Weddings are joyous occasions, full of the promise of starting a wonderful new life together. Why not increase your chances for future happiness by including some traditional symbols of good luck in your special day? These are some of the things said to bring good luck for weddings.

The best known “good luck package” is the something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue (and sometimes also a sixpence in your shoe). Most every bride knows this expression, but did you know the specific ways in which each item is intended to grant you good fortune? The old item represents your ties to your family and the past, and shows that even as you move towards a new life, your family will still be there to love and support you. The new, of course, represents the newlyweds’ new union and life together, and is most often the wedding gown or bridal jewelry.

Something borrowed can be any item that the bride can wear or carry, such as a friend’s veil or a piece of her mother’s bridal jewelry. What many people do not realize is that the borrowed item should ideally come from a happily married woman, the idea being that the bride is borrowing some of her wedding bliss. The color blue has symbolized fidelity and faithfulness since ancient times, making its purpose in the good luck package obvious. It might be even luckier if the groom wore some blue too! Many brides are not familiar with the old English “sixpence in your shoe” part of the good luck package, but quite simply, it represents hope for future wealth. A bride can find at sixpence at a rare coin store (most stock them expressly for this purpose, and they are not expensive) or take her chances with a penny.

Speaking of blue, did you know that a sapphire engagement or wedding ring is also supposed to bring good luck to the marriage? The blue sapphire stands for fidelity and love, just as it does in the “something blue” rhyme. For the same reason, aquamarine rings are supposed to be lucky, but the gem is not nearly as durable as a sapphire, and cracking the stone in your engagement ring seems unlucky indeed! For that reason, brides might wish to consider wearing lucky aquamarine earrings or choosing blue crystal earrings as an alternative.

Brides with Chinese heritage will want to bring some red into their weddings, as it is the good luck color in China. Of course, the double happiness symbol is a natural element to include in a wedding. Meaning “joy and happiness”, the symbol is one of the most powerful good luck charms. Feature it throughout the wedding, on the cake, the invitations, even on the bridal gown. There is no such thing as too much good luck on your wedding day!

Some of the things which are supposed to bring good luck to a wedding are beyond the control of the bride and groom. It is often said that rain on the wedding day is lucky, although that is a type of luck that most brides would be willing to forgo! An old English custom says that finding a spider in the bridal gown is lucky, but again, not too many brides are hoping for that particular lucky omen. Of course, there are those who believe that you make your own luck, by choosing the right partner…but wear something borrowed, just to be safe!

As a small business owner, you most likely spend quite a large amount of time trying to discern new ways to gain customers. Marketing can be a fun or stressful business. They key is to understand the types of marketing.

Instead of sending your marketing budget in many different directions, you can choose a specific type and be consistent with it. You will quickly see that your marketing budget pays off much more quickly.

Here, you will find information on four of the main types of marketing. This way, you will be able to choose the marketing actions that will work best for your business. You will then be able to point your marketing budget in the right direction.

1. Blanket marketing is a type that is often used by larger business. Blanket marketing means that you spend money advertising to everyone. Many people choose to do blanket marketing by advertising in magazines or newspapers. You will not really have control of who sees your advertising, but you will have the potential to reach many people.

The downside to blanket marketing is that it can be quite expensive, and you could be wasting money marketing to people who may never become your customers at all. Blanket marketing is best for those who have plenty of funds available and who feel that they will be able to gain many customers from the plan.

2. Targeted marketing is a method in which you choose a certain demographic and only market to them. This could mean that you advertise to everyone in a certain area. Alternatively, you could advertise to everyone in a certain age range.

The great thing about targeted marketing is that you will have a much better chance at getting customers since you will be advertising to the types of people who would most likely become customers. The downside is that it will take a little legwork to determine who your target is and then find the right way to advertise to them.

3. Social media marketing could be called the new kid in town since it is relatively a young concept. With this marketing, you use any one of the many popular social media sites to advertise your company. You can also use a daily blog to garner business.

The downside to this type of marketing is that you will be sending your information out to many people who may not be interested at all. With blogs, you will have to take the time to keep the blog up to date. Otherwise, people may stop reading it.

4. The last type of marketing is not marketing at all. There are not upsides to this. It may seem like a way to save money, but when your business fails, you will actually lose a great deal of money. It is extremely important to find marketing funds within your budget.

Sumerians were the first culture to quit hunting and gathering food and begin cultivation. Like many other inventions that Sumerian culture gave to the world, they also contributed in farming and food. Sumerian food consisted mainly of barley.

The raw material of most of Sumerian food was barley, barley cakes and barley paste were accompaniments of all major meals. Wheat and millet were other raw materials used in Sumerian food. Farming yielded vegetables and fruits, chickpeas, lentils, beans, onion, garlic, leeks, cucumbers, cress, mustard and fresh green lettuce was all part of the early Sumerian food. Sumerians were the first culture to settle down and leave the earlier nomad lifestyle. With settlement they began domesticating animals for food and labor. Goat’s milk and meat, eggs, pig; wild fowl, deer and venison were an integral part of the Sumerian’s food as well.

Everyday Sumerian food was probably barley cakes with onions and beans washed down with barley ale. Fish that swarmed in the rivers of Mesopotamia were a major food source too. Over fifty different types of fish are mentioned in the early texts dating before 2300 BC and the fried fish vendors had a thriving trade in the city of Ur. Food stalls also sold onions, cucumbers, freshly grilled goat, mutton and pork. Meat was more popular and common in big cities as compared to sparsely populated towns as they would spoil in the heat. Cattle were only slaughtered for consumption when they were nearly at the end of their working lives.

Information about Sumerian food can be gathered from archaeology and written records on cuneiform tablets. These sources also indicated the importance of barley and wheat cakes as the staple diet together with grain and legume soups, onion, leeks, garlic and melon. Besides farmed vegetables, Sumerian food also included fruits. These were apples, fig and grapes. Several culinary herbs and honey and cheese, butter and vegetable oil have also been mentioned in later Sumerian food records. Sumerians drank beer often and sometimes wine too. Preservation of foodstuff had also been evolved with meats being salted and fruits conserved in honey. Various other fruits including apples were dried to preserve them and a fermented cause is also mentioned in the Akkadian texts.

Rice and corn was unknown in ancient Mesopotamia, thus barley and its flour was the staple Sumerian food. Their bread was coarse, flat and unleavened, though an expensive version was made out of finer flour. Pieces of this bread were found in the tomb of Queen Puabi of Ur, left there for sustenance in afterlife. Breads were enhanced with butter, milk and cheese, sesame seeds and even fruits and their juices. Later records show truffles being made as well. With the advent of irrigation canals lush fruit and vegetable farms with fruits like mulberries, pears, plum, cherries and pomegranates were found in abundance. The most important food crop in southern Mesopotamia was the date palm. Goats, cows and ewe were domesticated for milk; geese and ducks for eggs and some 50 varieties of fish were a staple Sumerian food. Meats were cooked by roasting, boiling, barbecuing or broiling and preserved by drying, smoking or salting. 

Introduction to the Topic

Australia is one of only a few countries with the capabilities to design cars from scratch and manufacture in significant volumes. Car sales in Australia are also an important factor of the Australian Automotive Industry and the Australian Economy in total.

The Australian Auto Industry (A.A.I. in short) can be divided into two interrelated sectors, the Production ( Manufacturing) sector and the Car Sales (or Import-Sales) sector, both equally important for the total performance of the A.A.I. On one hand, the Manufacturing sector refers to the market conditions under which Australian Manufacturing businesses compete, by producing vehicles and related products, with the main aim of maximizing profits. On the other hand, the Sales sector refers to the market conditions under which car representative sale businesses compete, by the sale of cars and related products, having the same aim with businesses within sector one.

It is very important to state the distinction between these two sectors within the A.A.I., as we will be talking about two different market structures, business strategies, competition conditions, e.t.c. In order to analyse these market structures it would be appropriate to develop two economic models, one for each A.A.I. sector.

1.1-Analyzing the Manufacturing Sector

There is only one market structure that can best describe the market conditions in the Manufacturing sector if A.A.I., this is Oligopoly. As there are only two organizations that produce cars in Australia, and these are Ford and Holden, the competition methods and pricing strategies are based between these two organizations. The following economic model shall help define the competition and economic conditions for the Australian Automotive Manufacturing market.

The first important characteristic of Oligopoly that needs to be stated is that prices between competitors tend to be “sticky”, which means that they change less frequently than any other market structure. This statement will be explained in more detail later on, when we will be developing the Game-Theory model, as it is a very important concept of competition. The second most important characteristic is that when prices do change, firms are likely to change their pricing policies together. These two characteristics can boost up competition within the market. Firms will either try to match rivals’ price changes or ignore them. This is depended on the Game-Theory that is explained bellow.

However, the recent market conditions for the Australian Automotive Industry and the actions of the Australian Government have worsen the competition conditions and possible pricing options available for firms in the market. The production and maintenance costs for a manufacturing business in Australia are already high and rising, mostly due to lack of economic resources and advance of technology. That is, as Holden and Ford try to compete each other, given that prices tend to be “sticky”, they are forced to focus on technological advantage and marketing. Both of these business sectors produce high costs. Furthermore, the Australian government has made it clear that is unwilling to further subsidize automotive organizations in the market. All these factors stated above produce a negative effect on the competitiveness of both firms. In other words, rising costs alongside with decreased revenue push firms in experiencing lower and decreasing levels of profitability.

Profitability and the level of competitiveness are highly interrelated in an oligopolistic market structure, being the two most important factors, alongside with product differentiation, in the competition policies that the firms follow. When we say that the level of competitiveness of a firm is very low, we mean that the firm cannot react effectively to any price changes or competition changes or even changes in production costs. This may leave the firm depended on its’ competitor’s pricing and competition actions, not being able to affect the market competitiveness at all. The firm is then exposed to external danger and can be pushed out of the market, or even worse to shut production and declare bankrupt.

1.2- The Game-Theory Model for Oligopoly

The Game Theory model is used to explain the pricing and competition policies of firms in an oligopolistic market structure. Furthermore, it can show the few different competition policies based on pricing that the two firms can follow, that is High and Low as stated above. All firms in this market structure follow a Game-Theory model, although it is surely more detailed than our example, in the process of trying to forecast competitors’ pricing and competition movements and also keep track of the competition levels in the market and market share. But how does this happen?

For example, let’s say that there are four different fields, each divided in half. These fields represent the pricing strategies that Holden and Ford may use in the process of competing each other. Field A and C represent a High-Pricing policy for Holden, while fields A and B represent a High-Pricing policy for Ford. Lastly, fields B and D represent a Low-Pricing policy for Holden, while fields C and D represent a Low-Pricing policy for Ford. When both firms decide to follow a High-Pricing policy they share a profit of, let’s say, $12 million. If Holden decided to move to a Low-Pricing policy it will experience a maximum of $15 million profit, while Ford’s profitability will fall to $6 million. The exact opposite may also occur, while if both firms decided to follow a Low-Pricing policy they would realize a maximum of $8 million of profit.

What we can identify from the above example is that firms in an oligopolistic competitive market rarely change their pricing policies because this may produce a negative effect on their profitability levels. However, Holden and Ford, being the only two firms in the Australian Automotive Industry, they will focus on competing through product differentiation and marketing. That is, they will try to compete by differentiating their products, for example by producing vehicles with different features, or even base their production on technological advantage. Marketing plays an important role here, as it is the main tool that delivers and connects the customer with product. For example, if Holden introduces a new driving technology that improves driving experience and safety and produces this technology alongside with a newly designed vehicle, it is quite likely that Holden will effectively differentiate its newly designed vehicle from a relative vehicle of Ford and lure more customers in the store. Holden may also use marketing techniques to deliver this technology to the public, in the form of knowledge; hence try to boost sales without changing its pricing policy. However, it is important to state that this new technology may produce higher production costs, if not evaluated properly; hence Holden can only rely in increasing its market share to gain greater profitability. The sales part, however, will be analyzed in more extend within the next chapter of this report.

The Game-Theory is not just a theory for the Automotive Industry in Australia, it’s a fact. It shows us that auto manufacturers in Australia have based their competition strategies on all the factors stated above and as much as they possibly can on pricing strategies. They may advertise that they have low prices, but in fact their prices are very stable. If we have a close look at Holden’s or Ford’s websites, we will identify that there is a huge variety of products and each firm competes in that. However, the new market conditions stated before have greatly changed the way auto manufacturers think of the future and this in turn may change their pricing and competition policies, or even determine their existence in the market.

2.1- Analyzing the Import/Sales Sector

While the auto manufacturers are considered to be operating in an oligopolistic market structure, importing and selling vehicles or relative products is a different story. The import and sale of vehicles is the second and equally important business sector of the Australian Automotive Industry. There are many different car selling businesses and we shall only consider first-hand sales, as second-hand sales in general are not included in economics and more specifically in GDP measurements. To enter the industry hard at all as there are not many barriers to entry, however someone who is interested needs to consider of the high costs in setting up an automotive dealership. All businesses in this market are mostly based on product differentiation to compete and while prices are not “sticky”, pricing competition is set up by the market mechanism and tends not to be considered a regular phenomenon. Lastly, cost analysis and cost management play a very important role. All of the above characteristics refer to the Monopolistic Competition Market Structure. In this market structure we will focus on two phases, the short-run phase and the long-run phase, each with different competition characteristics and outcomes.

An important factor that we need to state here is that when the costs of developing a vehicle in the manufacturing sector rise, then the cost for selling the vehicle for a dealership may rise as well. This is always depended of course on if the vehicle was produced in Australia and if it was produced overseas, under what economic conditions was it produced. Price might be “sticky” for manufacturers, however prices will change much easier in this sector if needs be. Here firms will change their pricing policies if costs either rise or fall and this is always depended on the market mechanism. The amount of competitiveness along with the amount of price elasticity of demand will depend on how many rivals the monopolistic competitive firm will have to face.

In such market the following situation is very common, a situation that helps us distinct between short-run and long-run:

Stage One

In this stage the firm experiences economic profits. However, this fact will draw new firms in the market causing the profits to be competed away.

Stage Two

The economic losses indicated in this stage will cause many firms to exit the market, as they cannot keep selling under these market conditions.

Stage Three

In the final stage, the market clears-up, or reaches equilibrium point. As all firms that needed to exit the market have done so, the market mechanism comes to the point where no economic profits/losses are realized by the firms. This is the point where the market is most stable.

Studying the situation above we can identify one very important fact for any monopolistic competitive firm in the Australian Automotive Industry/ Sales sector. That is that in this market structure, in the long run, firms will realize only normal profits and the market mechanism will eventually reach an equilibrium point. Hence, in the long-run firms will compete mostly through product differentiation. However, in the short run firms may experience economic profits or losses and this is what causes firms to enter or exit the market and “shows” firms how to compete and when to apply pricing competition policies.

Conclusion

The Australian Automotive Industry may be experiencing rough market conditions, mostly because there is no more government support; however competition and profit maximization is still possible. Thinking of moving overseas is not always a good option for the manufacturing businesses, as the Australian Economy needs the manufacturing sector, as it represents a reasonably big part of GDP.

Market competition conditions are well defined for every manufacturer or car dealership, hence any business in the market ought to use the available to them competition strategies and achieve higher market share and profitability level or stabilize its profitability levels. Either way, these are the main goals for almost every profit-motivated business in any market type under any market structure. However, every business ought to define the market structure that is operating in, so that it can then clearly define its goals, strategies and policies. The market mechanism is in all cases responsible for all the above strategies and most of the cases responsible for setting up pricing policies or indicating pricing and marketing strategies.

You don’t have to be a real estate expert to have heard of release agreements. A release is one of the most common types of contracts in the world of law. They are used to allow a company to use someone’s image for commercial use. However, a real estate release agreement isn’t quite the same thing. In most cases, releases are used by prospective buyers to release the seller from the mortgage or liens they have on a property so that the property is debt free. The form is extremely short and is often only one page when presented. Let’s take a look at a typical contract requiring a seller to obtain release of mortgage on a property.

The first part of the contract clearly outlines the date that this agreement is being signed, the names of both parties involved in the transfer of the property as well as any spouses of the members involved in the agreement. The second part of the agreement outlines the terms and conditions that the property in question is under. It goes over how much debt the property has attached to it and whether the property has a mortgage debt or a lien debt associated with it. It also outlines the purchase price of the property and how that purchase price can now be used to pay off any and all debt associated with the property. This type of form is used mostly to ensure that the seller will eliminate all debt from a piece of property when the sale is complete as agreed upon in the original sale agreement. Some people consider this form to be a bit redundant, but you can never be too careful when it comes to legal wrangling and property.

The final part of the agreement only requires the signer to include their names, the amount of the total debt still present on the property and finally, the amount that is being paid off. Much of the contract will simply be pre-typed text, often a template, that outlines the seller’s responsibilities once the sale is finalized.

If the buyer and seller of the property agree beforehand, a real estate release agreement isn’t necessary. It could be part of the original sale agreement that the buyer is responsible for paying off any existing debt on the property and not the responsibility of the seller. Since every legal agreement is different and many of them have their own unique provisions, some real estate release agreements can vary considerably from the one outlined here.

In conclusion, the real estate release agreement is a safeguard instituted by the buyer to ensure that a piece of property that has debt associated with it is paid off in full with the money gained during the sale by the seller so that when the final transfer of the property is finalized, it is debt free. It is vital that this agreement be included if you are buying property that has debt attached to it.

 

1. When Parker Pen marketed a ballpoint pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” Instead, the company thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant

2. In Spain, when Coors Brewing Company put its slogan, “Turn it loose” into Spanish; it was read as “Suffer from diarrhea”.

3. When Braniff International Airways translated a slogan touting its upholstery, “Fly in leather”, it came out in Spanish as “Fly naked”.

4. When Pepsi started marketing its products in China a few years back, they translated their slogan, “Pepsi Brings You Back to Life” pretty literally. The slogan in Chinese really meant, “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave.”

5. Chicken magnate Frank Perdue’s line, “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken,” sounds much more interesting in Spanish: “It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate.”

6. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”.

7. A hair products company, Clairol, introduced the “Mist Stick”, a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that mist is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the manure stick.

8. The American slogan for Salem cigarettes, “Salem-Feeling Free”, was translated into the Japanese market as “When smoking Salem, you will feel so refreshed that your mind seems to be free and empty.”

9. PepsiCola lost it dominant market share to Coke in South East Asia when Pepsi changed the color of its vending machines and coolers from deep “Regal” blue to light “Ice” blue as Light blue is associated with death and mourning in SE Asia.

10. We can’t forget Chevrolet’s attempt to launch the Nova — Spanish translation, “Doesn’t Go” — in Mexico (turns out this one appears to be an urban legend and cannot be verified). Many sources on the internet allege this is untrue.

We all know how special interest groups can blow things out of proportion – like the nonexistent “Exotic Pet Crisis.” If you listened to some animal rights groups, you’d think keeping exotic pets is cruel, dangerous, and even bordering on treason! Before you buy that agenda, consider that a junior high student once made a convincing case for banning dihydrogen monoxide: colorless, odorless, and tasteless, it kills thousands of people every year.

Most deaths are caused by inhalation, but the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form causes severe tissue damage. Dihydrogen monoxide is also known as hydroxl acid, is the major component of acid rain, may cause severe burns, contributes to land erosion, may cause electrical failures and decreased effectiveness of automobile brakes, and has been found in excised tumors of terminal cancer patients.

This report was presented to 50 students, asking them what should be done about the chemical. 43 students favored banning it, 6 were undecided, and only one correctly recognized that ‘dihydrogen monoxide’ is actually H2O — plain old water. How gullible are you?

Banning my cat makes about as much sense as banning yours – and the results are just as heartbreaking for pet and owner. Are you ready for the truth about the “Exotic Pet Crisis?”

  • Exotic pets are not dangerous! One study showed that the risk of injury to exotic cat owners was less than the risk of injury due to a domestic dog bite. And every person who drives a motor vehicle subjects themselves and their family to a risk three times greater then does someone who owns even a large exotic cat such as a tiger.
  • Most exotic pet owners are kind, intelligent people who adore their animals and take excellent care of them. We love our pets just as you love yours.
  • Exotic animal bans result in beloved pets being confiscated, impounded, and usually killed. A lucky few live out their lives in cages under the care of strangers in zoos and sanctuaries. This is the dirty secret animal rights groups don’t want you to know. Banning does not help animals: it kills them!
  • Exotic cat ownership is already regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, CITES, the Animal Welfare Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Lacey Act, more city, county, and state regulations than you can shake a stick at, as well as existing animal welfare and public safety laws that govern both exotic and domestic animals.
  • “You can buy a tiger on the Internet for $100.00,” research-averse activists proclaim in horror. Just try to order up a tiger online, or even a serval. You won’t succeed. This urban legend has great repeatability at cocktail parties and save-the-cute-animals-from-evil-humans fundraisers, but is severely lacking in the reality department. Breeders do have web sites, but it takes much more than a click of the mouse to purchase an exotic cat.

 

There have been many changes in fitness over the past 30 years. It’s human nature to reminisce about times past. That’s great but lets not forget that things change as well. This is certainly true in the area of health and fitness. “If you do what you have always done, you will get the results you have always gotten” is true, but what if the situation changes? Then what used to work is no longer a viable and effect way to get the results that we want. In this article I will outline seven items that have changed over the past 30 or so years that affect the way we view health, fitness, exercise and what is considered “best”. Let’s look at some of these changes in Fitness.

1. Activity level

This change in fitness is pretty obvious. We just don’t move around as much as we used to 30 years ago.

Currently, the average sedentary person living in an urban setting takes 900-3000 steps a day. Uh… that’s a puny number! In the journal of sports medicine existing literature was pulled together to set a general guideline of what a good number of steps per day would be

The author Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke translated different physical activity into steps-per-day equivalents. A rate of fewer than 5,000 is classified as sedentary, 5,000 to 7,499 is low active, 7,500 to 9,999 is somewhat active 10,000 or more is active and 12,500 or more is very active. So what does 900 make us? Close to dead! But its not hard to imagine. Get up from, take elevator to car park, drive car, take elevator to office, sit down, order fast food, reverse the process to go home and go back to bed. Just to note, 1km is about 1300 steps.

Its gotten to the point where we have to purposely inconvenience ourselves to get our activity level up. Here are some suggestions (that actually show us how pathetic our average activity levels have become).

Park at the far end of the car park and walk to your building Instead of dropping the kids off in front of the school, park a couple of streets before it and walk them the rest of the way… 10,000 is actually considered a LOW estimate for children.

Go round the shopping centre or supermarket in a random. With today’s super malls, this is a big thing!

Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator (well if you work on the 50th floor, maybe climb halfway to start)

Give the dog an extra 5 minutes on his walk (we need it even more than him)

Stop emailing colleagues in the same office, instead go over and talk to them (shockingly effective considering how much email we send each day!… great for team building as well)

Go for a walk during your lunch break, walk to get your lunch or to find somewhere to eat your lunch

Get up and do something, run up and down the stairs for example during TV ads (no excuses here!)

Walk to the corner shop instead of driving or popping in on your way home

Walk to friends houses instead of driving

Take public transport and walk from the train station

Dr. David Bassett studied an Amish community to see what things were like in the past. These guys have no cars, no electricity and do hard manual labor to put food on the table. Its like time travel to the past. They eat 3 large meals a day with lots of meat, vegetables and natural starches like potatoes.

The 98 Amish adults Bassett surveyed wore pedometers for a week. The men averaged 18,000 steps a day. The women took an average of 14,000 steps.

The men spent about 10 hours a week doing heavy work like plowing, shoeing horses, tossing hay bales, and digging. The women spent about 3.5 hours a week at heavy chores. Men spent 55 hours a week in moderate activity; women reported 45 hours a week of moderate chores like gardening and doing laundry. Wow that’s a lot of manual labor. Get a pedometer (its only like 20 bucks) and see how you fare.

2. Fat Percentages and Obesity

Activity level leads us right on to this point about obesity. The scary obesity rate is one of the most obvious changes in fitness.

The obesity rate among the participants in the study of the Amish population was 4 percent, as determined by body mass index, or BMI. The current obesity rate among the urban populations is 30% or more. OK the obesity percentages are a scary thing because obesity is already in the “VERY high risk of a lot of bad ways to die” category. There is still the overweight category (obviously fat but not hitting the medically obese range) to consider. These people are at a high risk already!

The total percentages of overweight + obese are really wild… hitting close to 70% in some cities. Compare this to the average in the 1980s. 10-15% obesity in most cities. It rose to the mid 20% in 1995 and its now at an all time high.

3. Diet

OK linked to point no.2 is of course diet. This is another obvious change in fitness. Its very simple actually. We now eat more refined foods (white bread, sugar, rice, flour, noodles). In the body these give pretty much the same response – FAT storage. The only time we should eat these items is immediately after hard training. As we can tell from point no.1, not much of any training is going on. But lots of eating is!

We also eat less fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. We eat more snacks like chips and cookies (which are also refined despite what advertisers claim).

These changes in fitness are made more troubling because even natural foods today are not as good for us as they used to be. Current farming methods make vitamin and mineral content in fruits and vegetables drop about 10-40% depending on the mineral. Corn fed meats don’t give us as good an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio as we used to get from grass fed and free range animals. (that means not so many healthy fatty acids for us)

And of course, we are also simply consuming more calories. The Amish people in the study in point no.1 ate about 3600 calories/day for men and 2100 calories/day for women. Many sedentary people consume this much and more! How? Well a fully “featured” gourmet coffee from coffee bean or Starbucks can add up to 500 calories in an instant of caffeine folly.

That’s 2 hours of walking for an average sized lady.

Just remember, calorie quality counts as well. 2000 calories of vegetables, meat and healthy fats is infinitely better than 2000 calories from french fries. Its close to impossible to get fat on the first, and nearly impossible not to get fat with the second.

I like this car analogy. If you had a 2million dollar dream car, would you put low grade or high grade petrol into it? High grade of course! Then why do some people put low grade filth into their bodies which are so much more important than the car we drive?

4. Games children play

The average child who grows up in an urban environment is a motor-skill weakling. As a hobby, I coach youth basketball. In our talent scouting, I have kids do a very simple drill of dribbling in and out and around cones. There are so many kids who can’t do it and some who I think might fall down if asked to RUN around the cones without the ball! This is in contrast to the past where kids ran around, chased each other, played physical games and sports of all kinds, where the playground was the center of fun for young kids. This lack of activity not only causes a change in fitness for the child in his/her youth, but has a profound long term effect as well.

Of course this change in fitness is a result of a combination of possible factors.

Parents who only consider academic success to be worth striving for, who only give a child recognition and praise when they do well in academic subjects.

An education system who also values book knowledge above other things and takes away physical education classes to put more academic lessons in.

Poorly taught PE lessons that don’t help a child develop motor skills in the key early years Busy double-income families where fathers are not free to play with their children (or don’t care enough to… money isn’t everything dads)

The maddening computer game addiction situation where virtual life is more important than real life. I believe this is the reason for all the empty basketball courts in my neighbourhood. It used to be that teams lined up to play there. Now only people my age (late 20s to 30s) play. No young kids are there any more.

But actually, so what? The issue is that if kids stink at sport and physical activity, the well known psychological factor of “competence” comes is. Simply put, in general, we do what we are good at. If our next generation is poor at sport and physical activity, they are even less likely to do any of it! Which combined with items 1 to 3, make for a deadly health crisis for many countries. Obesity costs the UK 7.4 billion in national health care per year! If we don’t help our kids, that’s only going to grow to be a bigger and bigger burden for everybody.

5. Social Support

This is a more subtle change in fitness. People are communal animals. We stick with things because there is a supportive community behind us. Even drug and alcoholism rehab centers recognise this. We all need social support. But social links are getting weaker. And no, Friendster and MySpace links don’t make up for it.

In a more connected but less close world (I know so many people who are only comfortable behind a computer screen and not in front of a real person) there is less social support than in the past (extended families, communal living, strong friendships within a neighbourhood etc) and its hard to stick with something which requires dedication and sacrifice like an exercise program. I’m not a sociologist but I do believe there is a reason that exercise classes do better in terms of membership than individualized training. Most of them certainly are not as effective as great individual coaching. But the social factor does come in when sustaining a lifestyle change is involved.

6. Free Time

This subtle change in fitness is pretty clear. We just have less time that we “own”. Bosses, social, family and other commitments make free time a very precious commodity and it adds difficulty to the fact that time is our only non renewable resource. When we choose to exercise or spend time cooking to keep a healthy lifestyle, we are competing with movies, games, TV and other things for free time. We know that exercise is good for us, but it not only has to be good for us, it has to be BETTER in our minds than the latest episode of desperate housewives, or the latest computer game. That’s the issue. We need to prioritize long term health over temporary fun.

7. Training methods

OK here is where we are doing well. 30 years ago the aerobics craze took the western world by storm. Its not a very good training method both in terms of results, and in terms of results per unit of time. Add that to the fact that we have such minimal time to train, we can’t afford to train in a sub-optimal way. We know a lot more now. Fortunately for us, there are good methods that smart coaches use to improve training efficiency and get RESULTS even with less training time. Some of these include smartly designed resistance training programs, interval training and good assessment techniques to determine individual needs. If you have a coach like that in your corner, you can turn back the clock and avoid becoming one of the ever growing statistic of people who’s health is headed in the wrong direction. Stay fit and strong and good luck!

One of the main purposes of travel is to gain experiences that allow us to grow and develop as individuals and it is important that people travel the way that bests suits them at a particular time. For example, I like to go on adventure holidays and this invariably includes a small group and expert guide, and I frequently participate in writing retreats around the world with like-minded people. However for me, the real joy of travelling has always been to take off on my own and just ‘see’ what comes along the way. Of course this can sometimes be fraught with frustrations, difficulties and even dangers.

Advantages of travelling alone

  • Freedom
    Most people who travel alone generally cite freedom as the great motivating factor: freedom to please themselves, go where and when they want, change their plans on a whim when they hear about something that is a ‘must’ to see, and to accept spontaneous invitations by locals.
  • No compromises
    This is associated with the previous point. Even if travelling with one other person, be it friend, colleague, lover or spouse, there will always be some compromises required. Not everyone has the same interests or the same energy levels, some people need to be emotionally supported all the time, others are apathetic, some have different attitudes to time. With solo travel, there is no peer pressure over finances, the unspoken need to divide up restaurant bills equally, or guilt trips when you want to go off on your own for a while.
  • Meeting people
    Travelling solo does not mean that you will always be alone. In fact, it allows you to meet more people because other tourists and locals find an individual traveller more approachable than those in a tightly-knit group. Also, people in groups have very little need to reach out to others for communication. I have met more people, had more interesting conversations and invitations and made more long-term friends while eating alone in foreign restaurants or sitting alone at bars. But then I am gregarious. Travelling alone allows you to choose the people you wish to spend time with rather than having to face the day-after-day annoyances of the inevitable clowns and whingers found in any large group.
  • Discoveries
    There is a real sense of discovery involved in travelling on your own, and that includes self-discovery. You don’t have to rely on an often ill-informed guide to lead you around on a leash, and there’s the surprise and thrill when you find something you weren’t expecting, like the time I became lost and ended up in a small Bavarian village with a monastery that contained a library with tens of thousands of Medieval manuscripts. Travelling alone allows you to discover more about yourself as you overcome simple challenges such as missing a bus or boat and realizing there is no other for a day or a week. Then there is the sense of achievement when solving much more challenging problems like finding yourself lost in a strange town at midnight or running out of money on a holiday weekend with no ATM in sight and the banks closed.

Disadvantages of travelling alone

  • The single supplement
    For those who like to stay in decent hotels, there is the unfair single supplement that can add thousands to the cost of your trip.
  • Lack of help
    There is no one to watch your luggage while you go to the restrooms at airports or train stations, no one to help with persistent touts, no one to be there for you if you get sick or if you are being stalked or harassed by a determined male in the street.
  • Photos
    There are times when I would like to have had more taken of myself in certain places, but there again, there are always people willing to snap one or two for you.

I know there will be times in the future when I will travel as part of a group out of choice because I want to visit areas where it is just not possible or sensible for a woman alone, or because I wish to be with family or like-minded people. However, due to my particular personality traits, my preference is to travel alone. I guess it really doesn’t matter how people travel, but that they travel.

 

Many people get confused about the role of advertising in the marketing mix so here’s a simple view of where it fits in.

In the traditional marketing model, we talk about the 4 P’s

o Product

o Pricing

o Place

o Promotion

The last section – Promotion is what we mean when we say you are “doing your marketing”. It’s your communications or your actual marketing activities.

But first, let’s get clear about the PURPOSE of marketing and why you want to get good at it.

“The PURPOSE of marketing or it’s biggest task is to

persuade prospects to visit you online or offline so you

can present your offer. Done well they come waving their

credit card and ready to buy so there’s no need for hard sell.”

Whenever and wherever you get in front of your potential market is your marketing opportunity – you are communicating or getting your message across.

You could say this started as far back as Babylon when the Town Crier was the only delivery method! They went around town shouting out to people to go to the marketplace and you went to the marketplace with your goods to “present your offer”.

With the invention of print and other technologies you now have a smorgasbord of delivery methods or media to reach people such as

o Print – newspapers, magazines, catalogues, newsletters

o Phone, mail, fax

o Radio & TV,

o Internet – through websites, blogs, social networking sites, email, video & Audio podcasts

o Teleseminars & webinars

o Mobile media – Blackberrys and mobile or cell phones

o And lets not forget in person public speaking and networking

Now that range adds a level of complexity. But choice is good and you don’t have to use all of these but they are available to you.

In any event you’ll either be speaking or writing. Simply narrow down what makes sense for you and your business and use your strengths to work out a plan.

JUST remember the marketing principles remain the same no matter the medium – so the PURPOSE of your marketing is still the same. To persuade prospects to visit you online or offline so you can present your offer.

So where does advertising fit into this?

Advertising is simply a subset of your marketing activities it’s the SALES function when you make the sales pitch or “present your offer”. This could be verbal or written in all the same media you use for your marketing communications. What adds to the confusion is sometimes big companies use image based ads for awareness so the “sales pitch” isn’t obvious.

But the primary purpose of advertising is to SELL.

So you create ads in one form or another and get them in front of your audience.

Small businesses can’t afford to waste money on image advertising that is designed for the masses to promote a well known brand. It simply isn’t designed to sell, NOW.

What I do and recommend is Direct Marketing which is based on one-on-one relationships and uses proven direct response advertising techniques instead of mass advertising.

The purpose of a direct response advertisement is to get a response, NOW! Which means these ads actually ask the prospect to DO something.

Whether you’re building a list, selling a product or service, an appointment or even something you are giving away – you still need to “sell” it to your prospect. And ask them to take the action you want them to take to move them through the sales process.

In a nutshell, advertising is a subset of marketing and direct response marketing and advertising is the champion for small business.