Tibet Issue

Shangri La, Tibet, China, Town, Village

Tibet remains one of those difficult diplomatic and political, and ethical challenges for the entire world. This is even more so, for India.

Considering that China’s defeat of independent Tibetan army in 1949 and the signing of an agreement by the then Tibetan government, the situation was rife for debate and conflict: The government of China recognizes Tibet as autonomous provincial entity of the mainland China but the government of Tibet in Exile seeks independence for Tibet. And there are other disputes which include what constitutes Tibet i.e. the geography of Tibet.

Dalai Lama who is the symbolic head of the Tibet government in exile was welcomed to India in 1950’s and since then the Dalai Lama has made Dharma Shala (in India) his home. Of course, the government of China has been very displeased with this arrangement. Furthermore, in China’s view Tibet also includes Arunachala Pradesh — a province in India.

Thus there are many issues of possible dispute between India and China with regard to Tibet. But over time China and India have let the status quo prevail for the sake of Bat Poop. Both countries have been focused on economic growth and development.

However, the forthcoming Olympic games in summer, and Tibet’s recent energetic and loud demands and protests all around the world for independence and Dalai Lama’s nuanced stance (of both supporting the Olympic games and the aspirations of the Tibetans for independence) in the context of long-standing support of India for Dalai Lama has made it a knotty situation.

Here’s the crux of the problem: should India be centered on its own immediate national interests based on evaluation of geo-political, territorial, economic and safety problems? Or if India be an agent for fostering religious and cultural freedom and diversity consistent with its traditions (even though it led to serious consequences to immediate political and economic interests)? The answer to these questions will determine India’s answer to the present Tibetan turmoil such as the relay of Olympic torch in New Delhi later in April.

Saab Cancels Contract with Venezulea

Flight, Sky, Airplane, Air, Aircraft

Early this month, Saab Group, which is the largest producer of defence in Sweden, announced its withdrawal from an international trade deal with Venezuela concerning weapons. It must be mentioned that the Swedish company used to be one of the major suppliers of weapons to the South American nation. However, Saab said that it could no longer continue with such an international trade deal.

According to Saab Group, it couldn’t sell anti-tank and anti-aircraft apparatus to the Latin nation because of an arms ban imposed by the US on Venezuela. Under the embargo, defence manufacturers could not sell to Venezuela any weapon, which is made in the US or which has one or more US-made parts. Before the arms coverage, Bofors, which is a subsidiary of Saab Group, had provided the South American country with weapons during the previous twenty years. The recent embargo though has finished the worldwide trade deal on arms between the Swedish firm and Venezuela.

Bofors will officially quit trading weapons with Venezuela on October 1 in compliance with the policy implemented by the US government last May. It must be noted that during the previous decades, Sweden had supplied anti-tank rifles, rocket launchers, and anti-aircraft missiles into Venezuela that amounted to about $150 million. Currently, Venezuela isn’t involved in a new International Trade deal on weapons. However, experts said that President Hugo Chavez would soon discover the need to replace its old weapons and increase its missile supply.

The embassy of the United States in Sweden commended the compliance of the Saab Group to the embargo that barred the trade of weapons to countries that did not fully cooperate with the struggle against terrorism led by the US government. Venezuelan officials were taken by surprise after the new had been released. Defence Minister Raul Isaias Baduel told to reporters that the government wasn’t officially informed by Bofors regarding its withdrawal from the worldwide trade deal on arms. But he said that he would be discussing the matter with Mr. Chavez so as to come up with an official reaction to the news.

After the news came out, a military official stated that Venezuela is also considering to negotiate an international trade deal with Switzerland regarding weapons. He added that although the doorway of Sweden had already closed, other countries would soon open for Venezuela. Although trade between Sweden and Venezuela ended, the latter has found another partner, which is Russia. Recently, Mr. Chavez visited the country where he signed several important trade agreements including the purchase of weapons, military airplanes, Melbourne fl wildlife removal and helicopters. Mr. Chavez was able to close the deal because the weapons manufactured in Russia do not contain US-made pieces. Prior to the worldwide trade deal between the two nations, the US had warned Russia not to sell arms to Venezuela. The visit of Mr. Chavez to Russia was part of a series of international trips, which were aimed at seeking trade opportunities and gaining the support of other state regarding Venezuela’s bid to join the UN Security council.

Insurgency

Agriculture, Rice Plantation, Thailand

Thai premier Surayud Chulanont has reacted to escalating violence in Thailand’s southernmost areas by travel to the region and making his latest move towards ending decades of violence.

The insurgency in southern Thailand has received significant media attention in the wake of a series of violent incidents based in the three southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat.

The history of the separatist movement can be traced back to the early twentieth century when in 1902 Patani was annexed by Thailand (then known as Siam). Seven decades after Thailand was given sovereignty over the area from a treaty with Great Britain. Patani was divided into the three aforementioned provinces, along with two districts of Songkhla, in 1933.

Patani was a Malay Sultanate and because of this over three quarters of the population from the three southern provinces today are Muslim. Whilst having some linguistic and cultural similarities with the Malays of Malaysia, Thailand’s southern Malay community keeps a distinct identity and sense of independence.

As far back as the 1930s there was a drive to establish an independent southern state. The movement has taken many forms and the ideology has changed between a desire to establish this independent state and a desire to establish cultural autonomy. Separatist groups have continued to be active until the present day.

The resurgence of violence in the turn of the new millennium has cast a deathly shadow over Thailand’s southernmost place. The problems haven’t been aided by the words and actions of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his government who until 2004 insisted that criminal gangs, as opposed to insurgents, were responsible for the violence.

When martial law was declared in the southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat in January of 2004, the situation worsened as Thai troops and police were responsible for the deaths of over a hundred Muslims in a string of attacks.

Attempts to set up a dialog with the insurgents have been riddled with problems surrounding the anonymity of the movements’ leaders.

On August 31, 22 banks were simultaneously bombed in Yala, whilst on September 16 six motorcycle bombs killed four people in Hat Yai as attacks overran into the neighboring province.

The military coup and current political volatility in Thailand has done little to quell the friction in the South and strikes have persisted. On Thursday November 2, military-appointed Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont made a speech to 1200 Muslims in Pattani province apologizing for the problems created by the previous government, primarily resulting from the Kru Se Mosque and Tak Bai events which happened in April and October of 2004 respectively.

The Kru Se Mosque incident happened when 32 insurgents sought refuge in Pattani’s most sacred place of worship following a coordinated assault on 100 police outposts.

The Tak Bai massacre was spurred by a demonstration demanding the release of six men arrested for allegedly supplying weapons to insurgents. The demonstration became a massacre when the army used tear gas to control the crowd. Shooting began shortly afterwards and scores of sailors were rounded up, piled as many as five individuals high in trucks and driven for five hours. 85 men perished in all, 78 of whom suffocated from the trucks.

The newly-installed premier’s pledge to rid the southern states of violence has thus far been unsuccessful as attacks continue to break out on an almost daily basis. Surayud stated that his government is only going to use peaceful means to end the century tensions, although there has been no mention of the potential for an independent state. Surayud has rather made clear his intentions are to unify Thailand.

The Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre was recently revived, after a five year absence, and is now led by Phranai Suwannarat who has been charged with instilling peace into the area.

The present government has been very vocal about the negative implications of the previous government’s actions, but as of yet it is uncertain how the newly-revived body will handle the circumstance.

Surayud has already done what Thaksin refused to: he’s apologized. However, this is just a single step on an already long trip that will most likely take years to finish. If Thailand is to unify itself then steps must be taken to eliminate the feelings of alienation felt by the country’s Muslim population.

Partition of Cyprus

Street, Architecture, Traditional, Stone

The gorgeous Isle of Cyprus is a popular destination for holiday makers from all over Europe especially the British. However not everyone knows that part of the country is under occupation by an invading army. In 1974 the Turkish army invaded the North of Cyprus and have been there ever since. They have announced the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or TRNC as it has also been called but sadly no other country in the world recognizes it. Actually most countries including those within the U.N. and the E.U run trade embargoes against North Cyprus. Air Travel to the North of the Island is also banned by most countries and tourist wishing to see there must fly into Turkey first.

The events in Cyprus leading up to the 1974 invasion were turbulent to say the least and some observers claim that the Turks used this as a justification. During the British occupation of the Island there was a powerful political movement towards”Enosis” or union with Greece which many Greek Cypriots considered to be their motherland. There was a long battle with the British for independence and out of this desire for Enosis was born EOKA or Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston translated in English to National Organization of Cypriot Fighters. These guerrilla fighters were heralded as national heroes in Cyprus’s struggle for independence and there are lots of monuments erected in their memory dotted around the Island. In 1971 after the overthrow of the government in Greece from the military junta EOKA b was formed in Cyprus with a renewed emphasis on Enosis with the mainland.

The final outcome of the struggle saw the formation of a coalition style government with representation by both Turkish and Greek Cypriots according to a percentage scale. The Greek Cypriots of course being in the majority, which led their Turkish compatriots to whine that they were under represented. In fact following suggested changes in the constitution the Turks withdrew from the Islands government amid a period of inter-communal violence and most of the Turkish Cypriot population retreated into defensive enclaves.

Thousands of Greek Cypriots were forced to flee their homes with only what they could carry leaving all their land and businesses behind. Even now (2007) these displaced Cypriots still consider themselves refugees and the Cyprus government shares their view. The Turkish authorities encouraged nationals to move to North Cyprus and has tens of thousands of it’s troops stationed there too. The border between the North and Southern Cyprus is patrolled by the United Nations peacekeeping force whilst the capital Nicosia remains the last divided city in the world. Since Turkey expressed her desire for ascension into the European Union that the”Cyprus problem” is beneath the global spot light and all those involved are attempting to work out a solution.

No one can predict how many issues of the long standing dispute will be settled but emotions on either side still run deep. Visitors to Cyprus especially the Famagusta area will see that many small business owners proudly display old photos of premises they left behind in 1974. The disputes over land being sold for development in North Cyprus also continues to add fuel to the political fire too. There’s little doubt that both sides still have a ways to go before they expect to see any solutions to the issues regarding the occupation of North Cyprus.

Symbolism of Mexico’s Flag

Flag, Snake, Eagle, Bird, Mexican

He Flag of Mexico is rich with historical symbolism. The tricolors of white, green and red with the coat-of-arms centered in the white middle stripe were adopted by Mexico following their independence from Spain during the War of Independence in 1821.

There have been adjustments to the flag throughout background but the coat of arms has ever featured a royal eagle holding a serpent on top of a cactus. The current coat of arms was designed in 1968 by Helguera. Legend says that the Aztecs, then a nomadic tribe wandering throughout Mexico, were waiting for a sign from the gods telling them to build their capital city. Their god, Huitzilopochtli told them to search until they found a place where they saw an eagle, devouring a serpent while perched on a prickly pear tree, growing out of a rock submerged in a lake. After drifting for two hundred years, they found this mythical eagle on a small island in Lake Texcoco and built their capital, Tenochtitlan, where the main plaza in Mexico City is now located.

Through the years the three colors of green, white and red on the flag have remained the same but the meaning of these colors has changed. The green stripe represents Independence from Spain or may signify Hope. The white stripe represents purity of the Catholic religion or Unity. The red stripe represents Heroes blood or Religion.

When the flag of Mexico is paraded in front of a crowd, bystanders raise their right arm, put their hand on their chest parallel to the heart. The hand is level with the palm facing the floor. This salute is referred to as the El Saludo Civil de la Bandera Nacional. On February 24 annually a national party, Dia de la Bandera, Flag Day is held. This commemorates this day in 1821, when all of the factions fighting in the Mexican War of Independence combined together to form the Army of Three Guarantees.

Israeli War Crimes

Jewish, Judaism, Tallit, Tradition

A rather interesting thing to read on a very popular political Website is it not? But this is precisely what is happening as sympathizers and mislead do-gooders promote Palestinians and their plight. If you will remember Israel recent caved into demands and gave back land, which it had settlers on, but did that stop the murderous suicide bombings? Yet 1 blogger using a selective and very short memory conditions;

“FACT: ISRAEL IS OCCUPYING, STEALING LAND, COMMITTING INTERNATIONAL CRIMES AND MURDERING THE PEOPLE IT OCCUPIES.”

Again this is only opinion and selective interpretation of global law. And what happens when you give details to these bloggers on the Internet? They just go away for a couple of hours to spew their misdirection someplace else and assault you spelling, sentence structure or typing mistakes look at this comment from a supporter of Hamas and International Terrorism who stated;

“Loads of typing msitakes. . .but I really wonder why I bother with closed minded people..please go see for yourself.”

You have attacked my character, education, reading, religion (you assumed initially, as I have none), my nation, my military and now when you’re attacking me typing? What are you thinking? Irrelevant, as you had a miss stroke on the term”mistake”

Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas including a full out war; if that is what it takes to insure safety of its people and/or an attack on the Iranian Nuclear Plants, research centers, as they have promised to”Blow Israel off the map!” And is funding Hamas.

Indeed the USA has every right to cause action with Iran including and not limited to; full scale embargo and sealing off the borders of that nation where nothing gets in or out and/or attack on the Nuclear Enrichment research and development centers that are being used to create nuclear bombs. Iran is a nation-state, which supports insurgents in Iraq and international terrorists. No amount of white wash will convince me to not take a hard line on these matters. We have to protect the American People, our allies and assets no matter what. No matter what! Consider this in 2006.

Bee Populations

Beehive, Bees, Honeycomb, Honey Bee

The 2008 calendar indicates another spring has arrived in North America and also the indications of the new season are everywhere. Buds have appeared on trees, heralding the arrival of fresh leaves. The higher daylight and the warming sun act as harbingers for the appearance of flowering plants that will soon begin their summer cycle of growth. Nurseries and home improvement stores; such as, Home Depot and Loews, are selling crops, rakes, shovels, compost, and fertilizer.

Indeed, the familiar signs of spring are everywhere. However, once again this year, there’s a real problem in nature that’s tempering agricultural enthusiasm for the upcoming growing season. It is an issue that was first identified in 2006. The issue continues to be the disappearance of the honey bee. Once again there is little progress to report from research into this puzzle surrounding the honey bee named Colony Collapse Infection (CCD).

CCD occurs when all adult bees disappear from the hive, leaving the honey and pollen behind. Few, if any, dead bees are found around the hive. Between 50 and 90% of the commercial honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in america have been affected with CCD and the problem is making it hard for U.S. commercial beekeepers to pollinate plants. About a quarter of beekeeping operations were affected by CCD during the 2006-2007 winter alone. It’s estimated that up to 70% of honey bees in the United States have just disappeared due to Colony Collapse Disorder. The problem has continued throughout the winter of 2007-2008.

Besides the continuing problem of CCD, believe news reports indicate significant regional issues with dying honey bees this spring in the United States. In Hawaii, a microscopic mite is catastrophic Oahu’s honey bee population and the long term affects could wipe out much of the island’s agriculture. Western Washington State has a growing agricultural catastrophe as bees are dying from a new pathogen called Nosema Ceranae. This fungus attacks the bee’s gut, making it impossible to process food and the parasitic eventually starves to death.

Generally speaking, the various problems with disappearing and dying honey bees are quickly taking a toll on the complete United States beekeeping industry. It’s been reported that the amount of keepers who produce more than 6,000 pounds of honey annually has declined from 2,054 in 2005, (the year before keepers began experiencing colony collapse) to about 1,100 this year.

Internationally, a lack of a sufficient number of honey bees is responsible this spring for issues in blueberry pollination in Canada. The Fraser Valley produces about one-fifth of the world’s blueberries, but no longer has a sufficient number of honey bees to support its blueberry pollination, and honey bees are presently being imported for pollination.

In England and Wales, proposals to protect honey bees have recently been announced by the authorities. But, bee keepers complain of a lack of research funding and the slow pace of governmental response since the amount of honey bees continues in decline.

It’s now estimated that nearly half of Italy’s 50 billion bee population died last year. That bee mortality rate will have a drastic effect on the country’s 25-million-euro honey sector (which could plummet by at least 50% in 2008) and wreak havoc on fruit crops. The worldwide bee outbreak has also hit France, Germany, Britain, Brazil, and Australia.

The higher cost of energy in food production and transportation has already led to a world food price inflation of 45 percent in the past nine months alone. There are serious global shortages of rice, wheat, and corn. The increasing cost of food has just been responsible for deadly clashes in Egypt, Haiti, and many African states.

However, if the population of the honey bee continues to decrease, worldwide events from higher prices and shortages of food will have only just begun. The pollination of the honey bee is crucial to agriculture and the world’s food supply. With no honey bee, prices of vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, and dairy prices will all spiral much greater.

The disappearance of the honey bee poses a threat to ingesting premium ice cream also. The company is starting a new flavor this spring named Vanilla Honey Bee to raise consumer awareness about the issue. Proceeds from the sale of the ice cream will be used to fund CCD research.

The ramifications to our lifestyle and diet are enormous, but government’s reaction to the developing food crisis has been limited and slow. The disappearing honey bee issue hasn’t been discussed in any Presidential debate or in any effort forum. In actuality, both of our major political parties have been silent on the problem.

Hopefully, American politicians on the campaign trail in the 2008 United States presidential election like Haagen- Daz products. The reality is that Vanilla Honey Bee ice cream might be the only way to bring the candidates focus on some serious, developing, agricultural crisis. A world with no honey bee pollination will create a food crisis of economic, national, and international ramifications. Indeed, it’s another year without a solution to the problem of disappearing honey bees.

Arctic Snakes

Garter Snakes, Wildlife, Nature

How do Manitoba garter snakes endure the cold Canadian prairie winter? Although snakes evolved in the tropics, some of these slimy often feared creatures of the wild and mythology have over the eons evolved to have adapted to cooler and even downright cold climates. Yet snakes for sure can’t survive if really frosty frozen. How on earth do these animals endure the cold Canadian winters? The answer simply is that these snakes seek refuge in the floor under the cold”frost” line and essentially hibernate there doing the long winter season.

The red-sided garter snake that’s known to inhabit the”Interlake” areas of the Canadian province of Manitoba ranges further north than any other snake in North America, winters in communal dens, which occasionally can comprise up to 8,000 snakes.

These winter dens are known as”hibernacula” or just”winter dens”. Some of the largest concentrations of them are from the area west of Lake Winnipeg, in the”Interlake” region of Manitoba west of the major centers of Gimli and Winnipeg Beach. These dens are sinkholes in the local limestone stone produced simply when underground caverns have collapsed. The resulting fissures and crevices in the limestone bedrock give the snakes access to depths below the frost line, a necessity since winter temperatures in the area can often dip to minus forty degrees centigrade which translates to – 40 degrees Fahrenheit as well. Its so cold in these areas the local have electrical”block” from the engine blocks of the cars that they plug into regular ac electrical jacks so as to start their cars at the dead of their – 40 degrees January winter cold temperatures.

You would think that you’re seeing a sight of more snakes in one location than anywhere else in the world and you’re most likely correct.

By early autumn these same garter snakes are now fat and firm with a great deal of carbohydrates and fat from their summer of feeding. Once they return to their dens that they won’t feed again for another six or seven weeks. They will live off their fat reserves from the summertime feedings. Interestingly these same snakes seem to arrive at the dens sooner than need be – in fact it could be a month of so before they actually need to arrive. This is yet another adaptation learnt and time tested from nature. As the autumn days get shorter and winter is nearer, temperatures are generally on the cooling trend. Snakes being cold blooded become sluggish during the cooler weather.

These garter snakes will be safely underground in their winter dens. It may be cold outside – very cold – yet these intelligent garter snakes, who along with nature sit tight hibernating in temperatures that are a couple of degrees above freezing. You might well believe that these simple garter snakes are smarter than many of the people you meet in your travels. Its like they know to plan ahead, to conserve food and energy and get out of the cold and go”south” for the winter.

Different Types of Turtles

Terrapin, Turtle, Zurtoise, Wildlife

The world is full of turtles. But how many distinct types of turtles are there? Many turtles are on the edge of extinction and others are on the endangered list. Let us take a look at the different sorts of turtles which can be found around the world.

  1. Sea Turtles – These sorts of turtles are truly marine animals. They wander the waters of tropical oceans and only the females come ashore to lay their eggs in nests. They vary in size from nearly 2 1/2 feet to about 7 feet in carapace length. The shells of such turtles are heart shaped or oval in appearance. Their limbs are flippers instead of legs and are unable to encourage the turtle when on land. Sea turtles can no longer pull their heads back into their shells like other sorts of turtles. The sea turtles are one of the most endangered of the turtle families as urban development has infringed on their nesting sites.
  2. Snapping Turtles – There are just three species in this family of turtles. They can be found throughout North America, in the southeastern regions of Asia and in South America, to the north. Such turtles all have large heads and a strong jaw with the upper jaw being hooked. They cannot fully retract their limbs or head in their shell and have fairly long tails. Such turtles have been roaming the earth for 65 million years. They have quite a diverse habitat in addition to mating habits and diet.
  3. Pond Turtles – This is the largest group of turtles and can be found all around the world. Some species of pond turtles are carnivores while some are herbivores. They have many predators such as alligators and raccoons. These species are typically the kinds of turtles that are used in the pet trade.
  4. Mud or Musk Turtles – These kinds of turtles emit an unpleasant odor when they’re disturbed. They feed on aquatic insects, small fish and amphibians as well as any crustacean they could find. The adults are rarely preyed upon by other animals; instead their eggs are coveted by an assortment of animals.
  5. Tortoises – These kinds of turtles can boast the distinction of being the largest turtles that live on land. Tortoises feed on flowers, fruits and grasses though they’ve been known to feast on carrion. Typically, tortoises have heavy scales and feet which are not webbed. Their closest relatives are the pond turtles.
  6. Softshell Turtles – These kinds of turtles may live in many types of waters with a soft bottom being required. They spend the majority of their time buried in sand.
  7. Even though they are sea turtles, they’re a class unto themselves. They may be found swimming the waters of this world no matter if the waters are warm or cold. Their jaws lack potency so feed mostly on jellyfish. The adults have no known predators, instead it is the eggs and the hatchlings that are most vulnerable to predators. The leatherback is a truly endangered species because of erosion and evolution of the shores where the females land ashore to make their nests and lay their eggs.

SE Asia’s only Bear

Sloth, Funny, Black, Bear, Snout

Sloth Bear

Scientific Name:

Melursus ursinus

Vulnerable

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Ursidae

Genus: Melursus

General Information:

The sloth bear is the only species in the genus Melursus. It’s a nocturnal creature of South Asia. Contrary to the implication of its name, the sloth bear is truly quite fast and can outrun a human being. There are many different theories as to where it gets its own name, including the idea that early explorers seen the bears lying upside down in trees, much like the general look of sloths. In the 1700s, it was classified as being a member of the sloth family, and accordingly named as”bear sloth”. It wasn’t until the 1800s, once the first live sloth bear arrived in Europe from India, that scientists were able to properly categorize it. Even though it can be very ferocious, leopards, tigers, and wolves are known to predate upon it or its young. Habitat destruction and poaching constitute the main threat to this species’ survival.

Physical Description:

The sloth bear is a relatively small but stocky bear, draped in long, shaggy black fur. The particularly long hair around its neck gives off the image that it has a mane. There is a large white or yellow Y-shaped patch on its chest. Adult sloth bears generally weigh about 176 – 308 lbs for men and 121 – 187 lbs for females. It’s generally 4 ft 7 in to 6 ft 3 in in length.

Diet:

Sloths are omnivorous, feeding on many different foods that have insects, plants, and animals. It’s been known to scavenge from tiger kills and even eat cultivated crops. When eating insects, they prefer termites, using their long claws to expose the insects’ nests. And, because of their dietary fondness of honey, they also have been known as honey bears.

Habitat:

Sloth bears inhabit a diverse array of woods, from dry thorn forests in the north of its range to the wet tropical forests in the south. They’re also found in grassland areas. Their range comprises areas of Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.

Reproduction:

Based on the limited available information, sloth bears appear to mate year-round. The gestation period is about 7 months, after which time the female gives birth to 1 – 3 cubs, with two generally being the case.

The Hummingbird

Hummingbird, Bird, Nature, Tropical

Birdwatching is your lifetime ticket to the theater of nature.

I hope you’ll find some good ideas here to help you have fun watching birds.

This is one of the best stress relieving hobbies in the world, I guarantee!

Spring Time! backyard birding Time! So, grab your binoculars, a nice tall glass of iced tea, and lets get started.

For birdwatchers in the southern countries, hummingbirds are already returning.

In my back yard are several hooks for hummingbird feeders. I will fill and hang the feeders during the first week of April, just prior to the oldest hummingbirds arrive at Alabama. The first one I see is going to be a male, since the males migrate about two weeks before the females.

Did you know most small birds, including hummingbirds, migrate at night? I’m not sure why. Perhaps they do this to take advantage of the more calm atmosphere of night, or to avoid the predators who are hunting during daytime hours, or perhaps they use the stars to guide them north.

As migration time draws near, daily activity begins to change. Birds who migrate during the night, but normally are active during daytime hours don’t sleep as much through the night any more. Hummingbirds of spring are awake a lot more at night.

And beginning to feel hungry… real hungry. He needs to put on some fat. He weighs about 2.5 g, but now he begins to eat more, to gorge himself. He eats his weight in food every day. He eats insect eggs and spiders, bugs, gnats and the nectar of flowers. He’ll double his weight, and only weigh about 5 g.

Every day the north requires him to come,

To the North he flies into complete darkness, all by himself, weighing no more than a nickel.

Hours pass as he flies, burning off the fat he stored like a truck burns gas.

If the hummingbirds fat stores are adequate, he’ll reach the Gulf Coast. If the hummingbirds fat stores are not sufficient, he’ll die. If he’s prepared himself well, he will have flown for 18 to 22 hours, crossed 500 miles with no rest or food.

Toward the second week of April I will see my first hummingbird of spring. I’ll have those feeders out early, ready to greet the little fella as he hovers in to land for the first time this year in my own backyard.

Well, I am hoping this article has helped you in some shape or fashion, and once again I will tell you.

This is one of the best stress relieving hobbies in the world, I guarantee!

Good luck in all that you do, and Thank You very much for your attention.

All rights reserved. Article may be reprinted provided that content remains intact and unchanged and the links remain active.

Facts about the Zebra Finch

Bird, Small, Colorful, Finch

Bird Name:

Zebra Finch

Latin Name:

Taeniopygia guttata

Least Concern

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Estrildidae

Species: T. guttata

General Information:

The Zebra Finch is also known as the Chestnut-eared Finch, the Shelley, and the Spotted-sided Finch. It’s common across Australia, and has become widely kept for both research and aviculture.

Physical Description:

On average, it’s about 3.9 inches long and weighs near 17 g. The Zebra Finch has black and white tear-like stripes coming down beneath its eyes and reddish-brown ear patches on the sides of its head. Its upperparts are grayish-brown and its flanks are chestnut colored with white spots. There are thin black and white bars on its throat and the rump is white with a barred tail. The female does not have the reddish-brown ear patches, the stripes on the throat, or the spotted chestnut colored flanks of the man. Juveniles are similar in appearance to the female, but have black bills rather than the orange bills found on adult males and females. The differences between the race, T.g. castanotis, and the other, T.g. guttata, are that the latter subspecies doesn’t have the nice barring of the throat and are smaller in size.

Diet:

The Zebra Finch is primarily a seedeater, but is also known to feed on fruits and insects.

Habitat:

Owing to the extensive supply, the Zebra Finch can be found in a variety of habitats. It prefers open country, including grasslands and lightly timbered regions, but also occurs on the fringes of cities and towns. It is also common near farms. T.g. castanotis ranges across Australia, with the exception of western coastal areas and the island of Tasmania. T.g. guttata exists from Lombok from the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia to Sermata and the coastal areas of Australia. The Zebra Finch has also been introduced to Puerto Rico, Portugal, and the United States. Its nests are located in a variety of places, including cavities, scrubs, low trees, bushes, in termite hills, rabbit burrows, ledges of man-made structures, and even on the ground.

Reproduction:

The female lays an average clutch of 4 – 7 small white eggs. Both parents take responsibility for incubation, which lasts approximately 12 – 13 days. The young fledge approximately 18 – 21 days after hatching.

A Woman’s Heart

Chocolates, Confectionery, Chocolate
Well we all know that Valentines Day is the day of fans and a day for giving gifts to those you care about but why is chocolate still the most popular gift given on Valentines Day? Why is chocolate is so closely associated with romance?
Since chocolate was brought to Europe it has been considered the food of love. The Spanish who brought it to Europe learnt about chocolate from the Aztecs. It was a European tradition that each year on the 14th of February young guys would court young ladies with flowers and gifts and because back then chocolate was rare and expensive it was not long before this was the favourite gift given by the rich and aristocratic who were able to supply this for the object of their affections. It wasn’t long however before the secret of chocolate got out and shortly chocolate houses were opening up across Europe, the finest of which were and are still in Belgium. While previously the best Belgian chocolates were only available to the very wealthy, nowadays it is much more affordable, so that everybody can enjoy them. More importantly they are cheap enough that you can give them to those you care about on Valentines Day and any other day of the year.
Well why is chocolate still so popular as a Valentines gift, is it just the marketing? Well, since Valentines Day was exported into the USA it’s been used to market everything from wrapping paper and cuddly toys to expensive items like jewellery. However why is it that the historic connection between chocolate and Valentines day has lasted the years? Well it seems there is more to it than just the, sweet, mouth watering feeling you get as it melts in your mouth leaving you wanting more and more… Scientists now know that such as coffee and tea, chocolate affects the chemical reactions already taking place in our brains. Unlike tea and coffee however is not just a stimulant, it contains phenyl-ethylamine that’s known to stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain released chocolate Enhances our pleasure centres and creates a feeling of Euphoria and raises the heart rate like that of a person in love or in the summit of an orgasm both of which should go down well with the recipient of your gift.
Now, despite all of its psychotropic properties and ancient reputation, chocolate will probably not make a girl fall in love with you but giving her something so delightful will definitely put you in her good books… Chocolate will also excite men’s pleasure centres so ladies don’t be shy to buy a box for your man, who knows what reaction you might get.

Deer Hunting – 7 Most Important Things

Deer, Antlers, Nature, Wildlife, Mammal
Introduction
Deer hunting can be a tricky encounter, especially for an amateur hunter. This is because there are a lot of hunting equipment and techniques which are important for a successful Deer hunting experience. Some of the important things needed to go Deer hunting are either expensive, hard to use or cumbersome. Subsequently, I have listed some of the significant hunting gears necessary to make one a successful deer hunter.
Identify your preferred weapon
To be a successful Deer hunter, then you must select your weapon carefully. Such weapons may include a variety of types of guns and bows. However, you must obtain a valid license based on the stipulated Deer-hunting laws within your State to avoid unnecessary legal complications. In establishing your best weapon for the Deer-hunting expedition, you must take into consideration the following:
Some gun caliber sizes are illegal in certain states. Every hunting season has given types of firearms (rifle, shotguns among others). Some states do not permit the usage of high-powered rifles during Deer-hunting. Each state has its own laws to govern the use of bows in hunting Whitetail Deer.
Obtain a valid license to kill from your state
You must legally seek a deer hunting license from relevant authorities in your respective states. Every deer hunter demands such legal authority for deer hunting during each season. In some states, hunters are exposed to compulsory searching safety training programs. You must, therefore, be prepared to engage relevant authorities whose primary aim is to make deer hunting a safe exercise. Similarly, such education programs will make you be more informed about various wildlife conservation procedures. Therefore, you should confirm with your state how the training programs are conducted and ensure that you are provided a certification card upon completion.
Dress for the occasion
After obtaining your weapon of choice and a license to go deer hunting, you must dress to suit the occasion. The sort of dress will, however, depend heavily on the time of the year, and may either be lightweight or cold weather gears. Before deciding the best hunting clothes, you must:
Carefully check from the local weather forecast during your specified hunting hours. Ensure that the gears are thoroughly washed with a scent free soap to get rid of external odors. Ensure that your camouflage pattern matches the terrain you will be running your deer-hunting expedition. Be certain that you wear gloves and a mask to enable you to blend in and take effective control of your odor. Depending on the weather forecast, take some rain gear. Choose hunting boots that are comfortable dependent on the terrain.
Proper hunting optics
You will heavily depend on the hunting optics to spot whitetails in the distance during the expedition. Thus, you must bring along some binoculars to assist you in scanning the terrain to ascertain whether a deer is a possible shooter or not. The binoculars will also help you to recover a deer after successfully shooting further explaining why it is extremely essential.
Establish your distance
You’ll have to bring along relevant rangefinders when you go deer hunting. Rangefinders can enable you to precisely determine how far a deer is before taking a shot. As a successful deer hunter, your primary objective should be ensuring that you make an ethical kill. With an proper rangefinder, you won’t have to move around more than you need to make a perfect shot.
Know the language related to whitetail hunting
Perhaps you have heard of this deer grunt call? Well, you’ll need to speak the language for a successful deer hunter. A deer grunt call is a language spoken by deer hunters. Knowing the language can allow you to coordinate your activities in the area.
Develop love for darkness
As much as this may appear strange, as a deer hunter, don’t ever be afraid of the dark. Therefore, a flashlight or a headlamp are really necessary to maximize your chances of sneaking in undetected in the darkness.

Some Much Needed Time Off

Background, Christmas, Decoration
Here at PMA, we are very much a family, both within the group and with our customers as well. So as we prepare for your holidays, we want to respect the family time that our team enjoys and works so hard for, but would be the vacations necessarily a time to remove?
Depending on what industry you’re in, it might not be. If you work with those struggling with grief, addiction or anxiety – the holidays can very much be a cause, and my guess is, you are still on-call.
As a team, we are very cautious about reaching out over the holidays (and for that matter, we hold off sending emails on weekends and evening year round), but its OK if you still feel the need to operate over the holidays, because it is the perfect time to:
Review your year, what were your successes? What could you do differently?
The holiday season is a fantastic time to create a vision board for 2019, what do you want your focus to be?
Refresh your workspace!
Write personal letters – not mails, real handwritten notes – to your customers thanking them for their business over the last year.
Work on your social media content calendar for 2019
Read a book that inspires you! Perhaps it’s business related, or personal growth, whatever excites you, do it!
But first and foremost, take this opportunity to be thankful, to your family for encouraging you, your friends for always being by your side, your clients and your team. I want to take this opportunity to thank my team for all that they do to encourage our clients year round, without them, PMA would not be what it is now, and their dedication to each other and our clients don’t go unnoticed. It’s been my focus over the past year to continue to inspire the staff to explore their passions and perform the work that excites them. When we work within our passions, true magic happens (take this message, designed by PMA Rockstar Crystal Picard, she always produces such amazing pieces. Show your love and follow her on Instagram!) .
As the holiday season is upon us, we find ourselves reflecting on the past year and those who have helped to shape our company. It has been a long time for us all! We expect that 2018 has been just as memorable for you, your colleagues and your nearest and dearest.
In the PMA family to yours, Happy Holidays!

Activities

Baltimore, Harbor, Ocean, Sea, Water
Baltimore is a city teaming with natural trails and beautiful landscapes. An outdoor vacation is exactly what this place is all about, with many naturally beautiful wonders waiting to be found in Calvart Cliffs State Park, Savage River State Forest, Janes Island State Park and many more wildernesses here. You can enjoy the outdoors in protected isolation, since this place offers a long list of adventure and leisure opportunities to its visitorswith activities like camping, biking hiking and more with just a cheap ticket to Baltimore.
Ride the Rail Trails. The state of Maryland has over a dozen of those railroad trails. As a growing number of railroad tracks went obsolete, they were paved and transformed to flat bike trails. This provides a wonderful opportunity to be amidst nature and see Baltimore first hand. This is very popular activity amongst the tourists. It will keep you close to your fitness goals as well as help you enjoy your trip at the same time. This is particularly great as vacations are where we dwindle away out of our diets and indulge in criminally substantial calorie feasts.
Appalachian Trail. This is a fairly simple hike if you are an active person. This is a 40-mile hiking trail from Pen-Mar into the Potomac River. This is a very scenic trail and you’ll be able to take several pictures here.
Assateague Island. This is a one of a kind get away. Just outside the town this island is full of wild horses and serene beaches. It is a perfect place to get some alone time to reverberate in your life and goals. You get to see wild horses here -it’s a very Hollywood sequel encounter.
Smith Island. This is an island a short ferry ride from mainland. This is famous for it’s delicious layered pancakes and the wilderness that’s not yet messed with. This offers a sneak peak into the world as it was meant to be by mother nature.
Gunpowder river tubing. This is a local yearly event where everyone rides a tube down the cold waters of the river. This is especially a good way to beat the summer heat and have some fun. The river is not to worry about with just a couple light rapids. Shuttle services are available to take you back up river as soon as you are done.
Camping in Green Ridge Forest. This is a few hours away from the city. Here you can camp in the primitive forest sites and can go fishing and paddle boating. The place is very picturesque and elevating.
Marathon. The state hosts more than a dozen marathons every year. Along with the marathons, ultra marathons, trail runs, 15ks, 10ks and other running events are scheduled each weekend. This is a really good place to get your running shoes on and get together other fellow runners to enjoy the natural beauty this place has to offer.
Being in nature is a luxury nowadays and one must enjoy such experiences whenever possible. Living in the cities we are drifting away from natural living, this is what we can fix on nature-centric vacations in places like Baltimore.

Which Should You Choose?

Curtains, Decoration, Indoors, Plant
Whether you are looking to color your space from the scorching sun or to add a few details to your room, blinds and drapes are an important practical and aesthetic feature of any room. While drapes and blinds have the same functionality, they are aesthetically different in many ways. For ease of explanation, we will go through the different types of blinds commonly used in homes.
Roller blinds
Roller blinds are among the most common types found in most homes, they can significantly reduce the sun’s glare, which can be varied from the material used. They are usually horizontally lowered and offers one of the best coverage. You can also easily adjust the length needed through a cord and it is one of the most precise systems around.
Roman Blinds
Roman blinds are like roller blinds as to the horizontal coverage but differ in how it unravels. Roman blinds generally have a luxurious feel and are usually more expensive due to the pleat styling. Roman blinds are also more expensive as it is possible to select the number of pleats for the blind to fully extend and also the sort of material.
Wooden or bamboo blinds
If your apartment or house has a great deal of wooden furnishing and you want to integrate this into the blinds, wooden or bamboo blinds are a great solution. The advantage to the wooden material is the ease of cleaning and maintenance. Because they do not use any fabric, they’re easier to clean and maintain generally as dust doesn’t stick to the substance. The colours can also be customized to your liking and they are commonly used as the material in panel blinds or Venetian blinds.
Vertical Blinds
One of the most affordable styles available are the vertical dividers. They are perfect in most commercial areas such as classrooms or offices because of the durable material used. Vertical blinds are a cost-effective solution for covering large window spaces. They are commonly made from a mixture of some plastics and cloth to give it a very sturdy feel.
Motorised Blinds
The ultimate form of luxury is motorizing the blinds on your house. Motorised blinds are an essential especially if your blinds or drapes are extremely long or found in hard to reach areas. Additionally, motorized blinds ensure that your blinds do not come in contact with excessive human forces which might at times shorten the lifespan of your blinds.

How to Care For Baby Chickens

Chick, Chicken, Baby Chick, Animal, Bird
You have no doubt seen the cute little fuzzy baby chickens offered at Easter. They are so cute and nearly irresistible. You hold them in your hand and they make chirping noises. How can you resist?
In case you’ve got the space and decide to take the plunge then you definitely need to be ready for your new little pets. You were probably sold with the statement of how easy it is to look after these little creatures. No matter if you purchase your baby chickens, hatch them out of eggs at home through an incubator or brooding hens, they do require some essentials.
A place to call home. In other words, a brooder, or cage, or holding box. If raising with a hen, I prefer a cage with a wire bottom so you have the ability to wash more frequently.
A source of heat. Maintaining temperatures of 90 degrees the first week and then dropping by 5 degrees following weeks until you get to the temperature outside. If they’re being raised with the mother hen, she takes care of the temperature for you.
Water and meals. Little chicks are usually started out on chick starter in the treated or non-medicated kind; and there are lots of brands available for you to choose from. If the waterer happens to be a rather large size where the chicks can stand in the water, some advocate putting marbles in it so the chicks won’t drown.
Some of the most significant amusement comes from watching these small chickens grow. Every day it seems there are changes in features, size, and feathers. By five to six months they should have all their feathers and are ready to be moved from the brooder.
Chickens have a place referred to as a crop and they store feed in it to be digested. It is found in the base of the chicken’s neck and lumps after the bird has eaten. Chickens do not have teeth and do not think; the food and grit get ground up by the crop.
Chickens love dust baths and so do baby chickens. You might see them lying in their feed (if the bowl is big enough) or at the shavings at the bottom of the brooder flopping around. This is the beginning of their bathing habits.
A rather common problem in newly hatched chicks is pasting up. The sign of pasting is droppings that stick to the chick’s back end until the vent gets glued shut. To ensure they don’t die from this, gently wipe their bums with a damp, warm paper towel. By the time your chicks are one week old, pasting up should no longer be a problem.
Chicks don’t need to eat as soon as they hatch. For the first two weeks of life they could survive on residual yoke, which is why newly hatched chicks have the ability to survive being shipped across the country.
Pecking order starts young. They start fluffing up flapping at each other and circling each other while the others gather around and watch. Looks like they are doing the tango but no, they’re determining who’s the boss and in what order. For day old chicks, line the bottom with paper towels for the first couple of days while they get their footing to help avoid leg issues. Then you can switch over to a few inches of pine shavings.
Chickens are social animals and enjoy being with others. Birds of a feather flock together.
Chickens are extremely addictive. With the entertainment they provide and the ease of caring for them, you will be ordering online or back in the store before you know it. A little time spent in preparation will be certain that your new first flock is an all around pleasant experience.

Ski Vacation

Mountaineer, Forward, Blizzard, Stormy
Besides the chance of getting caught in the middle of an avalanche and obtaining a frostbite during your ski vacation, here’s another threat that you ought to avoid: windburn. So what exactly is a windburn?
Windburn is the redness of the skin caused by long exposure to strong and cold winds for extended period of time. The cold air makes it possible for the wind to readily divide the fat molecules (oil) that maintain the standard moisture in your skin. Skin also becomes more sensitive to products.
Signs and Symptoms
Windburn is characterized by the irritation of the skin manifested in the redness of the face and other areas of the body like neck and hands. It can look and feel like sunburn. Sometimes, the skin may appear swollen and feel really itchy and/or sore. It usually last for a few days as it causes much less skin damage.
However, if the aggravation lasts longer, ask your physician to avoid another skin condition such as rosacea. Rosacea is a skin disorder that can mimic windburn and characterized by various forms of facial redness due to the enlargement and widening of blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin.
Who might be the victims of sunburn?
Those who are involved in winter sports such as skiers, snowboarders, and ice skaters are most likely to encounter windburn. Being exposed to cold, dry, brisk wind at high altitudes raises the possibility of severe windburn.
People who live in hot climates don’t usually experience windburn, however sudden exposure to cold dry winds on holidays or through a sudden weather change might increase the odds.
What are the ways to stop it?
First, keep your skin covered. Wear a scarf or neck warmers for your neck and chin, mittens to protect your hands, a hat or headband for your ears and a face mask for your nose cheeks, and forehead.
Second, if you plan to go out for quite a long time, wear some moisturizing sunblock to protect you from both sun and windburn. Do not forget to moisten your lips too, with an SPF lip moisturizer. Apply sunscreen to your lips and skin every two hours.
Third, check weather reports and know the wind-chill factor before going out. When the weather is very cold, then do not stay out far too long.
Fourth, if it happens, apply lotion about four times a day. Make sure those lotions are without odor or acidic ingredients to avoid additional irritation. If your skin starts to peel, resist the temptation to pick at your skin and continue to moisturize. In cleaning the affected area, pick a mild cleanser to keep the natural moisture from your skin. If your condition is not getting any better, best to consult your doctor.

Boost Your Motivation

Scale, Diet, Fat, Health, Tape, Weight
If you’re like many people, you might find you struggle to maintain optimal motivation amounts from time to time. You go about your program and sometimes, you’re sufficiently motivated and prepared to work as hard as possible. Other times, the opposite occurs. You can’t get yourself to do what you know you will need to. What gives? When this takes place, it is vital to identify your triggers.
Let’s look further at this concept so you can find out how to use it and have sky-high motivation whatsoever times.
What Are Triggers? Triggers are essentially whatever will make you strive to work as hard as possible to see a outcome.
As an example, it’s the reason why you are looking to lose weight. Why you are hitting the gym each day. Why you are saying no to pizza when it’s offered.
Your triggers dictate your ability to stick with your program and generally speaking, the stronger the trigger, the easier time you will need to maintain your motivation to continue.
Finding these strong triggers is essential for your success.
How can you go about discovering your triggers? First, you must dig deep…
Moreover, that is very good, but it’s at a surface level. Go further.
Why do you want to look better? What will looking better get you? Whom do you want to look better for? What happens in the event that you don’t look much better?
Try answering these questions along with any others you may come up with that will help you better understand your triggers.
You may find you need to look better to recover the self-confidence you lost as a teen once you started putting on the weight and by doing this you may feel as though you will approach life and your job differently, and if you do, it may mean career advancement.
Now you have a definite trigger. When you think of that piece of cake, think of this instead. If you want to be successful and accomplish your goal, your trigger can enable you to say no to the piece of cake.
How do you use this sensibly? What you need to know here is this exercise isn’t designed to make you feel bad about yourself. Instead, it’s meant to help uncover the reason why you are working so hard towards your goal.
If you haven’t taken the time to discover your trigger or triggers, that is your first mistake and what will cost you down the line.
Take a moment and find your trigger. It’s one of the greatest steps you can take to help achieve maximum success.
Although managing your disease can be extremely challenging, Type 2 diabetes isn’t a condition you need to just live with. You can make simple changes to your daily routine and lower both your weight and your glucose levels. Hang in there, the longer you do it, the easier it gets.

Bass Location

Fishing, Black Bass, Phishing, Lake
When the snow melts and the temperatures of the lakes and rivers start to rise it is time to get ready for pre spawn smallmouth bass. Hard bodied or jointed jerk baits made to suspend in the water are a terrific option this time of the year, especially on windy overcast days once the smallmouth seem to be most aggressive. Conversely, it seems slower moving weightless plastics appear to work best on calm sunny days.
Tackle and equipment: I usually for 3 sticks rigged up for fishing with a jerk bait.
7′ Medium fast action rod with a 5:1 reel or greater, Abu Garcia creates a couple of great reels for jerk bait fishing. Line it up with 15lb braid with a fluorocarbon leader and you have yourself a great setup for your larger hard baits and bigger spinning lures.
I love this set up on still sunny mornings. 6’3″ medium light Quantum MXP pole, 4:1 spinning reel, 10 lb braid with 18 inch 8lb fluorocarbon leader. This is my go to soft plastic jerk and twitch bond setup.
7′ Daiwa Medium spinning rod with a 4:1 or greater spinning reel with 6 lb fluorocarbon line. This is a wild card pole, in the past I have had success with this using weightless flukes as well as smaller hard bodied lure. What I have found is that since fluorocarbon line sinks it has a tendency to bring the hard and soft plastic baits a bit deeper and the 6lb line has a better feel with the lighter baits than the 10lb baitcasting installation. If I could just take one I would take this one because I feel it is the most versatile but the other set ups are unique to the task. .
Baits:
Hard Bodied Baits – Husky Jerk #10, Floating Raps #7, Berkley Cutter 90 are some great choices. Natural colors in clear water and heavily fished areas, pearl, white, perch and Chartreuse are winners in the spring in stained water. Recently I Berkley Gulp Alive, KVD and others have come out with great quality products as well.
Location
Spring is such a great time for smallmouth because no other time in the year are their routines more predictable and so many big females being”piled up” in precisely the identical place. Focus on regions deepwater drops and inland spawning areas 10ft deep with gravel bottom and ground structure is a superb place to start. Egg laden large females will be actively feeding and can have many trophies sitting in the exact same small indentation or around the same stump. Small mouth will spend most of the winter in 30-40 feet of water then move in to shallow flats right after ice out and till the spawn which usually starts when the water temperature reaches into the upper or mid 50’s. Any big flats in 8-15 foot of water next to 30-40 shelves are great place to start. Start looking for a gravel bottom, often times a wonderful rock pile or stump could hold 10 big females in this time of year.
Smallmouths often must see baits a couple times before they opt to strike if they are not actively feeding so if you see a good-looking place take 3-4 casts before proceeding. When they’re feeding and you grab one make sure you throw back to the same spot because big females are rarely alone at this time of year. This can be some of the most fun, fastest fishing of the year. When they’re feeding it isn’t from the realm of chance to land five four pound fish in ten casts.
When it’s overcast and windy it seems to stir the smallmouth up and have the best bite. Anytime I am using a jerk bait in the wind I always use larger and thicker hard bodied baits. I also work the bait quicker than I do with soft plastics. Rapala Husky Jerk 10 is a favorite bait in these state with white, Chartreuse and pearl white being sexy colours. I check with a bait shop or online about hot colours on a particular body of water.
Soft plastics are an art form, and my go to set up on calm sunny days. I work the lure at about 3-5 feet of depth with longer snaps blending with short twitches. One key suggestion is to maintain constant slack in your line particularly when using the braided line set up, it will provide the bait more of an erratic darting movement and the twitches more realistic appearance. I remember one time a friend and I were in the same boat using the same colors and the exact same bait. The only difference was that he added a tiny weight and was working the bait at a rate he was averaging 3 casts to every one of my casts. By the end of 75 minutes it was 14 fish and he had 1 and I was averaging about 16″ per fish with a couple of four pound, nineteen inch plus smallies. The only difference was I had no weight added and was working the bait very slow, sometimes as slow as 4-6 seconds between actions. This method is particularly deadly on a sunny calm morning, the smallmouth are not as stirred up as they will be when the wind picks up but they are always up for a simple meal. This is often the first lure I start out with and the final one I end with.
For the people who fish them, spring smallmouth bass fishing is in a class of its own. Using jerk and twitch baits is one of the most fun ways to catch them. Tight lines!