Recreational Vehicle Satellite Television

The recreational vehicle is a relatively new innovation introduced in the world that is utilized by people all over the world. This vehicle is a kind of moving house. You can set up a bed, refrigerator and also a television inside it for your recreation. When you travel in the this vehicle; you do not need do worry about hotels and restaurants at all as you can stop anywhere and eat your lunch or dinner inside it comfortably.

When the RV was introduced, people were not able to watch live television in it. The reason behind that was lack of signals and other satellite problems as well. However that problem was soon resolved and now people can easily watch live television while travelling on the road.

Motosat was a company formed by person named Bob who actually started selling the satellite television innovation to the RV holders. This product was welcomed by the people all over the world and sooner rather than later, several other organizations started to produce recreational vehicle dishes. Dishes that are present in the market permit the user to watch high definition television inside the recreational vehicle. One can easily watch different channels, films above all high quality transmission.

Motosat and several other producers now provide satellite internet as well that can be utilized by the recreational vehicle holders. When you have different kind of benefits in your recreational vehicle such as the likes of internet and television then you do not have to worry about returning to your home soon.

These systems are not at all hard to set up and function. So if you have not purchased these systems for your recreational vehicle then buy now. Once you have installed the satellite television system in your vehicle; you will be completely pleased and satisfied.

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Two Uncommon But Most Healthy Foods For Pregnancy

Just having the knowledge about the different types of essential nutrients needed for healthy pregnancy is not enough; you will have to learn about the food sources also that provide those nutrients. For example, you probably already know that you and the baby that is growing inside you need iron, fiber and folic acid to maintain good health, but do you know that you can easily get all these nutrients in appropriate quantity just by eating chives? Likewise, if you are trying to increase your calcium intake, you can consider adding figs to your diet. Following is a brief rundown on three not-very-common but quite delicious foods that can meet your nutrition needs quite efficiently.

Chives

Chives contain almost all those essential nutrients that you and your baby need, such as magnesium, calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, fiber, iron and folic acid (folate). Magnesium is a very important nutrient for both you and your baby because magnesium takes active part in over three hundred cellular reactions that take place inside your pregnant body. Besides that, magnesium is also helpful in alleviating many common pregnancy symptoms and discomforts, such as constipation. Just sprinkle of chives in your diet can fulfill your magnesium needs.

Besides that, every 2 tablespoons of chives contain around 0.1 milligrams of iron, 3.5 milligrams of vitamin C and 6.4 micrograms of folic acid. A pregnant body needs proper amount of iron for healthy growth of baby, but your body needs adequate amount of vitamin C as well for proper absorption of iron. You can easily meet both the requirements by eating chives. Folic acid, on the other hand, is probably the most important nutrient for a pregnant woman, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy. It is very important for you to keep in mind that lack of folic acid in your body may result in structural defects in your baby, which can be fatal. Therefore, proper intake of folic acid is very important, which you can easily get through the daily intake of 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives.

Tips To Make Delicious Healthy Pregnancy Diets Using Chives

Serving size – 2 tablespoons, chopped chives

– Get softened cream cheese and mix chopped chives into it and then spread it on a slice of bread, tortilla chip, cracker or bagel.

– Sprinkle chives on your baked potato

– Sprinkle some on your soup or salad

Leeks

Pregnant women are usually prescribed super multivitamin-mineral tablets, but do you know that leeks can be the vegetable equivalent of all those tablets? One cup of raw leeks contains 0.4 micrograms of manganese, 2 micrograms of iron, 40 micrograms of vitamin K, 0.2 milligrams of vitamin B6 and 60 micrograms of folate (folic acid). Besides that, leeks are also a rich source of calcium; one cup of raw leeks contains 55 milligrams of calcium.

Where manganese plays a crucial role in the baby’s normal skeletal development, Vitamin K is essential for healthy bone growth and proper blood-clot formation. Likewise, vitamin B6 does not only reduce the tendency of nausea and morning sickness, but it also plays an important role in your body to metabolize energy from the proteins, fats and carbohydrates in your diet. In fact, the mild, sweet flavor of leeks makes it a great food to combat morning sickness. Calcium, on the other hand, can be very helpful in combating other common pregnancy symptoms, such as leg pains, back pain, insomnia and irritability. Considering the very fact that you can get all these nutrients just by eating one serving of leeks, it should not be an exaggeration to say that it is a wonderful power food that you must consider including in your diet regimen.

Tips To Make Delicious Healthy Pregnancy Diets Using Leeks

Serving size – I cup of raw leeks

– You can prepare leeks by cutting off the base and the fibrous green tops and then slicing the stems in half. You can then cut it into small pieces. However, in order to make sure that all hidden grits are removed, you are also strongly recommended to rinse it thoroughly before you cut it into small pieces.

– You can try adding mushrooms and sliced leeks with minced fresh ginger in plain broth. This is a delicious diet, which you can eat without any fear even when your stomach is sensitive.

Chives, tahini and leeks are no doubt healthy pregnancy foods and have all the capabilities to make the nine-month journey more delicious for you. But, you are strongly recommended to get your doctor’s advice before you include these power foods in your diet program. You must always keep in mind that every case of pregnancy is different and their doctor is the best person to tell them what can work and what cannot work for them. So, rate your doctor’s advice above everything while you are journeying through the three trimesters of pregnancy.

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Choosing The Right Architect For Your Commercial Real Estate Development

A good real estate development starts with the right architect. An architect is concerned not only with the concept but also the planning as well as designing of a building or any real estate development. A degree in architecture equips one with the knowledge of the building and operational codes that are to be adhered for every architectural design.

An architect is trained such that he/she transforms a user’s needs and demands into design and eventually into physical form. This implies that he/she should have complete training that will aid in the building of safe and healthy construction for people and the communities. Architects have to obtain licenses to practice architecture as their building designs and planning decisions play a vital role in the safety and security of the public.

Architects specialize in different fields among architecture i.e., land, land development, buildings, office parks, residential, landscape and the like. This specialization is a result of the increasingly fragmented, demanding and concentrated world. Thus, it is difficult for a single architect to be aware of the know-how of each of these fields and to accommodate the distinct demands of different clients.

An architect plays a very significant role in a project from its conception to its construction. The final physical form of a building or any real estate development is designed by an architect who obviously considers the desires and needs of the client. As such, it is important to choose an architect who is well qualified as well as experienced in the specialized field of your choice. An architect who has been in business for at least 5-10 years must have developed a strong foundation of relevant concepts. He/she must possess the skills, knowledge and experience needed for a decent and fascinating project. This indicates that it is essential to review an architect’s qualifications prior to selection; his/her degree, experience and license – all should be checked before one hands over the project. An important point to note is that he/she should be experienced for five plus years in the particular field of the development project and not just as a general architect.

Having said the significance of educational qualifications, it is time to review an architect’s affiliations and accreditations. An achieved architect should also be affiliated with a reliable institution, for instance, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Royal Institute of British Architects and the like. Affiliation with such institutes demonstrates an architect’s credibility and popularity in the industry. An architect who is affiliated and accredited by similar professional architectural organizations has certainly passed their comprehensive requirements. This is a strong recognition and a proof of their achievement. However, mere affiliation is not the only consideration before choosing an architect. Other relevant factors and elements should also be considered so that the ultimate decision is made bearing all concerns in mind.

Geographical area of specialty is also an important element. Some architects are specialized and well-aware of certain area(s), and as such their scope is quite limited to those areas. Although he/she may excel in architecture and the particular area(s), this does not ensure that he/she will be able to deliver equivalent results in the area of the project’s requirement. Thus, this aspect should also be kept in mind.

Certain other conditions are also relevant as they ascertain whether a project will be successful and simultaneously whether the relationship between the client and the architect is sound and pleasant. A good architect should possess good communication skills and should be responsive of the client’s questions and/or queries. This is a very important factor, which ensures the completion of the project on time and on good terms. For your relationship with the architect to be successful, the architect you ultimately select should, by all means, follow up on calls and emails and should keep his/her word on different aspects related to the project.

An architect’s connections are a reflection of his/her success and achievement as well as political and negotiation skills. One who is well connected and has contacts like city planners and those in political processes is most certainly preferred as opposed to his/her counterparts with relatively few connections and contacts. Yet another factor is an architect’s membership of local clubs as the Kiwanis, Toastmasters, Knights of Columbus, Rotary etc. An associated member is most certainly a better candidate.

Each one of the above mentioned factors are important considerations for an investor or a customer prior to choosing a suitable architect. At first, it might seem difficult to find architects with all qualifications but there are ways. You can talk to developers, other popular architects, city planning and building departments, local economic developments, chambers of commerce etc and ask for references. Similar references cal also be obtained from experienced customers, sellers and buyers. The advent and popularity of the Internet has opened previously unknown avenues for obtaining information. The Internet can be a source of information, details and contact about reputable, qualified and experienced architects. The websites of architectural professional organizations may also list prominent architects in different regions.

A good architect is the key to any real estate development. Once a solid relationship and understanding has been established with the right architects(s), the entire process of idea generation, conceptualization through to final construction becomes simpler and satisfying. A good architect is aware of all reasonable specifications and is filled with ideas that form successful real estate development strategies. Thus, it is absolutely imperative to choose the right architect – one who is aware, experienced and reputable.

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Craftsmanship: the Meaning of Life

“Manage more, supervise less.”

– Bryce’s Law

When I got into the work force back in the mid-1970’s it seemed

everyone dressed in a suit and tie, drank black coffee, smoked

their brains out, and worked their butts off. Today, golf shirts

have replaced suits, herbal tea and bottled water have replaced

coffee, nobody is allowed to smoke, and rarely does anyone work

beyond 5:00pm. More importantly, we used to care about the work we

produced; there was a sense of craftsmanship, regardless of the job.

My Brother-in-law in Cincinnati conducted me on a tour of his company’s

machine-tool shop years ago and showed me how he could take a block of

aluminum and convert it into a high-precision machine tool. It was a

pleasure to watch him work, as it is to watch anyone who knows

what they are doing, be it a waitress, a programmer, a laborer or

a clerk.

Quality and service used to be considered paramount in this

country. If it wasn’t just right, you were expected to do it over

again until you got it right. We cared about what we produced

because it was a reflection of our personal character and

integrity. But somewhere along the line we lost our way and

craftsmanship has fallen by the wayside. Why? Probably because

we no longer care.

In today’s litigious society, employees are acutely aware that it is

difficult to be fired due to poor performance. They know they will

still get paid and receive benefits, regardless of the amount of effort

they put forth. Consequently, there is little to encourage people

to perform better. Money isn’t a motivating factor anymore. People

now expect bonuses, raises and other perks to be paid out regardless

of how well they perform during the year.

We’ve also become a nation content with doing small things. America

used to be known as a powerhouse that could tackle large projects,

such as building skyscrapers, designing innovative bridges and tunnels

spanning substantial bodies of water, engineering transcontinental

railroads and highway systems, conquering air and space travel, and

defending freedom not just once but in two world wars. If you really

wanted something done, you talked to the Americans and no one else. Now

we get excited over iPods, cell phones, and other electronic trinkets.

Many believe Craftsmanship is in decline due to the general apathy found

in today’s society. Maybe. I tend to believe it is due to an erosion

of our moral values. Let me give you an example. Having a child in college,

my interest was piqued recently by an article describing the pervasiveness of

cheating and plagiarism in our schools. It is not my intent to make a

political statement here but many of the students mentioned in the article

rationalized their cheating on the fact that one of our past Presidents

cheated and lied under oath, and got away with it. They figured if it is

okay for the Commander-in-Chief to act this way, it was an acceptable form

of behavior.

Arnold Toynbee, the famed English historian, observed, “Civilizations

die from suicide, not by murder.”
If the moral fabric of our society

dies, our story is told as evidenced by other great civilizations that

long preceded us. Our perspective needs to be realigned: Our personal

and professional lives must be viewed as one. As Toynbee remarked,

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” By

doing so, we identify more closely with our work and assume a greater

pride in workmanship. We do not need to hear this from our boss, but

rather from within. As strange as it may sound, I see Craftsmanship as

being patriotic in nature; doing a good quality job is part of leading

a good and honorable life and builds on the individual’s esteem, the

company he works for, and the country he lives in.

The biggest problem though is that we have forgotten how to manage

people. The manager’s primary goal is to create the proper work

environment for employees to produce the desired work products. This

is different than a supervisory capacity that directs how each person

performs the various tasks of a job. In fact, I encourage managers to

manage more and supervise less. I cringe when I see a manager try to

“micromanage” either a Fortune 500 company or a non-profit organization.

Yes, people need to be trained in order to properly

perform their work but following this, employees should be mature

enough to supervise themselves. In the old days, management stressed

discipline, accountability, and structure; three ugly words in today’s

workplace.

Understanding Craftsmanship

Some might say craftsmanship is a simple concept that we should

intuitively know. Not true; most people today have no comprehension as

to what makes up a good craftsman; they have either forgotten or it has

simply passed them by. Craftsmanship can be found in any field of endeavor

imaginable, be it in the product sector or service industry. Craftsmanship,

therefore, is universally applicable to any line of work.

Craftsmanship is not “workmanship”, nor is it synonymous with quality,

although the three concepts are closely related. Let’s begin by

giving “Craftsmanship” a definition: “The production and delivery

of quality goods or services from highly skilled workmen.”

Quality relates to the absence of errors or defects in the finished

product or service. In other words, finished goods operate

according to their specifications (customers get precisely what

they ordered). Such products are normally durable and require minimal

maintenance. Craftsmanship produces quality products. In the absence

of craftsmen, a rigorous methodology or assembly line process is

required to produce quality goods using workers without the expertise

of craftsmen. Such processes detail “Who” is to perform “What” work,

“When”, “Where”, “Why” and “How” (5W+H), thereby assuring a quality

product or service is produced. Such is the underlying rationale of

the ISO 9000 certification as used by many companies today. The point

is, quality is not the exclusive domain of the craftsman.

Craftsmanship is also a human trait. Some might argue a computer or

industrial robot can produce quality products and are, therefore,

craftsmen. However, we must remember these devices are programmed by

human beings in accordance with the rules of the craftsman. As such,

they are an extension or tool of the craftsman.

Craftsmanship can be found in either the overall work process or

a section of it. For example, there are craftsmen who are intimate

with all facets of building furniture, such as a table, a chair or

desk, and can implement the product from start to finish. However,

as products grow in complexity, it becomes difficult to find people

suitably qualified to build them from the womb to the tomb. Consider

military weapons alone, such as the complicated ships, tanks, and

airplanes we now use, with thousands or millions of parts to

assemble. Such complexity makes it impossible for a single person

to have the expertise to build the whole product. The same is true

in the service sector where different types of expertise and

capabilities may be required. In other words, craftsmen have a

specific scope of work. The scope of work may relate to other

types of craftsmen through a chain of work dependencies, e.g.,

Craftsmen A, B and C concentrate on separate sub-assemblies which

are eventually joined into a single product.

Attributes

So, what are the attributes of a craftsman? What makes a craftsman a

craftsman? There are three basic attributes described herein:

1. Possesses the necessary knowledge and skills to perform the work.

The craftsman is an expert in his field of endeavor; so much so that

he could easily serve as an instructor in the subject matter. But the

craftsman is also smart enough to know that education is not a one

time thing, that his world and field evolve as new tools and techniques

are introduced. As such, the craftsman is a student of his profession

and is constantly looking to improve himself. This is exercised through

such things as continued education, routine certification, studying books

and trade publications, and industrial groups. The craftsman willingly

participates in trade groups, often at his own expense, in order to network

with his peers.

It is Important to note that the craftsman does not need to be told

he needs periodic training to sharpen his skills. Instead, he takes the

personal initiative to stay on top of his game. Further, the craftsman

has no problem with a periodic job review; in fact, he welcomes it for

it might bring out a weakness in a skill he needs to sharpen.

2. Attention to detail.

The craftsman understands and respects the process of building/delivering

a product or service and is acutely aware of the penalties for cutting

corners. Earlier we discussed the need for a methodology that specifies

5W+H. The craftsman is intimate with all details of his scope of work,

so much so, he could probably write the methodology himself. Further,

his intimacy of the work process means he can produce a reliable estimate

of time and costs to perform the work.

Although many of the craftsman’s tasks may be repetitive, it doesn’t

mean he easily falls into a rut. Instead, he is constantly looking

for new tools and techniques to improve the work process. As such,

he plays the role of Industrial Engineer who is normally charged

with such a task.

The craftsman’s attention to detail also means that he demonstrates

patience in his work effort. Again, wary of cutting corners, the

craftsman must possess such patience in order to produce the product

the right way.

3. Views professional life as an extension of his personal life.

The craftsman identifies with the end product which is where

pride in workmanship comes from. In his mind, the craftsman has

been charged with the responsibility of producing something, and

wanting to satisfy the customer, puts forth his best effort to

produce it. In other words, craftsmen take their work

personally. This is a difficult trait to teach particularly in

today’s society where the focus is more on financial compensation

than on the work product itself. It may sound naive, but the

craftsman believes he will be suitably compensated for

producing superior results.

Years ago, Dick Butkus of the Chicago Bears (NFL) confounded sports

writers who could never understand why Butkus played as hard as he

did year after year for a losing football team. True, Dick loved the

game, but beyond that, the sports writers didn’t understand one thing

about the seven time All-Pro linebacker: Butkus took his job

personally. It was important to him that his opponents know that

they had been tackled by the best player; as he said, “When they

get up from the ground I want them to say ‘it must have been Butkus

that got me’.”
Dick Butkus was a craftsman.

The craftsman has a burning desire to produce a superior product/service

because he sees it as a reflection of himself. As such, the lines delineating

their personal life and professional life are blurred. This is a significant

characteristic that clearly separates a craftsman from the average worker. The

craftsman’s work is his life. He does not shirk responsibility, but rather

embraces it with confidence and embosses his name on the finished product.

Conversely, making a work related mistake of any kind pains a true craftsman.

Job titles are normally inconsequential to the craftsman who is more

interested in delivering a quality product/service enjoyed by the

customer. Instead, the craftsman takes pleasure in being touted as

the best in his craft. He appreciates recognition; when someone

makes a compliment about a product, the craftsman views it as a

personal compliment. This too runs contrary to today’s corporate

world where people desperately seek recognition through simple

job titles. Want someone with an inflated ego? Give them a title.

Want something done right? Call a craftsman.

Productivity

“Dependable”, “professional”, and “resourceful” are adjectives that

aptly describe the craftsman. He is not one who fabricates excuses but,

rather, always finds a way to get the job done. The craftsman is typically

your most productive employee. He is mindful of the concept of productivity

that we have touted for years:

Productivity = Effectiveness X Efficiency

Most people fallaciously equate productivity with efficiency, which simply

gauges how fast we can perform a given task. Effectiveness, on the other hand,

validates the necessity of the task itself. There is nothing more unproductive

than to do something efficiently that should not have been done at all. An

industrial robot, for example, can efficiently perform such tasks as welding. But

if you are welding the wrong thing, then it is counterproductive. Going back to

our description of a methodology, effectiveness defines “Who/What/When/Where/Why”,

efficiency defines “How.” The craftsman is well aware of the difference

between the two and knows how to apply both. As such, the craftsman is in tune

with his work environment and corporate culture.

So how do we make craftsmen?

Not easily. Because of the human dynamics involved with the craftsman,

you will need to be a pretty intuitive manager or industrial

psychologist to make it happen. Selecting suitable candidates is the

logical first step. Devise an aptitude test to determine the candidate’s

suitability to become a craftsman. After all, “you cannot make a silk

purse from a sow’s ear.” Aside from specific knowledge and experience

in a given field (e.g., programming, woodworking, construction, accounting,

etc.), here are some other important traits to look for:

  • Fertility of mind – judge his ability to learn, to adapt to changing
    conditions, and to look beyond his scope of work. Evaluate his
    professional curiosity.

  • Confidence – judge how well the candidate knows himself,
    particularly how well he knows his own limitations. He
    should admit his deficiencies and not fabricate excuses.

  • Dedication – judge his loyalty and determination to
    accomplish something. What is his attendance record?
    What outside clubs and organizations does he belong
    to and how active is he in them?

  • Entrepreneurial spirit – judge his personal initiative.
    Is he driven to succeed (but not to the point of reckless
    abandon)? Does he have a problem with accountability?
    This says a lot about assuming responsibility.

  • Attention to detail – judge his ability to focus on a subject.
    Does he have a problem with discipline or organization? A person’s
    dress, mannerisms, and speech says a lot about a person.

  • Reliability – judge his ability to assume responsibility and
    carry a task through to completion.

  • Resourcefulness – judge his ability to adapt to changing
    conditions and persevere to see a task through to completion.
    The candidate cannot be inflexible; he must be able to find
    solutions to solve problems.

  • Socialization skills – does he work better alone or as a team
    player? His position may depend on his answer.

When you have selected suitable candidates, here are three areas to

concentrate on:

  1. Develop their skills and knowledge by allowing such things as:
    participation in trade groups, outside certification and on-going
    training, subscriptions to trade journals, continued education,
    etc. Some companies even go as far as to develop an in-house
    school to teach the company’s way of doing things. If the in-house
    school is good, it will promote confidence through consistency. Even
    if people leave the company, they will recommend your company because
    they know the quality of the work produced. Supporting the education
    needs of our workers is not only smart, it is good business.

  2. Teach them the need for producing quality work; they should
    become intimate with all aspects of their work process (5W+H).
    Further, instill discipline and patience in their work effort.

  3. Change their attitude towards development so they become more
    focused on delivering a quality end-product. This is perhaps
    the most difficult element to teach. However, it can be realized
    by having them become intimate with the needs of the customer
    (have them visit or work with a customer for awhile – “let them
    walk in the customer’s shoes”). It may also be necessary to
    change their form of remuneration by going to a reward system
    for work produced (as opposed to guaranteed income regardless
    of what is produced). Changing the mode of financial compensation
    is highly controversial in today’s business world. But, as an
    example, can you imagine the change of attitude of today’s professional
    athletes if they were paid based on their accomplishments (e.g., runs
    or points scored, hits, rebounds, etc.) rather than having a
    guaranteed income? Their motivation and attitude towards
    their profession and team would change radically.

    Candidates must learn to respect their institution, the process
    by which they work, fellow human beings, and themselves. They must
    also learn not to be afraid to TRY; that they must put their best
    foot forward, win or lose. Bottom-line: they must learn that their
    work has meaning and worth. If they don’t enjoy their work, they
    shouldn’t be doing it.

“There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first,

that you are going to have a good time as long as you live – I have no

use for the sour-faced man – and next, that you are going to do

something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the

things you set out to do.”


– President Theodore Roosevelt

Talk to schoolchildren in Oyster Bay, Christmas-time 1898

Certification

Teaching the elements listed above probably cannot be done in one

fell swoop. Further, companies simply don’t have the time or money to

wait for the craftsman to be produced. Instead, they must understand

the human spirit needs to be cultivated and be allowed to grow over

time. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that an in-house

certification program be devised specifying what the candidate should

know and what skills and talents he should demonstrate. This should be

divided into classes of progressive expertise; e.g., apprentice, intermediary,

and craftsman. The ancient builders in Egypt, Rome, and Greece understood

this concept and devised such classes of workmen. Other disciplines and

schools follow similar tactics (the various degrees or belts in martial

arts for example). Each degree is based on specific prerequisites to

master before moving on to the next level.

An in-house certification program has the added nuance of making

people feel special which greatly enhances their self esteem. If

they are made to feel like a vital part of the company, regardless if

their work of a large magnitude or trivial, they will strive to do

what is best for the company overall, not just themselves. Consequently,

their work adds meaning to their life.

There is one pitfall to all of this; today’s “go-go” management

style fails to see how craftsmanship adds value to the company. In

fact, there were companies back in the 1980’s that shut down such

programs simply to reduce costs. As a result, quality suffered,

repeat business was lost, products were more in need of repair,

absenteeism on the job escalated, etc. Want value? How does

a loyal customer base who has confidence in your products or

services sound? And what effect would employee harmony have,

particularly if they believed in the work they were producing? It

would be mind-boggling, all because we had faith in the human

spirit to produce superior results.

A final note: craftsmanship is not a one time thing. After it has

been instilled in people, it has to be cultivated and perpetuated. If

a manager slips even for a moment, it will go right out the window and

it will take time to bring it back to life. As for me, I like to post

motivational reminders kind of like the one recently spotted in the

Hickey Freeman manufacturing facility in New York,

“Excellence is Tolerated.”

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Financial Advisor Or an Investment Advisor?

We the investors of the world have provided the funds that corporate America has needed to finance their growth over the past two hundred years in exchange for the right to share in that growth and profits previously only afforded owners. The investor/ management relationship has worked out so well that a whole industry evolved to fulfill the growing number of investors needs for information and advise to assist investors in making sound investment decisions. The Financial Services Industry, which originally was only available to the very wealthy, has grown over the decades to be the provider of investment information to roughly 40% of American families.

Most financial advisors are affiliated with large investment firms that funnel the firm’s collective knowledge, information and expertise to their cadre of advisor to pass on to individual and institutional investors. In theory this gave those investors associated with large firms potential for returns that could not be achieved on their own or with an association with smaller or independent advisor.

Thus the Financial Advisor that advised you and me was actually taking the firms “expert knowledge”, adapting it to our sanitation and advising us where we should be investing our savings to achieve our financial goals. We were told that since 1900 if you stayed invested in a well diversified portfolio you would never have less then when you started in any ten year period.

So what happened over the past decade? Most of us lost a sizable part of our savings in the 2001 Tech Bubble only to loose more of our savings in the Sub Prime Bubble. The $100,000 that we had in January 2001 shrank to $60,000 by October 2003 then grew to $80,000 in July 2007 and is now worth $40,000 today. We’re eight years closer to retirement and wondering how we’re going to survive if we ever do get to retire.

Do we just plan on working for the rest of our life? Do we work until we can’t then go in Medicaid and welfare become a drain on the United States economy? Do we take what we’ve got left and develop a strategy and lifestyle that will allow us to live out a comfortable life without being a burden on or children and our country?

I personally think the last option is the best option, but it is going to take an adjustment in our attitudes and lifestyle. One of the adjustments has to be in how we look at the investment markets and out financial advisors. Whether you should change Financial Advisors or not, now is the time to asses the performance of your current advisor and decide if it is time to make a change. I am speaking of a Financial Advisor not an Investment Advisor, there are less then 5% of the world’s population that should be seeking the services of an Investment Advisor. The investment markets are not a place for most of us to turn to make money; they are a place for us to preserve the capital that we have left and grow that capital at reasonable rates of return.

The first step in choosing your new Financial Advisor is for you to decide what you want from your advisor after your attitude adjustment. Here are some of my suggestions:

o Help me preserve the capital I have left and grow it at a conservative rate of return.

o Help me to live within my means and set an investment strategy based on my needs and goals.

o Help me protect my family form the loss of my earning ability or my death.

o Help me and my family achieve our financial goals prior to retirement.

o Help me accumulate enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

o Help me assess my need for long term care insurance.

o Help me establish and estate plan.

Once you know what you want from your advisor you’ll need to find a qualified provider. As in all professions the first qualification you need to look for is education. Your potential advisors will have a Series 66 or a Series 7 securities license as well as an insurance license and a variable products license. A Series 66 allows them to sell mutual funds and a Series 7 allows then to sell stocks, bonds, options as well as mutual funds. A Series 7 is a more in-depth course of study then the Series 66, so I’d eliminate anyone who doesn’t have a Series 7 securities license.

Seventy percent of the people representing themselves as Financial Advisors stop their education beyond their licenses and their required annual continuing education. It’s the other 30% of the advisors that you are looking for. These are the people with initials behind their names representing professional designations. At the top of this designation pecking order is the CFP (Chartered Financial Advisor) designation. A CFP is comparable to a master’s degree in financial planning; it takes three years of study and at least three years of practical experience. To find a CFP in your community go to: cfp.net/search. Other designations like the ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) and CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter) are focused on specific segments of the financial advisory field. These designations are comparable to Board Certifications in the medical fields, and I personally would not put my finances in the hands of anyone who doesn’t take their profession seriously enough to seek all the education that is available. This search can leave you with a list of three to three hundred depending on the size of your community. I suggest that you check BestofUS.com a website that lists the best of ten professions across the United States. This should help you bring your list down to a manageable number of qualified advisors.

Next go to the NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers) website and look up your short list of qualified advisors. (finra.org/Investors/ToolsCalculators/BrokerCheck/index.htm) Here you’ll be able find out your potential advisors work history, license history and if they have had any legal or disciplinary action brought against them. We’ve gone through some pretty tough financial times over the past ten years and a lot of good advisors have been sued, so use this information as a means of asking your potential advisors some tough questions. “Can you tell me what these issues are about?” Now Google your short list and see what you find; you’ll be surprised what you’ll learn.

At this point, you need to sit down with those left on your short list. Here is a list of questions that you should ask.

o What is your approach to financial planning? If they don’t address the “Help me” points above their not a Financial Advisor. If they start talking about Managed Accounts, Sector Investing, Momentum, Technical verse Fundamentals, or Option Strategies your talking to and Investment Advisor.

o What was your book of business worth on March 1, 2008 and what is your book of business worth today? Can I see supporting reports? Their going to ask to see your finances, it’s fair for you to ask to see theirs and if it’s down more then 25% you’re in the wrong place.

o How are you paid? There are only three possible answers here; commissions, asset base compensation, or fees. Most will be a combination of the three possibilities; the one that you want to watch out for is commissions. Commissions can create a conflict of interest. Asset based compensation means as your assets grow their compensation grows or as your assets go down so does their compensation. I liked that it results in a common objective. Fees will involve special work like a financial plan or a research project relative to your specific situation, and that’s fair.

o How often will we meet to review my situation? This needs to be at least twice a year.

o Tell me about yourself. How long have your been in the business? Do your have any professional designations? Have you had any legal or disciplinary action taken against you? What is your employment and education background? Have you written any books or articles that I can read? You know all the answers, just sit back and judge.

If you’ll follow this process you’ll find the Best Financial Planner for you. You may end up with the person that you’ve been using, but you now know they are qualified to provide you with the service that you need from your new Financial Advisor.

Choosing your Best Financial Advisor can be as important as choosing your Best Physician, so do your homework and then take responsibility for your decision. As is managing your health you have to take an active role in the management of your finances; stay involved and understand everything.

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Mortgage Life Insurance – The Best Approach

Insurance is risk management. So, for each type, you need to identify the risk to cover and the best way to do it. Mortgage life insurance, like other insurance types, could be expensive, so you need to understand that the inherent risk is the same as for normal life insurance. Besides, there are different ways to get it.

Financial institutions sell mortgage life insurance to protect them from potential loss on the death of mortgagees. Financial institutions, instead of family members or others you choose, benefit from these policies.

Let’s look more closely at how mortgage life insurance might arise. If you borrowed $100,000 from a bank to buy a house, the bank would write its name on the property’s title, and so, become a co-owner up to the loan’s value. This is the typical mortgage.

If you died before you repaid the mortgage, the bank would have two choices. It might sell the house and give your beneficiary the difference between the amount they got on sale and the outstanding loan. Alternatively, it could allow your beneficiary to take over the mortgage loan and repay it. To do the second, the bank would need to be comfortable with the beneficiary’s finances after your death. The bank might accept the alternative if your life insurance and other assets provided enough income to pay the mortgage and give your dependents an acceptable income to live on.

Another way to deal with mortgage insurance when you get a mortgage is for you to insure your life for the mortgage’s full value. This would supplement existing regular life insurance coverage. However, this does not look holistically at your finances, so I do not think it is the way to go. You might not need more insurance.

Mortgage life insurance sold by a financial institution can be expensive and has disadvantages. First, the insured amount falls as the mortgage balance drops over the mortgage’s life, but the premium does not fall. Second, unlike a term life policy, the bank has the right to hike premiums. Third, it is not portable. So, if you switch your mortgage, you need to reapply for life insurance with your new bank.

You would be better off to review your financial affairs and if needed, buy extra term insurance from an insurance company. You would own the policy. The financial institution wouldn’t. Your spouse or others you choose, would be the beneficiary, not the bank. And your spouse or dependent would have the choice to take over the mortgage, if that alternative was best for them.

Like all financial decisions, listen, hear, and understand your alternatives, and let the Lord guide your decision.

(C) 2011, Michel A. Bell.

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Can You Make Over $100,000 a Year in the Auto Repossession Business?

A common question in the repo industry is, “How much money do repo men make?”

If someone told you that you could make over $100,000 a year in a bad economy without a college degree, you’d think they were crazy.  But some auto repo business owners are not only doing well – they’re making six-figures a year.  When the economy does bad, they do better!

How Much Do Repo Men Make?

If you start your own auto repossession business, you can expect to earn $250 (or more) per repo’ed car.  If you repossess two cars a night, five days a week, that’s $130,000 a year.  It certainly requires hard work and determination, but it’s possible.

Repossession agents make the most money when lenders hire them to track down hard-to-find debtors – which is called “skip-tracing.”  If a debtor voluntarily gives up their car (or if they’re easy to track-down,) an agent may only make $100 for the recovery.

Repo men who work for someone else typically earn 40% of the repo fee – or $70 to $100 per recovered vehicle (on average.)

What Are The Pros and Cons of Owning Your Own Repo Business?

While it’s true repo business owners make the most money, they have to pay for gas and overhead expenses before they get paid.  And, as the motto in the repo industry goes, “no recovery, no pay.” 

Fortunately, you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment to start a repo business.  In fact, you usually don’t need a tow-truck!

That’s because many lenders keep key codes on file for every vehicle they own.  Sometimes they even keep a spare set of keys!  All you have to do is get a key made, find the car and drive it away.

You can invest in a minimal amount of equipment to get started, and reinvest your profits as your business grows.

What Are The Pros and Cons of Becoming a Repo Man for Someone Else?

Although there are advantages to owning your own business, many repo agents find it easier to get started working with an established repossession company.  That’s because in some states, there are many hoops to jump through to become a licensed repossession business, including:

  1. Getting bonded and insured
  2. Competing a required amount of training (not all states require this)
  3. Familiarizing yourself with repossession, investigation and collection laws
  4. Investing in adequate equipment, computers and software for your business

In fact, many repo businesses owners got their start working for someone else!

While the repo business isn’t for everyone, if you have a tough skin, a hard work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit, it can be lucrative whether you work for someone else or yourself.  The key is getting adequate training before you head out into the field, so you can avoid common (and costly) mistakes!

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James Bond Cars – The Coachman Recreational Vehicle

As seen on the silver screen, every man loves the James Bond cars. Fully loaded with gadgets and features any guy would wish he could have with his car, though he might get arrested for it. But what car could any fan not see the legendary British agent in? By far an RV, though with the special features a Coachman recreational vehicle has, it might not be such a far stretch.

Features to Tickle Fancy

A Coachman recreational vehicle has many specialties, including a utility panel that helps drivers winterize their vehicle to a specially angled dashboard for increased driving vision. Even an air conditioning unit that is made for maximum cooling is installed in every Coachman recreational vehicle. Is that not enough to peak interest? There’s plenty more to discuss. They certainly weren’t trying to turn away any business they might receive.

Having a very large storage space, even with shelves is another feature is called Stow-N-Go. There is the children first feature that includes two spaces for child seats that have 3 point anchoring. For a growing family this definitely comes in handy. For their Coachman recreational vehicle a buyer can even order color coded electrical wiring. This would make it a lot easier to get out of an electrical fix in the middle of that great vacation site with no one around.

Coachman also utilizes an aluminum frame for each of its vehicles. The bargain here is that a Coachman recreational vehicle is very safe because of its strong skeleton. The special tubing used for anti corrosion is one of the more comical features. This may sound funny, but it is also comes in handy, after all, who likes to clean up that kind of mess? The no-lip storage units under a Coachman recreational vehicle is the last great feature. For the real adventurous drivers they allow for easy storage of heavier objects and gear.

So maybe these features aren’t quite what James Bond looks for in a car, but with that much quality, it might at least make it on the list. The nice thing about a Coachman recreational vehicle is that it comes with so many features and yet is still affordable. Basically, all these pluses are just part of the package, so customers can feel confident in their purchase. When looking for a top notch RV, Coachman makes customers shaken, not stirred.

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Healthy High-Calorie Foods For Weight Gain

No doubt, gaining weight is as hard as losing. Having a good body and a healthy weight is important to live a long and healthy life. And if you are one of those skinny people who is struggling to increase some extra pound, so, this article is for you. Here we share a list of foods you can add to your diet that increases your weight in no time without putting any adverse effects on your health. So, let’s take a look.

  • Protein Smoothies: If you want to gain weight, so, you should increase the amount of protein in your diet (as per recommended by your dietitian). And drinking protein smoothies are the easiest and yummiest treats you can give to yourself that not only help you attain your weight gain goal but also satisfy your cravings. Try to make some homemade protein smoothies with some natural fruits to have real-time benefits.
  • Dairy Products: Milk, cheese, egg, yogurt, butter and to name a few are some of the dairy products you need to add to your diet. These are high in calories and help you gain weight effortlessly. So, make sure you include them in healthy quantity with expert advice to take their real benefits.
  • Rice: Rice is a low-carb food that again one of the easiest ways to gain some extra pounds without making so many efforts. Make sure you have a bowl of rice regularly if you want to see quick results.
  • Nuts And Nuts Butter: Nuts and nut butter like peanut butter is no doubt a high-calorie food that is the way perfect to add to the diet if you are looking to gain some healthy weight. These are healthy and have enough nutrients your body requires to function properly.
  • Starchy Carbs: Starchy carbs helps you to gain healthy weight. Include potatoes, quinoa, oats, corn, beans, and legumes, squash, buckwheat, etc. And within a few days, you will see the results that for sure amaze you.
  • Dark Chocolate: It has a high-calorie density and therefore having, it may also have some positive effects on your weight gain goal. Make sure you add healthy quantity and if you have any other health problem, so consult your doctor first.

Eating more calories than your body needs is the only secret to gain weight, keep this in your mind and adopt a healthy diet plan that aids you to attain your goal in no time.

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Essential Supplies For Architecture Students

This is a list for future students that are planning to major in architecture at a university. This is just a personal list of what I found most helpful after a semster at Penn State university.

Vyco – I had never heard of Vyco before, but it is a pretty useful material. We had to get a rather large piece of vyco, and luckily an architecture drop-out sold me his cheap. It is a softer material that gives a little when you draw so that you aren’t drawing on a hard surface. It really does make a difference.

Parallel Rule – This is one of the most essential tools for drafting. Before going to school, I had never heard of such and thing, and when I ordered it, I had no idea how it worked. Don’t be afraid though, it’s very easy to use after a quick installation. Basically, it is a ruler that slides up and down on your desk with the use of guide wires that always creates parallel lines. It can even be tilted to get angled parallel lines. A definite must for technical drafting. I don’t know how I survived without it before. Keep in mind, they’re rather expensive, but they’re definitely worth it. If you can, invest in the best you can get, because it will be a great investment.

Triangle (30-60-90; 45-45-90) – No, I’m talking about a musical triangle. I am talking about an architects triangle. You should probably get two. A 30 degree triangle and a 45 degree triangle. The come in hand for construction lines and vertical lines (in collaboration with your parallel rule).

Adjustable Triangle – While this one isn’t essential, I found it pretty helpful when I needed to recreate a certain angle of a line. I had a huge 12″ triangle, which was useful for big lines, but I would recommend getting a 6″, a lot easier to handle.

2mm Lead Holder and Lead – Forget old wooden pencils for drafting, get clutch pencils. They’re a lot more durable, you have a better grip, easily interchangeable hardness of leads, and you can always keep a sharp point. Definitely a must for the technical drawings.

Lead Pointer – To go along with the clutch pencil, make sure to get a 2mm lead pointer to sharper that large piece of lead you bought. This is a nifty device that sharpens your lead as you turn the top with it’s metal teeth. It’s quite addicting, but you have to be careful becaues before you know it, you’re lead is gone. Some of my classmates started collecting the lead dust, it piles up after a while.

Kneaded Eraser – A great asset for lightly erasing lines and smudges. Definitely useful in all sorts of situation and a lot of fun to play with.

Compass Set– To be honest, you don’t even need a kit, but you never know when it might come in useful. All you really need is a compass. I prefer the ones without a bar in the middle, mainly because I get frustrated with it, but it is a lot more accurate to get one with a bar in the middle (not sure of the technical name). Compasses come in handy for, well, drawing circles. And door swings.

Proportional Divider – A proportional divider is just that. It takes a certain measurement on one end and on the other converts it to a third, a fourth, a sixth, etc… It’s very useful when scaling a drawing up or down. They are rather expensive though, but if you have the money, I definitely recommend it. If you don’t have the money for it, just get regular dividers (they usually come with a compass kit). They’ll be almost as useful.

Vellum and Tracing Paper (Rolls) – Tracing paper is always good for getting quick sketches/drawings and not wasting your good paper. Vellum is a must. It’s high quality paper that is semi-transparent (kind of like tracing paper). It is great drawing paper, definitely worth it. We used to deal vellum like it was gold.

Drafting tape – Make sure to pick up some drafting tape. Honestly, a roll is all you need, at least that’s all I needed and I used it quite a lot. You’ll use it to stick all your drawings to your board. I still have more than half of my roll.

Circle Template – Not necessary, but can be a time saver at times, especially when drawing Roman temples.

We also had a modeling portion during the semester. Here’s some of the tools we used:

Tacky glue – This is magic glue. Not really, but it was definitely useful and very quick drying. Also, while you’re in the glue aisle, pick up some rubber cement. It’s rather good for gluing paper to things.

Hot Glue Gun – While not good to use on final projects, it is good for quick study models. A definite time saver.

Utility Knife/Xacto Knife – These were a huge asset during the modeling stage. I had to cut so much cardboard, chipboard, and all kinds of paper, they always came in handy. Make sure to get some extra blades. I learned the hard way that cutting with a dull blade leads to bad things. (Nothing gruesome, just bad craftsmanship). I would suggest getting a utility knife with a pop-up case like the one listed so that the blade is easily changed, not the kind with a screw. Those are a pain.

All this ends up being pretty expensive, but you’ll use all of it, so it’ll get it’s use. If you are are wondering where to find these supplies, visit http://www.mildesigner.com where I have each product listed.

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