Looking for Heavenly and Luxury Holiday

For travelers who love to travel in style, a luxury travel agency can do the trick. For people interested in traveling to different countries and gathering experience, there are superb luxury holiday experiences for them. Taking care of your smallest requirement to your budget constraints, the travel operator helps you by all means. No matter what your requirements are, there is a tailor-made tour holidays available for you. The luxury travel will take you to authentic locations of your dreams, fantasy shopping, lazy lunches in restaurants and wandering through the ruins of a crumbled civilization. When you find a journey that is both knowledgeable and enjoyable, you'll have the best of all worlds at your finger tips.

No matter where your imagination takes you, there is a chance to follow your dreams and indulge in the ultimate travel escape destination. South Africa, Europe, South East Asia and the Pacific are full of islands, small and large, that will give you the privacy you desire. Luxurious travel destinations are relative, ultimately to your own definition of the value of the experience. A popular holiday theme, luxury holidays offer a wonderful chance to enjoy a luxurious vacation along with near and dear ones. Style, elegance, refinement and great location, those are just some of the features of the properties of the holidays. From the mountains to the sea, from the rivers to the lake, from the dense forest to watching polar bears the travel operator will fulfill your ultimate fantasy. They promise to spoil you all through your journey bit by bit on daily basis keeping in mind the luxury class you belong to. Sometimes the search for the exotic often takes one to far-flung corners of third world cultures totally alien to the visitor in terms of language, customs, and etiquette.

The chance to learn and understand various cultures on a travel are invaluable and to be grasped with both hands when available. The tour operator as a luxury travel company combine comfort and authenticity famous for creating destinations for you as per your choice. Plan an all exclusive customized adventure travel to the earth's greatest tropical lands with them and rest will surely be history. A luxury holidays abroad at one of the exotic international locations is really alluring and fulfilling the same are the various offers and itinerary customized as per your desire. You will be accommodated in top hotels that suit the luxury and comfort level you desire. The travel operator brings you vacations that are rich in value as well as services. A Gym, a World class spa, a huge pool and a dining room where dedicated chefs prepare gourmet cuisine exclusively for you at one of the wildest location is the highlight of the journey.

Plan Your Getaway to the US Virgin Islands St Johns

The three islands and sixty-odd cays that comprise the US Virgin Islands are proud of their magnificent seashores, terrific food and accommodation and the abundance of tourist based activities. St. John U.S. Virgin Islands itself is a natural wonder of aquatic elements, glittering bays, tropical forests and trails as well as stretches of pristine beaches.

Whether you are planning your island wedding or honeymoon, or want the thrills of adventure sports, St. John U.S. Virgin Islands' unparalleled beauty and island spirit will make your vacation here nothing short of a trip to paradise.

Located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Puerto Rico, holiday offers in US Virgin Islands St Johns range from stays at ritzy resorts and luxury cruise ships for the rich and famous to rental condos, apartments, guesthouses and villas for the mid-range as well as budget traveler.

Tourism is the prime industry on this island and everything from accommodation to restaurants to shopping and recreation is expensive here. Shops, restaurants, transport rental facilities, leisure facilities, luxury resorts, hotels, St Johns condo rentals and St Johns rental villas are dotted around the island to build in the best into your vacation package.

Getting to the US Virgin Islands St Johns by air is not difficult, and there are direct flights from several US destinations. Buses and taxis ferry you around to the islands' towns and resorts. A weekend ferry plies between St John's Cruz Bay and St Thomas' Charlotte Amalie and Fajardo in Puerto Rico. Tons of cruise ships too dock in the US Virgin Islands.

There is plenty to do and plenty to see at US Virgin Islands St Johns. Trips to neighboring islands make magnificent excursions and yacht charter companies providing this opportunity are a dime a dozen. Attractions accessible from St Johns include Buck Island, Coki Bay, Estate Whim Plantation Museum, and trips to St Croix and St Thomas.

Based on the combination of amenities, location, activities, special programs and packages you desire, you can choose to stay at luxury hotels, top-notch resorts, St Johns condo rentals, St Johns rental villas, 'Bed & Breakfast' inns, eco-lodges, tents and small family-run hotels. The favorite accommodations for most visitors here are St Johns condo rentals and St Johns rental villas. From wonderful one bedroom "honeymoon cottages" to well-appointed bungalows, there are fine properties that offer the best value and amenities. St Johns condo rentals and St Johns rental villas float wonderful season and off-season schemes that offer rental facilities by the day, week or month for your comfort.

Why Choose Cape Town for Your Stills Production?

Cape Town has long been a favourite destination for advertising and catalogue shoots and more recently has seen more and more big budget film productions. So what is it about Cape Town that attracts so many international teams to travel across half the world even for just a few days shoot? Talking to top photographers and production companies, there are several advantages that they consider Cape Town has over other destinations.

Varied landscapes
Many summer catalogue shoots come for the white sand beaches, but there is a whole lot more in the way of landscape than just beautiful scenic beaches. Rugged mountains with unspoilt nature reserves offer a fine backdrop, both within the city on the slopes of Table Mountain or in the protective circles of mountains that surrounds the Cape Winelands. Then there are the lush wine estates themselves with historic buildings and graceful avenues; rolling wheatfields are golden in summer, green in winter; there are dry almost desert landscapes, intriguing sand dunes, mysterious forests and vast blue skies over everything. The city itself offers a whole range of architecture, from modern luxury villas, to old Victorian homes, the colourful streets of Bo Kaap to the urban vibe of the business district, market squares, ports with fishing boats, leisure marinas, the list is endless.

Plus you can use Cape Town as a convenient base for shoots that take in the rest of Southern Africa, for example the huge open spaces of Namibia, the dry expanses of the Kalahari or the watery wilderness of the Okavango Delta.

Strong support
Cape Town has developed a strong network of support services for film and stills productions. Experienced crew, world class equipment hire, excellent post-production services and casting agencies with access to local and international models. Together with the expertise of Cape Town's best production companies all this means that international teams can travel lighter, reducing costs by sourcing as much as possible on the spot.

With rates of exchange remaining favourable to international teams from Europe and the US, both film and stills productions find they can get more for their budget in Cape Town. Support services are good value and there is a huge range of accommodation available, from the top-end luxury private villa to the comfortable mid-range hotel.

Great Light
The light is all important in location shoots and this is another reason why Cape Town is so attractive to stills photographers. Clear blue skies, with brilliant light that brings a shot to life, are a feature throughout the summer months

Feel-good vibe
Many photographers and clients return to Cape Town again and again, just because they love the relaxed but cosmopolitan vibe. It's a great place to work hard and then relax and have fun, with plenty going on, great food, friendly faces and gorgeous surroundings.

Vacation Rentals In Tulum Mexico - Enjoy A Fantastic Vacation At Affordable Prices

If you are looking for a place to go for a vacation then Tulum Mexico is a very good choice. This place is extremely popular with vacationers because it offers stunning natural beauty and many entertainment options at a very reasonable price. You can easily find a whole lot of vacation rentals here at a very good price, enabling you to easily fit a vacation (or two) into your annual budget. In fact, beachfront rentals in Tulum Mexico come in so many price ranges that you will easily be able to find something to suit your needs exactly.

Tulum Mexico is a very small town that is just the right distance from Cancún; it is far enough to be completely unspoilt while being close enough to offer interesting entertainment options. People who want to live in close proximity to the sea and enjoy natural beauty to the maximum extent possible will definitely enjoy this place. It is fast becoming a hub for eco-travellers and sporting enthusiasts. The waters here are crystal clear and the second largest coral reef in the world is located nearby. People who like to practice Yoga also come to this place because there are world class Yoga facilities and teachers based here on account of the serene surroundings.

You can choose between different types of beachfront rentals here. The cabanas in Tulum Mexico range from the simple to the opulent and you won't have any problem selecting one that suits your requirements. What is common to all of them is that they permit you to wake up to the sound of the waves and to scenes of great beauty.

The tourism industry here is geared for business and you will easily be able to get the support services that make a vacation wonderful. For instance, there are many marvelous restaurants here that offer dining options ranging from casual to gourmet food. Even so, you need to do a bit of research in order to locate the right place offering rental cabanas in Tulum Mexico. Be sure to check that it has the facilities that you require and that it has a reputation for cleanliness and security. Further, find out the price for the rental accommodation (and any other facilities that you plan to use) before you turn up for your vacation.

You'll have a great vacation if you select the best beachfront rentals Tulum Mexico offers. In fact, you might just keep coming back year after year because this place is so fantastically affordable.

Top 5 Bed Bug Control Measures That Really Work!

The number of bed bug infestations is increasing and it is getting a lot of moms worried. Even if you keep your house clean, bed bugs could still freely live in the house.

Bedbugs, although not known to transmit diseases between humans, are irritating as they can cause allergic reactions and ugly skin welts once they bite. Bed bug bites can cause severe skin itching which can get infected. Because they bite during night time, they can cause sleeplessness and frustration.

Bedbug are transmitted easily as they are present anywhere and can hitch a ride through clothing, luggage, and other items. This is why they are usually found in hotel rooms; they can conveniently transfer from room to room and go into places with the persons who stayed in a bedbug infested room. They easily reproduce thus controlling its number and eliminating them for good is extremely important.

If you are one of the numerous people who do not want to be infested with bedbug, here are bed bug control measures that are proven to work and will rid your homes of these pests.

1. Properly identify presence of bedbug infestation. Presence of skin bites is not an enough indicator that they are residing with you. Careful inspection will reveal live bugs, dark brown/ black spots on the sheets, reddish stains, tiny, white eggs that are about 1mm in size. All of these are sure signs that they are living with you and your family.

2. After locating the bedbugs, eliminating them should start by catching the bugs by trapping and killing them through crushing using paper towels. Find bedbugs in all cracks that they may have lodged into like the bedframes, headboards, furniture crevices, drawer joints, and any other space that could accommodate them. A putty knife can be used to force out the bed bugs in crevices. Aside from crushing them, using steam works well as well, or by blow-drying them for at least 30 seconds.

3. Use a vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool attached to draw any remaining bedbugs. You need to dispose the vacuum bag each time you use it.

4. Once you are certain that you got all the bugs out, you have to clean the surfaces with hot, soapy water especially those which are stained with blood and bug droppings. Bed sheets, pillowcases, pillows, and mattresses should be washed as well and be dyed using hot dryer for 20 minutes or more.

5. Next bed control step is to seal off cracks, crevices, and holes found upon earlier inspection. It is not necessary to throw away furniture as long as it has been treated, cleaned, and repaired.

What makes bed bug infestation more common nowadays is the fact that more people are able to travel frequently. But this does not necessarily mean that only people who travel far gets a high chance of being infested with bedbugs. Sometimes, you can get bed bugs from public transportation such as buses and trains. It is necessary therefore to take bed bug control procedures at all times to avoid being infested.

A Trip to Fascinating Bangalore Worth the Efforts and Money You Spend

Call it the 'Garden City' or 'Silicon Valley of India', Bangalore is one of the most happening cities in India known for its unprecedented growth in IT sector and a rising cosmopolitan trend. The hi-tech city is the capital of Karnataka state, and noted as one of the most livable and green metropolises at Indian subcontinent. Once depended upon its neighbor kingdom Mysore to pull round, the city is now out of every shadow and developing severally with a rapid pace. Visiting Bangalore gives travelers an exquisite experience, indeed full of funs & delights.

Tourist Attraction in Bangalore

Bangalore is a large metropolis comprising a number of tourist attractions of varied nature. Beautiful landmarks, age-old monuments, dandy gardens & lakes and sparkling markets - the city offers everything a tourist may ask for. Pleasing weather year-round make it an anytime favorite destination for travelers. Visit the Bangalore Palace or Tipu Sultan Palace if you want to explore city's glorious past. Embellished with lovely architecture design and rich historical importance, these palaces are truly worth visiting. Bangalore has several ancient temples, which attract a large number of travelers inclined to religiousness. Some must-visit places of worship here include Iskcon Temple, Gavi Gangatheswara cave temple, Venkataramanswami Temple and Dodda Ganpati.

Another face of the city which consists of beautiful lakes and gardens attracts nature-lovers. The famous Lal bagh is one of the most romantic gardens in India. Visit the Bannerghatta National Park, Lumbini Gardens or Wonder La Amusement Park if you want serenity under natural shade. Other not-to-miss attractions Bangalore holds are Innovative Film City, Cubbon Park and Chunchi Fall.

Shopping & dining in Bangalore

If you're shopaholic, Bangalore is a place to be. Come to the Chic Forum Mall if you're looking for taste of international brands. Bangalore markets are famous for sandalwood carvings and silk saris. However, a number of stores along commercial streets offer western clothing and imported products as well. The best thing about shopping in Bangalore is that it offers something attractive for everyone.

With many domestic and international food chains gracing the city, Bangalore is a real delight for food lovers. Along with delicious local cuisines like vegetable pulao, curd rice, samber with rice and lemon rice, you can taste a variety of international dishes such as McDonald burger, Italian Piza, KFC chicken and many more. The city has a wide range of dining spots, from five-star restaurants to local hawker centers, and hence caters every taste and budget.

Getting Around Bangalore

Bangalore has an excellent bus network through which million of people commute in the city every day. To get around in the city, you can avail the buses operated by BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation). Also taxies, autos and rickshaws on rent are easily available to make you commute anywhere in the city. There is an international airport around 40km north to main Bangalore city. Flights to Bangalore are easily accessible through all major airports in India.

Accommodation has never been a problem in the city. A wide range of hotels here cater every lifestyle and budget. Make sure to deal with a reliable travel company when booking facilities for Bangalore tour.

To Take a Cruise or Not?

Over the years, cruises have proven to be phenomenally holiday choice. Cruises boast many benefits you can't experience on any other vacation. Many people choose to spend time far from home, especially during holidays, on a cruise ship. There are a lot of reasons why people find it more desirable to consider a cruise than any other vacation.

One reason is that cruises are more all inclusive. Besides comfortable accommodations, a cruise vacation typically includes all you can eat dining and plenty of entertainment. People enjoy this aspect of cruising because there are no surprise cost for their trip, making budgeting ahead of time much easier and limiting the need for extra money to such activities as casino gambling, shore excursions and shopping.

Another reason is that cruising can offer you a great hassle free way of getting from one destination to the next. On a cruise, you never have to be concerned about the logistics of arriving at your next destination. You can simply enjoy all of your time on board while your staff takes care of each and every detail.

People also love the wide variety of activities and entertainment available on board.

You can enjoy sports, live music, classes, dancing,shows, competitions, demonstrations and swimming to name just a few. There are even some cruise lines that offer unusual activities such as on board rock climbing, ice skating and zip lining.

Many people prefer cruising because traveling on a cruise ship is one way for them to strengthen relationships and bond with family and friends. There is also the chance to meet new people and make new friends. Even if you are going on a cruise vacation by yourself, you won't feel like your alone because there are so many people to meet.

Spending quality time with the family and friends helps you in strengthening your bonds without the need to worry about the typical stress that may come with a vacation. You never have to worry about ensuring that everyone is entertained and trying to organize accommodations, food and activities for all people going on the vacation with you.

The best part about going on a cruise vacation is that you are able to RELAX as everything is taken care of for you. Just imagine yourself being pampered with World Class Service. No need to worry about the typical stress factors that may come with a vacation. No need to organize everything; it's all taken care for you. It's all about relaxation and recreation and the thrill of visiting a variety of exciting tourist destinations.

How to Choose Perfect Wedding Venues

Once you have decided where in the country you wish to be married, it is then important to consider which wedding venues are available locally. To help you narrow down your search for the ideal venue to hold your ceremony and reception, there are a number of key features to look for, which we review here:

Wedding Venues Vary in Size and Style

The number of guests you plan to invite to your ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening function will dictate which venues are appropriate in terms of their size. However, a smaller venue may not be out of the question owing to the fact that marquees are often available to increase the capacity that can be catered for. A range of hotels have a license to hold a civil ceremony, but these can vary greatly in their style, so you need to decide whether you wish to have a grand and more formal setting; if so, country house hotels make a great choice with their fine architecture if your budget can cover this.

Check the Facilities Available

Wedding venues with multiple rooms may allow you to use a different room for each aspect of your big day; if not, your guests will have to move to a lounge, bar or gardens while staff re-organise a single room. Most couples consider photo opportunities when selecting the location for their wedding; no matter what the season, gardens can provide a beautiful setting for memorable photographs to be taken. Guests travelling a distance will be grateful to stay at the venue, so the availability of hotel rooms will be a bonus.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

The food and drink will be a big part of your wedding reception, so be sure to check the details regarding this when you consider possible wedding venues. It is certainly easier if the setting for your wedding can provide your food rather than having to arrange for an outside caterer to supply the meals. A lot of places that hold weddings will provide packages for food and drink, but be sure to find out exactly what is covered by this. It pays to confirm that they can provide a choice of food and cater for specific dietary requirements, allowing all guests to enjoy the experience. Additionally check whether your guests will have exclusive use of a bar or whether it will be shared with the public on the day; some wedding venues also offer the option to provide your own alcohol and request you pay a corkage fee.

5 Benefits of Transferring Your Event Registration Online

Nowadays, many event organizers are transferring their event registration processes on the Cloud. On enquiring the reason behind this steady change they said that it is because they find such a Cloud-based event registration solution quite beneficial and inexpensive compared to manually executing the same set of tasks. Supervising a job in person requires your constant presence plus also leads to higher expenditure in terms of hiring men to work in specific key areas. The excess spending may be conveniently avoided if and when an event organizer decides to use an online event registration solution.

Being on a cloud platform, such a solution doesn't require you to hire additional staff to manage many of the administrative tasks; you can do it yourself using a web-enabled device. Any standard registration solution comes with a set of applications specifically built to control events related tasks within a constrained budget. From creating the event sign-up forms to collecting payments quickly, an online solution can do a number of things on behalf of men.

Chances of Getting Higher Attendance Easily

While moving your event registration process online, you can actually make the task of accessing forms from anywhere and at any time possible. Online registration forms can be viewed and filled up from any location on the planet provided the concerned individual has a portable device (laptop or smartphone) or fixed (desktop computer) device with internet connection. People who are otherwise unable to travel to your office to collect a form can now easily sit in front of their PC to complete the formalities.

Cost Saving Solution

A person can easily save mounting infrastructural expenditures and hiring costs by planning to utilize an online event registration solution. It lets you create and publish multiple, customized registration forms over the internet without the usage of piles of paper and paying for the hard copy forms.

Automating Payment Collection

Event organizers can easily manage the collection of payments from registrants without additional helping hands. It can be made possible by the utilization of an online payment solution that lets anyone pay you via a credit card, through wire transfers or using a reputed payment gateway like PayPal. You can even pay back (refund) registration fees to a registered attendee using such a payment solution in case he or she decides not to participate in your event.

Streamlined Communication

An emailing service that comes built-in with the event registration software lets you send out any number of invitations, reminders, and RSVPs to your attendees. You can type in the messages and on successful delivery of each email you will automatically receive a confirmation thereby eliminating chances of non-delivery of mails.

Secured Storage of Registrant and Payments Data

While manually keeping all registration information includes extensive paperwork, online event registration and payment solutions enables instant storage of all registrant details in a centralized database that may be accessed anytime. You can easily view and use such information to generate reports at your convenience.

Why You Should Take A Family Safari in Africa

Why You Should Take A Family Safari in Africa

Taking a family safari with your children or teenagers is highly recommended if you're searching for a special type of holiday next year. Children will love learning about all the animals that they've grew up reading about and teenagers will love the thrill of being within a few metres of ferocious animals! A safari is a great experience for all the family as you'll get to spend quality time together in amazing surroundings, take part in exhilarating activities and learn about a culture worlds apart from ours. A family safari also allows you to combine a beach stay on one of the Indian Ocean islands, perfect for revitalising yourself before heading home. If your kids can never sit still, don't worry, there are plenty of activities and water sports available.

Families of all Ages

Many parents worry that Africa isn't safe for their children, but the truth is, it as safe as any other holiday destination. Children as young as four can enjoy a safari so those with younger children needn't miss out on this wonderful trip. Your tour operator will be able to advise you on the best destination, but the ones most suitable for families include Kenya, Botswana and South Africa. Older families can enjoy Tanzania, Zambia and Namibia. There are many activities that don't allow children under a certain age to take part, so again it is worth checking. You and your family will be accompanied by expert guides who have plenty of experience and are highly trained around the wildlife. They will teach you and your family about the animals and their natural environment and show you the best sightings on game drives, walking safaris, horseback safaris and even hot air balloon rides. A family safari in Africa is the kind of trip that will stay in the memory of little kids until they grow up.

Choosing the Perfect Family Safari

Your holiday can be tailor-made to create an unforgettable safari, enjoyable for all involved. You can either base your family safari in one place, or take in as many destinations as the length of your stay allows. One day you could be watching migrating herds fight for survival, the next you could be riding on the back of an elephant, and the following you could be lazing on the beach. Your tour operator will have plenty of years' experience planning safaris for families so let them help you plan to perfection. You'll find a wide range of accommodation in Africa from spacious lodges and intimate camps to luxurious hotel resorts. Whether you choose Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana or South Africa, your family will never stop thanking you for booking such a magical holiday.

The United States Post Office - Survival - Then and Now

The Birth of the United States Post Office

In early colonial times most correspondence took place between the colonists and England. The King's authorities would read and scour all of the information and mail that was being sent. Correspondence between the colonies depended on trusted friends, merchants, or friendly Native Americans.

Around 1639 Richard Fairbanks' Tavern in Boston, Massachusetts was designated as the official repository of mail by The General Court of Massachusetts (appointed by the King). Using taverns as mail drops was common practice in England, and the colonists adopted this practice as well. Local authorities designated by town representatives and England operated post routes within the colonies, some of which are still around today.

In 1673, Governor Francis Lovelace of New York set up a monthly mailing post between New York and Boston. The post rider's trail became known as Old Boston Post Road, which is part of today's U.S. Route 1. Old Post Road in North Attleborough, Massachusetts was part of this rider's trail and is considered one of the oldest roads in America.

In 1683, William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania and a leader in the Quaker community, established its' first post office. Slaves or private messengers delivered communications from one plantation to another.

Most importantly, Thomas Neale received a twenty-one year grant in 1691 from the British Crown to begin a North American postal service. Neale had never laid foot on North American soil, so he appointed then Governor Andrew Hamilton of New Jersey as his Deputy Postmaster General. Neale's franchise cost him only 80 cents a year. In 1699, he assigned his interests in America over to Andrew Hamilton and R. West. Neale died heavily in debt as a result of this endeavor.

By 1707, the British Government had purchased the rights to the North American postal service from the widow of Andrew Hamilton and R. West. The government then appointed Andrew Hamilton's son, Andrew, as Deputy Postmaster General of America. He served until 1721 when he was succeeded by John Lloyd of Charleston, South Carolina.

In 1730, Alexander Spotswood, a former lieutenant governor of Virginia, became Deputy Postmaster General for America. Seven years later, Spotswood appointed Benjamin Franklin as postmaster of Philadelphia. In 1753, Bejamin Franklin and William Hunter who was postmaster of Williamsburg, Virginia, were appointed by the British Crown as Joint Postmasters for the colonies. Upon Hunter's death in 1761, a man by the name of John Foxcroft of New York succeeded him, serving until the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.

During his time as a Joint Postmaster General for the Crown, Benjamin Franklin influenced many important and lasting improvements in the colonial posts. He immediately began to reorganize the service; he inspected post offices in the North and as far south as Virginia. New surveys were made, milestones were placed on principal roads, and new and shorter routes were laid out. For the first time, post riders carried mail at night between Philadelphia and New York, and the travel time had been shortened in half.

William Goddard, a publisher, set up a post for colonial only mail service. This was separate from the British crown and was funded by purchasing subscriptions. Net revenues were to be used to improve his postal service. In 1774 Goddard suggested to Congress that the colonies come together to form a United Postal Service. He believed that this would be a way to separate the colonies' mail from the British postal inspectors. This way they could communicate colonial news only to the colonies. Goddard proposed his idea of a postal service to Congress two years before the Declaration of Independence was signed

By 1774 colonists did not trust the British crown and viewed the royal post office with suspicion. Benjamin Franklin had been dismissed of his post duties by the Crown for his actions. The crown believed that Franklin was displaying sympathy to the cause of the colonies. In September 1774, shortly after the Boston riots, known today as the Boston Massacre, the colonies began to separate from England. A Continental Congress was organized at Philadelphia in May 1775 to establish an independent government. One of the first questions before the delegates was how to convey and deliver the mail.

With the Revolutionary War imminent, the Continental Congress assembled and enacted the "Constitutional Post." This act ensured that communications between the public and patriots, or those fighting for America's independence, continued. On July 26, 1775, the Second Continental Congress chose Benjamin Franklin as the nation's first Postmaster General. The establishment of the organization that became the United States Postal Service nearly two centuries later traces back to this date and Ben Franklin. In 1760, Franklin reported a surplus to the British Postmaster General.

Franklin dedicated himself in this position, as well as many others, to fulfill George Washington's dream of an information highway between the citizens and government. Like Goddard, whose idea was to become united, Washington believed, that as a nation, we could forever be bound together by a communication system of roads. When Franklin left office in November of 1776, post roads operated from Florida to Canada and mail between the colonies and England was operating on a regular schedule.

America's present day postal service descends from an unbroken line of the system Franklin created, planned, and placed in operation. History rightfully affords him major credit for establishing the basis of the postal service that has performed magnificently for the American people.

The Post Office and the Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation (our countries first written form of government) gave Congress the right and power to establish and regulate post offices from one state to another, and to exact postage on papers passing through the same as may be required to so to defray expenses of the post office.

The Postal Act of 1792 further defined the role of the Postal Service. Under the act, newspapers were allowed in the mails at low rates to promote the spread of information across the states. To ensure the sanctity and privacy of the mails, postal officials were forbidden to open any letters in their charge unless they were undeliverable. These provisions enlarged and strengthened the duties of the Post Office and unified the organization by providing rules and regulations for its development. One of which was the transportation of mail. Other than by railroad or steamboat, the delivery of mail would only be given to bidders who offered stagecoach services.

Postal headquarters were located in Philadelphia until 1800, and then later moved to Washington, D.C... Officials carried all postal records, furniture, and supplies from Philadelphia to D.C. in in two horse drawn wagons.

The Post Office and the President's Cabinet

In 1829, then President Andrew Jackson appointed William T. Barry of Kentucky to become the first Postmaster General within a President's Cabinet. However, the Department of the Post Office was not formally established as an executive department by Congress until June of 1872.

In 1830, an investigative and inspection branch of the Post Office was established and was led by P.S. Loughborough. Loughborough is known as first Chief Postal Inspector.

Up to 1845, mail was delivered by coach, railroad, or steamboat. This was abolished by Congress on March 3, 1845. This act provided that the Postmaster General will lease all contracts to the lowest bidder who gave sufficient guarantee of providing a faithful performance, without conditions, except to provide for the "celerity, certainty and security" of the transportation of mail. These bids became known as "celerity, certainty, and security bids" and were represented by three stars known as star routes.


The Star Routescandals involved United States Post Office officials receiving bribes in exchange for awarding postal delivery contracts in the southern and western areas of the states. In 1872 and 1876, during President Grant's administration, an investigation into what is called the Star Route Frauds had been made. However, evidence in the investigation had been tainted by bribery and the investigation was temporarily shut down in 1876. A resurgence of the Star Route Frauds took place in 1878 under the Hayes Administration and continued into the Garfield Administration. Many of the major players involved were large contractors, US Representatives, and past Postmaster Generals.

Then in 1881, then President James A. Garfield led an investigation into the corruption of the Star Route Frauds. After Garfield's death by assassination, then Vice-President, turned President Chester A. Arthur continued the investigation. A trial then prosecution took place in 1882 finally shutting down the Star Route Frauds and its postal ring.

Although the Star Route Frauds were widespread, there were few that were convicted. As a result of public distrust over the frauds and death of President Garfield, the passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 was implemented. This act is a federal law that stipulates that federal government jobs will be awarded on merit. The act provides for the selection of government employees by means of competitive exams. It also made it made it illegal to fire or demote government employees for political reasons.

Under President Theodore Roosevelt, allegations of widespread corruption in the U.S. Postal Service were made. An internal investigation in 1902 revealed many cases of bribery, blackmail, overcharging, and extortion. The press publicized the findings in 1903. This forced the President to appoint two special prosecutors who subsequently indicted 30 Post Office officials and private contractors.

In 1994 Congressional Post Office scandal referred to the discovery of corruption among various Post Office employees and members of the United States House of Representatives. Investigations took place from 1991 through 1995, and ended in the conviction of House Ways and Means Committee chairman, democrat Dan Rostenkowski.

Initially, embezzlement charges against a post office employee were investigated, but evidence led to several other employees before democrats in the House of Representatives moved to close the inquiry. A new investigation was started by the postal service resulting in embezzlement and money laundering charges. The Committee on House Administration began its own investigation, breaking through party lines. Democrats issued a report stating that the matter was closed, while republicans issued their report including a number of unanswered questions and problems with the investigation.

In July of 1993, Postmaster Robert Rota pleaded guilty and implicated democratic Representative Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois and democrat Joe Kolter from Pennsylvania. Both were accused of conspiracy to launder post office money through stamps and postal vouchers. Finally, in 1995, Rostenkowski was convicted and sentenced to eighteen months in prison until President Bill Clinton pardoned him in 2000.

The True Role of the United States Post Office

The role of the United States Postal Service is to operate as a basic and fundamental service provided by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people. The Postal Service basic function is to provide postal services to link the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to the citizens and shall render postal services to all communities. The costs of establishing and maintaining the Postal Service shall not be apportioned to impair the overall value of such service to the people.

Until the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, the U.S. Postal Service functioned as a regular, tax-supported, agency of the federal government. In 1982, U.S. postage stamps became sold as products rather than a form of taxation. Since then, the bulk of operating cost has been paid by customers through the sale of products and services rather than taxes.

The United States Post Office does get some taxpayer support. Around $96 million is budgeted annually by Congress for the "Postal Service Fund." These funds are used to compensate the post office for postage-free mailing for legally blind persons and for mail-in election ballots sent from US citizens living overseas. A portion of the funds also pays for providing address information to state and local child support enforcement agencies.

Each class of mail is expected to cover its share of the costs. This is a requirement that causes the costs of different classes of mail to vary. Postal rates are established and proportioned on a fair and equitable basis. Under federal law, only the Postal Service can handle or charge postage for handling letters. Despite this monopoly worth some $45 billion a year, the law requires that the Postal Service remains neither makes a profit or suffers a loss.It is supposed to break even.

Today's Postal Woes

The Postal Service, by law, is an independent establishment of the Executive Branch or government. The service doesn't normally use tax dollars for operations, but it has exhausted a $15 billion loan from Treasury. The Postal Service defaulted twice last year on required payments to the federal government. The Postal Service's financial woes continue as the agency waits on Congressional action to address its debt.

A key culprit in its current decline is the 2006 congressional mandate. This states that the post office has to prefund healthcare benefits for future retirees. This mandate has forced the United States Postal Service to borrow billions of dollars from taxpayers. Much of the $11.1 billion loss is due to the costs of future retiree health benefits. Included with this is an operating loss of $2.4 billion, lower than the previous year.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said that the post office reduced costs by boosting worker productivity, but that mail agency has been hampered by congressional inaction. The Postal Board of Governors, which oversees the United States Post Office, tells us that mail volume fell to 43.5 billion pieces from 43.6 billion earlier this year. The board, which asked for measures to cut costs, endorsed the post office's recent move toward suspending mail delivery on Saturday.

The data presented by the post office did show an increase in advertising mail from the 2012 election. The agency's packaging and shipping services continue to grow, increasing by 4% in the first quarter. This year, extra mail tied to the November elections and stronger revenue from holiday-related packages contributed to a better quarter.

Donahoe has made it clear that the Postal Service could have been profitable had Congress acted. "It's critical that Congress do its part and pass comprehensive legislation before they adjourn this year to move the Postal Service further down the path toward financial health."

The Senate did pass a postal bill in April that would have provided financial relief by reducing the health payments and by providing an $11 billion cash infusion. This cash infusion would have been considered a refund on overpayments the Postal Service made to a federal pension fund. The House, unfortunately, stalled over a separate bill that would allow for aggressive cuts, including an immediate end to Saturday delivery.

The post office had an operating revenue of $65.2 billion in fiscal 2012. This amount was down $500 million from the previous year. Expenses for 2012 climbed to $81 billion, up $10. billion. This was largely due to the health prepayments. The annual payment of roughly $5.6 billion was deferred for a year in 2011, resulting in a double payment totaling $11.1 billion that became due this year. The Postal Service is the only government agency required to make such payments.

The post office also has also witnessed declining mail volume. As more people and businesses continue switch to the Internet to pay bills or to communicate, less volume is being produced for the post office. The number of items mailed in the last year was 159.9 billion pieces, a 5% decrease, much of it in first-class mail.

The post office is reporting some growth. Its shipping services, which include express and priority mail, grew by 9 percent. This helped offset much of the declining revenue from first-class mail.

Without legislative intervention annual losses might exceed $21 billion by 2016. If Congress fails to intervene, there could be postal shutdowns that would have undeniable consequences for workers whose jobs depend on postal services.

The Future

Our nation's post office developed and survived in colonial America. It is one of the original freedoms our forefathers paved for us. They gave us the right to communicate with one another in a trusted and private manner. The United States Post Office has gone through loss and scandals, but it has survived.

Our nation's post office does have a role to play in present day. It will be important for government officials to keep in mind the changing role the post office needs to take.

The Post Office needs to continue to market their strengths, which is the handling and shipping of products. With more and more people shopping over the Internet and paying their bills as well, there is less need for stamps and mailing envelopes. The Post Office would do well to think about expanding their mailing concepts to complement their customers' needs.

It is proven that more and more people use the Internet to buy and sell products or services. Given this the Post Office must consider changing their operating schedule to include on line customer scheduling. They should have a web site where customers must use prescheduled times and dates for packages to be delivered, picked up, or shipped. They should also consider mail delivery based on neighborhoods and computer scheduled input from customers. Further, post offices day to day operations and hours should be reevaluated to align with today's ever changing customer.

The Internet is a huge connector for communication, and yet so was the Post Office. By today's standard, the post office is obsolete, but needlessly. We still need their services to get our products to and from, and, like the Internet, to have our voice heard across the world. Remember, the post office was not meant to make a profit, nor was it meant to report a loss, the post office was developed in such a way as to break even.

Plan a Vacation This Monsoon Season in Pune, Maharashtra

Tourist arrival statistics released by the tourism ministry confirms that Maharashtra is the top tourist destination for international travelers. The Ministry of Tourism of India has released a report on Foreign Tourist Visits (FTVs) to Indian states/union territories for 2011. Maharashtra, with 4.8 million FTVs, topped the list in number of foreign tourist visits, followed by Tamil Nadu and New Delhi. For 2011, the number of Foreign Tourist Visits was 19.5 million, with a growth of 8.85 percent over 2010.

The success of Maharashtra may be attributed to the campaign 'Maharashtra Unlimited' by the state department of tourism. Maharashtra is an all season-destination with leisure tours, beach tours, rural tourism and heritage tourism.

Tourist centre being created with replicas of Ajanta caves

The Ajanta Caves and Ellora caves are about 329 kilometers from Pune, and are in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. Ajanta Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The caves date from the 2nd century BCE to the 600 CE and contain paintings and sculptures which are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art.

Tourists cannot spend much time inside the original caves, which are old and deteriorating. The concentration of carbon dioxide inside the caves has gone beyond permissible levels, which is damaging the paintings.

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is constructing two visitors' centres, one at the Ajanta caves premises and the second at the Ellora caves. The visitors' centre near Ajanta caves will house identical prototypes of four original caves. The visitors' centre will have exhibition halls and mini-theatres where films on history and archaeology will be screened.

The structures will be made using simulated stone face plaster and will be almost identical to the original caves, with replicas of carved columns, beams and sculptures..The replicated structures will enable tourists to spend greater time in the interiors and arrest the deterioration of the original monuments.

Currently it is the monsoon season in India, which lasts from July to September. You can plan a memorable vacation to Pune and enjoy Mahabaleshwar, Matheran and Panchgani (hill stations), or go on a piligrimage to Shirdi Sai Baba temple, all of which are near Pune. Within the city the must-see places are:

  • Osho Ashram : a famous spiritual center offering courses on meditation
  • Shaniwar Wada: palace of the Peshwa rulers, built in 1736
  • Shinde Chhatri: memorial of the great Maratha nobleman Mahadji Shinde, with impressive architecture
  • Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum: A quaint building housing a fascinating collection of Indian artifacts collected by the late Shree Dinkar Kelkar.
  • Gandhi National Memorial / Aga Khan Palace: During the 1942 Quit India Movement, Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned in this a palace built by Aga Khan IV.

The hills station of Lonavala and Khandala are a mere 64 km from Pune, making them the ideal monsoon getaway. The hill stations come alive in the rainy season, with the hills & countryside turning a verdant green, numerous waterfalls, ponds and caves

Want a Holiday on the Water This Year?

A great holiday should transport you away from your everyday life and leave you feeling reinvigorated. If you choose a holiday on the water, you are quite literally taken away from it all. Whether you choose kayaking or a cruise, there are holidays afloat to suit all tastes and budgets. If you want a holiday on water, here's a brief selection of what's on offer.

Canals and Narrowboats
The UK is criss-crossed with a network of canals that pass through scenic countryside and historic towns. Travelling by narrowboat is a relaxing affair that allows you to soak up the views along the route and stop off at your leisure at canal-side pubs and visit nearby attractions. Whilst narrowboats were once basic homes to working families, now holidaymakers will find them fully fitted out for modern day living.

Not keen on doing the driving yourself? There are hotel barge holidays that combine all the convenience of a small hotel with the relaxed pace and scenery of a narrowboat, allowing you to sit back and enjoy yourself.

Cruise Britain's Inland Waterways
If you want to take to the water in something less traditional than a narrowboat, try a cruiser. Cruisers are ideal for exploring Britain's many lakes and rivers, as well as the wider canals. Explore the Norfolk Broads, Loch Ness, the Lake District or the River Thames in style. You could stop off for meals at a pretty riverside restaurant or cook in the on-board galley and dine al fresco on your own deck.

Sail Away
There are sailing holidays for sailors of all abilities, from total novices to experienced hands. You can enrol in a sailing school holiday and learn to sail in dinghies or help to crew a larger boat. If you are a confident sailor you could join a tall ship on a working cruise. Alternatively, you could hire a sailing boat for a spot of coastal cruising with the family or book onto a crewed yacht and just enjoy the ride.

Canoeing and Kayaking
For those who prefer an active holiday, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the water under your own steam. Canoes are ideal for families and couples who enjoy rugged, outdoor adventures. Paddling by day and camping by night is a great way to discover the countryside and coast. Kayaking too can be a fun experience, whether you choose the excitement of white water kayaking or a more even paced expedition. Some tours have special themes that take in lochs and castles or islands and beaches. Whatever you choose, it's likely that you will have the chance to explore places you would not normally reach on foot.

A holiday on the water is fantastic and completely flexible. Your holiday can be as relaxed or as invigorating as you choose, taking in the green countryside inland or the rugged cliffs of the coast. Individual, couples and families alike all love a life afloat!

Choosing the Best Culinary Schools - Factors to Consider

Culinary schools are those learning institutions that are known for offering education in the art and science of preparing food for various occasions. Many people aspire to become good cooks or chefs, but not all find the best training schools where they can get the essential education that they need. Besides, becoming a chef, you will also get the opportunity to know how to manage a hotel or restaurant. Culinary skills will never fade or go out of style and thus you need to find the best schools that will satisfy your wants. You need to be serious when finding the best culinary school. This is mainly because the institution that you will enroll in will have immense impact in your cooking career.

When looking for the best culinary schools, there are a number of factors that you need to put into consideration and they include the following.

• Accreditation and reputation
Accreditation and reputation of the institution that you want to enroll in are the most imperative factors to look at. You need to choose an institution that has been accredited by a highly reputed organization. This means that you are choosing a school that has been approved to offer standard and quality culinary education. If you are choosing you learning institution online, you need to make sure that it has a good reputation as cases of online scams have been increasing on daily basis. The image portrayed by the culinary schools should the best. Additionally, the school should also be known for better performance and for offering the best learning facilities and experienced tutors.

• Cost of tuition
Every course that you enroll in a school has its price. You need to look at the cost of the culinary tuition per course and make sure that it will fit in your education budget. It is always a great idea to manage all your education expenses as you don't need to enroll in a school that you will not be able to afford.

• Location
The location of the cooking school that you want to choose is another vital thing to look at. Due to the requirements of the course, you need to choose a school that will allow you to study without any complications. You can go for a school that is near your residence as attending your classes will be easier and you will end up saving more money on transport and accommodation.

Your personal goals and expectations play a great role when you are choosing the best culinary schools. The school that you choose should guarantee you the right education path and success.

The Best Beaches to Visit in Canggu, Bali

Just 20 minutes north of fashionable Seminyak in Bali is a more secluded paradise known as Canggu. Although the area is being developed fast, Canggu is a little slice of heaven consisting of an eight-kilometer strip of surfer beaches and emerald green rice paddies all around. Vacationers and expatriates have favored Canggu more for the feeling of peaceful seclusion it provides. Just imagine walking out of your bedroom door right into a fairy tale scene where the seawater crashes continuously against the shore and nature herself is your front yard garden.

The beaches of Canggu are not as world-renowned as other coastal areas in this well-known tropical island, making it the perfect place to relax and enjoy the simple pleasure of being away from all the noise of urban life. When in Canggu, take some time to get out of your luxurious villa and tread your feet on the soft, fine sands of the following beaches.

Batu Bolong Beach

Surfers visit Batu Bolong Beach for the fat and powerful waves that make this relatively quiet spot one of the best places to surf in the entire island of Bali. Batu Bolong is peaceful and undisturbed by civilization, except for one beachfront hotel and a luxurious seaside restaurant serving Balinese specialty dishes. If you're not willing to shell out less than your budget for lunch, you can also walk a little farther away from the beach for a cheaper surfer's restaurant surrounded by a number of makeshift huts selling drinks and refreshments. Batu Bolong is one of the best places in the world to watch the sunset, when the sun dips behind majestic Mount Agung and lights up the mountain's silhouette with a warm, orange glow.

Batu Mejan Beach

If you're looking for a beach party vibe that still retains the relaxed and laidback atmosphere of an out-of-the-way beach town, look no further than Batu Mejan Beach. More popular with the tourists as Echo Beach, this is the perfect place to enjoy beach barbecues with your friends and down ice-cold tropical juices while watching surfers come in and out of the water. The waves are a little rougher in Echo Beach, but there are a few spots north and south of the area that are better for swimmers.

Berawa Beach

Also known as Brawa Beach, Berawa is another place for surfers who love the thrill of riding powerful waves. The place is also safe enough for people just wanting to have a swim. Because of the recent efforts at developing Canggu for tourism, there is not much of the idyllic secluded beach that Berawa once was, but if you stroll down the seashore southwards, you will reach a lagoon with a bamboo bridge hanging right over it. Cross the bridge into Warung Agung Kayu Putih, a little known haven for sunset-lovers in Canggu. There is a low-key restaurant serving simple Balinese food and the service might be a little too relaxed for those used to lavish accommodations, but it is an excellent place to watch the sun go down.

Pererenan Beach

On the way from the Raya Canggu, you will be amazed at the resplendent greenery that flanks both sides of the road to Pererenan Beach. Undoubtedly, this area is yet to be touched by modernization, although there is a smattering of private residences here and there. The beach itself is not ideal for surfing and swimming, as the shore is lined by rocks that have been shaped and smoothed by the tide over the years. You can sit on the rocks to take in a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean or you can climb over them to land on a small strip of hidden sand ideal for sunbathing or just playing in the sand. If the water permits, you might also be able to go in for a swim.

Factors to Consider Before Getting an Office to Rent

Finding the best office space has a significant impact on how you conduct your business. You don't want to get trapped in an office space that will compromise your business for a single month, let alone a few years. Before anyone settle for an office space, there numerous important factors that he or she ought to consider. Some of these factors are:

Flow of customers

A consumer is priceless asset for any businesses. Thus, they should to be cherished and well treated. Without customers, running businesses would not be possible. Before you settle for an office space, one of the vital details that you should consider is the flow of customers. Most corporations that host a large number of consumers in their offices ought to look for a more roomy and appealing office space.


It's vitally important to keep both your stuff and customers in mind when selecting the location for an office to rent. Remember that an inaccessible office space will not only make it hard for your workers to travel from their homes, but also disheartens consumers. Clients may opt for a competitor who they think is easily accessible. If the office is situated far from your target market, then your sales team might be required to spend a lot of time en-route than they'll spend with customers.

The Company's Image

Market presence and brand quality aren't the only factors that represent the company's image. The repute of the company is always represented and ascertained by a host of other factors as well. When you are thinking about an office space, you should also consider the image of your company. You should only settle for office space that is able to send the right message to consumers as well as prospective consumers.

Cost of Running Business

Businesses are long-term investments and when people make a decision to invest, they do so hoping they will reap good returns. During the very first stages of the life cycle of the business, the cost of operating a business is quite high than the returns. In order to cut down your spending, you should go for a budget friendly office to rent. Renting helps to reduce operation cost compared to purchasing an office space.

Traffic Patterns

In case your clients or employees will be driving from their homes to your office, then you should carefully consider your local traffic patterns. For example, it's very important to take notice of busy traffic hours as well as how this could have an impact on people who will be coming to your business. A congested locale may prove expensive to your business. The best way to ascertain traffic patterns is by taking a test drive during rush hour to and from your office.

Getting the best office space isn't easy. Besides taking the above factors to consideration, you must think about other factors as well. Some of them include restrictions, parking, as well as environment. If you can't decide on location, size, type as well as design of your office, you can seek a professional help.

Preference for White Bedroom Furniture

White is always a preferred color choice in many homes and offices which want to exemplify on the classiness and high style of the space. Many commercial premises such as art galleries and hotels sport white furniture to reflect the high class standard of the premise.

The color white

The bedroom is one of the more popular spaces in the home to sport white furniture. White symbolizes purity which is a good reflection on many young people. It is also a color which brings in more light to the bedroom to make it brighter and more cheerful.

It is easy to view if there is dirt or dust in white colored bedroom; this is preferred by individuals who are meticulous about cleanliness in their homes specially the bedroom. White is also an easy color to coordinate the rest of the furnishings in any space. It is an easy color to match with almost any other hue in the bedroom wall or floor. Hence, white bedroom furniture is growing popular for these reasons.

Furniture pieces

The bedroom can cater to many types of furniture pieces depending on its size. A bigger bedroom space can accommodate more pieces of white bedroom furniture to make the bedroom not feel like a bedroom which is meant for sleeping or resting. A large bedroom can put in white frame stools, benches, love seats, dressers, drawers and even a mini home entertainment system so that one can spend more time in the room than anywhere in the house.

The bedroom is a very private space which allows an individual to be him/her self. The individual would feel at ease and safe in his/her bedroom. The right furniture pieces would not clutter the bedroom, but make the space more inviting. White furniture in the bedroom may make one feel as if one is in heaven or paradise where all things are pure and right.

White bed frames are common as they do not attract as much mosquitoes in some mosquito-infested countries where insects are more attracted to dark colors.

White dressers would stand out well against dark colored walls in a bedroom. The ambience of the bedroom can be impacted with the right creativity and décor skills of the designer. One can also sport a white bookcase or shelf for books and other memorabilia display in the bedroom.


White bedroom furniture can be made of various types of material such as vinyl, suede, rubber, wood, leather or faux leather. These can be in white for any bedroom furniture piece desired by the consumer.

Business Etiquette Awareness Quiz - Your Manners Matter! Do They Make the Grade?

Workplace manners do matter!

Many studies have shown that workplace incivilities create tension and stress in all types of office settings. Business etiquette encompasses much more than saying "please," "thank you" "hello" and "goodbye" to coworkers - although these common courtesies do help.

Test your etiquette knowledge. How would you handle these situations? I'm willing to bet you could use a refresher course in basic business manners. Do you manners make the grade? Take this quiz and find out.

1. The following is a proper introduction: "Ms. Boss, I'd like you to meet our client, Mr. Smith." (True or False)

False. First mention the name of the person of greatest authority or importance. Gender or age is not the deciding factor. When a client is involved, he or she should be mentioned first. A proper business introduction should mention first and last names: "Bill Smith... "

2. If someone forgets to introduce you, it's appropriate to move on with the conversation without saying anything. (True or False)

False. You should say something like: "My name is _______, I don't believe we've met." Or, "I am __________, Joe's wife, and you are?"

3. If YOU forget someone's name, don't worry about it. Keep talking. (True or False)

False. It's OK to admit you can't remember. Say something like: "Your face is familiar, please help me with your name." Or, "My mind just went blank, your name is?" Or say: "I'm Marjorie Brody;" then the other person will usually say his or her name.

4. When shaking hands, a man should wait for a woman to extend her hand. (True or False)

False. With greater numbers of women in the workforce, business etiquette has become gender neutral. Women don't have to hesitate to offer their hands first.

5. Who goes through the revolving door first?

a. Host
b. Visitor

a. Host. That allows him or her to be ready on the other side to lead the guest to where they are meeting.

6. It's OK to hold private conversations in office bathrooms, elevators and other public spaces. (True or False)

False. The saying "The walls have ears" is true. You never know who could be hearing intimate details of your life or business transaction/conversation. And, it's inconsiderate at best that you are invading these public areas by being loud.

7. You should always carry a drink in your left hand at a cocktail party. (True or False)

True. This will allow you to properly greet someone with a handshake without having to juggle your drink.

8. What percentage of the message that you communicate to someone is conveyed through your visual appearance?

a. 30%
b. 55%
c. 75%

b. 55% Remember, your package does count - that means your wardrobe should fit and be appropriate for the setting, and you should be properly groomed. Also pay attention to your body language, and don't forget to smile!

9. When two businesspeople are communicating, the average visual distance is:

a. 1 1/2 feet
b. 3 feet
c. 7 feet

b. 3 feet Any closer and you could be invading their personal space. Any further and you'd have to yell. This distance will vary depending on the country. It's important to understand cultural differences before doing business in foreign countries.

10. It is appropriate to tell a business associate that his fly is open. (True or False)

True. Otherwise, he will be embarrassed when he learns about it. Why let others see him in this state, if you can take him aside and subtly tell him to zip up? Imagine how you'd feel if no one told you!

11. It is appropriate for women to wear sexy outfits to a company cocktail party. (True or False)

False. The key word here is "company." This is still a business event, so women need to dress appropriately and professionally.

12. Women should wear stockings and men should wear socks for "business casual" attire. (True or False)

True. Bare feet are almost NEVER acceptable in any work-related setting. The only exception - if your company retreat or business trip is at a beach or pool location and everyone else has on flip flops or sandals. "Business casual" does not mean "dress down."

13. Your water and wine glasses are placed on the right side of your setting. (True or False)

True Water and wine glasses go on the right hand side above the plate. Remember, glass has five letters, so does the word "right."

14. To signify that you do not want any wine, turn your wine glass upside down. (True or False)

False All you have to do is wave your hand over it when asked or say, "No thank you." Most waiters or waitresses will not ask again.

15. Bread should be cut into small pieces with a knife. (True or False)

False Break off small pieces by hand to butter and then eat.

16. The host - the one who does the inviting - pays for the lunch. (True or False)

True Find out your company's policies BEFORE inviting clients to lunch. Be selective about the restaurant and make sure it's within your budget.

17. You place your napkin on the chair when finished dining and when leaving the table. (True or False)

False The napkin (cloth or linen) is placed on the table, to the left of the plate when finished eating.

18. If you are disconnected, it is the caller's responsibility to redial. (True or False)

True You initiated the call; you have to redial if something happens to the connection. It doesn't matter how it happened.

19. When using a speaker phone, you should announce if anyone else is present before a conversation begins. (True or False)

True If you must use a speaker phone (something I recommend avoiding unless it's a group call), it is rude not to inform all parties involved in the conversation who is present.

20. If you're out of the office it's important to change your voice-mail message. (True or False)

True You should record a greeting that says something like: "I'm out of the office today, April 12. If you need help, please contact _________ at extension 12." Or, say: "I'm out today, April 12, but will be back on ___________."

21. It's OK to send confidential information and large attachments in an
e-mail message. (True or False)

False First, there is no such thing as private e-mail. Even after you think you've deleted a message, any competent IT professional can retrieve it from your hard drive. And, the message also travels to other mail servers during the entire messaging process. Rule of thumb: NEVER send confidential or private information. Second: never send a large attachment. Consider using traditional mail methods (USPS, UPS, FedEx), because the recipient may have trouble downloading the file (taking too much time or space on their hard drive).

22. Important mail should be answered within:

a. 48 hours
b. 4 days
c. One week

a. 48 hours Follow up is critical in business. Anything more than two days is unprofessional and will likely cost you a client or business deal.

23. "Dear Sir/Ms." should be avoided as a salutation. (True or False)

True It shows you didn't take the time to get a name and shows no respect or the recipient.

24. Thank-you notes should be typed. (True or False)

False A nicely handwritten thank-you note works wonders - the recipient feels special and appreciates the fact you took the time to personalize the note by handwriting it.

25. During a meeting it's OK to leave your cell phone on just in case you are expecting a call. (True or False)

False It's rude to your fellow attendees and any speakers if your cell phone rings during a meeting. Turn it off or put it on vibrate mode.

26. If you overhear a colleague's conversation in a cubicle, it's OK to
comment on what you just heard. (True or False)

False. Discretion is advised in this situation. In general, try not to eavesdrop on your fellow cubicle dwellers. But, sometimes, you DO overhear information. This is the time to pretend you didn't. Of course, there are always exceptions.


0-8 correct - Uh oh! You're probably one of those people who forget to fill the photocopier with paper, and steal paperclips from a coworker's desk. Tsk tsk. I bet your coworkers don't think much of you. I also doubt you'll get that coveted promotion. Buy an etiquette book or consider hiring a coach to help polish your professionalism - before it's too late.

9-17 correct - You occasionally forget which fork to use for salad during a business meal, and you may also forget that sweat pants aren't appropriate when the dress code is "business casual." Still, there's hope for you. Find a role model/mentor and vow to improve your workplace etiquette.

18-26 correct -- Not bad. You probably remembered to send a thank-you note to the client you met last week. It's probably also safe to assume that you'd never forget to call your office if you expect to be late. Don't act too smug around others, however. The consummate professional never gloats, but tries to help others improve and work efficiently as a team.

Shooting Interviews With Available Light

There was a time when no TV or film camera operator would work on location without a full crew to support him or her. Fifteen years ago even TV news crews would consist of at least three people: the camera operator, the sound recordist and the lighting electrician. More complex shoots involved more people.

That, however, was in the days before accountants took over the management of TV companies. Nowadays a journalist is lucky just to have a sole cameraperson with them on location, and more often they may be sent out with just a camera and microphone themselves.

The need to save money not only reduced the number of people involved, it also took its toll on the time allocated for each project. Instead of having lavish budgets which allowed people plenty of time to travel and even stay in a hotel overnight from time to time, the need to complete more work in less time became more and more pressing. It is not uncommon to have to do in one day what used to take three.

Not only, therefore, does the camera operator have to do the work of three people, she has to do it in very short time and to tight deadlines.

This leaves the camera person looking for ways in which to speed up the whole location operation and the first, and easiest, step to take is to ditch the lighting kit.

At this point I can hear the roars of disapproval from lighting directors all over the world challenging my suggestion, and I would be the first to say that a well lit scene is a delight to behold. In the ideal world a properly lit scene for film and TV would be the goal of every camera person and given the time and money it should be the norm, rather than the exception. However, here we must leave those with the more luxurious circumstances to their own devices.

There is a basic principle that every videographer and digital camera user should know inside out from the very beginning of their career. Digital image gathering (and film, for that matter) has its limitations. I cannot emphasize how important this is, so please read carefully.

The main limitation which I shall describe here is the one which restricts the dynamic range of any given scene to within five f stops. Don't worry, I am going to simplify that and explain it for those who may not be familiar with photographic terms.

When we, human beings, look at a scene, (imagine, for a moment, through a frame measuring 16 inches along the top and nine inches down the side), everything we see has a particular brightness. Imagine, if you will, a scene consisting of someone sitting in front of a window with a daylight snow scene outside. We are looking at her from within the room and there are no lights on. The snow is obviously bright but we can see the snowballs and ski tracks quite easily. When we look at the person's face we can also see that perfectly well, even though it is darker than the scene outside the window. You might even think it would make a nice photograph or setting for a TV interview.

However, you'd be wrong. Even though we, humans, can see all the details in the scene, the camera can't - at least not without help. If we adjust the camera to show the snow in all its detail, the person's face is just too dark to see. If we adjust the camera so that the face is OK then the snow will just appear 'burned out' - too bright to see any detail. The problem is that the range of brightness, or contrast, in the scene - the dynamic range - is more than the camera can handle. A point-and-shoot stills camera will come to our aid and automatically switch on its flash to illuminate the person's face and if it's powerful enough that will suffice.

If we had considered this scene for a video camera shoot, however, we would need to use a very powerful lamp to balance the light on the face to the light reflecting off the snow, but as we discussed earlier we don't have the time to set that up.

This is where we arrive at a critical moment in the cameraperson's thought process when approaching this problem.

The crisis is that of opposing considerations. Consideration one is that we like the scene in the window and would like to use it in our shoot. Consideration two is that the camera cannot handle the contrast of the scene. How should we resolve this?

This is a difficult decision for some to make. But, however painful it might be, consideration two, the contrast, has to take precedence over consideration one. The end product has to be up to broadcastable standards. The camera operator has to declare the scene unshootable and a rethink must be undertaken.

So what are the options?

1) Take the shoot outside.
2) Rearrange the shooting angle inside.

Taking the shoot outside allows a much greater amount of light to illuminate our subject, much more in balance with the snow. If there are some trees or other features available include those - they will help to reduce the background brightness and in any case break up what would otherwise be a plain and boring background.

Rearranging the shooting angle inside may result in a less pleasing picture, but using the light from the window to illuminate the subject's face rather than obscure it means you will get a broadcastable result, which for newsgathering at any rate is of prime importance. If you're lucky you might be able to sit the subject sideways and feature some of the outside scene. Sidelight on the face can be very interesting. If you've time to pop up a reflector to lift the darker side of the face, so much the better.

Even if you can't get the snow scene in the interview, you can always shoot set-up shots or general views (GVs) outside which you can use to introduce the subject and set the scene - it needn't go to waste.

The most important consideration with interviews is that the subject can be clearly seen and heard. When deciding on a scene for an interview it makes sense to consider the technicalities first and, as far as the picture goes, the first consideration is 'can the camera handle it?' Get into the habit of scanning around the four sides of your viewfinder or monitor frame as well as the centre. Consider all the possibilities and make the right decision. Never think 'I'm sure they can fix it in the edit' - that's the unprofessional way of thinking. Don't be afraid to move things around - to switch on, or off, that lamp in the background.

It is possible to create some very pleasing results with available light. Modern cameras are much better at handling low light situations than used to be the case, so you can afford to be a little bold and imaginative. Use some of the time you've saved by not setting up lights to have a look around to find something suitable. But stick to the rules and be assertive, not just with others but with yourself also. Never be afraid to say no or stop - don't press the record button until you're confident you won't be chastised later.

Why Serviced Apartments Are a Great Choice for City Breaks for Couples and Families

There are many reasons why serviced apartments are increasingly becoming popular for families, couples and business travellers. They offer much more space, better rooms and great services, and can often work out cheaper than luxury city-centre hotels.

To experience the feeling of a home away from home, you will need to choose your accommodation with care. Most cities offer great entertainment and facilities, but if you do not know the difference between a hotel room and a serviced apartment, then you need to look at the accommodation options that you will find here. One of the reasons for selecting a hotel for a weekend break is its proximity to the city centre. It is often tricky or frustrating to drive around an unfamiliar city, so a location where you can walk to nearby restaurants and shops is usually a good choice.

When you are looking for a place to stay, you want to consider the reviews posted by previous guests. The TripAdvisor website is an invaluable resource, with millions of guest reviews commenting on cleanliness, staff, food and facilities. If you are looking to try a serviced apartment, these may be listed under the 'Speciality Lodgings' section of TripAdvisor, which is a little more hidden than the 'Hotels' section. However, many serviced apartments are now categorised as hotels as they offer largely the same facilities - such as 24-hour reception desks, housekeeping and catering. Look for reviews from people who had the same purpose as you - for example, the accommodation may have great reviews from business guests, but is it suitable for your romantic break? The reviews should help you to decide.

In most serviced apartments, you will find everything from the basic amenities expected in a hotel to features like free wireless internet, Sky TV, fully-fitted kitchen diners and modern bathrooms. Like hotels, there are budget options as well as luxurious choices, and the facilities and standards will vary. Most apartments will give you more luxury, privacy and flexibility than any hotel room would, whilst also allowing friends and family to visit.

Serviced apartments will usually give you a sofa, fully equipped kitchen, beds and linen, everything... isn't this just like home, allowing you to do what you want, watch what you would like and eat what you want? If you prefer to eat out, make sure your serviced apartment is close to restaurants. Most places will also let you order a takeaway or fast-food delivery to enjoy in your room. Need we say any more about why apartments beat hotel rooms?

Seven Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Vacations

This may seem like a very strange title for an article. After all, a vacation is supposed to be... a vacation. The title seems to imply that we should strive to make our vacation, somehow strategic or productive. In a way, that is what I am suggesting, but maybe not in the anal-retentive way you might have first guessed.

I write this during a week of my vacation, because I have a weekly writing quota so I don't disappoint my loyal newsletter readers. I could have run a repeat article, or I could have written the article before I left, but since I had already decided to write something about vacations, and because I do like to write, I decided it might be best to write about vacations while on vacation.

Vacations are important to our mental, physical and emotional health. They provide us a chance to relax, change our perspective and reconnect with parts of ourselves that we might misplace during the daily routine. Some people travel great distances, others stay closer to home. Some like to relax on the beach and others choose more active, scheduled vacations. This article isn't about those choices - you know what type of vacation works best for you. Rather, this article is meant to help you enjoy and benefit more from the vacation, regardless of where you go, or what you do.

Think about how you got there. Most people spend a huge amount of time thinking about, planning, and preparing for their vacations. And they get a tremendous amount of work done in the few days (hours?) before they leave. In other words, when it comes to vacations we are all good project planners and time managers. This experience of planning and preparing is the first lesson we can take from our vacation. While you are on vacation reflect on how productive you were in the days leading up to your departure. You will find lessons you can apply on other days to help you be more productive - and therefore give you more time during your regular life for leisure and relaxation.

Start when you leave. I have heard people say things like, "I need a two week vacation, because it takes me 4 or 5 days to start enjoying the vacation." To this sentiment, I simply ask "Why?". Resolve that when you are on vacation, you are there. Don't tell yourself it will take 2 days or 1 day to "get relaxed." Relax already!

Immerse yourself. Whether you are sitting on the beach, on a tour bus or walking through a local shopping bazaar, be there. Experience the things around you. Be in the present moment. Even if things aren't going like you planned, if the water is cold or it is raining, be where you are. Vacations are huge anticipation machines. We build them up in our minds until there is almost no way the real thing can compete with the image. Immerse yourself in what it is. Be present and enjoy it, regardless of what happens.

Recharge. Academic institutions have known for a long time the value in spending time in a new situation. That is why sabbaticals are a part of the lives of faculty members in much of the world. Sabbaticals are, in some ways, like long vacations. A vacation puts us in a new environment, changes our routine, and gives us a chance to recharge our batteries. This quote from the book I read on this vacation states it better than I can:

"You have to think more like a fish than a man and look for the slack tides and the pools and eddies in life so you can catch your breath and reflect on the good moments."

- Jimmy Buffett in A Salty Piece of Land

Learn Something. No this isn't like homework; I'm not suggesting you send me a report on "What You Learned on Your Summer Vacation." But I am serious about learning something. Learn something in a museum. Learn something from the local people or customs. Learn something about the tides. Learn something from someone in the seat next to you on your flight. As humans we are most alive when we are learning, and vacations should be no exception.

Make memories. Vacations are a wonderful way to expand our experiences and to create memories. New memories will enrich our lives both now and in the future. They also serve as the spawning ground for new ideas and insights that we may benefit from in all areas of our lives. After you make the memories, capture them. Record the events in your journal, purchase postcards, take pictures. These activities will help preserve those precious memories.

Take them. If you stay at work without vacationing because you are "indispensable, but are never fresh and always burned out, what have you gained? Besides that, research says that people that take vacations live longer than those who don't. I don't think I can make a more compelling argument than that.

If you have already taken a vacation in recent months, think back on it and see how many of my suggestions you followed. If you have an upcoming vacation, I encourage you to consider my ideas, and apply at least one or two of them to that vacation.

All of these suggestions will help make your vacation more valuable, more entertaining and more fun. Plus, the vacation itself will help you live longer.

Have fun!

Items You Need To Throw a Memorable Party

There are a few special days that are going to require recognition in a person's life. Included among those special days are the wedding day, the graduation and of course, the birth of a child. When a friend or family member is expecting a child, the responsibility may fall on your shoulders to throw them the baby shower. If you have never done so before or even if you would just like to brush up on your abilities, here's a checklist of things that need to be considered so that you can throw them a memorable party.

First of all, don't wait until the last minute to begin putting things together for the baby shower. Start making lists as soon as possible, setting your budget and consider the site where you're going to have the party. It is also important for you to decide who is going to be hosting the party. This may be something that you are willing to do on your own or it may be something that you can split with somebody else. If you are going to share the responsibility, it can really help the event to go much more smoothly and to relieve some of the pressure so that you can enjoy the day as well.

Another important part about the event is going to be picking the date. You are going to need to talk with many of the people that are going to be attending the party, particularly some of the more honored guests and those that are going to be traveling over long distances to come to the shower. Try to set the date at least two months before the baby is due or you can have it after the baby has arrived. Once the date is set, make sure that you get the invitations together and send out some unique save the date magnets. That will help people to remember to attend the event.

Another important thing to consider with the baby shower is going to be the theme. This can help the event to have much more appeal to everyone involved. Along with the theme, you should consider the cake, the decorations and even some of the games that are going to be played at the baby shower. Of course, there are going to be some of the classic games that are going to fit in well with any shower but it is best if you try not to embarrass the guest of honor too much in the process.

Finally, it would be to everyone's benefit if you planned ahead for the baby shower thank you cards that are going to be delivered. If you have these in advance, it will help to take some of the pressure off of the new parents, who are likely going to have their hands full with their new arrival. It would even be a nicer gesture if you sat down with them during an afternoon and help them fill out the thank you cards so that they could take care of this necessary nicety.

Is Office-Based Working More Productive Than Remote Working?

There has been an ongoing debate about whether companies should allow their employees to work remotely or insist that they are office-based ever since Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced early in 2013 that she was revoking the company's remote working policy.

Although she has declined to comment on the decision the argument reportedly is that the company needs employees to be able to communicate and collaborate quickly by working side by side, but also because ideas often come about via casual conversations between colleagues at the coffee machine or in discussions over a meal break.

There is also a perception that a problem with having employees working remotely from home is that there is a loss of speed and of quality in some of their activities.

From the employee's perspective it is also argued that those who work remotely are often treated as "second tier" compared with those colleagues who are in the office every day. This is a cultural issue, however, with only anecdotal evidence although there are some surveys that have shown that more than half of the bosses asked disapproved of remote working.

The changed nature of the office environment has also had its effects in that large, open-plan office space can make people feel perpetually under scrutiny and anxious. This, too, can be counterproductive to doing a good job. There has been some research that has found that the open plan office makes people feel sick, nervous and unhappy.

Another factor that has contributed to the debate has been the impact that IT and in particular email has had on the nature of work. Although it makes the remote working model much easier to manage it has also been said that the need to attend to a relentless flood of email each day is stifling productivity and creativity. There is also a view that attending to large quantities of email communication has resulted in less actual communication and discussion between colleagues.

It is argued that people working remotely worry about how they are being viewed by colleagues in the workplace and this leads to behaviour such as emailing earlier and more frequently in order to demonstrate that they are working even if they are not in the office.

It also increasingly impinges on leisure and social time in that people increasingly feel obliged to check their email for urgent work related communications.

Among the positive aspects of remote working are that it cuts down on travelling time and also that it allows people to focus and concentrate when they need quiet and few distractions. This can actually improve productivity and efficiency considerably.

Where remote working is possible some companies also benefits from lower overheads because they do not need to pay for and maintain large office buildings.

Perhaps the answer is that while it is obvious that some types of operations require people to be present on site many do not. It is perfectly possible at least some of the time, for a manager or executive to have a PA or secretary who works remotely.

Businesses need to consider which style - or even a combination of both - works best for their activities and crucially they need to think through exactly how it will be managed and what is expected of employees as well as operating a remote working policy fairly so that it is not seen as a privilege for the few.

Vietnam - The Unexplored Beauty of South East Asia

Since the year 1990, Vietnam has been growing by leaps and bounds in tourism. The country famous for its scenic beauty is a host to thousands of tourists all over the year. The cultural heritage of Vietnam is also very famous among the tourists. The long history that goes behind the heritage too is very interesting and knowledgeable. The tourists come there to relax in the countryside and enjoy the culture with the localities.

Vietnam is easy to navigate in and around. The country is full of nature's bliss and scenic spots in all of its regions. There are many ways to travel through in Vietnam and you can choose to tour the country in any way you like. There are Cruise ships, Northern side tour, Southern side and the central classic Vietnam tour. You can visit many good places Mekong Delta and Cu chi on the southern side. The exotic scenery too is also heavily influential in the southern part of Vietnam.

"Sapa" is a very good destination if you are looking for touring Vietnam to explore the nation with the spirit of Wanderlust. Sapa tours can be booked online and you can ensure that you won't have to miss out on a single day of nature's delightful beauty and adventure while you have your comfortable stay in Vietnam. The region of Sapa has long been a hub for the cultural meets for many people. The cross cultural influence can be clearly seen in the area's architecture.

Another popular destination in the country of Vietnam is the Mekong valley and the river. The river rafting activities carried out at the valley side are truly satisfying and they give a very joyful experience to the tourists. The Mekong tours, organized all round the year in and around Vietnam are very exhilarating and fascinating. You can take the leisure of enjoying your holidays in this amazing country on the face of the earth. Though the history of Vietnam is dark with the remains from the American war, the country is on the verge of progress. Another good option to enjoy the vast and amazing coastline of Vietnam is via the Halong Bay tours. This region of Vietnam too is worth a discovery and people from all over the world enjoy roaming around and spending their vacation in total relaxation. There is no doubt thus that a tour to Vietnam is truly enchanting.

Moving to Portugal: Things to Know About Health Insurance in Portugal

Portugal is one of the best places to retire in Europe. But before you decide on living in this country, there are a few things that you have to consider, such as health insurance. Whether you are alone or with your family, you need to find a policy that suits both your needs and your budget. Portugal features quality hospitals and private clinics, and yet there are over 30 cases of tuberculosis for every 100,000 residents. Health insurance is the only way to protect yourself in case you fall ill.

Types of Health Insurance in Portugal

Expats will find both public and private healthcare facilities in Portugal. With a myriad of health coverage policies available to expats, choosing the right option can be challenging. The healthcare system in this country consists of three coexisting systems: voluntary private health insurance, special social health insurance, and the National Health Service (NHS). The public healthcare system is managed by the Ministério de Saúde (the Portuguese Ministry of Health).

Over 25 percent of the population is covered by the health subsystems. The National Health Service is funded through general taxation. Short-term visitors are given health insurance through EU reciprocal health agreements. British expats who are legally resident in Portugal are entitled to medical care just like any other Portuguese national. In order to benefit from medical treatment as a resident, it is necessary to apply for cartão de utente, a National Health Service user card at your local health center.

The Portuguese Healthcare System

The Portuguese population enjoys increasing life expectancy. All residents have access to medical insurance provided by the National Health Service. One-fifth to a quarter of the population receives a second layer of medical coverage through voluntary health insurance and health subsystems. Over 10 percent of GDP is devoted to medical care. This makes Portugal one of the countries with the highest level of health expenditure in the European Union.

Expats moving to Portugal with no employment must provide a proof of private health coverage in order to obtain their residence permit. As a resident, you can apply for a medical card. This can be done at a local health center with a residency card and a passport. Non-EU expats working in Portugal who don't contribute to social security need private medical insurance. Tourists spending short periods in this country should have a travel health insurance policy. The family members of those people who have made contributions to the Portuguese social security enjoy free healthcare services.