Discovering Mojacar: Land of Enchantment

I’m from South America, I speak English and Spanish, I lived a while in Tampa (USA), and came to Mojacar 17 years ago to never leave.

As a citizen of Mojacar, I see people arriving each year from many countries with the intention to retire here or start a new life either alone or with their families, working for others or opening their own businesses. Many do very well, others have problems or adjustment difficulties due to the lack of information they had about Mojacar before coming.

Keep in mind that Spain has a unique, singular and own culture, and should never be compared with the country of origin, because all you get is to see everything black. You have to go to Spain with an open mind and a readiness to integrate into a lively and rich culture in all aspects.

From my point of view, the crisis has affected the standard of living in Spain, especially in big cities, however, in terms of quality of life, I do not know any better country than Spain to live in, and I’ve traveled a lot. Mojacar is safe, as almost every small town in Spain.

– Mojacar is easy to live at,

– Mojacar has a healthy weather, Mojacar is very affordable,

– Mojacar has a good transportation system and offers a 70% discount for elderly people over 65 years old,

and

– Mojacar, as the rest of Spain offers free health attention and treatments for citizens and residents.

What is it that makes Mojacar so special?

To answer this question, I must expose some facts:

– Mojacar Is located at the east of the province of Almeria. Bathed by the Mediterranean Sea, its waters are calm and warm and plenty of sandy beaches. Mojacar has two urban centers: the beach, with 17 km long, and the village at 1.8 km from the beach towards the mountain. You can choose to live in either of those.

With a population of 7,000 inhabitants Mojacar is located at 37 ° 08 ‘north latitude and 1º 51’ west longitude. The houses are facing south-east, cardinal points that offer the most favorable conditions due to the greater permanence of the sun, providing more light and better temperatures. In Mojacar there are 3,600 hours of sunlight per year.

– The average winter temperature is 18 degrees Celsius.

– Mojacar Is multicultural: around 30 nationalities are registered in the municipal census. Almost 40% of people living in Mojacar are from the UK.

– Its landscape consists of rugged and eroded peaks of Sierra Cabrera, where springs abound; its hillsides, with terracing and arable land; and the coast, with its beaches and coves. I must say that Mojacar is in a semi-desert area near the largest desert in Europe (Taverns), so the vegetation is low, there are not enormous trees or forests. This is something that many people love, but others, accustomed to other climates, do not support. I love it!

– Mojacar Is a typical mediterranean “white village”, where the construction of buildings over 3 levels are not allowed, and since January 2013, Mojacar is part of the network’s most beautiful villages in Spain.

– Mojacar Is 90 km from the capital of the province (Almeria) and 150 km from the capital of neighboring province (Murcia). This keeps it in a rural setting with basic services and away from the bustle of cities. The closest airport is located at 70 km from Mojacar. The Health Center offers primary care and there is a Regional Hospital 25 km in the neighboring town of Huercal-Overa. If you are registered as a formal resident or citizen, then health attention and treatments are totally free, and medicines are set at a ridiculous cheap price. Mojacar has no superstores or fast food franchises or branded clothing big shops. The shops are small but very nice.

– The main source of income is summer tourism, the winter months are quiet and sedate. In fact, many businesses closed during the winter months to reopen when the tourist season starts again, which runs from April to September.

And here we stop with the “data”, now let’s talk about how people live in Mojacar.

Mojacar jobs are scarce during the winter and that makes many young people have to leave during the winter months to seek work in other provinces. This also happens because the shops are small and do not need employees during the winter. The average wage in the service sector is 1,200 euros per month during the high season, and 900 euros in the winter months. Although there are many 4 star hotels, some close in winter due to lack of tourism.

The best businesses to run in Mojacar are B&B’s that are easily managed online and restaurants of “tapas” (we’ll talk about the “tapas” below). Also small shops like “gourmet” stores are very successful. Restaurants, services related to food suppliers, cheap bazaars, hardware stores and anything related to agriculture and livestock work basically in winter. Organic products are highly demanded.

For people who seek to live in a rural setting, Mojacar is ideal. The business of snail farms is also booming due to low costs and high profits. In Spain thousands of kilos of snails per year are consumed, and domestic production is low, so it is a perfect business for a place like Mojacar.

Because of its climate, Mojacar crops from almost anything are successful, the most profitable are vegetables, aloe vera, stevia, moringa and vetiver.

Livestock is based on raising goats and sheep, rabbits, pigs and chickens. The goatherd job still exists and goats and sheep graze freely on the fields guided by the goatherd and his dogs and then return to the pens at nightfall. This makes it very common to see hundreds of animals crossing the road, and sometimes we have to wait…

Professional and official translators, mainly English, German, Chinese, Romanian, French, Italian and Russian are highly requested. Also dentists, physiotherapists, decorators, bricklayers, plumbers, gardeners and especially electricians are needed. Electricity power runs at 220V.

ADSL Internet is about 8 Mb (yes, 8 MB!) but can perfectly maintain a business online at that speed. For example, I live in the mountains, navigate at 2.5 Mb and I do good…

As for housing, renting a duplex with two bedrooms and two bathrooms on the beach is around 400-500 euros per month. Sometimes it is difficult to find a rental, because people prefer to rent homes only in the summer to double or triple the price and enjoy them on the winter months, but you can always find something. The best thing is word of mouth, because the realtors charge a lot of money in commissions, so it’s better to ask for housing at the bazaar, the bar, the supermarket or at the cigarettes store.

If you want to buy a property, get good advice, as there are many “illegal” homes. Mojacar protects its territory by coastal laws, and not every piece of land is developable. The problem of buying an illegal house built on undeveloped land, is that the city can give a demolition order and you can lose everything. Be very careful with unscrupulous real estate agents. It is best to go to the Land Registry and check that the house we want to buy is in order. It is a simple procedure, but many foreigners do not know it and fall into the trap. The price of a duplex with two bedrooms and two bathrooms on the beach is around 150,000-200,000 euros depending on the area.

Social life in Mojacar is easy if you like going out. There are various leisure activities for all ages: adventure, quads, cycling and motorcycling clubs, archery, fishing, bocce club, bowling, hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, sailing, kayaking, diving… and of course, “tapas” bars!

The “tapa” is a small portion of food that is given away every time you order a drink. There is a culture around tapas and a real competition to see which bar makes the best tapas. We go to a tapas bar usually for an aperitif before lunch or dinner. It is also a social act. When a group of friends get together, they usually go for tapas and a pleasant chat.

The schedules are different in Spain… and very different!

In Spain, shops open at 10:00 and close at 14:00. Between 14:30 and 16:30 people eat and sleep the famous “siesta”. Shops reopen again at 17:00 and close at 21:00. We work eight hours like everyone else, but we don´t wake up early and we sleep for a while after eating. This schedule is often difficult for foreigners, they do not understand the importance of rest in Spain. With this type of schedule, you have plenty of time to go to the bank in the morning or if you want to go a “churros” breakfast before working. The churros are delicious dipped in chocolate or coffee. They are fried dough sticks with sugar and are the National Breakfast! Then when we finish work at 14:00, we have time for tapas, eat, sleep or even go to the beach for a flash swim. And at night, we can have a few beers after work with friends or dine quietly at home. That’s what I call Quality of Life.

Mojacar: sun and light, sea and beaches, mountains, clean air, quiet, rural life, fine dining, great weather, leisure, culture and fun. What more could you ask for?

Greetings to all from the Land of Enchantment!

Find the Free Auto Repair Manual You Need Online

You can easily get a free auto repair manual for whichever repair need you might have. You need an internet access and have to follow a certain procedure searching for auto repair manuals, but when you have done this procedure a few times it will be very easy to find the right instructions for do it yourself auto repair and it won’t cost you a dime.

There are four types of automotive description documents that you will need to choose from when you want to do a repair;

  • General manuals
  • Diagnosis descriptions
  • Repair manuals
  • Maintenance manuals

General Manuals

In addition to some general manuals, most of these are related to the make. Here you can get step by step guidance on how to repair most of the makes in the vehicle market. Let’s say you have a Honda Acura 2002 model and you want to find a manual for that make and model. What you do is perform the following search in a search engine: “free car manuals+Honda Acura+2002”. Then you will have a long list of sites that provide you with all kinds of descriptions for your Honda Acure 2002 model, and you can choose what you want.

Diagnosis descriptions

Automotive diagnosis manuals can also be sub-divided by make and model. But it can also be divided by the area of the vehicle that is affected, for example engine intake problems, brake problems, cooling problems, exhaust problems, start or stall problems, transmission problems etc. Let’s say you have a start problem. Your search would be “car diagnosis manual+ start problem”, then you should get more than enough repair information to choose from. You can even get diagnostic trees where all options are covered for nothing.

You have probably more than one time heard some annoying noise from somewhere in your vehicle, without finding the source of it. This is one of the most kinky situations to run into because you don’t know if it is a serious signal or just a small thing. Some websites gives you the opportunity to diagnose vehicle problems by the noise, sound and vibrating signals – and that is great. The sooner you find it the sooner you can fix it and then you can relax. When you search, you can describe the sound, for example “whine noise” or “shifter knocks” or “driveline vibration” plus car diagnosis manual plus eventually the make.

Repair Manuals

In addition to regular manuals you can also get very instructive and detailed descriptions in other internet document or websites like articles, etc. The natural way to sub-divide such repairs before searching, is by the area of the vehicle that is going to be repaired, for instance body repair, exhaust repair, suspension fix, interior repair and even general car repair.

You do the search the same way as above; “car repair manual (or description) + the area of repair and go through the list of resources you get.

Maintenance manuals

Though vehicle maintenance is closely related to your vehicle make and model, there are some maintenance issues that are pretty much common whether you have a Cadillac, VW or a Mercedes, for example changing oil, changing air filters, engine wash, fluid maintenance, tier maintenance etc. You can get access to maintenance descriptions by searching for the kind of maintenance plus “car maintenance manual (or description)” plus eventually your make and model.

I think you’ll be amazed of the amount of automotive repair free stuff online.

An Explanation of Lloyd’s Slips

Lloyd’s slips were originally pieces of paper containing all the details of a risk to be placed on the Lloyd’s of London insurance market, although today these are accepted electronically. Lloyd’s slips are documents in a standard format which are intended to assist not only the underwriter giving consideration to the risks presented to them but also the policy drafter and those responsible for checking and accounting for the premium. The slip has to be correctly compiled or it will be rejected.

The slip provides a precis of the risk, but an insurance broker passing the slip on a clients behalf needs to be well briefed with additional facts figures and to have available all relevant material such as survey reports, maps, plans, detailed claim records and any other documents or information which may have a bearing on the risk. The insurance broker when preparing the slip, is required to assemble a balanced and accurate representation of the risk and should anticipate as far as possible questions which are likely to arise and disclose this on the slip. If, however, a question is asked to which the broker does not know the answer, it is his duty to say so and refer back for further information. The need to disclose every material fact must always be borne in mind when completing a Lloyds slip.

Where it is necessary that a risk be spread among a number of syndicates, for a rate to be agreed that is likely to prove acceptable to other subscribing underwriters the lead underwriter, or ‘leader’, must have the confidence of other underwriters. To know which leader to approach first is an important part of the Lloyd’s broker’s expertise, though it does not follow that the first underwriter approached will necessarily lead the slip. If high amounts are required to be insured, and a large number of syndicates have to be involved, there is less opportunity for competition. For smaller risks the broker may find a keener rate or better terms by shopping around. The lead underwriter is not necessarily the one who can write the biggest line, though normally he will write a substantial line.

A good insurance broker needs to be a good negotiator. Tenacity is required but not to such a point as will prevent conclusion of the business. The aim is to bring the discussion to such a successful conclusion that both the underwriter and the broker together with his client are reasonably satisfied that the best possible arrangements have been made. There are times when a Lloyd’s broker needs to obtain almost unfairly competitive terms. A co-operative underwriter may provide these, so long as there is a bulk of business which has been concluded at sensible rates.

After obtaining a lead (which may be for only a small percentage), the broker needs to complete the placement. It may be that the risk can be placed using only Lloyd’s underwriters for which a slip will suffice, but sometimes the size of the exposure may necessitate the use of insurance companies in London or even overseas.

A binding authority or a ‘cover’ provides the cover holder with authority to accept risks within the limits and terms set out on the slip. The broking operation here is to negotiate the binding authority, the limits and the terms agreed. No reference is required to the underwriters once the arrangement has been set up though the binding authority will need to be renewed annually.

Line slips, on the other hand, do not give full authority to the cover holder. If a risk is to be placed under a line slip, it is normal that the two or three lead underwriters have to be seen, and they have to accept the risk and its terms and conditions. The remaining underwriters, however, abide by their agreement under the line slip for their stated proportion.

Once an underwriter has signed the slip as accepting the risk from a given date, then the insurance is effective from that date. As soon as the placement is completed, the client will be advised and the slip and its document will go through the policy issuing and accounting process.

The Lloyd’s broker who has placed the risk may sometimes be required to negotiate with the underwriter regarding a claim. However, except for the very smallest broking companies, it is more usual for a special claims broker to be appointed whose sole responsibility is to deal with these items. If loss adjusters or other assessing and negotiating parties are employed by the underwriter, then it may be the broker’s duty to negotiate with them as well. In the event of a claim the slip will be very carefully scrutinized.

In the recent past slips would have to be sent to the Lloyd’s underwriting room itself, but today this would be totally impractical for Lloyd’s to transact insurance business in this manner. Many car insurance syndicates at Lloyd’s have overcome this problem by allowing insurance broker firms to pass slips directly to them. Some of these motor syndicates have actually set up offices in towns around the country and the local motor insurance brokers deal direct with these offices, passing the slips to them to complete the deal. This method now enables Lloyd’s syndicates to easily compete with the large insurance companies on a national scale.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cable Broadband

Cable broadband is undoubtedly becoming the main connection of choice for many users nowadays. This type of internet service relies on the data sent and received by the cable provider. Since many companies are offering this service, a lot of subscribers are taking interest of this option because of its several advantages.

This, of course, doesn’t denote that the technology is perfect and it’s the best way to access the web. There are certain benefits and drawbacks that come with cable internet. This article intends to show you both sides of the coin so read on:

Advantages

One big contributing factor why cable internet is a huge hit among many is its impressive speed. There are services that offer up to 12Mbps and so surfing the web can be a real pleasure. Watching videos via streaming sites, playing online games and downloading heavy files can be an enjoyable experience.

Even when compared with DSL or wireless connection, it’s pretty evident that cable broadband performs much better. Dropped connection is not too common and they usually only happen during network updates.

On top of that, you can go for a bundle package if you want to save some money. You can have cable internet, cable TV, and a landline with this deal. Subscribing to a single provider can definitely be a cost-effective idea.

Disadvantages

Of course, cable broadband is not a perfect system. For example, users commonly complain about the bad bandwidth during peak hours. The speed can sometimes go lower than the promised performance and this is completely unavoidable at times.

If you want to increase your connection’s speed, then you may have to subscribe with premium packages. This may mean higher monthly charges in the long run. You may also be annoyed to find out that installation fees can be very expensive if there aren’t any existing coaxial cable lines in your location. Also, take note that the neighborhood shares the same bandwidth from the cable line. That implies that too many subscribers to the same provider can make the connection weaker.

These are some of the factors you should consider before deciding whether cable broadband is right for you. Feel free to ask around and visit with different internet providers in your area so you can get detailed information about their offers. Finding the best package for cable internet doesn’t have to be a pain if you know the right questions to ask. You’ll be better capable of evaluating options that way and you’ll surely end up with the best package.

Reverse Mortgages – What is the Maximum Claim Amount?

Once a senior homeowner 62 years or older learns the general features of a reverse mortgage, they usually want to find out how much the loan can offer in proceeds. This can be done in several ways: by looking up a reverse mortgage proceeds calculator on websites (not always an accurate indicator); by talking to various lenders by phone; or by face to face appointment with a loan officer who brings actual figures to the senior for their review. Since a senior will want to know enough about the loan officer to trust they are providing accurate information, a face to face interview is recommended whenever possible.

In a face to face conversation, a loan officer will usually use a Reverse Mortgage Comparison Sheet to show what proceeds the homeowner can expect to receive. This sheet contains different loan products offered by the lender. Currently, only government insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages known as HECMs are widely available. The primary differences will be whether the product is a fixed rate or monthly adjustable rate HECM.

The heart of a Reverse Mortgage Comparison Sheet contains columns of numbers that are labeled with names that may make little or no sense when read for the first time. The first label that comes to mind (because it’s usually near the top of the list of terms and numbers) is “The Maximum Claim Amount.”

The Maximum Claim Amount is actually an insurance term. Thinking of it that way will help in understanding where the number comes from. FHA has a maximum limit (currently $636,150) of home value that it will insure. Put simply, FHA is willing to insure a reverse mortgage for the appraised value of the home up to the maximum claim limit. Therefore, if a home is appraised by an FHA approved appraiser at $400,000, the Maximum Claim Amount will be $400,000. On the other hand, if a home is appraised by an FHA approved appraiser at $700,000, the Maximum Claim Amount will be $636,150 or the current maximum limit that FHA will insure.

The Maximum Claim Amount is generally estimated until the senior receives counseling by a HUD approved reverse mortgage counselor, an application is signed by the borrower(s), and an FHA Case Number is assigned. Only then does an FHA approved appraiser physically conduct an appraisal to assign a value to the home.

Although the Maximum Claim Amount may be $636,150 and a house may be worth $800,000, do not expect a HECM to provide the homeowner with $636,150 of proceeds. The Maximum Claim Amount is only one of three factors used to determine the proceeds that can be offered. The other two factors are the age of the youngest borrower (must be at least 62), and the current expected interest rate (based on the current 10 year London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR rate, plus a stated margin for the adjustable rate HECM and based on the current fixed interest rate for the fixed rate reverse mortgage). The rule of thumb is: the higher the Maximum Claim Amount, the higher the proceeds available to the borrower; the lower the Maximum Claim Amount, the lower the proceeds available to the borrower.

Take a little time and learn what the terms such as Maximum Claim Amount mean on a Reverse Mortgage Loan Comparison Sheet. Such knowledge can help in making an informed decision about whether a HECM Reverse Mortgage is a loan product that could help you either now or in the future.

Interior Log Walls – The Causes and Repair of Water Stains on an Interior Log Wall

Causes of Interior Water Stains

Water stains are the result of water contacting unprotected log surfaces. Before you begin to remove the stains on your interior log wall, you need to determine where the water originated. This may have occurred during the building process, gaps between the log courses due to settling or broken gaskets/caulking that have failed. Water stains can also be the result of a previous plumbing problem or just windows left open repeatedly allowing water to enter. Once you are certain the situation has been corrected, you can begin to repair the water marks.

Repairing Water Stains on Interior Log Walls

There are several methods used to remove water stains from an interior log wall. The best method may depend on the depth and severity of the staining. If they were caused during the building process and the staining is severe, you may want to consider hiring a log home professional to have the walls media blasted with corn cob, glass or walnut shells. Although this can be messy and will involve removing all objects from inside the room, it is very effective. Most log professionals will do their best to seal the area and help minimize dust from traveling into other areas of the home.

Usually water stains are in a more confined area and not too severe. If you decide to tackle the project yourself, start by using regular sand paper (fine to medium grit, depending on the log species) and a traditional palm sander. Begin sanding at the edge of the water mark. If they can not be easily removed it may be necessary to use an orbital sander or belt sander. Concentrate on blending the darker edges. It takes patience and care to remove the water stained area without removing too much of the log fibers. You can easily damage your log wall creating an uneven and undesirable look. You may be able to achieve good results by sanding the water stained area only and applying a pigmented stain. However for best results, once the water mark has been removed, lightly sand the entire log wall to allow for even absorption of stain and avoid color variations.

Staining Interior Log Walls

Interior log walls are exposed to areas of indirect or direct UV rays through skylights, windows and doors. Even if your interior log wall was not previous stained, chances are that over time the characteristic of the log wall will appear different.

Most log home coatings companies have developed products designed specifically for interior log walls. These products are typically water based and available in different finishes. Depending on your personal preference, you can choose a clear (non-yellowing) finish in a gloss or satin. If you prefer a pigmented stain, most offer different shades. Whether you are trying to match an existing log wall or deciding what color would best blend with your existing finish, most manufacturers are happy to mail color samples of their products. Applying a finish to interior walls will not only offer protection but also make cleaning the log surface easier.

Conclusion

In most situations water stains can be effectively removed without leaving obvious signs of water damage however, there are no quick and easy solutions. Your patience will pay off once you expose the new bright wood fibers just beneath the surface.

What’s He Thinking? – 5 Ways to Get Inside His Head

Men can be infuriating. Sometimes they seem as mysterious as women supposedly are; they don’t talk about how they are feeling, they won’t ask for help, and it can be like pulling teeth getting them verbalize that they love you.

There are a few simple things you need to understand about men that will help you to get inside your guy’s head and understand what he’s thinking. A basic understanding of male psychology and relationship psychology can help you understand your man better. Keep in mind that the following tips are generalizations and don’t apply perfectly to every man, just as generalizations about women being more emotional don’t necessarily apply to every gal out there. So, use your intuition about your guy along with these tips to really figure him out.

1. Men are logical creatures. This is wonderful in some cases but can sometimes cause trouble in relationships. For example, when his girlfriend or wife is upset, he may try to help by offering practical solutions. What she wants is often emotional support, not cold reasoning. To a woman this may feel like he is uncaring and just trying to stop her complaining by giving solutions (that she has likely already considered and rejected). To make this trait work to your advantage, appeal to his problem solving side rather than his sympathetic side.

2. Men tend to show affection through physical actions as opposed to women’s tendency to be more verbal. This is why it seems that women are often trying to get their man to say “I love you,” particularly in newly serious relationships. A guy would rather just show you that he loves you by his actions. This is one reason body language is so important. By “listening” to his actions you can figure out a lot of the emotion that is going on inside. If he touches your back as he walks by he’s saying “I care for you.”

3. The flip side of reading body language is being able to tell when a guy needs some alone time, or time to chill with his guy friends. It simply isn’t true that one person can provide everything – all of another person’s needs. So, don’t feel threatened or rejected if he wants to spend some time with his pals. He may want time alone to recharge, just like we all need now and then.

Reading body language and reading between the lines when he talks to you is key. If he comes home after a long day you may ask him how his day was. If he says it was a difficult day for whatever reason that is your queue to let him relax and not jump in right away about your day. Just a few minutes can make a big difference. While women tend to want to talk all about their stress and vent, guys are more apt to need to decompress with some relaxation or by having some fun with friends.

4. The traditional gender role of men is as the provider and protector. This is not to say that a woman can’t take care of herself, of course she can. But in a family or relationship situation, the man still feels that desire to protect and provide for his partner and children. By understanding this deep need, you can motivate him to do certain things. For example, you may be able to persuade him to leave work early to attend his daughter’s dance recital by letting him know (in a non-accusatory way) that girls whose fathers aren’t very active in their lives often grow up being more promiscuous.

5. Understand the male ego. Being a strong protector plays into the male ego. Also, being independent and capable is important to their ego, or perhaps we should call it self esteem. Even the gentlest guy may feel threatened if you somehow insinuate that he is not capable of something, even if you are just trying to help. For example, if he’s trying to fix something and is having trouble, he may be offish when you ask if he needs help. So give him some space and let him figure out a solution on his own. This will make him feel better about himself and in turn he will be a better boyfriend or husband to you.

It’s not always easy to know what your man is thinking, but there are some ways to decipher what is going on in his head using relationship psychology. These 5 concepts a will help you understand and get along with your guy better. If you can internalize and apply them, you’ll find yourself and him happier and more secure in your relationship.

The Importance Of Excel In The Workplace

Excel is perhaps the most important computer software program used in the workplace today. That’s why so many workers and prospective employees are required to learn Excel in order to enter or remain in the workplace.

From the viewpoint of the employer, particularly those in the field of information systems, the use of Excel as an end-user computing tool is essential. Not only are many business professionals using Excel to perform everyday functional tasks in the workplace, an increasing number of employers rely on Excel for decision support.

In general, Excel dominates the spreadsheet product industry with a market share estimated at 90 percent. Excel 2007 has the capacity for spreadsheets of up to a million rows by 16,000 columns, enabling the user to import and work with massive amounts of data and achieve faster calculation performance than ever before.

Outside the workplace, Excel is in broad use for everyday problem solving.

Let’s say you have a home office. You can use Excel to calculate sales tax on a purchase, calculate the cost of a trip by car, create a temperature converter, calculate the price of pizza per square inch and do analysis of inputted data. You can track your debt, income and assets, determine your debt to income ratio, calculate your net worth, and use this information to prepare for the process of applying for a mortgage on a new house. The personal uses for Excel are almost as endless as the business uses for this software – and an Excel tutorial delves into the practical uses of the program for personal and business use.

The use of spreadsheets on computers is not new. Spreadsheets, in electronic form, have been in existence since before the introduction of the personal computer. Forerunners to Excel and Lotus 1-2-3 were packages such as VisiCalc, developed and modeled on the accountant’s financial ledger. Since 1987, spreadsheet programs have been impacting the business world. Along the way, computerized spreadsheets have become a pervasive and increasingly effective tool for comparative data analysis throughout the world.

Today, end users employ Excel to create and modify spreadsheets as well as to author web pages with links and complex formatting specifications. They create macros and scripts. While some of these programs are small, one-shot calculations, many are much more critical and affect significant financial decisions and business transactions.

Widely used by businesses, service agencies, volunteer groups, private sector organizations, scientists, students, educators, trainers, researchers, journalists, accountants and others, Microsoft Excel has become a staple of end users and business professionals.

The beauty of Excel is that it can be used as a receiver of workplace or business data, or as a calculator, a decision support tool, a data converter or even a display spreadsheet for information interpretation. Excel can create a chart or graph, operate in conjunction with Mail Merge functions, import data from the Internet, create a concept map and sequentially rank information by importance.

Excel offers new data analysis and visualization tools that assist in analyzing information, spotting trends and accessing information more easily than in the past. Using conditional formatting with rich data display schemes, you can evaluate and illustrate important trends and highlight exceptions with colored gradients, data bars and icons.

Indeed, Excel can be customized to perform such a wide variety of functions that many businesses can’t operate without it. Excel training has become mandatory in many workplaces; in fact, computer software training is a must for any workplace trying to keep up with the times.

Let’s say you’re an employer with 97 workers, 17 of whom called in sick today, and you want to know the percentage represented by absentees. Excel can do that. You can learn Excel and use it to determine the ratio of male to female employees, the percentage of minorities on the payroll, and the ranking of each worker by compensation package amount, including the percentages of that package according to pay and benefits. You can use Excel to keep track of production by department, information that may assist you in future development plans. You can create additional spreadsheets to track data on vendors and customers while maintaining an ongoing inventory of product stock.

Let’s say you want to know your business production versus cost. You don’t have to be a math wiz – you just have to learn Excel. Excel allows you to input all of the data, analyze it, sort it according to your customized format, and display the results with color, shading, backgrounds, icons and other gimmicks that offer time-saving assistance in later locating precisely the information desired. If this spreadsheet is for presentation purposes, Excel helps you put it together in such a visually appealing way that the data may seem to pop and sparkle.

The single most important thing an employer may do is learn Excel – it is one of the most essential tools of the workplace.

Excel and Microsoft are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation, registered in the U.S. and other countries. Lotus is a registered trademark of International Business Machines Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.

Engineering Business – Marketing Your Unique Selling Proposition

You know that you work that your engineering company is the best out there, but does the public know that? What makes your firm better than the competition? Do your prospective clients know that? What advantages and benefits do your clients have by using your firm? This is marketing; getting the word out about you and your company.

A major part of marketing is describing how your company is different from the competition, and how that benefits your clients. Most engineering firms do very little marketing outside of word of mouth and maintaining client relationships. Most of the time this may be all you need to do to stay busy, but if you want to grow your company you will need more clients and contracts. What happens when your clients starts to fade away or decides to use someone else? To stay busy you will need to employ several well planned marketing tactics.

One of the best ways to market is to inform the public of your difference from the competition by creating a Unique Selling Proposition or USP. A USP is what makes your firm different from your competition. If you want to immediately stand out in the engineering community, have a clearly defined USP. Ask the question “Why your potential clients would chose to do business with your firm versus the competition?” What separates your engineering firm from the competition? The answer is your USP. Your engineering company has better services, a guarantee, better selection of services, longer business hours, more flexible payment options, or a combination of all of these and more. You should be able to summarize your USP in one sentence. A great USP will have your potential clients thinking or saying, “I have to do business with these guys.” Most companies inadvertently talk about creating a USP, but don’t actually implement it.

Unfortunately, most USP’s are not unique; because many firms will review other USP’s and copy the best words. They will search the internet, review several business books, and might even ask other individuals and then combine the results into their own USP. If most USP the client reads are similar, then they have no meaning.

Again most of the marketing books available in the bookstore are not for professional service business like engineering. A personal service client is looking benefits more so than any other type of client. A customer of large chain store is probably looking for low price product. A client of designer is looking for quality name brand and not necessarily lowest price. But a client of professional service company is looking for something quite different. What do you want from a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant, or a designer? Are you looking for bonuses, sales, and discounts? Of course not!

A true USP answers the client needs. What is it that clients are looking for? Based on our experience most buyers want their professional service provider to have one or more of following characteristics:

1 – Reliability: Do what you say you are going to do, and be on time about it. This is listed first, because it’s so important. How many times have you heard engineers not meet the deadlines they promised? Developers work with very tight schedules, and depend on the sub-consultants meeting their deadlines. Delays cost money, and often more than the engineering contract amounts. This is also were most of the litigation occurs.

2 – Accessibility: In today’s age of the cell phone engineers are very accessible at any time and any day of the week. Clients expect you to answer your phone, and if they leave a message a return call is made as soon as possible. What the client wants is for the engineer to be there when they are needed.

3 – Impact: Due to the nature of the profession, every job is different, and no one solution can solve every problem. So the engineer must first understand the client’s need and then provide the best services that solve the need. In addition, the proposed engineering services must be targeted at enabling the client to reach their ultimate goal.

4 – Fit: All clients are different, and you can not work with everyone. Depending on your business management style, you may be a better fit with a demanding client, a novice who needs to be walked through every step, or a hands free client. To keep your clients happier it might be better from time to time to suggest another engineer who may be a better fit. Sometime it is better to let them go then hold on and ruin your reputation.

5 – Importance: There is no better feeling for your client then to know that they are part of the design team. It is extremely important to let your client know that they are a part of your team, letting them know the design options and your recommendations.

6 – Service: Exceed your client’s expectation by delivering a great service. This may mean personally meeting with client on a regular basis throughout the life of the project. Personally delivering correspondences and plans, and taking the time to talk with your client. Keeping them informed on the project status by constantly providing the best service possible.

7 – Prudence: There is more to a project then engineering design. Understanding the consequences of a design option or process and how it impacts the overall project is extremely important to the client. Although value engineering review determines that a design revision would save the client $50,000 to build, may not be a good decision if it adds two additional months to project’s schedule to process the revision. These additional months may cost the client $200,000 on carrying the loan and construction delays. Be careful and do your homework before you suggest a course of action for your clients.

8 – Research: The basics of engineering never really changes, but the technology and products are constantly being improved upon. The newest trend in engineering is green technologies, and this is affecting every category of the profession. Staying on top of the technologies is a continuous study.

9 – Listening: Understanding what the client needs, is essential in providing a service that is tailor-made. Your client may only want to develop the front half of their property with a convenience store. It wouldn’t be prudent to provide plans that develop the entire property. They may not want to develop the back area of the property at this time? Unless you are listening, you will not know. The client may have a multitude of reasons that do not include engineering.

10 – Teaching: Your client is coming to you for help to complete their project. They know they do not know everything, but expect you, the expert, to know exactly what to do. Teaching them the process makes them a better client. They will come back to you with their next project, because you took the time to explain the process and involved them in the design. The more they understand the more information they can provide to you, and will have the necessary documents ready for you as needed.

11 – Business Management: The client does not understand why the agency’s reviewing the engineering plans need to make any comments. In their opinion a good set of plans should have no comments. In fact, they are mostly right. If the business has a good quality control and quality assurance program in place, then there should be very few if any comments on the plans. Especially, any comments that would require revising the plans due to a poorly designed concept or one that does not meet codes. Any comments received should be for an alternative that may not have been considered. No client wants to pay for training inexperience personnel or missing information that should have been included in the initial design.

12 – Relationship Management: There are two types of business relationships; good and bad. Everyone in your office needs to feel and say good things about all of the clients. If your staff is making bad or derogatory comments about your clients, it want be long before your clients will find out. Once your clients think that you think of them as an adversary, they will start to look elsewhere for a new engineer. Without clients you have no business.

Now, take these ideas and create your own unique selling proposition, by giving the client what they want. Even if your firm has one employee, being unique will make your firm stand out from the crowd.

Most engineers have excellent technical skills, but not necessarily the same level of expertise in business management and marketing. It is the responsibility of the engineer to develop these management skills through continuing education. This continuing education can be obtained through Community Colleges, Universities, Professional Training Programs, Professional Organizations, and online training courses. In most states these continuing education courses qualify for continuing education units (CEU) or Professional Development Hours (PDH).

In this article we discussed the Unique Selling Proposition as a marketing strategy. Managers are often called upon to improve market efforts of the firm, having a list of other strategies that can be easily implement maybe the difference between a good and a bad manager.

The Third-Person Self-Distancing Technique

One purpose of formal meditation is to learn to see things as they are instead of as you think they should, would or could be. Meditation in this context means seeing the truth of things, and an effective way to express truth is to write, speak, think or observe in the third person – he or she instead of I. Observing yourself in the third person makes your perspective more objective and reality-based. It gives you some distance. It helps you to better control your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It helps you stay focused on facts and evidence instead of personal opinion.

This is why formal writing – academic, research and argumentative, use the third person. Removing the “I” or the personality from the expression gives it more credibility. Science and reality deal in fact not opinion. Life really doesn’t care about what you think; it cares about what you know.

Life really doesn’t work by subjective thinking alone; it works by objective knowing. The whole purpose of thinking is to get to knowing. It’s the stepping stone to knowing. And the practice of objectivity or detachment is the most effective way to get from thinking you know to knowing you know.

Let’s put the first sentence of this article in the third instead of second person – me talking to myself, and see the difference: “One purpose of formal meditation is to learn to see things as they are instead of as Billthinks they should, would or could be.”

Notice how this simple change in perspective gives some distance from the subject, and that this distance is what gives Bill more clarity about it. Continuing in the third person, Bill now sees things from the point of view of a fly-on-the-wall, or from a bird’s eye view instead of a worm’s eye view. Bill’s biased personality has effectively been removed from all that he experiences or witnesses.

In either case you’re talking to yourself, but now you’re talking to yourself matter-of-factly in steady of personally. Your higher, Subconscious Self is speaking to your lower personal self instead of personal self to personal self – which is a good definition of neurosis. Removing the personal removes the emotional – which is the main cause of erroneous perception and diminished self-control.

Many times a day, stop and notice whatever you’re thinking, feeling or doing in the third person. Let’s say your name is Kathy. Say to yourself, for instance:

“Kathy regrets taking on the extra work load. She should have thought it through more carefully before accepting.”

“Kathy’s going to miss that plane if she doesn’t get packing real soon.”

“As long as Kathy doesn’t see any sand or water traps, her ball can’t land in one.”

“Kathy needs to stops smoking.”

“Kathy’s not feeling very confident she’ll pass that exam. She knows she’ll have to change to a more positive attitude.”

“Kathy, please stop worrying so much about what others think. Have a little more confidence in yourself.”

“Kathy, you needn’t be fearful of speaking to an audience of three hundred. Just stay focused and imagine that none of them have any clothes on.”

“Kathy is thinking of inviting Sue over for dinner tonight. Sue knows how to listen to Kathy’s complaints without judging or chiding her. Kathy values that about Sue.”

“Kathy is a tad jealous – and angry, that Martha got that promotion instead of her.”

“Kathy needs to put down that box of chocolate chip cookies real soon!”

“Kathy is having second thoughts about Tom’s marriage proposal. His having had a sex-change operation was a big red flag.”

Practicing this self-distancing technique will quickly increase your clarity, self-control and performance levels because now you’re more centered instead of self-centered.

Thermal Mugs: Plastic Vs Stainless Steel

The basic design of thermal mugs, whether they are plastic or stainless steel is the same – double wall insulation with a lid to seal the top. But even though stainless steel versions cost more than plastic versions, in the long run, they are the best deal for travelers. They can also be made of ceramic or glass, but those are generally designed for household use and not for travel due to the possibility of breakage.

The main benefits of a stainless steel mug are durability and better insulation. Steel is tough, and although plastic mugs can take a beating, a steel mug can last much longer. This is especially true when compared to the more brittle, hard plastic mugs that are sometimes used to display stylish designs and finishes. Although messy, dropping a steel mug of coffee will not generally cause any damage.

There are three basic types of insulation used; air, foam or vacuum between double walls. Plastic versions usually use either air or foam. Both work acceptably, but air or foam is not as effective as vacuum insulation. More often than not, steel mugs use vacuum insulation which can keep beverages hot for a longer period of time. This can be quite important especially on long (and cold!) morning commutes.

Beyond the two primary benefits, there are a few other benefits that stainless steel thermal mugs have when compared to plastic mugs. Plastic, being slightly softer, is more difficult to clean. You can use tough cleansers (making sure they’re non-toxic!) on steel, but the same cleansers will scratch and damage plastic. For the same reason, plastic mugs tend to retain the flavors of the beverages that have been in them. This isn’t really a problem if you just drink regular generic coffee every day, but if you use the mug for different beverages, it can be.

When you look at all the factors, durability, ease of cleaning, effective insulation and better flavor, the stainless steel thermal mug is by far the best choice, even though it can be a bit more expensive. The only real benefits of plastic mugs are the lower price in the short run (which can be a big benefit if you lose your mug frequently!) and that they are slightly lighter than stainless steel mugs.

100 Calories Or Less

It's 3 pm on Tuesday and your tummy is rumbling. Do head for the vending machine and go straight for chocolate? No! Choose a snack that is just enough to give you that nice feeling of enjoyment, without packing on the unwanted pounds! Check out our favorite low-cal snacks, some even perfect for poolside!

Something Sweet:

1/2 cup of strawberries, dipped in chocolate of course! Microwave 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips in 10-second increments until melted. Only 93 calories, and it's pure perfection!

1 Hostess 100 Calorie Pack Cupcakes. Try the lemon flavor, light and fluffy without back tracking your diet!

1 Jell-O Mousse Temptations cup – Dark Chocolate Decadence is our fav. 60 calories of pure bliss.

15 chocolate covered raisins. Mmmm! Just do not let them melt in your beach tote! 95 calories.

1 Yoplait Yogurt light. Flavors including raspberry cheesecake, key lime pie, berries' n cream, red velvet cake and very vanilla. So many flavors, so little time! 100 calories.

1 Kellogg's Special K bar. Seven flavors that are less than 100 calories. Perfect for on the go!

Something Salty:

Replace the super fatty potato chips with Baked Lay's instead. Try the snack size that contains 130 calories. Keep in mind, chips are a highly processed food and lack nutritional value, so snack sparingly.

1 large hard-boiled egg. Slice it and sprinkle with salt, cumin, celery seed or nutmeg. Only 80 calories!

1/2 medium baked potato topped with 1 tablespoon of fat-free sour cream and salsa. You feel like your indulging on much more than 81 calories.

1 100 calorie pack of popcorn. It will fill you up without filling you out! Just keep in mind, the smell will linger through your office halls.

2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds. Good beach tote addition. 100 calories.

1/2 sliced ​​up cucumber. Dip in light ranch. Together under 100 calories.

1/2 cup of honey-roasted soy nuts. Packed with protein, this hearty snack will take care of your sweet, salty and crunchy needs. 100 calories.

Share with us your favorite 100 calorie snack. Fight off the vending machine munchies and stay on track with your bikini bod diet!

Highest Fiber Foods Make You Strong

The possible advantages of a high fiber diet are immune, but most of it has to do with your digestive system. Fiber does promote overall health too though, including your teeth, arteries and heart.

Many fresh fruits and vegetables that you already enjoy are high in fiber. Avocados, mangos, apples, carrots, beans, cereals, whole grain bread and most types of nuts are all excellent sources of fiber. Some of these products have nutritional labels on them and you should consult these labels so that you buy a balanced shopping trolley with foods containing the highest fiber. Foods are important for nutrition, it is important that you consider the food that you buy and not just put it in the basket because it looks yummy.

Keep A List Of The Highest Fiber Foods

Maybe you should take fiber seriously. If you do, then keep a list of all the highest fiber foods. It can help to alleviate painful conditions like constipation and diarrhea. It has been linked to a decreed risk of colon cancer and diverticulitis. It is a common prescription for people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. On average your system will be better as fiber assists the movement of food through your body and the excretion of waste.

Most people however do not get enough vegetables and fruits fiber. People are rashed and readily mostly on fast foods and processed foods. These foods are often not very nutritional. On top of this, the fiber content is low too. If you want to eat quickly during the day it is vital to know which foods are the highest fiber foods. This will save you time and if you have a chart in your kitchen it will save you even more time and energy.

You should get at least 25g of fiber every day. 25g is the lower limit and the best will be around 30g, depending on your build and bodyweight. If you want to be really serious about it you should consult a dietician and learn exactly how much fiber you should eat.

How To Drink Tequila

Most of us, simply have tequila shots. Well this is a very “tourist” approach to tequila. Lets dive in the intricacies of Tequila drinking and explore the different kinds of tequilas and how they are drunk.

Often when you order for tequila shots, you will either be served a blanca or plata. This means that the tequila is unaged and clear. This is the most popular tequila and is ideal for shots. Reposado (aged minimum 2 months but less than a year) is also a popular variety.

The most popular way to drink a tequila shot, is as follows: You first moisten the area between the index finger and the thumb while keeping your palm facing down and your thumb sticking outwards. The native’s moisten it by licking it. You now pour some salt on this area. Also, keep a lime slice ready by your side. Now lick the salt of your hand and shoot the tequila. This should immediately be followed by squeezing the lime in your mouth.

The salt is known as the seasoning. It seasons your tongue and throat to “cut” the harshness of tequila. The lime is known as the chaser. It helps balance and enhance the taste of tequila.

In native Mexico, they do it slightly differently. Tequila is rarely had in shots here. Firstly, they pour the tequila in a caballito. This is very similar to our shot glasses, only slighter slimmer and taller (It is the standard 2 oz though). The main difference however is the sipping of a sangrita by the side. It is often sipped alternatively with sangrita, which is a blend of tomato and orange juice, with salt and spiced with chillies.

In certain European countries such as Germany, Tequila is drunk with cinnamon (replacing salt) and orange slices (replacing lime). This makes an interesting combination and if you are the adventurous sort, do try it next time.

Some of the other fine or premium tequilas such as añejo (aged minimum 1 year) or extra añejo (aged minimum 3 years) are not drunk as shots. These are drunk mostly in snifters, as one would drink neat cognac. This way the aroma and bouquet of these tequilas are truly appreciated. The Austrian glass maker, Riedel, has designed a special 6 ¾ oz tequila glass, which they believe enhances the flavour of fine tequilas.

Even though tequilas are mostly served iced cold, natively it is drunk at room temperature. Tequila also mixes well in cocktails and the Margarita is the most popular of them all.

If you are interested to know more about tequila such as its history and how it is made, keep a watch out my next article “All About Tequila”

Lastly, as I always say, there is no “right” way to have a drink. Tequila is no different. Drink it, the way you enjoy and forget the rest (after a couple of shots you will anyway!).

How to Seduce a Woman With Killer Bad Boy Seduction (BBS) Techniques

Girls always want the bad boys. This is a universal truth, but why? It is because the bad boys are more exciting, more outgoing, and are generally perceived to be ‘living’ their lives more. Or, on the other hand, the bad boys are the ones that need help that bring out the girls motherly instincts that the girl can change. Either way, it’s no secret that girls prefer and secretly desire bad boys.

If you’re tired of going home alone night after night and if you’re tired of being thought of as only a friend, as nothing more that ‘some guy’ then you need to make a change. Becoming a ‘bad’ guy isn’t hard; all it takes is time, patience, and a little help using the tips outlined below.

How To Seduce A Woman With Killer Bad Boy Seduction (BBS) Techniques

BBS Technique #1. Take Command. Being the alpha male is no mean feat. In order to do this, you have to have the confidence and assertiveness to make others in the room sit up and take notice of you. Being dominant has many advantages, the main one in this case is that you will immediately set the stage for the rest of your relationship with the girl. If you are the dominant one, things will go a lot smoother for you.

BBS Technique #2. Confuse her with words. The best way to come across as a ‘bad’ boy is to keep the girl guessing. Make sure she is never entirely sure of where your intentions and actions lie. If she comes across really strong, pull back and keep her at a distance. If she appears all cold and hostile, change things up and come at her from a different angle. Keeping her guessing is a surefire way to make sure she stays interested and keeps coming back for more. Do this correctly and she’ll stay with you for ages.

BBS Technique #3. Give Hypnosis a Try. In the world of seduction, nothing says ‘bad’ boy better than hypnosis. This is the art of making any girl love you in just less than 15 minutes and works by hypnotizing the girl over a period of time during conversation.

Use this technique correctly and the girl of your choice will be putty in your hands and her-ever emotional whim and desire will be directly under your control, making you able to play her like a flute. Be warned, though: some members of the underground seduction community consider this as a form of ‘cheating’ as it effectively gives the user superpowers over the opposite sex.

The best thing about it, though, is that it is a very forgiving technique and you would require no experience. There are no fancy hypnotist’s moves for you to learn. You could literally be up and seducing as soon as tonight. Based on a bastardized form of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) it allows you to toy with a woman’s emotional state by anchoring her various emotional impulses within yourself, making you the literal target of her emotions. Highly effective, so you should get out there now and try it now!