Wednesday, June 29, 2016

One Referendum After Another?

As you are aware, the UK had a referendum last Thursday that the population voted to leave the European Union. On Sandboarding Nation, my mission is to provide you with good quality, non-biased, and independent news, also I want to spread sandboarding to the population like how political figures spread Conservativism.

My message to you (the readers) is that I have been thinking if the name of this blog should be changed to something more reflective of the blog, I was thinking of "Sandboarding Times".

Pro-Change (For Sandboarding Times)

  • Sandboarding Times makes it sound more of a news source.
  • The new name would call for major reconstruction of the blog.
  • The new name can trigger a new ethos and/or constitution for the blog.
Anti-Change (For Sandboarding Nation)

  • There would be a need to change pages & logos if a new name was adopted.
  • The name would lose the aspect of community (the 'nation' in the name makes the site sound like a community together).
  • Sandboarding Nation can keep up its duration of history (keeping under one name & domain)
This may sound like a dumb question for me to ask all of you but it's also a question I'm willing to propose as a sub-part of the Readers' Survey which I published earlier this week. I will publish a link allowing people to vote for the new name, users can only vote once and there are no restrictions on who can vote; the vote will be available for a week and anyone can vote for whether the blog should keep its name as "Sandboarding Nation" or "Sandboarding Times".

If you want to vote, click on the "Name Change Vote" page on the top of this webpage and you've got until 12am (British Summer Time) on the 7th July 2016.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The European Union

In the midst of all of the news regarding that the United Kingdom is to be the first state to leave the European Union, there are calls for a second referendum, the resignation of the British Prime Minister, and worries on what the future will hold for the European Union and the UK alike; if you're bewildered by the news, then this is what you should know.

The European Union is a collection of countries on the European continent which all pay membership fees, vote on laws that states have to follow (the people who decide these laws are known as Members of the European Parliament that come from the member states), have a freedom of trade, no tariff fees, and a freedom of movement of people.

The member states of the European Union as of the 28th June 2016, are as follows:
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom (A referendum in June 2016 found that 51.89% of voters wanted to leave the European Union)
If the UK does leave the European Union, it is unsure whether British visitors can visit EU states via the freedom of movement policy; the Freedom of movement applies to people & trade in the European Union so there are no visa requirements or passport fees for EU citizens visiting other EU nations.

Flag of the European Union. Courtesy of: Verdy P License: Public Domain


European Economic Area (EEA)

There are 3 other European nations that aren't in the European Union but the European Economic Area (EEA) and these countries are:

  • Norway
  • Liechtenstein
  • Iceland
These nations have to pay the European Union membership fees; however they don't get a say in the laws which all EU & EEA states must follow but they do get a pass on some laws such as Agriculture, Fishing, Taxation, etc... These European Economic Area countries also have to accept the freedom of movement of people so Greeks, Brits, Spaniards, Italians, and the Finnish can visit, study, live, retire, and work in Norway, Liechtenstein, & Iceland and also that Norwegians, Liechtensteiners, & Icelanders can live in Greece, the UK, Spain, Italy, and Finland. EEA states also have free trade with the rest of the EU states including Switzerland.

Switzerland & Schengen

Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, or European Economic Area; so pan-European law doesn't apply in Switzerland; but Switzerland is a member of the Schengen area. The Schengen area does not make laws, impose tariffs, or anything for that matter; it is an agreement between 26 states that make international border pretty much void. In the words of YouTube user CGP Grey, "You could walk from Lisbon to Tallinn without identification or the need to answer the question, 'Business or Pleasure?'."

The border between the Netherlands and Belgium, no customs officers or passport checks. Courtesy of: Jérôme License: CC BY-SA 3.0

There are some EU states that don't conform to this rule because they want to 'opt-out' and these EU states are:

  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • Cyprus
  • Croatia
  • Romania
  • Bulgaria
So, in order to get to these 6 locations you will need a passport and good reason to get there, it also applies in reverse so non-Schengen British citizens going to Schengen Sweden will need a passport as do Schengen Swedish citiens going to non-Schengen Britain. Also, the EEA states (Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland) are Schengen states.

Eurozone

The European continent has its own currency, affectionately named the "Euro". You may have heard about the Euro currency from Greece and the financial crisis in the country, the Euro was launched in 1999 and many states removed their national currencies from circulation in favour of the Euro. There are some European Union member states that do not use the Euro currency however the Euro is expected to adopted by all states by the year 2020; these rebellious countries are:

  • Bulgaria (Lev)
  • Croatia (Kuna)
  • Czech Republic (Koruna)
  • Denmark (Krone)
  • Hungary (Forint)
  • Poland (Złoty)
  • Romania (Leu)
  • Sweden (Krona)
  • United Kingdom (Pound)
The Euro in Coins & Banknotes. Courtesy of: Valentina Gatta License: CC BY-SA 4.0 Modified: No


This is good if you travel within the Eurozone as there's no need to constantly exchange your currency, the costs of living will vary by country and in Spain a coffee may cost you €1.50 whereas in France, the same coffee will cost you €1.95.

I'm merely qualified to talk about politics or indeed European politics, however the continent with its politics, economics, diplomacy, and treaties are an enigma and if you want to know more, you should go to your library, or educational facility and see if you can find more information. This is not a sandboarding related post, however; if you want to travel to Monte Kaolino (Germany), the tallest sand dune in Europe (Dune of Pilat in France), Holywell Bay (the United Kingdom), Maspalomas (which is in the Canary Islands, which are a part of Spain.), or the dunes of the Curonian Spit (the majority of the spit is administered by Lithuania); you'll need to know about Europe.

Before I go

As the UK has voted to leave this union, the future is uncertain for Europe and the UK itself so don't take this for gospel but at the time of publication, the information is correct as of 28th June 2016 and politics may change everything. The European Union member states give citizens access to free health care in the other European countries, and a common driving license is valid throughout Europe as well; luckily, I passed my driving test a month before we decided to leave Europe, but if I'm honest, I don't think I'll be able to exercise that liberty very soon.

    Facts About Uruguay

    It's been a while since I've published a blog post but I'll hopefully be doing more blogging whenever time is an abundant source to me; I've seen a recent advert on Facebook about Sandboarding in Uruguay and I didn't think that Uruguay would be the kind of country to have sand dunes as I've known it to be full of farms, crops, harvesting, and urban central areas a bit like France, Switzerland, or even Ireland for that matter but I was wrong. I saw the advert for Sandboarding in Uruguay so I thought I would make a post highlighting facts About Uruguay!

    In English, Uruguay is the only country whose name has the same letter 3 times in its first five. To top this off, it's also the only country whose name has the same 3 vowels in its first five letters; this makes Uruguay unique as the name isn't created from a lot of letters from a game of Scrabble or Boggle; but primarily because...

    The country was named after the Uruguay River. The translation of this country's name comes from the Guaraní word to mean "river of shellfish" or alternatively, the "river where the painted birds live", this river was most likely referring to the Uruguay River which makes the entire western border between the country and Argentina to the west. The Río Negro is a river that splits from the Uruguay River and splits the country in half creating North & South parts of the country; the sources of both rivers are located in Brazil. Brazil shares good economic, political, geographical, and cultural ties with Uruguay which is good for both countries! On that note...

    Flag map of Uruguay. Courtesy of: Andriyko UA License: Public Domain


    Uruguay was granted Independence from Brazil. Only Uruguay and Paraguay are the only 2 countries that were previously governed by Brazil, Uruguay was originally colonised by the Portuguese & the Spanish until Uruguay earned its independence following a four-way dispute between Brazil, Argentina, Spain, and Portugal. Prior to independence, Uruguay was a province of the Empire of Brazil known as "Cisplatina" up until 1828 when the treaty of Montevideo was signed (not the Montevideo Convention, but the Treaty of Montevideo) which was mediated by the British and lead to Argentina and Brazil recognising the newly formed country of Uruguay.

    The first FIFA World Cup was held here. In 1930, Uruguay held the very first FIFA World Cup competition, the home nation didn't lose a single game and in a 4-2 victory over Argentina in the Final, Uruguay won the first World Cup in 1930; to top this off, Uruguay also won the tournament in 1950 also, without losing a game. Uruguay is also proud rugby nation with 3 qualifications to the Rugby World Cup in 1999, 2003, and 2015. Uruguay also like Basketball and as of October 2015, they're 27th place in the world rankings.

    The world's first country to legalise Marijuana. As a blogger for a Sandboarding news website, I aim to be impartial and unbiased but depending on your side of the debate on marijuana legalisation; it doesn't matter in Uruguay as it became the first country in the world to legalise the use, trade, and distribution of Marijuana. The former president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by a Dutch pro-drugs institution for legalising Marijuana; talking of Jose Mujica...

    The former president Jose Mujica (in office: 2010-2015) Courtesy of: Vince Alongi License: CC BY 2.0


    The world's humblest president: Jose Mujica. This 'humblest president' title wasn't for nothing, the president himself was in casual clothes for official meetings, he had donated 90% of his annual salary to charities (the Uruguayan presidential salary is roughly $12,000 USD); he lives on a farm, he drives a 1987 Volkswagen Beetle (fantastic car in my opinion!), picks up hitch-hikers, and waits in line at a public hospital like everyone else. Here's some sad news on this gentleman, he was shot 6 times and put in prison for 14 years for opposing the country's former dictatorship. Despite being shot and imprisoned before becoming president in 2010, he's legalised gay marriage and marijuana, he's been responsible for the nation's rising salaries, and lowest ever unemployment rate; he ever left office in 2015 with a 70% approval rating!

    Treinta y Tres. The translation of "Treinta y Tres" from Spanish is "Thirty Three" or simply, 33. Treinta y Tres is the capital city of the Treinta y Tres department in the East of Uruguay, since the city & department is translated to the number 33; these next facts will sound spooky: the city and department are 33 degrees South, the postal code of the city of Treinta y Tres is 33000, the record low temperature in the summer is 33 degrees Fahrenheit, the city of Treinta y Tres and 2 surrounding suburbs make a population of 33,000, and finally the department is named because of 33 patriots in the 19th century that were honoured by the Uruguayan people.

    The train station of Treinta y Tres. Courtesy of: Domingo Crizul License: CC BY-SA 3.0

    Demographics of Uruguay. The population of this country is 3.407 million as of 2013, with the capital city of Montevideo having 1.305 million people (this means that 38% of Uruguayans live in Montevideo.) Uruguay has a life expectancy of 76.91 years which is the 3rd highest in South America behind Colombia and Chile at 2nd and 1st respectively; Uruguay (according to Freedom House) has the most freedom in South America, it even beat France by a few points (I included France because of French Guiana in South America).

    Safety is amongst the highest in the region within Uruguay, crime is kept to a minimum; Spanish is the official language, the driving age is 18 and Uruguayans drive on the right hand side of the road, UK and US citizens do not require a visa (under 3 months for US citizens and 90 days for UK citizens) & the currency used is the Uruguayan Peso (as of 28th June 2016, £1 GBP was equal to UYP $40.99).

    Cabo Polonio National Park. Courtesy of: Luciacasanovascasso License: CC BY-SA 3.0


    Sand dunes in Uruguay. I'm a Sandboarding writer so I'll blog on what I know best, I've only managed to find 2 notable sandboarding hotspots (there are more but they primarily lie on the coastal areas) in the country: Lomas de Solymar in Canelones department & Barra de Valizas in Rocha department. The National Park of Cabo Polonio is also home to some high dunes, they may be protected but I couldn't find any restrictions, however I wouldn't risk it. They look good to go down but since they're primarily on coastal areas, it makes Uruguay a bit like the UK in my opinion, so if I ever visited this country to do some Sandboarding, it might make me feel at home as the temperature is pretty good as well as it's the only South American country that's not within the tropics.

    Valizas in Rocha Department, Courtesy of: Fedaro License: CC BY-SA 3.0
    I'd like to make a final statement on this article, it took me a good 4 hours to write this and I could vaguely recall learning some basic information about Uruguay when I was about 6 years old in school, after writing this article and presenting the facts and information to you now, my perception on Uruguay has changed, I want to go there, and I've definitely learned something from this!

    If there are any Sandboarding Nation readers who have ever been to Uruguay or indeed any Uruguayans reading this blog or post for the first time, please get in touch with me via Facebook, Twitter, or by commenting on this article if I've missed any information out.

    Monday, June 27, 2016

    Blog Satisfaction Survey

    This is something that I've never done before but as this blog has been going for over a year now and I thought to myself that I would need to heads up on how you all think of my blog, Click on the link here to answer a 2 minute survey on the blog! Your feedback is very important to me, there is no closing date and all answers are taken into consideration so I can provide the best blog for everyone! Thank you!


    https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/C5NVRVL

    Wednesday, June 8, 2016

    International Borders for Eager Sandboarders

    I'm a fan of Geography and I like to read up on International borders, quite simply a border is a point where 2 or more countries meet. However the border between the nations of Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa is a quadripoint. A quadripoint is a location where 4 territories meet, since the quadripoint with Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe is on the Zambezi River, you could technically swim in a circle in all 4 countries if you were that ecstatic.

    Courtesy of: Htonl License: CC BY-SA 3.0


    Last time, I mentioned on how amazing it would be if you could Sandboard from one country to another, making that method of border crossing quite bizzare. I cannot find any documented account of any event where a Sandboarder or Sandboarding group have successfully crossed an international border by Sandboard; you need to make sure that the border is open (So you don't crash into a fence) and that you're legal to do so (I am not responsible for any lawsuits, I'm just a blogger trying to make a living).

    You could cross US states using this method and likewise I haven't found any entries online of such an event happenning, if there are adequate dunes, you could cross from somewhere such as New Mexico to Arizona; or Oregon to California; or if you really want to push the boundaries, somewhere remote such as Saudi Arabia into the United Arab Emirates (there's plenty of dunes there). If anyone's looking for any sponsorship to carry out this event, I would love to see this happen (however, money is somewhat tight).

    There's the Australian State borders such as Victoria to South Australia, or Queensland to New South Wales, or even Western Australia to the Northern Territory (that last one is even better as the Northern Territory isn't really a state of Australia). There's plenty of International borders in Africa too; say, Algeria into Libya, Egypt into Sudan, Morocco into the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (or Western Sahara if you don't recognise the country), Niger into Mali, Chad into Libya, or any 2 nations that have an international border next to the sand dune complex (or indeed on it).

    If there are any further advancements that a sandboarder can cross into an international border and go over into another country, I'll be hugely impressed, and the first one that does such a thing, films it, and let's me know by comment on this post will receive a free Sandboarding Nation T-Shirt.

    I understand I've been off blogging for a while but I've been focusing on driving as I've recently passed my test so I can do travelling now if I really wanted to, stay on the Sandboarding Nation Twitter and Facebook pages for more updates.