Category Archives: shopping

Fred Meyers

Fred Meyers Grocery Chain

National U.S. Grocery Store Chain – Primarily West Coast

Considered a hypermarket superstore, headquartered in Portland, the chain was founded in Portland Oregon in 1922 by Fred G. Meyer. Today they are located in the western United States specifically Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, and Alaska. They merged with Kroger in 1999 but retain their Fred Meyer branding. They specialize in one-stop shopping hosting complete grocery supermarket, drugstore, banking, clothing, jewelry, home decor, home improvement, gardening, electronics, restaurants, coffee shops, shoes, sporting goods, and toys. They spread from Portland to Seattle in the 1960’s acquiring Seattle based Marketime Drugs and the Roundup Company. By 1968 they operated in Oregon, Washington State, Idaho, and Montana with over 48 retail locations. The first full-fledged Seattle store was opened that same year. They spread in the 70’s through the Valu-Mart discount chain and its locations leased by Weisfield’s and joined the Weisfield’s owned stores in 1975 with some locations leased by Associated Grocers in 1973. Around the same time they opened their first store in Alaska. By 1977 Marketime was renamed to Fred Meyer. Fred G. Meyer died on September 2, 1978 at age 92. In 1984 Fred Meyer acquired Grand Central of Salt Lake City Utah and converted them to Fred Meyers. By the 1990’s they expanded into California with the first store in Chico, then attempted a second store in Redding followed by Sacramento. These locations were closed and didn’t succeed, the Redding site turned into a Walmart in 1996. Kroger acquired the properties during the 1990’s. In 1997 Fred Meyer acquired Smith’s Food and drug in Salt Lake City although continued to operate separate operations. They acquired Ralph’s Grocery in 1998 Los Angeles and QFC of Seattle. They still maintained separate operations with Fred Meyer as the holding company. Many mergers later, they became the fifth largest food and drug store in the nation. By 1997 they converted their Columbia Falls and Kalispell stores into Smith’s Food and Drug. By 1999 they were merged with Kroger of Cincinnati Ohio, and in 2000 the Arizona Fred Meyer stores (all of which were formerly Smith’s) were re-branded as Fry’s Marketplace. 2004 the Smith’s Food and Drug assumed operations of the Utah Fred Meyer stores which were also re-branded as Smith’s Marketplace. Kroger and Fred Meyer stores are slowly becoming more similar in branding, management, and merchandising. One of the Fred Meyers in Seattle merged its operations with QFC keeping its QFC Marketplace branding, and is the only one of its kind. (Capital Hill neighborhood) By 2018 Fred Meyer’s stopped selling guns and ammunition to people under the age of 21. Fred Meyers employs Kroger’s manufacturing creating the brands Kroger, Fred Meyer, Kivu Coffee, Country Oven, Everyday Living, FMV – For Maximum Value, Moto Tech, Private Selections, HD Designs, Michael Morgan, Great Northwest, GNW, Curfew, Kidz Korner, Splash Spa, Simple Truth, Psst, Homesense, and Naturally Preferred.

They established their rewards program in 2004 so that customers received one point for every $5 they spend, and upon 100 points during a 13 week cycle receive $5 in rebate vouchers. This changed in 2007 to one point per dollar spent and needing to earn 500 points during a 13 week cycle to receive a rebate voucher. This became tied into their credit card. By 2011 they switched from MasterCard to Visa, using the same point system. They also began giving 15 cents off fuel per 100 fuel points.

July 2010 they claimed they would no longer offer plastic bags at any of its 10 Portland stores due to environmental impacts. This was followed by City of Portland banning the use of plastic bags in groery and big box stores in October 2011.

Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5

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Glastonbury Experience Courtyard

The Glastonbury Experience Courtyard
~ Glastonbury, England * ~

One of the must see sections of Glastonbury as I experienced on my 2011 backpack tour of England is the Glastonbury Experience Courtyard. It was founded in 1978 by a Dutch couple named Willem and Helene Koppejan who bought the retain properties at the foot of Glastonbury High Street and converted to a shopping mall of unique shops and function rooms called the “Glastonbury Experience”. Most of the shops began with specialization on “arts and crafts” focused on contemporary spirituality. Willem passed before they finished their dream. For several years the project came out at a loss being supplemented by Helenes private funds until in 1987 Helene met Barry Taylor who was a management and financial consultant who also had a strong interest in spirituality. They incorporated Barry’s plan to turn everything around. It came about when a section of Glastonbury’s residents were also inspired to re-create Glastonbury as a great center for learning, teaching, and spirituality mimicking what they saw it was in the Middle Ages but appropriate for the 21st century. Several key institutions moved in and became based in the Glastonbury Experience including the Isle of Avalon Foundation, The Library of Avalon, and the Goddess Temple. A Pilgrim Reception Center and Sanctuary was also formed. By 1992 Barry and Helene set up the Glastonbury Trust whose purpose was to benefit the public through the advancement of religion and education as a charity. In 1997 they established an agreement that in the event of their deaths the ownership of the Glastonbury Experience would pass on to a new charity. In 1998 Helen died and the Experience was transferred to the Glastonbury Trust Limited. The Trust began setting up a center offering help, guidance, training, and healing for all aspects of spiritual growth and ecological awareness.

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. Visited 8/1/2011. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Riverside California downtown street mall

Pedestrian Street Mall of Riverside
~ Riverside, California ~

In downtown Riverside, California is a “Riverside Renaissance Project” that is currently going under a $10 million dollar renovation. It includes a Pedestrian Street Mall stretching along Main Street from 5th to 10th street. It was officially opened in 1966 and closed to motor vehicles invigorated by statues, art, and fountains. It is flanked by the City Hall and the Convention Center. It contains the historic Mission Inn and the Cesar Chavez Monument, as well as the Barbara and Art Culver Center for the Arts.

Rated: 3 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Cesar Chavez Memorial Statue

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Bitcoins are a decentralized crypto-currency also known as digital cash without a central bank or single administrator. the electronic currency can be transferred peer-to-peer from user to user directly without need of intermediaries, although they are used in the process. Network nodes will verify transactions by means of cryptography and are recorded in a public distributed ledger they call a block chain. No one knows who created bitcoins, though it seems to be related to a group of individuals who call themselves Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 being released as an open-source software. Bitcoins were originally meant as a reward for data mining. The bitcoins can be exchanged for other goods and services, as well as world currencies. The University of Cambridge estimated in 2017 there were 2.9-5.8 million unique users possessing crytocurrency wallets with the most common crypto-currency being bitcoin.

Bitcoins are commonly used in illegal markets and transactions. It has been criticized for high electricity consumption, price volatility, exchange thefts, and disruption of other markets. They are being scrutinized by the financial markets, and many regulatory agencies have issued alerts about the market. Some believe it was birthed from the “Denationalisation of Money: The Argument Refined” book by Friedrich von Hayek and influences from the Austrian school of economics. Satoshi Nakamoto stated in white papers that “the root problem with conventional currencies is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust.”
this led to the initial attraction of bitcoin being for philosophical or political ideology to become separate from the state. The concept is to remove money from social as well as governmental control – denying the reliance of money from social relations and trust. Bitcoin’s Declaration of Independence as found on YouTube states “Bitcoin is inherently anti-establishment, anti-system, and anti-state. Bitcoin undermines governments and disrupts institutions because bitcoin is fundamentally humanitarian.”

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To Tip or Not To Tip: That is the question – Tipping

To Tip or Not To Tip – That is the Question of the Day

by Leaf McGowan / Technogypsie Productions

I’ve always been on the border about “tips”, “gratuity”, and “tipping”. I never in my younger years saw it as “required”, “mandatory”, or “expected”. Even when i was a bartender I never expected it nor thought I should get it. After all I was just doing my job and I was paid a fare wage for it. It was nice to get a tip when it happened (and it happened often), i just saw it as a “hey thanks for doing an exceptional job”. Its true I was brainwashed by regulars to recognize them as good tippers and pouring extra liquor or giving them extra attention because I knew they tipped. But I was fair to all. I always saw it as a practice to thank a worker for being extra nice, going out of their way, or high performance. I wouldn’t tip someone who did a poor job. But these days, you’re expected if not required to tip a service worker regardless of doing a good job. The percentages have raised from the normal 10% to 15% to 18% and 20% in some cases. Really? That’s not only obnoxious, but criminal. The criminality of tipping, no tipping, less than minimum wages, etc. didn’t sink in until I became a delivery driver and experienced first hand the angst and stress than a customer who doesn’t tip causes a worker … especially when it affects their livlihood, wear and tear on their vehicle, or when that tip teeters the ability to cover the gas it took to deliver said food.

When my ex-family member became rapid about no tippers as she works in the food industry, it was definitely a flag seeing how hostile she got on the topic. It was definitely a clash between us. I tried to explain to her my thoughts about it, how it was meant as a gift for exceptional service, and that it should never be expected. In fact, many countries find the act offensive and many foreigners don’t do it. She shouldn’t get hostile on a bunch of Germans at her table who don’t tip her. They might not know the American custom or requirement. But she would just get seething angry. It was that seething anger and dishonesty in her persona that made her my ex-family member in the long run.

But she’s no different than many in the service industry – if you don’t tip or are a poor tipper, you can easily become the scum at the bottom of a barrel and seen as a disgusting, unappreciative, vile individual. There are servers and delivery personnel who have been known to create databases recording your details so others can avoid you, or worse yet, target you for pranks, discrimination, or mean revenge. It really is a problem. Some pizza joints have been known to have comments and notes about customers who don’t tip. The common thought is that if you are a bad tipper for any reason other than bad service then you are stealing from the server and are consequently a thief so should be held up to public ridicule. So various staff have made facebook databases, web sites, and public forums “outing” the bad or no tippers, sometimes including their names, addresses, and/or phone numbers obtained from delivery apps, receipts, or credit card slips. Even if there are no physical databases active on the web, darkweb, or a businesses’ computer system … there certainly are mental notes and staff who will remember your face, name, or address and may avoid serving you or giving you proper service. Its always best to be safe and tip – be considerate of the individual who is serving you. There is the Uber Eats drivers forum on “No Tip for Food Delivery? Boycott them.”; (currently down); the Lousy Tipper database; NFIB – Should you publically shame a bad tipper?; Shitty Tipper Database; (currently down);; the Shitty shitty tipper database; Bad Tippers Suck; and Bitter Waittress.

Then there is the facts that suggest tipping was born out of racism. Should you not tip because it was originally a racist act? Certainly not – because you’re not hurting the industry that is the wrong-doer, you are hurting the server/driver/staff that is struggling on less than minimum wages their employer are giving them with expectation that your tips will make up the additional missing income. This is detrimental to those workers and really damages their livelihoods, especially in America and the tourism industry. Unfair? certainly. The only way this can change is to attack the industry and get companies to pay their employees proper fair wages.

So what exactly is a tip? or gratuity? Gratuity is another term for “tip” which is a certain amount of money that someone “gifts” to another for excellent service. It is additional funds above and beyond the fees or pricing for a item, service, and/or food. It has become a custom in many of the world’s countries. In some places its simply just the extra change to round up to the nearest dollar amount, other times it is a sizable sum often left on the table to thank the server and/or staff. The amounts that people give varies from country to country, and in some countries it is considered insulting. Other countries discourage it. Some countries require it. Originally it became 10%, and more recently has increased to 15-20% of the bill’s total. Some employees are prohibited from tipping if paying for food or services on government payments – government workers in some areas would break the law if they tipped. Unfortunately the practice has become an important part of the income for various service workers like servers, bartenders, delivery drivers, uber/lyft/taxi drivers – and failing to tip the can be a detrimental effect on their livelihood. This is very common in North America. Some restaurants will automatically add a service charge/tip on the bill especially when there is a large party at a restaurant.

In most places, it is illegal for government workers to not only give tips, but to receive them as it can be seen as bribery. For companies that promote tipping such as restaurants, the owners see the act of “tipping” as a incentive for greater work effort. Some abuse the custom by paying lower wages to their employees expecting the tips to make up for the difference. This is where the process has become criminal and abusive of the lower class in the United States. It is in this regard that tipping expected or not, is actually quite arbitrary and discriminatory, adversely affecting livelihoods and lives. It has been proven that amounts of tips can vary based on age, sex, race, hair color, breast size, color of skin, and appearance rather than quality of service.

The etymology for “tipping” and “gratuity” dates to the 1520’s from “graciousness” or the French “gratuite” in the 14th century. The Medieval Latin “gratuitas” or “free gift” or “money given for favor or services”. The practice appears to have begun around 1600 C.E. and was meant as a “small present of money”. It was first attested in 1706 according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. It was first practiced in Tudor England. By the 17th century it was expected that overnight guests in private homes should provide sums of money called “vails” to the host’s servants. This spread to customers tipping in London coffeehouses and commercial establishments. London in the 1890’s also had “crossing sweepers” who cleared the way in the roads for rich people to cross so that they wouldn’t diry their clothes, and they were tipped for this action.

Etymological differences in various languages can also translate the terminology to “drink money” such as “pourboire” in French, “trinkgeld” in German, “drikkepenge” in Danish, and “napiwek” in Polish coming from the custom of inviting a servant to drink a glass in honor of the guest and paying for it to show the guests generosity amongst one another.

Customs in varous Countries:

Africa/Nigeria: not common at upscale hotels and restaurants because the service charge is usually included in the bill although the employees don’t usually get any of it … this has been changing as establishments have begun to coerce customers to tip in the Western world manner even to the manner that there have been reports of security guards asking bank patrons for tips.

Asia: China – there is no tipping. Some hotels that serve foreign tourists will allow it, especially tour guides and drivers. Hong Kong – tipping is not expected at hotels or restaurants because a service charge of 10% is already added to the bill, but taxi drivers sometimes charge the difference between a fare and round sum as a courtesy fee so as not to make change for larger bills. Japan – tipping is very discouraged and seen as an insult (unless masked in an envelope). It also has created confusion. Indonesia – common in large touristy areas like Bali or Lombok where there are a lot of Western visitors. 10% is expected at full-service restaurants, and bar tipping is discretionary depending on the style of the bar. Pubs don’t expect tips, restaurants 10-15%, massage parlors 10-20%, taxi drivers 5%, bellboys $1 a bag. Malaysia – tipping is not expected, restaurants often add a 10% service charge, and if tips are left it is accepted and appreciated, but often is just rounding up. South Korea – not customary nor expected and can be seen as inappropriate behavior. Hotels and restaurants often add on a 10-15% service charge already embedded into the bill. Singapore – not practiced and rarely expected, though bars, restaurants, and some other establishments add in a 10% service charge compounded with the 7% goods and services tax – the staff rarely receive any of this. Taiwan – Not customary but all mid-high end restaurants and hotels have a mandatory 10% service charge which is not given to staff and made out as revenue to the business.

Europe: Tipping started in the United Kingdom and spread throughout, but not all parts of Europe accept it, some will be offended by it. Albania – It is expected everywhere and performance will vary based on requests for tips. Tips of 10% of the bill is customary in restaurants, and while porters, guides, and chauffeurs expect tips – duty-free alcohol is usually the best tip for porters and bellhops, but others may find it offensive (such as Muslims). Croatia – tips are sometimes expected in restaurants, but not mandatory and are often 3-5% of the bill. Clubs and cafe its common to round up the bill and its not common for taxi drivers or hairdressers. Denmark – “drikkepenge” or “drinking money” is not required since service charges must always be included in the bill according to law. Tipping for outstanding services is a matter of choice and never expected. Finland – not customary or expected. France – not required but what you see on the menu is what you are charged for. The French pay their staff a livable wage and do not depend on tips. Some cafe’s and restaurants will include a 15% service charge in the bill as french law for tax assessment requires. “service compris” is a flag that the tip has already been added to the bill but the staff may not get any of it. Tourist places are unofficially accustomed to getting tips. In smaller restaurants or rural areas, tips can be treated with disdain. Amounts of the tip are critical sometimes, such as at least a 5% for good service, and unless tips are given in cash, most of the time the staff won’t receive them if on credit card. Austria/Germany: Coat check staff usually tipped but tipping aka “trinkgeld” is not obligatory. In debates about minimum wage, some people disapprove of tipping and say that it shouldn’t substitue for living wages. It is however seen as good manners in Germany for good services. Germany prohibits to charge a service fee though without the customer’s consent. Tips range from 5-10% depending on the service. While Germans usually tip their waiters almost never the cashiers at big supermarkets. The more personal the service, more common to tip. There are often tipping boxes instead of tipping the person, and rounding up the bill is the most common practice as “stimmt” for keep the change. Tips are considered income in Germany but are tax free. Hungary – “borravalo” or “money for wine” is the tipping there and is commonplace based on type of service received, rounding up the price is most commonplace. Various situations will vary with tipping as either expected, optional, or unusual since almost all bills have service charges included. In Iceland, it is not customary and never expected except with tourist guides who encourage the practice. Ireland – tips are left by leaving small change (5-10%) at the table or rounding up the bill, and very uncommon for them to tip drivers or cleaning staff – it is the tradition thanks for high quality service or a kind gesture. In Italy – tips are only for special services or thanks for high quality service, but is very uncommon and not customary, though all restaurants have a service charge but are required to inform you of said added charges. Norway – service charges are added to the bill so tipping is less common and not expected. If done its by leaving small change 5-15% at the table or rounding up the bill. The Netherlands – it is not obligatory and is illegal and rare to charge service fees without customer’s consent. Sometimes restaurants, bars, taxis, and hotels will make it sound like tipping is required but it is not. Excellent service sometimes sees a 5-15% tip as in 1970 regulations were adopted that all indicated prices must include the service charge and so all prices saw a 15% raise back then so that employees were not dependent on tips. Romania – Tipping is close to bribing in some instances where it is used to achieve a favor such as reservations or getting better seats. tipping is overlooked often and rounding up can be seen as a rude gesture if including coins, otherwise one should use paper currency. Russia – its called “chayeviye” which means “for the tea” and tipping small amounts to service people was common before the Communist Revolution of 1917, then it became discouraged and considered an offensive capitalist tradition aimed at belittling or lower the status of the working class and this lasted until the 1990’s but once the Iron Curtain fell a influx of foreign tourists came it and it has seen a comeback. Slovenia – most locals do not tip other than to round to nearest Euro and the practice is uncommon. Tourist areas have accepted tips of 10-20%. Spain – while not mandatory it is common for excellent services. Tips in the food industry depend on the restaurant and if upscale, small bars and restaurants the small change is left on their plate after paying the bill. Taxi drivers, hairdressers, and hotel staff may expect tips in upscale environments. Sweden – tipping is not expected, but practiced for high quality service as kind gestures, but often is small change on the table or rounding up the bill mainly at restaurants and taxis. Hairdressers aren’t commonly tipped. Tips are taxed in Sweden but cash tips often are not declared. Turkey – “bahsis” or tipping is optional and not customary. 5-10% is appreciated in restaurants and usually by leaving the change. Drivers don’t expect tips although passengers often round up and small change to porters or bellboys. United Kingdom: England/Scotland – customary when served at a table in restaurants, but not cafes or pubs where payment made at the counter often between 10-15%, most commonly 10% rounded up. Golfers tip their caddies. Larger cities may have a service charge included in the bill or added separately commonly at 12.5%. Service charges are only compulsory if displayed before payment and dining, and if bad service, customer can refuse to pay any portion (or all) of said service charge.

North America:
Canada – similar to the United States, tipping is common, expected, and in some cases required. Quebec provides alternate minimum wage for all tipped employees, other provinces do so for bartenders. Servers tend to share their tips with other restaurant employees called “tipping out” or a “tip pool”. Ontario made a law in 2015 to ban employers from taking cuts of tips that are meant for servers and other staff as that became a bad problem until recently. Tips are seen as income and staff must report the income to the Canada Revenue Agency to pay their taxes on it. Caribbean – the practices vary from island to island, such as the Dominican Repulbic adds a 10% gratuity on bills in restaurants and its still customary to tip an extra 10%, St Barths it is expected tips to be 10-15% if gratuity isn’t already included in the bill, and most of the islands expect tips due to being used to it with tourists from the mainland. Mexico – In small restaurants most workers don’t expect tips as the custom is usually only takes place in medium or larger high end restaurants, and when it happens roughly 10-15% not less nor more as a voluntary offering for the good services received on total bill before tax is added (VAT – value added tax). Sometimes VAT is already included in menu pricing. Standard tip in Mexico is 11.5% of the pre-tax bill or 10%. Sometimes tips are added to the bill without the customer’s consent even though its against the law especially bars, night clubs, and restaurants. If this service charge is added it is violation of Article 10 of the Mexican Federal Law of the Consumer and Mexican authorities recommend that patrons require the management to refund or deduct this from the bill. United states – Tipping is a strong social custom and while by definition voluntary at the discretion of the customer, has become mandatory in some instances and/or required, very commonly expected. If being served at a table, a tip of 15-20% of the customer’s check is customary when good service provided, in buffets where they only bring beverages to the table, 10% is customary. Higher tips are often commonly given for excellent service, and lower ones for mediocre service. Tips may be refused if rude or bad service is given and the manager is usually notified. Tipping is common for hairdressers, golf courses, casinos, hotels, spas, salons, bartenders, baristas, food delivery, drivers, taxis, weddings, special events, and concierge services. Fair Labor Standards Act defines tippable employees as those who receive tips of more than $30/month and federal law permits employers to include tips as part of a employee’s hourly wage or minimum wage. Federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13/hour as authorities believe they will make up the difference in tips. The federal minimum wage is still only $7.25/hour. 18 of the 50 states still pay tipped workers the 2.13/hour. 25 states as well as the District of Columbia have their own slightly higher tipped minimums, while the remaining states guarantee state based minimum wage for all workers. Some states have increased this such as Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Guam require that employees be paid full minimum wage of the state they are working in. Tip pools are used as well but the employer is not allowed to take any, nor any employees who do not customarily receive tips such as the dishwashers, cooks, chefs, and janitors. The average tip in America today is 15-16% with tipping commonly expected regardless of how good service was provided. A few restaurants and businesses in Amrica have adopted a no-tipping model to fight back, but many of these returned to tipping due to loss of employees to competitors. Service charges are often added when there is a large party dining and to catering, banquet, or delivery jobs. This is not to be confused with tips or gratuity in the U.S. which is optional and discretionary to the customer. Some bars have started to include service charges as well – but including these require disclosure to the customer. Until the early 20th century, Americans saw tipping as inconsistent with the values of an democratic egalitarian society, earlier business owners thought of tips as customers attempting to bribe employees to do something that wasn’t customary such as getting larger portions of food, better sittings, reservations, and/or more alcohol in their drinks. After Prohibition in 1919 alot of revenue was lost from no longer selling alcoholic beverages, so financial pressure caused food establishment owners to welcome tips and gradually evolve to expecting them. Tipping never evolved from a server’s low wages because back in the day before tipping was institutionalized, servers were fairly well paid. As tipping evolved to become expected and mandatory servers were paid less. Six states (mainly in the south) however passed laws making tipping illegal though enforcement was difficult, the earliest of which was passed in 1909 within the state of Washington. The last of these laws were repealed in 1926 in Mississippi. These states felt that “the original workers that were not paid anything by their employers were newly freed slaves” and “this whole concept of not paying them anything and letting them live on tips carried over from slavery” (according to Wikipedia article). Tips are considered income and the entire tip amount is considered earned wages except for months wehere tip totals were under $20. The employee must pay 100% of payroll tax on tip income and tips are excluded from worker’s compensation premiums in most states. This sometimes discourages no-tip policies because employers would pay 7.65% additional payroll taxes and up to 9% workers compensation premiums on higher wages in lieu of tips. Tax evasion on tips is very common and a big concern of the IRS. While tips are allowable expenses for federal employees during travel, U.S. law prohibts employees from receiving tips. Tip pooling is also illegal if pooling employees are paid at least the federal minimum wage and don’t customarily receive tips, but was repealed in 2018 so workers have more rights to sue their employers for stolen tips.

South America: Bolivia – Most restaurants have service charges included in the bill, but tips of 5% or more are sometimes given to be polite to the worker. Paraguay – Tipping is not a common part of the culture, there are often service charges included in the bill.

Oceania: Australia – Tipping is not part of Australian customs, so it is not expected or required. Minimum wages in Australia has an annual review adapted for standards of living. Many still round up the amount owed to indicate they were happy with the service as “keep the change”. There is no tradition of tipping someone who is just providing a service like a bellboy, hairstylist, or guide. Casinos in Australia prohibit tipping of gaming staff so its not considered bribery. New Zealand – like Australia, does not possess the tradition though it has become less uncommon in recent years especially with fine establishments and influx of tourism, or American tipping culture. It is expected that employers pay their staff fairly and that minimum wage is raised regularly based on costs of living. The only real tipping is for far and above normal service.

The varying degrees of gratuity around the world causes much problems internationally, as American tourists may continue to tip when travelling to countries where it is not custom, thereby setting precedent that evolves into expectation of Americans travelling abroad. Likewise, tourists from countries that find tipping rude or non-customary, may not tip when in the U.S. and infuriating staff that expect and/or depend upon it. Some Americans have been known to become aggressive, rude, and vindictive when they don’t get tipped and they may not realize the non-tipper is a foreigner who comes from a culture that doesn’t tip. The key is to know the culture you are travelling in. There is a high level of discrimination embedded into tipping culture, and many think the custom should be banned. According to Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt’s Freakonomics blog “Should Tipping be Banned?” they point out from Michael Lynn’s research that “attractive waitresses get better tips then less attractive ones. Men’s appearances, not so important.” “blondes get better tips than brunettes, slender women get better tips then heavier woen, larger breasted women get better tips than smaller breasted ones.” Hooters, an American chain has monopolized on looks for their waitresses and get away with discriminating upon those who don’t fit the look, and therefore the tip. Many will flaunt wealth by distributing big tips, and others do it to demean the worker to make them feel beneath them. After the abolishment of slavery, restaurants and rail operators embraced tipping as a way of getting free labor – hiring newly freed slaves to work for tips alone.

The newest industry being affected by tipping is delivery drivers who get paid $3.25 or lower for a delivery, don’t get paid to wait around for orders, sometimes are given some fees for mileage, but not wear and tear, nor reimbursement for the highly increasing cost of gas. So not only is a drivers time affected when someone doesn’t tip, but their vehicle, cost of gas, and expenses. As a delivery driver, I have gone on deliveries where what i received from a non-tipper and the company didn’t even cover the gas to get to their place and back. Remember that when considering if you should tip or not.


  • Oatman, Maddie 2016 “The Racist, Twisted History of Tipping: Gratuities were once an excuse to shortchange black people. In fact, they still are.” Mother Jones News. website visited at on 7/17/18.

  • Wikipedia 2013 “Tipping”. Website referenced at on 7/17/18.

  • Video: The Racist History of Tipping :

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Toys R’ Us

Toys R’ Us
~ Worldwide ~

One of my favorite toy stores growing up, it is one of the only places to find the popular toys on the planet. It is a chain however that will be a historic part of the past as they are closing all of their stores this month and calling it quits. Lost to online markets or a sign of the times. They claim to have been destroyed by the mass merchant chains of Walmart, Target, and Amazon. Toys R’ Us began in 1948 from Charles Lazarus children’s furniture store the “Children’s Supermart” as an American toy, kid’s clothing, baby product, and video gamer retailer with headquarters located in Wayne, New Jersey. It was re-styled and re-invented by Charles Lazarus in 1957 to its modern manifestation. In 2015 they invented and new concept store called the “Toy Lab” in Freehold, New Jersey with interactive exhibits and ability to play with toys before purchase. Today (2018) it lasted over 65 years with over 800 stores in the United States, and over 800 in other countries. They expanded as a chain focusing on toys. In 1969 they gained their mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe that appears through the store and on its advertisements. They branched out to a separate facility chain know as “Babies “R” Us” which sometimes operates as a separate store or often combined with “Toys R Us”. In the past they experimented with other facilities such as Toys R’ Us Express and Kids R’ Us which went defunct. Toys R’ Us filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States on September 18, 2017 and filed bankruptcy protection in Canada. On March 14, 2018 they announced that all Toys R’ Us stores in the United Kingdom would close, then the next day announced that all the United States operations would close. They claim this is the best strategic move to handle their $5 billion in back debt, borrow $2 billion to pay suppliers for the upcoming holiday season and invest in improving current operations. The closures will not affect the Asian, European, and Australian stores. January 2018 they announced they would liquidate and close up to 182 of its stores in the United States as part of its restructuring. It then turned to completely shutting down all of the U.S. stores. April 21, 2018 the Irish rival “Smyths” store claimed it would purchase all the Toys R’ Us stores in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and will re-brand them. April 24, 2018 the Canadian division was sold to Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd for $234 million.

Rated: 4.5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

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Trader Joes

The Trader Joe’s Chain
~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions as a 5 stars out of 5 ~

Manifested and created by the German grocery store chain Aldi – Trader Joe’s is the Americanized version of Aldi Markt or Aldi North. They tapped the American kitch and spirit of what middle class America wants with an affordable price that catches the budget. But it is different and quite unique, as it is driven by American culture, philosophy, and business practices.

I was first introduced to the shop when living in California the wee stages of Y2K. (year 2000 for the Generation X crowd) Back then, there wasn’t many stores around America. When I moved to Colorado in 2005, i was saddened there were none. It was at that time my favorite grocery store and I really appreciated the food quality, the pricing, and their business model. I can’t say I fully feel the same way today now that Trader Joe’s is in pretty much every state with locations everywhere. By 2015 they became a major grocery store competitor. By the beginning of 2018 they have over 480 stores in America expanding 43 states as well as the District of Columbia. With the growth comes sub-standard practices. They have become a bit more generic and similar to practices that regular grocery chains use. Their prices have increased substantially. Food quality is not so great and they over-use plastic and packaging contributing to the great trash problem on the planet.

Although birthed as its manifestation today being a branch of Aldi Markt (Aldi North) from Germany it was originally founded by Joseph “Joe” Coulombe in 1958 as the Pronto Market convenience store which mimicked 7-11 style and operation located in Los Angeles. He weaved the idea of the Trader Joe’s South Seas motif after vacationing in the Caribbean borrowing its Tiki kitch style as it was very popular motif in the 50’s and 60’s. It wasn’t until 1967 when it was called “Trader Joe’s” and appeared as such with one store on the Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, California. He leased out space with local butchers to provide fresh meat, operated a sandwich shop within, offered fresh cut cheese and squeezed orange juice.

Trader Joes really didn’t become the genius idea it is today until being owned in 1979 by German entrepreneur Theo Albrecht who purchased the store from Joe as a personal investment for his family. By 1987 Joe was succeeded by John Shields as CEO who expanded the market into Arizona in 1993 and the Pacific Northwest by 1995. By 1996 they opened stores in the Boston area opening the East Coast market. By 2001 Dan Bane took over being CEO expanding to 156 stores within 15 American states. Theo died in 2010 passing the Trader Joe’s business on to his family becoming even more so the Americanized Aldi Markt.

The Good
Trader Joe’s has unique items, still good pricing, and matches the populous generation’s budgets. It is still one of the best stores in America. In 2016 Trader Joes made a goal to have all the eggs they sell in Western STates to come from cage-free suppliers by 2020, and all eggs nationally to be cage-free by 2025.

The Bad
With its growth has come sub-standard quality and practices, pushing out local markets and chains. While this is normal for any major growth of a company, their practices are beyond secretive. Reports have claimed at the majority of Trader Joe’s products are made on equipment that doesn’t separate out production for those of philosophical or health-concerned needs. The equipment is exposed to dairy, nuts, meat, and non-kosher foods. In 2017 they claimed to have invented the “puff dog” – a roll of spiced sausage meat wrapped in a puff pastry, but British and Commonwealth Media challenged their claim by stating this was already a traditional British savoury snack.

The Ugly
Trader Joes uses too much packaging causing it to be a plague on the environment. This has caused Trader Joes to rank low on Greenpeace’s sustainable seafood report card stating they have excessive packaging with even produce sealed in plastic and utilizing a business mode that forces consumers to buy large enough quantities to encourage waste. They have been known for their lack of transparency about their sources of their products.

Stores reviewed:

Products reviewed:

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Greendot reloadable VISA card

Greendot re-loadable VISA card

Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

What their advertising promises: A re-loadable pre-paid visa card that you can use anywhere VISA is accepted, in stores, online, recurring monthly payments, and a card to direct deposit to. What you get: A gift card that is not reloadable, cannot be used online, cannot be used for monthly payments, and cannot accept direct deposit.

This is a scam folks, and you will lose money even trying out the service. This afternoon I went into Safeway excited to see their service promise only to discover I was scammed into buying a $1.95 gift card. In addition, they will assess a $7.95/month use fee. To close the account, it’ll take upwards of 2-4 weeks to get your money back. Tech support was horrible and they did not care that their service is a scam. They wasted my time, wasted my money, and just proved how inept their idea is. Their web site is buggy as is there validation system. They are just as bad as Capital One pre-paid Master Card. Rating: 1 star out of 5. / Tested 2/13/18.

As the paper boy in “Better Off Dead” declares … “I WANT MY $2!” (back).

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at

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EBT/SNAP – Not just food stamps

Electronic Benefit Cards (EBT)

Historically known as “Food Stamps”, EBT or the “Electronic Benefits Card” is a state operated program to assist no or low income families with monthly food expenses. There are however much more benefits to the cards than just monthly food allowance. The card can get you discounts and admissions to family museums and/or events. Just because poverty has given you a hard time recently, doesn’t mean your children have to suffer and not experience educational programs, museums, and ability to play with other children.

This article is centered around Colorado as that is my home state, however, many of these benefits extend to other states and other state recipients can benefit on these when coming to Colorado.

The Food selection of the EBT card in Colorado can be used for food and grocery purchases, food deliveries from Schwans, Pizza from Papa Murphy’s (and other take-n-bake outlets some of which will cook the pizza for you for an addition $1-2), Energy Drinks (has to have a food nutrition label on it), Fresh Produce at Farmer’s Markets, Starbucks in Grocery Stores, Seeds/Plants that grow food, live lobsters/shellfish, birthday cakes, special event cakes (unless decoration makes up more than 50% of cake), non-ornamental pumpkins, and gift baskets for the holidays (as long as all contents are edible and don’t contain prohibited items). Showing your EBT Card in Denver can get you and your family in for $1 each admission to the Denver Children’s Museum and the Denver Museum of Natural History.


  • Look up your state here:


    Double Up Food Bucks – Colorado

    Denver, Colorado:

    • Children’s Museum – $1 admission ticket for each family member.
    • Denver Museum of Natural History – $1 admission per person up to 10 in party.

      Lafayette, Colorado

    • WOW Children’s Museum – $10 per family per year.


      Bellevue, WA

    • KidsQuest Children’s Museum – $3 admission

      Everett, WA

    • Imagine Children’s Museum – $3 admission

      Olympia, WA

    • Hand’s On Children’s Museum – Free admission

      Seattle, WA

    • Living Computers: Museum + Labs – $1 daily admission OR $10 Family Memberships
    • Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) – $2 per person
    • Pacific Science Center – Family Memberships for $19/YEAR
    • Seattle Children’s Museum – $1 per person with EBT or ProviderOne Card

      Tacoma, WA

    • The History Museum – $1 for an individual OR $2 for the whole family
    • The Tacoma Art Museum – $1 for an individual OR $2 for the whole family
    • The Museum of Glass – $1 for an individual OR $2 for the whole family
    • Tacoma Children’s Museum – Donations Only
    • My kiddos at Tacoma Children’s Museum

      General Services and Purchases:

    • AMAZON PRIME $5.99/month :
    • Amazon Prime for $5.99/month
    • Bertoglio’s Pizza
    • Community-supported agriculture programs including organic delivery services sometimes accept EBT.
    • Farmer’s Markets (not all, but most – and some will double your money value – i.e. $20 worth of produce for $10)
    • Fast Food Restaurants (certain ones in certain states):
    • Food and groceries from most chain grocery stores like Albertsons, King Soopers, Safeway, Trader Joes, Costco, Walmart, City Market, Fred Meyers, Cheapies, etc. SNAP EBT Locator
    • Hot and Ready Pizzas at 7/11 (buy frozen with EBT and they’ll cook it afterwards on site)
    • Internet (Free and discounte):
    • Internet Essentials and Low Cost Laptops
    • Leonardi’s Pizza (inside Winco) ($1 cash per pizza to get it cooked)
    • Papa Murphy’s
    • Schwan’s Food Delivery Trucks (does not cover delivery charge)
    • Starbucks within Grocery Stores that accept EBT
    • Subway Sandwiches (inside gas stations)

    Recommended Reading:

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    16th Street Mall (Denver, Colorado)

    Wandering the 16th Street Mall (

    16th Street Mall
    16th street, Denver, Colorado

    The iconic “Main Street” that most think of when thinking of the center of Denver. This foot traffic and shuttle bus strip dotted by upscale stores, chain restaurants, and entertainment avenues is one of the hotspots for tourism to Denver. It is a central drop off location for those staying downtown. It offers a lot of activities for its patrons and visitors. It is a central location for entertainment, festivals, fairs, shows, events, flash mobs, street performances, and zombie crawls. It boasts a free transit mall ride or shuttle bus called the Free MallRide. I’ve had many memories of this place from the Denver Freeze to the Denver Zombie Crawls, to late night and daytime activities. During the summer, the center strip was dotted with free pianos to play, lounge chairs, games, chess, bean bags, rolling chairs, and local performances. ~ Leaf McGowan. Visited 8/5/17 – 5 stars out of 5

    The tree-lined pedestrian and transit mall runs approximately 125 miles across downtown Denver from Wewatta Street at the historic Union Square to the Civic Center Station at 16th and Broadway. There are over 300 stores dotted along the corridor ranging from chains to locally owned shops. As costs become over the top, more chains have replaced local businesses through time. There are over 50 restaurants and the Denver Pavillions Mall. The Mall opened in 1982 as a pedestrian strip running from Market Street to Broadway but has since expanded to Wynkoop Street in 2001 and to Union Station in 2002. It was designed by Pei Cobb Freed and Partners.

    Directory of Services: Please visit web site linked above. As we review various places and events, they will be linked here in the near future.


    Past Events:

    • Denver Freeze Flash Mob
    • Denver Zombie Crawls: 1st Annual, 3rd annual

        Wandering the 16th Street Mall (, Denver, Colorado. Scenes from the Streets. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken Saturday, August 5, 2017. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2017 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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    Union Station (Denver, CO)

    Denver SantaCon 2016 (, Union Station

    Union Station
    ~ Denver, Colorado ~

    Write up coming soon ….

    Denver SantaCon 2016 (, Union Station (; Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

    Denver SantaCon 2016 (, Union Station (; Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

    Denver SantaCon 2016 (, Union Station (; Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
    Denver SantaCon 2016 (, Union Station (; Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
    Denver SantaCon 2016 (, Union Station (; Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
    Denver SantaCon 2016 (, Union Station (; Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
    Denver SantaCon 2016 (, Union Station (; Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
    Denver SantaCon 2016 (, Union Station (; Denver, Co – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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    Poor Richards (Colorado Springs, Co)

    Poor Richards

    Poor Richards
    ~ Colorado Springs, Colorado ~

    Write up coming soon ….

    Poor Richards ( – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

    Poor Richards ( – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

    Poor Richards ( – New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken December 23, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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    Trick or Treat Main Street Parker, Colorado 2016

    Trick or Treating Main Street Parker, Colorado ( New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken October 31, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   To read reviews, visit:  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
    Trick or Treating Main Street Parker

    Trick or Treating Celebration
    ~ Parker, Colorado ~

    Each year, downtown Parker Colorado puts on a street block event along mainstreet closing off the streets for vendors and local businesses to hand out trick-or-treating treats and candies from their booths to the local kids and attendees of the fest. They have a mini-corn maze, performers, actors, music, and information/goods from the businesses in the area. Its a free event with a great attendance. My son came home with a bucket load of treats. Good times and a nice scenic downtown sector. This year (2016) was held on Halloween itself (10/31/16). Rating: 3 stars out of 5

    Trick or Treating Main Street Parker, Colorado ( New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 - Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf  and Prince Cian.  Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken October 31, 2016.  To read the adventures, visit   To read reviews, visit:  All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 - by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.
    Trick or Treating Main Street Parker, Colorado ( New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken October 31, 2016. To read the adventures, visit To read reviews, visit: All photos and articles (c) 2015/2016 – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved.

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    Prince August Toy Soldier Factory


    Prince August Toy Soldier Factory
    * Kilnamartyra Village, Macroom, Co. Cork, Ireland * Phone + 353 (0)26 40222 * Fax + 353 (0)26 40004 * *

    As we were driving around Ireland looking for stone monuments, dolmen, tombs, and holy wells we stumbled upon this toy factory in the small village of Kilnamartyra in Macroom, near Killarney town and Cork City. The parking lot was empty but the open sign was up. The outside of the building had beautiful artwork and painting of mythology, toy soldiers, and dragons. Inside we were greated by a mom and her son who showed us around the store, let us take a peek in the warehouse, and demonstrated lead casting of the toy soldiers. Apparently this is the only Toy Soldier Factory in all of Europe and one of the largest of its kind in the world. They offer tours of the facilities, demonstrations, school tours, family days, parties, and craft making sessions.


    They offer casting and painting workshops as well. The Factory creates a variety of start kits that contain moulds that can be used for home crafting to create your own toy soldiers or mythical beings. The selection ranges from toy soldiers, traditional soldiers, Romans, Vikings, Faeries, Mythological Figures, Chess Sets, Christmas Ornaments, and Teddy Bears. The factory was founded in 1976 by two new Irish residents from Sweden. They bought a factory building in Kilnamartyra, recruited local help, and bought mould making machines beginning production. They originally packed and distributed in Germany while manufacturing in Ireland at first, but as their resources grew in Ireland, moved operations completely into Ireland. We had a great visit, and enjoyed the figurines. Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5


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    Galleon’s Lost (Charleston, SC)

    Galleon's Lost
    Galleon's Lost

    Galleon’s Lost
    * 165 King Street * Charleston, SC 29401 * * (843) 577-3875 *

    Down the city center along King Street, in the historic pirate town of Charleston, South Carolina, you can find a treasure shoppe of timeless maritime collectibles, treasures, rare objects, antiques, and an authentic pirate treasure gallery. Being a big fan of “all things Pirate” I definitely had a fun browse through the store and brief chat with one of the staff. I found friendly and hospitable service, good conversations, and a great collection of fascinating finds. The shop is a subsidiary of Voyager International that brings treasures of the Island Kings collection to Charleston. The focus of the era of these antiquities covers items collected from the spice routes to China dating from the 16th-17th centuries. In addition, one can find fabulous jewelry, black pearls, pieces of 8, gold doubloons, Keris knives, salvaged treasures, and Spanish/Portugese bronze armaments. Voyager International is a world acquisition and trade service organization led by Rich Mutschler specializing in the importation and sale of maritime treasure related goods, ethnographic art, and investment quality stringed musical instruments. They also organize trade and cultural expeditions to Indonesia featuring trade and cultural experiences through business activity and social interaction. Any history buff, adventurer, pirate, gypsy, and/or hobby would enjoy this shop. Definitely a great shop to visit while in Charleston. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

    Galleon's Lost
    Galleon's Lost

    Galleon's Lost
    Galleon's Lost
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    Rosewood Market (Columbia, South Carolina)

    Rosewood Market
    * 2803 Rosewood Dr * Columbia, SC 29205 * (803) 256-6410 * *

    A nice alternative to Whole Foods … this wonderful local natural grocery store and community center has all of your natural, organic, and healthy lifestyle grocery and health needs. Still high priced like Wholefoods (but a bit more affordable), Rosewood Market is worth the support. If you live in or will be travelling through Columbia, South Carolina – this is a great place for grocery shopping and finding out about up-to-date community events. Rosewood Market was opened in 1973, originally as a restaurant called the “Basil Pot”, and began carrying groceries until it took over. The Cafe is spectacular, tasty, and good healthy food. They pride themselves on local foods, fresh produce, organic and free range meats. They have a Deli, cater, and have a outside dining patio. We’ve had the pleasure to visit the store many times, and have indulged in their fine cooking, baking, and creations. Rating 4.5 stars out of 5.

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    Swift Water beads (Columbia, South Carolina)

    Swift Water Beads
    * 3104 Rosewood Dr * Columbia, SC 29205? * (803) 252-2020 *

    If you live near or if you’re travelling through Rosewood Community in Columbia, South Carolina and are a crafter, artist, jeweller, hobbyist, or bead enthusiast … this is the store for you. A great selection of beads and treasures. I enjoy looking through their collections, beads, stones, gems, and supplies even though i’m currently not making jewelry. Good service, nice location, fabulous ambiance. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

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    Jackalope Pottery (Santa Fe, NM)


    Jackalope Pottery
    * 2820 Cerrillos Rd * Santa Fe, New Mexico 87507 * Phone:+1 505-471-8539 *

    One of Santa Fe’s star shopping attractions, Jackalope Pottery is a complex of artisan booths and shops based around Southwestern Art and multi-cultured treasures. Created by a self-made entrepreneur named Darby McQuade from Richwood, West Virginia, who was inspired to weave this maze when he moved to Santa Fe in 1976. He began by selling out of the back of his truck near the historic Santa Fe Plaza selling pottery and merchandise we brought back from Mexico. Once funds rolled in, he set out to create the village that is now called “Jackalope” where visitors could experience shopping as entertainment with the treasures they could discover. Now it is one of Santa Fe’s premiere home and garden shopping centers and a five star attraction to the area visited by over 900,000 tourists every year. He has expanded his collections from Mexico to include unique items from India, Thailand, Bali, Africa, China, and Egypt as well. Focused on folk art, ornaments, pottery, handmade furniture, rugs, and hand-blown glass … the garden as well as the indoor shop is a bountiful array of gifts and curiousities. There is wildlife in the trees, hosts a prairie dog village, an animal barn, a plant nursery, a furniture store, a Mercado and a cafe. THere are now more than 1 store in Santa Fe, with additional outlets in North Hollywood California. Personally I found it a bit over-rated as the “Pier 1 on steroids” with items a bit over-priced and generic. Nonetheless, I had a good experience and even bought some trinkets. Rating: 3 stars out of 5, visited 11/22/13.


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    Starwood XXXIII – 2013: Tree Leaves Oracle / Pirate Relief / Faeid Fellowship Booth


    Starwood 2013:
    The Tree Leaves’ Oracle, Pirate Relief, Faeid Fellowship, & The Naiads Well Booth

    * July 9th-14th, 2013 * Starwood Festival XXXIII * Wisteria Nature Sanctuary * Pomeroy * Ohio * *

    For its seventh year as the manifestation of The Tree Leaves’ Oracle (of the 33 Starwoods), joined for its first year with its brethren of Pirate Relief and the Naiads’ Well, and the 5th year with the Faeid Fellowship – Tree Leaves presents its collection of treasures, art, clothing, incense, oils, bath and body works, leaf works, faeries, pirates, zombies, and fantasy collection at the annual Starwood Festival. First time they’ve attended on the new location of Starwood on the grounds of the Wisteria Pagan and Nature Sanctuary in Pomeroy Ohio. It was a fun-filled 6 days of vending through sunburns and drenching rains welcoming in new friends, extended family, clientele, and window shoppers for the duration of the event. A catastrophic storm demolished one of its 10×20 tents, a electrician helped try to solve the solar panel burnout, and a leaking RV roof only added to the adventure. Sales were decent, definitely covering festival costs, but nothing to write home about especially given the weather-induced damages. However, the festival was so incredibly fun that wasn’t a consideration as the crew plans to return next year. Albeit a different experience from it being held at Brushwood, Wisteria has a different experience and magic to be part of. Thanks for a wonderful Starwood!

    The Tree Leaves Oracle, Pirate Relief, Faeid Fellowship, & The Naiads Well Booth at Starwood 2013
    Wisteria Campground
    * Pomeroy, Ohio * * * * 740-742-4302 *

    Monday, July 9th, 2013
    Good times as we were setup during Wisteria’s Wormhole event, so didn’t have to stress with the craziness around us of incoming traffic, choosing camp locations, building and erecting camps … we welcomed in newcomer’s, revelled with those who already had been there, and provided supplies and gifts to those who sought them. New friends and extended family was made. Weather bounced between overcast and rain with a sprinkling of sun. Good times.



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    Share – Columbia, South Carolina

    555 Jamil Rd * Columbia, South Carolina, 29210 * (803) 750-0856 * *

    We just had our Isuzu Trooper checked out for our cross country journey we’ll be taking later this week at AAA Car Care Center in Columbia, South Carolina and found bad news. Leaking head gasket that could run between $700 and a couple of thousand to repair, water in oil – possibly the intake, right outer CV Boot was busted and both the upper and lower ball joints had play in them, both of which would cost about $1400-$1600 to repair, and the air conditioner would need about $150 to get it to pump cold air again. At 170,000 miles that would of been a few thousand, and unsure of how long it would last or if it could get us across the country. So obviously, time to get another vehicle – one that could make the journey. We asked the rep at AAA if they had a suggestion of where to go, and he personally said he had a friend who worked at and they seemed reputable. So we thought we’d give it a try. Since we’re leaving in a week, we’re pressed on time, and Carmax not only would sell us a car at a no-haggle straight-forward price, but would buy our vehicle as well, and transfer the tag for us – simply in and out process. We certainly could have gotten more for our Trooper if we sold on Craigslist, but tallying up the cost of waiting for the vehicle to sell within a week, dealing with showing it to numerous people, haggling, etc would be more time consumption than we have. Same with going around from dealership to dealership. Then we’d be car-less looking for another car on Craigslist and having to either rent a car or use public transport with a baby. Nothing seemed appetizing in that manner, nor along our timeline. We also needed a vehicle that could easily handle the journey across the US, had a strong engine that could pull a trailer if we needed to get one, and had room for the stuff we needed to move across the movers wouldn’t be moving. Our little Trooper couldn’t pull anything over 2,000 lbs and with its issues, was a death trap thinking it could.


    We drove over the Carmax, parked, and headed on into the lobby. Everything was clean, sparkling, large gallery, and friendly staff. We were offered to go look around until a sales rep was available. We pretty much looked the lot over for vans and trucks – finding a few we liked, but wasn’t really in our preferred price line as we’re the type that go for “Cheap” used car price deals you can find on craigslist, not Kelly blue book values or higher. We definitely was discouraged with the prices. So we were about to leave when the sales agent Kelsey found us, and started to show us around the insides of the vehicles we liked, the perks, told us about their 5 day return policy no questions asked, their 30 day warranty that supposedly covers anything from breaking, and their policies, and that they could evaluate our Trooper while we waited and come up with a price for it we’d get in the next 7 days regardless of whether or not we’d be buying a vehicle from them. It would take 30 minutes he said, and that it did. Interestingly enough, they gave a clear “Ok” on the engine and other mechanical issues, stating the dash needed repairs, and the front door needed repairs. Given what the other mechanics said, we were a bit surprised. It also needs a new paint job and alot of work, so wasn’t expecting being offered much, and wasn’t. I doubt they’d be reselling this one. We probably could have sold it for more on Craigslist, but given the time restrictions we have for our move, not really practical and be more costly than its worth. Plus having to register a car, stand around at the DMV all day and pay additional taxes and fees on another vehicle is another day away from packing up for the move. Carmax could transfer our tags to the new vehicle automatically in 10 minutes, and it would cost about $30. We were told by two sales reps at Carmax, the price on the window included taxes, but that wasn’t the case. Turns out the price we got for the trooper just covered the sales tax addition for the vehicle we bought, and so we therefore walked off the lot for $30 more than the window decal price.

    We were stuck between a really cool van that had a roof rack, seats that folded down into the floor board, on dash navigation, and towing capacity of about 4,700 lbs or a 2007 Ford Explorer that had a towing capacity of 7,200 lbs, already had a tow bar, a roof rack, on-dash navigation, dvd player, automatically folding into floor board third row seats, (though second row didn’t fold into floor board) and everything else we needed for this journey. The Ford Explorer was substantially more affordable, so we went with that. We discovered that one on the web site with the rep and when going to test drive it, discovered that the person test driving it before us had decided to buy it and it was no longer available. We were disappointed. But then the rep said we could test drive it to see if its the kind of vehicle we wanted, so out for a test drive we went. Since we were paying cash for it, the rep somehow made it no longer “sold” and removed the “sold” tag from the rear-view window and said if we wanted it we could have it. Test drive went well, no noises, smooth sailing, good alignment, did a couple figure 8’s in a shopping lot, and gave it the speed test, and everything working. We figure if something was going to break, it would do so in this next 30 day journey we’re about to take, and it has a 30 day warranty. They did however very hard sell on the extended warranty to cover it to 150,000 miles for close to $2,000 with a $300 deductible. Given this vehicle was 111,000 and we’d be putting on about 10,000 miles on this journey alone within the 30 day warranty, I couldn’t see the sense in paying a couple of thousand to extend a warranty for just over 25,000 miles. Maybe I’m making a mistake, but right now the bottom line was saving money and we feel that if anything goes wrong, it will be in the next 10,000 miles over the next 30 days which Carmax claims will fix at their centers, which they claim are all across the country.

    Charleston Harbour Pirate and Ghost Tour

    It took nearly the day (4-5 hours) to shop and process paperwork, transfer items from vehicle to vehicle, and process the sale. That was surprisingly long given it was a cash deal. But everyone was friendly, helpful, and non-pressured (except during the extended warranty offer). So far so good, we’re happy with the vehicle, and think we made a wise purchase. Next step is to have a mechanic check it out during the 5 day no questions return policy, and make sure its a gem as we hope to have. We’ll post updates here as our experience with car-max runs its course. Experience 8/24/13 – Sales and Purchase Rating: 5 stars out of 5.


    That sunday we took a drive down to Charleston to visit our niece. After our day at the beach, the engine light came on. Vehicle was running fine, and nothing visually could be detected, but figured with the 30 day warranty I should go check it out. On monday, we dropped by AAA Car Care for a check over since we had 5 days to return this vehicle to Carmax no questions asked. AAA gave us the engine codes of concern, either a engine misfire or a catalytic converter issue. On to Carmax, they scheduled us for Wednesday to check it out, Carmax free of charge. I dropped it off on wednesday, and everything went smooth – they found that a catalytic converter was malfunctioning and had to send it off to the muffler shop. They hooked me up with a free rental car from Enterprise so I could get around with my chores. Unfortunately I still had to pay the $36/day insurance for the rental because my insurance (Allstate) only transfers over liability. That was a bit crappy since it was going to be about 2 days. It was fixed on Friday and everything free of charge, just as the Carmax warranty promised. So far, so good … I’m very pleased with Carmax. The experience at the service desk, how attentive they were, and how they saw to the issue quickly was top notch. The Enterprise rental guy however seemed to claim alot of calls come from Carmax for rentals while repairs are being done, but they do have alot more cars than any other used car dealership, so didn’t think much on that. Experience 8/25-8/29/13 – Service and Operations, Repairs, Warranty. Rating 5 stars out of 5.


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    Dream Dinners : Quick meals for the weekender traveler


    Dream Dinners @ Pigly Wiggly

    * *

    We first discovered this little “making life easier” treat when my co-workers and company chipped in and got us $100 worth of “Dream Dinners” – a service we’ve never heard of before until this event. As we were in recovery mode from the birth of our baby … they generously helped out with making meals easy on us. The service is brilliant, as they make meals easy to do especially for when you don’t have much time to gather ingredients and cook. Realized quickly the meals would be grand for taking on outings, picnics, and camp-outs. The company was founded on a mission of bringing together families around the dinner table, providing everything needed to assemble great dinners to enjoy with meal preparation times under an hour. Here in Columbia, South Carolina they are based out of the Pigley Wigley grocer stores. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.


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    The Baby Grocery Store (Charlotte, North Carolina)


    The Baby Grocery Store
    * 10225 Park Rd * Charlotte NC 28210 * (704) 543-8635 * Curbside Pick-up – (704) 543-8637 * * *

    A unique little boutique and grocery store that is styled like a “Whole Foods For Babies” is set in the heart of Charlotte, North Carolina. Travelers with babies might want to take a gander through these aisles. We discovered this little gem while taking a “cloth diapering class” which was offered free by Ivy’s Diaper Service in Charlotte in the baby / community room hosted by this store. Its a unique all-inclusive grocery store just for babies including natural, organic, and non-GMO food products, fresh and frozen meals, cloth diapers, disposable diapers, wipes, and gear all from companies that are set to minimize the environmental impact of babies and keeping infants safe and healthy. Great business idea, great model, and looks like its building a great community around it. Browsing their aisles as we’re expecting soon, we found a nice selection around. Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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    Fresh (Dublin)


    * 1 Crown Alley * Temple Bar * Dublin, Ireland * 2 * phone: (01) 671 8423 * *

    One of Dublin’s little hotspots for fashion, club wear, and alternative garb … “Fresh” is in the heart of Temple Bar along Crown Alley, and boasts the best of alternative brands for vintage, punk, gothic, mod, street, rock, metal, and raver clothing, accessories, and fashion. Open from 11-6 mondays through saturdays, and sundays from 1 to 5. Great shop, great selection, and for Dublin, one of its finest. Lots of eye candy in the shop and good offers.

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    The CHQ Building (Dublin, Ireland)

    The CHQ Building

    The CHQ Building
    * River Liffey * Dublin, Ireland * *

    A shopping center with future promise, as many of the stores are empty as they stand today. But big names like Starbucks, Louis Copeland and Sons, Fran & Jane, Carphone Warehouse, and Pilates IFSC have set up shop within. Historically the building was known as “Stack A” as a tobacco store with vaults below to store wine and was designed by the infamous engineer Scot John Rennie. It is a protected building under the Planning Acts, steeped with local history, and traditionally known as the “Banquet Hall” as it was used for the Crimean War banquet in the mid-nineteenth century which gave it its popularity.

    The CHQ Building

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    Manly Market (Queensland, Australia)

    Manly Market
    Manly Beach, Queensland, Australia

    Every sunday the Manly Creative Markets spreads out its presence in the Little Bayside Park along the Esplanade of the beaching and boating resort of Manly Beach. It runs from 8 am to 3 pm offering a wonderful assortment of hand crafts, Australian local gifts, food, snacks, handcrafts, and farmer’s produce. Lots of Food, fruits s, vegetables, plants, and crafts are available. On the entertainment side offered are kid’s rides, a coffee shop, massage services, performances, and a dog wash. Great place to get gifts!

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    The Ferocious Mingle Market (Dublin, Ireland)

    The Ferocious Mingle Market
    The Ferocious Mingle Market

    The Ferocious Mingle Market
    * Thursdays to Sundays * 72 Thomas Street * Dublin 8 * Ireland * (086) 0282344 * Hours: Thu-Sun 11:00 – 18:00 * * *

    A great little odd and bizarre market open every thursday to sunday in the heart of Dublin’s Medieval district. Hidden behind a candy store is a passage back into time, a time of Steampunk visions and vintage affair. Live music sounds out every saturday and sunday with a cafe serving up a mean coffee and cake. Antiques, collectibles, art, vintage fashions, and oddities await. Much of the market takes on a “Steampunk” ambiance and flavor with an assortment of steampunk collections, gifts, and offerings. Every Sunday is fancy dress with costumes galore. After my first visit I was inspired to believe it would soon become a regular hangout! I vended the event once and had a splendid time (even though didn’t make much it was a great event). Every Second sunday it branches out to the Dublin Food Co-op for fancy dress goodness. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. [rating:5] ~ Leaf McGowan: visited 3/4/12, 3/24/12.

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    Technogypsie Treasures and Services

    Technogypsie Treasures
    & Services is Live!

    Our web shop is open for business as of August 5th, 2012. We’ll have new listings available daily from our found treasures, gifts, collectibles, art, photos, publications, and services ready for your viewing, purchase, and shipping. We’re embarking on a grand journey this month and next to re-open our warehouse and relocate it to our Charleston, South Carolina office – so many more products and services will be offered in the next two months.

    We’re travelling from our Dublin, Ireland office to Scotland, then Iceland, and on to our storage facility in Colorado. We’ll be taking a road trip relocating our gifts and merchandise from Colorado, and collecting new surprises and treasures from the trip on through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and to our port in Charleston, South Carolina. You can keep up with the travel tales and adventures in our blogs at Technogypsie Travels and Tales and Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf.

    Currently, we only have our Graphic Design and Web Design Services, Bumper Stickers, and Decals uploaded for your access. Check back daily for our daily updates.

    Coming soon: Found treasures, gems, rocks, books, and publications!

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    Dublin Docklands

    Dublin Docklands

    * * Dublin, Ireland *

    “Ceantar Duga tha Cliath” is a section of Dublin in the heart of the city centre along both sides of the River Liffey, extending from the Point Depot up to the Talbot Memorial bridge westwards. It is an area of Dublin that at the time of this writing is being re-vitalized and developed. In the center of activities is the historic famine ship – The Jeannie Johnson, The Customs House, The CHQ Center, and the new office buildings for Google. The developments in this area are being labelled the largest and most ambitious urban regeneration project in all of Irish history including new office spaces, retail spaces, waterside apartments, local amenities, a linear park, places set aside for recreation & leisure. Spencer Dock – offices, retail, parkland, and home to the Convention Centre Dublin. Point Village – redevelopment next to the Point Depot, housing a 120 meter tall tower, hotel, shopping center, over 13,000 square meters of office/retail spaces, a three story underground car park, 12 screen cinema, and a “U2 Experience” museum. Grand Canal Dock is being re-developed and home to Alto Vetro, Grand Canal Square, Montevetro, and the Grand Canal Theater. A train station operates from within the Docklands area called Iarnrd ireann. the Red Line Luas to Point Depot saw extension of the C1 here in December 2009 connecting Central Dublin to Connolly Station. Lodging is pretty popular in the Docklands area with giants such as the Gibson Hotel, Clarion Hotel IFSC, and The Grand Canal Hotel. The area is managed by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority that was created by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act of 1997 to regenerate Dublin’s East side. This is over 1300 acres being re-developed, and to date has attracted over 3.35 billion of public and private investment with over 40,000 jobs being created because of it.


    Photos are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of authors Tom Baurley or Leaf McGowan. Photos can be purchased via at Technogypsie Photography Services for nominal use fees. Restaurants, Businesses, Bands, Performances, Venues, and Reviews can request a re-review if they do not like the current review or would like to have a another review done. If you are a business, performer, musician, band, venue, or entity that would like to be reviewed, you can also request one (however, travel costs, cost of service (i.e. meal or event ticket) and lodging may be required if area is out of reviewer’s base location at time of request).

    These reviews are done by the writer at no payment unless it is a requested review and the costs for travel, service, and lodging was covered – in which case, expenditure reimbursement will not affect review rating or content. If you enjoy this review and want to see more, why not buy our reviewer a drink to motivate them to write more? or help cover the costs they went through to do this review?

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    Chinese Domain Name Scams

    Ah the wonders of the internet and email. This morning I awoke to some Asian domain registrar claiming another company is seeking trademark of my corporate name and website – “phishing” for validity that I was indeed the trademark holder. Of course in my sleep-deprived dreary morning eyes, clicked reply and told them indeed I was the owner. Of course as the morning chai started to settle in, and seeing three other such emails to other email addresses at my site I decided to “google” said company and found quite quickly it is a well know internet scam trying to get you to buy domains and register in Asian companies. Thankfully quite a few blog articles are up to warn people of these scams … as a friendly reminder to ALWAYS research an email before replying to it. Don’t know what curse I’ve laid upon myself with that particular email address … but better late than not at all.

    This particular scam begins with an email to you at your various domain email addresses … so there is a culprit behind the action who doesn’t seem to have any worthwhile activities on their brain but trying to scam others. Seriously you’d think with the warnings already out on the web already they’d at least change their name, company, and wording. But no, same cut-n-paste letter as sent to others around the web with similar responses and reactions.

      RE: Notice of Intellectual Property – Trademark Name

      Dear Manager:

      We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in Anhui, China. On December,20th,2011, We received DATON Company’s application that they are registering the name “xxxyourcompanynamexxx” as their Internet Trademark and “”,”” ,””domain names etc.,It is China and ASIA domain names.But after auditing we found the brand name been used by your company. As the domain name registrar in China, it is our duty to notice you, so I am sending you this Email to check.According to the principle in China,your company is the owner of the trademark,In our auditing time we can keep the domain names safe for you firstly, but our audit period is limited, if you object the third party application these domain names and need to protect the brand in china and Asia by yourself, please let the responsible officer contact us as soon as possible. Thank you!

      Kind regards

      Angela Zhang

      Anhui Office (Head Office)

      Registration Department Manager

      Room 1008 Shenhui Building
      Haitian Road, Huli Anhui, China

      Office: +86 0553 4994789

      Fax: +86 0553 4994789


    Of course the spelling, grammar, punctuation, and bad English should be a warning – one I should have noticed but didn’t in this world of fast typing, internet syntax, text’ing grammar we’re submerged in. Many articles discussing this internet scam letter states too, if a real Chinese company drafted this letter, it would have been done differently if it was a real letter. The website “” relays back to – which a quick google will tell you is a scam company such as listed in this article: Apparently Chinese Domain name scams is quite common – and out of my 20 years of web weaving, domain hosting, internet designing … this is the first time they’ve targeted me. Apparently the above “Angela Zhang” works for many similar named companies that she operates from – if she indeed exists at all. So be forewarned … its out there.

    Its quite advised if such a letter was indeed real, if you are registered in the United States as a legitimate company, own the domain name, can prove a history or trademark of the company name and purpose, you’re pretty protected. Holders of federal trademarks are afforded protection when the mark is used in connection with a particular service or goods. You can prove infringement if you can prove you’ve been using the trademark or name prior. We’ve been using ours for over 20 years and since we’ve coined the terms, not much worry behind that one.

    Bibliography/Recommended reading:

    Photos are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission of authors Tom Baurley or Leaf McGowan. Photos can be purchased via at Technogypsie Photography Services for nominal use fees. Restaurants, Businesses, Bands, Performances, Venues, and Reviews can request a re-review if they do not like the current review or would like to have a another review done. If you are a business, performer, musician, band, venue, or entity that would like to be reviewed, you can also request one (however, travel costs, cost of service (i.e. meal or event ticket) and lodging may be required if area is out of reviewer’s base location at time of request).

    These reviews are done by the writer at no payment unless it is a requested review and the costs for travel, service, and lodging was covered – in which case, expenditure reimbursement will not affect review rating or content. If you enjoy this review and want to see more, why not buy our reviewer a drink to motivate them to write more? or help cover the costs they went through to do this review?

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    Brisbane CBD

    Brisbane Central Business District (CBD)/Queen Street Mall

    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

    Everyday for the first part of May I passed through the Brisbane CBD along the Queen Street mall enroute to my volunteer job as tourguide for the HMB Endeavour. Always distracted by unique shops, cool fashion, and foodstuffs along my journey. This area is Brisbane’s City Center and is considered its own suburb along the northern bank of the Brisbane River. It is triangular shaped and bounded by the Brisbane River to the east, south, and the west. Its tip is known as “Gardens Point” where it slopes up towards the northwest where the parklands and inner city suburbs are located. The area is concentrated with skyscrapers, retailers, and walking malls. It is also home to the City Botanic Gardens, Wickham Park, and the Roma Street parklands. The area was laid out in the early colonial era as a grid with the northwest-southeast streets named after male members from the House of Hanover with the northeast-southwest streets after female personas. Queen street runs along its center encompassing the most popular shopping district in Brisbane as a pedestrian mall. Its North Quay is where the first European explorers along the Brisbane River. It was near here that the original settlement farm known as “Petries Bight” was originally established to feed the colony named after Andrew Petrie, later home to the wharves, and now where the water police are located. The Center is also home to the Brisbane City Hall, Museum of Brisbane, City Council, Queensland’s Parliament House, Pancake Manor, Masonic Memorial Center, Queensland University of Technology Gardens Point Campus, Queens Gardens, Post Office Square, King George Square, and the City Hall. Four bridges connect the CBD with the rest of Brisbane as the Captain Cook Bridge, the Victoria Bridge, the William Jolly Bridge, and the Go Between Bridge. The area is surrounded also with bicycle and pedestrian footpaths, including some bridges specifically for them such as the Goodwill Bridge. It is also home to the central hub of all public transport including the main bus stations, railway station, and city ferries. Very enjoyable place during a visit to Brisbane. Rating: [rating=3.5]. ~ Leaf McGowan

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