I'm very proud of the final product. Obviously, as a content creator you always think you can do better but I'm happy with the way the video and story turned out. After my initial plans fell through (due to a lack of interest to interview from animal rehabber I wanted to highlight) I decided to make lemonade out of lemons.
I had to go to Vegas for an event, and always wanted to visit the Pawn Stars pawn shop so when I saw people taking pictures with a sad cardboard cutout of Rick Harrison, I decided this could be my story. Not to mention, a tourist named Victoria Sours (aptly named) made sure she told employees how disappointed she was, as was I. I guess the squeaky wheel always gets the grease.
Spring break is a great time to head to Vegas to decompress, but die-hard fans of The History's Channel reality show "Pawn Stars" are taking a detour to downtown Las Vegas hoping to catch a glimpse of Rick, Chumlee or a big-time celebrity like Steve Carell or Brett Michaels looking for a rare treasure to add to their collection. The popular reality TV show just premiered its 20th season last month on The History Channel.
Set in Downtown Las Vegas, the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop has become the backdrop of the show and is visited by hundreds of people every year, but the pandemic put an economic strain on Vegas business owners including the pawn shop.
Joanne Harrison, 81, widow of Richard “The Old Man” Harrison who founded the now famous pawn show, told the National Enquirer the pawn show raked in a measly $37,406 in 2020. In comparison, she claims the pawn shop made $1.6 million in 2018 and $1.3 million in 2019. Joanne is suing her son Rick after he stopped her $25,000 monthly payments and tricked her into signing over her share of ownership.
The pawn shop is definitely a hot spot in downtown Las Vegas thanks to loyal fans who watch the show that’s had its fair share of celebrity appearances. Unfortunately, celebrity traffic is still light these days according to Ricky Valdez, a security guard at the popular pawn shop. "Not tons of celebs have stopped by because it's been kind of a downtime for us. I've seen Logan Paul, a YouTuber, and Mike Tyson's brother come by a little bit ago."
Victoria Sours, a fan from Illinois, made her disappointment known to pawn shop employees when she showed up to the pawn shop only to find fans posing for pictures with a life-size cardboard cutout of Rick Harrison at the back of the store. “I was a little disappointed. I thought there would be more photo ops. But other than that, it’s not too bad.”
Other fans, like Rafael Allende from New Jersey, were not impressed by the size of pawn shop at all. “You want the truth? It is not what you see on The History Channel. First of all, I expected to see one of the characters but they’re not here. I thought it would be bigger, and I would see more popular things like I see on the show. For me it was just a regular pawn shop. I was expecting more.”
To be fair, the pawn shop does house some impressive pieces of art by Picasso, Salvador Dali, and even Andy Warhol’s assistant Gerard Malanga to name a few. Pawn broker Jennifer Sandoval says the pawn shop also houses expensive toys, memorabilia, and jewelry. “My favorite is the ring in case #25. It’s $30,000 dollars.”
Bryce Taylor, who also works at the pawn shop, says his favorite items can be found when you enter the store, “My favorite piece would have to be down at the very front where all the guns are. I definitely like the old-time guns and swords they have here.”
And while many fans fly into Vegas for a weekend, others tend to be Vegas locals like Carmen Kramer who visited the pawn shop for the first time. “They had some very unique, extraordinary pieces, and I’m all about extraordinary jewelry. If it’s extraordinary, I’m with it though. I really like some of their gold pieces that they had in there, and of course the pictures with Snoop Dogg. That was pretty cool.”
But what is it like working for the Harrison family? Valdez seems to be content with working there. “They are really nice people to be honest. A lot of people think that when somebody gets famous, they let the money go to their head. They become really cocky but it’s been the opposite for the guys here. They are really humble, really down to earth. They treat us like family. It’s a great environment.”
Being a writer, content creator, photographer, musician, artist, or even a social media manager can be risky business if you don’t abide by the rules. And by rules I mean laws that prevent you from copying or replicating other people’s works without attribution. Here are the top 5 things you should read more about to educate your self and avoid getting slapped with a lawsuit.
Plagiarism: Plagiarism is something you've probably heard about since high school when you had to write research papers. As you know, plagiarism is copying large pieces of text without citing a source. This is considered theft since you are essentially stealing an idea which can lead to big legal trouble especially if copyrighted. With the proliferation of social media and content sharing, the lines have become blurry but that doesn't mean you can get away with plagiarism. The folks over at Write to Done have a good article regarding plagiarism and what you need to know to avoid getting sued.
Image Attribution: If you use an image on your blog that you didn't create yourself, you must give credit to the photographer who owns it in a way that doesn't seem to suggest endorsement. You must always ask the creator to grant you permission to use his work on your website. You should pay close attention to sharing rights. There are websites that host images that are for public use as long as you attribute credit to the creator. Make sure you have a record of rights to use to avoid issues later. Here is a list of websites that don't have any rights reserved called CCO images like Pexels.com and Pixabay.com.
Defamation: According to New Media Rights, defamation basically occurs when someone makes a false statement that harms another’s reputation, it’s stated as a fact, and it’s published or communicated to a third person. Defamation can cause great harm to another person especially if what was posted is a lie. This is why you must be careful when you post anything online that has not been proven or verified. If you are feeling emotional or angry about a situation it is best to go for a walk or talk to someone before posting something that could lead to a lawsuit. Make sure you understand that slander is spoken defamation, while libel is written or published defamatory statement
Slander: Slander is a type of defamation that comes in the form of spoken words or gestures. These could be said in speech, a news broadcast or YouTube video. If you are speaking about a public figure, that person is required to prove malice. If you are a slandering a private citizen, that person may have a case since it is a violation of their privacy. Learn the difference and avoid getting caught in a lawsuit.
Libel: Libel is a type of defamation made in writing that is untrue and you can be sued for. This type of speech is not protected by the First Amendment because they violate others legal rights. The best thing to do if you feel like writing something to hurt another person or business is to speak to a lawyer first before you get yourself in a heap of trouble.
Hopefully, this will guide you and help you avoid lawsuits. The lines have blurred, but you can still get in trouble if you don't do some research.
Discovering new places to eat in the Hill Country is not only fun but necessary as many new restaurants keep popping up so who better than TXST students to provide us with a list of their favorite Hill Country restaurants. If you are ever in San Marcos or Austin area stop by one of these hotspots and try the recommended dishes suggested by TXST students such as the Oy Vey Guey Burger from Jew Boy. Try them out and tell us what you thought in the comments. ;-)
Restaurant Recommendations in San Marcos, TX
Here's another cool map with food recommendations.
Lastly, here's an update of Covid-19 cases at TXST in Feb and March 2022.
The pandemic has forced many businesses to shut down and that includes book stores. With more, and more readers heading to Amazon to buy books, publishers and writers have to get creative when promoting their books. Publishers have pushed back release dates due to shipment delays; festivals are being put on hold, and book tours have gone virtual. Roger Rodriguez who recently released his latest book “The Long Way to Mexico” tells us having an agent makes all the difference when publishing your book during the pandemic.
"When you have an agent, regardless of the pandemic, she can help push things along. If you're self-publishing your material, then it could be very difficult to find someone to help."
Roger Rodgriguez, author of the Long Way to Mexico
In the United States, over 2 million women reach menopause each year. Menopause is diagnosed after a woman goes through 12-months without a menstrual period and experiences hot flashes and emotional symptoms that disrupt sleep, lowers energy or affects emotional health. Women undergoing menstrual discomfort or menopause tend to take over-the-counter medicine such as Midol or Tylenol to relieve discomfort, but Yvette Castillo, a pharmacy tech of 18-years says health-conscious people are turning to an old herbal remedy first marketed in the US in the late 1800 by Lydia Pinkham.
Lady Pinkham’s botanical remedy was invented in 1873 in Lynn, Massachusetts. Mrs. Pinkham created the original tonic in her kitchen by mixing 20% alcohol with herbs such as black cohosh, life root, unicorn root, pleurisy room and fenugreek seed. She initially distributed the tonic to neighbors and friends, but as her remedies became popular, strangers who distrusted medications at the time began to contact her. In 1876, with her son’s help, she established the Lydia Pinkham’s Medicine Company to mass produce the popular herbal tonic still sold in stores today.
Cat owners know most cats prefer to drink from the faucet. Maybe it's the sound of running water they love most or maybe it's instinct. Bengals are wild by nature so despite being domesticated, Bengals still possess their primal instincts so it's no wonder they prefer to drink running water to stagnant water they deem unsafe.
[caption id="attachment_1353" align="alignnone" width="300"] Shoot with depth: In this shot Bobo is in the front signaling that she wants water, while the living room is in the background. (Photo credit: Gina Castillo)[/caption]
Bobo will usually have plenty of water in her bowl, but when she wants running water from the faucet, she will usually perch over the sink to signal to anyone around that it's time for her to drink water. That's when we let water drip for while until she feels comfortable enough to drink.
[caption id="attachment_1355" align="alignnone" width="300"] Work the Room: I took this photo behind the counter looking up at the subject to capture her looking down at the faucet as she tries to tell me something. (Photo credit: Gina Castillo)[/caption]
Since she is very skittish, she won't immediately drink water from the faucet when water is dripping unless she's completely alone, so that's everyone's cue that we must leave her alone to drink in peace.
[caption id="attachment_1352" align="alignnone" width="300"] Rule of Thirds: For the horizontal lines I used the top and base of the counter. For the vertical lines I used the cat/faucet and door in the background. (Photo credit: Gina Castillo)[/caption]
Now that everyone is gone, she gets in position and begins to drink water for a while. She seems to play with the water first, testing it with her paw before she puts her mouth to it.
[caption id="attachment_1351" align="alignnone" width="300"] Capture the moment: Success! Even though Bobo is very skittish, she gets in position and begins to drink water. This is a tight shot of her hydrating for the day. (Photo credit: Gina Castillo)[/caption]
Bobo also loves to drink water from the bathroom faucet. Here we see her in her "I'm thirsty" pose next to the bathroom sink. She really knows how to train her family to understand her cat language.
[caption id="attachment_1354" align="alignnone" width="300"] Work with Light: In this photo I used the bright light behind her to light up her face and body. (Photo credit: Gina Castillo)[/caption]
Cats are supposed to drink plenty of water throughout the day especially if they eat lots of dry food. If they are not drinking water, it could be a sign of illness so make sure to monitor your cat daily. A cat's daily water requirement depends on many factors but active kittens and elderly cats tend to need the most. In general an adult domestic cat should drink about 8 oz or 1 cup of water daily. It is imperative that you provide your cat with access to clean, fresh water all day long so let your faucet drip from time to time if you see your kitty sitting next to it.
According to Statista.com, there are more than six billion smartphone users worldwide and expected to only grow within the next few years. If you were to ask these six billion users what their favorite thing to do on their phone is, most assuredly they would answer taking photos. We see people taking photos of their food, their pets, their babies, and of course themselves. Photo heavy networks like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Flickr are all the rage as they continuously grow in numbers.
There’s no denying that smartphone photography has become a thing in the last few years. Apple’s latest ads have tapped into this and seem to target aspiring photographers by showcasing photography taken by iPhones on billboards along the highway. This seems to encourage all types of photographers to go out, get an expensive iPhone, and take stunning photos they can post on Instagram in hopes of growing their audiences, but where do you start? How can you make your photos stand out from the crowds on Instagram? Here are three great tips to help take your game to the next level.
Explore Your Style
Before you start taking photos of just anything, find your identity. Expert Photography lays out about 12 different themes for you to choose from which include lifestyle photography (most common), portraiture, travel, fashion, landscape, architecture and more. Treat photography as an art, find your style, and start making it unique.
[caption id="attachment_1339" align="alignnone" width="292"] Choose your theme, for example, this is for a cat's Instagram page so the style is portraiture. (Photo Credit: Gina Castillo)[/caption]
Change your Perspective
Once way to change things up is to get up close and personal with your subject. There are many accessories on the market that you can clip to your phone like macro lenses or fisheye lenses to take photos. The folks over at Digital Photography School have published a “Guide to Breathtaking Macro Photos” full of tips and tricks so you can take your photos to the next level.
[caption id="attachment_1342" align="alignnone" width="300"] Get up close and personal with your subject. When shooting pets, catch them when they are still so you can get really close. ;-) (Photo Credit: Gina Castillo)[/caption]
One thing you can do to change things up is to get experimental. Try different angles or lighting. Apps such as Glitchr and Mirror Labs have filters that add cool effects to your photos. Think outside the box, and don’t be afraid to get creative with your photos. After all, photography is an art.
[caption id="attachment_1338" align="alignnone" width="312"] The lighting and angle of this photo make it interesting to the viewer. (Photo Credit: Gina Castillo)[/caption]
It’s all in the Caption
Now that you got some great photos, try coming up with an equally great caption. Remember to be creative, meaningful, and succint. Check out Oberlo's "300+ Best Instagram Captions and Selfie Quotes for your Photos" to get some ideas on how to create effective captions.
[caption id="attachment_1341" align="alignnone" width="300"] Set the mood with a quote and thoughtful caption. (Photo Credit: Gina Castillo)[/caption]
Twitter is a favorite platform for many but people tend to shy away from Twitter. When done the right way, you can share information that’s straight to the point in less than 280 characters and still grow a large community. The idea is to create small snippets of text accompanied by an attractive photo to get your point across with minimal effort. It's really that easy but if you don't know where to start, here are five tips to get you started.
Find your voice
Don’t be boring. Twitter gives you a chance to be super concise so you have to do it in a way that’s relevant, interesting, smart, and funny. Don’t just copy and paste information from other sources, come up with something. Here is your chance to find your voice in the Twitterverse.
Illustrate your thoughts
A picture speaks a thousand words, right? Then use one! Be careful to not just grab images from the Internet but instead use a program like Canva to create your own meme or inspirational quote. Here’s your chance to illustrate your thoughts with an image that will say it all at first sight.
Reach out and tag someone
In the Twitterverse, it’s all about who you know. Feel free to tag celebrities, politicians, or influencers who are coming up. This is your chance to get a tip your hat off at someone and in the process maybe even get retweeted. This in turns helps you gain new followers.
Be strategic with your hashtags
Twitter is very, very noisy so make sure to use hashtags to help people find you in relevant conversations. Think of Twitter as a communication radio. You need to tune into that certain channel to join the conversation and find other like minds. More than 4 hastags makes you look like a spammer. Remember less is more on Twitter.
Don’t buy followers, gain them
If you’re starting out, you may be tempted to buy followers. This is simply a no-no if you hope to one day become an influencer. Many agencies have programs that can red flag you if you have too many fake friends. Best to stick to the good ole way of gaining followers by doing giveaways, hosting live events, or using hashtags.
When done right, Twitter is a lot of fun and addicting. If you love getting to the point, then this is your jam.
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