A Fun Day Exploring Ambergris Caye Belize by Golf Cart

One of the fun things to do when you visit the island of Ambergris Caye in Belize is to explore the island by Golf Cart.

Rather than owning cars, island residents on Ambergris Caye get around the island by Golf Cart, and when you visit it is a great way to spend a day taking in the beauty, sights and sounds of the island of Ambergris Caye Belize.

Ambergris Caye is unique, and unlike most other vacation destinations there are absolutely no Car rental companies on the island, instead you can rent a Golf Cart and use that as your mode of transportation to get around the island.

Contrary to what people assume, you still need to have a full valid driver's license to operate and drive a Golf cart on Ambergris Caye.

Many times people think they can allow their kids to take the controls and drive the cart, this is illegal and will result in you having problems with the island Police so please avoid allowing your child to drive the Golf Cart.

So your all set and have rented your Golf Cart and are ready to explore the island.

There are 2 directions to choose from, head north of town or South of Town


It is real easy navigating as there are only 2 roads leading out of town one is heading north the other south. As you head north of town you will quickly get to the bridge that crosses the river that separate's North Ambergris Caye from South Ambergris Caye. Crossing the Bridge is easy and will cost you $ 5 Belize dollars toll each way ($ 2.50 US)

Once you are over the bridge, follow the road and enjoy the views as you pass island homes and see different birds and lizards. It's a peaceful beautiful drive. Pretty soon you will see signs for the Palapa Bar and grill and this is a great opportunity to stop for refreshments.

The Bar is located on the dock up the stairs, one of the nice things you can do here to cool off is jump in the water at the end of the dock and grab an inner tube and sit in it and chill out. Call up to the bar and they will send down an ice cold beer or soda in a bucket.

As you head further north there will be spots where it is not developed and you will not want to go much more further north than Captains Morgan's resort as the road can get bad.

A stop for Lunch is normally in order and a great place to stop is either Capt Morgan's using it as your final destination or just turn around and head back to town stopping at Legends Burger House which will be located on your right hand side on the way Back to town.

They offer a wide array of delicious burgers and it's a favorite hangout for locals on the island.


Heading south of town is another option for exploring the island and south is a lot more developed than the North route. The road is paved so be careful of your speed even in a Golf Cart as there will be children and pedestrians as you head south.

Another option for unique and interesting lunch is at the Sunset Grill located on the back side of the island here you can enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner and can also feed the HUGE Tarpon that will come to the little dock. Tarpon are a prized Sports fish and can reach over 200 pounds in weight. It's a great experience and also a great unusual photo opportunity.

Heading south you will pass lots of resorts and private homes as you head farther from town, ever you will come to the WASA water plant and a big inland lake. This is another spot where you can check out the wildlife however you need to have a bit careful here as you can view the giant Salt water Crocodile.

The pond has resident Crocodiless that live in it and over the years some kids have been feeding them and they have become accustomed to humans. It is now illegal to feed them but you can still see them if you keep your eyes open. Dusk is the best time but it's also the best time for Mosquitoes so be sure to take repellant with you.

Please note, it is illegal to feed the Crocodiles and dangerous also. By all means visit the pond but do not feed them and stay clear of the shoreline.

The southern route allows for a lot longer ride than the north route simply because the road is much better.

So when you visit Ambergris Caye be sure to rent a Golf Cart for a couple of days and explore the island.

By Gaz Cooper

Memory Work

We have a mother who can talk in strange tongues. She gets up to read the Gospel at one o 'clock in the morning. She sets her alarm clock to go off. I am still awake reading a well-thumbed novel. Andrea Ashworth's memoir Once in a house on fire that lingers long after into the early hours of the next day or JD Salinger's Franny and Zooey or Sylvia Plath's only published book The bell jar that scares me half to death. It leaves me with questions like am I going to end up like that? Steve Biko's I write what I like is in there somewhere in the bunch.

It is as if I am reading vignettes from my own life story when I read anything Sylvia Plath has written. I pretend to smile when she is funny in her book but I know better than that. I know I should not smile but I go ahead and do it anyway. I slide under the covers and pretend I am still sleep but she, my mother still checks up on me, switches off my light and I can hear her praying for all of us; The four of us. But I know better than that. I have not yet exorcised all my demons and all my preying monkeys on my back.

Pain is painful. Living through it, even breathing hurt and all you were left with were stern lessons in an arena that demanded everything of you. When one of my mother's latest running comments on my life hurts me, this I know for sure is that it will linger long past midnight like the stories I marooned myself in. My parents spun an intricate web of lies and intrigue as my siblings and I grow up. To live like that, all day, everyday was alluring. When my mother was sad she shrieked at us. When my mother was happy she screamed at us. When my mother was depressed she never showed it. She was made of sterner, stronger stuff than that and she showed it. It fit her like a glove.

My mother is a gem. Like any diamond in the rough she has rough edges that need to be smoothed over time and time again. She takes a lot of work to put up with. When I was younger, growing up I did not think it was worth it. I did not think she was worthy of it but as an adult I grew up appreciating her more and more. She was gifted, she was talent, she could cook a leg of lamb until the meat fell off the bone, her roast potatoes were always crispier than mine, the yellow, runny moons of fried eggs came out perfectly every time, she was pretty and Good at a lot of things I was not.

This is another story about your mother my father says with that tone in his voice. A minute ago he was laughing as if we were in cahoots with one another; As if we were co-conspirators. Now he was serious, frowning and wearing a crease between his bushy, exclamation mark eyebrows.

I have this thing for Marilyn Monroe and her leading men. The prince and the showgirl, Gentlemen prefer blondes and Some like it hot. What it meant for me was that even if you had all the money in the world, fame, were idolised by millions of fans you could still be miserable, be inclined to throw pity parties, hang out flying solo with your most hated self, believe In your therapist / therapy / psychiatrist / psychologist / psychological terror / relief and that it would get yours through this phase of your life that refused to let go of you and surrender your hurts to the greater beyond and the shared universe.

Around me people looked sad, concerned, wholly distinct and vulnerable as I skated through what was becoming more and more my predictable life. I had a neat routine going on as I lost my mind and all self-control with it. I was surrounded with people who had money and beauty at school. I could feel or rather sense how strong, powerful and omnipotent these girls felt. They were afraid of nothing, while I feared everything in sight. They were beautiful even when they were tense, miserable, when they failed a test, wore braces, when they were blonde, brunette, had frizzy curls that would not be. I wondered did these girls ever get depressed.

It's the way men are, my friend Tash was schooling me one on one on that mind trick that grown men appeared to be born with; That and their swagger, when they snubbed you for a lovelier girl who seemed to float on air, what they really mean behind the words, you do not mean that much to me, and what was meant by their true frame of mind when it Came to their wife and their children and their disheveled house and dysfunctional living. Tash was street smart, independent, classy and pretty. She always had a story. As a writer I was drawn like a moth to a 60 watt bulb to that. She was not a bore and she always made me laugh out loud whichave me a slight belly ache. Her mother worked at the Portuguese Consulate. She was in a top job and you could tell them lived comfortably. Tash could tell her mother anything.

When I wrote it felt as if all the loveliness in the world was within my reach. It felt as if I was connected to something greater than me. When I was depressed it felt as if it was like the inviting glaze on a heavenly mouthful of honey slipping, bittersweet, over the edge of the spoon when I did not want it to.

You do not know what I want, I screamed at my mother. You do not own me, I screeched. I knew somewhere in the burnt bridges of my heart that what I was saying made no eye to eye contact with her world, that she did own me in a way that was conditional and that what I was doing was unforgivable and that in no way would I ever make up for what I was saying.

You are a painting, I said to my reflection in the mirror. Everyone else in the world seemed to see pretty not young, sullen adolescent girls who scribbled fragments on pieces of paper manically as if they were possessed. Who had a collection of black notebooks, journals, diary entries of what they ate and when they slept and what they were thinking. Nobody would have even guessed what my life was like outside of school.

No simmering pots on the stove for supper, a sister who locked herself behind her closed bedroom door and soared academically winning a scholarship to America to go to NASA while she was still in high school, a brother who needed attention but lived like a ghost in Our childhood house, shards of glinting glass on the floor, doors with gaping holes open mouths were smashed, bashed, kicked in. There was cursing, sneering and strangled croes were heard, raised voices behind closed doors, muffled weeping.

All of it was my doing. I convinced myself of it.

Flawed circumstances always detected themselves in my stories. I told myself that love would find me in spaces absolutely devoid of sacrifice, make me believe in make-believe and daydreaming. I put my faith in that. When night was over, I was older. When the school day was over, I was wiser. When I finished a book, I reflected on what people wanted to see and how they wanted to say it. How some had absolutely no control over what they talked about?

I liked Marilyn Monroe because she wrote poetry. She may have employed silly and dumbed down in her movies but she was intelligent and very, very sad. In my stories like in the films I loved and grew up on both seemed like far off magical realms where reality was suspended and possibilities and potential appeared endless.

When I was growing up my father and mother made about everything. They bought mostly about money. I was hidden somewhere in there saying do not forget about me.

I became aware at an early age of how much everything cost and how everything was beautiful was so expensive.

I sit on the leather sofa, chocolate brown and balance precariously a bowl of popcorn watching television. I watch anything, even the rubbish. I like watching John Edward's Crossing Over, Party of five, Dawson's Creek, Oprah, talk shows. The only things I give a miss are the soap operas but sometimes I catch myself out of the blue watching All my children. Television made the words 'emotional abuse' stop ringing out like a rumpus in my head. Talking heads soothed me.

I liked that word 'memoir'. It released me from all the hateful things that I loathed.

Pillows of steam escape in gases from under the shower curtain. I pinched the cigarette between my lips and blew out a whirl of smoke. I felt something move in my gut. Something awesome and frightening on the surface but below, underfoot it no longer made me feel as if I was a drowned girl, a neglected and abandoned thing by my own kin.

In Port Elizabeth my aunt dared to have in a way that she did not on her home turf near my uncle and my other mother's sister's wavering eyes, our aunt Sheila. She drank until she behaved like a stammering fool, slurring her words together. She got away with her teenage behavior every time. As she came teetering on her tiptoes, three sheets to the wind up the stairs leading to our front door and slipped and my mother said the words, 'Serves you right. You deserve that. ' As she landed with a smack on her bum. My father and I stand there lending each other moral support watching this spectacle unfold night after night wishing we had put her days ago on the bus back to Johannesburg. Auntie Sylvia is dead drunk again. She has lost her shoes; Soft, white sandals; The cheap kind.

"Are you misbehaving again?" I asked my mother eager to start a fight, to blast her with words, my frenemy. A word I had made up combined with the words 'friend' and 'enemy'. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.

As children after a school day we cruised through the gates of hell and turmoil not knowing whether to see the smiling faces of our parents or to be let down withinking hearts.

Words left me euphoric. They came on a head high like a rush, blistering under my fingertips, sticking like glue to the page, like glitter or sequins. The curls of paper on the floor that I scratched up into tight balls reminded me of the grace that origami animals took on. They had a grace of their own; A perfection. Miracles came with reading and writing.

No, I thought with a sinking heart. She could not possibly be thinking I would actually wear this out of the house, I thought to myself as my grandmother handed me two billowing shirts with huge orange flowers in patterns that hurt my eyes. One came complete with eighties shoulder pads. She in turn had got it from auntie Evie – her favorite child amongst three sons and another daughter.

I was skinny as a rope and flat- chested and no match for either but she insured that I take them. Only know when I can look back without cringing at those painful days from high school do I recognize the love that came with that gift that I was too selfish and proud to admit to at first. Perhaps she had seen something of herself in me at that age and had wanted to reach out to me in my loneliness.

Perhaps she did not want me to starve away completely. Now there is nothing tangible I can remember about her except for her milky teas, split pea soup and gooey sandwiches rich and thick with knotted fig jam, chewy stews and bredies she used to make my father and me for lunch after school. I hated those sandwiches. I hated the way they felt in my mouth. I tried to nibble at it and make it go down but it was useless.

One day, naughtily, I pushed them into the soft, plush side of the chair and wiggled it in further with my fingers until it was out of reach. When I visited my grandmother again it was gone. She had found it and I never got fig jam sandwiches again. I must have disappointed her in so many ways.

One Christmas I got a book from my grandparents. I did not even know they knew I loved reading. Everything was alright in my world again with them. It was a hard book. The words were smaller and closer together. It had words in that were long and difficult to understand. It had excerpts from other books; Exciting books for teens that I had yet to land my eyes on. How did they know? I never found out. When I was sick she smudged Vick's vapor rub under my nose. I breathed in menthol.

Now I miss her. I miss trudging up the hill past the church for the Assembly of God that she went to on Sunday's, a disheveled looking soccer pitch with goal posts that had no nets, the Muslim butchery and the café when I finished writing an exam. I watched television, CNN breaking news with my grandsparents in the afternoon on a school day. I would play with my cousins. Now they're all grown and most of them have moved away, got married and had children. They're busy with the machinations of their own humdrum lives and could not care less about mine.

This is also a story about falling in love with people who have flaws, relationships that keep you grounded and realizing that when you older, you are more forgiving and stronger with built in, stored up reserves of energy that you did not know where it Came from, empathy for loved ones and compassion even for strangers. Angels come in different shapes and sizes, varying blueprints but they must always be defended.

"Daddy, do not. You'll only make her angry." I knew my voice was whiney but I did not want there to be another altercation that I could not put a stop to and so I lost my adolescence in books with racy titles about men who paid for hotel rooms with voluptuous women in slinky lingerie On the covers but their big bosoms were wasted on me. There was no intensity behind the words of the dialogue. I was not one of those kids who put up pictures of rock stars, actors, actresses and models against their bedroom walls.

I learn how to repair a mother and daughter's broken relationship time and time again and to convert the sin committed into something that was precious. I channeled all my energy into that as a child.

We – my mother and I – laugh together when things are 'normal' (when they are not fighting, screaming at me at the top of her lungs, yelling out curses), I write poetry, we love each other in ways that are Simple and complicated, I cook elite meals and cry warm, salty tears sobbing into a bunched up pillow at night. I learnt to evaluate her moods. Sometimes I failed to see it coming.

The world is filled with so many people in search of and wanting love, approval and acceptance; Words meaning meanings feel like darts flying through the air aiming for a flaling target that you eyes could probably not meet with and that was not always in reach.

There is a strange, combatant beauty in making lists of words that are full of meaning and purpose to you. It has become a numbering, pressing habit for me to fill little notebooks and diaries from cover to cover like this.

I wanted to have hair like Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. There was nothing I could do with my limp hair except scrape the strands back together and tie it with an elastic band. I had skinny legs like a praying mantis. I was never completely comfortable with myself until I could string out words, pearls of wisdom from an aloof adolescent.

As children we had to spend so much energy on making a home life for ourselves that would make us productive citizens one day. We did it magically. We transcended the experience of having a father who suffered from bipolar and a mother who had terrifying moodswings. We survived and at the end of the day that was all to it. To the outside world we were the perfect family. There was a father who was a community leader, a mother who was lovely and a committed Christian and three bright, adorable children who were highly intelligent.

I loved being chained to the still air, the silent rooms I traversed in my mind that I found myself in when I was reading. I discovered and explored new futuristic worlds and environments; Judy Blume. While our lives could have been hellish at the worst of times, paradise bloomed for me between the secret pages; My own pain felt like poison as it weaved its way into my heart in intricate, beautiful patterns like a tattoo. I pushed these books and films on my brother and sister hoping they would find their own answers and they did.

They grow up while I still felt like a little girl, lost and bereft. I needed the comfort of my parents' home even though it was haunting, the rules that I had to live by made no sense, gave me no comfort, stunned me into a disquieting silence.

Nobody talked about mental illness or emotional scarring or emotional baggage when we were growing up. It was not spoken about in hushed tones or whispers. If our family was gossiped about we certainly did not know it. Living in our house, growing up as a child was living in one made of false interiors, without clarity or peace of mind, tinged with a surplus of emotions that were boxed in, locking us away from the prying eyes of relatives. Our shared history as siblings is intense. As grown ups we tend to shy away from it. 'Emotional', 'too depressing', 'disconcerting,' intense 'are some of the words that other people have used to describe my work. I only felt welcomed and inspired when I was grappling by the overwhelming

It made me happy. It put a smile on my face when I was selflessly reaching out to hear other people's voices of growing up with abuse or neglect or abandonment in books I found I could not put down like Running with scissors or A million little pieces. I held onto the kaleidoscope of problems that posed with care. My fear was no longer multiplied, schizophrenic, a self-portrait suggestive in anyway of not being cohesive, tidal or in a gestation period. This was not just one girl's, one woman's journey. It has been the journey of three children into the painful growing pangs of being teenagers, of reaching adolescence anxiously always being in panic mode when needing comprehension when they had accomplishments, hit success minimally at first then after success after success; Into adulthood.

I would stiffen like glass in pleasure working on my doppelganger, my adult persona, showing off to the world at large while I wrote what became poetry and short stories. I was no longer a textbook case shown to a group of discerning medical students at a hospital for lunatics and crazies; A hospital where people went to rest because they were tired and wrecked consciously by life as they knew it. I was no longer a worry for my parents, a concern for my siblings and a case study of the history of mental illness in my family.

Corporate Identity – A Rough Guide

A rough guide to corporate identity

The tabloids report the millions spent by large corporate companies on their logos as a scalp … Those small swathes of color adorning British Airways' tail fin, ICI's letterhead or Sainsbury's checkout seem to come at a huge price.

So do these companies have too much money and not enough common sense? Are they victims of designer indulgence, or are they getting a good deal?

This is not rocket science, but it is often misunderstood, as the tabloids flagrantly show. Let's start at the beginning. Every company has a corporate image. Every company from Joe's One-Man Taxi Co. To IBM. It may be good, it might be bad. Put simply, corporate identity is the way in which an organization is perceived.

Corporate identity describes the individual characteristics by which a company is recognized. It is the organization's sense of 'self' – the corporate individuality or personality. Visual identity (that's the logo) is a pretty big part of it.

So how deep into corporate identity do you want to go? Let's really confuse matters.

The public, customers, employees, the city, all have a vastly different image of the same company. The image is an accumulation of a company's past and present identity. Each and every encounter we have with it (by phone, in person or through the media) alters our impression. First impressions (what psychologists call the "primacy effect") are vital to how we see the company in the future, and extremely difficult to change. Future encounters with the company and its products will only add to the mosaic already constructed in our mind (the "recency effect"), rather than replace it.

But the multi-nationals have bought far more than just a logo. They buy a carefully designed face – corporate plastic surgery, an appearance, an identity. And they've paid for a lorry-load of thinking behind it. They have funds and enough at stake to really do the job properly. The logo is not plucked from the sky, but selected with precision from thousands of others which were cast as during its design.

A research team identifies the company's needs (they are all so very different). A corporate ID program uses the results and a design team is briefed. Ideas lead to solutions, and stage by stage presentation to the client for discussion and refinement.

Once completed, the ID is usually 'rolled out' gradually, strictly enforced by lengthy guidelines covering all possible applications. The advent of desktop publishing has both helped and hindered in-house bastardisation of corporate identity. Without consistency, the identity is ineffective, probably damaging.

There are companies in the UK still unconcerned by their image. Some feel the company is not developed enough to start work on its image; Others perceive astronomical costs, or just do not care that their corporate communications look like the office dog ate them. And some just slap a logo on everything in sight.

You do not have to spend millions on corporate Identity

Many household names would not exist without painstakingly designed and instigated schemes that we as customers seldom even consciously consider.
So what of those companies who do not have millions to outlay on corporate identity programs? Fortunately, the corporate identity for a smaller company tends to be far simpler.

Your corporate identity program can be conducted in-house, just as the research and much of the development. Always keep it very simple, and brief an appropriate designer not a print company. Make sure you get on with them, and see some of their past work. Get a rough quote before you start. Cut down any wrong trees that they are likely to bark up. Inspire them. Be direct. Be patient. Be decisive. Give them 'creative freedom'. Ensure they get to know and understand your business. Try to see your company from the point of view of your target market.

Keep the number of presentations they make to you to a minimum. This adds importance to those meetings. Do not compromise, but do stay open-minded. It does not have to be expensive, and an investment in a well thought-out corporate identity for your business will reap its cost many times over, not to mention giving you a massive advantage over your poorly-dressed competitors.

Next time you walk down the street, look out for Sainsbury's which is certainly tasting better at last. It took their designers nearly three years to lose the 'J' and find a replacement for that ghastly orangeye-beige. Check out Barclays' gorgeous new global eagle. And while you're there, you might remember that Tesco not so many years ago looked a little bit like Kwik Save does today. Next time you decide to skimp on the presentation of your company, think how much you spent on your best suit. Do not turn up to the ball in your jeans!

Oil Painting: What You Need to Get Started

So you’re interested in becoming an oil painter? Think you’ve got what it takes to be the next Van Gogh? Perhaps you’d rather paint the light like Claude Monet? Well, don’t varnish the canvas just yet. All oil painters need a specific set of tools and supplies in order to paint their masterpieces. Below, we’ll discuss the tools you’ll need for painting an oil painting.

You’re most likely mentally preparing a list: paint, canvas and brushes. You’re absolutely right. We’ll start with the canvas. Most beginners will want to start with cheap small eight by ten pre-stretched canvases. These canvases can cost as little as four to five dollars a piece. Look for canvas that has been gessoed well and is stretched tightly. I prefer my canvas to be stretched tight enough to beat like a drum.

Oil paint! My my look at all the different colors! First and foremost, start with a cheaper student grade paint. My first couple oil paintings were awful! Thankfully, only cheaper student grade paint went to waste. Don’t buy a couple load of colors. Start with the primaries. A good blue, yellow and red will get you started. And DO NOT forget the white. Titanium White is preferred. With these colors, you’ll learn to mix and will be able to conjure up any color imaginable.

Brushes are fairly simple. Since you’re working with smaller canvases, purchase smaller brushes. This will also save you money. Filberts are universal brushes capable of painting pretty much anything. I recommend filberts over flats. Also pick up a small rigger to sign your painting and perfect small details.

Other items are less obvious but just as important. Oil paint cannot be cleaned with ordinary soap and water. You’ll need turpentine or some type of oil paint remover. These chemicals are often smelly and hazardous to the health. Fortunately, in the past few years, safer friendlier alternatives have emerged. Look for something odorless and perhaps even organic. Take Magic Bristle for example. You’ll also want to pick up a roll of paper towels. You will use a lot of these over time. A small glass jar will suffice as a brush cleaning bucket.

Here are a few optional items you’ll want to consider purchasing. A palette is optional. Why you ask? You can easily and cheaply mix your paint on a plastic plate or some other disposable item. Once you get into the hobby, I do recommend purchasing a nonstick airtight palette. You should also think about purchasing a palette knife. A palette knife can provide a variety of uses. You can scrape and clean your palette with the knife. You can even paint with the knife. And if worse comes to worse, you can always use it to clean your fingernails.

These are the items and accessories that you should and should consider purchasing if you’re serious about painting. Once you improve your skills, you can move to more expensive oil colors and higher quality brushes. You’ll know when the time is right. Good luck and happy painting!

A Visit to Fife’s East Neuk – Anstruther Scottish Fisheries Museum

It was an early November Saturday morning when I drove to Anstruther under blue skies touched with occasional light cloud. I found a parking space beside the Anstruther Fish Bar on the Shore Road not 30 metres from the museum and made straight for the museum. After a coffee and cake at the museum cafe, I paid the entrance fee to the elderly lady volunteer at the entrance desk who advised me that I couldn’t use my camera inside and handed me an A4 guide to the layout of the museum.

The entrance to the exhibits is through a courtyard littered with random anchors, rope, netting, and in the top right hand side, a large shallow pond made of black plastic measuring maybe 5 by 5 metres. There was no clue as to the function of this pool, however, a brief conversation with the lady at the entrance desk revealed that the local model boat club sail their boats on it. Above the yard is a wooden balcony. The entrance to the first exhibition space is straight through the courtyard through “The brown door that is open so you can’t see it is brown.” said the lady at the desk.

The doorway opens onto a reconstruction of a log boat (circa 500 AD) modelled on a boat found in 1823 made in 1991 by some volunteers with an axe and later, large blisters. It was floated out in the harbour and handled well it seems. It now has developed a large split in the bow but I suspect it would still float.

I walked up the ramp (the exhibits seem to be accessible by wheelchair) past a “Welcome” notice and some framed artwork and poetry. Further up the slope are images and information on early methods of catching fish such as trapping (exhibits of fish traps), spearing (examples of multi-pronged fish spears) and gathering (shellfish, crustaceans and fish) at low tide. The exhibit makes clear that the gathering of shellfish is very ancient.

A hands-on exhibit of a reconstruction of an ancient midden indicates how archaeologists have discovered this. It is a box of sand with random bits of marine shells that you can sift through and then identify the shell fragments. Beware! Some of the shell fragments are sharp. More information boards show the caves in red sandstone cliffs at East Wemyss and the ancient (500 – 900 AD) carvings of a ship and a fish found inside. Further up the slope were pictures of early boats and hull building styles, a full size (6 metre long) clinker built boat and creels for lobster and crab.

Onwards and upwards to the next level to a tableau of a man and woman in late Victorian dress working with long lines. The information boards explained the two different types of of long line and why long lines might be better than nets for catching fish although very labour intensive. The baiting with mussel and lug-worm was women’s work and the setting out and hauling in of the lines was men’s. Women would bait up to 5000 hooks as well as attending to their other daily duties. Women would also carry their men to the boats to keep them dry. I reflected on this and came to the conclusion that if a man got wet before he set out, he would stay wet and get cold. This is not a good survival strategy and a sick man could not work and look after his family. A woman could dry off later on. No place for delicate ladies here.The centre of the room was taken up by glass cases containing models of fishing vessels.

Around the walls hung paintings and old photographs of life around a fishing port. Towards the top of the room was an example of how a net was made which you could try if you followed the instructions, and also a cabinet of china and porcelain items linked to the theme of fishing. As I moved around the room the reason for the model boats became apparent. They demonstrated the relative strengths and weaknesses of hull shapes depending on how they were to be used. In addition, there was a case of navigational equipment as might be used by the 19th century mariner such as sextant, chart, compass, telescope. The brass sextant was a very beautiful and complex instrument and my father who was in the navy had to use one when he served during WW2. But what do you do when you cannot get a clear sun or star sighting? Ready reckoning? I think I prefer the ease and accuracy of a GPS device!

The focus changed as I walked out of the room up the slope to the next set of exhibits. On the wall was a precis of fishing legislation over the centuries. There seems to have been laws on fishing in this country almost as long as there have been written records. To the left was a tableau of a sail-maker in his loft with all the associated manilla and hemp rope, cord and sailcloth. Also on this level was a display of knots and wooden rigging blocks. As a one time boy scout I was familiar with some of the knots, but was intrigued by some I had never seen before.

A little further up the slope and I entered a roomful of exhibits relating to the merchandising of fish. To the right was a clerk at a desk and a list of harbour dues and bound ledgers at his side. To the left was a much larger set of exhibits, the first of fish lassies (fish queans in Aberdeen dialect pronounced ‘coins’) gutting and packing the herring. Working in teams of 3 (2 to gut and 1 to pack into the barrels) a lassie could gut 60 fish a minute. To meet the Crown Standards (set in 1815), the fish had to be gutted and packed in brine within 24 hours of catching so they sometimes worked until 1am in the morning if the catch had been big, very occasionally until 6am; which didn’t stop them from going out to the dancing on Saturday nights. They were known for their hard work and sense of humour. Working 6 days a week, 6000 fish lassies followed the fleet around the UK from the North of Scotland down to the fishing ports of Eastern England staying in bothies beside the sea. A lassie could earn between £17 and £20 in a season. Beside this scene was a cooper making barrels surrounded by the tools of his trade, a trade vital to the fishing industry in the days before refrigeration. After a 4 year apprenticeship, a skilled cooper could make 70 barrels a week.

On leaving the room I followed the sloped ramps down into an ante-room whose theme was whaling. A small rowing boat with a figure throwing a harpoon was tucked into the left hand corner and the implements used to slaughter and cut up whales lined the walls. A history of whaling was contained on information boards and photographs. Much of the story seemed to be about the gradual extinction of the animal across the oceans over several hundred years in the search for whales so that their fat could be rendered down for fine oil for lamps and their bones for all kinds of domestic uses, most notably for corsets. Despite a moratorium on whaling, some nations still believe that their best interests are served by continuing this activity.

The tour takes you past a small chapel on the left. The walls are covered in hundreds of brass plates with the names of men and boats lost at sea. I found the chapel a quiet and moving reminder of the dangers of this industry which continues to take men year after year (e.g. The Gaul 1974) despite all the modern devices on boats. In previous centuries, a bad storm could wipe out the men of whole communities. Today many boats are worked by a single family, and the loss of a single boat (e.g. Solway Harvester 2000) can devastate a family. An additional reminder of the dangers of the sea came later when I found that the local lifeboat had been called out nearly 50 times from January 2009 up to mid October 2009.

The next room’s theme was steam versus sail. Surprisingly, steam was not such an advantage since the engines and coal took up room that might otherwise be used for the catch; they were more expensive to run and buy; sail was faster (true!). However, the steam boat could run against the wind and was more effective for trawling which needs a steady pull in one direction. However, sailing boats did use steam winches so that they could haul heavier, larger nets. Just past the display cabinets holding steam artefacts (shovels, brass whistle, lamps) in a corner of the room are some chairs for watching a video by John Grierson about the North Sea herring fleet made in 1929.

It’s 40 minutes long so I didn’t watch it this time around, but I think you can buy this as a DVD in the shop. Further round the room is a reconstruction of a very cramped cabin with bunks. You can lie down in the lower one, but the headroom is tiny and you will crack your head if you get up suddenly. When I was scuba diving I spent a few nights at sea in just such a bunk. It takes a bit of getting used to but it’s very snug. There is also information on how the boats were used during wartimes and the high calorie diet working seamen ate. Additionally, there are cases of model boats showing the evolution of the Zulu hull from the Fifie and the Scaffie hulls.

I left this room to go down the slope to the wheelhouse display. This is a metal wheel house cut in one piece from the fishing boat “The Brighter Hope III”, then half sectioned to allow a view of the wheelhouse complete with all its navigational equipment: echo sounder, radar, compass, radio. Behind the wheelhouse is a small cabin. Beyond the wheelhouse is a large display of model fishing boats showing how the shapes evolved from 1930 to the present. Also shown are fishing artefacts in modern materials: plastic fish boxes, polypropylene nets, nylon ropes etc.

Through a doorway I came upon a temporary exhibition detailing the life and work of a 19th century naturalist, Frank Buckland. There are many items pertaining to his work and life spread around the walls and in cases. The exhibition is changed 3 or 4 times a year.

I passed down the sloped corridor lined with old internal combustion engines to the engine room. There are many examples of marine diesel engines from early types right up to recent times. I confess that I don’t find these modern compact power plants terribly exciting to look at. In the corner of the room is a full size model fishmonger’s shop complete with model fishmonger and fish on a slab.

I walked back up the slope to find out where the music/drumbeat I kept hearing was coming from. This turned out to be the short video at the entrance to the Zulu gallery. The theme is further explored down-slope in to an exhibition area dedicated to the Zulu hull. This hull shape was arrived at by combining the most functional elements of 2 other hull types, the Scaffie and the Fifie, to give the Zulu great manoeuvrability, deck space and stability in rough weather. The hull shape was named by the Scots in honour of the greatly admired Zulus who were fighting the British army in the late 1870’s.

The boats were up to 80 feet long, but could be much smaller. Many were converted during the change from sail to power. The room leads into a huge space where the impressive hull of the old Zulu fishing boat, the Research, is housed. The Research now has no deck, and I was struck by the exposed massively strong ribs and hull timbers. Around the walls are the stories of the men who sailed in her. I could not work out how the boat had been installed in the building since there are no large doors anywhere. I later discovered from photographs that the building was erected around the boat!

I re-entered the courtyard and negotiated my way past the big plastic pond to climb some stone steps in a corner of the courtyard. These lead up to a recreation of a fisherman’s cottage and loft of the late 19th century. It consists of 2 small rooms in which the entire family, maybe 3 generations, lived. It looks very cramped but cosy with the range for warming the room, heating water and cooking the food at the far wall. There is another room just to the right containing a small organ. Above these rooms is the loft where every conceivable bit of gear related to fishing boats was stacked or hung up on the rafters. I was most impressed by the long leather sea boots that need a special tool to remove. Nailed soles would give good grip on a wet deck, but later I thought that if you went overboard, they would fill with water and take you down.

After over 2 1/2 hours, I was ready for some lunch so I returned to the cafe. They did a nice cheese roll and coffee and the girls at the counter were really pleasant and helpful. The main room has windows to the back with a view of the courtyard, and to front with a view of the harbour. The food and coffee are plain, good, and cheap. The chocolate cake I had earlier was delicious and there were plenty of locals who had just come in for lunch, or just coffee and cake which I took to be a good sign. The recently refurbished cafe is decorated with pictures of ships but what really caught my eye was the tea towel with local fishermen’s superstitions.

  • A minister is not allowed on a boat (he is a sky pilot)
  • Never wear green
  • Never set sail on a Sunday
  • Never put shoes on a table (my wife is horrified if anyone does this in our house) No whistling (you might call up a storm)

There are a raft load of others regarding diet and subjects of conversation which must be observed lest you bring bad luck to the boat.

I have not by any means covered all that the museum has to offer nor is there space here to fully document all the exhibits I saw. However, the museum has an excellent web site which you might consult which briefly details other aspects of the museum that I have not touched upon. There is a also a shop where you can buy souvenirs of your visit. While I was there, I asked if there was a book on the museum and its artefacts but sadly this is not the case. I also wonder if it might be a good idea to create a personal audio guide to the museum to add breadth and depth to the well labelled exhibits. This is an increasingly common practice nowadays in museums and art galleries which I find helpful.

My visit to the lifeboat station across the road didn’t go so well as the both boats had been launched a few hours before for training. I was invited to take a look around the gallery displaying pictures of previous crews and a brief history of the station and its boats. I shall have to go back to have another look when the boats are in.

On a personal note, my ancestors were boat builders and farmers in the Orkney Isles and almost certainly fishermen as well. A cousin showed me an old photograph of some of my ancestors gathered around a big boat that they were building taken from the wall of an Orkney pub. Also from hints my father dropped, I think he served on fishing boats at the end of WW2 removing mines and destroying them with 303 rifle fire. He did say that it was a good idea to be a long way from them when they went up.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Motivational Speakers

What defines someone as a motivational speaker?

For a long time, it seemed that anyone who spoke professionally was labeled as a motivational speaker, regardless of the actual content of their presentations. Lumping all professional speakers into the category of “motivational speakers,” though, presents challenges for meeting professionals and frustration for speakers who feel that “motivational speaker” is the appropriate category for them.

According to Wikipedia, a motivational speaker is “a professional speaker, facilitator or trainer who speaks to audiences, usually for a fee.” Motivational speakers are often utilized as keynote speakers to open or close events in dynamic fashion. A typical presentation from a motivational speaker ranges from 45 to 90 minutes, although some are as short as 30 minutes or as long as two hours.

Motivational speakers come from many different backgrounds. While the motivational speaking profession requires no formal training or certification, those who speak professionally and succeed in the profession possess the proven ability to lift up, educate and motivate their audiences. The best speakers can engage the audience and share best practices, experiences and life lessons without boring the audience. They do so through the use of humor, storytelling, originality, and the refrain from canned speeches.

How are motivational speakers utilized in meetings, conferences and conventions?

A motivational speaker is typically engaged to generate an immediate response among presentation participants, boosting enthusiasm and energy while delivering relevant, practical content coinciding with a meeting’s theme or objectives. Meeting planners seeking more in-depth content typically engage a speaker to lead a workshop or seminar session that generally lasts between three hours and several days.

What is the difference between a motivational speaker and an inspirational speaker?

Wikipedia describes a motivational speaker as one who has “the proven ability to lift up, educate and motivate their audiences.” In contrast, Wikipedia defines an inspirational speaker as one who “address[es] audiences with the aim of inspiring the listeners to higher values or engendering understanding about life and themselves.”

There are indeed similarities between motivational speakers and inspirational speakers, and someone could be labeled as both simultaneously. One subtle difference, though, is that inspirational speakers are often known for having a warm, encouraging message, sometimes based on a story of overcoming great obstacles. Motivational speakers, on the other hand, may be more dynamic and energetic, with a presentation geared toward “firing up” an audience.

To inspire, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is to fill with enlivening or exalting emotion. To motivate is to provide with an incentive; move to action; impel. Note that inspiration connects with emotion; motivation connects with action.

Who are the most popular motivational speakers?

There are a number of outstanding motivational speakers available to enrich a meeting, conference or convention. Some of the most popular, most requested and most heralded include Tony Alessandra, Afterburner, Peter Vidmar, Carol Grace Anderson, Marcus Buckingham, Jackie Freiberg and Kevin Freiberg. Additional motivational speaker candidates can be found by viewing the rosters of professional speakers bureaus.

Exercises to Develop Your Intuition

Intuition is the space between your thoughts, when the mind lets go and surrenders to the present moment. There are 7 steps that you can use to strengthen and exercise your intuition.

1. Your intellect! Thoughts are the starting point as everything begins with thought. Pay attention and listen to what you're saying and thinking.

2. Imagination. Imagination plays a key role in almost everything we do. It is the ability to picture things in our head, things that are not visible around us. Visual symbols and shapes are vital to stimulating inner growth. Imagination is the gateway to awareness.

3. Trusting your gut. Have you noticed that our culture does not value intuition? They value logic and reasoning and so we loose our connection to intuition and a very young age. We have been conditioned to look outside for the answers. Do you realize that you give away your power to people you think have all the answers. For example, doctors and healers may have all the information you need and it may be right but we should be open to taking it in and ask if this leaves right for us. Nobody knows what's true for you as well as you know in your soul.

4. Awareness – This simply means living your life consciously. When we do this and give full attention to each and every moment in our life, we begin to glow in our own light and truth.

5. Meditation- This is when the body can reduce stress and concentration becomes easier and more effective. Your ability to learn expands and you enhance your creative powers. You also achieve an overall feeling of well being. Remember to really hear your inner voice you have to learn to be silent.

6. Dreams- They are your greatest source of self help. They can express and teach creativity, reinforcement learning, work on problems, and open the door to deeper spirituality. Dreams are therapeutic and healing.

7. Practice-Practice-Practice … Think of intuition as a muscle that must be used to gain strength. So let's do some exercises!

Exercise 1

Take a look at what you are wearing right now. Do you know what your clothes may be telling you? As I mentioned in article two, your clothes, especially the colors will always tell you something about the energy that you may need at this time in your life.

O Are you listless and tired?

O Are your clothes and colors reflecting that?

O What color do you think you could put on to change your energy to something different?

O What is your intuition telling you about how you look and feel right now? Are you willing to listen to it?

O Is there someone close by? If so, look at what they are wearing and ask your intuitive to give you some feedback on what you see.

Part 2. Think of a question that you want an answer to. For ex: Will it rain in your city before the next snowfall? Pretend that the color of the blouse / shirt you are wearing is the answer to the question OR any other object you want to use.

O Describe the color, any memories you may have associated with it, what the color means to you in this moment and how your perception of the color has changed during this exercise.

O Simply allow yourself to notice images, symbols and other impressions. Do you feel the color would mean a yes or a no to you right now?

Pretending and being able to make things up are very important skills to work on in gaining control of your intuition. Intuition is really just information gathering. Do not try to figure everything out.

Exercise 2

Do you ever notice animals or birds when driving or sitting outside? Did you ever stop and ask yourself why they suddenly came into your line of vision & what they could mean?

Here are some common meanings that you may want to consider next time an animal comes into your line of vision or space. What is the first word that comes into your mind when you read the words below? Do they fit with the ones I have given or did your word feel better to you?

Dogs- friendship, loyalty, unconditional love

Cats- independence, freedom, march to your own drums

Rabbits- timid, shy, fertility, abundance, growth

Crows- Spiritual laws, intelligence

Horses- Power, freedom, inner strength

Butterfly- Transformation

Are you starting to realize that when we use our intuition we are really operating without a safety net? There is no logic, common sense to this. Know that what you sense, feel, perceive and dream has some meaning. There is always a reason we notice what we do and that we do not notice everything else.

The same object viewed by two people can mean two very different things. Just allow your meanings of the symbols to come to you, and this may take time. It also takes an open mind, even if at first you have to prepare that the symbols are significant. Allow things to be meaningful and they become meaningful.

Exercise 3
Start an intuition notebook and write your experiences in a book. Write on how some daily or other impressions you had had answered your question.

O Practice on things like; Who is on the other line when the phone rings?

O Which elevator will arrive first?

O Will the next traffic light be green, red or yellow?

O Focus on a call you would like to receive from someone and you will suddenly hear from them!

O If the doorbell rings and you're not expecting anyone, who do you think it is?

You'll be amazed at how accurately your "guesses" can be.

As little children we had no trouble pretending. Pretending often precedes faith and before we know it, we no longer need to pretend.

If we insist on our experience of the world making sense, we will deprive ourselves of valuable intuitive data. You must be willing to make mistakes. When you follow your intuition you will gain a feeling of power and energy and more importantly a wonderful spiritual connectedness to all things in your life.

A Dog Who Loved Jesus

"Mommy," sacrificed the small boy, running toward his mother. "Mommy, you must help my sister." She is trying to take some food away from a dog.

The fragile-looking woman hurried outside just in time to see her daughter putting some unclean food into her mouth. The dog had apparently decided that the food was too rotted to eat itself and allowed the child to have it.

"No! Do not eat that." It is not clean, "the mother is slightly scolded. She grabbed the dirty food and thread it back toward the dog, who smelled it and then let it lie on the ground.

Some neighbor women look their heads in bewilderment. "That child of hers is possessed with some demon." She does such stupid things, "said one of the women.

"You're right," the other woman agreed. "The mother even tells people that she is at wit's end, not knowing what to do with that kid." Putting her hand slowly over her lips, she added, "I even heard her say that the girl has a devil inside her."

"I do not doubt it at all," the first woman admitted. "There is definitely something very seriously wrong with her. She is like a dog or some other dirty animal, not like a human at all."

Inside her humble little house, the mother tried to wash the young child who was crying and babbling some nonsensical string of chatter. The mother tried to show love, but the girl resisted and was out of control again. She tried to reach breakable items which had purposely been placed out of her reach to prevent her from breaking all their possessions.

During all of the commotion that was going on, an older son entered the house and tried to get his mother's attention. "Mother! Mother, listen to me, please." It took a few minutes for him to finally get his mother to look toward him with frustration writing on her face.

"What is the problem?" She asked her older son. "Can not you see that I'm overwhelmed with your sister's destructive actions?"

The teen boy tried to lower his mother's anxiety, touching her shoulder and trying to help control his baby sister's attempts to destroy their property. "Now, Mother. Please listen to me. Let me help with the baby, but please listen to what I have to say."

Sitting on a stool nearby while the teen tried to hold his struggling baby sister on his lap, he began. "Mother, that Jewish man named Jesus has just come to the edge of Sidon. You told us to let you know if He ever came around."

A slight suggestion of hope for her devil-controlled daughter brought the mother to attention. "I could go there and ask Him to heal my baby." Her thoughts were all on this small piece of hope for her daughter.

Rushing to make herself as presentable as possible, the mother felt some shame for the confrontation with her older son. "I am sorry to be short-tempered with you, Son." She patted his cheek and tried to give him a smile. The smile did not hide her extreme negative thoughts about her youngest child and whether Jesus would rid her of the demonic spirit that the baby had.

It did not occur to her that cultural problems would interfere with the request for healing for her child. She found herself near a crowd of people, all seemingly wanting to see Jesus. Pushing through the crowd, she found opportunity to try to get the attention of this Man from Galilee. She lowered her body before Jesus saying, "My Lord, please consider my request. My daughter has some bad spirit, maybe a devil of some sort. Would you please have mercy and heal her?"

Some of the followers of Jesus, mostly Jewish men, tried to push her aside and encourage her to leave Jesus alone. Finally, someone said, "Tell her to go away, Jesus." She is disturbing us and also interfering with your work here. "

Jesus ignored both the man who made the suggestion and the woman who had asked for mercy. He seemed intent on listening to neither of them. He continued to walk and entertain questions from the crowd. They entered a small house where Jesus sat in such a manner that most of those present could hear his words.

The mother fell down at His feet as He sat. She again pleaded for her daughter and for mercy. "Lord, You're the son of David the great king. Please have mercy on me and my family."

For some time, the woman endured the quiet type of rejection which companies being ignored. She tried to reveal that she worshiped Jesus and loved Him.

Finally, Jesus told her that she was not a Jewish person and that His mission at the time was to the Jews. Thinking about that, the woman realized that being a Greek made her less likely to receive the blessing she had asked for.

Perhaps Jesus, too, tired of this foreign woman lying at his feet. At any rate, He decreed to tell her, "It is not right to take the food which was meant for the children in the family and give it to the dogs."

Some Jews in the crowd nodded toward each other, smiling because Jesus had actually called the woman a dog. Of course, Jews considered dogs to be very unclean animals. Now, maybe she would leave Jesus alone and go home to her undesirable family.

The woman could not conceive a slight smile as she said, "Oh Lord, it is true that You should not give to the dogs that which belong to the children of the family."

More smiles and nods from Jews who had accompanied Jesus. Impatiently, they waited for the woman to rise and trod toward her home.

"Dogs should not expect to be seated at the family table at mealtime. They belong on the floor," the woman added. "They wait for some crumbs to fall from someone's plate and onto the floor. Since the children do not want the food which falls onto the floor, the dogs can rejoice that they can have those small crumbs."

Jesus seemed surprised and added. "Your faith in God and your obvious devotion to me and my cause have moved me. That which you asked for has been given. Your daughter is cured and delivered from the devilish spirit that controlled her."

With extreme devotion, with great humility, and with praises in her heart, the woman backed away from Jesus and the crowd in the house. She found herself torn between love for Jesus and thankfulness for His mercy upon her home.

At home, everything was much different than when she had left home a few hours before. The daughter blessed her mother with a hug. The other children in the house were also quiet and even reverent when their mother entered the house.

The older son expressed his confidence. "Mother, we were aware of when you received your request from this Jesus. Everything changed here. The devil is gone out of our baby sister."

"Yes," the mother agreed. "Jesus said that I am a dog because I am not a Jew but asked Him to do for me what He usually does for the Jewish people."

"You're a dog?" The teen boy incredulously asked. "That does not sound like a nice thing for Him to tell you, Mother."

"I think it depends on whose dog I am." I am a dog that belongs to Jesus. He takes good care of his own. "

We All Have Our Challenges

Challenges come along in very different ways. I have shared a few that came my recently, they may seem humorous but there is a key message here.

Some of you will be aware that earlier this year I did a sponsored bike to raise money for Victim Support in Yorkshire and Humber cycling to each area office in the region, a total of 170 miles.

After completing this challenge I thought what could the next one be?

Well I have a very close friend who had just started going to the gym and really would like to lose some weight but on occasions forgot to take the action to go to the gym and therefore motivation became an issue. I called him and said something to the effect "How do you fancy a challenge of doing a 10k run on Christmas Eve"?

Oh this was late September when I called him.

My friend said he would think about it and came back to me a day later saying, "I am up for this but do not fancy the cold or the date. How about we do it on the 5th December on the treadmill at my gym As it will be a bit warmer and we can watch the television as each treadmill has its own screen "?

What could I say but YES. I should point out that I am not really a fan of running or treadmills so this was a challenge for me.

Training started, my friend building up the kilometers and really looking leaner. The challenges for me are the boredom, I feel like a hamster on a wheel !!!! My gym has no such luxury as a television screen on the treadmill so initially I focused on a white dot on the lawn outside just to take my mind off the constant pounding. I have now moved on to listening to Enigma on the Ipod but the ears keep dropping out of my ears (another challenge)

All was going well until about two weeks ago then it happened, I fell over my lap top bag, cutting and badly bruising the toe next to my little toe.

I rang my friend, who after he had stopped laughing said, "I hope you will still be able to do this run as you have really got me going and I am looking forward to the challenge"?

I said I would be there, albeit with a toe looking decidedly dodgy I did not really feel that good about it.

Here was the next challenge. I could not run or put much weight on the foot but I really did not want to lose the momentum I had won, nor did I want to feel sorry for myself (it would have been nice though). Then it came to me, get the bike out and do some miles, this is just what I did. Just as I felt ready to go back to the gym came the next challenge.

Now you will like this.

I burnt my nose on our wood-burning stove. I know you are thinking how on earth did you do that? Simple really it does not take much practice !!! I had just put on a couple of logs, as I was shutting the door one began to fall out. I opened the door leant forward to push the log back in and my nose touched the top of the door. It hurt a little but nothing could have prepared me for what followed.

The next day the tip of nose was bright red in the shape of a circle. How could I have seen looking like this and dealing with the looks and no doubt the humorous comments that would come my way? After all I needed to get back into the gym !!!!! Now, not only did I have a slight limp I had a nose end that could light up any room.

Well I saw this as just another challenge to deal with; There was not much point in staying in. I saw the funny side. Yes people did stare and yes those close to me came out with the humorous stories. The really funny bit was when I was doing a seminar. The majority of people were transfixed by the nose really not sure what to say or do?

In the end they enjoyed me telling them about the wood-burning stove.

Some thought I had been beaten up, some even thought I had been bitten by a snake,

Imagination what a wonderful thing !!!!

We all have challenges it is how we deal with them that matters.

Oh, my sympathy goes out to hamsters everywhere.

Enjoy November.

If you would like to follow the progress towards the 10k challenge visit my blog

Poaching Eggs the Really Easy Way

It stuns me the amount of people who when discussing the cooking of a humble egg will admit that they cannot poach one. It seems the simple skill of dropping a cracked egg into a pan of boiling water is one that has been lost down the centuries and now relies on microwave gadgets to ever get done correctly, but seriously, it’s easy.

Let’s break it down into its constituent parts. You need a pan, filled with water which you then boil and then put an egg in.

Think I’ve covered everything. But wait, what about vinegar in the water, swirling it around, having a huge pan or even using one of those little gadgets that allows you to create perfectly formed eggs like they came right out of a battery-hen?

No, none of those things is necessary and so I present here and now the absolute easiest, idiot-proof way to cook a poached egg. It’ll be stunning in its brilliance but simple in its execution.

The Pan

OK, I’ve already mentioned the pan of water, so what type of pan? Depends on how many eggs you’re going to cook but I tested a small one this morning and got two perfect eggs. It was the size up from a milk-pan, you’d normally use it to boil peas. For four eggs use the next pan up and for six, use the biggest pan in your cupboard. Many people say you should use a massive pan because the ‘plop’ of the egg into the water forms the shape. That just wastes water and heat so don’t bother.

Fill the pan so it’s about two thirds full and get it boiling.

The Eggs

I always keep my eggs in the fridge and I can honestly say I can see no difference other than in cooking time between taking them right out or leaving them to warm to room temperature. If you’re baking a cake then it probably matters but if you’re just going to be cooking the blighters, don’t worry about it.

Crack your eggs and plop them into the boiling water.

The technique

The minute the last egg hits the water, switch off the heat. If you’re using an electric cooker then you need to move the pan away from the hob so any latent heat doesn’t upset things.

Pop the lid on the pan and set your timer for four minutes if two eggs, five minutes if four. Pop the toast in the toaster.

Go back to the pan when the timer beeps and lift one of your eggs with an egg spoon and check the consistency. By now it should be firm but still wobbly. I find five minutes is about right so assuming they’re not runny, whip ’em out on to the toast and voila! Perfect eggs.

See, told you it was easy!

The Four R’s That Will Save the Planet

Conservation seems to be on everyone’s mind lately. How to save energy, save money, save resources, and most importantly, save the planet (which is the only one we have at the moment). Going Green is definitely the trend and the term reduce, reuse, recycle is used over and over by eco-friendly crowds. Lately a fourth “R” has emerged to join the ranks of planet-saving steps. This article will discuss what these four “R’s” mean and simple ways you can practice them at home, in the car and even at the workplace.


Reduce refers to reducing the amount of energy you use and the amount of waste you create. There are several simple ways to do this that don’t cause much inconvenience to the average person. Being conscious of the package on the items you buy is one easy way to reduce your consumption. Avoid products with layers of packaging when one would do and purchase refillable products and their refills whenever possible. Plan your meals ahead and avoid wasting food that has gone bad waiting for you to cook it. Store or freeze leftovers for another day. Consider signing up for a service that will reduce, if not eliminate, the amount of junk mail you receive (this is a win-win for you and the planet). You can find such services by typing “junk mail” into Google. Also avoid buying magazines and newspapers that waste thousands of trees each year. Get your news online or on the television. Finally, plug all your appliances and electronics into power strips which you can easily switch off at night and when you’re not using them to avoid “phantom drain” of your electricity. Not only will you reduce your energy use, you’ll reduce your energy bill.


There are many products that can be reused instead of thrown away. Unfortunately, most of us were brought up in a disposable society and think nothing of tossing products away when we feel they have served their purpose. For example, if you currently buy individual liquid hand soap dispensers for each sink in you house, you can buy one large bottle of hand soap and refill the smaller containers over and over again. Giving donations are another way of reusing items. You are giving something you no longer find useful to someone who can use it without them having to buy it new and use up all resources that go into creating a new consumer product. Reuse the back of your printer papers by flipping them over and printing on them again (just make sure they aren’t used for your kids homework, teachers find this annoying). If you grow a garden or would like to, you can use your old vegetable and fruit wastes for composting. Shredded paper, coffee grounds, eggshells and brown leaves can also be reused in this way. The resulting organic compost is like gold to gardeners so even if you don’t want to use it, you can probably find a beginning gardener to buy it from you.


Recycling is similar to reusing in that the same item is used again. However, with recycling, the item is broken down into a more basic substance and reformed into something entirely different. For example, a pile of plastic soda bottles can be reformed into a child’s sandbox. It’s important to know your community’s rules about recycling because every place is different. On plastic products, for example, you should find a number surrounded by the recycle logo (it looks like a triangle made out of arrows). Certain number plastics are more difficult (and more expensive) to recycle so many communities only accept the easier to process numbers. You should be able to find out you local laws either on your city’s website or by calling your local city hall. Aside from plastics, which can be tricky, you can usually recycle any cans made from metal, any containers made from glass, juice and milk cartons (with the tin cans and glass jars), newspapers, magazines, any printed paper, and food boxes (like the ones pasta comes in).


New to the recycling scene, repurposing is my favorite step of conservation. I love the idea of finding a new way to use something old. For example, my daughter and I made shell people by painted some old quahog (large clams) shells and hot gluing some googly eyes and raffia hair to them. Similarly, we use old mismatched socks for hand puppets. I used an old dry sink that was falling apart for a makeshift gardening center and an old hose for a homemade irrigation system for my garden. Currently I am braiding some strips made from plastic bags into placemats that are easy to keep clean and rather attractive to the green at heart. As you can see, there are endless ways to look at old things with new eyes.

Railroad Sights of Long Island: Hicksville, Oyster Bay, and Wantagh

1. Long Island Railroad Origins:

Defined by, and developed because of, the Long Island Railroad, the slender, almost fish-profiled tract of land originally called Paumanok by indigenous Indians and now bridge- and tunnel-appendaged to New York, owes much of its existence to it.

Earthly distances require means, speed, and sometimes intermodal connections to traverse so that miles, as measurements, can be reduced to hours and minutes. Untethered to the continental Untied States, and thus surrounded by water, Long Island itself sought solutions for the population which grew after the farmers were attracted there by the promise of sprouting crops. But not immediately.

“The century year of 1800 found Long Island to be a largely rural region of remote villages located along the shores,” according to Robert C. Sturm in his book, “The Long Island Rail Road Company: A History, 1834-1965” (Long Island-Sunrise Trail Chapter, National Railway Historical Society. 2014, p. 3). “The principle means of transpiration and communication were carriages and sailing vessels. The fact that travel was slow, arduous, and sometimes perilous meant that the average person rarely, if ever, traveled further than 20 miles from his or her place of birth.”

Integral to the seed that evolved into the Long Island Railroad and ultimately resolved this dilemma was the ten-mile Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad Company, whose April 25, 1832 incorporation was envisioned as the first step in a land-and-sea link to Boston, essentially bypassing Long Island itself, but reducing the primitive, three-day horse-drawn coach and 16-hour all-steamer methods to 11 hours.

The second segment of the intermodal journey became reality on April 24, 1834, when the Long Island Rail Road Company was chartered to operate from Brooklyn to Greenport on the North Fork. The third was the cross-sound ferry voyage to Stonington, Connecticut, whose hilly and river-interspersed southern shore otherwise eclipsed technological, track-laying capabilities, and the fourth was the continued and final rail link to Boston on the Norwich and Worcester.

Two years later, on April 18, or the very day that the Brooklyn and Jamaica was completed, the barren island began sprouting tracks, along with its crops, reaching Farmingdale in Suffolk County in 1841, Deer Park the following year, and Medford two years after that, and met the North Fork-originating, westward-laid rails by summer, although a shortage necessitated a temporary, two-mile, heavy timber and strap iron crowned insertion until the final section was delivered from Britain.

Inaugurating service on July 27, 1844, the fledgling, steam-powered railroad immediately demonstrated its capability, covering the 94 miles from Brooklyn to Greenport in three-and-a-half hours.

But the ground which supported it began to crumble after only a few years of operation, since the previously considered “impossible” southern Connecticut rail route was conquered by 1850, eliminating the need for the Long Island Railroad’s intermodal and inter-state purpose and leaving it to serve a sparsely populated farm community. Now, more than ever, it needed to grow branches that would cater to developing towns, after its initial, cross-island line spurred their development.

Today, tunnel-connected, beneath the East River, to Manhattan, the Long Island Railroad operates nine branches to 124 stations, covering more than 700 miles of track, and is both North America’s busiest commuter railroad, feeding and fielding the daily workforce, and the oldest one still operating under its original name. In 2009, it celebrated its 175th anniversary and six years later carried 87.6 million annual passengers.

Its rich history can be gleaned through Long Island’s many railroad-related sights.

2. Hicksville and the John Bull Locomotive:

Located on the flat, barren, 60,000-acre Hempstead Plains–the largest such prairie in the eastern United States-Hicksville was first claimed by Welsh settler, Robert Williams, in 1648. But, despite the promise of population, it remained just as virgin for another two centuries, until Valentine Hicks, a Jericho businessman, acquired the site and formed a land association to establish a town on it in 1834.

Because the first 15 miles of track had reached the area three years later, in March, its then terminus status transformed it into a destination or, in the reverse direction, a gateway to Manhattan in the west, establishing a tether to a major city.

Not coincidentally, Hicks himself became a Long Island Railroad board member and its second president, while the station, ultimately located at the crossroads of the Main Line and the Port Jefferson branch, evolved into a hub.

But financial panic at the time of its inception ensured that it remained the terminus for four years, until the intermodal connection could regain its momentum and ever eastward-laid track could imprint the ground. In the meantime, however, the railroad transported people, who, in sedentary form, translated into population, and the once barren farmland took root as a town comprised of stores, businesses, residences, and hotels. Its “Hicksville” name, again not coincidentally, reflected its Valentine Hicks founder.

The Long Island Railroad’s first locomotive, the “Ariel” and the 19th constructed by Matthias W. Baldwin, was delivered in November of 1835 and, aside from providing motive power for the inaugural Hicksville service, was employed for some two decades.

“The original locomotives were of simple construction, comprising a five-tube boiler mounted on a frame that also accommodated a two-cylinder engine,” wrote Sturm in “The Long Island Rail Road Company: A History, 1834-1965” (p. 10). “Hand-cut pine, which was conveniently harvested from the Pine Barrens, was the fuel. Water was carried on the tender car, either in casks or (in) an iron tank. There were no brakes; coasting to the station and finally ‘plugging’ the engine (running it in reverse) was the only method used to stop the trains.”

Insignificant in size and primitive in construction, it nevertheless made a major impact. It lit the fire on the steam revolution, shrank distances, and served as the threshold to the industrial era.

Ordered by Robert Stevens, who needed propulsion for the Camden and Amboy Railroad he established, the very first such John Bull locomotive commenced its journey as a collection of crate-cradled parts in Liverpool, England, in 1831, arriving on this side of the Atlantic from the Robert Stephenson and Company factory marked “one locomotive steam engine.” Assembly, needless to say, was required.

But after it was, it inaugurated New Jersey’s first rail service, as its name implies, between Camden and South Amboy two years later and plied tracks with it or other companies for 35 years. It was not retired until 1866, at the end of the Civil War.

It was ultimately operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad, which took over the Camden and Amboy and later owned the Long Island Railroad.

Featuring a 14.9-foot length and 6.3-foot width, the ten-ton engine, with a 0-4-0 wheel configuration, had a 4.11-foot wheel base and four-foot, 8.5 inch gauge. It was equipped with a 10.07-square-foot firebox and a 6.9-foot-long boiler, which had a 2.6-foot diameter.

Power was transmitted to the driving axles by means of pistons mounted under the boiler between the two front wheels.

The initial ground-level Hicksville Station was served by several depots throughout its history, including the second, which opened in 1873 to replace the first, consumed by fire nine years earlier; the third, which replaced the second after it was moved to a private location in 1909; and the fourth, which was temporarily employed between 1962 and 1965 while the tracks were elevated. That $8.8 million project, which covered three miles, but involved 11 miles of track, eliminated five grade crossings on the Main Line and two on the Port Jefferson branch, and required the extension and relocation of Newbridge Road under a viaduct.

Not far from those elevated tracks is a full-sized, non-operating replica of the John Bull locomotive named “Valentine’s Dream” and located in Hicksville’s Kennedy Memorial Park. Constructed by Chamber of Commerce President James Pavone during a two-year period and based upon the original one from 1831, which ran on the Camden and Amboy Railroad, it served as the inspiration for Matthias W. Baldwin to build locomotives in this country, one of which, of course, was the Long Island Rail Road’s first locomotive, “the Ariel,” whose image graces the town’s welcome signs and banners.

Unveiled on May 17, 2008, the 350th anniversary of the founding of the central Long Island town, the “Valentine’s Dream” reproduction became Hicksville’s own icon.

3. Oyster Bay Railroad Museum:

Forever associated with Oyster Bay is President Theodore Roosevelt, who frequently traveled by rail and used the station as his threshold to other parts of the nation, since his Sagamore Hill home was located only a short distance from it. But the equally nearby, appropriately named Oyster Bay Railroad Museum was not created for that reason. Instead, it began in 1990, when the volunteer Locomotive #35 Restoration Committee, under the jurisdiction of the Nassau County Parks Commission, cleaned and painted the deteriorating steam engine displayed in Mitchel Park.

Subsequently incorporated as the Friends of Locomotive #35, the group sought funding for a full restoration and a location to showcase it, resulting in the 2006-established not-for-profit organization that planted its roots in Oyster Bay and acquired additional artifacts, railroad equipment, and rolling stock.

“The mission of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum is to heighten public awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the railroad’s role in our heritage,” it self states, “and to increase public understanding of rail technology and its impact on Long Island life. (It) will collect, preserve, and interpret the railroad heritage of Long Island for future generations.”

Presently divided into an indoor visitor center and outdoor rolling stock display complex, it features photographs, artifacts, small railroad implements, a large-scale Hudson locomotive and tender, with a 4-6-4 wheel configuration, and a model train layout in the former, located at 102 Audrey Avenue. But much more is to be seen in the latter, a short drive away.

Here, locomotive #35, cornerstone of and catalyst to the museum, and historically significant because of its participation in the 1955 “End of Steam” ceremony in Hicksville, remains a sectioned, unassembled work-in-progress, and is under renovation at the Steam Operations Corporation in Birmingham, Alabama. Built in 1928 in the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Juniata, Pennsylvania, shops for operation by its then-subsidiary Long Island Railroad, the engine, with a 4-6-0 wheel configuration, gave faithful, high daily, multiple-stop service for 27 years before passing the torch to diesel technology. It was the last steam locomotive to operate on Long Island.

There are several other fully restored and assembled engines and cars here, however.

The first of these is actually a pair of 25-ton switchers. Constructed in 1958 by General Electric, these two 150-hp mini-locomotives were used to “switch” and move passenger and freight engines throughout the railroad’s Morris Park servicing and repair facility in Richmond Hill, Queens.

According to the museum, the affectionately called “dinkies” were “four-wheel, cabin-driven, 25-ton diesel locomotives that toiled away in the back shops of the Long Island Railroad from 1958 through the early-2000s.”

Not retired until 2006, engine #398 was purchased as far back as 1958 and #397 was acquired almost three decades later, in 1987, from the Naporana Iron and Metal Company.

Another engine-this time of diesel technology-is also on display-at least in spirit, if not in full physical form.

Built by the American Locomotive Company (Alco) in 1947 and designated FA-1 (for “Freight A” unit), it was operated by the New Haven Railroad, which numbered it 0402, until it returned it in 1963 after an accident. Separating the cab from the engine, Alco sold the former portion to the Long Island Railroad for display at the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, held in Flushing Meadows, whereafter it served as an interactive exhibit for children at the Tanglewood Day Damp in Malverne. The Oyster Bay Railroad Museum acquired it in 1999. The plaque commemorating its restoration is dated May 8, 2010.

Although the Long Island Railroad was never inceptionally envisioned as a commuter carrier connecting its namesake population with the metropolises of New York and Brooklyn and, to a lesser degree, to its own towns, it ultimately evolved into one, achieving its true purpose. Toward that end, steam- and, later, diesel locomotive-pulled cars were integral to the morning and evening traffic flows from and to the island through the East River tunnels. One of them is on display.

Constructed in 1923 by the American Car and Foundry Company and initially appendaged to steam engines, the P54 coach, a lightweight structure that replaced the all-wood and later hybrid steel frame and wood body ones which preceded it, is an expression of construction development.

Numbered 7433, it was the first all-steel passenger car. It was one of almost a thousand built for the Pennsylvania and Long Island railroads, and featured direction-changeable, “walk over” seats, and, in the case of the museum’s example, overhead fans mounted on their original ventilators.

Because the coach’s reduced weight subjected riders to a bouncing effect, it was often dubbed a “Ping Pong” car. Draped in several liveries and retrofitted with more modern lighting, flooring, seats, and luggage racks, #7433 provided a half-century of service and was not retired until 1974. It is one of the last of its type to remain.

Other museum exhibits include two divergent-era and -purpose cabooses, which, before the 1950s, traveled from end to end through Long Island’s still-abundant, potato- and cauliflower-sprouting farmland as the end themselves to elongated freight trains.

Built in February of 1927 by the American Car and Foundry Company at a $17,880 cost, caboose #12 consisted of mixed material construction, its frame, underbody, and trucks made of steel, but its upper body employing wood, and stretched 29.4 feet in length and weighed in at 35,430 pounds.

“The end of the train had many names: crummy, palace, shack, or caboose,” according to the museum. “It was home for the crew and an office, too. Bobbing along behind a string of freight cars, like an exclamation point at the end of a sentence, the caboose spoke loud and clear, saying, ‘I am the end. The train is complete.'”

As befitting all homes on wheels, it was outfitted with sleeping bunks, storage closets, a sink, a coal stove, and a toilet, and was occupied by a conductor, who was responsible for a train’s safe movement and upon whose directive the engineer relied, and a brakeman, who ensured that the hose extending from the locomotive to the caboose itself maintained the required level of air pressure.

Long Island produce often provided “complementary,” track-side “shopping” for crews until some farmers routinely bundled freshly picked crops and made them accessible to them.

Serving all branches of the Long Island Railroad, caboose #12 was not retired until 1961, whereafter it served as the sleeping quarters of Shore Line Trolley Museum restorers in East Haven, Connecticut, and was finally acquired by the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum in June of 2002. It own restoration occurred between 2008 and 2009.

Its other caboose, #50, was constructed by the International Railway Car Company in 1958. Designated a Class N-22 unit, it was one of the first all-steel ones to replace the preceding wooden ones. Although train visibility was either afforded by tall cupola or extended side bay window design features, this one offered neither, but nevertheless provided faithful utilitarian service until its 1993 retirement.

A later, 2011 museum addition is the quarter-length electric simulator, which appears identical to the actual car, and was employed to train and certify engineers on M1 and M3 equipment.

A State of New York contract, in conjunction with the Long Island Railroad’s new owner, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), was signed for 770 M1 electrified passenger coaches (numbers 9001 to 9770). Branded “Metropolitans” themselves and built between 1968 and 1973, they replaced the mixture of outdated equipment remnants from the Pennsylvania Railroad regime, except the 1950s-era, diesel-hauled Pullman Standard ones, which themselves were numbered 2700 to 2900.

The workhorse of the electrified fleet, the M1 cars were not retired until the early-21st century, when they were replaced by the advanced M7s.

Contrasting the old with the new, the museum’s turntable, of continuous girder design, was the second to have been used at the Oyster Bay Station and, along with the wye and the loop, served as one of three methods of reorienting a locomotive for its return trip.

“The turntable at the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum is actually the second at this location,” according to the museum. “The LIRR reached Oyster Bay in 1889, having been extended from Locust Valley. That turntable had been at that location since 1869 and, after 20 years, it was moved with expansion of the service to Oyster Bay.”

It was not the only early-railroad remnants once here, however.

“A four-stall engine house was built in 1889 and was located southeast of the turntable,” it continued. “In 1904, the old turntable was removed and a new 70-foot-long one was installed north of the engine house. It was originally powered by a pneumatic motor… In 1932, it was electrified and operated under that power source until taken out of service sometime in the 1970s.”

Beyond the fence is the Oyster Bay yard, cradling bi-level commuter cars, and beyond them is the railroad station depot, symbol of both the past and the future.

Designed by architect Bradford Lee Gilbert in the Tudor revival style, it was completed in the spring of 1889 to cater to the track extension from Locust Valley to Oyster Bay, but subsequently expanded in anticipation of increased travel spurred by Theodore Roosevelt’s 1901 election as US president. A rail enthusiast himself, he frequently covered the short distance from his Sagamore Hill home to the station and commenced his journey to Washington, D.C., among other destinations.

Subjected to modifications throughout its history, it lost its canopies during the 1940s, some of its doors and windows by brick-plugging during the 1960s, and was finally closed in 1999, after a 110-year utilization, when it was replaced by a new platform to the west to conform to the latest bi-level passenger cars.

Owned, along with the plaza, by the Town of Oyster Bay, it was subleased and is currently managed by the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum, and is both an Oyster Bay Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Its plaque reads, “Oyster Bay Railroad Station. Home train station of Theodore Roosevelt, President t of the United States, 1901-1909. July 2005 placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Plaque sponsored by Theodore Roosevelt Association and Oyster Bay Historical Society.”

Now under renovation, it will eventually replace the museum’s Audrey Avenue facility and house both exhibits and a visitor center, and will be linked, via a short walking path, through Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park to the outdoor rolling stock and turntable display yard.

4. Wantagh Railroad Station Museum:

Originally encompassing Wantagh, Seaford, and the southern portion of Levittown, the area, settled by Captain John Searman, Robert Jackson, and their families in 1644, was one of the earliest to have been claimed by the English in eastern Nassau County. Initially known as Jerusalem, it was one of many biblically named towns, along with Jericho and Bethpage.

A quiet village until the Searman, Jackson, and Birdsall families serving George Washington’s army occupied Jerusalem itself during the Revolutionary War, it harnessed the event as a post-conflict catalyst to growth in 1783.

Facilitated by the arrival of the railroad more than a century later, in 1867, its southern portion attracted considerable development and was renamed Ridgewood in order to distinguish it from its original roots in the north. But that distinction was further cemented only 24 years later when it adopted the present Wantagh designation, since confusion with the identically named Queens town was frequent. Chosen to honor Wyandance, the grand sachem of the Montauk Indians, it retains its name to the present day.

Integral to its development was the Wantagh Railroad Station. Constructed in 1865 at an $800 cost and located on Railroad Avenue, the originally-designated Ridgewood Station featured an enclosed ticket office, in which Emma Whitmore served as its first female employee, a telegraph office, a passenger waiting room, a baggage room, and open east and west ends. Heated by a potbelly stove in its center, it sports one very similar to its original today.

The platform consisted of wooden planks.

Because it was slated for demolition in 1966 when the street-level tracks were elevated to reduce vehicular traffic congestion, it was acquired by the prior-year established Wantagh Preservation Society and relocated to the present Wantagh Avenue site.

Restored to its 1904 appearance, it was opened as a public museum on May 16, 1982 and offers a look into turn-of-the-century life through vintage photographs and display cases that feature memorabilia from the area’s past.

Trains still await passengers outside. At least one car does. Identified by and the very symbol which brings the Wantagh Station to railroad life, is the red-liveried, track-supported passenger coach, “Jamaica.”

Manufactured by the American Car and Foundry Corporation in 1912 for the Long Island Railroad’s Long Island Parlor Car Company subsidiary, the 80-ton coach, measuring 80 feet long by 14 feet high, originally accommodated 26 passengers, but was subjected to a multiple-application history Redesignated “The Montauk” for Long Island Railroad business use in 1925, for example, it was subsequently rebuilt only five years later as an observation car, incorporating staterooms, a galley, a dining room, butler’s quarters, and open decks.

As an expansion of then-advanced technology, it featured its own power generator, was heated by coal stoves and pipe-circulating, baseboard-hidden hot water, and cooled by a fan that blew air over two 300-pound ice blocks, ensuring early air conditioning during its weekend travel suspensions in Montauk.

Eight years after its 1941 return to parent company Pennsylvania Railroad for modernization, it was repurchased for the sum of $26,434 and operated until 1957 as the “Jamaica,” once again reclassified as a passenger coach in 1962 and serving Long Island Railroad express train routes.

Retired six years later and donated to the Wantagh Preservation Society, it spent another four years in storage at Grumman’s Bethpage plant, before being moved to its present location on October 25, 1972. It was rededicated in 1996.

Today, it sits on original, hand-hewn ties and 80-pound rails, and features its original, hand-applied pin stripping in its interior.

Only a few feet away is another hark to Wantagh’s past: its post office. Once serving the rural town, which was then mostly populated by farmers, the tiny, ten- by twelve-foot wooden structure across from the railroad depot was built in 1907 and served as the area’s initial post office, located on the corner of Wantagh and Railroad avenues. Operated by a single person, who sorted the mail into slots, it witnessed the rise of postage from a former two to a current 49 cents for a two-ounce letter. Gertrude Ballem was the last person to work in it.

Together, the railroad station, the passenger coach, and the post office, maintained by the Wantagh Preservation Society, offer glimpses into early 20th-century Wantagh life.

The society itself, chartered by the New York State Board of Regents as a nonprofit educational corporation, was founded in 1965 for the purpose of saving the station’s Victorian architecture when plans for the elevated track crossing called for its removal, and Nassau County subsequently provided the present site at Wantagh and Emeric avenues for it.

In August of 1983, the station and the railroad car were placed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.

19 Questions to Supercharge Your Business Plan

Whether you are seeking capital for your company or are optimizing your business strategy, the most important element – particularly for outside investors -may be your written business plan. You can tune-up and supercharge your plan using this 19-step checklist. When your written plan firmly answers yes to each of these 19 questions, your market / product strategy is in terrific shape plus you increase the odds of attracting investment capital.

If you do not already have a written business plan – write one! Your business plan is a blueprint for your whole company. It describes in detail your goals, the financial and technical vitality of your goals, and the strategy you will use (or are using) to reach those goals. And your business plan is a working tool – it is a yardstick to measure your progress and a compass to keep you on course.

Must a business plan be written?

Yes! A plan which is not written normally has not been thought through fully. And what you may have read, it is doubtful that any business ever attracted capital on the back of a napkin.

Use this checklist as a way to identify where your strategy, as spelled out in your business plan, needs work. Each of the questions below highlights an area considered critical to technology investors.

1. Can the key ideas behind your product or service be stated in one or two sentences? (Y / n)

2. Does your company have at least one unique and compelling competitive advantage, which can not quickly or easily be duplicated? (Y / n) Examples are a special feature, a cost advantage, a technical refinement, a new delivery system or a special supplier.

3. Is your competitive advantage proprietary? (Y / n) That is, can it be copymitted, patented, trademarked or otherwise protected? Can you keep it exclusive to you?

4. Is your industry segment growing by 25% or more? (Y / n) If not, can your new product dominate its segment? If the answer is no, you probably will not be able to generate the kind of financial returns investors look for.

5. Does your product or service create a new market? (Y / n) Although generally positive, this could be a trap – in a brand new market, the potential can be slow to develop. Lotus Notes created a new category but took years to create value for investors.

6. Is your market in "early momentum" – the market growth phase where market revenues have recently taken off? (Y / n) Venture investors prefer markets in this stage because the time-to-create-value is shorter and the growth potential still large.

7. Is your target market segment 1) tightly defined over a population sharing common characteristics, 2) large enough to support significant profits, 3) served by communications channels to reach that market – ie, trade or special interest publications, response mailing lists? (Y / n)

8. Is your company filling a gap in the market, or do you have a "gee-whiz" product which you think is so terrific that customers will surely want to buy it? (Y / n)

9. The benefit of your product or service to users is 1) significant, 2) quantifiable and 3) cost-justified? (Y / n). If you provide a benefit which is important, and you can prove it – there is a much higher probability of generating sales.

10. Is there a demonstrated market for your product? (Y / n) If you have an existing product, is your customer base expanding? Investors would rather fund sales and production than product development.

11. Is there a wide appeal for your product or service? (Y / n) Are there enough potential customers in the target market that you can earn significant profits, for a long time? Are there follow-on products to sustain revenue and profit growth?

12. Does your company have the ability to sell your product? (Y / n) Particularly in companies where the founders have technical backgrounds, a question to ask is "Who is going to sell your product or service?" What about outside distributors?

13. Is there an experienced management team? (Y / n) Investors would rather fund a solid team instead of one lone genius with a great idea. The team should be highly qualified in marketing, sales, finance, and the product / service area itself. Of course, a demonstrable track record helps.

14. Can you demonstrate a likely return of 5-15 times investors' capital, over a period ranging from three to seven years? (Y / n) The actual parameters used by venture investors will vary based on which stage you are in (idea, startup, development, expansion, turnaround).

15. Is there a clear exit strategy for investors? (Y / n) The most common strategies for returning investors' capital are 1) going public; 2) acquisition of your company; 3) new investors; 4) founder's buyback or management buyout.

16. Have other investors already put money into the company, particularly the senior management team? (Y / n) This reduces the apparent risk, reduces overall exposure, and shows that management "has its money where its mouth is."

17. Have you clearly defined a structure for the investment you seeking? (Y / n) The structure should include: who is involved, how much capital is needed, what minimum investment you will accept, how much equity that will buy – and, of course, the projected return on investment.

18. Are your financial projections realistic? (Y / n) Have you sounded justified your projected growth rates and other financial assumptions?

19. Have you clearly examined the risks? (Y / n) Investors like to know that you have considered the risks. This is key – can you turn your risks into opportunities?

Too many no's? Remember, each "no" opens up an area for you to strengthen your business. Even if you are not seeking capital, each question highlights a critical success factor – which, when mastered, will increase your profits, your performance, and your future success.

In order to help you discover hidden value and opportunities in your existing business, and to make it easier to spot potential problems while you are just starting out, I've created the Business Building Guide. A remarkable aid to accelerating the growth and profitability of your business, this program of insight-provoking questions and checkslists enables you to rapidly diagnose, troubleshoot and optimize every part of your business, from marketing to sales, customer service to product development and finance to Production.

© Paul Lemberg. All rights reserved

Everything You Need to Know About MPLS (Mult Protocol Label Switching)

The trend for network solutions encompassing multiple geographical locations is application of MPLS solutions. And with very good reason. However, there are some things you need to know to make sure it's done right.

Historically, tag switching (now called LABEL) was first proposed as a way to move IP packets more quickly than was possible with conventional routing. But, soon after implementation, it became apparent that any increase in speed was very slight. What really allowed MPLS to grow as an infrastructure technology was that it could provide new IP based services such as VPN's, Traffic Engineering (TE) etc.

The MPLS architecture separates the control information for packets required for packet transfer itself; That is, it separates the control and data planes. The data plane is used for the transport of packets (or label swapping algorithm), and the control plane is analogous to routing information (for example, the location to which to send the packet). This capability is programmed into hardware by the control plane. This separation permits applications to be developed and deployed in a scalable and flexible manner. Examples of applications that are facilitated by MPLS technology include the following ……

MPLS QoS, BGP VPNs Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), Traffic engineering Traffic engineering (enables one to control traffic routing via constraint-based routing), Multicast routing Protocol Independent Multicast (PIM), Pseudowires [These can be used to evolve legacy networks and Services, such as Frame Relay, ATM, PPP, High-Level Data Link Control (HDLC), and Ethernet], Generalized MPLS (GMPLS) etc.

Services offered by Service Providers (SP's) may include the following …..

* Layer 2 VPNs

* Layer 3 VPNs

* Remote Access and IPSec Integration with MPLS VPNs

* MPLS Security

* Traffic Engineering

* Quality of Service

* Multicast and NGNs (Next Generation Networks)

* IPv6 over MPLS

MPLS models adopted by service providers (SP) of broadband services depend on the services offered and also on the models adopted according to customer demands. The services provided have changed significantly through the last few years as technology has progressed. For example, many wholesale providers who offered ATM as access links now have moved on to Gigabit Ethernet.

For example, two of the most common braodband SP's would be the following …..

* Retail Provider – Any provider thats sells services to an end-user which can be business or residential. Usually they would lease bandwidth from a wholesale provider.

* Wholesale Povider – Any operator that sells services to other network operators. In context of the current broadband world, the wholesaler is usually anyone owns the subscriber plant (wires, cables etc.)

In between the subscriber and their "ISP" is the wholesale provider who owns actually owns and operates the access network, for eg, DSL, Cable, Ethernet etc. Of course, for an IP network, these are just different kinds of access.

Several applications that are facilitated by the implementation of MPLS include ….

* MPLS QoS – Quality of service mechanisms, for eg, differentiated service, which enables the creation of LSPs with guaranteed bandwidth.

* Layer 3 VPN – Uses BGP in the service provider's network with IP routing protocols or static routing between the service provider and the customer. BGP is used to exchange the FEC-label binding.

* Traffic engineering – Uses extensions of IS-IS or OSPF to distribute attributes in the network. Traffic engineering enables you to control traffic routing and thus optimize network utilization.

* Multicast routing via PIM – The protocol used to create FEC tables; Extensions of version 2 of the PIM protocol are used to exchange FEC label binding.

* Layer 2 VPN – Can be created via a Layer 2 circuit over MPLS. Layer 2 VPNs use Layer 2 transport as a building block.

Of course, features such as Security and Metro Ethernet are part of the MPLS architecture also.

Architectural Components and choices for SP's …….

* Scaling MPLS VPNs to Multi-AS, Multi-Provider, and Hierarchical Networks:

* Inter-AS VPNs: The 3 basic models discussed in RFC2547bis for Inter-AS connectivity are as follows:

– Back-to-back VPN connectivity between ASBRs

– VPNv4 exchange of routes and peering between ASBRs

– IPv4 exchange of routes and peering between ASBR's

All three above models focus on propagating VPN routes from one AS to the other AS. The first model is a simple one in which the ASBRs connect back to back via logical circuits or VLANs one per VRF. The back-to-back connections enable VPN connectivity and the exchange of routines between ASBRs on a per-VPN basis. For example, if ASBR1 and 2 need to exchange routes for 10 VPNs, 10 logical circuits exist between ASBR1 and ASBR2one for each VPN.

* Carrier Supporting Carrier …..

Another method of scaling MPLS VPNs is to create hierarchical VPNs. Consider a national or international carrier that is selling a VPN service to smaller stub carriers. The smaller stub carriers may in turn be selling another MPLS VPN service to end users (enterprises). By nesting stub carrier VPNs within the core or national carrier VPN, a hierarchical VPN can be built. With the CSC mode described in RFC 2547bis, the stub carrier VPNs and their routines do not show up in the core carrieronly the stub carrier IGP routes are part of the core carrier VPN. So, the core carrier does not need to learn or understand end user routines because the end user of the core carrier is the stub carrier. The core carrier needs only to provide VPN connectivity so that the core carrier's CEs (ironically, they are stub carrier PEs) are reachable. These CEs are called CSCCEs, where the PE that corresponds to the stub carrier and has MPLS enabled on the PE-CE link is called the CSCPE.

* Deployment Guideline considerations will involve the following summary guideline …..

Centralizing address translation makes keeping track of address assignment easier. Multiple NAT PEs may be required for load balancing. If this is the case, make sure public address pools do not overlap. One of the possible disadvantages to centralizing is the amount of redundancy that can be achieved by replication. For example, in a noncentralized environment, one gateway / server failure can result in an outage of only that VPN's service. However, in a centralized environment, a single gateway / shared PE failure can affect multiple VPNs. This drawback can be easily bypassed by having multiple PEs that serve as shared gateways, which provide services to the same VPNs. So, you can provide redundancy with shared gateways.

If VPNs that use overlapping private address space need to access a shared services segment, make sure that private address space is translated somewhere in the path.

NAT impacts CPU utilization to a degree. Some protocols are more CPU-intensive than others. Therefore, the type of translation being performed could have a significant performance impact. The impact is less for newer particle-based routers and more powerful routers.

As the number of translation entries increases, the throughput in terms of packages per second (PPS) decreases. The effect is negligible for less than 10,000 translation table entries.

The rate at which a router can add a new translation table entry decreases as the number of entries in the translation table increases.

As the number of translation entries in the translation table increases, the amount of memory used increases.

In addition to the above, there must be considerations regarding the following tools and policies …..

* Management, Provisioning, and Troubleshooting

* Equipment Scalability Versus Network Scalability

Finally, the basic arichitecture and mode of service will probably depend on customer demand and SP's commitment to deliver the same.

Here is a small list of some of the things that customers might want ….

* More service selections
* Better quality
* Ease of migration
* Ease of deployment
* Ease of maintenance
* Lower cost
* Fewer hassles

Service providers want all of the above, plus ……

* High-margin accounts
* Rapid recovery
* No loss of service
* 99.99999% reliability

Enterprises want …….

* A simpler, easier network to manage

Enterprise networks range in consistency from very stable to constantly changing. Companies on growth trends are building new facilities and acquiring other businesses. They want ease of intermigration and implementation. Changes must be ably employed within their limited maintenance windows. Their data centers must run flawlessly.

The above information … if it has not made your eyes go crossed … should give you everything you ever need to know about MPLS.

But if you need more …… as in help to reduce your time, effort, cost, and frustration in finding the right MPLS solution for your network application (s) ….. I recommend using the no cost assistance Available to you through FreedomFire ​​Communications.

U.S. Is a Profound Failure In Protecting Childrens Rights

Article 37 (A) – (D) of the Convention of Childs Rights Abstract

This article in four sub-sections clearly demands and declares the universal need for the acknowledgment and application of basic human rights for children under the age of eighteen who have been apprehended, incarcerated, and or convicted of criminal activity. The areas of emphasis among all four articles are clarified in the following order. Section (A) clearly implies and declares that no society or culture should deem it necessary to apply cruel, inhuman, or torturous activities against youth. This section also declares that youth should not be subjected to sentences that are for the entire life of the youth without parole or that the death penalty should also be exempt from being applied to those under the age of eighteen. Section (B) clearly indicates the need for the society in which the youth lives, to use incarceration, detention or arrest as a last resort. The incarceration, detention, or arrest of the youth must be according to the laws of such a society with the intent of the shortest amount of time possible. Section (C) indicates the need to treat all youth with the dignity and respect of the human person, with the understanding of treating that person according to their developmental needs. This acknowledges the need for a subjective perception. The article continues with the emphasis to keep separated youth from adults in regards to incarceration, detention and arrest; unless it is in the child’s best interest not to do so. The child should also be able to have continuing contact with family through correspondence or visitation. Section (D) emphasizes a child’s right to prompt legal services, the right to challenge any accusations or criminal wrong doing, and the right to have a prompt resolution to the accusation. All four sections clearly mandate the need to acknowledge and implement policies, laws, and procedures that will bring protection, provision and participatory rights available for children around the world.

After careful analysis regarding the rights of children under the age of eighteen and their subjection to treatment within the United States legal system, I have uncovered large amounts of startling information. Currently I have substantiated that the United States is doing a reprehensible job in regards to complying with, and the supporting of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Children. In particular for the purpose of my analysis Article 37, sections (A) – (D) have become of significant interest.

Currently 192 countries have accepted the Convention of Childs Rights; however, the United States and Somalia are the only two who have not accepted these Rights as a priority for their societies (Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, 2005). Interestingly enough, the United States also incarcerates more individuals than any other country in the world (Hartney, 2006). Currently the United States has 2.2 million persons incarcerated (Hartney, 2006). The U.S. incarcerates four to seven times higher than western nations and up to 32 times more than nations with lower incarceration rates (Hartney, 2006). According to Woolard, Odgers, Lanza-Kaduce & Daglis (2005), there are no clear estimates to the amount of all juveniles under the control of Federal, State and local authorities. However, there are clear and startling facts in which violate Article 37 of the Child Rights Convention. According to Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International (2005), “Excessive punishment becomes cruel, inhuman, or degrading if its severity or length is greatly disproportionate to the crime or to the culpability of the offender (p 96).” Clearly the acceptance by the United States to tolerate convictions equating “life without parole” and “mandatory life without parole” is a violation of subsections (A) and (B) of the Childs Rights Convention (UNCRC, 1989). According to Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International (2005), “in eleven out of the seventeen years between 1985 and 2001, youth convicted of murder were more likely to enter prison with a “life without parole” sentence than adult murder offenders (p 33).” As equally concerning there seems to be states with high amounts of youth violence but low “life without parole” sentences, and there seems to be states with equal or low amounts of youth violence that represent high amounts of “life without parole” sentences, (Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, 2005). Michigan’s rate of youth violence is nearly equal to New Jersey’s, yet Michigan currently has 306 youth offenders 14 to 17 yrs of age, vs. New Jersey who currently has 0 (Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, 2005). Pennsylvania currently holds 332 youth for “life without parole” sentences vs. Ohio who only has 1 (Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, 2005). These disparities in part are due to inconsistent laws between states for which youth can be charged with a crime and sentenced to “life without parole.” These policies are not only fragmented between states ensuring less equity and justice for all individuals, but the fact that they exist clearly violates the CRC sub-sections (A) and (B), (UNCRC, 1989). In comparison, according to Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International (2005), there are “at least 132 countries that reject “life without parole” for child offenders in domestic law or practice (p. 5).” Within the fifteen states of the European Union not a single state allows the sentencing of youth to “life without parole (Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, 2005).” Thirty one countries of the African Continent prohibit “life without parole” within their penal laws; however, Kenya and Tanzania continue non-compliance (Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, 2005). To bring greater focus on the significance of the violation of subsections (A) & (B), globally, there is approximately a dozen youth who currently serve sentences of “life without parole”, however in the United States there are estimated to be 2,225 children under the age of 18 sentenced to “life without parole”, and of these young lives there lies a disturbing discriminating formulation; 29% are white and as much as 60% are African American (Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, 2005). With this vast difference between the United States and other countries, problematic variables give understanding to why these intolerable policies and laws have developed. According to Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International (2005), some primary reasons for the increase in “life without parole” sentences are connected to systemic processes and policy changes within the justice system that have not been structured to apply sentences as the UNCRC (1989) sub-section (B), declares as a “measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time (p 10). Currently in many states prosecutors have more power through the discretion to directly file charges against children and transfer the child from juvenile court to adult court for criminal prosecution rather than clearing this process through an elected judge (Grisso, 1997). Inconsistency is rampant. Some states have no minimum age; Colorado declares that 12 yrs old is proper, and Vermont declares that 10 yrs. old is appropriate; Wisconsin also supports 10yrs of age (Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, 2005). This transferring of power and lowering of the age of eligibility seems to indicate a reduction in appropriate checks and balances, due process and the rights and powers so valuable for children to get a fair and equitable trial, thus violating Article 37 sub-section (D) (UNCRC, 1989). Mandatory “life without parole” sentences further alienates the United States as the most intolerable and insensitive global system. This process clearly violates every sub-section of Article 37, and mandates for some crimes a mandatory sentence of “life without parole”, disallowing judges to make subjective decisions based upon every child’s circumstance (Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, 2005).

In response to sub-section (C), and its requirement to acknowledge the needs of detained youth, the need for children to be contained separate from adults, and the need for actions and implementations by the court to be in the best interest of the child, the United States has failed miserably in all areas. Currently the needs of children have not been efficiently addressed. The current legal process of shifting children from juvenile to adult courts for criminal prosecution ignores the subjective position and developmental position of the child. According to Grisso (1997), there are specific abilities required for a competent defense. First, “competence to assist counsel” which is the defendant’s ability to understand and assist with his or her own defense (Grisso, 1997). The second ability needed is “decisional competence” which is a defendants reasoning process and ability to make clear judgments based upon counsel input (Grisso, 1997). Grisso clearly identifies the point that children, especially 13 yrs. of age and younger represented a significant problematic performance outcome on court competency test in regards to having abilities in being competent, and making reasonable decisions regarding their defense (Grisso, 1997). According to Grisso (1997), not only do these adolescents have less of an ability to make effective decisions, but their cognitive capacities are more vulnerable to stress and intense emotional influences, as with a criminal trial. This is significant due to statistics that express there are many states that allow the adult criminal conviction and a “life without parole” conviction for those 13yrs of age and younger. Neuroscience also continues to prove through MRI imaging and Positron Emission Tomography that the pre-frontal cortex areas of the brain which assist in judgment and decision making are not fully developed until early adulthood; thus proving that the United States is clearly holding thousands of young minds in criminal conviction for their natural immaturity (Brownlee, Hotinski, Pailthorp, Ragan & Wong, 2002).

In regards to the improper incarceration of youth; the United States violation of section (C) is evident. According to Woolard et al., (2005), nearly 10,000 youth each year are incarcerated with adults for given periods of time and nearly 80% are processed under adult courts. These statistics are staggering when comparing the entire incarceration rate of Hong Kong at 11,521 or Ecuador’s at 12,251 (Hartney, 2006). According to the Hartney (2006), there has been a 208% increase in the number of youth under the age of 18 serving time in adult jails between 1994 and 2004. New research has shown that confinement is not only more likely to reinforce delinquent behavior in those youth already at-risk, but also has them picking up more delinquent skills than if they are treated individually (Tyler, Ziedenberg & Lotke, 2006). According to Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International (2005), in 1997 the Department of Justice found that only 13% of prisons surveyed maintained separate cells for youth within adult prisons. Roberts (2000) reveals that children in adult jails are not only worse off, but subjected to behaviors and acts which scar them for the rest of their lives. Children in adult facilities are 5 times more likely to be assaulted than those in juvenile facilities (Roberts, 2000). Roberts (2000) claims that these children are twice as likely to be beaten by staff and 50% more likely to be attacked with a weapon. These children are also, eight times more likely to commit suicide than children in juvenile facilities. These facts clearly announce that the U.S. is in violation of Article 37, sub-section (C) by incarcerating these young children within an environment that has been proven to not be in the child’s best interest and a counter to meeting the child’s needs (UNCRC, 1989).

The United States continues to move away from traditional foundational principles of rehabilitation that the Juvenile Court originally established in Illinois in 1889 (Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International, 2005). This shift continues even with significant evidence that community placements rather than prison are less costly and more effective than incarceration (Human Rights Watch, 1999). According to Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International (2005), rehabilitation is not a priority for those serving “life without parole”, because many do not qualify for any educational / rehabilitative programs when incarcerated, because they will never be released. The human cost for this political and systemic ignorance from the loss of human capital and the inability to never again contribute to society is insurmountable. According to Tyler et, al., (2006), the building of new incarceration facilities can cost 100,000 per cell and an operation cost of 60,000. However, many community based programs such as wrap around programs, drug treatment and counseling services rarely exceed 15,000 initially and cost approx. 5,000 yearly (Tyler et al., 2006).

It is clear that in every instance of Article 37 sections (A) – (D) the United States has failed miserably and should be held accountable globally with the same measure of mercy and judgment that our Nations leaders themselves have shown our victimized youth.



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