Finding Love at the Gym – How to Meet Someone at the Gym

Valentine’s Day has come and gone and if you’re one of those folks who has found true love to be elusive, you’ll be breathing a sigh of relief as Cupid hangs up his bow and arrow for another year!

The great news though, is that the health club is actually one of the best places to find love because the gym environment is typically a relaxed atmosphere that attracts like-minded, health-conscious individuals.

Research reveals that matchmaking potential is high at health clubs with statistics indicating that one in four health club members feel it is a great place to meet that someone special, while one in five members have actually met their partner at the gym.

A girlfriend of mine once joined a health club just before she was about to go overseas to live permanently. She wanted to be in her best physical shape before beginning her trek and then settling in London. In the lead up to her departure, however, each evening at the gym a very cute guy kept catching her attention. Smiles would be exchanged, as were subtle ‘hellos’ but she thought nothing of it as she thought he was completely out of her league and she was focused on heading overseas. Then, one night he cheekily rolled a weight in her direction, almost tripping her over (boys will be boys, after all!). It broke the ice, enabling them to speak, so they went out to dinner and these days they are happily married and still love going to the same gym where they met!

So what are you waiting for? True love might be staring at you from the other side of gym floor right now!

Tips for men

Want to know how to approach someone you’re attracted to at the gym? Let me share a few secrets that will enable you to break the ice without looking like a stalker. Remember, while the health club is a great place to meet someone special, it is not as appropriate to flirt as you may do in a night club, yet it can require an equally detailed and thought-out approach.

Do’s:

o Be funny, relaxed, and playful.

o The biggest obstacle to socialising would have to be the iPod. If your person of interest is stuck in their iPod universe you’ll need to be clever and use non-intrusive solid eye contact. Be friendly, smile and look for a positive response. Be patient and slowly wear down the barriers. If you are receiving negative feedback it is time to move on and respect their space.

o Be prepared, pay attention to their workout regime (without becoming creepy about it!) as otherwise your person of interest may appear out of the blue, which could leave you a stuttering mess, causing you to lose that opportunity to interact. Have an ice-breaker prepared in advance, compliment her (again without seeming creepy) and once you know her name, use it!

o Spin class is an excellent way to break the ice, the lights are down, music is high everyone is relaxed and playful. A great time to talk is either before or after the class. Just remember keep it relaxed, light and smile!

o Be friendly and fun! Great relationships often begin with friendships. Challenge them to a race on the treadmill, see who can crunch the most curls or hold the longest plank! It could leave you both in stitches (in a good way, not the medical way).

Don’ts:

o Flex in the mirror, grunt or act like Mr I’m-too-sexy.

o Overspray your cologne, heavy breathing requires fresh air, a nice light deodorant and fragrance is sufficient.

o Stare continuously like a stalker or disrespect personal space.

Tips for women

The gym a great place to find a partner how cares about their body and health. But how do you approach the guy your interested in, as he is there to exercise not socialise? Last thing you want is a public rejection and have to return day in day out. There is a way to make this a win-win situation though, read on to find out more.

Do’s:

o Be warm, open and smile, you will ooze mystery and charisma. Men (and women!) love a lady who is light-hearted and fun. You will appear fresh, easy going, ensuring you will have them coming back for more.

o Make friends with the staff and other members; the more networks you have the closer you will get to them.

o Ask around and see who might already know them. Find out if they are single for a start. Keep it casual and it will probably get back to them that you were showing an interest, which may motivate them to break the ice first!

o Ask them for help, for example, lifting a heavy weight on or off a machine. Then observe if they are happy to oblige and if so, try starting up a conversation. Of course if it feels/looks like you’re taking their valuable time and that the task is more a bother than a privilege, then you’ll know that making a move is probably not going to be well received.

o Of course, if they are beginning to pay more attention to you and their gaze is getting more intense, ask them out! Seriously, girls can do it! Just keep it casual and light-hearted. If you have all the signs, casually ask them if they would like to join you for a drink. Short and relaxed is the key.

Don’ts:

o Avoid wearing overwhelming perfumes.

o Don’t dress up as you were in a bar. Avoid the heavy makeup and, instead, opt for a new gym outfit, smell fresh and keep your look natural.

o Don’t wear headphones as this can make you appear unapproachable. To make it easy for him, invite him in with your smile, eye contact and a compliment to break the ice.

Meeting that someone special at the health club can be fun, so take a deep breath, be brave and say ‘hi’. After all, what’s the worst thing that can happen?

Happy Dating and get out there and meet someone like-minded!

Laundromat Business Plan – Sample Layout

These days most experts will advise you to create a business plan before you decide to take the risks that are associated with starting a business. A laundromat is typically a little more complicated than other small business models so the need for research, planning and a clear direction are even more essential for entrepreneurs entering the coin operated laundry industry.

A laundromat business plan will help you to prove to yourself that your ideas are viable. With a plan in place you will be able to set clear goals and map out a path towards achieving them in an organized manner. A sound business plan may become essential if you have to show it to financiers or investors prior to getting the startup funds that you need. Lastly it will help you to be more realistic and to ask yourself some tough questions about your ideas.

In this article we have set out a sample laundromat business plan layout. We have set out some examples of titles and content that you might consider using. Feel free to use it as a template as you proceed to put your own plan together.

Cover Letter

Your plan should be set out neatly in a folder with a cover that outlines what the report is about and who contributed to it. It is likely that many different parties will read your plan so you may consider attaching a cover letter to each one that addresses the reader specifically, highlighting the concerns that they will have.

Contents Page

If the plan is any longer than a couple of pages you should include a table of contents. This includes a list of all headings and sub-headings together with a page reference so that the information can be located quickly by the reader.

Executive Summary

An executive summary is a simple introduction to the report. Give the reader a brief introduction to your business plan and summarize each of the sections in the plan.

Mission Statement

While not essential, some businesses like to set out a mission statement which outlines their purpose or business philosophy. It usually covers non-financial motives. For a laundromat you might say that you strive to provide the best service to your customers or that you want to provide a clean, safe and efficient way for them to do their laundry. Your mission should be to do your best for the customer and to be better than your competitors.

Background

Provide readers with some background information on yourself and any other individuals who are involved with the proposed laundromat. Readers may want to know what your qualifications are and if you have had any experience in business or in the coin laundry industry.

Provide a background on the local coin laundry industry so that readers get a better understanding of the opportunities that are available.

If your planning has been in progress for a while then you might want to update the reader on what stage you are at. If you are considering purchasing an existing laundromat then you will want to outline the history of the business in this section too.

Business Description

Offer readers a basic description of the proposed coin laundry business. When will your new unit open for business? Where will it be located? Will you have an attendant on-site at the laundromat all day or only part-time?

Goals and Targets

Set out a list of realistic targets that you want to achieve with the business in the first year or two. Such targets could be financial and relate to gross or net profits on a monthly basis. They could also be related to other metrics such as membership numbers or customer satisfaction rates. Thinking longer term you may also set goals to expand into new locations.

Startup Requirements

Before you can launch your new laundromat business you must know exactly what you are going to need and how much it will cost. Costs will include everything from equipment purchases, renovations and marketing along with professional fees and compliance costs.

Once you have listed everything out you can then work out the total startup cost. From here you can mention some of the options that you have for funding the laundromat. Mention how much you will be able to contribute yourself and how much external funding you will require.

Products and Services

Go through the services that you plan on offering to customers. As well as a basic machine laundry service with washers and dryers you may also offer more upmarket services like ironing or dry cleaning. Make a note of the products that will be vended onsite. Obviously you will sell washing related products like soap powder and fabric softener but you may also offer non-related products like coffee and soda.

Market Analysis

As a prerequisite to writing a plan you should have done at least a little market research around the area where you propose to open your coin laundry. You can present your findings in this section of the plan.

In your research you should attempt to discover if there is sufficient demand for a laundromat in the area in question and if so, exactly what kind of services the people within this target market want.

You also need to consider the competition that you have in the local area. Produce a map that shows your customer catchment area bearing in mind that customers will usually go to the laundromat that is more convenient for them to get to. Look at the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Is it going to be possible to pull customers from the catchment area of competing laundromats? Can you make your service that much more attractive than theirs?

Marketing Plan

Set out a plan to bring new customers into your laundromat and to convert them into regulars. The marketing component of your plan should cover everything from the development of your brand, pricing, advertising, other marketing methods and customer service.

Remember that in the laundromat business you will be relying on building long term relationships with regular customers. You not only need to focus on bringing in new customers but you also have to focus on satisfying and ‘over delivering’ to your existing customer base. If you retain your customers and please them then you will also benefit by referrals and ‘word of mouth’.

Business Operations

Set out a plan for the daily operation of your laundromat. Make a note of the equipment that you will have in place and how the demands for water and energy will be met. Mention how you plan on maintaining the machines.

Discuss your daily staff requirements. What role will you, as the owner take in the daily running of the laundromat? How many employees will you need and what will their responsibilities be?

What other systems will you have in place to ensure that the laundromat runs smoothly on a daily basis and that you can control and manage the business efficiently. Will you have a computer system to keep track of stock and cash flows? What about a security system?

Financial Analysis

Lastly, but most importantly, a sound business plan will include detailed financial forecasts over a period of two to three years. This data is best displayed in spreadsheets so that you can set up a column for each month. Some businesses include more than one spreadsheet to allow for different situations. You may consider including one as a best case scenario and others that show revenue growing at a slower rate than is expected.

Try to identify a break even point where the business would basically be running without making a profit, but without losing money at the same time. Then you will have an idea of the customer volume that you will have to aim for. To calculate break even point you need to assume an average customer spend per visit and then calculate the number of customer visits needed on a monthly basis.

If you are borrowing money to start the business you should also include a repayment schedule to show how fast the loan will be paid back.

Appendix

Many assumptions are made in business plans so it is important to be able to give reasons as to why you made such assumptions. Rather than guessing you should try to include data that backs up your theories. Include an appendix at the end of your plan that includes all supporting materials that don’t fit conveniently into the pages of the report. These could include maps, pictures, spreadsheets, tables and lists of references and sources to name just a few examples.

How to Approach Boat Navigation Without a GPS

Not everyone likes GPS systems. While some of these Global Positioning Systems are affordable, not every boater relishes the idea of letting a GPS system guide them to every single point. Some boaters simply enjoy the primal thrill that comes from exploring the sea without manmade technology. After all, boat navigation is how we used to do it back in the day, relying on only our wits and oars.

Yes, it is relatively easy to find your way around the ocean or the sea using boat navigation, even if you don’t have a GPS system. However, you must have other boat navigation tools at your disposal so that you don’t get lost at sea! Rest assured, winging it without any sense of where you are going is the path to disaster. Out on the open water, it’s lonely, scary and unfortunately, you’re on borrowed time.

Let’s start by discussing the most valuable boat navigation tools you will bring with you on your boating expedition. While some purists don’t want to bring along a compass or an altimeter (a tool that measures altitude above a fixed level) it might be a shrewd idea in case you get totally lost. Furthermore, even if you do use a GPS system to get around, it’s a smart idea to bring along all of your boat navigation tools just in case you lose battery power. There’s nothing scarier than realizing you’re out at sea with no idea of where you are, and no idea on how to get home…unless of course, you have a boat navigation backup plan.

Another important tool in boat navigation is the map. As long as you have a map and compass (and lots of patience, and anti-panic medication) you will be all right. To make it easier, buy yourself a topographic map. This type of map also shows the terrain as well as major roads, towns and bodies of water. Regular maps do not have this information, and thus they are not as helpful. Reading a topographic map does require some practice, since you have to learn how to interpret contour lines and symbols.

In boating, you should also memorize baselines and handrails. The baseline refers to a feature that lies across your route. This could be any identifiable feature like a river, a road or some manmade object. Baselines are especially useful when you are traveling across large water bodies made up of creeks, rivers and streams. Try to find two baselines that intersect for the easiest results. Handrails refer to features along the route that you can travel next to and keep an eye on as you move. This is a boat navigation feature that you follow and it should coincide with your map.

Bring along a paper chart so you can mark major points on paper. Nautical charts are another option in boat navigation tools, and these are graphic portrayals of the marine environment. These can simultaneously be used as a map and a worksheet. Before the miracle of fast and easy finding through GPS, boaters relied on boat navigation tools. Boaters laid out courses and navigated ships according to their understanding of the water body, the coast, the depths and the general configuration of the sea bottom.

Interior Design Ideas for Modern Homes

Interior design is the most interesting concept that is subject of much enjoyment for home owners and home builders. If you like playing with floors, ceilings, kitchen area, wash area, furniture and spaces, interior design is for you. Today, it has greatly revolutionized and home owners with builders are designing innovative and creative interiors through marble. They are continuously using marble products for more efficiency and beauty.

The great thing about marble interiors design is that you don’t necessarily have a deep knowledge about it. Home builders give exceptional ideas to change your interiors and apply marble in it. It certainly gives genuinely modern look to the houses and adds more value to it. Modern home builders also help you choose the best place to apply marble stone.

Today, one of the best ways of interior designing is using marble products. Marble interiors look stunning and redefine its value. One can have nearly limitless designs through marble stones. It simply offers a wide variety of opportunity of creating new interior designs. More number of homes is utilizing soft marble stone to their houses for balustrades, statues, staircases and medallions. Being beautiful in looks, it is modestly used in countertops, vanity tops and statues.

Nowadays, interior designers and builders are widely using marble stone to richly facelift traditional or old homes. They conclude their interior designing projects with marble flooring. In fact, it is the most unique feature of modern homes. They also use wide variety of marble products for stunning looks and aesthetic appeal.

Kitchen and Bathroom Interiors Ideas

Kitchen and bathroom interiors are the major part of any facelift project. These are the main areas of a home that needs to be addressed first. Both granite and marble can add extra appeal to kitchen and bath space. One of the most vital uses of marble is as countertops that can be installed in both kitchen and bathroom. It provides exceptional beauty along with a magical durability. Marble sinks and flooring are additional components adding uncompromising beauty to kitchen and bathroom interiors.

Today, marble interiors are becoming very popular amongst modern home builders, homeowners and architects. In fact, manufacturers are also offering superior marble products for homeowners’ use. To serve the daily rising requirement of interior designs, interior experts and architects are now including magnificent marble products in their design strategies. Manufacturers also offer different types of products for both commercial and residential applications.

Cuba: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

“Es complicado,” our Cuban guide, Lázaro, said in response to a question from one of our group

I was in a bus on a busy street in Havana with fourteen travel companions (thirteen women and two men) who were touring Cuba with Sisters Across the Straits, a group organized and sponsored by the Florida state chapter of League of Women Voters. Our purpose was not only to visit regular tourist stops but to become more knowledgeable about Cuba, the Cuban people and the country’s history.

Besides Lázaro, we were fortunate to be accompanied by Miami resident Annie Betancourt, founder of Sisters Across the Straits, a Board Director of the League and a member for more than three decades. We were the twenty-sixth group Annie has taken to Cuba. She later explained that ‘it’s complicated’ is the standard response Cubans use to describe any difficult situation. It’s a diplomatic way of saying there is no answer to your question or perhaps there is no solution. ‘It’s complicated’ became the password for our six day adventure in Cuba.

Annie was born in Cuba and lived there with her parents until she was thirteen years old. That was when the revolution occurred and Fidel Castro came into power. Her father, an engineer, understood the changes that were coming and, like hundreds of other Cubans, moved his family to Miami, hoping that their time in that city would be short. But Fidel remained in power and the family soon realized that Miami was their new home.

Annie’s hope is that these visits will improve mutual understanding after decades of isolation and distrust between the US and Cuba. The itineraries, as you will see, are designed to provide League members with opportunities to learn about Cuba’s history, culture and society and to meet both academic experts and ordinary Cuban citizens.

­Day 1.

Our flight from Miami to the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana was just 45 minutes long, a reminder that Cuba is only 90 miles from the United States. As soon as our group passed through customs, we boarded the bus and started our tour with a ride through central Havana and the Plaza de la Revolucion. Annie had warned us that we were going to a third world country but it was still a shock to see so many buildings that looked as if they had been bombed. Other buildings appeared very fragile, as if they might collapse at any moment. However, they were obviously inhabited, with people going in and out of the entrances and others hanging wash from balconies ten or fifteen stories high. The American embargo and a failing economy had obviously had a huge impact.

After a lunch stop at an outdoor restaurant in a garden setting, we stopped at the Jose Fuster Studio, the home of a ceramist who has changed the area where he lives. The entire street looked like an immense modern painting with bright colors imbedded in every yard. But as I got closer, I could see the designs created with vibrant ceramics, each one different from the one before. The artist had begun this project by transforming his own gate into an elaborate scene created with ceramics. When neighbors saw the effect, they asked him to do the same to their homes. He never asked for money, always raising funds through donations and by selling his own work. Finally, he transformed his entire courtyard into a ceramic masterpiece. Because the American embargo had made ceramics and just about everything else difficult to obtain, he has been forced to travel great distances to find the tiles he needs.

After we checked in to our temporary home, the Hotel Sevilla, and had a short rest, we joined Annie and most of our fellow travelers for a walk through the Plaza and Calle Obispo – a pedestrian street in Haban Vieja (Old City). Our walk ended at a hotel where Annie had planned to have us eat dinner at its roof-top restaurant. However, like much of Cuba, the elevator was not working. A hotel employee invited us to use the service elevator which was located around the corner. It turned out to be a small, dark box that held five people including the elevator operator. Our group went up in shifts; I went up with my eyes closed and my fingers crossed, convinced that each bump meant we were about to plunge to the ground. However, the view of the city from the top made it all worthwhile. The food was another story.

After dinner, four of us walked down six flights (thank goodness there was a bannister) and made our way through the plaza, looking for a taxi. Finally, we found six of them, all 1950’s automobiles, patched up and roaring to take us back to the hotel. We were herded into the backseat of one and enjoyed a bumpy, breezy and gasoline infused trip back to the hotel. As we were getting out, I noticed that much of the ancient upholstery was held together by tape.

Day 2.

At breakfast, I heard about a lot of problems with the rooms. One of our group had hit the jackpot: her window wouldn’t close, the air conditioning didn’t work, and the door wouldn’t lock. My traveling companion, Pat, and I had been lucky. Although the room was basic (we weren’t expecting anything else), everything worked. In fact, the air conditioning was too cold and we couldn’t seem to turn it down but we weren’t going to complain. The hotel had a lovely swimming pool which we enjoyed almost every afternoon; except for the last day when it was closed down at 5:00 pm for mosquito spraying!

Our first stop was the Cuban Embassy to meet women who were members of the Cuban chapter of the United Nations. The Embassy building had been the home of one of the wealthy Cuban families who had left during the Revolution and it was still in good shape. Soaya E. Alvarez, Director of ACNU Associacion Cubana de las Naciones Unidas, spoke to us about Cuba and the United Nations and the importance of lifting the embargo. The Cuban people are suffering; salaries are $15 to $20 a month; Lázarus (who has a master’s degree) left a government job to become a guide because he could earn more money. Although health care is free, gas and some food is rationed and there is not much left over for luxuries. The Cuban dream is to come to the US; in 2015/16, 153,000 Cubans arrived in the US. People are leaving now because they are afraid the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows a path to citizenship, will be repealed. Thus, the Cuban workforce has been diminished and the population is aging.

Our next stop was a visit to El Quitrin, a women’s clothing shop sponsored by the Federation of Cuban Women. Annie had suggested we bring thread and needles as gifts for the women working here as these items, like everything else, are in short supply. At the time of our visit, most of the finished dresses and shirts in the shop were white cotton. The work on the clothes was amazing but I didn’t find anything to buy (for a change).

Later in the afternoon, we visited a conservative synagogue and heard about the Jewish population in Cuba from a young woman. There are 1200 Jews in Cuba and three synagogues; a typical situation for Jewish people in any location. But in Cuba, they are either conservative or orthodox; the modern reform movement has not reached Cuba. However, I was glad to hear that girls are having Bat Mitzvahs.

That evening, three of us took a taxi to a restaurant for dinner and made the acquaintance of a young driver who spoke excellent English. The taxi was brand new, had leather seats and purred as it made its way through town. Our driver told us it was made in China and purchased by the Cuban government. He was leasing it from the government and sharing it with another driver; each had three days on and three days off. He was married and had a toddler. When we asked him about President Obama’s visit, he said, with emotion, “Obama is our hero.”

Day 3.

Annie had arranged a visit to the newly opened U.S. Embassy. I was surprised at the amount of security – our passports were carefully examined and our bags were checked. We entered through a turnstile and were seated in a room right off the entrance. An embassy director who had been sent to Cuba to prepare for Obama’s visit gave us an overview of our country’s situation and answered all our questions. It was thorough and interesting. She encouraged us to interact with Cubans to dispel any negative impressions they might have about Americans.

At the end of the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the American Embassy, there is a football field of very tall black poles that look like they had been planted. Annie told us that, right after the Revolution, the American Embassy began running a ticker tape with a message about freedom along the top of the building. To retaliate, the Cuban government put up the poles and topped them with the Cuban flag to block out the tape.

Our next stop was Finca Vigia, the home of Nobel Prize laureate Ernest Hemingway who lived in Cuba from 1930 to 1960. Pat and I had seen the movie “Papa Hemingway in Cuba” just a few days before our trip so it was exciting to look in the windows and doors and see where the movie had been filmed. His fishing boat Pilar has been restored and is on display at the property.

We had lunch in Cojimar, a fishing village that was the backdrop of Hemingway’s novel, “The Old Man and the Sea.” I looked out at the water and could almost see the old man rowing the boat. Lunch was at a privately owned restaurant run by young local entrepreneurs and it was delicious. Many restaurants in Cuba are owned and operated by the government but more and more people are getting permission to open their own restaurants, a very good sign.

Day 4.

Breakfasts at the hotel were enormous; five large tables filled with everything from fruit to meats to pancakes or eggs and sweet breads. By now I knew our lunches would be huge – at least four courses – so I stuck to cereal, fruit and yogurt (at least I think it was yogurt) for breakfasts. I also decided I would not weigh myself for a week after I got home.

We walked through Old Havana and visited the plazas. There were dozens of stands selling books and street artists were everywhere, displaying their work on boards and boxes. One young man followed our group, drawing quick profiles of a few women and then trying to sell the sketch to the owner. He was remarkably good and we later found out he was an art student. One woman bought her sketch; then discovered that it looked more like another member of our group. Then we visited an artisans’ cooperative and I bought a small painting to take home (my first purchase).

In the afternoon we visited the Museum of Fine Arts- Cuban Collection and I was so awed by the art that I kept moving even when my body was telling me to go back to the hotel and take a nap. Of course the elevator was out here also so we did a lot of walking.

Day 5.

A day in the country! The bus took us through the countryside for over an hour and Lázaro kept us awake with a lesson on Cuba’s history. Now and then, Annie took over the microphone, giving Lázaro a rest and us some background from the American point of view. We arrived at lookout point in Valle Vinales in Pinar del Rio Province which is west of Havana. The unique hill formations (known as mogotes) are gorgeous; unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Then we moved on to a rum distillery (not sure that’s what it’s called) and then a tobacco farm. We watched a man actually roll cigars which almost made me want to smoke one. Of course I bought some for my husband; he smokes one occasionally but only when I’m not home.

Lunch was on the porch of a charming country restaurant. Annie warned us there would be a lot of courses and there were; one after another, each one better than the last. Dessert was the best flan I have ever eaten.

I thought I’d never eat again but by 7:30, I was at yet another restaurant eating the best eggplant lasagna I’d ever had.

Day 6.

Time to pack our suitcases for our trip back to Miami that evening. But in the meantime, we were still moving. We visited a local arts and craft market where I searched for (and found) a humidor in which to put my five precious cigars. I also bought a beautiful, hand-made white cotton dress for my granddaughter which will probably not fit but I couldn’t resist it. Next, our group visited an art community project in inner city Centro Habana. An artist named Salvador Gonzales Escolono first started developing art from graffiti until galleries opened and it became a street of art celebrating the African/Cuban experience. Salvador, who was leaving for Washington and New York the next day, was at his gallery and he told us to “enjoy my country but don’t try to understand it.”

Lunch was at an organic farm that also provides meals for people in need, painting and environmental classes plus classes for single mothers and seniors. When the government gave the land to the family that has produced all this, it was a swamp area. Now they grow 150 different varieties of fruits and vegetables (plus a little dog that kept getting underfoot). The lunches help pay for the free food and classes.

Next stop: The airport and the end of our adventure in Cuba. But first, I and several other travelers checked out all the duty free shops, trying to spend what was left of our Cuban money. I settled on two bottles of vintage rum which my husband tells me tastes like smooth bourbon.

Last thoughts:

A fellow traveler who has been to Cuba before was overwhelmed with the number of yellow cabs and even open-air double decker buses – all made in China. The Chinese have also built an automobile factory in Cuba. She noticed lots of tourists from Spain, France, and even a few from Switzerland. I spoke to two young men from Germany and a couple of English women who rode the hotel elevator with me. Also, there are a lot of new restaurants. Cuba, she commented, is catering to tourists.

The internet is still very difficult for Cubans to access; it’s expensive and slow. The government has begun to open up WiFi hotspots outside of some buildings where you will see lines of young people sitting, standing, leaning – all with computers in their hands.

Change is happening but it’s slow. Although the country is still under the Castro’s, I continually heard Cubans describe Raul as “pragmatic” compared to his brother. I’m assuming this means he is more open to change and to private ownership which we experienced during our visit. Personally, I believe that if the embargo was lifted and the Cuban Adjustment Act repealed, Cubans would be able to visit America, learn from all of us and then go home instead of seeking citizenship in this country. And the distribution of American products in Cuba would stop the rationing and improve every Cuban’s life immensely. The ferry will travel across those 90 miles once more and the Cuban people will be lifted out of poverty and into the twenty-first century. I know ‘es complicado’ but it’s way past time:

Lift the Embargo!

Electric Golf Trolley Maintenance

So what can go wrong with your trolley I hear you ask?

Well a short list would include starting and stopping, not completing the round, maybe quitting all together! So how to identify possible problems early and save you more cost of repair on major electrical components.

Intermittent Faults.

If you find your trolley has an intermittent fault this can normally be cause buy a break down of one or more electrical components, example the roller switch fitted in the handle to control speed is a carbon track potentiometer which over time will wear. This wear will make or break your trolleys electrical circuit causing a starting or stopping action and you should change this part straight away do not continue to keep playing with your trolley which could result in a controller fault.

In addition you may have worn or low brushes in the motor, you will normally find symptoms of your trolley not starting at all, if you give it a shake or kick (not recommended) the trolley will start and run for some time then stop again. Unfortunately most trolleys today have the brushes built inside and can be an expert job to change but you should change them before more damage can occur.

Other less known starting and stopping issues can come from wiring or the safety on/off switch. This will take some more sorting out a process of working through your cart bit by bit until you find the weak area you may even want to do away with some of the plugs and solder some of the wire together. Again I would recommend expert advice in this area.

Battery Faults.

Battery’s cause some fake trolleys faults, for example you may find your trolley runs along fine for 9 holes then all of a sudden stops. You turn off your cart then back on to find your trolley working again. The first thing you think about is ahhh I have a trolley fault but in fact you may have a low battery voltage issue.

‘The Tech Bit’ Modern carts are designed to cut out the circuit board at 9.7 volts giving that your 12 volt battery starts at about 13.8 ish volts and drops under load over the round to 10 ish volts you have no problem if you battery is old then it may drop below 9.7volts were your cart will stop. Turning off the cart re-sets the cart and allows the battery voltage to recover, so the cart will start again making it look like a trolley fault!!!!

If this is happening then its a good idea to have you battery tested using only lead acid battery test equipment never ever ‘drop test’ your battery.

If you do not have a tester or cannot get the use of one then best to borrow an already good battery from a friend or Professional.

This brings me to my next part the borrowed battery. Almost all of the carts now that I see about 70% say have the Anderson Torberry Connections fitted to the battery and cart for attachment and removal. The biggest problem with these connections is that they can fit black to red and v’v. If you reverse the poles then you will for sure blow the controller (unless polarity protected). How can this happen I hear you ask, well its simple the Anderson Connectors can switch sides when putting them together so red on right and black on left and other supplier red on left and black on right. If you borrow a battery with opposite connections and plug into your cart then BANG controller is gone and this can be expensive about £60 to replace in my workshops.

Brand Equity – Assets and Liabilities

Brand equity has been defined as a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand, its name, and its symbol that add to or subtract from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or to that firm’s customers. If the brand’s name or symbol should change, some or all of the assets or liabilities could be affected and even lost, although some might be shifted to a new name and symbol. The assets and liabilities on which brand equity is based will, according to Aaker (1991), differ by context. However, they can be grouped into five categories:

1. Brand Loyalty

2. Brand Name (Awareness)

3. Perceived Quality

4. Brand Associations

5. Other Proprietary Brand Assets

Brand Loyalty –

For any business, it is expensive to gain new customers and relatively inexpensive to retain existing ones, especially when the existing customers are satisfied or happy with the brand. Competitors may even be discouraged from spending resources to attract already satisfied customers. Further, higher loyalty means greater trade leverage; since customers expect the brand to be always available.

Brand Name Awareness –

People will often buy a familiar brand because they are comfortable with the familiarity or they assume that a brand that is familiar is probably reliable and of reasonable quality. When consumers feel uneasy about a product’s name, they will avoid the product – and that translates into the loss of sales. Brand names should be easy for customers to visualize, and this involves pronunciation and spelling.

Perceived Quality –

A brand will have associated with it a perception of overall quality, which is not necessarily based on knowledge of detailed specifications. The quality perception may take on somewhat different forms for different types of industries. Perceived quality means something different for Compaq or IBM than for Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Perceived quality will directly influence purchase decisions and brand loyalty, especially when a buyer is not motivated or able to conduct a detailed analysis. It can also support a premium price, which, in turn, can create gross margin that can be reinvested in brand equity. Further, perceived quality can be the basis for a brand extension. If a brand is well-regarded in one context, then the assumption will be that it will have high quality in a related context.

Brand Associations –

The underlying value of a brand name often is based upon specific associations linked to it. The associations, for example, of the car brand Jaguar may make the experience of owning and driving one “different”. If a brand is well positioned upon a key attribute in the product class (such as technological superiority), then competitors will find it hard to attack. If they attempt a frontal assault by claiming superiority via that dimension, there will be a credibility issue. They may be forced to find another, perhaps inferior, basis for competition. Thus, an association can be a barrier for competitors.

Other Proprietary Brand Assets –

This fifth category represents such other proprietary brand assets as patents, trademarks, and channel relationships. Brand assets will be most valuable if they inhibit or prevent competitors from eroding a customer base and loyalty. These assets can take several forms. For example, a trademark will protect brand equity from competitors who might want to confuse customers by using a similar name, symbol, or package. A patent, if strong and relevant to customer choice, can prevent direct competition. A distribution channel can be controlled by a brand because of a history of brand performance.

Handwriting Analysis – Some Elaboration is Healthy & Perfect Penmanship Isn’t

Elaborate handwriting, including lots of

embellishment such as unnecessary loops,

curves, spirals, underlining, circles, wavy lines,

and other forms is an important, and telling,

handwriting analysis consideration.

Handwriting analysis, or graphology, is so

informative because it reveals subconscious

character, the real personality, not just the

persona and the one seen when a person is

at his or her best.

The U.S. Library of Congress classifies

graphology as a branch of psychology.

All in all, there are over 300 handwriting traits

to consider when doing an analysis. Some of the

more obvious ones include the following:

connectives; connectivity; consistency;

contradictions in script; compression;

contraction/expansiveness; down-strokes;

elaboration; expansion; finals; fluidity; form;

harmony; hooks; jabs; knots; lead-ins; legibility;

loops; margins; movement; organization;

originality; pressure; retracing; rhythm; shading;

signature compared to the rest of script;

simplicity; size; slant; overall arrangement

and picture of space; letter, word and line

spacing; speed; spirals; tension; ties;

zonal balance and much more.

Does any single consideration, such as the

excessive elaboration, override the cumulative

strength of the collective body of other

considerations? No.

The collective body of traits in a handwriting

sample either supports or mitigates the energy of

any one individual aspect.

Also, in order for a specific graphology trait to

accurately reflect personality, it must be

throughout the handwriting sample at least

three to four times to qualify.

Accuracy in graphology demands that the context

of the entire writing sample be considered and that

all individual aspects and parts of the script must

be interpreted independently and then built into a

complete picture describing the personality.

Also, you need at least a half page of cursive

handwriting and not just a signature if you want

to start on the right track.

For the highest level of accuracy in handwriting

analysis, formal graphology training is recommended.

However, we created our Graphology Resource Keys

for anyone to gain a very good understanding of their

own or other’s subconscious character simply by

comparing a handwriting sample to the Keys.

More information about handwriting analysis can

be found on our site.

Copybook form, or “perfect handwriting,” varies

somewhat from country to country and it’s best

to be familiar with the standard copybook form of

the country in which the person learned to write.

It’s good if your handwriting is not perfect, because

you don’t want perfect handwriting. It’s natural to

gradually move away from the basic copybook

form you learned in grade school to develop your

own unique style.

Just as everyone has a unique personality, everyone

has unique handwriting. Aristotle remarked,

“Spoken words are the symbols of mental experience

and written words are the symbols of spoken words.

Just as all men do not have the same speech sounds, so

do all men not have the same writing.”

Adults who write in copybook form (considering

there is corroborating energy from the rest of the

handwriting considerations) strive to follow all rules

exactly and abide by all laws. They are usually

conformists, traditional, and inhibited. They

commonly carry guilt and repression is customary.

Hence, “perfect” handwriting is far from perfect.

If your handwriting has a lot of originality with high

form level (good balance, movement, harmony, etc.)

and other positive traits, it could indicate flexibility,

resourcefulness, confidence, inward motivation, and

possible leadership skills.

On the other hand, if you see originality in an

off-balanced, inharmonious script (low form level),

you could find rebelliousness, defiance, turmoil,

confusion, dishonesty, and even psychosis

or criminal-minded behavior.

Spirals are generally a negative sign relating,

in part, to deception or self-deception.

Normal elaboration includes longer than usual

t-bars and finals at the end of words, for example.

Excessive elaboration, such as artificial flourishes,

many added strokes, long lower zone length (loops

of letters such as lower case g and j), etc. could

indicate an ostentatious personality with a need to

impress others, a need for drama, flirtatiousness,

vanity, exaggeration, bluff, a mind too rooted in

fantasy, insincerity, a need to be told they are

loved, façade of intrigue to mask an inferiority

complex, possible deception, scattered energy,

affectation, defense for self-consciousness,

unstable self image, too much focus on

trivial matters, and difficulty concentrating.

As the level of inharmoniousness increases with

excessive elaboration, the negative traits listed

above will also intensify.

If you see excessive elaboration mainly in the

upper zone (e.g., where the t’s are crossed), which

is the zone of the intellect, you may find someone

whose thinking is ruled by illusion, and even

someone who is a compulsive liar.

But remember, although it’s alluded to above, it’s

important enough to say again: no single graphology

indicator, by itself, absolutely describes any one

personality trait.

Yes, straight-across, blunt ending strokes can

indicate cautiousness, but there could be ten or

more other indicators in a person’s script that

would mitigate the notion.

If you find elaboration that is excessively

complicated, especially with many complicated

circle letters, such as a and o, it could point toward

someone who is trying to hide something, even if

it’s on an unconscious level and not in an

intentionally deceptive way.

Look to the zone of handwriting for more clues to

what the excessive elaboration with inharmonious

handwriting indicates: in the lower zone (where the

loops of letters such as g and j reside) it’s an

imbalance relating to sexuality, social life, materialism,

and physical energy, among others; in the middle

zone (where letters such as n, m, and o reside) it’s an

imbalance in practicality, daily routine, here-and-

now, ego, consciousness and more; and in the upper

zone (where the t-bar, tops of t’s, and h’s reside) it’s

an imbalance in mental, intellectual, philosophical,

literary interests, the imagination, and more.

When you see a Hollywood star’s signature

that has over-the-top elaboration, if the rest of his

or her script is much more subdued, it’s a sign of

pretentiousness.

Alternatively, elaboration with positive indicators

is favorable. With harmonious handwriting it can

symbolize charm, healthy imagination, and

originality.

Copyright © 2007 Scott Petullo, Stephen Petullo

Art Force and Attention Loops

An attention loop is trapped attention or consciousness flowing in a circular motion. In other words, it is consciousness stuck in a feedback loop and like all forms of feedback it can be increased, reduced, or sustained by adjusting the signal input. In all forms of art, there is the potential for the creation of an attention loop. And the only factor that differentiates what can or will not create an attention loop is “art force.”

In painting, the right mix of color, shape, perspective, brush stroke, brightness (or darkness), and size, all contribute to the increase or decrease of the narrowing of focus. The narrowing of the mind’s focus is the gateway to the birth of a trance state.

In music, it doesn’t matter if it’s Rock, Dance, Pop music, Jazz, or Country, there is always a chance that one or a combination of sonic elements well crafted, composed, and arranged can shift a person into a trance state.

In writing, the sounds of words, their numerous meanings and associations, the images they create in the imagination, and their relationship to one another all operate as a force in unison to imprint themselves on a person’s subconsciousness.

In each of these artistic categories, the trick is to construct something that will attract, capture, and hold the attention of the individual audience member. When the attention passes through these three steps and remains in suspension for a period of time, that’s when the artwork evolves into an experience. This is “art force” at work.

The experience itself must occur long enough to imprint the idea, melody, image, or words in the person’s subconscious. The reason this is important is because in the subconscious an artistic product can freely associate with the individual’s memories, emotions, and thinking processes.

This action of intertwining happens automatically and eventually reaches a limit. The action is complete when the idea, music, images, or words are seemingly soldered into the person’s mental circuits where they are activated by conscious thought and powered by life energy.

The process is not unlike a digital download or software program that gets installed and neatly filed away into a part of the computer for future use.

The entire trance event happens because of the power and impact of a first impression or repeated exposure to a noteworthy piece of art, literature, or music. Only a strong artistic product has the power to captivate the mind and trap it in an attention loop.

The creation of a proper trance requires that your artistic creation possess some quality which makes it magical or transformative for the imagination. It must contain something meaningful, aesthetically explosive, daring, or new in sufficient quantity to be mentally noteworthy. As the awareness loops in a circular flow of consciousness, a light trance state is induced and is broken or deepened by the addition of reinforcing elements.

If your product has enough “art force” it will be capable of narrowing an individual’s awareness in order to capture their attention. This is the first step in trance creation.

Because it’s in the nature of a trance to be easily broken, as artists we must add reinforcing elements to strengthen the original stimuli. So simply stated, a trance ends when distractions occur or new elements are brought in that diminish the initial artistic impact. And the trance deepens when supportive elements are added that seamlessly reinforce the original stimulus.

Your mode of operation should always be to make each of your artistic creations unique, unified, and complete. Whether or not they are part of a series or larger work like a book, exhibit, or album, no matter what, each piece should be able to exist and stand on its own. A state of trance is capable of being produced with any artistic medium, although some are more efficient than others at doing so.

The allure of your work should be so strong that fascination is able to infect those who would normally not be interested in that type of painting, book, food, music, or art in general.

A defined sense of style and mastery of technical skill are your keys to full expression. The heightened sense experience that you would provide the audience should always be approached as an attempt to overwhelm them.

In general, instrumental music is the most effective medium for creating attention loops, closely followed by spoken and written words. Music leads because it is action-oriented, forceful, portable, all-encompassing, layered, invisible, and repetitive. Speech, spoken or sung, shares of many of these same qualities with music, but the character of musical instruments varies much more widely than do the qualities of human voices.

In a book, the clues must point and lead to a conclusion while hiding the remaining plot. In a recipe, the chef must find a balance between all the delicate flavors they combine in each dish. In a song, the lyrics and voice must fuse into a singular dramatic presentation. Even within the lyrics, the phrasing of words must be focus and unified around a central message.

The “art force” within any aesthetic product relies on this consistency, but when an attention loop is reinforced incorrectly, the state of trance basically dissolves and disappears. All musical inconsistencies will break a trance.

Part of your final checklist should include the elimination of any inconsistencies or distracting elements. You may need an independent observer to help you see your work with fresh eyes or an objective viewpoint.

In fact, the whole purpose of the final checklist is to make sure that you maintain and deepen the state of trance by removing the negative trance elements and reinforcing the positive elements. If you’ve done your due diligence the hypnotic elements in your work should be off the charts. Over time and experimenting with different approaches you’ll soon discover your own signature formulas for creating works others easily recognize as yours exclusively.

And don’t be afraid of running out of ideas. It’s the nature of creativity to always be flowing outward. Don’t hold back or reduce the intensity of your expression. Believing that you’ll run out of ideas is the only way you can be held back, that idea alone will stop the flow of ideas.

Treating Post-Stroke Shoulder Subluxation

Studies show that most patients who suffer hemiplegia after stroke have shoulder subluxation. With incidences higher in severely-paralyzed patients, shoulder subluxation is one of the most common secondary muscoloskeletal problems after stroke. Shoulder subluxation, nevertheless, can be treated in various ways.

Also referred to as instability, a shoulder subluxation involves the partial dislocation of the shoulder joint wherein the ball of the upper arm bone slips partially out of the shoulder socket due to spastic muscles pulling the humerus and shoulder blade into abnormal positions.

Treatment involves the use of heat or ice packs, pain medications, support devices, and shoulder strapping to reduce the pain plus various therapies like prolotherapy, closed reduction, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, electrotherapy, occupational therapy and muscle toning-strengthening exercises.

1. Closed Reduction and Immobilization through supportive devices

Closed reduction is a medical procedure wherein the head of the humerus is put back into place by applying a traction to the arm. Afterwards, immobilization takes place through the use of supportive devices for four weeks to prevent the arm from moving. Supportive devices like shoulder cuffs, slings, and braces prevent trauma during ambulation but prolonging their use can cause immobility and encourage spasticity.

2. Prolotherapy

Prolotherapy is a medical procedure imploring natural treatment wherein solutions are injected into the affected ligaments, tendons, and joints to stimulate an inflammatory reaction in the body, which in turn, heals the subluxation.

3. Electrotherapy

Functional electrical stimulation and cyclical electrical stimulation of the shoulder muscles reduce subluxation but prevents it only if treatment is continuous.

4. Exercises

Exercises vary per patient as shoulder exercises are not for those with a history of shoulder dislocations prior to their post-stroke shoulder subluxation to avoid further dislocation. To relax muscles which are too tight, girdle and scapular muscle strengthening exercises are recommended for patients with recurring shoulder dislocations. Weight bearing exercises, rotator cuff strengthening exercises, and shoulder musculature strengthening exercises are often applied to most stroke patients with shoulder subluxation. Remember, it is important to implore a gentle, unexaggerated range of motion each time the patient is exercised.

5. Proper positioning

Proper positioning involves maintaining the correct posture while sitting, lying in bed, or doing daily activities. Always remember to carefully transfer, position, and assist stroke patients in daily activities as these are also preventive measures to stroke subluxation.

Top Ten Biggest Actor Demo Reel Mistakes

A great demo reel alone can get an actor cast for a role, and a poor demo reel can do the exact opposite. With the increasing availability to consumers of editing technology, many novices have taken it upon themselves to edit demo reels, including actors attempting to create their own marketing materials. These actors leave themselves vulnerable to making many “rookie” mistakes based on personal biases or a lack of strategic knowledge. This may result in getting left out of an audition based solely on their reel’s editing, and not because of his or her acting.

1. Montages – Opening montages at the head of a demo reel are a nuisance and a waste of time for casting directors. Most montages do not highlight acting skills, which is what the casting director needs to see. Montages are nothing more than a fast-paced video scrapbook, showing off a variety of brief moments from various projects. Actors feel that this shows that they have worked a great deal, a detail that the paper resume should highlight. Montages also give the editor a chance to bring his creativity to the forefront of your reel, showing off his skills, not yours – not to mention the fees accrued for editing the montage. If you still want a montage, put it at the end of the demo reel. Start your reel off with a powerful performance clip. That is what the casting director wants to see.

2. A Poor Opening Scene – The opening scene in a demo reel, your “establishing shot,” needs to illustrate strong acting skills, a compelling character, and perhaps a condensed emotional arc. A powerful opening performance can cast a light of brilliance across the rest of the demo reel, keeping the casting director engaged and eager to see the next clip.

3. Not updating – It is both vital and very advantageous that actors keep their demo reel up to date with their most current and compelling projects. Just like a paper resume, actors want to highlight their most recent accomplishments. Like the headshot, an actor’s reel should reflect one’s current on-camera appearance. There is nothing more annoying to a casting director than outdated and inaccurate headshots, and the same applies to reels.

Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” If your reel is not working for you, try rearranging the clip order; adding, and even removing scenes you currently have represented.

4. No Head Shots! – It is against industry standards to put a headshot in an acting reel. The inserted headshot takes precious seconds away from the casting director’s attention span. By the time a casting director watches a reel, they have already seen the actors headshot(s) and likely reviewed the resume. Casting directors start with headshots then move to demo reels as they narrow their search.

5. Stars by Association – Casting directors are looking to hire an individual based on their talent, not who they have shared screen time with. An actor’s demo reel moments should be his or her own, and not highlight a famous co-star’s performance. A star’s presence can help to elevate you. However, the right scene for utilizing star power must have a matching performance that showcases the actor whose demo reel it is. If during a scene with a star an actor does not have any lines, or their face is not visible, or they are off-screen most of the time, then it is not the right scene for a demo reel. A skilled editor can usually recut a scene to bring focus off a co-star and onto the actor, who’s reel is ideally showcasing.

6. Multiple clips of the Same Character – Returning to a character previously seen in the same demo is not ideal, but can be effective in some circumstances such as when a character has two distinct emotions in the film, but perhaps does not arc within a single clip. Time is of the utmost importance in a demo reel and demonstrating versatility as an actor is key. It must be considered that a given character may not be what the casting director is looking for; therefore repeating more of the character portrayal would only reinforce a negative image.

7. Staying in a scene for too long – Most scenes should definitely be edited for performance to under 30 seconds, however there are scenes that can warrant more than the allotted time. The ideal scene will show versatility, range, and the ability to show an emotional arc of a character in less than 30 seconds. The moment a scene feels repetitive it is time to edit the scene down or move on to the next clip in a demo reel.

8. Bad Acting – Too often people try to put as many scenes as possible in their reel in an attempt to show experience. Putting a piece of bad acting in a reel, no matter how pretty or handsome you look, can truly hurt your ability to get an audition. It is far better to have one strong and compelling scene than three mediocre ones. When it comes to demo reels, less is more.

9. Too Long or too Short – The industry standard on length has shortened along with attention span, and is presently three minutes or less, with some exceptions ranging up to four minutes. A reel’s length will vary based on the number and quality of scenes an actor has at their disposal. If it’s longer than that, it is typically for a higher profile actor, whose demo reel goes straight to the producer/director often bypassing the casting director all together.

10. Poor Editing – Every actor must have a demo reel, just as they must have a headshot. Yes, some actors can shoot their own headshots, but most know they cannot. However, actors do often choose to attempt to edit their own demo reels on consumer software. Make the investment in your career by having it cut professionally. A professional demo reel editor can take a scene that is focused on another character and transform it into a scene highlighting YOUR character and performance, to help emphasize the actor whose demo it is and underplaying or minimizing the other actors present in a scene. A skilled editor can do this seamlessly, so that it looks and sounds like the original cut of the film. With so many actors doing the editing themselves, it has become an opportunity for those who do use a professional demo reel editor to outshine those who do not.

How to Get Rid of Ear Gauges Smell

Ear gauge is a tribal form of art which indicates stretching a healed hole in the skin of the ear to place body jewelry in the hole, such as plugs or tapers. Getting an ear gauge means you need to think through it carefully, because sometimes things can go wrong by stretching your gauge irrevocably. Having gauged ear means you have to responsibly do personal care to it regularly. You should not allow dead skin cells to form inside the earlobe and eventually fall off the earlobe where it is near your stretched earlobe piercing. Once this will occur, the dead skin cells with be trapped in the earlobe and icky and gross smell of earcheese will soon develop. Daily clean-up of the cylindrical stretched ear jewelry must be done daily to prevent this disgusting thing to happen. You must always remember to use mild soaps only, and not to leave it on the sink or shower to avoid contaminating any bacteria.

How to Get Rid of Ear Gauges Smell

  1. Cylindrical stretched ear jewelries are known as “plugs”. The first thing you should do is to remove these from your ear piercings. Use a generous amount of liquid soap to rub on all sides of the plugs on warm running water from the faucet of your sink or shower.
  2. Wash the plugs thoroughly making sure not to leave any marks of dead skin cells and dirt on them. After the thorough wash, rinse off liquid soap with cool water, and dry them using a paper towel.
  3. For organic plugs such as made from bone, wood or horn, you may use emu or jojoba oil for an additional cleansing. Using a clean cloth, pour a small amount of either of the oil and rub on the inside and outside of the plugs.
  4. After lathering your hands with liquid soap and water, position one finger on the inside of the earlobe piercing. Rub the finger in a circular motion inside it ensuring all sides of the piercing covered. Repeat the same steps for the outside earlobe piercing and the front and the back of it as well.
  5. After cleansing, insert the plugs into the earlobe piercing right away while it is still lubricated, and to prevent picking up bacteria from your sink and shower. Dry the skin around your earlobe piercing with paper towel or clean cloth.

Hand Held 2D Barcode Scanner – Advantages and Disadvantages

Hand held barcode scanners are available in two main categories. 2D and 1D. 2D barcode scanner sales are growing at an impressive rate.  1D scanner sales are fairly flat year over year.  The question that many potential buyers of 2D barcode scanners ask is, “what are the main advantages of using a 2D barcode scanner over a 1D barcode scanner?”  This article discusses just some of the many advantages.  There are some disadvantages that need to be considered when making a decision.

Advantages

The most important advantage of using a 2D barcode scanner is the ability to read and decode 2D barcodes.  Data Matrix, Aztec, QR Code and Han Xin are examples of 2D barcodes being used today.  2D barcodes are capable of holding much more data than 1D barcodes in the same or less physical space.  Product manufacturers can put hundreds or even thousands of characters in a single 2D barcode. 

Having the ability to read barcodes omni-directionally is another big advantage of using a 2D barcode scanner.  All hand held 2D barcode scanners use an image sensor to capture an image of the barcode.  That image is then run through a software decoder program that resides in the scanner’s firmware.  The software decoder program has the ability to locate the barcode based on each barcode’s unique characteristics, no matter what the orientation of the barcode is.  This system allows the user to hold the scanner in the same position for every barcode read no matter the position of the barcode.  The scanner does not have to be oriented to line up with the barcode being read.  User fatigue and overall read times are greatly reduced.

The image sensor uses the same technology as today’s digital cameras.  The one main difference is that 2D barcode scanners use a grayscale imager as opposed to a color imager.  Because it is an imager, many scanners have the capability of taking a picture and sending that picture to the computer that it is connected to.  Taking pictures of signatures for proof of delivery, damaged packages, forms recognition and off scanner image processing are just a few of the applications that are being utilized with the images from 2D barcode scanners.

Reliability is another big advantage of 2D barcode scanners.  There is only one moving part in a 2D barcode scanner.  The trigger switch.  All scanners use trigger switches rated at millions of activations.  Rarely will there be a failure in the field.  No failures means no down time for customers which results in higher efficiencies, less frustration and lower total cost of ownership. 

These are just some of the advantages of using a 2D barcode scanner instead of a 1D barcode scanner.  There are more advantages not listed here.  There are also some disadvantages.  Typically the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, but the disadvantages do need to be taken into consideration when making a decision.

Disadvantages

Price.  2D barcode scanners are a fairly new technology and continually evolving.  Image sensors with more pixels, faster decode algorithms, improved illumination and aiming patterns are all being tweaked and improved.  Because of all these investments in the technology, the price of 2D barcode scanners is higher than 1D barcode scanners.  But that price gap is quickly diminishing.  All scanners are approaching the price point where they are considered a commodity.

Working range of 2D barcode scanners is a second disadvantage.  Working range is defined as the furthest point away from the scanner a barcode can be read minus the closest point a barcode can be read.  For example:  A UPC-A barcode can be read at a far distance of 10 inches away from the scanner.  That same barcode can be read at a near distance of 2 inches away from the scanner.  10 inches minus 2 inches equals 8 inches of working range.  1D barcode scanners could read that same barcode at a far distance of 18 inches and a near distance of 1 inch.  That lesser working range can be a problem in some applications.

Choosing Bathroom Vanity, Mirrors and Lighting For Unique Decorating Ideas

There are many simple and affordable ways to update the look of your bathroom. By simply changing the vanity, adding new mirrors and light fixtures is a sure bet on increasing the value of a home, while enjoying the benefits of an updated bathroom.

Style

Let’s begin with the room style. Are you going for a traditional or contemporary look, or possibly a mix of both, more transitional? This is an important first step in developing your decorating plan.

Vanity

The next step is to choose the vanity. The vanity will be the basis to build your decor around. Here are a few options to consider:

Custom Vanity

You can have a custom cabinet maker build a piece unique to your needs and size, finish, etc. This is ideal for almost everyone, though this is the most expensive alternative.

Pre-fabricated Vanity

Today’s trend is using furniture style vanity pieces. These come prefabricated with hand carved moldings and solid stone tops, under mount ceramic sinks, and are usually pre-drilled for a faucet. This is an ideal choice for the do it yourselfer. If you are replacing an existing vanity and do not need to make any adjustments to the plumbing, this type of vanity can be moved into the space, and you can attach the existing plumbing to the new faucet fixture.

If you are remodeling a master bath, be sure to maximize your counter top space, as this is invaluable, especially for women.

Mirrors

Vanity size will determine mirror size. The mirror should not extend beyond the outside edge of the vanity. If you have a double sink vanity and want a contemporary look, an unframed large single mirror that extends from the outer edge of the vanity will keep it simple. The best way to buy a frameless mirror is to have one custom cut from a glass company so that you can get the maximum size your space will allow. For a traditional look, use two single oval mirrors hung over each bowl.

To add character, consider choosing two different mirrors to hang over the individual bowls – this is a great way to express your individuality based on which side of the vanity you use.

Light Fixtures

How much natural light is in the existing room? The basic light fixture styles for bathrooms include over the mirror vanity fixtures and wall sconces, which are mounted on the sides of the mirror above a vanity. Recessed ceiling lights provide general lighting for the room.

Benefits of Multilingual Websites

The world at large has become aware of the money making potential of the internet. Online businesses are thriving thanks to the global audience. Markets are no more geographically determined as the Internet has made the world smaller. One of the most effective ways of reaching out to a culturally diverse target audience is by developing multilingual websites.

Irrespective of whether you are running an ecommerce site or a simple information site there are many benefits of having a multilingual website.

Break down the language barrier

The internet has definitely opened avenues for businesses in terms of a wide base of customers. The only thing stopping the internet from truly branching out to all corners of the world is the language barrier. But now website owners have the chance to overcome the language barrier and create a truly versatile website that can reach out to people in countries where English is not spoken or understood.

Increase traffic with multilingual websites

The primary benefit of multilingual websites comes in the form of increased traffic. Those web users that would previously leave your website once they realized they couldn’t understand the language will now be able to surf with ease.

Increase your business activities

Multilingual websites will not bring individual website owners many benefits but for companies it has many advantages. The internet gives businesses the chance to reach out to a global audience and this potential of the internet can only be utilized to its fullest through multilingual websites.

Your business prospects are bound to increase with multilingual websites. For example an English company that wants to trade with the French speaking community will better be able to win their confidence if it reaches out to them in their native language. Just by having your website in five to eight major languages of the world you will definitely experience a boost in sales because of the expanded customer base that this will help you to develop.

Win over foreign clientele

Your eventual aim is to be able to sell your products and services to people across the world. When you offer customer support, information and advice in their language, you are ensuring that your business is customer driven. This also has great implications on winning the trust of people in foreign countries.

Multilingual websites will also work wonders for your company’s reputation. It will give your customer’s the impression that you care for them and once you are able to embed this feeling then they are bound to value your business propositions and offerings.

Gear up for the future

Although many website owners have realized the benefits of multilingual websites and are investing their time and money in getting them developed, the real range of benefits are likely to come to light in the near future.

This is because future trends indicate that the internet will become the primary trading tool for the majority of nations. Even those countries where the online business culture is not present or developed well enough will start thriving in the next few years to come. When that happens, you want to make sure your website is already geared up to reach out to the global audience in a range of major global languages to get the edge over your competition.