The End of Thinking

I was born in 1962. In 1967, Mrs. Bellows taught me how to read. In fact, she taught every kid in our kindergarten class how to read. She used slate chalk boards and big pieces of chalk. The letters of the alphabet displayed over the top of the board. Our wooden desks still had the hole in them where the ink well was supposedly to sit. We did not have computers or anything too fancy for a class-room.What we had was Mrs. Bellows.

In order to learn how to read, we were first presented with the letters of the alphabet. Mrs. Bellows had a ladder depicted on the wall and between each of the rungs was a letter of the alphabet. She stood up at the ladder with her point stick and when it was your turn, you'd stand up and say the letter of the alphabet that Mrs.. Bellows was pointing to. She went down the ladder and then back up the ladder. We did not just learn to say the alphabet, we were learning to recognize the letters. You had to because she pointed them out in both directions so you could not just say the letter from memory. When you passed this test, your picture went above the ladder of letters. We all wanted our pictures up there. No child wanted to be left behind:)

The funniest thing happened to me in kindergarten. I learned how to say the alphabet backwards. When it was my turn to stand up, I already knew the drill from the previous day when I'd seen other kids go through this process. So that night, I had my Mom write the letters on a piece of paper and show me how to say them exactly the way Mrs. Bellows would point them out. When it was my turn to stand up in class, I informed Mrs. Bellows that I Did not Need to Look. She played along and I, completely missing the point of the process, regurgitated the letters frontwards and backwards. She was impressed. She took me to the principle's office (my first time) and had me do it for him. I then got a Red Cross button to wear on my shirt and I did not even have to pay a nickel for it! I was on cloud-9. And of course my picture made it to the top of the ladder, right next to Tammy Dickinson's (the first girl I ever kissed).

Every kid in our class ever got his picture posted on the top of the letter ladder – in the order in which we completed the task. Back then, competition was still allowed in the classroom and there was a sense of pride associated with getting this accomplished. I did not mind that Tammy was on the board before I was, I claimed her for it. I'm not sure when I decided to kiss her but I think that may have bought her down to my level. We continued to be academically competitive but we were pretty good friends too.

The next course was to run through the alphabet and make the sounds that each letter made. We learned vowels first – long-a and short-a. (And e, i, o and u's). We learned all the sounds of the consonants. In all, we learned all 46 sounds that you could make with the 26 letters we learned earlier. Not only that, but we were able to recognize which of those 26 letters were used singly or in combination to make those sounds. (That's when Mrs. Bellows recognized that I could not say my s's. I started speech therapy immediately and that would continue through the third grade.No drama, it was just part of the process.)

About mid-year, Mrs. Bellows handed each kid in the class their first book! It was a book about a dog named Spot (figures, I could not say my s's). Since we could recognize the letters that made the sounds that made up all the words, it was time to start reading! And we did. For the rest of the year, we each took our turn reading out loud to the class. We read boods about Dick and Jane and their dog Spot. Any then came the grand finale. We were going to put on a play for the rest of the school as well as our parents. I very proudly took the part of the Smart Little Pig! We did not have video cameras or even regular cameras so all I have of that play is a memory. Anyways, that was the year I learned to read.

Mrs. Bellows retired that same year. A more "progressive" teacher took her place. My brother did not reach the same level of reading until the third grade. Phonics was removed from the classroom and replaced with "whole word" reading. From that point on, we were teaching kids not to think. Strangely, someone decided it was easier to sort of remember what a word looks like than it was to learn 26 letters, 46 sounds and some rules on how they are combined. I believe that this is where it began to happen – the development of a bunch of non-thinkers.

I can envision a day where someone decides that it's too much hassle to learn to read. And why? We do not need this antiquated form of communication any more. How babies can navigate multimedia stories on a computer before they can walk and talk has already made big news. The Internet is dominated by text but as an internet consultant I have to tell my clients to write "scannable" text. The media sites are already taking over and my advice now is get on the video bandwagon. Google has already announced the ability to index audio with speech to text recognition and will give sites a big bonus for having "rich media". We are moving toward a multi-media driven Internet. In five years, you will not have that ubiquitous keyboard on your phone either, you'll be talking and passing audio messages. We click on You-Tube videos now. The media outlets are the targets and the bumpers and we're the pinballs. And this is how it happens. We just passed a 1000 page bill in the Senate, spent $ 1,000,000,000,000 dollars and not one of the people that voted for it could possibly read it.

Dungeon Master Basics – The Problem of Random and Unimportant NPC’s

The waitress in the inn common room. The owner of the General Store. The two guys on guard outside the merchant’s shop. Your world is peopled by thousands of unimportant NPC’s that your players will breeze right by. But every DM has faced that moment when, in the midst of dealing with the stableboy, one of your players turns to you and asks, ‘What’s his name?’ And you freeze. And stare, mouth open, and there goes the suspension of disbelief as the best you can do is, “…Bobby?” How can you avoid these moments? How can you avoid presenting two dimensional NPC’s, yet not drive yourself crazy trying to come up with detailed descriptions of every living person in your city?

The answer is simple, and can actually be quite fun. Before I get to the main method, however, let me give you another piece of advice first: cheat. Simply base your NPC on somebody you already know. This can be a movie star, a friend, a character from a book. The players want more information on the guard? Instead of blanking, just base him on Kevin Costner. Or Boromir from Lord of the Rings. Or anybody. A quick mental substitution can result in a wealth of information as you suddenly relax and begin to describe the guard with ease and precision.

But better yet is to be prepared. The way to do that is to always, always, always have a list of randomly generated names at hand, printed and ready for use. Just Google ‘Randomly Generated Fantasy Names’ and click on one of the links. I just did that, and generated the following: Nissenth, Nechtur, Rynnrtild, Targh, Sondn, and Quirr. Generate some 20 of these before hand and paste them into Notepad, and you’re set.

Names are an excellent start, but it’s so easy to make an NPC memorable that it’s a crime not to. Instead of saying, “Nissenth is a human guard with a halberd” you can take it a few easy steps further. You do this by creating a list of random physical quirks, ten being enough for a single session. These could be something like:
1) One eye
2) Bald
3) Incredible tall
4) Stinks like a sewer
5) Slouches
6) No teeth
7) Flower in his lapel
8) Massive holy symbol around neck
9) Hairy as an ape
10) No fingers on left hand.

Finally, create one last table and this time make it personality traits, such as
1) Furious
2) Perverted
3) Sly
4) Stupid
5) Incorrigible liar
6) Dreamer of peace
7) Lickspittle
8) Fallen noble
9) Hiding something
10) Flamboyant ex-actor.

So, you don’t have to roll for them, but when your players approach the guard and show more than a passing interest in him, you can simply look at your lists, see what catches your eye, and instead of saying, “Nissenth is a human guard with a halberd” you can now say:

Nissenth is a bald, stinky man who stares at your crotch with a stupid, vacuous expression on his face” or “Nissenth is a toothless man with no fingers on his left hand who gazes at you furiously, face red, right hand clutching at the massive holy symbol around his neck” or even “Nissenth is as hairy as an ape, has a flower on his lapel, and strikes a dramatic pose as you approach, gazing at you out of the corner of his eye to see if you admire his figure.”

Trust me, Nissenth will be all the more fun and memorable for it!

Is It Time to Eat?

Timing can be everything “in the right place at the right time” and this phrase can also sum up the time slot you choose to fuel your body. Now in starting the day with your first meal, we know that it means you are breaking your fast aka-breakfast. But how many of you are consuming breakfast within an hour of getting up?

I’m not clairvoyant, but somehow I think most folks may not be eating within that 60-minute window. The body metabolism slows down during the hours of sleeping in an effort to reserve energy; when you wake up it is important to fuel the body, eating the calories needed to get the body metabolism off to an optimal start.

According to the National Weight Control Registry, 78 percent of successful dieters eat breakfast daily. Eating breakfast can help in curbing the appetite and preventing overeating later in the day. The first meal of the day can also help improve mood and cognition. Good choices for the first meal of the day include carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fat. Whole grain cereals, eggs, low-fat cheese and peanut or almond butter are examples of best breakfast options.

Throughout the day the body has a characteristic rhythm and for the best results in maintaining a goal weight I advise clients to rely on this built-in timer that is linked to the body clock and needs of each individual. Generally speaking you should eat lunch 4-1/2 to 5 hours after breakfast. Dinner should follow 4-1/2 to 5 hours after lunch.

It is important to add snacks to your diet during the day. Once considered taboo, snacking can be a curb to overeating and can help to normalize blood sugar levels. In choosing snacks during the day the best choices are not the sugar-laden treats we often consider as a gift, but whole fruits such as oranges or apples, lean proteins such as hummus, Greek-style yogurt, or a small portion of nuts.

Dinner should be consumed before 8:00 p.m. or earlier. Contrary to tradition, this meal should not be the largest meal of the day. For best health you want to consume the bulk of your calories earlier in the day, which allows time to burn the calories off during the hours when you are most active. Eating the last meal of the day earlier allows ample time for the body’s fast phase. Research shows that a fast of 8 to 12 hours is consistent with the body clock which allows time for the gut to be inactive and not digest any food. You can however have water during the overnight fast.

The science of meal timing has uncovered key points demonstrating how timing can impact success in achieving desired weight goals. Studies have shown that an evening meal can increase blood sugar levels 17 percent more that the identical meal in the morning! Similar studies have shown that more calories are burned digesting meals two hours after eating in the morning more than in the evening.

In planning meals throughout the week remember it is not just what you eat, but the time you are eating, that can help you reach your weight goals.

Take Away: Plan to eat well-balanced meals, snack wisely and adhere to the meal timing tips.

Luxury River Cruising in Europe

Luxury European River cruises combine elegance with visits to the many small towns along the river’s edge. This gives travellers the opportunity to experience the country’s true culture firsthand.

Amadeus Waterways – Paris to Istanbul

With Amadeus Waterways your European vacation begins in Paris, the City of Lights, where passengers spend several days exploring the city, viewing the landmarks the city is known for. Stroll along Champs Elysées, the boutique-lined boulevards, or visit the Eiffel Tower. Travellers witness history up close as the ship glides along the Rhine and Main River.

Then onward to Nessebar, one of the oldest towns in Europe, before rejoining the cruise in Romania. The cruise ship sails along the Romanian/ Bulgarian border before continuing to Serbia. Towards the end of the journey guests can enjoy a full day of cruising through one of Europe’s most impressive natural wonders, the Iron Gates. The vacation concludes in historic Istanbul.

The trip includes 14 nights of deluxe accommodation in an outside stateroom. Rooms are equipped with Internet, movies and a Music Library.

Viking River cruises – 2009 Treasures of the Rhine

This 15-day voyage visits five countries along the legendary Rhine River. The journey begins in Switzerland’s Basle region, and continues through the Black Forest region of Germany and France’s Strasbourg.

On the banks of the Rhine the ship stops in the famous wine town of Rudesheim and lovely Cologne. A highlight of the journey is the guided tour of the city of Strasbourg. See the Place d’Austerlitz and European Parliament, and enjoy the city’s famed cathedral up close.

On the fifth day guests travel in a motorcoach to Heidelberg. A guided tour includes Heidelberg Castle, a red sandstone ruin overlooking the Neckar River.

Then, onward to the Netherlands to explore Amsterdam’s picturesque canals. In Amsterdam travellers are given the opportunity to enjoy a glass-topped canal cruise past merchant houses and the famed Skinny Bridge.

In Belgium travellers can discover the medieval cities of Bruges and Antwerp.

Evergreen tours – Imperial Jewels of Russia

How does an Imperial Jewels of Russia River Cruise sound? Guests enjoy a 12 night cruise onboard the Ms Surkov, the most luxurious river cruise ship in Russia. Explore some of the world’s most fascinating yet relatively undiscovered destinations.

Uncover Russian History, the imposing Red Square and the Kremlin and encounter ancient towns along the river Volga.

Commencing in St. Petersburg guests are transferred to their luxury river cruise ship. The trip begins with a tour of this stunning city including the impressive Peter and Paul Fortress. The cathedral within the fortress houses the tombs of the last Romanov family.

The tour continues on to Nevsky Prospect, where guests can view the Cathedral of Kazan, the Winter Palace and St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

A highlight of the journey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Kizhi Island. One of the most ancient sites in Russia, the island is an open-air architectural museum housing significant buildings.

Upon docking in Moscow, passengers visit the famed Bolshoi Theatre and Red Square

Blue Water Holidays – Andalusian Holiday

Blue Water Holidays offers a cruise through the historic Andalusia region of Spain, the home of sherry, flamenco, mountains, and the Costa del Sol. This eight day cruise sails between Seville and Cadiz along the River Guadalquivir and the Spanish coast.

This fabulous journey includes excursions to historic sites and cities. Some optional excursions are also available to towns such as Jerez, home of sherry and the flamenco, the City of Seville and the Rock of Gibraltar.

Passengers are provided with seven nights of cruise accommodation in an outside stateroom, superb dining with all meals included during, unlimited quality red and white wines from Europe’s great wine regions with every dinner, a Cocktail Reception and a Captain’s Gala Dinner.

Luftner Cruises – Music on the Danube

Most of the world’s greatest classical music has originated from a small area in central Europe. Why not take a river cruise down the Danube to explore the musical origins of the genre?

With Luftner Cruises travellers can enjoy a music cruise of the Danube River. The cruise is peppered with a variety of musical extravaganzas, from a concert at the Beethoven-house in Bonn to a tour in Strasbourg that includes a concert in the St. Thomas church.

Entertained by the singers of the London Festival Opera, the journey includes two full days in Budapest as well as a visit to the Slovakian capital of Bratislava. Whilst in the Wachau Valley, Vienna and Budapest the itinerary includes a number of guided excursions.

A river cruise such as this is tantamount to a floating hotel that travels through the very heart of Europe.

5 Best Furniture Manufacturing Countries

Many people would prefer to purchase a new bedroom set every few years for $1000 and have the latest trend in their home than to purchase a solid set for $8000 that has the same look but will last for years and years. The same goes for living room furniture. Making furniture with a modern look but for a fraction of the price can be done because of the lower cost of labor, materials and machinery in overseas countries.

China is a major market for overseas furniture manufacturing. Many of the dining room set, bedroom sets and other case goods are coming from this location. There are also factories in China that cut and sew upholstery pieces and then ship them to the US for final assembly to allow a piece to be said that it is made in the USA. This greatly reduces costs will still allowing for American made products.

Many rattan and teak products are manufactured in Indonesia. They are producing beautiful high end solid wood sets with exquisite design and finish quality. The sets of outdoor garden furniture that are coming out of this region are beautiful quality at a very affordable price.

At one point in time, furniture was hand crafted and made by one single person. Now home furnishings are made with machines and tools in many factories that are located in various countries. The factories all have beautiful showrooms that display their furnishings with fancy carvings on the wood and artistic accents. Pakistan is a newer emerging market for this manufacturing.

Many home furniture sets are being produced out of Malaysia as well. Whether you want cheap bedroom furniture or high end outdoor patio sets, you will be able to find a wide selection in factories from Malaysia. There have some very stylish designs and well made products coming from this country. Many furniture importers choose this country as their preference next to china for importing to the US.

The Philippines have emerged as a trend setter in the furniture industry. Many wood furniture sets, rattan, stone, resin, metal and outdoor furniture sets are continuing to come from this region. Their manufactures are creating sophisticated and beautiful furniture from many combinations of materials.

International furniture buying around the globe is all accessible. There are trade shows and contacts that can easily be found with online furniture stores to support all your home furnishings needs.

Tiffany Style Lamps – Beautiful And Unique All In One

In this day and age, people are not known to conform to the norm. We are
Always on the lookout for home décor that is unique and beautiful at the same
Time, which are exactly the words used to describe Tiffany style lamps. Though
These types of lamps are no stranger to the world, they have just begun to rise
In their popularity. Tiffany style lamps were once very popular in the 19th
Century, but that popularity waned until recently.

When you are looking for a lamp that is stylish, beautiful, unique, and elegant,
You need look no further. These lamps have the ability to accent almost any home
Décor and provide a warm and welcoming feeling to any room in which it is
Placed. The designs are unmatched, though many have tried. Tiffany style lamps
Always include colors that are both rich and deep. The unique stained glass used
To create the lamps create a very inviting color and lighting to any room.

What is great about Tiffany style lamps is that they come available in many
Different styles, sizes, and designs. You will have no problems finding
Something that fits your own style and taste. To add to its versatility, Tiffany
Lamps can be the perfect fit in almost any room. Do you need some ideas? Here
Are some that you can use.

Many of these lamps can make great decorations depending on the season; This is
Especially useful for people who like their home to depict the weather outside
Egypt by season. For the fall season, why not place one of the many fall-like
Tiffany lamps inside any room. Some great lamps for the fall season include the
Turning Leaf Lamps or the Autumn Leaf Table Lamp.

If Mother Nature is more your style, you might want to try Tiffany style lamps
Such as the beautiful and bright Peacock Feather Table Lamps. You might even
Enjoy one of the many styles surrounding that of the dragonfly, such as the
Dragonfly Cone Lamp, Mosaic Dragonfly Table Lamp, or the Hanginghead Dragonfly
Lamp.

Flowers and trees are extremely popular aspects of the Tiffany lamp designs as
Well. You have a wide variety of choices when it comes to flower or tree
Designs. For example, the Rose Garden Table lamp or the Flowering Lotus Accent
Lamp.

The great thing about Tiffany style lamps is that you will have no trouble finding something in your own personal style and taste. There are so many to choose from, you might even have trouble
Deciding which one is for you. We can help there as well.

When choosing a Tiffany lamp for your home, take a moment to think about the
Surroundings. First, look at the décor already in place in the specific rooms.
Without you intend to change the décor, you should find the right lamp to fit in
Well with that look. Not only do you want to consider the overall design of the
Room, but also the colors as well. When it comes time to choose your Tiffany
Style lamp, choose one that works well with the theme and matches in color as
Well. Of course, it does not have to be the same colors, but a group of colors
That works well with the existing colors is a good idea.

Where should you put your Tiffany style lamps? Another great thing about these
Lamps is that they are very versatile and will work almost anywhere. It really
Depends on the type of Tiffany lamp you choose. Some places to consider might
Be:

O Night Stands

O End Tables

O Coffee Table

O Buffet

O Desk

O Bath

O Hallway

Again, you have a wide variety of choices in Tiffany style lamps. Choose from table lamps, wall sconces, floor lamps, chandeliers, and ceiling lights. Whiche you choose, you are guaranteed a beautiful, elegant, and unique look when it comes to both style and lighting.

The Benefits of Getting Your Child Into Taking Music Lessons

One of the leading conductors of the early and mid-20th century, Leopold Stokowski, once said, ‘A painter paints pictures on canvas, but musicians paint their pictures on silence.’ In both cases, both have virtually nothing to work on or start with except inspiration and passion.

Working from and with nothing can be tough, to say the least, and such is the challenge faced by musical composers. However, the minute a combination of notes starts streaming into their consciousness, they grab a music sheet and begin putting on paper those notes. They then grab a musical instrument and start playing those notes. Another musical composition is then in the works.

If you like your child to spend his spare time on something worthwhile instead of staying for hours in front of a computer or with his tablet or smartphone, why not enroll him in music lessons? There are certain benefits of music education, and here are some of them:

Brain development – Certainly, there are many other ways by which your child’s brain can develop. But musical training can help develop areas in the brain that involve language and reasoning while your child also enjoys the reinvigorating sound of musical notes. There are recent studies that show that taking music lessons can physically develop the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved in language processing.

Learning how to think creatively – Students of music are usually faced with many situations where they have to think creatively and even solve problems at the drop of a hat, especially if he’s playing music that requires improvisations in some parts.

Providing self-expression – People express themselves more effectively in certain ways. One of the many ways someone can express himself is by playing a musical instrument or by singing – or both. Studying music can help your child touch base with his core, and once he knows his true essence, it would be easier for him to express what’s deep within him.

Conquering fear – That may sound like something that would fall under the field of psychology, but believe it or not, enrolling in music lessons can help your child conquer fear and even take risks. Studying music helps your child deal with anxiety, and dealing with anxiety early in life will make it easier for him to deal with future anxieties or apprehensions.

These are just some of the many benefits you can get if you let your child have musical training. You’ll certainly do him and yourself a big favor if you get him into this type of education early in life.

How Long Is The Perfect Duration Of Rest Between Workout Sets?

Rest is part of the workout routine. Resting between sets can give significant impacts on your progress. When done correctly, you'll get to see the results in a short period of time. You do not have to be a genius to know that longer rest will enable you to lift more weight or repetitions when you do the next set. Resting for too long will reduce the training intensity while on the other hand insufficient rest time cause you to be exhausted very fast. Keep on reading and you will get yourself the ideal amount of rest time for your workout.

1. For you who wants to gain muscle

Researches show that testosterone and growth hormones increase if you rest in a short time period during your training. The amount of rest time varies according to how many sets you are going to perform and how much you lift in your workout. The recommended amount of time for muscle gaining process is sixty to ninety seconds between sets.

2. If you are trying to lose fat

Other than following the right diet and workout routine, there are two important keys to lose fat fast. The first is by burning as many calories as possible, that is by doing marathon training with a little amount of rest between sets. The second is by doing other alternative exercises, squat for example, during your rest period between sets. To burn more fat, rest no longer than 30 seconds. If you want to do alternative exercises during your rest period in your workout, you can add more time to rest up to 90 seconds.

3. If you want to increase your strength

Your muscles and main nervous system need more time to recover after lifting heavy weight. Little rest time between sets will decrease your power to lift and decrease your body ability to recover during the workout. Rest for three to five minutes before starting another set of workout. This will allow your body to replenish the creatine phosphate / ATP stores in the muscle so that you can go heavier for more reps in the next set. Longer rest periods are better for people who are trying to gain more strength and power like powerlifters.

Recovery time can also be affected other factors like the intensity of the set, your nutrition, how fit you are during the workout, your age, sex, and any injuries you have.

Better Emotional Health In The New Year

Emotions are powerful forms of expression. They can affect how you see the world and how the world sees you. Since emotions are such an important part of your inner workings, they can determine the quality of your life by shaping the way you feel, think and act. Healthy emotions refresh and reward while negative emotions can drain your energy in destructive ways. Here are some ways to cultivate healthy emotions in balance with your life in the New Year.

Get It Out

Keeping your emotions bottled up is a form of denial. Keep in mind that stopping an emotional response is not the only way to control it. Repressing your emotions takes a punishment toll on your mind and body. Minimizing or discounting your emotions can be just as poisonous. Learning to identify the cause of sadness, stress, frustration or anxiety in your life is the first step in earning to come to terms with them it. Listen to your emotions and understand why you feel the way you do. Identifying a problem helps you to keep it in perspective and helps prevent you from giving in to self-pity.

Seek Appropriate Outlets

It's OK to let close friends and family know when something is bothering you. Just make sure you're expressing your feelings at the right time, to the right people. Understand that your family and friends may not be able to help you deal with all your feelings. Do not overlook your doctor, therapist, counselor or religious advisor. Often it's best to seek professional advice and support to help improve your emotional health.

Be Open To Change

The secret to leading a balanced life is not about staying still and rigid in one place; Rather, it's about being able to adapt to change. Be resilient. Learn to cope with change and stress. Change is never easy but resisting change often makes things worse. Better to accept change and keep things in perspective.

Eat Right

Eating healthy foods can help keep your emotions in balance by preventing mood swings, panic attacks and even the onset of depression. You can begin by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Many of these contain antioxidants – substances that protect and nourish cells. Foods high in antioxidants include colorful fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, berries, broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. Try to keep your blood sugar stable by eating smaller portions multiple times a day, making sure to start right by eating a healthy breakfast.

Practice Moderation

Avoid overeating and do not abuse drugs or alcohol. Using drugs or alcohol only creates other problems. If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation, For women and anyone 65 or older, that means no more than one alcoholic drink a day. Men under 65 should indulge in no more than two drinks daily. If you smoke, stop. It's never too late. And be sure to get a good night's sleep. For most people, that means at least eight hours a night.

Keep Stress In Check

Try not to obsess about problems in your life. When you're stressed, your brain releases hormones that can make you feel depressed or anxious. Find ways to let go of the things that make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. This does not mean you have to prepare to be happy when you're feeling anxious or upset. You should attend to worrisome situations, but try to focus on the positive things in your life too. You may want to use a journal to keep track of the things that make you feel happy or peaceful. Research has shown that having a positive outlook can improve your quality of life and give your health a boost. Make time for the things you enjoy and focus on them.

Get Exercise

Exercise makes you feel more energetic and alert. The best part is that you can make it fun. Pick an activity you enjoy, whether it's doing yard work or walking your dog. Exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes at least five days a week. Start by increasing your physical activity gradually. Park your car farther away and walk the extra distance. Take the stairs instead of an elevator. When watching TV, ride a stationary bike. Just get moving. Regular physical activity can help you think clearer, feel better and lower your risk of many diseases.

Keep It Simple

Think about what's important in your life and what you can eliminate. Is it really necessary to check your email or monitor your Facebook friends repeatedly throughout the day? Slow things down and appreciate the beauty around you. Instead of constantly worrying about the future, remain focused on the present. Try meditating to calm your mind and body. Meditation is a useful way to bring your emotions into balance. People who meditate regularly also report lower incidences of illness and they feel more connected to the people around them.

Think Of Others

One of the best ways to feel good about yourself is by doing something special for someone else. Volunteering in your community strengthens your social ties and leads to a sense of greater self-worth. According to a study conducted by The Corporation for National and Community Service, researchers found a strong relationship between volunteering and lower levels of depression, especially for anyone 65 or older. Social service organizations, churches, schools and charitable groups are always looking for extra help. It's a great way to make lots of interesting new friends, too.

Be Good To Yourself

Most of us are harder on ourselves than anyone else. The more you beat yourself up for your mistakes and shortcomings, the worse you'll feel. Over time, negative self-criticism can even contribute to anxiety and depression. Give yourself frequent pep talks and focus on your positive qualities. Remember that happiness and good health are closely related, linked by our emotions.

Five Tips to Keep Your Car Tires in Good Condition

Driving carefully by not over accelerating, braking hard and sharp corning is the best way to extend the life of your car tires. This article has five other tips to keep your car tires in good condition:

1. Correct Tire Pressure

Regularly check your car tires are not under or over inflated.

Under inflation causes greater flexibility of the rubber, increasing the operating temperature and reducing the tyre's lifespan. The wear on the edge or shoulder of the tire is increased and damage can be caused to the vehicle's suspension when driving over a pothole.

Under inflation also results in poor fuel economy. Increased rolling resistance makes a car engine work harder and uses more fuel.

Over inflation is equally bad by increasing the wear in the center of a car tire's tread; An area important for protecting the ty against impact damage.

To find the recommended tyre pressure check the owner's manual or look for a plaque on the inside of the fuel flap.

2. Balance and Alignment

Whenever your car tires are repaired or replaced make sure they are correctly balanced when remounted on your car. If not this will cause vibrations, increasing tyre wear, damage suspension and leading to driver fatigue.

Correct alignment is necessary to have the steering, suspension, wheel components and car tires all working in harmony to achieve the optimum performance from your vehicle.

It does not cost much for your local garage or car tire specialist to check the vehicle's balance or alignment. Without it the resulting cost of repair will be far greater.

3. Inspection

A visual inspection once a month does not take long and is important to maintain your car tires in a safe condition.

Check the tread depth. Most tires have a tread wear indicator built into them. Look for a horizontal bar of rubber located between the tread patterns, at a depth of 2mm. When the height of the tread wears down to the height of this bar it is time to replace your car tires.

Check the car tires for any unusual bulges or lumps as these are often a sign of internal damage. Inspect the tread and sidewall rubber for any signs of cracking. If found change the ty as soon as possible as cracking can cause a blow-out.

Remove any stones and other objects stuck in a car tire's tread. If a nail is found embedded in the rubber, do not remove as the tyre will quickly deflate. Instead take the ty to a specialist who may be able to repair the puncture.

4. Repairs

Do not risk driving on a car tire that is losing pressure. Take it to a specialist who will give the ty a a complete inspection and make the decision wherever it can be repaired or replaced.

Driving on a flat tire for even a short distance will damage it beyond repair.

Never try repairing a car tire yourself. This should be handled by a trained professional.

5. Tire Rotation

The weight of a vehicle is not even distributed on all of the car tires. By regularly rotating the tires their lifespan is extended and uneven car tire wear is avoided.

Visit a car tire specialist for further advice and to check the condition of your current car tires.

Gas Fireplaces Review

Gas fireplaces can be used in almost any form of household, even for people who live in trailers. The reason why they are so appealing is because they are almost like a television. You can get to enjoy the warmth of a fire by the touch of a button on a remote control. The much needed effort required to cut up wood and start the fire using newspaper becomes a memory.

Long ago, people would form a bond while sitting by the fire by telling stories, talking about the day's activities, and plan what to do the next day. In this day and time, this is almost impossible because of how busy everyone seems to be. No one has the time to sit by the fire and share their day to day activities.

The gas fireplaces come in a wide range that one can choose from. It is possible to desire something that best suits your house. They have additional attributes that improve their appearance. These attributes include choosing the temperature you desire and that suits you. You also have a choice of using those that do not use electricity but instead are lighted using a match. This means that it is possible to use them even when there is no electricity.

If the owner has knowledge whatsever about putting up gas fireplaces, then they can try. The best advice however is to hire someone that is qualified to do it. That way, they can offer advise on how to maintain it and they can also diagnose a problem, should there be one.

What Makes A Great Carpet Cleaning Service?

People living in places where dust laden winds blow, often find it difficult to maintain their upholstery due to dust that tend to settle down on it. Thus, in order to extend the life of your furniture and expensive upholstery, you need to pay attention.

There are many companies that will help you in cleaning your rugs and carpets. However, you should opt for one that has decades of experience in carpet cleaning. So, if you want to have clean rugs and carpets at home, you need to enlist the help of a reliable carpet-cleaning company.

A good carpet cleaning company should deploy a cleaning process, which makes use of natural products, so that the environment is not spoiled. This cleaning system makes use of a heated water solution. It has been proven effective in several tests. The system works when it comes across dirt and stains, so you can be sure that all the dirt in your carpet will be removed.

The cleaning service should get through grease so the dirt from the fibers is lifted off. The rotary system of a carpet-cleaning machine should be able to remove the ingrained dirt. It should be able to clean carpets and rugs from the surface to way deep inside and be able to remove at least 92.5% of dirt from your carpets or rugs.

Since we must all take responsibility for the care of the environment, another thing a cleaning service should be able to do is to do cleaning jobs that will not hurt Mother Nature. The cleaning materials for your delicate rugs and carpets should be made of biodegradable material. This means that the substances used should be free of chemicals that can destroy the ozone layer. You can use green label products that do not have harmful substances – yet they work just as well as other cleaning materials.

The machine used in cleaning the carpets should also make use of a high-tech moisture extraction system so no liquid is left in your carpets and rugs. With less moisture used, the drying process will be faster, so you can use your carpet right away! You know you have enlisted a great Carpet Cleaning company when you can have your carpet clean and ready to use in just an hour.

You should hire a Carpet Cleaning Company, which makes use of organic materials, which are safe for your children and pets. See that your cleaner is using hypoallergenic cleansers, which are mild and proven safe for any type of carpet as well.

Some more quick tips to keep your carpet clean:

– Regular vacuuming is a good idea
– Always get your carpets cleaned by certified professionals
– Spot clean stains before they start setting in
– If you see premature wear, replace the under-pad
– Try to keep the rooms with carpets closed
– Do not let your pets tread over the carpets

If you follow these simple tips, your carpets will last long.

The Daybed – Is It a Good Choice for You?

There are numerous types of beds to choose from. There are various features you should look for, when making a choice. Most people do not consider having a daybed, but you should definitely look into this option.

The daybed has all of the qualities that you might be looking for. It is extremely practical. In terms of size, it matches a standard single or twin model. However, it has panels on one side and on the back. These make is easy to turn into a couch and use it as such during the day. You simply need to put some cushions on it. The multifunctional purpose of this model makes it great to fit in a tiny bedroom or even in the living room, if you live in a small apartment.

There are other features that add to the functionality of the daybed. Most models have drawers underneath the platform, which supports the mattress. Others have trundles instead. In any case, you can benefit from such features. You can readily use the drawers to put blankets, pillows and duvets. Alternatively, you can make the most out of the trundle when you have guests.

The daybeds are usually made from metal, wood or from both materials. This guarantees their durability. However, these models do not score that high in terms of comfort. Indeed, this aspect depends mostly on the mattress, but the design of the frame matters a lot as well. You will have panels surrounding you on three out of four sides. These might cause you some discomfort, especially if you are used to sleeping on a standard bed. Still, you can readily opt for a model with a lower back panel.

Overall, you should evaluate the pros and cons for the daybed by yourself to decide whether it is right for you.

How to Lose Stomach Fat After Pregnancy

Is it possible to regain the tone in your stomach after giving birth? I have spoken at length to a good friend of mine who is a gynecologist. There are physiological changes that happen during pregnancy. Your abdominal muscles stretch. Over the weeks of gestation, your abdominal muscles literally lengthen. Because of this increase in length, there is a bit of loss of muscle activation and a loss of strength produced during abdominal movements.

The Journal of Physical Therapy featured a study which looked at several pregnant women and the rectus abdominis muscle during pregnancy. That is the six-pack muscle which is really an eight-pack muscle in the front of your intestinal area that allows you to flex forward. This muscle is stretched during pregnancy, but 4 weeks after birth the muscle almost fully contracts to its normal state.

Whether or not you are able to fully recover depends on you as an individual and the things that you do to recover. Whatever you can do to stay active, in both the cardio and strength training categories before pregnancy, the better off you are going to be during and after pregnancy.

Exercises like kegels where you raise your pelvic floor; the feeling of holding your bladder, are very effective post-pregnancy. Kegels are important because they help decrease issues like incontinence after giving birth. Another exercise that is amazing is the very simple abdominal brace. Tuck in your belly button and slightly brace your abdominals. Hold it whenever you can for as long as you can post-pregnancy. This will help you develop better tone in the deeper core muscles which will help get everything fitting a little more tightly.

The post-pregnancy time is probably when you want to do specific abdominal training and core exercises such as planking, side bridging, and abdominal crunches on the stability ball or floor.

You’ve got to regain the muscle activation in those abdominal muscles. You can regain that tone. If you’ve has a c-section, that means your muscles have been cut so it is a little bit different. Every woman will be different. Before you become pregnant you have to do what you must get your core strong and get yourself strong aerobically, and during pregnancy it is important to stay active.

After birth, the sooner you can get active and do some core strengthening exercises the better. Hopefully that answers your question and gives you a bit more optimism as to whether you can lose those extra inches and regain that tone.

The answer is yes, you can!

Does My Daycare Business Need A Business Plan?

Drawing up a business plan for your daycare business is mandatory, even if you intend to operate a small home based daycare. Business plans are key decision making tools. It sets the goals which the business hopes to achieve, reasons why it is achievable and the specific plans for reaching the goals. Most of the goals in business plans lead to financial goals such as profitability and/or turnover. Preparing a business plan draws on a wide range of knowledge from many different business disciplines such as finance, human resource management, operations management, and marketing and sales, etc. It may sound like a mammoth task but if you were to break it down into smaller parts, it is actually fairly simple.

Here are the elements which you should be addressing in your business plan:

1. Regulatatory affecting daycare businesses

You will need to find out from your local authority about the legalities of operating a daycare facility such as licenses and safety regulations. In some instances, there are regulations on the maximum number of children you can provide care for as well as mandatory certifications which the owner would have to possess such as Degree/Diploma in Early Childhood Development or First Aid, CPR.

2. Managing human resource issues of your daycare centre

You’ll need to think about human resources issues to determine how many staff you may need, what sort of qualifications you would like them to possess and how much you intend to pay them.

If you are opting for a home based daycare business and will be the only person running the daycare operations, you will need to ensure that additional help is available on days when you are sick or if there is an emergency.

3. Day-to-day operations of your daycare

Next you need to think about how you intend to operate your daycare centre. You’ll need to workout operational issues such as operating hours, the services you intend to provide, curriculum development, course materials, the children’s meals, contracts and agreements etc.

If you are operating as a home based daycare, you need to determine if there are any modifications to be made to your existing property such as fences, fire extinguisher, sharp edges, non-slip bathroom tiles etc? You should also consider purchasing liability insurance to protect your property against accidents.

4. Marketing your daycare business

You’ll decide how you intend to market your daycare services. The pricing strategies, the venue selection for your daycare and how you intend to promote your daycare services. Will it be through flyers, brochures, banners, website listings, etc. It also details how you intend to use the internet to promote your services with the rage in internet advertising.

5. Managing your daycare business finances

You will need to decide what your revenue model is. You need to sit down and list down your estimated expenses. Then, based on your intended charges, calculate how many children you will need to provide care for to breakeven. Anything more than that is profit.

Each of the plans should have a short term, medium term and long term duration. Developing a business plan not only helps you to be clearer about the direction of your business, it is also very motivating as you will know what your business will be like 3, 5 or even 10 years from now.

Happy planning!