Tungsten Rings Over More Traditional Metals

With the summer just 6 short months away I would imagine many are getting ready for their upcoming summer weddings. Among the prepping wedding bands typically remains to be the last of the final important factors purchased. Traditional metals such as gold and platinum rank the highest in what is typically purchased however there are alternative metals such as tungsten carbide and titanium which are becoming increasingly more popular. Although both metals are unique and durable, tungsten carbide tends to have more lasting power over titanium rings. Tungsten is a durable, heavier metal that has a finish that is virtually scratch resistant and incredibly lustrous in the polished form. Tungsten rings can also be purchased in many style options so that people can wear a unique ring that matches their personality. Below are few of the most popular tungsten ring categories that are currently on the market.

Carved Tungsten Rings: Carved Tungsten Wedding bands are unique in nature where the design is carved into the metal featuring unique designs such as writing or knotwork patterns. The metals can also be carved in a manner where the design is raised from the surface of the ring delivering a 3-dimetional look that would be sure to please. Carved tungsten rings, being a fairly new technology, are found in limited retailers.

Black Tungsten Carbide Rings: Black tungsten rings are popular for those that are more fashion forward and want an alternative style to wear as their forever piece. With colored tungsten the metal is heated up and pleated with the coloring. Colored tungsten also consists of gold plated and the new chocolate coloring. Although colored tungsten is popular and commonly worn as wedding bands it is typically advised not to wear in industries that people are busy with their hands. Colored tungsten Carbide, although extremely durable, can scratch and fade over time.

Hammered or Peened Tungsten Bands: Hammered/Peened finished rings are popular in part due to the unique qualities the rings possess. With Hammered tungsten the metal is repeatedly hit in a hammered pattern giving the ring a rougher look while remaining smooth to the touch. No two rings are alike as they are hand hammered.

Wood and Shell Inlay Rings: Wood and shell inlaid tungsten rings are popular for those seeking a unique ring that is not a traditional style. With both wood and shell the material is inlaid into the rings while remaining protected by tungsten on both sides. The inlay is then coated with a liquid crystal protecting the inlay to everyday wear.

Whatever style that is chosen tungsten will be sure to please. Not only is tungsten durable it is also priced at a lower price point over precious metals.

New Rules for Baseball

OK, so here's the thing; major league baseball needs change. No! No! Wait! Don't go, come back! I promise to make this worth your while. I know that many think of baseball as a good nap wasted, but not me. I'm an enthusiast and need no variations on play. But let's face it, in what other major sport could one leave their seat during a 1-2 count, go to the bathroom, buy 4 hot dogs, a bag of salted dry roasted peanuts, pick up souvenirs and return to their rented vantage point to find the same batter is still there with a 3-2 count. It is not a bad idea to bring some work, a book and certainly one's iPod to the stadium to help pass the time. No sport should need help to pass the time! Well, maybe we can rectify the situation.

What baseball lacks is a.400 hitter. They used to be fairly common and necessary to win the batting title. The reason Ted Williams was the last one is obvious to any student of the game. Look at the gloves used in 1919 (I know that was well before Ted) and the jai lai baskets used today. The first baseman can scratch his ankles with his glove without bending over. Let's go back to a purer sterner form of baseball and limit gloves to actual gloves. No webbings! That would reduce equipment costs. The glove ends at the fingertips, but a player can have all the padding they want. But don't go overboard or it could become like trying to catch a ball with a pillow. Just watch the batting averages and on base percentages soar. Can you say "Hello, Ted Williams"? And if you're apt to say that it is unfair to the fielders, just remember that there were no gloves at all originally.

The center of action of any game is the battery and the batter. The battery is the pitcher-catcher combination. I just wanted to impress you that I know that. Today, the advantage still rests with the pitcher. He doesn't have to throw a ball that is already moving (how would that work?) but the batter has to hit one. The hurler establishes his control of the plate by throwing inside on any batter with the nerve (or base BALLS) to stand too close to home. Sometimes, a "message" is sent by throwing at the head or even deliberately hitting the batter. OK, tit for tat! (Huh, huh; I wrote "tit"). If the pitcher hit's a batter, the batter gets to take one stride from the batters box and chuck his bat at the master of the mound. Let's remember when Mike Piazza's bat shattered and Roger Clemens picked it up and threw it back as the Met catcher ran down the first base line. Piazza would have been justified in picking up the discarded instrument and place it in the pitcher's personal cubby hole. Perhaps "roid" rage could add to the overall action.

And why does the pitcher get to serve up the ball from Mt. Olympus? Is he suppose to be Zeus throwing lightning bolts? Drop the rubber (Huh, huh; I wrote rubber) to the same elevation as the batter. There is a reason why Yankee defenders on Little Round Top had the advantage at Gettysburg. Have you ever had to attack uphill? Colonel Chamberlain's swinging picket fence gate swung downhill sweeping away the Rebel attack. Such is the curveball, aided by the tenth defender in the field; gravity. Chamberlain didn't even have or need ammunition.

What is the catcher doing during all this? Keeping track of the scouting reports on the particular batter at the plate, runners on base, the count, assessing the current skill and fatigue level of his pitcher, the number of outs, what pitch has the highest potential for success, trying to convince the pitcher to accept his assessment (sometimes he even needs to go to the mound to advise), the positions of the 7 other fielders are reassessed with each pitch, trying to catch a 98 mph fastball without getting 43 ounces of hickory in the back of the head or across his catcher's mitt. He needs more to do! Let's make the position even more interactive. The catcher may attempt to grab the bat in the middle of the swing. However, if the pitch gets past him, the runner has the option of staying safe in the batter's box or running for 1st base. If the bat should catch him in the head, well that just shows how bad he wants to win. I realize the potential for injury is great but its about time the position had some responsibilities. No more "takin it easy" for these gold bricks. It may be necessary to expand the rosters by 10 additional players because one can foresee the need for additional catchers.

What is more perfect than the 90 feet from home to 1st base? I'll tell you. Place the first bag 30 feet from home and put it on a track. The batter hits the ball and the moment he leaves the batter's box, the base races down the track for 60 feet at say... 20 miles an hour and then stops. Who wouldn't love to see some of those lazy overpaid superstars finally try and beat out a ground ball. Like they say at the dog races, "There goes Rusty!"At least a 12 year old gives his all. You want hearts and dreams? Go to your local recreation centers.

So, you've managed to survive the hostile environment at the plate. Don't relax just because you're on base. I have some notions about this part of the game as well. If an outfielder catches the ball on the fly, he has the option of waiting for the runner to return to base. Once the runner has returned, he may take a step and a half and throw the ball at the runner on base. If he hits him anywhere but on the head, the runner is out. The runner's defense is to either take off (remember, someone is backing up the throw) or use his head to block the throw. Makes that batting helmet much more functional, don't you think?

What about running the bases? Why should a base grant safety. Let's spice it up a little. We have a runner at 1st and a heavy hitter comes up. The batter hits the ball into the left-center gap. The runner makes 2nd base easily but opts to go for third. Infielders should be allowed to distract the runner by throwing their gloves at him and I mean the infielders he's already passed as well can chase him. Just picture the pitcher, 1st and 2nd baseman running after him, leather flying through the air. The fleet footed runner has to decide whether to raise his arms to protect his face or cover his cup for additional protection. How is he suppose to assess how well the ball is being played? And a shortstop's mitt in the gut should be amusing to the fans. However, this rule would only be allowed if the team in the field is losing. That way, Pirate and Indian fans would enjoy this advantage disproportionately over teams like the Cardinals and Yankees. You have to give the smaller markets some hope.

And what of the fans? They need to interface with the game. In the event of a deep flyball, allow the fans in the stands to (at their own discretion) toss souvenir balls into the air above the player camping under the oncoming sphere. He must not only protect himself but not lose the real ball. Talk about an opportunity to demonstrate concentration.

Let's not leave out the infield and the fans who paid for better seats. A pop fly goes foul and the 3rd baseman moves to the stands in an attempt to catch the ball. Here is where selling beads in the souvenir shop pays off. A young man (thinking quickly) offers his date a string of beads on "Mardi Gras" Day at the ballpark and she accepts in the traditional fashion. Now we'll see either heroic concentration or tragic distraction. Either way, we all win.

Lastly, a little league rule that should never have been removed from the game, the 10 run rule. It should be applied, even at major league level. Seven innings of merciless slaughter is satisfying. After that, it borders on immoral voyeurism.

Well, these changes should make a good start. One important caveat on the topic. Don't apply these rules to minor league or NCAA college ball. I'm thinking the demand for rookies is going to increase dramatically and these replacements will be in high demand. It should shorten careers and lower salaries. How much do you want to bet that it won't result in lower ticket prices? Buck up, boys of summer. More of you are going to make the big show, but fewer will survive it.

John A. Colbert

How To Write Unbiased News Using Content Curation

A large part of today's media makes no real effort to be unbiased, and there is a strong perception amongst many people that the media as a whole is biased towards the left. Being objective and unbiased is certainly not seen as being as important as it used to be, and may even be viewed as a commercial liability.

This is a trend that began with the expansion in the number of news sources available on cable television and then the internet. While there were only a few media outlets editors felt the need to be balanced and appeal to a broad range of people. But today there are many placed people can go to get their news, and many publishers and program makers have abandoned objectivity and balance in favour of targeting a niche audience.

But yet there is still a significant market for unbiased news publishing, and I personally think that the internet provides the perfect platform for providing it. The reason for that is because the internet allows one to be not only a news creator, but also a news curator.

Curation basically involves collecting together a range of selected sources, providing a broad and diverse perspective on a topic, and then presenting them in an attractive and engaging manner. You can compare it to the curator of a museum, who collects a range of artifacts together in order to tell a story and present an accurate picture whatever subject his display is about, and then seeks to present them to the public in a way that is, informative, fair to the subject matter, and also entertaining.

The reason why the internet is so perfect for doing this is because of links. Hyperlinks between documents is really what the web is all about - forget all of the fancy stuff, hyperlinks are the foundation of the world wide web. This means that when you write an article you can easily go to a variety of sources and present a snapshot of a wide range of perspectives on any given subject, along with links that interested readers can use to learn more about any particular position.

When you sit down to do this there is a distinct shift in the way you approach an article. Rather than asking yourself - what can I write about this subject? You instead ask yourself - what are other people writing about this subject? This makes it easy to approach your work in a more unbiased fashion, as well as presenting the facts to the reader in a balanced way.

Four Reasons Why Small Business Fail To Plan and Why They Need To Think Again

It is so widely acknowledged that a robust business plan is one of the key ingredients in small business success, it seems remarkable that anyone serious about their business could considerable it optional. For example, Business Link say, "It is essential to have a realistic, working business plan when you're starting up a business". A recent survey showed that small businesses were twice as likely to be successful with a written business plan as compared with those without one. The Times in their annual round up of 100 up and coming UK businesses suggest that "poor business planning" is a key reason for failure. Indeed, it's almost impossible to find an authority that would advocate the opposite idea, a clear signal that this idea is accepted wisdom. Despite this, a recent survey shows that two thirds of small business owners run their businesses on gut instinct alone.

I had a very interesting discussion about this a couple of days ago with a good friend of mine who has run several successful small businesses in which he posited the idea of a "planning gene". He felt that the only possible explanation for the lack of proper planning in small business was genetic.

According to his theory, the majority of people are born without the "planning gene" and this explains why so many people don't have any written business plan, despite the overwhelming evidence of a high correlation between a robust and vigorously implemented business plan and business success. The majority of us are simply not biologically and genetically wired to plan.

This is certainly one explanation, although I have to say I have a few reservations as to the validity of his theory. I talk with small business owners about planning every day. I'm part of a small business myself. I've owned several small businesses over the last ten years each with varying degrees of success. In all those conversations and all that experience, this was the first (semi) serious discussion I'd had about the planning gene.

If I was to aggregate the results of the conversations I have had with actual and prospective customers on this topic, four distinctive strands emerge explaining why small business owners fail to plan. Whilst I have heard a few other explanations for the lack of effective small business planning, I am treating these as outliers and focusing on the most significant.

I'm Too Busy To Plan - More often than not, the small business owners we talk to tell us that proper planning is a luxury that only big business can afford. For them, business planning, if done at all, was a one-time event that produced a document for a bank manager or investor which is now gathering dust in the furthest recesses of some rarely opened filing cabinet. There just aren't enough hours in the day and if forced to choose, they would do the real, physical work and leave the mental work undone, which seems to be the poor relation at best, if it is even dignified with the status of work at all.

Traditional Planning Doesn't Work - The "I'm too busy to plan" excuse is often supplemented with this one. I've heard the stories of the most legendary construction overrun of all time, The Sydney Opera House, originally estimated to be completed in 1963 for $7 million, and finally completed in 1973 for $102 million, more times than I can remember. Sometimes, this idea is backed up with some actual research, such as the fascinating study by several eminent psychologists of what has been called the "planning fallacy". It seems that some small business owners genuinely believe that mental work and planning is a bit of a con with no traction on physical reality.

My Business Is Doing Fine Without Detailed Planning - A minority of small business owners we speak to are in the privileged position of being able to say they've done pretty well without a plan. Why should they invest time and resources into something they don't appear to have missed?

Planning Is Futile In A Chaotic World - Every once in a while, we hear how deluded we are to believe that the world can be shaped by our hopes and actions. This philosophical objection to planning is perhaps my favourite. It takes ammunition from a serious debate about the fundamental nature of the universe and uses it to defend what almost always is either uncertainty about how to plan effectively or simple pessimism. This is different from the idea that planning doesn't work as these business owners have never even tried to form a coherent plan, but have just decided to do the best they can and hope that they get lucky as they are knocked hither and thither like a steel ball in the pinball machine of life.

As with all of the most dangerous excuses, there is a kernel of truth in each of these ideas and I sympathise with those who have allowed themselves to be seduced into either abandoning or failing to adopt the habit of business planning. Most small business owners feel the same dread in relation to business planning as they do to visits to the dentist, so it's unsurprising that so many simply don't bother. However, by turning their backs completely on planning, they are in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Taking each idea outlined above in turn, I'll attempt to show why business planning is critical, not just despite that reason but precisely because of that reason.

I'm Too Busy Not To Plan - Time is the scarcest resource we have and it is natural that we would want to spend it doing those things that we believe will have the greatest impact. Of course, we want to spend most of our time producing, but we should also invest at least some time into developing our productive capacity. As Stephen Covey pointed out in his seminal work, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", we should never be too busy sawing to sharpen a blunted saw. Planning is one of the highest leverage activities we can engage in, as when done effectively it enhances the productive capacity of small businesses, enabling them to do more with less. Nothing could be a bigger waste of precious time than to find out too late that we have been using blunt tools in pursuit of our business goals.

If we as small business owners weren't so busy and time wasn't so scarce, then we wouldn't have to make choices about what we did with our time and resources. We could simply pursue every opportunity which presented itself. However, for the busy entrepreneur, the decision to do one thing always has the opportunity cost of not being able to do something else. How can we be certain that our business is going where we want it to go without pausing regularly, scanning the horizon and making sure not only that we are on track but also making sure that we still want to get to where we are heading? I believe more time is wasted in the single-minded pursuit of opportunities that are not right than is wasted by over thinking the opportunity of a lifetime.

In short, small business owners are extremely busy and their time is precious. So much so that to waste it doing the wrong things with the wrong tools would be tragic. Small business owners that cannot afford the luxury of making expensive mistakes simply must regularly sharpen the saw through continuous business planning.

Traditional Planning Doesn't Work, So We Need a New Approach That Does - There are some fairly large question marks over the effectiveness of traditional business planning techniques. In an age where business models are becoming obsolete in months rather than years, a business plan projecting five years into the future cannot be viewed as gospel. Nobody has a crystal ball and if they did, they probably wouldn't be writing business plans but using their remarkable predictive powers to some more profitable end.

Dwight D Eisenhower said "plans are useless, but planning is essential". Whilst producing a document called a business plan is far from useless, the real value lies in the process by which the plan is created in the first place. If this process can be kept alive in a business then the dangers associated with traditional planning can be minimised or avoided all together. In an environment of continuous business planning, small businesses can be flexible and adaptive to the inevitable changes and challenges they will face. Rather than quickly becoming obsolete, their plan will simply evolve with the changing circumstances.

Accepting that the plan is a living thing that will evolve necessitates a change of approach to business planning. An effective business plan is the response to the repeated asking of the questions what, why, how, who and how much. It is not a 20 - 30 page form to fill in for the benefit of a bank manager or some venture capitalist, who will probably never fully read it. A business plan should help you, not hinder you, in doing business. If traditional business planning doesn't work for you, it's time to embrace the new paradigm of continuous business planning.

My Business Could Do Even Better With Effective Planning - If you are one of the lucky few whose business has thrived despite an absence of traditional business planning, then I say a sincere well done. I hope that you can say the same thing in five years time.

Business life expectancy in Britain and across Europe and indeed the world are in rapid decline. A study done at the end of the eighties and then again as we marched into the new Millennium showed that life expectancy had more than halved for British businesses in those ten years, from an average of 9.7 years to 4.1 years. Just because a company once enjoyed market leadership does not mean that its future is assured. Many high street institutions have fallen victim to the recent recession. Five years ago it was inconceivable that UK retail institutions like Clinton Cards, Game, Borders, Barratts, T J Hughes, Habitat, Focus DIY, Oddbins, Ethel Austin, Principles, Allied Carpets, Woolworths, MFI and Zavvi/Virgin Megastore would all be either out of business or teetering on the brink of oblivion in 2012. Yet that is exactly what has transpired.

Any business from the smallest to the greatest is not impervious to the winds of change. A new competitor, a technological breakthrough, new laws or simply changes in fashion and consumer preference can all re-write the future of a company regardless of how bright that future once seemed. It is precisely because these risks exist that business planning is critical. To survive in business is extremely hard, but failing to effectively plan for the future or adapt to current realities surely makes it impossible and failure inevitable.

Of course, it is not necessarily the absence of plans that did for these companies but the quality of their plans and most especially the quality of their implementation. Even a poor plan vigorously executed is preferable to the finest planning and research left to rot in a drawer. Continuous business planning is effective business planning because it emphasizes implementation and regular reviews of real results as part of what should be a continual process of improving company performance rather than simply attempting to predict the future and wringing our hands when our prophecy fails to come true. We believe, like Peter Drucker, that the best way to predict the future is to create it.

Planning Is Essential In A Chaotic World - We sometimes feel small and insignificant as we try against all odds to translate our dreams into business reality. It's easy to feel all at sea when we consider some of the challenges we face. However, whilst it is true that we cannot control the direction of the wind, we can adjust our sails and change the direction of the rudder. Difficult and challenging circumstances may come in our lives, but we can control the outcome of these circumstances by choosing which path to take.

The truth is that we are fundamentally achievement orientated as human beings. When this is taken away, we lose much of the energy and motivation that propels us forward. There have been numerous studies carried out on life expectancy rates after retirement, which show that when clearly defined goals and daily action moving in the direction of those goals are removed from our lives, the result is literally fatal. The individuals studied who failed to replace their career goals with a new focus for their retirement simply shriveled up and died. The implications for small business owners are clear. Those business owners with clear goals who take action daily that propels them in the direction of their goals are far more likely to thrive and survive than those who take any old goal that comes along or move from day to day with no defined objective other than survival.

It seems to me that precisely because life is so chaotic and challenging that effective planning is essential. Without continuous business planning, our businesses and the small business owners that work in them may find that bit by bit they are atrophying and on their way to becoming another business failure statistic.

There undoubtedly exists an antipathy for business planning felt by many small business owners. Clearly, this cannot be fully explained by the lack of a "planning gene", but it equally cannot be fully justified by the reasons most commonly put forward by small business owners to not engage in the business planning process. These reasons must be critically re-evaluated and a commitment made to a continual and never ending process of improving the condition of their small businesses. Without such a commitment, the future for small businesses in the UK is uncertain.

A Woman's Guide to Buying a Good, Cheap Used Car (Despite the Sexist Salesmen)

Having been married to a car dealer for many years and also worked a lot in the automotive industry myself, I can offer you a few hints you'll find quite useful if you want to buy a low-cost used car that should give you decent value for your money.

Don't go for a flashy model

Flashy cars that have a cool image are likely to have had the guts thrashed out of them by boy racers and other pond life. Choose a make and model that may be uncool and boring, but will probably have been driven well and cared for properly.

How many miles? Think of a number and triple it

Frankly, to look at the number of miles on the clock is an utter waste of time. Much as it's illegal and everything there can't be a used car dealer in the world who hasn't given cars a "haircut:" trade jargon meaning that the mileage readout has been wound backwards. You're more likely to gauge a car's age by assessing a combination of factors. (See below)

Mileage: a highish one is not necessarily the end of the world

If the car you're after has been a company car and driven by members of the sales force, say, there's a good chance that most of its miles will have been accumulated on motorways (high speed highways), and it will have been serviced regularly. Within reason, such a car may be a better bet than a very low mileage car that's been driven to the mall and back once a week at high revs in low gear and only serviced when the motor was burning blue smoke.

Condition of interior

Although the interior might have been "spivved" i.e. British slang for being cleaned up nicely, you'll still be able to see signs of wear and tear on the dashboard, central console, steering wheel, and also whether the seats feel and look like soggy pancakes. That will tell you more about the age of the car than the outside which could have been resprayed (see below).

Condition of interior - foot pedals

Bearing in mind the general look of the interior, check the foot pedals. If they're as worn as the interior is that's OK, but if they look very new that means they have been replaced. The pedals, condition of interior and mileage should all agree with each other - if they don't, be warned.

Bodywork - all-over paint job

Be guided by commonsense. Too bright and new looking and it's likely to have been resprayed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing if it has been done properly. Open the doors and see if the colour is the same on the panel ends, and check if the inside of the bonnet (hood) reveals any discrepancies. You may also see evidence when you look inside the engine (motor) bay.

Bodywork - paint job here or there

Especially if the car is red or a metallic colour, it's usually very easy to see if one part of the bodywork (e.g. a fender) has been resprayed, suggesting some repaired accident damage, because the colours hardly ever match up exactly. The odd panel that's slightly different shouldn't be a worry because if it has been hit, one panel suggests a minor collision. More than one panel, though, and you should think twice: boot (trunk)/hatch and both rear quarters suggest a hard rear-end impact, and bonnet (hood) plus both front quarters, front panel etc. suggest a front-ender. See engine (motor), below. Another reason for partial respray is that the panel/panels concerned were badly rusted - avoid. Rust comes back again quickly.

Bodywork - filler

If the paint work looks like it's suffering from slight cellulite it could be that damage and/or rust has been "pugged up" (slapped over with stuff that's a little like the products you use before painting your walls) and painted over. This means that, because the metal underneath is damaged, moisture can creep into the cracks and rot the panel underneath the filler. There are two ways to check for filler: 1) tap around the panel with your knuckle or blunt piece of jewellery. The sound will be different on the filled areas. 2) Take a small magnet with you to view the car. It will stick to metal but not to filler.

Bodywork - gaps, creases and wobbly bits

Here's where you really can freak the salesman out because unless he has fairly in-depth knowledge of post-accident damage repair he won't know what the heck you're doing. So smile. Have a slow walk around the car. Stand at one end and look along the roof towards the front. Can you see any dents or slight creases? If you can, it may mean the car has been in a hard collision and the structural integrity could have been compromised. Check the sides of the car for any wavy or wobbly sections which may have been cause by the same thing. Then, look at the gaps between panels - e.g. either side of the bonnet (hood). Are they equal in width? If not, it suggests the bonnet (hood) has been removed. Why? For painting, or because of an accident? Similarly check the gaps either side of the boot (trunk) or tailgate. If they are unequal that suggests a not-too-good repair. Beware of driver and front passenger doors that look saggy on their hinges, especially in a 2 or 3 door car. They'll drop eventually and it may cost quite a lot to fix them.

Drive behind it if you can

This sounds silly, but if you can talk the salesman into driving it up the road with you following behind in your own car. Be sure you or your passenger has a square view of the used car. If it looks like it's going along crookedly or in crab fashion, don't touch it - its chassis may be twisted after a bad collision which could even be dangerous, never mind wearing tyres down at the speed of light. Also, while you're driving behind the car you'll see if it's burning oil (blue smoke, suggesting worn engine/motor) or overheating (white steam) suggesting more mechanical problems.

Engine (motor) bay

Commonsense is key here and you don't have to be a trained technician to see that an engine (motor) bay (compartment) that's covered in filthy oil and muck is likely to have been around the block a few times. Get hold of some soft paper, pull out the dipstick and take a look at the oil level. If it's very low and/or dirty it suggests neglect. Engines (motors) which are run on low and/or dirty oil don't last very long. While you're under the bonnet (hood), check along the sides and back of the area for any evidence of buckling or fresh welding - basically, if one part looks different to the rest, beware.

Get a "mechanic" to check it - worth it?

This depends. If you're only paying a relatively small amount for a used car, one of these all-singing, all-dancing checks by the this-or-that automobile association is going to cost you a lot of money and only really point out all the little niggles that you would expect from a car of that age anyway. If you want to buy the car and you're in the UK, it's well worth saying you'll have it conditional to its passing the UK's MoT test, even if it still has time to run on its previous one. That will pick up any goofs in its emissions which can be expensive to fix and will check brakes and other safety issues.

Check it's not on finance or lease

If the car only appears to have one set of keys and (in the UK) the logbook/V5 and other documentation have been "lost," that could be because it's either on finance or an unfinished lease. If you buy a car in these circumstances you could find yourself minus the car with no comeback on the dealer. Although it may not be worth spending money checking the mechanicals of the car, if you have any qualms about keys and documentation don't touch it without first checking with a company like HPI in the UK, who charge about £20 (USD around $32.00), and there are even free services available. Find the best one for you by Googling "how to check if a car is on finance."

Good luck, and happy motoring!

How to Use a List Builder System to Anticipate Customer Needs

A marketer no matter how well known he or she may be is not endowed with any special, mutant power that allows them to sell products at will. Any marketing muscle that they may wield is solely based off of knowledge of their target customer. Separating yourself from your customer and the outside world of changes,trends, and new ideas will only serve to separate yourself as to what is important to your customer. The result from that will most likely be very low sales numbers, if any.

Before setting ourselves up for failure we would do better to first relax and research. A short amount of study could perhaps reveal to us our clients real, and imagined needs. Throughout the course of our quiet reflection we can begin to shape, marketing material that can trigger our desired response.

What I like to do is take a little quiet time and play a little role reversal. What is like to be my target customer? I have one of my team members as well as myself put my product to a good old fashioned road test. I want to know exactly what problems my customer may encounter. Exactly where he or she may become confused, and/or annoyed. Any complaints, concerns, and beef is first handled by me. I create the first customer support ticket.

I also like to go shopping myself as a customer service spy. I go to different stores online and off, buy different products and gauge my emotions throughout. I actively inspect my own emotions through the buying process. This is great sales intelligence for me to use in my own sales funnel. What exactly was the marketer doing that made for feel good about buying? What exactly was being done for me to have a less than stellar experience? It is then my job to recreate these good feeling within my own sales funnel, whilst eliminating the negative experiences.

It is a part of my personal philosophy to be always networking, whether it be with competitors, customers or partners. I like to look at the buying cycles of my customer base. What exactly are the repeat customers purchasing from me? What does a one time or casual customer buy? What are the requirements of both users? What needs can be addressed to turn a casual customer into a repeat buyer?

Many times I have found that I an emailed by a customer for an unusual or customized request. These are great times to create add-on products that can increase life cycle and revenue. In the past I had looked at these customized product as simply one-offs that I could get paid a premium on.

Here's a 5 syllable word for you: ACCOMMODATING. It simply means to be a service to the customer. I take it personal with a customer, because every person wants to feel valued when parting with their cash. The object is to remain polite, prepared, supportive, and fully engaged through the entire sales process. I want a direct connect between my prospects concerns and goals right to my product and services.

A List Builder system will not build a business for you. A List Builder system allows you to build the business you want. The repeat customer is your meat loaf sandwich better take care of those guys.

I always want my bread and butter well toasted and taken care of. Here's a plan you can implement today to start learning more about your customer needs. Start carrying around some type of note taking tool. And use it whether online or off. Document your feelings and experiences during any marketing or sales cycle you become part of. Be an active participant, look, think, and generate ideas that can recreate those good experiences.

This will take daily practice, a handful of discipline, but it will put money in your alert pay account exponentially.

Selling Cars Effectively

Online selling of cars has been the new trend for car sellers to promote their sales and made this as an option for the shoppers when it comes to buying a specific product. With this, shoppers can be updated with the latest models, high quality auto parts, and the fashionable auto accessories. No matter what item they found, when their enthusiasm for buying the product gets started, they would probably want to have this done quickly. But most of the time, this would be done much longer than expected for the reason of the website's customer service mistakes.

Shoppers oftentimes waste time calling the company's customer service and gets no answer, seek for assistance but no one shows up, and as a result, without reluctance, shoppers then abruptly discard the chosen website and patronize another online store with better services.

The scenario is inevitable and it could happen to your own website any time. There are so many ways to avoid these and one of the techniques to keep away from these problems is to be innovative and link your website to a chat support customer service provider.

According to a survey, about 58% of US consumers said that they prefer to be connected to a customer service using live chat software than an email or a telephone service. This is a manifestation that in this latter day of technology, customers choose chat support system more for the reason of this type of tool gives them a quick response for their questions, immediate answer for their problems, and clear explanation about some issues.

With the chat support system, this could reduce the waiting period of your customer because with just a simple mouse click, they will be effortlessly connected to the chat representatives and can start a conversation with whatever certain topic you communicate because they are well-trained, obedient, and professionally helpful.

Another advantage of the live chat support system is to lessen your operational costs. To employ a telephone support costs thousands of dollars a month. In contrary to that, live chat support system only cost for as low as $120/month. That's a lot savings, thus, your car dealer company acquires more and more profit.

It's long been known that a good business provides good customer service to retain its reputation and have the tendency to prolong the subscription of the customers and continue their patronage. This is the greatest benefit that your car dealing business can attain using live chat support. It is generally the goal of this quick, easy, and reliable customer service provider. It could provide a great, satisfying-service to your clientele and leave your customers happy and contented with the result of their access to your own website.

With almost every competition of your business have this modern style of customer service, what fuss are you waiting for when you can have the easy yet helpful customer service, too? Don't get left behind, and attract those customers not only with what you are selling but with your customer service as well. Provide them the best yet the most economical help line for your business.

Ideas for Unique Gifts - Ogami Notebooks and Others

We all love receiving and giving gifts because gift-giving is one popular ritual that people of all ages, faiths, and races love to follow. This ritual helps you win new friends and bring your old friends even closer to you.

Here is our list of unique gift items:

Ogami Notebooks

Are you looking for a gift for someone who loves to write? Someone who is an intellectual and loves to read through quotes? Well, if you just said yes to these questions then you have just found what you have been looking for.

Ogami notebooks are medium sized notebooks with extraordinary graphics on the cover page. The cover of each notebook carries a unique quotation. Pick one that you think goes well with the temperament of the person you are buying it for. These notebooks are perfect for daily journal writing, recording meetings and appointments, office use, and so on.

Wall Hanging

If you are looking for something really unique and memorable then why not bring the creative artist in you out and start some creative work? Make a unique photo wall hanging for your friends or family and make them feel special.

The wall hanging is extremely simple to create - you just need to paste the receiver's photos on a board. Be sure to warp the board first with a beautiful colored paper so that it gives a spick and span look.

A Wrist Watch - Time is precious!

Ever since mobile phones have become common, the trend of wearing wrist watches has somewhat faded away. People rely more on cell phones for checking time, rather than on wrist watches. On your boyfriend's next birthday, gift him a beautiful wrist watch. Nothing can really replace these - wrist watches look decent and elegant. They are a symbol of fashion and status. This will make a perfect pick for men and women!

A Bed Set

If you are given a choice between money and peaceful sleep, what would you choose? I know everyone would take money at first but if you give it a little thought you would realize that money is only of secondary importance when it comes to a peaceful sleep. So, why not help your friends and family have a peaceful sleep? Gift them a comfortable pillow with a very soft and warm quilt. This will always remind them of you when they go to bed at night and when they come out of it in the morning.

Ultimate Guide to Champagne Coupe Glasses

Champagne coupe glasses are old school stemware for classic cocktails, champagne and other sparkling wines. The petite glasses were popular from 1930's through to the 1960's. Read on the article to know more about Champagne Coupe Glasses.

Champagne coupe glasses were long invented for champagne use in 1663 before the rein of the queen in England. The glasses have a bowl that rises straight up but are flat at the bottom. The broad surface area of the glasses is shaped as a shallow saucer. The coupe glasses can be used for numerous traditional occasions. You can find this type of vintage stemware being used in celebratory events such as wedding receptions. They can be stacked up easily to form a glass tower for pouring champagne from the top glasses to the ones below. To successfully build a tower, ensure the coupe glasses are identical.

The popularity of the glasses had dropped significantly due to a number of reasons. The shallowness of the bottom can allow champagne bubbles to escape. Furthermore, the glasses may not be suitable for very dry champagne. However, they can be ideal for sweet tasting wine. Currently, persons may prefer to use the glasses to serve cocktails instead of champagne. Persons looking to appreciate the aroma and bouquet of quality champagne may find the glasses less satisfactory due to their shape.

However, the old collection of glasses has become fashionable again to serve chocolate pudding and ice cream other than cocktails. The glasses are easy to hold and maneuver due to their small size. The iconic glasses are strengthened to brave the rigidity of the hospitality industry. You may find a collection that is dishwasher safe as well. Home owners and professional bartenders may use the glasses to serve various drinks to their guests and customers respectively. The glasses can make drinking fun and accessible. Furthermore, the glasses can exhibit other characteristics such as trendy, stylish, cheerful, glamor and upscale.

If you are looking for quality coupe glasses for cocktails or champagne, you can choose from a wide selection. There are extensive range of glasses that includes delicate colors such as green, golden amber, orange and gold. The champagne saucer glasses are also available in various styles and designs. Some are French-footed while others are designed with delicate engraving. The timeless detailing of the glasses can grace any occasion with old time elegance. Persons drinking from the glasses can enjoy much pleasure from their drinks.

You can purchase your champagne coupe glasses from various sources including the Internet, vintage stores, thrift stores and flea markets. The glasses are available in varying quality and prices. When looking to buy the glasses, you can consider the quality of the materials. This ensures your glasses are only made using materials that are of high quality and ensure durability. Other qualities to look for when buying coupe glasses include brilliance, clarity, chip resistance, capacity, care and storage. Those that are flat and rounded at the bottom are ideal for your glass to stand freely. Couple glasses may also come in different weights. Some may be heavier and have thicker bases than others. You may also want to consider if you want personalised champagne coupe glasses to suit any important event.

Rite of Passage - The Massive Challenges Facing Young Adults With Autism

For centuries every generation has looked forward with great anticipation to the day of personal emancipation. Reaching adulthood signals a time of personal freedom for adolescents around the world. Having the freedom to come and go as one pleases is the ultimate accomplishment for young adults. However, not all young people are transitioning well into an adult world full of hope. The first wave of young people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder is now entering adulthood with more questions than solutions. It is estimated 1.5 million people in the United States have some form of autism. The number explodes to somewhere between 5-10 million worldwide, depending on access to public health records. Although several theories related to what causes autism have been presented, there is still no conclusive medical evidence identifying a cause.

The current employment outlook for autistic adults is dismal. Some analysts estimate the unemployment rate for adults with autism spectrum disorder to be as high as 70%. Clearly, the need to educate employers and political leaders regarding the benefits of hiring members of this group is exigent. As societal norms have changed, the expectations for autistic adults to live fully inclusive independent lives have also risen. Working is one of the cornerstones upon which adulthood is built. The unique skills and abilities individuals on the spectrum possess are needed in today's high tech global environment. For example, many positions require great attention to details, exceptional computer skills, and may involve telecommuting or working from a remote location. These are areas of strength for most people with autism. Moreover, the twenty-first century job market is results driven, which leads to the need for intense bottom line oriented focus. The type of focus needed in many instances requires greater intensity over shorter periods of time, or "productivity bursts". In a study conducted by a European employment firm, the results indicated autistic employees use the same amount of energy in 25 hours that typical employees spend in 40 hours. But autistic employees expended energy in a dramatically different fashion from typical associates. The autistic group worked for shorter periods of time fully focused on the tasks at hand with few interruptions or a need for socializing. Typical employees, on the other hand, spent more time on social activities such as telephone calls, sending e-mails, and texting.

The other major life changing event that symbolizes the transition to adulthood is living independently. The need for residential housing for adults on the Autism spectrum will grow exponentially over the next quarter century. As parents age, caring for adult daughters and sons at home may no longer be a viable option. The cost of health care will continue to rise, thus making home care extremely difficult for many families with strained financial resources. Moreover, parents may have health related issues themselves that preclude caring for an adult child with special needs. Keep in mind the emerging autistic adult population will live with parents in most cases until the death of a parent or the child occurs. Group homes will be the most popular, and affordable, choice to meet the growing demand for special needs housing. However, stricter enforcement of regulatory standards is needed in community based settings to ensure compliance. It should be noted not all autistic adults will live in small community based facilities or at home with parents. Some will choose to live in more structured environments such as assisted living and supportive living communities.

The evolution of long term care will continue to grow as the industry adapts to the sensibilities of residents on the autism spectrum. There are two distinctive features that make autism care facilities of the future different from the current model. First, the average age of residents will be much younger than the population of traditional nursing homes. Following years of declining birth rates, and delayed conceptions, the result is a generation of children with older parents. Further, the support network of the nuclear family unit is no longer present for many families - making a residential care facility the most appealing option.

The most daunting challenge for most parents is providing for the long term financial needs of their special needs child. In view of the tenuous nature of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid it is crucial that families have a solid plan going forward. Working with a financial planner specializing in special needs is growing in popularity. The professional guidance provided by experts in this area covers issues over the course of a lifetime such as medical, transportation, socialization, and career options. In addition, many families are establishing special needs trusts as a means of ensuring future financial security. Special needs trusts are not without flaws as they can be restrictive and expensive to fund. The important decisions made today will impact the quality of life for an autistic child for years to come. As awareness grows, our response to this segment of the population must also evolve before we can encompass the true meaning of inclusiveness. Yet, the standard is not compromised in giving every young adult the opportunity to pursue their dreams. That is the true meaning of freedom.

What Does Not Change?

It is generally known that this is an ever-changing universe. Each and every thing we see and all the events we observe are in a state of constant flux. Even the simplest of stable particles, i.e. Photon has oscillating electric and magnetic fields. Even in the transcendental or meta-physical Zero, inherent instability or oscillations have to be postulated to explain origin of nature and universe.

So even things and events that appear to be constant and stable, are often in a state of constant flux. In 'Zero' oscillations are essential to explain origin of particles and antiparticles constituting material universe and black holes respectively, from null. In Photons oscillating electric and magnetic fields are essential to resolve existential dilemma paused by Laws of Energy Flow (Generally known as Laws of Thermodynamics). Magnetic energy being non-conducting is a relief from energy flow and therefore conversion of electric energy into magnetic energy prevents its dissipation by conduction or energy flow. Therefore it is true that even to keep existence anything has to constantly change.

Atoms and molecules are in a state of constant oscillation in accordance with their energy content. Gas molecules are perpetually in Brownian motion. All the celestial bodies are constantly moving in their elliptical orbits and spinning around their axis. All this is essential, to keep existence.

So there arises a question that in this ever-changing universe is there anything that is constant and if so than what is it?

The answer to this question is 'yes' because there are many things even the nature can't afford to change if nature and universe were to keep their being, identity, integrity and progressive evolution. This is also essential if scientific knowledge has to remain meaningful. Some of such things are as under:-

1. Natural Laws do not change from time to time and from one place to another. Natural laws are constraints with in which nature has to exist and function and so natural law are the basis of natural order and hence, natural laws discipline 'change'. To effectively discharge their functions natural laws can't vary with time and place. Ever changing natural laws are bound to lead to disorder or chaos as a result of different material entities changing differently in uncoordinated manner thus precipitating chaos.

Constancy of natural laws is the basis of uniformitarian thought widely prevalent even in the contemporary society. Charles Lyell, the pre-eminent exponent of uniformitarianism, in the early 19th century published first volume of his great work Principles of Geology Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface by Reference to Causes now in Operation. His work convinced most of the contemporary scientists about validity of Uniformitarian thought.

Constancy of natural laws is a founding principle for science because in a universe endowed with ever-changing natural laws, scientific predictions of past, present and future are bound to go haywire leading to demise of science. If particular Photons are not stable, which to astronomers are predictors of conditions prevalent at the time of origin of universe, than they can no longer be treated as representatives of conditions of their origin.

'Zero' remains a 'Zero' despite being in a state of flux and a Photon that presumably originated at the point of origin of universe, preserves its characteristic energy content, frequency and wave length over a period of billions of years until it is absorbed. Therefore scientific theories which advocate chaos preceding origin of universe and order after the Big Bang call for hysterical dissociation of beliefs. Therefore Big Bang Theory even if justifiable from one particular stand point, needs to explain as to how chaos can ever lead to order without external intervention of mythic proportions? The same is true of other natural laws.

Even in Biological domain life originating in accordance with RNA world hypothesis and then transforming to DNA based life forms is a highly improbable event.

Therefore, it is essential that to explain cosmic phenomena comprehensively, constancy of natural laws should be kept in mind. One should desist from entering into a universe that does not follow its own rules. This also implies that natural laws that led to origin and evolution of nature and universe must be as effective today as in the past. So universe must still be growing and evolving.

What can really change about natural laws is human understanding of natural laws. It may be imprecisely defined today and precisely defined later on with improved understanding.

2. Nature of Things does not change in their basal state or state of rest. However, observed nature of things is subject to conditions of their existence and can vary non-linearly from one set of conditions to another. Therefore properties of matter and various forms of energy can't vary across cosmos.

This is essential for the purpose of behavioral uniformity and consistency and permits science to predict things and events in past, present or future.

3. Human nature about emotions, relationships, intellect and biological needs does not change with changing times. Changing times may lead to cultural change redefining ways and means people use to meet their ends but this does not change innate human nature or the ends.

Therefore cultural change brought about by technical advances, economic advances, changing trends in fashion etc. do not alter innate human behavior and fundamental needs. Only means change but not goals and objectives. However this is subject to one exception, i.e. behavioral change brought about by mental training, education and experience.

Therefore generation gap is in reality generation conflict brought about by differences in needs and perceptions of different age groups. Older generation often trying to protect younger generation from mistakes they have committed, on the basis of their hard-earned experience whereas younger generation is interested in learning from their own experience and experimentation.

In my opinion, the best course of action for older generation in a conflict situation is to allow younger generation to learn by self experience and bear with them until then. This may be a better way of keeping relationships intact.

If You Are Not Enjoying It, Do What You Enjoy

Statistics about unhappy employees vary significantly from 19% to 60% plus, as do the perceived reasons why. But even at 25%, independent of the reason, this is a significant number of people who spend most of their day engaged in stuff they do not enjoy.

As an example, according to Gallup Q12 survey, "26 percent of U.S. workers 18 or older are extremely satisfied with their work, 55 percent moderately satisfied, and 19 percent are dissatisfied by their work. That 19 percent represent 24.7 million U.S. workers who are not committed to their jobs, are working below their potential and don't plan to be with the company in a year. They also miss more days of work and report having high negative stress." [Dissatisfied workers: a multi-billion dollar industry. By John Burke, Bankrate.com]. That is, 74% not completely satisfied.

"It comes as no surprise to learn from a study published this week that, although Britons are twice as rich as they were in 1987, they are no happier," according to The Telegraph!

Happiness is a simple equation!

It is my observation that apparently, we spend a large portion of our day involved in activities that do not give us pleasure and at worst give us great displeasure, and in an effort to justify this we do even more of what we do not enjoy to earn more money. Examples include overtime and taking on even more responsible roles in environments that make us very unhappy.

Of course we need that extra money to buy more of those things that "promise" to make us happy. Bigger car, bigger house, more houses, more cars, travel, more gadgets we do not need, branded fashion items that tell the world that we have made it, etc. These are just a few examples.

So the equation is simple. We spend our life in a viscous cycle, doing those things we do not enjoy to generate enough money to then do those things that have that allure of happiness, as marketed in movies, songs and those pesky product ads.

The equation is simple mathematics that patently points-out a better way. It goes like this:

Place all the excesses in your life on one side of the equation. Come-on you know what they are, I mentioned some of them above. Be absolutely merciless about this and no, you cannot hide that extra iPad mini when you already have the 2 previous generation iPads sitting in that drawer, include them! Once you have ruthlessly included everything that is not absolutely necessary in your life, (including travel), then sum the yearly costs of these and deduct them from your collective salaries of your household. Take a lower paying role that makes you happy. (See "Your passion and purpose" section below).

Yes, you might think this a naive concept, but stay with me, read on...

Statistics track perceived realities, which are not necessarily real!

There is much new understanding about family-of-origin and related psychology. Leaders like Pia Mellody and Shirley Smith have done a lot of good work in this area, that I believe are branches of Carl Jung's work that also led to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a popular psychometric instrument. Jung considered individuation, the psychological process of integrating the opposites, including the conscious with the unconscious while still maintaining their relative autonomy, to be the central process of human development.

It is my view that statistics deal with the conscious. In statistics, people are asked for their views and on the basis of the results, conclusions are drawn. So, for example, if you ask an unhappy employee why they are unhappy, there is a high likelihood that the responses would include; not enough money, bad manager, company culture, etc... It is highly unlikely that they would respond, I am unhappy in this job and effectively most jobs in my career because I made a bad career choice, or because I am compromising myself for money. Probably you are thinking right now, what a whole lot of victim talk. Well maybe, but I beg to disagree.

Such is the brainwashing that goes-on from the early days of our lives, (effectively rail-roading a naturally perfect human being into an unhappy corporate creature), that in most cases, we unconsciously follow the beaten path and subconsciously hate most of our existence. Because it is subconscious, we are not aware of it and merely see the symptoms such as, depression, suicide, alcoholism, addiction, crime, etc. But even then, we make the person wrong, give them drugs or lock-them up and pretend all is OK. Again, this is all happening at a subconscious level and we are not aware of this pretense and our Ego (conscious self) feels OK about itself.

Your passion and purpose

But don't despair, there is a better way. Back to our simplistic and even naive equation above. For it is easy to postulate that there is a better way without recommending options/visions. Play along with me for a while, even humor me.

In my introduction, I suggested that in your equation, you should eliminate any non-essential expenses including travel, luxury cars, etc... Now here is the clincher.

It is simple but not easy!

The trick is to separate your passion from your Ego stroking. What I mean is in those things that you found so difficult to remove from that equation to bring your costs down, which are the ones that are truly your passion. How do you know? Those things that are truly your passion, give you that beautiful childlike warmth, you smile when you think of them. Your whole being lightens-up when you think about them. They are not about how others see you (Ego), they are about how you feel inside, independent whether others know about it. Once you have found that gem(s), engage yourself in them, whole-heartedly. It gets even more challenging,; you might get a sense of guilt (as if you do not deserve these little luxuries) and often, this sabotages our life and keeps us slave to our corporate-centric existence. But stick to it. Talk about it with those people who you know will support this part of you. Engage with people and associations that are aligned with your passion. Do it for more than 30 days in a row, independent of what "noise" comes-up to distract you. When you start doubting yourself, make a few calls to those that support you. Fake it till you make it.

For example, if Travel is your thing, do research as if you are going travelling. Start a Blog. Give free advise to friends. Join online travel sites that require feedback and write your thoughts.

Eventually, it will become your new normality. Before you know it, it might even become your new line of work. It might even mean you have to give-up your day job... Who knows. Have faith.

Is that what you really want for your kids, or is that your fear that you are imposing on your kids?

Reading this, parents will certainly feel a level of dismay, even anger that somebody would consider suggesting, in an article aimed at Leaders, that we should eliminate basic luxuries and consider earning less! "And how do I pay for my children's education" I hear you say in exasperation. "I have to give my kids the best education money can buy if they stand a chance in this cut-throat life we live in!" you might add. Well you might not say these exact words, but if you do or even if you feel this type of sentiment, consider the last statement in quotes. Is that what we are training our kids for? Is this really the best future we can hope for, for our kids, the next generation. Or is this extreme focus on "education" coming from our fears. Again, unfortunately this happens at a subconscious level. At a conscious level we are thinking that this is the best future we can plot for our kids, logically! We love our kids and want the best for them. Get in touch with that childlike voice inside you; the one that knows where your passion lies and ask that voice, what the real future you wish for your kids looks like. I am sure the answer will be something like, "I want my kids to have a happy, fulfilled life, full of everything they desire".

But then, immediately, fear comes-up, Ego takes over with statements like, "Grow-up, this is not real, this is just a romantic childish notion".

Childish is not the same as childlike. Childlike is our passion and purpose. Childish is the fear that requires to build that Ego that protects us in this big bad world. I just remind you that most of the Leaders we have come to admire are high-school drop-outs; Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, etc... They just followed their childlike passion! Isn't that what you want for your kids, abundant happiness and financial abundance... And that might well be a corporate career or not! Either way, as long as thet innate passion and purpose is respected and encouraged, the objective is achieved.

Now let's get honest

OK, we all want to be seen to be successful, right? Wrong! This is the crux and the answer.

The need for external promotion of "I have a Mercedes (and I am not knocking car-lovers, it is my passion too), so I am successful," is actually a camouflage for insecurity and fear. Fear is at the base of Ego. The opposite of Ego is purpose and passion. When one is in their purpose and passion and as Sir Ken Robinson calls it, our Element, one does not need to externally promote how successful one is. One just is! In our Element, we are happy, content, complete and those around us see it, feel it and benefit from it. The alternative is what society seems to have chosen; to be a slave of the tax system and those banks that continue to rob your money away.

As a Leader, whether that is a Leader of an organisation or a mum, it is your responsibility to act now to bring real lasting happiness to yourself, your organisation or your family.

Your choice.

Something's Up With Edgefield - Edgefield, South Carolina

"Are you making all this fuss over me?"

Strom Thurmond

While traveling on business through South Carolina on State Route 19 from Aiken up through Edgefield I came upon a place that was totally unexpected. Each day I would drive through the town on State Route 25 which passes through the town square which reminds me of a cross between the town featured in the movie "Doc Hollywood" and the square in the Spielberg film "Back to the Future" where Marty has to somehow generate 1.2 Jigawatts of energy and channel it into the "Flux Capacitor" so he can get back home.

There were several monuments in the town square and a stately old Courthouse on the North West corner. I kept telling myself that I was going to stop and read what was inscribed on those monuments one day after work. I finally got my chance on the last day that I was there and I discovered a community unlike any other that I have ever visited. I discovered a town where exploration, industry, war, agriculture, slavery, bigotry and feudal honor had been swirling in a vortex seemingly since the founding of the town back in the late 1700's.

Thinking it would be a short and simple stop on my way back to Aiken after a long week of work, I parked my vehicle at the town square, grabbed my camera and went to quickly read the inscriptions on the monuments. My first stop was the Egyptian type obelisk located in the center of the square. Apparently it was dedicated to the incredible sacrifice the men of the community made during the Civil War.

Another granite marker told of 10 South Carolina Governors that the Edgefield area produced. It struck me as very odd that a tiny town like this could have projected such an influence on the rest of the State by sending so many of its men to the Governor's mansion. The lawns of this beautiful little town square were so green, trim and neat it seemed as if the greens keeper from Augusta was attending to the details himself.

I walked from the granite "Governor's" marker over to a bronze statue of a man facing the Courthouse. This statue was of the most famous and influential Governor and State Senator ever to come out of South Carolina - Strom Thurmond. I was now very interested as this little park held some serious significance.

The next stop was the courthouse. Atop the triumphant marble steps of this imposing old structure with white doric columns you have a fine view of the entire town square. I stopped a moment to observe, photograph and appreciate a scene of the south that to me was so foreign, being a westerner and all.

I descended the steps and noticed that there were some historical plaques on the side of the building. One in particular caught my eye and it was an ornate plaque placed in 1919 dedicated to the memory of the men from Edgefield who gave their lives in the First World War. It was very odd to see the names broken down into two categories - white men and colored men. It was a stark reminder of the tangled web of the politics and bigotry of slavery and continued animosity after the great war between the States that is still apparent just beneath the surface in so many parts of the south.

I walked through the portico under the courthouse steps and read a plaque about how a shooting occurred on that very spot taking the life of a man named Bird due to a dispute between locals. Apparently, a man's name and honor was a huge thing back in the day in Edgefield and if you impugned a man's honor or reputation, the Code Duello, a set of rules for a duel, would be initiated and you would shoot it out in the street.

The next plaque was quite disturbing as it told the tale of one "Becky Cotton- The Devil in Petticoats" 1765-1807, a beautiful seductress who murdered her husband in a brutal fashion by burying an axe in his head while he slept. According to legend, the all male jury in her trial was so taken with her charm and beauty that they acquitted her even though they had no doubt she committed the crime. Some say she went on to marry twice more and that she killed both of those husbands as well and threw their bodies in Slade Lake.

She was finally killed by her own brother after she was once again acquitted by the jury. The plaque on the courthouse states that the "Devil in Petticoats" was killed by her brother, who was disgusted by her behavior - he crushed her skull with a rock on the courthouse steps and then made his escape on a horse and rode west.

Very creepy yet interesting tale. Later in the day I explored Slade Lake and followed the "10 Governors Trail" which is a paved path from Slade Lake to Main Street that follows the old rail road grade and crosses Highway 25 on an old train trestle. This is a beautiful trail that has a granite marker every tenth of a mile - on these markers you will find information about all 10 Governors who came from the Edgefield area.

As I walked by Slade Lake in the waning golden light of late afternoon I thought of Becky Cotton. I looked down into the murky water and wondered if Becky actually did throw her husband's corpses in there and if there are such things as ghosts, if they - and Becky still haunted the place.

Continuing on from the Courthouse I walked past the old black smiths shop where locals tell me for over 100 years, the town blacksmith has been on duty. Behind this shop is St. Mary's Catholic Church and it is a wonderful old grey granite structure. I took a walk through it's cemetery and noted several graves of confederate soldiers.

I walked back to the town square and noticed a cat inside a store window - lazily sleeping on a rocking chair. There were a bunch of cats just lounging around various places in the town. I looked at another historic plaque on a building just down the walk from the corner store.

This plaque told of the "Booth - Toney" shootout of 1878 where on that very spot, there was a gunfight between these two families that had a blood feud running back to 1869 when Benjamin Booth killed Luther Toney. There were more than 40 shots fired and when the smoke cleared - 3 men lay dead around the Edgefield town square - one in front of the public library.

By this time I was thinking to myself "What is up with Edgefield???" so much violence and fighting in such a small town. I stopped next at the old Tompkins library which houses the Edgefield Welcome Center and Genealogical Society. By this time I was fascinated with the history of the place so I bought several books on the history of Edgefield and one on the history of Company K - 14th South Carolina Volunteers.

I talked with the gentleman there for a bit and then made my way down a back alley to the old Edgefield Pottery building where I heard and exhaustive history of pottery making out of Red South Carolina Clay by the gentleman there who obviously loves his work. Apparently, Edgefield is famous for it's clay and the pottery that is made from it.

I was hungry by this time so I went over to "Park Row Market No. 1" on the corner of Main street and the Courthouse Square. I ordered up a turkey and pepper jack panini with chipotle sauce and it was outstanding. This building is cool in itself as it housed a general store in Edgefield since 1852 and much of the interior of the place is just as it was back in the day.

It was a warm quiet evening and there was a gentleman playing guitar there and singing. When he dived into Jimi Hendrix' "Little Wing" pulling off a great acoustic rendition, I knew I was going to stay awhile so I got a brew and elbowed up to a bench on the boardwalk in front of the store and commenced to munching my sandwich and observing the courthouse square as the sun went down.

So much interesting history took place in this tiny well manicured town square. It is impossible to capture it all in this short article and I'm sure if there are any mis-representations, I will hear about it from the Historical Society of Edgefield. Hopefully, the Code Duello will not be initiated as I will gladly correct any mistakes!

As I drove away from Edgefield passing by the peach orchards and pines with Stone Temple Pilots jamming on the radio it was as if I was in Marty's De Lorean and I was heading "Back to the Future". If you ever want to get a glimpse of the old south, Edgefield is a most amazing little slice in the up country of South Carolina. It is well worth a visit.

Area Rugs For The Connoisseur

Area rugs have had an increasing impact on all fields of interior design, no longer being just the hand-stitched oriental piece of high art, the use of them has been extended to schools, offices, to even daycare centers. It is the precious softness of this special rug that sells, as well as the luxurious background of it, even though they have become more accessible in more affordable price ranges.

Still, however, there are those top of the line rugs, the diamonds of the trade so to speak, that would make the budget of just your average Joe to crumble into pieces, but that the big spender chooses as a centerpiece in front of his Aspen fire-place. That is when the rug has ceased to be something you just put on the floor, and has grown into an art installation, and also a good investment.

A Whiff Of The Orient

The up-scale rugs come in different styles, based on traditions stemming from days long, long ago. And the most tradition bound rug of them all, is of course the one stemming from the orient. The image of this type of rug as something larger than life has been with us since we first heard stories from "A Thousand And One Nights", were robber barons and flying carpets were as common as apples and oranges.

The handicraft in itself has also its roots in the oriental soil, and the technique of manufacturing them were only spread to Europe with homecoming crusaders with a taste for the fine things in life.

The European Cousin

The European variety leaned of course heavily on influences from the orient, but European manufacturers also added their own flavor to the table, and tried to beat the original rugs with a richness in the ornamentation that nobody had previously seen the likes of. They were also well-known for nature motifs, and adding architecture as a great influence to both motifs and the ambiance of their rugs.

The Modern Day Rug

There are a lot of collections nowadays focused on fusing the traditional with inspiration taken from our modern society, and all the exciting movements and trends when it comes to fashion and art, and yes, even music. All of these extra spices are added to the traditional stew of manufacturing, and with this exciting and creative environment, new styles and directions emerge.

The connoisseur can sometimes be seen frowning upon these new styles, as they on a quick glance can seem to not respect the traditions from which they stem. But going beneath the surface of a pattern that for the untrained eye can seem almost disrespectful, they live up to the same standards and adhere to the old traditional ways of manufacturing.

But it is the diversity of rugs that make them so appealing, and we do want those high-end rugs out there, even if they for most of us, will never be anything more than a beautiful dream. The truth of the matter is, area rugs will never go out of style.

Big Goals? Bum-Glue Will Get You There

Ever wanted to write a book? Your posterior may hold the key.

Best-selling Australian novelist Bryce Courtney once gave the most useful advice I've ever heard for completing big projects and achieving grand-scale goals. At a luncheon in Johannesburg, he was asked the question: "What is the single most important quality for an author who wants to write a book?" In response, he offered just two simple words of wisdom: "Bum-glue!"

Sound mildly disturbing? How exactly does your rounded posterior plays its part in getting you to your goals? And, um... what's with the glue?

Bryce Courtney is simply saying that in order to be highly productive, and to see large-scale projects through to completion, the most important thing is to sit down each day, block out the world, and earnestly and honestly slog away at it. Come rain, sunshine or extreme boredom. And while his advice was aimed at writers, the wisdom applies in any industry. Writing a novel may require thought, planning and strategy. But the most important thing is simply to write, and write, and write. Bryce Courtney is referencing a quality that has become popularly known as 'stick-to-it-tiveness'.


As 2005 faded in the rear-view mirror, I wrote my own book to completion using this principle. This was my process: I set myself a goal of writing 2 000 words, minimum, per working day, and I stuck to it religiously. If I wrote more than my required allotment on any given day, this did not exempt me from my 2000 words the next day.

By sticking to this simple theory of keeping my bum in my chair before my PC, I was surprised how swiftly 50 000 words - a workable book - manifested.

It was often mundane devoting such large blocks of time to a single project. But once it was done, it felt wonderful.

Writing your own book can be a significant step forward in positioning yourself as an industry expert. It can help you to take a quantum leap forward in your career.


These days, we are all well-acquainted with the adage: Work smarter, not harder. But sometimes it's not about being strategic or trying to find clever innovations. Sometimes it's just about allocating a certain amount of time each day, consistently, to putting your bum in a chair and doing some good old fashioned hard slog.

A great number of people believe that they will someday write a book, start a company, work for themselves, or study for a new degree. I have at least one close friend who has spent the last seven years telling me about the technical course he plans to do, which, when completed, will result in a promotion for him. By December, he will have been talking about it for eight years. He's not aware of it, but he's been talking, and not doing, for the better part of a decade now. That's about one-eighth of his potential lifespan.

What's holding you back? Could it be that all you need is a little sticky stuff on the chair while the clock ticks merrily away?


If you are serious about goal-setting, allocate a decent amount of time each day to your task. And none of that nonsense about waiting for inspiration to hit! The Russian classical composer Tchaikovsky used to say that his job was to be creative, so he would wake up first thing in the morning, and see to it that he produced creative work. French novelist Victor Hugo lived by the same principle, instructing his staff to keep his pants away from him until he had earned them back!

This could be your year to start living a truly remarkable and distinguished life. It is my sincere wish that your conscience will no longer allow you to think of your dream-goals as things you'll do 'one day,' but rather, that you will start to allocate time each and every day to your purpose. And as you work toward it, may you know and enjoy the mighty power of bum-glue!

Executive Search and Candidate Sourcing Through Employee Referrals

When a position opens up at a company and it is time for employers to start sourcing candidates to interview, there exists a wide variety of potential mean for them to do so.From job posting sites to social media networking, career fairs and industry specific events, there are dozens of methods by which companies can reach out and draw in potential candidates.

However, one of the most effective executive search techniques available also happens to be one which many companies have a tendency to overlook; that being through the use of employee referral programs.Just as companies can develop their own professional networks, what many employers tend to forget is that each of their existing employees has their own network of professional friends and acquaintances, networks which companies can tap into to great effect, offering even greater potential results than those available via the internet.

An employee referral program functions simply and elegantly to entice employees to reach out through their personal networks to recommend potential candidates for the company's sourcing and hiring procedures.More often than not this is done with the greatest success given the understanding that, should an employee's recommendation prove fruitful, they will be rewarded in one fashion or another for their assistance. The success of this technique draws on the fact that the employees who would be making these recommendations already have a solid understanding of the company, its inner working, the requirements of the job in question, as well as that company's corporate culture, and can therefore make recommendations with all of these factors in mind, meaning that the individuals they recommend will have a greater likelihood of being an ideal match in each of these respects.

When it comes to a successful employee referral, companies can take a few different approaches to rewarding those employees responsible for the referral.These options can range anywhere from nonmonetary rewards and recognition, to substantial referral bonuses of thousands of dollars. Deciding what route to take in applying rewards will vary widely depending on the company's means and the extent to which they value the referral made. However, still other companies have chosen to forgo any kind of reward system, instead opting to rely on a corporate culture which prompts its employees to submit referrals of their own volition, in return for which they will receive some kind of recognition from the company.

The executive search and candidate sourcing process can be a difficult one, particularly given the current state of the job market following the past decade of economic disorder, now having become saturated with under qualified candidates all scrabbling for any position they can find despite their unsuitability. To counteract this new complication employers now need to become more efficient than ever before when it comes to their hiring efforts, as failing to do so could mean wasting a great deal of time and resources on the company's part in trying and failing to fill a vacant position, or doing so only to have the chosen individual turn out to be a less than ideal match. Carried out successfully, employee referral programs can help to assuage all of these difficulties, streamlining the hiring process to make it as effective and efficient as possible.

The Unreliability of History

It is a truism to state that most of human history has not been written down--and that which has been has ordinarily been falsified, exaggerated, distorted and simplified for a variety of non historical purposes. Michel Foucault demonstrated how history up until the Enlightenment was basically monarchical, seeing everything in simple linear terms; the monarch was the ruling power and historians wrote with the intention of glorifying him. After the Enlightenment, Foucault suggests, our more modern concern with underlying trends appeared. However, according to Foucault, this was with the intention of empowering the aristocracy who had been sidelined by the church and the King. The aim of exposing this hidden history was to show the way in which, since the Frankish conquest, the Gaulish aristocrats had entered into the church, acquired knowledge of Latin and Roman law and become advisers to the King. The point of this new history was to call upon the First Estate to reclaim its birthright.

Today we have leftist history, rightist history, the history of the conquered and of the conquerors. We have Marxist history, bourgeois history and revisionist history. There is also the history of origins. According to this, everything has its starting point in a clear and well defined moment. For example there is the moment when spoken language first appeared and the moment when the first language was set down in written form. Most historians believe that Sumerian cuneiform was the first written language, but new discoveries in the Balkans cast serious doubt on this. The Vinca culture was Europe's biggest prehistoric civilization and 4000 years before the CE it had achieved high levels of sophistication in various areas including metalwork, pottery and urban planning. It seems the women were even highly fashion conscious and wore something akin to the modern mini skirt! Most interesting of all, a kind of proto-language appears on more than 1000 artifacts discovered. Was this a fully developed written language in every day use around 2000 years before the written script in Sumeria? (which bears no similarity to the Vinca script). Experts are in disagreement about this: some say, the Vinca script is no more than a primitive symbolic script, others are more ready to argue for the script's status as a language. In any case, it is certain that the vested interests of academia do not change long cherished ideas easily, so if the Vinca script should prove to be an early language, the proponents of this idea will have their work cut out to prove it.

Finally, the essential point is not whether the Vinca script predates the Sumerian one. Rather, it is to ask ourselves how many of the arbitrary points in time that we learn in history really represents "an origin". The human mind likes to think in easily manageable time periods and events. Long millennia, when change happened imperceptibly isn't exciting or sexy enough for the historical taste. However, it is likely enough that this is the way that things really happened.

How to Choose the Right Accessory Handbag

From top to toe, you have a variety of options when it comes to expressing your individuality through fashion. It's important not to discount accessories, which can make even more of a bold statement than your regular outfit. Although the handbag can certainly be useful, it can also be an individualized way to express your style and good taste. You can play with the season's newest trends, or choose a classic look to tie your outfit together. To get started with choosing the best handbag for your needs, you can first start looking at all the different styles that are out there. Clutch handbags are ideal for nights out on the town, while larger carryalls or tote bags are better for the daytime's needs.

When you are pulling together your accessories, one of the cardinal rules is not to overdo it. If you already have on bright chunky earrings and a sparkly necklace, the last thing you need is a rhinestone-studded handbag on top of that. Instead, if you have bright or statement pieces on elsewhere, you'll want to look at classic handbags such as those in Italian leather. Subtle details, elegant stitching, and a high quality of craftsmanship are the types of features that you should be looking for in a functional handbag.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a statement piece that will outshine the other components of your look, it can be a good idea to look for handbags that have more elaborate details. Beaded bags, bags with fringe, or sequined bags are all ways that you can let your handbag shine in the day and night alike. When you are allowing your bag to stand out, it's best to pair it with a pared down outfit to really let it shine on its own. If you're wearing multi-colored clothing, it can be a good idea to choose a bag in a shade which will complement that color scheme.

This is why many women choose to purchase several handbags, so that they have a selection to choose from according to the occasion and wardrobe choices. It's best to have one small bag for the evening and one large bag for daytime, but within these parameters you could also choose to have a bag that is flashier, and another that is neutral. Basic black or tan are always a good option in the world of accessory handbags, and never go out of style.

Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Hairstyle

Stylish women are always concerned about the looks of their hair. This is the main reason why they select the hairstyles that suit them in a better way. Hairstyles are very important to their own image as it makes them more beautiful in other's eyes. Always remember to choose a hairstyle that perfectly matches you. More often people select styles depending upon the latest trend and fashion. But this doesn't mean that you can pick any hairstyle as you want.

By choosing the wrong hairstyle you may end up looking worse or pathetic. The mismatch can be due to many factors. It can be due to the type of hair you have or its texture. In some cases, your face won't match up with some particular type of styles. Fortunately, with a little research and preplanning you can choose the best hairstyle that ideally suits your face. This article deals with some questions that you need to ask yourself before considering a new hairstyle.

The first question that you need to ask yourself is what particular kind of hairstyle perfectly fits you? Most of the women fail to do this and as a result they end up in choosing the wrong hairstyles that spoil their overall look. Remember to choose a style that goes well with the features of your face. For instance, if you have a round face, it is better to go for a hairstyle with a slight forward movement. It will make your face look longer. On the other hand, if you go for a swept back style, it makes your round face to appear even rounder.

The next question you have to consider is how much effort and time you need to invest for styling your hair? If you are very busy person, then you need to prefer an easy to work hairstyle. This will save you a lot of time. On the other hand, if you can spend more time, prefer beautiful hairstyles that need more effort and time.

The last question you may have to ask yourself is will the particular hairstyle work with the texture and type of your hair? Well, if you have a straight hair, it is a bad idea to choose a heavy layered hairstyle which requires regular hot rollers or curling iron. Similarly, for curly hairs, maintaining a flat hairstyle on a regular basis could be very difficult. Have all these tips in mind before visiting a salon to get a new hairstyle.

Women's Tungsten Rings

Tungsten rings have been increasing in popularity over the past 5 years due to the strength, durability and lower price point over precious metals. In the past the tungsten metal has been popular with men. In specific men that worked with their hands in professions such as mechanics, construction or welding. The men that worked in these industries desired the metal for the scratch resistance and durability while the ring was getting beat up at work. Now, men of all professions purchase tungsten due to the endless style possibilities, uniqueness of the metal and it being economically friendly. Not only are retailers noticing more men purchase the rings but women as well. Women are making up approximately 25% of all tungsten ring purchases for themselves. With this in mind there are many styles that accommodate women which are listed below.

Abalone Shell Inlay Tungsten Rings:

Abalone Shell Tungsten Bands are ideal for women as it brings a delicate shell which is bright in color in with the durable tungsten. Abalone shell inlays have an array of colors consisting of blues, greens, grays and sometime a swirl of white. The inlay is protected on each side with tungsten and coated in a liquid crystal for durability. The rings are ideal for men and women and are commonly used as a unique wedding band.

Diamond or Gemstone Set Tungsten Wedding Bands:

Diamond set tungsten rings can be worn by both men and women. The diamond or gemstone is carefully set in a tungsten ring and protected by a bezel. Tungsten rings can have one stone or many depending on the specifications of the customer. Many can find exactly what they are looking for with in stock rings however if not many companies offer a customization option.

Celtic Claddagh Carbide Rings:

Celtic rings have always been popular with couples due to the symbolic meaning the rings hold. The symbols represent love, friendship, family and life all within the intricacy of a knotwork pattern or symbol. The Celtic rings are ideal to be worn as a fashion piece, engagement ring or wedding band for both men and women.

Whichever style is chosen it is important to purchase from reputable retailers with a lifetime warranty. A lifetime warranty will protect the buyer from any damage that may occur to the ring such as loss of finish, cracks or breakage. This will ensure that the small economically friendly investment made is protected for life.

How to Propose to a Guy - Can a Woman Really Propose to Her Man?

Some people think that women shouldn't propose a guy. They still believe that proposing is a man's job. The guy needs to do the courting and the proposing.

But others would beg to disagree. They think that there's nothing wrong when a woman wants to propose a guy. But confessing her love to her man isn't exactly an easy task. Here are some tips to help you.

What are your chances?

These days, a woman can make a proposal to a man. Sometimes you just have to ignore how society would view you and listen to your heart instead. You need to have the courage to ask something but at the same time, you also need to be prepared. There is always that risk of rejection.

There's also the chance that your man could also be thinking of proposing to you. You need to be alert with that possibility. If you really want to spend the rest of your life with him and if you think that he's about to propose, then go ahead and wait. If not, then it's up to you to make your move.

Choose the right place and time

If you're really serious about proposing to him, then remember that guys can also be sentimental at times. It would be best not to choose a crowded or busy place because it may just put you in an awkward situation. Instead of choosing crowded restaurants or movie theaters, choose a quiet place instead. You need privacy so how about a walk in the beach or maybe even a garden?

Another thing you need to consider is the right time. This will make proposing a lot easier. You can choose your anniversary, holidays, or even his birthday. It might even be the anniversary of the first time you met or kissed. Just be sure he's in a good mood when you do so. You don't want to propose to a guy who's too preoccupied with things happening in his career.

Think about what you're going to say and make it memorable

It may not be your thing to bend down on one knee and proposing to him and that's okay. You can still make it memorable. As mentioned, it's all about timing. Try choosing an anniversary which brings back fond memories like the first time you kissed. Express your love genuinely because his answer may depend on how you proposed.

Are you really up to this?

Even though modern times don't really frown on women doing the proposals, there are still old-fashioned ideas that refuse to go away. Some men do find it weird when a woman does the proposing. If you think that your man is like that and is uncomfortable with you proposing to him, then you may want to really think about what you're getting into.

When you are trying to propose a guy, you also need to consider what his reactions would be. Try telling him that someone you knew proposed to the she married and gauge his reaction from the story. You can tell if you should go along with your plans based on his reactions.