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.
Putting words to racial justice
Like no other leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. demanded a better nation, one committed to eliminating the scourge of racism through nonviolent resistance.
During his years of activism in the 1950s and 1960s, his genius was to adapt the lessons of civil disobedience to America’s core values of justice and fairness. His eloquence, combined with his unbreakable dedication to a righteous cause, helped harness peoples’ fury and turn it into action.
King did not invent nonviolent protest. He studied India’s famed nonviolent protester Mahatma Gandhi’s methods and borrowed from the teachings of Jesus. What made King a miraculous leader was that he not only understood the morality of nonviolent social change, he translated ideals into action.
He was a patriot. The Black freedom struggle, he argued while referencing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, was a way to a stronger republic. It became hard to disagree with his message.
King kept the economic basis for the cause front and center and urged Black Americans to use their dollars to push for change. Businesses were forced to recognize the purchasing power of Black customers when they boycotted public buses and refused to buy cars or groceries or clothing from hostile retailers.
By the time King was assassinated in 1968, Wall Street was hiring its first Black bankers and President Lyndon B. Johnson had signed the Civil Rights Act. The changes King helped to set in motion are still at work and progressing today.
How to determine if you need a new credit card
Are you wondering if switching to a different credit card might be worthwhile? If so, here are a few things to do before you decide.
Evaluate your needs
Over time, your needs can change. For example, if you presently have financial difficulties, it might be a good idea to replace your current credit card with one that has a lower interest rate. Additionally, you may want to get a new credit card if you’re currently sharing one with someone else. If you have your own, it’ll help you build your credit rating.
Compare the rewards
Many credit cards offer rewards. Depending on your spending habits, you may prefer a card that offers travel rewards or cashback. Make sure you understand how the point redemption system works and what categories of purchases allow you to earn the most points.
Consider the added benefits
Banks are always on the lookout for new customers. Therefore, they regularly offer promotions and incentives to people who sign on to use their products. These deals might include travel insurance, concierge service, cashback, a free flight, or a hotel stay.
If you decide to get a new credit card, it’s a good idea to make a list of your priorities and monthly expenses before you choose one. This way you’ll be able to identify the card that best meets your needs.
Church cemetery wrought iron fence history recently revealed
No one knew the date the wrought iron fence was installed on the east side of the Stephens City United Methodist Church (SCUMC) cemetery grounds. It is believed the iron gate served the third church as the entrance to the SCUMC cemetery. Eighty feet of the iron fence remains today and church elders wanted to ascertain when it was manufactured. We do know that an American wire fence bordered most of the cemetery in the 1930s through the 60s and still exists on the north side.
On this site, construction of a log meeting house began in 1788 and was completed in 1789. The cemetery was established in 1790 and the oldest tombstone dates to 1809 and the newest to 1906. The log meeting house served until 1827 when it was torn down and replaced with a brick one on the same site. During the Civil War, the church suffered considerable damage as the sanctuary was used as a hospital to treat both federal and confederate wounded soldiers. The 1827 church sanctuary was repaired after the war, but eventually the church was considered “unsafe” and “uncomfortable” for worship. In 1882, the congregation replaced the 1827 building with a more spacious facility on the same site. It was noted at the time that the foundation of the old log church could be seen when the 1827 building was demolished.
I discovered two ornate old wrought iron corner fence posts (in the photo above) buried near the 120-year-old elm tree that was cut down in February 2020 to make way for an expanded children’s play area. Fences around cemeteries, especially wrought iron fences, served both practical and otherworldly purposes. In terms of practicality, wrought iron fences were placed around a cemetery to prevent wild animals from entering the grounds and digging up recently buried human remains. Our Colonial ancestors wanted to be assured that the remains of their loved ones would be well intact for their resurrection on Judgment Day, so they erected sturdy and gated wrought iron fences with spear tipped bars.
Wrought iron fences were also placed around cemeteries to protect the living from the spirits of the dead. People believed that the ghosts of their dead loved ones could follow them from the cemetery if preventative measures were not made. Iron was believed to ward off both benign and evil spirits. Just as it was believed that spirits could not cross water, so it was believed that they could not move through or past iron. If you have ever seen an iron fence that has the upper portion of its bars pointed in towards the cemetery — rather than away from the grounds — you can be assured it was constructed that way to ward off spirits.
Wrought iron (sometimes called puddled or charcoal iron) is the traditional material of the blacksmith. It is a mixture of nearly pure iron and can resist corrosion, is not brittle and seldom breaks. It is soft, relatively malleable and easily worked. As a result, it is often found as delicate artwork.
According to Sandra Bosley, executive director of Preservation of Historic Winchester, the gate decoration appeared to be similar to the 1880 “Buckeye” wrought iron fence. Bosley virtually visited the remnants of the wrought iron fence for some historical investigation. The eighty feet of fence fortunately retained the gate, which is one of the most likely places to find a manufacturer’s mark or other distinguishing maker characteristics. This gate was by far the most distinctive Bosley had the pleasure of examining, with an elaborate crest on the top with crossed halberds, heraldic sea snakes, and scroll-like decorative flourishes around the central finial. Although the label where the maker’s mark should be was long worn away by time, the gate design alone was unique enough that Bosley could say with relative certainty it was a “Buckeye” wrought iron fence from the 1880s.
Naturally, having found such a distinctive architectural piece but never having heard of it before, it seemed like a good time for Bosley to do a little more investigation into the parent company. Buckeye fences were just one of the products produced by Mast, Foos & Company. Although founding dates have been contradictory, Bosley was inclined to believe the company was founded in 1876 by Phineas P. Mast and John Foos in Springfield, Ohio, after Mast had undertaken earlier ventures in buggy and farm implements. In addition to the Buckeye fence, the company also produced wind engines, force pumps, lawn mowers, and lawn sprinklers. The company existed for almost 100 years after various acquisitions and remains well-known in Springfield, Ohio, particularly as Phineas P. Mast helped to found the local historical society.
The late historian Mildred Lee Grove’s grandfather, Milton Boyd Steele was a Stephens City resident and a devout Methodist and Sunday School teacher. I am speculating that Mr. Steele, who was in the mercantile trade, had a long-time business relationship with Mast & Foos and recommended that the Methodist church purchase their fence from that company in 1882.
What in the world is a crypto wallet?
If you’re into investing, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of bitcoin and other so-called cryptocurrencies. Investing in and safely storing bitcoins and other crypto coins can be intimidating, especially if you’re not tech-savvy. However, with the right crypto wallets, or bitcoin wallets as they are sometimes called, trading coins is easy and generally safe.
The total value of all cryptocurrencies has surged past $2 trillion, up from $200 billion in 2019. Bitcoin retailed for less than $10,000 per coin through most of 2019 but has surged past $50,000 in recent weeks, according to statista.com. Other coins, such as Ethereum and Binance Coin are gaining market share and value as well.
Cryptocurrencies are typically encrypted and use a mix of public keys to record and track transactions, and private keys to restrict control and access. Keys are simply a long string of letters, numbers, and symbols, sort of like a large, randomized password.
Public keys allow users to create addresses where money can be sent to. Private keys essentially act as the lock and control mechanism for a specific coin. Someone who has a private key can take control of the coin. The private key is a piece of data that proves you own the right to a specific bitcoin or another crypto coin.
A crypto wallet is typically a software solution that you can use to store both public and private keys. With the public key, people can send you cryptocurrencies, meaning they can pay you. And if you know someone else’s public key, you can pay them.
As for private keys, a wallet will help you keep private keys secure. You can set passwords and other authentication methods to restrict access to your wallet. So long as the private keys and your wallet’s login information remain hidden, your cryptocurrencies are typically safe.
The once-a-year to-do
What should you try to accomplish in 2022? Goals don’t have to all be mountains, but when we plan the little, necessary things, it can make our lives easier, save money and free up our time and mental energy for the big things we’d rather focus on.
* Get your wheels checked. Properly aligned wheels save money on repairs later.
* Replace your smoke detector batteries. It takes a few minutes at most and can save your life in a fire.
* Call “the guy.” You should get your HVAC system, roof, appliances, and pipes inspected regularly to prevent little problems from turning into huge, expensive repairs later.
* Get your teeth, skin, and eyes checked. Talk to your doctor about any other regular recommended checkups.
* Take your pets to the veterinarian. Pets need checkups too, as well as annual vaccinations and blood work to identify any potential problems.
* Clean out your closets. Get rid of old stuff that you don’t wear anymore and make room for new things that you actually like.
* Take a deep dive into your finances. Are you meeting your savings goals? Is there an unnecessary expense that can be trimmed?
* Do something for yourself. Go on a trip, build and renew your connections with others, do things that make you happy. Think of it as a bill that comes due every month or so, and if you don’t pay up, you’ll regret it.
How big is immense? Sizes we can’t imagine
The earth seems pretty small these days, with everyone everywhere being able to talk or text with anyone anywhere.
This is an illusion of technology, of course. The ball on which we travel is immense and its component parts are astonishingly large.
Chances are these are some statistics that will surprise you.
How big is the Pacific Ocean?
It is so vast that: (Statistica, Skillshare, Wikipedia, Space.com)
– At its widest point from Indonesia to South America, you could put the diameter of five of our moons across it.
– You could put Mars in the middle of it. The Pacific Ocean is 20 million square km larger than the surface area of Mars.
– Every one of the world’s continents could fit in the Pacific basin.
How big is the Africa continent? (Scientific American)
– The continental United States almost fills up the round cap at the top of the African continent.
– After you put in the U.S., you still have room for China, Japan, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Ireland, the UK, Austria, Part of Eastern Europe, Greece, Italy, Germany, Poland, and France.
– Africa is 30.4 million kilometers, dominating the geographic area of most large countries: Russia, 17.1; Canada, 10; China, 9.6; U.S., 9.5; Brazil 8.5; Australia, 7.7; Mexico 2.2.
– When you look at a flat map, Greenland at the top looks almost as big as Africa. That is an illusion of map making, which tries to account for the shape of the globe. In fact, Greenland has just 2.2 million square kilometers, compared to Africa’s 30.4.
Africa compared to the Pacific Ocean
Africa may be big at 30.4 million square kilometers, but it is dwarfed by the Pacific Ocean which has a surface of 165.2 million square kilometers.
Sizes in Kilometers:
The Pacific Ocean 165.2 million square kilometers surface area (statistica)
Pacific Ocean, North Pacific, South Pacific surface area about 323 million square km (statistica)
The surface area of Mars is 144 million square km (nasa)
The surface area of the moon 37.94 million square km (space.com)
The diameter of the moon is 3,474.8 km. (space.com)
From Indonesia to the coast Colombia, South American it is 19,800 km (skillshare)