Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander in Persian Gulf War, Dies at 78


H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the Army general who commanded coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, died Thursday in Tampa, Fla., at age 78.

The cause of death was not immediately known. His death was confirmed to the Associated Press by a source.

Known as "Stormin' Norman" for his volcanic temper, the decorated Vietnam War combat soldier became a familiar face from his many press conferences during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Under his leadership during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, coalition forces drove Hussein's troops out of Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded, with relatively few coalition casualties, but the Iraqi leader remained in power.

Hussein would ultimately be left for Bush's presidential son, George W. Bush, to contend with.

After the Gulf War, Schwarzkopf became a television military analyst and went into a quiet retirement in Florida to write his memoirs.

The elder Bush, now hospitalized in intensive care, said in a statement that Schwarzkopf was a "true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation."

"More than that, he was a good and decent man – and a dear friend," says Bush. "Barbara and I send our condolences to his wife Brenda and his wonderful family."

source: people.com

3 Ways to Get Free Insurance Leads


Are you on the lookout for insurance sales leads? Here's the deal: sales leads need not cost you a fortune, since there are free ones out there today that can help your grow your company through converting sales leads into customers. By tapping new and stagnant lead sources - and spotting the best ones through lead validation - you will be able to take your business to greater heights.

Here are three simple, almost-cost-free steps to start bringing in more insurance leads to your database:
  1. Use free classified ads. This generation tool is a rich vat of free insurance sales leads. When writing up your ad, be sure to include your email address, phone contact, and website that links back to your insurance site. Establish that people can get more free and detailed information when they reply with their contact information. An easy and fuss-free way to automatically generate leads, right?

  2. Use insurance message boards to your advantage. Don't hesitate to visit these message boards that are relevant to the kind of sales leads you want to find and take hold of. Post ads with a link to your site. Capture users' interest by discussing a specific promo or discount that your business is having for a limited time only, and noting that they will need to email you their contact information in order to learn more about the said promo or discount. A chance to get a good discount on an insurance product is an attractive way for these individuals to contact you.

  3. Join sales leads companies. Once you sign up to these companies, you are typically given free leads as a trial. These may not be an aggressive lot, but you will get a few to start with. If they happen to convert and make money for you, you may want to consider purchasing leads from the said company. If they don't, though, check out other potential ways to obtain good, revenue-generating leads.
Your insurance leads, however, are only as good as their quality. The integration of a lead validation tool provides you the tools to automatically and immediately verify lead accuracy with point-of-entry validation. A lead verification service allows you to do "lead scrubbing" before establishing contact, therefore saving you time and money by filtering out bad leads, preventing fraudulent transaction, and improving customer conversion rates.
Lead verification also maximizes lead currency by streamlining validation, improves marketing statistics by incorporating lead quality, and converts more leads with correct and enhanced data.


Automatically and instantly validate the accuracy of your leads with the help of lead validation real-time Web services.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Peggy_J_Meeks



Jersey Shore: 21 Things We've Learned from Our Favorite Guidos and Guidettes


Please, try not to cry.

Although tonight will be the last time we see Snooki, Mike, Pauly D, Sammi, Ronnie, Deena, Vinny and JWoww being the dysfunctional family that they are on the small-screen, know that the guys from Jersey Shore are not leaving us empty-handed.

The stars from the hit MTV reality show have taught us a lot of things these past six seasons, and it's not just that a group of young adults can get paid bank to party and hook up with randoms.

Here are 21 things we've learned, thanks to the Jersey Shore.

1. Way of Life: Your necessary daily routine can be summed up in three letters. Yep, GTL. If you're not going to the gym, tanning and doing laundry every day, you're slackin' off.

2. New Lingo: Jersey Shore pretty much introduced us to a new language.

Kooka: an alternate term for lady parts
Meatball: a young woman. usually small in size, that enjoys getting wasted, dancing and partying 24/7
Twinning: scoring with twins
Grenades and Landmines: both refer to unfortunate looking women, however a grenade is larger in size than a landmine. A whistle may also be used to warn friends of an incoming
Juiceheads and Gorillas: very buff men that may or may not be on steroids
DTF: stands for "down to f--k." Common use includes, "Hey girl, are you DTF?" and "That chick was definitely DTF."
Smush: another word for intercourse
Swacked: getting your swagger jacked
FPC: fist-pump, push-up, chapstick
Pulling a Robbery: when one swoops in and steal someone's girl/guy
The Shirt Before the Shirt: the plain T-shirt worn while waiting for others to finish getting ready in an effort to keep your going-out shirt fresh

3. Dance Moves: It's necessary to always "beat the beat up," so one must start low on the ground, and moving with the beat, gradually stand up while punching the air with their fist, or fist-pumping. An additional move for the ladies is a Jersey Turnpike, which requires you to bend over, touch your toes and wiggle what you're workin' with.
4. Hairstyles: Ladies and gents have been introduced to a new 'do. With careful blow-drying and globs upon globs of gel, a guy can achieve the perfect blowout like Pauly D. On the other hand, girls (with or without a teasing comb) can rock a poof, like Snooki.
5. Matters of the Heart: No matter how many times you say, "Don't fall in love at the Shore," you probably will, anyways (Hi, Ron and Sam!). But there is one type of romance that will outlast whatever comes your way—a bromance like Vinny and Pauly's.
6. Italian Tips: Thanks to Sitch sacrificing his well-being, we learn that walls in Italy are not made of dry wall, but cement, and it can really mess you up if you, for whatever reason, want to bang your head against it. It's also probably a better idea not to drive yourself on international roads and just stick to cabs (which you can announce have arrived by yelling "Cabine sono qui!")

7. Never Too Cheesy: When asking a girl to be your girlfriend, don't be hesitant to get a little mushy. Asking her out through a T-shirt can actually work in your favor.

8. Footwear Is No Joke: You can never have too many sneakers. Never. And you must take care of them like they're your children.

9. Prank Champions: Prank wars are serious, and if you've ever needed ideas on what to do, the past six season have given us multiple examples of what works and what doesn't. For example: Putting all the interior furniture outside and vice versa while everyone's away—epic. Attempting to ambush a bunch of guys with weenie water balloons—not so good.

10. Duck Phones: Life is just better with them in it.

11. Survival in the Shore: Believe it or not, an unborn baby can survive in Seaside, as witnessed by Snooki's little man, Lorenzo.

12. The Art of Arguing: Talking at each other in increasing volume is not the only way to a memorable argument. Grab something that's near you and chuck it. If nothing good enough is at reach, then it might get physical. (P.S.: Probably best to file this under "What Not to Do.")

13. Rules of a One Night Stand: Unless they are extra special, your sexual partner for the night should not have the luxury of sleeping over and getting to see the sunlight the next day. Once the deed is done, a cab is called and out they go.

14. Beware of Sneaky Girls: Don't let some stranger put on your expensive diamond chain. She'll leave with it. And then come back the next morning with an, "OMG, I didn't even know I had this, but here you go," just so she can see you again.

15. Killer Moves Not Necessary: Thanks to Mike, we now know that you don't need to have awesome dance moves to make it as a stripper.

16. Got Electrocuted? You're OK: Deena getting electrocuted from her blow dryer allowed Sammi to reassure us that it's not a big deal. "I think you'll be OK. Police zap criminals with their electric gun all the time and they're all right."

17. It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere: It's called Happy Hour for a reason. The cast made it clear that day drinking is not only acceptable, but encouraged. And if you're pregaming, the best mix you can make is Ron-Ron Juice (watermelon juice, cherries, cranberry juice and vodka).

18. Sexual Orientation Is Not a Defining Factor: Two chicks seem interested in hooking up with you, and then they share they're lesbians. Don't throw up your white flag just yet. Vinny showed us that it's still possible for a guy to score a three-way even if the girls aren't into you.

19. Fighting Words: Is a brawl about to commence? In order to look tough, your opening line must be, "Come at me, bro."

20. Medical Advancement: Jersey Shore taught us that you can—yes, can—get pink eye from having a person's ass in your face. Proceed with caution.

21. Resourceful Alternatives: Don't have any luggage? Don't worry. Trash bags are a great replacement.

source: eonline.com

Promoter: Marquez-Pacquiao V not possible by April 20


LAS VEGAS -- Given the intensity of Juan Manuel Marquez’s  knockout of Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night, promoter Bob Arum told The Times on Monday that he doesn’t believe it’s feasible to stage a fifth fight between the pair as early as Pacquiao’s previous target date of April 20.

Arum said he is also considering the worldwide attention given to Saturday’s stunning outcome, and the massive interest he expects before the next meeting.

“No. 5 is now the biggest fight in boxing, bigger than Pacquiao-Mayweather,” Arum said. “The idea we’d be ready to fight April 20 is ludicrous.”

He declined to give an exact date, noting that he doesn’t intend  even to discuss future plans with both men until the new year.

The promoter said he expects to keep the bout in the U.S., with bidding expected to come from Las Vegas properties and perhaps Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas.

Marquez, after two bitterly contested lost decisions and a draw versus Pacquiao, likely became fighter of the year and created the fight of the year by rallying from a fifth-round knockdown and badly swollen nose to knock Pacquiao unconscious late in the sixth with a right-handed counterpunch Saturday before more than 16,000 fans at MGM Grand.

In Arum’s Top Rank offices in Las Vegas on Monday, employees were reviewing replays on a big-screen television that showed Pacquiao breathing heavily if not convulsing as he lay face down on the canvas after the knockout punch.

Reports that began to reach Arum during lunch Monday brought elation to him,  company President Todd DuBoef and Marquez’s promoter in Mexico, Fernando Beltran.

Dish Network reported positive pay-per-view sales beyond the November 2011 Pacquiao-Marquez bout that generated 1.25 million buys, and an ESPN executive expressed happiness about the network's increased involvement in boxing.

“This fight shows the health of the sport,” Arum said. “Great fight, shown all over it. The knockout happening right in front of the guy who was almost president of the United States,” Mitt Romney. “It puts the sport back in the mainstream.”

Arum said part of the fallout from the result will be to slot Oxnard’s Brandon Rios, Pacquiao’s likely next opponent if Marquez had lost, into a March rematch against Mike Alvarado. Rios and Alvarado staged a fight-of-the-year candidate in October at Home Depot Center in Carson.

Marquez is scheduled to depart Las Vegas on Monday afternoon for an airport outside of Mexico City, arriving around 9:30 p.m. local time,  Beltran said.

Marquez is scheduled to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday, and to present him with the gloves he used in defeating Pacquiao.

Arum assured Marquez will earn a greater percentage of the guaranteed purse than Saturday’s fight –- when he collected $6 million to Pacquiao’s $23 million -- “and the pie will be bigger too,” Arum said.

“We’ve known we can count on Marquez to produce numbers that will not disappoint," he added.

Though Marquez declined to answer about his future plans on Saturday, Arum and Beltran made it clear he’s interested in another Pacquiao clash.

“He said he’d go to to the Philippines to fight Manny,” Beltran cracked.

“I feel so happy for this kid. The way it was going, after those tough losses, if he had lost again, I don’t think he would be a happy guy in his life after this. Now, after thinking he couldn’t knock out Pacquiao with a baseball bat, he says, ‘I can’t believe this, it doesn’t seem real, I’m thrilled.’

“In the fifth fight, he will try to win for sure, but whatever happens, happens. He has nothing to prove about being considered one of the greatest Mexican fighters ever.”

Arum said he hadn’t heard reports from the Philippines that Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee, doesn’t want him to fight again after rushing to his aid in panic after the knockout.

“Jinkee can make any comment she wants,” Arum said. “Manny’s comment is he wants to fight.”


source: latimes.com

The Pros and Cons of Insuring your Children


You (probably) love your children and want the best for them. Does being a good parent mean insuring them too? We’ll look primarily at life insurance and critical illness insurance from the perspective of an actuary. There’s also a nifty solution below that gets overlooked.

Life Insurance

Insurance provides cash (generally tax-free) when a significant, unpredictable financial loss occurs. What financial loss does a family suffer if a child dies? Not much — unless the child is a major source of income (e.g., child star). The real loss — the devastating loss — is emotional. Money cannot compensate for the loss of someone you love.

As a parent, would you want to profit or breakeven? “Yeah, my kid died but the insurance covered the funeral and we upgraded our home theatre. Just wish we bought more.”

Having children is definitely worthwhile but expensive — easily hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are actual costs like daycare and saving for their education. There are also big opportunity costs because you have less time to do other things like sleep and upgrade your skills. My wife stayed home 9 years in total.

A child’s death is heartbreaking but eliminates future expenses. While grieving, the parents may earn less or need to borrow but that’s temporary.

We don’t like to contemplate our own deaths. Try getting a parent to think about the death of a child. That takes sales skills.

Critical Illness Insurance

Like you, your child can suffer a devastating disease at any time. You pay, in time, when you take your child to the doctor or visit them in the hospital. You pay in money if you take time off or hire someone to look after them. The biggest cost is the immeasurable mental anguish.

Canada has lengthy waiting times for treatment, even in hospital emergency wings. What if your child could get treated tomorrow in the US? All you need is money. Critical illness insurance provides a lump sum for you to use anyway you want. You reduce the need to deplete your savings or add non deductible debt.

Critical illness insurance for children is relatively rare but available from several insurers. Plans often cover child-specific diseases like cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. There may be add-ons that let you get your premiums back if there’s no claim. For example, there’s Sun Critical Illness Insurance (no endorsement implied). If you’re interested, talk to an independent advisor with access to other companies rather than anyone listed on their site.

Common Pitches

Advisors use compelling techniques to convince you to buy. We’ll look at two.

1. Future Insurability


What if your child doesn’t qualify for insurance as an adult? Getting coverage now is a way to set them up for life. Perhaps, but how much insurance are you buying? Says it’s $100,000. What will that be worth after inflation? If the amount is small — say $10,000 — what is that worth even today?

If your young adult works for a company with employee benefits, they may automatically get group life insurance for 1-2x their annual salary without underwriting. If they leave, they likely have an option to convert that amount to personal coverage without underwriting. If they’re self-employed, they may be able to get insurance through the local Board of Trade or Chamber of Commerce. If they belong to an association (e.g., university alumni), they might get coverage there.

2. “Pennies a Day”


Coverage on a child may only cost pennies, nickels, dimes or quarters a day. Anyone can afford that. By extension, buy a daily coffee. Eat out. Buy, buy, buy. Each purchase is small but the total adds up unless you’re vigilant with each expense.

An Overlooked Option


If you do want insurance on your child, consider a student accident plan with 24/7/365 coverage. That’s what my parents bought when I was in primary school. Maybe yours did too. The InsureMyKids Platinum Plan costs $31/year. Industrial Alliance offers the Kids Plus Active Plan for $32/year. Both include a $20,000 death benefit among the protection.

But First

If you really want to protect your children, make sure that you and your spouse are properly insured for disability (income replacement insurance), morbidity (medical expense reimbursement, critical illness insurance) and mortality (life insurance).

As for your children, how about investing in an RESP?

article source: milliondollarjourney.com

Will Insurers Soon Pay us Not to Speed?


Would you speed if you were paid not to?

That's the thrust of a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing that motorists followed speed limits when offered financial perks.

The study, conducted by researchers from Old Dominion University in Virginia and Western Michigan University, focused on 50 people who drove cars equipped with GPS trackers designed to monitor speed. Drivers who didn't go over the limit received $25 each week.

But motorists who drove 5 to 8 mph too fast were penalized three cents each time. If they went 9 mph or more above the limit, the penalty doubled to six cents. (See: "Ticket? Uh-oh: auto insurance rate increases for common violations.")

"This had a robust effect in getting drivers to reduce their speeding," says Ian Reagan, the study's lead researcher and now a senior researcher for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). "Egregious speeding, driving 9 or more mph over the limit, was just about eliminated for those that had the incentive" not to speed.

Another new driver safety technology being tested

The study sheds more light on intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) systems that determine if someone is speeding by using GPS to link a vehicle's position to digital maps that include local speed limits. In addition to GPS, some newer systems use cameras to read speed signs.

The ISAs, according to a recent report from the IIHS and the Highway Loss Data Institute, then could warn drivers that they're going too fast or even automatically slow the car.

Typically, ISAs notify drivers of speeding by one of the following:

    an audible or visual alert telling the driver to slow down
    a haptic alert via the accelerator that makes it increasingly more difficult for the driver to depress the pedal
    reducing engine throttle to automatically decelerate a vehicle

Right now ISA technology is being tested, but is not yet in use in the U.S.

Auto insurers advised to provide incentives

Insurers should consider rewarding policyholders if they obey speed limits, which would reduce traffic accidents, deaths and injuries, and the resulting auto claims and health coverage costs, says James Bliss, an Old Dominion University professor and one of the NHTSA study's key researchers.

It's too soon to tell if insurers would adopt such a plan, and if they did, how it would work. One option could be predetermined bonuses to drivers who don't speed , similar to Allstate's "Safe Driving Bonus Check" of up to 5% of premiums for every six months of accident-free driving.

Another option could be a discount on premiums, similar to how pay-as-you-go, or usage-based insurance, policies work. While pay-as-you-go (PAYG)depends on drivers plugging a device into their cars to monitor performance, ISA technology in the future would likely be installed in new model cars as a standard crash-avoidance featureDrivers would likely use either ISA technology or a usage-based system, but not both, because both monitor speed.

The pay-as-you-go roadmap

The study's results do seem to mirror the pay-as-you-go model - a hot trend in the auto insurance industry. Under PAYG, insurers give qualifying motorists premium discounts -- as much as 30 to 40% in some cases -- by installing devices in their cars that track driving habits and mileage. The safer and less you drive, the bigger the discount, according to insurers. (See: "As economy sinks, pay-as-you-go insurance soars.")

PAYG is clearly gaining traction, but it does have critics. Privacy advocates question how the gathered information will be used and some participants have complained that brake monitoring is too sensitive and reduced the amount of their promised discount.

Here's what three of the major insurers offer:

    Progressive's Snapshot: The way it works is typical:You plug in the device, which then tracks time of day and vehicle speed, miles driven and how often you brake hard. Richard Hutchinson, the company's general manager of usage-based insurance, says savings could reach 30% for the most conscientious motorists. The device must be installed for at least 30 days to create a driving profile.
    State Farm's Drive Safe & Save and In-Drive: Drive Safe & Save requires an OnStar subscription. State Farm receives odometer readings from OnStar every 30 days and, after six months, adjusts your premium to reflect the mileage. The company says discounts usually range from 10 to 50%. The insurer also offers In-Drive, which requires a plug-in to track time of day and vehicle speed, miles driven and how often you brake hard. Discounts can reach 30%, according to State Farm.
    Allstate's Drive Wise: A plug-in device records the usual motoring statistics, which are used to determine if customers qualify for a 10% discount for the first policy term. If drivers maintain safe motoring habits and low mileage during subsequent terms, savings can go as high as 30%, the company says.

Other insurers with some version of PAYG include The Hartford, Travelers, Esurance, Safeco and GMAC Insurance.

source: foxbusiness.com

How to Manage Workaholics

Given the state of the economy, it’s tempting to advise people to work harder and really focus on keeping their jobs. But too much effort at the office can be counterproductive.

We are now in a work smart economy where the focus is on doing more with less. Those seemingly stand-out individuals putting-in long hours may be viewed as less efficient than their more balance-conscience colleagues.

The challenge in managing workaholics is that they are often blind to the negative aspects of their behavior. Workaholics often lose sight of why they are even working and can pull their team members into their world if you aren’t careful.

To prevent the long hours are always better attitude to overtaking the office, managers need to take action:

Don’t be peer-pressured into becoming a workaholic. Avoid allowing yourself and your team to get baited into the workaholic’s schedule. It’s important not to punish your more productive and balanced team members with added timelines and burdens purely created by a wayward workaholic. Ultimately, when you let the team workaholic set the pace you lose control of your own schedule and any hope of keeping your family obligations this holiday season.

Help prioritize their activities. When managing a workaholic, managers must set clear priorities for the tasks at hand. Workaholics are driven to overdo it, so keep the employee focused on a limited set of priorities with defined tasks.    

Set clear boundaries. Workaholics tend to have few boundaries, which can be problematic when working on a team. They are the ones who will e-mail you at 2a.m. looking for feedback on something. Once you have agreed on a set of priorities, set clear boundaries around appropriate communication times and be sure to enforce them.

Encourage extracurricular activities. Talk about the fun you had over the weekend, but also point out how non-office experiences enhanced your creativity on the job. The best way to subtly nudge a workaholic into expanding his or her activities is to tie outside activities to work in some way. If workaholics can see how being healthy or spending some time traveling may help them at work, they may take a stab at it.

Don’t enable. Workaholism can be an addiction, and the last thing you want to do is enable a workaholic by legitimizing the belief that he or she is overloaded. Workaholics often overload themselves.  Avoid offering to pick-up extra work or chip-in on a weekend, because it won’t matter--the workaholic will find something else to fill the void. The best thing you can do is show them what they are missing in the world around them. 
Remember, effort doesn’t always equal results. Workers need to find that sweet spot that allows them to maximize productivity while also maximizing personal time. Be sure to find some balance this holiday season and don’t fall prey to the workholics in your office. 

source: foxbusiness.com

Calculating Your Net Worth


Your own personal net worth is something that can serve as a truly useful tool in measuring the financial progress that you have made from one year to the next. What your net worth is, is essentially just a grand total of all of your assets, with liabilities subtracted. There is no magical number when it comes to net worth because everyone is different. Just make sure that you are using your own personal net worth in order to track your financial progress from one year to the next, and hopefully you will see some improvements in the process.

Calculating your own personal net worth is not difficult at all, and it only really requires a little bit of financial information regarding what you own, how much money you have and how much debt you owe.

Step #1 - You should begin this process by listing out all of your largest assets, such as your home and any vehicles that you may owe. Make sure that you are using accurate estimates in the current amount of dollars.

Step #2 - Next what you are going to want to do is to gather all of your latest financial statements for the assets that you have that are more liquid in nature. This is going to include your checking accounts, savings accounts, cash, investments, CDs and retirement accounts for example.

Step #3 - Third, what you are going to want to do is to consider listing any personal items that you have, that have some kind of value to them, such as jewelry, collections, musical instruments and so on and so forth. You do not have to itemize absolutely everything that you own, but you should definitely be listing any items worth more than $500.00.

Step #4 - Now what you are going to want to do is add all of your assets together from the first three steps, creating your "total assets".

Step #5 - Now you want to look at your liabilities. Again, you should be beginning with the major outstanding liabilities, including the balance on your loans or your mortgage.

Step #6 - Now, you should list other personal liabilities such as student loans, credit cards and any debt that you have to pay off.

Step #7 - Add up all of your liabilities, coming to a "total liabilities" number.

Step #8 - Now what you should do is to subtract the total liabilities from your total assets in order to come up with your net worth number. It does not matter what your net worth is, it just matters that you work on improving it from this point on. Repeat this process every year, comparing the new number with last year's number to find out if you are moving in the right direction or not financially.

source: richcreditdebtloan.com

Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry Reach Truce in Custody War


After a long court battle and an ugly fistfight outside her house, Halle Berry and her ex Gabriel Aubry appear to have settled their key differences over custody of 4 ½-year-old daughter Nahla – for now.

"The parties have reached an amicable agreement," read a written statement held up by attorney Blair Berk, who represents Berry, after a hearing Thursday in Los Angeles. "There will be no further statements regarding this matter."

Aubry, wearing a black sport coat with dark sunglasses to mask his bruised face, was present, but Berry and her fiancé Olivier Martinez did not attend.

Just exactly what they agreed to – earlier issues ranged from residency to restraining orders – wasn't known.

But the deal was worked out on the same day an emergency protective order issued against Aubry was to expire. That order barred him from seeing his daughter or going anywhere near Berry and Martinez.

It's also unclear whether Aubry's restraining order against Martinez, filed Monday, remains in effect or if it had been, or will be, withdrawn.

Meanwhile, LAPD Commander Andrew Smith tells PEOPLE the Thanksgiving Day altercation between Aubry and Martinez is still under investigation. "Our officers have initially concluded that Aubry was the primary instigator," he says, but adds it's too early to say whether the case will be referred to prosecutors.

source: people.com

Facial hair fun: Bacon shaving cream, mustache bottle openers


As the facial-hair-focused month of Movember draws to a close, we thought we'd revisit some of the beard- and mustache-themed merchandise that's come to our attention, including bacon-scented shaving cream, a stainless steel, mustache-shaped bottle opener and a book cataloging the cultural history of the 'stache.

The most recent to cross our desk is J&D's Foods' Bacon Shaving Cream, touted as "the highest quality meat-scented shaving cream on the market today."

Justin Esch, a co-founder and "bacontrepreneur" at Seattle-based J&D's (the company, which launched in 2007, is responsible for a slew of bacon-flavored products such as Baconnaise and a bacon-flavored popcorn called BaconPOP) told All the Rage that their latest product does not contain any actual pork products.

"We wanted that," he said in a recent phone interview, "but we ran into shelf-life issues and things like that. Our goal was to make a real, high-quality shaving cream -- something classy."

To that end, Esch says, the company worked with the Art of Shaving, the Gillette-owned brand that's carved out a niche in the high-end men's grooming market, to develop the product, which is available in a limited run of 2,500 jars as of Nov. 28. J&D's Foods Bacon Shaving Cream, 5-ounce jar ($14.99), available online at www.baconshavingcream.com.

During a recent trip to Las Vegas for the 2012 National Beard and Moustache Championships, we ran across what may be the perfect stocking stuffer for the facial-hair aficianado/beer drinker in your life: a mustache-shaped bottle opener.

A single, laser-cut piece of stainless-steel gives the Mustache Bottle Opener a simple, sturdy and reliable feel that's sorely lacking in these high-tech, ever-more-complicated days.

Created barely a year ago, it's the brainchild of Adam Bierton, a Rochester, New York, metalwork artist who'd been asked to create a mustache-themed beer tap for a local pub. It was while working on that project that Bierton realized the curved end of the mustache shape he'd created could easily pop the top off a frosty-cold one.

The nearly $20 price tag might seem hefty for a bottle opener at first blush, but we prefer to think of it as investing in a portable, functional, made-in-America, trendy piece of pocket art that'll last a lifetime of six-pack-popping. Mustache Bottle opener ($19.99), keychain ($20.99) and necklace ($27.99), available online at mustachebottleopener.com.

One of the judges at this year's battle of the bearded in Las Vegas was Allan Peterkin, a Toronto-based psychiatrist who has written and commented extensively on the topic of facial hair, and whose latest book,   "One Thousand Mustaches: A Cultural History of the Mo," was published in September.

The paperback book is part illustrated facial-hair field guide, which is helpful if one finds themselves agonizing, for example, about whether the English mustache they're looking at is a peculiar sub-species (that style alone has nine) and part historical survey of famous lip spinach.

It also turns out to be a surprisingly rich treasure trove of tonsorial trivia. We had no idea, for example, that "the mustache  is capable of absorbing twenty percent of its own weight in liquid," or that "[u]ntil the 1940s a man had plural 'mustaches.' Now he has but one 'mustache.'"

Now that's our kind of splitting hairs.

source: latimes.com

Amy Winehouse Play Canceled After Father Objects


A play about the life of Amy Winehouse has been scrapped after the late singer's father denied permission to use her music and likeness, according to the New York Times. The Royal Theater in Denmark has canceled the production, which was set to open January 30th, after the reaction from Mitch Winehouse.

Eleven Danish playwrights collaborated on the script for the play, which focused on the singer's troubles with drugs and alcohol and "the enormous pressure a sensationalist public put on a young superstar when her problems began," as the producers suggested. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in July 2011 at the age of 27.

source: rollingstone.com




A play about the life of Amy Winehouse has been scrapped after the late singer's father denied permission to use her music and likeness, according to the New York Times. The Royal Theater in Denmark has canceled the production, which was set to open January 30th, after the reaction from Mitch Winehouse.
Eleven Danish playwrights collaborated on the script for the play, which focused on the singer's troubles with drugs and alcohol and "the enormous pressure a sensationalist public put on a young superstar when her problems began," as the producers suggested. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in July 2011 at the age of 27.


Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/amy-winehouse-play-canceled-after-father-objects-20121126#ixzz2DQ9RfMoJ
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Purchase Mortgage Market Share Shrinks to 15-month Low


The market share of purchase mortgages that closed in October reached its lowest level since August 2011.  Only 31 percent of all mortgages that closed last month were used to purchase a house versus 69 percent to refinance, according to the latest origination report from Ellie Mae released today.

The FHA loan market share also reached the lowest level since Ellis Mae began issuing the report 15 months ago.  Only about 19 percent of all mortgages closed in the month were FHA loans and 74 percent were conventional.  The decline in FHA market share, which was 24 percent a year ago, comes as FHA announced it will raise its annual premium an average cost of about $13 per month per borrower next year in order to reduce a $16.3 billion net worth deficit uncovered in the agency’s annual audit.

The closing rate for all loans jumped four points in October, rising to 54.5 percent of all applications, the highest closing rate in a year.  The closing rate for refinancing was 51.3 percent and for purchase loans rose to 61.2 percent, slightly higher than the September rate and a sign that borrowers are in better shape with credit, down payments and documentation.

Average FICO scores, loan-to-value ratios and debt-to-income ratios for all types of loans didn’t vary much from September, suggesting that lenders are not loosening standards.

Average time to close increased from 50 to 54 days from September for October for all loans.  All of the increase came from refinancings, which increased from 53 to 57 days.

The Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report provides monthly data and insights from a robust sampling of closed loan applications that flow through Ellie Mae’s mortgage management software and Ellie Mae Network™. In 2011, the total volume of mortgages that ran through Ellie Mae’s Encompass360 mortgage management software was approximately two million loan applications, or 20 percent of all U.S. mortgage originations.

source: thenichereport.com

Mayim Bialik and Michael Stone Divorcing


After "much consideration and soul-searching," Mayim Bialik announced Wednesday that she and husband Michael Stone are divorcing after nine years of marriage.

The Big Bang Theory star, who has sons Miles, 7, and Fred, 4, with Stone, cites "irreconcilable differences" for the split, which she revealed in a statement on her Kveller.com parenting blog.

"Divorce is terribly sad, painful and incomprehensible for children. It is not something we have decided lightly," she writes.

The former star of TV's Blossom, 36, also says that the split is not due to the attachment parenting she discusses in her book Beyond the Sling. "Relationships are complicated no matter what style of parenting you choose," she says.

"The main priority for us now is to make the transition to two loving homes as smooth and painless as possible," Bialik continues. "Our sons deserve parents committed to their growth and health and that’s what we are focusing on. Our privacy has always been important and is even more so now, and we thank you in advance for respecting it as we negotiate this new terrain."

She concludes by saying, "We will be ok."

The couple were married in August 2003 in Pasadena, Calif.

source: people.com

Euro zone likely to reach deal on Greek aid payment

BRUSSELS - Euro zone finance ministers are likely to approve the next tranche of loans to Greece on Tuesday although the money is unlikely to be disbursed before December and a deal on debt reduction may need further talks.

Officials familiar with preparations for the finance ministers' meeting expect a "political endorsement in principle" on unfreezing loans to Athens, after Greece completed almost all the reforms that were required.

"It is clear that Greece has delivered," the chairman of the euro zone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, told reporters before the meeting.

"We must still reach an understanding on several details and I would expect that the chances are good that we will come to a final and joint solution this evening. But I'm not entirely certain... about the matter," he said.

Hours before the meeting, set to start at 1600 GMT, views on the outcome were still quite far apart among the individual ministers, but a compromise was possible, officials said.
"I hope, I believe and I want to a find a solution tonight," French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said in Paris.

But Finnish Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen was less optimistic.

"I'm not at all sure that it will happen. More information is needed before a decision can be made, so the situation is very much open," she said after briefing parliament in Helsinki.

Greece got a second financing programme from the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund in February, but two subsequent parliamentary elections and a deep depression threw its reforms and fiscal consolidation off course.

Lending was frozen in June and to get it going again Greece had to show it was fully committed to a detailed package of economic reforms or "prior actions".

But the euro zone and the IMF also want to be sure that Greek debt, expected to be almost 190 percent of GDP next year, will fall at some point to a more sustainable 120 percent, so that they will not have to keep financing Athens.

The IMF and the euro zone are at odds on whether to shift the original target date for Greece to do that from 2020 to 2022, torn between the need to retain market confidence and allowing the Greek economy some breathing space.

Reducing the debt

The ministers will also discuss how to reduce debt in a country where the economy is expected to contract for a sixth year running in 2013.

The talks will be based on a debt sustainability analysis prepared by the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

Options include halving the interest on existing, bilateral loans to Greece from the current 150 basis points above financing costs, lengthening their maturities, lowering fees charged by the temporary bailout fund EFSF and a debt buy-back.

Germany has floated an idea that Greece could buy back half of its 60 billion euros in bonds remaining in private hands, offering 25 cents per euro.

Euro zone officials have asked for a legal analysis of a debt buy-back and a more operational description for the Tuesday talks. A senior French official said a decision on the buy-back could even be taken on Tuesday.

"It's possible as soon as tonight, it's an option on the menu," the official said.

German Deputy Finance Minister Steffen Kampeter said that if a deal on cutting Greek debt eluded euro zone finance ministers on Tuesday, work would continue this week.

Once a deal is done, proposals on how to cut Greek debt and provide additional financing can be sent to national parliaments for approval, a step expected to be completed by Nov. 30.

This will give Athens time to complete the few outstanding "prior actions". International lenders will check if the remaining reforms are in place on Nov. 28 and euro zone finance ministers will make a final decision to pay the next tranche to Athens on Dec. 3, according to the schedule seen by Reuters.

Greece and the European Commission would then sign a revised memorandum of understanding on Dec. 4 and Greece would get the money on Dec. 5.

Having missed two tranche payments because of the suspension of the programme, Greece should now get a total of 44 billion euros if the next tranche, due in December, is paid out together with the overdue ones.

More than half of that total is cash to recapitalize Greek banks after Greece's debt restructuring hurt their capital base. But some officials said incomplete data on the recapitalization might result in the payout of 31 billion euros, rather than the full 44 billion.

The ministers will also have to decide how to finance two extra years, until 2016, they gave Greece to reach the target of a primary surplus that would allow the country to start cutting its debt pile in a sustainable way.

The troika estimated that such an extension would entail almost 33 billion euros more in financing for Athens, which is politically difficult because of growing opposition to bailouts in many euro zone countries, notably Germany and Finland.

European Central Bank policymaker Joerg Asmussen said on Sunday the euro zone should agree on just two years of funding for Greece and leave further help to be decided later, a view likely to irk the IMF, which wants a permanent solution. — Reuters

source: gmanetwork.com

One Direction top British single and album charts

LONDON - Boy band One Direction topped Britain's singles and album charts on Sunday, outselling new releases from rock veterans Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones, the Official Charts Company said.
The English-Irish quintet shot to number one in the album charts with "Take Me Home", with one of its tracks, "Little Things", also taking first place in the singles rankings.
Singer Rod Stewart had to settle for number two for his new collection of seasonal classics "Merry Christmas Baby", while the Rolling Stones were third with their 50th anniversary compilation "GRRR!".
Also new in the album lists were British tenor Alfie Boe at number six with "Storyteller", while American punk band Green Day entered in tenth place with "¡Dos!".
American singer Bruno Mars took second place in the singles charts with "Locked Out Of Heaven", just ahead of "DNA" at number three from British girl group Little Mix. 

source: gmanetwork.com

Should You Be Scared Of Inflation?


More than anything else, the financial markets are driven by fear.  Investors fear large, unexpected moves in the markets.  They fear missing out on opportunities.  And, most of all, they fear losing money.

Of course, fear becomes a real factor in the financial markets when a major crisis occurs, such as the bank bailouts in 2008.  Fortunately, these types of events don’t happen all that often.

On a more consistent basis, nothing generates investor fear like the threat of inflation.  Year after year, analysts and experts of all kinds warn of the adverse effects inflation can have on an investment portfolio.

Basically, inflation means the costs of goods and services are rising over a period of time.  As such, each dollar you earn can purchase less and less of those goods and services.

So what makes inflation such a big deal?

Well, if your income level doesn’t keep up with the pace of inflation, you’re essentially taking a pay cut when inflation occurs.  On a limited basis, it’s not a major concern. However, over a long period of time or in large amounts, inflation can be a real issue.

What’s more, severe inflation can lead to social unrest and other major sociopolitical issues.  Clearly, that’s the kind of stuff no one wants to deal with.

With that in mind, you might be wondering if the recent Fed stimulus is a reason to worry about inflation.  After all, many of those critical of the Fed have been citing inflation concerns.  Their argument is that with the Fed “printing” so much money, it will devalue the dollar to the point of significantly eroding our purchasing power.

Here’s the deal with the recent round of quantitative easing (QE3): yes, it should result in some inflation.  However, it’s actually supposed to create inflation.  You see, a certain amount of inflation is actually good for the economy – especially during a recession.

Let me explain…

There are actually several positive benefits to inflation when it is sits at a reasonable level (from 2% to 4% depending on overall economic conditions).

First off, reasonable inflation levels benefit the labor market.  The thing is, companies don’t like lowering wages because it upsets the workforce.  Instead, they can let inflation do their work for them.

Without getting too technical, companies can leave wages flat in tougher periods and inflation will function as a sort of pay cut.  Eventually, this means companies can hire more workers sooner than if inflation wasn’t occurring.

Second, inflation means money sitting in the bank is losing its purchasing power.  So, it makes sense for companies to go spend that money on capital investments, such as plants and equipment.  This capital spending then leads to economic growth.

Finally, when inflation is occurring, it means deflation is being avoiding. Deflation is very bad, even worse than high levels of inflation.  Just think of the Great Depression versus the high inflation of the 1970’s.  Everyone agrees the Great Depression was far worse than the 70’s.

What’s more, the Fed has a good track record of dealing with high inflation – particularly over the last 25 years.  On the other hand, a deflationary spiral is much harder to recover from.

Here’s why this is important to investors…

The first two reasons I mentioned about how inflation can be good are also good for your portfolio.  If a company is doing well enough to hire more workers or purchase capital goods, it should also be posting higher earnings.  And of course, that should translate to a higher stock price.

Let me break that down a bit further.

Suppose we’re in a recession or slow growth period with inflation running a modest 2%.  A company that makes widgets will raise the price of their widgets in line with inflation.  However, they’re holding labor costs steady due to the recession.  That means higher revenues with roughly stable costs (yes, materials costs will also rise, but in most cases labor is the far greater expense).

So what does higher revenue mean if costs stay the same?  Bigger profits.

Now, let’s say our widget company also has $100 million in the bank just sitting there.  If inflation is at 2% and short-term interest rates are paying 1%, then the company is effectively losing money.

So what will they do?  Well, they could buy another widget factory, buy more advanced equipment, acquire another company, expand into a new product, and more.  The payoff from these types of activities is almost certainly higher than what they’d earn saving the money.

Of course, any sort of expansion or addition to the company should result in higher revenues – and likely higher profits as well.  And, that’s exactly what investors are looking for when they buy stocks – in other words, higher stock prices.

Keep in mind, the benefits of inflation have an overarching effect on a portfolio as a whole.  Over time, it will benefit a cross section of companies.  It’s not necessarily the sort of reasoning investor use when purchasing one specific stock.  However, since most investors’ portfolios contain multiple stocks or mutual funds, healthy inflation is a positive for a vast majority of investors.

Bottom line, inflation isn’t nearly as bad as many investors think, especially during a recession.  Just keep an eye on inflation expectations.  As long as the number doesn’t exceed 3% to 4%, there’s nothing to worry about.  Even better, it should actually benefit your portfolio over time.

source: excessreturn.net

Foreclosure cancellations surge in Golden State


The number of foreclosures canceled by banks surged 62% across California last month, the same month major mortgage servicers were required to comply with new rules outlined by this year’s National Mortgage Settlement.

Banks in the Golden State canceled 15,539 scheduled auctions last month, according to a report by website ForeclosureRadar.com. That was a 36.7% drop from the same month last year.

Sean O'Toole, founder of ForeclosureRadar, wrote in the October report that the increase was most likely due to the effective banning of dual tracking in the state. Dual tracking refers to the practice by banks of pushing a borrower through the foreclosure process while at the same time negotiating a loan modification.

“This is another example of where changes in foreclosure trends are driven by government intervention, and not necessarily economic recovery. While the impacts are still unclear, the elimination of dual tracking may avoid some unnecessary foreclosures, but will lengthen the foreclosure process and delay ultimate recovery. Expect further impacts to foreclosure trends in the months ahead.”

There has not been a comparable spike in California foreclosure cancellations since December 2011, when banks were under heavy scrutiny by state and federal regulators for improperly foreclosing on troubled borrowers. That scrutiny resulted in the big mortgage settlement earlier this year — of which California was the biggest beneficiary.

The settlement, and a series of California laws backed by State Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris, resulted in effectively banning dual tracking. O’Toole said banks are probably canceling foreclosure sales so that they will not be in violation of any laws.

Before the ban on dual tracking, a bank would often give a homeowner a trial loan modification and continue to postpone the foreclosure auction. By keeping the trustee sale in place, but postponing it, the bank could foreclose immediately if a trial modification did not work out.

But consumer activists railed against this practice, saying that it confused homeowners, strung them along and in some instances resulted in unnecessary foreclosures. Consumer activists had tried to pass legislation banning the practice in California, but the measures had failed until Harris put her weight behind them.

source: latimes.com

2 killed, 1 critically injured in Long Beach car crash

Two people died and a third was critically injured in a car crash Saturday night in Long Beach, authorities said.

The single-vehicle accident occurred about 6:20 p.m. on Redondo Avenue beneath the 405 Freeway, said Long Beach Police Department spokesman Aaron Eaton.

Two people were declared dead at the scene. The injured person was hospitalized Saturday night.

The crash was still under investigation, but the wet weather may have been a contributing factor, Eaton said.

Redondo Avenue remained closed Saturday night.

source: latimes.com

5 Smart Ways to Avoid a Cash Crisis


Here’s an interesting puzzler. How is it possible for a profitable business to be growing and failing at the same time? The all important answer to this conundrum lies in the company’s cash flow.

Hot product companies that experience rapid sales growth have to purchase and assemble inventory months in advance of shipment to retailers and distribution partners. This eats up a company’s cash. And, just when customers get around to paying for last month’s product shipments the company has to invest its available cash in the next inventory production run. This is how too much success can quickly lead to an empty bank account.

If a commercial bank doesn’t step in to help a company catch up, the company may have to lay off workers, cut back production or face bankruptcy. This scenario is the living nightmare of American business today.

Here are five easy ways to protect your company’s precious cash life line.

No. 1: Limit exposure to high risk customers.  Are your largest customers also your company’s slowest paying customers?  If so, take immediate steps to diversify the customer mix to favor faster paying customers.  Sales commission payments should be tied to the timing of customer collections too.

No. 2: Bill frequently.  Most service-oriented businesses bill on a monthly basis or at the end of a project.  Why not bill customers every week or every two weeks in the form of progress payments?  The faster companies invoice customers, the faster they get paid.

No. 3: Reduce dependence on a single funding source.  As too many entrepreneurs have learned, it’s relatively easy for banks to pull credit lines when companies can least afford it.  To minimize the risks of sudden cash shortfalls, smart entrepreneurs set aside one or two credit cards for emergencies.

The first time a bank lending officer learns about your company should not be the day you are desperate for cash.  If you don’t know the names of at least four bank credit officers, ask your business colleagues for referrals now!  Smart business owners are always eager to meet credit officers from big and small community lenders.

No. 4: Streamline product lines.  Entrepreneurs who don’t have a lot of loose cash should avoid producing too many products in too many styles to sell to too many different types of customers.  The more complex a company’s product line, the more cash that is required to produce, store, advertise and deliver goods to customers.

No. 5: Set high profitability standards.  The companies that are most vulnerable to financial heartaches during a recession or credit crisis are low profit margin businesses.  Simply stated, low margin businesses have no margin for error.  Don’t be shy about axing products or services that don’t match or exceed your industry’s average gross profit margins.

There is another reward for entrepreneurs who emphasize cautious cash management in their day-to-day business operations.  Lenders and investors compete to fund them.

source: foxbusiness.com


Here’s an interesting puzzler. How is it possible for a profitable business to be growing and failing at the same time? The all important answer to this conundrum lies in the company’s cash flow.
Hot product companies that experience rapid sales growth have to purchase and assemble inventory months in advance of shipment to retailers and distribution partners. This eats up a company’s cash. And, just when customers get around to paying for last month’s product shipments the company has to invest its available cash in the next inventory production run. This is how too much success can quickly lead to an empty bank account.
If a commercial bank doesn’t step in to help a company catch up, the company may have to lay off workers, cut back production or face bankruptcy. This scenario is the living nightmare of American business today.
Here are five easy ways to protect your company’s precious cash life line.
No. 1: Limit exposure to high risk customers.  Are your largest customers also your company’s slowest paying customers?  If so, take immediate steps to diversify the customer mix to favor faster paying customers.  Sales commission payments should be tied to the timing of customer collections too.
No. 2: Bill frequently.  Most service-oriented businesses bill on a monthly basis or at the end of a project.  Why not bill customers every week or every two weeks in the form of progress payments?  The faster companies invoice customers, the faster they get paid.
No. 3: Reduce dependence on a single funding source.  As too many entrepreneurs have learned, it’s relatively easy for banks to pull credit lines when companies can least afford it.  To minimize the risks of sudden cash shortfalls, smart entrepreneurs set aside one or two credit cards for emergencies.
The first time a bank lending officer learns about your company should not be the day you are desperate for cash.  If you don’t know the names of at least four bank credit officers, ask your business colleagues for referrals now!  Smart business owners are always eager to meet credit officers from big and small community lenders.
No. 4: Streamline product lines.  Entrepreneurs who don’t have a lot of loose cash should avoid producing too many products in too many styles to sell to too many different types of customers.  The more complex a company’s product line, the more cash that is required to produce, store, advertise and deliver goods to customers.
No. 5: Set high profitability standards.  The companies that are most vulnerable to financial heartaches during a recession or credit crisis are low profit margin businesses.  Simply stated, low margin businesses have no margin for error.  Don’t be shy about axing products or services that don’t match or exceed your industry’s average gross profit margins.
There is another reward for entrepreneurs who emphasize cautious cash management in their day-to-day business operations.  Lenders and investors compete to fund them.


Read more: http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/finance-accounting/2012/11/15/5-smart-ways-to-avoid-cash-crisis/#ixzz2COXjczLv
Here’s an interesting puzzler. How is it possible for a profitable business to be growing and failing at the same time? The all important answer to this conundrum lies in the company’s cash flow.
Hot product companies that experience rapid sales growth have to purchase and assemble inventory months in advance of shipment to retailers and distribution partners. This eats up a company’s cash. And, just when customers get around to paying for last month’s product shipments the company has to invest its available cash in the next inventory production run. This is how too much success can quickly lead to an empty bank account.
If a commercial bank doesn’t step in to help a company catch up, the company may have to lay off workers, cut back production or face bankruptcy. This scenario is the living nightmare of American business today.
Here are five easy ways to protect your company’s precious cash life line.
No. 1: Limit exposure to high risk customers.  Are your largest customers also your company’s slowest paying customers?  If so, take immediate steps to diversify the customer mix to favor faster paying customers.  Sales commission payments should be tied to the timing of customer collections too.
No. 2: Bill frequently.  Most service-oriented businesses bill on a monthly basis or at the end of a project.  Why not bill customers every week or every two weeks in the form of progress payments?  The faster companies invoice customers, the faster they get paid.
No. 3: Reduce dependence on a single funding source.  As too many entrepreneurs have learned, it’s relatively easy for banks to pull credit lines when companies can least afford it.  To minimize the risks of sudden cash shortfalls, smart entrepreneurs set aside one or two credit cards for emergencies.
The first time a bank lending officer learns about your company should not be the day you are desperate for cash.  If you don’t know the names of at least four bank credit officers, ask your business colleagues for referrals now!  Smart business owners are always eager to meet credit officers from big and small community lenders.
No. 4: Streamline product lines.  Entrepreneurs who don’t have a lot of loose cash should avoid producing too many products in too many styles to sell to too many different types of customers.  The more complex a company’s product line, the more cash that is required to produce, store, advertise and deliver goods to customers.
No. 5: Set high profitability standards.  The companies that are most vulnerable to financial heartaches during a recession or credit crisis are low profit margin businesses.  Simply stated, low margin businesses have no margin for error.  Don’t be shy about axing products or services that don’t match or exceed your industry’s average gross profit margins.
There is another reward for entrepreneurs who emphasize cautious cash management in their day-to-day business operations.  Lenders and investors compete to fund them.


Read more: http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/finance-accounting/2012/11/15/5-smart-ways-to-avoid-cash-crisis/#ixzz2COXjczLv

Miss America Contestant, 24, to Undergo Preventative Double Mastectomy


Allyn Rose is more than just another pretty face.

The Miss America contestant, who will represent Washington, D.C., in the Jan. 12 pageant live on ABC, lost her mom to breast cancer at age 16. Now, at only 24 years old, Rose has decided she will undergo a double mastectomy as a preventative measure after learning she is a carrier of the same rare chromosomal disease that her mother had.

"The idea that I could wake up one day and not have the same body that I did the day before is very scary," Rose, a self-proclaimed former tomboy, tells PEOPLE. "But I also realize my mom was diagnosed at 27. That's three years away from me. I'm not going to let my fear of losing this part of my femininity stop me from living."

Of the disease, Rose explains, "It manifests in male children, but there have been studies that women who are the carriers of it have almost a 75 percent likely chance of contracting breast cancer. It's a very strange change in our genetic code. Almost all of the women in my family have passed away from it."

Thinking back to completing teenage milestones that she couldn't share with her mom, Rose wants to take all the necessary precautions to ensure that these experiences are ones her own children will be able to share with her.

"My mom had her right breast removed at 27, but at 47 or 48, it came back in her left breast," she says. "It was already stage three. She could have had that other breast removed, but I'm sure there was a part of her that thought she didn't want to give up this other part of herself."

She adds, "My dad said he begged her for years and years to get it removed, but she said no. It's ultimately the thing that killed her. I had to become my own mentor. I had to go pick out my prom dress by myself. I had to go to my high school graduation without my mom. She didn't see me go off to college or go on my first date or drive a car for the first time."

But after the "very difficult" experience of losing someone she calls "incredible," Rose will make a huge sacrifice to ensure her own life will last.

"It's a very scary proposition," the model, who also works as a paralegal, says of undergoing the surgery. "But my father and I have met with a surgeon and countless doctors. Some of them are wary because I don't have breast cancer and I am so young, but others have said it's a very smart move, especially for someone who is genetically predisposed."

Choosing Life over Beauty

Rose describes the breast reconstructive plan as "very risky" and "not exactly seamless," but one that is worth it.

"Your skin may be damaged in a way that you will lose your nipple, or sometimes women lose all of their breast tissue," she says, [but], "Breasts don't define your life. I'm choosing life over beauty. I'm choosing to remove something that's so iconic to my womanhood."

Rose – who looks up to Robin Roberts and Giuliana Rancic, who both have battled breast cancer – is using her pageant opportunity as a platform to teach people how to be proactive in their healthcare.

"Title holders across the country get an opportunity to speak to their generation and have something they can advocate," she says. "Being in the industry and competing in the most iconic swimsuit competition in the world, I thought to myself, 'If I were to win and have this surgery a year from now, would I be a different Miss America because I lost my breast?' No."

Should she win the competition, Rose plans to undergo surgery after her duties are complete in January 2014. If she does not win, she will have the procedure done after her local duties are complete next June.

"To win the pageant would truly have my mother's dreams for me come to fruition," says Rose, who will show off her unique roller skating talents during the competition. "Never once in my life did I doubt my mom's love for me or that she wouldn't do anything to have me succeed in life. Some people will never experience that kind of relationship with a parent."

source: people.com

Pacquiao reportedly turning heads in Wild Card training; Arum to check in on progress


While Bob Arum was away, holding court in Houston last week and attending the memorial service for fellow Hall of Famer Emanuel Steward in Detroit, Manny Pacquiao was making heads turn at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California.

“I have been told that Manny’s really looking great in training,” the Top Rank chief told AKTV on Wednesday shortly after heading back to Los Angeles from Motown for the Steward funeral.

Arum is returning to the Wild Card on Thursday to see for himself the progress of the Filipino’s buildup less than a month before the much-awaited fourth duel with Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Actually, Arum was on hand when Pacquiao first sparred two weeks ago and the 80-year-old promoter was a bit disappointed to see somebody like Pacquiao struggle offensively and defensively.

But after two days, Arum returned and was glad to see Pacquiao back in his element.

Still, Arum wants to see for himself if his leg is just being pulled the past several days while he was not around.

“Manny has to win big,” said Arum.

Pacquiao looked superb according to those were allowed to see Pacquiao train and spar on Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles.

Trainer Freddie Roach has advised Pacquiao to be busier in the fourth fight, knowing that an all-action fighter with lightning-quick reflexes would trouble Marquez.

Pacquiao will train at the Wild Card until Dec. 3, the day he heads to Sin City with his massive entourage.

source: interaksyon.com

Getting Old, Huh? This Tech Will Help You Out


By the year 2020, 70% of the population will find themselves on the other side of 50. And despite the fact that many optimists call 70 “the new 40,” researchers agree that once you hit 40 — “new” or “old” — it’s a downhill slope.


Instead of throwing up our flabby arms and surrendering, we’re seeing a generation facing the slow decline of the senses with clever tech ideas to make aging more manageable and less humiliating. Whether it’s vision, hearing, memory or just driving skills that are beginning to dim — and, trust me, they will dim — technology is coming to the rescue.



Can’t See

A personal fave is LED reading glasses. Donning a pair might stop you from ordering a regrettable dish in a darkened restaurant. Or, you can just blast the table with your smartphone light by downloading one of dozens of free flashlight apps. I like the one that turns on my camera flash.



Can’t Hear

What’s that you said? Thirty six million Americans face age-related hearing loss, often as a result of their wayward high-decibel pasts. Companies like SoundFest are banking on the fact that baby boomers are going to be yelling “What’d he say?” in theaters and on cellphones everywhere. The company’s app offers hearing assistance through your cellphone.


Can’t Recall

For graying matter, there’s software like Nintendo’s Brain Age that’s filled with puzzles that keep speed and thinking skills polished. You’ll feel like Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon as you sort shapes and subtract numbers, but brain researchers swear by this. The crème de la crème of aging brains, Dakim’s BrainFitness software, has been clinically tested (although it costs $249).

Can’t Drive

Perhaps the scariest aging person of all is the one behind the wheel. Again, technology is stepping up to keep us driving better, longer. Ford kicked off the assistive race with its self-parking car. GM’s new Cadillac seems like it has more sensors and GPS systems on it than NASA –- giving it nearly 360 degree camera systems. Volvo and Mercedes drivers can order driver alert and detection systems to warn them when a pedestrian makes a “b line” off the sidewalk or when you’re low on caffeine. Your car can actually help you keep your blood glucose levels up through unusual alliances like this one by Ford, Microsoft, Healthrageous and BlueMetal Architects.

Ultimately we’re looking at a future where cars drive themselves. LIDAR, Google’s self-driving vehicle project, uses a spinning array of laser receivers and emitters to create a 360 degree map of the road. Most components of driver-less cars: cameras, GPS, accelerometers, radar and ultrasound already exist. Car manufacturers are experimenting on how to package them together.

Of course, there’s a flip side to all of this. Maybe getting older — not seeing or hearing so well — is a gift. What if aging is just nature’s way of telling you to slow down and stop fretting over the little things –- like the newly sprouted chin hair you can’t see in the mirror. Diminishing senses may be our evolutionary protection, a protection that, thanks to technology, we might never get the chance to appreciate.

source: mashable.com

How to Make Money with Online Teaching

As technology improves, we have a number of new opportunities to learn and make money online. There has been a dramatic increase in online learning as students complete college courses online, and look for tutors online. This increase in online learning has led to an increased demand for online teachers.

If you have a level of tech savvy, it is possible to make money with online teaching, whether you do so through more “official” channels, or whether you teach in another way.

Online Teaching through a University

If you have the proper credentials, you can teach online classes for a university. Some for-profit universities with an emphasis in online learning, such as University of Phoenix and Kaplan, only require a Master’s degree (and, to teach some courses, you might only need a Bachelor’s degree). If you can show that you have reasonable qualifications to teach, you can manage online courses.

It’s also possible to teach online courses for more traditional universities. Even the most prestigious universities, like Harvard, are adding online courses that count toward a degree. My husband teaches two online courses for Utah State University. However, to teach online for a more traditional education institution, you definitely need a Master’s degree, and you probably need a Ph.D. to teach many of the courses.


Check with the university to find out if there are openings for instructors who can teach online. You will probably need to know how to use an educational content platform, like Canvas or Blackboard, or some other platform used by the university. In some cases, you might be required to hold Skype chats or teach webinars.

Many universities advertise job openings for online instructors. Check with web sites like HigherEdJobs and The Chronicle of Higher Education for listings.

Online Tutoring

There are a number of web sites that offer online tutoring services. If you are proficient in a particular subject area, you can sign up to be a tutor. You will probably need to demonstrate your command of the subject in question before you could help others with it. In some cases, you need to have a degree to tutor. There are also opportunities to tutor for standardized tests, like the SAT and GRE.

You can apply to be an online tutor at sites like Tutor.com and TutorVista. Most likely, you will need to commit to specific hours of the day, or be on call to help in “emergency” situations. Before you apply, make sure you understand the requirements of the job, and what you will be required to do as a tutor, and whether there are specific hours to work, or software purchases you need to make.

Teach Webinars, or Offer Your Own Online Classes

In addition to working for others as a teacher or a tutor, it is also possible to teach webinars or offer your online classes and workshops. Web sites like Big Marker can help you set up a community, and offer classes. You can even set up to charge for webinards and online classes. If you have something valuable to share, and you think others would pay to learn it, you can turn online teaching into a home business idea.




If you go this route, you have a number of options. You can develop a course on a specific subject, and then sell it. You can also decide to hold regular webinars and online workshops, providing interaction with others, and helping them in a more in-depth way. It’s also possible to set up one-on-one teaching time with those you are helping. There are a number of web sites that can help you manage these online teaching opportunities, and even help you charge (and collect) a fee. Just make sure you understand the terms of the arrangement, since you will probably have to share some of your earnings with whatever platform you use.

Online teaching can be a good way to make money on the side, or even as your career. Think about what you know, and consider whether you are considered expert. If you really know your stuff, you could be paid to teach it online.

source: financialhighway.com

For dentist with student debt, repaying is like pulling teeth


VACAVILLE, Calif. — His jaw clenched beneath a blue surgeon's mask, Opanin Gyaami jerks his right arm and pulls out a prize: the decayed tooth of patient Larry Butler, also known as state prison inmate J22312.

By the time he is done, Gyaami's smock and mask are spotted with the inmate's blood. He gently pats Butler on the shoulder and wishes him well.

The 71-year-old dentist reports to the state prison in Vacaville day after day, long past retirement age. He wishes he could have hung up his drill and forceps years ago, but he's still paying off a student loan.

After borrowing $50,000 in the 1980s and ignoring payment notices, Gyaami owes more than $500,000 with penalties and interest. The Justice Department took him to court and is seizing $3,000 from his paycheck each month.

Gyaami doesn't expect any sympathy; he knows he's at fault and has added to his problems by falling behind on his income tax. He acknowledges he made some bad decisions along the way.

"I don't want to sound like I'm blaming someone else for my woes," he said. "If you take a loan and don't pay it, you're responsible. It became so overwhelming. I got scared, and it didn't go away."

Student-loan debt in the United States has surpassed $1 trillion. A record number of loans are in default, according to several recent reports, and lawmakers in Washington are pushing for reform to make it easier to discharge some of the debt in bankruptcy.

Although economists' concerns about this debt are typically focused on the young and newly employed, about 2.2 million Americans over age 60 collectively owe more than $43 billion in student loans, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Many of those loans are in default.

"People think they're kids, but I'd say half the people who come here are over 40, and we have a lot over 60 and some over 70," said Elena Ackel, a senior attorney with Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, which often advises people with student loan debt. "It just doesn't end because of all the fees and everything."


By the time Gyaami graduated from Loma Linda University in 1983 with a degree in dentistry, he had taken out five loans to pay for his education, including $50,000 from the federally guaranteed Health Education Assistance Loan program.

The special loan program, offered from 1978 to 1998, lent $4 billion to 157,000 aspiring doctors, dentists, podiatrists, chiropractors and other health professionals. The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversaw the loan program, reports that 935 of the borrowers are in default, owing $115 million collectively.

After graduation, Gyaami owed about $100,000 and made monthly payments to Loma Linda, none of which was applied to the $50,000 loan. Those payments, he later discovered, should have gone directly to the bank that issued the loan.

When late notices started to arrive, Gyaami ignored them. "There was nothing I could do about it," he said. "I was behind with my business."

Gyaami admits he's better at dentistry than business. He didn't realize how dire the situation had become even after hearing from the Justice Department, which sues borrowers who default on federally insured student loans. Gyaami's $50,000 loan had grown to $195,000 with penalties, interest and fees.

He continued to discard the collection notices. He said he couldn't afford to pay. By June 2010, the $195,000 debt had jumped to $522,214.

The dentist offered to pay $150,000 to settle the suit and close the loan — the money would come from taking a second mortgage against the family's house — but the Justice Department rejected it. A department representative declined to comment on Gyaami's case.

In December 2010, the government reduced the debt to $400,000 and agreed to collect $3,000 a month from his monthly checks, Gyaami said. He thinks it will take more than 10 years to pay it off.

"It's not easy to deal with," Gyaami said. "It looks like I'll have to work until the day I drop off and die."




Born and raised in Ghana, Gyaami was one of 12 children. He studied theology in Nigeria before moving to the United States in 1970. At Andrews University in Michigan, he met his wife, Elizabeth, and they moved to California. He earned a master's degree in public health at Loma Linda University and entered dental school.

Gyaami thought that his dental career would be lucrative and that he wouldn't have trouble paying off his student loans. He opened his practice in Grand Terrace, near San Bernardino.

But he struggled to turn a profit, netting an average $15,000 a year after payroll, rent, supplies and a loan for dental equipment, which was eventually repossessed. Then an employee embezzled about $15,000, which he didn't report to the police.


"She had two children. I couldn't bring myself to prosecute her and let her go to jail," he said.

In 1994, he closed the practice and took a job in the state prison system, first in Blythe and then in Vacaville at the California Medical Facility, where he's worked more than 15 years.

Even though his income increased at the prisons, he still struggled. He and his wife, who worked at the Vacaville prison as a dietitian, put their five children through private schools. Each month they tithed 10% of their income to their church.

He and Elizabeth are devoted members of a Seventh-day Adventist church, where he serves as an elder. "I've been able to get through all of this because of God," he said.

Gyaami treats 30 to 40 prisoners a week, under the watchful eye of uniformed guards. Many of his patients are violent felons serving time for rape, robbery or murder.

As an experienced dentist, Gyaami is among the highest-paid state employees in California, making about $275,000 per year.

"I'm completely broke, even though I make all that money," he said. "The good news is I'm strong enough to practice. And I love doing dentistry, even in the prison."

Since 2008, Gyaami has fallen behind about $120,000 in federal taxes and pays $6,000 a month to the Internal Revenue Service on top of the $3,000 to the Justice Department. His monthly paycheck, after deductions, is barely enough to live on, he said.

Other medical professions have tried to address this problem among its members. The Osteopathic Medical Board of California, for instance, has suspended the licenses of osteopaths who fail to repay their student loans. Donald Krpan, executive director of the board, defends the policy.

"When they don't pay the loan, the federal government comes in and pays the loan. At that point, you and I as taxpayers pay the loan," Krpan said. "It's an aggravation to those of us who borrowed money and paid our loans."

Despite the lingering debt, Gyaami and his wife live a comfortable lifestyle. One year ago they took a two-week cruise in the Caribbean that cost about $4,000, said Gyaami, who called it the most luxurious vacation they had ever taken.

"We forgot about everything and relaxed," Gyaami said, "even though in the back of our heads we knew we were coming back to pay for it."

They live in a 4,000-square-foot home in Vacaville, which Elizabeth purchased new in 2001 for $429,500, according to property records. In 2010, she took efforts to make the home more difficult for creditors to seize by transferring its deed to a corporation she started, Eternal Enterprise Corp.

Gyaami and Elizabeth have been married 41 years. Four of their children are doctors, and each graduated with college debt. He said he hopes they learned from his mistakes.

One of his sons recently negotiated a good deal before he took a new job. His employer paid off his student loans.

source: latimes.com