Action Plan to Achieve Your Fitness Goals

When you control your weight, you control the key factors of overall health and wellness. Losing as little as 10% of your body weight, allows you to reduce insulin levels, reduce blood pressure, and decrease your risk of Diabetes.

Health, Fitness, and Wellness mean so much more than fitting into a skinny pair of jeans.True wellness means a life without weight or illness issues. Wellness, is so much more than a number on a scale. It is living a life full of vitality, sharing it, and loving it.

Start your journey today by taking the time to read this article and bending its words to fit your specific situation. At the end of the article, I will share a six step Action Plan to Achieve Your Fitness Goals.

As a Certified Hypnotherapist, I will make the case that some of the hardest challenges we face is working with weight loss and smoking. Weight loss is closely associated with food, which is necessary for survival, thus the close association, makes it something that we have to have. The problem of course is that we have gotten to a point where we just shovel it in, never thinking of the consequences, and finding out at a point, later in our lives, that we have gotten obese and sickly.

Remember that excess fat hits more than your waistband; life expectancy, productivity, mobility and self confidence are all affected. The path to better health is straight forward and simple. Eat smart, get active, perform at your peak and stay accountable.

“There is no single, simple answer to explain the obesity patterns in America”, says Walter Willett, who chairs the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.” Part of this is due to lower incomes and education, which result in purchases of cheap foods that are high in refined starch and sugar. More deeply, this also reflects lower public investment in education, public transportation, and recreational facilities,” says Willett. The bottom line: cheap, unhealthy foods mixed with a sedentary lifestyle has made obesity the new normal in America.

Obesity puts people at risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. These illnesses, of course, exact a financial toll too. In 2008, this country spent approximately $147 billion on medical costs, the CDC says. If every American were to lose an average of 10 pounds, the United States would save roughly $29 billion a year within five years, says Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit organization promoting national health.

Researchers believe that some physical activity is better than none. Extra health benefits can be gained by increasing how often and intensely one exercises and how long each session lasts.

What is causing the Overweight and Obesity trends?

A lack of energy balance most often causes overweight and obesity. Energy balance means that your energy IN equals your energy OUT.

Energy IN is the amount of energy or calories you get from food and drinks. Energy OUT is the amount of energy your body uses for things like breathing, digesting, and being physically active.

To maintain a healthy weight, your energy IN and OUT don’t have to balance exactly every day. It’s the balance over time that helps you maintain a healthy weight. Overweight and obesity happen over time when you take in more calories than you use.

Additionally, many Americans aren’t very physically active. One reason for this is that many people spend hours in front of TVs and computers doing work, schoolwork, and leisure activities. In fact, more than 2 hours a day of regular TV viewing time has been linked to overweight and obesity.

Other reasons for not being active include: relying on cars instead of walking, fewer physical demands at work or at home because of modern technology and conveniences, and lack of physical education classes in schools.

Our environment doesn’t support healthy lifestyle habits; in fact, it encourages obesity. Some reasons include:

• Lack of neighborhood sidewalks and safe places for recreation. Not enough area parks, trails, sidewalks, and affordable gyms take away from being physically active.

• Work schedules. No time to be physically active because of long work hours and time spent commuting.

• Oversized food portions. Americans are exposed to huge food portions in restaurants, fast food places, gas stations, movie theaters, supermarkets, and even at home. Some of these meals and snacks can feed two or more people. Large portions means too much energy, IN.

• Lack of access to healthy foods. Some people don’t live in neighborhoods that have supermarkets selling healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and for many, healthy foods are too expensive.

• Food advertising. Americans are surrounded by ads from food companies. Often children are the targets of advertising for high-calorie, high-fat snacks and sugary drinks.

Reasons Americans are Becoming Overweight.

• Large screen TVs with 120 channels of great American TV, 24/7.

• No time to exercise!

• Huge portions in restaurants.

• “Girl Scout Cookie Dough” gets better tasting every year.

• High Fructose Corn syrup in Sodas, Diet sodas, and many other foods.

• Bacon in everything.

• Butter in everything.

• Slim Fast shakes taste much better with a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s.

• The Donut craze, Krispy Crème, Sprinkles, Dunkin Donuts

• Fast Food and its convenience: McDonald’s, Burger King, Jack in the Box, and on and on.

Eliminate 5 Foods and Lose Weight.

Losing weight can be tough. You want to slim down, but unless you have the stamina to dedicate the next few months to your body, you’ll also want to maintain your social life, which means cocktails after work and an occasional slice of pizza late at night. Most of us wake up, look at ourselves in the mirror, and decide that it’s time to make a change and lose weight. That typically means better eating and more consistent workouts, but it isn’t foolproof. There will be days when things don’t go as planned and a cupcake is consumed or a run is skipped.

Diet soda

Dieters may be apt to slurp down diet sodas. They have zero calories and the carbonation-lovers argue that the carbonation makes you feel full. Turns out that the country’s most obese people prefer diet soda and some studies report that the more diet sodas a person drinks, the more weight they’ll gain. Reason? The artificial sweeteners keeping diet soda calorie free, confuse your body, since the sweetener is unknown and artificial. When your body doesn’t know how many calories have been consumed, it will respond by craving more high-calorie foods.

Carbohydrates only snacks

When your meals or snacks are comprised of only carbohydrates, your body quickly converts the carbohydrates into simple sugars and sends the sugar off into your blood stream. The sugar rush comes on and is over quickly, leaving you with low blood sugar and a gnawing hunger pain. Avoid carbohydrate heavy meals and snacks, like pasta, crackers, dry cereal, and breads. Pair your carbohydrates with protein or healthy fats like cheese and peanut butter to keep you full longer. There should always be a balance of both protein and carbs to maximize your weight loss program.

Low-fat foods

Skip the low-fat yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and milk. Low-fat foods are often manufactured so that the natural, fat elements of the food are removed and replaced with chemicals and sweeteners. Studies show that people who eat low-fat products actually gain weight because the low-fat food is not satisfying, and they end up binging on carbohydrates. Stick to natural, non-modified foods for the full benefit of what you eat and to avoid feeling hungry hours later.

Frozen meals

The boxes in the frozen food section of your grocery store may scream healthy, low carbohydrates, low fat, and low calorie, but most frozen meals are just another tricky obstacle in your weight loss plan. Frozen meals contain heavy doses of sodium and preservatives to keep them fresh. In addition, the nutritional value in these meals is lower than if you made the meal at home.

100-calorie snacks

These harmless 100-calorie snacks are all over the shelves of your grocery store, promising weight-loss. The problem is these little snack packs are processed foods that contain lots of sugar or artificial sugar and chemicals. When you eat this tiny snack, your blood sugar skyrockets, before dropping and leaving you hungry. Eating something not providing any nutritional value or sustainable form of energy for your body is bad for you and your diet, because hunger sets in again in another hour.

WHAT AFFECTS YOUR WEIGHT LOSS RESULTS?

Attitude

Your attitude drives your day. Leave the house in a great positive mood, and more than likely, you will have a great day. Inversely, if your attitude is pessimistic, that feeling permeates into everything you do with negative results. Weight loss is a lifestyle change and one that requires discipline, commitment, and an awareness to make it happen.

Weight loss is a great goal, but unless you have the motivation to fulfill your program, it is easy to slip backwards, which is not going to cost you, but one time becomes two, three, and all of a sudden you are back to your old ways.

A weight loss program is not a destination, it is a journey that needs to be thought about and planned out. It is all about lifetime fitness. Keep an exercise journal and write down every single success and failure, whether you’re losing weight or not. You will start to see patterns of behavior that allow you to make adjustments to your program.

Workouts

Exercise is part of the equation. The weight loss equation has three parts, proper nutrition, basic exercise, and mind fitness.

If you don’t exercise consistently, it’s hard to lose weight. If your head is not in the right place, your attitude, it is going to be hard to stick with a program. It is possible to lose weight through diet alone, but you’ll likely hit a plateau. Set up a reasonable workout schedule that you can follow each week. It’s not about killing yourself, it’s about finding something you like and that you’ll continue with for the rest of your life. Do not feel that you have to compete with anything other than your direct results. You are your competition. You will come to find out that the sooner in life that you start your program, the easier it is as you start to age. Start the habits while your body works with you, as it makes it a lot easier to continue as you move forward.

Eating habits

Changing the way you eat is another thing you’re going to have to adjust, for lasting weight loss. Keep in mind this simple rule. All food and drink becomes fuel for your body. Remember that we started out as grain and vegetable eaters. Meat came later. I always compare my body to a sports car that needs the highest octane fuel for maximum performance. I always ensure that what I put in my mouth as fuel, is of the highest quality, and I only eat what I need to continue the journey, meaning smaller portion meals and a couple of healthy snacks in between.

Replace unhealthy foods with healthier choices as much as you can. The name of the game is Moderation.

• Keep a food journal

• Spend more time in the grocery store reading food labels

• Spend more time preparing your foods

• Understand proper portion sizes for your body

• Make conscious choices about what you put in your mouth

Do not feel you are sacrificing the good stuff (pizza, fast food, desserts) or your life is over. Remember the word moderation? You can still have them, just not whenever you want or in the amount you want.

Lifestyle.

If you want a full, healthy life, you have to be willing to change your habits. Do not try to change everything overnight, simply be open to new ways of doing things. Some things you should consider for a healthy life are:

• Daily routines.

You may have to get up earlier to prepare your lunch or squeeze in a workout. Use your lunch hour for exercise or use it to go for a walk. After work instead of watching TV, do a light workout. Exercising on a daily basis change’s your entire day.

• Limits.

Set new guidelines for yourself, limiting how much TV you watch or how long you sit at the computer. Pay attention to how you spend your time and where you’re out of balance so you can add more movement.

• Kitchen pantry.

Do not have bad foods around. If you are trying to lose weight, do not have potato chips or Cheetos around. If you want to be truly healthy, you may need to get rid of all the foods you can’t resist.

• Schedule.

Remember the commitment we mentioned earlier, If you’re not willing to change the way you live each day to include exercise, time to prepare meals and time to nurture yourself with sleep, it’s hard to lose weight. It is very easy to use busy schedules as an excuse not to be healthy. If you’re not ready to assume responsibility for the schedule you’ve created, it will be hard to lose weight.

Your Action Plan for your Total Fitness Profile

Set Specific Goals

Your goals need three criteria to be effective. First step is to be Specific about what you are after. Make sure your goals have specific numbers to them. Do not say I am going to lose weight. Determine how much weight you want to lose and set up a time frame to accomplish. Example: I want to lose 20 pounds over a six month period. This means that you want to see 3 to 4 pounds of weight loss monthly to achieve your target. Second step is to work short term. As per our previous example, you are monitoring monthly to see that you are on track with the 3 to 4 pounds coming off. The Third step is setting up goals to be Attainable. Can you reasonably lose the goal of 3 to 4 pounds a month? If you have shortfalls, regroup and push forward.

Remember, you are your own competition and the one staring in the mirror.

Design Your Regimen

Know in advance when and how long your exercise periods are going to be. How often? We recommend 3 to 5 workouts a week. At what time? Set up a schedule when the time is yours. Know in advance that your best time is early morning, or possibly evenings, after work. I suggest starting out with 30 minutes and working your way to a good solid hour of exercise that will help you for life. Always stay accountable to the most important person in your life, namely you. If you drop the ball, the only person hurt is yourself.

Define Your Nutrition Plan

Start by learning the differences in food. What are carbohydrates, protein, and snacks that impact your diet? Learn how to blend in new ingredients such as Kale to your plan. Plan for three small meals daily, with breakfast being the key one, which gets your day off to a great start with a nutrition plan covering the basics. In between, choose which ingredients will fill in for a couple of light snacks. This is more of a grazing concept, as you are eating all day, but smaller, more nutrition packed meals that keep your glycemic index in check and generate the power you need to get through the day, feeling good about yourself, especially seeing the results of this program. Keep a balance between your protein intake with a proper amount of carbohydrates. A basic rule of thumb for protein is to use a portion size approximately the size of your palm. Keep in mind that we are trying to lose the extra weight and get your body back to its optimal state, where you feel healthy, vibrant, and ready to tackle life.

Evaluate Your Progress

This is a work in progress and needs indicators that can help you see where your strengths and weaknesses are. You want to get your heart rate up and your repetitions up to a basic level of twelve, increasing as you move forward with your plan. Before you start, take measurements, such as your waist size, your total weight, your sitting heart rate, and notice how you feel. As you progress though your workouts, you will start to see your intensity go up, your reps up, and your ability to stay on cardio machines increases. The trick is to monitor daily for best results, Keep a journal, which gives you the raw data to evaluate and use in prepping for the next session.

Stay Accountable

Find someone to team up with. Share goals and expectations. Bounce off one another. Motivate each other. Use your workout partner to give you feedback, as well as giving them the same feedback. As stated earlier, you are the only one responsible for yourself. You can no longer blame your parents, husband, or anyone for that matter. Learn to become your leader and cheerleader. Learn how to shut off or turn your inner conversation, which many times talks down to you. Unfortunately, we are not trained to listen to ourselves and in the process, many times sabotage our success. When younger, I used to place my working goals on the bathroom mirror, so I stared at them while brushing teeth, shaving, etc. Don’t write them down and leave them in a drawer. They are your Action plan and should be in front of you at least once a day, to see where you are in your progress.

Celebrate Success

When reaching your goals, short or long term, reward yourself. It might be a new piece of clothing to match the loss, a new, wholesome food. Your reward should reinforce your efforts to improve your self image. Make it something you look forward to and something that motivates you to work harder.

If you follow this basic approach to weight loss, success is imminent. It will come in simple steps that lead to bigger jumps in time and the satisfaction that comes from achievement. Celebrate all of your achievements and keep in mind that your mind works off this simple formula. It takes 21 times of saying something, hearing something, doing something, feeling something for your mind to start a new file, that in time will replace the original file. If you do not work your program for at least 21 days, your chance of success is minimized. I guarantee that if you give it the suggested time frame, anything can happen.

As you start to see the weight come off, your health becomes better, your outlook on life changes and the way people perceive you will also change. Science has shown that physical fitness pays rich dividends throughout your life, with better health, more vitality, and an outlook that opens doors to happiness, confidence and success. For those of you that have gotten this far in the article, if you will email me, I will send you a little primer on Vitality, that organizes a lot of these concepts into a working plan for you.

This article was designed to give you an overview of the basic steps and a solid, simple program to start your personal program. Do not let it be the only reading you do on the most important statement that I have ever heard, “Health Is The First Wealth”. Wealth means nothing without great health.

If I can help you with additional information on this life changing subject, please contact me. The company I represent has many nutritional products and programs that support any level weight loss and fitness program.

Baby Boomers

Although most sources name the years for Baby Boomers 1946 to 1964, it is documented that some Baby Boomers started as early as 1942 and ended as early as 1953. This generation was also known as "Generation Me."

There is a book named Generation, authored by Jean M. Twenge, where he states that "Generation Me is someone who was born in the 70's through 80's, or even 90's." This book gives a description of how some people feel that the "self" is first .. The book goes on to say that Baby Boomers, for a short time, were thought of as the "Me" Generation during the 1970's "This is because Their "self" was not figured out until they became adults .. They did everything in groups, even as adults

Putting duty before "self" was not known by the "Me" Generation. They did not believe this as selfish because in growing up, they were taught to believe in themselves and to love themselves before loving another.

A question one might have is, "What do these children think of our world? Are their societal norms reflective of generations to come or of generations, past? It appears that this generation is more optimistic than Gen Y and Gen X. No other generation Has ever been more influential on their parent's than generations of the past. They seem to be growing up earlier, but entering adulthood later than ever before. They think more of how they relate to the world, and how the world tries to define them. They tend to want to set their own social norms – and they can, since technology empowers young people in a way that's never happened before.

But they were not immune from the norms that the rest of the world sets – for instance, we're all making the transition to adulthood at a later age than ever before.

Baby Boomers were goal-oriented having been given educational and financial opportunities from previous generations. While older generations were taught "not to speak out." Baby boomers were able to speak out as in the Viet Nam Protests. The world was going to change and every generation, prior to the one they were born into, had to "keep up" and seek to understand future generations. Young males came home from the war and bought a large number of births that turned out to shoe a dramatic increase in population numbers of new born babies. The Baby Boom was here to stay.

Surviving the School Drop-Off Line

I’ve never been the kind of organized mother who has an immediate solution for every potential situation that a child can encounter while getting out the house on the first day of school. My approach is a bit more chaotic. As I am running out the door attempting to ascertain if my kids have everything they need for the day for fear that I will get the dreaded call at work advising me that Junior forgot his lunch box on the kitchen table, I’m usually forgetting some personal item of my own… my phone, my purse, my wallet (which should have been in my purse), my laptop case, my computer (which should have been packed into the laptop case)… and the list goes on! Sometimes, as I’m walking out the door not sensing the abundant weight of all this baggage, I notice that something is missing before I get into the car, but most times I don’t until I’m pulling into the parking lot at work. It’s not easy being a mom!

Arriving to the school, I’m sitting in line waiting to drop off the kids. My approach to depositing a child at school is generally what I term the “drive-by” approach. I drive-by, stop and let kid #1 off at the designated spot. Kid #2 scoots over to the right side of the back seat, then he gets dropped. When in a hurry I’ve been known to slow down to a slow roll and instruct child one to exit to the curb. If it looks like fun, then child #2 eagerly awaits her turn after, and she may even tell me to speed up a little, adding a little extra thrill to the process. I find my approach to be simple, efficient and no-fuss. Some of my colleagues on the parenting front see it differently. Take, for instance, my son’s elementary school. A line of cars could be extending from the school drop zone out into the highway, and helicopter mom stops the car, gets out of the seat, and walks around to the mini-van door, which she has already electronically opened. When one sees the door automatically open, one would expect a child to emerge. But this can’t happen until mom gets to that side, finishes dressing the child in the mini-van, ensures jackets and backpacks are properly secured so as not to cause back trauma, has a 10-minute conversation with the teacher on duty about who knows what, then hugs the child as if he were going on an extended vacation to Tahiti. Finally he begrudgingly steps onto the sidewalk, but not before mom rolls down the passenger window and throws out a mini hand sanitizer with a sticky note instructing him not to forget to use it after contact with any inanimate object.

Now fast forward about twelve years. Once again I find myself in the drop-off line, this time in front of my daughter’s college dorm in New York City. I look like a pack mule: I arrive before the delivery company toting 2 large, overstuffed suitcases with an espresso machine nested under my arm. A line of vehicles extends around the block and limited elevators means that space is tight and access is on a first come, “no-serve” basis. As I’m standing in line at the elevator pondering whether my daughter will graduate before I get up to her 12th floor dorm room, I begin to think about what I’m doing. I’m actually moving my daughter away from my home and into another one! A strong dose of reality causes separation anxiety set in. Being the first through the drop-off line across the foyer to the elevator door is no longer a priority. My new goal is to prolong her departure as long as possible. I relate my experience this way: Imagine being five years old and being given a puppy as a present. You feed it, care for it, love it, then after a while you are told that it is going to live at another house. The puppy has grown up and it no longer needs you anymore. This is exactly how I felt!

In order to prolong the inevitable after carefully unpacking her room I invited my daughter to dinner, and when that was over we shared a shuttle to my hotel so she could recover the remnants of her things. Soon, there was nothing else to do or say, and I found myself putting her in a cab to her dorm. Holding back tears, I watched her pull away from the curb. I couldn’t help but think that I was no longer in the driver’s seat. I was relegated to the back. I was no more than an observer, watching a young woman begin a new journey. Hopefully as she travels she’ll turn down the radio every once in a while and tell me how she likes the view, point out something of interest, and maybe even ask for my advice when she comes to a fork in the road. I will have my map out, and will be waiting.

Problem Gambling Effecting Local Economy

Political leaders are approving gambling establishment developments in hope to raise needed revenue with out consequence to their constituents. Political leaders are aware that a significant number of people already have a problem gambling and the likelihood of more people developing an addiction is likely to increase. It's unfortunate but these same leaders refuse to do anything about it since the increased revenues from the gambling establishments helped to fund many state needed programs.

Political leaders look at the short run, because they are continuously being tested to see what they can do for their voters. These leaders are not elected for life and usually serve for two years unless they are elected again. Once they are up for re-election they tell the voters this is what they have accomplished during their term. It's unfortunate but these gambling establishments are slowly depleting the economy. By the time all the negative effects are felt either the political leader is no longer in office, up for re-election with all new promises or another source of revenue is found. This political game continues until enough people put pressure on their leaders. Problem gambling is a silent addiction and very few people are willing to admit they have a compulsive gambling addiction, lost all their money to gambling, stop from their employer so they could gambling and or are embarrassed to let their love ones know they had a problem . Once again the political leader win and their voters and the local economy lose.

People are gambling excessively. A gambling establishment could not expand at the rate they are growing if people were not losing their money. These same people cut their spending at their local shopping centers, personal entertainment like movies and cut spending for everyday staples. I met one mother who stopped buying milk. She figured she could save twenty dollars a month and this would give her more resources to gamble. Now that she stopped she can not believe that she could do such a thing to her family.

The gambling establishments created an empire. They opened gift shops, entertainment concert halls, gas stations and a unique restaurant inside their entertainment complex. They give every patron a tracking card that earns them points only valid at their gambling complex while they gamble. They then use these points to eat, entertainment, hotel and or purchase gifts. This past holiday a significant number of people saved some of their points to buy family gifts. Once again the gambling establishments win and the local businesses and shopping centers lose.

Not everyone has a gambling addiction, but a good majority of people enjoy recreational gambling. It's unfortunate but even a casual gambler gambles more then they expected. These casual gamblers people also will have to cut back their spending for a short time. They may not go out to their local diner because they cn eat for free at the gambling establishment. In all these situations, the local economy suffers. People who live with in fifty miles of a gambling establishment are more like to be negatively affected.

It's time to find a solution to this growing epidemic. Political leaders need to step up to the plate and stop the abduction of the people. Recently their have been a significant number of commercials dealing with gambling addiction. Everyone applauded this first attempt to deal with gambling addictions. Unfortunately it appears the leaders are too late. An acre of land on fire can not be distinguished with a cup of water.

The only solution to stopping the problem gambling is to regulate the gambling establishments and or consider closing them down until a solution is found. No matter which direction the political leaders choose they need to pick up their pace.

Stop Poison Ivy Itching

Stop the itching! Once you get poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac – that's priority number one. Everyone has some sort of remedy or advice but what really works? This article shows you how to get blessed relief from that awful itch.

Take note: If you experience blistering or your eyes swell shut soon after coming in contact with poison ivy see a doctor even if you have to go to the emergency room! Severe poison ivy reactions are considered one of the few true emergencies by dermatologists. If in doubt see a medical professional right away. For less severe reactions, poison ivy reactions can be treated at home. The good news is most home remedies are inexpensive. The bad news is effective long-term products will cost you more, but the right one can be well worth the expense. Both generally cost less than a trip to the doctor's office.

It helps to know what your dealing with. The rash and itching are caused by your body reacting to an oil produced by poison ivy, urushiol. This oil is tenacious and can even be found on plants that died years ago. It's not a good idea to burn poison ivy either.

Urushiol oil bonds with the oil your skin produces and causes an allergic reaction. In a very short time – sometimes minutes urushiol can bury itself deep within your skin. That's why it often takes two weeks or more for the itching rash to go away by itself. It literally wears off. So what do you do about it?

According to the FDA, washing off as much oil as you can is the first step. Start with rubbing alcohol. Wet a cotton ball or cloth with alcohol and rub the affected area as soon as possible. Then wash with soap and water. You should use a real soap. Dish soap often works well as it is made to cut grease. Most shampoos will also work in a pinch. You can also use mineral oil. Wipe some on and wash it off. One commercial product Tecnu can also work well. You'll find a link for more information on Tecnu at the end of this article. Now shower (take a shower not a bath!) With soap and warm water. You want to get rid of as much oil as possible. What if you still itch?

It's time to treat the itch. While many home remedies can provide relief, their effectiveness varies with each person. Here's a few you can try right away …

  • Hot tap water can stop the itching for short periods. Be careful not to burn yourself. Do not use water heated on the stove or microwave as it can be too hot. Hold the affected area under the tap for a few seconds.
  • White vinegar often soothes the itch for a while. Rub some on with a cotton ball or leave it sit for a while.
  • Many swear by oatmeal as effective – wearing it not eating it. Make it somewhat thicker than what you would eat and apply to the rash. You can also put some in bathwater and soak in it.
  • Baking soda often helps. Mix some with water to make a paste and spread it on or add 1/2 cup to your bath and soak. Use the paste on insect bites too.
  • Jewel Weed is a plant often found growing near poison ivy. It works very well to stop the itching. The stems ooze out a juice you can apply to the rash. You can also look around for soaps containing Jewel Weed extracts.
  • Since you're dealing with an allergic reaction over-the-counter antihistamines often help. Benadryl is one you can try. Many often come in cream form you can apply right to the itch.

While all these remedies ease your symptoms temporarily, you may want to consider the more expensive but permanent alternatives. There are two on the market that are ranked very effective in stopping the itch immediately and making the rash go away in a few days. Both penetrate deep to get at the urushiol oil buried deep in your skin. These are All Stop by DermsTechRx and Zanfel by Zanfel Labrators, Inc. While each product approaches the problem differently they both guarantee the itch will stop and not come back. For more information visit the link in the resource box.

Tips to Get Suitable Flooring For a Lovely Looking Abode

In any home the kind of flooring that is used will dictate how the house can be used. If it is a family home with lots of children then sometimes a wooden floor is what is needed. Rhode Island hardwood installation will provide a great floor that is easily cleaned and looks wonderful. For those who want something a little softer, South County tiles may be just the answer. These innovative floor coverings also suit family life and are easily cleaned.

Many homeowners and parents often wonder what type of flooring to use when the children are small. Do they get something that is soft so that they will not hurt themselves when they fall? Or do they opt for something that can be kept clean so that the kids do not pick up something a little nasty now and then?

Of course, it is all down to personal choice and many people will have a kind of 'moving' choice that allows for the children growing up and becoming less problematic. For example, when they are very small, having a lovely washable rug for the kids to play on is a good idea. Any spills or mishaps are easily washed away and the area is still safe for those to play on with abandon.

As they grow older, the rug can be removed and the kids can play on the floor itself if it is made of wooden blocks or planks. Because of the polish or varnish, this too is easily cleaned but older kids do not tend to drop as much as the babies. This flooring is also kinder for those learning to walk or who fall over often because wood is much kinder on the skin than harder varieties of flooring.

Again, as they get older still, and if the parents want something different, carpets are the next logical step. These can come in the form of squares where high traffic areas can have the squares rearranged to even out the wear or wall to wall when the flow of traffic is small.

Wall to wall carpet comes in a host of finishes and colors and it is really down to the parents what they want to convey in the home. For those who want a look of luxury, off white carpeting is the thing because any other colors can be used in the room. However, this is notoriously forward to having marks and blemishes easily seen so it could have been a bit of a headache to keep it looking wonderful.

Other finishes include shag, which are the long and sometimes twisted strands that are quite soft underfoot, while others would prefer a shorter pile on the carpet. If pets are in the house it would probably be better to get the shorter pile since since the house will have to be sprayed regularly for pests and fleas.

Whatever choice of floor covering is made, it really has to fit in with the lifestyle of the majority in the home.

529 Plans – A Quick Overview

By just about any measure, the cost of a college education just keeps increasing. According to the College Board's 2008 Trends in College Pricing, over the last decade the cost of tuition and fees has risen by 4.2% at public four-year institutions, after adjusting for inflation. There are many programs available to assist with the process of planning and paying for college. The best college savings vehicle for most situations is the Section 529 plan, so named because the tax benefits that result from the plan are identified in Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. It is important to note that, although 529 plans were created by the United States federal government, they are run by the individual states. As such, the plans are not all created equal, and general statements about the plans may or may not apply universally.

Keeping in mind the above caveat, there are essentially two types of 529 options: prepaid tuition and a more general savings plan. This article focuses on the general savings plan.

The general savings approach within a 529 allows for substantial funds to be set as to grow on a tax-free basis, as long as the funds are extremely used towards educational purposes. The maximum allowable contribution varies by state, as do many of the terms of these plans. If the money set aside in the funds is not used for education purposes, income tax will be assessed on the earnings when they are withdrawn, and a 10% penalty will be levied. Some notable aspects of the plans include:

* Unlike prepaid programs, these general savings plans allow for the funds to be used at any legitimate educational institution.

* The owner of the account, who is also typically the primary contributor, controls the account. This generally means that the beneficiary does not have control over how the funds are used. A key control feature is the ability for the owner to change beneficies on an account. For example, if a given beneficiary graduates high school and decides to pitch for the Cubs instead of going to college, the account owner can shift the funds to the budding Cy Young's younger sibling without paying any penalties.

* Residents of any state can typically invest in 529s from any other states, but some states provide a tax deduction to residents who use the state plans. For instance, Illinois offers a state tax deduction for contributions of up to $ 10,000 per year, or $ 20,000 for taxpayers who are married and filing jointly. For residents of states that offer a state tax deduction, that is the first place to look. The deduction may not exceed a poorly managed plan, however. The tax free withdrawal benefits conveyed by these plans had been set to expire in 2010. Fortunately, the Pension Protection Act of 2006 made the benefits permanent.

What to look for in a 529 plan

There are several criteria that are important to consider when choosing a specific plan in which to invest.

* Ability to take advantage of state tax deductions for residents. Some states do not offer any discounts, so a plan should be chosen based on other criteria. Arizona recently began offering a deduction, but residents can take advantage of the deduction even if they invest in plans that are sponsored by other states. Most states offer deductibility for residents that invest in the in-state plan.

* Investment performance. Consider more than just the performance over the past year. This can be challenging, as many plans do not yet have especially long histories. Understanding the underlying assets in the plan can help provide a proxy for what performance would have been. For instance, if the plan invests 80% in an S & P 500 index fund, it is reliably easy to determine what the approximate performance would have been.

* Low fees and expenses. This criterion is critical, as these expenses reduce the investment return. Vanguard mutual funds tend to have low expenses and they manage 529 plans for several states. Other plans are managed by investment companies other than Vanguard, but leverage Vanguard funds within their plans. In general, 529 plans are becoming more popular and more competitive, and fees seem to be getting better.

* Investment options. Many plans offer age-based minorities, which simply provide asset allocation that is appropriate given the number of years remaining before a beneficiary hits 18 years old. Basically, the longer away 18 is, the higher the allocation to risky financial assets, ie stocks. As college approaches, the fund shifts to less risky assets. This is a nice feature for people who are not particularly inclined toward asset allocation theory.

* Minimum contribution levels. If a new parent wants to start saving for college with $ 100, and a plan requires $ 3,000 to open an account, the plan is obviously not a good fit.

* Maximum contribution. As a general statement, the higher the maximum contribution limit, the better. Most states allow for contributions in excess of $ 300,000 per beneficiary over the life of the plan.

Another consideration in selecting the right plan is whether to invest through an adviser-sold plan or one that is sold directly to the public. Advisor-sold plans can include significant commissions, sometimes over 4%. In that case, the performance of the plan would have to be pretty spectacular to produce a competitive return. While it is a great idea to enlist the help of a financial advisor in this process, stick to fee-only advisors that charge for their advice rather than pushing high-commission plans.

No Off Switch On A Tiger

I met a young aspiring real estate investor at a seminar, and he was full of big talk about how he was going to quit his boring job at a property management company and how the real estate world was going to tremble at his rapid ascent to the top of the mountain.

He filled my ear with his feelings that soon, very soon, he’d have 20 employees doing all the work of his real estate business for him. He expressed confidence in setting up automated marketing campaigns to bring in leads through “hands-off” strategies like pay per click, direct mailers, and billboard advertising, and an outsourced call center taking all of his company’s calls and “qualifying” the buyers and sellers and taking their information so he wouldn’t have to trouble himself to talk to anyone. He spoke was passionately about the sequenced “hands-off” follow-up autoresponder campaigns that would take all the leads that came in and drip marketing to them in various media until they converted to sell him a house or buy a house.

He spoke with conviction about the mansion he would own, and the 15-seater boat he would buy. You should have heard him discussing the tricked-out custom SUV he would drive, with its in-console TV and state of the art sound system with 30 inch wheelie rims of heavy chrome with inset diamonds. He explained how he’d be retiring within a few years to go out on the professional video game playing circuit where, with the time freedom from his “hands-off” real estate businesses, he would have the leisure to master playing X-Box video games better than anyone in the world, enough to win prize money worth hundreds of thousands of dollars even though by then he wouldn’t need it.

And to hear him tell it, achieving all of that was gonna be a piece of cake because just last week he had borrowed the money from his mother to buy a slick and sexy piece of amazing super-dooper real estate software that with the push of a couple buttons on the internet VOILA was going to “do it all for me” and make him a multimillionaire “before my friends graduate college and went on to some boring job”.

I mean, you could see the dollar signs in his eyes, and the way he talked there was no doubt in his mind that real estate Shang-ri-la would open up its treasures to him within a year, maybe even within the next 90 days, and that property management job could get the boot maybe even by next week “once I close my first deal”.

In fact, he was itching to head back to the hotel and get back in the “cockpit” of that super-dooper real estate software, and get it to start “spitting out checks”.

He confided in me that he was “at this event because an older successful investor in his late 30s had taken an interest in me” and paid for him to attend as his guest. The two had driven up from their home city together, where the man was a contractor and rehab investor, but this young man assured me that he “sure as heck wasn’t going to be working hard in his 30s and he certainly “won’t be spending five grand to come to boring lectures like this place”. He also maintained that “that guy worked way too hard, out there managing rehab crews” and that “he has a pretty boring business without any of the cool technology”, and if it were him he’d already “be on the beach every day and outsource all that hard work”.

Because I applaud his confidence, and for attending this event where there were in fact many seasoned investors who came to learn even more to put in place for their already successful real estate businesses-meaning, this was more of a “high level” event than your standard rah-rah newbie fest- I certainly wasn’t planning to say or imply in any way that I didn’t believe in him.

In my experience, there’s enough people in your life, his life, or anyone’s life who are already quite capable of raining on your parade and being negative about your dreams.

Besides, while his goals are big, they aren’t impossible.

After all, I’m only 29 and the size and scope of my own business sometimes astounds me in the incredible progress I’ve made in less than 7 years in business-significantly less than many of my early mentors, a number of whom now look at my business accomplishments with a great deal of amazement.

And I do use technology and automation extensively to free up my time. And I do have dozens of people who work in my businesses. And I do have lifestyle goals that are not so different than his “be on the beach and still be making money” dreams, which every day I feel that I get closer to achieving.

But the kid still put a bad taste in my mouth from all this “push a button success” and “boring event” and “hard work is old-fashioned and not needed” talk. I just didn’t feel it was my place to pop his bubble.

“You seem to have done your homework,” I told him. “Just with what you’ve learned here at this event, if you can get access to adequate money, and apply what you’ve learned then I can’t think of any real reason why you shouldn’t succeed”.

I said that, but with what we had talked about and what I observed in his demeanor and behavior, I could see a reason he might not make it.

To be truthful, despite all the tools laid out for him to use, despite all the knowledge crammed into his head even at just this one event an older more experienced mentor had taken his time and money to share with him…despite a job where he was perfectly positioned to learn many things that could be beneficial to his real estate plans, success would all depend on him.

And here he was claiming his job was beneath him and ignoring its inherent opportunities to learn more about real estate. Here he was, on the second day of an event I would have done anything to attend at his age, but was unable to afford, here he was the guest of a “boring” would-be mentor, surrounded by any number of other high-level real estate entrepreneurs who would be an amazing source of future advice, partnership, funding and more if only he took the time and effort now to connect with and afterward to build a relationship with them.

And here he was, eyes dazzled by successful internet pitchmanship now filled with a burning desire wanting to get out of there as soon as possible to go back to the hotel room and play with his real estate video game that was supposed to make him rich.

You know what bothers me?

Software won’t make you rich.

Neither will software installed in your brain, which we can use as a metaphor to describe ‘knowledge’.

Neither knowledge or tools will make you rich by themselves just for owning them.

Your success and wealth in business comes from applying the tools and knowledge you have.

This young man’s success would depend on his drive, his ability to prioritize this pursuit and his desire to succeed, but mostly in whether or not he had the courage to act in a single-minded fashion that would concentrate his determination, planning, energy and marshalling of existing resources (money, time, relationships, skills, tools) when necessary at times to the exclusion of all else (pleasures, responsibilities, time-wasting habits) until he reached the goals he’d told me about.

If he could do those things with the tenacity of a tiger on the prowl, then in my experience the sky was the limit and he could master the plains as far as the eye could see.

Because that’s what achieving success has been like for people I know who’ve done it. Like a tiger on the prowl, always on, always ready to pounce on opportunities.

But people who believe success comes from pushing a button or out of a bottle of magical potion they drink, like this kid seemed to believe, rarely if ever have the patience necessary to act in that single-minded fashion I mentioned long enough to achieve the success necessary.

And I definitely heard nothing from the kid about hard work, sacrificing pleasures now for greater later, or using his time effectively.

Notice how everything he talked about would be “automated” this, and “done for him” that?

I tell people all the time that there is no greater system for the accumulation of great wealth than the capitalist system, a system that has produced untold miltigeraires worldwide, and more than you would believe if I shared with you the stat just in the last 10 years-while we are in a “recession” according to the media.

Opportunity is everywhere, within sight and results just out of reach for the person focused and courageous enough to reach out and take them or make them.

But there’s no guarantee anyone in a capitalist system will ever rise above mediocre, found a successful business, or make their millions in real estate investing-or any business.

The best way I know to judge whether a man or woman will reach that pinnacle of success that they say they want is this: you have to desire getting it more than you want anything else in the world.

And, most importantly you have to have the continuously-updating mindset that makes sure that you never reach “it”.

The successful people I know always keep themselves striving after another carrot that’s dangling in front of them, always out of reach. It doesn’t matter that they’ve harvested a whole field of carrots, it’s the one or ones they can see but not yet touch that drives them.

Wonder what happened to the aspiring young real estate investor?

The last time I corresponded with him, he was still working for the same company he was working for when I first met him. Doing the same ‘boring job’.

His dreams of being a successful investor were still no more than dreams.

“Maybe I could have made it work,” he said, but the underlying tone of our conversation was that he just felt there were too many obstacles in the path to his getting where he said he wanted to go.

He could never get started.

He even used the words that he “could never flip the ON switch”.

But I think I know the real reason he never has turned his dreams into concrete reality.

There’s no “OFF” switch on a tiger.

And there’s no “RICH” switch on any software you can buy.

Doris – Ode to a Grandmother

My Nan was a bit of an old bag when it came to socializing. You could spend the best part of an afternoon sorting out a great outfit to wear to a family christening and you could be sure she would criticize it at some point in the afternoon. She would sit on the sofa in her best ensemble, some ghastly multi colored relic left over from the Blitz, being waited upon some poor undeserving junior niece or nephew, like Pontius Pilate waiting for the soap to appear.

Her hat, a poor man’s copy of something the Queen Mother might have been buried in, would be jammed on her head with all the finesse of a German Stormtrooper, the frontal flowers carrying the pale yellow, unmistakable traces of nicotine streaks, which characterized her entire wardrobe. Apart from the nicotine stains her clothes were surprisingly chic, her shoes were always clean and in good repair, her handbags always matched her shoes and her hair nets always matched her hats.

The eyes would travel up and down the outfit, taking in every detail. Usually they would come to rest on some tiny defect, a slightly wrinkled hemline or a droopy lapel, and linger there, waiting to see if the wearer was going to give in and crack under the scrutiny.

Invariably Nan would be unable to resist a caustic remark about where the outfit came from, how much it cost, whether there were any other unfortunate wearers likely to show up at the same function and whether their version might look better on them than mine did on me.

Nan’s last effort at being charming had a lasting effect on various members of the family and the result was that not many showed up at her funeral only a year or so later. I think this was great shame as she was a true pioneer of free speech, even if it did cost her the affections of her grandchildren and most of the members of her local Bingo club. Hard to imagine this horrifying old biddy had once been the toast of London and enjoyed the attentions of a small battalion of admirers.

She was born just before the end of the first World War. In her day she had an adventurous spirit. She began her working career at the age of twelve when she became a nursery nurse to two young well to do children in a London suburb, where she stayed until she was in her twenties. Her early training served her all her life and she was always able to diagnose childlike disorders and calm a screaming baby. The family were very fond of her and purchased for her a highly fashionable and expensive wardrobe, the very latest styles complete with matching accessories.

Doris had a high old time rocking about in the family Bentley complete with chauffeur and was encouraged to frequent only the best places in company with the children. She learned to eat and drink well, adopting the best deportment and manners and generally became one of the family, leaving only when the children went away to boarding school. During her time with them she enjoyed all the treats on offer as the family sidekick, including a ride in a hot air balloon and a wing-walking lesson when a team of display flyers pitched up on the local airfield. In those days for a young lady to even consider such a stunt was completely off the wall of propriety and she must have endured a lot of criticism before finally arriving at the airfield for her afternoon of aerobatics.

All through her life she was a magnet for disaster, some of it comical and some not quite so amusing. She got married and had three children and a full quota of grandchildren but was prejudiced toward most of them. The only members of the pack she had any time for were the children of her daughter, my mother, whom she believed raised her children to match Nan’s exacting standards and therefore deserved recognition. The rest of my cousins were turned away from her door when they showed up to visit on Sunday afternoons, such a shame that she missed out on so many affectionate relationships. My cousin Gary, though, visited because he knew it annoyed her to have to answer the door for the hundredth time and turn him away each time. He did not change and he grew up to be an annoying person in all things, but he is another story.

Nan’s husband left her for another woman when my mother was twelve, and although he lived only a few miles away with his new love, he and Nan never saw each other again, not even to accidentally bump into each other, not even once.

Nan was a keen gambler and was the chairperson of the local whist club, a member of the Bingo club and was on every possible committee as the main raffle organizer. Unfortunately she always purchased a ticket and was seen to win too many times for comfort and this was the reason she fell out with the organizers of the village whist drive. The recriminations that were bandied about had far reaching repercussions for years afterward and poor old Nan never forgot, forgave, nor failed to mention repeatedly, the details to the parties involved, at every opportunity.

Being a pragmatic sort of person by nature though, she moved on, and made the best of things and for the most part, enjoyed her life, especially when she managed to wangle an invitation for herself to spend Christmas or summer with us, wherever we were living at the time, which was varied because we moved around a lot, as my father’s work took him to far flung corners of the world.

Nan would arrive by turbo charged broomstick wherever we were, and set up in a corner of the drawing room where she would expound her opinions on the lives of each and every one of us, usually liberally sprinkled with what she saw as constructive criticism.

For a time when I was only a tiny child, we lived in a caravan through the summer holidays, while my Dad was lecturing on Management throughout the West Country. Nan came with us and they were the happiest times I remember. She and my mother decided to empty the portaloo one morning, carrying it between them down a grassy slope from where the caravan was parked.

Predictably, Nan stepped in a hole and the entire contents of the portal emptied into her shoes. She laughed all the way back to the caravan. I never remember her being glum in those days, only much later, and now that I am grown up I understand why. She was having an affair, apparently one of several, with a married man in the village. He had promised her to leave his wife that summer and so she was full of hope. I learned later on that my mother had put a stop to it all and sent the man packing, and poor Nan never saw him again. He ran away, and so left the wife and Nan, and it seems such a waste really. When I was much older I reflected upon how hard it must have been for her to return to her lonely house after the summer holidays, to a village where she had become a bit of a scandal, without the support of her family or the man she loved.

That same summer I remember Nan having to visit a clump of bushes in the woods as she had consumed a full pint of sweet cider in the village pub where we were staying. Just as she was about to squat lower, my mother screamed and Nan froze, balanced an eighth of an inch above a man trap, its iron jaws nano-seconds from her bottom. We ran back to our field as fast as our legs would go and I remember being horribly stung by nettles in our hurry.

Eventually Dad was offered an overseas posting and holidays with Nan became a tradition of the past, as she came to live with us for the first two years of our life overseas. She did try to adapt to her new lifestyle but her heart was not in it and we knew that one day she would decide to return home, but in the meantime our lives were colored by her opinions and little prejudices.

Bringing boyfriends home was, for me, an ordeal of embarrassment. My friends all had, it seemed to me with my selfish fifteen year old outlook, highly glamorous grandmothers, with grey but elegant hairstyles, long hair turned into French pleats or dainty little combs gracing the temples of an elaborate chignon. Spotless pastel colored twin sets, ropes of pearls and pale nail polish, and the scent of gardenias.

Nan, on the other hand, had a tight frizzy perm which was colored yellow at the front (see paragraph 2), a fag hanging out of the corner of her mouth, and a way of sitting in her chair with her legs touching each arm, which displayed her pink brushed cotton bloomers for all to see. Not a pretty sight I can tell you. She loathed foreign food of any description, especially rice eaten as an accompaniment to a main course. In her opinion rice belonged in a pudding she said, and she said it each time rice was served, even if it was served nine times a day, which in Singapore it frequently was.

Our tour in Hong Kong some years later was enriched by the purchase of a sailing yacht, which we took out every weekend, starting out from our mooring at the fashionable Hong Kong Yacht Club. Imagine my horror one Saturday morning while socializing with my trendy friends on the deck of my father’s boat, when I spied Nan determinedly marching down the decking armed with her knitting basket, clip-on sunglasses and an ominous-looking picnic hamper guaranteed to contain no trace of boiled rice. It took ten minutes for her to dispatch all four of my pals back to the clubhouse and establish herself as guest of honor for the duration.

We dropped anchor at one of the islands in the afternoon to eat our picnic and enjoy the sunshine. Nan decided to go ashore in the dinghy accompanied by my father, looking like thunder. The trip ashore went okay; it was trying to get her back into the boat that caused mayhem. She grabbed the ladder of the boat, leaving her feet in the dinghy, her body arched at 45 degrees – fatal, as any respectable sailor will tell you. Well, she fell into the sea between the boat and the dinghy and poor old Dad was obliged to dive in and rescue her, coughing and spluttering and accusing everyone of attempting to kill her. (Which was nonsense, because if anyone was going to kill her, it would have been my brother and me, a long time before this…?)

By the time my father had reached the peak of his career we were living in Indonesia. Nan came to see us from time to time and occasionally we went to UK on home leave for several weeks at a time but by now she was getting on in years. Nan openly disliked all her grandchildren now, who had grown up and were all living within a mile or two of her front door. Gary, my mischievous cousin, had offended her forever when he sent her a Christmas present, which consisted of a series of boxes, decreasing in size and grandeur, all gaily wrapped, at least ten of them. The final box was only a tiny jewel box and Nan, an avid collector of Gaudy Baubles, was filled with excitement as to the contents. Inside was a miniature plastic chicken, a relic from a Christmas cracker of the previous year. Gary was criticised throughout the family for pulling such a mean trick on a dear old lady (yeah, right…) and Nan never spoke to him again. Ever.

My daughter came along in 1987 and Nan launched herself into the business of being a Great Grandmother like Winston Churchill directing a War Committee. Nan was strict and traditional when it came to babies. She was notorious for advising Boots the Chemist in her High Street that they were a blot on the landscape of child care, by continuing to stock pacifiers, which were a by product of Satan himself in her opinion, and a sure sign of a Bad Mother, not to mention certain Disfigurement of the Gums for the Child. I never bought my baby a dummy, as we called them, I was too frightened of Nan. At nine thirty each morning for the first three months of my daughter’s life, Nan rang me to ask why I was not out walking the baby. And I was not to pick her up until she had cried for ten minutes, Unless I Wanted to Spoil The Child, I was warned darkly.

My daughter was two before I really understood the legacy Nan had left me. My child was healthy, happy, would eat anything, drink anything, try anything, climb anything and was free of just about all nasty diseases both emotional and physical. Her early babyhood was set in a routine designed by Nan and I will always be grateful to her for that.

When Nan was 84, she got the surprise of her life one day, when the postman delivered papers from her estranged husband Jack, asking her for a divorce! She trotted happily off to the solicitors and signed the papers, and her divorce came through a few months later, but she dined out for a long time on the fame of being the oldest person in her village to get divorced.

Strangely, Jack committed suicide the following year, nobody could find out why. Nan was buying stamps one morning in the post office, when a funeral cortege went slowly by, and upon examining the floral tributes, she realized the funeral was Jacks. The shock sent her to her knees and she had to be helped onto a bench near the bus stop, until she felt able to walk home. She swore to her dying day that he was her only love, in spite of the several dozen affairs she was reputed to have thoroughly enjoyed, and his passing affected her deeply. She cheered herself up by buying herself a color television and lived on to be nearly 86.

Get on the Broadband-Wagon

'Broadband' is the general term used to refer to high-speed information transmission over networks, and nowdays is used incrementally to mean a fast Internet connection.

The term has more to do with the electrical waveform ('signal') being transmitted. The signal can come to you through a variety of physical arrangements: a DSL line, a T1 line, a TV cable, a wireless link and even your utility power line.

Which physical arrangement is best for you depends a great deal on what is available in your geographical area and the price of each arrangement. You should do a comparison of speeds and costs and choose what is optimal for you. Just be sure you do not choose an ISDN line (because it is getting obsoleste) or power line (because the technology is not mature, and it will be some years before the bugs are ironed out).

Live in a large city and want free wireless broadband Internet? Your wish is or will be granted! Almighty Google is busy fixing antennae to lampposts in major cities so that your computer can access the Internet much in the same way mobile phone accesses your cellular network: almost anywhere in any city. Not only will you get driving directions to that restaurant you are going to, the maitre d 'will appear on a small screen and take your order as you drive.

~ Broadband's Bag of Goodies ~

Broadband has brought a slew of valuable capabilities to the Internet:

1. Good Video

First of all, you can download smooth, non-jerky video. Consequently an increasing number of sites are including rich graphics, Flash and video to enhance the appeal of their messages. You can now download feature films from over 200,000 Web TV stations and watch them as they stream into your computer ("stream them"). No more trips to the video library and no more renting DVDs!

You can share your screen and talk with co-workers located at far-flung locations (or just relax and play Xbox or PS2 games with them). You can interact with them from the convenience of your home computer, and the need for a physical office can be dispensed with. This impressions less travel in your car, less gasoline consumption and less pollution of the atmosphere by engine exhaust gases.

You can search online video archives with specialized search engines. This means you can download video that matches your chosen phrases. Examples would be "Nick Lachey singing 'My Everything' to Jessica Simpson", "Oprah visiting Katrina victims" or "how to toss a thin pizza shell". There is no longer a need to wait for your subject to be broadcast.

2. Cheap Long Distance

Broadband has enabled miracle of low-cost long-distance Internet telephony. This application is based on the revised technology, VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). You can now speak to your loved ones or business associates in most other parts of the world for 2 cents a minute!

No more waiting for late nights or weekends to get those "free minutes" … you can afford to call anytime. Additionally, the sound clarity is several times better than that of a conventional phone call … voices are loud and clear with little or no background noise.

This means you can stay in touch more often. You can get news faster and offer advice without delay. For instance, a timely observation about a certain medical treatment could very well save the life of the person at the other end!

3. Always On

With Broadband, you are always connected to the Internet. No more dialing up and waiting to connect. The dialing time is freed up for you to use for other things.

In most cases, you get a telephone connection with the broadband connection, so you can simultaneously speak on the phone and surf the Internet. Your phone line will not be busy when you surf so that people can reach you even if you are online.

One important user of this constant connectivity is security. You can have inexpensive webcams mounted in various locations of your home or office and connect them to the Internet. Since your broadband connection is always 'live', you can monitor your house from anywhere, anytime. No more worrying when away from your desk or living room!

~ Conclusion ~

The day is not far when dial-up connections will be a rarity. If you have not yet upgraded to broadband, start working at doing so NOW. You will definitely not regret it.

Insight to Building a Computer

Building a computer is not cheap, do not be mislead. What you do not get from buying a retail computer is the ability to pick every single computer component out. Picking your components out is the main benefit of building a computer, especially if you are building a gaming computer.

The Internet gives you the ability to shop around at so many different vendors. Two of my key vendors online are Tigerdirect and Newegg. These two vendors offer a huge selection of computer parts to pick from.

One might ask, how do you keep up with the latest technology? Browsing computer magazines will give you new great ideas for future builds. Doing a little research and familiarizing yourself with the computer technology will give you a greater advantage before building, your next awesome system. This is how one truly becomes aware of the current market. Go to your local store, pick a computer magazine up, and start reading. For more of a variety you could look through a few computer magazine tittles.

Before buying your new computer components, write everything out on paper. This will allow you to visualize your project. Make sure all component technology you are about to buy is supported by your chosen motherboard. This will save time and a headache later. Mailing items back to these two vendors is allowed. They allow the normal thirty day from purchase return policy. This is something to keep in mind if buying things slowly. You might wave your return option. Knowing this you might opt to save your money, and build when your ready to.

Now we will shift into gear an install the computer semiconductor boards. You will need to wear a grounded wrist strap, to prevent static electricity from smoking the semiconductor boards you are going to install. If you do not own one, then you will need to buy one at your local computer parts store like a Radio Shack. Grounding yourself will eliminate static charge, and reduce component failure. Static is the main cause of component failure. Do this and do not take any chances on damaging any components. Trust me, I have been on the side that lost several hundred dollars to static electricity, it really gets your goat, when new to building computers.

Once you have received all your new components, it is time to build. First open the computer case, unwrap the motherboard, line the motherboard up with the wholes in the case were the motherboard goes, and locate the screw wholes below the motherboard. You will need to install shoulder nut screws into the case were the motherboard will rest. Now take out the motherboard and place the shoulder nut screws in the locations that you just identified. The motherboard will rest on these shoulder nut screws, and will be bolted down to them. Once you finish installing the shoulder nut screws, install the motherboard onto of the shoulder nut screws, and screw the motherboard down with the correct screws. This secures the motherboard to the case, but leaves a gap between the back of the motherboard, and the back of the case were the shoulder nut screws are located.

Install the floppy, hard drive, CD-ROM, and DVD drive and connect the corresponding data and power wires to them. The DVD and CD-ROM drives will also have an audio cable connection for running audio to the motherboard.

If you bought a case without a power supply, now is the time to install the power supply. Use your motherboard manual and device manuals to hook up the power leads from the power supply to your devices and motherboard.

Now connect your video card, if installing one and any other cards at this time.

Install your memory and or RAM into the motherboard. Make sure you seat the memory correctly. Install your CPU (Central Processor Unit) and heat sink into the motherboard socket. Follow the instructions that came with the motherboard or memory for correct installation of memory modules. Follow the install instructions for the CPU and heat sink.

Connect all fans to either the power supply or motherboard fan connectors if supplied.

Now install the case wires (Hard Drive LED Light, Power Switch, Power Switch LED, Reset, et cetera) to the motherboard. You will need the manual that came with your motherboard. If you do not have this, go online and download it from the manufactures website. You will also need the most recent set of motherboard drivers for your motherboard. The drivers that shipped with your motherboard are most likely out of date. Download new ones off the manufactures webpage. New drivers will have a host of new fixes in them.

Hook up your monitor, keyboard, and mouse to the computer. Close your case and add power to the computer. Your computer should boot and show the bios on the monitor screen and say it can not find an “Operating System”. Awesome job so far.

Next install your operating system and your computer is finished. Motherboard drivers are installed after the operating system is installed.

Install your motherboard drivers now.

Do a defragment to clean the hard drive of fragmented sectors.

Install virus software, like AVG.

Batting Cage Lighting

Batting cages are used by softball and baseball players to improve their ability to hit the ball. Both indoor and outdoor batting cages need lighting for night practice. Indoor batting cages are used in climates where seasonal weather does not permit such activity.

Lighting fixtures have become more than just a means to gain light. They are standard equipment capable of causing significant improvement in style and performance. Lighting fixtures are available in various models, and a model that suits the batting cage can be selected. Some manufacturers of batting cages also provide lighting. Do-it-yourself kits containing electrical equipment and other accessories for batting cage lighting are also provided.

Halogen lamps are usually used for batting cage lighting. A batting cage needs distributed, bright lighting. Today, we use a technologically advanced lighting grid calculated by a computer and aligned by lasers that disperse clean, white light throughout the batting cage. Shadows are kept to a minimum and the ball is clearly seen. Indoor and outdoor batting cages need separate models as the mode of lighting differs.

There are many types of batting cage lighting. If you are interested in conserving energy, you can purchase low-voltage batting cage lighting. Solar light is a cost-efficient method used in batting cage lighting. Solar panels present in solar lamps store energy during the day and at night light up the lamps using the energy saved. The position of light is also an important feature in batting cage lighting. Accurate practice is possible only if the area in the cage is fully covered by light. Low-voltage lighting does not need a professional to install the lighting system.

Voltage is an important factor in lighting a batting cage. While selecting lighting devices, the voltage at which they work is taken into consideration. A means to ward off insects that interfere with night practice should also be employed.

Why You Should Talk To Someone About Your Stresses or Grief – 2 Reasons

When I say, "talk to someone", I do not necessarily mean a counselor or arief therapist. It can be anyone that is willing to listen or can offer encouraging / empathetic feedback. Most people think that they are not supposed to cry or talk about their problems. Mostly, from the fear of rejected or being thought of as a complainer but stress and grief are two very natural things. You would be surprised to know that once you share your justification with someone, it typically creates a strong bond between the 2 (or more) people who shared their stories. You would also be surprised to know that most people are more than willing to listen to your problems and have most likely been through a similar experience.

Empowerment

Sharing your story for the first time can be scary. You can feel the anxiety building up in the body, your hands get all clammy, and your whole body looks like it experiencing some kind of phenomenon. This is natural; The body is reacting to the chemical imbalance in your brain. Your brain wants to be happy but knows that it is about to share something that might not be considered happy. After the initial couple shares that feeling will slowly start to dissipate. It will not be as hard for you to share your story and you will actually get better at sharing it and actually start finding some healing in it. Believe it or not, you are the barrier between your healing. The more you let yourself share the story and find comfort in it, the more you are going to heal and help others others heal. Seeing grief from the other side can help you understand how to deal with yours better.

Getting out of your own head

If you're anything like me, when you experience something that gets you down, you isolate or curl up in a ball. This is also a natural thing. Most do not want people to see them sad and feel like they can not do anything else until you get through the grief. Like I said, this is a natural process, it's almost a numb feeling that comes over your body and feels like nothing really except for what you're going through. The only way this can get dangerous is if you do not start getting out of that ball or you allow yourself not to talk about the situation. There is always going to come a day where you need to get up and keep moving. Life does not stop just because you are going through it. There are still people out there that are counting on you, that do not want to see you holding things in. Get out of your own head eventally and talk to someone. Do not let yourself stay in that state, the longer you do, the less control you will have. Believe it or not, we all have control over our brain and can tell it what to do, not the other way around. It just takes some practice, self-development, and being able to find what makes you peaceful.

It's not easy to get over your grief and some might last longer than others but it is always good practice to talk to people about it. It's the only way you are going to get over it and eventually it's going to feel like a team effort. There is no I in team and the world is one big team, you're never alone, do not forget it.

Heat Balance Diagram for Thermal Power Stations

What is Heat Balance Diagram?

Heat Balance Diagram or HBD for Thermal Power Station is the basically schematic representation of the whole steam cycle from Boiler to High Pressure (HP) Turbines Intermediate Pressure (IP) Turbines and Low Pressure (LP) Turbines to condenser to pumps to re-heaters and again to boiler.

This diagram also contains some information of steam properties like Pressure Temperature, enthalpy and mass of the steam at every junction of the line.

What information the HBD has?

As mentioned above, Heat Balance Diagram or HBD has the heat equation at points before and after every component. Considering the first point after the boiler, knowing the steam properties, pressure and temperatures, other properties like enthalpy of the steam can also be determined. Knowing the efficiencies and considerations like pressure drop across the control valves, these properties along the cycle can be determined, thus the heat rate of the system. With help of heat rate, the mass of steam required can be determined.

Why it is important?

Heat Balance Diagram is generally one of the first produced diagrams and part of Process Control Diagrams(PCDs), by an engineering wing or consultancy while working on the specifications of the project (power plant). HBD helps to engineer the plant by way of providing the steam properties at different point across the steam cycle, thus providing vital information, helpful to design the whole system and supporting systems. In a way this diagram is critical to finalize the specifications of different components before initiating the bidding procedures by the consultants, especially working on EPC assignments.

HBD, in fact also helps in estimating the cost of the plant as well as it provides the heat rate, operational cost can also be estimated. Knowing the both costs, it is easier to decide on refining the specifications of components (comparing initial investments as well as the operational costs), before bidding process, as mentioned above.

Usually there has been no ways for the project owner to comment on the consultants decision about the specifications. Mostly it has to be dependent on individual discretion and experience and expertise. However, recently some software solutions have come to provide support to engineers, which can simulate the Heat Balance Diagram for engineers to understand the process in a better way and not only to comment over the design provided by consultants, but also provide an opportunity to increase the operating efficiencies, resulting into significant saving in operational costs. Some of such commercial software which are based on Rankine cycle are “Simple Heat Balance”, Thermoflow, FCycle (All from different vendors) are now available which are quite accurate and affordable.

No Quick Fix – Journey of a Lifetime Begins With One Step

Select any magazine or text on obesity and you will be able to access many reasons why people are overweight today. Many magazines will explain the scientific reason for the eating of five small meals rather than two large ones, so I will not discuss that at length in this article. I will focus on how an average to a very overweight person can lose the excess weight and never regain it. Losing weight begins with a decision NOW. Take a look at yourself and say “enough”. Tell yourself that you are tired of huffing and puffing around. Tell yourself that you don’t want to be embarrassed when you’re on the airplane and you’re walking down the aisle towards a seat and everyone is hoping that you would not occupy the middle seat next to him/her. Tell yourself that from this moment on you will enjoy getting on the scale to check your weight. Get sick and tired of making excuses for the way you look. Get tired of all of the bulges in your clothing. Become angry that you are ultra-sensitive about the word “fat”. That is a perfectly normal word. Become tired of being the butt of “fat jokes”. Say to yourself “today is the first day of the rest of my life”.

After you have made your decision that you will change from one state to the other then you are ready to pack up and leave. No one leaves to reside in another country without equipment. You have to clean house after sorting and packing. So, let’s see what we need to sort and pack. Firstly, you have to sort. Go through the house and remove any food or snack that is not in its natural form. For example let’s look at rice. Rice as it came from nature is called brown rice. It is not white. It should be eaten as brown rice. Remove all forms of white rice from the house. Do the same with pasta. Pack the cans of meat, fish, deserts, puddings, and any food with a lot of sugar or salt. Packets of chips and salted nuts, candy and chocolate must go. Cakes, pies and ice-cream need to reside somewhere else, not in your home. Please don’t forget the sodas and cool aid drinks. Now that you have no food in the house you need to go to the supermarket. These are the things to purchase: Begin with breakfast items. Oatmeal, nuts (all kinds), raisins, prunes, dates, all kinds of fruits especially lemons, grapefruits and oranges. Splurge on the different kinds of fruits. Do not purchase them all at one time because they have a limited refrigerator life. Every week eat one or two fruits that you did not eat the previous week, but keep the staples : grapefruits and oranges. Next go on to lunch items. Chicken, fish, lean meat, tofu (ask me about tasty recipes), other meat analogs made with soy, an assortment of vegetables: squash, cabbage, green leafy vegetables, bell peppers, every vegetable that is available. Desert items can be home made from the fruits and whole grain products that are purchased. Oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil, flax oil should be used generously. The list of fruits, nuts and grains is a long list. The guideline is natural.

Use the food in its most natural state. For example when cooking mashed potatoes, leave out butter and add olive oil instead. Use spices like oregano, sage, thyme, celery, cayenne pepper etc. Learn to marinate meats before cooking so that the food is tasty when cooked. (I can tell you how). So, now you have changed states and it is time to learn how to prepare the foods that you have selected. Get a good cook book or go online and type in fat free cooking or just the food that you want to cook and ask for a recipe. There are many. I said earlier that the experts say to eat smaller, more frequent meals so that the body is engaged in digesting which keeps the metabolism or burning mechanism working and thus promoting more weight loss. The breakfast is fairly large and the lunch is fairly large also, but the other meals are small consisting of maybe some celery sticks with peanut butter or cottage cheese or other soft cheese or some yogurt. It may be a slice of whole wheat toast with cheese or a piece of chicken. It could also be fruit with some garbanzos. The idea is protein and carbohydrate. The most important key to eating healthfully is to eat before six p.m in the evening. Try to plan the day so that the last meal which should not be too heavy is finished by that time. After that, water and will power will have to be applied.

Let’s look at a day in the life of a person who is going to live in another state. Rise early and drink 20 ounces of warm water with or without half of a squeezed lemon(depending on whether your stomach can tolerate lemons). Next, spend fifteen to thirty minutes reading a good motivational book and repeating affirmations: for example, I am sitting at my desk, it is one year from now and I am a hundred pounds lighter than I am at this moment. I feel great and I look great. I accept responsibility for my body. I will allow no weakness to pervade my mind. I can do ALL things. What I am, I am now becoming. I have begun with the end in mind. I am getting slimmer and healthier every day. Next is the exercise. Anyone who tries to sell you a diet plan that does not involve an exercise component is lying to you. The human body is designed for movement. Begin small. Walk around the bedroom. Walk to the living room. Walk to the kitchen. If you have a downstairs go down stairs for something. Move around for at least fifteen minutes. The best thing to do is to go outside in the fresh air, the earlier in the morning the better it will be. Walk for at least fifteen minutes. Breathe deeply of the fresh air. Gradually increase this to thirty minutes and then an hour and then you can count it in miles. Get some kind of weight training because you want to build muscle mass as you lose the fat . Get magazines and read up on that. Celebrate every victory.

The first day that you walk for fifteen minutes and you could not do that before, celebrate. Give yourself high fives and drink five ounces of water. Never celebrate with a food item other than water. (During the day try to drink at least sixty four ounces of water or more.)When the exercise routine is over then a good shower with warm water ending with cold water will invigorate the body. Breakfast will then be eaten.

Eat some form of oatmeal everyday. It will clean the arteries and is good for the body in general. Eat three or four servings of fruit. Eat some nuts, some lean protein (cheese, egg-white, meat analog etc). Between meals drink water. Remember to eat a huge salad with nuts, garbanzos, or red beans and olive oil and lemon juice and add salt to taste. Eat the salad first and then eat the carbohydrate with the three ounces of meat followed by a tiny desert (could be yogurt, smoothie, one oatmeal cookie etc.). Again the last meal should be before six p.m or at least four hours before bedtime. Ask me about a natural adaptogen product that will give you a feeling of satisfaction especially for the evening so that there will be no eating after six p.m. You should try to enjoy your food and your life. When the end of the day comes then spend some time repeating affirmations and re-examining your day. Anyone can lose weight if the desire is strong enough. You can do this. You can be as slender as you want to be. Now you can see why you will not regain any lost weight because you have a different life style. I am seeing you thin and healthy and I look forward to hearing about your new state.