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Shannon’s 2009 Top 10 List For Losers

This is what I saw this morning; pure beauty

This is what I saw this morning; pure beauty

I’m sure each of you could come up with your own list here at Search Amelia, but here goes nothing!

10) A perennial participant in many Top 10 Lists… The Jaguars. Enough said… COME ON Y’ALL… REALLY!!

9) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac CEO’s. Come on, the needed more than $111 BILLION to keep their respective companies a float and yet they get a combined $6 MILLION IN BONUSES!!¬†¬† COME ON!!! And in the very last second of the year GMCA with more Billions of Bail. When do all these guys get to be put behind bars. At least then we understand the use of the word BAIL.

8) All the other lending institutions who had their hands out for BAILOUT BONANZA. Well, may as well throw the auto industry in here too!! They haven’t learned a thing from the near disaster, THEY CREATED!! They are back to their same old games and I’m afraid we haven’t seen the worst. Strap in, smoke them if you have them, this is going to be one hell of a¬† ride.

7) Michael Jackson. In death he was made to be a savior. WHAT!!! REALLY!!! Am I the only one that remembers MJ as a child molester?

6) Athlete’s and steroids. The money paid to players has skewed the value systems in all major sports. The really sad side of this story is the loser is the athlete. Steroids ravage the body, infidelity ravages their relation ships, so the long term affect on their humanity is deadly. SAD!!

5) Local politics. We need more transparency and a lot less of what I call the “RS” influence. They have allowed continued growth without the necessary infrastructure. SHAME ON Y’ALL!! ( in case you were wondering, “RS” the one and only Ronnie Sapp )

4) Taxes- local and county.¬†How much more do you think we the taxpayers can absorb!!! As for this writer, I’m already there. See you south of the USA!!

3) Healthcare Reform. HERE WE GO AGAIN!! I’ve been on this planet for 50 plus years and the one topic that has never changed is Healthcare Reform. And every year NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH!! STOP PLAYING WITH MY RIGHTS!! For one bloody moment do the RIGHT THING!! I know thats not done in Washington, but 2010, MAYBE. My definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome. COME ON!!

2) The IRS, ” Individuals Rights Stolen “. The IRS put together spells THEIRS. Do you understand now why nothing is YOURS anymore? Get rid of the IRS and make taxes understandable and FAIR. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. SAD!!

1) The US foreign policy. Again, my definition of INSANITY is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome. ENOUGH BLOOD HAS BEEN SPILLED!!  BRING OUR BRAVE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN HOME!!

Finally, my reward for ” THIEF OF THE YEAR ” Government Bailout vs. Bernie Madoff¬†¬† I’ll let you decide.

Thanks for reading. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Shannon Michael

Shannon Michael is solely responsible for his Rants Column, yet most of the times we support his points. You can do that with a website. You can make a clear stand of who and what you are.

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My Personal Experience with Hospice

My Personal Experience with Hospice

My Personal Experience with Hospice

My personal experience with hospice came recently when my step-father passed away. My mother quietly hugged my neck after the doctor suggested moving Pop from the hospital to the hospice facility down the street and gently whispered, “This is all happening so fast, oh please don’t let him die on Christmas Day!” He had been fighting the good fight and the decision from admitting him into the hospital or sending him home changed when he had a seizure while the doctor was in the room. Immediate tests were ordered and revealed a severe brain bleed; nothing more could be done.

Pop had made it through the night which was more than many expected. His rest appeared tormented even with the morphine shots he was receiving every two hours. His breathing was labored, the room was cold and the monitors sporadically interrupted our dreaded fears as the deafening clock on the wall counted down, ticking the seconds away while the arrangements for his transfer to the hospice facility were made.

The hospital nurses were kind and left us alone while we made a few quiet phone calls to the family. The clock continued, but we wanted time to stop right there. Mom kissed Pop’s head and held his hand while she opened the Christmas gift he had chosen for her just two weeks before. We felt it was appropriate that she open the gift in front of him even though Christmas was still two days away. The gold and diamond pendant expressed his love for her; he had chosen a gift that would describe how much he loved and appreciated her. She hasn’t taken the necklace off since it was clasped around her neck, left to dangle over her heart.

The nurse came back in to see if any of us needed anything and to inform us that the ambulance had arrived to move Pop to hospice. Her strength admirable, my mother stood and took a deep and tortured breath, holding back the reckless sobbing that would come pouring out had she dared to part her lips. Her love for this man was strong and undeniable; she wanted more time to share the plans they had made.

Just the mention of hospice brings a finality that no one wants to hear. “Hospice is beautiful,” the nurse encouraged. “The rooms are cozy and decorated like bedrooms and each one has its own theme. One is all decorated up in a fishing theme.”

“Oh he loves fishing,” Mom volunteered. “Maybe that room will be available.”

Right away we noticed that hospice smelled better than the hospital and commented on such as we gathered in the waiting room. A soft spoken woman offered us coffee or tea and showed us around the surprisingly ample kitchen for such a small facility. A social worker came out to speak with us about how we were welcome 24 hours a day and how to access the building after hours. She asked if we had any questions, but some were no longer important and others suddenly escaped our thoughts. They kept our minds occupied while we waited to see Pop. We were functioning in an existence between two worlds, nothing felt real‚ and we felt nothing but a dull, aching numbness. Some weird type of autopilot seemed to have taken control, despite of – or possibly because of – the lack of sleep combined with an indescribable emotional turmoil erupting within our souls.

In no time, the staff settled Pop into his new room. Painted in a calming shade of beige, the open blinds looked onto an immaculate courtyard. Comfortable furniture adorned the room that was aglow with warm incandescent lighting. The white chenille bedspread was like the one my grandmother used to have on her feather bed when I was a child. The area was bigger than I imagined, not at all like the hospital’s institutionalized box and the absence of tubes, monitors and machines permitted Pop to rest comfortably.

The staff was reassuring and offered words of comfort. A young woman made her rounds visiting the patients with a sack full of toys; and she laid a plush Santa in the bed with him. Someone else brought in a tall white tapered candlestick nestled in a small glass holder; a card tied on with ribbon held the words of the 23rd Psalm. We stayed until late in the evening when Mom said she’d like to go home and try to get some sleep. My step-brother had already committed to spending the night with Pop, so she felt confident the love of her life would be in the best of hands without her there.

At 3:15 AM the phone rang and we were woken up with the realization that if we wanted to see Pop again, we had to return to hospice immediately. The end for us all is inevitable, but suddenly the end was approaching at break neck speed and no one was ready to say goodbye. As we gathered silently around the bed, each of us afraid to leave the room for even a moment, we found the inner strength to say our goodbyes through tears and through touch as our throats burned with pent up screams of despair for our sorrow and our loss. We silently watched the lines of pain disappear from his face as his body released his energy, his life, and his spirit… on Christmas Eve.

While the ordeal of my step-father’s passing was both emotionally and physically exhausting, the hospice staff was amazingly courteous. We knew the end was imminent for Pop, and allowing him to expire in the care of the hospice facility was ten times better than if he had remained in the hospital. I appreciated the hospice staff and their attention to even the oddest of our requests during this difficult time. I would recommend to anyone that is faced with making these tender, yet painful decisions for a loved one to accept the services of hospice. Although losing a loved one was unimaginably personal, hospice lent a heartfelt hand, gently guiding us through this anguished journey.

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Consider Your Options Before You Buy a New Car

Buying a Used Car? There are more options now.

Buying a Used Car? There are more options now.

A vehicle for most of us, has become almost as important as food and shelter.¬†¬†Well maybe not food, but I‚Äôm willing to bet many would willingly trade a place to sleep for a mode of transportation.¬† The point I am making is the importance of a car, to get us to and from work, shopping, school and more.¬† Years ago people would purchase a car and drive it for 10 + years getting all the goodies out of it before sending it to the bone yard however today is a different story.¬† Cars have become a status symbol over the past 25 years. The rule of high status is simply to have the newest and the best at all times.¬† America has seen a huge increase of new car acquisitions in the form of leases and buying during the ‚Äúbetter‚Äù economic times.¬† With current¬†economic¬†times being iffy at best, we are seeing big changes in the¬†automotive world with deals that are the best we have seen in many years and options that should be considered, if you’re in the market for a car.

Brand new cars are at an all time low with the sale prices plainly marked on the windshield making the art of hours of negotiating with the sales man obsolete. In addition to excellent sale prices, some lenders are offering interest free financing for as much as 6 years, no down payment for qualified individuals and lease rates that make it easy for someone to drive a new, more expensive car with lower monthly payments.

The preowned market is not as strong with many cars carrying a lot of negative equity from buyers having paid too much for them in the first place.  There are deals out there on 2-3 year old models, but you need to be aware of all factors like used car interest rates and warranties.
One car owning option that is slowly gaining momentum, did not exist too openly in the past and that is assuming an already existing car loan or lease from an individual.  Now this is much different than purchasing a preowned car from a private seller where a price is agreed upon and you secure a new loan or pay cash for the auto.  Assuming a car loan or lease is not a traditional financing means of owning a car and this is how it works. An existing car owner needs to get rid of their car.  They have already paid the taxes, the down payment and fees towards owning the car and have made many months of payments on the existing loan.  A contract between you and the “owner” is signed and you take ownership and responsibility for the car.  One note here, make sure this way of selling is blessed by a legal eagle before signing. The loan or lease is still in the original owners name, but the contract shows you as the new owner.  At the end of the loan the title is then transferred to your name and all is well.

A lease is just as easy, you find a car that is being leased and take over the payments from that person.  At the end of the lease the car simply goes back to the dealer and both you and the “original” owner walk away from it.  Think about it, you need a car but you have limited credit and no down payment, you find a person desperately needing to get out of their monthly payments, you take over the payments and the first owner relieves himself of his month obligation.  There are risks associated with these types of transactions.   If you are cautious and work with people you know, making sure all is legal, I think you’ll find this to be a good option for both parties.

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Choose Your Words Carefully

Choose Your Words Carefully

Choose Your Words Carefully

Communicating effectively is essential for career growth and advancement and it is very important to choose your words carefully. According to The Global Language Monitor (Mar. 2006), there are approximately 988,968 words in the English language, “plus or minus a handful.” That’s a lot of words from which to choose.

Knowledge of words alone, however, does not assure good communication. A good vocabulary helps, but other factors must be included for effective communication. The ability to communicate in person, by telephone, or in writing is important.

Think of communicating as what is said, how it is said and listening – all of which affects the quality of work and relationships. Sometimes we become confident in communicating verbally and fail to consider the importance of nonverbal communication. Become familiar with your nonverbal behavior and that of the people with whom you interact.

A commonly known nonverbal factor that impacts communication is “body language,” the facial expressions, hand and arm gestures, body movements, and posture that everyone exhibits. Other nonverbal factors to consider are those that can be seen, such as energy level (alert or fatigued), space (physical position of people), and clothing. Other cues are those that can be heard, such as the rate and pace of speech, breathing rate, pitch and tone, and diction.

Abraham Lincoln said that when getting ready to reason with someone, he spent one-third of his time “thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds about him and what he is going to say.” Regardless of your preferred method of communication preparation, consideration should always be given to the speaker and receiver.

Culture influences how people express themselves, and such differences can cause people to misinterpret a message, leading to misunderstandings. Even though English is the primary language in the United States, there are cultures and subcultures where certain English words have colloquial meanings that may or may not be what you have in mind. Different languages or dialects could be factors in misunderstandings.

Using words to impress others sometimes has its place, but it does not override the importance of the speaker and receiver achieving a common understanding of the intended message. People often say things that are not understood as they intended. Such misunderstandings can easily cause conflict.

Successful communication is a fundamental goal requiring parties to be open minded. This requires active listening – asking questions and confirming understanding of what the other person is saying.

Think of communication skills like the fit of a glove – some are too tight and some too loose, but the best fit is what is comfortable. If you are interacting with others, communication skills that convey your intended message are the best fit.

Choose your words carefully.

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I Love Reading in the Bathroom

Teach'em Young and They'll Remember Forever

Teach'em Young and They'll Remember Forever

More precisely, I love reading while sitting on the toilet. I hope that doesn’t offend you, because it is a habit that started very early on in life and brought a lot of peace of mind to my otherwise roller coaster existence.
It started at home where my dad, an avid bridge player, hijacked the toilet after dinner for at least 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the story he got into. You were s..t out of luck if nature called during that time frame, because even upper middle class homes in the Europe of the Fifties had only one toilet and one shower/bathroom without a toilet. Sometimes I think that’s the reason why my mother’s sister build a house next door to us, so we could have an emergency exchange toilet or WC (water closet) as we called it.

This whole experience came back to me the other day when we went to see our friends who had moved into a new home in the Fernandina Beach City golf course community. After a good amount of toasting to the Holidays and their new home, the inevitable moment arrived that a visit to the toilet was imminent. Lo and behold their toilet was a typical European little Water Closet next to the front door (just like in Europe) with less than an inch to spare between toilet seat and the inward opening door. I felt like I had stepped back into the fifties, especially after I discovered several books and magazines in a little bookcase.
All at once I remembered the smile on my dad’s face when he told us how he played bridge with Doctor Zhivago or his alter ego actor Omar Shariff. The Bridge Magazine with the pictures to proof it spend at least 2 years in our bathroom. I remembered our timid knocks on the WC door while nervously pacing or crossing our legs to limit the pressure. Sometimes two or three of us were pacing the hallway like people do in airplanes. Mom always went to visit her sister next door after dinner. I guess she knew better than getting caught.
She was also pretty much like my wife today: A toilet speed demon. I can not imagine someone in and out of the door in 30 seconds flat, but my mom did it and my wife does it. Not me…I’ve re-acquainted myself with true relaxation.

Over the years my life became so hectic and ambulant that feeling close enough to a toilet’s comforting abilities, became something of the past…until recently. I do now have a toilet, actually a full bathroom with all amenities, right adjacent to my home office, and I have re-discovered the joy of sitting down and reading. I know I’m still not completely in the peace of mind mode from the early days, since I’m reading two novels simultaneously, Kurt Vonnegut’s 1976 novel ‘Slapstick’ and feminist philosopher Camille Paglia’s 1991 eye opening shocker “Sexual Personae”.

But I notice that my time spent on the toilet is increasing, while my literary needs are being satisfied and that is perfect for me. At my age reading in bed has become sedately interrupted by the Sandman, which means that my average time spent on a novel or biography was starting to become ridiculous. Like 3 to 4 months.
I’m back to my old average of a book a week and perfect evacuations.

I wish you Peace and Comfort for 2010

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FBPD Sergeant Promotion and New Hire

Sergeant Chad Lee with wife Buffy

Sergeant Chad Lee with wife Buffy

The Fernandina Beach Police Department has announced the promotion of Detective Chad Lee to the rank of Police Sergeant, effective December 27, 2009. Sergeant Lee replaces Sergeant Paul Carter who retired in July.

Sergeant Lee and his wife Buffy participated in a badge pinning ceremony on December 23rd, along with new hire Michael Mazuryk and his wife Jessica.

Sergeant Lee is a 1993 graduate of Fernandina Beach High School. He received his Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from FCCJ in 2007. Sergeant Lee began his service to the City in 2001 and has been assigned to patrol, the Special Enforcement Unit, and Criminal Investigations. He is a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics unit and serves as an adjunct instructor at the Police Academy in Jacksonville.

Officer Michael Mazuryk and wife Jessica

Officer Michael Mazuryk and wife Jessica

Officer Michael Mazuryk was born in Dover, New Jersey and graduated from Warren Hills Regional High School in Washington, New Jersey. He obtained his Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Administration from the County College of Morris, New Jersey in 2005, while working as a Dispatch Supervisor for the Warren County Department of Public Safety.

Newly appointed Police Officer Michael Mazuryk and wife Jessica recently moved to Fernandina Beach after Mike served with the New York City Police Department for two years.

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Sunsets and Sunrises Offer Relaxation for Free

Sunset over the Amelia River

Sunset over the Amelia River

Last evening I found myself relaxing on Centre Street in the Fernandina Beach Historic District, picking up a few bargains and just enjoying an hour to myself.  Even in the cold I bought an ice cream at Fantastic Fudge and sat on a bench and watched the people.  I was amazed at how many people there were out and about.  I noticed the sun beginning to set over the river and I knew I had to make it to the river front to capture this.  All I had was my cell phone to capture the moment but hey, you do the best you can with what you have, right.

It was a beautiful sunset.  Boats and birds in the foreground with the golden sunset in the background.  After taking the picture I sat and reflected on what a wonderful town we live in.  This is truly a magical Island that can be very therapeutic, if we allow it to be.  This has been a very hectic month for me, (not to mention a very hectic year). Just in those short moments I found myself feeling really relaxed and calm for the first time in a long while.

The ice cream and beauty of our Island sunsets just seemed to do the trick.¬† I wondered why we don’t do more of this?¬† Why would we not take advantage of this natural beauty a least a couple of times a week.¬† Sort of like recharging our internal batteries and calming our cluttered minds of all the the 21st. century has piled on us.¬† I for one have made a promise to myself to enjoy at least one sunset per week and two sunrises per month.¬† I look forward to increasing the dosage, and soon.¬† Try it yourself, I think it is a perfect Rx.

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Wisdom from Grandma for 2010

Wisdom from Grandma for 2010

Wisdom from Grandma for 2010

Yes, my 89 year old grandmother is at it again sending wisdom for 2010. She has sent me notice that my contract of friendship, after serious and cautious consideration, has been renewed. She added that this was a very hard decision to make and that I should not screw it up!!! (Thanks Grandma!)

My Wish for You in 2010

May peace break into your home and may thieves come to steal your debts.
May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet for $100 bills.
May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips!
May happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy
May the problems you had, forget your home address!
In simple words… may 2010 be the best year of your life!!!

I think we are all ready to say “goodbye” to 2009, and we at SearchAmelia.com wish you the warmest, happiest and most prosperous 2010!!!

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Cheating on Mother? She’ll Whoop Your Behind.

The Law of Economy demands Give and Take

The Law of Economy demands Give and Take

Remember when you were little and you tried to cheat on or lie to your mom and she always knew. Somehow moms know their children better then children know themselves. I remember clearly that trying to cheat on my mom I faced three dilemmas – I felt bad and my conscious would always play tricks on me, my mom would know anyway and the consequences always were worse then telling the truth. I came to realize that telling the truth about something bad had less repercussions than trying to cheat and lie.

Listening to Don McClean’s American Pie while writing about cheating on my mom makes the story line somehow turn to how we treat mother earth and how the American dream is a parallel to Don McClean’s poetic lines: “Something touched me deep inside the day that the music died.” and¬† “I met a girl who sang the blues and I asked her for some happy news, she just smiled and turned away” and then “I went down to the sacred store where I heard the music years before but the men there said the music wouldn’t play while the three men I admire most, the father, son and holy ghost, caught the last train heading for the coast the day the music died and they where singing…. bye bye Mr. American Pie…”

I noticed that the next song on my iTunes playlist was “Crime of the Century” by Supertramp. Strange coincidence or simply fate, since my playlist is randomly generated. I first heard this song in 1974 in my hometown Heerlen while Supertramp was still a relatively unknown band and made me an instant fan for life. Not that I really comprehended the lyrics in those days, but once I bought their vinyl record and started studying the lyrics of the song I knew that someday greed would play an overburdening role in the destiny of mankind. I was 15 years old back then and had no clue of what I would like to do with the rest of my life. Supertramp changed that all for me and I set out to be the best I could be in whatever I would do, because that is what I admired about Supertramp in the many concerts I went to see since that first time. Perfection without frills and thrills, without cheating. Simply fabulous musical talent only duplicated in perfection by the Eagles.

Now, some 35 years later I’m pondering about my past and future in a society that asks the same question day in and day out….over and over again: Can we cheat mother Earth? Most of us claim we can because she’s patient and forgiving, she’s allmighty and too big to fail.

Now there’s a term we “invented” that may proof to be our collective arrogance and ignorance in assuming that our pitty creations can withstand the law of Economy.

Law of Economy is just a phrase for many yet it may proof to be the ultimate universal law. In reality we are so arrogant in thinking that the laws of mathematics is our sole universal language. What if mother Earth doesn’t speak that language? Why are we so arrogant to believe that constants are just that… constants. Nature and mother Earth proof us wrong time and again. 2009 was to be a moderate to heavy hurricane season, based on our constants yet proved to be a fizzle. Now the same forecasters (Prof. Grey et al in Colorado) that made those predictions on their scientific mathematical calculation are seeking proof and cover-up for their “incompetence” to reclaim their authority by using a child,¬† el Ni√±o, as the scapegoat. As with children they have no clue what really moves el Nino or la Nina.

What if mother Earth decides that it is time for landmass expansion and a new continent the size of Australia violently rises to the surface? What will be the consequences? Foremost the basin that holds all seawater will all of a sudden have to deal with trillions of gallons of water displacement and nowhere to go than flood the low laying areas of the current landmass!

Can we mathematically calculate this occurrence based on constants?  Are we so arrogant to believe that it is not possible because our mathematical calculations are founded on currently known constants?

Is mother earth fallible? Yes, but in our desperate quest to put everything in “drawers” we think she can’t be. Mother Earth has to act and react according to our arrogant rules and if not, we come up with explanations that fit our calculations. Who’s fooling who here?

What if we base our knowledge gains on an absolutely wrong foundation? We either think everything right, yet we execute everything wrong, or is it reversed? We think everything wrong and execute everything right!

What if the laws of nature follow the laws of economy? Is there proof that the law of economy is the sole foundation why evolution occurs?

From my humble perspective, it is. Nothing is a constant since the constant is defined by variable factors. The constant alters based on conservation. Mother Earth is a cracked egg shell floating on liquid plasma or magma consisting of thousands of variations of the C or the Carbon molecule. The carbon molecule is the absolute center and cornerstone of all dead things and all things alive. It exists in solid, liquid and gaseous state and is known to hibernate, jump ship, escape and return in expansion and contraction.

The next important molecule is Nitrogen since without its existence we would not exist, yet it is often overlooked as a rather unimportant molecule. It has a special bond with Carbon since its presence in co-existence defines structure, while the presence of Oxygen provides both Carbon and Nitrogen a chance of “life” together with Hydrogen.

This eggshell we live on is like a floating Ice shelf and when Mother Earth decides to burp, it will do so on her terms and not based on our mathematical constants, but instigated by the law of conservation or economy. Yet we like to think we can calculate when she’s going to burp. Tell that to the victims of Indonesia’s tsunami, or the victims of the numerous earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and harsh weather conditions around the world. Mother Earth decides where it’s going to rain, snow or cause a dry spell. Mother Earth decides when and were a tornado will strike, a hurricane is formed and where it will be heading and we, the castrated spectators with our almighty arrogant human super capabilities and knowledge, witness the onslaught mother Earth is bestowing on us and “hope for the best”.

We are arrogant to allow cities like New Orleans to be built¬† and rebuilt on land that is below sea level without sufficient protection and use double pirate’s eye patches while like ostriches stick our collective heads in the sand in hopes that a Katrina won’t happen again based on statistics for another 30 years. We humans live by statistical data day by day. It guides us in the decision making processes yet when dealing with Nature all statistical bets are off even though we analyze those data the same way as the chance of being hit by a truck in Montana.

We allow cities like New York and the island of Manhattan to build skyscrapers of hundreds of stories in such close proximity that if, God forbid, a category one hurricane would hit the city dead-on wind velocities would increase, due to the proximity of the skyscrapers, to over 300mph (equal to a Category 5 tornado on steriods) and will funnel through those towering colossus. But no, statistical data shows that the chance of a direct hurricane hit in New York is 30,000 to 1 or thereabouts. Tell that to the possible millions who will perish or their surviving relatives when one skyscraper is going to tumble the next and the next, like an endless stream of tumbling bowling pins.

We collectively called the 911 suicide bombers terrorists because they were of a different nationality and different religious belief. What are we going to call those architects, city engineers, money hungry moguls and construction companies playing russian roulette with the lives of millions of people? Patriots?

Don’t get me wrong, mathematics is a pretty exact science, yet when used in equations that deal with Mother Earth,¬† One plus One may just not be Two. Mathematics and statistics are human inventions and have no place in evaluations of risk and outcome when dealing with this Third Rock from the Sun. Statistics have no meaning and will not alter her mind based on our Almighty intelligence. If it’s statistically impossible, count on it to happen – one day.

Over time only the critical observation of nature has thought us something about the risks of arrogantly defying its power, yet we constantly keep changing the variables for her to respond to.

Lying and cheating on international agreements to reduce carbon emissions and territorial behavior on our neighors has done nothing more then dirtying our own nest. The term global warming is indeed cozy and doesn’t instill any fear. It shouldn’t have to, but a collective promise to decrease our carbon footprint to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and then snicker about how we cheated on our collegial neighbors, has done nothing more than cheating on ourselves. Mother Nature doesn’t care if we do or don’t cheat, it will stubbornly continue its path to correct an evolutionary mistake. It has done so many times before in our planet”s history. The liars and cheaters are not going to be singled out but the innocent who had no say in our collective greed or stupid ignorance will be paying the toll as well.

Indiscriminate Mother Earth will demand a ransom that may alltogether be too steep for anyone to pay and only those that have held  the laws of nature in utmost regard, while living in harmony with them from generation to generationn will possibly have a distant chance to survive its fundamentals.

Don’t be mistaken, Mother Earth is the only real Bank we borrow energy from through extrapolation of fuels, mining, lumber and construction materials. We have never really considered paying her back other than a mini tree planting ceremony here and there, possibly destroying its natural balance in the process.
Is Mother Earth too big to fail us? Time will tell what price we’ll have to pay.

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Raw Meat Diet for Dogs

Raw Meat Diet for Dogs

Raw Meat Diet for Dogs

Visiting with my mother and her Boston Terrorists for the holidays, I learned about a raw meat diet for dogs from my step-brother’s wife, who also has Boston Terriers. One of the dogs, Snoopy, was quite a handful for my mother and so he went to stay with them while Mom was recovering from surgery. Seeing Lee Lou and Snoopy, and the difference in appearance between mom’s two dogs, Sassy and Skippy, I was intrigued by Brandy’s explanation of this raw meat diet or BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food) and I wanted to learn more.

Raw meat including the bones found in meats such as chicken, turkey, lamb and elk are similar to what dogs would eat naturally if left in the wild. Concerned about the terrifying tales we have all heard about dogs and chicken bones, Brandy told me that raw bones, the non-load bearing bones, such as ribs and necks will not splinter and get stuck in their throats.

I found this website to contain an abundance of information and links to other sites. The arguments for and against are as controversial as politics, global warming and conspiracy theories, and anything in abundance is unhealthy, right? Drinking to excess, overeating and even sex, okay, maybe not sex unless it is an addiction, can all be detrimental to your physical and psychological well-being, and so it is with all life forms. Seriously though, when humans diet properly, the best advice is to eat more natural foods and in proper proportions. So shouldn’t the same reasoning apply to your four legged friends?

Commercial pet foods contain additives and preservatives to keep the food fresh and smelling palatable. Vaccines and toxins found in flea and tick repellents all add to the potential for your pet to have allergic reactions to any or all of these supplemental ingredients or treatments. This makes sense to me since commercial pet food has only been around for a few decades. There has been much written about pet allergies and they all point at these culprits.

Snoopy the Boston Terrier

Snoopy the Boston Terrier

The most obvious changes I noticed in these Bostons, was in their coats. The dogs on the raw meat diet had shinier, softer and denser fur. At one point all four of them were corralled in the living room. The two on the raw meat were chewing on dog toys; the other two dogs were chewing on themselves. Wow! That was truly an “ah-ha” moment as one well-know celebrity would describe it had she also been in the room.

When I bathed Sassy and Skippy, their fur was thin and Skippy has always been able to clear a room when he passes gas. Flatulence is no longer an issue with Snoopy now that he is on the raw meat diet.

Whether you feed your dog raw meat diet or a commercial brand of dog food, make sure your dog is receiving healthy fatty acids and a minimum of grains. Personally, I have two dogs, much larger than the Boston and with the cost of meat at the local grocery stores I’m not sure I can afford a complete raw meat diet for my girls, but I will start with a few chicken necks and see if it reduces some of their itching and Trixie’s hot spot she sometimes gets on her tail. Take everything in moderation, right? I’ll let you know how it works out!

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FOCUS – the Undistracted Business Word for 2010

Focus on Fundamentals

Focus on Fundamentals

Some call it the business word for the year 2009 but I prefer to use the word FOCUS as the actionable word for 2010. The year 2009 was one of massive confusion fed by media, new technology and an economy that has many people hit the panic button in an final attempt to stop the downward barreling roller coaster. 2010 will be the year of FOCUS, (No, not the Dutch rock band that yodeled itself to the top of the Music Charts in the early seventies), but the willpower to concentrate completely on business building in those areas or niches that will allow you to marry direct sales with brand name building.

For all of us “late comers” 2009 was the year that every Internet marketer had to start ‚ÄúTweeting‚Äù and ‚ÄúFacebooking‚Äù and learning dozens of different Twitter and Facebook management tools. I apologize if you think I‚Äôm exaggerating, but if so, only just barely. I read blog posts and guru advice that preach a dozen Twitter management tools to perform every day, out of a list of probably fifty different ones. For about two weeks I religiously applied many of them, but then I realized that my daily work schedule had completely run off the tracks and socially I was heading for estrangement from family and friends.

After two weeks I literally pulled myself off the Twitter page and started re-thinking Internet Marketing. For most of my internet life I only needed three tools to make money: File Transfer Protocol (FTP), an auto-responder and a PayPal account.
Now, supposedly, it takes fifteen tools just to somewhat manage a Twitter account. I’m not even talking about the daily Facebook requirements, the updating of my LinkedIn profile and account and contributions to Hubpages and Squidoo; let alone Technorati, Digg, Diigo, youTube and the dozen or so daily friend requests from Tagged. I came to the conclusion that this can‚Äôt be good for focus ‚Äì or for making money.

“Can social media me dangerous to your wealth?”

Well, my take on it is that social media has clearly become a problem of choice for a lot of marketers. So many folks have become so busy “building their brand” and “generating hits”, they’ve lost track of the fact that we’re all in the business of selling.

That ugly four letter word: S-E-L-L has a very close connection to that other dirty word R-E-A-D.

Marketers don’t seem to want to use them any more. It seems that the general consensus is operating from an easy comfort zone in front of your computer screen, addressing the world from a desk top. Some even think it is crass, out-dated, so last century, or unsophisticated to practice the art of selling. Well, if selling is old fashioned, then call me old fashioned because the last time I checked, I can’t deposit a brandname or 10,000 followers on Twitter in my bank account. I can only deposit money and money is generated by sales.

What to focus on.

If you want to make money, here is my first and foremost piece of advice and it hasn’t changed in twenty five years or more.
I doubt it will change in the next twenty: Focus on finding yourself a market to sell to. What is a market to sell to?  “A collection of people who are already buying something similar to what you have to sell and who you can reach economically with existing media.” Every word in that definition matters and I hope you read it again s-l-o-w-l-y and let every word roll in your mouth like a good Merlot.

There‚Äôs wealth to be had in getting it right‚Ķ and poverty in getting it wrong. And what’s more… the message is always the same within the realm of creativity and pricing:

1. This is what I have for you

2. This is what it’ll do for you

3. This is what I want you to do next

Learning a million and one groovy marketing techniques without having a market to sell into, is like studying the Kama Sutra without having a partner. Possibly interesting, but not likely to produce much meaningful action. And that’s what most people are looking for today: action that generates income. So, if you don‚Äôt have a market, get one now and start doing something with it.

What to do with a market

Post relevant comments to forums and blogs‚Ķ talk to people in the market‚Ķ write articles that solve problems‚Ķ create relevant reports‚Ķ give your best material away in exchange for e-mail addresses‚Ķ recommend good affiliate offers to your subscribers‚Ķ source and/or develop your own products and offer them‚Ķ track your results‚Ķ get rid of stuff that doesn‚Äôt work and repeat things that do. In other words, get cracking. To use Michael Masterson’s book title: “Ready, Fire, Aim”

Less study and more action.

How do you build a list of prospects? One name at a time and the sooner you get started the better. Whining about how hard it is, is just not going to make it happen any faster. My mind boggles at the number of new “Internet Users” who Twitter like movie stars – but have not collected a single e-mail address yet.

Focus on “traffic + conversion”

Nine years ago, when I came out of semi-retirement to get involved with Internet marketing, I was quickly frustrated by all the looney marketing advice being dispensed even back then that had seemingly fatally scrambled the brains of many. The dotcom bust took care of the worst in the bunch, thank God.

For 2010 I urge you to ‚ÄúForget all that garbage. There are only two things you should be focusing on: traffic and conversion. If you‚Äôre doing anything else, you are wasting your time. Traffic plus conversion equals profits!‚Äù It may seem so obvious now, but today everyone seems so boggled down with all new and improved internet strategies, that they forget to stick their head out of the door and get a grip on real life. Of course Twitter and Facebook can help greatly in the process of “Traffic and Conversion”, but only if you know how and strictly focus on that.

Some things never change.

Here’s the weird thing: most Internet marketers and businesses with an internet presence still don’t focus on traffic + conversion.

My advice: If it doesn’t help you get more traffic or help you convert your traffic better, don’t waste your time. Knowledge has zero value unless it’s being properly employed. Of course I do not deny the value of identifying a market via Twitter or Facebook. I also acknowledge that over time you will see results as in traffic and conversion from those efforts, but only after you have focused on your market niche and identified your potential customers. You can have a million followers, but if your expertise is only of interest to 500, you better focus on these and build a data base relationship.

I put up some 6 or 7 articles on Hubpages.com in March of this year. By October I noticed that more than 15,000 people had read the articles, commented on them or put me in their favorite list. The bad thing was that I hadn’t looked at Hubpages since I put the articles on seven months earlier. An absolute waste of time and effort to even post them. My Focus was pulled away or diverted by yet another internet marketing “novelty”.

The reality of Internet marketing

Internet marketing is a lot like being an electrician or a plumber. It‚Äôs 95% blood, sweat and tears and 5% glamor. (The glamor is the part where you deposit the check in the bank.) Too many beginners have been sold the idea that there is some special ‚Äúmagic‚Äù in Internet marketing that lets internet marketers defy the laws of economic reality. Ooops, I’ve got news for you. It doesn‚Äôt work that way. Internet marketing is a profession. It requires comprehensive knowledge as a foundation and then relentless action with many controls and evaluation points.

This is not meant as a put down. It’s just the nature of the beast. But the good news is, that this is a business you can learn. And when you do, the benefits in terms of earnings and profits are usually exponentially higher than in traditional businesses.

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Book Review: Iacocca: An Autobiography

Book Review: Iacocca: An Autobiography

Book Review: Iacocca: An Autobiography

I picked up an old book at a yard sale recently. That book is Lee Iacocca’s autobiography, self-titled Iacocca. The book begins with a background of Lee’s heritage and upbringing, then immediately delves into his experiences leading up to his presidency at Ford Motors, then his firing from Ford, and then the story of how he managed to redeem Chrysler from imminent bankruptcy.

The book was a record-breaking #1 bestseller in its heyday so many of you may have read it before. I just read it for the first time, years after its release, and it is amazing how the problems he had to address are still plaguing industries today. Honestly, it was almost unapparent that I wasn’t reading a book written this year seeing as how it described government bailouts, red tape between big industry and the Fed, regulatory inhibition to progress, a weak economy, and “free trade” (you’ll understand why “free trade” is in quotations if you read the book, or are informed on the workings of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades) between the United States and other major industrial countries like Japan.

In addition to the political subject matter, Iacocca‚ is a very good read. It kept me wanting to turn each page with excitement. In Lee’s own words when describing the success of his book‚ “People started asking me how a book with no sex, no violence, and no spies could sell so well. I honestly didn’t know, and I was supposed to be a marketing genius.” I think it has something to do with the American Dream – a desire to succeed, and this book is about hard work and what it takes for success. I give it four stars today, and probably would have given it four stars 25 years ago.

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The Fernandina Fire of March 23, 1876

View of the city after the Fire of March 23, 1876

View of the city after the Fire of March 23, 1876

As much as I love the history of our wonderful Amelia Island I find it amazing that you never hear too much about the great fire that occured on the night of March 23, 1876 in the downtown business district.  I have only been able to find just one or two photographs of the fire, but thought I would share the only one I have with you.

It seems that a fire broke out in the downtown area on the night of the 23rd. and spread so rapidly that it caused much damage before finally being stopped.  The following is an entry of the day and what happened;

Biographical note:
Contemporary account: “On the night of the 23rd… fire broke out in a carpenter’s shop located in the business center of the place… and spread so rapidly that the citizens were unable to check its progress until nearly forty buildings had been destroyed. These covered nearly the entire business portion of the city… The buildings burned… included the post office… the city offices… the probate and county clerk’s offices… the office and store-house of the Charleston Steamship Company and the [Fernandina] Observer printing office… the depot and wharves were saved by the opportune assistance of a steam tug.” — D. Webster Dixon to the St. Albans Messenger, March 30, 1876.

Of course many cities experienced destructive fires before the installation of water supplies and organized fire departments with the proper equipment.  Today it is unheard of for a fire of this magnitude to break out and not be brought under control in short order.  We all know about the great fire in Jacksonville that almost destroyed the entire downtown area, but few people seem to know about the fire we had right here in Fernandina Beach.  If you have any pictures of this fire, please let me know, perhaps we could do some trading.

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Fungi Education for Property Owners

Fungi Education for Property Owners

Fungi Education for Property Owners

Property owners are paying thousands of dollars to corrupt contractors seeking to make a profit by performing mold services that do not exist or not performing properly. This article was created to help you understand when you are being taken for a ride!
Before we begin, you should know that there currently are no mandated regulations or standards that apply to the remediation of fungi in indoor environments. There have been established guidelines by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, Restoration and Certification (IICRC). There is also no official state or federal certification programs for this industry. Wipe Out has gained its certifications through IICRC due to the highly regarded reputation in over 22 countries and that the State of Florida has sought their input in creating regulation for Florida.
When a mold remediation project is completed, the contractor should recommend clearance testing. Clearance testing is designed to determine the effectiveness of remediation efforts and to document the absence of microbial problems before renovations begin. This testing should be conducted as follows:

It should include visual inspection of both the remediated areas and non-remediated areas to check for cleanliness and all affected materials have been removed. This prevents the homeowner from paying for tests when they would obviously fail.

Air sampling should be performed in all major areas where remediation was performed, an outdoor control sample should be taken for comparison to the indoor samples and a sample should be taken in a non remediated area to insure no cross contamination occurred during the project.

At least one settled dust sample from a representative cleaned surface in each remediated area should be performed, as well as, a surface sample in major areas, such as HVAC system, which are at particular risk of having been cross-contaminated by inadequate dust containment measures during the cleanup.

An inspection should be performed for any ongoing issues that may continue to put the building at risk and should include recommendations.

Your testing company should provide you with a written report which contains a pass/fail, any areas that are at risk with recommendations, and a copy of the test results for all samples taken. If not, then you have just been taken for a ride!

Another way property owners are spending money is on unethical contractors who perform both the mold testing and mold remediation. You should never use the same company for both. Why? It’s a major conflict of interest! The potential for abuse for a company performing both services is huge. With the cost associated with mold remediation, you want to ensure that your mold tester has no reason to find problems that don’t exist.

Furthermore, your mold remediator should not perform his own clearance testing. Most mold companies strive to get the project done right the first time, especially when they are on the hook for the test if they fail, like our company offers. If the contractor is offering free clearance testing, it is a great way to control their profit margin by ensuring their work passes and they get paid. It is always in the property owners best interest to have the original testing company perform the clearance testing. If it was not originally tested, a non-biased third party Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) should be consulted for clearance testing.

Some common scams to look out for are:

Sample Loading: Lower priced samples, but convincing the homeowner that your personal belongings need to each be tested for contamination. You can avoid this by knowing that you do not usually need surface samples at the beginning of a project. Air samples will suffice.

Swapping Samples: This is when an inspector changes your samples with another project they know has high mold levels. To protect yourself from this scam, make sure you higher an IEP that has no interest in the results of your sample. This falls under the category of never use the same company for both testing and remediation.

House Cooking: If you see a tester turning on the ceiling fan or furnace, this is a scam. This will elevate the mold spore count in the air before taking samples. If you see a tester patting down your furniture to get the air dirty, this is a scam. To protect yourself, ask the tester to leave your property immediately.

Wipe Out is full-service eco-friendly, water damage and mold remediation company, which provides free estimates and free infrared photography. With the owners having many years experience and certifications, they provide 24/7 unbeatable service at the lowest prices available, backed by a “Price Match Guarantee”.

For additional information on Eco-Friendly Water Damage and Mold Remediation from Wipe Out, please call 904-567-3885.

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Reinvent Yourself and Your Career

Reinvent Yourself and Your Career

Reinvent Yourself and Your Career

It may be time to take a hard look at how you can reinvent yourself and your career. Has a malaise descended on the job you‚Äôve been at for what seems an eternity? Does the landfill of documents and unfinished projects on your desk make your head spin and sap your motivation? Do you ponder the work you have to complete by noon and wonder when 5 p.m. will arrive? Do you lament losing the job satisfaction you once had when you couldn’t wait to get to work and no task was too tough?

What keeps you at this grind may be the respect you have earned as a trusted and valued member of the team. You like the people and don’t really want to leave, but if your latest review brought no raise or bonus despite the many hours of work you have put in, then it may be time to take a hard look at how you can rejuvenate your career and life.

As long as you really want to regain the energy and enthusiasm you once had, it is possible to turn things around. You must be willing to invest some time into finding renewed career and personal life satisfaction.

Must-do/Can-do

This is the non-discretional (and least fun) part of the process. It is an important step that must be completed before you can pursue changes. Most offices have “must-do” protocols to assure compliance with policies and procedures.

With a current copy of the office’s policies and procedures in hand, review what is expected of you. Can’t you live with these “must-dos”? You may need to reinvent how you do things, from arranging your workspace to how you seek permission to go into uncharted territory.

The discretion you have in your position, and what you can do to change or improve the way you are doing things are the principal “can-do” elements you have to consider. If you enjoy a great deal of latitude and individual discretion in your job, then use these privileges productively. Compare what you “can-do” to the “must do” list and find common ground.

Self-inflicted Wound?

Is your dissatisfaction self-inflicted? If, for example, you procrastinate on a “must-do” assignment that you find distasteful and consider unimportant, you are inviting disapproval and sniping memos to “get it done.”

Accept the fact that you can choose to continue shooting yourself in the foot, or you can accept this “must-do” assignment and find more effective and creative ways to get the job done. Avoid thinking of yourself as the victim or you will exhibit victim-like behavior – the kiss of death in most offices. There are assignments that are neither sexy nor gratifying, but they have to be done and you have to decide if you want to stay around to get them done.

Work Smarter

Assuming you do not want to leave your present job, what do you see within your control that could be done better and smarter? Be sure your expectations for yourself are realistic and be bold, but don’t overreach. Not what works and what doesn’t. If it is within your discretion, find more efficient standardized ways of making your job easier while completing “must-do” jobs within established parameters and deadlines.

Such approaches could include preparing checklists for repeat assignments and tasks within those assignments. Or, you could create boilerplate documents that you routinely use. See if there is room for delegation (following protocol, of course), instead of assuming complete responsibility for every part of the job. If there is no one to delegate to, find ways to streamline the steps in completing an assignment – you may be creating more work for yourself than you realize.

Carpe Diem

Finding the balance between your work life and your home life is vital in your career enhancement. If you are so exhausted from the job that you do nothing else beyond the office, then you could be on the way to burnout. Don’t take work home or go into the office on your off days unless you absolutely have to.

A career is not your sole identity. Spend time on the whole you and focus on activities that distance you from work. Develop a hobby or get back into something you once enjoyed. Creative outlets are particularly rewarding, but try anything new that appeals to you. The important thing is to have something that chases thoughts of work out of your head.

Balancing work with the rest of your life is essential to regaining enthusiasm for your job. That enthusiasm is what feeds the motivation needed to perform at the highest level in your work and as a person. Reinventing yourself is not always easy, but it is much preferred to losing yourself.

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