Stability, Predictability, Consistency, and Standardization in the Flow of Commerce

The best of all possible worlds is for the government to stay out-of-the-way of commerce, industry and business, and very rarely institute regulations. There are some times when government and businesses, industry associations should collaborate for the sake of standardization, but again, very rarely. The tendency to allow industry collusion, create monopolies, duopolies or quasi-cartels is just too easy. Further, once you create one regulation it’s hard to prevent the add-on affect, the temptation is just too great to add exceptions, additions, clarifications as lawyers, unions, and consumer groups work to lobby legislators to intervene with the regulatory apparatus.

A few years back this was a big conversation at our Think Tank, and one think tanker Andrew stated: “I would have to agree that businesses do need some form of standardization, but we must also understand several concepts! A business must have the capability to micromanage for maximum efficiency. I believe states should be granted the power to standardize businesses, not the federal government.”

Okay but, where I see the definite need for standardization are with things like Internet Protocols, railway track width, freeways for intrastate travel, airport runway markings, frequencies used in communication, food safety, etc. In a big state like TX you could get away with doing almost everything counter to the overall prevailing way of doing things, it’s practically large enough to be its own country, and some Texans would prefer it to be still. Pretty independent minded, even with the population’s mindset of succession from the union. It even has its own electrical grid.

Still, with regards to the flow of energy, transportation, distribution, communication, currency, etc. we need standardization. And to the point of having each state decide, what about every county, every city, or every HOA, down to every person, where do you stop the breakdown of centralized standardization.

The argument for state level standardization could be argued against by someone who is a County Supervisor telling the State to go to hell, we want to do it our way, especially a county like the County of Los Angeles, with 16 million people in it, also larger than most countries. How about a city telling the county where to go, again as an example, let’s take the City of Los Angeles VS County of Los Angeles, see the point.

And realize I am not making an argument for a global government here, but we also need some standardization there too, for aviation, which we do have, maritime, trade rules, and having the Central Banks work together so no one Central Bank doesn’t destroy the entire global economy. See that point. We need SOME standardization, but we MUST retain regional variation. We do this at the Global Level, but we don’t do it enough at our Federal Level with regards to the states in the US and that’s why we have issues now. Think on this.

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How To Promote Your Business In Today’s Economy

Marketing a business is undoubtedly one of the most daunting tasks for any new entrepreneur. It’s one thing is to establish a business, but it is another thing to promote it. There are so many businesses, created by passionate people, that eventually collapse due to one reason – a lack of sales.

The purpose of any business is to sell something; either tangible or intangible. Tangible products are your tradition retail type of stores. Intangible products tend to be more service oriented. It is possible to have a combination business (such as painting; carpet installers, etc.). However, every entrepreneur is faced with the same problem of making their business known to the public in order to attract as many customers as possible.

There are many ways of promoting a business. The way you promote your business will basically depend on the type of industry your business belongs to. What works perfectly well for one business may not work for another type of business. Therefore, discretion is advised in adopting any of the steps listed below in promoting your own business:

1. Create a Website: Setting up a website is the surest way to make your business known by your potential customers. The first thing people do when trying to find out about your company is to search for it on Google. Your website has a way of creating a particular perception about your business. The more professional your website looks, the more professional your business will be perceived. The logical corollary is that you should link your social media channels back to your website.

It is not enough to just create a website, it is vitally important that you optimize your website by submitting it to major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. This will enable your website to come up on those search engines whenever potential customers are searching for a product or service you offer.

2. Local Advertising: A business needs to be advertised to the people in the immediate area. A business owner may choose to advertise using billboards, posters, handbills, or any other affordable form of advertising. A company with a good budget may advertise with local newspapers, magazines, television and radio stations to attract a very large audience. Of course, this depends on the type of business you are in. An online only business might not want to try advertising on some of these outlets.

3. Conduct Social Media Campaigns: Advertising via social media is the cheapest and easiest way to reach out to your customers. Using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. is free or relatively cheap. You have the ability to reach a larger audience than you could reach with local advertising.

There are over one billion active users on social media. Tapping into this huge resource will give you a greater chance of connecting with more people and introducing your business to them.

4. Email Marketing: Another good way of taking your business directly to your customers is by sending emails to your current or past customers anytime you have a new product. This is not a difficult task. You can do this by requesting for email addresses on your website or invoices. You can encourage your website visitors to give you their email address in exchange for a gift available for instant download to their email inbox.

5. Send another offer to customers immediately after a purchase: When a customer buys from you, introduce them to another product/service you offer. This is a great way of marketing your products to customers. Customers who buy your products have proven that they are able to pay for your products/services and that they have a level of trust with you. You should seize the opportunity to introduce other items or services you offer to them. Even though they may not buy right then, at least they know you are offering that service or item as well.

6. Ask your customers for referrals! You would be surprised at how quickly my business grew when I implemented a system of asking for referrals! I literally doubled my income in a matter of months. I also kept my schedule full of new appointments! Referrals could grow your business (online or traditional) exponentially! Think about it like this: It takes you (for example) 1000 leads to get ONE subscriber or appointment. Let’s assume you close 1 out of 3 subscribers or appointments and make them into customers. So it takes you 3000 leads to get ONE customer. If each customer provides you with three referrals, and the same ratio holds true (which it should double because your customers are not going to send you to people to make them mad – they will send you to people they know need your services), now each one of those purchased leads results in TWO sales! Then you ask that customer for three referrals – and the cycle keeps going.

These are just some of the ways in which I have built my business. Some of these techniques may not work in your business niche. If any of them do apply and you are not currently trying these ideas – give them a try! The results could, literally, catapult your business to the next level!

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The Importance of Employment Tests

It is a known fact that the success of an employer and a company as a whole depends largely on the quality and reliability of its employees. This is the reason why employers must invest time and even money in the recruitment and interview process. Doing so would ensure that only the best possible candidate will be considered for a particular job.

When it comes to screening of potential employees, no other tool does it better than employment tests. These tests can measure what is called the KSA – knowledge, skills and abilities of the job candidates. Employment tests in this context are generally written or automated tests, but also include interviews, personality tests, skill tests, psychological tests, performance tests, medical examinations, agility tests, and so on.

A hiring process that is poorly designed is much like a recruitment process based on flipping a coin. Employers are well-aware that the impact of inefficient recruitment decisions can have costly and detrimental outcomes, which may include expensive training costs, decrease in overall productivity, increase in employee replacement, and increase in legal exposure.

Benefits of Efficient Assessments Incorporating assessment tests ensure that your company is making better hiring decisions. It can determine whether or not an employee can meet your criterion for maintaining high productivity. Consequently, pre-employment tests can reduce expensive and time-consuming recruitment steps by straightforwardly narrowing down the choices that will include only candidates who are best fit for the job. Because job fitting is greatly improved, this scenario can also increase the chances of retaining your employees for far longer periods of time. Furthermore, a well-developed pre-employment testing program can present a professional and positive image for your company, and will decrease the risk of hiring complaints.

Although pre-employment tests are basically a tool that protects employers, it can be just as important for them as for the applicant. It would be a shameful waste of time, effort, and even money to prepare for the responsibilities and challenges of a new job, yet find out later on that one is not capable of performing the tasks on hand and is bound for failure.

The benefits of pre-employment testing are endless. However, employers must know that these tests have certain limitations. For one, written tests must only measure skills that are important for the job description that a candidate is applying for. For this, employers must carefully design their pre-employment testing program. Pre-employment tests not properly designed may create an impression of being discriminatory, and this is something employers must avoid at all times.

Designing testing tools take time and experience. If these two are something your company does not have, you can easily find pre-employment testing software packages on the market. These pre-employment tests have been designed by professionals with expertise and experience in the field of recruitment, and thus can efficiently evaluate the general knowledge, office skills, personality, and so on, of a potential job candidate. There are various types of pre-employment test to choose from, and there will surely be one that best fits your needs as an employer.

Clearly, organizations that have a carefully well-developed testing program that best meets their exact needs will have competitive advantage. Employment tests allow employers to make the best hiring decisions and will consequently improve business revenue, productivity, and overall business outcomes.

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7 Tips to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

Windshield Wipers and Fluid – Fog, snow and rain will cut down your visibility in winter, causing you to use your wiper blades and washer fluid much more than normal. An antifreeze solution along with winter wiper blades will help to fight ice build-up. Keeping extra windshield washer solvent on hand is helpful too!

Battery – A thorough inspection of your battery, cables, terminals and fluid will help to make sure your car is ready for winter. The cold weather puts more stress on your battery. Many automotive parts stores will test your battery capacity free of charge.

Inspect Your Tires – If you’re not mounting winter tires on your vehicle, be sure to examine your current tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing and cupping as well as checking the sidewalls for cuts and nicks to help you to know if your tires are ready for the harsh weather. The colder weather will also reduce the pressure within your tires, causing them to perform poorly in the snow. You should frequently check your tire pressures.

Coolant – Along with regulating the engine temperature, a vehicle’s coolant system is responsible for protecting your engine against corrosion. For the winter season you will want to make sure that you are using the right ratio of coolant to water in your system as well as using the right type of coolant for your car. If you are unsure, you can check the effectiveness of your coolant with a simple and inexpensive test found at any car parts store.

Ice scraper – Keep your ice scraper in your vehicle and always clean off your car completely, not just a little peephole in the windshield. You must be able to see all your surroundings, your side mirrors and through your back window. Snow on top of your car could slide down and cover your windshield while you are slowing down or fly off onto someone else’s vehicle while you are driving. In some states it is the law that your vehicle is clear of snow and ice.

Survival Kit – Especially during times of slick road conditions and below freezing temperatures, you will want to keep a survival kit in the car at all times in case of emergency. Some items to consider include extra gloves, boots and blankets, flares, tire chains, a flashlight and extra batteries, car charger or portable cellphone charger, and a whistle. Also check your spare tire and make sure that your car jack is in good, working condition.

Keep Your Gas Tank Above Half – If you get stuck or stranded, the car’s engine will be your only source of heat and you will want to be sure you have enough fuel to keep you warm. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove snow from behind the tailpipe and keep it unobstructed to prevent lethal gas from accumulating in the vehicle.

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Medical Records Retrieval for Law Firms


The modern Medical Records Retrieval (MRR) service is a combination of modern web-based technology and a rules-compliant outsource solution. Historically lawyers and their staff would have to set aside a portion of their time, often a lot of time, to capture necessary information for cases that involved medical records. It’s not that the process is complex. Quite the contrary, every attorney, paralegal, and litigation-support person knows exactly what needs to be done.

It may appear simple, but it is a very manually intensive process. Someone at the firm must acknowledge the need for the records. Necessary forms must be completed to ensure compliance with a myriad of laws (including HIPAA), which the firm and often the patient (who may or may not be the firm’s client) would need to initiate a request. Then, the firm must track the progress of the request, and eventually receive, review, and organize the results, or note that there were no medical records available related to the matter.

To support the business of running a law practice, sophisticated and affordable software tools include new client/business intake, workflow automation, and conflicts management. Vendors who provide early case assessment tools and e-discovery-based technology-assisted review have begun to offer solutions for small firm and solo practitioners. In this article, we will show you how you can improve productivity, lower costs, and better manage billing for MRR expenses.

How Medical Records Retrieval Services Work

Here’s how a typical MRR service works for a small firm/solo practice. One of the firm’s employees logs into a secure, encrypted website. He or she then submits an order outlining the patient’s information, the records being requested, and any other data necessary to complete the request. What happens next is truly a game-changing activity. Instead of the firm’s billable resources chasing record requests from hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers, they go back to doing other, productive work, while the MRR process self-executes, and eventually provides you with the requested information and documents or informs you that there were no responsive documents.

Questions Regarding MRR Services

The availability of MRR services presents all attorneys, but especially solo and small firms, with the following important questions:

• How do you start with an MRR service?

• How are the record requests processed?

• Is this process HIPAA-compliant?

• When and how am I alerted to the status of my requests?

• How do I distribute the costs/fees associated with outsourcing medical records retrieval?

Choosing Your MRR Provider

To reduce the risk of choosing the wrong MRR service, consider the following best practices:

1) Ensure that the MRR service can prove secure access to its website (and your records) via a login and password.

2) Understand the MRR service’s processes to ensure protection of privacy.

3) Understand its service level agreements, which explain their process and anticipated turnaround time.

4) Verify that the MRR service has experience with expediting record requests by requesting a list of reference clients.

5) Review the process by which you and/or your staff are notified of updates, including record availability or notice of “no record found.”

6) Ask for the MRR service’s price schedule, preferably in a format that will permit you to do an apples-to-apples comparison of the fees of other MRR services.

When possible, a dedicated MRR service is a better choice than a firm that offers a multitude of legal practice services of which records retrieval is only a small subset of their overall business.

Getting Started with the MRR Provider

Upon choosing your MRR provider, the steps to starting to work with the provider are straightforward and similar to those when signing up with any on-line type of service:

• The firm identifies the approved personnel who are authorized to access the secure system.

• A unique user ID is created for the firm at this time, with a strong password required for all future access.

• Often, this is also the time that billing information is provided, and thus a financial account with the firm and MRR is created for future invoicing.

• Each authorized person completes a new user profile and sign-on request. The user must provide email and phone contact information.

• It is the responsibility of the law firm to notify the MRR as soon as possible in the event that an existing authorized user should be removed from the access control. The MRR should remedy and respond as soon as the user access has been removed.

• While the use of the MRR site should be quite easy for most users with minimal training, additional site support generally is available from the MRR’s services personnel via phone or email request.

Safeguarding Privacy

No matter how beneficial the technology, the firm must ensure compliance of federal and state HIPAA guidelines and any ethical rules about maintaining client confidences. Therefore, they must ensure that the MRR service collects, hosts, and provides access to client(s) records while maintaining compliance with privacy guidelines. Note: This should be part of your due diligence when selecting a provider.

The MRR Service should comply with Federal and state privacy laws. MRR services should keep up to date with changing rules of privacy such as the HITECH Act.

MRR agreements should expressly state that no personally identifiable health information (PHI) can ever be used for non-business related activities such as marketing and/or sales lead generation.

Record Processing

Once you have chosen an MRR service and set up your account, obtaining medical records is relatively straight-forward:

• After you enter a request into the system, the MRR service creates an MRR record request connected to the unique ID of the requester (the specific user at your firm), and confirms receipt of the request via an email.

• A reviewer is assigned to assess the necessary actions to fulfill the request, and will notify the user of any questions regarding the record request. In some states, including California, an electronic request can be executed from the MRR service to the healthcare provider, eliminating the need for paper-based transaction.

• The provider then tracks the request, and conducts any follow-up communication by any means available, including email, telephone or in-person visits if necessary, to acquire clear copies of records requested.

• If the record is available and legible, it is scanned into the secure web-based system for access by the user. Otherwise, a “no record found” is annotated to the request, and communicated back to the user.

Communication Is Key

Nothing can be more frustrating to case management than waiting for needed information from a third party. The MRR service must not only forward the record request to the healthcare provider, but also must provide the firm an ongoing and timely response regarding status. Each record must be tracked in real-time with detailed notes from the MRR agents. The MRR service should send alerts if additional information is required, provide replies via email, and deliver the link to download and/or view completed requests as soon as the records become available. Again, during the selection process, you should ascertain the provider’s practices regarding communications, and include them in the contract.

Speed Is Critical Too

Obtaining the medical records timely is critical, whether to respond to discovery, to make or oppose a motion for summary judgment, to get an expert up to speed, or to settle a case. A reliable MRR service will offer a quick turnaround. They have the experience working with medical locations to obtain records faster than a law firm’s in-house staff. After all, a law firm staff member may encounter (or, in truth, may feel like they have gotten stuck with) the occasional medical record search, but the MRR service is a specialist in the process of collecting information, including “no records found.” So, the MRR service’s very job is obtaining medical records, and therefore will have the process down to a set of specific steps, and can support their clients via a web interface.

Relationships With Healthcare Providers

Sometimes hospitals, physicians’ offices, and other healthcare providers may treat the occasional request by an attorney for medical records as an inconvenience, not respond as quickly or perhaps as completely as the attorney or client would like. A smart MRR service will develop long-term relationships with healthcare providers and their staff to get the data needed promptly and efficiently. This will improve the quality of the document production, reduce its cost, and speed the process up.

Database Strength

Medical records often can be in a different location or city than the healthcare provider. For example, billing records for hospitals are usually in an offsite facility, sometimes in another state. With the advent of electronic records, more healthcare providers are centralizing their records offsite with the umbrella company of their medical group/hospital. Without the information on how and where to request records, in-house staff can waste valuable time sending requests to the wrong locations or having to spend the time to find out where to send the requests. A strong database on where and how to request records from healthcare providers therefore is key to save time, ensure complete result, and save money. MRR services have the incentive and the resources to develop such a database. Law firms, especially solos and small firms, do not.

In addition the importance on the database in requesting medical records, it is equally important on the production side. Virtually all medical records are produced in digital format. Records are typically available in PDF or TIFF file format, making them searchable by many document management systems – including on premise, cloud-based, web-based or hybrid systems. They are usually made available for download and/or viewing from virtually anywhere on any device that supports a secure micro-browser. The MRR service maintains the medical records for ongoing access by the user and any authorized personnel.

MRR Costs and other Considerations

The MRR service will charge you for their services. However, because the firm’s resources are freed up to work on activities that generate revenue for the firm, the costs of using an MRR service will be offset at least in part, and perhaps in full. In addition, depending on your fee arrangement with your client, the invoices from the MRR service may be directly billable back to the client or at least accounted for as a recoverable cost. (Many MRR services charge no monthly fees for having an account, and thus the firm only incur fees on a usage basis, which can then be charged to the cases for which they are required.)


While many firms may continue the “do-it-yourself” approach, solos and small firms should consider using an MRR service. In addition to the higher costs of installing and maintaining one’s own record management system, the soft costs and resource consumption make this a less favorable alternative. A qualified, experienced MRR service offers a cost effective, robust platform for processing, monitoring, and tracking medical records requests. Record management and processing is HIPAA-compliant, always available, and secure-which in-house processes may not be, with the attendant risks. Use of an MRR service does not require capital expense to leverage digitally filed and maintained medical records. Firm resources can be repurposed from tracking record requests to meaningful and fee-generating activities. Client satisfaction may improve as matters are able to be processed more efficiently, and firm business may increase. The results of using an MRR service are measureable and immediate. It’s literally a one-click quantum leap from manual, resource-heavy processes to a modern, digital, secure web based management for your practice.

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Cellular Or Mobile Phones: How Are They Affecting Children And Us?

I am sure you are using one of them, like almost everyone else doe’s including me. As you become aware about some things, most likely you will be making changes the way you use a cellular phone from the information and awareness you be reading about.

There are as many as over 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide. Continued research to clarify any health risks coming from cell or mobile phones is ongoing. The first thing to come to mind is electronic radiation such as changes to sleep patterns and brain activity. Lots of evidence demonstrates that radiation from cell phones is a real danger.

Many different researches over years have confirmed that long-term exposure to cell phone radiation is a significant risk to health. Such findings of course are strongly denied by the other side of that argument, depending on which side of the argument you listen to. Debates like this have been ongoing for years and most likely will never be settled. After all, why would designers and manufacturers admit to any danger coming from phone usage? This would certainly kill the goose that lays the golden eggs!

The international agency for research, which is part of the world health organization released a statement over five years ago and declared cell phones a class B Carcinogen.

Long Term Exposure: How Long Is Too Long?

Whatever the brand name, I Phone, blackberry, android, tablets, Smartphone’s or just a basic flip phone has revolutionized communication in the 21st century. Some people spend as much as 2 ½ hours or more on the phone daily. Because cell phones are providing an efficient and easy way to communicate, but at the same time this can also take a toll on health.

The possible effect of a long-term heavy use of any mobile phone and the length of each call matters. The amounts of time people use cell phones are important factors which enhance the health related risk. The amount of radio frequency energy from a mobile phone use being released depends on different factors, such as distance from face and ear, the type of phone used, and the distance between cell phone towers.

What these findings are telling us: Make your conversation on a cell phone as short as possible or better still use a hand free device which places more distance between your head and the phone. Turn off the phone when not in use. Use the speaker phone when possible. Keep your phone away from your body as much as you can. Never use your phone while driving or even worse texting; this puts you and others in a potentially dangerous situation.

Children Are More Vulnerable

Children have the potential being at greater risk and affected in different ways. The brain of a child is not fully developed until the age of around 20. This makes any exposure to electronic radiation and radio frequency more dangerous for children than for adults. The other issue which affects a big percentage of children as well as teenagers is eye vision. Looking at mobile screens, what is it doing to kids’ eyes? Almost at any age children love playing with smart phones but what are the long-term effects?

Unfortunately some people are using such gadgets as baby sitters for the children without being aware of the damage it does. Children like to watch things close up on screen which is contributing to spike in becoming short-sighted. Studies have shown there is an alarming increase that affects many children between 10 and 12 years old and the amount has doubled over the last decade. The fact is: The more kids watch things close up on screen, the more they put their eyes in danger.

It is most common for children to develop myopia which gives a blurry long-distance vision. Myopia can also increase the risk of other eye problems in adulthood as well, including cataracts and blindness. However, most of the myopia cases are as young as six and 15 to 18, of course genetics play a role in severity in this.

As a guide, reduce screen time to as little of 2 hours per day from 2 to 5 year olds. There should only be a small increase of time allowed for older ones. Actually in Taiwan, if a child under the age of 2 has been found with a tablet or playing with any cell phone the parents will get a heavy fine.

Children who spent more time outdoors in fresh air and sunshine have a far lower rate of myopia. Limit the screen time, encourage kids to spend more “green time” hours in nature outdoors for better health. Make sure to include a colorful veggie diet from leafy greens which contain lutein, this is known to help eye sight and vision.

In General Common Sense Applies

A cell or mobile phone for most people has been one of the most revolutionary developments in time. It is a great communication tool being able to carry it with you wherever you go. It is a good security and emergency device that can save lives. So, what is wrong with all of those gadgets?

Could it be just the one who is using it creating that problem?

There are too many people going to the extreme and don’t know what is any longer normal or reasonable. That also applies to our food intake, beverages, including alcohol, and tobacco etc. All of those are not, or less harmful if used in moderation. If only used for short time this also can apply to cellar or mobile phones, and can reduce the risk factor as much as eighty percent.

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The 12 Easiest Vegetables to Grow in Home Gardens Or Containers For First Time Gardeners

A lot of people, myself included, are growing our own vegetables to beat the credit crunch. And why not? Planting a few seeds in containers, in your backyard or in your garden will yield delicious, organic vegetables – and can save money, too! Growing organic vegetables is easier than you think. Here are the 12 vegetables you will have no problem planting, tending for and harvesting in your own garden, even if you are a first-time gardener!

#1. Radish

These are particularly easy to grow and can be intercropped with rows of lettuce to take up a minimum amount of space! Great thing about radishes is that very few pests bother them. Choose a sunny, sheltered position in soil, well fed with organic matter. Sow the seed thinly, evenly at ½ inch below the soil’s surface with one inch of space between each. Water the soil thoroughly before sowing and after the seeds emerge water them lightly every couple days. Radishes are a great source of potassium, folic acid, magnesium and calcium, and are perfect in salad dressings or as a garnish for salads. Radishes are fast growers and should be ready to pull in several weeks.

#2. Zucchini/ Squash

Zucchini and squash do well in most climates and they need very little special attention. If you plant zucchini you’ll could end up with way more than they can even eat!

Zucchini and squash are very low in calories but full of potassium, manganese and folate. Sow several zucchini seeds in a heap pile of composted soil a foot high and a couple feet wide. Space each heap pile approximately 3 feet apart, water them heavily every other day and wait for them to sprout in a couple weeks. They should be ready to harvest about a month later. For any early start sow the seeds singly about 1/2 in (1.25cm) deep, in small pots and place in a temperature of 65-70F (18-21C). After germination of seeds, grow on in a well lit spot, harden off and plant out after the last spring frost when the weather is warm.

#3. Carrots

Carrots tend to be pest free and need little attention. Carrots are rich in vitamin A, antioxidants, carotene and dietary. Dig a hole less than an inch deep and plant a couple of seeds in each, and leave several inches in between holes. Thin out in stages to 4-6in (10-15cm) apart. Keep the soil moist but remember to water the carrots less as they begin to reach maturity.

#4. Spinach

A highly nutritious and easily grown crop, high in both calcium and iron. Spinach can be eaten plain, cooked, and made into a chip dip. Turn over the soil with compost and plant seeds less than an inch deep, placing them at least 4 inches apart to give room for growth. Pick young leaves regularly. Sow the soil a couple more times in the first month and keep this area well-watered.

#5. Peas

Peas are another high-yield crop, both sweet peas and sugar peas. Other than fruit flies, these guys attract very few pests. A good source of vitamins A, B and C. Cultivate the soil just prior to sowing top dress with a balanced fertilizer. Keep in mind that your soil must drain well in order for peas for flourish. Space each seed several inches apart and sow them one inch deep. Freshly planted seeds require 1/2 inch of water every week, while more mature plants need a full inch. Any surplus peas can be frozen very successfully.

#6. Peppers

Peppers contain nutrients like thiamin and manganese. Peppers can be stuffed with meat and rice or used in salsa and pasta, and raw in salads. Till the soil with compost and Epsom salts, this will make it rich in magnesium to help the peppers develop healthily. Peppers can be produced outside in growing bags, large pots etc. Since they grow best in warm soil, sow the seeds a foot or more apart in raised beds or containers. Water them frequently, keeping the soil moist, or they may taste bitter once harvested.

#7. Lettuce/ Baby Greens

Lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to grow; you just have to plant the seeds, water and watch how fast it grows. Lettuce is a good source of folic acid and vitamin A, used as the main ingredient mostly in salads, but also can be stuffed with various ingredients to make a lettuce wrap or top sandwiches, hamburgers and tacos. When cultivating the soil with nutrient-rich compost, break up any chunks and remove debris. Make sure that seeds are planted between 8 and 16 inches apart and water them every morning. Avoid doing so at night because this could cause disease. Loose-leaf varieties are ready to start cutting about seven weeks after sowing.

Baby greens are simply greens that are harvested while they are still young and tender. They are true instant gratification vegetables – you’ll be harvesting your first salad in under a month! Sprinkle the seeds as thinly as possible across the soil in a 2- to 3-inch wide band. Space rows of baby greens 6 to 8 inches apart. Or plant baby greens in a pot, and cut your salad fresh every night!

#8. Onion

Rich in dietary fiber, folate and vitamin C, onion need little care – just give them plenty of water. Plow the soil a foot deep and get rid of debris. The easiest way to grow onions is from sets which are small onions. Plant sets so that the tip is showing about 5in (13cm) apart in rows 12in (30cm) apart. Or, plant the seeds a couple centimeters deep and several inches apart. Weed this area frequently but gently and provide them with about an inch of water every week.

#9. Beets

Beets (beetroots) can be peeled, steamed, and then eaten warm with butter; cooked, pickled, and then eaten cold as a condiment; or peeled, shredded raw, and then eaten as a salad.. Betanin, one of the primary nutrients in this deep red or purple vegetable, can help lower blood pressure. Clean and strengthen the seeds by soaking them in water at room temperature for a day. Plow the soil and remove any stones from the top 3 feet. Plant each seed 2in (5cm) apart, thin out to 4in (10cm) apart and water them at least once every day.

#10. Broccoli

For the most part doesn’t need a lot of special care, broccoli is easily grown vegetable that gives the best return for the space it occupies and is cropped when other green vegetables are in short supply. One row of 15ft (4.5m) will accommodate six plants to give self-sufficiency for a family of four. Sow broccoli seed in spring in a seed bed ½in (1.25cm) deep and transplant when the seedlings are about 4in (10cm) tall 2ft (60cm) apart each way.

#11. Tomatoes

There are many benefits to growing tomatoes – they’re tasty, they9re good for you, and the dollar value of the yield can be very significant. Tomatoes are rich in nutrients like niacin, potassium and phosphorous, antioxidants like lycopene, anthocyanin and carotene, and vitamins A, C and E.

Sow the seed just below the surface in a tray of peat-based compost. When the seedlings have made two pairs of true leaves prick them out into 3in (7.5cm) pots and place them in a light, warm place indoors (like windowsill). After the last danger of frost has passed, pick a spot in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight and test the soil’s pH level – it needs to be between 6 and 7. (To decrease pH level add sulfur, to increase it add lime). Spread compost over this area and mix it with the soil. After hardening off, set tomato plants 2ft (60cm) apart in rows 3ft (90cm) apart, bush plants 3ft (90cm) apart. Water them a couple times per week.

Tomatoes do need a little more attention then the other vegetables on the list. However, for the little bit attention that tomatoes do need, you get an incredible reward in the large amount of fruit that they produce. To help you get started, here is a complete guide to growing tomatoes

#12. Herbs

There are many herbs including thyme, rosemary, basil, mint, sage, chives, parsley and oregano that need very little attention and can be grown successfully in containers on a patio, balcony or terrace. Purchase some of your favorite small herb plants from your local nursery and get a container that is at least 6-12 inches deep. You can plant multiple herbs in a wide or long container or use at least a 6″ pot for individual plants and you will enjoy not only their fragrance and beauty but also their culinary benefits. Water sparingly because herbs don’t like to sit in wet soil.

If you are a first time gardener, start slow with any of the vegetables I’ve mentioned. Soon, you will gain confidence and have a beautiful organic vegetable garden!

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10 Types of Jewelry For Men

When we think of jewelry, we automatically think of jewelry for women. These days it is becoming increasingly common and fashionable for men to wear jewelry. Although much of men’s jewelry serves a purpose, there are many items that have no other purpose than to complement a man’s natural good looks. Read on to discover some obvious (and some not so obvious) jewelry choices for men.

Make a Statement with Men’s Jewelry

1. Watches

Timepieces have been around for a few centuries and serve a useful purpose. Jewelry or machine? Honestly, a watch is really a piece of jewelry that also happens to tell time. This is a way to get men who do not like wearing “jewelry” to actually wear jewelry without knowing it. The type of watch worn has to match the image the man wants to project,: a watch for the executive, a Swatch for the artist, a Nike for the athlete. Since many men have active lifestyles, there are different watches designed for different activities.

2. Rings

The next most common piece of jewelry men wear is a ring. The reason being in just about every culture, rings are worn to symbolize marriage between two people. Rings have been around for ages. Unlike watches, they do not serve a purpose, but when worn on the left ring finger, they do send out a signal about a man’s marital status. Wedding rings used to be made out of just gold or platinum. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that wedding ring designers began to experiment with the idea of using alternative metals. One of the first alternative metals was titanium. The metal was valued for its light weight, white color and strength. It is used for many other types of jewelry, not just rings. Only less than 5 years ago, tungsten carbide – a relatively unknown metal to the general public – suddenly exploded in popularity. It now comprises 20% of all men’s wedding ring sales in North America. Men’s tungsten wedding bands are valued for their extreme hardness. They are four times harder than titanium and have a hefty weight that men like. Tungsten is so hard that only a diamond or sapphire can scratch it. Tungsten is also very affordable. If you want to stick to a precious metal ring, but don’t want to pay through your nose for a gold or platinum ring, palladium may be the way to go. Palladium rings look and act just like platinum because both these metals are from the same family of metals, the Platinum Group Metals. Palladium, however, is about 70% less expensive than platinum rings. Many jewelers only deal with a few select metals.

3. Earring(s)

Traditionally for women, the earring is now accepted by society for men. Some men wear one earring and some wear two. Men that have traditional jobs in an office setting are often discouraged from wearing earrings or not allowed to wear them by company policy. Although, less popular as a man’s gift, earrings are here to stay as men’s jewelry.

4. Bracelets

Although less popular than watches, bracelets are a piece of jewelry many men wear. Men’s bracelets used to be made of heavier and more expensive metals such as gold, but alternative metals are becoming increasingly popular. The variety of materials used for bracelets are more varied than for rings or watches, and many of them are not even metals. There are bracelets made of wooden beads, carbon fiber, and ceramics, as well as stainless steel and titanium. Frequently, they incorporate more than one of the above mentioned materials.

5. Necklaces

Necklaces were worn by more men in the past than today. Men who wear necklaces tend to wear just one. In the past there was a higher tendency to wear multiple necklaces. Multiple necklaces can be viewed as tacky or “slimy” today, and as such many men today avoid wearing multiple necklaces.

6. Pendants

Men have mostly switched from wearing necklaces to wearing pendants. Pendants can be used to show a man’s religious faith or just to express oneself. The most common pendant to wear is the cross, in countless variations, and much like bracelets, pendants which were mostly made of gold in the past are now being made in all kinds of metallic and non-metallic materials. Some men wear pendants in conjunction with necklaces, while others choose to wear their pendants around their neck with a modest black leather cord.

7. Cuff Links

Commonly referred to as men’s accessories, cuff links are actually jewelry that men wear without thinking they’re there just keep shirt cuffs buttoned, right? Cufflinks are most often worn in an office setting where more professional dress is required. They make great Father’s Day gifts or birthday gifts. They are usually made of stainless steel or in some cases titanium. Gold is used, but is less common.

8. Money Clip

Men who like to show they have higher status, or at least the appearance of high status, tend to use money clips. With credit cards beings so ubiquitous, many men do not have cash in their pockets, which defeats the purpose of a money clip. The clip part of the money clip is typically made of stainless steel and if there is a decorative element on the clip it can be made of silver, gold or some other type of material. Money clips are usually given on the same occasions as cuff links.

9. Fountain Pens

Designer fountain pens can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, and tend to be gifts that companies give to their male and female executives. They can also be given to friends or spouses. In today’s high tech world, writing with pens is less common – even signatures can be electronic now. The fountain pen is becoming more of a piece of jewelry than a functional item.

10. Key Chains

Key chains are a jewelry item used to perform a function more than jewelry. For this reason, few key chains are made of expensive metals. Most are made of stainless steel, leather or titanium. This is a gift that is popular for Father’s Day or birthdays, particularly from a son or daughter.

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The Difference Between Industrial, Retail and Commercial Real Estate

Before we answer this question, it might be helpful to actually define each term first.

Retail and industrial are both considered ‘commercial real estate’ (as opposed to ‘residential real estate’). Commercial real estate refers to buildings or land intended to generate profit; industrial and retail are simply sub-categories of commercial real estate.

Firstly an industrial property is defined as a property used for the actual manufacturing of something, and can be considered either a factory or plant. This is usually zoned for light, medium or heavy industry. This includes things such as warehouses, garages and distribution centers etc.

Retail property is a commercially zoned property used solely for business purposes, the actual selling of the product, rather than its manufacture – retail stores, malls, shopping centers and shops all huddling nicely under the retail umbrella.

Generally, businesses that occupy commercial real estate often lease the space. An investor usually owns the building and collects rent from each business that operates there.

There are four primary types of commercial real estate leases, each requiring different levels of responsibility from the landlord and the tenant.

Single net lease – tenant is responsible for paying rent and property taxes.

Double net lease – tenant is responsible for paying rent, property taxes and insurance.

Triple net lease – tenant is responsible for paying rent, property taxes, insurance and maintenance.

Gross lease – tenant is responsible only for rent; the Landlord pays property taxes, insurance and maintenance.

If you find yourself considering Commercial property ownership, there are a few things that you would do well to keep in mind:

1) Attractive appearance – the last thing you need is a vacant commercial property in Sydney for any length of time. Think how prospective tenants think: what will their customers want to see?

2) Aesthetic entrance – first impressions count, simple, simple stuff. This is a great tool for putting your prospective clients in a great frame of mind… and their clients.

3) Natural Light – in especially high demand nowadays

4) Location – close to other offices, public amenities, transportation etc.

Since 1980, retail property has returned an average of 9%, though is currently returning around 6%. Industrial real estate tends to be the most volatile, and is currently returning around 7% (as opposed to its peak of around 12% during the 1990′s recession).

And obviously, no matter which form of commercial property you’re considering, read the lease carefully. Sounds like a silly thing to say, but you’d be very surprised at the issues that can become issues simply because things weren’t read properly!

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5 Ways of How to Destroy a Business Partnership: Don’t Start That New Business Until You Read This

Let any one of these 5 situations into your business and you’ll ravage your entrepreneurial career:

1st – Stop needing each other:

There’s a considerable chance that the partnership power and responsibility structure will start to shift and will look very different starting anywhere from 3-12 months after inception.

In the beginning of any new venture, a dynamic and compelling new venture phenomenon, made up of fear, anxiety, stress and excitement, emerges and makes for an impressive personal barrier disintegrator. No facades and no charades are the hallmark of a new venture. The partners forget about their own needs and are on their best behavior. Everyone is madly in “love.”

“Needing each other” is a compelling power source in successful business partnerships. In most partnerships that “need” is the bond that keeps it all together. As time passes, especially after the 12th month of being in business, everything and everyone starts to shift, evolve and a displacement arises that will be unsettling and transformative for the business and all the players.

See #4 for more information on “not needing each other”

Solution: Accept the fact that the above information is valid. Discuss it openly with your business partners. Be vigilant and sensitive to your business partners and what they say and do and how they say it and do it. You don’t have to be “a touchy feely kinda person.” Think selfishly. Think protection for your future. Think protection for your business’ future. Communicating, openly and civilly, is the only preventive measure that will increase the chance for a favorable outcome.

2nd- Allow your significant other to point out all the expensive gifts your partner’s significant other is receiving and they’re not:

Significant others, and other family members, can be the source of great pain and distress when it comes to the relationship you have with your business partner.

Greed, jealousy, being overcritical, being generally resentful, tactless and being superficial are some of the flies swimming around in the business partnership ointment. Money and power sometimes brings out the worst in “significant others” and family.

Solution: There’s two parts to the solution:

a-It’s the smart business person who pays extreme attention to the health and tone of his business partnership. It should be the number one concern, above and beyond anyone else in your life. I know I’ll get a lot of Boos and Hisses but, if you take care of your business and the business partnership, it will always take care of you and the people you love and who love you. Everyone will be happy and satisfied.

b- Going to, or inviting in, a counsellor or therapist to meet privately once a month, individually and aggregately, with the business partners will always be money well spent. I’ve seen the wreckage that family members have created in some very successful businesses.

You will have partnership strife and discord. Bet on it. Prepare for it now and have the preventive and supportive resources at the ready and/or in play from the beginning. It will be a shame if one day you’re standing outside your padlocked office wondering what happened.

3rd – Have sexual relations with a family member of your business partner:

I “feel” the smirks already. Talk about destruction. This is an insidious act of extreme betrayal. It not only will leave your business ripped apart, it will destroy precious family and personal relationships. People will be crushed and devastated for a lifetime.

The reputations of all the partners will be tainted. You’ll be amazed and appalled at the same time to find out how many suppliers, banks and customers will turn their back on you. They know that with a soiled and stained situation like this, destruction and failure may be close by. No one wants to be part of this, especially if it hurts them financially. Something many people take for granted is that It takes years to build a reputation that’s respected and trusted. It takes 24 hours or less to blow it up.

Are you are going to make your bed and Lie in it, or not?

Solution: If you’re over 18, take a wild guess. Under 18? Talk to someone over 18.

4th – Do some self-talk about how you deserve more money than your business partner:

“I’m working so much harder than her.” “He was supposed to be the sales end of our business but…” “Our biggest customer can’t stand her.” “He can’t handle the pressure.” “I never realized how much she talks.” Do I need to go on? You may recognize one of these.

In the beginning of a new venture there’s “reality” and there’s “wishful and well-intentioned thinking.” The responsibilities and strengths that you bring to the new venture are not necessarily the responsibilities and strengths that will be in play when things get started and are rolling along.

Being aware of each partner’s powerful strengths and their ‘vulnerabilities’ will allow weekly partner meetings to be productive and allow for everyone to be open, honest and transparent. Staying flexible and being willing to adapt, not only leads to a sustainable business but what’s more exciting is, it leads to personal growth for all the partners.

Solution: There’s 3 parts to the solution.

a-Mandate, enforce and re-enforce up close and personal, respectful and empathetic communication meetings on, at least, a weekly basis. These meetings are confined to the partners only and are done behind locked and closed doors. Bring in food. Do not go to a public place to talk.

b- There are always 3 realities: Yours, theirs and the business’ reality. Work with the reality of the business only and adjust your life to the needs of the business. I repeat, make your business the priority above and beyond all others and the “others” will have a phenomenal life.

c- Accept as fact, that you may have to change your place and responsibilities in the business as time passes. Welcome it with open arms. If you have a problem with this I say, respectfully, get a therapist as soon as possible. Your reluctance is connected to, and about, ego, self-image and self-confidence. It pays to have someone help you disentangle your emotions and consequently save your entrepreneurial career.

5th -Start the new venture on a 50/50 ownership platform:

If you’re forced to initiate an equal stock partnership, then having or learning patience, empathy, and anger management becomes even more crucial and essential than ever before. A 50/50 is fine until the “cracks” start to appear. If you don’t follow the advice in step #4, it could be the beginning of the end for everyone.

Some interesting points:

a-In a partnership breakup your net worth is never, I repeat, never what you think it is. It’s always much less.

b-Banks, customers, suppliers and even employees will scatter when they get a whiff of bad news on the horizon. Your net worth could entirely dissipate in the time it takes you to say “Wait, I changed my mind.”

c-Make the partnership agreement as simple as possible (two pages is good) or you’ll find that the lawyers will make more than you.

d-You could make a 51/49 % stock ownership with a 50/50 % profit split. It’s worth it to give up more on the profit split in order to get 51% ownership of the company. In any event, no matter what you decide it’s always wise to have salaries, expenses and benefits remain equal.

Solution: See the solution in step #4

“Now go with your eyes wide open”… Good Luck out there.

A Personal Note:

I’ll be accused of being negative and shortsighted. My response: That’s Crap. This is reality. This is life. It’s raw, pure, up close and certainly personal.

You don’t like the article? I understand. The truth and reality have a way of making people feel uncomfortable.

Just do me one favor. Print it and put it in a drawer, in a sealed envelope. Open it 12 months to the day that you started your business. If I was right you unfortunately learned a valuable lesson and if your verdict is that I was wrong, please take a closer look and search for cracks in the partnership relationship. You may be in the “subtle stage.”

Partnerships are great when they’re solid and built on mutual respect. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. This article is about possibilities that you must be aware of and in tune with. Consider this article a practice “fire drill.” Adapt now, because when the flames start to roar, it’s too late.

This article is about coating your business relationship with empathy. It’s about knowing that you’re not only responsible for your welfare and performance, but you’re also responsible for your business partners state of being. I’m not advocating that you become super-parent. I’m advocating for you, and this article is all about your protection and your financial and mental well-being.

Once again. Good luck out there and never, ever give up on your dreams.

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