The Courage to Saddle Up

saddleupIn his book Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West, James Owen writes that “real courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” I know how true that statement is because I have been struggling with that particular fear for the best part of this past year.

In addition to our eighteen school horses we also own two young horses, Bob and Swish. While both have been professionally trained they are still very “green” and inexperienced as well as being large and athletic. Bob is a confident horse who is always trying to take charge, while Swish lacks self-confidence and tends to bolt and spook frequently.

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I did not realize to what extent my other more experienced horses filled in for my leadership flaws until I started riding the babies. Certainly it is important that you have the physical skill to keep your butt balanced in the saddle and that you deliver the correct signals to your horse. But what really matters to the horse is your ability to be a confident leader. In the riding world we call this quality ‘clear intent’ and it is a definite, confident statement of intention transmitted through your body language to your horse.

I have worked with and ridden my older horses for a long time. They trust me and they know they can depend on me most of the time. If I slip up or lose focus they are forgiving enough to fill in for me. What I didn’t realize however was that this comfortable relationship was not a true test of my leadership abilities My leadership gaps became quickly and obviously apparent on the back of a quivering 1200 pound baby horse. After a particularly nerve-wracking ride on Bob last fall I quit riding for six months. I came up with every excuse why I couldn’t or shouldn’t get on the babies.. I occasionally rode one of my other horses so that I could tell myself I was still a competent rider but I knew that I was avoiding an important issue.

I came to the realization that what I feared was not the horse’s potential actions and behaviors but my own inability to take a leadership role when I was taken out of my comfort zone. I had the physical skills to stay in the saddle but I lacked the commitment and clear intent to convince my horse that listening to me was his best option, especially during a crisis.

I doubt that there is a corporate leader or business owner who hasn’t struggled at one time with self-doubt and fear. Hostile employees, dysfunctional teams, difficult clients, rigid and impossible deadlines and financial crises force leaders to step outside their comfort zones on a daily basis. It is exhausting and stressful and requires courage, commitment and belief in ones-self.

My experience this past year with Swish and Bob has been a powerful real- life learning experience for me. I decided that unless I wanted to own two very expensive lawn ornaments for the next twenty years I would have to stiffen my spine, sit up straight (literally) and convince all three of us that I had what it took. I began riding them again two months ago. While it is a constant challenge for me to assert my leadership I know that I have to step outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself in order to grow and develop as a leader. I have learned to take it one step at a time and to celebrate each small victory. Every time I stand on the mounting block I still have to take a deep breath before I mount up but I know now that true leadership begins when, despite your fear, you make the commitment to throw your leg over the saddle.

Laura Hunter – As owner and director of THE LEAD HORSE Laura relies on her herd of equine leadership experts to provide real-life training to her clients.

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What Can We Expect From Microsoft Lync 2013?

officeMicrosoft Lync is one of the most popular unified communications platforms on the market. Enterprise customers of Microsoft Lync 2010 have experienced significant cost reductions from implementing MS UC; with a reported average of over £2.5million in savings per 1,000 employees over a time period of six months.

Learn more about Office 365 Voice Support, visit

MS Lync combines real time presence information with IM, video conferencing, VoIP, email Exchange and Microsoft Office to create efficiencies and leverage productivity. This year will see the release of Microsoft’s latest UC server upgrade – Microsoft Lync 2013.

Lync 2013 isn’t a brand spanking new platform however it does build on all of the associated features of Microsoft Lync 2010 to deliver a more powerful and robust user experience. Microsoft promises better resiliency and reliability with its 2013 model, as well as drastic improvements in how you communicate on the move.

Better Enterprise Voice

As I work with many unified communications platforms, Microsoft’s voice offering was always poor in comparison with solutions from the likes of Cisco, Avaya or Swyx. They maintained great convergence with servers, back end IT systems and much-needed office applications but the VoIP did not live up to standard.

MS Lync 2013 incorporates many changes into its voice offering in an attempt to tackle the market of corporate grade telephony. As a result, not only has the overall VoIP asset been improved and built upon but there are now several new related enhancements.

Microsoft now offers support for multiple trunks between mediation servers and gateways, as well as sophisticated routing to allow the server to act as a go-between among IP and PSTN gateways. This means you can allow Lync users to dial legacy PBX extensions, or make calls via a traditional PSTN connection in situations where SIP trunking isn’t an option.

Users can also now set up simultaneous ringing where multiple designated phones can ring at the same time i.e. a delegate’s deskphone and smartphone. There is also the introduction of voicemail escape – which lets business calls on personal lines pass through to corporate voicemail – and caller ID.

Hyper Mobility

Microsoft responded neatly to this rising trend of hyper mobility by bringing a brand new feature rich app to a variety of smartphones and tablets. Lync has been developed not just to work in conjunction with Windows Phone (although this would be the most desirable option to Microsoft) but also for iOS and Android, meaning that customers can continue to rely on Microsoft no matter which device they choose.

MS Lync 2013 mobile clients will be able to make audio, video and conference calls from their mobile device, and will be able to instant message of join a Lync meeting from virtually anywhere in the world.

Microsoft has worked very hard in propagating Lync to mobile services, making a clear differentiation between smartphone and tablet users (unlike any other unified communications provider). Of course, Microsoft claims that the best experience will be given on its own operating system, but the firm does like to point out that it has distinctly ensured that the differences between smartphones and tablets is catered for like never before.

“The smartphone client is designed for users in motion, whereas the tablet tends to be used while users are more stationary and consumption of content and meeting attendance are key use cases,” says Microsoft.

Improved Chat and IM

Persistent chat is a new Lync service built around the former ‘group chat’ function. ‘Persistent’ means a history of the chat session is retained, so users can jump into a chat room and get up to speed conversations that have already taken place. Discussions in 2010 were previously not kept or archived which provided many legal implications to perspective users.

Furthermore with the new tabbed conversations feature, you can now keep all your calls, instant messages and chat rooms in one conversation window. You can quickly add others to an IM conversation or upgrade it to an audio or video call in one simple click.

New Conferencing features

The conferencing features have undergone a radical makeover in MS Lync 2013 which delivers support for 1080p HD resolution for video conferencing. Plus this video conferencing will be available across a broader range of platform and devices and is easier to use and manage.

A more productive Lync Web app

With Lync 2013 comes a brand new web app with full conference support which makes it easier for users without the Lync client to join meetings via browsers. This means that the Lync Attendee client is gone which gives your IT guys one less thing to manage. Lync 2013’s web app delivers the full Lync meeting experience with HD video, VoIP, IM and desktop sharing, all from a user’s browser.

What about Skype?

The question that seems to be on everyone’s lips after the very publicised acquisition of Skype last year is how Microsoft is going to implement this as a feature into Lync 2013.

Lync has always provided the option to integrate and communicate with Windows Live Messenger, but Microsoft is phasing that platform out and driving users over to Skype instead. We’ll have to see how successfully Microsoft extends communications to Skype with presence, instant messaging, and voice capabilities with the release early this year.

Find a Microsoft Lync 2013 provider

Microsoft has really cleaned up its 2010 offering providing enhancements across the board and delivering a more intuitive, slicker user interface. It aims to create even more efficiencies in a worker’s day by making it easier and quicker to contact participants and set up meetings.

There are also a lot of other smaller enhancements that go to improving the overall look and feel of the product. However, if you are new to Microsoft Lync and considering implementing Lync 2013, you will almost certainly need training.

Elite Telecom is a reputable Microsoft Lync provider who can work closely with you and your staff to integrate Lync 2013 seamlessly into your business, keeping downtime to an absolute minimum. To find out more on Microsoft Lync or find out which unified communications solution is best for your business, call Elite to discuss.

Nick Mannion is the Commercial Director for Elite Telecom, UK Unified Communications Providers. All information included in the article is provided and written by Nick on behalf of Elite.

Things To Consider When Hiring A Plumbing Service For Home Restoration

Water spills, leaking pipes and clogged drains make your homes look untidy and tend to emit an offensive odor. If left untreated, the situation may worsen with time. Sometimes, it becomes very difficult for the homeowners to handle a leaky pipeline or a flooded basement. In such situations, one must hire a skilled plumber to fix any malfunctioning in the drainage system.

If you’re still building up the courage to call a professional plumber, it’s recommended that you should keep a few important points in mind. I’ve mentioned the major facts in this article.

Seek Help From Reliable Sources:

Don’t just go around searching for random plumbing services in the city. Contact a reliable, seasoned and skilled professional only. You can seek references from your neighbors, colleagues, friends and other acquaintances. Check out social media sites and blogs for accurate contact details of esteemed plumbing agencies.

Contact Topnotch Plumbing Services Of The City:

Prepare a list of the top plumbing agencies of the city. Classify them based on their specialty, fixing procedures, number of workers, experience, skills, prices and market reputation. Contact 4 or 5 companies and talk to them.

Explain your situation and ask them for solutions. A genuine provider won’t hesitate to help you. Go through their portfolio and ask them relevant questions regarding work. Find out their area of specialization and negotiate prices.

Dig Into Their Past:

Ask the managers to provide you their business license number and staff details. Dig into their past and verify this information. You can contact best business bureau, consumer forums and municipal departments for complains registered in the name of local home plumbing and restoration services.

Contact their previous customers and discuss their experiences. If the company is functioning in the market since last couple of decades, you can easily get online reviews and ratings on their previous projects. Browse through online forums for this piece of information.

Hiring Plumbing Professionals:

As soon as you’re through with the investigation part, you can recheck your list of restoration services. Find the best restoration agent and ask them for discounts or trial for plumbing and restoration services. Decide the duration, cost and number of workers involved in your project.

Decide a particular day when you would like to call the plumbers. Pay the upfront costs and sign a written contract with the agency.

In case you’re overwhelmed with the number of choices you have in hand, just don’t worry. Simply contact All Star Plumbing And Restoration Company. They have the best plumbers in Meridian, United States. The agency specializes in fixing water damages, leaks, heaters, drains and slab. Interested individuals can check out the official website of All Star Plumbing and Restoration Services for details regarding different packages and services.

Upgrading Your Accounting Solution Takes Courage

Business Accounting SoftwareThree Signs It’s Time To Upgrade Your Bookkeeping Software.

Upgrading your bookkeeping software after you’ve outgrown the previous version is kind of like driving around for miles with your gas tank on Empty. You might make it to the next station safely, but you’re taking an unnecessary risk. That is, you could continue to eek out a few more miles (virtually speaking) on your old bookkeeping software, but it could cost your company money and even lost business.

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When you employ a virtual bookkeeper for your small business, Software-as-a-Service goes hand-in-hand, giving your virtual bookkeeper and part-time financial controller 24/7 access to your financial records from anywhere. If you’re in Chicago and your virtual bookkeeper is in Indianapolis, the ability to view the same financial data, at the same time, is a necessity. If you work with a virtual bookkeeping service and financial controller who manages your books and your financial software, you don’t have to worry about your financial data disappearing without warning. Just as the SaaS provider’s reputation hinges on their quality of service, our reputation hinges on choosing the right SaaS solutions for our customers.

Here are three signs that it’s time to start shopping around for new bookkeeping software – and maybe a virtual bookkeeper and part-time financial controller to manage it all.

1. You’re using too many products to get the job done – If you’re using one software product to manage inventory, one for invoicing, one for payroll and still another for CRM, it may be time to streamline with a scalable, Software-as-a-Service solution that can manage and integrate all or most of these functions seamlessly.

2. You need more customization in your small business bookkeeping software. – If you, your in-house bookkeeper or whoever is currently managing your books constantly says, “I wish this application could do… fill-in-the-blank… it’s time to consider more robust options in accounting software.

3. You’re expecting business growth in the form of greater revenue, more employees, more customers or more vendors. – The time to upgrade your small business bookkeeping software is now, before you start running that proverbial tank on “E.” Accounting Software-as-a-Service solutions provide scalable bookkeeping, payroll, and inventory functions so you can manage your business more easily – working “on” your business to create continued growth and success, rather than constantly working “in” it, managing all the tasks that you should be delegating, whether that means additional employees, virtual help, or the right software solutions.

Need Help Choosing Small Business Accounting Software? Not every small business accounting solution is right for every company. Trained bookkeeping staff and software specialists can help you select the best cloud-based accounting solution that will grow with your business.

Effective Tanning Methods

tanningThe Hows and Whats of Skin Tanning With Safe and Effective Methods.

The overexposure to the sun can lead to skin tanning for most people. Usually, the ultraviolet rays enter the skin and break down the DNA in the body. In return, the body starts producing melanin (skin darkening agent) in order to prevent further damage. The melanin protects the whole body from the overexposure of the sunlight. A skin with more melanin becomes dark and stays protected from the sunburn. So, if you are one of those who spend a lot of time in the sun, you are at less risk of getting any sunburn. Experts suggest that self tanning is something that you should gradually do by spending only few minutes in the sun with right sort of sunscreen protection. The melanin is produced in the cells, melanocytes, when the sunlight penetrates the skin. But there are some people, whose skin does not produce enough melanin on its own. As a result, their skin becomes oversensitive to the sunlight and cause problems. They should protect their skin with some sunscreen before moving out. Though everyone has almost same number of melanocytes available in their body, only a few people with skin type above I, have sufficient melanin produced by the melanocytes to tan their bodies.

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The melanocyte produces two pigments eumelanin (brown in colour) and phaeomelanin (yellow or red in colour). This can be seen in people with red hair, who have more of phaeomelanin than eumelanin. People with fair skin have very less melanin produced in their skin and it is only produced when they come out in sun. This is why an individual who can tan his or her skin fairly well may get a fairly white skin when not exposed to the sun. Tanning without any exposure to the sun is also known as self tanning. It can be achieved with the help of sprays, lotions, and chemical based creams. People have now become more open to this type of tanning due to associated high risk of skin cancer and wrinkles with overexposure to sun. proto-col Tanning Lotion is an effective choice of many people in this category to attain an effect similar to that resulting from a natural suntan. The nutrients in this lotion prepare your skin to get tanned under the sun without much exposure to the harmful UV rays. This lotion also helps in enhancing the production of melanin in your body for fast and effective tanning in a considerable amount of time.

Let’s look at some of the effective sun-tanning tips that may help you take appropriate steps to reap safe and effective results from numerous products available on the market for self tanning:

Exfoliation of the skin is something that you should perform before using any lotion or cream for self-tanning. As a result, the excess body oils and the dead skin cells are removed, which otherwise can lead to improper absorption of these topical products. In order to maintain the pH level of the skin, you can use a mild soap. Using proto-col Boost Capsules can help in the production of the melanin to get desired results of tanning.

Moisturising the skin is the next step that is necessary with a good water-based moisturiser. As the oil can interfere with absorption ability of the skin, you should avoid using oil-based moisturisers.

Getting a tan without exposure to the sun is considered as self tanning, which can be achieved by safe and effective methods like home spray tan, proto-col Bronze. Here are some basic facts about self tanning and how it can be achieved.

Making A Difference With The Right Car Accessories

Car RampsChoosing The Right Auto Travel Accessories For Your Trip.

Choosing the right auto travel accessories for your trip is important if you want to be comfortable. We all want the comforts of home at all times. And, there is no better time to have it all, than now. While many love to fly, others really enjoy a car trip. But, long distance traveling can be boring.

Visit to find the car accessories you want.

However, with the auto travel accessories, it can cut the boredom and make the trip seem so much shorter. One of the best accessories to have with you is a portable DVD player. This is of essence, especially with children. It can make the difference between a peaceful drive and one that is stressful. One very important thing to remember is the traveling case that is full of their favorite movies.

With the help of an adapter, everything is possible. Even bringing your laptop to get in some extra work, or play some games while another is driving. Again, the chargers, converters and adapters are the key to having a pleasurable and entertaining ride.

As we all look to technology for entertainment, it is important to have the right ones. You will need to ensure that each traveler and each electronic device has its own. Like this, all cell or mobile phones, MP3 players, game consoles and such can be charged and used accordingly throughout the trip. A portable GPS is always an excellent buddy to have with you at all times, especially on a long distance drive. It can cut your trip by avoiding any mistakes that will cause you to lose time. Plus, you will never get lost with it.

A cooler full of snacks and other food will also shorten the drive. You won’t have to make that many stops this way. And, you will cut down on the cost of the trip by packing the essentials. If you like coffee, brew some of your own and put it in a thermos. Remember to bring safe traveling mugs and you’re set.

Aside from the electronics, there are other important things to remember to bring with you on the drive. For instance, some pillows for each passenger to rest his or her head. Blankets are always a welcomed accessory for long distance drives as well.

Find all the honest and objective Skycity Hotels Auckland Help and Advice you are looking for in just one website! But this is not all! Learn how to choose the best Auckland Airport Hotel.

I Need A Commercial Painter

Complete PaintingNeed Painting Services? Hire Professional Commercial Painters!

Painting or repainting is part of maintaining a residential or commercial building in a good shape. Everyone knows how a recently painted building looks like and can tell the difference in aesthetics compared to a building that has not being repainted for a long time. On a regular basis, it is a good idea to take care of your house or commercial building and hire professional painters in order to refresh the looks of it.

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Especially for commercial buildings where a good paint can definitely catch the eye, a great commercial painter can use different methods and techniques in order to improve the design of the building using paintings. You can hire professional commercial painters to repaint your building in the same color or in a completely different one. There are plenty of paints and painting methods that can suit every exterior structure of the building. Make sure that you pick a beautiful color and your building will look as brand new.

Also, it may happen sometimes that you want to improve the looks of your commercial building but you do not know exactly what paint to choose. Perhaps you have a limited budget and time and you do not want to waste it on unsuccessful paint jobs. In this case, if you hire a professional painting company that offers experienced commercial painters, they may be able to provide advice regarding the last painting trends and colors schemes. Make sure that you take their advice in consideration as well when you are opting for a particular color.

That is because the looks of your building really matters. Imagine that a dull and boring building will never catch the eye and it will remain unnoticed. On the other hand, an interesting and attractive color scheme can make the difference and you score points at aesthetics with little to no effort. A professional commercial painter can tell you if the idea that you have in mind is good for a particular type of building and he can offer advice regarding the exterior design as well.

So, where to find such great commercial painters? Well, there are plenty of them in most of the major cities but you must make sure that you opt for the most experienced ones. That is because experience plays a vital role in this case and you need to hire someone that you can trust. Make sure that you ask for references or images of past projects in order to find one if a particular commercial painter is up to the task. In addition, you can check for customers’ testimonials as well.

Commercial painters that are dedicated to their job and do it with pleasure will always provide quality services and you will be satisfied. For an affordable price, you can totally change the face of your commercial building and your image will grow as well. An attractive paint job can sometimes attract potential customers. So, if you need repainting, always opt for professional commercial painters and you will not be disappointed.

If you need to find commercial painters, visit Vinces Painting – the quality painters in Brisbane!

POS Solution For The Retail Owner

POS accounting softwareRetail POS Software Can Benefit Your Business.

Businesses are benefiting from the expertise available through POS. This software provides businesses with many business solutions that keep their business flowing smoothly year round including inventory control, gift cards, customer’ incentives, and much more. Learn about the many benefits available for retail businesses.

Check out to do more for your retail business.

Retail POS software is beneficial to businesses. Utilizing a software expert for your business can benefit you in multiple ways. Utilize a top grade, brand name equipment system and even enjoy free training classes and 12 months of technical support. Each system is designed to be specifically easy to utilize and is fully customized for the unique needs of each business. Restaurants, salons, retail stores, and other businesses benefits from utilizing POS.

POS is fully customizable and is offered with the best online pricing available. A variety of services are included such as menu programming and inventory import. These and other programming opportunities provide businesses with the ability to run smoothly and efficiently. Each system is set up for the business and is selected for your business based on your business needs. There are over 100 different POS systems including retail POS software. Retail POS software is uniquely designed to meet each business’ specific needs and can include five or more stations that provide perfect communication and that protects business owners from theft while it provides a smooth flowing business operation on a daily basis.

Retail systems meet the needs of each business type. Multiple stations are suitable for businesses ranging in size from small businesses to multi-store chain operations. Businesses are able to flow smoothly and easily with this high quality software. The retail POS software can be installed into your existing computer system which benefits businesses by saving them the expense of having to purchase an entirely new computer system. Options include a variety of combinations of software that meet each businesses needs for example: the Microsoft retail management system and the cash register express work together to provide a complete POS solution for each business. Computer savvy business owners are able to install the new software onto their existing computer themselves. For business owners who prefer not to complete this project themselves they are trained experts who will ensure that the entire system is up and running smoothly and quickly in a time efficient manner.

Inventory control is smooth and easy when you utilize software that is designed to systematically oversee this important part of retail business. The benefits of this component include protection from theft as well as a constant easy to view overview of inventory. This component is especially beneficial for multi-stores who are linked together under one business. Quickly utilize the inventory control to determine which stores have the product requested by the customer. Businesses are able to save substantial amounts by guarding against theft and by generating multiple sales by utilizing this aspect of POS. Gift cards, customer loyalty, time and attendance, in-house accounts, layaway, work orders and in-depth recording are a few of the features that retail POS software provides.

The opportunities for business advancement through excellent organization and business oversight are easily achievable through the professional retail point-of-sale solutions available through experts. Your business will benefit from a customized POS that is designed to specifically meet your business’ needs.

POS Nation is your source for Retail POS Software and all things POS

I Need A Property Manager

reantl homesThe Need For Property Management.

With so many properties foreclosing, and so many people displaced, it seems that there are more and more properties coming up for rent. Investors have scooped in and bought many of these homes with the goal of resale. But investors know that they will need to hold for a little while if they want to turn the property for a profit. In the interim time, many of these are becoming rental properties. Therefore the need has recently increased for good property management.

208 Rent Now has the property managers you’ve been looking for.

Many properties are being bought right now, but in many cases it is by buyers who do not necessarily live in the immediate area. Many buyers of the foreclosures and other investment properties need good property management because they cannot be near by to check on and properly service their rental properties. For many of the buyers, this is a buy and hold plan. Many bought the property because they knew it was a great deal, and they were able to take advantage of the low purchase prices. However, being a good business investor, it is plainly evident that it is not the time to sell, at all. So if the property is assigned to a good property management company then the investment can be properly maintained and the upkeep at a level that the property will be ready for the market when it bounces and back and becomes a seller’s market again.

Real estate management companies handle the calls about the different things that can go wrong with the property. This is great news since the seller is many times out of touch. If the client has a dishwasher, or toilet that overflows and causes an excess of water on the floor, many times the seller would not be able to race to the home. What could be a small problem with the property management company taking care of things immediately, could end up being devastating to the property and could lead to damages that went from a few hundreds of dollars to a few thousand dollars.

Property management companies are invaluable. The hassles of dealing first hand with the customers and all that this entails is reason enough for getting a property management company to handle investment properties. Owners of investment properties do not have to contend with collections of rents from the renters when they have a property management company.

There are numerous reasons why a property management company may be a good option. Weigh it out and see if you believe this will be a good plan for your property.

For more information on how to get 100% financing for your property , please follow the link : Real Estate.

Finding A Wedding Venue For Your Daughter

wedding venueWhat To Consider When Choosing a Wedding Venue?

Anyone planning a wedding will know that the process can be completely overwhelming, with so many things to think about, from the guest list to the table decorations and everything in between. However, if you can get the basics organised, this can really relieve the pressure. The venue is a major consideration that will set the scene for all the other decisions you make. One of the main factors is capacity, so if you know how many people are on your guest list, you can start the hunt for your perfect venue with that in mind. If you have an idea of how formal or relaxed you would like the setting to be, that is a great starting point for making a decision.

Visit to find your ideal venue.

Whilst traditionally the wedding venue is in the bride’s hometown, modern weddings often take place wherever the couple lives or at a location that has happy memories or special significance for the couple. Many couples do not want to share their wedding day with another party, so it’s worth checking whether you can have exclusive use of your chosen venue and be aware that this might come at a price. If you choose a venue in a city, you will need to think about whether there will be ample parking for everyone you are inviting and check whether public transport links will offer suitable flexibility with regard to timing on your big day. For more rural locations, you should bear in mind that it might be harder for your party to get to your wedding if your venue isn’t near a station or bus service, so consider laying on transport from a nearby town or helping your guests to organise lift sharing where possible.

Another thing to bear in mind is whether the people you want to invite will be able to get to your wedding on time from their homes and whether they will need to stay overnight, either the night before the ceremony, the night after or both. Many weddings will take place in a venue that has rooms you can pre-book for your guests at a discounted rate, but if you are choosing a venue that doesn’t have accommodation attached, it is worth checking that there is somewhere close by where your friends and family can stay.

You should also give some consideration to the end of your wedding day. Some couples want their reception to go on for as long as their guests can carry on dancing, in which case it will be important to check whether there are any licensing restrictions. This will mean that the music has to finish by a certain time or that the bar will be closed to you and your guests. Venues with close neighbours might have stricter regulations about early nights, whereas somewhere secreted away in the countryside with nobody to complain about noise for miles around will probably be a bit more flexible.

The Arthouse Hotel is leading entertainment venue in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. To find out more about how the Arthouse Hotel can help you plan and organise your wedding visit their website.

Choosing a wedding reception venue is indeed one of the most important decisions and there are many factors one must consider. For example, how many people are in the guest list, is it going to be a formal wedding or fairly relaxed, are the guests staying overnight etc. So there are lots of things to keep in mind when deciding which wedding venue to book.

Locating A Good Technical Trainer

technical trainerWhat Are the Advantages of Instructor-Led Technical Training?

What do you look for in a Technical Training Course? Of course you want to make sure that the training course meets your own or your staff’s technical objectives. Is the training to lead to some form of certification, or is it just the technical skills you require? Whatever your objectives, you only have a few choices on the format of the training, with the main contenders being Instructor-Led Technical Training courses or maybe an online training course.

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I personally have been involved in Network Training and Telecoms training for a number of years and have a lot of experience of Instructor-Led Training.

Online training courses normally expect the delegates to log on via the Internet before having access to a number of training resources. The quality of e-learning courses varies an awful lot, as does the quality of the training material itself. Some e-learning vendors offer a comprehensive range of training materials including good visual aids and access to a tutor for questions and explanations. Before you embark on this type of learning experience, you need to have confidence in not only the quality of the course materials, but also on the quality and availability of a qualified or experienced tutor. Also, after completion of the training course, do you continue to have access to training resources and or a tutor? This can be critical when planning to continue to progress at your chosen discipline.

Another important aspect of online training courses is the question of access to technical equipment, and this is particularly important for Network Training Courses. For example, if your chosen subject is some form of data communications, data networking or telecommunications, how will you access the appropriate equipment so that you can put into practice what you have learned? If you are going to pay good money on an e-learning course then you need to ensure that the practical aspects of the training course are sufficient to meet your learning objectives. Some online training vendors will give you access to remote labs, where you can log on to practical simulators, whereas others will give you remote access to actual live hardware.

What about Instructor-Led Technical Training, often referred to as Classroom Training? The main benefits of this type of training are in the fact that you have face to face interaction with a Tutor, who should be able to answer your questions there and then. Obviously the tutor or trainer needs to be an expert in the subject and just as important is the fact that he or she must have the ability to convey the subject matter in a professional and effective manner.

Some Instructor-Led Technical Training courses utilise remote labs so the training environment only requires each delegate to have access to the Internet to be able to configure and interrogate the technical equipment. Once again the remote labs may use simulators and some offer access to real live equipment. This is OK for a lot of delegates but I always feel that beginners certainly need to get a real feel for the equipment, so live equipment in the classroom can be a real benefit. Once again, Network Training really benefits in having real equipment in the classroom. The benefit of remote labs is more a benefit for the vendor than the delegate generally, as it means the training course can be run from any location provided Internet access is available. Being able to physically see how equipment is connected together, observe status and warning lights and have a real hands-on feel certainly outweigh the benefits of remote access in my opinion.

Having real equipment in the classroom allows the trainer to simulate a wider range of faults and scenarios and offers the delegate the chance to troubleshoot problems using a variety of methods instead of just relying on a Command Line Interface. For the training vendor this type of training does pose logistical problems, as it means transporting the equipment to the training venue and there is always a danger of physical damage.

I personally think the advantages of Instructor-Led Technical Training outweigh any advantages of online training, although I concede that e-learning does suit some delegates. Think carefully before you commit to a training package and consider all the alternatives before making a decision. Price is always a big consideration, but the quality and effectiveness of the training course should also be high on your agenda.

The Right IT Consultant

Network SupportFinding The Right Computer Consultant.

As a business owner there is going to be some point in time when you are going to need to hire the services of a computer expert in order to provide tech support. However, making sure that you hire the correct computer expert can be a difficult task as there are a lot of charlatans out there who claim to be experts in computing but who do not have a proper knowledge or qualifications. So when it comes to finding the right computer expert there are some simple and easy steps you can take to find the best computer consultant who can help your business.

Check out to find the IT consultant right for you.

Services on Offer

As with most service providers, you will find that there are many varying levels of service that will be offered by the computer consultant. Some will only be able to offer you a basic and limited service, whilst some will be able to offer support in one specific area of computing such as protecting against computer viruses. Most consultants will be specialized in one specific area of computing, however, those who offer their services that cover a wide ranging spectrum of computing issues are the ones that are more sought after. Finding a computer consultant that has the knowledge to satisfy all of your computing needs is the one who will be able to save you both time and money.

What Can You Expect to Pay?

Taking on a computer consulting company that is offering their services in a wide range of different computing areas does not always mean that you are going to be charged excessive amounts of money. There are always going to be the odd company that will try to charge higher fees because they offer such a wide range of computing solutions, so before settling for the first computer consulting company that comes along, try to contact three or four different ones and get them to provide you with a quote for their services.

The one that offers the best price for the services you require is more than likely to be the best option for your business. It is also advisable to do some research in to the previous experience of the company by asking to see any testimonials or references they have acquired in the past for the excellence of their work. Your business is important and so is the smooth running of your computers which are the heartbeat of your company so making sure that you are getting the best services for your money is important.

Are you in the Los Angeles area? Do you need a computer consultant or help with computer repair? Contact the very helpful experts at ITwithIQ today!

How A Dentist Can Make Life Better

Family DentistryRestorative Dentistry Can Make Life Much More Pleasant.

I realized I had ignored my toothache for too long when a piercing pain shot up my nerves the moment I tried to bite into a red apple this morning. A visit to the dentist could no longer be ignored and once I got there, I was ready for a verbal lashing from my dentist who is also a good friend. I had postponed this visit for quite sometime and now had a dental cavity that needed immediate medical attention. While waiting for the treatment to begin I came across many patients seated outside the dentist’s office. Some teenagers with braces were trying to cover it up as much as they could, while there were also some people with serous deformities in their teeth alignment. I really appreciated the fact that these people were sensible enough to get a treatment done and this implemented before it was too late to help.

Visit and you will find a dentist to make your life better.

Medical science has indeed made tremendous progress in all fields, including dentistry. Now a broken tooth, misaligned teeth, chipped teeth, yellow teeth, cavities, plaque and almost every kind of dental problem can easily be cured with restorative dentistry. It’s only when our teeth make our smile look unpleasant and negatively affect our looks, do we realize the seriousness of the situation and seek out treatment through it. The modes of treatment can range from braces to crown and bridge repair of teeth that have been, broken, damaged, decayed or lost. Once a renowned dentist examines your teeth and the medical or dental history, you can get expert guidance for repairing any dental defect that has arisen due to accident or perhaps sheer neglect.

A crown can be created to restore an individual tooth from its damaged form to its original form and function while a bridge can be used to replace one or more teeth. The crown is created using an indirect procedure where the tooth is formed by using specific instruments and by using the impression of the original tooth. The crown is then permanently attached to the tooth and is a lifelong solution for the wearer. Implantation of bridges requires dental treatment to be performed directly on the damaged tooth and use of local anesthesia is required to help the patient deal with the pain that is bound to occur. Once the impression from the damaged spot is created, it is sent to the laboratory for fabrication of a new tooth. The procedure can take up to five to ten days and two to four appointments. A crown treatment takes around two to three office visits.

A perfect smile adds to the beauty of a person’s personality and enhances his or her self confidence. A little care for your oral health and a regular dental check up routine can go a long way to ensure that your precious set of pearly whites are intact till an old age. However if faced with an unavoidable situation like a disease or an accident you can rest assured that restorative dentistry is sure to bring a smile back to your face.

Brad Taylor has a special interest in health related topics and advises people on many aspects related to health. Among other health related topics, dentistry is one field that he is specially interest in.

To know more about best teeth whitening,cosmetic dentistry NYC, restorative dentistry [] and dental implants visit

An Insurance Agent: One Person Who Can Help

insuranceThe Value of a Great Insurance Agent.

For many people, finding a good insurance agent is just as cumbersome as finding good insurance: if you try to handle it yourself, you struggle in an effort to find a diamond in the rough and you end up with buyer’s remorse. But there are no agents for finding insurance agents: finding the right one is up to you. Whether you’ve recently moved, recently bought a car, or simply need someone fresh, if you’re reading this it means that you’ll have to acquire some insurance in the near future. And you need to know that you’re working with someone you can trust.

Visit TLF Insurance and find the insurance agent for you.

So what’s someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience in buying insurance going to do? Well, there’s the typical, easy route of looking up insurance agents on Google and placing a phone call to the person who ends up at he top of the list. But Internet rankings aren’t enough to guarantee you both the best price and the best quality of coverage: if you want to find an insurance who can really help you out, ten it’s time to put a little effort into it.

But you won’t by shooting darts in the dark. In this guide, we’ll tell you all about finding insurance agents – what to look for in an in-person meeting, how to find ones with less traditional means, etc. – and you’re going to find the best quotes whether you’re looking for health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, or something else.

Of course, while you can’t do this sitting on your butt, we hope you’ll take the time to check out this buyer’s guide to insurance agents. The best way to read it is to keep a pen and paper handy so that you can write down the key points you hear and anything else that strikes you as something you’ll want to keep in mind. Keep reading and in no time you’ll be ready to find a few insurance agents that are looking to provide you with a deal – not just add to their bottom line.

What makes a good insurance agent?

Being an insurance salesman doesn’t always have a great connotation. It can be like a career in law: even though you might have a noble profession, you can find yourself to be the butt of a lot of jokes. But insurance salesman don’t have to resemble used car salesman: many are looking out for their customers and use their people skills to find deals that benefit both parties. This is what you want to find.

If you want to find it, of course, you’ll have to know how to recognize it. So here are a few tips for finding an insurance agent that is actually looking out for you.

•The aforementioned “good deal” test. Come to your insurance agent well-prepared and ask them what they can do for you considering the deals you were able to find on your own. A good, creative insurance agent looks at this as a challenge rather than an insult and will be willing to work with you to find something from their insurance provider that works for you. You’d be surprised how many insurance agents will actually pass this test – after all, insurance salesman are looking to make a sale. It doesn’t really matter to them what kind of insurance you get as long as you make a purchase. Some insurance salesman might be a little pushier and try to get you to commit to more than you wanted, but don’t be surprised to see that many insurance salesman know that a small sale is better than no sale at all.

•Word-of-mouth reviews. Google reviews are too up-and-down to take too seriously; instead, worry about the word-of-mouth reviews that you can find from people you know. Ask around the community you live in. Ask people you know. Find the best insurance agent through the best marketing method known out there: word-of-mouth marketing. Try to get a review or two rather than simply rely on one person’s views – then act upon what you keep hearing from other people. If you find a really good insurance agent with this method, you’ll find that it’s almost impossible for them not to deliver the goods.

•Find quotes first. Sometimes, an insurance salesman won’t exactly wow you, but they’ll be the ones to make your signup to an insurance policy as smooth as possible. When you find the good quotes first, this is all you really need from an insurance agent. That’s the kind of forward-thinking you’ll want in your quest to find the right policy for you, but remember: an insurance agent still can help you out. Don’t assume that you’ll have to get with their program before you sign anything. Make sure they get with your program. Tell them what you need and what it would take for you to consider leaving another quote behind and signing up with their policy.

•Pay attention to how the insurance agent interacts with you. When an insurance agent seems too eager to sign you up without asking the types of questions that would need to be answered to find your ideal policy, then you know that your insurance agent is in too big of a hurry to make the sale. This isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, and many good insurance agents can make this mistake, but you’ll have to be the one to correct it. Don’t let an insurance agent talk you into a policy simply because they act like they expect you to sign. A good insurance agent will be able to close the deal without being pushy; they’ll be action-oriented while taking your individual considerations to heart. Pay close attention to how an insurance agent deals with you and you’ll get an idea of how they’ll treat you down the line, too.

Obviously that’s a lot of information to absorb. But if you remember the key points about being able to find a good insurance agent you should have no problem sticking to a few of the strategies listed above. Remember that action is just as important as knowledge: unless you act on these tips, you can’t really be sure they’ll work or not!

With over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry, Vicki truly enjoys helping people. She started in the banking industry, working her way through the ranks for eighteen years. As she became more interested in planning and saving for retirement, she worked at a financial brokerage company for ten years. Vicki works independently where she focuses most of her time creating, protecting and enhancing wealth for individuals and families. She continues to keep up with tax laws and training, in annuities, life, and long term care insurance. She is especially passionate about helping families with asset protection, as she feels that many people do not always know all of the options available to them. Vicki also helps seniors navigate through their many healthcare options; she works with various private Insurance companies who offer Medicare Supplements and/or Advantage Plans.

Vicki and her husband love working and playing outdoors and especially enjoy traveling. If you are in need of some sound financial planning, with a friendly, personal touch, give Vicki a call. Integrity is of foremost importance. You can be certain that she will listen to your concerns, and provide a plan, so you can rest easy knowing your financial future is being taken care of.


Communication Can Save Money

communication3 Ways Small Businesses Can Save Money While Improving Communication Services.

In the technology era we have entered it has become more and more difficult for consumers to understand what their real options are. As we go over different items in this article you, will need to be prepared to take a look at how you do business as an outsider would, completely objectively. We will cover three main points of interest in your network of communications that may be acting as a crutch for you instead of giving you the power to grow. We will cover technology that is available to you, take a look at fees that you are paying currently, and finally look at how you are currently managing your network.

First, consider your phone system and the lines connected to it. How old is your phone system? Is your phone system older than 5 years, and if so what can your phone system handle? A lot of phone systems older than a few years cannot accept or utilize VoIP. There are many places you can find out, local vendors, Google etc, if all else fails email me your make and model and we can go from there. I know what you’re thinking and let me tell you that VoIP is the way of the future and safe guards are in place to keep the quality voice you are use to hear over traditional lines. VoIP has come such a long ways from when it first entered the realm of communications. Most people think of the connection they utilized on their computers where they were missing every other word with their friends as they attempted a conversation over the internet. When you look at network provides these days most of them will take care of the quality of voice provided on a VoIP solution by enabling QoS (Quality of Service). What this does is takes the packets that are being transmitted to the internet and gives different packets different priority levels. So for example, if you have Voice, email, streaming music, and video, QoS will slap a 1 on voice to show it has priority over all the other traffic. This results in email music and video would come in second. This way, by the priority being placed on Voice we ensure that it gets all the bandwidth it needs and everything else is secondary to it.

Once you confirm you have a phone system that will be able to take advantage of VoIP, you can take a look at different providers. Most providers will offer you some sort of unlimited usage package for local and long distance. In my experience, I have seen that this is more cost effective then paying for POTS line(Plain Old Telephone Service) with usage on top of the access line cost. Some of you reading this might have more expensive access methods to get your phone service such as PRI’s which gives you 23 paths for phone calls and 1 for signaling. This type of service typically still has extra costs for usage.

Now on the other hand if you don’t have a system that can handle VoIP, you have two options you can look at should you decide to move with technology. Providers today have two flavors; you can have a premises based system where you pay for the phone system brain and handsets or you can take advantage of hosted solutions. One of the benefits of having a hosted solution is the company pays for upkeep of the brain of the phone system and the maintenance, now you only need to pay for your handsets and possibly a warranty on them if you wish. Typically a solid provider will provide your handsets with free upgrades in firmware to make sure you are always on the latest and greatest release.

Now that we have covered some basic phone system options, you should do some comparisons of what you are paying now. These should include monthly costs as well as yearly costs such as site visits from your vendor for moves adds and changes and warranty/maintenance. If you take advantage of VoIP you should see savings on your monthly costs quickly as they are typically unlimited usage based and most businesses today spend the majority of their costs on usage. If you have decided to move to a hosted solution you may see even greater savings, as the provider will maintain the brain of the phone system. Other ways you can save are web portals, providers of hosted solutions want to empower their consumers. You should be able to make your own adds, moves, and changes on the fly through your internet browser or GUI software they give you, as well take advantage of options to transfer calls to external sources, giving you the illusion of looking either bigger than you are or more available. Thus, building the trust in your customer’s minds that yes, you can handle their needs appropriately. With hosted solutions these days you can have your desk phone ring and cell phone at the same time, no matter which one you answer your customer now thinks they have called you and you are sitting at your desk unless you tell them otherwise. So be sure to look at your total telecom costs when you think about the option of moving to a new phone system. One with a new warranty might actually cost you less with options for VoIP and GUI interfaces.

Finally, how are you managing your network? Are you paying for one or more employees to manage your network? Are you trying to handle it all yourself and are struggling to keep up with technology? Are you in the cloud, or do you still have site based servers? Problems facing small businesses today are the ideas of trying to find money to pay employee a salary to strictly handle IT. If you cannot afford a full time employee, look into IT providers that you can pay for the time they spend at your site. This eliminates some of the overhead of having to have a full time staff. Most companies these days will provide some sort of professional service like this. If you are trying to handle this yourself and you are supposed to be running the business, ask yourself who is running the business? Is this where my time is best spent or should I be doing what I started this business for what I was born for; Most business owners trying to wear the IT hat leave themselves very vulnerable to attacks from outside threats, from competitors trying to deface their company or people trying to steal confidential information. Make sure you protect yourself and your company with the proper security you need, from firewalls to protecting your phone system from hackers. You need to fully understand the dangers of doing business in the virtual age. For those of you who are still paying for servers and or hosting them on your site, start looking into hosted solutions as hosted providers pay for the servers the upgrades and the storage. You will not have to buy bigger than you need and you will not have outdated equipment after a few months to a year.

Thank you for taking time out of you business day to 3 Ways Small Businesses Can Save Money While Improving Communication Services.

Your Communication Buddy

Marcus Schmidt

Improved Communication Technology

communication technologyNew Technology Empowers Families To Improve Communication, Learning And Cognition At Home.

Most of us know a child with a speech, language or learning disability or an adult who has communication or cognitive deficits from a stroke or head injury. Formal treatment typically ends too soon- leaving people with untapped potential. The schools often only provide special speech therapy services for students who are struggling academically. Many students with articulation disorders and subtle language and learning challenges are not seen for remediation. Insurance has placed increasingly stringent limits on the therapy for stroke and head injury survivors. Recent research has shown that the brain is capable of making new neurological connections when properly stimulated, but it is often difficult for family members to know the best way to provide the stimulation. Many families do not have easy access to a speech-language pathologist skilled in the use of technology to enhance progress or can not afford to pay privately for ongoing therapy.

Application sharing is a new technology which empowers rehabilitation and education professionals who specialize in using technology to help families who would like to play an active role in the treatment process. Using screen sharing technology, professionals are able to expose families to software, devices, resources, and strategies that may help their loved ones reach their greatest potential. Families participate at home with their computers- either a PC or a Mac. There is no need for participants to download any software. Computer expertise is not needed to participate in this program, but high speed internet access is required. The therapists invites the family to join “application/screen sharing” sessions. Participants view the therapist’s software on their monitor and listen to personalized presentations so that they can learn to use the software with their family member. Control of the software can be turned over to the family who can then give the programs a try from a distance. Sessions can be recorded for later viewing. Multiple family members can participate from different locations. The goal is that after a few sessions, the family will feel comfortable helping the person with the disability who can then become independent with an effective home practice program.

At IntelePeer you can learn more about cloud communications, a new and improved form of communication technology.

Computers can provide a new world of independence for people with physical, communication, or cognitive disabilities. Online sessions can include suggestions to target the recovery of specific communication skills, the development of alternative and compensatory strategies with a heavy emphasis on the most appropriate technology, the accessing of community resources and the development of a “life plan” to improve overall quality of life.

Acting as an advocate is not easy. There is a great deal to learn to help your loved one who may have challenges with talking, reading, writing, thinking and remembering. Time, money and limited access to skilled professionals often hinder an advocate’s ability to help. This new ability for professionals to provide help from a distance limits these barriers and enhances a family’s ability to empower their loved ones with the many benefits of technology in education and rehabilitation.

People challenged by disabilities can benefit from technology in many aspects of their lives. Technology can provide clients with a means to compensate for difficulties as well as to strengthen weak skills. Computers and other devices, when selected and used properly, can help improve communication and cognitive skills related to education, employment, recreation, and social and medical needs. Assistive technology can help individuals increase independence, build self-confidence and self-esteem, and improve quality of life. Children and adults with a broad range of difficulties resulting from strokes, head injuries, degenerative diseases, developmental delays and disorders and learning differences can independently handle a wider range of activities with the help of software and devices to read, write, organize, remember, learn, communicate, and search for information.

Many software products and devices on the market today are affordable and easy to use. These tools were produced for a wide variety of audiences-some for people with special communication or cognitive needs, others for people learning English as a second language, people with low vision, or mainstream society. In the hands of a creative user, these products can unlock the potential of many clients. Software that reads text aloud on the computer can be used to help improve reading, writing, remembering and talking. Drill and practice software can be used to maximize new learning. Word prediction technology can help users thinking of words and voice recognition technology can help people who can speak but not type. There are adapted email programs, free videoconferencing programs and inexpensive online programs which can be used to help people independently practice and work toward reaching their goals.

Joan Green, a speech-language pathologist in the Washington, DC area , is passionate in her efforts to spread the knowledge of technology and other resources to empower people with communication, learning and cognitive challenges maximize their progress. She provides short-term intensive speech therapy and local and distance training for professionals and families. More information about Joan and her approach can be found at

Joan is also the author of “Technology for Communication and Cognitive Treatment: The Clinician’s Guide.” This book was written with professionals in mind, but is very helpful for families. Further information about this new resource guide is available at

Joan L. Green, M.A. CCC-SLP
Founder of Innovative Speech Therapy

Divorce Is Not Your Only Option

divorce optionsNow For the Big News: Divorce Is Not Your Only Option.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Divorce is not the answer to all of your problems.

It will not magically make you happy, prosperous, or unencumbered by responsibilities again. It will not be the key to everything you feel you haven’t gotten out of life. Even though people today tend to think of divorce as the only way out of a marriage that isn’t everything they had hoped it would be, it’s not the portal that leads to fulfillment in life. Neither is continuing to live with an unhappy marriage. Don’t get fooled into thinking these are the only two options that you have, because there is a much better third choice out there waiting for you. You can both stop your divorce and improve your marriage if you’re willing to make the effort.

It’s easy to allow yourself to feel that if only you could shed yourself of your current situation all the problems in life would go away. Unfortunately, statistics show this is not true. In the majority of cases, people are not happier once they’ve dissolved their marriages. Instead, they find themselves overburdened with work, children, and substantially less cash. Rather than take the plunge into the unknown of singlehood, it’s better to ride out the situation, take steps to improve it, and discover that five years down the road, you are actually happy you stuck with it.

The first thing you need to do is realize that no marriage is perfect. Every happy couple you see has problems they are dealing with. What sets them apart, however, is how they are handling these situations. If you went into your marriage filled with blissful visions of future happiness with the perfect spouse, it’s no wonder that you’re already discouraged. Even when your heart is tied together with that of another person, you will still start seeing things that annoy you. Maybe these are qualities you ignored during your state of bliss, but eventually you are going to start noticing them. If you’re smart, you’ll also start accepting them as a part of that person you love.

For most of us, it’s a struggle to see our dreams disappear into the cloud of reality. We want to lash out and blame someone for this occurrence, and our spouse is the perfect scapegoat. You start telling yourself that your world is falling apart because your husband fails to close the toilet lid or your wife hangs her panty hose in the bathroom, and pretty soon you start seeing other, similar clues that tell you your spouse is the cause of your discontent.

It’s definitely time for an attitude adjustment when this phenomenon begins. Your own happiness depends on you, and no one else can make you happy. In most cases, divorce isn’t the cover-all answer, it’s just the start of even more problems in your life.

Find out how to know when your marriage is over at: Free marriage advice or here: Save My Marriage.

Divorce in America

divorceDivorce in America – Why?

In American Society, people want only what is good for themselves, even if it’s not the best for someone else. Society has changed from the importance of family to the importance of me. Statistics on marriage and divorce show that Americans have gotten lazier and more self-absorbed. This may explain why the U.S. has the highest divorce rate and the highest rate of solo parenting in the Western world. People have the attitude, “If the marriage doesn’t work, I can get a divorce,” because it’s easier to fill out paperwork than to put in the time and effort to make the marriage work.

While there are many different reasons for divorce, a few are common: poor communication, financial issues, lack of commitment, infidelity and a change in priorities. With the exception of financial issues, the reasons point to the selfish attitude of one or more people in the relationship. Communication is only a problem when someone doesn’t want to listen. Commitment to the marriage requires work and compromise, words that are not found in the lazy, egotistical American dictionary. Sneaking out on a spouse to be fulfilled by someone else is not only dishonest, but selfish. People that cheat are looking for a quick fix to make themselves happier all while disregarding the feelings of their partner. Changing priorities is also a quick fix. People who give up on marriage feel that it can’t be changed for the better, so they concentrate on changing something else in their lives, like concentrating on work or a new hobby. Having something else to concentrate their energy on creates temporary happiness and a way to escape the troubles at home.

If you are looking for a divorce lawyer, visit

According to The State of Our Unions, 2005, marriages have declined 50% from 1970, because more people are choosing cohabitation, or living together without a legal commitment, over marriage. Marriage is being replaced by cohabitation because it requires less of a commitment. Cohabitating couples have twice the breakup rate of married couples because there is less reason to work on the relationship. With cohabitation people don’t have to worry about the legal repercussions of divorce and leaving is as easy as packing. Studies have proved that cohabitating before marriage increases the chances of divorce up to 85%, so even if live-in couples eventually marry, it is likely that they will divorce.

Parents don’t take the needs of their children into consideration over their own needs as often as they should. 40% of cohabitating couples bring children into the relationship, creating less stability for the children and teaching them that relationships don’t require commitment. Children from divorce are more likely to develop social problems and their grades are 20% lower than students living with both parents. The U.S. has the lowest number of children who grow up with both biological parents among Western nations, 63%.

Society should value family over the individual. The American attitude needs to be changed because commitment and responsibility are becoming second to personal needs. If people thought of “us” more then “me,” there would be more happy marriages. People need to accept that relationships take time and work, not only for themselves, but for the well-being of their children.

Is It Time To Clean House In Washington

clean houseWashington DC Is Not a Giant Bottomless Piggy Bank for Socialist Causes and Corporate Welfare.

Not long ago, I was reading an article in Foreign Affairs Magazine about the unbelievable amount of money flow in and around Washington DC. The article also discussed the incredible amount of intelligence and talent which had come to the area, liking it to Silicon Valley. Indeed, wherever there is that level of money flow, opportunity, and challenge you will find the superstars of our society. Then, after I got done reading that article I saw a video on FORA TV, where the interviewee stated; “Washington DC is like a giant ice cream cone licking itself.”

Yes, the imagery is hilarious isn’t it? Still, that’s a big problem considering that all of that ice cream is being paid for by the American taxpayer. No wonder the voters overwhelmingly supported tea party candidates to go in there and clean house. Washington DC is not a bottomless piggy bank for socialist causes and corporate welfare. Yes, many politicians and lobbyists assume that it is, and they believe that what they are doing is all fair game however, they aren’t the ones paying for it, we are.

Apparently, this artificially induced debt ceiling, which apparently will be a glass ceiling with 18,000 cracks in it pretty soon has perhaps gotten Washington DC rethinking its strategy and spendthrift ways. And I say perhaps, because there’s a possibility that perhaps it hasn’t changed anything either. Margaret Thatcher had a number of great quotes about how a government should be run, and as you realize she was extremely against socialism.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone, because when you grow up in an era where the NAZIs tried to take over Europe, and realizing that it was a socialist nation, you begin to think differently altogether about what socialism is, and how it works. My favorite quote that she said is; “Socialism works great until you run out of other people’s money to spend.” Now then, isn’t this the path that we are being led down by Washington DC currently? They are spending money, and obligating us taxpayers for it for years to come, and we will be the ones paying the interest on that debt.

By then all of the politicians will have retired with their stellar pensions, and we will be paying off old credit card bills, essentially it amounts to that. Meanwhile, each new group of politicians coming in finds more and more ways to drive more and more people to continue to reelect them. They keep making promises and creating more social giveaways. Eventually there won’t be anyone left to pay taxes, or anyone working to provide the government with the inflows to continue to give everything away.

We are already reaching a point where our federal government will be using all the money coming in just pay the interest payments on their credit card, philosophically speaking of course. This won’t work, and this can’t last, and we need to stop this mode and method of operation. Washington DC is not a giant bottomless piggy bank, and it’s already empty, and it’s time it stopped thinking of itself as a giant ice cream cone too. Please consider all this and think on it.

Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank. Lance Winslow believes writing 24,300 articles will be difficult because all the letters on his keyboard are now worn off now

Cleaning Up After A Disaster

disaster cleanupHouse Fires: Cleaning Up After the Disaster.

The damage caused by a house fire is one of the most destructive and emotionally devastating types of damage that there is. Whenever you have to deal with a house fire, the first thing that you need to do is get in touch with your insurance company as quickly as possible. Next, call a professional restoration company to begin cleaning up the smoke and fire damage. What can you do to help the process along?

While it may be tempting to dive right in, your best course of action when it comes to fire and smoke damage is to do nothing at all. The typical homeowner does not have all of the tools, skills and know-how to properly clean up after this type of event. Whenever homeowners try to clean up walls, ceilings and other surfaces that are considered “non-washable”, they often end up doing more harm than good.

If you are looking for the services of a professional cleaning company, visit

Cleaning up Soot

Soot from plastics is much different than that from plastics, and the cleanup is very different due to the fact that you can’t clean up oil-based soot from many non-washable surfaces. A good restoration company will clean these non-washable surfaces properly to ensure that they require as little painting as possible. Cleaning is much less expensive than painting, meaning that inappropriate cleanup can actually double the costs of restoration.

Furniture, Window Treatments and Upholstery

After you have started the claim process with your insurance company, a restoration company can come in and start restoring your home back to its original condition. They use tools such as specialized latex sponges in order to remove the top layer of soot from much of your furniture, upholstery and window treatments. The items can then be steam cleaned in many situations. If your items are also water damaged, then any effected cushions should be placed on end so that they can dry more rapidly. You should also raise furniture on blocks or other small items to help reduce the amount of damage to wood furniture legs.

General Cleaning

Kitchen counters and other washable surfaces can be cleaned in the normal way that they are cleaned. Though there are many companies out there that will help you clean up items such as belongings and photo albums, you should keep in mind that some things will just be completely unsalvageable. In many cases, a professional cleaning crew can take a week or more to restore your home after a fire. This would take you a month or more if you attempt to do it yourself.

Miscellaneous Advice

Use only certified contractors to do the clean up.

Mop or soak up as much water as possible to reduce the effects of water damage.

Avoid leaving any colored items, such as magazines or books, on the floor. The dyes can stain.

Do not use any electronics, including computers and televisions, until they have been inspected. This is especially true while standing on a wet floor.

Only send smoke damaged clothes to a dry cleaner that specializes in this type of cleaning. Other dry cleaners are not typically equipped to handle this type of damage.

Jon Balke is a writer for, a Santa Clarita smoke damage restoration company. He enjoys writing on a variety of related topics, including what to do after a fire.

The Solar Debate

Solar PowerJoining The Debate on Solar Panels: Are They Really Worth It?

Solar power has been around for decades, but it has failed to become widely popular. This will change as energy prices continue to rise and oil reserves dwindle. Purchasing solar panels is a big decision that should be made appropriately. The first step is to weigh the pros and cons of this important investment.

Before any decision is made, those looking to purchase a solar power system must consider the area they live in. Some local governments charge fees or taxes for the use of large equipment. Also, cities and towns have zoning laws that may require inspection of the property in question. This is to insure that installation can be conducted safely.

The greatest advantage that solar power provides is cheap running costs. Most solar panels are guaranteed to last for 40 years, which is longer than any loan will take to pay off. After the initial investment, electricity is virtually free. On top of that, since there are no moving parts, very little maintenance is required. Cleaning the panels annually is all that is needed.

Incentives are another great reason to invest in solar power. Many energy companies offer credit for electricity that is sold back to them. Also, most governments give tax breaks to those who use renewable energy or buy energy-efficient appliances.

Another reason to go with solar power is for the independence it provides. There is no need to worry about power lines falling down, transformers blowing up, or blackouts. People who make the switch will also help reduce the worlds’ dependence on non-renewable oil.

The last advantage is for the planet. Solar power doesn’t pollute or emit greenhouse gases, so it doesn’t contribute to global warming. It’s clean, efficient, quiet, and renewable. What more could Mother Nature ask for?

The biggest drawback to solar panels is the upfront cost and installation. Depending on energy needs, prices can shoot up very fast. Households consume anywhere between 800 to 1500 kilowatts per month. The initial outlay in cost is well into the several thousands in pounds, euros or dollars and unless people are routed to their property they may never see the cost be outweighed by free electricity. Another issue is the large footprint panels need to generate enough electricity to power a house. This creates a problem for people who live on small areas of land.

Mother Nature can create a disadvantage in the efficiency of solar energy. Night-time, snow, rain, and clouds are all variables that can hinder power generation. This can be helped by having a battery to store energy for future use. However, persistent bad weather will cause stored energy to run out. Purchasing a battery and inverter can potentially raise the cost of the entire system by thousands of pounds as well.

Deciding on solar energy is very hard. It can be expensive, but financial incentives can help reduce the high price. Batteries will provide protection from power outages and inclement weather. Electric bills will be a thing of the past, and it’s healthy for the environment. To the point, solar power is a long-term solution where the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

For more details on the topics mentioned in this article, such as the use of solar panels, please visit WDS Green Energy, who have a great deal of knowledge in the field.

The Benefits Of Natural Light

natural lightHealth Benefits of Natural Light.

The obvious benefit of installing solar light tubes is the energy savings that result lowering your electrical bills; however another less hyped benefit is the natural light they bring into your home. Natural light is pleasing in general for most people but did you know that it is also beneficial to your health? Not only is natural sunlight an effective germ killer it is also linked to improving moods and assisting with curing some illnesses.

Sunlight can kill bacteria present in dust particles and other germs that could be spread around your family. It is the ultraviolet rays in sunlight that act as a natural antiseptic that will improve your home environment. To get the most out of the sun, hang blankets and quilts or other items outside in the sunshine for a few hours to kill any virus, bacteria or mold on them. Killing germs is only one health benefit that natural light offers but is a great start to keeping your family safe and healthy.

For more information on the benefits of natural light, visit

Did you know that a lack of exposure to natural light has been linked to disorders such as: seasonal affective disorder, rickets, depression, and osteoporosis? Our bodies need natural light to make vitamin D which helps with some of those disorders, but sunlight also helps balance hormones and encourages healthy blood circulation to improve overall health. There are other ways to get vitamin D such as food, but sunlight is the best source for your body to create it naturally. Another benefit of daily exposure to sunlight is the increase of white blood cells in your blood which enhances your immune system and also improves digestion and metabolism.

We are not saying that you need to run outside and lay in the sun all day. There are downsides to overexposure to the sun as well. Skin cancer can be caused by overexposure to the sun so you must be careful to protect yourself while getting your daily sun. Spending just 10 minutes a day in natural sunlight is enough for your body to regulate itself and get all the benefits from the sunlight it can! But you can have natural light in your home without the sunburn just by installing solar light tubes. All the benefits and none of the downside!

Eco Solar Skylight Tubes is a premier retailer of solar skylight tubes in the United States with authorized installers located across the nation.

Finding A Payroll Company

payroll companyThe Benefits of Using a Payroll Company Rather Than Having Someone Do This In-House.

Outsourcing your pay program to a different business might sound iffy, but it is a good option. There are many benefits to doing this over having someone do it in-house. The payroll company can give your business full attention unlike your accountant may be able to do. An outsourced business will have all your files backed up, so if there is ever a computer problem, the information will not likely be lost. Hiring one of your own to do the work necessitates training and a gaining of familiarity with the program.

A payroll company would be able to give your business their full attention. This is not because they do not have other clients, but it is because this is the type of work they do all day long. An accountant that you hire may have several other clients especially during tax time. An outsourced business will be able to handle all the tax issues and keep everything in order.

If you keep all of your information at your business, you may run into a problem if for some reason all of the files are lost. You could have them backed up elsewhere, but even then they could get lost. A payroll company will have them professionally and securely backed up, so that there is not as much chance of losing the information on file.

You might save more to hire one of your own people to do this work, but in the long run you will be better off having a professional. Someone you hire will have to learn how to use the software, you will have to pay for the software, and errors could easily be made. Errors can be made anywhere, but with a payroll company, they are trained to do this, so errors will be less likely.

There are many benefits to hiring an outsourced business to do the work. It really takes things out of your hands, but they will always be there if you want to check up on things. Reports will be made and will be on hand for you to examine. You can also make changes whenever it is necessary. Unless there is a change that needs to be made or an error that is made, you will not need to think about it.

Take the time today to look into an outsourced payroll company near you. Finding a local business is beneficial because they will be near if you ever need face-time. Hopefully, you will find the right place to take care of this portion of your business so that you have time for other aspects of your business.

When it comes to finding a payroll company in Louisiana, many business owners don’t know where to start. Learn more at

The Ideal Back Office Solution

back office solutionBack Office Solutions – The Formula Behind the Success of Big Companies.

The innovation of science and technology resulted to the invention of computers and some sophisticated devices that have the power to store numerous data without investing much on the human effort and time. This particular concept of data storage is done by some acumen professionals in reducing the paper works and stores them in a format that remains safe and reliable for a longer period. Back office support services are outsourced by all the business establishments of the world that needs to save their time by concentrating more on their core competencies.

Call Center India There was a time when all the documentation works were being done with manual efforts, using pen and paper. Gradually, with the passage of time the companies started to invest in the latest technologies and hire people that excel in the documentation process. The big establishments never compromise on this matters and that is why the success rate of these firms are far better as compared the smaller or mid-sized firms. For a company, that has just started with a small investment, outsourcing back office services become the only safe option. Back office support services can vary from the nature of the business.

Visit for complete office cleaning solutions.

The companies that involve tremendous data entry processes normally builds a set-up that can control all the activities. But sometimes, there occur some task that needs to be taken care by professionals specialized in other departments. Web research services, data capturing, SEO, e-mail support, form processing, etc. are some of the departments that need to be handled by only professionals. Therefore, if any business establishment is dealing in any of these services, it becomes extremely essential for them to outsource to a third party that can give these services in an affordable cost and 100% accuracy.

Keeping the record of the daily commercial activities are an important factor for the business firms. Individual monitoring becomes a very important activity in some situation. Organizations might not have adequate human resources to tackle emergency situation. These incidents are very common in the modern day business operations and therefore to minimize these discrepancies most of the companies hire a third part that is given the responsibility to handle all critical matters and make themselves secure throughout the clock.

Off-shoring back office services are a new business trend and it has been successfully proved that business establishments that have been outsourced their requirements have resulted in better profits without investing much on the outsourcing business. The professional expertise, innovative strategies and technical ability to perform the outsourcing processes are easily feasible by the modern day call centers.

Katie Cardwell works as a senior sales and marketing analyst for a multinational call center company, based in United States of America. She takes care of all the business operations and analysis the back office support services that power an organization. Her extensive knowledge and expertise on Non -voice call center services such as Web Research Services, Back office support services, etc, have helped many business players to stand with a straight spine and thus making a foothold in the data processing industry.

Don’t Be Ashamed Of Hearing Aids

hearing aidsDo Not Be Ashamed Of Your Hearing Aid.

Since you have the ability to hear thanks to the assistance of a hearing aid, you shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed that you have to wear one. There are thousands of people who are now deaf or going deaf in one or both ears, all because they chose to ignore what was going on. They chose to not take action and get help for their problem. Now that they have ignored it for so long, they need more than a hearing aid to help regain some capacity of that particular sense. You don’t want to end up like those people. You want to do something now that will give you a long-term solution without costing you a fortune. If you find that you are having trouble hearing what people are saying, shying away from conversations or misunderstanding people a lot, it is time for you to get your ears checked.

Getting your ears checked is one of the most pleasant types of medical exams you could ever participate in. There are no needles, no painful sensations or need to be in a lab or clinic for several hours. When it comes to having your ears checked, you will listen to some sounds that vary in pitch and tone. An audiologist then measures your ability to recognize those sounds. No matter how much you may seem to feel embarrassed about your problem, being honest about what you can or cannot recognize will make it much easier for the ear doctor to determine what the actual problem is. You never know: your condition may be the result of a recent exposure to a noisy and loud environment, or it may it be due to prolonged exposure. Keep in mind that many other underlying medical and genetic conditions can also cause a disruption in your ability to hear.

If your condition is something that is temporary, don’t expect to regain all of your lost sense overnight. It may come back gradually, and it is also very possible that you may not regain the full capacity that you had before. You will need a device that is small and adaptable so that it can compensate and adjust accordingly as your lost ability starts to return. If your condition seems to be permanent, then you will need a device that will last you through the years and make it seem as if nothing is wrong.

No matter what type of hearing aid you need, you will always be able to find it at the right audiology center. As you look at the selection of what is available, keep in mind that this process is a lot like picking out glasses. You will be able to try the different hearing aids and see which ones you like the best. Don’t expect to go home that same day with the right hearing aid; you will need to be fitted so that you get the right size. Once your device is ready, in a few days you can come in to the center and walk out with a brand new lease on life, since you will be able to understand with improved clarity of what is being said around you.

Contact the austin, tx hearing aid specialists as soon as possible if you are in the area and experiencing any form of hearing loss. Visit today to schedule an appointment.

Baby Boomers Hearing Dilemma

hearing dilemmaAging Officers: A Dilemma Worth Considering.

Imagine that you have come home to discover a burglar in your home. Quickly leaving your residence, you call the police with your cell phone. Several minutes later an elderly police officer arrives, gets out of his car and slowly approaches you using a cane to help him walk. As he gets closer you notice he is wearing hearing aids. Not exactly a confidence-builder, but this aging officer asks you if anyone else is in the house or if there are any weapons in the house and where they are located. These questions seem reasonable.

A few moments later, two younger officers arrive and charge towards the house with their guns drawn. The elder officer stops them and tells them to go to the rear entrance of the house. As other officers arrive, the elder officer assigns them to take up positions around the house and near windows. He then gets on his bullhorn and advises the burglar the house is surrounded by police and if the burglar comes out with no weapons and hands in the air, he will not get hurt. The burglar complies. No one is injured and no property is stolen.

When the burglar is taken into custody, a sawed-off shotgun is found inside the house. It belongs to the burglar. Now, this aging officer looks brilliant.

The Problem with Aging

Gross motor skills peak at age 30. It’s all downhill after that; or at least that is what we have been led to believe.

The 5 senses do decline with age. These changes can have a great impact not only on job performance but on satisfaction in the quality of life. Our senses tell us a lot about the world. They pick up information that is changed into nerve signals and carried to the brain where that information becomes a message we can understand. The starting point for the senses is stimulation, and the older a person gets, the more stimulation required for a clear message.

*Hearing and balance begin to decrease as parts of the ear lose functionality. Because the ear also affects balance, as we age balance and pure hearing become more difficult. High-pitched sounds are usually the first to deteriorate. Generally, this begins around age 50.

*Vision is affected by age. Essentially, it gets harder to respond to changes between light and darkness. The eye lens, which helps focus images, becomes less flexible; often requiring reading glasses. The eye muscle also loses tone, making it a bit harder to see details.

*Taste and Smell are intricately linked. Some smells actually have a certain degree of taste. Proper taste and smell are also safety valves – informing us about the presence of dangerous gas, smoke or even spoiled food. Although there are no definitive studies which suggest these 2 senses deteriorate with age, there is evidence that the number of active taste buds decrease with age.

*Touch includes the ability to feel vibration, pressure, temperature, and pain. These abilities decrease with age.

Clearly, the senses are important to all people but they play a critical skills role with soldiers, law enforcement officers and fire-fighters – for obvious reasons. As these critical skills diminish, the effectiveness in the field would diminish as well, at least for tasks which require these skills.

Is there a way for your agency to detect the decline of these critical skills in aging officers?

The Retirement & Health Care Factor

About 77 million baby boomers begin to enter retirement age in 2011. Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. For the next 19 years, 10,000 will reach age 65 each day. One big problem with this is there are not sufficient funds for them to retire on.

Traditionally, police and fire personnel have had generously defined pension plans that, for the most part, allow them to retire earlier than people in other occupations, with a healthy percentage of their salary. Many retire by age 56. This trend developed based on the belief that people in these professions lived shorter lives due to the danger and stress involved in these occupations, along with a greater risk of injury. Turns out NOT to be the case. There are other professions that are a lot more dangerous.

The average life expectancy for all workers is about 78 years old. Pension studies consistently indicate the longer a worker works, the shorter their expected life span. Social Security has begun to pay out more than it is taking in.

Two additional factors are the dramatic rise in the cost of health care and the global financial meltdown, which wiped out a large percentage of accumulated wealth that was invested in various funds dedicated to retirement. Cities and counties are more susceptible to bankruptcy than they have been. Many current civil servant pension plans are now grossly underfunded. Eventually, these pension plans will have to change because they are not sustainable. Boomers are also more likely to work longer, out of necessity. In one survey, 40% said they will work “until they drop”.

The combination of these influences will create an environment where officers may be forced to work past the current traditional retirement age because they cannot afford not to. The generous pension plans of yesterday will be a thing of the past. At the same time their critical motor skills and senses will be declining. Given these demographics, it would be prudent for law enforcement agencies to begin to prepare for an aging officer workforce.

New Research

Current research suggests that fine motor skills acquired over a lifetime involve many structures in the brain, and after time those structures become “highways”. With an amateur these structures are very active. But as the amateur becomes an expert, less brain activity is required to carry out the process. In other words, although the aging expert experiences the same deterioration in motor skills that the aging non-expert experiences in unrelated tasks; the aging expert retains the skills learned over a lifetime through decades of practice.

This supports the primary principles that Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman put forth in their great book – First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently.

Among other things, they assert:

*Talents are not the same as skill or knowledge. Talent is an altogether different phenomenon.

*Every person has a “filter”; a characteristic way of responding to the world around him. We all do. Your filter tells you which stimuli to notice and which to ignore; which to love and which to hate. Everyone’s filter is unique. Your filter is always working. Of all the possibilities of things you could do or feel or think, your filter is constantly telling you the few things you must do, or feel, or think. Your filter, more than your race, sex, age or nationality, IS you. A person’s mental filter is as enduring and unique as their fingerprint.

*Neuroscience research tells us that beyond our mid-teens there is a limit to how much character we can re-carve. This means in terms of mental pathways, no amount of training, coaching or encouragement will enable someone to turn the barren wastelands in their brain into frictionless 4-lane highways. Beyond our mid-teens, we either have it or we don’t; whatever that may be.

*Neuroscience research confirms the filter, and that the recurring patterns of behavior the filter creates are enduring. This filtering process is what creates specific talents. You cannot teach talent. It is already there.

Additionally, new research suggests that aging adults who stay socially active and engaged not only keep their intellectual skills sharp, but their motor skills as well. This has serious implications for aging officers, who possess wisdom and skill sets that younger officers have not yet acquired.

This information leads me to suggest that the aging officer, who possesses all of this talent that has been soaked for several decades in experience – should not be encouraged to retire, be stuck into a community service position or relegated to desk duty. The aging officer’s skill sets and talent should be matched with a real need within their agency or department – where their primary talents and “highways” can be utilized effectively.

The Problem with Qualifications

Theoretically, the decline in an officer’s skills would first be noticed during department or agency annual qualifications. The problem is that most agencies do not require qualifications that would accurately assess these skills. Most agencies do require annual shooting qualifications, but it is highly unlikely the decline in cognitive function, the senses and overall mental health will be discovered during a shooting qualification.

As a Use of Force, firearms, self defense and martial arts instructor I have noticed that as I age my physical abilities are declining. I am not as fast as I used to be and I have lost muscle mass. It takes longer to recover from routine injuries associated with what I do. I have had to adjust my workout routines to accommodate what is happening with my body. For the most part, this means a greater emphasis on stretching and cardiovascular training, and less emphasis on strength training. Conversely, I have also noticed that I am much wiser than I was at a younger age. I do not have to think much about solutions to problems that are presented within my area of expertise. If I do have to engage in a violent encounter my assessment of behavior and choice of action is quicker and surer than it was many years ago. I am also more accurate at assessing and predicting human behavior. There is evidence of the decline in motor skills and the “highways” that are within me.

For over two decades my primary clients were criminal justice professionals. When dealing with these various agencies I always recommended US Supreme Court guidelines in the application of Use of Force. That is, to provide initial comprehensive training followed by 2-year refreshers. As some of the agencies I had initially trained asked me to come back and conduct refresher training I began to notice that during refresher training, some aging officers were struggling and it was clear that their motor skills were deteriorating. I also noticed some of them showing the younger guys how to do the techniques. Herein lays another example of deteriorating motor skills but enduring “highways” of knowledge and experience in aging officers.

Presumably, the standards that accompany use of force training are a result of the potential liability associated with officers using force. However, each agency sets its own qualification standards. In general, there are no universal federal or state standards for agency qualifications.

A quick primer on some terms that are frequently associated with law enforcement qualifications might be helpful.

*A Standard is an exact value established and defined by authority, custom, or common consent to serve as a reference, model, or rule in measuring quantities or qualities, establishing practices or procedures, or evaluating results. Often, standards are published in a document that contains a technical specification or other precise criteria designed to be used consistently as a rule, guideline or definition.

Practical example: To pass my Basic Handgun & Self Defense Course the student must score 100% on the written test and 80% or better on the shooting qualification – defined as hitting the silhouette of a target at 21 feet using a total of 20 bullets.

*A Certification is a statement that meets or will adhere to certain conditions and will undertake or not undertake certain actions. Certification programs provide a means of assuring that an officer has the characteristics or meets the requirements contained in a standard.

Practical example: Upon successful completion of the Basic Handgun & Self Defense Course, the student receives a certificate indicating they have met those standards (in addition to a few others). This certificate allows the student to obtain a permit to carry.

*An Accreditation is a procedure (not a statement) by which an authoritative body formally recognizes that a body or person is competent to carry out specific tasks.

Practical example: At Assault Prevention, in order for an instructor to receive accreditation they need to demonstrate cognitive ability through written examinations and interviews, but they must also demonstrate motor skill competence based on a set of standards for each technique, and possess the ability to teach courses based on a learning theory model. Once these things are demonstrated successfully, the instructor receives accreditation.

If there are no universal national or state standards for agencies to adopt, how do they choose what needs qualification? How often should an officer be required to qualify? Which skills require qualification? What are the standards for those qualifications?

Officer Training

Almost every state has some type of board that governs law enforcement training by statute. In Minnesota, state statutes and administrative rules require the following for a Minnesota Peace Officer. Prior to becoming a licensed officer an individual must attend training that includes:

*History and overview of the criminal justice system.
*Minnesota statute law.
*Constitutional law and criminal procedure.
*Juvenile justice system and procedure.
*Patrol procedures.
*Criminal investigation and testifying.
*Human behavior and crisis intervention.
*Defensive tactics and use of force.
*Cultural awareness and response to crime victims.

Additionally, in order to maintain a licensed peace officer status, the required hours of continuing education are:

*16 hours for a peace officer or a part-time peace officer who has been licensed for at least six months but less than 18 months.
*32 hours for a peace officer or a part-time peace officer who has been licensed for at least 18 months but less than 30 months.
*48 hours for a peace officer or a part-time peace officer who has been licensed for at least 30 months.

The continuing education that is accepted by the Minnesota P.O.S.T. Board must fit into the topical areas indicated above.

Continuing education is different than a qualification. Qualifications are typically used to assess an officer’s abilities. Shooting qualifications are almost universally used within agencies to determine if an officer can still shoot straight. However, shooting qualifications vary widely from basic target shooting to full blown shooting simulations – and everything in between.

So What?

The universal shooting qualification is based on the enormous liability associated with an officer using their firearm. This is a no-brainer. The qualification is supposed to reduce agency and officer liability in the event of a shooting incident. The monetary damages that result from a lawsuit in which death or serious injury is the result of an officer’s actions can be disastrous.

It is next to impossible to collect accurate statistics regarding officer involved shootings because there is no such data base. Based on several studies that are available, there are about 405 officer involved shootings a year, just based on adjusting these figures to the current US population. FBI statistics from 2007 seem to reinforce this number as not being wildly out of proportion – based on the 391 justified killings by police that year. For discussion sake let’s generously round up the number of officer involved shootings to 500 per year.

The point? Shooting qualifications are conducted because of the great liability and risk of monetary damages that some with a lawsuit. Yet, there are 500 of these incidents per year. They are NOT conducted because of the regularity of occurrences. In 2009 there were 57,268 officers assaulted while performing their duties. This figure does not include the number of times police used physical force on someone, just officers that were assaulted. Presumably, the number of officers involved in ANY use of force incident would be much higher. Yet, there are very few agencies that require actual annual qualifications in the application of use of force; both physically and cognitively.

If we take this line of thinking a few steps further, there should be annual qualifications for the skills that make officers effective. These qualifications would include things like cognitive function, overall mental health, use of force application, basic investigative procedures and interpersonal communications. Those things are usually presented as training opportunities or continuing education rather than qualifications.

Proof of the Problem

The Force Science Institute recently released the following findings in regard to their research into current law enforcement training methods.

*The average officer within months of leaving an academy will be able only to describe how a given suspect-control technique should be used but will have “little ability” to actually apply it effectively in “a dynamic encounter with a defiantly resistant subject.”

*At the rate academy and in-service training is typically delivered, it could take the average street cop up to 45 years to receive the number of hours of training and practice in arrest-and-control and officer-safety techniques that a student athlete gets in competitive sports during the usual high school career.

*Many police training programs are not employing modern research-based methods of successfully teaching psychomotor skills, a shortcoming compounded by the fact that current record-keeping fails to capture even the most elementary relevant information about the dynamic nature of real-world assaults on LEOs.

Their bottom-line conclusion: Time and cost concerns are “so restrictive that they significantly compromise the suitability and sufficiency” of current physical force training. Yet, officers are assaulted frequently and use less than lethal force frequently. And, there are no annual qualifications for use of force. Interesting.


There are several issues that converge in this article.

*Aging officers will have to work longer to a greater retirement age.

*As these officers age there will be a decline in their critical skills, yet they will retain valuable knowledge and wisdom that are required for success in the profession.

*Current qualification standards are inadequate. There should be universally accepted qualification standards that accomplish four things.

1. Reduces all use of force liability.

2. Evaluates an officer’s ability to successfully deal with circumstances they will routinely face.

3. Evaluates the skills that make officers effective.

4. Accurately assess and evaluate the cognitive, emotional and physical skills of aging officers.

Agencies would be well-advised to prepare for the inevitable; an aging workforce. Smart employers will develop qualification standards that effectively evaluate an officer’s skills and capitalize upon the aging officer’s talents. By applying these principles and developing new approaches, agencies will – long term – save money and reduce liability. They will reduce liability because their qualifications will actually assess critical skills and talent based on situations officers routinely face. They will save money because, as an added benefit, studies consistently agree that satisfied employees are up to 50% more productive, safe, profitable and loyal than those who are not.

Terry Hipp is a career veteran of the Criminal Justice System. He serves as the CEO and Sr. Director of Training and Education at Assault Prevention LLC, which helps individuals, groups, and organizations proactively plan for successful mitigation of unexpected violence and emergencies, resulting in a sense of control to their daily lives. AssaultPrevention.Info educates people regarding their personal safety through training and research. They help organizations identify and protect their critical assets through a proprietary assessment and based on outcomes, help them develop protection plans for those assets. Additionally, they assess individuals who pose specific threats and based on those outcomes, provide mitigation planning. He may be contacted at Info@AssaultPrevention.Info

It is like an addiction

Primary season has really distracted me from doing my research for commercial real estate loans at because I do not know how the economy is going to react after the election.  I am pretty energized by the idea of a new president and a new course for this country.  But I have to admit, it is beginning to border on obsession.  Last night I spent an hour on a spread sheet doing “delegate math.”  In the end, I keep coming to the same answer, there is no way this will be decided without pledged delegates.    Now I am all for letting the process work itself out, but the fact that these two very qualified candidates continue to take about half of the support of those voting leaves us with the very real possibility that some sort of deal has to be worked out.  Who know what it will be, but I do know this,  I can’t spend a couple hours each night lurking around all the progressive/liberal/democratic blogs for the next 5 months until the convention.   It will kill me.

Hopefully after Ohio and Texas on March 4th, the Obama and Clinton campaigns will sit down and figure this out, because if we wait until the August convention, we will be behind the eight ball.  That would leave two months to campaign for president.    I will do a delegate math post later, but in the end Obama has a slight advantage, because he should have about 100-200 delegate lead looking at the pledged delegates only when the primaries are over.  It will still require him to get about 300 super delgates to seal the nomination.  But the whole Michigan Florida thing makes this even more suspect.

At the end of the day, the two candidates, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and few others like Ted Kennedy, John Edwards, Chris Dodd need to work out a suggestion to who should be the candidate.  My fear is Obama is the bigger person in all of the this, and steps aside even though he will have more pledged delegates (regardless of Michigan and Florida).   Of course, they could always be the out of leftfield outcome that they agree to a different candidate…like I don’t know…maybe, Al Gore?!?!  Wouldn’t that be interesting!  I just hope for my sake, they get this overwith in March.

The Culture of Death

I saw this the other day, and it made my heart skip a beat.  Apparently, in Iran, two sisters are to be stoned to death for “adultery”.   I put adultery in quotes because the husband of one of the women produced a video tape of his wife talking to other men. Not a sex tape or a some lude act, but rather she was in the company of other men.  I imagine her sister was with her since she is set to be executed with her. She could have been getting information about opening an Assisting Hands Franchise to help the families in her area for all I know, but nothing that should be considered adultery.

Reading the short article I see that she was already tried once for the crime and found guilty of illegal relations and received 99 lashes.  So she was convicted once, whipped 99 times, but that wasn’t good enough for the savages (yes I called them savages because I can’t think of another more fitting term).   Sister got 99 as well.

After I read the article, I thought thank God that I don’t live in a country that 1) considers adultery a criminal violation, 2) can sentence people to be whipped or stoned and 3) prohibits being tried for the same crime twice.  Then I thought, where is the outrage and news coverage (the article was from a UK paper).  Remember the furor around Michael Fay, the kid in Singapore in 1994 that was sentenced to 4 months in jail and six strokes of the cane for spraying graffiti on cars.  He ended up getting 4 strokes, but the coverage was massive.  Here, these women have been whipped nearly 100 times and now will be put to death by people throwing rocks at them until they stop breathing.

Then I realize that as a country, where do we have a leg to stand on.  Nevermind our stance on torture (we use it but say we don’t) and the bogus legal status of “enemy combatants” that allow our government to hold people indefinitely without charges, denying the right to a writ of habeas corpus.  I am talking about the Death Penalty.  We, as a country still allow our own savage behavior with state sanctioned killing.  It is sick and quite frankly disappointing that we continue to allow our country to be held to the standard of the lowest common denominator.  Thoughts like, “well most of the country is supportive of the death penalty and the Bible does say an “Eye for an Eye’.”

It is all bullshit.  If we want to claim the mantle of the moral compass of the world, or the defender of human rights and dignity, we need to challenge ourselves to be better than the savage thoughts of the American Pysche.  I know too many descent people that are pro-death penalty.  The idea of revenge is powerful, but we can’t continue to call murder a crime then use it as a tool for punishment.

I always say to someone who is pro-death penalty, “do you think we ever put an innocent person to death?”  Given the consistent news of exonerated death row inmates, the answer is always yes.  Then I follow with the hypothetical, “what if the person you loved the most was that innocent person, would you still find the death penatly acceptable?”  Funny, but I never get an answer to the question.


I just got off the phone with my Mom.  She will cast her vote (and so will my father) for Barack Obama!!

That calls for a little Johnny Drama Victory Call:

The Question of Electability

I will try to keep this short and sweet.  I assert that Barack Obama is so much more electable that Hillary Clinton based on a few items.

First, as I outlined in my post a couple of days ago, the war in Iraq is a key issue.  If Hillary is our candidate, she is ineffective in trying to differentiate her position from the Republican candidate.  She voted for the war.  She can not criticize anyone on the issue.  Instead we will be treated to her painful 20 minute attempt to rationalize her vote, say why whe would do it differently if she knew then what she knew know, etc.  The Iraq War needs to be a key point in this election, and Hillary eliminates that possibility.

Second, polling shows just how divisive a figure she is and her stance on and their environmental initiative to help this planet.  Her negative rating is 51% and whopping 47% say the would cast a vote against her (saying that a primary driver of 1 of every 2 voters for the republican candidate would be to vote against Hilary).  Obama’s negatives are lower 45%, and even more importantly, his vote against percentage is only 36% or 11% lower than Hillary.  He is not the polarizing figure she is.

Third, he is a movement candidate, bring new voters to the process that haven’t been seen before.  Voters that will likely disappear if he is not at the top of the ticket.  Look at Iowa.  Almost 25% of the voters participating in the caucus were under 30.  1 in 4 voters!  Barack Obama took nearly 60% of that vote.  Young voter participation is doubling, in large part, to Obama’s appeal to that demographic.   In New Hampshire, nearly 20% of the voters were under 30 and again Obama took the majority of them.  Nevada: 13% of the vote. 60% for Obama. South Carolina: 15% of the vote.  65% for Obama.  These numbers are astounding and figure to tilt even more towards Obama as likely nominee John McCain is so far removed from the age group (he is over 70 years old), that increasing the participation of this demographic is GREAT news for the democrats.   Obama is the only candidate that brings these voters out.

Fourth, he’s a map changer.  Again look at South Carolina, a state that is normally not considered a target for the Democratic nominee.  Barack Obama garnered more votes (295,000) than the top 2 GOP candidates combined  (276,000).   Total Democratic turnout (530,000) was well above GOP turnout (430,000), putting this state in play for the election.  Turnout was equally impressive in Iowa and New Hampshire, both swing states for the election.  Race is not an issue as Obama won the whitest state in the union, Iowa (97% white).

Other states like Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Virginia, all normal locks for the GOP, come into play, and only into play if Obama is the nominee.  At the same time, democratic stalwarts like New York, California, Illinois, Massachussettes and New Jersey still stay firmly in the Dem’s column.  And while McCain is trying to appeal to social conservatives in the south, a key voting bloc that he struggles to attract.  Obama can go on the offensive in other key battleground states like Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Again, all this doesn’t happen with Hillary as the candidate.

So there you have it, 4 solid reasons why Barack is more electable than Hillary come November.

Dear Mom and Dad

On Tuesday, February 5th, the two of you will be going to the polls in Southern California to vote for your choice to be the Democratic nominee for the Presidency of the United States. I am writing this open letter to you to sway your decision, in hopes that you will cast that vote for Barack Obama, well at least a unified communication system from Intelepeer that makes sense. Talk about reaching across the isle.

I am doing in this in an open format (not only on my blog but also on the Daily Kos) so, in case anyone else wants to help my cause, they can jump in as well. In order to effectively employ others in my cause it is helpful to explain to them who you are.

My father is the youngest of five children and was born in Greece many moons ago. He came to this country in the early 1950’s, leaving behind a war-torn Europe, for his version of the American Dream. He brought with him everything he had, which wasn’t much. He ultimately settled in Chicago, and after learning the language and saving his money, embarked on his life as an entrepeneur. After owning several different businesses through his life, he is now retired and living in Southern California.

My mother is a first generation American, born to Greek immigrants on the South Side of Chicago. She is the fourth of five children and was involved in a family business until she met my dad and married him in 1970. Together they worked together, and somehow had the time to have and raise me. When it was time to sell their business and move their home to warmer climes, they took their Chicago identification with them, being consistent Democratic voters in a very republican area of California.

My mother is pretty sure she is voting for Hillary Clinton and my dad has said he will vote for whomever she chooses. So the importance of this letter is now twofold, because I want to convince the both of them to vote for Barack Obama. Readers, please leave your thoughts in the comments and I welcome both pro-Hillary and Pro-Barack comments, just keep it clean, because after all, my parents will be reading this.

Mom and Dad, this is election is different than most. The fact that we are choosing a president from a slate of candidates that doesn’t not include a sitting president or a former/sitting Vice President doesn’t happen very often. Then the fact that Democratic nominee will be either a woman or an African American is truly historical.

We are faced with a moment in our history seen before: an unpopular war, a failing economy, a government not interested in protecting our civil liberties, and a country divided by ideologies. I assert that to pick a candidate we must go beyond the policies they support.

Sure the are some significant differences in where they stand: mandates for universal healthcare, the freezing of interest rates for five years, and talking to enemy foreign government quickly come to mind.

Look I understand that Hillary Clinton is an excellent candidate. She is fabulous with policy. She is bright and well spoken. She is tested and experienced. She is a committed civil servant who is a credit to our party and our country. In any other election, she would be a sound choice for President of the United States, and if she does win this nomination, I will fight and vote for her in the general election. Hillary Clinton is a good leader.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, is an exceptional leader. And it’s leadership that is key to this election. Barack Obama is everything that Hillary Clinton is not. Barack Obama is the type of leader that makes the impossible seem possible. Critics will call it all form and no substance. I call it inspiration.

Since Ted Kennedy’s endorsement, there have been comparisons of Barack Obama to Jack Kennedy. Again, critics are quick to point out that Obama is no Jack Kennedy, and its true. At this point in his career, Barack hasn’t accomplished enough to be considered his peer. But the comparison is appropriate for the two simple reasons.

First, both men are visionaries; setting up large ideas for the country to chase. It is one of the biggest criticisms of Obama from Hillary supporters that he is an orator with no plan to actually deliver the ideas he sets forth and promises. But back when Jack Kennedy challenged the country to put a man on the moon, he had no idea of how to deliver it. He knew nothing about rockerty or space travel. He could only ask that the collective consciousness of American put their mind to the challenge. These leads me to the second point.

Both men are requiring the citizens of the country step forward and take ownership of our progress. One of the most well know quotes of the presidency sets the stage for what I believe Barack Obama embodies to today:

“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”- John F. Kennedy

“Don’t tell me we can’t change. Yes we can change. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can seize our future.” – Barack Obama

“We” need make change together.  Not expect change from Washington, but rather bring change to country. Those words from after the South Carolina primary still ring in my ears.

Now, I admit I am a sucker for a great speech. But I am reminded of my own time in college. In the leadership roles I held during that time, the organizations I was a part of always had the most progress when all of the members took ownership of the cause. It was through the empowerment of others that we met the challenges of the day. That is the biggest difference between Obama and Clinton. I would walk through a wall for Barack Obama, while I have no such feelings for Hillary Clinton.

So Mom and Dad, the choice is one of leadership style. The methodical, predictable, top-down approach of Hillary Clinton or the inspirational, transformational, empowerment approach of Barack Obama.

I hope this helps bring you the clarity need to make your final decision. Take a risk and aim high, the country can use a new path, a new leadership, a new vision for the future. We can do it. YES WE CAN!

Thoughts on the debate

Tonight’s debate was a great tribute to both candidates towards the new energy efficient products by Cold Chain LLC. Their civility towards each other and their willingness to discuss the issues instead of attack each other was a win for both of them.  I walk away from the debate feeling more comfortable about the prospects of the presidency should Hillary win the nominations.

However, I really, truly believe, that, given his performance tonight, Barack Obama is the best candidate for President.  There are two reasons for that.  First, the easy one: Iraq.  Barack made a very compelling point on the issue of Iraq.  He is the best candidate to contrast the position versus the Republican candidate, most likely John McCain.  Look at what Obama says after Wolf Blitzer asks him about Iraq.

“It was not just a problem of execution.  I mean, they screwed up the execution of it in all sorts of ways. And I think even Senator McCain has acknowledged that.

The question is: Can we make an argument that this was a conceptually flawed mission, from the start?

And we need better judgment when we decide to send our young men and women into war, that we are making absolutely certain that it is because there is an imminent threat, that American interests are going to be protected, that we have a plan to succeed and to exit, that we are going to train our troops properly and equip them properly and put them on proper rotations and treat them properly when they come home.

And that is an argument that I think we are going to have an easer time making if they can’t turn around and say: But hold on a second; you supported this.  And that’s part of the reason why I think that I would be the strongest nominee on this argument of national security.”

[Emphasis mine]

Bingo.  A large majority of American’s believe that war was a mistake and want out.  Barack Obama can stand there at the podium and say “I was against this war from the beginning, even when it wasn’t politically safe to say so”.  Hillary can not.  Furthermore, everytime she is asked about that vote, she has to go into this long winded explanation of why she wasn’t wrong to vote for it even though now she would be against it.  Like this.

BLITZER: I’m going to let Senator Clinton respond. Senator Clinton, you always say, if you knew then what you know now, you wouldn’t have voted like that. But why can’t you just say right now that that vote was a mistake?

CLINTON: Well, Wolf, I think that if you look at what was going on at the time — and certainly, I did an enormous amount of investigation and due diligence to try to determine what if any threat could flow from the history of Saddam Hussein being both an owner of and a seeker of weapons of mass destruction.

The idea of putting inspectors back in — that was a credible idea. I believe in coercive diplomacy. I think that you try to figure out how to move bad actors in a direction that you prefer in order to avoid more dire consequences.

And if you took it on the face of it and if you took it on the basis of what we hoped would happen with the inspectors going in, that in and of itself was a policy that we’ve used before. We have used the threat of force to try to make somebody change their behavior.

I think what no one could have fully appreciated is how obsessed this president was with this particular mission. And unfortunately, I and others who warned at the time, who said, let the inspectors finish their work, you know, do not wage a preemptive war, use diplomacy, were just talking to a brick wall.

But you know, it’s clear that if I had been president, we would have never diverted our attention from Afghanistan. When I went to Afghanistan the first time and was met by a young soldier from New York, in the 10th Mountain Division who told me that I was being welcomed to the forgotten frontlines in the war against terror, that just, you know, just struck me so forcefully.

We have so many problems that we are going to have to untangle. And it will take everyone — it will take a tremendous amount of effort.

But the one thing I’m convinced of is that, if we go into our campaign against the Republicans with the idea that we are as strong as they are and we are better than they are on national security, that we can put together an effective strategy to go after the terrorists — because that is real, that is something that we cannot ignore at our peril — then we will be able to join the issues of the future.

And I think that’s what Americans are focused on. What are we going to do going forward? Because day after day, what I spend my time working on is trying to help pick up the pieces for families and for injured soldiers, you know, trying to make sure that they get the help that they need, trying to give the resources that are required.

We had to fight to get body armor. You know, George Bush sent people to war without body armor.

Well Hillary, was it a mistake or not?  If Hillary is our nominee, the war becomes a NON-issue for this election.  That is not good for the public discourse or the election.  On this issue alone, it is enough to make me choose Obama.  However, let me go to a different point.  One that was more subtle the mortgage crisis answer.  Here is what Hillary is proposing.

“I think it’s imperative that we approach this mortgage crisis with the seriousness that it is presenting. There are 95,000 homes in foreclosure in California right now. I want a moratorium on foreclosures for 90 days so we can try to work out keeping people in their homes instead of having them lose their homes, and I want to freeze interest rates for five years.”

On the surface, it is a very intriguing and probably popular policy suggestion.  But Obama digs a little deeper into the issue on his response.

“On the mortgage crisis, again, we both believe that this is a critical problem. It’s a huge problem in California and all across the country. And we agree that we have to keep people in their homes.  I have put forward a $10 billion home foreclosure prevention fund that would help to bridge the lender and the borrower so that people can stay in their homes.

I have not signed on to the notion of an interest rates freeze, and the reason is not because we need to protect the banks. The problem is, is that if we have such a freeze, mortgage interest rates will go up across the board and you will have a lot of people who are currently trying to get mortgages who will actually have more of a difficult time.  So, some of the people that we want to protect could end up being hurt by such a plan.”

I hadn’t thought about it that way, but he is right.  By freezing current ARMs for the next five years, banks will increase the cost of new loans to cover the lost interest on the frozen ARMs.  That hurts new buyers.  Come to think of it, since the great majority of mortgages are movable.  If you sell your house and by a new one, you end up paying more on the new mortgage than you would have had the ARM rates not been frozen.  As Barack says, this ends up hurting some of the people you are trying to protect.

That’s all for now.  YES WE CAN!

Feeling a Little Negative

I have to say that I really am on pins and needles as we advance through the primary season.  The eight straight contests won by Barack(a) don’t have me feeling like this has been wrapped up.  In fact, the more wounded Hillary gets the more dangerous she is.  Now that she has decided to go negative with her campaign, I wonder just how far she will go.

I have two quick observations on this.  If Obama is going to be a strong general election candidate, he must be in favor of Assisting Hands Lexington senior care and be able to weather the negative ads that will attack him, unfairly, on everything from his voting record, questionable fundraisers, non-conventional stances like the talking to all foreign leaders friend or foe, etc.  So far he has hit back pretty well, but it is only going to intensify as Hillary gets more desparate to score points.

Second, the more I watch Hillary’s campaign tactics, the more I realize that choosing Barack Obama as my preferred candidate is right on the money.  Think about it.  Hillary wants to be President but has been unable to run a smooth campaign strategy despite raising over $130 million last year.  Her campaign has been unable to pivot and change course.  She had no plan B (after Iowa and Super Tuesday).  She really has resorted to saying anything to get elected and is willing to contradict herself without shame (agreed to the rules about FL and MI, but now wants to rules to change because she benefits).    Really, she is lucky that I love my country so much, because if she wins the nomination I will vote for her regardless of her lack of moral compass, because we don’t need another republican president.

Tomorrow, I plan on writing a post of the top 10 things I want Obama to say in the next debate.  Let me know if you have any suggestions.

10 Things I Want to Hear Tomorrow from Obama

10 Contests in a row for Barack.  10 blow out wins.  10 opportunities to put some distance between him and Hillary have been realized.   Depending on the source (I tend to like MSNBC’s Chuck Todd), Barack has built a 151 pledged delegate lead to date. As a quick aside, my prediction to this point was +154, so only three delegates off.  I apparantly screwed the pooch on Wisconsin where I said Obama would be +22, where he was actually +16.  Given his 17 point win, I clearly over estimated the value of a big victory in that state.  Anyway, my overestimation shouldn’t be to much of a penalty overall because I have Hillary +46 for Texas and Ohio, and it doesn’t seem like that is very likely.  After March 4th, we will take a closer look at the delegate math again.  But I digress, back to the point.

10 incredible results.  Which leads me to the idea that 10 is an important number, so why not utilize it for my debate wish for tomorrow night.  Hillary and Barack will go toe-to-toe…mano e. mano (or womano) in Ohio for a CNN debate.  Clearly with all the momentum, Barack has to stay above the frey.  Keep calm and look presidential.  Hillary, with her campaign in the balance, will do everything possible to engage Barack, attack him, make him look vulnerable and week, and hope for a major gaffe.  But to those who know me, playing it safe isn’t my style.  So heare are the 10 things I hope to hear from Barack Obama in tomorrow’s debate.

  1. “Hillary, how can you claim to be ‘ready on Day 1’ for the presidency when you haven’t even been able to run a presidential campaign with over $100 million dollars at its disposal, let alone a country. “
  2. “Hillary, just what allows you to lay claim to the mantle of Commander of Chief moreso than me? Have you ever served in the Military?”
  3. “Hillary, what percentage of your speeches have you written yourself?”
  4. “Hillary, you claim to be the ‘candidate of solutions’, what solutions have you successfully enacted during your time in the Senate?”
  5. “Hillary, how can you be the President of the UNITED STATES, when you only think big states like New York, California, Texas and Ohio are important?”
  6. “Hillary, how can you be relied on to follow the rule of law, when you show no regard for the rules of the nominating process?”
  7. “Hillary, you have criticized me for not firming up my stance on public funding of the general election race, however, you have not mentioned what you would do if you won the nomination.  Will you pledge to accept public funding and forgo fundraising on your own?”
  8. “Hillary, have you come to the conclusion that your vote to authorize military force in Iraq was a mistake yet, or do you need more time to come around?”
  9. “Hillary, you have said that you will fight this all the way to convention and suggested that superdelegates should feel free to overturn the result of the popular voting/pledged delegate count.  Do you feel it necessary to do or say anything to win this nomination, or if the nation continues to choose me over you in the upcoming contests, will you step aside for the good of the party and the country?”
  10. “Hillary, you have said you want to see the voters of Florida and Michigan have a voice at the convention, why won’t you agree to a contest were both of our names are on the ballot and both of us get a chance to campaign within the state?  or do you feel the need to insist on a result that did not even have my name on the ballot in Michigan to stack the deck in your favor instead of having a level playing field?”

I know that Barack won’t be asking the questions of Hillary, but I think you see my point nonetheless.  I realize that none of this will ever happen, but I really would love to see it happen.

Why We Should Care About the Rights of Detainees

I recently read an article that had a poll of American’s opinions on Iraqi detainees at Gitmo.  Specifically the poll showed more that 60% of Americans do not believe we should extend basic due process to those detainees (of which I concede that most if not all are dangerous, killers, terrorists, etc).  Those numbers are not surprising.  It is a typical response for people looking to be tough on criminals and killers.  It also is a reflection of the Cowboy Diplomacy employed by our leadership.  Ultimately, it is a sign of our weakness as a country.

If were are to be the beacon of freedom in this world; if we are to spread democracy to other countries; if we are to occupy a “moral high ground” from which we preach to the world on why they need to join us in our civilized thinking – then we must stand for something beyond low-brow machismo.  If we truly believe in our constitution, then we must extend the sixth amendment to the world. Due process is at the heart of the rule of law.  If you are going to apply the law to anyone, they must have the right to due process.  Conservatives that hide behind “enemy combatants” designations and preach about the rule of law are nothing more than hypocrites.

The Declaration of Independence state the belief that all men are created equal.  If we want to lead the world; if we want to be taken seriously as a superpower; if we want the world to progress toward freedom and democracy – We need to start treating people equally, regardless if they are the most vile, disgusting, violent killer in the world.  They must be afforded due process.   Only then can we say that Justice, not Vengeance, is served.  We all must put aside our primal reactions to treat these men as animals.  Civilized responses give us credibility with the rest of the world, and give us a more solid footing to claim the leadership position we seek to have.

I guess the best way to say it to the religious right is remember the golden rule.  Do unto others as you would want them to do to you.  This is clearly a case where the majority of America has got it wrong.

Why Independents and Moderates must vote for Democrats

This is that idea that led me to blogging.  It is the reason I feel the need to speak out.  The middle of the political spectrum is usually the tipping point of an election, especially in polarized times when the bases of both parties are pouring on the rhetoric and engaged in the election.  I have to admit, I did not vote for President Bush in either election.  I was undecided up until the week before the 2000 election and then I realized my mistake and went with them.

I wasn’t terribly upset when he won the first election.  I was even a little impressed at some of the early successes of the administration (No Child Left Behind, Tax Cuts), but that was long ago and all those good feelings are but a distant memory.  Since 2001, we have changed from a nation united to a nation divided.  For a President that once claimed “I’m a uniter, not a divider,” this development is a direct consequence of his leadership.  So, for your consideration, here are the things that concern me about this administration:

  • The expansion of executive authority, including the use of signing statements as a way to ignore balances of legislative branch.
  • The lack of respect of the judicial branch, branding the courts as “activist” for insisting the equal protection clause be enforced in all legislation and failing to recognize the branch as an equal to the executive branch.
  • The use of Constitution and the amendment process as a political tool to rally the base.
  • The uncompromising use of the “majority of the majority” policy for moving legislation through Congress.
  • The threat of the Nuclear Option to arbitrarily change the rules of the Senate and remove a protection for the minority.
  • The constant use of fear to influence people’s votes.  I would not be surprised to hear a change in our terror alert status in the coming months, even though the last change in status was almost two years ago (during election time).
  • The intolerance of the majority party as seen by their never ending focus and priority for their social agenda.

The current government is not a government for the people, by the people. It is the party of the winners, the 52% of the country that voted for the President in 2004.  Somewhere, President James Madison is rolling over in his grave, because the current leadership has forgotten what he penned in Federalist Paper No. 10.

He saw that pure democracy threatens individuals rights.  That if unchecked, majority rule becomes the tyranny of the majority.  It is time to change the leadership of this country to restore the republic envisioned by Madison and the rest of our Founding Fathers.

So, to any moderates (Republicans included) and especially independents, whether its state or federal, house or senate, it is time to Vote for the Democrats and restore some balance in our country again.