Girl's Guide to Ayahuasca

In the last few years more and more people are heading to Peru to drink the visionary medicine Ayahuasca. While the medicine can provide remarkable insights and healings, the process has become a great money spinner in Peru and unfortunately anyone can buy the medicine and set himself up as a shaman. While there are many sincere and genuine healers in Peru, there are many worrying reports of women being sexually assaulted or even raped by shamen while under the influence of ayahuasca. Currently, there is no regulation of people offering ayahuasca ceremonies and often tourists arrive in the country unaware of the stories of other women's experiences.

I've personally heard of three women who were raped or sexually assaulted, both at 'reputable' centres in Iquitos; I met another tourist who had seen something happening in the ceremony she attended, when the wife of a couple was sexually assaulted while her husband was on the other side of the room. Sadly it seems that travelling with a partner or friend is no protection against these men who prey on vulnerable women.

So if you are a woman and planning on attending an ayahuasca ceremony on a trip to Peru my recommendation is always go to a centre that has been recommended to you by someone you know. Never go with a tout from the streets or a travel agent. Just because you've seen a shaman on a film or on YouTube doesn't mean that they are reputable.

There are several centres now who offer lady shamen and clearly that is a much safer possibility.

I can highly recommend Lucine & Tracy at Ayaintegral in Pucallpa. These two lovely American ladies worked at the Temple of the Way of Light before branching out on their own. Lucine has been drinking ayahuasca for more than 10 years and has a Masters degree in conflict resolution; Tracy also has a Masters Degree and has a background in counselling and both have international life coaching practices. They work with male and female shipibo shamen in Pucallpa and integrate the ayahuasca experience with counselling, meditation and yoga.

Percy Garcia's DAS centre outside Iquitos is also well recommended. He has a female interpreter assistant and for 6 months of the year a lady apprentice shaman who also speaks English. I've worked with Percy and found him a sincere, honourable man. He actually trained as an architect, but the plant spirits wouldn't leave him alone and he pursued the healer's path instead. Percy's centre offers single ayahuasca ceremonies as well as longer retreat experiences. He also offers a dieta experience where you build a relationship with one of the other Peruvian healing plants. This can be a week or longer. The centre has comfortable huts with own bathrooms and is located about half an hour out of Iquitos. His interpreter will collect people from their hotels and take them to the centre. There are also a few friendly cats who adopt people and accompany them home after ceremony. Cats really soak up negative energies and can be very healing after an intense time with mother ayahuasca.

The Temple of the Way of Light is another very well known centre who work with lady shamen. There are 5 or more Shipibo ladies working there, many with decades of experience with Ayahuasca. The Temple is one of the more high end centres, but the food is great, the accommodation comfortable, and the experience very safe with knowledgeable facilitators. It's located about an hour or so (depending on the season) from Iquitos by taxi and boat and with quite a walk through the jungle to enjoy.

Ayahuasca can be an extreme experience and little information is provided in terms of aftercare. It may take months or years to integrate the experiences you have during one or more ceremonies; and my personal experience leads me to feel that ayahuasca is not a 'one stop' cure-all, but can best been seen as a way to access deep healing information, that then needs to be resolved and integrated with counselling, hypnosis or one of the energy psychology modalities that allow processing of deep psychological issues. People who have undergone traumatic experiences earlier in life may need extra support in finding resolution and may find that Ayahuasca causes more problems than they expected.

I can't stress enough that Ayahuasca is a powerful medicine which is not for recreational use. It's not a fun trip.

Bruce Parry from the BBC series Tribe and Amazon has featured ayahuasca during his experiences with tribal people. In one episode a native Indian proudly announced that he had drunk ayahuasca 3 times in his life. In his tribe, this was considered exceptional. For most native people drinking ayahuasca may be a once in a lifetime experience. Only a shaman will drink the medicine regularly to allow them to heal their patients. Bruce also drank with Percy Garcia and a clip from the program is available on youtube.

Stefi told me about her experience with the medicine.

I had cancer the year before I started drinking ayahuasca so for me the experience was seeking healing so my cancer didn't come back. It's now two years on from my ceremonies in Peru and I'm still finding new understanding from my time out there. When I returned home after a month doing a special dieta and drinking ayahuasca 3 times a week I had lost 15kg and was falling apart psychologically. I had one experience where I saw all my dark side. This is a common ayahuasca experience where the aspects of the personality that have been denied or suppressed are brought into view. Deepak Chopra and Debbie Ford have both written about the power of reclaiming the shadow, but you have to acknowledge it exists before you can do anything with it. Spending two hours while every horrible thought you've ever had in your life is paraded before you is humbling... all the jealousy, the rage, the bitterness, the vengefulness, the curses you have uttered, and the hurt you have caused other people."

Alison had a very different experience. "I had drunk the medicine a few times but nothing much happened. I'd seen some strange clowns and carnival type visions, but nothing more than that. In fact I was a bit disappointed with what I'd experienced, particularly compared to other people who were having amazing insights and fabulous visions. I wasn't expecting anything special on this night, but after a couple of hours I suddenly felt myself in the presence of the Divine Mother. I was consumed with bliss and ecstasy and suddenly understood all the things I'd read about Christian Mystics and how they felt consumed with a Divine presence and communed with God. Suddenly the desire of many people to sing and praise the Divine made perfect sense to me. I felt truly blessed to have been gifted that experience. It's something I will remember for the rest of my life."

There are several websites/forums dealing with ayahuasca and you can check my recommendations against people on those websites.

Ayahuasca can be a life-enhancing experience if approached with a level of reverence and with the guidance of a good shaman. Make your experience a positive and safe one by being cautious in whose hands you put yourself.

Good Luck.

10 Tips to Conduct Your Webinar Effectively

Some of the popular webinar platforms would be gotowebinar, Cisco Webex, dimdim, vYew, anymeeting etc

A webinar is coined from the words "Web" and "Seminar". It helps you to have audio and video feeds with nultiple people at the same time through the medium of Internet.

It is an easy and effective way to sell your products and services and spread the word about your business to your buyers. It allows you to be flexible enough to travel less and still train your employees or clients in real time with less effort an cost.

Here are a few useful tips on what you should know about a Webinar and what goes on during a Webinar.

1. You need to check the participants entry into the webinar application in order to help you start the webinar on time.

2. It is a good idea to upload your presentation and keep it ready well before the webinar in the meeting space. You may very well use this time as a marketing time for your products and business by displaying your company website/brochures etc.

3. Check the video and audio quality before the webinar because if the Internet bandwidth is not fine, participants complain about the audio and video quality.

4. Sometimes, you need to help the participants before the webinar with technical problems of installing plugins on their desktops/laptops/tablets if they require (especially so, if he is a non-tech savvy user)

5. There has to be a coordinator or moderator for question and answer sessions (This is text based coordinating because mic is not recommended to be enabled for such a huge audience - since there will be crosstalk and noise. However can be enabled for any participant on a need basis).

6. It is recommended to use good quality USB based mics at the speaker's end to cater to the highest voice quality.

7. You may also wish to present your idea/concept by sharing any application on your desktop using the webinar application. The webinar software allows you to do this.

8. It is also a good idea to record the webinars and make it available on your website/blog so that the participants can take a look at it leisurely. Absentee participants can also be accommodated.

9. You may also want to make some other speaker also the presenter in order to make it an interactive/collaborative session.

10. In addition to this, you need to maintain the list of participants and to make the webinar more effective and successful, send then at least 3 reminders once a week before, on the previous day, an hour before the webinar.

California's Train To Nowhere

California has plenty of problems, but a shortage of ways to get between its two largest metropolitan areas is not among them.

If you want a leisurely and spectacular drive, you can take Highway 1 - the Pacific Coast Highway - from Los Angeles to San Francisco. You'll see Malibu's celebrity beach houses, Santa Barbara and its surrounding wine country, William Randolph Hearst's planned bungalow at San Simeon (which ultimately became the Hearst Castle, in what may be history's greatest case of mission creep), the cliffs of Big Sur, the cedars of Carmel and the shoreline of Monterey Bay.

If you don't have time for all that touristy stuff, you can choose U.S. 101, a good expressway just inland from much of the coast. It cuts through Silicon Valley en route to the Golden Gate.

To make really good time, I concur with Google Maps' suggestion of Interstate 5, at an estimated drive time of just under six and half hours. Your passengers can snooze during most of the journey through the table-flat, agricultural Central Valley without missing any good scenery.

Or, of course, you could fly. You have your choice of five airports serving the Los Angeles area and three along the San Francisco Bay. Round-trip flights between the two cities are currently running around $200, though I recently saw a Southwest "Wanna Get Away" fare of $100 from Irvine to Oakland. The plane trip takes less than an hour and a half.

Californians could probably use a nice drive in the country, though, to take their minds off their other worries. Last year the state passed an austerity budget that, among other things, cut 23 percent from funding for the University of California and California State University systems. Still, California faces a budget deficit of $9 billion. The state's unemployment rate, as of February, remained in the double digits at 10.9 percent, compared to a national average of 8.3 percent. It is one of the states hardest hit by the foreclosure epidemic; many of its cities continue to struggle. One city, Vallejo, exited bankruptcy last year. Stockton and two smaller communities in Northern California teeter on the edge of entering it.

But, perhaps because they lack a magic bullet to solve the state's real troubles, Gov. Jerry Brown and other state officials are setting their sights on bullet trains instead.

In November 2008, voters approved a plan to build a high-speed rail system linking Los Angeles and San Francisco. At the time, the price was estimated at $35 billion to $42 billion. When they OK'd the plan, voters also agreed to allow the state to issue $10 billion in general obligation bonds to get started.

Over the course of the next three years, no tracks were laid, but the estimated cost rose to $98.5 billion. Meanwhile, officials proposed "getting started" by building the first segment of rail between Fresno and Bakersfield, which are two smallish cities in the Central Valley. Drivers can get between those two places in less than two hours, so demand for high-speed train service on that route has to be approximately nil.

Even the most fervent advocates of high-speed rail have trouble justifying the California plan at nearly $100 billion, and California has no shortage of high-speed rail advocates. Yet they did not abandon their dream thanks to its higher price tag. They just cut the price tag.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority recently scaled back the estimated cost to $68.4 billion by revising the plan to use existing tracks near the urban centers. The trade-off is that this so-called "blended approach" would require running fewer trains at slower speeds. Spend a little less money - though still a huge sum for a nearly broke state - on "high speed" rail service, and get less speed and less service.

The point of this exercise utterly escapes me, but I am neither a Californian nor a high-speed rail buff. I just like to get where I need to go by whatever means makes the most sense.

Running fewer and slower trains is not the only compromise in the latest plan to hold down the project's price tag. At least initially, the new plan would also mean that passengers traveling between Los Angeles and San Francisco would have to change trains en route, which is not typically a feature of "high speed" service. Critics have argued that, with these modifications, the project may no longer satisfy the requirements set out by the original voter-approved proposition. The proposed changes would also eliminate the already small chance that the train line would actually serve any real purpose.

Officials claim that the line will be funded through a mixture of public and private "investment." Given the railway's prospects, however, it is safe to assume that the private investments will total somewhere around zilch, and that the return on public investments will be in the same ballpark.

Meanwhile, in what superficially seems to be unconnected news, the governor has announced his support for a tax plan reached through a compromise with the California Federation of Teachers that would increase the highest state income tax rate from 10.3 percent to 13.3 percent. The increase would affect those earning $500,000 or more and would be paired with a small sales tax increase. The move reflects a change in strategy for Brown, who previously advocated increasing revenue primarily through a larger sales tax increase.

With the tax hike and the scheduled increase in Medicare taxes, top California earners - as well as many small business owners whose incomes include company profits that are reinvested in the business - would end up paying a state and federal marginal tax rate of well over 50 percent. A high-speed train to Nevada might make more sense than the route between LA and San Francisco if that happens. A lot of employers and other high-income taxpayers are going to try to get out of California as fast as they can.

High-speed rail won't accomplish much except helping California arrive at its financial ruin a little faster. Slow down and enjoy the fantastic scenery, folks. At least that's still free.

Things To Do - Get Active

You may think that in order for you and your family to have some fun and get in shape, you have to go and join a gym. You don't have to spend a ton of money just so you can get active together. There are plenty of things to do around town that everyone can get involved in. You don't have to have a set schedule or make reservations. Just pick out a day that fits within everyone's schedule, and get ready to have some fun.

When was the last time you and your family have watched an IMAX movie together? Chances are it has been quite a while since you have all even taken a trip to the movie theater together. Seeing any movie on an IMAX screen is very impressive and exciting. You can enjoy a movie on the biggest screen in the area. There is no other place you can go where you can feel as if you are an actual part of the movie. Keep in mind that this is one trip to the theater where you will have to spend a little money, but it will be well worth it.

Is anyone up for a game of golf? There is no time like the present for you and your family to learn how to play. You can go to the golf course and take out a club and start swinging away. Keep in mind that this game is a bit more challenging than it looks. You can learn to play for fun or for leisure. Either way, everyone will have a great time.

Don't forget to include in your list of things to do a trip to the insectarium. Here is where learning can be fun and exciting. You can learn about how important bugs are to human life and about the role they play in the hierarchy of evolution. Enjoy the scenic views and the environment inside of the insectarium. You and your family will have tons to be amazed at and discuss after just one visit.

One of the best things to do is to take a trip to the aquarium. You can see different animals and exhibits. Explore nature and take trip to another world. Children and adults of all ages will enjoy this type of outing. All you need is an adventurous spirit and inquiring mind.

As long as you are willing to be active, there are many different things to do. Some activities will be close by, and others may involve you having to travel a bit. Don't be afraid to try something new; you never know just how much you will enjoy it. You may end up with a new hobby. Keep track of other events and when new attractions become available by reading your local paper and going online. A visit to the library is also a great way for you to keep track of fun things to do in your area.

Create Unforgettable Memories With Holidays in Andaman

Situated in the eastern part of Bay of Bengal, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is an archipelago that is known for its islands and tiny islets. Undoubtedly the islands are bathed in unmatched natural beauty and splendor and there are some that are inhabited while others are not. The islands in Andaman and Nicobar Islands are extremely beautiful and scenic and offer a secluded retreat. Whether one is visiting Andamans for a family holiday or for a honeymoon, one is sure to be enthralled by all that Andaman has to offer. It is truly unique and pretty and offers a variety of interesting options. Andaman Islands are also a paradise for adventure lovers because it allows adventure enthusiasts to try out all kinds of amazing activities including scuba diving, snorkeling or even experimenting with fishing.

The beaches are undoubtedly a scenic heaven and are bathed in complete scenic wonder and beauty thereby offering a perfect excuse to enjoy a wonderful holiday in the Andamans. There is plenty to explore and discover considering Andaman is home to so many islands. There is Port Blair, Havelock Island, Viper Island, Barren Island, Rangat Island, Neil Island, Red Skin Island and Long Island. These are just some of the islands that travelers can explore. Most of these islands are home to quite a few hotels and resorts and they offer all the comforts to ensure one gets to enjoy a perfect holiday.

There are many tour operators that offer different types of packages for unforgettable holidays in Andaman Islands. These packages can also be customized to suit one's individual needs and preferences. Most of the operators offer complete packages that ensure every aspect of the holiday is completely covered. These packages not only cover accommodation, sightseeing but also cover air fares. They can range between a short stay of 2 to 3 days to 5 to 6 days. There are also packages available meant specifically for adventure enthusiasts who would like to explore all the adventurous spots and enjoy themselves thoroughly.

Andaman Islands are truly a paradise for everyone and have something to offer to everyone. Whether it is about exploring the varied islands, delving into its historic past or sampling all kinds of exotic seafood - Andaman Islands caters to all kinds of tastes and preferences. Earlier it was not that easy to travel to Andaman Islands but now it is absolutely possible for anyone to visit these islands and enjoy a fabulous holiday. The availability of cheap holiday packages has made Andaman Islands to most people not only within India but also outside the country. The exclusive beauty and untouched charm of these islands have allured many to bask on its glorious beaches and basically revel in a wonderful holiday.

Personalized Gifts Are the Best Gifts

Choosing a perfect gift for a certain person is a difficult task to do. Yes, especially if you do not know his or her personality and interests. You will definitely spend hours in stores trying to find the ideal gift for him or her. When people shop for a gift, one way to ensure that he or she will love the gift is to personalize it. There are many personalized gift ideas to choose from. Of course, that all depends on the occasion and your budget.

It is important to know the personality and the interests of the person before buying the gift because sometimes, people tend to buy a gift that is more in line with something that they might like for themselves. They do not focus on the recipient's needs and wants. So, before buying anything do some research about the person.

What are the best personalized gift ideas?

1. Jewelry

This is a great idea when you give it to a woman. They love jewelry so much. To make the gift more meaningful, you personalized it. For example, if the recipient is interested in wildlife and nature, a necklace with some representations of the different rare species could be the best gift for him. If your friend loves to travel, then a bracelet that represents different places of the world can be an ideal gift.

Another way to personalize a piece of jewelry is by adding some special inscription to the selected item. Many gift stores will make your request possible, just give them enough time. You can also choose from personalized clothing to hand-made crafts like pillow cases, throw pillows, etc..

2. Items For Daily Use

These types of products include T-shirts, greeting cards, posters, mugs, sweatshirts, etc.. There are companies who offer coupons and gift cards. So, if you are looking for a less expensive personalized gift, there are lots of online stores that give you discounts. A customer can add some personal messages, then have them printed onto the product of their choice.

3. Gift Baskets

These are the best type of personalized gift because it can cater the needs and wants of the recipient. If the recipient is a girl, you can give her a basket full of chocolates and red roses. Just do some research on what she is interested in.

It is always tricky to choose the right gift for a person. However, by personalizing the gift, it will be an easy task as it can meet the needs and wants of the person. Do not stress yourself anymore thinking what gift you will give your friend. Yes, all thanks to personalized gifts! Good luck in choosing the best gift!

Wake Up To Great Mornings by Using a 2-Slice Toaster

There are a number of household appliances that one will easily associate with breakfast every morning. For example, you have coffee makers, considered by many as must-haves inside the house. More than half of the population can't start their morning right without their cup of coffee. Aside from coffee machines, another functional household appliance associated with great mornings, are toasters. Toasters have been around for decades and just like other household appliances, some changes and improvements have been made. From the basic 2-slice toaster to highly advanced toasters, these household appliances have managed to improve in style and functionality through the years. Thanks to the availability of different types of toasters, one can easily whip out a breakfast that can rival those served in hotels. A basic 2 slice toaster can make toasted bread with butter on both sides, but for the advanced toasters, you can be treated to café-inspired toasts and toasted bagels.

Toasters Retain Simple Operation

The modern commercial toaster may be available in different brands and styles, but still has the same operation and construction used to define these common household appliances. The basic function of toasters is to heat a piece of bread using infrared radiation. The moment you turned the toaster on and you put sliced bread into it, the coils start to heat and glow. The red color effect suggests that infrared radiation is now produced and this acts on the surfaces of the bread, hence the charring that one sees after the bread is ejected. The design and functions of toasters may be similar but it's not recommended that you simply shop blindly and get the first 2-slice toaster that you see. It pays to do some research and to check the features to get the best out of your new toaster.

Here's How to Shop for your 2-Slice Toaster

Generally, the best toaster should be able to toast both sides of the sliced bread evenly. The toasting should be consistent as well. If you get quality toast today, then it's expected your toaster will deliver the same quality for the next few days. To screen these toasters with confidence, simply use some of these tricks and tips.

1. Pay attention to the toasting chamber of the toasters. You should get the one that is wide enough that can accommodate your choice cuts and slices of breads and muffins.

2. The toaster should be user-friendly and comes with controls that are easy to spot and read.

3. It should come with a sliding plate that can collect the crumbs. The design of the toaster should allow for the free fall of the crumbs.

4. The surface of the toaster should be easy to clean and smooth.

5. If possible, go for the toaster that will remain 'relatively cold' on the surface even though it's currently toasting the bread.

Keep all these things in mind when looking for your 2-slice toaster. This is one of your household appliances that can make or break your morning, so better to invest in the right toaster.

Harlech, a Seaside Town in Snowdonia, North Wales - My Top Tips On Things To Do in Harlech

Harlech is one of my favorite towns in Snowdonia. I might be a little biased as I went to secondary school there and still play rugby for the local side when my knees are up to it. But with it's sandy beaches, medieval castle and narrow windy streets, there's no denying the town's appeal. Here are my top tips of things to do in the town.

Harlech Beach

We're spoilt for choice in this part of Snowdonia for beaches. But Harlech beach has to be one of the nicest. Towering dunes roll down to a wide expanse of clean flat sand and the clean waters of Cardigan Bay. Turn onto Beach Road opposite the train station. Plenty of parking at the far end.


Naturally, if you're in Harlech, you have to visit the castle. It was built at the end of the 13th century by Edward I in a forlorn effort to keep the Welsh under control. Hopefully, the locals are a bit friendlier these days. Buy the slim Cadw information booklet (yellow spine) on the way in. There's not much information inside the castle so it's a handy guide. There's a bit of a drop at the top so once you scale one of the towers, make sure you keep younger children under control.

Ice Cream

As the sign says, probably the best Ice Cream in Harlech. On the crossroads just above the castle. I like the 'cheese cake' flavor. But Louise thinks the 'belgian chocolate' is best. And. to be fair, she's eaten a lot more ice cream than me over the years.


There's a great selection of cafes in Harlech. Most of them on the high street in the upper part of the town. The Cemlyn is great for lunches, the Plas would be my choice for a cream tea with it's balcony overlooking the bay and Fraya has breathed new life into the Llew Glas, a welcoming more modern deli type cafe.


I'll put my hands up here. I don't know anything about golf. But the Royal St Davids links course is up there with the best apparently. Numerous national and international events are held here. I'll refer you to their website for more information.

Harlech Swimming Pool

The council had threatened to close the pool a couple of years ago. A travesty when you consider that our girls for example, would have had to travel an hour to the next already over subscribed pool to learn to swim. But thankfully a group of brave and dedicated local volunteers have taken over the running of the facility. With the help of a lottery grant, they have transformed the building into modern leisure centre complete with an amazing rock climbing room and a very reasonably priced café. They've ensured hundreds of local children continue to learn to swim.

The Lion Pub

I'm guessing you might want to go to the pub at some stage. The Lion would be my choice. Like in a lot of other rural towns, Harlech's pubs are finding the going tough at the moment. But the Lion remains one of the best, with a welcoming real fire and a friendly face behind the bar.


There are a couple of restaurants to choose from. The Branwen is a gastro pub type place down newr the golf club. Up town near the cross roads there's a Caribbean restaurant which is also very nice. The Castle Cottage is just round the corner is a little more expensive but well worth it. There are also a couple of take aways to choose from.

Theatr Harlech

Theatr Harlech seats around 250 people and hosts a variety of events from acting and dancing workshops to professional shows and art house films. During the summer events and shows are also performed in the castle grounds. Last year we sat on the grass with a bottle of wine and some cheese watching Romeo and Juliet as the ravens circled overhead. A truly magical evening.


The hills above Harlech offer some of the best views in Wales. I'd suggest buying an OS map before parking in Bron Y Graig car park. Head south along the old Llanfair road before turning inland. There are lots of footpaths up there, but depending on the time available and your fitness, choose a loop which brings you back round and down onto the road above the Lion Pub. I guess it would be rude not to pop in for a quick shandy before heading back to the car.

By Gwion Llwyd of Dioni Self Catering Holiday Cottages

Visiting Greenville, South Carolina With the Kids

Greenville, South Carolina, in the scenic Upstate region of the state, offers many family friendly attractions. Visitors will find plenty of activities to do with the kids. Some favorite choices include the Greenville Zoo, Discovery Island Water Park, and the Children's Museum of the Upstate. For some sports action, take in a Greenville Drive baseball game.

The Greenville Zoo is located east of downtown in Cleveland Park. Visitors will find wildlife from all over the world including primates, elephants, giraffes, lions, and a leopard. The zoo is home to more than 350 animals. One of the zoo's newest residents is a baby giraffe named Kiko, born in October 2012. Greenville Zoo is open daily from 9am-5pm. Admission is $8.75 for adults and $5.50 for ages 3-15. Facilities available in Cleveland Park include picnic areas and a playground.

Discovery Island Water Park is one of three water parks owned by the Greenville County Recreation District. The park features a leisure pool, two water slides, and a lazy river to float down. FlowRider, a simulated surfing machine lets visitors practice boogey boarding and surfing. Lifeguards are always on duty. The water park is located at 417 Baldwin Road at Southside Park in Simpsonville. Admission is $12 for guests 48 inches or taller and $8 for children shorter than 48 inches tall. Park hours are Monday-Saturday from 10:30am-5:30pm and Sundays from 1-5:30pm.

The Children's Museum of the Upstate is one of Greenville's newest attractions. Interactive exhibits focus on art, science, health and nutrition, the environment, and the humanities. Children can explore space travel at the 3, 2, 1 Blast Off! exhibit. They can use cameras and Teleprompters at the WTCM Studios. The Talkin' Trash exhibit teaches about recycling and conservation. The Kaleidoscope Climber is a favorite exhibit. Young children will enjoy the water play tables in the Toddler Lily Pond. The Children's Museum of the Upstate is located at 300 College Street in Greenville. Summer hours are Monday-Saturday from 9am-5pm and Sundays from 11am-5pm. Admission is $10 for adults and $9 for children ages 2-12.

The whole family can have fun at a Greenville Drive baseball game at Fluor Field in the West End. The team is a Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. They play teams in the South Atlantic League. Ticket prices are very reasonable, ranging from $5 for lawn seating to $8 for box seats. Fluor Field is located at 945 S. Main Street. Free parking is available at County Square, with a complimentary shuttle running to the ball park.

I Already Know English, Why Should I Learn Spanish?

Yes, it is true that you can drive 4,500 miles in North America, from Miami to Fairbanks, and English will be the official language all along the way. But you can drive 7,500 miles south from San Diego, California to Punta Arenas, Chile and Spanish will be the official language all along the way! (Actually it's 6,537 miles as the crow flies, but I said 'drive'! Incidentally it's 3,963 miles from Miami to Fairbanks, as the crow flies.)

In fact, for the Americas, in terms of the numbers of native speakers, the principal languages are Spanish, English, Portuguese and French, in that order! So, unless you go to Brazil or Haiti or Quebec, if you speak both English and Spanish, you can get along quite nicely. For the entire world, Spanish is the fourth most-spoken language, after English, Chinese and Hindustani. It is widely spoken in Europe.

But there are other reasons to learn Spanish:

1. Talk with your neighbors. There are 30+ million or so people in the U.S. who speak Spanish. Once they were concentrated along the Mexican border, in Miami and New York. But now they are all over the U.S. It is useful to be able to communicate with your Spanish-speaking neighbors, many of whom don't speak English.

2. Learning a new language is good for your brain! People who stay active mentally, taking on new challenges, in addition to getting more out of life, are less likely to become afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease or other degenerative ailments. Brain cells are like muscle cells in that if you don't use them, they get lazy, atrophy and become less healthy. Learning a new language forces your brain to grow new cells or find new neuron paths among existing cells. That is good, means you will live longer and enjoy life more.

3. Travel will be more fun! While you can visit Mexico, Panama and Argentina perfectly well without speaking Spanish, you won't have nearly as much fun or get nearly as much out of it as you will if you do. Speaking Spanish will let you explore on your own, it will open doors for you that most tourists don't even know about!

It lets you get out of the English-speaking enclave (The 'Gringo Ghetto'!) and go where the real people are, where the culture, the shopping the dining, sports events and other activities are.

It will also save you a great deal of money. If you can shop in stores, stay in hotels and eat in restaurants where only Spanish is spoken, you will generally find that the prices are much lower.

4. It will help with your work. Being able to communicate in Spanish gives you a competitive edge over those who cannot. You can talk with the cleanup crew, with contractors, customers or clients that don't speak English.

5. It's a cultural experience. First off, it will help you understand your English better. Latin was the official language of England until the year 1250. Many English words have Latin origins. Learning the Spanish version of those words gives new understanding of your English.

You can get a different slant on the news by reading newspapers and hearing the news in Spanish. Seeing events through the eyes of the Spanish-speaking world will increase your cultural understanding and appreciation.

Being able to communicate with people who grew up in another culture gives you new insights into how they think and how the world looks to them.

6. It's fun! Whether it is just from the pleasure of taking on a new challenge and making progress doing so or the fun of watching your ability and understanding increase, learning another language is a pleasurable experience.

7. It's easy! Forget the drudgery of boring classrooms! This is the 21st century! Get a digital media learning course such as Rocket Spanish. It's not expensive, is in mp3 format so you can download to your iPod or burn CD's and listen to it any time and place you want. Repeat lessons at your leisure, go fast or slow. You are in control. You have complete charge of your learning process.

In Summary: You should consider learning Spanish because it can be useful, fun, is a culturally broadening experience, exercises and conditions your brain, equips you to better deal with the modern world and makes you a better citizen and person. With English and Spanish you will be very well equipped to deal with the rapidly shrinking world of the Americas. And a cost-benefit analysis will quickly show that you will get a great deal more out of it than what it will cost you!

Audio Books - The Big Wave of the Future

Are we losing hours in a day or are we just getting busier and having less time to do all things that we want? It has come to the point where time has become our most precious and coveted commodity, even surpassing money in many instances. How can we "get back" some of those lost hours? One way is listening to audio books and it has become a red hot new trend that is sweeping the nation. Studies show that less Americans today are buying printed books and converting to audio books. In fact right now, one-third more people are listening to audio books and it's estimated that downloadable audio books will outsell printed books by huge quantities within just a few more years.

Why are more people switching over to downloadable audio books? People are busier nowadays than ever before and are forced to give up much of their leisurely time. They have hectic schedules and busy lifestyles and must multi-task to make their day more productive. Listening to audio books puts a lot of "dead time" to good use. You can listen to audio books while doing anything at all. Hear your favorite novels while exercising, walking your dog, cooking or doing chores around the house. Listen to them while shopping, running errands, commuting or traveling. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Audio books serve a large variety of uses. They can be used for studying, learning a new skill, developing your inner self, meditating, relaxing and reducing stress. Audio books are perfect for people learning a foreign language because you can clearly hear the correct pronunciation and it's almost like having your very own teacher there right beside you. Audio books are most ideal for the visually impaired and people who suffer from dyslexia.

Downloadable audio books offer many advantages. Thousands of titles are available all the time from world leading publishers. More best sellers and popular titles are available every month from top selling authors and the figures are growing exponentially. Audio books are very convenient, portable and affordable. Many sell for as little as a few dollars and some are even free. In many ways they are more economical than printed books in that it saves a countless numbers of trees every year. The quality of audio books nowadays is excellent and far superior to the ones that were made years ago. Today's audio books contain any number of narrators and characters and are filled with realistic sound effects and background music. This makes them much more dramatic, exciting and entertaining. Audio books are easy to download quickly and can be converted to any format that you choose. They are yours to keep and they'll practically last forever.

Which format is the best to use for listening to audio books? It really depends on each person's personal preferences. The oldest format is the cassette tape which offers a number of advantages. They are durable and convert easily to a CD and they won't bend or snap like a CD. They are simple to use and resume play once the tape has been stopped. Cassette tapes are easier to play for children, many elderly and "technically challenged" individuals. Many elderly people have difficulty reading small print in books and a good number of individuals are either blind or dyslexic, so they can all find audio books on tape the answer to their prayers. However, cassette tapes do pose a few drawbacks. The recording quality is somewhat more inferior compared with the other available formats. Tapes can wear out quicker and sometimes the ribbon gets twisted, broken or "eaten" inside the player. Cassette tapes are becoming harder to find and will eventually become obsolete.

More popular audio book formats are CD, MP3 and iPod. They all offer much better digital sound and the overall quality is much higher than conventional cassette tapes. CD's can be played on any PC, DVD player, car audio system and Play Station video game consoles. MP3's and iPods are the most compact formats of all and are gaining huge popularity. All formats have their good points and drawbacks. Everyone should choose the format which best works for them. Whatever your decision, audio books are the best thing since sliced bread.

Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarms for Your Home

A survey led by Kidde, the leading manufacturer of residential fire safety products, revealed that 87 percent of homeowners in California had fuel-burning appliances. It brought to light that over a half of these families did not have a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm despite the fact that these devices are easy to install and can be bought for less than $25 per unit.

Carbon monoxide leaks noiselessly from household appliances such as gas ovens, fires and boilers. It has no smell, no taste and is invisible. The only way to detect the presence of carbon monoxide is by installing a detector in your home.

Kidde offers a wide range of reliable carbon monoxide alarms that can be battery-powered, plug-in or wire-in units. They operate with the company's Nighthawk electrochemical CO sensor that emits loud beeps rated at 85 decibels at 10 feet.

Some models double up as a fire alarm and are capable of emitting a voice alert to inform you of the type of hazard to avoid confusion. The alarm announces "Warning: carbon monoxide!" when CO is detected, and "Fire! Fire!" for a smoke or fire hazard. These combination alarms halve installation time and help preserve your home décor.

Some models have a digital display feature to constantly monitor the level of carbon monoxide the unit is sensing. It updates every 15 seconds. A backlight display allows for easy reading in the dark.

Kidde battery-powered alarm devices can be simply screwed to the flat surface of any wall or ceiling. Some devices can be placed on a shelf or a bedside table, handy if you need a portable alarm for your travels.

You can plug these devices into any standard household outlet. Kidde plug-in CO alarms come with battery backup to ensure constant protection even during power outages, as well as a tamper resist feature. If the device comes loose from the socket it goes into constant alarm mode.

Kidde wire-in carbon monoxide alarms can be interconnected with as many as 24 Kidde fire, smoke and gas protection devices on one circuit. They can also replace existing brand models including First Alert,BRK and Firex without the need for rewiring. In this case the Kidde Quick Convert Adapter, which costs just a few dollars, will be required.

Carbon Monoxide kills hundreds of people every year. Kidde's range of CO alarms caters for every budget and situation. Installing a detector will give you protection peace of mind.

The Natural Choice for Your Retreat - Ubud Bali

A little piece of paradise called Ubud is a sanctuary located within the alluring mountains of Bali tucked away from the bustling tourists. Boosting rich heritage and history, Ubud is known as Bali's cultural center. It's the perfect place for anyone seeking rest and relaxation or an unforgettable adventure.

Ubud has 14 towns, abundant with fresh flora and fauna complementing a serene ambiance. Incredible picturesque views from all over the area will take your breath away. As the sun sets, enjoy a traditional dance performance by the locals. It's a haven of tranquility for the traveller who seeks to enrich their mind, body and soul.

What to do in Ubud

You'll find endless enjoyment with arts, crafts and nourishing cuisine a huge part of Ubud's culture. Intrigued with ancient mysticism and culture? Ubud has a wealth of historic temples and museums for you to discover. Many parts can be explored by bicycle and foot, which makes the experience even more exhilarating. Rice paddies can be seen throughout the outskirts of Ubud, with exotic animals and rare bird species. The richness of fresh vegetation and welcoming smiles is a clear sign of how precious of a gem Ubud really is.

The best places stay (highest to lowest)

Fivelements Puri Ahimsa Ubud

At Fivelements, Puri Ahimsa, Ubud, healing is inspired by the Balinese way of life, encouraging us to nurture harmony with spirit, nature and one another promoting holistic wellbeing.

This award-winning retreat has flawlessly provided the best relaxing and soothing methods, which promotes healing on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. Fivelements beautiful world-class sanctuary features a wide array of services including charka balancing, detoxification, meditation and yoga.

You'll feel the place is your own with only seven rooms. Each riverside suite is housed in a private pavilion fashioned after a sacred spiral and embellished with traditional Balinese 'Songket' textiles and antique touches.

Healing rituals include a combination of meditation, deep bodywork and prana energy, performed by healers whose gifted talents have been handed down through generations of Balinese families. Energy Healing introduces the powerful Panca Mahabhuta in which Pak Wayan works to balance the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether within the body offering you a life changing experience.

Fivelements overall aim is to co-create a trusting connection and gently guide you through a custom-made healing program, providing you with the wisdom to take home. Here you can truly honour your highest potential.

Rate per night from $475 USD

Awards: FuturArc Green Leadership Award 2011, Tri Hita Karana Medal Award 2011, Destination Spa 2011, Spa Finder Category Winner 2011, Spa Finder Country Award Winner 2011, Word Luxury Spa Awards 2012, Asia Pacific Hotel Awards 2011 & 2012

Amori Villa

Amori Villa is a hidden gem nestled within the mountains of Ubud. This luxury boutique spa retreat will give you tranquility, amazing views and incredible service.

The moment you step into Amori Villa, prepare to be transported to another world of paradise.

This haven of luxurious seclusion sits on the edge of the traditional rice farming village of Pejeng, in the Banjar of Dukuh Kawan, yet is only a few minutes by Amori shuttle bus, bike ride or long stroll from the cultural and artistic centre of the island.

Amori Villa features five private residential suites, each with its own unique architectural characteristics and furnishings. There are four twin suites and a one-bedroom villa (which sleeps up to four).

You'll also enjoy the living and dining pavilion, pool and spa. You can reserve either individual suites or the entire complex. It's beyond perfect for an intimate wedding or private group.

Whether you stay as a group or couple, you'll love every minute of this exquisite, peaceful sanctuary.

Rate per night from $230 USD

Bali Eco Stay

'Where the rice paddies meet the jungle... and you can still see the sea!'

Hosted by two ex-pat Australian eco-tourism advocates John & Cath Blundstone, Bali Eco Stay is a remarkable area to appreciate nature at its finest.

Look no further if you'd like to experience rich local Balinese village culture, surrounded by stunning organic rice fields, mountain fed streams, cascading waterfalls with spectacular views to the ocean.

Nourish your body with Balinese massages, sumptuous organic meals and pure mountain spring water. Love swimming? How does a natural pool with very own waterfall sound?

Bali Eco Stay will bring you fresh mountain air, pure water, delectable organic dishes, adventure activities, traditional culture and a nurturing relaxing retreat.

With just four traditional bungalows - Bali Eco Stay is one of only seven eco lodges in the world to be awarded a 5/5 eco rating by Eco Tropical Resorts.

What more could you ask for?

Rate per night from $100 USD

Bali Mountain Retreat

Located on the mystic slopes of Mt. Batukaru is a peaceful getaway called Bali Mountain Retreat - just one hours drive from Ubud. Instant relaxation awaits with the echo of trickling streams, revitalising mountain air and panoramic views stretching to the coast.

Here, you can enjoy a taste of the best of Bali with authentic Balinese cuisine, traditional architecture and heart-warming service.

You'll enjoy a unique experience with the local Balinese people and their culture. With terraced rice fields, forests and sacred temples to explore there's lots to see and do including guided treks and cycling tours. Or simply relax, unwind and take in the natural surrounding beauty.

Accommodation is a blend of traditional Balinese and contemporary Asian styles, ranging from a handcrafted teak house to comfortable bungalows.

Bali Mountain Retreat caters for couples, families and is perfect for small group bookings such as weddings or retreats with 10 rooms in total. It's is a favourite for yoga groups with a mirrored workshop area featuring panoramic views.

Indulge your senses in the Dragonfly Spa offering an extensive range of therapeutic and indulgent massage treatments to rejuvenate and restore your mind and body.

Whether it's a few days or a few weeks, Bali Mountain Retreat offers the perfect way for you to revitalise and reconnect.

Rate per night from $42 USD

Now it's your turn. Have you stayed at Bali Eco Stay, Fivelements, Amori Villa or Bali Mountain Retreat? Or do you have a favourite part of Ubud you'd like to share?

Hey Baby Boomers - It Could Be Worse!

After awhile, all of the doom and gloom in the air starts to wear you down. For us baby boomers, now was supposed to be the time that we've all been waiting for. Our cherished golden years are upon us - or almost so - and this was to be a very special time for us. Blissful retirement, travel, leisure, fun - it's what we worked for our entire lives.

And then came the financial meltdown. We've been at war for 10 years now, and it's still going on. The government can't seem to get anything done, and the country appears to be losing its edge to China, India and who knows who else. Our homes have declined in value, we think we need more money, and nobody's hiring. Baby boomers are crying the blues - this isn't what we signed for.

It's time to get a grip, fellow baby boomers. It's not really all that bad. In fact, it could be a lot worse.

Think about it.

Just because things might not be working out exactly the way we wanted to and the way we always thought they would doesn't mean anything really. We just need to adapt and adjust, the way we always have. We just have a new sense of reality about the world around us.

For example, many baby boomers set out long ago to become "millionaires." Some of us made it and some of us didn't. But the term millionaire is simply a label, nothing more, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of life that you lead. In fact, there are some pretty unhappy so-called millionaires out there right now who wish their lives were a little less complex and a lot more fun.

Your goal should be to have enough money to live comfortably and to be able to enjoy your life. You don't need a million dollars in the bank to do that. You just need enough to support your lifestyle, and there is nothing wrong with making the money you need as you go. There are lots of ways to do that, if you'll only spend a little time and look for them.

That's another thing baby boomers now have, more than ever - time. Our kids are for the most part grown and on their own. Many of us have moved on into new careers that don't demand that we commit every waking hour of every day to our business endeavors. In short, we're free to do what ever we want to do for as long as we want to it, whenever we want to. How cool is that?

We've also learned that we don't need to live like Donald Trump to be truly happy. We know, through experience, how to live within our means, and we also know that we can be happy doing that. Baby boomers have learned how to shop for the things that they really want, at a price they can afford to pay.

In short, we are truly free to be ourselves, and to enjoy every second of the process. At the end of the day, that's really the key - enjoy yourself, while you can. The Big Clock is always ticking. Let's face it - you won't live forever. Don't let the incessant prattling of the media, the shenanigans of big banks and big business, and the flailing of the government get you down. Live your life the way you want to live it. You've earned it.

Chennai: A New Home to Property Investors

Formerly known as Madras, Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu and one of the four metropolitan cities of India. It is the city that is home to a number of industries and it is an industrial city where many industries and companies related to computer, technology, automobile, healthcare, hardware manufacturing, etc. are located.

Chennai is a city that was founded by the British in the seventeenth century. It is a tourist place that has one of the longest beaches in the world, the Marina Beach, also known for its library, bars, museums, restaurants and apartments and hotels near the sea. The film industry of Chennai is one of the busiest film industries and makes more than a hundred films a year. Its economy revolves around the cinema industry, its port and the industries. Tourism is also an important part of its economy that adds to the revenues. Chennai is a city of tropical climate, which is ideal for a relaxing holiday at its beaches, or other visiting places such as parks and gardens, the Zoo and the Madras Crocodile Bank.

Chennai has also been home to a number of youngsters who have found Chennai as their dream destination to shape up their career. Many of them have settled in the city as their careers can get good moves there in Chennai. The city is flooded with a number of IT and ITES companies which have been quite helpful in offering the best job opportunities to them.

People who have been migrated to Chennai have also invested in the properties, as there are good chances of getting higher rents in future with the rental house in Chennai. As far as the youngsters who have been migrating to the city are concerned, most of them consider homes on rent as a good option.
Also there are companies which offer accommodation to the employees, and they take the property on lease. As soon as the employee leaves the place, the place is occupied by the new occupant. As per the rules, the lease is on the name of the employer.

The property rates in Chennai went down at the time of global recession, but now, the market is booming and the prices are on all time high, making it difficult for the new investors to think upon buying properties in Chennai. Although there are certain suburban areas that are less costly as compared to the main city and that can be considered if someone is interested in buying property in Chennai.

A number of new builders are investing in various new projects in the city, and they are expected to offer good flats and apartments in the near future, and will definitely solve the problem of overcrowding in the city to an extent.

Leisure Batteries: Why Are Energy Branded Leisure Batteries a Safe Bet for a Quality Product?

Strong and powerful leisure batteries are vital when you are on holiday in your caravan or traveling along in your motorboat or motorhome. That's why many people trust Energy brand batteries to run their prized home electrical run vehicles.

Energy branded leisure batteries are known for their reliability and quality. Energy Batteries are intended to work for operating the cyclic energy demands that are used in a large range of leisure solicitations, such as caravans, motorhomes and marine vehicles. It is a well trusted brand of batteries made for running these kinds of things that many people use every day.

Types of Energy Branded Leisure Batteries

Leisure batteries come in different power levels, so you need to know the kind of Energy brand of these batteries your caravan or motorboat uses. They will supply a source of electrical energy to many sorts of appliances. There are three kinds of batteries: flooded deep cycle, maintenance free deep cycle, and AGM deep cycle.

Flooded Deep Cycle

The flooded deep cycle kind of leisure batteries are for budget minded people. They have a year warranty and Energy brand versions include a 75 AH and a 100 AH strength of battery. These would likely be used in smaller types of vehicles or other devices, so if you own one of these then be sure to double check to see if you can use this version of a leisure battery.

Maintenance Free Deep Cycle

The maintenance free version of deep cycle Energy branded leisure batteries come in a 75AH and a 105AH version and are sealed and also have a yearlong guarantee. They could be used in both smaller and medium sized types of vehicles and other devices. Be sure to check the manual for your device before buying a particular type of battery.

AGM Deep Cycle

The AGM version of the Energy deep cycle leisure batteries cost more, but they also last longer than the other two batteries. They are also sealed and come in strengths of 85AH, 110AH and 140AH and have a two year warranty. If you own a larger device or vehicle, then this may be the perfect choice for running it. However, be sure to check the manual to see the exact model of Energy branded battery you need to power your item.

If you own a motor scooter, marine vehicle or caravan then you likely will have heard of and have need to buy leisure batteries from time to time. These types of batteries can run your product for several hours or even days depending on how often it is used. Your manual should give you the answer as to how long it will work on a full charge.

They can then be recharged, so they save money over other types of energy sources. So, if you want to save money and energy, then look no further than buying Energy branded batteries for your needs.

3 Elements of a Successful Dental Marketing Strategy - Do You Have Them?

  • Building your "BRAND" and "WORD of MOUTH" reputation

Marketing is NOT SALES but should generate the perception of your value and reputation in the minds of both your current and prospective patients. Start with this:

  • Target Patient Audience: Who are they and what are the types of procedures? What does that demographic expect (e.g. what preferred communication method, what dental procedures, desired experience, etc.)?
  • Your Brand Image: Ask yourself this: What images come to peoples minds when they think of your brand? Start there.
  • Caveat; Your marketing budget will be wasted if your patients' experiences aren't consistent with the brand you build. Bad reputations travel faster than good ones.

  • Generate Sales Leads

"Hold and Grow" Strategy is best. It's easier and less expensive to keep an existing patient than to attract new patients. It's fundamental; remember you have competition. The goal should be:

  • Patient Retention & increased per patient revenue value annually
  • New Patient acquisition consistent with your targeted demographic profile.

Use a hybrid approach mixing "Old School" Direct Mail and various social media tactics to attract the targeted demographic. Here are a couple of helpful hints:

  • "Direct Mail" Marketing with coupons and other discount incentives. Track your ROI (new revenue value compared to campaign cost). According to a recent study conducted by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), direct mail return on investment (ROI) is improving. In 2012, an investment of $1 in dental marketing ad expenditures is predicted to return, on average, nearly $12.18 in incremental revenue.

You tell me, do you think it's worth it?

  • Social Media - Focus on Facebook engagement tactics and contests (via offers, promoted posts, etc.) to get them to "engage" (like, comment, share) with their friends, thereby multiplying your efforts through others. DO THIS CONSISTENTLY and SCHEDULE it. It won't get done otherwise.

  • Follow up (May be most important)

Why do so many Dental Practices and businesses fail to do this?

Good Marketing Plans perform like the "gift that keeps on giving". Patient revenue continues to be generated pass the end of the dental marketing campaign. However, it won't without follow up. Many methods (e.g. direct mail, phone calls, social media, mobility, etc.) exist to accomplish this imperative.

Fundamentally all of these options require commitment. Your staff may see it as a job, but your patients see it as a relationship. Please remember even your existing patients have choices of dental providers.

In conclusion, successful campaign requires these essential elements to produce planned outcome. They are:

  • Building your dental practice "BRAND" and "WORD of MOUTH" reputation
  • Generate Sales Leads, Dental Practice's revenue life blood
  • Follow up to keep your dental marketing investment the "gift that keeps on giving".

Top Ten Tips for Planning the Perfect Destination Wedding and Honeymoon

While destination weddings and honeymoons are becoming increasingly popular, they require careful, advanced planning. Details surrounding these life-changing events can be extremely stressful even when taking place close to home, so here are a few well-placed tips that should help you avoid some potential pitfalls when traveling abroad:

1. Leave yourself at least six months to locate the venue, meet with the on-site planner, decide on a guest list, and send out invitations with detailed information on room blocks, transportation options, and even suggested dress for the occasion. Plan on visiting your wedding destination well in advance of your event so that you and your future spouse know what to expect upon arrival. If it's an outdoor ceremony, make certain the venue has a backup site for the ceremony and reception in case the weather does not cooperate.

2. Your choice of honeymoon should reflect the likes of the bride and the groom. Do your research on-line, consult friends who have been there, and scour the web. If you like the beach, then consider the Caribbean where the sun is almost always shining, and the reception entertainment can include a flavor of the region. One of the most popular countries for honeymooners is The Bahamas, where the choice of locations vary from luxury villas to intimate cottages and even mega hotels.

3. Make sure you create a budget that everyone can agree on, whether you are paying for it yourself or other family members are footing the bill. It's easy to make last minute decisions that increase the expenses, but remember - these impulses can leave you starting married life with unexpected financial obligations.

4. Know the payment policies of your destination, such as cash only vs. credit card. Make sure to bring along your ATM card for those times when only cash or certain credit cards can be used. You should consider carrying some cash in the event that ATMs are not readily available.

5. Use common sense when visiting popular places after dark. Chances are you will be totally safe during your wedding or honeymoon visit, but it's a good idea to check with your concierge before venturing out into unfamiliar areas.

6. If you will be honeymooning in a country outside of where you currently reside, have your mobile phone adjusted to make long distance phone calls. And remember, roaming rates can end up with a surprisingly large bill, so keep your calls brief.

7. Bring along pre-addressed, stamped envelopes and a batch of thank you notes. Even honeymoons can provide some time to write those notes of appreciation for wedding gifts, well wishes, etc.

8. Contact the resort concierge regarding activities and "things to do" ahead of your wedding or honeymoon. Get their best recommendations on those "must see" places to visit. An experienced concierge has the "inside scoop" on all of this information and can provide you with what you need for a personalized tropical getaway.

9. Coordinate with your spouse on the wardrobe you'll be packing for the honeymoon. It's good to know ahead of time what is considered "resort casual" and if there are any suggested dress guidelines at your destination.

10. Make on-line tools your "go to" resource to review accommodations, recreation choices, the best beaches, and the honeymoon packages which surpass even your greatest expectations. That way, you'll have a trip you'll both remember for years to come.

These suggestions are brought to you by the warm and hospitable staff at Grand Isle Resort & Spa, the award-winning, all villa resort on Emerald Bay in Great Exuma, The Bahamas. We have hosted many happy honeymooners, and planned perfect destination weddings for couples from all over the world.

Some of the Main Reasons to Consider a Cruise Holiday

If you are looking for a holiday with a slower pace but want one which offers a variety of options and a chance to visit some the top destinations around the world, then maybe its time to go on a cruise holiday.

Here we look at some of the main reasons to consider a cruise holiday and what type of things you may expect when you set sail on the high seas.

There is no doubt that every year more and more people take the option of going on a cruise holiday as a relaxing way to see some of the most beautiful locations around the globe whilst being able to travel in supreme comfort.

Many people choose to go cruising because it offers great flexibility as you will be able to select a holiday which suits your personal needs. You can choose to go on a sedate river cruise which could take you through the rivers of Europe whilst others may prefer longer Mediterranean or Caribbean cruises, which could take you to tropical islands.

Another aspect of flexibility is what you would like to be included within your chosen cruise holiday, like excursions at various stops along the route of your holiday. Or you might like an all-inclusive cruising break where you don't have to be concerned with any extras.

During the current climate, many of us are looking for value for money when choosing a holiday. Some people might consider cruising to be more expensive than other forms of tourist holidays, but in reality this is often not the case. By the time you add in your hotels and accommodation and flights, without adding eating out, you will find a cruise holiday will fare well for good value whilst travelling in luxury.

If you are possibly looking for a holiday which offers plenty of activities, pastimes and daily entertainment, then a cruise holiday will surely come out tops over other forms of package holidays. For convenience, all of these things will be available for you every day and in many cases included in particular packages. Many cruise holiday operators try to offer as much as possible to on-board passengers while they're enjoying a luxury cruise.

If you don't happen to be travelling with a holiday travel partner or a group, then you might think a cruise holiday is also a great way to meet other people too. Cruising offers a way to develop friendship through meeting socially in some of the bars, restaurants or clubs on-board, which means you could well come away from your cruising experience having made some new friends along your journey.

Kerala Backwaters - Gently Down the Stream

The quaint little balcony was large enough to accommodate two cane chairs, a table and little else. To reach it we had to climb over the ledge of our bedroom window and since the projection had no protective railing we had to be careful not to trip or fall over into the water below. Yes, the compact little perch had been grafted onto the side of our houseboat which drifted down the Backwaters of Kerala, the vibrant, living, 1500 km network of canals, estuaries and lakes that serve as the highways, by-ways and lifeline of the people who live along its banks.

We got to be very attached to our precarious positioned balcony. Here we sat, sipping a on a cold tall beer (the camera within easy reach), sailing the Kerala Backwaters and watching the lazy rural world of Kerala, India, slip by. Women washing utensils, men paddling by in carved out canoes laden with a rich harvest of bananas and coconuts, the sapphire flash of a kingfisher, buffalos being ferried across the waters, rows of large spider-like Chinese fishing nets straining the waters, the faithful in their brightest Sunday best streaming out of a chapel along the banks, children with fishing rods waving gleefully out to us, the silhouette of a toddy tapper scaling up a palm tree...

Kerala's Backwaters are in a constant flux and like voyeurs we found ourselves peering in at the drama of everyday life in India, simple, uncomplicated and fascinating as it unraveled around us against the backdrop of lush vegetation, a virtual riot of green.

The sight of police petrol boats and white ambulance crafts cruising by and the thatched hut that houses the State Bank of India wedged between a school and a church along the banks of the waterway reminded us that the here and now meshed comfortably with unchanging tradition along Kerala's Backwaters.

We were distracted from our musings when the houseboat attendant knocked on the door and informed us that breakfast would be served in l0 minutes. So we climbed back into our bedroom to freshen up in the attached bathroom with running water and a flushing toilet. We then strolled down to the lounge at the front of boat and feasted leisurely on a freshly prepared meal of local Kerala dishes.

We were sampling more than just the flavours of the local food; we were one of the privileged few who got an opportunity to explore the Backwaters of Kerala in a romantic little houseboat. What made the boat unique was that it was virtually a hotel unit grafted onto the structure of traditional rice boats or cargo boats known as a kettuvalloms in Malayalam, the local language of Kerala.

'These boats are what their name suggest,' the young lad from Kerala who was our onboard guide informed us. Kettu is to tie and vallom means boat. The kettuvallom is a boat made of wooden planks stitched or tied together by rope.

At Alumkadavu village, a traditional boat building center, we stopped briefly to explore the dry docks where these boats were repaired. Here we watched a toothless old man with thick horn-rimmed glasses skillfully stitch fresh planks into the hull of a boat. He was one of the few craftsmen who still survived; a relic of a tradition, which once seemed doomed to be sucked into the whirlpool of antiquity. The revival of interest in the kettuvallom and the Kerala Backwaters as tourist attractions, however, revived and sustained this dying art of boat building.

Fittingly enough our discovery of the Backwaters started in one of these cruise boats, which we boarded, on the outskirts of Quilon, a bustling little town on the banks of the Backwaters in south Kerala.

The weather beaten 'captain' of our 'ship' welcomed us on board with a toothy grin. He understood the whims and vagaries of the Backwaters of Kerala like the proverbial back of his hand. He decided when to punt, sail or use the outboard engine. Our voyage with him was a journey into history. Before the coming of road and rail transport the Backwaters were the main arteries of Kerala on the southeast coast of India. The Kerala Backwaters provided a waterway that even the maharajas of ancient times used, their royal entourage of accompanying boats following in tow.

It was a time when cargo kettuvallom vessels laden with ivory, gold and silver, silk, rubber and spices sailed through the Kerala Backwaters for the port city of Cochin, from where they were shipped to the rest of the know world. In fact, it was Europe's search for an alternative sea route to this land of plenty that led to the discovery of the New World. 'They were looking for Cochin and they stumbled upon America,' a former mayor of Cochin informed us.

The west still seeks out the treasures of Kerala: the tranquility and peace of its Backwaters. In fact, the segment of the Kerala Backwaters between Alleppey and Kumarakom in central Kerala is most popular with tourists. The other popular and shorter option is to cruise around the bustling backwater settlements of Alleppey and Kottayam near Kumarakom. Today kettuvallom houseboats have added a new dimension to Kerala's Backawaters.

'We are the Venice of the East.' It is a refrain we heard repeatedly on our cruise into the heart of Kerala. However, we discovered that it was somewhat off the mark, for the Backwaters of Kerala are of much greater dimensions and the setting more rural than urban. The similarity, however, is that both romance the tourists.

Fact File

An overnight houseboat cruise, including all meals, is part of the Enchanting Kerala holiday package offered by, India's leading travel online portal. The exotic six nights, seven days package of the southern state of India covers Cochin, the hill station of Munnar carpeted with tea plantations, the wildlife sanctuary of Periyar and Kumarakom.

Benefits of a Chauffeur Driven Limousine

If you are a tourist and you live in a huge developed city, you certainly wish to be treated exclusively and made to feel welcome and appreciated wherever you go. In fact, it is any person's desire to be treated with love and respect. This desire applies in every aspect of life, even while traveling. When many people picture a perfect and ideal way to travel, the only one thing that comes into mind is a hired limo. For residents of the city, hiring limos can lead to the ultimate experience in traveling, since these services offer you the ultimate comfort and luxury. You will certainly be able to travel in class to your destination.

The concept of hiring these limos has been around for a while now. Companies providing these services realized that there was something lacking in terms of luxurious transportation when it came to special events and occasions. Thus, the limo service was introduced to offer residents the ease to enjoy their day or vacations in the best way.

Individuals who hire limos instead of using their cars do not have to worry about many distractions on the road such as traffic, speed limits or bumps. Their work is to sit back and relax, while enjoying various refreshments and entertainments in the limo. Some limos offer their clients wine, champagne and other desired soft drinks. These automobiles also come with many features such as an excellent audio system and video support.

Many different types of clients use the services of a hired limo. One of these categories include the tourists. For many people visiting the city for pleasure, a limo is the best way to go around the city. Some limo services offer services such as a night out dinning and enjoying the city in the limo. Others offer a limos designed to carry many people to accommodate tourist families or those traveling in a group. The best way for tourists to hire limo service is online, since it is quick and easy.

Another group that also uses limo services is the corporate world. People who are in town for some urgent business can use limos to get to their offices quickly as well as to report to their hotels or to the airport. Most limo service companies enter into agreements with corporate clients so that their employees will not have to do the searching and booking. This makes it easier for them and save the company time, which can be spent doing useful work. All the staff members in these limo service companies are highly qualified to do their job. They know the best routes to take to avoid traffic, and they take all safety measures.

Here's How to Create Your Best Seller Campaign on a Shoestring

If you dream of becoming a bestselling author, yet feel constrained by your budget, here are six tips for creating your best seller campaign on a shoestring and increasing your sales.

1. Create a Brand Experience

What is your brand as an author? True, you may write a particular genre or even across genres; however what does your audience look forward to, in your writing? What stands out about you and your writing?

Every author requires a home on the web. That home is your blog, your special space for your readers to connect with you and to develop a yearning for learning more about you and your upcoming books. As you review your blog think about the message you are leaving your audience. Do remember to:

• leave takeaways at your blog to entice your readers into even deeper relationships. As you do so build your list by encouraging them to leave their emails as they enjoy your free gifts.

• Include links to where your books are being sold

• Post events related to your book promotion

Social media marketing tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin (all free) can be very effective in marketing your book. Yet, you will need to remember the 'social' in the marketing. Contribute meaningfully to these groups and preserve your brand experience as you do so.

2. Be Engaging

Be alert to creating opportunities for engaging with your target audience. It is important for you to identify the target audience for your book. You will also need to determine where your audience is located and how to reach them, wherever they are.

As you use the social media marketing tools for networking, be clear on your purpose and strive to achieve a balance between the social - networking - and the marketing. Engage your audience by asking questions, starting discussions, and providing useful information.

You will need to engage the media, too: write professional press releases; participate in interviews, and identify local, regional, and, international media who will take your message globally. What opportunities can you identify for media engagement? Learn how to be accessible to the media and how to write a newsworthy press release.

3. Generate Content

Although you are promoting your book, it is important to generate content regularly for your audience. You could use content related to your book or tie in other content with your book or books. Select and produce quality content that will interest your audience.

You would also want to look at re-purposing your content. This will continue to expand your markets.

4. Organize a Virtual Book Tour (VBT)

A VBT allows you, the author, to 'travel' online visiting various websites and sharing written, audio and video blog posts with the blog owners and their readership. Conducting a virtual book tour as part of your best seller campaign can give you and your book the exposure you need to reach a wider audience, and provide readers with the opportunity to learn more about you and your book. Once you have decided your target audience, identifying hosts for the tour becomes easier. This added exposure could result in an increase in your book sales, which in turn will increase your ranking.

5. Host Virtual Events

Virtual events are a great tool for reaching your audience and increasing your sales. Include hosted virtual events as part of your best seller campaign. In planning your virtual events consider: the level of interaction you would like to see, the type of event you wish to run, and your primary business objective for hosting the event. Explore your options.

6. Optimize your relationship with Amazon

Important to becoming an Amazon bestselling author is your optimal use of Amazon. Position your book carefully by using appropriate categories and tags. Participate in the discussion forums as you see fit and make use of the days on Kindle Publishing, if you decide to participate in the KDP Select Programme.

Technology has given authors today a great advantage and becoming a bestselling author is well within your reach.

How Much Time Could a Diet Meal Delivery Service Save You?

How much time could you save by using a freshly prepared diet food delivery service?

Most successful professionals would state that the one thing they need more of it time. With the plethora of confusing and often contradicting advice about living healthily out there, planning and preparing food intake can take up an incredible amount of that valuable leisure time.

Diet food delivery services plan, cook and deliver all your meals and snacks you need for the day, ostensibly freeing up more time for fun and family. But does it really save time? We decided we would have a look at how much time using a diet delivery service could save you by asking some friends to record how much time they spend on shopping, preparing and cooking their meals.

We think you'll agree - the results are shocking:

Total time spent cooking, shopping, preparing and researching your diet -

22.75 hours per week.

The shopping hours did NOT include the time taken to travel to the shops. Cooking and preparing time includes serving cold meals as well as the full preparation of hot cooked meals. The target couple used for this experiment are both professionals, without children, and would class themselves as food enthusiasts without being major foodies. One of the couple is weight conscious and considering a more structured diet, both are keen to keep healthy and are therefore careful with what they eat. So we can see in the table below that over the week our researching couple took 22.75 hours in preparing, cooking, researching and shopping for their food.

Total Hours Spent - Shopping - 6.50

Total hours spent - cooking - 12.50

Total Hours Spent - preparing foods - 2.00

Total Hours Spent - researching your diet - 1.75

Overall Hours Spent - Total - 22.75

A total of 6 and half hours are spent shopping every week. That is a great deal of time to spend in soulless supermarkets queuing with the masses. 12 and half hours are spent slaving over the cooker, what else could you be doing with 12.5 hours per week?

As we have spoken about before the diet industry has a vested interest in confusing and frightening its customers, so researching and reading about new diet fads, with all the competing and contradictory advice and information can take a lot of time as well being extremely frustrating.

If you enjoy the reading and the cooking, this is all fine essentially. If not, look for a diet food delivery service in your area and just enjoy the benefits.

Remote Viewing - Tips From An Experienced Viewer

Remote viewing is the ability to see a specific target in detail by using only the power of the mind. It is somewhat similar to astral projection also known as O.B.E. or out-of-body experience. However, it is not in any way the same thing. While remote viewing, the viewer is in a fully conscious waking state of mind. There is no sensation of leaving the body or traveling. Also, during the process of viewing, the viewer receives images and knowledge of the specific target that they are trying to perceive. If practiced frequently, and for extended periods of time, the remote viewer can become tired and/or fatigued. This can be easily avoided with proper pacing.

The key to learning remote viewing is to practice meditation on a regular basis. This will allow you to focus your mind in different ways and eventually, with practice and determination, you will discover the proper level of focus required to receive remote images and information. It is also important that you want to succeed. You have to have a strong desire to receive the information into your mind and believe that it is possible. I would even go so far as to say that you have to know that you are going to receive the images and information that you are seeking.

When I first began remote viewing, I found that the less I consciously knew about a target before-hand the clearer and more accurate the images and information would be. After several months of practice, I even took this a step further. I would tell a friend to write three different questions or targets down on three pieces of paper and seal them in separate envelopes and have them choose one at random. They were to do this at their leisure in their own home without me being present. This would usually be over the weekend. Friday night I would sit down in a dimly lit room with a sheet of paper and a pen and I would close my eyes and write down and/or draw whatever came into my mind. Sometimes I would just get random images, and sometimes I would receive fully formed ideas and concepts. The following Monday, after having had no contact with my friend that weekend, I would trade the paper for the envelope. The results were simply mind boggling. I had absolutely no conscious clue as to what had been written on the piece of paper in the envelope, but what I had written or drawn on my sheet of paper would always pertain to it in startlingly accurate detail. I actually learned new things in this way.

I was only able to perform this experiment a few times with a small number of people that I knew before they would want to stop. I believe a few people may have even been a little afraid of me after experiencing that. It can happen. This is because people tend to fear what they don't understand. I didn't really blame them. I didn't fully understand how it worked. I just knew that it did.

Eventually, as I practiced and continued to improve, I was able to look at certain people and just know the truth about them or their situations. If someone was having trouble locating something I could tell them exactly where they needed to look to find it. I began helping people to locate lost objects. Once someone asked me about how a court case involving her family would end up. I told her not to tell me any of the details about the case or mention who beyond her was involved. I was actually able to give her the name of the person who would the judge would rule in favor of. She wasn't exactly happy about the answer, but it turned out to be correct.

Whatever you do, never let fear stop you from practicing remote viewing. This goes for your own fear as well as anyone else's. If it is something that you truly want to pursue, then do it. Just know that, as you practice remote viewing and continue to improve, you will begin to more clearly see the truth of how things really are and you will most likely experience major shifts in your core beliefs about reality and how things work. If you ever begin to reject the truth of what you see, then you will begin to lose access to the ability. It is because of this that you must keep an open mind. If you remain open minded, your ability to remote view will continue to grow and it will come to you very easily.

National Membership Organizations Are Doomed to Fail Unless They Change Now!

At virtually every organization, whether it be a nationally based service oriented group such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Lions, or even a worldwide religious group there is a common problem that exists: that being increasing and maintaining their membership. This failure to maintain or increase membership not only results in loss of influence at the political level, but also reduces funding for key projects that an organization has supported. Further erosion of membership allows competitive organizations to take root and fill the role that was once was held by the "more traditional" organization.

Examples of the growth of new organizations replacing the more traditional are easy to recognize. Consider that in the first half of the 20th Century few churches rivaled the more traditional Christian based organizations such as those presented by the Catholic and Protestant faiths. Now, there has been an increasing rise in the number of non-denominational or mega-churches that have eroded the traditional church. Veteran service organizations such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars were once the mainstay of the veteran community. Over time however, these veteran service organizations began to lose influence and membership with current members getting older and failing to recruit younger members. In many cases, whether a church or service organization, the failure to recognize changes in technology and needs of the younger member have led to their reduction in membership numbers.

The main reason, however, for loss of membership has been the failure of the National Organization to remember its core purpose for being: that is to serve the community in which they have a presence. National headquarters became top heavy and began increasing dues, not to support the local chapter, but rather to sustain the "home office". What once were considered to be volunteer positions soon became salaried with increasing payrolls year after year. Increased travel and entertainment budgets soon grew to staggering numbers showing little result for the local unit. As such, a rift between national, state, districts, and local chapters has grown over the past few years and in many cases, has gone beyond a point of easy repair.

Recognizing that the national headquarters cared little about the local level, those at that level began to break off and form local organizations to meet the needs of the community, rather than that of a national organization. A simple example is that of veteran homelessness. The Veterans Administration, which has committed some $250 million to eradicate homelessness within the next 4-5 years. An admirable goal to be sure, but for those on the local level, it is known it will never be reached. While national groups heralded this funding incentive, they did nothing to provide impetus for their local chapters who dealt directly with the problem to get involved. As a result, the government will squander millions on developing web sites and brochures on homelessness, but fail to reach those truly in need, while those on the local level will deal directly with the problem. Wouldn't the chance for success be greater if the VA had decided to work through local groups rather than establish a national program?

Another area where national organizations fail to recognize the need of younger members is that in the field of technology. Are Facebook and Twitter just links to show the national organization is "hip" or are they used to serve the needs of the members? Is WiFi in a local chapter or church an inconvenience or a tool to keep new members? These technologies and social media platforms are what younger members use. The failure of national office to recognize that only further separates them from potential new members.

5 Tips On Preparing For Family Vacations

Having planned many family trips in the past, there are a few things that I'd recommend thinking about prior to going on a vacation. Here are five financial aspects to look at when planning a vacation.

  • Activities. Where are you going to go for vacation? What activities interest you and your family? These activities will likely be determined by how old your children or other guests are. My kids are big enough that we can go just about anywhere for vacation now, but when they were younger our choices were fairly limited. For example, if we chose to go to Disneyland (which we did), we would have to plan for at least two days to allow for naps for the children. This made the vacation more expensive because of additional days for activities, food, hotel rooms, etc. You'll need to determine the cost of tickets, entry fees, rental fees, etc. for the activities you plan to attend. Make sure you check adult vs. children's pricing and taxes to ensure proper allocation of your money for the vacation. Put these funds into your spreadsheet and what they are for.

  • Hotel Accommodations. My husband and I have five children, so we always must get at least two hotel rooms. This can get pricy depending on where we choose to stay. I tend to gravitate toward the hotels that are in the middle of the price range. While I do love the accommodations some of the pricier hotels offer, they just aren't necessary for my family. You'll need to decide what type of hotel you want to stay in and what you can afford. A determining factor may also be the distance between your hotel and the activities you plan on attending. Keep two or three options on a spreadsheet with pricing, distance from your activities, and accommodations that appeal to you.

  • Gas / Airfare. How are you going to get to your destination? Is your destination close enough to drive, or will you need to drive? If you plan to fly you'll need to check airfare pricing. You can check multiple airports. Your flights will likely be determined by where you want to fly out of, time when you want to fly out or arrive at your destination, and possible accommodations / availability of what you are looking for from the airport. If you are close enough to drive, then you'll need to look at how many miles you'll be driving, determine time to arrive at your destination, and determine the cost of your gas. Put these figures into your spreadsheet as well. I always recommend rounding up a bit on gas costs to allow for a possible detour or delay in your travel plans

  • Food. Yes, it's difficult to determine how much you'll be spending on food, but a good guestimate rounded up will give you a fairly accurate depiction of your food costs for your vacation. You'll need to determine what you'll be doing for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Your activity destination may provide food. You'll want to research what they offer and pricing. You should check to see if your hotel offers a continental breakfast. This will help reduce costs for you. Lunch or dinner can be the big meal. I recommend one or the other; not both. If you choose dinner, then lunch could be something fairly inexpensive... maybe a local salad place. Knowing where you're going to eat for what meal prior to leaving can help reduce anxiety. Don't forget to factor in money for drinks and snacks for the drive or in the airport. If you are flying, will you need a rental car, will you use a shuttle, will you walk, or will you need to use taxi's to get around? Budgeting for your transportation is important. Put these amounts into your spreadsheet.

  • Extra Funds. Will there be other things that you'll want do while on vacation? Will you want to go sight seeing, possibly purchase a souvenir or two, or maybe purchase a new outfit or pair of shoes? Set aside some money for these extra funds and put this into your spreadsheet.

Now that you've looked at the financial aspects of your vacation, look at your spreadsheet to determine how much you will take in cash, what your limits will be on your credit / debit cards, etc. Financial planning prior to taking a trip or vacation can help give you the peace of mind that you need to actually enjoy your trip.

What additional financial tips do you have for a trip or vacation? Please leave me a comment and let me know.