Since my roots are in Washington State, it’s not unusual to get/see a lot of pictures during winter, when snow has its way…
My cousin, Doug Cruea, sent this picture of his yard. I can sit in my warm Arizona home and think that is beautiful. Which I would do even if I were walking through the snow. But it’s so cozy this way!
By Bradley Taylor
Motability is an initiative in the UK that has been created in order to provide disabled individuals with a means of being able to drive around safely. The scheme allows for those who are disabled to purchase or hire a car.
Cars aren’t the only option however, as the scheme also allows for people to benefit from the use of a powered wheelchair and even a scooter.
In order to benefit from the Motability scheme, it is key that individuals are currently the recipient of one of the following:
- The Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance
- A Personal Independence Payment (PIP) as a result of the Enhanced Mobility Component
- The Armed Forces Independence Payment
- War Pensioners Mobility Supplement
For anyone who is a recipient of the above, yet unable to drive, the opportunity to benefit from the Motability scheme still remains. This is because you can apply for the scheme as a passenger, rather than a driver. It is because of this that a carer or parent, can apply on behalf of someone who is benefiting from the Motability scheme.
For those looking to benefit, it is important that no serious driving convictions exist on your record. You may also find that if you are under the age of 25, you may not be able to take full advantage of all the scheme has to offer.
What’s on Offer?
With the help of the Motability scheme, you’ll find that you can benefit from the following-
- A new car which is provided on a three year contract hire lease
- A new or used car, provided on hire purchase for a term duration of two to five years
- A powered wheelchair or scooter, new or used, obtained through hire purchase for a term duration of one to three years
It is important to note that once a decision is made, you will then be required to put forward your allowance in order to pay for it.
For many, the best option on offer is the one which is based on a contract hire scheme. This is the one which provides individuals with a new car, in accordance to the manufacturers provided. Beneficiaries of this option will find that the maintenance and service fees are covered by the scheme, as well as the provision of breakdown cover and insurance.
You will need to find a car dealership that accommodates for those looking to make use of the Motability scheme, such as this one.
Though comprehensive in its nature, the scheme does have some restrictions. It is imperative that any nominated drivers who are not disabled live within 5 miles of the disabled individual for whom the scheme is intended for.
As you can see, the Motability scheme provides eligible individuals with an opportunity to travel in ways they might not have been able to previously.
It is important to note however, that those looking to benefit from the scheme find out all that it has to offer, so as not deny themselves from the full advantages to be gained whilst using the Motability initiative. By taking the time to research the details, you’ll find that the Motability scheme opens up a whole new world of possibilities you were otherwise not able to afford, giving you the chance to travel in manner that was not previously an option.
Author biography - Bradley Taylor is a freelance writer from Derby, England who writes across a variety of topics including everything automotive. You can follow him on Twitter and connect with him on Google+.
By Anton Mari H. Lim
Published permission Rappler
This is part of why I volunteer for the Yellow Boat of Hope Foundation . . . Judy Vorfeld
As efforts in areas hard hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) now slowly take a turn from delivering immediate relief to putting in place mid-term recovery and long-term rehabilitation plans, help is much more needed from all of us.
It was only a month after Yolanda devastated the islands of Central Visayas that the gravity of destruction and the rehabilitation tasks became clear. And with attention fading, the worst that could happen is for everyone to forget that our countrymen in that part of the Philippines are still pretty much in crisis and need our continued support.
My heart was gripped with sadness when I saw two fishermen in Bislig, Barangay Tanauan, Tacloban City, paddling off the shore with so much effort on a boxy banca (boat). Upon closer look, it appeared to be a refrigerator. Apparently, the loss of others became their treasures, at least for a moment. One fisherman said, “ When you lost everything, the worst might just be the best.” Cryptic as it sounded, looking at the refrigerator banca, he made a valid point.
The ravaged fishing village was left with 90% of its fishermen with damaged or lost boats. One of the fishermen recalled that the storm surge came so fast and strong, they did not have time to move their boats to a safer place, “I did not think about our boat anymore. I just wanted to save my family and move to a higher ground.”
Another tragic story is that of Ferdinand “Nick” and Doris Quita’s family. The Quitas have four kids. They lost all of them to typhoon Yolanda. Doris emotionally recalled the conversation she had with one of her daughters the night before the super typhoon made landfall. According to her, while the family was gathered in the living room, her second child Megan cheerfully approached her with a drawing she herself made. It was a sketch of a happy family of six. Then out of nowhere, Megan asked her mother:
“Ma, what if all of us your children die? What will you do?”
Doris, caught by surprise said, “What are you talking about? Please don’t say that. If I lose all of you, I’d rather die. There’s no point of living without you. I might as well just commit suicide”
Megan interrupted her mom saying, “Don’t do that mom. You are not going to be in heaven with us if you commit suicide. We will not be complete. Don’t worry mom, I’ll take care of my siblings and we will come back.”
“Those were the last words of Megan,” Nick said. “My heart breaks every time I wake up, realizing that all of my children are gone. But my wife and I need to be strong for each other,” Nick added while struggling to hold back his tears.
With so many people still missing, the couple said they are still blessed to have recovered all 4 bodies of their children.
For the fishermen with similar stories, what makes it even harder for them now is to survive when the boats they rely on to put food on their tables and to earn a living are also gone.
It must really take a courageous heart to wake up everyday to a vast view of destruction that reminds you of what’s taken away from you. But to many of the survivors of Yolanda, life has to go on.
That is exactly the situation in most of the communities including in Tinagoan, Basey, Samar, where we met Jimmy Palagar. Help is still very scarce in many areas and these people are fighting hard to survive every single day. Jimmy, for example, recovered two refrigerators, tied it together and turned it into fishing boat. I tried to understand the strength they’ve shown after a tragedy of such magnitude. Perhaps it is not because Filipinos are naturally resilient, but maybe because to be strong is the only option left, for them and their loved ones to survive.
The people were a little unenthusiastic when I told them that we came to help and replace their lost or damage boats. They lamented that most of those who came and promised them help did not actually come back. I understand their hesitation but we let them know that the world cared about them.
After Typhoon Pablo smashed Davao Oriental in December of 2012, Yellow Boat Of Hope (YBH) Foundation through a Davao-based NGO (KINSABA) launched a project called Adopt-A-Fisherman. Its aim is to help fishermen by providing them with boats so they can go back to fishing and provide for their family. We have since turned over 168 boats in the province.
In the aftermath of Yolanda, an estimated 120,000 fishermen lost their boats. The number did not come as a surprise considering that most of the affected communities are in the coastal areas where fishing is the main source of livelihood.
Through the generosity of donors, YBH continues to provide boats to severely affected families. So far, more than 200 yellow boats of hope are now under various stages of construction and project partners around the world already committed another 200 boats. The cost of a self-paddled boat ranges from P8,000 to P15,000 ($200-$350) depending on the community. A motorized boat costs between P20,000 to P30,000 ($470-$800).
While hundreds of boat will soon be ready for turnover, thousands of fishermen still need boats. Let’s rally together to restore their dignity as fishermen, one boat at a time.
Like all the yellow boats that bear the name Bagong Pag-asa, all the fishermen need is a spark of hope that the fishing boat represents. For them, a boat is hope and hope is a boat that will sail them through this phase of their lives.
To learn more about the Adopt-A-Fisherman Project and how you can help and support this endeavor, please visit the project’s website.
It is a no-brainer that efforts must focus on helping these families bounce back to eventually rebuild their communities. Perhaps, if we become one not only as Filipinos but also as citizens of this world, and stand together for those who are weak yet able enough to pick themselves up after a fall, moving forward may not be as hard after all.
In my second trip to Tacloban City, I felt anxious.
The first time I came to Tacloban to assess the situation a few days after the destruction, I went home with indications of downward spiral depression.
According to a family member, I became very reactive and impatient with things and, in a few instances, I raised my voice at home and at work. I admit that after that trip, I become so anxious about so many things and with what I witnessed.
The difference from watching it on television and to actually be there and see the amount of destruction first hand is unthinkable. I can’t imagine what it was for those who actually came face to face with the wrath of Yolanda. I remember seeing people walking aimlessly with nothing but a backpack or a plastic bag on their hands during my first trip.They were like “walking dead,” it is so heart-rending to witness.
I was so overwhelmed that I often stare blankly at random moments. As a veteran calamity responder, I have not seen anything of this gravity. I looked around and found nothing left to build upon on, no pieces to pick up. What troubled me the most was the fact that what we have is so big of a problem I didn’t know where to start and how to get help for these people fast. It is like a knock out blow after the Zamboanga crisis and the earthquake that struck Bohol and Cebu, which we have not fully recovered from yet.
After finally admitting to my self that I needed help, I underwent a debriefing. On the side, I went to work with foundations I am involved with - Tzu Chi and Yellow Boat Of Hope. The debriefing sessions did not really make me feel any better because my mind was somewhere else. I was hearing them but actually not listening. It was all a blur and a buzz. I was even offered a prescription for anti-depressant but I refused.
Surprising of all, after a few days of visiting communities and talking to people who displayed tremendous amount of faith, the heaviness I felt for several days was lifted.
I realized that these people have all the reasons in the world to be depressed, yet they are fighting back hard with determination everyday even if there is not much left to fight for. Most of them are homeless but they are definitely not hopeless.
In the end, what I really needed was to see the glimpse of hope that sparkles in the eyes and smiles of the kids, the courage of a mourning mom who lost her children, the ingenuity of a father who paddles a refrigerator banca and the resilience of the people whose spirits are not shattered. Truly hope radiates in their midst which shows that the Filipino spirit is stronger than typhoon Yolanda.
As I watched the fishermen paddle off the shore in refrigerators-turned-boats, I thought that these people have not given up hope. We should never give up on helping them.
This year’s Cyber Monday set records as the biggest online shopping day in history, according to the analysis released by IBM which tracks online retail via its Digital Analytics service. There was nearly a 21 percent increase in online sales over 2012, with mobile sales responsible for the biggest increase with a rise of more than 55 percent, accounting for 17 percent of online sales.
If you’re hoping to grow your business, use these exciting trends to create a successful marketing plan for 2014. Here’s how:
Improve the Online Experience for Customers
Cyber Monday’s strong numbers were due in part to a number of brick-and-mortar retailers with companies like Bon-Ton, Kohl’s and Macy’s landing in the top 10. Department store sales on Cyber Monday grew by 70.3 percent over 2012, and Macy’s was at the top of the pack. One of the reasons for its success is that the retailer has spent millions to improve their website as well as to better highlight online promotions and grow customer email lists.
Just five years ago Macy’s was losing market share and its shoppers complained about a difficult to navigate website as well as poor customer service. In order to get where the store is today, Chief Executive Terry Lundgren moved beyond its “brick-and-mortar roots” with its website now employing 1,150 workers in addition to improving inventory strategies so that online orders are rarely out of stock.
Create a Mobile-friendly Website
With the massive increase of mobile sales it’s more important than ever that a business website is optimized for mobile devices. This is one of the easiest ways to increase sales as well as to generate more traffic and improve customer engagement. The latest figures show that more than half of people surfing the Internet use their mobile device to do so, but just a little more than one-fifth of websites today are mobile-friendly.
Branding Brand revealed that sales on Black Friday via mobile-optimized websites were up 187 percent from 2012. Page views as well as total order values also increased. The company reports that iOS devices made up a greater percentage of traffic compared to Android.
President and CEO of Walmart.com, Joel Anderson noted, “2013 is the year online went mobile.” The bottom line is, if your business does not have a mobile-friendly site, you’re clearly missing out on an increasingly large number of potential customers, and profits.
Appeal to Mobile Buyers
If your site is already optimized for smartphones, you might want to take it one step farther. Bloomberg.com reports the mobile wave is shifting the shopping behaviors of some customers who are no longer focusing their holiday hunting on Black Friday, and instead taking advantage of mobile promotions from the comfort of home.
Many retailers are now offering a wide range of deals that can reach consumers when they’re plugged into their mobile device. Sears offers a mobile app that allows consumers to check in and access e-coupons that are customized to their specific tastes based on previous buying behavior. The retail giant also rolled out their mobile promotions earlier this season, providing special holiday bonus offers as well as a wide range of coupons.
Guest post by Janet Vaughn, who is a digital content manager for an online marketing company.
Did you know that you can create great text for your Web site, yet make it next to impossible for visitors to read your splendid words?
Inexperienced Web business owners are usually so carried away with exciting graphic elements that they neglect a Web publishing basic: make the text readable.
Yeah, you think, but who wants boring black text on a boring white background, when the Web is full of color and excitement? Why not make it vibrate with energy? Good question, but here’s one that’s more important: are you designing to satisfy yourself, or to sell your products, information, or services?
I’m often asked to critique sites. Here are some of the biggest errors relative to text that I’ve found on Web sites. They all break one of the cardinal rules of site design: design your text for easy reading.
- Graphic background that overshadows the text Example 1.
- Small-size text that is all in bold.
- Site text that is all in bold.
- Deep-color background with text in a color that makes reading difficult Example 2.
- Gray text on a white background Example 3.
- Black background with deep blue text Example 4.
- Vivid-color background with vivid-color text Example 5.
- Bloated paragraphs that intimidate the visitor because of their size Example 6.
If you’re making a statement to the world, and your statement includes wild colors and poor text contrast: fine. You may not care if anyone reads it, in fact, sometimes just having it in cyberspace gives you all the satisfaction you need.
But if you want to run a business, then treat your visitors with respect. Anticipate their needs. They have limited time and resources. Some are color-blind or have other vision impairments. Many have very small monitors; this includes a number of laptops (notebooks), notepads, and mobile deviced. Some systems have outdated video cards or low color depth abilities.
Give your business, organization, or project a break! Don’t color text for dramatic effect. Make sure that every aspect of your site design is done to meet or beat your visitors’ expectations … especially your text. It’s a great way to get a return on your investment.
What is the best Christmas gift I can think of for people who use a computer for business or any kind of writing of extensive file systems? There are many pieces of software that make our lives much easier.
But this is a winner, and one you don’t want to be without. It’s free downloadable software called “Everything” and it searches everything on your hard drive. It is much, much better than anything I’ve found.
To download it, go to voidtools.com at http://www.voidtools.com/download.htm and download it. It can be found on other sites, but you can’t always trust those sites.
I guarantee you’re going to love it. Go ahead. Search Everything.
And Merry Christmas.
Guest post by Ron Sanchez
Back pain can be incredibly debilitating, and it can also be caused by a working environment. The Mayo Clinic reports that repetition, posture and force are three elements which can affect your back throughout your work day. Luckily, there are some modifications you can make to your working environment to reduce the possibility of back injuries.
Improving Your Posture at Work
If you’re experiencing back pain, one of the first things you should look at is your sitting posture. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has specific standards for employees that work at a desk for this very reason. According to OSHA, your forearms and wrists should be straight and parallel to the ground. Your shoulders and arms should be relaxed, your head should be level and your feet should be either on the floor or on a foot rest. This position is meant to limit the stress on your joints and back.
Stretching at Your Desk
The Mayfield Clinic cites stretching as one way to keep your back healthy. There are many stretching exercises that you can do at your desk when you’re on a break. Standing at your desk, you can gently lean backward with your hands on your hips. Hold this position for a total of five seconds to stretch and exercise your back muscles. Touching your toes is another relaxing back exercise that could help you treat tight muscles.
Organizing Your Space
One of the best ways to avoid injury to your back is to avoid any heavy lifting. Oklahoma State University suggests that individuals reorganize their work area to ensure that heavy items don’t need to be lifted on a regular basis. If you absolutely do need to lift items, remember to lift with your legs and to keep your back straight at all times. When your back is tilted toward the ground, you place unnecessary stress on both your back muscles and spine. When lifting very heavy items, you should never hesitate to ask another employee to help.
Getting It Checked
If all else fails and you haven’t been able to resolve your back problems, you should consult a professional. Back problems that are left untreated could cause serious damage to your spinal column and nerves. You can go to a local chiropractor, general practice physician or even a national institute. Laser Spine Institute has five locations across the country and might be able to help find the source of your pain. Some injuries from your past work experiences that initially seem quite minor can end up causing back pain later in life.
It’s always best to take care of your back when you’re young. Many issues people experience later in life were actually developed in their youth. By taking care of your back, you can give yourself the gift of many healthy years in the future. If you do experience severe back pain regardless of these steps, you should always consult with your medical health professional as soon as possible
Ron Sanchez is a blogger for several fitness websites, and contributes a column to a widely known fitness magazine.
Guest post by Gina Smith
Business owners are continually seeking ways to increase their bottom line. The challenging economy makes this task even more difficult as declines in consumer confidence directly translate into slower sales.
How do you increase your bottom line, especially when sales are sliding? The obvious answer it to re-evaluate your marketing strategy, develop new niche markets and consider diversifying your products and/or services. How and what your market should be examined at least annually, if not more often. But, chasing sales is not the only way to increase your bottom line.
Sometimes reevaluating your infrastructure can yield some interesting options. For instance, shifting your information technology (IT) structure to a cloud environment can have a positive impact on your bottom line and help your employees be more productive. Let’s examine some ways small businesses are reaping the benefits of the cloud.
Less Equipment and Reduced Maintenance
Cloud platforms allow you to save and store all company data on secure remote servers. This can significantly reduce and possibly even eliminate the need for a local network. Less on-site equipment means fewer upgrade purchases and reduced repair and maintenance. The overall cost savings of switching to a cloud environment can be significant.
Little or No Staff Required
Reducing or eliminating your local network means needing less IT staff. This opens up the ability for you to hire additional staff in other areas, or choose to not “rehire” IT positions when an employee leaves your company.
Increased Portability and Productivity
Sales staff in particular benefit from cloud platforms. For one, the cloud gives them 24/7 remote access to any and all their data from any Wi-Fi enabled device. There is no need for employees to make extra trips back to the office in between meetings and appointments. This can translate into a tremendous savings in mileage reimbursement and wear and tear on company vehicles.
Many small business are viewing the cloud as a sort of “data insurance” policy. All data is stored offsite on remote cloud servers. So, if your office falls victim to theft or a natural disaster, your data is still safe. Many companies also consider an additional backup service to protect their data in the event of a botched sync or user error.
While the cloud has many benefits, it is important to thoroughly screen providers to determine which company and option(s) are best for your company. There are many articles on this topic to help aid you in your research. Don’t be afraid to interview different providers and ask for references. It is important to find the right fit to ensure maximum return on investment (ROI).
Gina Smith writes freelance articles for magazines, online outlets and publications for companies such as spanning.com. Smith covers the latest topics in the business, golf, tourism, technology and entertainment industries.