Message From the Universe: Knowing How Much It Takes to Succeed

“Some folks, not having lived perhaps as much as you, endured as much, or loved as much, simply cannot see the truth of a situation, disagreement, or relationship as clearly as you.

And so, it’s wise to keep in mind, that it’s not their fault.

Can you see this?

The Universe”

Here is the scenario: You work your butt off, years after years, where you struggle, sacrifice, lose out on your social life, miss family events (I wouldn’t recommend that as family always comes first) and at the end, you make it big. However, during your difficult journey, you see your friends enjoying life, living paycheck by paycheck, without any worries about life. They make fun of you because of how dedicated you are to your success, some will even try to convince you that your idea might not be as great as you see it. Your mind is stronger to what your ears hear on a daily basis, which is mostly negative comments towards your dreams. No one really knows how much you endured throughout your challenges and obstacles. To be honest, it is not their fault and you can’t accuse them of not understanding you. You might see them come to you for financial help after you have reach ultimate success, and they might take you for granted for all the new found fortune you’ve been blessed with. They don’t realize what it took for you to get to where you are TODAY. For them, you are the new BANK that was just built in the corner of the street.

Because no one did what you did to accomplish your dreams, they will never know the value of hard work. They may be working very hard at the office, but not remotely close to what you did for your business. They are too afraid to do what you did and do not realize or comprehend how your hard work did all of what you see today. Sometimes, you can’t even realize it as it becomes so distant to you as well. We seem to forget how much work it required because time has passed, and even though you know everything in life requires work, time and patience, you tend to forget all of what was required for you to make it as big as you did. It’s important to help others as well, as you been blessed with not just material wealth, but mental wealth as well. You can redo all of what you see in a heartbeat, including all of the struggling to be successful again. No one can really know what you went though unless they lived with you 24/7. Do not even waste your time in trying to explain that to someone who needs financial help. The amount that you give is really up to you, but make sure you are clear with them that you are not their LOCAL bank where they can withdraw money whenever it’s needed. You need to help others help themselves. Just like the old adage: “You can buy a fish to someone and feed them for a day, of you can teach them to fish and feed them for life”. Your knowledge is worth way more than how much you have in your bank account.

Source by Daniel A Amzallag

Healthy Food For Optimal Health

When I learned I had breast cancer, I decided that I needed to find out as much as I could about how my diet might impact my health. I absorbed everything I would get my hands on that discussed the importance of nutrition in regaining health and preventing a recurrence of cancer. Shortly after I learned I had cancer, I also found out that I am allergic to dairy and eggs. I needed to make changes to my lifestyle – fast.

The first thing to go was dairy. All of the years that I was consuming massive amounts of cheese was taking a toll on my health. Almost immediately upon giving it up, the majority of my migraine headaches disappeared. Another astonishing revelation was when, just as quickly, I no longer needed the Afrin nasal spray I had come to depend on to clear my sinuses for 35 years! I couldn’t leave the house without it. Now my need for it had disappeared. I had no idea that all of these issues were being caused by dairy.

Suddenly it was obvious, but for years I went along consuming dairy and suffering side effects without ever putting the two together. To improve my health on all counts, I realized that I needed to get back to basic, simple foods. No more processed junk foods, no more saturated fats, and no more refined white flours and sugars. So, along with dairy, I cut them out of my life. I now eat a mostly plant-based diet that is rich in nutrients and full of vitamins.

I buy organic when possible to avoid the pesticide and herbicide residues that are so prevalent in conventionally grown produce. I cook my meals from scratch. No more cans, packages or boxes (with a few exceptions). I now use my creativity and Google savvy to put together healthy meal ideas that work for my family. I noticed an immediate improvement to my health. I not only started to lose weight, and ultimately slowly and steadily lost 50 pounds, but I started to feel like my younger self again. More energetic, less achy, clearer skin.

I found that by merging elements from a vegan diet and a raw food lifestyle I could satisfy my family’s needs of eating healthy. The elements that I incorporated from the raw food diet is not only eating more vegetables in their raw state, but also eating foods that are “pure”. In other words, foods that are not processed or otherwise adulterated. They don’t contain chemicals or additives as they are mostly freshly made and consumed. However, it was not feasible to prepare only non-cooked foods 100% or the time. Although, I do try to eat at least 50% raw each day.

I needed to include hot healthy foods into my diet as well. In the northeast the winters are cold and it is just not possible for me to cut out all warm food. As far as veganism, I have eliminated all animal products, with the exception of some fish on occasion for the omega 3 benefits.

My diet now focuses on a plant-based diet and includes whole grains, beans and nuts. With all of the changes I have incorporated into my life, I have reduced my risk of having a recurrence of cancer substantially. Consuming less saturated fat, including an exercise regime, cutting out alcoholic beverages and more leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables all cut my risk. But my new regime is not only one that is good for those who have cancer. It is a lifestyle that we should all incorporate elements of into our everyday lives. It is healthy and promotes optimal health. Healthy food is key to optimal health. Making small changes in lifestyle can add up to big benefits over time. The next time you consider picking up a loaded burger, consider your health!

Source by Meadow Summers

Kiev City Guide For Travelers

You are planning thoroughly your trip to Kiev, surfing the web for information on Kiev best sights, restaurants and night clubs, and thinking how to plan your stay the best, what to see and where to go to… You are packing your new camera in order to make beautiful photos of golden domes, Khreschatik Street and Kiev parks… You are thinking what to wear and checking weather forecast for the days of your visit… In a few days or weeks you will get to another world with smiling people, ancient brick streets, monuments and cathedrals…

Quick facts:

Status: capital of Ukraine

Number of regions: 10

Date of foundation: fifth century AD

Area: 839 km2

Elevation: 179 m above sea level

Geographical coordinates: latitude 50°27’N; longitude 30°30’E

Climate: moderate continental with mild winter and warm summer

Temperature: average Kiev temperature in January is 6 degrees below zero Celsius, average in June is 20 degrees above zero Celsius; lowest temperature in winter is 25 degrees below zero Celsius; highest temperature in summer is 32 degrees above zero Celsius.

Population: 2,6 million (2005)

Density: 3178 people/km2

Car code: AA

Phone code: +380 44

Kiev Mayor: Leonid Chernovetskiy (since 2006)

Kiev history

The legend says that there was a prince family of three brothers named Kiy, Schek and Khoryv and a sister Lybid. Kiy ruled a powerful Slavic tribe and was looking for a place to settle a new home for his people. When they came to the beautiful hills upon Dnepr river and saw wonderful panorama of blue river and seven hills covered with chestnut trees, they liked that place very much and decided to settle there. They established a city and gave it the name Kiev in honour of their oldest brother Kiy more than 1500 years ago. Prince Kiy and his family lived on one hill, Schek settled on another hill which got the mane Schekavitsa, and Khoryv settled on the third hill called Khorevitsa.

Since 882 Kiev became the capital on ancient powerful state called Kievan Rus. In 998 Kiev Prince Vladimir introduced Christianity in Kievan Rus by baptising Kiev population in Dnepr river. In 1240 the city was demolished by mongol-tatars who invaded Kievan Rus, and later it was rebuilt. Since 1362 Kiev and major part of Ukraine belonged to Lithuania and Poland and in 1654 it became part of Russian Empire and then USSR.

In 1991 Ukrainian people voted for independence of Ukraine and Kiev became its capital. Since that time it is the center of Ukraine’s political, economic and cultural life.

In November 2004 Kiev was the central place of Orange Revolution when hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian people protested against election falsification in the streets and later elected another ruling party and the President of Ukraine.

Kiev accommodation

Most visitors to Kiev prefer apartment or hotel accommodation. Kiev hotels provide security and a certain level of service according to their level (three star, four star, five star), Kiev apartments allow greater privacy and flexibility. Average single room in Kiev hotel will cost $100-130 per night, while a 1-room apartment with all amenities will cost $40-60 depending on its location, space and extra facilities like jakuzzi, home cinema, etc.

Kiev sights rating

I recommend you to visit:

Golden Gate of Kiev – the ancient gate to Kiev, which is now located in its very center, it is made of wood and stone with a small golden dome above

St Sofia Cathedral – one of the most beautiful Kiev cathedrals with Bell Tower and chestnut trees around the cathedral

St Michael Cathedral – newly rebuilt cathedral with beautiful blue walls, ornament and large golden domes

St Vladimir Cathedral – cathedral in Kiev center where official orthodox religious ceremonies take place

St Andrew Church and Andrew Descent (Andreevskiy Spusk) – a popular place with tourists with numerous souvenir booths, old brick descent, art galleries and museums

Kiev Cave Monastery (Lavra) – the ancient monastery where you can see the caves where monks lived in ancient times, several churches and the largest Bell tower in Kiev

Russian Art Museum and Ukrainian Art Museum – art connoisseurs will get much pleasure seeing masterpieces of world art in Kiev museums

Kiev Opera and Ballet Theater – an enjoyable experience of listening to live classical music and watching dances

Pirogovo ethnic village – an opportunity to see old village houses, windmills and household appliances of different Ukrainian regions

War Museum – you can see there numerous tanks and war airplanes and the gigantic metal statue of woman symbolizing Homeland

Kiev Botanic Garden – in spring and summer you can see there beautiful trees and blossoming flowers

Mariinsky Palace – a majestic palace where official government ceremonies take place, it is surrounded by green park with panorama of Dnepr and its left bank

Independence Square – the very central part of Kiev, from which the distances to other cities are calculated, it has a large underground shopping center, central Post office, banks and restaurants

Khreschatik Street – main street in Kiev where people can walk on the highway on Saturday and Sunday

Vladimir Mount – a park on the mount with large statue symbolizing Prince Vladimir with cross when he introduced Christianity and baptized Slavic people.

What to wear

If you come to Kiev in summer, it would be nice to take a summer jacket, jeans and T-shirts, sandals or baskets and probably shorts or dress for the case of heat. For spring or autumn it is better to take a few warm things and a jacket. For the winter you will need a winter coat or a warm jacket, a few sweaters, a scarf, gloves and cap.

If you go inside a church or cathedral, women have to cover their head with a shawl, while men need to take off their hats.

Eating out in Kiev

To try delicious Ukrainian cuisine we recommend you the following Kiev restaurants:

Pervak restaurant – a medium-price restaurant located in 2, Rognedinskaya St. You can taste borsch and vareniks, small pies and various meat and fish dishes. The dinner will cost you about $30-50 per person depending on the food and drinks you choose.

Taras restaurant – located in Shevchenko park near major Kiev Museums, close to Kiev University. You can order various pancakes as well as national cuisine dishes. The dinner will cost you $35-55.

USSR restaurant – located near Kiev War Museum and Kiev Lavra Monastery in 42/1 Sichnevogo Povstannya St. and decorated with USSR symbolics. The dinner will cost you $35-55.

Puzata Khata (Big Bellied House) fast food restaurant which combines original interior in peasant house style, tasty Ukrainian food, vast choice of dishes and low prices. It is located in very center, 1/2a Basseinaya St., in the beginning of Khreschatik. Here you can try traditional Ukrainian pampushky, Chicken Kiev, different salads and main courses. On the first floor you can also choose one numerous cakes and even order fresh made juice. The dinner cost is $3-10 per person.

Zdorovenky Buly (Good Health to You)

That’s a very popular fast food restaurant located near Khreschatik metro station which probably has the largest choice of different foods: salad bar, pancakes, varenyky, pizzas, soups, tasty desserts. Its comfortable rooms are decorated in various styles: Chinese, Indian, Egyptian and Greek. It also has Tea bar with cakes where one can sit and talk. Dinner: $3-10 per person.

Ukrainian souvenirs

You can buy various Ukrainian souvenirs on Andrew Descent (Andreevskiy Spusk): embroidered towels, matrioshkas, wooden painted plates and eggs, glass souvenirs, small dolls in national clothing, paintings and clothing. There is also a souvenir section in Kiev central magazine (Tsum), located in Khreschatik St and a souvenir shop near St Sofia Cathedral.

Source by Polina Kryuchkova

How to Charge Your Hoverboard Properly – Don’t Get Burned!

How safe are hoverboards?

Aside from the natural concerns of balancing and falling off, there are much more serious concerns. Namely: “How do I know that the product will not explode, melt, or catch fire when I’m charging it?”

Indeed, there have been several mishaps of late, related to the charging mechanism in these hoverboards. To understand why, it helps to have some background knowledge of the product.

There are over 20 factories in China that make these things. Some are reputable, and some are not. When you order off of eBay, Amazon, or Alibaba, you are likely buying from a re-seller who imports them. Maybe they buy a quality product, or maybe they buy from the lowest bidder to earn more profit on the turnaround. In other words, it’s a gamble. When someone buys a new product from Amazon, the last thing on their mind is burning the kitchen down, but it is worth considering. In fact, it has happened to at least two people in the UK within the last 6 months. So, the first step is to buy from a reputable source that does not use cheap electronics on the interior, especially the batteries and charging mechanism.

“These Ain’t Your Momma’s Batteries”

Hoverboards are powered by the newest generation of Lithium-Polimer, or “Li-Po” rechargeable batteries.

For those new to Li-Po batteries, they are different from previous battery technologies in that they maintain a nearly full charge right up until they are almost fully depleted, and then they are empty almost immediately. They produce a lot of power, and are prone to thermal runaway (meltdown) when overly depleted, so in addition to buying a quality product, we have a few more words of caution we would like to share with you.

First, because of this steep drop-off in power when the battery gets low, it is important to stop riding the board when the battery alarm starts. Although you can continue to ride it due to the constant voltage, doing so could reduce your long term battery life. If you continue to deplete the battery for just a minute or two longer, you can actually force it to a point from which it cannot recover, and it will no longer accept a charge at all. In this case, the battery is prone to get very hot and possibly damage other internal components. So, the moral of the story is: stop riding when the low battery alarm (continuous beeping) starts.

Secondly, unlike other kinds of batteries, it is not recommended to store a li-po battery with a full charge, as this will also reduce the long term battery life. The good news here is that our engineers have already thought of this, and our chargers use a simple red-light/green-light charging system. When the charger turns green, the battery is optimally charged for safety, battery life, and a sufficient battery duration. The word of caution here is that you should unplug the charger when it turns green so that you don’t continue to charge your board. Doing so COULD, yep, you got it, reduce the battery life. There is circuitry in place to prevent this, but it is always a good practice to unplug a li-po battery whenever it is not charging, in case that circuitry fails. Use the protection as a backup, not as your going-in plan.

So it’s easy: Buy from a dealer who knows the importance of solid electronics, and set a 3 hour timer. Unplug the charger when your timer goes off or the light turns green.

These are two simple steps you can take to ensure the longevity of your new hoverboard and keep your family safe in the process!

Source by Ben B

What Is Cloud Computing and Why You Should Use Cloud Computing

The Basics.

As businesses expand, they begin to experience some really difficult and expensive information technology (IT) challenges. Maintenance of hardware and software facilities can be a pain in the neck with traditional business computing systems. Cloud technologies and services present a smart, user-friendly solution. It’s also cheaper than traditional systems and increases the productivity and workflow of the business.

Cloud computing, by definition, is technology that makes use of the internet and servers centralized in remote data centers to store and maintain data and applications. So, Cloud technology makes computing more efficient by centralizing the storage of data, processing, and bandwidth.

Cloud services and products also allow users to make use of applications and software without installing the application on their personal computers or mobile devices. Users can access their personal files and documents by using any computer or device with internet access. The costs in effort and money spent on maintaining an in-house IT infrastructure is are gradually being replaced with Cloud-based infrastructure. While Cloud-based services are perfect for large enterprises, they’ve also proven ideal for small and medium-sized businesses.

Private Cloud or Public Cloud

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)- Examples of SaaS include SalesForce, Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox, Gmail, and so on. With these services, just login with your credentials and get full access to the application and your previously stored information. With SaaS services, you can access your information anytime, anywhere, as long as you have internet access.

Private Cloud-The term “Cloud computing” or “the Cloud” also includes the utilization of outsourced hosting environments for remote data and file storage. Primarily, there are two cloud hosting scenarios that should be considered. These are shared, virtual servers, or dedicated, private Cloud servers. A private Cloud consists of servers that are dedicated to your company and data. Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services are the largest providers of Cloud hosting solutions.

Why You Should Use the Cloud.

Money savings-Cloud computing saves you substantial amount of money, the cost of Cloud computing is much more flexible than traditional methods. If there is need to pay for any service, you only need to pay for the services that you are using.

Disaster Recovery-With Cloud computing, it’s very easy to recover any file as long as they are backed up on the Cloud. So, if your physical devices malfunction, or are lost or stolen, your data is still safe and easily recoverable.

Work anywhere-Cloud computing enables you to access your files from anywhere as long as you’re connected to the internet. Many Cloud services also offer mobile apps so you can have access to your files irrespective of the device you are using.

Reduce Hardware-The use of Cloud computing reduces the amount of hardware used and the size of data centers. Some organizations eliminate physical data storage completely by operating their business totally on the Cloud.

Improved Collaboration- Cloud computing improves collaboration by allowing groups to meet virtually. You can view and edit shared documents and material with controlled access. This ability reduces the time spent to market and increase product development and customer service.

Source by Kenneth Vernon

Exercises to Increase Vertical – Effective and Popular Exercises to Increase Vertical Jump

If you are a basketball player then no doubt you dream about having a “Michael Jordan hang time of 2+ second” that gives one an illusion of   flying  through the air! All serious basket ball players want to know the secret of “dunking” better. The fact remains that one has to first understand one’s body – like body weight has almost 50% muscle tissue, and out of the three groups of muscle (cardiac, skeletal and smooth) it is the skeletal muscles that help us to move, and other facts.

Like ballet dancers, basketball players also need to be flexible to dunk well. Stretching exercises that have been drilled into you by your coach are not “sissy” or “useless”. In fact, they are found to help effectively in bringing about a dramatic increase in “vertical leap/jump” by a few inches.

Stretching after a warm up is essential. Stretch your calves by placing both hands on a pole. Put one foot 24 inches behind the other and lean in a forward direction till you can feel your calves stretching. Hold that position for a few minutes. The Achilles tendon in your foot can also be stretched by bending your knee of your leg that you keep at the back during a stretch. Toe touches should be done till it begins to hurt. Another effective stretch is to hold the pole and at the same time grab a leg behind and hold it till you feel the effects on the top portion of your leg. After this, you should lie down on your back pulling your leg towards your chest and hold it in that position to stretch your lower back. Repeat this exercise with both legs.

Do regular jumping exercises by trying to touch the basketball hoop with a jump/running jump. Aim to touch the backboard. Keep pushing yourself to jump higher and higher – going from the backboard to the rim of the hoop etc. Consistent jumping will make you jump higher in no time.

Never forgetting that quality is more important than quantity, make sure that you train accordingly. To get maximum height you will have to give your very best in doing the proper exercises to increase vertical jumps. Your vertical is bound to improve if you earnestly try for more distance every time you jump.

Rest for about two minutes between each set of exercises and don’t workout for more than an hour every day. It is important that you progress with weights as much as it is possible because if your body muscles are satisfied and don’t think they have to get stronger, then your vertical will not get any higher either! Always keep in mind that overtraining could cause damage to your joints and even bring on early arthritis, and you don’t want that. Keep a record of your reps, exercises, sets and weights that you use for each exercise so that you know how much to increase in a regular manner.

Source by Kimberly Mondok

What You Need To Know About Credit Cards

What is a credit card? A credit card is a card that allows you to borrow money to pay for things. There will be a limit to how much you can spend called your credit limit. At the end of each month you can either pay off the whole of the amount you owe or make a minimum repayment. Other kinds of cards include: 1) A cheque guarantee card, issued by your bank, that you can use to ensure that your cheque will be honoured up to a certain limit.

2) A chargecard where you have to repay the full amount at the end of each month.

3) A debit card, issued by your bank, where whatever you spend is immediately deducted from your bank account Do you need a credit card? Using a credit card is a useful way of making purchases: a) A credit card means you don’t need to carry huge amounts of cash around and risk losing it.

b) A credit card means you can buy items over the internet.

c) A credit card means you can make purchases abroad without having to worry about local currency.

d) A credit card gives the opportunity to spread the cost of a large payment over several months.

e) A credit card is useful in an emergency. For example, an unexpected repair to your house or car.How do you choose a credit card? The main two UK credit card issuers are Visa and Mastercard. These are accepted in most places and in 130 countries worldwide. Beware of less well known brands that may not be accepted everywhere. Before you choose which credit card is the best for you, remember to read the terms and conditions carefully. Never sign up for a credit card without fully understanding what you are agreeing to. Remember that all the plus factors will be prominently displayed in large print. You may have to study the small print carefully to discover if there are any negative factors.
A list of the current cards on offer in summary is available on this credit card summary page. What You Need To Consider:1) APR (Annual Percentage Rate)

This is the rate of interest that you will pay on any outstanding balance. 2) Special Introductory Rates

You may be offered a low or 0% rate of interest for a limited time (Up to 6 months) when you sign up for a new card. A higher rate of interest may be charged for cash withdrawals. 3) Balance Transfer Rate

Card issuers may offer you a lower rate of interest if your swap your balance from another credit card to theirs. 4) Interest Free period

Remember to check when interest payments will begin. Will you pay interest from the day of the purchase? Or will you have a number of days interest free before you begin to pay? There is usually no interest free period for cash withdrawals. 5) Cashback and Rewards

Some cards over points or rewards for every pound spent on the credit card. Make sure that these are appropriate for you. For example, there&’s no use collecting airmiles if you never   fly . 6) Minimum Repayment

Remember to check what the minimum monthly repayment will be. If you borrow £1000 on your credit card the monthly minimum repayment will probably be in the region of £25. But if you only pay this amount each month it will take a long time to pay off the balance and cost a lot in total when you include the interest payments. 7) Annual Fees

This is the fee that the issuer will charge you every year for using their credit card. Not all credit cards have an annual fee, so remember to consider this when you are choosing which one is right for you. 8) Late Payments

There will be an extra charge, as well as the interest owed, if your payment is late. This charge may even be more than the amount you owe so be very careful to check what the charge is, and to ensure that all your payments are made on time. A good way of doing this is to set up a direct debit from your current account. 9) Exceeding Your Limit

You may also be charged a fee if you exceed your credit limit. Will Your Application Be Accepted? Whether or not your application is successful will depend on your credit rating. Your credit rating depends on your credit history (a record of your use of credit) and is based on the record of your ability to repay debt. You can obtain a copy of your credit file by contacting a credit reference agency. There may be a small fee for this service. When you application has been accepted you will be given a credit limit. The credit limit will be fixed when you first apply for your card (although you can ask for it to be increased or decreased later) and the limit, including the amount you have left available to spend, will be shown on your monthly statement. Insurances and Protection. What You Can Do: 1) Take good care of your credit card to ensure that it isn’t lost or stolen. 2) To prevent misuse of your card you must report any loss or theft of your card to the issuer immediately. Many issuers allow you to register all your cards with them so that in the event of you losing a purse, handbag or wallet they can all be cancelled with just one phone call. 3) You must keep all your receipts and also check your statement carefully and report any suspicious transactions. For example payments that you have no record of making. 4) Credit card companies are now issuing cards with PIN (Personal identification numbers) which are known as Chip and PIN cards. Rather than signing your name you will be asked to enter your PIN onto a keypad. You must ensure that you keep this number secret. What The Issuer Will Do 1) The issuer should insure you against loss, misuse or theft of your card. 2) The issuer may also insure your purchases for up to 100 days. 3) Your issuer may also provide protection against you being sold unsuitable or shoddy goods. Important Points To Remember:a) Credit cards can be a very useful tool to help you to manage your finances.

b) Choose your card carefully, remembering to read and understand all the terms and conditions before you sign up.

c) Remember to set yourself a budget and decide how much you will pay off each month.

d) Check your statements carefully each month.

e) Look after your card to prevent it being lost or stolen.For a glossary of the terms mentioned in this article please visit the credit card glossary page.

Source by Phil Edwards

Cebu City, Philippines – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

A tourist visiting Cebu City for the first time may well be turned off by some of the city sites. The city has several world class resorts, hotels, beaches and dive sites. It also has some areas of the world’s most devastating poverty. Cebu City is the capital city of the Cebu Province and it is the second largest city in the Philippines following Manila. I always feel at home in the city and lived in the city before building my home in the rural Cebu Province of Camotes Islands. Cebu City is a mix of the old and new, rich and poor, good and bad and pretty and ugly. There is also the mix of clean and really dirty or filthy. The rule for anyone going to Cebu for the first time is to not make a snap judgment.

My first trip to Cebu City was in February 2004. I went to the Philippines to meet a girl (Judith) now my wife. I flew into the Cebu-Mactan Airport and was met by Judith and one of here sisters. My flight started in Florida and the last leg of the flight was from Hong Kong. The Cebu International airport is just a little outdated, but very functional. Once outside of the airport doors I saw waves of people waiting to meet people coming off of the flight from Hong Kong. The airport was not all that busy when I arrived and I think my plane was the only arriving flight at the time. As people from my flight walk outside of the airport door they were bombarded with shuttle, taxi and V-hire greeters, all trying to get a fare. I met Judith just outside the airport doors. She, her sister and I all jumped into an old Kia Taxi and we were off to my hotel.

The taxi was old and not very well maintained. The Air conditioner didn’t work and the window wouldn’t go down. Of course that didn’t matter as I couldn’t close the door because the door latch was broken. So, I got lots of air. The hotel was about a 30 minute drive from the airport. As we traveled the city streets I saw crowded sidewalks made even more crowded by the many sidewalk vendors and street vendors. Some of the roads we traveled were moderately maintained while others were in very poor condition. The roads were crowded with many types of cars, but mostly Kia’s and Hyundais. There were also a lot of Jeepneys, a Philippine traditional method of travel. A jeepney looks like a stretched army jeep with a hardtop and a large cargo area used for two benches for passenger seating. Jeepneys are normally painted with several different colors and lots of chrome. Many of the jeepneys are poorly maintained and most have bald tires and the braking systems may be questionable. Also, there were lots of small motorcycles.

After traveling just a few minutes I decided that the most dangerous vehicle in Cebu was the Jeepney, the Taxi and finally the motorcycle. The jeepney drivers tend to rule the road and stop on either side of the road to pick up or drop off passengers. I saw many jeepneys cut both lanes of traffic off just to drop off people and then saw others swerve quickly to the side of the road cutting off traffic so the driver could jump out of the jeepney to urinate along the side of the road. Taxis are no better, but pose a slightly smaller threat because the vehicles are smaller than a jeepney Motorcycles seem to be a danger only to the motorcycle driver and passengers and anyone walking along side the road or on the sidewalk. Motorcycles make their own traffic lanes on whatever little shoulder the road may have to offer or sometimes drive on the painted divider line as a narrow roadway to make an extra traffic lane for themselves. At other times I saw motorcycles throttle down sidewalks weaving around pedestrians. Yet, the pedestrians seemed little concerned of the carelessness and just continued on their way.

As we continued on our way to the hotel we drove through many different areas of the city. Some areas were very old and the buildings looked as though they were ready for demolition years ago. Many buildings and store fronts are concrete with plywood or corrugated steel sheets added to broken windows and steel bars cover the window or plywood. I can’t imagine what would be worth the cost of the steel bars as the buildings were so poor. I was sure the contents within were no better. I noticed several small store fronts with one big open widow covered with chicken wire. These little stores are about the size of a small closet and there are dozen of these little stores on every street. They are called sari-sari stores and sell just a very few items such as canned fish, rice, snacks, cigarettes and so on. Most of these little stores are attached to the front of private houses and are crudely constructed of unpainted plywood and tin roofs. Most of the Sari-sari stores block the sidewalk, forcing people to walk on the road to get around the protruding plywood box. Other Sari-sari stores have a small table or tables along the narrow sidewalks for their rum buying customers and a karaoke machine assist in blocking the sidewalks.

In many of the old areas the sidewalks are filled with vendor’s shacks, tents or some other type of hurried shelter to sell goods. The sidewalks belong to the vendors and the pedestrian is left to find his own way around the ugly obstructions. These small vendor shacks on the sidewalks block the store buildings behind and I still wonder why the store owners allow the vendors to block their stores. The old neighborhood streets and sidewalks in most areas are filthy. Trash is all over the streets, chickens are tied to utility poles or street signs as well as dogs. Many of the old homes along the city’s commercial streets may or may not have running water and a sewer system. Many people use the streets and sidewalks as their bathroom and even bath on the sidewalks. The infrastructure of the old neighborhoods is almost non-existent. There is poor drainage, poor sewer systems, and electric lines hang low to the ground with hundreds of wires attached carelessly to a single wimpy pole. I often wonder how trucks make it under these wires without hitting the wire. In many cases the bigger trucks do indeed hit the wires and knock out power to large section of the city.

The one thing that stood out for me as we past by all these areas in the taxi was the people all seemed happy. Despite, what I saw as great poverty and terrible living conditions, these people, or least many people were happy. Although, most of the people I saw were rushing down the sidewalks going about their daily routine. I thought these people are doing the same thing as other people do in any major city around the world. Yet, my first visit in Cebu City opened my eyes to the fact that at the very least, the city was poverty stricken or had a large population that lived in poverty.

After about 30 minutes riding in the taxi we came into a much nicer area of the city and there like an oasis in the middle of all the poverty was this beautiful Hotel and a large modern shopping mall next to it, as well as several large modern well maintain high rise buildings. The scene was a stark difference to the old areas of the city. This area could be found in any modern US city and looked very much like a commercial area of a US city. The area is called the Ayala Business Park and the Ayala Mall. This is modern Cebu City and it is everything you would find in any modern city.

Once at the Hotel, the Marriott, I checked into a very nice room and we all went to the dinning room for a pleasant lunch. Soon after that it was just Judith and I as her sister went home. Judith then took me across the park to the Ayala Mall, just a five minute walk and once inside the mall I was amazed. The stores were the same as in the US, Ace Hardware, Levi, MacDonald’s and so on. Plus, several Philippine Department stores and many different types of restaurants and coffee shops. All the store clerks and sale people spoke English and most all the Filipinos walking through the stores were speaking English. Others used a mix of English and their native Cebuano. All the store signs are written in English and the restaurant menus are written in English. In many ways I felt as if I just traveled 20 plus hours from Florida to be in a US city.

Although there were many other foreigners in the mall many Filipinos walking by asked where I was from and in general everyone was very friendly to me. While at the mall I bought a few souvenir type things to take home and Judith and I just did a lot of window shopping. I was happy to see the prices of most things in the stores were very cheap compared to the US. At that time one US dollar bought 56.00 pesos. Today it’s one dollar to about 44.00 Pesos. Still a good deal, but today I’m careful in my spending. By the middle of the afternoon I was ready for some sleep after my long flight to Cebu. Judith went home and I retired to my hotel room.

The next morning Judith was at the hotel bright and early and we had breakfast at the hotel and then off to see the city and some of the beach resorts. Cebu has wonderful and beautiful resorts and all very affordable. The resorts are all well maintained and modern. The biggest population of customers at the resorts are foreigners and the staff Filipino. I quickly change my opinion of the city from a poverty stricken third world to a modern commercial and tourist city with a few old areas that needed a lot of help.

During my trip to Cebu we went into the old area of Colon. Colon is the oldest street in the country and has several landmarks. However, Colon is a dirty area of very old and poorly maintained buildings. Prostitution is a major problem in the Colon area as is street crime. There are some wonderful markets and great bargains to be found in Colon, but not an area for the new tourist to wander alone. Hotels can be had for a really cheap price in Colon. Some just $20.00 a night, but these hotels cater to those picking up street girls and both the girls and the rooms are really dirty. Last year Judith and I stayed at two different Colon Hotels. We went into the city for our monthly shopping trip from Camotes Islands. We decided to try the hotels as they are cheap and close to many of the outside markets. I would never stay at either of these hotels again. The best words to describe them is old, filthy, rat infested and full of prostitutes. Both of these hotels seem to cater to single foreign men and any girls the men may find at the Colon bars or on the streets. The area has several little Bikini type bars with Bar Girls (Prostitutes) also called GRO’s. Unless you are looking for a prostitute there is little reason to go to Colon after dark and even then one needs to be very careful. This is not intended to say that all of Colon is bad. There are some nice stores and restaurants in Colon. I enjoy shopping in the Colon area, but one needs to use caution in Colon.

During my first visit I saw most all the areas of Cebu City and felt safe at all times. Of course we didn’t go into the old parts of the city after dark. Rather we were at the resorts or around Ayala Park and these are all very safe and enjoyable areas.I would recommend Cebu City to anyone that wants to go to a great resort and spend time on a beautiful beach, go diving, take a boat tour of the outer islands and not spend a lot of money. There is just so much to do in Cebu City and so many great things to see. Staying at any of the resorts is very affordable just about $60.00 per night and some as high as $250.00. Dinner at restaurants is also very cheap. Meals at nice restaurants can cost just $10.00 to $20.00 for two people, I had a wonderful time during my first visit. However, I had Judith as my tour guide and as my girlfriend. I’m not sure I would have liked Cebu City as much as I did if Judith wasn’t with me during the first trip.

Soon after my first visit to Cebu City I moved from Florida to Cebu City in 2004. By this time Judith and I were engaged to marry and I wanted to live in Camotes Islands. However, we decided to live in the city while looking for land to build a house in Camotes. Camotes Islands are a rural province of Cebu and just two hours from the city by boat. We rented a brand new two bedroom house in the Lahug area of Cebu City. The monthly rent was just $125.00 plus our TV cable for about $15.00 a month. The house was located on a hillside overlooking the city and close to everything we needed. Lahug is a very nice area and now there are many new housing sub-divisions built in the area. Our monthly budget while living in Lahug was approximately $700.00 and that included the rent, utilities, food, taxi cabs and even lots of dinners at restaurants and entertainment. I assume if we still lived in Lahug the budget would be just a few more dollars a month.

Within just a couple of weeks after moving into the Lahug house I felt as if Cebu was my city and I really enjoyed the city life. The city has many things to offer the foreigner and the city is always trying to attract more foreign retirees. It truly is a foreign (expat) friendly city. The largest group of foreigners in Cebu is Korean then Americans, Australians, British and Japanese. There are no racial tensions or problems in the city that I am aware of and the city is very safe. However, like any major world city there is crime, but using common safeguards and precautions one can have a happy life in Cebu City. Driving in the city is something I have never attempted and I don’t think I ever will drive in the city. The taxi cabs can get you almost anywhere in the city for $1.00 to $2.00 and that’s fine for me.

Shopping in the city is great and there are products from all over the world in Filipino stores. Many food stores stock western brands so you will never get homesick for your favorite foods from home. The outside markets, located all over the city offer great bargains and it’s always fun to negotiate prices with the vendors. Cable TV is available in the city and it offers many American shows and news programs. You can go to the movie cinemas and see a new release movie for about $1.00 and the popcorn is just a few pennies. The city has grown since I moved to the Philippines. There are many new gated housing Sub-Divisions that cater to foreign buyers, new high rise condo buildings and the resorts all continue to attract foreigners. The two major malls in the city, Ayala and SM are both expanding. Many of the roads have been upgraded as well as the infrastructure in many areas. The city is a major draw for tourism and is always attempting to bring in more tourist and more foreign retirees.

Any expat on a monthly pension of about $1,000.00 can live like a king in Cebu City. You can live on less than $1,000.00 but I think $1,000.00 is the right figure if you include saving a little each month for emergencies, trips back home and medical needs. The city has very good hospitals and medical cost are much less in the Philippines. Good dental care at very reasonable rates is also available in the Philippines. Many people go to Cebu for medical or dental vacations. Just remember, if you think you want to move to Cebu City do your homework. Do you want to live in a new country? do you want to be separated from your family and grandchildren?, if you are married how does your wife feel about living in Cebu? If you have young children do you want them to live in a new country and what about their education? Do you have the patience and understanding to learn and live in a new culture? Do you have the money to live a good life in Cebu without the need to find work? Do you have enough money to cover any type of emergency that may require five to ten thousand dollars? Finally, what is your reason for wanting to live in a new country? If you can be honest with yourself and have a positive answer for the above questions, then maybe Cebu City is for you?

Remember too, The Philippine economy is struggling. Filipinos with four and six year college degrees are driving taxi cabs or working as store clerks. Unemployment in the country is through the roof. Poverty is a major issue in the country. For all the beauty of the Philippines Poverty continues to destroy many Filipinos and their futures and creates an ugly face to an otherwise beautiful country. Just this week on November 8, 2007 an 11 year old girl in Manila living with her mother, father and little brother in a shanty town hung herself. The reason left in a note from the little girl was because of the poverty she and her family lived. The father not able to find work for months and the mother working for just $1.00 a day. The little girl had just the night before asked her father for P200.00 for a school project. The father did not have the money, just under $4.00. All the girl wanted was to finish school and buy a new bike. A simple dream complicated by severe poverty in a country struggling to overcome political corruption and theft. Please remember, what you may spend in just one day in the Philippines is what a Filipino may have to live on for a month. Poverty does indeed take lives.

I truly love my lifestyle in the Philippines, but it took some time, patience, understanding and a few sacrifices to live in the Philippines. I made several mistakes before coming here and a few since living here. I didn’t have enough money when I came here in 2004. I’ve made a few trips back to Florida to do some contract work and then returned to my beloved Camotes Islands. I’m currently away from home on a teaching contract. However, for me, it’s worth the price to have just a few months a year in my paradise called Camotes Islands, Cebu, Philippines. I think anyone looking for a great vacation will enjoy Cebu City. Those looking to retire on a modest pension can live well here, but just be sure living in a new country is right for you. Before making a decision to move here it’s wise to come on a vacation first and see the city for yourself. Then you can decide if this is the life you want. Once again, for me this is paradise.

Source by Patrick Mcgrain

Photo Opportunity: A Photographer and a Woman

In the interval after the dancers sat back in their chairs and before the Master of Ceremonies regained possession of the microphone, a woman in manageable high heels walked briskly across the hall, with a photographer following not far behind.

The woman stopped in front of a propped-up music speaker, turned to her side, and swiveled her head forward to look at the photographer, who in turn had taken a professional position.

Everybody watched as time ticked by. Three minutes later the photographer was yet to take a picture. The woman shuffled her high heels back and forth, patted her scarf at the back, rebalanced the wad of wrapper hung around her right shoulder and returned a bland look at the general audience.

Soon thereafter the woman began to explore reasons for the delay. If the photographer weren’t too tall, and too huge, and old, he would have taken a few pictures by now.

Getting ready for a photograph and not immediately proceeding was what annoyed her about taking pictures at a public event. Younger people can tolerate such an ordeal, but not her, not when in nine months she would become a grandmother.

In a sudden disdain for the photographer, the woman’s gaze swung down, exposing the whites of her eyes. Displeasure conveyed through two scorching eyes is more direct and more stinging than that conveyed through mere spoken words, no matter how acidic.

The offending camera, a Sony, was skewed to the left where it had hooked with the flashlight appendage. The photographer pulled the flashlight out and scowled at it close up, the way African fathers glare at naughty boys, before reattaching it to the side of the camera.

He reassured himself that everything was fine. Just because he hadn’t taken a picture yet didn’t mean he was inactive. Credit, he knew, only goes to those who show results, never to those who show activity. However, he had expected better treatment from the woman, who – had he married early – was young enough to be his daughter.

Another idea flew into the woman’s head. If the old man, like many men at this age, was short-sighted and unable to read her eyes, she might at some point scream at him.

But screaming, she decided, would not only mess up her perfect picture body but might further irritate the old man. An action once taken can produce a myriad of unpredictable reactions. The photographer might feel threatened and resort to taking her picture when she was looking at her worst. Preserving her beauty by staying still trumped any delay caused by his inefficiency.

Over his camera, the photographer gazed at the woman. She was a statue of bright color in a garden full of colors. Her pink scarf tied around her head still held up high. The sheet of folded blue wrapper hung over her right shoulder draped down to her hip. But her perfect picture face had begun to melt a little at the edges.

Then he moved his finger over the snap button, and the woman knew something was about to happen. ‘At last,’ she sighed. The man had begun to get control of the situation. The flashlight appendage was behaving, and the camera apparatus felt sturdier in his grip.

She made an effort to match her initial pose, readjusting the wad of clothing to drape evenly over her shoulder.

She dreamed of a picture of a lifetime. Not every day does one achieve such a picture perfect pose, when the mind and the body are in perfect sensual harmony, and the rebirth of youthfulness obliterates all facial wrinkles, festoons, and eye bags.

If the photographer could maintain focus, the woman contemplated, he could snap away. Maybe even surprise her with more pictures than she thought he could take in such a short time before the Master of Ceremonies asked errant guests to leave the floor for the daughter and mother celebrants.

To get any pictures taken, the photographer knew he had to act very quickly. He had his fingers over the snap button, but they were trembling like the legs of a teenager who was drunk for the first time. Neither the index nor the middle finger could settle down on the camera button for him.

As the intensity of the woman’s gaze came down once more on him, his fingers trembled again. Soon after, the body of the camera joined the shake.

The picture-taking opportunity inside the hall was closing; the Master of Ceremonies had begun to pace around the middle of the arena, a microphone in his right hand and an event item list in his left. The entry of the daughter and mother celebrants was next in line. ‘Can every guest please return—–?’

Then the woman began to walk towards the exit door and into the lobby, in her manageable high heels, followed shortly by the photographer.

Source by Anselm Anyoha

Management Skills Vs Leadership Skills

Leadership style sets the tone of a recreational agency. Some lead by example, others lead with an iron fist. Let’s examine the two leadership styles to determine what is best for your leadership role.

Transformational leadership creates a learning environment for staff members. It fosters trust, and inspires employees to work toward a collective vision through intrinsic process motivation. Transformational leaders are effective communicators, share information, and have a strong vision. The style heightens employee aspirations and focus employees on the goal. The leader serves more as a coach than a supervisor. Less absenteeism occurs, as people want to be at work, because they feel valued.

Transformational leadership has four key components:

Idealized influence – serves as a role model, encouraging staff to do as he/she does;

Inspirational motivation – motivates the staff through shared vision and enthusiasm;

Individualized consideration – expresses a genuine concern for employee’s well being and is attentive to personal needs;

Intellectual stimulation – challenges followers to be innovative and pioneering, always questioning the status quo.

There is a misconception that transformational leaders are weak, yet these managers are constantly challenging employees to achieve more and push the envelope creatively.

On the other end of the spectrum, transactional leadership focuses on a punishment and reward system. The chain of command within the organization is clear. Obeying the instructions of the leader is primary goal, and subordinates need to be carefully monitored.

This form of leadership is common is business, notably for hourly employees who are replaceable and have little personal investment in their work. Leaders use punishment and reward systems and attempt to correct undesirable performance while it is happening. Unsatisfied employees do not come to work, as they feel undervalued and replaceable.

Transactional managers serve an administrative role by utilizing a short-term perspective, accepting the status-quo, and copying processes year after year. The manager does not inspire a vision, does not effectively communicate goals, nor foster collaboration. Typically, they remain in middle management roles and cannot ascend to senior executive, as they fail to see the big picture.

Case Study:

A director of a youth dance studio hires instructors as independent contractors to teach dance basics and create routines for a holiday recital. The leader has set many rules for the teaching staff, mostly as a result of incidents that have occurred in past years.

For instance, instructors must submit their substitute requests in August for the September to December class session. Last minute teacher substitutes are not permitted, except with a doctor’s note, and are cause for immediate dismissal of the teacher. All instructors must contribute time, outside of class hours, to prepare for the holiday dance recital. Typically this means additional practices, answering parent questions, sending e-mail blasts, and day-of-show duties. This time is unpaid; however, if an instructor wishes to maintain a job, one must donate the extra time.

The program director has a clear vision of how the end product of the recital should look. The director chooses music, costumes, run order, and writes the final script. Although the recital is a creative endeavor, the instructors’ creative role is through choreography only. Because the instructors are not invited to participate in the creative process, the environment is not developmental, and staff feels replaceable. For this reason, there is a high turn-over rate, which is what has lead to the large number of rules and restrictions in the contract. Talented instructors do not want to stay for the long term, as the instructors feel undervalued and unappreciated. The recreational agency has a transactional leader at the helm.

A progressive approach that melds both transformational and transactional leadership styles would reach a more positive outcome in the recreational forum. For instance, although the director may have an idea of the recital’s format, a brainstorming meeting should take place in the summer to involve staff in the creative process. Ideas and suggestions need to be voiced, discussed, and vetted. Even if not all the ideas are put into action, instructors need to feel valued and included in the process. Along the way, the director should keep instructors informed of why choices were made to proceed in a particular direction. The communicated will take more effort on the part of the leader, but it will ultimately lead to more participation and a learning organization. Many recreational directors are worn out from lack of resources and an increasing demand from customers and budget requirements, and do not have the energy to be a transformational leader. However, for the purposes of fostering a positive, learning environment, the inspiration and stimulation must come from the leader as a role model.

Some leaders may be frustrated by the give-and-take process of brainstorming and creativity, as one believes they have all the answers. However, a leader cannot see oneself as the authority on a subject. Instead, one should be a coach in the process, guiding the team toward their own decisions and outcomes. When ownership of the end product, such as the dance recital, rests with the team, not solely the leader, a learning organization is achieved.

With regard to hourly staff, the manager can combine the two leadership styles, as hourly staff needs a more concrete structure to follow for break/lunch times, list of duties, and extrinsic rewards. The manager can still lead by positive example with hourly staff, and provide team building sessions when appropriate. The hourly staff should feel part of the overall team, even if staff is not all part of the creative process. Effective leaders make all staff members feel valued.

Source by Heather Rappaport