31. December 2009 · Comments Off on The Importance of Women’s Friendships · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: , ,

Copyright (c) 2009 Karin Marcus

The special bond found in female friendships has proven to have tremendous benefits, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. Now is the perfect time to reinforce and celebrate those relationships. Sunday, September 19th is the 10th National Women’s Friendship Day. This celebration has been endorsed by the governors of thirty-four states, and has become so popular that now the entire month of September has been declared the National Women’s Friendship Month!

Why are women’s friendships so important that they warrant national recognition? In recent years, research has shown that friendships between women have a wide range of health benefits that have widespread socio-economic repercussions. Through their friendships women build nurturing, emotionally-fulfilling bonds that serve as highly effective support systems. Within these relationships, women gain self esteem and validation. They find support in times of trouble and safe avenues for expressing their feelings and thoughts. A circle of women creates a sacred space that allows each to be more deeply present and proactive in their lives. In general, women with close female friends experience greater happiness and fulfillment.

These emotional benefits have direct physiological effects. A landmark UCLA study found that in times of stress, when men normally respond with a “fight or flight” reflex, women have an additional choice in their behavioral repertoire, to “tend and befriend.” They pull together to support and nurture one another. This behavior releases extra oxytocin, a chemical that counters stress and produces a calming effect. Women connecting with women can actually assist in lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. A Harvard Medical School Nurse’s Health Study further shows that because stress also wreaks havoc on blood glucose levels, healing, bone density and the aging process, women’s friendships can help counteract all these detrimental effects of stress as well. Conversely, researchers also concluded that NOT having close friends is as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight.

Other studies suggest that an older woman’s risk of dying from heart disease may be linked to the number of family and social relationships she has. In one study among 503 women with symptoms of coronary artery disease, those with few personal contacts were more than twice as likely to die over the next two to four years as women with more social ties. When the researchers also looked at how women coped with widowhood, they found that those who had a close confidante were more likely to survive the experience without suffering new and lasting physical ailments or permanent loss of vitality. Finally, science is confirming what we knew all along! Our girlfriends are essential to our well being, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So, take the time during this National Women’s Friendship Month to acknowledge and enhance all your wonderful friendships. There are all sorts of ways to celebrate. You can reconnect with a friend over lunch or plan a girl’s night out or even a weekend getaway. You can take part in a women’s health fair, or a seminar on an issue important to women, or organize a clothing drive for needy women. You can expand your circle of women friends by going on a women’s retreat or join a women’s group like The Transitions Network which is a national organization for women over fifty. Look in you local papers to see what special activities are going on to commemorate this month. Commit to doing something to strengthen these important relationships. Embrace your sisterhood!

30. December 2009 · Comments Off on Your Favorite Gossip Girl Cast – Blake Lively in Real Life · Categories: Arts And Entertainment · Tags: , ,

Blake Christina Lively, a favorite Gossip Girl cast member, is never new to the world of Hollywood. Born to actors Elaine and Ernie Lively in Tarzana, California, and the youngest of 5 children, Lively was indeed meant to thread a path in Hollywood belonging to a family that has been involved in the industry herself. However, Blake was not initially set on following her family’s path. Instead of getting involved in showbiz at an early age, she enjoyed a normal life in school.

As a child, Blake was homeschooled. She moved on to attend Burbank High School wherein she became a cheerleader, class president and a member of the National Show Choir. She was set on attending Stanford University until Hollywood fame came knocking at her door.

Blake’s Shot to Fame

Her first taste of Hollywood came when she starred in her father’s film, Sandman in which she portrayed the role of Trixie, the Tooth Fairy at age 11. Her biggest break took place when she bagged the role of Bridget in the teen hit movie, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, in 2005 opposite other famous young stars, America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn, and Alexis Bledel. It is said that Blake’s similarity with her character in the film was so obvious that the mere act of turning in her picture already got her the part. Her amazing performance in the movie won her the Teen Choice Award for Best Breakout Actress. The success of the said film led to a sequel that stars the same cast. Lively also starred in a college comedy, Accepted, opposite Justin Long in 2006 and the film, Elvis and Anabelle in 2007 alongside Keith Carradine and Mary Steenburgen.

Gossip Girl Affair with Penn Badgley

Not long after, she got the lead role as Serena van der Woodsen in Gossip Girl. This project really cast her name in Hollywood as one of the upcoming stars of the generation. Like a chameleon, Blake was able to transform herself into the complex character she portrays in the show. Gossip Girl also paved the way for her to be reunited with childhood friend and classmate, Penn Badgley, who stars as Dan Humphrey, Serena’s love interest in the teen drama. Their rumored relationship off screen was the headline of all tabloids, but the two initially never confirmed the affair. It was only when a magazine featured photos of them on a vacation together in Mexico that Lively and Badgley came out with their relationship.

Recent Project

Many doors have been opened to Lively because of her Gossip Girl fame. She is set to star in New York, I Love You with Hollywood A-listers, Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, and Brett Ratner. The movie is expected to hit theaters late this year.

We can definitely say that Blake has everything going for her. A member of the Gossip Girl cast, role model, and an amazing actress, she is one of the most sought after talent of this generation. There’s no doubt about it. Blake is the next best thing in Hollywood.

30. December 2009 · Comments Off on Playing Hurt · Categories: Self Improvement · Tags: , ,

“Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow: The same God who cares for you today will take care of you and yours tomorrow and everyday. Either God will shield you from suffering or God will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.” St Francis Desales

“Hands down,” my husband said. “It’s Super Bowl Sunday and you need to write another “Playing Hurt” Newsletter.

It was a tradition started by our old pastor and dear friend, Wayne Smith, arguably one of the most influential Christian pastors in America. He preached tirelessly for over forty years to the faithful who, Sunday after Sunday, both drove great distances to hear him preach as well as sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for endless miles of the stretch down the only highway leading to the mammoth church in Kentucky. His message was always divinely inspired, but it was his yearly “Playing Hurt” sermon on Super Bowl Sunday that drew the ravest reviews.

It’s because most of us are playing hurt. In one way or another.

And so I wrote my first “Playing Hurt” Newsletter last year, as I played “excruciatingly hurt” when Nick got diagnosed with cancer. Am I worry-free now? Completely walking in faith without shuffling in fear? Absolutely not. I’m only human. I still play hurt on some days, like I did this Thursday when I got a phone call from him saying that he had a fever and was in the doctor’s office. My stomach moved to my throat; my heart raced faster; and my mind played mental gymnastics that were something less than limber.

I admit to playing hurt this year for entirely different reasons. I’m a tad bit physically hurt…but it’s that “good hurt” that comes from exhausting exercise, the kind that I didn’t get quite enough of last year because of Nick’s treatment. It’s similar to the kind of hurt that the football players in the Super Bowl play through. Achy muscle hurt. Broken bone hurt. Sore ribs hurt. As the football players stay in the game despite their hurt (did you catch the player riding the stationary bike through a pulled groin?), I booked a tennis game for tomorrow morning. Despite a throbbing previously-broken shoulder and a throbbing-even-more previously-shattered leg. I need to play hurt to make my body even stronger. Professional football players stay in the Super Bowl with broken fingers, pounding muscles, and aching heads. They stick it out until the end. Keep their eye on the ball. Until the game is over and a winner declared.

This year finds many friends of mine suffering emotional pain, and I’m playing hurt with them. Fractured relationships, parenting challenges, strained marriages. Playing hurt while helping them sort out difficult issues. And I have my own playing hurt issues to resolve, too. Disappointments on the business and personal side that require healing.

And these long, bitter days of winter don’t exactly help to lift our spirits, do they? Full of bleakness and of gray, devoid of sunshine and flowers, our landscapes are marked by leafless trees and barely-bubbling creeks. The dreariness makes it even easier to bathe in hurt and in pain. To become depressed with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. With little in the next weeks to look forward to other than a possible delivery from the florist on Valentine’s Day or the surprise of some dark chocolate, it’s almost “natural” to walk around playing completely hurt. No bright, happy colors in wardrobes or nature to inspire and delight our senses, playing hurt in January seems a logical choice.

All of us play hurt at some point in our lives. It’s not the
playing hurt that separates us from the rest; it’s how we choose
to play when we play hurt. I am fully aware that when I play sad
when playing hurt, that I do not play my best game. Because I
wallow in too much self-pity and take my eye off the ball. I am
also fully aware that when I play scared when playing hurt I do
not play my best game, either. Because then I live in fear
instead of in faith. And when I play angry, I play a pretty
horrible game, too. Because then I get cranky with everyone
around me and take all the fun out of things. Playing angry when
playing hurt serves no useful purpose at all; I need to clean out a closet or sweep the hardwood floors on those days.

When I play hurt, I need to play strong. I need to abandon fear and worry and instead, incorporate a walk in faith. “The Lord is
near the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” I need to stop playing angry and get on with the game. I need to enter into the game with joy and with hope, for “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow faint.”

Playing hurt is never as much fun as playing pain-free. Not in football nor in tennis nor in life. But playing hurt is something that, every now and then, we are forced to play. And sometimes through it, but certainly in the end, we’ll see the beauty in strength. “…strength that endures the unendurable
and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us.” (Colossians 1: 11-12)

With daffodils and sunshine just around the corner, I pray that whether you’re playing hurt or playing strong, you will gain strength with each passing day and that you will eventually soar like the eagles. Just like the pros at the Super Bowl.

29. December 2009 · Comments Off on Can My Pet Make Me Sick? · Categories: Pets · Tags: , ,

Can having a pet make my children or me sick?

The answer to that question is “yes” and “no.”

There is always the possibility and there are also ways to prevent problems.

The best way to make certain, germs and/or bacteria is not passed around is to practice good hygiene. Cleanliness seems to be the best prevention of common illnesses.

However, one important thing is, to keep in mind is the current state of everyone’s health. People with a weak immune system, people suffering from serious illnesses, people with HIV/AIDS, people with organ transplants, people being treated for cancer and infants and young children are all at a greater risk of picking up a disease from an animal than most other people.

With few exceptions, carelessness in handling a pet along with not washing your hands after cleaning up after a pet, are primary causes of illness connected with pets.

What are some of the possible illnesses that can be associated with animals? The most feared in my mind is rabies.

What is rabies? It is a disease caused by the rabies virus and is transmitted though a bite from an animal that is carrying the virus. Today most domesticated animals are vaccinated for the rabies virus as dictated by most state laws.

However, a bite from an unknown animal, domestic or wild, until it is known that the animal has been vaccinated, has to have the recipient of the bite, treated as if the animal has the virus.

It may take from one to three months for a person to show signs of the virus and by then it is too late for any treatment to work.

It is very important that your pet, even if it is an inside only pet, be inoculated against the rabies virus.

Teaching children to avoid trying to pet strange dogs or cats, unless supervised, along with avoiding the temptation to catch a wild animal, is one of the best lessons you can teach your child.

There are many germs/viruses that can be picked up from dogs other than rabies, most of which come from contact with a dog’s feces. That is why cleanliness seems so important. To clean up after your dog eliminates, use plastic gloves, a pooper scooper or a plastic bag to avoid touching the feces.

A dog can carry many types of germs, bacteria and/or virus and not be ill, but you can pick it up and suffer. Most illness caused by pets usually run the gamut of diarrhea, vomiting, some fever and muscle aches. As with any illness see, your medical provider.

Cats too, can pass on a disease or two to their humans, but in general you are most likely not going to get sick from touching or owning a cat.

Cat scratch fever can come from a scratch or bite, but using normal precautionary measures such as washing the wound and putting an anapestic on it, can generally prevent any illness. Symptoms of cat scratch disease can include infection at the point of injury, swollen lymph glands, some fever, and a loss of appetite.

Another disease associated with cats is Toxoplasmosis, however people are more likely to get it from eating raw meat or gardening.

What is toxoplasmosis? It is a disease caused by a parasite, about 60 million people are infected by this bug and do not know it. You can get it by swallowing cat feces.

Yuk, you say why would anyone do that? Actually just by touching your mouth, eyes, or nose you can transmit it to yourself. The symptoms are flu like. It particularly dangerous for pregnant women as it can be transmitted to the fetus.

When cleaning the litter box always use caution and refrain from handling any feces. Keep pets away from the litter box, along with children. For some odd reason dogs seem to enjoy looking for treats in the litter box.

What other diseases can be transmitted to humans by pets?

Salmonellosis, which is a bacterial disease caused by the bacteria Salmonella. Most of the time people get it from infected chicken, eggs or other contaminated food. The symptoms can cause severe diarrhea, fever and stomach pain.

The virus salmonellosis can also be passed on to humans by handling such pets as reptiles (lizards, snakes and turtles,) baby chicks, ducklings and occasionally a cat or dog.

Again it comes from touching the feces of the animals and not washing your hands after doing so. Some animals can have it on their bodies, as they have picked it up from the ground.

Water can also be a point of contamination, where animals have access to it and due to ground run offs, feces and urine can flow into the water, humans need to be careful.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals.

How can you get it?

By exposure to many things, as the bacteria is secreted through the urine of infected animals. It can be found in water, (ponds and streams) food, or soil containing urine from the infected animals. Swallowing the water (swimming in a pond or stream,) contaminated food or by hands that have been in contact with a source and you have rubbed your eyes, nose or mouth or through a cut on your skin.

The symptoms include high fever, severe headache, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible especially, if you have been swimming in the “old swimming hole.”

Leptospirosis is found worldwide, but mainly in temperate and tropical climates. Pets can acquire it from drinking out of a contaminated birdbath.

Ticks carry diseases and ticks bite dogs, so the rule here is, when removing ticks from your pet be extremely careful. Your chances of getting either Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted fever are slim and none, unless you are tramping around in areas of the country where those ticks are prevalent and are not wearing protective clothing.

Fleas can cause tapeworm in household pets. The animals get it by swallowing a flea that has been infected.

Can you get tapeworm, certainly, but only if you swallow and infected flea. Keeping your pet and household flea free will prevent either of you from becoming infected. Last, but not least in this list of things, is Ringworm, this is a skin and scalp disease that can be caught not only from animals, but people, too.

How can you get ringworm?

Ringworm is a contagious fungus that can be passed on from person to person, pet to person or pet to pet.

It has nothing to do with worms, but is a fungus that lives in humans, pets and rarely in the soil. Ringworm appears as, a flat round patch on the skin and then conforms to a ring like patch. It can be treated by a fungus killing medicine usually taken orally in tablet form or by an ointment applied to the affected area.

The important thing here is not to share personal items with an infected person, do not touch infected areas, keep children away from infected pets, and to thoroughly wash all items handled by the infected pet or person.

Now that I have made you wonder, should I ever get a pet, the answer is of course.

Plain old common sense hygiene is the answer to most pet to people diseases. I have never heard of a person dying because of a disease caught from a cat or dog. With the possibly exception of someone being bitten by a rabid animal and not seeking treatment.

Keeping play areas for children free from being your pet’s bathroom area and keeping feces cleaned up is the safest thing you can do.

Teach your children to wash their hands frequently after playing with their pet and you are on your way to a long and happy life
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28. December 2009 · Comments Off on Honor the Earth With These Inspiring Earth Day Activities · Categories: Childhood Education · Tags: , ,

Earth has a special day. It’s sort of like a birthday. It’s called Earth Day. It began on April 21, 1970. Earth Day is celebrated all over the world, usually on the first day of spring but sometimes on April 22nd. It is a special day to remind us to take care of our Earth, our environment, and to learn what we can do to help keep the Earth healthy—not just on Earth Day but every day! Help your children honor the Earth by sharing with them these inspiring and educational Earth Day activities

Trash Hike

Provide each child with a bag and gloves. Have them pick up trash. Talk about the items that they picked up. Ask children if they think any of the items they found are recyclable. If so, have them place the items in a container to be recycled later.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

First, explain to children what the following words mean:

Reduce: This means you cut down or lessen the amount of materials you use. For example, if you use both sides of a piece of paper, you are reducing the number of pages you need.

Reuse: This means you use the material over again, either for the same purpose, or for something else. For example, a coffee can could be reused as a container for crayons or pencils.

Recycle: This means to use the materials over again to make a new product. For example, old newspapers are recycled when they are made into new paper products.

Next, create a 3-column chart. Label the columns Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Cut out pictures from a magazine of items like a tire, a Styrofoam cup, a plastic bottle, a glass jar, soda can, etc. and have children categorize them. Variation: Have bins in which children can sort the items.

Recyclables Game

Collect cans with lid remove, plastic bottles, and newspaper. Label 3 bins or trash cans: cans, bottles, and newspaper. Draw a line and place the containers about 3 to 5 feet away from the line. Have children stand behind the line and try to toss the recyclables into the appropriate container.

Field Trip

Have children collect plastic grocery bags and return them to their neighborhood grocery store.

Trash Collage

Use throw away paper, labels, scraps cut from junk mail, aluminum foil, pull tabs from soda cans—anything you can find that is typically thrown away—to make a collage.

Wind Sock

Earth day craft Cut the bottom of a cup or margarine tub. Cut streamers from crepe paper, ribbons and plastic bags. Attach other recycled items on a string. Arrange and glue them around the cup so that they hang down over the edge. Make two holes and attach a pipe cleaner or ribbon to make a hanger.

Dirt Cups

Have children make this fun snack by putting chocolate pudding in a paper cup. Have them top the pudding with crushed chocolate cookies and a gummy worm.

27. December 2009 · Comments Off on Sweet Tea · Categories: Food & Beverage · Tags: , ,

Sweet tea is a form of iced tea in which sugar or some other form of sweetener is added to the hot water before, while, or after brewing the tea but before the beverage is cooled or chilled and served. Adding sweetener to hot water allows for supersaturation of the solution, enabling the tea to hold more dissolved sweetener than under colder temperatures. Many restaurants have dispensers that dispense hot or warm sweet tea, and customers pour it over a full cup of ice to make iced tea. This especially sweet variation of tea enjoys most of its popularity in the Southern United States, though bottled iced teas labeled “Southern Style” or “Extra-sweet Southern Style” appear in refrigerated cases throughout the country. Sweet tea is often flavored with mint leaves in a popular variant of sweet tea known as sun tea, which is brewed by leaving loose tea or tea bags in water for several hours.

Most restaurants in the region, including fast-food and other national chains, offer a customer the choice of sweet tea or unsweetened iced tea (Usually referred to as “tea” and “unsweet tea”, respectively.). It is a signature drink of the region to the point where the Southern use of the word “tea” is largely used to refer specifically to cold sweet tea and not to hot or unsweetened varieties. In 2003, supposedly as an April Fool’s joke, the Georgia House introduced a bill making it a misdemeanor to sell iced tea in a restaurant that did not also offer sweet iced tea on the menu. The bill never went to a vote.

An important part of the tradition of sweet tea in the South is the fact that it can be made in large quantities quickly and inexpensively. It is usually consumed daily as a staple drink.

The oldest known recipe for sweet ice tea was published in 1879 in a community cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree, who was born in Texas. The recipe called for green tea. In fact, most sweet tea consumed during this period was green tea. However, during World War II, the major sources of green tea were cut off from the United States, leaving them with tea almost exclusively from British-controlled India which produced black tea. Americans came out of the war drinking predominantly black tea.[2]

In 2008 Firefly Distillery based in South Carolina released Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, which has become quite popular in the American South along with some other areas of the United States.

The Sweet Tea Queens are a group of women based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA, dedicated to the pursuit of fun. The Boss Sweet Tea Queen, Carolyn, leads a group of about ten area women. They all wear matching costumes and accessories, consisting of a green sequin “beauty queen” dress, tiara, boots, sunglasses and accessories. The queens come from all walks of life; a number of them are notable business and organizational leaders.

The Sweet Tea Queens are a chapter of the Sweet Potato Queens [1], which is based in Jackson, Mississippi. Each chapter assumes its own theme and designs its own costumes. Some of the chapters participate in parades and fundraisers in their local communities. The Sweet Potato Queens concept has been explained and made popular by a series of books by Jill Conner Browne of Jackson, who came up with the idea in 1982. It involves a belief in a sisterhood that promotes self esteem and positive thinking, appealing to mostly middle-aged middle-class women. In 2005, almost ten thousand women dressed up in costumes and came to Jackson for their St Patrick’s Day parade, proceeds from which benefited a children’s hospital in the area.

The Sweet Tea Queens are a very active chapter that has repeatedly appeared at festivals and events to raise funds for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. The Sweet Tea Queens have their own professional float to ferry them through local parades, featuring the queens dancing to music that emanates from an on-board sound system. When they appear on behalf of charity organizations at fundraising events, they often staff a booth or run a contest. In addition, the queens often make appearances at area malls. Among the parades on the queens’ regular schedule are the Cowpens, South Carolina Mighty Moo parade, the Gaffney, South Carolina Peach Festival, Hendersonville, North Carolina’s King Apple parade, and a number of upstate South Carolina Christmas parades.

In addition to the group of queens, several of the STQ’s husbands and boyfriends are associated with the chapter by attending meetings and assisting with other chapter functions.

Having been compared to other groups like the Red Hat Society and the YaYa Sisterhood, the Sweet Tea Queens see themselves as “belles gone bad.” In their “regular lives,” they are teachers, nurses and business leaders. But when they put on the green sequins, these mothers and wives become disco-dancing “showgirls” for a few hours and have more fun than many do in a lifetime.

They have appeared in feature articles in the Spartanburg Herald Journal, South Carolina Magazine, Travel and Leisure, Belle magazine and others. They have also been guests on WSPA-FM’s morning show a number of times as well as being featured in Episode eight of Charter Cable’s Talk Of The Town show.

24. December 2009 · Comments Off on How to Get Customers in This Crappy Economy · Categories: Business · Tags: , ,

You probably won’t find “Crappy” in Webster’s Dictionary, but it’s the exact wording used when I was emailed this topic to offer my insight. So, here goes.

I’ve learned that the way to get customers in a bad economy is not a lot different than the way you’d do it a good economy. A bad economy just forces you to do it better. “Better” means smarter and more creatively. Because in business, as in battle, the spoils don’t always go to the biggest or richest. They usually go to the smartest and most innovative. But being effective at it depends on the specific business and situation. For example, are we talking about a law firm, or a car dealership? Is this about a national branding effort, or a personal job search? Whatever the scenario, however, you must be really clear about who your prospect is and then devise a way to get their attention in an exiting, positive way. Once you do that, then comes the fun part – convincing them.

A key point about attracting customers is this: Information, no matter how complete, is not enough. You won’t convert prospects into customers if you don’t excite them. Your message needs to touch your prospect on an emotional level. Otherwise, they simply won’t respond. How you do that is an expertise that a talented, creative, advertising or marketing person, or agency, can help you with.

Bottom line: No One Give a Damn About Your Product unless you Give them a Reason to. Unless you’re selling cold drinks in a desert your product benefits may not be as obvious to your prospect as you’d like to think. And, this is where business owners really need help. Entrepreneurs and business owners, as a rule, are passionate, ego-driven people. As a result they tend to have a blind spot when it comes to seeing their business or product as nakedly as their prospects do. So, besides lacking marketing expertise, they lack something equally critical to their success in getting customers – objectivity. I’ve seen it time and time again when a business owner’s ego blinds, or distorts, the realities. Some examples are… not knowing or respecting your competition… not acknowledging a poor presentation of your product… or thinking you can write compelling ad copy because you majored in English. These things will not help get more customers. If you’re truly looking to improve your odds at getting more customers start by being as clear as possible about how your product or service is being perceived. You may not have the thousands to invest in research, but spending a few hundred to get a trusted, qualified outside perspective is a wise investment.

Besides creativity, and objectivity, and knowing how to appeal to prospects on an emotional level, it also takes persistence, patience, and occasionally a little luck. Here’s a true story of how I landed one of my biggest projects.

If “who you know” is the way to get more business then Networking is one good way to know more people, right? Well, that depends. There’s no shortage of networking events that, I think, are a big waste of time. After a year’s worth of my active membership in one particular networking group I was sure that my experience was falling into that category. The organization was NYWICI … NY Women in Communication.

Yes, I know. I initially attended as a guest and thought it was a joke when I was asked to join. I was told that, yes, men could join and they’d love to have me. The female membership was close to 900. When I asked how many men were members, they said 7.

I was convinced that I had to do more networking and pondered the idea of membership for several weeks. I even talked with another male member who encouraged me to join. Did he get any business out of it? No. But he did get a girlfriend. Hm. So, with reluctance, I joined figuring that at least I’d stand out hoping that my mere existence would act as an automatic conversation starter. At the very least, I figured, I’d get a couple of dates out of it.

Not the case. Month after month, for 12 months, I’d throw on my best suit and make the trek to the events only to be ignored by a professional sisterhood that I felt no part of. I felt like I was a wedding crasher and it was unnerving. As I discouragingly shuffled out of the final networking event of the year, regretting my $350 membership, I found myself sharing an elevator with the incoming president. Just moments earlier I’d enjoyed her impassioned speech about the importance of business integrity and camaraderie. So, as I stood watching the elevator lights count down the seconds of my membership, I suddenly turned and complimented her on her speech. With a who-the-hell-are-you glance back I quickly explained that I actually was a NYWICI member. We exchanged cards.

Now I must tell you that my business card is not your normal business card. So, when she was stopped by it, and impressed by the attention-getting creativity, her demeanor quickly warmed up. And for the next 18 floors down I found myself in the most engaged dialogue that I’d been in all year. By the time we hit the ground floor we’d talked about lunch. It took the next three months to actually have that lunch, but a month after we did I signed a contract for a very cool 2-month project that netted me $86,000.

Was it luck? That’s part of it. But effective marketing is all about doing whatever it takes to be in the right place at the right time with an engaging, creative piece of communication. And, the better you do that, the luckier you’ll get. Through positive press, good G-Cred, good word-of-mouth, multiple websites, speaking, article writing, blogging, podcasting, online networking, helping associates, and, most of all, a commitment to doing exceptional work that gets great results, we continue to attract smart new clients who know and appreciate the value of great marketing.

21. December 2009 · Comments Off on How to Remove Rust Stain? · Categories: Home Improvement · Tags: , ,

You can find rust anywhere like clothing, carpet, tools, cookware or automobile parts. You need to clean them. You will find many rust removal product in the market but if you don’t want to spend money on the product then here are some solutions for you.

How to remove rust stain from Clothes

The very first step you have to do is read the care instruction given on the rust product. If you don’t read it and you are not sure how to us it then you may destroy the cloth. So it is better you give the cloth to drycleaners or follow the steps given below: these steps will definitely help you to get out of the stain.

1. It is always better that you should pad the rusted area from back end strained area with paper towels.

2. Put good quantity of lemon juice over the rust affected area.

3. Now place the cloth in warm place(direct exposure to sunlight is also ok) so that the lemon juice can dry up completely.

4. Then clean it as usual.

5. Now if the stain still persists then you should boil the cloth in a solution of cream of tartar and water. Then wash normally. This will definitely remove the stain from the cloth.

6. You can also use any cleaning agent that contains a chemical named oxalic acid. It is more powerful than acetic acid. So use it cautiously. You should always read the instruction before using any cleaning agent that contain oxalic acid. If not read then your material or cloth can get damaged.

How to remove rust stain from Carpet

1. Clean the carpet surface as much as possible to remove the dust as well as some rust.

2. Use lemon juice all over the affected area and allow drying for 5 minutes.

3. After this white clean Towel should be used remove the lemon juice. The white towel should act as blotting substance.

4. You can also use the dishwashing detergent and water. After using it scrub the affected area with tooth brush or small scrub brush. The main purpose of the scrubbing is to restrict the stain to spread and loosen the rust from the carpet.

5. Now wash the carpet with plain water.

6. Repeat this method if required.

Rust Removal Process from Tools and Cookware

The following steps are applicable only if the substance has rusted a little. If the substance is severely affected by rust then it is always better that you use commercial rust remover or you have to buy a new tool.

1. Place the substance that needs to be clean into a large container. The size of the container should be big enough to at least sink the rusted area.

2. Then you should fill the contain with a mixture of one-fourth cup of lemon juice with every 4 cups of water. You can also have one cup of vinegar with 4 cups of water. Leave the material in the solution to soak overnight. If the rust is strong then increase the concentration of the solution.

3. Then scrub the affected area with steel wool or abrasive pad. If the stain doesn’t vanish then again soak the substance for another 12 hours before you start scrubbing again.

13. December 2009 · Comments Off on Alternative Energy, Biofuel Issues · Categories: News And Society · Tags: , ,

Diesel fuel is made from crude oil, a nonrenewable resource. Biodiesel fuels are characterized as substitutes for diesel, but not all biodiesel fuels are clean and renewable. Renewable biodiesel can be made relatively easily from used vegetable oil.

Other possible sources include locally grown cellulosic materials such as switchgrass, straw, hemp, and algae. The B number indicates how much biodiesel is in the mixture. For example, B2 is 2 percent biodiesel, 98 percent petroleum; B100 is 100 percent pure biodiesel with no petroleum. Diesel trucks, cars, and farm equipment can run entirely on vegetable oil properly filtered in small, makeshift settings without petroleum sources of energy. There is also the potential for heating buildings with biodiesel fuels.

The Politics of Ethanol

Ethanol is defined as an alcohol obtained from the fermentation of certain carbohydrates such as grains, molasses, starches, or sugars. American ethanol, whether it is made from corn or soy, depends on the continued use of petroleum and reportedly uses more petroleum than is saved by the end product itself. In addition, conventional corn and soy are likely to be genetically modified and dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which are also petroleum products. The source of the energy that creates, refines, and distributes biodiesel fuels needs to also be clean and renewable.

In 2004, Congress passed the American Jobs Creation Act, which included a subsidy to oil companies and agribusinesses (such as Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill) of 51 cents per gallon of ethanol. In 2005, oil companies received direct deductions from their taxes-more than two billion dollars-to blend around four billion gallons of ethanol.

Clean and Renewable Options

There are claims that Brazil has achieved clean energy self-sufficiency with homegrown sugar cane biodiesel fuel. However, Ecologist and Geneticist Dr. David Suzuki is skeptical of those characterizations. He maintains that Brazil does use petroleum to produce its biodiesel, even though the petroleum may not be imported. He also cautions that Brazil might be destroying rain forests to plant more sugar cane. So sugar cane biodiesel does not currently appear to be clean and renewable.

A history of renewable energy in the United States includes windmills, widespread use of passive solar in Pasadena (California) at the turn of the twentieth century, development of the electric car around 1913, extensive and efficient electric train and streetcar systems throughout the country (which could have been modified to run on more renewable energy sources), and methane captured from septic systems to create electricity. Details of the dismantling of these technological innovations by competing corporate interests are disheartening.

Government Has a Role

Congress continues to ignore the savings from conservation while subsidizing nonrenewable and dirty energy sources, such as oil and coal. Coal often relies on mining processes that destroy ecosystems, and coal-powered plants emit toxins such as mercury. Supporters of nuclear energy characterize it as clean and defend huge government subsidies for nuclear plants. But opponents argue than any energy source that cannot be safely placed in someone’s backyard, such as nuclear waste, is unacceptable.

Although the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sponsor competitions and presentations that highlight renewable energy, green buildings, and sustainable communities, these innovations receive few direct incentives from the federal government.

Significant economic benefits from clean and renewable energy include lower energy bills in homes, schools, and businesses; white- and blue-collar jobs; reduced health care and environmental clean-up costs; and increased revenues to local and state governments from these additional jobs and savings.

Technological alternatives that merit government subsidies include clean mass transit systems, plug-in electric vehicles (parts of New York are using plug-in trash trucks), passive solar, photovoltaic cells, geothermal heating and cooling, small-scale windmills and solid waste management systems, green roofs, and food and biomass fuels locally raised on small ecological farms (such as organically grown sorghum and corn for human consumption where only the discarded stalks are used for biodiesel fuels).

The challenge is to educate the public about technologically and economically feasible choices. Only an honest debate that circumvents special interest politics will compel environmentally, scientifically, and economically sound political choices.

12. December 2009 · Comments Off on Christmas Trees – Real VS Fake – Which is "Greener?" · Categories: Home And Family · Tags: ,

As I was putting up my tree earlier this week, it suddenly occurred to me to wonder, in light of my expanding eco-consciousness, whether a real tree or fake tree was the greener alternative. I got to thinking about how the real trees are grown, harvested, and transported, but then again, what ARE fake trees made of? I decided to do some research, and discovered this to be a long-standing, heated debate! Running through the pros and cons in my head, I honestly expected them to come out about evenly in the end, but as it turned out, that wasn’t the case at all! Here’s the facts – do with them as you will:

Real trees – Pros

Biodegradable 1-3 new trees are planted for each one cut Generally planted in soil that will not support other crops 1 acre of a Christmas tree farm provides enough oxygen for 18 people, which works out to oxygen for about 9 million people from the roughly 500 million acres of tree farms Many communities offer curbside pickup for mulching Better option for those allergic to dust Obviously, contains no PVC

Real trees – Cons

Requires significant fuel for shipping, consumer shopping, and eventual waste disposal Frequently require pesticides, which can leech into water as they biodegrade (although there ARE varieties that require no pesticides) Can be a fire hazard – consumers are instructed to use no more than 3 strands of lights

Fake trees – Pros

Long life span – when well taken care of, a fake tree can last for decades Better for those allergic to the chemical that gives evergreens their scent

Fake trees – Cons

Petroleum required for manufacture Often made of PVC, which is one of the most toxic plastics ever created Often contain lead, which is used to stabilize the PVC Manufacture releases dioxins into the atmosphere during manufacture Generally manufactured in Asia, requiring huge amounts of fuel for shipping to Europe and U.S.

Huh. Well, from an environmental standpoint, the facts make it hard not to come down in favor of the real trees, but this does NOT mean that you should toss your fake tree and run out to buy a real one! The first rule of the eco-code is REDUCE, so the longer you keep that tree, the greener it gets. The second part of the code is, of course, REUSE, so when you no longer want your tree, please don’t throw it away to linger eternally in a landfill – donate it!

So you might be wondering, is there a greener option than the real tree? Actually yes, but it involves a twist on the tradition. Turns out that the greenest option (besides not having a tree) is to decorate a living tree. Evergreens will only last about a week indoors, so for those of you who like to keep your tree up from Thanksgiving until after New Year’s, you’ll need to pick a more suitable plant. Alternatively, consider simply decorating a tree in your yard, where the whole neighborhood can enjoy it!
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