• Pennsylvania Factory Tours

    There are over 14,500 manufacturing establishments housed inside Pennsylvania's borders. Everything from apple sauce to Zippo lighters are produced in the Keystone State -- then shipped all over the world to be enjoyed.

    I remember, as a child, watching Mister Rogers go through a factory each week on his show. It wasn't until I moved out here that I discovered Fred Rogers was a PA native and that the show was filmed in Pittsburgh, which made it easy to go down the road to the local marble/bubbles/chocolate factory.

    Of course, the tours aren't reserved just for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, but are open to everyone who wants to see how things are made. There's even one county, York, in South Central PA that hails as the "Factory Tour Capital of the World" and hosts an annual Made In America Tours Event each June.

    I decided it would be fun to tour a handful of factories during the winter as the crowds are smaller and the heat from machines and ovens would be warm welcome to the weather outside. I took lots of pictures and put them together in a slideshow below. 

    The factories I went to were: Hershey Chocolate World / Harley-Davidson Assembly Plant / Martin & Co. Guitars / Renovah Pretzels

  • Gods of Pennsylvania: Benjamin Franklin

    Today is Benjamin Franklin’s 307th birthday. Happy birthday Ben!

    I figured today would be a great day to add Franklin to my “Gods of Pennsylvania” list -- and if this list were like the pantheon of Greek gods, Franklin would Zeus.

    Although Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, he is better known as a Pennsylvanian, spending most of his life in Philadelphia (even being the President of PA for three years). His resume includes being an author, activist, diplomat, inventor, musician, politician, postmaster, printer, satirist, scientist, and statesman. He is often referred to as "The First American" and is still looked highly upon as one of the most important figures in American history.

    Franklin had a fierce belief in being a virtuous person and having a country that was morally in-tune (their civic duty). This was evidenced by his active involvement many “do-good” organizations along with volunteering his time to help the poor.

    At the age of twenty, Franklin was looking for ways to build up his own character and created a list of thirteen virtues:

    1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

    2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

    3. Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

    4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

    5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

    6. Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

    7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

    8. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

    9. Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

    10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

    11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

    12. Chastity: Rarely use venery (sexual indulgence) but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation"

    13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

    Even more than his striving to be upright, Franklin is known for his witty words, and is still one of the most quoted individuals in history. Some of my favorites:

    “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

    “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”

    “Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.”

    “If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.”

    “To find out a girl's faults, praise her to her girlfriends.”

    Other well-known quotes:

    “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

    “Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

    “God helps those who help themselves.”

    So, take a moment to honor the memory of this man by sharing this story, or your favorite Franklin quote, with your world.

    Three cheers, and long live the memory of Benjamin Franklin!

  • Groundhog Day Giveaway Winners

    Congratulations to Michelle Sneddon and Kim Neely who just won some sweet Groundhog Day **BLING**! I'll be sending out an email this morning to get your addresses.

    A big thanks to everyone who entered -- don't forget -- there's always new contests around here, so be sure to stay subscribed to the blog.

    And keep your fingers crossed as we're hoping Punxsutawney Phil doesn't see his shadow so Spring can come early.

  • Groundhog Day Giveaway

  • State your love - its time to vote for Here A Year's next location

    My time in PA is quickly coming to a close.

    As of today, I technically have eleven weeks (or 77 days) until I depart for my next location and adventure. Trust me, it won’t be an easy move as I feel there is still so much to see, learn, and do. Also, I’m not looking forward to saying goodbye to all of my new friends and forged bonds...ugh.

    But alas, I must start thinking ahead as March 24th will surely sneak up on me -- like the quote says, “luck favors the prepared” {Louis Pasteur paraphrase} -- I need to begin laying the foundation of my next journey thoughtfully and intentionally.

    Of course, this means I will be doubling my duties as I am still 100% immersed in the world of Pennsylvania, plus being 100% in preparation mode for what lies ahead. If I do this right, you shouldn’t notice a decrease in blogs, videos, or volunteer hours - but you will start to see the coming project woven into the conversation stream.

    To begin, I want you to know that voting will be a little different from last time. I’ve had many (and I mean many) people message me, telling me they can’t wait to vote for my next location. As much as love getting those notes, I must be open and as honest as possible with all of you -- so -- after much research (and lots of good counsel), I’ve decided to change the methodology of voting.

    Here’s what I mean:
    Voting will begin on Monday, January 7th and will end on Monday, January 21st (9:00pm-EST) - anyone can cast ONE VOTE for a state they would like me to move to for a period of one year - along with this vote, they must tell me what they LOVE about that state (i.e. why I should move there) - then, on Friday, February 1st, I will announce which state I will be moving to based upon its LIST OF LOVE.

    It’s not that I don’t trust the populace, I do, but I want to make sure all the states get a fighting chance -- not just the big territories with lots of voices.

    So -- what are you waiting for? Start spreading the love! (Click to tweet.)

    Head over to hereayear.com/vote to cast your ballot for my next chapter.

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