA, 1968.
16 – Krysten Ritter, 40, actress (Jessica Jones), Bloomsburg, PA, 1981.
17 – Milton “Lil Rel” Howery, 42, actor (Get Out), comedian, Chicago, IL, 1979.
18 – Steven Spielberg, 75, producer, director (Schindler’s List), Cincinnati, OH, Dec 18, 1946.
19 – Jake Gyllenhaal, 41, actor (Brokeback Mountain), Los Angeles, CA, 1980.
20 – David Cook, 39, singer, television personality (American Idol), Houston, TX, 1982.
21 – Ray Romano, 64, comedian, actor (Everybody Loves Raymond), Queens, NY, 1957.
22 – Jerry Pinkney, 82, children’s book illustrator (John Henry), Philadelphia, PA, 1939.
23 – Susan Lucci, 72, actress (All My Children), Westchester, NY, 1949.
24 – Louis Tomlinson, 30, singer (One Direction), born Louis Austin, Doncaster, England, 1991.
25 – Jimmy Buffett, 75, singer (Margaritaville), Pascagoula, MS, 1946.
26 – Kit Harington, 35, actor (Game of Thrones), born Christopher Catesby Harington, London, England, 1986.
27 – Masi Oka, 47, actor (Heroes), Tokyo, Japan, 1974.
28 – John Legend, 43, singer, born John Stephens, Springfield, OH, 1978.
29 – Ross Lynch, 26, singer, actor (Austin & Ally), Littleton, CO, 1995.
30 – Michael Nesmith, 79, singer, songwriter (The Monkees), Houston, TX, 1942.
31 – Ben Kingsley, 78, actor (Gandhi), born Krishna Bhanji, Yorkshire, England, 1943.
Buying local for the holidays: a gift to your community
The holiday season is the busiest time of year for many merchants and service providers in your area. But did you know that if you buy local this Christmas, you’ll help support your community?
Here’s what you should know.
A small gesture with a big impact
In addition to endorsing the merchants in your area, buying local allows you to contribute to your region’s economy by keeping jobs in the community. Plus, it’s a great way to invest in your neighborhood’s businesses. After all, your support is what makes it possible for them to offer a wide variety of products and services.
Furthermore, a business that earns more money from transactions made by local citizens contributes a greater amount of tax revenue to the government. This money can then be reinvested in services that benefit the entire community.
Finally, buying local products helps protect the environment. This is because fewer greenhouse gases are emitted when locally made goods are transported to stores in the area.
Think outside the box
Buying local isn’t just about the products you can put in a shopping cart; it’s also about investing in your region’s many services. For example, think of the various offerings provided by regional businesses in the arts such as museums, theaters, galleries, and more.
This year for Christmas, consider giving an experience as a gift. It may turn out to be the perfect way to spend quality time with a loved one.
Special deals and great opportunities
During the holiday season, it’s not uncommon to see city officials and business organizations implement initiatives to encourage people to buy locally. This may include posting online directories that list all the businesses in the area. In addition, sometimes stores will offer special promotions, gifts, and discounts to local residents.
This year for Christmas, give yourself and your community the gift of buying local.