The First Thanksgiving

At Thanksgiving, people all across the United States sit down and share a meal to remember the very first Thanksgiving dinner. This special meal is different from among others, normally containing traditional Thanksgiving foods such as turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, yams, and stuffing. However, it’s more than the company with family and delicious foods that make this holiday important, but the ideas that are behind it.

You see, in the early 1600s the English Separatists were being forced to worship God however the king saw fit. They met in secret, and yet the King sent spies to find out who the key leaders were. Many people were thrown into prison for not heeding to the king’s religion. The separatists, or ‘pilgrims’ as they called themselves, were fed up with being treated this way, and decided to sail away to Amsterdam, Holland (present day Netherlands).

However, twelve years of being in the Dutch culture began to affect the Pilgrims. The leaders were worried that this influence on their children was not positive, so they decided to move again, this time to the ‘New World.’ In 1620, they set sail on the Mayflower, with their plan to settle by the Huston river area. Because of harsh weather conditions in the North Atlantic, they were driven off course and landed at Cape Cod. As they were so far from their original destination, the Pilgrims decided to settle right where they were. By the end of December, they finished their journeying at Plymouth (which they called ‘New Plymouth’).

Their first winter there was severely harsh, and about half of them died. When spring finally set in, a local Native American, named Samoset, introduced himself to the Pilgrims. He also brought another Indian, named Squanto, who taught the settlers how to survive and live off the land. Moreover, the Pilgrim governor, William Bradford, signed a peace treaty with the Wampanoag Indians (who Samoset and Squanto were from). By the time harvest rolled around, they had grown and stored enough food to last them thorough the winter. They were so excited, that the Pilgrims decided to hold a three-day feast to celebrate. Many Indians showed up to share the feast as well.

Around two-hundred years later, President Abraham Lincoln declared a national holiday on the last Thursday of November to remember the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. Later in the 1940s, President Franklin Roosevelt changed it to be celebrated on the second to last Thursday of November.

Despite when we celebrate it, Thanksgiving is a time to be especially grateful for the freedoms we have in America. One especially is the freedom of religion. The pilgrims came to America to seek that freedom, and thank God we, three hundred and forty-four years later, still have that freedom. So this year during this time of thanks, don’t forget to be extra thankful for the sacrifices people have made though the ages so we can enjoy the freedoms we have today. God bless America!

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A great trip to Greece

Our trip to Greece was not intended to be exhaustive but eclectic, including visiting a number of unavoidable ancient sites, the discovery of beautiful scenery and a Hellenic week lazing on the beach. We crossed Greece from June 16 to July 2, 2012, in the heart of the heat wave!

Arriving in Athens, we are directly involved in Volos, before the turn of the peninsula of Mount Pelion. We were seized by the diversity of landscapes, from the industrial port of Volos to small coves along the west coast through the resort’s ski Agrioflekes, the jungle of apple orchards near Makrinitsa, villages with ancient houses decorated with earthenware. The highlight of this tour of Pelion Agia Kyriaki was a small fishing village at the tip of the peninsula, lost in a setting combining islands, sea and sky.

We then left for the amazing site of Meteora, made of breathtaking natural rock upon which are built Orthodox monasteries from the 11th century. The site attracts a crowd of tourists, particularly countries of the East, but is worth the detour. We found a home in Kastraki, a small village less touristy than Kalambaka, starting point of classical hits. There are only 6 active monasteries who are visited, so we admired the monasteries Varlaam, Holy Trinity, Agio Nikolaos Anapafsas, Agios Stefanos Roussanou and the Great Monastery (most interesting). The chapels often have very rich Orthodox icons and art, but we were disappointed not to feel more spiritual.

Starting at Delphi, we stopped in the charming seaside town of Galaxidi, hotel galaxies that we recommend. The site of Delphi, although in ruins is superb thanks to its setting of olive trees and beautiful hills. Unfortunately, like most other major Greek museums, museum of Delphi were closed for repairs due to the financial crisis. We made a detour to the beautiful monastery Ossios Loukas, late Byzantine style and rich gold mosaics and marbles.

After visiting the fort of Nafplion and the pleasant town of the same name, influenced by the Romans and the Turks who attacked over the centuries, we continued to two great ancient sites: Tiryns, attributed to the Cyclops and the necropolis of Mycenae with its famous gate to the lions, the tombs of Aegisthus, Clytemnestra, the Treasury of Atreus and the secret tank which is accessed through a dark staircase and slippery. After a week devoted to Greek culture, whether ancient or orthodox, we agreed a week of relaxation in Koroni. This small town in in southern Peloponnese, adjoins to Kalamata, an industrial city known for its olives and its football team.

Koroni is a charming little town typically Greek, with houses painted in white and blue shutters, adorned with flowers planted in pots with feta, olive and fig trees. The white citadel worth seeing and the beautiful beach is sparsely populated. You need to see the countryside, villages and Vasilisa Finikounta. From there we made a break to climb Mount Taygetos and to visit the site of Olympia, in ruins, but very large and impressive, and that of the former Messina, free access that extends over a huge area surrounded by walls wonderful.

This was indeed a great trip to Greece and my next trip will be to Las Vegas. These are nearly diametrially opposed places, the Ancient World on one hand versus the modern rush from our most modern world on the other hand. Enjoy.

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Cars


Pixar’s and Disney together released some wonderful movies for everyone to watch irrespective of their ages. ‘Cars’ was yet another blockbuster from their side featuring extravagant characters who are none other than anthropomorphic cars. The movie was another victory for the duo as it had mixed elements including the emotional rage, the vibrant acts, humor, love, sentiments and the fun filled and thrilling trip down the lane. The first rate sound recordings and casts along with the mysterious graphic design makes it a must watch and unique movie from other animated series that was released during the same season.

The rookie, Lightening McQueen plays the lead role in the movie voiced by Owen Wilson. The story starts off with the stardom this racing sensation receives with his truck Mack, on his road to success having the least time to find friends and spend time with them. On his way to the next race course, Lightening is help up by the Sheriff in Radiator Spring, a small tiny little town on the legendary Route 66.

The limelight is thrown onto this small part of Route 66 for the rest of the story where Lightening is asked to work on the road that he messed up after which he can be free. The life in Radiator Springs moves a little slow but in a very interesting way where he finds his love the pretty Porsche, Sally and his best friend the Tow Truck, Mater.
The rookie also finds the place pretty different and peaceful than his fast paced one and meets a couple of other friends including Doc Hudson, three times Piston Cup holder, Ramon, the body shop owner, Luigi and Guido, the Italian tire experts and Fillmore, the organic fuel connoisseur.

Throughout the storyline, the scenes are so addictive that none will ever blink an eye off. With the land of cars, the talking ones on the screen they are seen to be eating food, having jobs, driving themselves, hosting and anchoring TV shows, running gas stations, café and lot more. The entire tale brings alive those memories when people used to pack their bags with family and kids to tour around America through road spending time with friends in a peaceful place enjoying every single stop. The nostalgic appeal this movie brings about does not have any such silly scenes like those of the recently released one with plenty of animals and a lot of mess. Each and every single shot is taken with perfection that every character seems to be pretty lively on the screen.

Cars has everything like a complete package having those slight little humorous moments with tractor tipping and the little beetle cars flirting around with Lightening. The enthusiastic racing sequences are a must watch apart from the sensational and feet tapping soundtracks.

The movie ‘Cars’ seems to be just perfect from the very beginning till the end. It is not just the one for racing enthusiast but a movie without boredom for anyone of any age group.

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Chicago

Route 66 starts from Chicago

How Chicago Is Evolving

Chicago is one of the busiest and largest cities in the United States, and for good reason. Nearly 3 million people currently reside here, with many more than that (9.7 million) in the city at any given time thanks to tourism, business and recreation. Thanks to its location on the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago offers unmet entertainment, cultural, shopping and recreation events for locals and tourists alike. The many luxury hotels dotting the city and its wonderful skyline, along with the Chicago river, give visitors all sorts of things to do to ensure a vacation of your lifetime, or even a great night out on the town.

A Brief History Of Chicago

Perhaps one of the most intriguing and controversial times in Chicago is the city’s storied gangland reputation. Since the 1920’s, Chicago has been world renowned for the role it played during the prohibition decade. This has been helped by various Hollywood movies glamorizing this controversial time in Chicago, such as ‘The Untouchables’. Al Capone single handedly changed the face of Chicago as he pretty much made the city his own playground. Known for his relentlessness and slipperiness, he always seemed to be one step ahead of the law.

Other than the city’s storied gangland reputation, there is even more tragedy that took place just a few decades before. The Great Chicago Fire of 1893 claimed almost 300 lives, destroyed more than 2,000 acres, 17,000 buildings, 73 miles of road and left 90,000 homeless. The city also suffered $222,000 in damages, which was astronomically high in 1893. What’s worse is that this isn’t even the most tragic fire the city has endured. In December of 1903, the Iroquois Theater burned to the ground and left more than 600 deaths. This is, to this day, the single most deadly building fire in American history.

You would think with such a controversial and tragic past, that Chicago would be suffering to this day to overcome the many adversities it has been faced with. But the city is incredibly resilient and has continually rebuilt itself, becoming an economic powerhouse today. Because of its prime location, Chicago is a perfect place for business meetings, family vacations or even a short get away. The city has a thriving culture and is rich with art and entertainment. Regardless of how hustling the city may seem, there will always be something to do and somewhere to be.

The Windy City (Chicago) has a very healthy economy and is well balanced. There is no one industry that dominates the local economy, rather than a majority of industries and businesses that have a hand in creating an even more promising future for the city. Chicago is the third largest metropolitan in the United States, with the second largest business district, which has banks, financial institutions and future exchanges, to brokerage firms and insurance companies.

The fact of the matter is, the future of Chicago is even brighter than one can imagine, and one that is continually changing for the best and is always making itself an industry leader.

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Nevada and California

Route 66 … no need to introduce it, it is more than legendary! A true monument of American culture, it is the first channel which allowed to connect the shores of Lake Michigan from Chicago to the shore of the Pacific in Santa Monica, California.

America is founded. This vast continent, which extends to the west of the mountains, is waiting to be explored and exploited. But this land was occupied. Indians, Spanish settlers and French explorers already lived there. To the pioneers of that time as Daniel Boone, the conquest of the West is a question of courage and hardship. Some hundreds of thousands of Americans engage in it. Their journey is full of dangers, but the thirst for wealth and adventure was stronger. While some struggle to create new cities, others rush to the mines of California. Control of the Mississippi River steamboat marks the beginning of an era of expansion.

It’s the Wild West in the heart of the United States at the time of the gold rush that made poker one of the myths associated with the conquest of the West. The game of poker where players bet on who has the strongest hand is the game played by all the cowboys and adventurers who came try their luck in the American West. It is also a symbol of masculinity at the time. The films of this period often describe great games full of action. Living legends like Doyle Brunson have already reported games full of alcohol and weapons in the back room of some Texas bar. Yes this has nothing to do with other card games like Baccarat, this has been the game of gunslingers from the beginning.

If it was once practiced mainly in the form of cash games, it really took off in popularity through the series of tournaments in the famous World Series of Poker started 40 years ago, and whose early retransmission in 2000 has created part of the poker boom as we know it today. And if the cash games have since appeared on the small screen to the delight of lovers of these high stakes games, it is always the tournaments that take center stage with the retransmission of the WPT, the WSOP or the EPT. This has translated in millions of people who play poker online as their main hobby. This way it is much easier to find a game and just sit down at a virtual table whenever you feel like playing. Otherwise in the old days you had to find a game somewhere in town and they were not running at all times like now.

Psychology is important in poker, and before the mathematical analysis invaded the world of online gaming with the new generation of gamers, the best players were the ones best able to decipher their opponents and to feel fear in their adversaries. The psychological aspect is undeniable as evidenced by such books as the ones published by expert of psychology Joe Navarro, a famous former FBI agent. It is all about psychology. For example there is an entire segment of psychology related to the high rollers at casinos and the VIP system. People like to be treated like there are special, different, even superior. This is why casinos love the so-called high rollers, in other words the super-wealthy, and they treat them like superstars with a lot of perks and VIP special offers, knowing that these players will always lose a lot of money.

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