Will Consumer Debt Hold Back the Brazilian Economy?

There is no doubt that the Brazilian economy has performed very well over the last four or five years and indeed while slowing down in 2012 there are high hopes for 2013 and beyond. However, one issue which is being referred more and more is the fact that consumer debt has increased dramatically and many consumers are maxing out on credit cards and other financial arrangements. Is this a danger for the Brazilian economy going forward?

The Brazilian economy in 2013

There is no doubt that the Brazilian economy is still the heartbeat of Latin America and as such it will be one economy watched very carefully by economists around the world. Many experts are forecasting growth of around 3.5% 2013 which is a fall from over 4% in 2012 but still a very impressive figure when compared to the rest of the world, ie Europe, North America and Asia.

One element of the consumer market which is becoming more and more evident, especially since the turn-of-the-century, is consumer debt in the shape of loans, overdrafts and credit cards. There is concern in some quarters that consumer debt is moving towards a level which is unsustainable in the short to medium term. However, how does Brazil compare to other economies around the world?

Consumer debt

Even though consumer debt has increased dramatically over the last decade across Brazil and consumer defaults increased by 15% in 2012 alone, this is not necessarily a bad sign going forward. If you take a look at European, North American and Asian economies, the vast majority of growth in recent times has been founded upon consumer debt in the shape of loans, overdrafts and credit cards.

The credit card boom hit Brazil back in 2000 and while the economy has continued to power ahead over the preceding years it is worth noting that some consumers are now turning a little more conservative with regards to their spending habits. It seems as though the first draft of credit card virgins in Brazil maxed themselves out some years ago and are now a little more careful about their finances. It is also worth noting that the average wage in Brazil has increased dramatically over the last decade and indeed some areas of servicing and manufacturing have seen a doubling of wages during this period.

Household debt

A recent report by Santander suggested that one in six households across Brazil are overleveraged ie they have more debt than they can comfortably cope with. It will be interesting to see how this debt figure changes over the coming years because while there is still buoyancy about the Brazilian economy and the Brazilian consumer market, there is also a greater understanding of the financial impact of overspending.

The government has so far managed the economy, consumer market and to a lesser extent the export market fairly well over the last decade and made the most out of a very promising situation, ie the downturn in Europe, North America and Asia to a lesser extent . The government in Brazil has its eye on the consumer market, consumer debt and consumer spending and sees more than capable of reining in overexuberance should this occur.

Conclusion

If you take a look at European, North American and Asian economies you will see that many of the buoyant economies have historically been based upon consumer debt financing economic growth. The idea is that as consumers spend more money on products and services this then filters through the business arena, leading to improved wages, better employment prospects and ultimately an improvement in household income. This improvement in household income then allows consumers to control and reduce their debts using long-term strategies which will have little or no impact upon short to medium term economic buoyancy.

The main challenge facing the Brazilian government at this point in time is keeping a very close eye on consumer debt and consumer spending, balancing this against the long-term growth of the economy. Overheating or reduction in consumer spending will have a material impact on economic performance in the short to medium term and this balancing act is one of the most challenging in the economic and political arena. Expats moving to Brazil may not have exactly the same problem as domestic Brazilian consumers but it is still very easy to get cooked up in the moment and overstretch your immediate finances.

Artwork Guidelines For Large Format Digital Printing

What makes for a good digital print file? – The best method of delivery for a digital print file is an Adobe Acrobat PDF. A high resolution PDF means that the image quality of the graphics provided will be sharp and clear at the nominated print size. When using photographic images within the main design, aim for a resolution of between 150 – 300dpi (dots per inch) at the finished print size.

How do I create a print quality PDF? – Most modern graphic design packages such as Adobe InDesign, Quark, Illustrator, Corel Draw, Pagemaker or Photoshop can export files as postscript level 2. EPS (Encapsulated postscript) files. This file is then dropped into Adobe Acrobat Distiller (set to Press quality) and a PDF is produced. This file is now ready to send to your large format digital print house via email or on CD.

What if I need PMS colors reproduced? – Many graphic designers are faced with clients who have company logos that are made up of Pantone PMS colors (better known as spot colors). When it comes time to print a poster or banner, these Pantone colors can only be reproduced digitally in CMYK. Some Pantone colors will print very differently and cause all sorts of problems for both the designer and client. Always insist on a strip proof from your digital printer so you can get approval from your client before printing one or multiple copies.

Can you print files supplied from Microsoft Office? – Word, Excel & Powerpoint are not recognized graphic packages and are there difficult but not impossible to print from. Most digital print groups will not accept files provided in these generic formats. If you purchase the latest version of Microsoft Office 2007, you can get a genuine Microsoft download that will generate print quality PDF's of your working files. This is great step forward in reproduction of work done using Microsoft products.

Life That is Worth While

Life is not only for work. It is for one's self and for one's friends. The degree of joy that a man finds in his work is due to two things: the intensity or fullness of his vitality, and the congenial character of the work itself. When one is thoroughly well and vorious, the mere joy of living, of merely being alive, is very great. At such a time the nature of the work does not matter to a large extent. The sense of having power at your command, and the delight of accelerating it even in coal shoveling or selling goods is enough. When one is full of life, the mere feel of fresh water or air on the skin, the taste of the plainest food, the exertion of muscular effort, the keenness of one's vision, the sight of color in the sky, or the sound of the wind or the waves-it takes nothing beyond these to make one jubilant, enthusiastic.

To a man who is fatigued such sensations are sure to be without zest, even if they are not positively unpleasant. One of the commonest reasons for the blasé or pessimistic feelings that so often come when youth is over is that one's system is constantly tired and rebels at additional sense-stimuli.

As a matter of fact, the vividness of one's feelings, of one's emotional experience ,ought not to depart with youth. In a normal life it should deepen, to be sure, and be responsive to even larger and greater things; but it should retain its brightness and depth of color. Love, hope, desire, appreciation, ambition and determination should grow, not diminish, with experience.

To live at a low level is to deaden every faculty for high thought and high feeling-it makes drudgery not only of work but also of life.

Many mothers slave for their children so many hours a day that they have but little energy left with which to enjoy them and love them. As a result, the dullness and drudgery of existence are all come to experience. One mother of five children for years took at least an hour a day for rest and quiet reading alone by herself. Nothing but absolute necessity would reduce her to break into this hour. The result of this is not only that she has kept her own superb health, but more than this: she is a constant joy and inspiration to her children, her husband and her friends.

It is true that she might have done more dusting or mending stockings than she actually accomplished, but it would have been at the sacrifice of that whole part of her life which meant the most to herself and others. Instead of being able to enter upon the routine of each day with eagerness and satisfaction, it would have been the intolerable drudgery that it is for so many tired mothers. Even in the matter of the quantity of the work accomplished it seemed probable that the daily rest was wise, for the reminder of the day was lived more intensely, its work was done more rapidly, and best of all, that balance and poise were preserved which we all lose if over tired. When fatigued to a certain point, every one of us loses his sense of proportion: we go on fretting over little things and doing ineffective work just because we have not enough enough to stop.

Children inevitably grow away from mothers who do not keep themselves growing and their lives vivid. The mere ministering to the physical needs of children is not enough. They need our best selves after they are babies. During the years of their childhood and later we will only serve them fully by living at our best, by living with inspiration and power. This it is impossible to do if we are daily over fatigued. We must live joyful, rich, vivid lives, not only for ourselves, but for our children and for all what we love.

Full living, high-level living, is one of the conditions of continuous growth. Growth in power to see and to appreciate and to do should increase every year right into old age itself. You remember how the old scholar speaks in Browning's "By the Fireside":

My own, confirm me, if we tread.
This pathway back, is it not in pride.
To think how little we dreamed it led.
To an age so blest that by its side.
Youth sees the waste indeed?

It is certain that if a man, who starts out with a good heredity, sets himself at the effort of constantly living at his best, the right kind of growth will come to him. If we take the machine at any stage and crowd it to its full capacity every day, we not only get low-level work from it, but there is a failure all along the line. We bless the world by being happy, full of dash and vim, ready for any enterprise, alert for the new idea or the new application of the old one.

For a man to look back at childhood as the one happy time in life shows that he has missed something important. The happiest people are the men and women in the full maturity of their powers, who have kept youth's vivacity of feeling, but who have added to this those great resources of life that are not open to children.

This matter of keeping one's self on a high level relates then not only to better work, but in an equally important degree to the attainment of a fuller, richer, more joyous life.

Earn Money Online Ideas

There are many effective ways to earn money online. This is a great business to start since it can be very rewarding and often requires a modest investment. Depending on your effort and interest, you can earn as much as desired. Here are some suggestions to consider.

In order to earn money online you'd want to focus on a business which can be managed through the Internet and a computer. Ideally it would also be a business which has strong demand yet still has minimal competition.

One business to consider is helping other businesses improve their relationships with their customers, employees, and suppliers. Building strong relationships is a vital part of keeping a business strong yet many companies simply do not have enough time or expertise to do it properly.

This is where the opportunity for you lies. You can work with companies to establish effective relationship building activities by arranging to send out personalized cards and notes for them.

You would work with companies to obtain lists of customers, employees, and suppliers along with key information on them like hobbies and important events. You can then arrange to send out personalized cards, notes, or even gifts to mark these important events and show them how important their business or support is to the company.

This type of business is definitely something you can do online. You can contact prospective clients through Internet searches and online promotional activities. Identifying and promoting your capabilities to a broad potential audience can also be done through effective social media marketing activities.

It is helpful to create a buzz about your work and encourage others to pass the information along to their group of contacts. This greatly increases the reach and effectiveness of your promotional efforts.

In general practice, you would use the database you have created with the company to send out personalized cards and notes to key customers, etc. in order to build their support and trust.

Everyone likes to receive information which tells them how important they are and how much their contributions or support is recognized and appreciated. Not only does this help to improve customer relationships and build stronger sales but it also very much helps to improve employee motivation and effectiveness on the job.

You can perform much of the work required online especially as it relates to promotional and individual business activities. In many cases you can also receive payment for your services quickly and effectively through online mechanisms like PayPal.

All in all this type of business is an excellent way to earn money online and should there be seriously considered.

Determining the Authenticity of Cast Iron

Resilient to abuse and versatile by nature, ‘Cast’ iron was so named because it is made by ‘casting’ (pouring) molten iron into a mold. The 1830’s through the middle of the 1850’s was a period when cooking vessels – and the stoves on which to cook with them – were made of cast iron, and made in abundance. Fanciful castings were also in great demand during this time for windows, furniture and lawn decorations.

Assisted by the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution, toys made of cast iron eventually made their debut. The more popular designs of such things as doorstops and toys were made for many decades, making authentic examples reasonably accessible today, if a bit pricey. The first cast iron mechanical bank was successfully marketed in 1868.

To produce a cast iron piece a pattern maker would make a model of the item to be cast. Although sometimes metal patterns would have been made for continuous re-casting of the numerous small parts of a toy or bank, the main pattern would usually be made of wood. Pattern makers were often artists skilled in wood carving.

Sand casting was the method of choice for decorative items like doorstops, as well as banks and toys. Sand casting entailed the use of a very fine sand mixed with a binder to hold it firm. The damp sand would be used to mold the exterior features of the model or ‘die’, which was then removed, leaving an image of its pattern behind in the packed sand. Sprues would be cut in the sand and then melted ‘pigs’ of iron would be poured through the channels to fill the pattern.

When cool, the resulting piece of cast iron would be removed from the mold. If flaws or imperfections were visible, a piece would simply be tossed back to be melted down once again. If the casting was a good one, the surface of the piece would be carefully finished and polished. Separate pieces would be bolted or riveted, pinned in some way or, in the case of many turn of the century and later pieces, screwed together to complete the finished article.

Because of the craftsmanship and hand labor required to make them, earlier cast iron, toys and banks that were made in this way were never inexpensive when first sold. They were made by skilled workers who took great pride in their work. Their craftsmanship is still recognizable in the pieces they made that survived the times.

Is it Old?

Today, newly made ‘fantasy’ character and advertising pieces, as well as other types of cast iron, are widely sold for decorative and utilitarian use. Since the 1970’s companies who specialize in the collectibles market have been heavily reproducing things like doorstops, mechanical banks, toys and kitchen goods created from molds taken from old and authentic pieces. These days, fantasy items of every stripe have also entered the market.

These types of goods are most often cheaply made and exported from countries like India, China and Mexico. Because the method of manufacture is primarily intended to churn out a great number of items cheaply and quickly, rather than each piece being made by specialized craftsmen focused on quality, it is usually fairly easy to differentiate unmarked reproduction items from authentic cast iron pieces if you are aware of the features and details to look for that can help identify them.

Production Aspects of New Iron Products

As a general rule, imported reproductions of vintage cast iron toys/banks will be heavier and less detailed than their original counterpart, and the pieces often don’t fit well together. Obvious misalignment of major sections at joints, warped castings, or incomplete castings, should alert you that the item is not of the quality one would find in a truly old piece. In addition, old cast iron is incredibly smooth to the touch, almost silky; it will never be rough or grainy. Antique pieces were cast in extremely fine sand which rendered crisp detail. The makers of cast iron reproductions have always used coarse sand. Not only does this result in lost details, but a grainy or pebbled surface is almost always the result. If you aren’t sure how to identify this type of surface visually, then don’t try. Close your eyes and let your fingers tell you the age of a suspect item.

Any excess flash should be a dead giveaway, too. Flash is a thin edging of excess metal that stands proud along the edges of seams or design elements – inside the spokes of a wheel, for instance, or the inside edges on the coin slot of a bank. Old pieces were always well finished along all edges, even inside the crevices of open details like scroll-work. Very little to no flashing will be present on an old piece. Basically, if the casting looks crude on a piece, you should be suspicious of the item. If flashing isn’t obvious but rough grinding marks are, this is also an indication of newer make. Modern power tools like electric grinders didn’t exist in 1890. Any finishing marks should be near to invisible if the piece is truly old.

Remember, original, late 1800’s/early 1900’s pieces were hand cast, finished and assembled by craftsmen who took pride in their work. Cast iron toys and banks, in particular, were often expensive so their makers took great care to ensure that their product looked good enough to be worth the price they would be asking someone to pay for them.

Item Characteristics to Consider

Antique cast iron will have a better level of detail in paint. The paint and trim on the originals was applied much more expertly; look especially at faces on figural pieces. Old, original paint may appear to be fairly thickly applied and its surface will often have a hard, well cured look.

Newer pieces are usually mechanically spray painted with a thin layer of paint, although not always. Sometimes a piece is left completely bare or will have been stripped of the factory applied paint in order to more easily make it look ‘aged’.

Beware, too, of fake ‘patina’ that may have been wiped on to dull the over-bright look of new paint. Some fakers will go so far as to actually bake items in an oven to quickly age new paint surfaces; or they will bury a cast iron item briefly to achieve the same effect.

Dings or scrapes to surfaces to suggest wear, and therefore age, can easily be artificially produced on a new item. Use your common sense to ask yourself where an authentic item that was used or played with should be expected to have wear. New items may have ‘wear,’ but it often won’t be on the areas of the piece where it should logically be found. If you can see wear in inappropriate areas of a piece, but a pristine surface in the places where wear would logically be expected, you almost certainly are looking at a fake.

Old pieces were never held together with modern Phillips head screws, which began being commercially manufactured ca. 1940. If you see a Phillips head screw under supposedly original paint, then the item is without doubt a reproduction. Phillips head screws will never be found in an antique piece from the late 1800’s. Fakers, of course, know that collectors have gotten wise to this oversight and many newer cast iron fakes and reproductions are now produced with slotted screws that more closely resemble those that would be found in authentic pieces.

Quite a few foundries embossed their production with a mark, name or patent number. Hubley was a company noted for cast iron toys and decorative items like doorstops that frequently had their name incorporated in the mold. However, since some reproductions are produced from molds made by using an original piece, a maker’s name isn’t always proof that an item is authentic. Reproductions and fantasy items currently in production today are rarely marked with anything more than a paper label which soon disappears. ‘Taiwan’ is a mark sometimes found on the base of some reproduction mechanical banks made from the 1970’s through the 1980’s. This is not the mark of a turn of the century American manufacturer.

Look for features that made cast iron toys popular way back when, like an extremely realistic nature for the piece. An antique cast iron buggy toy might have been outfitted with many extras, like reins and harness on the horse, people for the seats and detachable lamps. Intended as toys, these should should roll very smoothly since obviously they were intended to be played with. Reproductions may include a few ‘add ons’ like a driver or some barrels for the back of a wagon, but they usually will lack very small pieces that would be deemed a child hazard by today’s standards. Invariably, modern cast iron toys and banks are rather clunky in motion, too, though they may function.

The above are just some of the ways it is possible to tell authentic from reproduction cast iron. Since cast iron toys, banks and similar ‘collectible’ items are being widely reproduced at present it would be advisable to research the subject thoroughly in order to obtain the necessary knowledge prior to making a purchase yourself. This will give you the easy ability to accurately present an item to a customer as being an ‘old’ and/or authentic piece.

How Pure Clay Cookware Is Healthier Than Ceramic Clay Cookware

You must have seen a variety of colorful, shiny, finished clay cookware in the market that has gained popularity in past few years. If you think clay cookware is the healthiest and 100% non-toxic cookware, then you might be mistaken. There is no doubt that clay cookware has been used for ages in all civilizations for making cookware, but today, even clay comes in a variety.

Pure clay is the only material that is naturally innate and doesn’t reach toxins into food while cooking. The commercially popular clay cookware we see today are nowhere close to that. They are made from ceramic clay – a composition of stoneware, porcelain or terracotta. It is also coated with chemical glazes and enamels besides the chemicals used in the mechanized manufacturing process they go through. And the colorful ones you see in the stores – well, more chemicals! After using so many chemicals, the pot you get is far from being healthy or non-toxic. Such pots when used for cooking, leach reactive toxins into food that contaminate it.

In order to keep the clay non-toxic, it should be in its purest form – like pure clay. It has a natural property of being inert which can stay intact if no chemicals ever come in contact with it. Pure clay cookware is made from primary clay harvested from non-industrialized and unfarmed lands, where it is found containing absolutely no chemicals or pollutants. Furthermore, no chemicals are used in the manufacturing process (not mechanized – they are handmade) or for their coloring and finishing.

It might seem difficult to find out if a clay cookware contains chemicals and leaches toxins but a simple home test is enough to know if the pot you are using is made from pure clay or something else. It’s called the alkaline baking soda test. Food is an alkaline substance and so is baking soda. If anything is reactively leaching into food, it will do the same with baking soda. This is what you need to do:

  1. Boil 2-3 cups of water in any pot, when it starts boiling add 2 tsp of baking soda, boil for 5 more minutes. Turn stove off.
  2. Wait till cool enough to taste then taste the water (take a sip). If you taste metals, that’s what you’re eating! If water has a rubber/paint taste it’s the chemicals from enamel/glaze.

As a control, stir 2 tsp of baking soda to 1 glass of water and take a sip – you will taste just the baking soda. It’s high time that we ditch unhealthy cookware and switch to clay pot cooking with pure clay.

Basic Nail Art Tools for DIY Beginners

So you want to try your hand at DIY nail art but where do you start? The first thing you need to do is get your hands on some basic nail art tools. This is a list of my 5 essential DIY nail art tools.

1) Nail polish

The essentials are: a base coat (to prevent nail discolouration and allow your nail polish to glide on smoothly), nail polish, and a top coat (to ensure your manicure lasts for more than a day). I like to use a quick drying top coat cos that saves oodles of time and is so convenient to use, but it’s also good to have a normal top coat or clear polish in hand for certain more complex nail designs.

After trying loads of different brands, I’ve found that it’s so important to invest in good quality nail polish. These are more expensive but they’re worth it cos they last longer, dry faster and don’t get lumpy. I’ve had such bad experiences with cheap nail polish that now I’m just sticking to brands that I’ve used before (and like) and reputable brands. Orly, OPI, China Glaze, Sally Hansen and Essie are some of the good ones. It’s also a good idea to test out polish from a brand you’ve not tried before buying it.

2) Nail dotters

Nail dotters help create dot and circle patterns. I use these all the time to create simple polka dot designs. They come in a variety of sizes. Starting out, it’ll be good to get your hands on one that has a medium sized round nib on one end and a small one on the other so you can choose the size of the dots you want to create.

HOW TO USE: Find a plastic sheet and drop a few blobs of nail polish onto it. I like to use name cards that are hard and feel a bit plasticky for this cos they’re small and disposable. Dip the round nib of your dotter into the polish. Try doing a few dots on the sheet/name card till you get the right size and consistency that you want. Do the same onto the surface of your nail. Be careful not to use too much pressure, that may cause the dots to look deformed. Remember to clean them after use and dry thoroughly. These tools are made of metal and susceptible to rusting.

MAKE YOUR OWN: It’s also easy to create your own nail dotter using stuff you have lying around your home. Bobby pins are a cheap and convenient alternative. Just bend them out straight, and use the round tips at the end like normal dotters. Because all you need is a round end, you can use anything that resembles a dotter, like the back of an eyeliner pencil cap, for example.

3) Nail stripers

These, to me, are an absolute essential. They are nail polishes that come with a long, thin brush rather than the usual flat and broad ones. I use them for painting lines and adding random flicks of colour. They are so easy to use and very versatile. I recommend getting two colours, white and black, when you first start. Brands like LA Colors have a wide range of colours and come pretty cheap, so have fun with it!

If you don’t want to have to buy a new polish every time you want to try another colour, you could alternatively get a nail striper brush. However, not all brushes are good for nail polish. I’ve tried nail polish on a few and they completely ruined the hairs on the brush. Use water-based nail paint if you must. This makes it much easier to clean the brushes. If you’ve used nail polish, use acetone, some soap water and a paper towel to clean your brush.

4) Stationery tape

Ever wondered how DIY nail artists create super neat and straight lines and stripes? Using tape you can create many different geometric and striped designs.

Stationery tape is one of the best tools EVER for nail art. Any sort of normal scotch tape is fine, but you can experiment and see which give you the best results. They’re great for creating neat lines and geometric shapes. Just cut the tape into the desired strip/shape, paste it onto your nail and paint over. Easy as that!

USEFUL TIPS:

  • Always make sure that your base nail polish is thoroughly dry though. Use a quick-drying top coat like Seche Vite if you don’t want to wait.
  • Cut the tape before you start painting your nails so you avoid smudging when you try to cut it with wet nails.
  • Paste the tape somewhere where it’ll be easily removable so that you don’t get them stuck when you want to paste them on your nails.
  • Use tweezers to remove the tape to prevent accidentally messing up your nails.
  • If you mess up, you don’t have to start from scratch again. Use a nail art brush and touch up where necessary. This usually does the trick.

5) Nail art brushes

If you’re really serious about doing nail art, you might want to consider investing in a good set of nail art brushes. The main types of brushes for nail art are fan-shaped brushes, flat brushes, flat angled brushes, thin brushes (for detail) and long stripers. These brushes can be purchased conveniently (and rather affordably) in a set. The Bundle Monster New Pro 20pc Nail Art Design Brushes from Amazon is a pretty good bargain and comes with a dotter.

MAKE YOUR OWN: You don’t need to use nail art brushes for nail art, you could even use your usual paintbrush. Just trim it to the shape you desire and use it like a nail art brush! It’s convenient and not to mention cheaper to start with a paintbrush.

Tone Your Tummy – Lose Stomach Fat Quickly With Results Coming in Just Minutes a Day!

Here's how to tone your tummy and lose stomach fat quickly in just minutes a day. If you're pressed for time, but still need to get rid of your belly fat, then read this now for some BREAKTHROUGH ways to slim your waist and tone your hips.

Tone your tummy

1. To lose stomach fat quickly, focus on isometric exercises as opposed to situps and crunches

I recommend the isometric vacuum pose, the isometric abs squeeze, and the isometric plank. For the vacuum pose, all you do is suck in your lower half of your belly and hold it for 15 seconds on and off for a few minutes a day.

For the abs squeeze, all you do is tighten and FLEX your abs as hard as you can for 10-15 seconds on and off for a few minutes a day.

For the plank, what you do is rest your weight on your forearms and toes (like in pushup position except you're on your forearms and not your hands) and then hold that position for 15 seconds on and off for a few minutes a day .

These are all easy and can be done at home.

2. If you need a cardio exercise to include, jump on a mini-trampoline

This is an under-appreciated piece of equipment. I consider it better (and it's cheaper) than all those machines in a gym. Plus it's a lot more convenient for people since you can do it at home. Even more convenient … you can do it for just 1-2 minutes at a time whenever you get the chance.

Those 2 minutes once in awhile through the day add up to a lot of EASY CARDIO.

So if you want to lose your stomach fat quickly and tone your tummy, this simple plan get your abs to where you want it than possible.

Your Marketing Soul Plan for 2008

If traditional marketing plans work so well how come more woman business owners do not make them?

Because they're boring, that's why.

I mean, really, creating a traditional marketing plan is about as exciting as picking lint off of a sweater. Hardly the stuff to feed and nourish inspiration!

Plus, for the soul-inspired woman entrepreneur, a traditional marketing plan fails to capture the heart and spirit of our dreams and aspirations.

So I've created an alternative marketing plan that skillfully weaves together marketing must-haves with what matters most to furthering our Soul's Divine Mission (TM).

Here are five key elements you can use to create your own Marketing Soul Plan for 2008 and make this year, YOUR year!

Marketing Soul Plan Element # 1: Clarity

Who are you most attracted to working with who will pay for what you offer? There is no value in trying to help women entrepreneurs who do not value what you do. Instead, choose a tribe of women entrepreneurs who are hungry and eager to have their problem solved and are generous in paying for that help.

Marketing Soul Plan Element # 2: Money

Who else wants to be a Spiritual Millionaire (TM)? I do, and I am well on my way to achieving that goal with my woman owned business. If you're one of those woman business owners who have been holding back from hiding money to flow abundantly into your business (and hence, your life) then it's time to do some soul-searching to clear out your old money stories.

Yes, it's okay to be spiritual and rich … so how much do you want to make in 2008? Choose a number to include in your Marketing Soul Plan that is both a stretch and realistic. Write it down, and then decide how much you want to create every 90 days and write those numbers down too. Stay focused on your Marketing Soul Plan numbers as you decide how you spend your time each day.

Marketing Soul Plan Element # 3: Boundaries

The road to success is not paved with good intentions (or affirmations); it's lined with great boundaries that honor you and your Soul's Divine Mission (TM). What are five boundaries that you've been soft on? Those are costing you big time in lost focus, lost income and a lost sense of your own personal power. List them out in your Marketing Soul Plan along with one small action you, as a woman entrepreneur, are a commitment to taking to clean up each of them.

Marketing Soul Plan Element # 4: Perfectionism

Perfectionism is fear in disguise. It's simply a smoke-screen that women entrepreneurs' egos create to keep them playing small or hiding out. Include in your Marketing Soul Plan this statement: "I agree, commit and promise to take action BEFORE I feel ready, BEFORE I feel that I know enough and BEFORE I know how it's all going to turn out!" Then do it and see how much you leapfrog ahead of where you are now.

Marketing Soul Plan Element # 5: Receiving

There's no point in practicing gratitude and attraction principles if you are not also practicing receiving. If you believe that the universe wants to give to your woman owned business then you must be skilled at receiving. So where to practice? How about starting by raising your fees, asking for a referral or even just accepting a compliment with a gracious "Thank you?"

My vision for you is that 2008 is really your year. Use these simple guidelines to create your own Marketing Soul Plan and it will be!

Wind Power Kits – Smart Economics

Free wind energy is popular in places where wind velocity goes to about 11 miles per hour or higher. People who utilize this free power source realize the economic and environmental advantages of wind turbines.

Industrial users build large wind turbines for their consumption. Residential users can resort to the cheaper wind power kits. If you are considering this switch, you will be happy to know that free-energy users are satisfied with the performance of the turbines.

Aside from the fact these kits are less expensive to purchase than their larger counterparts, they have other financial advantages.

Lesser Power Consumption Budget

You can save up to 80% of the usual power consumption budget with these residential turbines. With the increasing cost of conventional energy, free power sources like the wind seem to be the solution. You could minimize use of paid conventional power in favor of cheaper wind energy source. In fact, you can rely on wind power kits to provide electricity for your lighting and appliances without disruptions.

Cost-Effective Power Returns

Commercial wind turbines are a little expensive to purchase. The cheapest model you can find in the market costs about $ 1000. However, you are assured that you will use the windmill for a long period. When you calculate the cost, you pay less in the long run.

If you want to save more, you could also set up a wind power kit yourself. You will spend an approximate amount of $ 200 only. You can search for various tutorial books at your local bookstore or at an online store.

Energy Can Be Stored For Later Use

A residential power kit has rechargeable batteries in it. If you immediately use only a fraction of the energy being produced by the wind turbine, the excess will not go to waste but instead will be stored in the battery for later use. You can use the stored energy to run other appliances or you can take the batteries with you to use it for an isolated machine.

Which Type Do You Need?

To get the most value out of your cash, make sure that you research on the best windmill kit available in the market. Rooftop wind turbines have received generally poor reviews lately as they produce only minimal amounts of energy as opposed to the cost of investment. This means that you spend more to have the energy you get from rooftop kits than you would pay conventional power sources.

Be a wise buyer and ask free energy experts on what wind turbine models ensures less spend money and more energy.

When you buy a kit, make sure that you faithfully follow the manual. Each pointer should not be missed from its construction to installation, or else you may have problems later. A practical choice is to hire an expert to do the installation for you, particularly if you're not one who is comfortable doing handyman jobs around the home.

The bottom line is that it is really to your benefit if you decide to switch to free energy by using wind power kits.

Why Did Everything Change In My Marriage?

One of the most often asked questions I face in dealing with marital conflict is: “Why did things change so much since I married?” or “This is not the same person I met!” or worst yet… “I was deceived… I met person A and now I come to find out I am living with person B!”

Welcome to the real world of marriage and long term relationships.

Peter Devries (Editor, Novelist, Satirist and Linguist, 1910-1993), said: “The difficulty with marriage is that we fall in love with a personality, but we must live with a character.”

Greatest truth said about marriage, and what it takes to make marriage a life long time endeavor.

Personality is your public persona. Personality is how people experience you when they meet you, when they interact with you. Personality is the part of you that “falls in love.” Personality is the impressive side of you.

Character is who you really are; it’s the core of you. Character is the person you are when no one is watching. Character is the decisions you make when no one hears you. Character is what happens in your mind in a split second! Character is the person you become when you face a crisis or when all things come tumbling down. I like to say that character is the “raw” self without the façade and the defense mechanisms we use to protect ourselves. Have you heard the statement: “We never though this person would do this?” Well, people only knew a “personality” not the “character” of that person. Character in the end is the constellation of enduring traits that are manifested in the ways that an individual reacts to the extreme challenges of life.

When you and your spouse met, you met each other’s personalities. You showed to the other person the most brilliant side of you or your public persona. You and your spouse don’t meet the person who charmed each other’s friends, bought gifts for each other’s parents, and always smiled from ear to ear. This is usually the way we display ourselves when relating to others… specially if we have “fallen in love.”

It doesn’t mean we trick a person into believing something that is not true! But marriage lasts too long, the encounters become constant, and in close quarters for anyone to sustain a public persona. Personalities eventually give way to an INNER SELF which is much deeper and stronger. That’s when character gets revealed. That’s when the personality fades away and you meet a different person for the first time. Sometimes that sweet spouse you met turns to drugs or some bizarre behavior and you say to yourself, “How could that have happened?” The true character of that person is simply showing up for the first time. His/her character could be the nasty, darkest, most competitive, vengeful part of that person and you never saw it fully displayed until a crisis evolved. Love making, kissing, tenderness, kindness and all the good gestures before the crisis where part of his/her personality. The crisis is, perhaps, the first time when your spouse stands truly, emotionally naked, in front of you for the first time. Not only you meet your REAL spouse after 5, 10, 15 or more years for the first time, but very often that’s the time when you meet the REAL SELF that you are for the first time! I am simply amazed, when I hear the stories of either successful or failed marriages and how character either built them up or brought them down to destruction.

Not long ago a mother confided in me (after a number of conversations) that after 32 years of marriage she was actually flipping because she was comparing her daughter’s marriage with hers and she saw her daughter happier than she had herself ever been. She was actually contemplating divorce to find someone that would provide her with what she thought was missing in her life. Can you imagine? This woman’s true character was finally showing up at age 52! Amazing! She later admitted to deep feelings of competitiveness with her daughter since she was a teenager.

Character is fundamentally crucial to the success of a marriage, the long term negotiation of differences, and marital conflict resolution in marriage. Unresolved conflict issues in a marriage are the highest, single most damaging cause of divorce. And the truth is that there is no conflict resolution without character. When all is said and done, the person you met is not the person he/she becomes through the years. Very often crisis in a marriage simply displays the character of the people who are married. When you factor in, new experiences, change of perceptions, hormonal changes and repeated emotional injuries through the years you begin to realize that character is all you have to keep a marriage sound and healthy.

Nikki told me during a marriage conflict intervention, “The person my husband Mike now calls a “bitch” was never like that ten years ago.” “How would you describe the Nikki of ten years ago?” I asked her. “Sweet, pleasant, romantic, willing to go the extra mile, considerate and kind,” she said. Of course, I jumped to the occasion and asked the obvious question… “Who is Nikki? The one your husband Mike met 10 years ago or the Nikki he sees now?” She soon saw the difference between personality and character. Personality, (the nice Nikki) was revealed when things were new and smooth. Character, (the “capricious,” “reactive,” “demanding” woman) was showing up under stress and the reality of Mike’s true character, which was selfish and self-centered! Both of their characters, Mike and Nikki, were showing up during this time of crisis and their marriage was on the brink of divorce.

The reason so many people fail at marriage and in their attempts at marriage renewal is NOT that they don’t like their spouse. It’s that they don’t like THEMSELVES. And while everyone else in their life, or in an extra-marital affair is like a mirror reflecting their PERSONALITY; their spouse is a mirror reflecting their true CHARACTER. And most people don’t like what they see. Divorce is often found in the backrooms of our characters and the utter dislike of our characters.

Many people would rather choose to be with “someone” else (back to “personality love”) than to remain with their spouse and face the true character of their spouses and their own! (Did you get that?). Marriage requires “character love.”

Balthasar Gracian wrote in his 17th century manual on success, The Art of Worldly Wisdom, as follows: “You are as much a real person as you are deep. As with the depths of a diamond, the interior is twice as important as the surface. There are people who are all facade, like a house left unfinished when the funds run out. They have the entrance of a palace but the inner rooms of a cottage.”

Marriage renewal and individual character development go hand-in-hand. You can not have a successful marriage without character. Character is what keeps a marriage together through the seasons of conflict and bitter disappointments.

Brinell Vs Rockwell Hardness Test – Compare and Contrast

The Brinell and Rockwell hardness tests can be used to evaluate the hardness of a wide range of metallic materials. When either test is performed accurately to procedure each will produce a reliable hardness rating to compare to other materials. While both the Brinell and Rockwell tests are consistent, they produce values of hardness on different scales from each other due to slightly different methods and analysis.

The Rockwell test measures hardness by using diamond cone indenter. The indentation is measured after a lighter initial load is applied and after a heavier load is applied. This test is carried out on a machine that records each depth and calculates the hardness factor. The evaluator must consider the fundamental properties of a sample before it is tested to ensure it is being evaluated using the proper loading. The hardness is reported on one of the scales A through G; depending on what material is being tested and which loading is used in the procedure.

The Brinell test is the predecessor to the Rockwell test. It reports a hardness factor that can be compared on a single scale but only factors can be compared that were tested using the same ball size and force. Despite it being a more primitive test, it is still used and considered accurate, especially for larger parts that have a coarse grain structure. Popular test samples are casted steel or iron that are not as easily evaluated with the Rockwell test. The Brinell test procedure can take a little bit longer than the Rockwell test. First a material sample has to be prepared to test. A steel or tungsten carbide ball (typically 1 cm in diameter) is then shot at the sample with a 29 kN force. The dent is measured optically with a microscope or by a mechanism in an electronic device. The two diagonals of the indentation are measured along with the diameter of the ball. These dimensional values are used to solve the Brinell hardness formula.

When comparing the two tests it is important to understand that one is not particularly better than the other. Each has its own benefits, but choosing one over the other depends on which material is being tested and what equipment is available. Automatic test machines are manufactured in the format of each test but are not always available. One may assess that optically measuring an indentation in the Brinell test is not as accurate as a Rockwell test because the indentation of the carbide ball is not as consistently finished as a diamond cone. However, the Brinell test does not destruct the test material. This is large advantage that the Brinell test has over the Rockwell test because it is easier to perform on steel or iron parts. These larger parts are heavier and inherently more expensive making it a crucial factor that they can still be used. It can be concluded that the Rockwell test is easier and more accurate for smaller samples of less coarse material.

VoIP (Voice Over IP) Explained

Telephone calls through broadband: this is the future of telephony. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology represents a revolution in the way we communicate. Here's an outline of three of the most common ways that VoIP can be used to make cheap phone calls.

You've probably heard about new technology that allows people to use broadband to make cheap phone calls. Perhaps you already make calls or video-calls yourself from your computer. Whatever you know already, it helps to have a clear, basic grasp of how exciting new generation of telephone services works and how it can be used.

The technical name for making cheap phone calls using broadband is 'Voice over Internet Protocol'. Some people call it 'Voice over IP', or even 'VoIP' (say "voyp"). Perhaps you've heard of 'VoIP phones'. VoIP is, basically, the umbrella term for the technology for making telephone calls using the Internet and broadband. It uses audio systems to encode speech in a way that means that it can be transmitted digitally over an Internet Protocol network.

There are many ways of using VoIP technology and a broadband connection to make phone calls. Here are three of the most common.

1. PC to PC
The first, simplest and typically free way to use VoIP is 'PC to PC'. For this, you'll need to be at your computer, as will the person you're calling. You'll also need a headset / microphone / speaker. And you'll need either USB VoIP phone, which plugs into your computer's USB socket. If you do not have that, you can install or download a piece of software called a 'softphone'. This allows VoIP calling without dedicated equipment. Although this is undetected the cheapest way to make VoIP calls, the call quality is often not great. And you're tied to your computer.

2. PC to Phone
The second popular way to use voice over IP is by using your PC or computer to call a normal landline or mobile phone. The advantage of this is that the person you're calling does not need to have signed up with the same service, does not need all the equipment etc. You, though, will be charged for these 'outage' calls. And you are, as above, tied to your PC.

3. Phone to Phone
A VoIP provider sends you a VoIP adapter. You use this to connect your normal digital cordless ('DECT') telephone to the broadband modem / router on your computer. Once you've installed the VoIP provider's software (this converts the analog signal to a digital one), you continue to use your phone exactly as before, using your existing broadband connection to make cheap telephone calls. To call, you pick up your existing digital cordless (DECT) phone and dial as normal. Your computer does not even need to be switched on. When their phone rings at the other end, they answer as normal.

The beauty of this final method of using voice over IP is that your computer does not even have to be switched on for you to use the VoIP technology and broadband to make calls. The person you're calling does not have to have signed up to the same VoIP provider. Nor do they need to have broadband, or be at their computer. In fact, they do not even need to have a computer.

So there it is – three of the most common ways in which you can now use VoIP technology to make cheap phone calls.

That Was The Best Party I Ever Had!

To create a special party for a child is to create a memory that lasts a lifetime. If it’s a birthday party, it has an almost-magical significance. It can be simple, and it need not be costly, but a successful party does take planning. There’s no greater reward than a hug from a satisfied child saying, “That was the best party I ever had!”

The key to a successful party is in the planning. Be sure you have all the materials together beforehand for each activity scheduled. The birthday child can help in a number of ways, making the party extra-special while encouraging responsibility and creativity. A friend, relative, or the birthday child’s older brother or sister can be of invaluable assistance.

A theme provides a focus and makes your party special. It reflects the interest and age of the birthday child. Make decorations to fit the theme. Decide before the party whether you will keep the decorations or send them home with the guests as favors. If they are taken by guests, be sure you have enough for each person, including the birthday child. Gear refreshments to the theme of the party, and keep them simple. Hot dogs, pizza, hamburgers, a special cake – these are the treats guaranteed to please.

Artistic ability is not a requirement for designing your own invitations! There are countless internet sites to download invitations and you may also consider purchasing design-and-print software. Invite one guest for every year of the birthday child’s age. This handy rule provides a structure that lets everyone know what to expect from year to year.

Keep the party confined to one specific room or area. Offer plenty of space, but make the limits clear. Alternate active games with quiet one. The party begins with an activity that can be played while waiting for everyone to arrive, and it ends with a calm, quiet activity while guests wait to be taken home. When planning the party, decide approximately how much time each activity will take. Avoid prizes if possible. Cheer and clap for the winner instead.

Bringing gifts to the birthday party is a happy party tradition. The presents can be collected upon arrival and saved until the end of the party to be opened. Each child is anxious to have their present opened first. While the children still have their gifts, play spin-the-bottle to make the present-opening ceremony enjoyable for everyone. Have the birthday child give small favors (wrapped or unwrapped) to the guests at present-opening time so they, too, have “gifts.”

Just don’t get so caught up in organizing that you forget to sing “Happy Birthday” to the birthday child; it has happened! Enjoy yourself, and know that you are creating a once-in-a-lifetime occasion that will be a treasured memory for years to come.

RV Tips for Holding Tanks

Today we're going to talk about RV holding tanks. To start with, I wanted to mention something about RV holding tanks that I do not think a lot of RVers are aware of. Many of the free dump stations available to RVers are closing because of chemicals that are harmful to septic systems and because RVers are abusing these dump stations. If we want to have access to these dump stations it is absolutely essential that we use septic safe chemicals (no formaldehyde), and that we clean up after ourselves and do not abuse dump stations.

Your RV has what is referred to as a gray water holding tank and a black water holding tank. The gray water holding tank collects dirty water from the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower. The black water holding tank is for the toilet. These tanks terminate into one main outlet used to empty the holding tanks. This is where we connect our sewer hose.

Make sure you have the required couplings and connectors. It may be necessary to attach two hoses together to reach the sewer connection. I recommend you only use heavy duty sewer hoses. Their not that expensive and they hold up much better. Keep a 10 foot hose and a 20 foot hose available. Do not pull or drag the sewer hose on the ground. This will cause it to tear or get pin holes in it.

To hook up the sewer hose make sure both valves are closed and remove the sewer cap. Make the connection by putting the hose adapter over the outlet and turn it clockwise until it locks securely in place. Take the other end of the hose over to the campground sewer connection. Use the necessary adapters to make the connection and get a good seal. It's a good idea to place some weight over the hose so it does not jump back out when you drain the tanks. It may be necessary to use some type of sewer hose support to get a good angle from the RV to the campground sewer connection so the tanks drain properly when you empty them. The small valve is for the gray water tank and the large valve is for the black water tank.

One golden rule for RV holding tanks is to never dump the black water tank until it is at least two thirds full. You want the tank nearly full so the weight and the gravity will force the contents of the tank to drain properly. Another golden rule is to never leave the black tank valve open at the campground and expect the toilet to drain or flush like the toilet in your home. It will not work.

When the tanks are full, or nearly full always dump the black tank first, followed by the gray tank. The gray water tank should also be at least two thirds full. Dumping the gray water tank last will help to flush the sewer hose out.

When you're at the campground for an extended period of time you can leave the gray tank valve partially open so it drains as you use it, but remember to NEVER do this with the black tank. If it's time to leave the campground and your holding tanks are not full you can finish filling them with water and then dump them. Never use your drinking water hose for holding tank maintenance or cleaning purposes. RV drinking hoses are normally white. Take a different color hose for others uses so you can distinguish the difference.

After you dump the tanks you need to thoroughly flush the tanks out. Some RVs have a built in system for flushing the tanks out. If not there are other ways to do it. You can use a tank wand designed for cleaning and flushing the black tank. The only problem is you do not know when or if the black tank is really clean and you can not rinse or clean the gray tank with a wand. I use a product called the Flush King. It's a reverse flush valve that connects directly to your sewer outlet and rinses and cleans both holding tanks in one simple operation. It's easy to use and it has a see through barrel so you know when the tanks are really clean.

Every time you dump the black tank you need to treat it with holding tank chemicals to assist in controlling odors and to break down solids. You should always use environmentally safe chemicals. Enzyme based chemicals use the good bacteria to digest waste and control odors. Formaldehyde based chemicals destroy the bacteria that's needed to break down waste and they can be dangerous to humans and pets.

The first step is to add enough water to completely cover the bottom of the tank. Four or five toilet bowls full should be sufficient depending on the size of your black tank. Water will assist a great deal with controlling holding tank odors. You always want the contents of the tank to be covered by water. Next, fill the toilet bowl and add the proper amount of holding tank chemicals, usually four ounces for every forty gallons the tank holds. Flush the toilet. Repeat this procedure every time you empty the black water holding tank. Some holding tank chemicals like RV Trine also contains valve lubricants to keep the valves operating properly and extend the valve seals life.

You should always use toilet paper designed for use in RVs. This toilet paper breaks down and dissolves in the holding tank chemicals preventing potential problems with the holding tank, the RV sewer system and the dump station septic system.
False holding tank readings on your monitor panel are caused by the holding tank probes being covered by toilet tissue or other debris. If flushing the tank does not solve the problem add some water and a couple bags of ice cubes to the empty holding tank. Drive or pull the trailer so the ice cubes can scrub the sides of the tank. Proper holding tank chemicals will also keep the holding tank probes clean.

Over time grease and residue builds up in the gray tank and it causes a foul odor, not to mention how it is affecting the tank and valve assembly. Periodically treat the gray tank with environmentally safe holding tank chemicals to avoid odors from the tank. When the tank is empty you can also add some dish washing liquid down the drains to help break down grease and residue build up.

Following these simple holding tank tips can prevent problems and provide you with long lasting trouble free holding tanks. This is one problem we can all do without! All of our RV walk-through videos cover information on RV holding tanks, the water system, LP gas system, electrical system and more. Check out our new "RV Essential Items" DVD to show you what items you will want for your RV to make all of your RV experiences more enjoyable.

Happy Camping,

Mark J. Polk

Copyright 2006 by Mark J. Polk owner of RV Education 101