10 Alternatives To Getting Rid Of Your Pet

August 12, 2016

So you’ve had your dog or cat for a while, and your life is changing, and now you think you need to get rid of your pet. But are you sure this is what you want to do? Getting rid of your pet is a very drastic measure. If you leave your pet at a shelter, you may think he will find a new home soon. But it is unlikely. Many high-kill shelters must euthanize animals each day in order to make room for new ones who have come in. Some animals are only at the shelter for four or five days before they run out of luck. Fifty-six percent of dogs and seventy-six percent of cats in shelters are euthanized… many of them healthy, well-behaved animals whose owners simply didn’t have time for them anymore. Even in a no-kill shelter, your pet may be doomed to live out the rest of his life in a small cage if he is not chosen for adoption.
If you are willing to try keeping your pet, there are many things you can do. Lets look at some of the most common reasons why people get rid of their pets, and how to get around them.Reason 1: I’m moving.
Solution: Bring your pet with! A quick Google search for “pet-friendly housing” will show you many different directories of rental housing that allows pets. Here are just a few that I found: People With Pets, Pets Welcome, My New Place, Pets911, Home With Pets, and Dog House Properties. And pet-friendly housing is not just limited to those sites! Many apartment buildings and complexes will allow pets. You may have to pay an extra security deposit. But in the end, it will be worth it, to keep your pet with you!
Here is something else you should know. If things get really bad and you have no place to live, you still may not have to give up your pet. Pets Of The Homeless is a website that works to help homeless people to keep their pets, or find temporary homes for their pets until they get back on their feet.Reason 2: I can no longer afford my pets.
Solution: Call your local animal shelter, or food pantry, and ask about pet food banks. They do exist, and are becoming more and more common! You can even make your own dog food, which may be cheaper in the long run. (Its not difficult! Dogs can eat much of the same things we eat!) Your local animal shelter, or your veterinarian, may also be able to tell you about free or low cost vet care for your pets.

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Reason 3: My new boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/roommate doesn’t like pets.
Solution: Are you really going to sacrifice your pet on someone else’s whim? Are you sure you want to date someone or live with someone who doesn’t like pets? That’s a pretty big lifestyle change to make for someone else. If you’re sure you want to stick with this person, work out a compromise. Maybe your pet can be banned from certain areas of the house, like the bedroom or the kitchen.Reason 4: My new boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/roommate is allergic to my pet.
Solution: As long as the person’s allergy isn’t life threatening, there are many things you can do to greatly reduce the allergens on your pet. Keeping your house clean is a giant step. Dust and vacuum frequently, and use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter if possible. You can buy an air filter for your home that sucks the allergens out of the air. A company called AllerPet makes a special liquid that you can wipe your pet down with regularly to get rid of the allergens on him. Sprinkling flax seeds in your pet’s food can also reduce the amount of dander he produces. The person may even be willing to take allergy medication! After all, many people have seasonal allergies and take medicine regularly. They don’t just get rid of the seasons!Reason 5: We’re having a baby.
Solution: Pets and children are a great combination! Most pets are perfectly fine around children, although they may be a little confused by the new arrival at first. You should always supervise your pet around young children. When your child is an infant, he probably won’t be unsupervised anyways, right? As your child gets older, you will have to teach the child to be gentle with the pets. Do not allow your child to pull your pet’s tail, poke him, pick him up, etc. Many people feel that a pet should be obligated to put up with whatever your child deals out. But that is not good for anyone involved! Teaching your child, from a young age, to be calm and nurturing around pets, is a great learning experience for the child. If you have a dog, you may want to do some extra training with him before the baby comes, to teach him not to jump up on you when you’re holding the baby, etc. Other measures may include banning the pets from certain areas of the house, hiring someone to come walk your dogs or clean up after your pets when you don’t have time to, etc.Reason 6: I have developed health problems.
Solution: Speak to your veterinarian, neighbors, friends, people at your place of worship, etc. You can probably find some volunteers to help you take care of your pet. Having a pet can be a source of comfort when you are ill. In fact, many studies have shown that people with pets have lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, and are generally more healthy, than those without pets. If your health problems are so severe that you must move into a nursing home, maybe you can find someone willing too foster your pet for you.Reason 7: My pet has developed costly health problems.
Solution: Speak to your veterinarian about this. They may be able to guide you to low cost veterinary clinics, veterinary schools that offer low cost treatment, etc. Many veterinary offices now offer payment plans for treatment. They may be able to help you find creative ways of raising money to pay for your pet’s treatment, too!Reason 8: My pet still isn’t house trained.
Solution: If your pet is suddenly having “accidents” around the house when he used to be house trained, there could be a medical reason. You may want to consult your veterinarian. If the house training has just never completely been accomplished, you may have to start over from scratch. For a dog, take him out more frequently and try to get him on a schedule. If you are not home during the day, and your dog is eliminating on the floor or furniture while you are gone, you may want to consider crating him while you are not home. For a cat, switching to a different kind of litter, getting a bigger litter box, or moving the litter box to a different area of the house, can help. Clean up accidents with a mixture of vinegar and water. This mixture gets rid of the scent of urine or poop, so that the pet doesn’t feel the need to “mark” that area again.

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Reason 9: I work long hours, and don’t have much time to spend with my pet. Its not fair to him.
Solution: While it may seem unfair that your pet has to spend time alone, it is still better than making him take his chances in a shelter! There are simple measures, such as providing stimulating toys for your pets, or leaving the TV on during the day, that can help your pet to feel less lonely. One nice thing you can do is buy your pet a special blanket. Sleep with it in your bed for a few nights before you give it to your pet. It will smell like you, and offer comfort to your pet when you are away from the house! You may also want to consider pet day care, or hiring someone to stop in during the day to play with your pets. Also, spending as little as fifteen minutes before you leave for work, just playing with your pet and spending quality time with him, can make a real difference. You don’t have to be a perfect owner and spend tons of time hanging out with your pet. He will love you the way you are… and again, it is better to be alone at your home than to die alone in a shelter.Reason 10: My pet has behavior problems. He bites/scratches/jumps on me, barks too much, etc.
You may want to consider a training class for yourself and your pet. Petco and Petsmart offer fairly inexpensive training classes. It can be a good investment! If you can’t afford this, then the library can provide books on dog training, and the Internet can provide websites with tips. Try Googling a specific problem you’re having. For instance, search for “teach dog to stop barking.” Spending ten or fifteen minutes a day working with your dog, and then consistently rewarding your dog for positive behavior, can make a huge difference.These are just a few of the common reasons why people consider giving up their pets. But remember, every problem has a solution. So, before you give up on your pet, please take some time to remedy the problems!

Why Personal Finance Software Is Important

October 4, 2016

Why personal finance software is important These days, technology has really revolutionized people’s way of life, including their financial life. Back in the day, most people used a pen and paper to document their earnings, spending, and finances.What is personal finance software?Home finance software refers to a financial tool that enables you to prepare a budget, track your expenses, and check your overall finances. These days, there is no valid reason why you should be disorganized and mired in debt because there are many good personal finance programs that you can use to keep track of your money, plan your future, and completely control your finances. If you have a PC or laptop, you are lucky because you can easily find good home finance software at little cost. Application programmers have now catered for the high demand for these applications as they now come with all sorts of functions and capabilities that can save your money, time and effort.

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AnalysisYou can now analyze your finances unaided. However, this kind of analysis can be much easier if you have some accounting background. Finance software will analyze your important financial details. Details such as your monthly expenses will stick out. Many personal finance applications also allow personalization. If there is one particular aspect you want to know about your finances, you can simply create a specialized analysis. Many personal finance programs can also give you a monthly analysis-an excellent way to see how you actually spend your money on a monthly basis.Budget creationWe all know the importance of a personal budget. But creating a real budget that you’ll stick to is easier said than done. You can find a personal finance application that creates a realistic budget for you. Simply enter your basic information into the software and quickly create a simple budget.Checkbook balances and bill paymentsSometimes you’ll fail to pay bills on time. When it happens, interest rates are more than likely to shoot up. Fortunately, you can avoid this mistake once and for all. Look for a personal finance application that’ll remind you when to pay your bills. Likewise, you can accomplish balancing your checkbook by just ticking a box. Sum up any amounts withdrawn from your account and check carefully anything that seems suspicious. Once you have everything on record, it becomes much easier to know how your finances are faring.

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Trust yourself and no one elseWhen it comes to finances, it is best to keep track of all you have carefully. You may trust your finances with your financial adviser, but it is still important to know where every cent is at, always. With a personal finance application, your money will never be far away from you. Whether you are paying bills, balancing your checkbook, tracking your paycheck, or creating a personal budget, you should not live without personal finance software.

Teaching About the Election to Elementary Students Using Literature and Technology

October 14, 2016

Teaching about the election can be an interesting process. Of course the best way is to hold a mock election, or even better, a school election with children running for various offices. As with all curricular areas, experiencing the learning by participation cements the concepts.Other ideas for teaching about the election include:For Kindergarten and Grade 1Read a book about an election and discuss the elements of election. Books I choose to use are “Duck for President” by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin (2004) and “My Teacher for President” by Kay Winters and Denise Brunkus (2008.)After discussing the election process we make campaign posters. Students use a drawing program on the computer (I use KidPix) and type “Vote for ______” in huge letters. They add decorations to complete the poster. We print in color and staple to construction paper. Hanging this campaign poster on their bedroom doors will remind them of what they learned about the election.

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For Grades 2 and 3I read an election book such as “Pete for President” by Daisy Alberto (2004). We discuss election procedures but also emphasize telling the truth during the election process. During the story there is a page where there is a debate. I stop the story, have two kids join me up front, and simulate a debate. Sometimes I even tell one of the students to make outlandish claims about what he or she would do if they were to win. We finish reading the book and then discuss ways that students can improve the school.The second graders make campaign posters just like the younger students but they add four ways they can make the school/world a better place. Examples might be: Eliminate bullies from the playground, Pick up Litter on the Playground, Be Nice to All People, Help Raise Money for New Library Books, etc.In Grades 3 through 5As the children get older I begin to teach about the electoral college. The best book I’ve found for this is “Grace for President” by Kelly Dipucchio and Leuyen Pham (2008.) After reading this story I send the students to explore an online simulation game at the Scholastic News website.

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Grade 6: By the time students are in grade 6 they are ready to explore the issues of the candidates. To do this I ask the students to choose six issues to research on the websites of the candidates. The information that they gather can be presented in any manner; for instance, a 2-column display comparing the issues or using an organizing software such as Inspiration to create a web of information.Overall, the more concrete examples you can give to students about the election will assist them in learning about the process that we embrace within our country.

Still More Anomalies: Another Top Baker’s Dozen

August 27, 2016

You may not be happy with the world as it is, but at least it’s orderly and makes logical sense. Walk, don’t walk, green yellow red; money trickles in, money flows out; friends and politicians come and go, enemies and stuff accumulate; the sun rises and sets, the moon waxes and wanes; people are born, people die; the days, weeks, months, seasons. and years come and go with regularity. But dig a bit deeper beneath the surface and the world and the cosmos it inhabits, is one anomalous place.THE BIG BANG EVENT: This is no doubt a concept that nearly everyone has heard about, and swallowed hook, line and cosmological sinker because scientists present this creation of the Universe scenario as fact. It’s not fact; just the most viable theory of many theories and it has serious flaws. The accepted theoretical account of the creation or event that kick-started our Universe off not only has that event a something that created all of matter and energy, but all of time and space as well, and this creation event, to boot, all took place in a volume less than that of a pinhead (something in the realm of the quantum) and for no apparent reason at all. First there was nothing; then there was something. Wow!At best observations that support this are indirect being made some 13.7 billion years after-the-fact. Those indirect observations that provide evidence for the Big Bang event are the fact that the Universe is expanding; the Universe has a temperature – the remnants from the hot Big Bang called the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) and the amounts and ratio of hydrogen to helium. In reality there are no direct observations as nobody was present at Ground Zero all those billions of years ago.There are really a couple of anomalies present in the standard Big Bang account. 1) You have a violation of causality – something (space, time, matter and energy) created from nothing which is a violation of several conservation laws or relationships. 2) You have a violation of pure common sense that tells you that you can not stuff the contents of the entire Universe into the realm of the quantum, something actually way less in volume in fact than a pinhead. If that’s not anomalous, I don’t know what is!SPEED OF LIGHT: The anomaly here is that in any other scenario, velocities can be added and subtracted, except the velocity that’s known as the speed of light. Within Relativity Theory, if there is anything unintuitive it is the fact that in the entire Universe, it is the speed of light alone that is absolute or fixed, not something like space or time. It’s unintuitive in that all other bits and pieces that are in motion can be added or subtracted. So, if you are in a train that is moving at say 100 km/hour and you throw a ball at 10 km/hour in the direction at which the train is moving, to an observer outside the train, your ball is traveling at 110 km/hour. If you throw the ball towards the rear of the train, an outside observer will measure the ball as moving at 90 km/hour. If on the other hand, you shine a flashlight in the train, an outside observer will see the velocity of the resulting light beam moving at the speed of light – not the speed of light PLUS the velocity of the train, or the speed of light MINUS the velocity of the train, but at the speed of light! That’s nuts, but it’s scientifically nuts and been proven again and again in any experiment you care to devise.QUANTUM GRAVITY AND THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING: We have the Theory of General Relativity (gravity) and Quantum Physics. Both are bedrocks of modern physics. Both are accurate to a high degree of experimental precision. Both aren’t compatible – with each other. Apparently, one (or both) of these theories must be wrong, or at best incomplete. That’s why the unification of the two (a theory of quantum gravity) is physics’ Holy Grail. However, that Holy Grail is proving as difficult to find as the Biblical Grail itself! But for the moment, it’s like the universe has two independent sets of laws – one governing the very large (gravity); one the very small (the quantum). This makes no natural or scientific sense.We have observations of four physical forces yet no theory which unites the three quantum forces (electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force) with the one classical force – gravity. Theory needs to be satisfied. All of the four fundamental forces should be interconnected; some sort of unification principle must be in operation that relates all four, one to the other. However, these four fundamental forces that govern the Universe show no signs of any obvious unification – well actually the three quantum ones do (known as the GUT – Grand Unified Theory), but that’s where the unification ends. Gravity remains the wallflower. If the Big Bang theory is to be proven correct as stated, scientists must of necessity come up with a viable theory of quantum gravity that is an acceptable unification of the trio of quantum forces with gravity. There is, to date, no viable theory of quantum gravity despite thousands of physicists searching for one over many generations now. Mother Nature is an anomalous bitch!

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QUASARS: Quasars are ‘quasi-stellar objects’. They are ‘stellar’ because they aren’t all that large (like a galaxy). They are ‘quasi’ because they give off energy way, way, way more times greater than any star known in any astronomical catalogue. They seem to be primordial objects – they formed long ago and are now far away. Quasars, like stars or galaxies, are their own entities and if two or more show a very close and special causality relationships then they should show identical recessional velocities (since the Universe is expanding and they are part of the Universe and that expansion). Recessional velocities are measured by an object’s red-shift. Theory identifies red-shift with velocity. However, you apparently have some observations of causality connected quasar pairs with vastly differing red-shifts (measurements of their recessional velocities). The anomaly, in an analogy, is that you can not have a runner running at 15 miles per hour holding hands with another runner running at 3 miles per hour!MASS: There are three fundamental properties of particles (like the electron, neutrinos, the numerous quarks, etc.) and their anti-particles (like the positron). They are charge, spin and mass. As the song goes, two out of three ain’t bad, but that still leaves one out of three out of joint. In this case, it’s mass. Nobody can predict from first principles what the masses of the fundamental particles should be. That’s fairly disturbing for something as fundamental as mass. Despite the relatively large number of particles (including their equal and opposite anti-particles), there are only a few allowed values for charge and spin, values pretty much confined to the physics infield. But, for some reason, the mass (usually expressed in equivalent energy units – Einstein’s famous equation) of the various particles are not only scattered throughout the physics ballpark but are all over the city map and beyond. They take on values (albeit one value per type of particle) over many orders of magnitude without any apparent pattern or regularity or relationship between them – and nobody has the foggiest idea why, not a validly theoretical idea, or even a ‘far out’ idea. Why should mass differ so greatly from the other fundamental properties part and parcel of those elementary particles? It’s like someone just drew a few dozens of numbers out of a hat containing multi hundreds of thousands of values and assigned them to the few dozens of particles willy-nilly. Something is screwy somewhere because something so fundamental shouldn’t be so anomalous.PHYSICAL CONSTANTS: There are constant reports of physical constants that aren’t – constant that is. Physical constants are just that – a constant. They have just one value, everywhere, every-when, and no exceptions. But apparently some ‘constants’ have more than one value depending of where and/or when. Theory and observations (if correct) are yet again not in harmony and that’s totally nuts!TIME TRAVEL: Time travel to the past is a staple of science fiction, but surprisingly has actual viability in modern general relativity physics. In general relativity physics, time travel to the past is theoretically possible – though damned difficult in practice. However, that means that those time travel paradoxes are possible, even likely.The anomaly are those lovable paradoxes like going back in time, say ten years, and killing yourself (which is a novel way of committing suicide), which means you couldn’t have existed to go back in time in the first place in order to kill yourself, which means you’re not dead so you can go back in time and murder yourself, etc. What kind of physics is that?The second anomaly however is that no time travelers have been observed from our future. You would think various significant historical events would be swarming with historians and tourists from the future where time travel is possible. Nobody from our present or past has time traveled back in time and left a proof-positive calling card that we’ve ever found in the fossil record or recorded in the history books.If something is possible, especially something as interesting as time travel, we would expect to see either people from our future in the here and now, or evidence that we’ve traveled to the past, like finding a human skeleton buried inside a T-Rex skeleton, as in inside the area where the T-Rex’s abdominal cavity would be! We don’t.CATTLE MUTILATIONS: There’s no disputing the bona-fides of this gruesome reality. It has been observed – after-the-fact – photographed, documented, and investigated by all manner of officialdom, as well as unofficial private investigators. And though oft referred to as ‘cattle’ mutilations, all manner of wildlife and other domestic livestock have been targeted too, the first reported case being a horse. Like the crop circle phenomena, there are three possible explanations: natural, human or alien.If natural, why has this phenomenon only become an issue since the 1960′s? Predator-prey relationships, scavengers, etc. have existed and been observed ever since humans have inhabited the continents. There should be no anomaly here if animal mutilations are just the normal continuation of Mother Nature in tooth and claw. But there is an anomaly. If predators or scavengers, why are there no footprints, and especially if predators, why no signs of a struggle? How can predators account for precision removal of just certain body parts with razor sharp incisions? Since there’s no blood associated with the mutilated carcasses, did predators drink up their entire victim’s blood like an animal version of Dracula?If humans or cultists are responsible, why hasn’t anyone claimed responsibility? Why hasn’t anyone been caught, tried, convicted, fined and/or imprisoned for trespass, animal cruelty, destruction of private property, etc.? Why no signs of human activity like tire tracks and footprints and litter (say a cigarette butt or beer can or two). Again, why no signs of a struggle?Some have suggested this is the work of government, or government departments, taking samples to monitor for various bovine nasties, like diseases, or other types of contamination that could endanger human health if these livestock were consumed. Really! There are vastly easier ways of legally gathering up tissue samples than sneaking around in the dead of night and killing/mutilating animals for a few body parts.So of course it has to be extraterrestrials! How can aliens mutilate cattle (and other livestock and wildlife), decade after decade, without ever being seen? Why would aliens be interested in wildlife and livestock in the first damned place, or at least some of their highly selected body parts?HUMAN CULTURE & CIVILIZATION: There are two relatively unexplained turning points in the evolution of modern man when contrasted with our more primate-like ancestors. One is the acquisition of what we call culture. Culture (like art appreciation and abstract ideas like an afterlife) happened within a fairly narrow timeframe, roughly 50,000 years ago, wherever nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers gathered. Why the sudden transition? The second great leap forward, again, within a narrow timeframe, some 9000 years ago, was the transition from nomadic lifestyles to settlements – farming crops and herding now domesticated wildlife. Settlements rapidly became villages became towns became cities. While some nomadic hunter-gatherers still roamed the plains, like the Australian aboriginal, what was once that nomadic rule now became that exception to that rule. In both cases, culture and civilization, the observational evidence is rock-solid; theory can’t really explain the transition, or at least the relatively rapid transition, around the world, from the tried-and-true before-the-fact pre-cultural nomadic lifestyle to the unknown leap of an untested experiment with culture and settlements.ANCIENT EGYPT: LIGHTING THE PYRAMIDS, etc. We all are aware that many of the ancient Egyptian structures, like pyramids and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, contain vast numbers of deep and twisting passageways inside. Many of those interiors have been elaborately decorated with all manner of paintings and carvings of hieroglyphs, etc. Whether or not the interiors were decorated, there must have been a requirement for lighting. There were no glass windows. There were no battery-operated torches or flashlights. There was no electric lighting back then, though of course that’s how these structures are illuminated today for tourists and/or archaeologists. Neither source of available luminescent technology back then really holds a candle as it were to how they could have been actually employed. The obvious sources were burning torches, oil lamps, candles, etc. Now you don’t really want to undertake construction, detailed painting or carving stone by candlelight. In any event there are no traces of soot residue on the walls and ceilings. The alternative method was to position bronze or copper mirrors that reflect sunlight onto another mirror which in turn reflected that light onto another mirror further inside the structure which in turn reflected the light it received onto the next mirror down the line, etc. The physics problem is that the original sunlight gets so diluted so quickly after just a couple of mirrors in, that it becomes an impractical ways and means. If you have to penetrate very far inside the structure, and some passageways are indeed, very, very far inside, lighting with mirrors fail. The anomaly is you need adequate lighting yet there’s no really adequate source.

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EXODUS, BOOK OF: There are multi-dozens of anomalies, things that just can’t be, reported in the Bible. Of all of these, the most anomalous is the Book of Exodus, because some of the events recorded there can be checked against another independent historical source. If the history in the Book of Exodus is found wanting, and it is, then if one holy book goes down the gurgler, then all the rest of the books are suspect too.The anomaly here is that the Book of Exodus features the land and peoples of ancient Egypt fairly prominently. A couple of key Biblical characters play leading roles there – Moses and Joseph – not to mention thousands of alleged Hebrew slaves. Nasty things happen to that land and those peoples like the ten plagues and the drowning of pharaoh’s army. The anomaly here is that you’d expect ancient Egyptian records to verify and collaborate and substantiate the Book of Exodus, but you don’t find anything of the sort. It’s as if the Biblical version took place in a parallel universe – or in the imagination of the all too human author.BIBLICAL MIRACLES: Then there’s this Biblical bit about Joshua commanding the sun to stand still (at least that’s the way I recall it). That’s a tall tale or myth but whatever, it can’t be a physical reality. But wait, there’s more! There’s Jonah and the whale; Eve’s creation from a rib; walking on the waters; the walls of Jericho tumbling down at the sound of no doubt out of tune trumpets or rams horns. In the Bible we have this tale of the multiplying of loaves and fishes out of virtually nothing.Miracles are part and parcel of any and all supernaturally based religions. Miracles of the supernatural kind (and that’s the only kind of miracle that counts here) violate one or more laws, principles or relationships established by science. There can be no such thing as a supernatural miracle in theory. However, there have been numerous reports of supernatural miracles.Reported events cannot violate the natural state of things. If they do violate that natural state of things, then they must be supernatural. There’s no known theory that can accommodate supernatural events. That’s part of the conflict between science and religion. The conflict is an anomaly.THE AFTERLIFE: A concept that closest to the hearts and minds of nearly all humans and human cultures past and present is what happens to us after we kick the bucket. The answer is we transcend into another life – an afterlife. Every culture, past and present, has an afterlife concept, a life after death concept, or some sort of an eternity or immortality worldview. Not all of the versions of the theoretical afterlife can be correct however. Idealistic theoretical expectations that when you die you won’t stay dead, versus practical reality that observations show that dead things stay dead, are indeed conflicting, therefore anomalous. However, nobody has ever come back from the dead to prove the reality of an afterlife to the satisfaction of any unbiased referee.From the examples above, I conclude that it almost seems as if someone (something) is ultimately responsible for our Universe, but he / she/ it / they didn’t quite think things through sufficiently. Methinks an all knowing, all powerful supernatural God type being wouldn’t have stuffed things up. So either the Universe is naturally stuffed up, or it was created stuffed up!

Home Improvement – Furniture

October 26, 2016

When we think of home improvements, visions of saw dust and sheet rock come to mind. We try to avoid these things as long as possible because it requires lots of time and effort. Many times large cash outlays are also required. We never think of improvements we can make in our home by simple changes in our living quarters. These improvements are rather easy and most can be done in a weekend. We throw out stale bread, stale pastries and stale coffee but we hang on to stale furniture until it falls apart. We never get around to replacing the look that we loved several years ago. If you are like me, I never know where to start. It seems everything needs changing. We couldn’t do it all at once so we picked a room and jumped right in.

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Our living room seemed the right place to start. I really didn’t want to drive all around town looking through furniture stores. Most stores had the same tired selections and the styles were pretty similar. We wanted something different. The internet seemed a good place to start looking. I was surprised at the wide selection of furniture I found online. The pictures looked great and the prices were in line with the stores. My question was is the quality of the furniture up to my standards? From experience, I learned long ago to never forsake quality for price. Surprised, I found most web sites offered my money back if I was not happy with the purchase for any reason and the shipping was free. With that, I felt secure and started seriously looking.The problem with the old furniture, other than being old, was it seemed to crowd the room. We wanted more open space and decided to look at smaller pieces and place them at different angles. A few inches will make a big difference in a room. Many fabrics and styles were available in a multitude of colors. The anchor pieces, sofa and loveseat, was our first purchase. We then chose a coordinating accent chair that really made the room look fresh and new. With childhood excitement, we picked the occasional tables and other accessories to finish off the room. We did all this from the comfort of our home and a single web site. No driving around town looking and looking and looking. We saved time and money with comfortable internet shopping.

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Our purchase arrived on time and in perfect condition. We were delighted with the style and quality of the furniture. After attaching a few legs we moved the magic inside. That fresh new look had entered our home and wow what a difference. Our home improvement was complete, all we have to do now is sit back with a cool drink and enjoy. We have just what we wanted. A little different ambience that makes this comfortable room truly us. Home improvements inside can be fun and you don’t have to drive a single nail.

Private Banking Services Vs Retail Banking

September 24, 2016

Private banking is a much more personalized banking service given to individuals who invest substantial sums, typically over U$S1M. The most noticeable difference between retail and private banking services are that private clients receive customer service on a 1-1 basis via a relationship manager or a private banker. Wealthy individuals with private accounts can expect to meet their bank contact in person, and have direct phone access to a relationship manager. Usually the private banking arm of a bank is separate from the retail banking arm and the service is completely distinct.A private bank is one that is not incorporated. Private banks are favoured by conservative investors because the directors are personally liable, and more likely to be cautious in managing client funds. Financial institutions like these are sometimes family owned and only cater to the very rich. One of the reasons why wealthy people choose them is their confidentiality – a pledge to maintain client records secret. For some it is a case of not wanting to be targeted by criminals, lawsuits or corrupt governments. Others use this secrecy to shield income from authorities like the IRS and evade tax.

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Many of the world’s private banks are found in Switzerland because of the strict bank secrecy laws and sophistication of Swiss financial services. Small banks in countries like Switzerland are also more likely to keep their client records secret because they limit their operations to within the country’s bank secrecy laws.Not only private banks offer private banking services – in fact some of the biggest providers of private banking and wealth management services like UBS, Credit Suisse and the Barclays are not privately owned. Private clients of these huge banks can take advantage of their in-house trading and research departments, and sometimes choose to have almost all their assets managed by the bank. This way they expect much higher returns than those given by a simple savings account or certificate of deposit.Types of Private Banking ServicesUsually only very affluent clients demand wealth management – where private bankers manage an investment portfolio for a family or an individual. The fee for this service varies from bank to bank and is charged yearly as a percentage of the total amount invested. The return of a portfolio will also depend on the standard of the private banking service. While some will provide excellent returns, others will continue to charge high fees while investing client funds in the bank’s own investment funds, regardless of whether or not this is beneficial to the client.

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A popular alternative to wealth management is Self-Directed private banking, where the client manages his own portfolio, at times calling on advice from the bank. The advantages of this type of account are lower fees and greater personal control.Inheritance and tax planning are extra private banking services provided either directly or by referral for an extra fee.

India Debt Collection Business

October 31, 2016

Until the emergence of debt collection business, debt collection in India, was never treated as a specialized job and was always treated as one of the jobs that legal departments of the banks and financial institutions were required to undertake. A typical legal department of an organization would approach the collection job strictly as a legal issue rather than as a revenue collection measure. Litigation would be the only tool used for recoveries and no other tool was either known or used by the industry. Litigation as a recovery measure always had its own limitations due to long and winding court procedures the Indian legal system is always criticized for. On the other hand, foreign banking firms introduced the concept of specialized debt collection services. Debt collection services became one of the many services that began to be outsourced to specialized agencies. The collection business had a very humble beginning and it barely qualified as a specialized service.However over a period of time with the emergence of India as a global outsourcing destination the domestic businesses also adopted the outsourcing as an efficient business tool. With the result today, the third-party debt collection industry plays an important role in the Indian economy. The industry employs hundreds of thousands of Indians as collection professionals, who are servicing several industries ranging from banks, to telecom service providers to insurance companies. Typically, only small recoveries arising from periodic billing defaults by the customers are outsourced to the collection agencies. Not only the collection business has become a direct source of employment to thousands but its contribution to the economy is more pronounced because it helps infuse money back in the economy that otherwise would have remained uncollected. The economic benefits of third-party debt collection are significant. Citibank is the pioneer in introducing third party collection techniques in India.The debt collection industry in India also has grown sharply this year as higher borrowing costs; rising inflation and the general slowdown in the economy force more companies and individuals into difficulties. Underlying debt has gone through the roof and lenders and organizations increasingly want to move any bad debt off their books. Whether it is a high street bank, a credit card lender or a mobile phone company, growing numbers are turning to professional debt collectors in a more difficult environment.The debt collection industry in India is growing at a faster pace and is surely poised for growth. The credit card outstanding have shot up by a whopping 87% at USD 6114 Million during this year, from USD 2844 Million in the period year ago. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which regulates the banking industry in the country encourages banks to shift bad loans off their books more quickly because they will be required to hold more capital against risky assets that may default.COLLECTION INDUSTRY – UNREGULATED SCENARIOThe collection business has its own inherent shortcomings due to unregulated and primitive nature of this business in this country. The persons employed in the industry are untrained both in soft skills and legal skills. Being unregulated, the procedures are not standardized and there are no industry specific checks and balances. Still litigation is used as the last resort tool for recoveries. However the industry has been accused of manipulating the legal system to their advantage by using courts as their agents of recovery. It is seen that big corporations with large volumes of recoveries have unwritten understanding with the local courts at the lowest level. With the patronage of minuscule minority of pliable judges simple civil defaults are registered as criminal cases thus pressurizing the debtors into paying the dues. Slow and long civil recovery court process has no takers in this age of instant results where revenue targets are the most sacrosanct. Under such strict and cut throat environment, there is pressure on the banks to keep their account books healthy therefore such aggressive and extra-legal methods are employed for quick recoveries.

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GOVERNMENT / RBI INTERVENTIONDebt collectors in the past had a lot of leeway and it wasn’t uncommon for collectors to embarrass, harass or humiliate debtors by adopting extra-legal measures. In the absence of any regulatory regime the courts had to step in by laying down guidelines for the industry to follow. After the intervention of judiciary, the RBI woke up to the need of regulating the unruly collection agencies and laid down its own guidelines for the banking industry to follow.The guidelines prescribed by RBI are enforced against the banks that have contractually employed collection agencies. The banks in turn via their contracts with the collection agencies ensure that the RBI guidelines are followed. Now, under the RBI guidelines it is illegal to threaten violence or cause harm to debtor, use obscene language, or repeatedly use the phone to harass debtors. In addition, collection agents cannot seize or garnish a consumer’s property or wages without recourse to court procedure.The following are few of the core underpinnings of the collection process. These are the norms formalized by the top bank in India – RBI.1. DSAs/DMAs/Recovery agents to get minimum 100 hours of training.2. Recovery agents should call borrowers only from telephone numbers notified to the borrower.3. Each bank should have a mechanism whereby borrowers’ grievances with regard to the recovery process can be addressed.4. Banks are advised to ensure that contracts with recovery agents do not
induce adoption of uncivilized, unlawful and questionable behavior or recovery process.5. Banks are required to strictly abide by the codes pertaining to collection of dues.RBI in the draft guidelines issued for banks engaging recovery agents, has asked banks to inform borrowers the details of recovery agents engaged for the purpose while forwarding default cases to the recovery agents.The Reserve Bank of India has also considered imposing a temporary ban (or even a permanent ban in case of persistent abusive practices) for engaging recovery agents on those banks where penalties have been imposed by a High Court/Supreme Court or against its directors/officers with regard to the abusive practices followed by their recovery agents. An operational circular in this regard has been issued in November 15, 2007.Other LawsStill the non banking debts collection business is outside the purview of any regulator. There are no licenses or registrations to be obtained from any regulator to pursue collection business in India. The extant guidelines applicable to banking industry are found inadequate as they address only the problem of debtors’ harassment and the guidelines do not regulate the industry as such. The Government is well aware of the need of having a specialized legal mechanism for recovery of institutional debts which has become a huge problem for the entire banking industry.Every bank is grappling with the non-paying accounts, known as Non Performing Accounts (NPA) in the Indian banking parlance. The problem has taken enormous proportion and threatened the economy. Creation of Debt Recovery Tribunals in the year 1993 was a step in the direction of facilitating fast recoveries by the banks . The intention behind creation of such Tribunal was to ensure that banking industry was provided with its own recovery mechanism that was part of the legal system but at the same time exclusive to the banking industry. Bank debts above USD 22,727 could be recovered through the Tribunals.However, over a period of time it was realized that this new mechanism did not yield the desired result since the recoveries were still slow and due to shear volume of work, the Tribunal became like any other court. The whole objective of having a fast track and efficient recovery mechanism was therefore defeated. Bank debts still remained a major problem to be solved since it affected the entire economy of the country. The Government felt the need of having a mechanism that was minimally dependent on the courts for effecting recoveries since the legal system could not be reformed overnight. Therefore instead of reforming the court procedure the government did some clever thinking and came up with a legislation that minimized the intervention of court and empowered the banks with special powers using which the recoveries could be affected.The government thus came up with a new law Scrutinization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) where under the banks are allowed to liquidate security given by the borrower for recovery of their dues. This law also paved the way for creation of asset reconstruction companies that take over the security interest of the debtors. These agencies are thus another form of debt collection agencies that have been institutionalized.The need to share credit information among the banking industry was also felt in order for the industry to benefit from each other. Thus Credit Information Companies (Regulation) Act was enacted in the year 2005.INDIAN LEGAL SYSTEM AND COLLECTION PROCESSESThe Indian legal system is absolutely fair and assures justice to the party involved. There are remedies available under the law to collect the debt, if the debtor does not agree to pay under normal circumstances. The creditor may file a suit for his recovery. Debts based on written contracts could be recovered by following fast track procedure. If the debtor is a company, creditor / his lawyers may apply in the ‘Company Court’ for winding up of the company due to non-payment of substantial amount of debt. Summary trial is another way. The process may take time-1 to 2 years. Evidences are recorded appropriately and produced in the court of law, whenever required. There is also the arrangement of appeal to be filed at later stage.
US OUTSOURCING SCENARIOIndia has attracted many technology jobs in recent years from Western nations, particularly the United States. Now, it is on its way to becoming a hub in another offshore outsourcing area – debt collection. According to the industry report, units of General Electric, Citigroup, HSBC Holdings and American Express have used their India-based staff to pursue credit card debt and mortgage payment by calling defaulters.

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US debt collection agencies are the newest to start outsourcing their work to India and are satisfied with the results produced by the polite but persistent Indian experts. After insurance claims and credit card sales, debt collection is a growing business for outsourcing companies at a time of downturn in the US economy when consumers struggle to pay for their purchases.Debt collection is a vital and growing component of US economy. There is more than $2.5 trillion in outstanding consumer debt. As a result, the third-party collection industry makes more than one billion contacts with consumers each year. Recently this year, more than $39.3 billion in debt was returned to creditors.Indians have the advantage of lower salaries and other expenses, which cut drastically costs of collecting debts. Debt collectors in India cost as little as one-quarter the price of their US and European counterparts and are often better at the job. Many such Indian firms run 24-hour services. Indian debt-collection companies comply with strict regulations on operations in the American and / or European markets.
SUMMARYIndia has a long way to go in establishing a mature collection services industry. The collection business needs to be regulated and empowered with legal powers to become an effective tool. Already, there is a realization in the country that court dependent recovery is an inefficient way of way of debt collection. Creation of Assets Reconstruction and Securitization Companies under the SARFARESI Act is a step in the right direction of recognizing debt collection as an independent and specialized business function. While some progress is made for the bank debts but still for a large volume of unrealized non bank debt there are no professionally managed and regulated third party collection service providers. Non bank debts are largely unsecured that makes it even more difficult to realize. No big corporations and business houses are interested in acting as collection agents without there being an attraction of valuable security asset. Lawyers can fill this gap by providing collection services for non bank debts. Indian law does not permit contingency fee that makes the business less lucrative. India is therefore ready to benefit from foreign experience, expertise and ideas to create an efficient debt collection industry of its own at par with global status. This need is more felt now by India due to its global ambitions wherein India must adopt globally recognized practices and models. Transnational businesses need a uniform operating system for seamless transactions. Efficient debt collection industry will only instill confidence in companies doing business with Indian companies. Collection professionals have this challenge facing them of creating an efficient system that reduces people’s dependence on court supported recoveries.

The Important Role Of Public Relations

October 24, 2016

Public relations is fundamentally the art and science of establishing relationships between an organization and its key audiences. Public relations plays a key role in helping business industries create strong relationships with customers.Public relations involves supervising and assessing public attitudes, and maintaining mutual relations and understanding between an organization and its public. The function of public relations is to improve channels of communication and to institute new ways of setting up a two-way flow of information and understanding.Public relations is effective in helping:* Corporations convey information about their products or services to potential customers* Corporations reach local government and legislators* Politicians attract votes and raise money, and craft their public image and legacy

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* Non-profit organizations, including schools, hospitals, social service agencies etc. boost support of their programs such as awareness programs, fund-raising programs, and to increase patronage of their servicesPublic relations in present times employs diverse techniques such as opinion polling and focus groups to evaluate public opinion, combined with a variety of high-tech techniques for distributing information on behalf of their clients, including the internet, satellite feeds, broadcast faxes, and database-driven phone banks.As public image is important to all organizations and prominent personalities the role of public relations specialist becomes pertinent in crisis situations. Public relations agencies provide important and timely transmission of information that helps save the face of the organization. In the words of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), “Public relations helps an organization and its public adopt mutually to one another.”Experienced public relations agencies have formulation press releases into which they can plug the company news, as well as a targeted list of publications for their industry. Truly good public relations agencies generally have a good working relationship with key reporters, boosting their chances of getting coverage. Some public relations agencies deal only with large, established clients, while smaller boutique public relations agencies specialize in certain areas.At present public relations as a career option exists in private companies or government institutions that actively market their product, service and facilities. Public relations training courses are widespread in educational institutions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 122,000 public relations specialists in the United States in 1998 and approximately 485,000 advertising, marketing, and public relations managers working in all industries.

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Most public relations practitioners are recruited from the ranks of journalism. Public relations officers are highly trained professionals with expertise and knowledge in many areas, for example shareholder management during a crisis, the evolving role of the in-house public relations professional, account management skills for public relations, an introduction to financial public relations, an introduction to consumer public relations, an introduction to public relations software etc.

Arcade Fun

November 2, 2016

An arcade often refers to an entertainment establishment or an area within an amusement park that houses different coin-operated machines and video games. It is a popular hangout for many teenagers and young adults alike. However, there are still a number of adults who still enjoy a game or two when visiting arcades. The different types of arcade games include video games, pinball machines, shooting galleries, ball toss games, crane machines, dance and music games, and simulated games, among many others. Most, if not all, arcade games are coin, token or magnetic card operated, and you can get a prize immediately or collect tickets or points for redemption of various items depending on the number of tickets or points.Arcade and video games’ origins can be traced back in early 20th century and grew in popularity in the 1970s with machines built mostly by Japanese companies such as Atari. However, coin operated games can actually be traced back as early as 350 BC during the time of Alexander the Great. According to one story, there was a man who presented Alexander the Great a game that once you placed a coin in it, the players would be able to bring balls up and down to disappear in several holes as controlled by the players. The winner could get twice what was given as a bet. Another coin operated machine used as a game of chance and to win some money was a slot machine invented by a jester in 1108. It was described similarly to the slot machines we know today – put in a coin, operate the level and get a chance to double your money.

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Subsequently, other coin operated games were invented and introduced to the public with intention of providing entertainment and multiple chances of winning more than they betted. The rise in producing different kinds and types of coin operated machines for entertainment started around the late 1800s but reached its highest peak, including other arcade and video games, in early 2000. However, from 2004 until pretty much today, there was a decline in arcade games with the rise in popularity of portable video game gadgets such as Play Station and PSP, Xbox, Wii, PCs, and even mobile phones, among many others.Nevertheless, arcades in different parts of the country still have considerable following especially as part of amusement parks and inside shopping malls. Young kids and teenagers can still be seen hanging out in arcades to meet friends and to compete with others who have the same interest on playing arcade and video games. Nowadays, the most popular arcade and video games include Sega’s Extreme Hunting 2 Tournament (video kit), JVL’s Retro (countertop), Raw Thrills-Betson’s Fast & Furious (video dedicated), Raw Thrills-Betson’s Fast & Furious Super Bikes (video simulators), Stern Pinball’s Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean (pinball game), Skee-Ball’s Skee-Ball Too! (alley bowlers), Skee-Ball’s Super Shot (sports games), Rainbow’s Rainbow (cranes & rotaries), Betson’s Sponge Bob Jellyfish (children’s games), ICE’s Deal or No Deal (novelty games), Family Fun Co.’s Football Fortune (coin drop), Benchmark’s Wheel Deal (coin drop), Andamiro’s Hammer (bopping/stomping games), and LAI Games’ Stacker (prize vendors), among many others.

How to Make It As a Fitness Model!

August 23, 2016

So You Wanna Be a Fitness Model?People that follow my stuff know I generally write about nutrition, supplements, training, and other topics that are more science based than subjective topics, such as what is covered in this article. I decided to shuck my science geek persona, and write on a topic I know will be helpful to thousands of would be and want to be fitness models.As well a known “hard core” science based no BS writer, why I am writing what some will perceive as a “fluff” article? Over the years I have gotten hundreds, perhaps thousands, of gals that ask me via email, letters, or in person “how do I become a fitness model Will? You have been in the business a long time, surly you of all people should know.” I get this from newbies and I get this from women that have been at it a while but have been unable to “break in” effectively.The fact is, I have been in the fitness, health, and bodybuilding biz a long time, and though I am known as a science and nutrition based “guru” type, I have trained many a fitness athlete, and judged fitness and figure/bikini shows for the NPC, Fitness America, Fitness USA, and other federations as well as given marketing and business advice to all sorts of athletes, including fitness models. So, it’s not as far fetched as it might seem that I am going to use this space to cover a non scientific topic, which is, how one goes about being a fitness model.This article will be useful to both experienced and novice types looking to “break in” to the biz. If you are already a professional and successful fitness model, I am sure you may still glean some useful information from this article.First the bad news, there is no one way to become a successful fitness model. There is no single path or magic secret. There are however some key things a person can do to greatly improve their chances of “making it” in the fitness biz as a model, and perhaps using that success as a launching pad to greater things, such as movies, TV, etc.Several of the top fitness models (Trish Stratus and Vicki Pratt come to mind but there are many others) have gone onto careers in entertainment of all kinds. Bottom line, though there is no magic secret to being successful as a fitness model, this article will be about as close to a blueprint for success as you will find.”Do I need to compete?”This is a question I get asked all the time and it’s not an easy one to answer. In fact, the answer is (drum roll) yes and no. The person has to deicide why they are competing in the first place to answer that question. For example, do you need to compete if your goal is to be a successful fitness model?The answer is no. Many of today’s well-known fitness models have never competed, or they competed in a few small shows and it was clearly not part of their success as fitness models. However, competing does have its potential uses.One of them is exposure. At the upper level shows, there will often be editors, publishers, photographers, supplement company owners, and other business people. So, competing can improve your exposure. Also, competing can make sense if you are trying to build a business that is related to your competing or will benefit from you winning a show.For example, say you have a private training gym you are trying to build. Sure, having the title of say Ms Fitness America, or winning the NPC Nationals and being an IFBB pro, will help your reputation and the notoriety of your business. There are many scenarios were it would help to have won a show for a business or other endeavors.On the other hand, it must be realized that winning a show does not in any way guarantee success in the business end (and it really is a business) of being a fitness model. The phone wont ring off the hook with big offers for contracts. Also, it’s very important to realize that it’s common that the 4th or 6th or 8th place finisher in a fitness or figure show will get more press than the winner. Why? Though the winner might have what it took to win that show, it’s often other gals the editor, publishers, supplement companies etc, feel is more marketable.I have seen it many times where the winner was shocked to find she didn’t get nearly the attention she expected and other girls who placed lower have gotten attention in the form of photos shoots, magazine coverage, etc. Something to keep in mind when you ask yourself the important question “do I need to compete and if so, why am I competing?” Answer that question, and you will know the answer to the heading of this section. Winning a title of some sort can be a stepping stone, but it is not in itself any guarantee of success in the fitness industry. It’s like a college degree; it’s what you do with it.Now. If you compete for the fun of it, then by all means go for it, but the above is focusing on competing as it relates to the business aspect of being a fitness model.

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Right body, wrong federation?Ok, so after reading the above you have decided you are going to compete, or will compete again. If you don’t plan to compete, you can skip this section. The biggest mistake I see here is so many gals have the right body for the wrong federation. Each federation has its own judging criteria and a competitor will do poorly simply because they didn’t bother to research which show would be best suited for them.I will give you a perfect real world example of this. Recently I judged a show whose criteria for the figure round was the women should be more on the curvy softer side with some tone, vs. being more muscular and athletic with less bodyfat that other federations might allow. At this show one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen came out. She was very proportional, great muscle tone, lean, and athletically shaped with narrow hips and waist and wider shoulders. How did she do at this show? She didn’t even place in the top ten!Why? Because she was not what we were instructed to look for and didn’t fit the criteria. After the show I informed her that she looked great, but this may not the federation for her. I told her she had much more of an NPC type body, where a little more muscle, athletic build, and less bodyfat is rewarded.The following week I was judging an NPC fitness, figure, and bodybuilding show and there she was. How did she do? She won the entire show with all judges voting her number one unanimously.Conversely, if your body type tends to be more rounded and toned, but with a little more bodyfat, wider (but not fat!) hips, you may be better off competing in say the Fitness America Pageants. If you are going to compete:(1) find out exactly what the judging criteria is for that federation and(2) go see those shows as a spectator for several different federations and see which one your physique, style, etc will fit into best.(3) You have to decide if you truly have the athletic abilities to compete in a fitness competition (which requires a routine) or a figure/bikini competition.I often see women who would do well in a figure show but really don’t have the athletic abilities do the routines required to be competitive with other athletes in the show. Some shows will allow you to do both competitions and some wont.Networking 101: dos and don’ts…In so many respects, this is the area that will make or break you in any business, and yet, people in the fitness industry do an amazingly poor job at it. If you don’t network and market yourself properly, you can pretty much forget about having any real success as a fitness model, or a success in virtually any business. For the sake of space, we will stick to fitness.When I first started out, I was a self marketing machine. I could be found at every show I thought might be an opportunity, walking the isles of trade shows, bodybuilding, shows, fitness show, and others. I gave out a zillion cards and I took a million home with me, and followed up on each and every one. I went to as many industry related meetings, outings, parties, etc. as I could get into. I now have the reputation and experience in the industry that I don’t have to go to such a show unless I feel like it, or have meetings, but they were quite helpful in the beginning.I am always amazed at the number of fitness models who contact me who have never even been to the Arnold Classic Fitness Weekend, or the Mr. Olympia, or the trade shows like the NNFA Expo West and others. If you want to make it in the fitness business you sure as hell had better treat it like a business.I have seen many a pretty girl who wants to be a fitness model who thinks if they stand there looking pretty long enough, someone is going to offer to put their face on the cover of a magazine. News flash, there are millions of beautiful women out there and to be noticed, you have to hussle to get that business like everyone else by networking your butt off, or having a good agent (if you can afford such a thing) who is doing it for you.Pick a few major industry shows to attend (some of which were mentioned above) and go to them every year. Have a plan of attack of exactly how you plan to market yourself and network. Many fitness models, bodybuilders, etc see a show as one big party. If that’s you, then have fun at the party, but don’t think you are really marketing yourself as a serous business person or athlete.Another thing that always amazes me is the number of fitness models who either have no business cards, or have some cards they printed up on their bubble jet printer at home! They ask me to help them or what ever and I say “give me your card” and they look at me like “I am so pretty I should not need a card you fool.” This attitude turns off editors, photographers, writers, and industry people faster then if they found out you were really a transvestite. Don’t do it. For every pretty girl out there who thinks the world owes them a favor, there are 100 who are ready to act like professionals.Ever wonder why some fitness model you know is doing better than you are even though you know you are prettier than her? That may be why…never ever go to a show to network without good cards, bios, and professionally done head and body shots you can give to said editors, publishers, photographers, industry types, etc. Don’t stand around looking pretty assuming they will find you, find them first and introduce yourself. And of course it should go without saying you should be in good condition and have something of a tan to look your best.You want to go to the shows and party? Fine, but do it in private after the work is done and don’t make a fool out of yourself at some industry sponsored get together. Hell, I was virtually poured into a cab at last years Arnold Classic after going to a sushi place with some well know industry types and companies owners (you know who you are!) but at least no one saw me! We had our own little private get together after the show to let loose.Let me give you one final real world example of how NOT to market yourself. Last year I was on retainer as a consultant to a mid sized supplement company. The owner of the company asked me if I knew a couple of fitness model types that could work his booth for a trade show. In fact, he requested “unknowns, some new faces people had not seen yet but had real potential to grow with the company.” I went and found him two such gals I thought fit the bill.He offered to pay their flights, room, and food plus a thousand dollars each for the days work. The two girls were told to be at the booth 9am sharp. The night before at the hotel, I saw the two girls getting in a cab at 11pm or so dressed to kill, clearly on their way out to party. The next day they showed up at the booth an hour and a half late and hung over! What was the result of this? (1) it embarrassed me to no end as I had recommended them to the company owner (2) they would never get work from that company again (3) they would never get any work from me again and (4) they would not get a reference from either of us for other jobs.I see this type of thing all the time in the fitness biz, and it’s not limited to fitness models. Amazingly, a few weeks after the show they emailed me and the company owner wanting to know when their next job would be! Amazing…Who loves you baby?If there is one universal truth, it’s that the camera either loves you or it does not. Any professional photographers will tell you this. For some unknown reason, some people are very photogenic and some are not. Truth be known, there are some well known fitness models (who shall remain nameless as they would probably smack me the next time they saw me) who are not all that attractive in person. It’s just that the camera loves them and they are very photogenic, but not terribly pretty in person.Conversely, I have seen the reverse many times; a girl who is much better looking in person than in photographs. Such is the fate of the person who wants to be a model of any kind, including a fitness model. If you find you are not very photogenic, keep working with different photographers until you find one that really captures you well and pay that photographer handsomely!Now, to be bluntly honest, there are also some want to be fitness models who are not “unphotogenic”, they’re just “fugly”! There are some people out there who have no business trying to be fitness models. It does not make them bad people, it just means they need to snap out of their delusions and find a profession they are better suited for, like radio personality….”How do I get in the magazines?”This section sort of incorporates everything I have covered above, and adds in a few additional strategies. For example, as I mentioned before, competing in fitness shows and or figure/bikini shows can increase your exposure, thus getting the attention of some magazine publisher or photographer. Networking correctly at the various trade shows may also have the same effect, and of course having a good portfolio done by a photographer that really captures your look, a good web site, etc., will all increase your potential for getting into the magazines, or getting ad work, and so on.However, all of these strategies are still somewhat passive versus active in my opinion. It’s still the fitness model waiting to be “discovered.” As far as I am concerned, waiting is for bus stops and pregnancy tests. Success waits for no man…or woman as the case me be. So, after all the above advice is taken into consideration as having an added effect to getting you magazine coverage, what else can be done?For one thing, you should read and be familiar with all the magazines you want to be in so you know who is who and what the style of the different magazines are. I can tell you right now, if say the Editor-in-Chief of a good sized fitness or bodybuilding publications and says “hi, I am the Bob Smith what’s your name?” and the fitness model has no idea who Bob Smith is, Bob will not take kindly to that. Why should he? You should know who the major players are in the publications you want to be seen in. He is doing you the favor, not the other way around. You should know who the major players are and actively seek them out, don’t wait for them to “discover” you.

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If you look at the masthead inside any magazine, it will tell you who the publisher is, who the Editor-in-Chief is and so forth. The mailing address for that magazine, and often the web site and email, can also be found. What is to stop you from looking up those names and mailing them your pictures and resume directly? Nothing, that’s what. If you see a photo spread you think is really well done, what is to stop you from finding out who the photographer is and contacting them directly and sending them your pics? Nothing, that’s what.My point being, you want a get a break in the business, make the break, don’t sit there thinking it’s looking for you, because it’s not. Be proactive, not reactive! Luck is the residue of design. Be successful by design. As my older brother used to say to me as a kid when I told him I was too scared to ask out a pretty girl “what’s the worst that can happen Will? All she can say is no.” That’s the worst that can happen to you also.Beware of web idiots, schlubs, morons, perverts, scum bags, and sleazoids!This part is sort of self-explanatory but worth mentioning. As with all industries that deal in entertainment based media (e.g., television, theater, modeling, etc.), the fitness industry attracts its far share of web idiots, schlubs, morons, perverts, scum bags, and sleazoids, to name just a few.There is also the class of person known as the schmoe, but we will leave that for another place and time. Point is you want to meet the right people while not getting involved with that group of worthless types who will only drag you down, delay you, or just flat out screw you up and over.For example, a guy comes up and says he wants to “shoot you” for the magazines, but what do you really know of this guy? He has a camera and some business cards, so that makes him a photographer right? Wrong! If someone want to shoot you and they are not a well-known name (and you should know who the well known photographers are because you researched that already!), find out who they are. Do they have references you can call? Girls you can contact he has shot before and were happy with the work? What magazines has he published in? Does he do it professionally or as a hobby? That type of thing.Another thing I see is the big web scam. I’m amazed how many girls get scammed by these web idiots. Lesson here is you get what you pay for, so when some person wants to build you a web site for free, you are getting what you pay for. Yes, there is good money to be made on the ‘net, and the net can be great for marketing yourself and making contacts, but most of it’s a scam.You are better off paying a good web designer and web master who has experience with other fitness model types and has references you can talk to. I can’t tell you the number of girls who have been screwed over by some internet thing that went to hell, like the “fan” who volunteers to build a free web site and either runs off with any money made from the site or puts their picks on porn sites and any number of other things that made them regret like hell ever agreeing to the site in the first place.Clearly, I can’t go down the list of all the possible pitfalls of the web idiots, schlubs, morons, perverts, scum bags, and sleazoids out there to be found in the entertainment business, but you get the idea. Be careful!Conclusion.Well that pretty much concludes my down and dirty guide to the basics of “making it” as a fitness model. Of course there are tons of business related issues I could cover and tricks I could give, but the above is the best advice you are going to find in s small space and will do more for you-if properly followed-than you may realize.Good luck and see you in the magazines!More articles like this at:FIGURE/FITNESS MARKETING EXPLAINED