You Have Been Declined for Health Insurance in California, Now What?

If you are reading this then you probably have been declined for health insurance in the recent past. When you get declined for health insurance it probably has something to do with your medical history. Since California is one of the underwritten states health care companies have the right to declined people for health insurance. Who health insurance company might decline and who it might not all depends on risk assessment using actuarial tables. Anytime when you fill out individual application for health coverage and answer yes on one of the medical questions your application might be manually reviews by one of the underwriters. It is a person who is responsible to reviewing application using actuarial tables. Actuarial tables are statistics done by the insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, researchers that predict the cost of insuring some one with a specific medical history.

Some states like New York, New Jersey and Washington require insurance companies to insure everyone. Those three states do not have medical underwriting and everyone is automatically approved for health coverage. In order to insure everyone with medical history insurance companies increase rates to the point where it becomes not affordable to most people. What keeps the average monthly premiums low is low utilization of health care. If there are more people with high medical insurance utilization with a specific health insurance company they have to raise the rates for everyone in order to keep up with paying medical claims. That also drives people who do not use health insurance that often to drop health insurance all together and yet driving rates even higher. This leaves no choice for insurance carriers but to drive rates even higher. New York, New Jersey and Washington have highest premiums for medical coverage and a lot of families find health care out of reach.

In California if you have been declined for health coverage you have options. If you out of job or currently on low income you can qualify for Medical and if you have kids they can qualify for a program called Healthy Families. Most states including California have high risk pools that are designed for people who have been declined for individual health insurance. In California this program is called MRMIP. Just the quick search on the Internet will guide to a government website. MRMIP is a program that is managed by the state and your big name medical insurance providers participate in it. Chances are you will be able to keep the same health insurance company if you are already use to them. MRMIP program has limits and it might have a waiting period.

One of the best options might be when it comes to getting the most coverage for your money is through a group plan. In the state of California all group plans by law are required to be a guaranteed issue. That means that there is no medical underwriting. This options requires more work from you. Insurance companies are not just going to let you set up a group plan if you have been declined for individual health insurance. Since insurance companies are required to insurance everyone who is part of the group state requires insurance companies to have rules when it comes to setting up a group plan. Some of the basic requirements change from the insurance company to the insurance company.

The best way to find out is talk to insurance broker. The basics that insurance companies are going to be looking for are that you have to have a reason for starting a group plan other then getting medical insurance. It is illegal to start a group plan just to get health insurance. That means that you have to have a business and that could be anything. To have a group plan you obviously have to have more then just yourself It takes at least two people to start a group plan. All the people that are going to be on the group plan are either have to be the owners of the business or have to be on the payroll. Some insurance companies require either a DE-6 form or six weeks of payroll records. If every one if the owner then you will be required to provide proof of the ownership listing everyone that is going to be on a group plan as the owner. This might not be simple but is is certainly doable and it is definitely worth it if you do not have any coverage and cannot get it on your own.

It is always easier to just blame the insurance company that they have declined you for health coverage. If you have been declined and are looking for health insurance you just have to be more proactive in getting your coverage. Once you work with a broker on getting on the requirements on setting up a group plan then it is forever yours and no one can take that coverage away from you unless you stop paying for it.

Fast Food Statistics – Choices Matter

Fast food statistics let us know that fast food can be an unhealthy option. A quickie burger is a popular choice among people who don’t want to cook, or who are under time pressures and don’t have time to cook. But instead of buying takeout why not make your own fast meals at home?

What’s in a Fast Meal?

Here is a quick statistic on a fast food meal. A cheeseburger, fries, and milkshake have around 1,000 calories. About 17% percent of those calories are from protein, which is not too bad. But around 39% of those calories are from saturated fat and that’s not good. And around 44% are from refined carbohydrates, which is constipating and fattening.

Too much saturated fat in the diet causes high levels of cholesterol in the blood and risk of heart disease. Children may quickly burn up calories from fat in a typical fast food meal, but for most adults those calories quickly turn to body fat and cellulite.

Nutrition of Fast Food

A regular portion of fries has about 210 calories and 10 grams of fat. A 4-ounce hamburger, without the cheese has around 420 calories and 20 grams of fat, plus a whopping 690 grams of sodium! Yikes that is a lot of sodium for a small hamburger. A medium soft drink boasts about 210 calories and 50 of those calories are from sugar.

Eating fast food is a convenient way to grab a bite, but fast food in undeniably unhealthy in many ways. Fast food does not have any fiber whatsoever, which leads to constipation that can later develop into colon cancer. The saturated fat content of fast food is not healthy for the heart. It’s never a good idea to eat fast food more than a couple of times a month, and for some people, never.

Making Your Own Fast Meal

If you enjoy eating hamburgers once in awhile, the alternative is to make your own. Mix ½ pound ground meat with ½ pound ground turkey. Add seasonings of your choice. Form into patties and broil in the oven. Take two whole potatoes and wash and scrub thoroughly. Cut potatoes into French fry wedges. Toss some olive oil, sea salt and paprika on the potatoes and bake for 45 minutes at 400-degrees.

Time Saving Tips

The rush, rush mentality of society has made many people flock to the nearest fast food joint for meals. But there are healthy eating alternatives. Here are a few tips:

If you live close to your work, simply go home for lunch. If you don’t have the luxury of working close to home, bring lunch to work with you.

If you have to eat out, choose a salad bar, soup, or light sandwich. Bring your own salad dressing with you instead of using those fattening creamy dressings.

Have a well-stocked pantry at home full of healthful foods such as beans, brown rice, pasta and other whole grains. When you cook, make more than you will need and freeze the rest in individual servings for work or when you don’t feel like cooking.

Be prepared. Make lists of what you are going to eat throughout the week. On the night before going to work do most of the prep work, so when you come home from work all you have to do is cook the food.

Cook in your crock-pot. The crock-pot does the cooking for you.

Earn Your Child Care Credentials With An Online Degree

As the number of two-income household increase, more and more working parents are depending on day care centers to take care their children while they go out for work in day time. Parents know that children always come with surprises and they only trust child care providers that are trained to anticipate those surprises. Hence, if you want to success in this business, you need to earn your child care credentials and online education is one way to supplement your knowledge and experience with children to gain the trust of your potential customers.

What You Learn In Child Care Online Degree?

There are different kinds of children care online degree programs available. It’s range from early childhood education, children development to child study for grade 6 – 12 kids. Hence, you need to decide on one that best suit your child care business needs.

Basically, in children care related online degree programs, you will learn about education games, child growth and behaviors, child food nutrition, anticipation of children surprises and help children explore and learn about the world while developing relationships with peers and adults. If you are taking a degree related to business that focus on child care business, you will be taught on children management, activities planning and scheduling, socialization and much more.

Online Universities That Offer Child Care Online Degree Programs

There are a number of online universities that offer child care and children education related online degree programs. Among the online universities are:

  • University Of Phoenix Online University of Phoenix offers Master in Education with a Specialization in Early Childhood Education
  • Rasmussen College If you are interested to focus on children development, then Rasmussen College’s children development online degree program should be able to suit your need.

Choose Your Child Care Online Degree

Beside that, there are other online universities that offer child care online degree program, you could get most of information from internet, make a request to those online universities to send you a more details information of the course that you are interested in; request information from as many online universities as you can to make a comparison purpose on their online degree programs, information requests are free of charge; hence make use of it.

Accreditation

There are a lot of diploma mills offering “fake” degree. Hence, it is important to consider “Accreditation” when you choose your child care online degree. Make sure your selected online degree program is properly accredited by an accreditation agency that is recognized by U.S Department Of Education. Many “fake” degree programs do have accreditation but it is accredited by a “fake” accreditation agency. Hence, watch it of the potential trap of diploma mill when you choose your child care online degree program.

Summary

Your child care career will only be success if you manage to gain trust from parents. And getting an education online is an important way to earn trust or credentials as a child care provider.

Drug Abuse and Addition

The world today has become surrounded by drug abuse as well as drug addiction. This escalating disorder has become so common, that its truth is based on misconceptions that people have concerning drug abuse as well as addiction. This paper briefly provides an overview of drug abuse as well as addiction, and at the same time looks at the aspects of epidemiology, social problems, pathophysiology, as well as ethical issues that might arise with medical emergency respondents.

Drug abuse and drug addiction; exactly what does that mean and who is affected by it? There is a confusion between drug addiction and abuse. Drug abuse happens when there is usage of a substance, generally illicit drugs or alcohol, while drug addiction takes place in a broad variety of substances and activities. Addiction can be termed as the compulsive need for usage of substance forming habits, such as alcohol, nicotine and heroin, of which is eventually characterized by obviously physiological signs upon withdrawal as well as tolerance; widely: insistent compulsive use of known substances that are harmful to the user. Drug addiction is usually not a substance forming habit, it also includes things such as gambling, sex, video gaming, and even internet. All the same, the primary focus of society is still to do with drugs, tobacco and alcohol. Several characteristics of pathophysiology and epidemiology will be discussed together with the social implications that addiction causes as well as any ethical problems that lie with addiction and medical emergency service providers.

The addictive behavioral study is relatively new. Science just started to study behavioral addictive in the 1930. Prior to this, studies were being carried out by scientist on drug abuse that were plagued by misconception shadows as well as nature addiction. But with present day discoveries as well as information on how brain chemicals work and the methods of alteration, there is now a deeper understanding of alcohol and drug addiction. Drug addiction, according to Dr. Dryden-Edwards also referred to as chemical dependency or substance dependence, is an illness that is described by a destructive drug abuse pattern that leads to major problems which involve tolerance towards or substance withdrawal and other problems arising from substance use that could have implications to the sufferer, either by school performance, socially or in terms of work. More than 2.5% of humanity suffer from drug addiction at some point in their lives. Some of the commonly abused addictive substances are alcohol, anabolic steroids, amphetamines, cannabis, caffeine, ecstasy, cocaine, inhalants, hallucinogens, nicotine, phencyclidine, opiates, sedatives, anti-anxiety drugs, and or hypnotic. Despite the fact that alcohol and drug addiction is viewed as a mental health issue, there is no one particular determinant cause. However, several people believe that drug addiction and abuse is a genetic disease of which is a false fact. A person’s environment is cause for the development of a predisposition dependency drug.

Epidemiology

The socially associated risk factors of drug addiction and drug abuse encompass the male gender, between the age ranges of 18 and 44 years, heritage of Native American persons, low socioeconomic status as well as the marital status of the unmarried. State statistics reveal that residents from the western U.S are more at risk to substance dependency as well as abuse. While males are very prone to alcoholism development, females seem more vulnerable to alcoholism at fairly lower amounts of alcohol consumption, this is because females have a much lower body mass as compared to males. The combined medical, criminal, economical, as well as the social implications costs American taxpayer more than half a trillion dollars annually. Each year drug and alcohol abuses contributes to 100,000 American deaths, with tobacco contributes approximately 440,000 deaths annually. Individuals of all ages suffer the damaging consequences of drug as well as alcohol addiction and abuse. Babies can get affected while within the mother’s womb if the mother is to engage in drug or alcohol use, which as a result causes defects in birth as well as slows down the intellectual development in the later years of the child. As for Adolescents, they usually perform poorly in school and usually drop out while they are abusing drugs. Adolescent girls stand the risk of having unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and violence. In addition, parents and adults are also affected, usually by having their cognitive abilities clouded. With all the vast exposure, the stage has easily been set for the next generation to simply step into the addictive lifestyle.

Pathophysiology

Drug addiction primarily affects the brain, but also affects the flow of a person’s organ systems. Drugs as well as mind changing substances which can be abused usually target the body’s natural system of reward either willingly or unwillingly causing entire euphoric effects for the drug user. These effects arise from the dopamine, which is a regulated neurotransmitter movement, emotion, cognition, motivation and pleasure feelings. The release of Dopamine is naturally rewarded to the body for natural behaviors as well as initiations for the cycle to repeat the behavior all over. The dopamine neurotransmitter fills the reward system that is often concealed in restricted amounts from routine activities such as sex or eating. The brain perceives this as a life-sustaining action as a result of the activated reward system. On introducing the chemical substance within a person’s system and the euphoric effects are realized, a person’s brain takes note of several significant happening events and teaches itself to do this action repeatedly until it is a habit. The consumption of illicit drugs can cause an individual to impulsively act when the brain’s reasoning system would normally delay or prevent a form of given action.

This reasoning system is circumvented, hence leading to the undesired action that can possibly have negative consequences on the drug user’s life. However, several drug effects as well as chemical substances are at times euphoric, and other times the substance causes depression, suicidal thoughts, and paranoia. Continuation of the drug causes the brain to become acclimatized to the surplus of dopamine within the reward system. This then leads to the decrease of dopamine release as well as the dopamine receptors numbers within the system itself. In turn, this affects the user’s ability to attain the desired effects of the drug usage. This response from the person’s brain causes the person to try and reactivate the receptors by adding the dosage or amount of the drug in order to attain the same dopamine high. This effect process is referred to as a tolerance. Long term drug abuse causes changes to occur to other systems parts within the brain. The neurotransmitter glutamate of which is a part of the reward systems can be changed and hence cause learning inability. When the brain reaches the maximum level of glutamate, it causes an off balance and the brain tries to compensate, of which as a result affects the drug user’s cognitive ability. Once the brain accustoms to the drug effects, dependence is made and drug abuse cessation causes a result known as withdrawal. While most withdrawal signs are very uncomfortable for the drug addict, there are several serious signs such as seizures, strokes, myocardial infraction, delirium tremens, and hallucinations.

Social, Ethical issues as well as the impact on emergency medical services (EMS)

The consequences of drug abuse and addiction are very evident in an individual social life. The addictions destructive behavior affects every area of their personal life, right from the genesis of the drug abuse. The addictions symptoms from a physical perspective include alteration of sleeping patterns as well as eating habits, which in turn contribute to both weight gain as well as loss. Frequent drug abuse tends to lead to failure in meeting important responsibilities at work, school or even home. Other drug addiction effects include domestic violence, family disintegration, child abuse, employment loss, and failure in school. People with addiction engage in risk taking, and with alterations in the reward system within the brain, the drug users expect positive reactions prior to them taking the substance that would satisfy their needs for the risks they take. Impulse control is difficult when drug choice is available to people with addiction. As a result this fuels the addiction even more.

The effect of the emergency medical service is immense. The calls from addiction range from medical overdosage to trauma. The emergency medical provider’s obligation in response to overdosed patients requires paramedics to find out how much as well as what the patients took, and what is the correct medication to give in order to reverse the condition that is being experienced by the patient or drug user. With the various emergency responses comes danger, with the possibility of violent outbreaks by the addicts or users. Therefore, paramedics must be aware of their surroundings while handling the patients. In addition, patients who experience withdrawals tend to hallucinate a complete event as well as incorporate the paramedics, thus causing the patient to react violently towards the care provider. Drug addiction is a very serious condition that can be considered as a psychiatric problem, of which needs to be treated with a sure diligence as well as suspicion.

Within the realm of the emergency medical service, the response rate of addiction is not considered an emergency condition. The incident will arise if an addict is experiencing withdrawal violent signs or has substance overdose, and the patient would appear in a state of agitation or even unconsciousness. There is no prearranged method in handling a patient that is experiencing problems related to addiction. The key element is in treating the symptoms of the patient. All patients require supplementary oxygen through non rebreathe if tolerance is acceptable. To assist in flushing out a normal saline of infusion, obtaining of intravenous access is a must. Should a patient or addict be in a state of agitation or seizure, administration of a sedative is required, such as versed or valium. Caution must be taken when administrating benzodiazepines because of the risks regarding failure or respiratory depression is present. Should a patient experiencing an opiate overdose as well as low breathing, Narcan 0.4 – 2 milligrams must be administered, but caution must be observed when administering the drug of which is done slowly in order for the patient to breathe sufficiently so as to sustain life. Should breathing and airway problems continue then intubation must be considered in order to secure the airway of the patient. Quick transport with due concern is suggested in order for the patient to be evaluated so as to have the hospital staff commence detoxification.

Conclusion

The drug abuse and addiction world is unforgiving and harsh, especially if an addict or user is unwilling to leave it behind. A number of people claim that the addiction is all within the head, and research has verified this notion. The brain effects from a formed learned pattern is similarly rewarded to such activities like drinking or eating.

A lot of people do not comprehend as to how and why other people become drug addicts. It is wrongfully presumed that drug users have no willpower or moral principles and cannot stop using drugs simply by choosing to alter their behavior. The reality is, drug addiction and abuse is a complex illness, and quitting it requires lots of good intentions. In actual fact, because drugs alter the brain in ways that raise drug abuse compulsiveness, quitting becomes hard, even for the willing addicts.

A lot of drug users also believe that they can control their drug abuse and addiction. Having a drug habit is a costly affair that leads to loss of belongings, money and even self-esteem. Curiosity is what drives some people abuse drugs, while others it is peer pressure, and another group of people become addicts of prescription drugs. While drug abuse normally leads to drug addiction, overcoming drug addiction is no easy task. So the question begs, is this drug abuse or is this drug addiction? These are two completely separate paths that lead to the same depressing outcome. In addition, the consequences of drug abuse as well as drug addiction become noticeable after a given period of time whereby compulsiveness and violence take over, furthermore, the physical toll which includes illness and depression at times could be debilitating. Therefore, the only method to reducing drug abuse as well as addiction is through educating or sensitizing the public. Avoidance is viewed as the best prevention.

Give Your Loved Ones the Best Family Healthcare

There are many times when despite all the precautions, you fall ill. It is therefore important that people have the ability to get treated at such times. Family healthcare is one of the most basic needs of man. People need to seek treatment as soon as the first signs and symptoms of an illness show up. It is important that people are able to get the required medication and cure for their problem as soon as it starts lest it should turn into something far worse. Often minor problems could lead to major ones. When family members try to avoid going to a doctor, or getting treatment, it is mainly because the cost of treatment is too high for them to bear.

Family healthcare is one of the most important thoughts on the minds of the elders in the house. When it comes to children, the numbers of problems they can face by just going out of the house to play are countless. Since there are numerous infections in the air, it is difficult for anyone to stay protected from all illnesses. It is the same with adults in the house, when you are in office, at the market, or just at a neighbor’s house, you are vulnerable to a large number of illnesses. Family healthcare does not just mean that when a member is sick, he/she gets treatment. It rather means that when a person is hale and hearty, he/she should get regular check-ups to stay the same.

Whether it is the kids in the family or the adults, treatment for medical problems is seldom cheap. Everyone wants the best family healthcare for their family. But this means that people have to spend a lot of money on the same. This can easily be avoided with a medical insurance plan. The policy would pay for all the healthcare problems undergone by family members. At the same time, if the members use the plans wisely, then they have a better chance of staying healthy and leading a happy life.

People thus have the chance of staying healthy without having to pay much. The health insurance plan would take care of most aspects of family healthcare-inpatient treatment, day-care procedures, and other such problems. However, most such plans do not cover outpatient treatments. But there are plans that cover outpatient consultations, dental treatments, spectacles, etc. also. These are known as outpatient benefit plans.

All healthcare problems that a family faces can be dealt with. But the cost of doing so makes it difficult to get the right quality of treatment for individuals. There is the option of availing health insurance policies to cut the cost of family healthcare. But the problem is that people have the inclination to get the right health insurance plan for family members but they just get confused in selecting the right one.

When selecting the plan, one should remember that the policy is meant to get the family all the healthcare assistance it needs. This means that even pre-existing and hereditary diseases should be covered. However, it is not necessary that they be covered from the very first day. Such illnesses are often covered after a waiting period. One should be well aware of the waiting period before buying the policy.

A family is meant to share everything-happiness, sadness and problems. However, in most families, there are few earning members and more dependents. This means that while there are some members who earn money, there are more who spend the same. Thus the fiscal strain that is felt by the earning member can be easily understood. He/she has to provide for the needs of the whole family. However, when the cost of nearly everything around us is increasing, there is seldom any means by which all the ambitions of a family can be fulfilled. Family healthcare is one of the most difficult aspects of a family budget.

There are times when a person has the option of getting treatment that he/she needs, but in order to save money they avoid the same. This leads to further problems. Since there is no means of predicting the problems faced, one cannot tell the cost needed to deal with the same. The cost of healthcare is ever increasing. As time goes by this cost is going to go up manifold. It is important to stay protected against such high costs, so that there is no compromise on family healthcare and at the same time no stress on the earning members.

There are insurance plans that can come to the aid of a person at such times. However, the problem is that people often feel that they do not have the means of buying a health insurance plan. This is contrary to the reality. When a person cannot afford a mediclaim plan, there is no means by which he/she can afford the cost of treatment. Thus it is best to save money enough for a health plan and then buy the same. Also, one must be able to understand the offerings of the plan one is purchasing. The insurance plans are available with variety of offerings and in different values of sum insured. First, one needs to select the cover of benefits he/she is looking for and then accordingly he/she can choose a plan.

Apollo Munich offers comprehensive plans that are designed to take care of a family’s healthcare needs and give them adequate coverage for all medical problems that are likely to arise. It puts up the policy wordings on the website of the company in very transparent and simple terms. One can also buy and renew plans on its site. All the plans are designed t provide all-round family healthcare coverage. Apollo Munich offers mediclaim policies that are designed to give all-round protection to families. There are a variety of policies which are designed for the same.

Healthcare – When You Lose Your Healthcare

If health care is important to you, you may feel devastated when you lose your healthcare. With the downward spiral that the economy has been experiencing, companies are trying to do everything to stay in business. For some corporations, this can mean lay-offs and a reduction in work force. For others, this means cutting costs in other areas, including healthcare. It can seem like a scary thing to be without benefits for you and your family, but you have options.

#1 – Purchase your own individual and family healthcare. There are important things to consider when purchasing individual and family health care plans. Do you want to choose your own doctor, or are you okay choosing from a pre-screened network? Do you have any pre-existing conditions that may prevent you from getting insurance? Circumstances like these may affect your decisions and monthly premiums. You will also want to look at whether there is a deductible – a fee that is paid before your coverage starts. If you choose a plan with a high deductible, your monthly premiums may be much lower. Just be aware that should you need medical attention, your deductible amount must come out of your pocket before your insurance benefits kick in. Choose a plan that has a deductible you can handle as well as monthly that are premiums within your budget.

#2 – Purchase a discount health plan. This is a health care option that is not technically “health insurance” but with this type of plan, you are offered discount prices on medical procedures, office visits, emergency room visits, etc. The administrators in a discount program bargain with your physician and come up with a reduced fee for their services. Then, you only pay the discounted fee instead of the full priced fee that is charged to the general public. Most times these discount plans offer a 20-40% savings. Even though this is not traditional insurance, it is a way to save money with reduced costs so that you do not have to come up with the full payment when you need medical services.

#3 – Visit a participating pharmacy. Some pharmacies offer physical exams, vaccinations, and treatment for a number of medical conditions for an affordable price. They may also offer diagnostic testing for common ailments as well. If you are uninsured, be sure to check with pharmacies in your area to see if they offer any of these services. Try to be proactive and check for these services before they are needed so you will know the offerings and prices before you purchase a health care plan.

So the bottom line is, should you lose your insurance, do not feel like there is nothing you can do. Although it may be devastating when you lose your healthcare, there are other avenues you can take and options that are available so that you are covered. Take charge of your situation and start shopping around now for the best option for you and your family.

How To Be Sure Your Great-Grandchildren's Children Care

What will you practice today? Will your great-grandchildren’s children care?

When I began this leadership work many years ago, my focus was a bit different versus today. You could say, quite rightly, I have evolved my thinking.

However, well before I found myself immersed in The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership© and what’s been created since, the foundation was set with seven key principles. I thought I would share those with you today and let you kick them around and, hopefully, respond with your thoughts.

Principle #1: Leaders focus on themselves. Sounds kind of selfish, yes? But hold on a minute. If you are not working on your personal growth, how the heck can you be a leadership role model for others?

Principle #2: Leaders simplify their lives. In today’s fast-paced, multi-tasking world, exasperation is staring at you in the next Tweet, text or email that demands your immediate attention and action. Have you cleared your desk lately? Deleted those emails that have stacked up since email was invented? Tossed files (please recycle)? Clearing the desk really does clear the mind.

Principle #3: Leaders establish priorities for themselves. Keep in mind, that there is no great value in getting things done, if they are not valuable to do. Have you separated yourself from what is least important in your life yet? If not, why not?

Principle #4: Leaders define their destinations. Do you know where you’re going? Do you need a personal GPS (Goal Performance Strategy) guide? Take some time to stretch out and create a personal vision and some stretch goals for the several areas in your life: Personal, Family, Professional, Financial, etc. Jot down just a few ideas in each category, reflect on them a bit and then get busy adding action steps to help you reach those outcomes. New Year’s Day is not the only time to make resolutions.

Principle #5: Leaders plan their time based on importance. All of my coaching clients have heard my suggestion that they take some L.E.A.D time each day. Listen to yourself with a 10 to 15-minute planning/re-planning session; Evaluate how you are doing in each area of your life; and Adjust what needs reconsidering. Finally, Determine, once again, if the destination you set is still correct.

Principle #6: Leaders nurture their creative genius. Are you aware of your creative genius? Or, are you just stomping through each day hoping to make it back home in one piece? Ugh! Every person is a creator. You have created your life to this point. Happy? Yes? No? What are you going to do about it? Robert Fritz, an author/colleague from years ago told me, “The creative process is alive. It is improvisation. And it is one of the most powerful and intimate involvements with one’s life I know.”

Principle #7: Leaders don’t arrive, they evolve. You’ve probably heard something like that before. It’s very true. There is no end point with leadership. It takes constant practice and is a continuing saga. And, keep in mind, depending on your life story, the memory of you takes a while to slip from this Earthly atmosphere.

Live your life with purpose. Create your Masterpiece. You wouldn’t want to disappoint your great-grandchildren’s children would you?

Answer Your the Eldercare Questions Online

Finding the right way to care for aging members of the family can be tough job. There are a variety of online resources for researching your options so you can make a choice that will benefit everyone.

The aging of America has led to a booming industry providing for the care of our seniors. It has also led to difficulties with Medicare and dire threats of the collapse of Social Security. What is important however is that the medical establishment has responded in a variety of ways to support the special needs of people in their final years.

The omnibus site provided by the Department of Health and Human Services is. This site provides a thorough selection of choices for locating eldercare services in your community. The site is multilingual and provides both online support and phone numbers that can be utilized.

A sponsored site with good information can be found at. It is sponsored by QuietCare, a security warning device for seniors living at home. Nevertheless, the site has a good collection of “how to” articles for both seniors and those family members who feel charged with guiding them through the lifestyle changes leading to eldercare.

An extremely well organized site that provides the same guidance and a library of other online resources is at. This site takes the caregiver from first steps right through facility selection and legal issues. Perhaps the most valuable portion of the site is a list of related online sites, broken out by category. Divisions include Assisted Living; Food and Nutrition; Legal Issues; Equipment and Personal Health Supplies; Financial Issues; and several others. For each of these categories the site provides a dozen or more major web sites as references. A few are commercial; more of them, however, appear to be sites put up by professional associations in the industry or non-profits that give unbiased recommendations on resources.

There is a National Long Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (ORC) established and supported by the Federal Government. This organization is an excellent starting point for localized resources. You can click on a map on their web site and select a state where you’ll find listings for such offices as the State and Regional Ombudsmen, Office of License (where you can check on Long Term Care facilities); Medicaid Fraud Control; and so forth. The site is located at.

Ancillary issues facing our senior population today is what sort of long term care insurance is best for them, and the question of whether or not they should pursue home equity conversion, a “reverse mortgage,” to finance their final years. There are increasing numbers of online resources relating to both these areas.

One site that covers both issues and several other related matters – such as wills, trusts and powers of attorney; assist technology and remote monitoring – is the National Care Planning Council’s Guide to Long Term Care Planning at. The site includes 35 in-depth chapters totaling over 670 printable pages covering virtually all areas of long-term care planning. It also provides numerous lists of care providers, advisers and specialized services in four categories of care needs. For the role of Medicare in Long Term Care, go to the government site at.

Finally, the AARP provides some basic information on reverse mortgages at. HUD has a reverse mortgage program that is insured by the FHA and is outlined at. Reverse mortgages are expensive, and not without complications. The FHA insists that reverse mortgages on loans they’ve insured not be provided without a counseling session between an FHA or HUD professional and the homeowners.

Why Go For Natural Health Treatment and How Does it Work?

Natural health treatments have acclaimed much popularity these days as it has the amazing ability to handle all sorts of health conditions. Proper natural treatments can heal mental as well as physical illness and ailments such as insomnia, stress, lack of energy and immunity, cardiovascular problems, and recently even cancer. Basically, natural health treatment is done with two aims in mind:

  • Attaining good and healthy life.
  • Harnessing specific ailments and diseases.

Both these aims can be achieved easily with the use of high quality herbal health care products.

The present lifestyle of the people has impelled them to depend on nutritional supplements since there are wide gaps in the intake of nutritional diets. Health nutritional supplements work as a compliment to the healthy food and hence provide a better healthy life as it fulfill the lacking vitamins, minerals, amino acids, calcium and several other essential components of the body. It is a treatment that works with the natural recuperative powers of the human body and thereby adds on to the overall good health of a person.

Natural health treatment is known to cure problems related to men, women, and children whether it is weight loss, deficiencies and disorders. The treatment of the herbal health products can aid in maintaining healthy mind and body.

How Do These Supplements Work In Getting Rid of the Ailment?

  • The natural health supplement removes harmful substances from the body such as chemical poisons, environmental toxins, and detrimental organisms like parasites, bacteria, and viruses and so on. In short, these herbal products have the ability to detoxify the body completely.
  • Filling up the gap of the nutrition in the body. Herbal health care products are rich in nutrition and hence they provide the body with effective nutrition in the right proportion.
  • It enables the body systems to work efficiently and energetically. The health nutritional supplements have direct effect on the nervous system, lymphatic system, elimination organs, and blood circulation and so on.
  • The herbal healthcare products strengthen the immune system of the body as well as it contains several nutritional components.
  • It affects the mind in the most positive manner and thereby relieving the mind and body from stress and exertion.

As it is popularly said that healthy mind rests in healthy body, herbal health care products and natural health treatments help in keeping mind and body fit and fine.

Natural Health Treatments Are Most Effective When Using Homeopathy

Natural health treatments are best treated when the whole of you is taken into consideration. Typical health treatments isolate parts of you, dealing only with your eye, your big toe, you digestion, etc. But how can this make sense, bearing in mind the whole of you is all connected?

Let’s look at a more efficient way of considering the whole of you in your treatment.

Consider shock. Initially this can cause an increase in your heart rate, make you sweat more, make you extremely anxious, agitated and restless. Your body is preparing you for flight – to flee from a potentially dangerous situation. However, often shock comes after the danger has passed, such as in a bad accident. Fleeing is no longer necessary, although it would have resolved the shock.

This unresolved shock remains in your system forever, unless it is energetically treated. This can lead to ailments such as high blood pressure, panic attacks, heart conditions and other serious health issues.

But by resolving the shock with an energetic health care modality such as homeopathy, the related health issues are also resolved.

Homeopathy works at an energetic level, which is highly appropriate given that you are an energy being. Many people find this concept hard to understand, in this current climate where the focus of ill health is on the physical, or outside forces. However, natural treatments as a whole, and homeopathy in particular, understand that this is a very limited way of looking at health. And normally, an ineffective one.

It does mean a change of mindset. But given the fact that worldwide health is at an all time low even, or perhaps especially, in those countries where medicine has never been more available, it may be a long overdue change.

Online Babysitting Services: How Do They Work and How To Choose The Right One For You

So you need someone to watch your children and have decided to look into online babysitting services. However, there are so many to choose from, including Sittercity, Care, Care4Hire.com, GoNannies, AuPairCare and 4Sitters.com, that it is overwhelming. To find the best fit for you and your family, you need to check out an assortment of sites. Each one will vary in everything from their fees and services, to their applicant filtering system and reputation, to the number of caregivers in their database. Some even provide contact information for pet sitters, housekeepers, tutors and eldercare services.

There are two ways in which online babysitting services work. With the first method, parents post a job and then the sitters who are interested and nearby contact them. This may be done via email or telephone. The parents can then respond accordingly. With the other method, parents can look at the profiles of potential babysitters and then contact the best ones. When searching, you get immediate access to babysitters. Simply type in your zip code and a list of local sitters pops up. When you click on a sitter, you may get a brief bit of information or their entire profile.

Some sites will let you preview and look for sitters without registering, so you can see the options. However, if you want to get the contact information, you need to be a member. Subscriptions may be paid for on a monthly or yearly basis. The best sites will give you a free trial period, perhaps for a week, so you can try it out first. If you like it, you often have to pay an initial registration fee, in addition to the subscription costs.

Be aware that not all sites do the same things. Some may simply interview the babysitters to create a profile but do not check references. Others provide the option of doing extensive background checks. However, it may cost extra or require you to increase your membership level. The best sites will have a multi-step screening process. In addition, the online babysitting services should have comments or referrals from people the caregivers have worked for in the past.

Most online babysitting sites also have a search filter that lets the parents narrow down the candidates. For instance, if you have a child with special needs, you can locate a babysitter who has previous experience with this type of child or someone with specific medical certifications. This search filter will help you save time. They can also help you find back-up sitters at the last minute, in case the scheduled sitter gets sick or you get an unexpected dinner invitation. Some sites, like Sittercity, even offer nannycam and video monitoring options.

3 Big Reasons To Avoid Digestive Health Medicine

Due to our unhealthy western diet and it’s highly processed foods that many of us eat too regularly, we now have more disease and digestive disorders than ever before in known human history. This downward health spiral has worked out well for the medical industry and pharmaceutical industry. They have a digestive health medicine that can treat every problem you have.

The operative word here being “treat”, not cure. Our health industry is not interested in finding a cure for anything, that’s not what brings in the business.

Let’s take constipation as an example

Constipation is one of the most common digestive disorders we have. If you search for a medicine for it you will be prescribed or guided to several products like:

  • bowel cleaning solutions
  • bulk-forming laxatives
  • fecal softeners
  • stimulant laxatives
  • 5HT4-receptor agonists
  • peripheral opioid-receptor antagonists

All these categories have many products that are all made with drugs. Most of these problems can not only be treated by most people by diet, but most likely cured for good. There are several problems with treating these symptoms with drugs;

1. Drugs can never cure your problem, they can only provide temporary relief for the symptoms until they hit you again.

2. All drugs come with the possibility of negative adverse side effects.

3. Drugs will cause other symptoms unrelated to the symptom they were made to treat, causing you to seek out yet another prescription for another drug that will create another problem.

This is happening everywhere. There are more people on medication now than ever before. Many people are and will be, many unnecessarily, on medication for the rest of their lives. Your doctor is more than happy to prescribe a medication as long as you need it, and once you start, you will always need it.

Natural treatments door digestive health problems

Let’s look at the above list again. Do you really want to take a drug as a bulk-forming laxative? Over-use of laxatives can lead to serious side effects;

  • they can cause kidney stones or failure
  • they can body dehydration and rob it from vitamins and minerals
  • they can damage bowel function
  • pro-longed use can eventually make them stop working altogether

How about dietary fibers we can get from eating all-natural grains such as unrefined oats, barley and the best one of all; bran. Not only will these build up bulk in the intestinal tract, but will also leave your body with digestive enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Consume plenty dietary fiber and you won’t need stimulant laxatives or fecal softeners, or bowel cleaning solutions.

Eldercare Tips – 17 Questions to Answer Before Your Parents Will Accept Help Shopping For Groceries

For eldercare services to be tolerable to the elders, you need to explain to the in-home helpers exactly what your parents want help with. It’s not enough to say “hire someone to clean the house.” Does this mean the person cooks meals? Does laundry? Makes beds? Waters the lawn?

It seems simple enough. Your father said he can’t drive anymore so he needs someone to help him with shopping. Unfortunately, it’s easy to misinterpret what’s really needed. Does your father need someone to take a grocery list, go shopping and drop groceries off in the kitchen? Or does he need someone to stop by, pick him up, wait outside while he shops, bring him back, and drop him off? Does he need someone to go in the store and shop with him? For him? Help unpack and put the groceries away?

People make assumptions about what to do and how to help-and don’t get enough detailed information for the assistance to be acceptable to person needing assistance. To avoid these mistakes, and the complaints and cycle of hiring and firing in-home aides, get a complete picture of what your parents want help with. Begin the conversation by focusing first on a single, simple issue like shopping.

Because an apparently simple task like shopping is actually a series of smaller tasks, we have broken each topic into its components. Explore these details with your parents to learn what they really mean when they say “I think I want help shopping for groceries.” The detail may seem excessive to you, but it will make your parents feel understood and allow you to train the helper in acceptable assistance so his/her tenure will exceed a nanosecond.

• Shopping for groceries
Some people enjoy grocery shopping and would miss the activity. They may like the social connection of seeing and talking to other people in the store; they may enjoy slowly wandering down the aisles looking at and feeling the fresh fruits and vegetables, or they may want to keep control over decisions about what is purchased and how much money is spent. For these reasons, grocery shopping can plug into issues of authority and companionship.

Be sure you don’t hire a mismatch, e.g., someone who comes in and does a fabulous job selecting, buying, and organizing the groceries thereby annoying your parents who love to shop and see this as one of the last vestiges of control over daily life. Talk to your parents about the tasks involved in grocery shopping.

Do you want help:
• Deciding how much to spend?
• Making grocery lists?
• Getting to and from the store?
• Selecting the groceries?
• Navigating the aisles?
• Reaching items on very high and/or low shelves?
• Putting the groceries into the cart, onto the checkout counter?
• Paying?
• Carrying the groceries to the car and into the house?
• Unpacking the groceries?
• Doing the whole thing?

Grocery related issues – Do you want:
• Someone to follow along patiently while you shop?
• Someone to chat with while you are shopping?
• Someone to talk to the store clerks for you if you need help finding an item?
• Someone to handle the payment at check out?
• To do shopping on a regular schedule…when?
• To buy only specific brands or specific product sizes?

You may not have realized how much was involved in shopping for somebody else. Busy people just zip in, buy what they need and zip out. But, for people whose world has gotten smaller, these little things matter a great deal. No matter how experienced the provider of eldercare services is, he/she cannot anticipate each client’s preferences and may not ask in sufficient detail to get adequate information. Use these questions to help your parents get clear on exactly what they want help with and how they want to be helped, and to train the helper so he/she can provide elder care services they will accept.

The Role of Recreational Therapy in Mental Health Treatment

Recreational Therapy has become a popular component of treatment for many health fields, including mental health. The American Therapeutic Recreation Association defines it as “a treatment service designed to restore, re-mediate and rehabilitate a person’s level of functioning and independence in life activities, to promote health and wellness as well as reduce or eliminate the activity limitations and restrictions to participation in life situations caused by an illness or disabling condition.” (American Therapeutic Recreation Association, July 2009) Recreational Therapy services are provided in a variety of mental health treatment settings, including inpatient, outpatient, and residential care. Certified therapists have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in the field and have passed national certification exam.

Recreational Therapists use a variety of techniques to help alleviate symptoms of mental illness and improve the quality of a consumer’s life. Leisure education is often provided, which can help consumers identify what types of leisure they are interested in and find community resources for participation. Many people who are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness have lost touch with their leisure lifestyles or have become socially isolated. Leisure education can also improve social skills to enhance enjoyment and enable consumers to build better relationships. Many Recreational Therapists also use recreation participation as a treatment modality. Therapists will engage in leisure activities with the consumer to improve leisure skills and practice social skills in the moment. In a group setting, therapists will use leisure based activity to explore patterns of behavior and teach healthy coping skills.

In treating mental health, Recreational Therapy can be a versatile treatment addressing various issues. Leisure activity can provide improved daily structure when participating in activities such as volunteer work, classes, or social groups. Certain leisure activities also provide opportunities for social interaction and support. Physical activities and exercise can help improve your mood. Exercise and other leisure activities also can provide a sense of accomplishment. Many of the concepts reinforced in Recreational Therapy align with cutting edge treatments like Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). The skills of mindfulness, regular participation in pleasant events, and building mastery are all core components in both DBT and Recreational Therapy. Finally, leisure involvement can provide a sense of purpose and meaning in one’s life, as well as strengthening individual identity or one’s sense of who they are. A Recreational Therapist can motivate and guide someone experiencing mental health difficulties to leisure that provides the specific benefits suited to their needs. Recreational Therapy services are included in most high quality mental health programs.

The Secret to Getting Your Aging Parents to Accept Eldercare Services – Start With Their Pets

Your parents need more help than they’re willing to admit. They bristle at the thought of elder care services and independent living programs, and they have fired all the in-home helpers and housekeepers you’ve hired for them. How might you prevail upon them to accept some assistance? Ask them about their pets.

They surely want the best for their animals and might be willing to let somebody take their dog for an occasional romp or change the litter box a couple of times a week.

Pet owners often make decisions about their own health and circumstances based on the impact the decisions would have on their pets. “I can’t go into the hospital over night for the test the doctor ordered-who would feed and walk Fluffy?” Your parents might welcome assistance that would make it easier to keep the animal at home and in good health and spirits. And, accepting help for the pet is easier than admitting you need help yourself. Still, help is help, and accepting help for the pet is a face-saving way to ease in to help for oneself.

There are various dog walking and pet sitting services, and some are fully bonded and insured. Local animal shelters and veterinary practices have referral lists. Neighbors with pets probably have recommendations too. A responsible teenage neighbor looking for pocket money might also be a good resource.

When was the last time your parents’ pet went to the vet for an exam and shots? Getting an animal into a carrier is hard enough for many pet owners in the prime of their-and their pet’s-life. It may well be impossible for your parents to catch the cat, put it in the carrier and carry the carrier to the car they shouldn’t be driving anyway.

The way to make assistance tolerable is to get clear and detailed information about what your parents want help with and how they want to be helped. Starting with a topic they’re willing to consider, help with a trip to the vet, you can follow this good experience with others like help with shopping and eventually with in-home help.

Do your parents want help with:

• Walking the pet
• Feeding and watering the pet
• Cleaning up after the pet, inside or out
• Getting the pet ready to go to the vet
• Taking the pet to the vet
• Staying with the pet if your parent is out of town or in the hospital?

No matter how experienced the provider of eldercare services is, he/she cannot anticipate each client’s preferences and may not ask in sufficient detail to get adequate information. Use these questions to help your parents get clear on exactly what they want help with and how they want to be helped, and to train the helper so he/she can provide elder care services they will accept.

Dental Care For the Poor

We all know that dentists are highly specialized doctors who deal with all kinds of dental issues; however, his expertise does not limit to only teeth but may also cure other issues related to the mouth such as sore mouth, swollen gums etc.

It is widely believed that visiting a dentist more often for a routine check up is always better than visiting him for any dental issue. Though the fees charged by dentists are high there are some dental care services that may charge you nominal fee and help in getting treated at a low cost.

For those people who find it difficult to pay for their dental checkups, there are dental care organizations where cheap or free of cost dental checkups are done.. Even universities have offers for the poor to take care of their dental issues at a low price or for free. Often projects and camps are conducted by students who are doing the studies of dentistry to offer free or reasonable aid to people suffering from dental problems but can not afford dental care.

You may also come across numerous plans and communities established only for the welfare of poor who are not able to afford dental checkup. There are several NGOs and governmental organizations that can help in curing your dental problems for free or at a nominal cost. There are thousands of recognized dentist who participate in such charity based dental checkup events.

Those people who cannot afford regular dental checkup due to unfavorable financial conditions, it is suggested to opt for dental discount plans. Such plans may be available with most of the dentists. You may receive your membership card which you need to show to your dentist whenever you visit him.

Finding a proper dentist who offers cheap dental care service in your locality, may not be that tough. You may seek advice from your friends and relatives about cheap dental care programs. You may even check in business directories for reasonable or free dental checkup.

There are fair chances that you may find details of some good and reasonable dentist. A search on the internet for low cost dentist or free dental care can help you find affordable dental treatment service in your vicinity.

The Difference Between Individual and Family Healthcare Plans

The costs of medical care in US are soaring with each passing day and in this scenario, it has become quite confusing to identify a perfect health insurance plan. However, if an individual has a clear idea of what kind of coverage his health insurance plan should provide him with as well as the budget that he can afford for the same, then the decision of choosing a good health insurance plan definitely becomes easier.

The two most popular health insurance plans available are individual and family healthcare plans. Even though other health plans seem less costly, the fact remains that individual and family health insurance plans prove to be much more cost effective in the long run. However, before people choose any of the two plans, it is vital to understand the points of difference between the two.

Individual healthcare plans, as the name suggests, provides medical care benefits to a single person and is best suited for people who do not have any family to support or provide medical care to. The plan comes with various options and price ranges depending on the type as well as level of coverage desired by an individual. The cost generally varies according to the individual’s preference of visiting a doctor as well as the medical care facilities of their own choosing or a pre-assigned set of doctors and medical care facilities.

Family healthcare plans are generally selected by people who want a health cover for themselves as well as their families. Since the plan is designed to provide for the medical care of more than one person, it naturally comes with a higher price tag than individual plans. The cost of the plan can vary from one family to another according to the gender, ages as well as the eating and drinking habits of the family members.

Eldercare Tips – How to Hire Help Your Parents Won't Hate Through an Agency

How can you find capable and honest people whose quirks won’t drive your parents nuts? How much will they be paid? For how many hours at a stretch? How many stretches per week or month? Will these people be employees of yours/your parents? Of an agency? Or independent contractors? Do you know how the IRS determines these things and what paperwork and record keeping are required? Have you thought about worker’s comp and withholding? Suppose the applicants don’t speak much English?

Finding Candidates
There are two common ways to find help. Your parents can hire workers through an agency or can hire privately using referrals from friends, neighbors, physicians, local groups, or advertisements. Do you and your parents know the pros and cons of each option?

Agency hires
What are the pros and cons?

If your parents hire through an agency, the helper is the employee of that agency. It will find candidates, select a helper, pay that person, withhold taxes, provide W-2 forms to the helper, and bill you/your parents at its hourly rate. Although your parents will not have to recruit, screen, or haggle over wages, they will have limited choice in whom the agency sends – but somebody will show up, including substitutes when your parents’ worker is ill or on vacation. Clients may ask about the agency’s hiring and screening policies but are expected to rely on the agency’s selection.

If your parents have a problem with the worker, they can call the agency and a supervisor will talk to the worker for them. This is a strong argument in favor of agency hires, as long as your parents are willing to ask for help. How likely are your parents to report dissatisfaction while problems are small and easily fixed? Will they have the moxie to call the supervisor? Will they let you know?

Your parents will probably be charged between $20.00 and $40.00 per hour and will have to agree to a minimum number of hours per visit, usually four. The worker receives about half of the agreed-on fee. If the worker is dissatisfied with the fee schedule or benefits, that dissatisfaction is with the agency, not with your parents. Most agencies have policies prohibiting clients from supplementing salaries or giving gifts to their helpers. This is to protect clients from pressure by rather poorly paid helpers. If a helper suggests ways to skirt this policy and bestow tokens or riches, the agency should be told immediately. This could lead to financial abuse. Will your parents tell you or the agency promptly if this happens?

Types of agencies:
If your parents need simple housekeeping, they should work with a housekeeping agency. If they need in-home help including personal assistance, they should use agencies that specialize in in-home helpers and non-medical personal care providers. If they need assistance with health problems, they’ll need to look into more skilled home health aides.

The first option, housekeeping agencies, provides people who clean homes. But even this apparently simple option should be influenced by the results of the check sheets.

• Some house cleaners sent by housekeeping agencies bring their own cleaning supplies. That’s a help if it saves you or your parents a shopping trip, especially one that involves hauling heavy containers. But it’s a problem if your parents want specific cleaning products used and not others.
• House cleaners from agencies probably are on a fairly tight schedule, will come in, clean, and move on to the next house and may work in pairs or teams. This is great if your parents want the house cleaned quickly because it reduces the time somebody is in their home. But it can be a problem for a parent who doesn’t like people in the house because it increases the number of people there at one time. And with a team cleaning, several rooms may be in upheaval at the same time.
• Agency house cleaners may also chat with each other, and not necessarily in English. This can be a problem if your parents don’t want the noise involved with several people cleaning and talking. If they want to work along with or supervise the helpers, they may hit trouble both because of the helpers’ time constraints and also because they may not speak much English. And, if your parents want sociability as well, they may want to avoid this option. These workers get paid for cleaning, not talking, and need to move quickly and get on to their next job.

The second option, agencies that provide personal assistance and light housekeeping, offers more services and more sociability. Even if your parents don’t need much assistance beyond light housekeeping at this point, choosing an agency that provides in-home health aides may make sense. As your parents’ needs increase, they won’t have to start fresh with a new agency. These agencies provide employees who can offer broader services including transportation, sociability, assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), and other support. In essence, your parents make a list of things they’d like help with, how many hours a day/week they’d like assistance, and the agency does its best to match the request with their available staff. The agency bills an agreed hourly rate based on the level of difficulty of the services provided. It has policies about weekend, holiday, and overtime charges.

To get the best match through an agency that provides help beyond housekeeping, you and your parents should give the intake worker at the agency a detailed list of what your parents want help with and how they want to be helped. These checklists should be reviewed right away with any helper who shows up at the house to prevent the well meaning 19-year-old aide from driving your parents crazy by gabbing all day long about a fruitless search for a soul mate. Review the checklists and work regularly with the aide, and pass the feedback along to the aide’s supervisor at the agency. Attention to little details at the outset will make eldercare services more tolerable to your parents now and in the future.

How Drug Abusers Think – Help Get Addicts to Rehab Faster by Understanding Why They Avoid Rehab

Does drug abuse exist primarily in the mind of the abuser or is drug abuse society’s problem? Somewhat of a philosophical question, agreed. Let’s get right down into the reality of the matter and skip the pretense.

Drug Abusers Think Society Should Change To Fit Into Their Realities

To understand the boldness of this statement I will enlighten you on what is happening inside a drug abusers head. This may not be pretty, sorry if I use real life examples. But if you found your way to this article, you’re ready for it.

How Drug Abusers See The World

They see the same trees, the same cars and the same family members who are upset or distressed by their addiction. But they also ‘see’ other things.

To continue this analogy of seeing things that aren’t seen by everyone else, let’s consider the mind as a collection of full picture and sound files in one’s personal computer. This personal computer is ones’ mind. The mind has millions of memories or files stored of past experience or conclusions or imaginations. All these files are stored in your mental computer.

What happens when drug abusers experience things they don’t want to?

Here’s the problem: Drugs dull perceptions. Drugs are essentially pain killers. Drugs kill mental, emotional and / or physical pain. That means something that is distressing a person can appear to reduce. The stress seems to go away a bit by the drugs dulling or hiding the experience from the person. They can’t see or experience the discomfort as readily. Sometimes these discomforts come from the past. Remember the mind is made up of past experiences or memory pictures.

Drug abusers have been solving their problems by dulling out their abilities to see these problems. At times the problems right in front of them are unseen by a drug abuser. Other times issues from their past are blocked out.

Let’s take a look at one way drug abusers dull their perception of the past with drugs and with other mental ‘tricks’.

Drug abuse, including marijuana abuse, pharmaceutical abuse and alcohol abuse have one thing in common: Justification

As a drug rehab consultant, I hear more justification for drug abuse and use than most. Here are some rather common and even infamous justifications I’ve heard over the years.

Mental Justifications:

  • They don’t understand
  • I just need one more hit, then it’ll be OK
  • What’s the big deal, it’s just one time
  • This will fix things and I’ll make it through for a while longer

Drug Abusers Are Running Away From Something, Aren’t They?

Most people avoid pain. When the truth contains pain, the truth will be avoided.

Pain is also stored in the minds’ memory pictures. When painful experience is re-triggered by life, the painful part also returns. Drug abusers instinctively avoid this pain. That’s when justification is put to use by the abuser of drugs. Justification is a method of being right and avoiding the discomfort and pain of unpleasant memory.

The mind must be right. This is the minds’ senior command – always be right. Not necessarily truthful, just right. A drug abuser is trying to create a world where they are right in avoiding reality, even if it kills them. That’s why they continue to abuse drugs.

Weight Loss & Eating Fast Foods – F-A-S-T – 4 Simple Secrets to Keep You on Track

Here the 4 Secrets of Fast Foods: Eating “On-The-Go” & Not Gaining Weight. The success of a weight loss plan is to accept that, by circumstance of time, location, or even money, one might end up in a fast food restaurant or having to eat while driving in their car. Just because one has to eat “on-the- go” does not mean your weight loss has to be disrupted. The secret is like eating anywhere is to have a plan. In this case it’s easier to remember what you should not have rather than the best choices. Here is the short list of what you should try to avoid: It’s as simple as can be, and if you examine it closely it really works. I use a simple acronym: F.A.S.T. to point to the really bad drinks and foods.

The Perfect World:

Ideally, everybody has the “right breakfast” at home, does away with eating at fast food restaurants, picks lower calorie alternatives at the office or at the school cafeteria for lunch, has a high-protein, low-carb snack in the late afternoon and then comes home at the end of the day for a nutritious, healthy dinner including fish, vegetables and salad. That is the perfect world.

50% of All Food is Fast Food Types:

Unfortunately, let’s face it, the perfect world never happens in the lives of the majority of Americans. The NPD Group®, an organization that estimates food trends in the United States, reported in 2002 that more than 50% of all food consumed (not just restaurant foods) consisted of burgers, fries, Mexican food and pizza.

Why Fast Foods?

Consumers go to the drive through at McDonald’s®, Burger King® or Taco Bell® and pick up burgers, chicken nuggets and fries without even thinking about the consequences. These foods taste good, are cheap, satisfying and, most importantly, are convenient-they fit into our busy life styles. Unfortunately, gaining weight is easy even when you only eat small amounts of these high-calorie, fattening foods, especially foods with portions that are difficult to control.

Fast Foods Give Pleasure:

The reality is that, more often than not, these foods represent a main source of a lot of pleasure for many people. Depriving yourself of what you like only leads to wanting it more. Sooner or later, the “I can’t have it” becomes “I must have it” and creates anxiety. The SECRET is to learn how to choose smartly from the vast selection available.

4 Secrets to FAST Food Eating: F.A.S.T.

When you find yourself forced to eat on the go, the secret is to choose foods that will not add thousands of calories to your diet. From all of the choices that surround you, here is a short list of what you should try to avoid.

Just remember the word, “FAST.”

  • F=no fried foods
  • A= No add on’s-sauces, high cal dressings, dips, mayo, all “special sauces”
  • S= skip breakfast, skip sugary drinks
  • T= “thick”--no burgers, sandwiches that have double & triple layers, remember most of these have been eliminated because they are fried.

The easiest way to navigate the 200 or more items is not what’s good, but what’s bad. Here is how F.A.S. T. eliminates all of the high calorie, high carb foods:

F: No Fried Foods for Lunch and Dinner at Fast Food Restaurants:

You really only need to avoid a small number of items among the two hundred or more food choices we are exposed to everyday. Going to fast food restaurants and finding reasonable, low-calorie, portion-controlled foods is absolutely possible.

fried foods: this eliminates all burgers, fried chicken, fried fish, French Fries, onion nuggets

A: Add-On’s:

This means all of the sauces, including Mayo, many of the proprietary sauces, bad salad dressings, croutons,- this can save you hundreds of calories.

Low cal salad dressings, mustard and ketchup are great

S: Skip: Skip Breakfast:

Breakfast is the easiest meal to adjust because what we choose to eat in the morning is not as much about satisfying cravings or wanting comfort food. Many people will pick up the first thing they see, such as a Pop Tart®, a bagel, pastry, a donuts or a muffin. In fact, we would be just as satisfied with foods that have much lower calories. Fast food breakfasts can easily account for a third to half of the total daily calories for a person on a diet. Often, people in a rush get their breakfast at a drive Thur gobble down their food in their cars and often do not even realize what they are eating! –SKIP BREAKFAST IN THESE RESTAURANTS

S: Skip: Skip sugary drinks:

Forget the juices, fruit punches, whole milk, high calorie lattes, and mostly the regular soft drinks There are numerous zero calorie drinks, try water, diet soft drinks, no fat milk

T: Thick(double stacked, multiple ingredients)

If the fried food exclusion did not get you, this will. This eliminates all foods with multiple more than one meat or chicken patty, combinations of meat-bacon and other almost crazy ideas. Vegetables like lettuce and tomatoes on great, we are talking about adding extra proteins and carbs to the sandwiches.

What Can You Eat: Here are the foods that past the F.A. S. T. “test”:

McDonald’s: hamburgers(single), cheese burgers, grilled chicken, wrap snacks, apple dippers, all salads, side salads, watch-no creamy dressings,

Burger King: hamburger, cheese burger, chicken sandwich-grilled, BK Burger Shots(kids and adults), salads, again watch dressing and add-on’s

Wendy’s: Junior hamburger or cheese burger, grilled chicken, Classic single, chili(large or small), baked potato.(sour cream and chives as 80 calories), all salads-watch the add-on’s and dressings,

Subway: most subs, nothing fried, no mayo, watch sauces, avoid meatball, Philly cheese-steak, chicken and bacon ranch, BMT, Italian spicy, Feast, Chicken Teryaki

It’s that simple, you can go to these places when you need to you just need to be a little careful with what you chose.

Just remember: FAST-fried-skip-skip-ad-ons-thick & stacked

Tips to Buy Holiday Home Furniture

Before purchasing furniture for your cottage, consider these tips to make your home a wonderful place to stay and relax.

Comfort is perhaps the most remarkable feature in a home designed to enjoy the holidays. This means taking into account the areas and spaces designed for it in your first home. You might also want to have more room to enjoy these areas with family and friends, and share board games or video games. You might also want to have areas specially designed for reading or listening to music in a relaxed manner, which does not suffer from extreme heat or cold depending on whether your house is on the beach or the mountains.

If you consider the comfort of your second home, it is also interesting to consider that it is difficult to clean which have a lot of furniture and decorative objects. Also find the furniture that is resistant to moisture and aging because the house will remain closed for long period of time. An example would be to consider a sofa in a fabric and a strong color in your beach house, otherwise the humidity and dust could be marked permanently. Although both want something elegant and pleasing to look for your beach house makes you feel in a full summer.

So it is clear that a holiday should offer comfort and warmth but also your furniture must be resistant to moisture. The maintenance of the house should involve less effort and have simple furnishings susceptible to wear that may require a renewal a few years.

Another option for finding inexpensive furniture would be the futon and wicker furniture, which can be a little more expensive than regular sofas, but are considerably less comfortable. Bunk beds give you more options for sleep without taking up more space in your place. If you are on vacations, share it with your friends and family who are remembered with great comfort. Hold this vision for the purchase of furniture for your second home.

Something also very interesting to note is the mood the house according to the situation where you are. If your house is located on the beach, decoration and furniture will be different to the case in which your house is in the mountain. When considering such an issue, get a full experience of your vacations. For example, a beach house may clash with an atmosphere of rustic furniture and dark wood, they may grieve the environment. It would be a more appropriate type of furniture for a house in the mountains. In this way, you get a perfect setting for your holiday accommodation.

The bedrooms can be accommodated in different ways according to their final destination. A good option is to allocate more comfort in the master bedroom of the marriage or, where you will spend most of your holiday, so it is important to be comfortable. On the other hand, you can distribute the other rooms so that hosting the largest number of beds available to accommodate family and friends, either by using sofa beds or single bed opening.

Gardening Tips for Beginners: Ten Steps to Success

Essential Gardening Tips

Gardening Tip #1: Build on a Good Foundation.

First, you must check the nitrogen and carbon levels in your soil. You want to start with a good foundation to your spring gardening season, and these tips will help. If you have very bad soil, I highly advise that you start with a square foot garden. You can either build a wood box or buy plastic ones from gardeners, which is what I did. You can then add fresh top soil from the store and add mulched and composted leaves. This is the best way to start.

Gardening Tip #2: Ensure Good Drainage.

When you have the square foot garden set up, you must ensure that the drainage is good, otherwise your plants will not survive and your gardening career will be miserable. Be positive that you provide just as much water as the plant needs, and you will know this amount through your gardening experience.

Gardening Tip #3: Provide Lots of Sunlight.

All plant life is totally dependent on the sun. without enough sunlight, the garden will never be strong and probably never sprout. This is absolutely crucial. However, you must ensure that the plants that are in the sun are able to withstand it. All this information is on the back of every seed packet. The square foot garden location should be carefully located according to drainage and sunlight location.

Gardening Tip #4: Make Variety.

For a successful garden, add a lot of variety to your garden. This will help with pests and the soil quality. If you vary the different plants, the insects will tend to not come back due to the uninsurability of what will be in the garden. Also, it is generally known that all farmers rotate their crops for better soil. All gardeners should do just the same!

Gardening Tip #5: Plant at the Proper Time.

This may seem obvious, but it is critical. If you plant the plants too soon, they will be frozen by the frost of early spring and all the work will be for nothing. If too late, they will not be able to gather strength before the sun beats down on them and withers them, or a fall frost eliminates them. Always check the seed packets for this information.

Gardening Tip #6: Jump Start Transplants.

Make positively sure that you buy good and healthy transplants. It is much wiser to spend more money for quality plants that will return a hundredfold in produce to your work. Make sure as well to give the transplants a lot of water, or they will not survive to thrive. However, the growing season is not as long as many people may think, so you have to get the plants into the ground at the proper time, and they will hit the ground running!

Gardening Tip #7: Resist Over-planting.

As a beginning gardener, it is best to just start small. As you perfect all the methods of growing and harvesting different kinds of produce, you will then be able to plant more of what you like.

Gardening Tip #8: Provide Plenty of Nutrients.

After you have planted the seeds and they are thriving, you must make sure that you continue to provide them with nutrients. Depending on the plants you are cultivating, fish emulsion and blood meal are good things to add to the soil. Furthermore, all types of compost such as leaves, kitchen scraps, and other nitrogen rich composts will make your garden flourish. Of course, remember the rule of moderation.

Gardening Tip #9: Detect Pests Early.

As your plants are getting bigger and better, always check for the signs of pests on the plant. Are the leaves holed and chewed? Is the plant dying because of some disease? if so, as a good gardener, you must take the steps to defend your plants. If you are being attacked by deer and rodents, you can put a net or radio out near the garden to distract and scare the pests, and bloodmeal will deter the deer. As for all diseases, there are organic formulas at the store that can help with them.

Gardening Tip #10: Stop Weeds Before They Start.

This is imperative. It is critical when gardening the old fashioned way, because I did not take care of them and they took over the garden in no time. Just a little care every day, saves hours and days of hard and unnecessary labor. Also, some natural prevention of corn gluten meal and a natural herbicide of vinegar may really ease your task of clearing the weeds.

I hope these gardening tips helped! I will be implementing them in my gardening as well. May these gardening tips ever be part of your gardening arsenal!

Why the Timing is Right – Become a Travel Agent

Why the sudden surge in interest for the travel industry? Here are a few facts to consider when looking at a travel career as a career option.

Here are the facts:

  1. Travel is a $7 Trillion dollar industry expected to double to $14 Trillion within the next decade.
  2. This lucrative industry is currently growing 23% faster than the global economy.
  3. A key factor in this growth phenomenon is the stream of baby boomers that are retiring, or getting ready to retire.
  4. Baby boomers are retiring at a rate of 1 every 8 seconds.
  5. Travel was rated the number one thing these baby boomers intend to do when they do retire.

When considering a career in the travel industry, there are several options available for those looking to work from home.

There is an increased demand for qualified travel agents, due to the explosive growth of the industry as a whole. To become a certified travel agent, your options are not limited to the traditional brick and mortar setting. Many reputable travel agencies now offer options for the individual looking for a legitimate home based business.

While doing your due diligence in researching whether this industry is a fit for you, consider that there are excellent income opportunities available to work from home.

If your goal is to work as an independent travel agent from the comfort of your own home, consider working as an online travel agent.

Here are some companies that you can research, that offer excellent training. Some of the companies will hire you as an employee, while others offer the freedom of being your own boss, and setting your own hours.

Do your due diligence!

  1. Research each company carefully, and make it a priority to understand the compensation plan.
  2. Know what training is available, and whether the company will offer you the opportunity to become certified.
  3. Does the company have IATA, IATAN, ARC and CLIA affiliations?
  4. What is the initial investment? Are there additional costs associated for licensing, or becoming certified?
  5. If you are considering a work at home position, what kind of support is offered?

Are you a right fit for the travel industry?

Lets break down the qualifications that will determine whether you are suited for this challenging, but rewarding career.

Travel agents should have a minimum of a high school diploma.

Travel agents should have a love for travel. Enthusiasm and a love for working with people are crucial elements for success in this industry.

Travel agents should possess excellent multi-tasking and organization skills.

Great communication skills, as well as computer skills are essential.

Travel agents should possess a professional, courteous demeanor when working with suppliers, and the general public.

Attention to detail and accuracy are very important. Some sales ability is very helpful as well.

Now, the benefits of becoming a travel agent

The benefits of becoming a travel agent are many. I have listed the top three.

Travel agents save up to 80% on travel to many of the worlds exclusive resorts and destinations. These discounts include, but are not limited to:

Complimentary upgrades Hotel room upgrades and discounts

Car rental discounts and upgrades

Cruises

Theme park discounts

Vacation Packages

FAM trips, also known as familiarization trips. Suppliers want travel agents to have first hand knowledge of their facilities, so that the travel agent can make a recommendation based on personal knowledge and first hand experience.

The supplier will offer discounts and other perks, and roll out the red carpet to ensure the travel professional has an outstanding time.

Tax Benefits for individuals who chose to do this profession as an independent travel agent. Consult your CPA or tax professional for more information regarding this benefit.

Summary: How Do I become a travel agent?

In summary, becoming a travel agent can be a lucrative and rewarding career. Should you decide that you possess the skills and abilities needed for success, you can look forward to a promising career.

Get Started: Do a search online using the keywords: become a travel agent, how do I become a travel agent, or online travel agents.

Beware of Tax Preparers Who Promise Large Refunds But Won't Sign Your Tax Return

In my experience as President of SmartServ Solutions, I come across many new clients each year. Most new come to us as a result of my snazzy advertising or through a referral from one of our existing clients. Still others come because they are looking to get a bigger tax refund. I am all for getting the most money back from Uncle Sam. That is, the most legal money. In recent weeks, I have come across a large number of previously filed fraudulent tax returns from 2005. It is a very disturbing trend occurring in the tax preparation business. Before I explain what is going on with the fraudulent tax returns, I would like to give a brief overview of the different types of tax preparation companies. I would classify the tax preparation business into three major categories:

The large faceless tax franchises

Most of the large franchise tax places hire seasonal part time workers who are moonlighting for extra money. They receive training each year from their corporate offices on the new tax laws, but tax preparation is not their primary profession. This leads to in many cases sloppy work and missed deductions. Most of the franchise tax places close down after April 15th.

Independent tax preparation and accounting firms

Independent firms are typically small firms where tax preparers work year round and additional support staff is hired during tax season. Many of these types of firms stay open all year and supplement the rest of the year after tax season with related financial service businesses like accounting, mortgages, investments or insurance.

The “guy” or “girl” who gets big tax refunds

These people are everywhere. They typically work out of an apartment or small store. Their reputation for getting extremely large tax refunds has spread like wildfire. Everybody either knows this person or someone who goes to someone like it. Their offices or apartments are usually standing room only and people will wait hours and hours just for a chance to get their taxes prepared here. There is an unfortunate reality about this type of outfit. An income tax return can be easily manipulated to create a large “temporary” tax refund. I will get in to the reason why I say “temporarily” shortly. Some people actually get and deserve tax refunds upwards of $10,000, $15,000 or even $20,000. The right combination of children, babysitting, mortgage interest and taxes, large withholdings and education expenses will in many cases create such a large tax refund that is legitimate. However, there are many unscrupulous tax preparers in this category who illegally add some or all of the above deductions and credits to anyone’s tax return.

The sad truth is that the IRS will send you the money if you file a fraudulent return claiming an undeserving refund. The IRS is a slow moving big government bureaucracy. They may move slowly, but they do move. They have the capabilities of catching up with most of the tax fraud that is out there. It usually takes them a year or two or three after a tax return like this is filed, but they do catch those involved. What most people who utilize these types of tax preparers fail to realize is that they are completely responsible for the tax return that they file. A defense of “my tax preparer did it” or “I didn’t know” isn’t good enough for the IRS. Once you are caught filing such a tax return, you will be subject to pay back all of the money that you received illegally plus penalties, plus interest and possibly fines. And the IRS will get their money. They will use their power to place a tax levy against fraudsters which will give them the right to freeze assets like bank accounts and garnish salary. This is why I call an undeserving tax refund a “temporary” one. The IRS or State Department of Taxation also has the power to seek jail time if they find that there was fraud committed. Obviously, the unscrupulous tax preparers don’t tell this to their unsuspecting clients. I truly feel bad for these people. Most of them don’t understand the implications of filing a false tax return. I have met many people who have had their lives ruined by such circumstances. Life is too precious and it is not worth ruining your life for an extra couple of thousand dollars on your tax return that you don’t deserve. One tell tale sign that your tax preparer may be committing fraud on your tax return is that they refuse to sign the preparers part of your return. A tax preparer is required by the IRS to sign your tax return if they prepared it for you.

I want to personally caution all taxpayers of filing such a fraudulent tax return in order to receive an unjust refund. There are many legitimate deductions and credits that are available that can be found if you look hard enough. Please choose a tax preparation company who will go the extra mile for your interests while not putting your financial future in jeopardy by getting you in trouble with the IRS.

Choosing Your Ideal Wedding Flowers

As well as everything else to be planned for your big day, you need to choose your wedding flowers, which for many brides is one of the most enjoyable selections they get to make while arranging their wedding. While some women prefer to have a very personalized bridal bouquet, others see their wedding flowers as a chance to keep their overall wedding theme running through every aspect of the ceremony.

A wedding bouquet is the finishing touch to your bridal dress, and a well designed one will enhance your ensemble, bring out your best features and coloring and complement your bridesmaid dresses as well. Wedding flowers are also one of the most prominent features in photographs, so make sure you are happy with them as they will be in your memory for a long time.

There are whole galleries online of wedding flower ideas to help inspire you, and some places allow you to buy bridal bouquets online directly for delivery on the day, which can be very convenient and cost-effective. There are plenty of forums and florists on the Internet which can give you starting points for flower arrangements and color ideas, and you can also look at photos of other weddings, bridal magazines and even in the window of your local florist to get your imagination going.

If you have a wedding theme idea, think how to integrate that into your bridal bouquet and other flowers. For example, you could add some shells to a beach wedding theme, or some sprigs of holly for a Christmas wedding theme. For colors, it is a good idea to have a swatch of your bridesmaid dresses to make sure you can get matching or complementing colors for both the blooms themselves and any wraps or ribbons.

You might want to pick one or two types of special flowers which you would like to feature; perhaps they have a special meaning for you or are associated with memories of yourself and your groom, or others in your family. However it is still a good idea to work within the seasons depending on when you are having your wedding party. Although popular choices like roses and lilies are usually available all year, many other flowers are seasonal so prices will fluctuate. If you want an out of season flower in your bridal bouquet you could have it imported but this can be very expensive so it is best to stick to locally sourced blooms if you can.

ENTREPRENEURIAL CHALLENGES – The Case of Royal Bank Zimbabwe Ltd

Industry Shake-up

In December 2003 Mzwimbi went on a well deserved family vacation to the United States, satisfied with the progress and confident that his sprawling empire was on a solid footing. However a call from a business magnate in January 2004 alerted him to what was termed a looming shake- up in the financial services sector. It appears that the incoming governor had confided in a few close colleagues and acquaintances about his plans. This confirmed to Mzwimbi the fears that were arising as RBZ refused to accommodate banks which had liquidity challenges.

The last two months of 2003 saw interest rates soar close to 900% p.a., with the RBZ watching helplessly. The RBZ had the tools and capacity to control these rates but nothing was done to ease the situation. This hiking of interest rates wiped out nearly all the bank’s income made within the year. Bankers normally rely on treasury bills (TBs) since they are easily tradable. Their yield had been good until the interest rates skyrocketed. Consequently bankers were now borrowing at higher interest rates than the treasury bills could cover. Bankers were put in the uncomfortable position of borrowing expensive money and on-lending it cheaply. An example at Royal Bank was an entrepreneur who borrowed $120 million in December 2003, which by March 2004 had ballooned to $500 million due to the excessive rates. Although the cost of funds was now at 900% p.a., Royal Bank had just increased its interest rates to only 400% p.a, meaning that it was funding the client’s shortfall. However this client could not pay it and just returned the $120 million and demonstrated that he had no capacity to pay back the $400 million interest charge. Most bankers accepted this anomaly because they thought it was a temporary dysfunction perpetuated by the inability of an acting governor to make bold decisions. Bankers believed that once a substantive governor was sworn in he would control the interest rates. Much to their dismay, on assuming the governorship Dr. Gono left the rates untamed and hence the situation worsened. This scenario continued up to August 2004, causing considerable strain on entrepreneurial bankers.

On reflection, some bankers feel that the central bank deliberately hiked the interest rates, as this would allow it to restructure the financial services sector. They argue that during the cash crisis of the last half of 2003, bank CEOs would meet often with the RBZ in an effort to find solutions to the crisis. Retrospectively they claim that there is evidence indicating that the current governor though not appointed yet was already in control of the RBZ operations during that time period and was thus responsible for the untenable interest rate regime.

In January 2004, after his vacation, Mzwimbi was informed by the RBZ that Royal had been accommodated for $2 billion on the 28th of December 2003. The Central Bank wanted to know whether this accommodation should be formalized and placed into the newly created Troubled Bank Fund. However, this was expensive money both in terms of the interest rates and also in terms of the conditions and terms of the loan. At Trust Bank, access to this facility had already given the Central Bank the right to force out the top executives, restructure the Board and virtually take over the management of the bank.

Royal Bank turned down the offer and used deposits to pay off the money. However the interest rates did not come down.

During the first quarter of 2004 Trust Bank, Barbican bank and Inter-market Bank were identified as distressed and put under severe corrective orders by the Central Bank.

Royal Assault

Royal Bank remained stable until March 2004. People who had their funds locked up in Inter-market Bank withdrew huge sums of funds from Royal Bank while others were moving to foreign owned banks as the perception created by Central Bank was read by the market to mean that entrepreneurial bankers were fraudsters.

Others withdrew their money on the basis that if financial behemoths like Intermarket can sink, then it could happen to any other indigenous controlled bank. Royal Bank had an advantage that in the smaller towns it was the only bank, so people had no choice. However even in this scenario there were no stable deposits as people kept their funds moving to avoid being caught unawares. For example in one week Royal Bank had withdrawals of over $40 billion but weathered the storm without recourse to Central Bank accommodation.

At this time, newspaper reports indicating some leakage of confidential information started appearing. When confronted, one public paper reporter confided that the information was being supplied to them by the Central Bank. These reports were aimed at causing panic withdrawals and hence exposing banks to depositor flight.

Statutory Reserves

In March 2004, at the point of significant vulnerability, Royal Bank received a letter from RBZ cancelling the exemption from statutory reserve requirements. Statutory reserves are funds, (making up a certain percentage of their total deposits), banks are required to deposit with the Central Bank, at no interest.

When Royal Bank began operations, Mzwimbi applied to the Central Bank – then under Dr Tsumba, for foreign currency to pay for supplies, software and technology infrastructure. No foreign currency could be availed but instead Royal Bank was exempted from paying statutory reserves for one year, thus releasing funds which Royal could use to acquire foreign currency and purchase the needed resources. This was a normal procedure and practice of the Central Bank, which had been made available to other banking institutions as well. This would also enhance the bank’s liquidity position.

Even investors are sometimes offered tax exemptions to encourage and promote investments in any industry. This exemption was delayed due to bungling in the Banking Supervision and Surveillance Department of the RBZ and was thus only implemented a year later, consequently it would run from May 2003 until May 2004. The premature cancellation of this exemption caught Royal Bank by surprise as its cash flow projections had been based on these commencing in May 2004.

When the RBZ insisted, Royal Bank calculated the statutory reserves and noted that, due to a decline in its deposits, it was not eligible for the payment of statutory reserves at that time. When the bank submitted its returns with zero statutory reserves, the Central Bank claimed that the bank was now due for the whole statutory reserve since inception. In effect this was not being treated as a statutory reserve exemption but more as a penalty for evading statutory reserves. Royal Bank appealed. There were conflicting opinions between the Bank Supervision and Capital Markets divisions on the issue as Bank Supervision conceded to the validity of Royal’s position. However Capital Markets insisted that it had instructions from the top to recall the full amount of $23 billion. This was forced onto Royal Bank and transferred without consent to the Troubled Banks Fund at exorbitant rates of 450% p. a.

FML Saga

When FML was demutualising, the executives were concerned about the possibility of being swallowed by its huge strategic partner, Trust Holdings. FML approached Royal Bank and other banks to act as buffers. The agreement was that FML would fund the deal by placing funds with Royal Bank so that Royal would not fund it from its balance sheet.

Consequently FML would leave the deposits with Royal Bank for the tenor of the loan. The deal was consummated through Regal Asset Managers and was to mature in December 2004, at which time it was anticipated that the share price of First Mutual would have blossomed, allowing Royal Bank to harvest its investment and exit profitably. The deal resulted in Regal Asset Managers owning 57 million FML shares. Royal Bank gave FML some securities in the form of treasury bills as collateral for the deposit.

The Reserve Bank and the curator wrote off this investment because at that time FML was suspended at the ZSE. However the fact that it was suspended did not invalidate its value. Recent events have shown that this investment has generated huge capital value for Regal Asset Managers as the ZSE rebounded. Yet the curator valued this investment negatively. Around March 2004 there had been a contagion effect at FML due to the challenges at Trust Bank. This resulted in the forced departure of the FML CEO and chairman. FML was suspended from the local bourse as investigations into the financing structure of Capital Alliance’s acquisition were carried out. Because of the pressure brought to bear on FML, it wanted to withdraw the deposits held by Royal Bank, contrary to the agreement. FML could not locate and return the treasury bills that had been provided as collateral by Royal. Royal Bank suspected that these had been placed with ENG, another asset management company which collapsed in December 2003. A public row broke out. Royal Bank executives sought counsel from Renaissance Merchant Bank, which had brokered the deal, and the Chairman of the ZSE, who both agreed with Royal that the deal was legitimate and FML had to honour the agreement. At this stage FML sought court intervention in an attempt to force Royal Bank into liquidation. Even the curator contested the FML position resulting in his taking it for arbitration. Royal’s position remained that if FML fails to return the securities then it will not get the funds.

Royal bank directors claimed political interference on the issue. The Royal Bank executives believe that the governor, against his better judgment, decided to act against Royal Bank under the pretext of the political pressure. In retrospect, the political support for cracking the whip at Royal gave credence to the rumour that the governor had an underlying agenda in taking Royal and merging it into ZABG because of its strong branch network.

Royal Bank had been warned by friendly RBZ insiders that if it ever accessed the Troubled Bank Fund it would be in trouble, so it sought to avoid this at all costs.

However on 4th August 2004, Royal was served with papers that effectively placed it under the curator. Interestingly, the curator’s contract was signed two days earlier. Until this time no depositor had ever failed to withdraw his deposits from Royal Bank.

The lack of credibility of the Reserve Bank in handling this case is exposed when one considers that some banks were given more than eight months to stabilize under curators, e.g. Intermarket and CFX Banks, and were able to recover. But Royal and Trust Bank were under the curator for less than two months before being amalgamated. The press raised concerns about the curators assuming the role of undertaker rather than nurse, and hence burying these banks.This seemed to confirm the possibility of a hidden agenda on the part of the Central Bank.

Victor Chando

Chando was an excellent financial engineer who set up Victory Financial Services after a stint with MBCA. He had been the brains behind the setting up of the predecessor of Century Discount House which he later sold to Century Holdings. Royal Bank initially had an interest in discount houses and so at inception had included Victor as a significant shareholder. He later acquired Barnfords Securities which Royal intended to bring in-house.

Victory Financial Services was involved in foreign currency dealings, using offshore companies that bought free funds from Zimbabweans abroad and purchased raw materials for Zimbabwean corporations. One such deal with National Foods went sour and the MD reported it to the Central Bank. On investigations the deal was found to be clean but the RBZ went ahead to publish that he was involved in illegal foreign currency transactions and linked this to Royal Bank. However this was a transaction done by a shareholder as an account holder, in which the bank had no interest. What confused matters, was that Victory Financial Services was housed in the same building as Royal Bank.

After failing to nail Chando to any criminal charges, the Central Bank issued an order for Royal Bank to force him out as a shareholder and board member. It is ridiculous that the Central Bank would vet who is a shareholder or not in banks – particularly when the people had no criminal records.

Negotiations with OPEC were underway for it to take over Chando’s shareholding. The Reserve Bank was aware of these developments. OPEC would then help in the recapitalization as well as open up lines of credit for the bank.

The Arrest

In September 2004 the executive directors of Royal Bank, Mzwimbi and Durajadi, were arrested on five allegations of fraudulently prejudicing the bank. One of the charges was that they fraudulently used depositors’ funds to recapitalize the bank.

Three of the charges after police investigations were dropped, as they were not true. The two remaining charges were:

a) a conflict of interest on loans that were made available to the directors. The RBZ alleges that they did not disclose their interests when companies controlled by them accessed loans at concessionary rates from the bank. However the enterprising bankers dispute these charges, as they claim the Board minutes prove that this interest was disclosed. Even the annual financial statements of the bank acknowledge that they accessed loans as part of their employment contract with the bank.

b) money was owed to Finsreal Asset Management. However Mzwimbi argues that Finsreal actually owes them money and not the other way round. Royal Bank shareholders needed to inject money for recapitalization of the bank and were requested to deposit their funds with Finsreal Asset Management. Since some had not paid their portion of the recapitalization by the due date, Royal Financial Holdings, which had an account with Finsreal, paid the money on behalf of the shareholders – who were then indebted to Royal Financial Holdings. Somehow the RBZ confused this transaction as the bank’s funds and therefore accused the

shareholders of using depositors’ funds to recapitalize.

By retrospectively analyzing the court case wherein the Royal Bank executive directors are accused of defrauding the bank it appears that the RBZ created a falsehood in order to frustrate the bankers. The curator who initially refused to take a stand before the RBZ appointed Independent Appeal, has in court clearly testified that no monies were stolen from the bank by the directors and that the curator did not (contrary to RBZ assertions) recommend charges against the bankers. In January 2007 the former executive directors of Royal Bank were acquitted by the High Court on the remaining criminal charges after the prosecution failed to present a convincing argument.

Royal Bank assets were sold by the curator to ZABG barely two months after being placed under the curator, without any audited financial statements. The speed at which an agreement of sale was reached is astonishing. The owners of Royal Bank went to court and, after a protracted legal struggle, the court ruled that the assets were sold illegally and hence the sale was “illegal and of no force or effect and therefore null and void”. The court then directed that the owners should appeal to the Central Bank for a determination of the actions of the curators. The Central Bank begrudgingly set up an “independent panel” to adjudicate the case. Strangely ZABG continued to trade on the illegal assets.

The panel advised that the appeal by Royal bank be rejected as it would be difficult to disentangle it from ZABG. They also cited the fact that ZABG had some contractual obligations with third parties who may not want to do business with Royal bank. This strange ruling fails to explain why these considerations were not made when the amalgamation was done. The ruling also redefined the agreements between the curator of Royal bank and ZABG as not being an “agreement of sale” even though the parties which entered into the agreement clearly intended it to be viewed as such. This was a way of circumventing the Supreme Court ruling that the agreement of sale was null and void.

But the panel did not explain how this disposal of the assets should be considered if it was not a sale.

Consequently the major shareholders of Royal appealed to the Minister of Finance who upheld the RBZ decision. Mzwimbi and his colleagues have therefore appealed to the courts. In the meanwhile there was a failed attempt to sell the disputed assets by ZABG despite the outstanding legal challenge. Just ice delayed is justice denied.

Mzwimbi and his team have been denied access to all bank records and yet are expected to defend themselves. As he characteristically puts it, “We are going into this fight blind folded and our hands bound, while fighting someone who has armour and a sword.”

Copper Roofing – A Look at Its Advantages and Benefits

There is no denying that copper roofing can be a very expensive affair. The cause alone is the enough to throw most individuals of the idea of going in for such roofing. However, you should not the measure the advantages of going in for copper roofing merely on the basis of the final sales price.

Rather, you should consider the cost versus benefits. If you are short of cash and if your house needs urgent repairs, it is obvious that copper roofing may not be a viable option. However, if you do have sufficient cash in hand, then you should consider going in for copper roofing as an investment. The advantages of going in for copper roofing are the same as advantages of going in for gold jewelry or diamond ornaments.

Once you install the right roofing on your house, you can rest assured that your roofing problems are taken care of for practically forever. You will never have to spend heavily on maintaining your roof. This is because of copper is a metal that lasts really long. You must have heard about horror stories from your friends and colleagues of having to spend thousands of dollars every year just to keep the roof in good condition. You will be an exception because you will never have to incur such heavy expenditure once you have installed roofing on your house.

Secondly, it gives you a very rich and exotic feel to your house that are no other material can. Unlike other metals, it is not very heavy and will not add a lot to the weight of your roof. Low maintenance, aesthetic appeal, long lasting, good for the life of the house- these are benefits that you will enjoy if you go in for copper roofing.

If you were still are worried about the cost factor, why don’t you take advantage of the World Wide Web to check out the options that your local home renovation expert is not disclosing. Once you find that you can get in touch with different service providers offering copper roofing techniques and solutions that might just fit your budget, you might take a different view of the entire affair.

Further, you can get in touch with different individuals who have installed this form of roofing on their houses. You can check out whether the benefits that experts often attribute to copper are for real or not. They can also get in touch with those who have rejected copper roofing. You can find out whether they’re regretting the decision. All this will help you take an informed decision very quickly.

Cleaning Up the Dirt – Dust Free Hardwood Flooring Services

All home owners have a dream of setting up a dust free hardwood flooring scheme in their house to provide a sense of durable style that is extremely pleasing to the eye. The advantages of a hardwood floor are numerous, ranging from sheer strength of structural design to an elegant and beautiful aesthetic outlook.

The flooring pattern forms an integral structure of any home and it is a coveted desire for owners to come up with an attractive flooring option that can make their house a figure of admiration and envy for all neighbors. To maintain such a delicate design, it’s essential to have a proper construction and maintenance plan for the entire flooring architecture.

Hardwood floors have an extremely polished look when newly constructed that adds a brilliant shine to the house. However, such floors are extremely sensitive to dust and dirt and keep getting infiltrated by it with the passage of time. After a few months, most floors are dug deep in dust that ruins the original sheen of the flooring and make them look extremely rugged and filthy.

The accumulating dust also damages the entire structural build as the floors start to develop cracks and a creaking sound indicates the slow but steady deterioration of floors. If the floors are not maintained properly, the damage aggravates even further, forcing owners to search for ways to refinish hardwood floors dust free and bring back some of the lost glory.

Many owners try several self oriented methods for proper flooring work to reduce professional expenses but their lack of experience and skill usually help up making matters worse. A concerned owner should always be in contact with a local flooring agency that specializes in offering dust free wood floor refinishing with a technically proficient team.

They utilize several cutting edge technological options to provide owners with the best flooring experience that can last for a long time without any form of maintenance required. Skilled workmen survey the design of the floor and make personal arrangements based on house design. A floor consultant is always in discussion with the customer to decide how to refinish wood floors dust free and present a number of design options to make an attractive finish.

Dust free sanding in Utah help in making spotlessly clean floors by removing all dust particles using a self propelled vacuum system which deposits the dust at a desired point outside the house. Dust free flooring has multiple benefits as the furniture is not ruined by dust and small particles do not get inside electrical items to cause short circuit problems.

The quality of work is excellent which make the floor spotlessly clean and allows the owner to choose personalized floor colors based on individual preferences. The dust free sanding is done by providing high quality materials, giving more owners across Utah and Salt Lake City have access to high quality dust free hardwood flooring services.

Taxi 'Recap' – The Short Version; Part 2

“Our focus [is] on taxi operators who intend to exit the industry and…is certainly about ensuring that we do not destroy vehicles that still have value.”

Delays in the program were attributed to owners holding onto their old vehicles until compensation became available, but ongoing indecision about necessary specifications delayed the manufacturing process. Factory floors can never afford to remain idle, in anticipation of final decisions that never seem to be finalized. Production is planned months ahead and one ‘run’ must be completed before another can begin.

The government was called on to subsidies the industry in the same manner as it does urban rail and buses. Mass action was threatened. When this happens, taxis are not the only public transport that comes to an abrupt halt: strikers stone buses and have been accused of deliberately sabotaging rail services. Intimidation tactics work very well on average citizens, who subsequently also lose income because they are too fearful to venture out to work.

“…applications for conversion of permits into operating licenses…for transfers and upgrade, including those applications made during the Be Legal Campaign [have not been processed].”

Permit issues became cause for fury on both sides of the fence. Authorities officiously claimed that operators were delaying, but instances, where processing channels, meant to deliver within three months, were taking “three to five years” were then exposed. Decisive action was demanded by the Minister. But little glitches are part of process when the tendered management allocation is only R250-million.

“many taxi operators…bring to my attention the serious weaknesses that characterize(s) many of the Operating Licensing Boards in the Provinces.”

Applications finally closed in the latter part of 2006, only a year later than originally planned. Operators at last began seriously to calculate the affordability of the new vehicles on offer.

Making the price right

“For us, a strong, safe and vibrant taxi industry remains a vital element in Government’s efforts to bring about significant improvements in our public transport system.”

The initial taxi recap plan to tender manufacture, relied on high numbers keeping the prices low. When that option fell away, government no longer had any control over the pricing and since then, their only task has been to lobby in defense of an often non-creditworthy market.

The total cost of replacing the 100 000 fleet is estimated at R15-billion. Wesbank pledged R3.6-billion to the cause over five years, whilst a memorandum of understanding was signed by ABSA, Nedbank, Asset Finance, Standard Bank, DaimlerChrysler Services and Santaco.

“…affordability will be determined by other important factors such as the level of competition in the market, willingness and ability of the financial institutions to develop differentiated products suitable to the taxi industry.”

The law regarding Road Accident Fund (RAF) payouts has recently changed to limit the benefits that can be obtained by claimants, but the possibility exists for players in the taxi industry to access top-up public- and passenger-liability cover.

Should the industry consider this, it should be said that their contributions could be high and the limits imposed on insured providers could achieve more to regulate the industry, than the government: clauses could include the need to prove regular vehicle maintenance and safety checks, regular driver training, permit restrictions, regular driver health checks, etc.

“The taxi industry should also be in a better position to negotiate better terms from both the financial institutions and manufacturers.”

The other change that might possibly rock the nation would be that all vehicles on hire purchase must legally be insured. In theory, this sounds like a revelation, since few taxis presently are. But don’t hold your breath and do cancel dreams of insurance payouts in cases of taxi crashes! Rumour has it that, with the increase in vehicle purchases, a new phenomenon has already hit the country.

Apparently, our car pounds are filling with crashed vehicles whose private owners cancelled their insurance despite the fact that those vehicles still belong to the banks that financed them. The vehicles are repossessed as soon as they are involved in accidents, neither use to man nor beast. Since the majority of these vehicles were privately purchased, it seems logical that the same tactic may be adopted by the taxi fleet.

“It is the taxi operators, and not Government, who are ultimately responsible for their businesses and for the choice of vehicles, and as such will still make their business decisions.”

Taxi owners reeled under the Taxi Sector Agreement at the end of April 2005, which defines issues such as working hours, unemployment insurance and minimum wages (between R945 to R1 350 a month; hardly exorbitant) for rank cleaners, marshals and taxi drivers, for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, taxi operators immediately sunk their teeth again into the question of receiving government subsidies in line with rail and bus transport. This is surely their due, and the Minister agrees, but that will require of operators, stricter adherence to government regulations – a game two sides can play. Mind you, buses have also got away with ‘murder’ through the years, so perhaps the theory will not match the practice!

“I hope and trust that the taxi industry will organize itself into appropriate business models and take advantage of this economic opportunities.”

One bright idea for financing the taxi sector came from the Sowetan (Taxi industry could go public and flourish, 4/8/2005) with the suggestion that the taxi industry form a co-op with each member’s contribution being his approved vehicle(s) to be valued at a ‘share’ percentage. Should the co-op then go public, shares could be traded to raise the finance to buy the new vehicles.

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at that. Surely it’s not possible to contribute something one doesn’t own into a co-operative that would surely belong only to the banks, have a value attributed to your (which is really mainly their) contribution (when your ownership is only R 50 000 of the total value) and then raise money from independents to buy what you have already contributed although it was never yours to contribute.

Don’t think I’d take a risk on shares like that, but it is possible, I suppose that black economically empowered individuals would back such a deal, doubtless in the interests of economic empowerment, although I would have to add that it would be in their interest to ensure that the money raised from the shares went directly to the finance houses, without passing ‘Go’.

“Municipalities are responsible for the provision of public transport infrastructure and facilities…[often] approved without due cognizance given to public transport requirements.”

Durban and Gauteng are already planning to incorporate the taxi industry into such initiatives as single ticketing strategies: allowing commuters to switch modes of public transport while using the same ticketing system. Not only does this option allow for greater regulation, but many commuters who buy season/monthly tickets, will be able to convert, when their first choice of public transport operators, takes time out to march.

Delivering the vision

One of the difficulties that arises from the three tiers of government is the different perspective that each tier has. National government has the vision, which generally, from the hallowed halls of Pretoria, is pretty benign. Provinces have the difficulty of interpreting the vision for local benefit and often finding that it is not always very pragmatic or ‘do-able’ for local government to achieve.

“…the lack of effective planning frameworks between the three spheres of Government…the absence of planned public transport systems…”

With so many municipalities in financial difficulties and unable to account for their budgets, it is easier to make demands from on high than to deliver the service and pay the bills incurred in so doing. The taxi industry, as an informal sector, has historically and notoriously made up the rules as it went along and municipalities seldom have the ability to maintain the status quo at their pleasure.

For instance: taxis might take over a spare piece of ground at a freeway off-ramp, as a rank, simply because the position is close to an industrial area and therefore convenient to commuters. The local municipality can hardly build a formal rank on a freeway verge, or accommodate any other public transport modes in the same limited area.

“…we see informal taxi ranks mushrooming around major shopping malls, with provision made for parking, but without any consideration for pedestrians and public transport inter-modal facilities for buses and taxis.”

The only suitable land may lie half-a-dozen kilometres away and both taxi drivers and commuters are put out when they find their informal rank is no longer accessible and that their daily journeys must be broken one more time, each way. In the same way, how can taxis be expected to stop at approved stops that are not clearly posted? This is the case in many areas.

The myth of self-regulation

“It does not help when we urge the taxi industry to act in a manner consistent with legislation, when in fact State institutions fail the taxi industry by not upholding requirements of the law.”

The Interim Minibus Taxi Act of 1998 and the National Land Transport Act of 2000 were followed by the Public Transport Bill of 2004, which was set to pass into law at the end of 2005. By September last year, Johannesburg was planning to clamp down on taxis and buses that stopped
illegally on the roads, by constructing dedicated roadside parking bays to allow other road users to pass unhindered.

Since I haven’t visited inland since then, I have no way of telling whether anything has changed, but the habit of taxis to stop as and where they prefer, to the detriment of traffic flow, is one behavior pattern they have in common with Durban buses – a breed that happily comes to an abrupt halt in the centre of two lanes, holding up everything behind it..

“The leadership of the taxi industry must address problems [of] operators [who] pay exorbitant amounts…to use and access what are essentially publicly provided facilities, as well as taxi routes.”

Cape Town reeled under accusations that their May 2005 street battles and shootouts between rival minibus-taxi associations were linked to organized crime and in July of the same year, Metrorail reported that sabotage of the city’s rail system could be traced back to the taxi industry. Durban taxi-related inquiries are common and, if they are not in Johannesburg, it’s not for lack of suspicion.

The Cape Town report found corruption rife in the licensing bodies and a mafia-style industry where hit squads are hired by mature (in age only) drivers to murder rivals. A provincial list of the sixty-two ‘most wanted’ was compiled for investigation (with a view to subsequent prosecution) in an attempt to stop “corruption, extortion, money-laundering and murder in the taxi industry” (Cape Argus 7/9/05).

“there is no taxi operator or association that has the authority to prevent other operators from using these facilities.”

And the only people, surprisingly, who were surprised at these findings, were those who commissioned the investigation! Deregulated, the taxi industry became totally lawless. We all know that. As is said: ‘it doesn’t take a rocket scientist…’. Why on earth would self-regulation ever have been suggested

On a lighter note, the local South African National Taxi Drivers’ Association begged Tshwane’s Metro police for amnesty from their outstanding traffic fines, for its members. Either way, it seems clear that taxi drivers seldom understand the game of socially responsible consequences.

Empowerment tool

“…a comprehensive strategy (that) also seeks to empower the taxi industry and set it on a sustainable path. Our strategy will lay foundation.”

In declaring the taxi industry a “lucrative, black-empowerment tool” (IOL, 22/8/05), the Minister suggested that the industry learn lessons from its dark past for taking advantage of economic opportunities in the future. I, for one, believe the power has been on their side for many years (to the detriment of commuters) and I certainly believe that breaking completely away from the past would be a far better strategy.

In four years, we are promised, three out of every four taxis on South African roads, will be brand new vehicles. For me, that Maths does not add up: in four years, rather, 25% of taxis will be older than four years, another 25% will be four years old, another 25%, two years old and the last 25%, one year old. And then, Dear God, the warranties will start expiring and who will fund ongoing maintenance then?

“We are here to further strengthen and empower an industry that is synonymous and has everything in common with the disadvantaged masses of our people.”

Looking ahead

There is little doubt that, despite how little Mr Joe Average likes competing with minibus taxis for road space, they are virtually all that has kept mainstream South Africa mobile for the last fifty years, plus. Dissolution of the industry would have caused ongoing, total havoc, although its very existence now intermittently causes not much less.

The very thing that ails the industry is what ails the entire country: lawlessness; and God bless anyone attempting to turn that around. I suspect that it’s all a bit like marriage from a woman’s perspective: go into it believing you can change him much and divorce is virtually certain.

“In a nutshell, the taxi industry is doing a pretty job for our country and providing an important service to our commuters.”

At this point, public perception is, that the taxi ‘recap’ process is mostly about lousy drivers taking control of bigger vehicles and cause more devastating accidents, thereby killing greater numbers. The taxi industry doubtless believes it’s being pushed into corners it doesn’t choose to inhabit and it will doubtless retaliate again before acknowledging defeat. Retaliate physically, to the detriment of itself, its customers and their safety, on an ongoing basis, for quite some time.

“I had come here to deliver a message of hope and to assure you that our Government and our movement, the ANC, could not work against the interests of the taxi industry.”

Progress expected by January/ February next year, Mr Editor? Your guess, Sir, is as good as mine, but I’d lay a bet that what hasn’t been achieved in the last twelve years, is unlikely to fall into place in three short months. As with land reform, free housing, free medical treatment, free education, free services, etc., you have to be a real optimist to believe things will ‘be sorted’ overnight.

One week ago (10/11/06) DoT released a press statement about a meeting convened to address grievances submitted last month by the National Taxi Alliance after a strike had left thousands without transport to work. It went so well that a second meeting (two weeks later) was scheduled to “continue with the deliberations” and find “a common ground”.

Trust is an important issue here, and an ongoing PR and information campaign, that targeted the entire industry, might have saved a lot of time, feelings and ‘face’, over the years. Associations, operators, drivers, rank officials all have independent interests in the whole and all deserve equal attention. The message of hope, above, delivered by Minister Radebe more than a year ago, must have worna bit thin, by now.

Place your bets, Gentlemen and Ladies. But I’d hazard a guess that the common ground will not be concealed in Minister Radebe’s stocking this Christmas or in his egg by next Easter!

Why Travel Solo – My Reasons For Travelling Solo

Many of you reading this article are thinking to yourselves ‘why travel solo… are you crazy’, while others are reading this in total agreement. Like for all travel needs, individual tastes, interests and goals will be the concern for any person traveling.

For me personally I prefer to travel solo myself but It all boils down to the type of trip you’re taking and what you plan on doing… obviously there are times where group or couple travel is inescapable and is of course still going to be a great experience… all travel is. These times could be team getaways, events such as weddings or corporate and clearly for a romantic getaway or honeymoon where I’ll assume that you would prefer not to travel solo.

Maybe you don’t have a partner or perhaps you didn’t know anyone else you wanted to travel with you… but you know with all your heart you want to go, have to go. Are the people who said no going to stop your travel? If so, why? Is it safety concerns, is It the unknown? Those questions might be on your mind, but think about it this way… doesn’t it make it more exciting? Wouldn’t you feel more accomplished if you did it by yourself?

Let me explain why I travel solo and the reasons why.

Avoid The Drama Of Others

Drama is often inescapable as all people including myself has some sort of drama in their lives. However in my experience below

A few years back I backpacked Europe and after about a week or so met up with a group of friends for roughly a month. In this time the couple traveling with us had a bad break up, which in turn almost severed another relationship. That night while this couple was fighting, bags were snatched, wallets stolen and because of the public outburst questioned by the police… and this was just the beginning of the drama, we still Christmas to get through after this. When the whole group of my friends had left I felt relief and like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

You may not want to travel solo but if you’re single then my recommendation is that you at least don’t travel with a couple, not without at least some other single people there.

Indifference Of Ideas

All travelers have their own ideas of what they want out of their travel and so they should. Compromise can be much easier in a couple and certainly traveling solo but in a group it can be a nightmare. You may want to go to a museum you’ve always wanted to see where as the others in your group want to just hit the pub.

Whoever has the numbers or the dominance will most likely win which puts you in an awkward situation. Yes, you could leave and go the museum by yourself but then what do you friends think of you and say about you later on. You may also not be contactable by phone, being in another country without a sim card which makes it much harder to meet up and find out when others will be back etc.

I remember road trip we took just 2 hours away from home with six guys and we had one of the worst weekends away possible. Some of us wanted to go prawning, others wanted to go somewhere else for fishing and some of us just wanted to hang out at the hotel by the beach and drink. The problem was we were all stubborn and because we only had the one car and two sets of keys it caused arguments left, right and centre.

Living In Close Quarters

When traveling with others, particularly for long periods of time you need to ensure that your travel buddy is someone you could live with in close quarters for however long it is you are traveling. We all have friends that we know that are good friends but you could never live with them, maybe they are messy, maybe they are snappy and the list goes on. If you can’t live with them… what makes you think you can travel with them?

Be Who You Want

A bonus to traveling solo as well is that others you meet along the way and you get to be the person you’ve always wanted to be or at least be able to interact differently with others. I truly believe you meet a lot more people when traveling solo as you have more reason to talk to others and you will meet more like-minded people to you as there are no indifference to ideas of what to do.

These are four of the main reasons why I travel solo but there are many more personal reasons like independence my goal when backpacking Europe was to get out there in the world and do it all myself. Escapism is another big reason for me sometimes with work and the same old routine you just need to escape the daily grind and get in some alone time.

Traveling solo isn’t for everyone and isn’t for all kinds of travel but if you’re after a fulfilling holiday and experiences then there really is nothing like traveling solo. You will not only meet more like-minded people, get to be who you want, gain independence and a sense of fulfillment as well avoid an indifference of ideas, living in close quarters and avoid anyone else drama while you enjoy what you want to do on your dream holiday. This is why I travel solo.