Tight Hip Flexsors

The muscles found in and around the hips are known as the hip flexors. These include muscles like the internal obliques, iliopsoas, sartorius, gracilis, and fascia latae tensors. When these muscle become tight because of constant flexion and contraction, they can create pain. This pain is most often felt in daily activities like climbing stairs and lifting objects from the ground. Athletically, tight hip flexors will compromise running activities, and all resistance training that includes rotation of the pelvis.

Indicative hip flexor pain is most noticeable in activities that require power from the back, upper legs, and core. Athletes notice tip hip flexors most often when performing weighted lifts like squats and deadlifts. When flexor muscle are tight, they prevent the spine, pelvis, and hip complex from aligning properly. Tightness creates a type of body movement conservation that is contrary to having a proper full range of motion. The result is the sense of having less strength to perform movements, along with lasting, aching pain deep within the core areas of the body.

Relieving tight hip flexors and tension is not easy. It requires the application of specific stretching exercises that target the deep tissues of the body’s core. These exercises also require a bit of “nerve gliding” that can seem uncomfortable to some people.

Exercises that can unlock your hip flexors include:

Piriform Stretches

While seated on the floor, stretch one leg forward and keep one leg in a hurdler’s position. The forward leg should elongate the gluteal muscles. Gently rock forward and back, and side-to-side on the outstretched hip. This rocking motion will alleviate nerve tension and prompt the muscles of the hip to release.

Lunge Stretches

In a standing position, take a wide step so that one leg is stretched backward and the other is at a 90 degree position to the floor. This should look like an extremely long step. With an upright torso, gently push down on the elongated hip side. Try to create a “pulling” feeling in the muscles of the straight leg from the knee to belly button. Hold this position until the body begins to sink downward, then carefully switch leg positions.

Iliopsoas Palpation

Much of the tension that creates tight hips is caused by contraction of the muscles that line the pelvic bones. In order to relieve tension, palpation is necessary. This can require the assistance of another person.

Lie on a bench facing upward. Extend the body to its maximum length by outstretching the arms, and slightly twisting to one side. The person assisting the stretch should gently and carefully place a rigid hand along the abdominal muscles. Glide the touch down the midsection until the ridge of the iliac (pelvic) crest is felt. As the lying person exhales, the massage hand should gravitate inward until it reaches the underside of the iliac crest. If performed properly, the massaging hand will encounter a layer of extremely tense tissue. These are the exact muscles causing hip flexor tension and pain. Once found, the massaging hand should palpate the muscles in the same line as the length of the body. Several minutes of this deep tissue massage should cause the legs to feel freer, and the lower back to feel less curvature pressure.

When you unlock your hip flexors you should immediately experience an increased ability to move the legs in a full range of motion. This includes a longer running stride, and a more comfortable seating path in exercises like squats, lunges, and all types of jumping. The hip flexor muscles help the body’s core assist almost every motion, so having fluid hip flexor motion is vital. Even the healthiest individuals experience hip flexor tightness, but specific stretches and massages can alleviate common problems associated with tight hip flexor conditions.

10 Tips to Turn Your Marketing Into a Burning Machine

Activity Management is a balancing act between taking action and non-action. Here are 10 tips to turn your Marketing strategy into a burning machine. This is especially true for Artists who are not only marketing themselves, they are also in production of their craft.

1. When you deprive your marketing of action and ideas your marketing reacts protectively against an ancient threat: Famine of $ or whatever your fear is.

2. People who regularly take one step at a time have more success and confidence. Instead of focusing on can not, focus on that you can.

3. Get out networking. It helps you build your confidence levels and more people will know what you do and what you can do for them. It's like strength training, the more you do the more high energy you'll have.

4. Beta test. Market yourself smarter, try out different things.

5. Vary your tactics. Introduce one marketing idea after another one and do a new tactic every month.

6. Get out and exercise, such as walking, biking, swimming give your body some strength training to build your stamina and energy levels.

7. Avoid hanging out with people who want to bring you down in a negative way. You do not need this.

8. Visualize on the end results that you want to have for yourself. Just focus on what you want to be doing or having.

9. Read books, PDF files subscribe to e-zines and listen to CD's or tapes for motivation form your favorite mentors to help you

10. Develop your own formula of steps for success that work for you.

100 Facts of Life

Here are 100 facts of life:

1. People who spend lots of time in other people’s lives are avoiding dealing with their own.

2. People who confess “I shouldn’t tell you but…..” will do the same thing to you as they do to everyone else.

3. Speaking your truth is not telling other people that they are wrong and you are right.

4. If you have to ask someone else if he/she is right for you then they probably aren’t.

5. Without the journey there is no point to the destination.

6. People who stick their head in the sand will eventually get their butt’s kicked.

7. What you see on the surface is rarely what lies underneath.

8. Courage is not to stand in the path of the lion but to seek to understand why it wishes to harm you in the first place.

9. We are not born parents we have to learn how to be parents.

10. Words only have as much power as you give them.

11. Wise people sit in silence only then will the hear their own voice.

12. Angels are not there to do the work for us but to show us the work to be done.

13. There is no such thing as the perfect relationship.

14. Never put the milk in before the hot water when making a cup of tea.

15. We control nothing but our own thoughts and actions.

16. No one can make you happy except yourself.

17. It is only a mistake if you learn nothing from the experience.

18. I don’t know everything so teach me I can’t hear everything so tell me I won’t see everything so show me together we will grow.

19. There is more to life than increasing its speed ~ Gandhi

20. Regrets are choices we failed to make.

21. What you hold in your heart is what you will take into the next life.

22. Just because you don’t see the seed once you have planted it doesn’t mean it isn’t growing.

23. It is only there because you believe it to be there if you had believed it was not there then it would not of existed.

24. There is no ultimate truth because truth is merely perception combined with a judgment.

25. Gender does not exist everyone has ying and yang traits.

26. Your experiences are not who you are.

27. Assumptions are those things we make when we are too lazy to check out the facts.

28. No one is totally objective.

29. Family is not always the one you were born into sometimes it can be an outstretched hand and a welcoming smile.

30. You are not always going to be right.

31. Humility is the ability to admit you were wrong.

32. Character someone said was the thing you do when no one else is looking.

33. The measure of a man is not what he carries in his wallet but how he carries himself.

34. Speedos are not attractive no matter who is wearing them.

35. If you give an inch chances are you will gain a mile.

36. If you would not want it done to you then you shouldn’t do it to others.

37. If you are not dealing with reality than all you are doing is creating an illusion.

38. Pride is a badge only a fool wears.

39. The person who knows the most is usually the one who talks the least.

40. Everyone deserves to be valued and to be loved.

41. No one has your answers but you.

42. You can only create with the tools you have so don’t hesitate to add more to your toolbox.

43. Some days are going to suck life is not perfect.

44. You never get it wrong you only learn another way that doesn’t work.

45. It is people not things which give life meaning.

46. You can’t take it with you when you go no one has ever slipped a Mercedes past the pearly gates.

47. The world will not fall apart if you are not there to hold it all together.

48. Its okay to say no people do it all the time.

49. There are some things you will never know the answer too.

50. The future does not exist nor does the past you only have this moment.

51. Relatives don’t always know better.

52. Skeletons in family closets will always be there to haunt you.

53. Standing in your truth means respecting the right of others to theirs.

54. You cannot hear anyone if you are talking.

55. You don’t have to live life with the hand you were dealt you can always shuffle the deck.

56. Potatoes won’t grow out of your ears if you fail to wash them.

57. Adult eyes have a tendency to make the world small, yet are always looking for the big things, child eyes make the world big and yet are fascinated by the small things.

58. We should try to see not how people with disadvantages are different from us but how they are the same.

59. It is easy to be a big fish when you live in a small pond.

60. Adults should not let children take responsibility for their life choices.

61. No matter how shitty a job your parents did eventually you have to take responsibility for your own choices.

62. Those who seek enlightenment will never find it.

63. If you need to say it say it now if you need to do it do it now.

64. The biggest regret of those whose time is cut short is all the things they never said and all the things they never did.

65. We only have the moment we are in.

66. You don’t need an inner critic you need to be your own best friend.

67. Change requires action.

68. Misery likes company.

69. We have to be careful that helping doesn’t turn into enabling.

70. Not everyone is going to like you and you are not going to like everyone.

71. Stuff happens that’s just life.

72. Everyone should grow fairy wings and splash in the puddles occasionally.

73. If you keep doing for people they will never learn to do it for themselves.

74. Please and thank you are highly underrated.

75. Nothing is more contagious than a smile.

76. The best gift you give anyone is your time and patience.

77. Patience is the ability to understand it is not always about you.

78. There are many rivers which lead to the same ocean you just have to be willing to look for them.

79. True beauty is not determined by a look but by a thought and a deed.

80. Times stands still for those who are in the moment not rushing by it.

81. Having knowledge does not make you wise this requires a knowing as well.

82. Meditation does not require whale music and contortions just the ability to go to your happy place.

83. You are not going to see the bigger picture until you have all of the pieces.

84. No matter which way you plate tofu turkey is not turkey.

85. It is wise to take a moment before you take a step that way you get a chance to see where your feet are going to land.

86. You may have a seed of greatness within you but you still have to nurture it.

87. Everyone has to find their own pathway.

88. You are not limited to one act of greatness in your lifetime.

89. The only way to stop an argument is to find a solution.

90. Every thing you do or say will come back to you eventually it just may not be in a form you are expecting.

91. Asking for help means you are smart enough to get the things you need to create the life you want.

92. Just because one chapter in your life is closed doesn’t mean you cannot write another one.

93. People are not perfect and we all need a break every now and then.

94. Never leave unsaid words in a room.

95. Nothing is ever about what is we think it is about.

96. Boundaries are the things adults use to make sure no one colors outside of the lines.

97. Every one is more than they believe themselves to be.

98. Every footprint counts no matter who made it.

99. Love will always be the way.

100. Lists fall under the category it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Once-A-Month-Cooking: How to Make Your Plan Work

As one of the oldest children in a family of nine, I know that cooking for a crowd can almost be a full-time job. Once-a-month-cooking has been a lifesaver for our family. In the beginning though, when we first heard of cooking 30 meals in one day, it sounded rather impossible. It was not until we had tried it, though, that we found it is not only possible, but it can even be quite simple and fun!

Blessings

If you are skeptical about taking on what might seem like an overwhelming task to you, let me first share some of the blessings which have resulted for our family from once-a-month-cooking.

o It has saved us many hours of trying to figure out what to have for dinner and answered the infamous question, “What’s for dinner?”

o We have been more readily able to show hospitality to other families when the main dish is already made and in the freezer. (We usually plan ahead for this by doubling or tripling seven to ten of the recipes on cooking day to use as “company meals.”) In like manner, it is much easier to being meals to needy families when you have casseroles in the freezer ready to be pulled out and heated at the drop of a hat. (We also plan for this by preparing many of the dishes in disposable pans.)

o It saves time (You only have to do mountains of dishes one day a month, not every day! You also don’t have to start dinner at 4:30 p.m. or earlier everyday… just pull dinner out to thaw in the morning.) and money (You can usually save quite a bit by buying in bulk).

o We are brought closer together as we spend a special day as a family cooking these meals.

o This is an excellent lesson in Home Economics for your children. Mom always has the oldest girls plan the menu, grocery list, and strategy for the cooking day. She often has us do the grocery shopping, as well.

Planning

Proper planning is essential for a successful cooking day. I usually start planning at least a week in advance. First, pick which day will be your cooking day. Clear your schedule that day. You will want to focus your energies entirely on cooking.

Menu Planning: After you have chosen your cooking day, begin menu planning. Go through your cookbooks and find recipes suitable for freezing. Strive for variety. My list usually includes: one-dish dinners, meatloaf, meatballs, layered casseroles, soups, chili, hamburgers, meatless dishes, and so on. Make sure that you include a number of family favorites, in addition to any new recipes you may be trying out. You do not want to fill your freezer with meals your family won’t find appetizing! When you write down your menu, make sure and write down the cookbook and page number the recipe came from. In addition, mark whether you are planning to double or triple the recipe.

Make Your Grocery List: Using your menu list, write down the quantities of ingredients needed for each recipe. I like to categorize like ingredients on five to seven different lists (meats, vegetables, cheese, pasta, spices, etc.). Take these lists and combine all like ingredients onto a final list. For example, if there are fifteen recipes calling for one pound of ground beef, you will write “15 pounds ground beef” on your final grocery list.

After you have made your final grocery list, make sure and check your cupboards to see what you might already have on hand. You probably have most of the seasonings. But be sure that if you need four teaspoons of garlic powder, you actually have that much in the jar. I have not checked thoroughly before, and it has been real headache.

I have found it most helpful to keep a separate “food preparation list” along with my grocery list which states what is to be done with the items which I need large quantities (Such as, if one the items on your list is “20 pounds of chicken breasts,” note beside that item how many cups need to be cooked and diced, how many chicken breasts need to be cooked and left whole, how many need to be left frozen, etc.).

You will also want to make sure you have plenty of freezer bags and foil on hand. These will be essential on your cooking day.

Cooking Day Strategy: It is wise to develop a basic cooking day strategy of what you will do when. This does not need to be an exhaustive list, but it will save you time and effort if you have planned the basic order of what you will be cooking when. If you are going to be working together as a family on cooking, plan who is responsible for what tasks. Although everyone will need to be flexible, it will definitely save hassle to have most of the schedule worked out ahead of time.

Shopping: The day before you begin cooking, do your grocery shopping. Make sure you do not rush through this. Read your list thoroughly and check to get the best deal.

Cooking

The sooner you can start in the morning, the better. Begin by cooking the meats, grating the cheese, chopping the onions, or whatever bulk preparations your “food preparation list” says you need to do. If you have planned to make soups, you should start these early on, as they usually need to cook for longer.

Cooking the meat is one of the most time-consuming projects and you will probably find you end up browning ground beef and boiling chicken most of the day! As much as is possible, use all of the burners on your stove at the same time.

Keep soapy water in the sink at all times and take turns being on “dish duty.” As soon as a dish is used, wash it. This will save you from having an enormous mess at the end of the day. You might also find it helpful to take a five-minute kitchen cleaning break every hour or so to wipe down the counters and put things away which you are no longer using.

Freezing

What do you do with the completed dishes? Here are some guidelines for freezing:

o We always designate the kitchen table as our “finished recipe” zone. We often have someone who is specifically just working on labeling things and taking them to the freezer from the kitchen table.

o Proper labeling is a key factor in making sure you know what you have in freezer. Make sure you label the containers with the recipe, the cookbook it came from, the page number, how many it serves, and any additional instructions for the dish. Also write out a list with all of the recipes you make and freeze and how many they serve on the outside of your freezer.

o Transfer soup to a big bowl and cool for about an hour. You can either place the soup in plastic freezer bags or plastic containers with lids (32 oz. cottage cheese and yogurt containers work well for this).

o Most other recipes can be transferred to plastic freezer bags. Do not fill the bags very full, as foods expand when frozen. Do not put anything which is still hot into bags. You will likely split the bag at the seams and have a gigantic mess to deal with!

o Use smaller labeled bags for cheese or anything else to be sprinkled on top once the dish is cooked. Make sure you keep these in a very accessible place in the freezer.

o If the recipe is something like lasagna which cannot be frozen in a plastic bag, freeze it in the size of pan the recipe calls for, cover with foil, and label.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to give once-a-month-cooking a try. If you are like us, you will soon wonder how you ever lived without cooking this way! You could also simplify this plan and just cook for two weeks at a time to start.

For further information, ideas, and recipes, I highly recommend you read Once-A-Month-Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg and Dinner’s in the Freezer by Jill Bond.

Happy Cooking!

Different Types of Devices For Vacuum Pumps

When considering a vacuum pump there are several different things to consider. One of the things that you will want to consider is the type of device that runs your vacuum pump. As with everything there are pros and cons. Let's take a look at some of the different devices you can choose from to run your vacuum pump.

One of the devices is an ejector. This is one of the simplest and commonly used as a vacuum producer. The basic process of the ejector is that it converges pressure energy of a dynamic fluid into velocity energy as it flows through a typical small nozzle. Ejectors use many different types of motive fluid. Steam is one of the most common fluids. Some of the pros of an ejector for a vacuum pump are:

1. It is a simple design

2. It has no moving parts which makes it so that there is not much wear

3. Has the option of being fabricated from any type of metal. It can even be fabricated of various types of plastics.

4. Using an ejector for a vacuum pump tend to be one of the least expensive ways to make a vacuum device

5. Can offer the largest throughput capacity of any type of vacuum producing device

6. It is easy to start or shutdown the vacuum pump. There is no special way to do it so it is easy for anyone.

7. Due to not having moving parts and being a simple design it is easy to repair and very low maintenance.

All of these things sound great, but there are some disadvantages for an ejector as a device for a vacuum pump. Some of those disadvantages are:

1. There is a requirement for the pressurized motion fluid

2. It is inevitable that contamination of the dynamic fluid will happen

3. It can be noisy

4. With the noise it could require discharge silencers or sound insulation

5. Most of the time there is a need for a cooling liquid source

Another option for a vacuum pump device is a liquid ring pump. This vacuum pump device is a multi-bladed impeller with a shaft that is mounted so that it can be an eccentric to the ring of liquid. Basically, as the blades rotate toward the discharge side of the pump the pockets decrease in size and the evacuated gas is compressed, enabling its discharge.

Some of the advantages of a liquid ring pump for a vacuum pump are:

1. Simpler design than most vacuum pumps

2. It employs only one rotating assembly

3. It can be constructed from any castable metal

4. It has minimal noise and vibration

5. It has very little increase in the temperature of the discharged gas

6. Can handle condensable loads

7. There is no damage from liquid or small particulates entrained in the process fluid

8. The maintenance is very simple compared to other vacuum pumps

9. If the pump needs to be rebuilt it is simple

10. It has a slow rotational speed which gives it a longer operating life

11. Can easily be started and stopped over and over

12. Can use any type of liquid for the sealant fluid

Like everything, there are cons to the liquid ring pump. Here are some of the cons:

1. It is inevitable that there will be a mixing of the evacuated gas with the sealing fluid

2. High power requirement in order to form and maintain the liquid ring

3. Due to the high power requirement it results in a larger motor than for other types of vacuum pumps

4. There is a risk of cavitations. This means that it requires a portion of the process load to be noncondensable under the pump operating conditions.

5. The achievable vacuum is limited by the vapor pressure of a sealant fluid at the operating temperature.

Another option for a vacuum pump is a dry pump. A dry pump does not need any working fluids. There are three different types of vacuum pumps available. They are: hook and claw, screw and lobe types. These types of vacuum pumps work by two different types of mechanisms. There is either volumetric reduction or the mixing of lower-pressure gas with higher-pressure discharge gas. With a dry pump it normally runs hot, because there is no liquid to absorb the heat of compression.

Some of the advantages for a dry-running pump are:

1. No contamination of evacuated gas which allows for the gas to be recovered readily

2. The pump can be built of standard, inexpensive cast iron. This is the case due to the lack of condensation.

3. It can discharge to the atmosphere

Some of the disadvantages of a dry running vacuum pump are:

1. Can not handle particulates

2. Can not handle large amounts of liquid

3. Might require a silencer

4. Due to it running hot it can discharge gases at high temperatures. Sometimes the temperatures can run as high as 600 degrees.

5. Most case it can be difficult to repair or rebuild

6. Due to the high temperatures it may require a gas purge for cooling to protect the bearings and seals from the process gas

Another option for a vacuum pump is a once through oil pump. It is commonly known as OTO for short. It is a vacuum pump that is a sliding vane type that uses once through oil to seal clearances and lubricating moving parts.

Some of the positives of an OTO vacuum pump are:

1. Can handle acidic or otherwise corrosive vapors

2. Can be built of cast iron

3. Has minimal vibration

4. Can handle high inlet temperature

Some of the negatives of an OTO vacuum pump are:

1. Requires the use of immediately removing the liquids to prevent liquid from sitting the vanes.

2. There can be contamination of the discharged process gas by the oil

3. Can not handle particulates

4. It can be cost to repair or rebuild

There is one other option for a vacuum pump device and that is a rotary piston model. The piston is attached to a cam that is mounted to the main bore of the pump cylinder.

There are several different pros to a rotary piston model:

1. Minimal vibration due to it having a balanced configuration

2. It has a rugged design so that it lends to a long life

3. Can handle small particulates

Some of the cons to a rotary piston vacuum pump model are:

1. Can not handle liquids

2. The condensable vapors are not easily handled

3. The discharged gas is contaminated with oil

4. Some of the designs can be noisy

With all of this information in mind you will want to weigh out the options and the specifics you are looking for that best meets your needs.

Tips for Finding the Right House Plan

Identify your outer style – what homes styles are you drawn too? French Country, Traditional, Spanish, Cape Cod, Colonial or Craftsman. When searching for the right house plan it is important to choose one that not only meets your individual needs but also keeps in mind the style of home that is most appealing to you.

Identify how your family lives -will you need formal spaces, recreational spaces, informal spaces, indoor-outdoor spaces, Determine if you prefer a one story or a two store home. Also determine the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you will need. This will help narrow your search for the right house plans. Keep in mind the lot characteristics including dimensions, natural landscaping and future marketability of the home. Your lifestyle is a key consideration in selecting a house plan. Do you entertain frequently? Consider a formal dinning room and traditional living room for large formal entertaining. Are you near retirement? Consider a one story to limit stair climbing. Are you starting a family? Be sure to include enough bedrooms to allow for your expanding family. Do you love to cook? Be sure you have ample room and amenities in the kitchen to accommodate.

Walkthroughs – Walk through houses under construction in your area to see what things you like and do not like about each plan. During these walkthroughs take careful notes about what you like and do not like about the features in each home. Request floor plan samples from the various builders. Attach your notes to each floor plan so you can quickly recall the features of each house plan that you liked. Check with your local homebuilders association for the location of new home builders in your area. Visit each builder, walk their models and review their available house plans.

Careful note taking – Make a folder of ideas and pictures from magazines that you like. This will help you identify your style and keep a record of the features that you might want to incorporate into your home plan. As you perform your walkthroughs, take a camera so you can take pictures of the various homes you visit and key features of each home that you want to remember.

Search through stock home plans – Research styles and plans on the Internet. You can also purchase house plans on the web or in books at your local new or used bookstore. You should be able to get hundreds of home plans through these sources for little or no money. These house plans can be modified to meet your needs. Also visit new home builders in your area to get great house plan ideas.

Can not find that perfect home floor plan? – Find a reputable architect who can custom design the perfect house plan for you. Make sure to research the architects in your area and visit their work if at all possible. Using the notes, magazine clippings and photograph you've collected the architect should be able to design a home that is a perfect fit.

Building Codes -Be sure that any house plan you select complies with national and local building codes. The house plans should include necessary drawings, specifications and arrangements for bidding, permits, and construction.

Once you have your dream house plan, find a reputable builder or contractor in your area. Your local Homebuilders Association should be able to help with this search.

Top 5 Distortion Pedals Under $100

There’s a lot you can with just an electric guitar and an amp, but there is going to come a time in a musician’s development where they are going to want to try out new sounds. The easiest way to do this is get distortion pedals that will allow you to change your music in an almost unlimited number of ways. The tricky part is finding one that will give you a killer sound with out breaking the bank.

With that in mind, here are the top five distortion effects for under a hundred bucks:

Boss DS-1

This is pretty much your beginning level distortion pedal. It’s very cheap, essentially indestructible, and can give you anything from a light distortion to full on heavy metal growling. It’s also super simple to use with three, count them three, knobs: tone, level and distortion. This was the pedal used by Kurt Cobain to record Nevermind, and if you’re looking for a no frills pedal that will stand up to lots of use, you can’t go wrong with the Boss DS – 1.

Line 6 Uber Metal

This actually just nudges on to the list, not because of quality, which is great, but because of price. The Line 6 Uber Metal has a suggested price of about $180, but you can almost always find them on sale for half of that. This is a more advanced distortion pedal than the Boss DS – 1, with a lot more flexibility. It’s built in high gain levels include Metal, Insane and Pulverize, which should give you some idea what the pedal is capable of. It’s a little pricey, but this tough little pedal gives you a lot for the money put into it.

Electro Harmonix XO Metal Muff

This is one of the best sounding distortion pedals, and if you want a more refined sound, this is probably the way to go. You can get anything from a warm distortion that just enhances your guitar playing to ridiculous super distortion that makes you sound heavier than heavy metal. This pedal also has a high gain boost switch, which means that you don’t have to switch pick-ups when you go high for your solos.

Digi Tech XMM Metal Master

A very tough, very gnarly distortion pedal. This thing will give you an almost endless range of distortion types, and it has a morphing ability that allows you to flow seamlessly from distortion type to another, which will vastly expand the range of sounds that you’ve got. It also offers a clean signal out as an option and it’s virtually noise free, which gives you a cleaner sound.

Cool Cat Metal II

This is a very cheap distortion pedal, pricewise, but it gets the job done. For about thirty bucks, you get a tough distortion pedal with the basic distortion effects. You don’t get the bells and whistles you would from the more expensive models, but it gives a great clean sound and has a true bypass, so when you switch it off there is no loss in quality. Good for beginners and people who only need a distortion pedal for a limited number of things.

6 Timeless Advice for a Dapper Look

“A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them.” ~ Hardy Amies

Whether you agree or not, the look and appearance have become judging criteria these days. Gone are the days when men were barely concerned about their clothing. The dressing style of an individual plays a very vital role in determining the personality. This is the reason why most men invest a lot of time in getting the much-desired dapper look. However, being dapper is generally misunderstood for donning the tuxedo look. Being dapper is not just about wearing the best clothes. In fact, In fact, regardless of your wardrobe, it is a way of stylizing yourself.

The write up has compiled some quick tips, for all the style connoisseur who want to don an impressive look. Apply the timeless fashion advice and caution in your daily life in order to turn dapper.

  • Self-grooming: Personal hygiene and grooming are one of the most decisive factors. No matter what you’re wearing, a neat, clean and classy look is a proven weapon to turn every head around. So, before you decide your wardrobe for the day, make sure that you take your hygiene to the extreme. Remember to bathe well and trim your beard before leaving home. Wash your face and apply a moisturizing lotion to remove the white patches and flakes. Along with this, your clothes should be neat and well-ironed.
  • Get the clothes tailored: Tailoring your clothes appropriately is the best way to get a noticeable difference in your appearance. Wearing the wrong fit is one of the major error of fashion. Not every man is as particular about the size as the ladies. The wrong fit can make or break your look. So, make sure that you get your attire tailored accordingly. Do not wear it if doesn’t fit. The attire should fit you like gloves.
  • Dress according to your age: Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable, but the style is more about being yourself. The contemporary styles may intrigue you at times, but make sure that you dress according to your age. So, do not try to fit into the fashion, but choose a style that fits your personality. This is the best way of dressing to the nines.
  • Accessorize your clothing: As a gentleman, you can never go wrong with a timeless statement wristwatch. It not only adds flair to your look, but also gives an elegant look. Most dapper men will be seen in a neat pair of formal shoes. Wearing an elegant footwear helps in power dressing. Along with this, the accessories should be according to the clothing. In case, you are in your formals, then, the ensemble should be formal as well. For casual outfits, you can go with the subtle ones that get you an easy-going look, yet oozes effortless style. Right from the cuff-links to the undergarment, everything contributes to the overall personality. Wear a cozy pair of men’s underwear. Even the underneath article should be according to the occasion. Briefs for men is an ideal option if you don’t want to adjust yourself in front of everyone.
  • Match the colors well: The color combination of the overall attire should complement your personality and skin tone. Don’t be afraid of exploring the possibilities of fashion, but remember to stay subtle. Simplicity and sophistication are what defines a gentleman. The combination of dark and light color is the safest option when the large variety is confusing you. The light hues with the contrasting dark ones is a timeless sequence.
  • Avoid being funky: Being funky and playful is fun, but it projects a boyish attitude. So, keep the dressing simple and subtle. Go for prints that are elegant and dressy without going over-the-board. Whether you are heading for a formal event or getting dressed for a casual spree, the clothing should project your personality is a positive light.

What are your hacks for a dapper look? Do share in the comments below.

Hire a Wedding Photographer Who Cares About You More Than Marketing Themselves at Your Event

Last night’s wedding was something else (Warning: possible self-righteous rant to follow) when I was hired to perform as DJ for a wonderful couple and had a grand time with them. They decided to hire a wedding photographer who was not us for photography service, and that’s OK; our services are available independently and without obligation for others.

However, I believe that when the sales process is concluded, and all of the accounting and office paperwork is finished, and it’s time to provide actual performance (also known as “execution”) that it’s time to set the marketing aside.

That’s where this particular photographer clearly had a much different philosophy than us. Having worked another event in another capacity with them previously and recently, I immediately noticed a trend similar to before. From the moment they arrived at the event venue, she and her assistant (for ranting purposes and not naming names, I’ll just write “she” and “he” and so forth) began methodically selling themselves to any and everyone they could, looking to get paid for their next event. Wow.

Seriously, at one point I saw her huddle down and compose a Gmail message response – kind of hard to miss – while her back was turned on the action that unfolded and concluded without her involvement.

At another point, I let her know, as event DJs are known to do, that something special was about to happen. I was absolutely shocked when she told me to hold on because she had something else more important to do right now at this very moment. As it turns out, she wanted to run out to her car and get some marketing materials to leave with the Director of Catering so she could work on her to become a preferred vendor at the facility. She had sensed an opening and was like a shark with blood.

Then there was her associate. This guy…

Just as before, he loudly announced himself upon his entrance and proclaimed his glory to all in the land. He made sure that everyone knew his name and the fact that, although he was “just the second shooter” he had his own photography company and would be happy to let you know about it. He spent a lot time standing around loudly talking (at highly inappropriate times, such as, oh say, the Wedding Ceremony!) and “schmoozing”, meaning basically extolling his virtues. During set-up, I was confronted with a particularly difficult technical situation involving poor Wi-Fi access at the venue, and was feverishly working to fix it. He felt this was the appropriate time to grill me about my business practices, starting with “how did I get hired for this job” and so forth. Both of them had previously interrogated me about my rates, marketing strategies, bookings, and more. I was wondering if they were going to ask me my social security number and Mother’s maiden name!

Things really changed this time though, when I had the audacity to request that the associate quit “talking shop” and focus on the task at hand. You know, the Bride and Groom?

For the remainder of the evening, he pouted around me, which was fine because I certainly didn’t need his frivolous distraction. Unfortunately, he could not quite hold back and wait until the guests had all left when he exploded with “I didn’t like what you said to me!” and wouldn’t stop until he’d worked his way through the script of the old Jerry Springer show in front of everyone. Fun for TV, but unbelievably inappropriate at someone’s wedding.

Sales and marketing is essential to the success of any business. But there is a line that must not be crossed, when it becomes shameless and relentless self-promotion at the expense of the client. A wedding photographer owes a particular obligation to their client, often by now their friend, to give them their complete and undivided attention during this most important time in their lives. Please choose one who will pour their heart and soul into yours.

What Can You Do to Write Better? No, I’m Serious

Listen. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of your thoughts pushing and shoving one another to squeeze out of the teeny hole in your brain so they can each get their shining opportunity to be showcased on paper, or computer, as is the human condition. Technology! You can’t live with it, you can’t live without it. On the one hand, it is the embodiment of advancement, convenience and clarity (Excel, anyone?). On the other, an absolute nuisance and a lawsuit waiting to happen (picture an overhead projector refusing to work, then being poked at with a long metal prong by a deeply infuriated teacher, until it falls on said teacher’s head. Such fantasies should not be ignored). I suppose you must have noticed the irony of this latter statement, coming from an instructor (yours truly) who actually teaches how to use technology in the classroom and online.

My apologies. I digress. Yes, I was talking about that screaming mass of brain needs to be creatively purged. This is much like a revolution, if you will, but you are experiencing this horrible inability to transfer these thoughts on paper. They’re there, right there, frustratingly close, toying with your emotions, but you still cannot get them and your brain to cooperate. Is all hope lost, then? Do we wait until we are ready to put those ideas onto paper? What if we wait too long, will the unwritten words be lost?

Now, before you read on, let me make this very clear: I am in no way an experienced writer or author. I write to make a difference. I write about deeply personal things in the hope of helping at least one person out there realize they are not alone. So please understand that the advice I am including here is mostly based on my personal experience in writing, be it journal entries or more academic articles.

So are we clear? Great! Below are ways that might help you get those ideas onto paper:

1. Always write with the intention of writing for yourself.

That sounds counterproductive, especially if your main purpose is to show your work to people. But it’s true. Think about it, though. Whenever you write a piece that you know will not be seen by anyone else, you tend to feel more comfortable being yourself. The creative juices flow more easily, and the end result is more satisfying more often than not. Why? Because you’re not expecting to be judged. Many times when we write, there is that thought at the back of our minds that invades our creative process, the one that wonders whether so-and-so would like this, whether they would be able to stomach the brutal honesty, or whether it was even good enough for them. I’m not saying it happens to everyone, but it certainly does to some of us!

If you are one of these people who is even the slightest bit conscious, it may hinder your writing process. What can you do about it? Open your heart and let go of other people’s expected reactions. Accept that you are writing as you are, and your style is going to be appreciated. You might very well get comments, suggestions to improve, but know this is always for the betterment of your work and not to shoot you down. Write from a place of openness.

2. Love what you are writing about

Unfortunately, no one has a switch that can turn on the passion inside of them when it comes to writing about anything. Chances are you are more inclined to unleash your creative juices on particular topics than others. The piece on World War II? Not your cup of tea, perhaps, so you’re more likely to struggle with it than if you were to write on, say, religions and the dogmas attached to them (I know, I know, I had to drag religion into this). My point is, love what you are writing about. Get passionate about it, and proceed to watch your fingers fly over the keyboard in a frantic bid to create that masterpiece. Complicated topic? Look for alternative sources (no, not alternative facts, I said sources!) that have simpler explanations, ones you are more likely to understand. Once these concepts are easier to comprehend, you will find it is easier to find things to like about it. Understanding is key.

3. Don’t force it

I understand this is tough when it comes to assigned writing, material that you’re given to do even if you’re just not into it. Things get even more complicated when there’s a deadline shoved in your face.

In my experience, I’ve had the most difficulty producing written pieces if it in any way meant my time writing them was limited. Deadlines are my kryptonite. I hate them with an unbridled passion. I feel like they cage my thoughts and creative style.

So what can you do to ease this on you? Look at other articles written on the same topic, and observe the styles employed by these different authors. What patterns do you notice? What kind of language structures do they use to effectively pass on their message on this topic? You may glean a thing or two that may kick a little inspiration into that brain of yours, who knows? Sometimes looking at what other people write and the angles they take is all the inspiration one needs to start the writing process without having to force it. Deadlines be damned! No, I didn’t mean that.

Again, these are tips that have helped me and others. They may not work for you. Don’t knock them until you’ve tried them, though…

Go get them, soldier!

Check Out Benefits of Using the Online Dating Services

The concept of online dating is changing the way singles meet with each other. With the various challenges in the field of dating in these days, lots of people are using the internet. One of the most eminent benefits of using the online dating services is that one can communicate with someone irrespective of the location. The geographical barriers do not play a part in the case when you are chatting and dating through the net. Building a strong relationship is really tough. It requires lots of adjustment, sacrifices, and understanding. A few years back, people communicate with each other directly or they go to watch movies or for coffee. Direct interaction has both good and bad sides.

There are various benefits of dating through online media. You do not have to face the person, you do not have to go for a frequent meeting, you do not have bad feelings too. For the internet, life has become convenient and easier than before. If you are single, you can just find out a reliable site on the internet that helps you to get your life partner who matches with your compatibility.

1. Fast and easy way of meeting your life partner

When you are using the online sites, you are going to save lot of time. Though, most of the people think that it is a difficult task. But, you can find your life partner without any problem when you take help of the websites. You join the site; give your details and priorities. The team will help you to find out the right match. The online dating is much more convenient than the traditional dating services.

2. Avoid the chances of embarrassment

In the case of direct meeting up with people, there is always a chance that you can face embarrassment. When you are meeting the person directly, there are chances that the person does not like you or you do not like the person. This will create a sense of insecurity. Creating an online profile is easier than meeting with people directly.

3. Meet with more people regularly

When you are using the websites to date with new people, there is a chance that you are meeting and interacting with new individual regularly. This will make you feel comfortable and help you to widen up the thoughts that you are having. If there is rejection, you can try the next one without a bad feeling.

These are some of the advantages of using the online dating services.

Event Planning – Throw an Event That Will Be the Talk of the Town

Centerpieces

When planning an event, you must think about if you need centerpieces. Personally, centerpieces are one of my favorite parts of an event. They can be big, small, quaint, or flashy. Centerpieces can really add something to the event and make it look complete. There are some things to think about though. You don’t want to make a centerpiece too tall that you can’t see through at a social event. One time, we were planning a Christmas banquet and we thought it would be a great idea to use mini Christmas trees as the centerpieces, though we were wrong. The trees were too thick to see the people across the table, so the guests took the trees off of the tables. Talk about a centerpiece disaster. Another time, we planned centerpieces that had big, tall branches painted silver. These worked out fine because the branches weren’t too flourished. You really have to think about the setting and events happening at your event when planning centerpieces, otherwise they can hinder the success of your event.

Invitations

Invitations are not as simple as they appear to be. Invitations are the very first impression you make on your guests. You make the first impression completely without even seeing them and weeks in advance. Your invitation sets the tone for the event. Your guests get a feel for the event before attending.

How soon should you send them out you ask? If planning for a wedding, it is suggested you send them out 8 weeks before the wedding. If planning a party, it is suggested you send them out 3-6 weeks before the event depending on the specifics. Make sure you give people enough time to plan. Make sure to include all important event info, as well. Who, what, when, where, why, what to wear, and how to RSVP.

Get creative with your invitations! Personally I love invitations that are an actual object to be used. Maybe you make a mixed CD of your favorite songs and send that as an invite? When I was a kid, my mom always had the coolest invitations for my birthday parties. One time she laced shoe laces up a paper roller skate for a skating party. Another time she wrote all of the party info on a beach ball for a pool party. Your invitations don’t just have to be paper sheets. Think outside of the box! It will also make your guests more interested and excited to come.

Food

Some people argue that the best part of any event is the food. When choosing food for your event, you really need to think about the audience you’re catering to.

Are you planning a kids or family event? Pizza is always a safe option for kids. Most children like pizza and it is easy for you. Planning an event for college students? College students just like free food. You’re pretty safe with anything. As for adults, it depends on the formality of the event? A black tie affair, then of course you will have a course meal. A wedding? It’s up to the couple if they’d rather go the buffet route or the plated meal route.

You also have to decide whether you want your event catered or if you will make the food in house. Of course this depends on the size of your event. The bigger the event, the more food you need, the more likely it’s better to have it catered. A smaller party could be taken care of in house.

Overall, the food should be a high priority on your planning list. People love food and expect it to be delicious.

Venues

Your venue truly depends on what type of event you’re having. A wedding? Your options are very very broad. A corporate meeting? Your options are a little more narrow. Maybe you’re just throwing a party? You can really choose wherever fits your theme. Your venue sets the tone of the event.

Venue options include:

Conference center

Barn

Church

Banquet Hall

Restaurant

Outdoor event space

Ballroom

Meeting center

Your options are really endless, but you need to put some thought into the feel you are trying to go for. You also will always want to have a back up plan for outside events. Maybe you’ll want to hand out fans if it’s hot outside? Or maybe you’ll have covered awnings in case it rains? Whatever the case may be hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.

Decorations

Decorations can change the feel of the entire event. Your decorations can make or break the event. But remember sometimes less is more as well, so don’t think that you have to use a million different things. Also the type of event you’re planning might not need decorations. Evaluate the type of event you’re having and the level in which you want to decorate to. Good luck and happy decorating!

Follow these guidelines and your event is sure to be a hit!

Life Coaches – Think Video

Let's assume that you have amazing life coaching skills, and the potential to be a popular life coach, yet you are not getting the number of clients you want. You are good at social networking, and you even have lots of page visits. You have a snappy and informative website. You have impressive credentials. You might even appear on other life coaching websites. In short, you have reached out and you have worked hard, but you are not yet hitting your target. What can possibly be missing? Well, the good news is that it just may be the most obvious, the simplest, and easiest to solve problems in social network marketing.

You probably already know that when people think about whether to hire you as a coach, any kind of coach, they need to feel they can trust you. No one desires to pour their heart out, or place their future in the hands of strangers. Or a photo of a stranger. No amount of copy, no matter how well written can take the place of your potential clients seeing and hearing you, looking at your eyes as you express yourself, and sensing the confidence and sincerity in your voice. In short, you need to post compelling web videos in order to bridge that gap between you being a stranger to being someone who projects warmth, authority, and empathy.

Web videos can be a great social marketing tool when well thought out for your individual business and personality. They can be counter productive if you try to copy someone else, or take a cookie cutter approach. Here are some suggestions.

WHAT TO SAY IN YOUR VIDEOS

Part One Keep it short, and focused on the client's needs and how you are here to help. Introduce yourself, but do not give a long drawn out bio. Ask them to please call by your first name. I am not going to give specific examples here because it would defeat the purpose of making your video unique. Suffice to say that you can do a lot of good in the first 15 to 20 seconds by asking the client if he or she is having trouble coping with a business or personal issue. Pause, just for a couple of seconds, to let a bit of suspense build. Then tell the client they have come to a good place, that he or she has just taken the most important step. You can help, you will help, and you will explain how in the next two minutes. The specific language and style must be your own. What you have done in this 20 seconds is to ask a big question and provide the answer. You have taken a weight off of the client's shoulder, and you have their attention.

Part Two This is where you establish three points. (A) What makes you uniquely qualified to the client. There are a lot of pitches out there by coaches, but you are unique and we need to know about that. It may be your knowledge base, training, life experience, etc; (B) explain how you can help. This might, for instance, involve your particular technique. Be specific; (C) Tell the client why he or she she can depend upon and trust you. Confidentiality and other best practices are important to mention. If the client has confidence that you adhere to a professional code, this will help you to connect.

Remember, this is not an elevator pitch. You are not pitching at a cocktail party. This is intimate, and the client needs to feel that it is all about him or her. This does not mean that you can not include your credentials or unique selling points, but it needs to be done in the context of making the client feel more and more at ease with you.

Part Three This is your call to action. But resist the temptation to pressure someone into action. Your prospective clients are likely to feel edgy or wary, because they are facing difficulties. They may already have quite sufficient high pressure people in their lives. You need to let them know with your eyes and voice that you are the rock upon which they can lean.

Sweeten the pot with a gift or discount, but not in the way that most sales pages do. Instead, let the client know that it is important that the two of you first confirm that you are well suited as a team. So you are going to give away or discount the first live session. "Who knows," you say, "you may only need one session." I know that a lot of marketers say give an eBook or something similar. But in your case, I recommend keeping it personal. Getting live, face to face contact with the client (via Skype) is a great first step.

Even if you do not intend to do live coaching, a compelling and personalized video will help you connect with the client.

Remember, you are a unique coach. Your video should reflect that. Do not copy others.

Get help, even if it is only an amateur critic. Ask someone, who you trust to be objective, to provide feedback before posting your video.

Finally, do not spend a lot of money making your video. It is not necessary to hire a production company. You can probably shoot and edit it yourself, or find a friend who will. I have often talked people through their first few video productions, with guidance on what to say, as well as shooting, lighting, audio, background setting, and they usually end up wondering why they did not do it sooner. Now they are much more confident uses of social marketing video.

Top 10 Best-Selling Motorcycle Brands

In addition to the Japanese Big Four (Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Yamaha), the list of top-selling motorcycle manufacturers includes companies based in Italy, the U.S., Austria, and the UK.

Honda

Honda’s motorcycle division sells more than 15 million motorcycles annually, which makes it world’s leading manufacturer. One of the factors driving the company’s sales is its popularity in Asian markets. Yet Honda also dominates in North America.

Ducati

The Italian brand headquartered in Bologna manufactures motorcycles since 1935. Ducati is known for its powerful sport bikes. The company has a long and successful racing history, which started in 1951. Today it spends over 7% of its revenues on racing business. The brand belongs to Audi through its subsidiary Lamborghini.

Harley-Davidson

Great 20th-21st century history and exhilarating riding experience give Harley-Davidson the status of the legend bike company. This brand is familiar almost to everybody, even those who have never ridden a bike in their lives.

Yamaha

Yamaha bikes are known for excellent performance, ride quality and comparatively easy handling. Yamaha is almost as successful as another famous Japanese manufacturer, Honda. Moreover, the number of dirt bikes it sells exceeds Honda and Yamaha combined.

Kawasaki

The Motorcycle & Engine division of Kawasaki Heavy Industries gained recognition as a manufacturer of a wide range of bikes, from very small to sport ones. These motorcycles are loved all over the world for their powerful and reliable engines, capable of developing great speed. There are production sites in Japan, North America, Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand.

Suzuki

One more representative of the Japanese Big Four. The GSXR 750 and the DR 400 are among the most popular Suzuki motorcycles. The company has over 35 production facilities in more than 20 countries.

KTM

During its first years the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer specialized in 2-stroke and 4-stroke off-road motorcycles, but in the course of time its product range grew wider. In addition to dirt bikes, it now includes street motorcycles and sports cars. The brand belongs to CROSS Industries AG and Bajaj Auto Limited.

BMW Motorrad

BMW is one of the oldest motorcycles manufacturers. The company’s first bike was made in 1923. BMW Motorrad is famous for its road bikes, sports-touring bikes and sport bikes. Some of the most well-known models are the GS Adventure, the S 1000 REFRIGERATORS, and the K1600.

Triumph

The largest motorcycle maker in the UK, Triumph specializes in road bikes that belong to the cruiser, naked, and sport classes. The Triumph brand is owned by BMW.

Victory

Victory is a comparatively new brand, it started production of motorcycles in 1998. Its large-displacement cruisers are famous all over the world. The company based in the U.S. has its final assembly facility in Iowa.

Raise Cash by Selling Your Car

There are times when you need to raise cash for a particular expense, such as remodeling your house, or adding to the kid's college fund, or even to buy that dream car you've been lusting after in high school. If you have more than one car, or a spare car, here are a few tips for selling your car that can turn that asset sitting in your garage into cash.

There are many tips for selling your car, but one you will always get is to clean your car inside and out. You will only have one chance to impress a prospective buyer and buyers that see a spotless car in front of them will always get the initial impression that the car was well-cared for. Getting a car clean takes just a few dollars worth of cleaning aids and three or four hours of your time. When you clean your car inside out, go through the nooks and crannies too as a meticulous buyer may check to see if the cleanup job was wonderful. Or you can have your car professionally detailed, but only you can determine if the cost is appropriate to the value of the car you are selling.

Making your car presentable also means that you should check your car mechanically so that it runs as smoothly as possible. A good tip for selling your car is to change the oil before you put it up for sale. That way the oil will still look fresh without looking like it was replaced just because the car is being sold. Have a friend or mechanic ride with you to listen for squeaks or noises that you may not notice other due to familiarity but which will irritate a prospective buyer. Raise the car on a lift and check if things like muffler hangers are missing or if there are torn joint boots. Repairing these will not cost much but indicate a high level of care. However, if there is a need for a repair that will cost substantially, you will have to decide if you will sell the car as or do the repair to get the best price. But bear in mind that lots of buyers will be turned off if a car needs some fundamental repair.

Only when the car is spotlessly clean and mechanically sound should you take pictures or even videos of the car for posting to online sites and forums. Your pricing should reflect the mileage and overall condition of the car. It is best to gauge your car's price, not necessarily its worth as you think it should be, based on the price range of the same model of cars in your area. One tip for selling your car is determining whether you need to sell fast or can hold out for a better price.

And just because you have a sale that has been concluded does not mean that you can relax. Be on your guard for scams and if the buyer ins on paying by check, hold on to the car until the check clears. One important tip in selling your car is to register the change of ownership of the vehicle with the relevant transport authority as soon as possible. In case it becomes involved in an accident or other incident, you can show proof that that was not yours anymore when that car was involved.