3:33 am?

What is it with angels and digital clocks? I fell sleep just after 11pm and am still trying to recover from the switch to daylight savings time. I really do not need to be up and working right now, or do I? I had asked my angels earlier today to help me write some more articles. So, at 3:33 am they wake me up whispering something or other and insisting I need to get up and work. Geez! Have a little heart guys! I have a two year old for pete's sake. Do not they know how tired I'm going to be trying to keep up with him tomorrow !? Nick Bunick spoke at my church years ago when his book The Messengers was such a big hit. One of the things he mentioned that really touched me was how the angels would come to him at 4:44 and how the numbers 444 showed all of the time in reference to them. I know exactly what he's talking about. They seem to have a great love of repeat numbers. So, as I drink my coffee and wipe the sleep from my eyes I ask them, "Well, what do you want to talk about?"

Their response was to remind me of some of the stuff that I'm researching right now. Not a topic I want to discuss quite yet. That's why I'm researching it, so I can have something fundamental to put behind my claims besides just 'hey this really weird thing happened to me.' They said it's not the topic that matters but the research material that I've found. My thoughts were, "What information? Anyone else else has channeled on the subject looks pretty vague and worthless. I have not found anything to explain what happened!" Exactly their point. Huh? Tell them to clear the channels, be more specific, accountable.

When I first started communicating with guardian angels and spirit guides, I used to get really angry. They're saying the most bizarre things that mean nothing to me until after an event took place and then there would be this sudden ah-ha moment and I would finally understand what it was they had been trying to say to me. They were fond of using visual pictures and keyword phrases that remind me of a Google search. I would then have to decipher it all to figure out what the message was. I hate that. I'm a busy woman and I often have too much on my plate. Get to the point already!

One day, they told me to buy a particular book about how to talk to your angels. That may even be the title of it. It was better written then most. My angels made me give it away to someone who was scared and getting ready to go in for surgery. I wish I still had it sometimes, but apparently I do not really need it anymore. Anyway, in this book the author talked about how to develop a strong helpful relationship with your guardian angels. Sheave tips on ways to communicate with them.

One of the best things I took away from that book was the idea that I could choose how we communicated. She said to tell them exactly how you want to converse. Do you want to do it through music? Visual signs? Do you want them to guide you through humorous events? You decide. For me personally, I wanted to be hit upside down the head with a brick. Do not use any of those vague riddles or anything. If you have something to say to me, say it straight up. You better have more than just a vague warm fuzzy mystery when you come knocking on my door. I hate having to guess at what they're saying. I am afraid I'm going to make it all up in my head. I want clear directions, clear information, clear warnings, and clear signs of confirmation when it's all done. I will repeat back to them what it is I think they're saying. Then, they are supposed to give me a big fat clear thumbs up that is not some stupid coincidence.

The one area I have never been able to control is when they talk to me. I can ask questions and they will answer me, but not until they're darn well good and ready. It's like the topic I'm researching. They will not explain it right now, so I'm trying to find out if other New Age people have experienced it or if they have heard anything about it. I have not seen anything anywhere. There's just this vague stuff around a similar topic. Bah! I hate vague.

Why are so many of the professional channels okay with the fact that they are not giving concrete information. Most of what I'm seeing channeled is just, 'yeah we love you, we're proud of you, you're going to be shifting into the umpteenth dimension soon …' They're not angry gods threatening to hit us With lightening bolts! Ask for some clarity already! What exactly do these other dimensions look like and give me some scientific data to back it up. Maybe that's why I'm NOT the one being told to channel that stuff! I'd demand back-up proof before I'd be willing to go public with it. That's just me.

I'm not suppose to channel big newsworthy predictions. I'm suppose to let you know they're available to each of you on a one on one basis and that it's normal to feel crazy when you talk to them. I'm suppose to bring peace of mind to those of you who are hearing them calling you to do some sort of good deeds and to let you know that you are not alone. I'm supposed to explain them in a way that makes them less intimidating and more approachable. Honestly, they will not bite! Just talk to them openly and honestly as you would any other friend. Tell them what you need, want, like, and prefer. They'll listen.

Copyright 2004, Skye Thomas, Tomorrow's Edge

Finding an Emergency HVAC Service Company

It is late on a Saturday night, the thermometer outside is hovering at the 80 degree mark and your air conditioning system makes a loud grinding noise. There is no way you are going to make it through the rest of the weekend with no ac as the forecast calls for near record heat and no one in your house can sleep as it is. Your only choice is to find someone that offers emergency HVAC air repair.

However, as you are about to find out, only a select few of the heat and air conditioning companies offer any type of afterhours service. Of these an even smaller number are going to be willing to come out late on a Saturday night and take on what might end up being a major and very time consuming repair. This can make it very difficult for you to find anyone that you can trust to send out an experienced technician.

Rather than take the risk of not being able to find anyone who is willing to offer emergency air repair services, you can use the web to find a company that not only offers 24 / 7 service willing to send out a fully trained and highly skilled technician. This is where the difference lies and where you need to be very careful in your selection of air conditioning repair services.

A top quality air conditioning repair service is one that has a number of highly trained technicians on staff that are always on call. When you call an air repair company afterhours, you need to know that not only are they going to be able to provide you with a skilled and highly trained technician, but that he is going to have the parts needed to make the repair. Far too many shops will send out a tech to look at your problem only for him to tell you that he does not have the required parts to make the repair!

This can end up costing you far more than it should as the company is going to charge you for the original emergency service call and then charge you for yet another service call when they finally have the parts you need. This is not what anyone should expect or can afford when they have to call in an emergency ac repair service. Before you allow a company like this to come to your home, you need to verify that they are going to have the parts you need and that their technician is going to be able to get the job done in one trip.

Take your time when looking for an emergency air conditioning repair service. With a little time and research, you can find a company that is not only available 24 / 7 but provides the most highly skilled and professional technicians in the area. You want an HVAC service that will always show up with a full complement of parts ready to get your air conditioning back up and running in the shortest amount of time possible and at a more than reasonable price.

Powerful Thoughts

In 1881, the New York YWCA's proposed typing lessons for woman bought protests citing "the female constitution would break down under the strain." I wonder how many women believed that and did not sign up? Or how many would-be-travelers listened when "experts" determined that riding a speeding train of fifteen miles an hour would cause them to suffocate in tunnels as blood spurted from their noses? These incorrect thoughts are amusing now. But, do not laugh too hard. We have plenty of our own that limit progress and hold us back.

Once Roger Bannister ran a mile under four minutes, providing that the human heart could hold up when running that fast, others quickly followed. And once Olympic champion, Vasily Alexeev broke the weight lifting barrier of 500 pounds, other weight-lifters broke his record knowing it was possible. Yet before he could do it himself, Alexeev's trainers changed his limiting belief by rigging 501.5 pounds of weights to look like 499.

Our thoughts are powerful. What we believe to be true, often is. One of my favorite stories involves an elementary school teacher who was guided the first day of school to see what a smart class she'd been given. Next to each child's name were numbers like 138, 140, 154. Taking these numbers as the students' IQs, the teacher worked extra hard to challenge the class. By the end of the year, the progress was remarkable. It was then that she discovered the numbers were not their IQs but their lockers.

Are your thoughts limiting or invigorating? Self-restricting or self-empowering? Think it's impossible and you'll build your own walls. Think you can not and you set yourself up for a self-fulfilling result. Think you can and your thinking can help make it happen. Take Florence Griffith-Joyner who wrote in her diary before the l988 Olympic Games that she would win the 100-meter dash in 10:54 seconds. She did win in exactly 10:54 seconds. That's because thoughts can determine reality.

Years ago, I told a friend about a promotion that would take me from what I knew into a new discipline. She quickly responded, "Nan, how could you say yes? You will not know what you're doing." It surprised me. I've never thought of saying anything other than yes. "I'll figure it out," I told her. And I did. My thinking told me I could figure things out. Her thinking told her she could not. That difference played out in our carers.

People who are winning at working understand there's power to their thoughts. Power to bring results, create realities and banish walls. Power to overcome challenges, eliminate barriers and achieve what others only dream. Want to be winning at working? Power your thoughts to positively impact your future.

(C) 2005 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.

Accusations – Foster Carers Can Be on the Receiving End of One, But Do We Really Understand Why?

Here we discuss what an accusation actually is. We also discuss what the different types of accusations can be, and what the process can be of dealing with those accusations. Being the alleged party in an accusation situation can be difficult, uncomfortable, and can often feel like you are judged guilty until proven innocent, or judged guilty and you are never able to clear your name or reputation.

Few subjects generate as much fear and frustration as accusations in social care – be it fostering, adoption or children’s wider social care. Currently with the high profile of historical sexual abuse, and the processing of sometimes decades-old disclosures through painful and torturous abuse investigations, the subject of accusations is raw, hotly debated and not far from anyone’s water cooler moments, or from the front pages of every tabloid or broadsheet. The never ending parade of TV stars who are accused of having caused harm to many over a number of decades, sometimes over 50 years ago, seems a constant nowadays. The horror of recent high profile convictions for sexual abuse and the sheer number of investigations have raised the profile of abuse accusations.

What many people fear, and it is a deep-rooted, but well-proven fear, is… what happens if the person on the receiving end of that accusation is you, or your partner, or grown up son or daughter, or your work colleague? How would we deal with it? How would we respond? What would happen if we are confronted with convincing evidence that our partner or loved one is accused of child abuse? Would we be able to keep information confidential? How would we respond to family and friends? How would we deal with the communities we live and work in? All these questions are palpable fears when considering the issue of accusations. For as we all know, many people think, and society at large may think… there is no smoke without fire.

Fears of accusations are well founded in the teaching sector. Since 2003 and the introduction of the Sexual Offences Act it has been against the law for an adult in a position of trust, such as teachers, to have sexual activity with an young person they are responsible for up to the age of 18. The age of consent for sexual activity is 16.

Firstly, and from the point of view of balance, we consider a case study of a young person’s experience.

The girl, says her teacher began to offer her one-to-one lessons when she was 14. The girl had developed an infatuation for her teacher, and was emotionally very drawn to him.

It seemed quite obvious to her that her teacher had noticed, he hugged her affectionately in a classroom and they swapped phone numbers and messenger details: “Very quickly it progressed from a kiss to him starting to want more.”

Very soon, the girl reports that the teacher’s intentions quickly changed from friendship to flirtatious and rapidly onto physical advances.

She says her teacher forced her into sex by telling her it was how adults proved they loved each other. I tried to tell him that I was not ready for sex that I did not want to do it, but he ignored me.

It was only when the girl became an adult that she found the confidence to do something about her experience.

Whilst no one would argue that anyone who targets and harms a vulnerable young person, the perpetrator should face the full force and consequences of the courts. But teaching unions and the wider teaching community say they also have serious concerns about the impact of false accusations. A teacher may be suspended, rumours will start, and once a suspension occurs it will never be erased from a teaching record, even when the allegation is proven malicious or false. Suspension is meant to be a neutral act, but that is not how it is necessarily perceived by other staff at the school, or indeed by the students or their parents. There are cases where teachers have been suspended, when a quick investigation would have probably found that the teacher was not in school on the day of the alleged abuse – but instead, a long, drawn-out, invasive process of investigation ensues involving the LADO and suspension.

Whilst every allegation must be investigated and action taken where there is found to be a case to answer, it is seems entirely wrong and irresponsible to treat easily resolvable accusations in the same way as more serious, complex and sexually abusive accusations, does it not?

What are the types of accusations someone can be on the receiving end of?

The first section is aimed at defining what exactly each one of these is:

A Complaint is anything a child complains about. A complaint can be a good thing, or can lead to good things. We want to hear children’s complaints or concerns. A child making a complaint can be the starting point to a serious concern being raised or an allegation being made.

A Serious concern is when something seriously concerning has come to the attention of an employer, and which needs to be investigated, or formally addressed and resolved. It usually relates to standards of professional conduct or care being unacceptable, the management of a child’s needs not meeting expectation or the core agreement or contract having been broken. It could involve the foster carers deviating from the care plan, or a social worker passing third party information to a client in a compromising way. A serious concern may also be the starting point to an allegation being made. Serious concerns have to be dealt with formally.

An Allegation is when a child actually alleges that they are being harmed, or are at risk of harm from a carer or professional, or have been harmed or put at risk of harm. People often confuse a serious concern and an allegation, when actually they are two separate and distinct things. An allegation must be investigated by the local authority, and statutory processes must be followed. The alleged perpetrator may not know of the nature of an allegation for legal reasons, and allegations may never be fully resolved.

Now let us consider the perspective through a case study a foster carer, wrongly accused of having harmed a child. This is a case study example.

Out of the blue, the carer received a phone call from the Child’s Social Worker.

A very blunt voice on the end of the phone simply explained that the child placed was not returning that day, and that other plans were being made. There was a cold tone in the worker’s voice, but no other information was forth-coming.

The foster carer wanted more information, but was given no more.

The carer’s panic and upset began immediately. The carer describes a sinking feeling, and a darkness. All sorts of questions went through the carer’s my mind, and he played out every possible scenario of what could have happened, and what could have been said, perceived or misperceived. The carers knew they hadn’t done nothing wrong. They had always felt we could make a real difference to children, and as a couple they had got through every challenge. But that was of no consolation now.

There were no phone calls returned. Even the child’s school clammed up on them, and had had such a good relationship with them up until that point. They felt so alone and unsupported. Like icebergs floating in the ocean – where was the help for the carers? The supervising social worker who had been very professional and with whom they had a very up front and good relationship with, shut down on them. Where did they go now?

The carers were just waiting to be arrested by the Police and taken to the Station for an interview room interrogation. To them it felt so unfair and so disempowering.

The experience has really affected the carer’s feelings of self-esteem, and the male care always believed feeling physically sick was just a figure of speech. For a few days they walked around like zombies – our worlds stopped.

The Supervising Social Worker said over the phone one day: “the next step is for the Police to decide what they are doing, if they are going ahead with an investigation”. Nobody is ready for how that feels and how out of control it can feel.

Carers in that situation can find themselves acting like children saying “It’s not fair.” “What have we done?” Ironic in an allegation situation, that carers actually feel more child-like than anything else.

To many carers it can feel nothing like a fair process. It’s not about the needs of the child or the protection and well-being of vulnerable children. It’s about procedure and the prevention of legal penalties if procedures are not followed correctly. It’s about the mess left from earlier mistakes in high profile cases.

It can feel as if secret meetings are taking place to discuss guilt or unsuitability behind carers’ backs – and at no point would carers be considered part of this, only like little dogs getting the crumbs of the table. Many carers later find out that their fostering record would always show an unfounded accusation for anyone to read, and this can never be erased, changed or altered despite how unfair it is.

Continuing in fostering at this point seems too many in an allegation situation beyond the pale. Taking another foster child or continuing as Foster Carers may seem ludicrous. What if bruises are found on a child? What if the birth family make an allegation, the child lies or another professional takes a dislike the carers? Everything at this point can feel so overwhelming, and so daunting.

Once an allegation investigation begins, the full weight of the legal process and secrecy can feel like it is stacked against the carer.

It seems to suggest the needs, health and well-being of the Child are unimportant when Social Workers are responsible but they leap into action if there’s a Foster Carer subject to an allegation.

Like many carers, the foster carer in this case study experienced so many mistakes, and bad practice by Social Services. Many carers feel so many foster carers are badly treated by draconian procedures drawn up by Government and interpreted by Local Authority Children’s Services and individual Social Workers.

The case study account is a harrowing one. It is an individual case study perspective and experience on an allegation investigation. The fact of the allegation will remain on a carer’s file, and the experience will never be erased. Some carers feel that they can no longer continue with their fostering agency and choose to transfer to another independent fostering agency. Whilst everyone acknowledges that there is a continuing risk of allegations from children, cares can also perceive they are more equipped because they are part of stronger community of foster carers, and stronger professional support.

So what does the case study story tell us? Well to a certain extent, there is no escaping the inevitable vulnerable nature of fostering, with increased vulnerability die to the child living in your home with your family, and it being a 24 hours a day job. That child is always there, and their vulnerabilities are always manifesting. Maybe slowly over time you notice some improvements in the child, but all too often it can feel you feel like you have the raw end of the deal.

Working with allegations risk is one of the toughest challenges foster carers, adopters and professionals working with children and young people face. To a certain extent, there is no easy cure. There is no magic wand, and there is no fast track to allegation resolution. But maybe it is high time we asked the questions like – do we have our responses right? Do we have the correct procedures that achieve the best outcomes for all parties concerned, and crucially, justice and fairness for all?

Hardwood Flooring First or Kitchen Cabinets: The Big Kitchen Renovation Dilemma

Are you considering a complete kitchen renovation? Are you thinking of changing the flooring as well as the cabinets and appliances? If you are interested in a complete kitchen overhaul, one question will put you in dilemma: Should I install hardwood flooring first or kitchen cabinets?

Harwood Flooring or Kitchen Cabinets: Is there a Solution?

The answer to the question depends on your situation. If you are undertaking a massive makeover in the kitchen, it is best to install hardwood flooring before fitting the kitchen cabinets. Take a look at the list of compelling reasons that will help you to solve the dilemma of hardwood flooring vs. cabinets:

· The Benefit of Flexibility

Usually, hardwood flooring will last longer than the kitchen cabinets. Also, you may be tempted to change the layout of the kitchen and make changes to the cabinet footprint. If you have such flooring across the kitchen floor, you will be able to change the placement of cabinets as well as appliances easily.

· The Height Issue

When you install kitchen cabinets and appliances on the sub-floor first, you can end up getting the height of cabinets wrong. You will then have to insert plywood risers below the cabinets to get the height right. Instead of spending time and labor on plywood, why not install the hardwood flooring first?

· The Perfect Finish

If you install the cabinets first, they may suffer damage during the installation of the hardwood flooring. And, you certainly do not want stained or nicked cabinets. Also, you will have to cut the flooring to fit the cabinets properly. It will add to your expense. When you want a clean-looking kitchen, it is best to go with the flooring first.

When should you install the Kitchen Cabinets first?

If you are interested in floating hardwood flooring, it is best to install the kitchen cabinets first. The reason behind it is simple. Floating floor expands and contracts according to the changes in temperature. And, if there is a heavy cabinet on the surface of the floating floor, it will not have any opportunity to expand. It will result in breaking of wood.

If you are going to replace the hardwood flooring in the near future, it is best to install the kitchen cabinets first. It will ensure that you do not have to remove the cabinets while making changes to the flooring.

There is no clear answer to the question. It depends on your situation and your budget. So, when it comes to making a decision, list down your requirements. Are you going with floating hardwood flooring? Will you be changing the appliances in the near future? Do you want to change the cabinet footprint? Consider all the factors before choosing the option that suits you the best.

Gomer Pyle USMC

The Andy Griffith Show first aired on CBS in 1960. For those of you too young to remember, this classic situation comedy was packed full with characters not unlike those found in any small town in the US The lead character, Sheriff Andy Taylor, played by Andy Griffith, was a widower bringing up his son with the help of Aunt Bee. Although he was Sheriff, Mayberry NC was already crime-free. This allowed Andy plenty of time to deal with the various situations that arose – and Mayberry's many odd-ball characters.

One of the characters, introduced three years into the show's long run, was dim-witted gas pump attendant, Gomer Pyle. Like many of the show's characters, he had his own quirky ways and his own catchphrases like "Shazam!". Gomer, played by actor and, to this day, highly accomplished singer Jim Nabors, was so popular he was given his own show, Gomer Pyle USMC . This was a time when the tv spin-off was a very rare thing.

As the life of a gas pump attendant may produce limited story lines, it was determined that Gomer Pyle would join in the marines. The contrast between Gomer's limited abilities and the drill sergeant, Vince Carter's abruptness and impatience was the backdrop to the many funny lines penned by various screenwriters under the watchful eyes of the show's Midas touch creator Aaron Ruben and highly successful producer Sheldon Leonard.

Gomer Pyle was a constant pain in the side of Sergeant Carter (played by Frank Sutton). He would often misunderstand the instructions that Carter gave him and generally botch even the simplest of tasks. He would more often than not get himself and his sergeant into all kinds of scrapes and sometimes would (often unwittingly) save the day.

Sergeant Carter's attempts to knock the bumbling Gomer into shape consistently back-fired to the point where the sergeant himself was at his wits end. Despite this constant battle, Carter clearly developed a sneaky regard for Gomer and this only added to the depth of the comedy.

Gomer Pyle USMC is a classic comedy from 60's television. Some say that this remains the best situation comedy to come out of that decade. Many spin-offs do not live up to the promise of the original host show. In this case it certainly matched the wonderful gentle but wacky Andy Griffith Show from which it emerged.

As with most of the work produced by Sheldon Leonard, the show had a long stay as a top-rated show and ended its run in 1969.

The Basic Components Of Perfect Pizza

Pizza is a popular and tasty dish that is made of four different components, the crust, sauce, toppings, and cheese. Although comprised of only four simple parts, the number of ways you can make pizza is nearly endless using a variety of ingredients, some pizza recipes, and your own imagination.

The Crust

All types of pizza begin with the base or the crust, which can be made from different types of flour such as white and whole wheat to create homemade dough. After rising, pizza dough is stretched, tossed, and formed into a circular shape and then baked in the oven on baking sheets or on pizza stones for an authentic tasting crust.

The Sauce

Sauce for pizza should be tomato based and then seasoned with the herbs and spices of your choice. A perfect pizza sauce is one that is just the right consistency, neither to watery nor too thick. Some people prefer a tangier sauce while others like their pizza sauce to be a bit sweeter. Experiment with varying amounts of seasonings to find the balance you prefer the most.

The Toppings

Toppings for pizza are typically a combination of vegetables and meats with mushrooms and pepperoni being at the top of the list in terms of popularity. Other toppings to consider for making the perfect pizza include artichoke hearts, black and green olives, green peppers, ground beef, hot peppers, onions, and sausage.

The Cheese

Last, but certainly not least is perhaps the absolute best part of pizza, the cheese. In a traditional sense, the cheese of choice for making pizza is most definitely mozzarella. However, you are certainly not limited this type of cheese as there are plenty of delicious varieties to choose from including Asiago, parmesan, provolone, ricotta, and Romano.

Beefy Mediterranean Pizza Recipe

What You Need

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 pound pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 2 cups lettuce, shredded
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2/3 cup red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges

How to Make It

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a nonstick skillet, cook the beef over medium to high heat for about 7 minutes or until it is no longer pink and cooked through. Drain the grease and place the cooked beef in a bowl.

In the skillet, add the oil and heat over medium before adding the chopped onions, minced garlic, chopped mint, cayenne pepper, and salt and cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions are soft.

Add the beef to the skillet along with the cup of pasta sauce and simmer over the lowest heat for 3 minutes.

Divide the pound of pizza into four sections. Sprinkle flour onto the counter or tabletop and roll out each section of dough into a small to medium sized circle, about 6 to 7 inches in diameter.

Place the pizza dough on the bottom of 2 greased, rimmed baking sheets. Spread the meat mixture evenly over the dough and bake for about 10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

After baking, top the pizzas with the shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, sliced onions, and chopped parsley. Set the lemon wedges on top of the pizzas for squeezing.

Serve alone or along with frozen vanilla flavored yogurt.

Serves 4.

The Ride of Their Life – The Grand Canyon Mule Experience (Part 2 – The 2 Day Trip)

Indian Garden is where the riders who are overnighting at Phantom Ranch separate from the day riders and embark on their own private adventure. Although they have now come half the distance from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch, a quick look back up at the rim will verify that they have descended two thirds of the total altitude change from the mule corral to the canyon bottom. Most of them will take more than a quick look, however, because from Indian Garden it is difficult to see how that canyon wall could possibly be traveled. But they did it, and they will all feel some degree of pride in their accomplishment. The hard part is over.

The gently sloping trail now follows Garden Creek as it wanders down its narrow channel toward the canyon bottom. It is picture postcard beautiful. The cottonwood and willow trees, the lush riparian vegetation, and the peaceful sound of crystal clear flowing water give them the feeling that a new world has been entered. Considering themselves advanced beyond novice rider status by now, they are secure and comfortable in the saddle and most of them will truly relax and enjoy the ride. Whereas it is common to see bighorn sheep at the top of the trail in the morning, deer are what they are likely to see down here. Being unaccustomed to any threat from humans, the animals in the canyon will simply glance up and then go on about their business. This will be a photo opp for those riders who have never before seen a deer in the wild.

They will all be looking to the left as Garden Creek separates itself from the trail, tumbling rapidly downward and disappearing quickly into a small rocky gorge. As they pass, their attention will again focus forward and it will be mere seconds before they realize that there is nothing but open air in front of them. Hello Devil’s Corkscrew! As they round a sharp bend they will find themselves on the side of a canyon wall, on a narrow ledge, staring down a near vertical drop-off to the valley floor. A valley floor which every one of them will say is at least a thousand feet below, in a canyon large enough be impressive in its own right anywhere but here. A degree of anxiety will return and some will later recall this as the most frightening part of the entire trail. Even Garden Creek had the good sense to detour before it came to this.

At the bottom of Devil’s Corkscrew they will find friendlier ground, again following along the creek as it gently slopes toward its final approach to the river. The wrangler will probably verify that the Colorado River is not far ahead and comfort them with the assurance that the trail plans no more devilish surprises. A few general comments will be heard and they will relax again, now the hard part is over.

The Bright Angel Trail breaks through a small gorge and affords its first view of the Colorado River only when they are literally at the river. There it is, right in front of them. Most of the riders will think it is bigger than it looked in the pictures. All of them will be awed at the energy and power it emanates, and this will be the high point in some memories. As they turn to amble along the comfortable River Trail at the water’s edge, if they hadn’t realized it before, they will now, this is the ride of their life.

Suddenly, exclamations will be heard from the riders in front as they round a knoll in the trail. The Silver Bridge across the river can be seen in the distance, stretching from canyon wall to canyon wall. It is a long, high suspension bridge, and some will probably wonder how they could ever build it in such a remote location. They know this isn’t their route, but they can’t help but say something when they first see it. As they approach the bridge, it is even longer and taller than it first looked, and the large steel mesh floor allows the river torrent to be seen clearly beneath one’s feet. Wow ! A long ways beneath one’s feet! As they file by the end of the bridge, most will be glad they are not crossing the river here, but now the more forward thinking riders will be wondering what the next bridge has to offer, and may even ask their wrangler as much.

As they continue to follow the River Trail to the bridge on the Kaibab Trail, they will begin to realize that they are climbing back up, and that once again the trail has become a narrow ledge on the side of a solid rock canyon wall with a vertical drop that is difficult to ignore. While it may be only a few hundred feet to the bottom this time, the sights and sounds of the powerful Colorado River directly below them add yet another sensation to be remembered.

As they approach the dark entrance to the tunnel, it more resembles a cave than a passage through the rock. Like a giant tube, it curves around just enough to obscure visible light from the other end. Somebody will probably make scary noises in the dim tunnel. The other end of the tunnel is a vertical rock wall with the Kaibab Bridge connected directly to it. One step on the solid rock tunnel floor, the next step on the suspended bridge, with the river directly below them. A long way below them. Is there no end to this adventure? At least this bridge has solid matting on the floor, which comforts mules and riders alike.

Now the hard part really is over. Historic and rustic Phantom Ranch awaits them just up the trail in yet another cozy, cottonwood shaded oasis. After dismounting, the cantina will be the first place the riders hobble to. The cantina is comfortable and inviting and, after they check in, they will sip on cold drinks and begin to share their impressive recollections. These will be private exchanges and they will be quite certain that no outsider could fully appreciate their descriptions. But no matter the beauty they have seen or the magnitude of their adventure, they will be happy to get out of the saddle. Some will probably already be concerned about the probability of discomfort in the morning, on the long ride out of the canyon. It won’t be as bad as they may fear.

Phantom Ranch is nestled in a small draw on the North side of the Colorado River, where the Bright Angel Creek has decided to join the big river . The people are friendly, the food is excellent, and the beds are conducive to deep sleep. The wake up call will come too early for most, but their excitement will begin to rekindle as they step out into the cool morning air. If they can resist overeating the five star breakfast provided to them in the cantina, they will be cheerful and ready for whatever comes. The nervous exuberance of yesterday will be absent today, they are old hands now. When they arrive at the mule corral, few of them will realize that the wrangler has been at work since before daylight rounding up, feeding, and saddling the mules. There will be a few comments as their backsides hit the saddle, but their enthusiasm is again high .

Back across the Kaibab Bridge, back through the tunnel, past the River Trail cutoff, and out of the secluded lower canyon river gorge they climb. Riding uphill is different than riding downhill and most of the riders will find it easier. The red clay trail spirals up steeply in the shade of the early morning, as if to escape the perils of the river as soon as possible. Even so, as the riders will now trust their equestrian skills, it will be a quiet ride up this section of the trail to the rest stop on the edge of the first plateau. From here on, however, the Kaibab Trail will offer a completely unique and superior viewing experience. They are entering camera country.

With the trail now traveling along ridge tops most of the way, the views available to the riders will make them feel that they are on top of the world. Every day, even every hour of the day, the hues and tints across the vast canyon can change. The distant earthtones and pastel colors will transform as they climb, always masking the true rugged nature of the canyon. Each time the trail brings them to a higher plateau, the panoramic vistas are almost indescribable. Each time the river comes into view, it will be farther down and once more begin to resemble a painting rather than reality. The magnitude of the canyon will come back into focus and they will marvel aloud that, only a few hours ago, they were a part of that painting.

It is a near certainty that some of the hikers they pass will be physically stressed. The Kaibab Trail is shorter than the Bright Angel Trail and has more elevation gain. Being steeper, having no fresh water sources, and having precious few shaded rest areas usually catches the uneducated by surprise. They have found that the canyon caters to no one. By now, the riders will be taking for granted the strength, endurance, and trustworthiness of the animals they are riding. The sight of struggling hikers may remind them of their good fortune and prompt a few friendly expressions of gratitude to the mule that has become their friend. A friend who will be indelible in their memories.

As they approach the South Rim near Yaki Point, they will again be tired and somewhat subdued. Overall, the ride today has been quieter and more serene than yesterday. Then, one last time, the canyon will remind them of its superiority, just before it releases them. Near the top, the trail will again force them through a series of switchbacks, climbing steeply up the seemingly vertical rock wall. Once again displaying the characteristics of height and distance which make this a recognized wonder of the world and which caused them so much anxiety yesterday.

One final reminder to them that this is The Grand Canyon. One final verification, as if they needed it, that they have experienced the ride of their life.

10 Steps to Winterizing Your Underground Sprinkler System

Late fall is the time of year to prepare your lawn and sprinkler or irrigation system for the coming winter months. To avoid the damaging effects of frozen pipes and sprinkler heads, you can either prepare your sprinkler system yourself or hire a professional to winterize your system for you.

The extent that your system requires winterizing depends on what part of the country you live in. In warm areas, it may mean adjusting the timer or turning it to the off position. In cooler parts of the country, you may need to insulate your valves and anything above ground. In very cold climates, you need to do more. If you live in a climate that freezes, you need to turn off and drain your system or turn off and blow air through the valves and pipes.

Before you start to work on your sprinkler system, however, there are a few lawn maintenance issues to address. Because leaves smother your grass, rake up excess leaves. Late in the fall is a good time to fertilize your lawn, usually about a month before it typically freezes. Your lawn has been growing all summer and the dirt may be lacking nutrients it needs to green up when spring rolls around.

Finally, in most climates you will want to cut your grass short for the winter to give plenty of room for new grass growth in the spring. In lower, warmer elevations, go ahead and leave your grass longer as this will better keep moisture over the winter. Next, it is time to discuss your irrigation or sprinkler system.

The following 10 steps address systems in a cold zone prone to freezing:

  1. Locate the main water source to the irrigation system.
  2. Turn the water supply off to your sprinkler system before the first frost by locating the shut-off valve that controls water flowing to your system. This valve is generally in an underground box below the frost line or in a heated area. In Salt Lake City, for example, the frost line is 32″ so the valve would be below that level. A special tool, called a stop and waste key or curb key, is required. The keys are available at your local hardware store. Most valves are closed by turning the valve one-quarter of a turn to the right.
  3. Open all drains, including you backflow preventer assembly, and leave them open for a few hours to allow all water to escape.
  4. Remove your sprinkler heads so the water will drain from them and not freeze during the winter.
  5. Clean out any remaining water with an air compressor, charging it to 60 pounds per square inch (psi). Start by inserting the air hose into the nozzle of the drain valve located nearest the main water shut off and force out excess water with a short blast of air. Begin next with the zone furthest from the control. Activate one zone of your system at a time and leave it open as you rotate around blasting each with air, and closing it off before moving to a different zone.
  6. Replace all the sprinkler heads and close the backflow preventer valve. One note of caution here: metal pipes can tolerate up to 80 psi but flexible hosing requires much less pressure. Higher psi’s can actually damage flexible hosing. You will also want to avoid blowing the air through the back flow as hot air can damage it. Your irrigation maintenance expert will know how much air pressure is right for your system.
  7. In excessively cold climates, you may want to add a blanket of fiberglass, or at least an old blanket or towels covered by plastic over the valves and piping in you sprinkler control box.
  8. Turn off the power to timers and remove batteries after you have blown out the water from each zone and unplug power cords or turn off the power source through your breaker panel.
  9. Cover and apply foam insulation to above ground pipes.
  10. Now is also a good time to store your lawn mower and other gardening tools for the winter.

Sprinkler or irrigation systems in warmer climates that rarely or never freeze do not need this level of maintenance. Many systems have a “rain” or “off” mode that essentially shuts off water to the valves and retains all the programming information. If you are prone to freezing even once or twice, you need to drain your main valve and you may want to cover your water supply system located underground to prevent any remaining water from expanding and breaking pipes. In warm climates, you can also shut down power to the controller but this means you will need to reprogram you system early next spring. It is also a good idea to cover and insulate above ground pipes.

The best advice you can get on what your particular sprinkler or irrigation system needs is from your sprinkler maintenance professional. Once your system is prepared for the winter, you can relax and settle in for winter!

5 Factors In Selecting The Best Digital Signage Media Players

Modern digital signage (DS) media players do not use typical PC architecture. This is a crucial distinction. A modern DS media player is essentially a media appliance to the Internet. It contains optimized hardware and software to accomplish the task at hand-nothing else.

Of course, today’s choices for digital signage include displays with built-in players referred to as SoC (system on a chip). However, SoC displays cannot be compared fairly to a robust DS media player. SoC-powered displays lack the processing power and software features to take advantage of advanced strategies.

For example, it requires significant CPU power to aggregate and parse data in real time, which is a standard feature on modern players. Additionally, SoC displays typically lack the diverse I/O ports required to capture this data. Not to be negative on SoC-powered displays, they have their purpose, but this article is focused on digital signage networks that require more than a limited out-of-the-box solution.

Here are some additional things to consider when shopping for a new digital signage media player, which will aid you in selecting one that meets your immediate needs as well as provide some built-in “future proofing.”

Check the Connectivity Options of the Media Player

The ports of the media player are important because they connect to the monitor that you will use for digital signs. Avoid players with only VGA or DVI ports, both of which are indicators of old graphic chips with lower resolutions.

Look for standard HDMI ports that will support native HD video at 1920 x 1080 resolutions. Better yet, the best DS media players will support HDMI 2.0, which supports Ultra-HD, commonly called “4K”, and is based on a resolution of 3840 x 2160 @ 60fps.

Even though HDMI will support hi-def audio, it can be useful to have a separate audio port for distributed audio-if that is needed in your design. Either a 3.5mm jack or optical audio works fine for this requirement.

The other important port is for the network connection. Ideal players will have both multi-port Gb-Ethernet and built-in WiFi. If using a wireless connection, look for the newest WiFi standard of 802.11ac, which will get you connected to your content source with the greatest speed, reliability, and security.

It is also useful but not always necessary to have a USB port (V 3.0 preferably). It can be used for offline updates of firmware or even installing a playlist if you want to run the player offline. It can also be used for integrating third-party devices.

If your digital signage network requires some kind of customer engagement, wireless interface support becomes a “nice to have” to a “gotta have.” For example, for seamless integration into a larger campaign, you will want to leverage either Bluetooth, Beacons, NFC, or RS-232 (serial port), any of which may be necessary to handle real-time sensors or smartphone interaction. The best digital signage players come with this support built-in-although applications may require programmed widgets to make it work for specific requirements. This is usually done through an API and is supported by the industry at large.

Check Memory Scalability

Memory type and flexibility is often overlooked when shopping for a digital signage media player, but nothing will kill your media playlist quicker than a lack of available memory. Modern DS media players excel in installations where scalable memory is necessary, often because of the amount of RAM-gobbling high-resolution content used (think 4K).

Since content is downloaded and stored locally in a DS media player, its architecture offers several memory options that are significantly more robust than SoC displays. In fact, it is expandable according to your changing requirements.

However, avoid media players with standard hard disk drives (HDD)! They may cost less, but they break quickly under the harsh environment of a digital signage player. A HDD is the chief cause of failures in the field. Instead, opt for a modern player design that uses a solid-state drive (SSD) or Flash memory that is commonly available and rugged as nails.

Check The Software And Formats Supported

Ideally, a digital signage media player should be able to run all versions of common operating systems, including,

  • Windows 10 64bit
  • Windows 8.1 64bit
  • Windows 7 32bit / 64bit
  • Ubuntu 15.10
  • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
  • Android 5.1
  • Linux

Any of these platforms will support third-party media engines. However, look for SMIL or HTML5 support, which is the most advanced method for players to source playlists from cloud-based servers. Other methods work as well, like FTP, but this method is old school and limits your playlist options significantly. A new digital signage player with a multi-core CPU will likely support many third-party media playout engines that can be software only or may include hardware. The most reliable media engines that require the lowest CPU power to run will be using SMIL or HTML5 programming.

This is most important when playing high-resolution videos. Since digital signage playlists are designed to match the display’s native resolution, it’s crucial to support the highest resolution possible to prevent the dreaded and ugly pixelation of images on large screens.

The best DS players take advantage of an advanced graphic processor unit (GPU), which dedicate hardware to support MP4, H.264, and H.265 codecs. By saving a tremendous load on the CPU, advanced GPUs provide both glitch-free and reliable ultra-high-resolution playback. Of course, this added hardware support does increase cost, but it also significantly improves the quality of video playout, and in digital signage, this is more important than saving a few dollars. The best digital signage media players will be certified to support Ultra-High Definition (UHD) on HDMI 2.0.

Define the Cooling Requirements

Another important consideration is the location the player will be installed. Certainly mounting it close to the display is often the best route, but no player can tolerate extreme heat and humidity conditions for long periods of time. Because failure in the field is expensive, it’s worth assessing before permanently mounting the player.

Almost all players will include a specification for operating temperature range and humidity. Most will operate well within the specified ranges. The best way to add flexibility to player mounting options is to look for these features, all of which reduce the heat load on the player:

  • Mobile chipsets
  • Solid-state disk (SSD) or Flash memory (no HDD)
  • Built-in metal cooling fins (instead of fan)
  • Fanless design
  • Less than 65 (operating) watts

Theft Prevention

Tampering with digital signage players is not typically a major issue, mainly because the player is often mounted near or on the display, which is likely out of reach of Joe Public. However…

If your installation calls for added security, chiefly because the player is within reach, then you will find that the majority of new media players include a Kensington Security Slot. Use it! This universal locking system works well for preventing the majority of thefts.

But if you absolutely need to lock-down your media player, there are many locking screws on the market (e.g. Key-Rex) that will prevent thefts even in the most prone areas.

These are some of the key specifications and factors to be considered when buying the best digital signage media players for your business today. You can likely think of others, too.

Now that you are up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies emerging in this dynamic landscape, you can choose one with more confidence!

Major Record Label Fever – Run For Your Life

Regardless of where any of us actually work as guitarists, there usually comes a time when many of us dream of wearing the major label tour coat (perhaps one with a pretty rainbow on it). Yes, many of us dream of making millions and millions of dollars, driving fast cars, and touring the world with adoring fans screaming and scrambling just to get a glimpse of us. For most, these dreams come with the territory. It’s only natural. Further, for some of us, those dreams, sometimes, turn into reality.

For the past few years the music industry has experienced several changes. This transition has occurred as result of several factors. In short, the major labels are no longer the only game in town.

Years ago, artists began to become disillusioned with the politics of the major labels. After all, the majors (back when; the 70’s 80’s & most of the 90’s) were viewed by most, as the all-mighty. They were generally thought of, by many artists, as the answer to everything and thus, the major labels dictated the way everything happened in the music industry. From song publishing, recording, and promotion, distribution, and licensing (and much more), the major record labels controlled almost every aspect of the music industry. It was either their way, or the highway. Sadly, many artists bought into this philosophy. Especially those who were new to the music scene. Some artists were successful while others literally stood in the background waiting for the major label to promote them. The superstars always received the big budgets for recording, promotion and distribution. The newcomers were forced to play in smaller clubs in order to survive.

Indie labels (independent record labels) started to emerge (80’s and 90’s) simply because artists eventually tired of constantly attempting to jump through the political and contractual hoops required by the major labels (and yes, many other reasons). The general music population, once again, stood up and did something about their particular circumstances. Frankly, we should be glad they did. Because of that revolution, artists new to the music scene now have a chance to have their music heard. That is, if they’re quick enough, good enough, and educated enough.

We all remember the old congressional scandal (years ago) pertaining to the $35,000.00 hammer that was sold to the military and our tax dollars paid for it? Who can forget the million dollar budget that Congress allowed to a company so that they could discover how fast Ketchup came out of a bottle? We’re getting close to how the major label operates folks.

Just think, for only Five Hundred Thousand (or thereabouts) Dollars, almost anyone can make an album at one of the major labels (presuming one actually jumps through the hoops) and even wear their beautiful tour coat. Just remember though, all of this money is owed back to the label! Their personnel doesn’t work for free. Then there’s promotion, advertising, and let’s not forget the staff CPA who sits on the third floor of the label’s corporate office, keeping track of every single dime that the label spends (inflates).

In reality, for approximately $50,000.00 (or less), the right talent, producers, arrangers, engineers, promotion, and other essential personnel, anyone (with talent) can create a musical project that will rival anything that a major label can produce. Now, the major (or minor depending on the point of view) labels don’t want us to know this. Why? Because they lose money every time a talented artist chooses to remain independent and actually becomes successful.

Probably some readers are thinking that this particular proposition is impossible. However, it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s done daily throughout the world. Smart people find ways. Independent is a wonderful word. It means self-governing.

If something needs to be done, in most cases, it’s best to do it ourselves. Waiting for someone to come along and do it for us (especially in the music industry) is a policy that is long gone. If we wait, it’s not likely to happen. There is absolutely nothing that a major label can do for us that we can’t do for ourselves. Yes, money is an issue. However, presuming that sufficient knowledge, finances, and personnel are all in place, independence in music is very achievable.

The starting point for everyone is to LEARN the industry. Learn about publishing, licensing, copyright, manufacturing, radio air-play, sales, promotion, etc. How can one ever hope to progress and succeed in the music industry if the realities and legalities are unknown? In short, a seamless defense is the best offense!

Own everything! Copyrights, patents, songwriting, publishing rights, art work, your own production corporation, record label, etc. Own it all, lock, stock and barrel. In the end, you’ll be so glad that you did. This is not for everyone though. Only those with a superb business savvy can play at this level.

As one can see, it’s not enough to be a great guitar player, musician, writer, etc. It takes a lot more. A whole lot more.

The next time any of us decide to drop $50,000.00 on a fancy car, remember this article. That same $50,000.00 could very well put us on the charts. If it doesn’t, then all of us had better be prepared to do it all over again and again and again. This is the way it works. Quitting is not an option! Besides, quitting is the absolute surest and fastest way to fail.

Here’s something to think about. If one doesn’t have belief, faith and confidence in him/herself as a guitar player, composer, or artist, then why should anyone else; including a major record label?

Rent a Villa in Mexico – Amazing Offers – Casablanca Villa

Mexico is a diverse country and a millennial culture with the Olmecan tribe being the first civilization that appeared around 1500 years BC. Mexico is rich in traditions, history, art and religion offering a complete tourist infrastructure that guarantees a comfortable and secure stay of those visiting its different destinations. Mexico has everything!

Mexican travel industry is completely devastated by the outbreak of swine flu. The impact swine flu had on Mexican economy so far is estimated at $ 2.3 Billion, which represents 0.3% of gross domestic product. Air lines canceled most of their flights to Mexico, cruise liners change itineraries from Mexico and server other ports instead, vacation providers offered customers who purchased vacations in Mexico substitutes in other Caribbean countries, such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica or Cuba and those few who Were in Mexico during swine flu outbreak and returned to their home country attest to Mexican all inclusive resorts looking like ghost towns.

Casablanca villa is a unique oceanfront property located along the Costa Alegre in Careyes, Mexico. This villa features 4 bedrooms: which include 3 masters with their own bathrooms, and one children's room with bunk beds and a pull out trundle twin bed. CASABLANCA stands out beautifully in elegant white from its neighbors. It was designed by Italian Architect, Marco Pariente. It sits upon a cliff with its own private stair to the beach and has a 50 foot mosaic tiled infinity pool and a "palapa" roofed living area which includes an outdoor dining room with stunning views.

This Villa comes with full time staff: cook and maid. For your convenience, full breakfast and lunch can be organized by request. For your leisure it also includes wireless internet, flat screen satellite TV with American Dish Network, Vonage telephone line, and stereo with easy hook up for an Ipod.

Casablanca holiday rental is a paradise for couples, or small families. Within walking distance to the El Careyes Hotel & private Playa Rosa beach through enchanting passageways. Casablanca villa can be rented on amazing low price. Of course, if you are lucky, you can enjoy free vacation in Mexico.

In order to qualify for free vacation in Mexico for three years, you would have to take vacation in one of participating beach resorts and if you get diagnosed with swine flu within 8 days after returning from your trip, you will get free vacationing in Mexico for Three years.

What is Your Small Business Technicoloured Coat?

Firstly, it is very important to have a Technicoloured coat, because this is what sets you apart from other businesses, so if you do not have one already, this is something that you need to work on before moving to the next step. Secondly, you can only have one Technicoloured coat, in metaphorical terms, anything else is a T Shirt that goes underneath. Your TC is the ONE thing that differentiates you, you can have other points of difference, but they are not as strong or as important.

Here are a few guidelines on choosing your Technicoloured coat (TC).

If you are a lawyer or a gardener, a real estate agent or a florist, I realize that there are a lot of others in the same market, so your technicoloured coat is not going to be that you are a florist. But what about the fact that you may specialize in roses for weddings, or that you are the only florist in Southport, or that you are the only florist with 20 years of experience in making gift baskets. This is not the only thing that you or the only advantage or selling point that you have, but this is the major one that stands you out from other businesses.

Let us look at some areas that can stand you apart from the rest.

Location

Are you only Pilates Physio in Ellerslie, are you the only Mens Barber in Bethlehem? The only business to specialize in offering something in a certain region. A location based Technicoloured Coat is something that will make you stand out from people within that region, for example if you are the only school uniform suppliers in Whangarei, then great for those in Whangarei but people in Sydney do not care about that. This is quite fine if you are only selling to people in Whangarei, but do not make your Technicoloured coat location based if you are trying to sell outside of that region. There is one case though where you can break this rule, when the location is something beneficial in itself eg. The only Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris grown on the slopes of Te Mata Peak and is sold all around the world, the fact that it is NZ made is appealing to foreign buyers and Hawkes Bay has other attributes in the wine industry.

Experience

Have you been a painter for 30 year or have you traveled to 10 different countries researching the residential architecture? Are you the only nutritionist to have written a thesis on the continued effects of childhood obesity? The only specialist in tropical fish to have worked in a famous aquarium before starting your own business. Experience is a strong Technicoloured coat to have as it is very hard to replicate by the competition eg. You can not get 30years experience over night. Make sure that your experience is relevant though, if you have 30years experience in signwriting, then great, especially if you could say we have been in business for 30years and still have clients since one day. This all shows that you must offer great service and know what you are doing as you wouldnt be in business otherwise. It is when a business shows that they have 30years experience in painting and yet they are pitching for my car signage that I wonder about their credentials. So make it relevant or dont make experience your technicoloured coat.

Specialty

Is there an area that you specialize in? Specalize in residential property sales over 1million dollars or specialize in selling Mountain bikes and equipment. This TC is one of the easiest to control, but everything you do needs to be focused around your specialty to build up the reputation. If the Mountain Bike shop also stocked kids bikes and some road bikes and some touring cruisers, then they are muddying the waters of their specialty. Be careful not to specialize too narrowly eg. Selling only Downhill Mountain bikes. This can narrow your market too very, the upside of it is that the Downhillers see you as a specialist store. My word of warning here is to ensure that you have enough people within your market to specialize that narrowly, if yes, then fantastic you have found yourself a Technicoloured Coat.

Price

I do warn you that price is a dangerous one, because it is easy to be undercut on price and you are then left with little differentiation. Price can help back up your specialist area, but it should not be yours only point of difference. A cheap price can often undo the perception of your expertise or specialty, so do be careful here. Price can be your under-shirt as in you are a specialist Running Shoe store, and you have some of the best prices in town. It is not your Technicoloured coat though, that is being the specialist in Running Shoes.

Package

It could be that you are the only business to package together Roofing, Plumbing and Electrical. Packages can often be easily replicated without it is your experience and knowledge that is your point of difference. Packages can be a great way of becoming a one-stop-shop for consumers so there before you are selling the convenience, if I could go to one place to get my hair, nails and facial done, it saves going to three different places, if A real estate agent, lawyer and mortgage broker all combined forces, it could make the house buying process a lot easier. So what is a way in which you could package your own products or services or combine with others to create a package that stands you out from the rest.

A Guarantee or Warranty

This can be a Technicoloured coat, if you are the only Plumber to guarantee no leaks in your shower installations, or a business coach who guarantees a 20% increase in a customers bottom line. Maybe you are the only nutritionist to guarantee that if you dont lose 10kg you will get your money back. Be careful though that you can follow through with the guarantee and that it is not going to make you bankrupt. If you are not willing to put your money where your mouth is in terms of your warranty to back it up, then it could do your business a lot of harm in the future.

Brands and Range

You may have exclusivity on a certain brand for a certain area, this does fall into Location too, stocking certain brands can make you stand out. So too can having the widest range or an exclusive range. Some brands can back up a Specialist Technicoloured Coat too, if that is a sort after brand or range of brands for that specialist area. With a service it could be one person's brand that stands them out from the rest, this is generally based on experience or specialty. So choose the strongest of the three for that to become the Technicoloured Coat.

So, do you now have a Technicoloured coat? To be able to use this Technicoloured coat it needs to be in a strong sentence.

This becomes your mantra in terms of letting the world know how you are different. For example:

– We are the only Plumbers with a 10year no leak guarantee.

– We are the only qualified physiotherapist, pilates business in the central Auckland region.

– We specialize in cost effective marketing for small businesses

– We specialize in high end NZ and Italian furniture.

This statement becomes your internal Marketing Mantra. When you are putting together an ad, an editorial or your website, you need to ask yourself, am I conveying my Technicoloured coat. In hindsight you could even create your brand name around this statement. It must become the basis from which you promote your business, product or service because this is the thing that stands you out from the crowd.

Why, promote yourself as being the same as everyone else? If everyone was selling banana cakes made from the same recipe at the same school fair, it is going to be pretty hard to stand out, but if you were the only one with chocolate cake you have a point of difference, so that point of difference Is what you would promote on the sign on the table. We have to get this right, and from the beginning otherwise we are incorporating in with the competition rather than standing out and having an advantage.

I hope you have found this useful.

For free Cost Effective Marketing advice, visit [http://www.adconomy.net]

Best of Budapest – Top 10 Attractions

To see the best of the "Other Europe," go to Budapest, Hungary, the city on the Danube, the city of rose-tinted sunsets and ancient hills crowned with fabled fortresses. It is both the capital of Hungary, home to 2 million of the country's 10 million people, and the seat of Hungarian history. It is a city of storied bridges that crisscross its famous river to stitch up Buda and Pest into one. It is a city bubbling over with museums, theaters, galleries, parks, monuments and centuries-old mineral baths. It is a city that has emerged from the "Goulash Communism" of the Cold War more vibrant than ever. It is, quite, a city where "the paprika burns twice."

And what, in Budapest, bought one to see? Well, here are the city's top 10 attractions.

1. The Citadel

At the top of any visitor's list should be the Citadel, quite possibly Budapest's foremost attraction (after, of course, the Danube!). The Citadel is an imposing, mid 19th-century fortress, located on Gellert Hegy (Gellert Hill) which raises from the Buda shores some 430 feet above the Danube, with superb views all around. During World War II it housed both Hungarian and German troops, and later on, during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, it was here that young Hungarian freedom fighters made their last stand against the Soviets. You can still see the bullet holes and bomb scars left from the Soviet assault. Beside which, a basement German bunker has been artfully preserved, sporting wax figures of the German air command. Admission to the Citadel is free.

2. Castle District

The Castle District looms large on Castle Hill, 165 to 200 feet above the Danube. It is both at the heart of the city and at the core of Hungarian history. It was born in the wake of the Mongol assault on Pest in 1241 AD, and fully fortified by the early 1500s. In 1945, it was here that the Germans made their last desperate stand against the advancing Red Army, bringing upon Castle Hill utter destruction. In the years since, the district has been greatly restored to its medieval glory and is now recognized as a World Heritage Site. In it are museums, galleries, churches, historic squares, and even a royal palace and a Baroque castle. The Castle District is best explored on foot, and can be approached from any of the surrounding streets, notably Fo utca, Batthyany utca and Attila utca.

3. Hungarian Parliament

The Hungarian Parliament, located on the quay at Tomo, in Pest's Lipot district, is one of the city's most magnificent buildings. Almost 300 yards long and about 140 yards at its widest, it rises from the shores of the Danube in spires, topped with a grand, 82-foot cathedral-like dome. Surrounding it are no fewer than 88 statues, depicting Hungary's monarchs and great national leaders. The interior is even more astonishing, marbled and gilded, and adorned with monumental murals, paintings and statues, as well as ornate windows, walls and floors. At the entrance, a sweeping flight of stairs takes up the essentially wider width of the hallway, lined with 18-foot-high, rose-colored marble columns. Much of the embellishment in the interior is of pure gold, 22 to 26 karat.

4. Szechenyi Lanchid (Szechenyi Chain Bridge)

Szechenyi Lanchid is Budapest's most photographed and most historic bridge. Beginning as a long, narrow pontoon bridge in 1852, it has evolved into the picturesque suspension bridge you see today. Significantly, it symbolizes the division, struggle and ultimate union of Buda on the west shore of the Danube and Pest on the east side. The bridge spans the Danube more or less in the center of the city, between Clarke Adam ter and Roosevelt ter, with large, iconic stone lions perched at each end. The chain bridge is named for Istvan Szechenyi, a principal backer of its construction.

5. Aquincum

The Aquincum, located in Obuda, the oldest part of the city, would be worth a visit if for nothing more than to see where Budapest began. But the Aquincum is more than just the birthplace of the city. As the ancient capital of Pannonia (the name given to the region by the conquering Romans in 15 BC), it has ruins that will both fascinate and intrigue. A string of discoveries here have unearthed a Roman aqueduct, marble sewer drains, a centuries-old gymnasium with a central heating system, a couple of shrines, and a temple dedicated to Mithras, the Persian god of light. There is also a museum near at hand, at Szentendrei ut 139, which is centered around the historic bounty of the Aquincum. The museum is open to the public daily.

6. OperaHaz

Budapest's OperaHaz, or Opera House, is one of the grandest and most opulent in all of Europe. Located on the city's principal avenue, Andrassy ut, the Neo-Renaissance-cum-Baroque OperaHaz features a sweeping, marble grand staircase, statues of famous Hungarians by the country's leading artist Alajos Strobl, ornate 19th-century chandeliers, damask-covered walls, Red velvet banquettes, vibrant frescoes of Karoly Lotz and Mor Than, and five stories of balconies with gilded boxes draped with gold and blue silk, all quite reminiscent of the Hapsburg era of artistic opulence. The Opera House was built between 1873 and 1884. Tours of the establishment are offered daily for 2800 forint and are well worth it.

7. St. Matyas Church

St. Matyas Church sets hugely on Szentharomsag ter on Castle Hill, with its Gothic spiers rising triumphantly from the medieval square. This has been the site of coronations, royal weddings and worship for centuries. Even though it is predominately Gothic, its mix of styles both on the exterior and interior reflect its chequered history: originally established in 1015 by the first king of Hungary, King Istvan, it was destroyed by the Tartars in 1240, rebuilt by King Bela IV In Romanesque style, rebuilt again by Lajos the Great in Gothic style, refurbished by King Mattias Corvinus in the Renaissance style, reestablished as a mosque by the Turks in 1541, and re-consecrated as a cathedral, following the Hapsburg victory, in 1686, With flourishes of counter -formation Baroque. The church is open to visitors daily, and there's an admission fee of 500 forint per head.

8. Tomb of Gul Baba

Situated at the foot of Rose Hill, Roszadom in Hungarian, the Tomb of Gul Baba is a Muslim shrine honoring a bellicose dervish of the same name, who loomed large during the Turkish request of Buda in 1541. Gul Baba means "Father of Roses" In Turkish, and the Turkish martyr was so named for he was credited with the colorful harvest of roses on Rose Hill – although not without controversy – and the tomb is accordingly surrounded with rose bushes. The octagonal tomb is located on Mecset utca, which goes off Margit ut, in the ancient Budapest district of Vizivaros. This is also one of the few remaining vestiges of Budapest's Turkish era.

9. Kiraly Baths

Of all of Budapest's scores of thermal baths and spas, there is none more restructured nor more romantic than the Kiraly Baths. Built in the latter part of the 16th century, during the Turkish occupation of Hungary, the baths are housed in an historic, green-domed structure at the corner of Fo utca and Ganz utca. The baths are open to the public daily, but on separate days for men and women.

10. Lukacs Baths

The Lukacs Baths are among Budapest's oldest, dating back to medieval times when they were used almost exclusively for medicinal therapy. During the mid 16th and 17th centuries, the occupying Turks introduced the concept of pleasure to the bathing ritual, and in 1884 a Grand Hotel was built around the baths to cater to an international clientele. Located on Frankel Leo ut in the city, the baths feature a facility for dispensing the sulphurous healing waters, plus a 40-degree thermal bath as well as a pungent steam room. The baths are open daily.

I Refused To Raise Two Mama's Boys

Over the long nineteen year period … the problem was not with the handling of the boys. The problem was with my ex-wife. From day one, she did everything for them … clean their rooms, pick up after them, etc. If I assigned the boys a chore, she would do it for them if she could get away with it. We were never on the same page on this issue, and I knew if this continued on, this was not going to work!

Because of my ex-wife, the boys were being brought up to be lazy … spoiled brats … and of course they enjoyed it. If this continued, the boys were going to have trouble in school, getting a job later, and their self-esteem and confidence would suffer. For all those years, we butted heads as to what the boys did and did not do and it all came crashing down in divorce.

Putting it in simple terms … my wife was a softy … a push-over! Not only would the boys take advantage of her, but people at her work place, family members and neighbors around the block. She was a door-matt, as everyone would walk all over her. Over the years, I tried to do what I could change her, but I could not. One of the toughest words in the dictionary to say is the word "NO!" And, Wendy did not have the ability to say NO to anyone. She tried to be everything to everyone … and she or nobody else can do that! There is to a line drawn in the sand for everything. An example follows:

I rolled into the driveway one day, and over near the front door, Jason (4 years old), was having a panic attack! Red-faced and screaming at the top of his lungs, throwing a temper tantrum! He had the front door propped open, and he was throwing mud-balls and other trash into the living room! Obviously, things were not going his way on this day. Mud-balls and other debris were scattered all over the living room carpet by this brat. As you might imagine, I was furious!

Where was Wendy in all of this? In the back of the house someplace. I called her to the living room and told her that this mess had to be cleaned up, and what did she do? Instead of telling Jason to clean it up, she scurried to get the vacuum cleaner and clean it up herself. This made me more mad! I was not surprised, as she could never confront the boys in anything because she would get yelled at! I quickly took the vacuum cleaner from her and told her that Jason was going to clean up the mess HE made!

"A man who trims himself to suit everyone, will whittle himself away." Charles Schwab

I sent Jason back to his room, where he had a mini-broom and a mini-dust pan and put him to work. At four years old, Jason began the clean up. Little by little, he cleaned up most of the mess he created. I got the vacuum cleaner for him, and he pushed it around for a while, and sent him to his room.

* * *

Before I met Wendy, she bought a new house and I'll give the reader an idea what happens when there is little or no discipline in the household and two kids running wild. Within six months of the purchase of the house were following: all the screens were missing from all the windows; The front door was hanging from its hinges; A deep baseball imprint was on one of the living room walls; The back and front light fixtures were broken and wires dangling; Sheet rock in the garage was punked in with a hammer; Paint was spilled on the garage floor and left to dry and on and on and on! All of this from a three and a five year old! (These were two kids from a previous marriage for her) These two kids were teasing the place apart! After Wendy and I tied the knot, all this bad behavior by the boys came to a stop!

I come from a large family of ten kids … five boys and five girls, and obviously my parents had their hands full. Especially my mother who was a stay-at-home mom. My mother was a disciplinarian, and she had a black belt to prove it … literally. My father made her a black leather belt at his job and she used it when she had to. When my mother spoke … us kids listened and obeyed!

A person does not have to spank a child to discipline that child, in my view. In the nineteen years Wendy and I were together, I never laid a hand on those boys … I did not have to. My policy around the house was as follows: Everyone in the household messes up the house, and everyone cleans up the house. With a zero tolerance, everyone picks up after him or herself … no exceptions!

Wendy's policy: Clean up after the whole family by herself if she has to, and pick up after everyone, so she can please everyone. If friends of the boys come over and trash the house, she'll be glad to clean up the mess all by herself, etc.

Parents who spoil their kids will pay for it later, in my view. When I joined the Air Force, I went to Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio for boot camp. About a week after I arrived, about six recruitments had been sent home. Why? The US Air Force is not a baby-sitting service. And, I found out later from
One of the T.I's, that the recruiters were sent home because the Air Force does not take spoiled brats or mama's boys! What was going to happen to these "boys" was that the Army would take them, and they would soon get a "greetings" from the US Army and, where the parents failed, the Army would take the "spoiled brat" out of these Fellows! So, the parents do a great injustice to a boy OR a girl when they spoil them.

There is not a woman in the world who wants a spoiled brat for a husband. Today, (2006), husbands do not help their wives as much as they should. And, those husbands who are not "mamas's boys," are just lazy! They do not want to do what they call, "woman's work!" Later in the marriage, and in my view, the wives (can) make their husbands into spoiled brats, and the wives pay for it later, by not standing up to him, etc. (Ever wonder why the divorce rate is so high?)

* * *

Prisons all across the nation, are filled with the lazy; Spoiled brats; Mama's boys and girls; The irresponsible; People who are not accountable to anyone; Diss-respectful of others and property; No integrity or values ​​and who is responsible for all this bad behavior? THE PARENTS WHO FAILED IN RAISING THEIR KIDS! They did not teach their kids a work ethnic; They spoiled them; No discipline … all added up to one of their children being in prison!

After nineteen years of a tug-of-war with Wendy, I was pleased with the way the boys turned out. I made them help me though every project I did around the house. Putting up a fence; Laying floor tile; Putting up wall paper; Doing brick work; Dump runs; Shoveling over 40 tons of gravel (when they were teens), and much more. They learned how to get blisters on their hands, etc. I was pleased that they both graduated from high school, and then they went on to graduate for college as well … Jason in the medical field and Kevin in criminology.

* * *

I'm reminded of an experience that I had while driving down the road one time. The car sputtered and died while I was driving and I had to pull over. After 30 minutes of trying to get the car started, I finally had to call the auto club and get help.

When the tow truck arrived, the driver got out of the truck, and out of the passenger side, came a little boy about 10-12 years old. I guess the boy was riding around with his father to keep him company. Boy, was I wrong! Without a word from his father, that little boy came around the back of the tow truck and started working. Throwing chains off the tow truck; Going from side to side around the car and lining things up; And putting chains around the frame of the car! This ten year old kid was rigging everything up to to my car! I was amazed!

He was pulling a lever here and a button over there, and when he finished the hook-up, the father inspected everything the boy had done, and the little boy pulled a lever on the truck and the car raised up where he wanted it! I was standing there, with my mouth opened watching this kid do his thing. When everything was finalized with the car, we all got into the tow truck, with the little boy sitting between us.

Peering from under a big baseball cap, I gave the little boy praise he deserves and he was enjoying it. I asked the father if his son helped around the house and he said, "Sure, all the time!" The father was teaching his little boy a work ethnic and not to be lazy, and how to be responsible at a young age and I can not tell you how impressed I was.

And, this is what I wanted for Kevin and Jason. Not to drive a tow truck of course, but to have the work ethic that little boy had. And, Kevin and Jason DID have that work ethic I was looking for. Along with Kevin and Jason and the little boy in the tow truck … I'm sorry, but I do not see any "mama's boys" around here!