Basic Principles of Teaching Any Instrument – 10 Tips on How to Teach a Music Instrument

Imagine you have just bought yourself your first state of the art computer. It is a very complicated machine. When you get it home, which of the following would your instinct lead you to do?

A) Open the manual and read it thoroughly before switching on.

B) Phone up a friend who has got the same machine and ask them to come around and teach you how to use it.

C) Switch on and work it out through trial and error.

In fact, you would probably learn to operate your computer over a period of time using a combination of the above. Nevertheless, one of those methods is probably more dominant than the others. Reflect for a moment on whether you think your own preferred learning style influences your teaching style.

Your pupils will also have their own instinctive preference. Some will be punctilious, will want to read their tutors carefully and will instinctively learn in an intellectual and methodical kind of way. Some will depend very much on you and your guidance and show little of their own initiative. And some will want to try everything out, play a lot by ear and generally want to learn in a more creative kind of way.

The following suggestions provide a summary of effective teaching practice. They represent a basic philosophy that successful teachers adhere to, even without conscious analysis of their own methods. It is impossible to be entirely comprehensive and you may be able to add further thoughts; it is really a matter of common sense.

1. Understand clearly in your own mind what it is you intend to teach and what you expect your pupil to learn. A little forward planning goes a long way!

2. Make your explanations clear; use language, analogies and illustrations appropriate to the age (and interests) of your pupil. Be prepared to explain the same problem in a number of different ways.

3. Make sure everything you teach is relevant and progressive.

4. Teach one thing at a time and ensure that it is understood before proceeding.

5. Ensure pupils have sufficient strategies for constructive and independent practice.

6. Revisit and reinforce new material (a weak link in the chain, which you may not notice at first, may come back to haunt both you and your pupil in the future).

7. Divide tasks into smaller manageable units if pupils are experiencing difficulties.

8. Use your pupil’s existing knowledge, skills and experience to make connections to new ideas.

9. Proceed from the known to the related unknown.

10. Always try to relate theory and aural to the particular repertoire being studied.

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I’m Done With Weddings, and Weddings Are Done

I am not getting married to my English wife again anytime soon. Yes, folks the whirlwind wedding ceremonies’ (four already down) wagon came to a screeching halt at the Easter Weekend. Readers of this column will recall that in the piece titled “Four Weddings Down and Counting,” I wrote thus: “Nonetheless, I owe my parents and the village of my birth two wedding ceremonies – the traditional as well as the white wedding.”

No stupid, I didn’t have all other two outstanding wedding ceremonies at the weekend – all at once, but something of Shakespearean proportions (except it wasn’t a tragedy) happened while I was visiting my family down in Zululand. Let’s just say for now, my family are no longer looking forward to the two outstanding wedding ceremonies. Don’t be ahead of yourself and pronounce that perhaps sanity has prevailed. I have learned to be extra-cautions when dealing with my parents.

This is how the story went. We spent the recent Easter Weekend with my parents in Ulundi in the northern part of the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The town of Ulundi, in the heart of Zululand, is set among majestic hills and the rugged valleys of the White Umfolozi River. The former capital of the Zulu Kingdom, Ulundi straddles Route 66, between Nongoma and Melmoth. We arrived on Friday afternoon. Our trip to Ulundi was an ordinary courtesy visit to see my family. In tow, I had my English wife, mixed race daughter and son born of a Xhosa speaking mother. My village is now used to seeing a white woman amongst themselves so it’s no longer an event worth gossiping about.

However, as a good nurtured Zulu boy, I had sent some money to my mother so that she could buy ingredients required to brew the traditional IsiZulu beer known as Umqombothi. This was a small gesture on my side to the ancestors to acknowledge their presence in my life. So, what a better way than to give them something to drink and be merry. There was no customary slaughter of a beast or goat for that matter. This visit was meant to be as routine as possible. It turned out to be anything but.

Firstly, on Saturday, my wife entered the Mncube’s kitchen for the very first time with the sole intention of playing makoti (bride) and therefore that meant cooking for the in-laws. This has taken her some 16 long years. I had decided a week leading to our visit that it was the time and place for my wife to break with the tradition once and for all. You see in my family tradition, unless the bride has officially been introduced to the ancestors through the slaughter of a beast, she can’t perform makoti duties including cooking. Despite the spirit of defiance on my part, there was another snag. There were in total 16 mouths to feed.

Nonetheless, my wife took to the cooking task like a duck to water. After an epic six-hour cooking session with a malfunctioning electric cooking stove, food was delivered to all. I patted her on the back for the job well done. My parents remained mum on the breaking of the tradition. For the past 16 years, my wife has been treated as a visitor to be served meals at appointed times. On Sunday, the cooking session had to be repeated. Of course, this was now mundane for my wife.

But, something monumental was in the offing. While I was seated outside one of the huts and whiling away the time by sharing banter with my Mom, other family members and hanger-oners. All of a sudden, my father joined us. He looked apprehensive. I swear I witnessed the perspiration running down his neck. At once, he demanded that all part of my family be summoned to where we were seating to join us. I offered a reprieve for them to say my wife and daughter were busy cooking. My mother also chipped in to say it wasn’t necessary. My father would have none of it. He shouted my mother down. Everybody had to come because he wanted to do something very important. Sensing that I wasn’t going to win the battle let alone the war, I ordered some random kid to go and summon my wife and daughter. My son was already seating with us. They descended upon the place at once. I didn’t make any eye contact with my wife fearing that she would ask me what was going on. I was none the wiser.

My father in his petulant fashion made no small talk or exchanges of any pleasantries. He got down to business. He announced matter-of-factly that he was already late in his appointed task to speak to Amadlozi about my side of the family. In Zulu, Amadlozi means ancestors. We refer to Idlozi (singular) – Amadlozi (plural): it means a human spirit or soul of the departed. As he is won’t to do, he walked metres away from us to be near Isibaya (kraal) and started like a house on fire Ukuthetha idlozi. Ukuthetha idlozi literally is “to scold”. Zulu historians argue that Ukuthetha idlozi linguistically gives one the initial impression of an aggressive kind of relationship between the ancestors and their descendants. In practice it is not so. The literal English translation is misleading. Ukuthetha idlozi is an expression that implies something different from scolding – it is praying to them (not to be confused with religious prayer) this is like a senior counsel’s prayer before a Judge. In its traditional meaning Ukuthetha idlozi rather refers to the communication between the ancestors and their descendants. You basically are telling them what they ought to know and possible make special requests. We treat the dead like the living except that we attach greater value in our relationship with them. We are Zulus, that’s just how we roll.

After a beautiful rendition of Izithakazelo meaning praises attached to a particular descent group (in this case Mncubes) in which the clan’s forebears are also referred to, my father proudly reported thus: “I am reporting to you MaZilakatha (Mncube’s praise name) that uBhekisisa, the son of MaMlambo (my mother’s maiden name) is now married. He has two children. I appeal to you to guard and protect his new family. We pray for their good health, wealth and peace. My apologies for telling you this now. It happened a while back.”

My father ought to have performed this ritual of Ukuthetha idlozi in 2008, when I got married. Nonetheless, the eagerness with which he took to the task, albeit nine years later made me chuckle. He even dispersed with the tradition of burning Impepho which is a species of a small everlasting plant with a sweet smell, (Doke et al 1990: 658). Impepho is used for burning as an offering to the spirits of the departed. It opens communication with the ancestors and makes any request, reporting or sacrifice acceptable. It is normally a precursor to Ukuthetha idlozi. I cared less. I was happy to hear my father pronounced the words, “uBhekisisa is now married”.

So dear reader, it has come to pass that the proverbial English wife, Professor D. is now officially united with my Zulu ancestors. By all accounts, the message to the ancestors was accepted. In simple terms, it means my wife has been accepted as a bride (Makoti) by the Mncube clan after the official reportage to Amadlozi. This is despite the fact that there was no sacrificial slaughter of a beast and subsequent traditional wedding. As you dear readers know: My wife refuses to have anything to do with a wedding ceremony where the killing of poor cows and goats happens willy-nilly. As my father has relented and introduced my wife to the Amadlozi, it therefore means she is officially regarded as a daughter of the Mncube clan. She can now milk the cows, cook and basically be sent on errands by my family as a duly wedded wife. Sadly, in reality, this means there are nil prospects for any further wedding ceremonies.

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Top 10 Internet Marketing Tips for Beginners

In this article I’m going to give you 10 simple but effective internet marketing tips and also some useful resources to go along with these.

1. Make a YouTube channel

A YouTube channel is not only very easy to make but also easy to manage. According to most internet marketers, video is the future of traffic as it continues to grow at a rapid pace year after year. So if you are not into blogging yet, you may begin your internet marketing journey by opening a YouTube channel. Additionally, you can repurpose things to your blog from your YouTube channel when your blog is up and running.

2. Build social media presence

Facebook alone has over one billion active monthly users and other social media such as Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest have hundreds of millions of users as well. Social media allow you to connect with your target audience on a whole new level.

3. Create your personal blog/website

As an internet marketer, you should have a blog or website of your own. You need it because it gets you targeted traffic and allows you to build your brand. Above all, it helps people find you in search engines.

4. Keep track of your numbers

Setup Google Analytics for your blog. It will allow you to know which contents are doing well and which ones are doing poorly.

5. Email marketing

Setup email marketing campaign right before your site goes live. Start collecting emails right away. You can offer some freebies so that people are encouraged to sign up to your newsletter. There are a number of companies available on the web that offer both free and paid email marketing services to website owners. Some popular email marketing service providers are Aweber, Mailchimp, Convertkit, Constant Contact etc.

6. Start podcasting

A podcast show is just like your own little radio show. You can use various platforms to host and stream your podcast files. Sites like Apple iTunes, Libsyn, Podbean, SoundCloud etc. offer podcast hosting services. You can also use Archive.org that offers podcast hosting for free (unlimited disk space and bandwidth).

7. Content redistribution

Learn how you can repurpose your existing contents and redistribute them on sites like LinkedIn Pulse, Ezine Articles, Hub Pages, Medium and other authority sites. Also post alternative versions of your YouTube videos to other streaming sites such as Dailymotion, Vimeo etc. Turn your videos into slideshow using MS PowerPoint and then share them on SlideShare.

8. Help people solve their problems

Create accounts on Quora and Yahoo Answers. Find out questions that are related to your niche. Try to answer questions and mention your website/brand name in your answers if relevant.

9. Advertise on Facebook and Google AdWords

In most cases, Facebook advertising is cheaper than Google AdWords. Facebook also provides more in-depth ad targeting options. So try to make the most out of Facebook ad by targeting user group more precisely and effectively.

10. Outsource some of your workload

Internet marketing job actually involves various types of tasks e.g. writing, video making, website and content management, reputation management, link building etc. You may hire freelancers from sites like Upwork, Freelancer or PeoplePerHour to do some of these tasks for you. It will help you grow and expand your business more quickly.

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Home Banking – Banking Services From Home

Home banking refers to a facility in which you can have a virtual banking branch where you can supervise and be in control of your funds. You can enjoy this service round the clock, on every day of week absolutely free. The major advantage of this is that you do not have to even move out of your home to avail this service.

What Services Are Available?

Let us talk of some services that you can get from home banking. You can know your balance and available balance anytime you wish. This difference depends on what type of account you have. For example, if you have a savings account or money market account, then the minimum necessary balance in the account is the difference.

This also lets you get the details of the transactions made during a particular time. Not only can you transfer the money between the accounts but you also can schedule the transfers. You can also get the details of transactions made in the past.

Some other information that you get at your fingertips with the help of home banking is a chance to stop payment for any particular check, credit score viewing, recorder check and viewing mortgage balance. To start using home banking services first you have to set up your account. Signing up process includes setting security measures also.

Importance Of Security Measures

One may wonder why all this stress is given on the security measures. The answer to this question is that although the possibility of theft is very rare yet there are people with mean intentions that may try to dishonestly gain from you if you are not alert enough. That is why the process is made difficult enough and discourages the malicious people to break into it.

However, to make the task easier for you there is an option called remember this computer. If you select this option computer will not ask the same security question every time you login. It will remember the answers but in any case it doesn’t remember your account number, random code and access code. You have to enter this information every time you use home banking service.

However, the security cookie used by the computer for remembering this information survives only for a definite period. After its expiry, you need to re- feed this information into the computer. However, keep in mind that you should use this option only on your personal computer where no other person has an access. Never use it if others also use the same computer as yours.

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Favorite Disney World Resort Pools

A major part of any Orlando vacation is relaxing and swimming at a Disney Resort pool. When picking your Disney Resort, you may focus your attention on finding a great pool for your whole family. Here is a list of the most popular pools at the Walt Disney World Resort, selected from the guests that visit Disney.

Best Overall Pool – Hands down, Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort is picked for the best pool at the Walt Disney World Resort. This 3 acre pool area includes a pool with real sand and a tube area where you can just relax in a tube and bask in the sun. This pool also has the best water slide at Disney World. The water slide is a huge pirate ship!

If the pool area gets too busy, you can even relax in a chair or hammock on the beach overlooking a beautiful lake. In the evening, you can enjoy a swim in the pool and then a campfire sing along or movies on the sandy beach. This pool area has fun for everyone, which makes Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort the most popular pool at Disney World.

Best Pool for Adults – Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort takes the prize for best pool for adults. This pool area is naturally beautiful with a waterfall and beach entry. The hot tubs are a little more private compared to the other Disney Resorts. Plus, you can see the animals right from the pool. What a fun way to enjoy an afternoon swim!

Best Pool for Teens and Preschoolers – One of the Disney Resorts Resort called Disney's Coronado Springs Resort gets the most votes for the best pool for teens and preschoolers! Let's start with the teenagers. Disney's Coronado Springs Resort has a lot of fun amenities all in the same pool area. You can grab a snack at the poolside bar, play some sand volleyball, ride a Jaguar water slide, and then play some video games. All of the teen favorites in one area!

This resort also got the most popular pool for preschoolers. The pool features a pyramid with a waterfall trickling down the pyramid. There is also a kiddie pool and Dig Site playground, just for preschoolers. The Dig Site is a playground and sand pit for the little ones to dig up artifacts and bones. This is a perfect area for the little ones and teenagers.

Pool with the Best View – Disney's Polynesian Resort was one of the most popular pools at the Walt Disney World Resort and came in right behind Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort for the best overall pool. Since this is such a great pool, we made up a category for this pool. So, the Disney Resort pool with the best view is Disney's Polynesian Resort. This fun pool features a huge erupting volcano and beach entry. There is also a separate water jet area for the little ones to play. Just feet away from this pool is the sandy beach that overlooks the Seven Seas Lagoon and Magic Kingdom. You can see Cinderella's Castle right from the pool. This is a great pool to enjoy in the evening. You can relax at the pool and watch the Electrical Water Pageant and Wishes Fireworks!

These are the favorite Disney World Resort pools for your next family vacation.

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Using Digital Printing to Promote Your Business

Promoting your business may not be as hard as you first think. If well thought out, the daily running of your business can have a major impact on your marketing. Business people travel around on a day to day basis doing business. Customers also travel around and will take note of a well positioned advert, maybe on your building, on an employee, on a vehicle or by a local attraction.

There is a recession going on. Businesses can not afford to stop promoting themselves. Astute businesses will be looking for ways to market themselves at lower cost. One very effective technique is to create an offer, discount or enhanced service to promote your business to new customers and promote this using mobile advertising. Clever advertising has a call to action, for example a website or telephone number.

Digital printing is a very broad term, which covers a variety of products. The main point for business owners to bear in mind is that digital printing generally means that marketing activities can be undertaken in much smaller campaigns and at lower cost than at any other time in the past.

Magnetic Signs
Magnetic signs come in all shapes and sizes. Magnetic signs are very versatile; You can have several graphics and messages to enable you to choose different messages for different jobs.

Foamex Printing
A foamex display is like mobile exhibition stand that can be put up at any opportunity to promote your business in a useful context. This need not be restricted to work related opportunities, why not have a really eye catching board made up for your car window so that your car can promote your business while you are doing your shopping? This will not appeal to everyone but there are certain products and services for which it may be an excellent strategy.

Window Manifestation
Having an eye catching window graphic is a technique often overlooked by business owners. This is particularly the case if your business is positioned in a busy thoroughfare or junction. Window displays work in the same way that television adverts do and people who regularly pass will start to register the message given by your window manifestation in a subliminal way. This is very powerful.

The initial outlay to have a window professionally covered is not as expensive as you may think and considered over the many years that it will serve your business it can only be a great investment.

Exhibition Graphics
You may be surprised to see exhibition graphics included in a list of low cost ways to promote your business. Large exhibitions may well be an excellent forum for promoting a business but we all know that they are not a small financial commitment.

A business can create a small portable exhibition stand which can be taken to locations such as leisure centers, hotel receptions and golf clubs to create a smaller exhibition scenario at a fraction of the cost.

Everyday will give the determined business owner an opportunity to promote his business at relatively low cost utilizing fundamental day to day things that would need to be paid for anyway. Maximize your impact, utilize your assets, let your business do some marketing for you.

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History of Travel & Tourism

2000 years Before Christ, in India and Mesopotamia

Travel for trade was an important feature since the beginning of civilisation. The port at Lothal was an important centre of trade between the Indus valley civilisation and the Sumerian civilisation.

600 BC and thereafter

The earliest form of leisure tourism can be traced as far back as the Babylonian and Egyptian empires. A museum of historic antiquities was open to the public in Babylon. The Egyptians held many religious festivals that attracted the devout and many people who thronged to cities to see famous works of arts and buildings.

In India, as elsewhere, kings travelled for empire building. The Brahmins and the common people travelled for religious purposes. Thousands of Brahmins and the common folk thronged Sarnath and Sravasti to be greeted by the inscrutable smile of the Enlightened One- the Buddha.

500 BC, the Greek civilisation

The Greek tourists travelled to sites of healing gods. The Greeks also enjoyed their religious festivals that increasingly became a pursuit of pleasure, and in particular, sport. Athens had become an important site for travellers visiting the major sights such as the Parthenon. Inns were established in large towns and seaports to provide for travellers’ needs. Courtesans were the principal entertainment offered.

 

This era also saw the birth of travel writing. Herodotus was the worlds’ first travel writer. Guidebooks also made their appearance in the fourth century covering destinations such as Athens, Sparta and Troy. Advertisements in the way of signs directing people to inns are also known in this period.

The Roman Empire

With no foreign borders between England and Syria, and with safe seas from piracy due to Roman patrols, the conditions favouring travel had arrived. First class roads coupled with staging inns (precursors of modern motels) promoted the growth of travel. Romans travelled to Sicily, Greece, Rhodes, Troy and Egypt. From 300 AD travel to the Holy Land also became very popular. The Romans introduced their guidebooks (itineraria), listing hotels with symbols to identify quality.

Second homes were built by the rich near Rome, occupied primarily during springtime social season. The most fashionable resorts were found around Bay of Naples. Naples attracted the retired and the intellectuals, Cumae attracted the fashionable while Baiae attracted the down market tourist, becoming noted for its rowdiness, drunkenness and all- night singing.

Travel and Tourism were to never attain a similar status until the modern times.

In the Middle Ages

Travel became difficult and dangerous as people travelled for business or for a sense of obligation and duty.

Adventurers sought fame and fortune through travel. The Europeans tried to discover a sea route to India for trade purposes and in this fashion discovered America and explored parts of Africa. Strolling players and minstrels made their living by performing as they travelled. Missionaries, saints, etc. travelled to spread the sacred word.

Leisure travel in India was introduced by the Mughals. The Mughal kings built luxurious palaces and enchanting gardens at places of natural and scenic beauty (for example Jehangir travelled to Kashmir drawn by its beauty.

Travel for empire building and pilgrimage was a regular feature.

The Grand Tour

From the early seventeenth century, a new form of tourism was developed as a direct outcome of the Renaissance. Under the reign of Elizabeth 1, young men seeking positions at court were encouraged to travel to continent to finish their education. Later, it became customary for education of gentleman to be completed by a ‘Grand Tour’ accompanied by a tutor and lasting for three or more years. While ostensibly educational, the pleasure seeking men travelled to enjoy life and culture of Paris, Venice or Florence. By the end of eighteenth century, the custom had become institutionalised in the gentry. Gradually pleasure travel displaced educational travel. The advent of Napoleonic wars inhibited travel for around 30 years and led to the decline of the custom of the Grand Tour.

The development of the spas

The spas grew in popularity in the seventeenth century in Britain and a little later in the European Continent as awareness about the therapeutic qualities of mineral water increased. Taking the cure in the spa rapidly acquired the nature of a status symbol. The resorts changed in character as pleasure became the motivation of visits. They became an important centre of social life for the high society.

In the nineteenth century they were gradually replaced by the seaside resort.

The sun, sand and sea resorts

The sea water became associated with health benefits. The earliest visitors therefore drank it and did not bathe in it. By the early eighteenth century, small fishing resorts sprung up in England for visitors who drank and immersed themselves in sea water. With the overcrowding of inland spas, the new sea side resorts grew in popularity. The introduction of steamboat services in 19th century introduced more resorts in the circuit. The seaside resort gradually became a social meeting point

 Role of the industrial revolution in promoting travel in the west

 The rapid urbanisation due to industrialisation led to mass immigration in cities. These people were lured into travel to escape their environment to places of natural beauty, often to the countryside they had come from change of routine from a physically and psychologically stressful jobs to a leisurely pace in countryside.

Highlights of travel in the nineteenth century 

·        Advent of railway initially catalysed business travel and later leisure travel. Gradually special trains were chartered to only take leisure travel to their destinations.

·        Package tours organised by entrepreneurs such as Thomas Cook.

·        The European countries indulged in a lot of business travel often to their colonies to buy raw material and sell finished goods.

·        The invention of photography acted as a status-enhancing tool and promoted overseas travel.

·        The formation of first hotel chains; pioneered by the railway companies who established great railway terminus hotels.

·        Seaside resorts began to develop different images as for day-trippers, elite, for gambling.

·        Other types of destinations-ski resorts, hill stations, mountaineering spots etc.

·        The technological development in steamships promoted travel between North America and Europe.

·        The Suez Canal opened direct sea routes to India and the Far East.

·        The cult of the guidebook followed the development of photography.

 

 

Tourism in the Twentieth Century

 

The First World War gave first hand experience of countries and aroused a sense of curiosity about international travel among less well off sector for the first time. The large scale of migration to the US meant a lot of travel across the Atlantic. Private motoring began to encourage domestic travel in Europe and the west.  The sea side resort became annual family holiday destination in Britain and increased in popularity in other countries of the west. Hotels proliferated in these destinations.

The birth of air travel and after

The wars increased interest in international travel. This interest was given the shape of mass tourism by the aviation industry. The surplus of aircraft and growth of private airlines aided the expansion of air travel. The aircraft had become comfortable, faster and steadily cheaper for overseas travel. With the introduction of Boeing 707 jet in 1958, the age of air travel for the masses had arrived. The beginning of chartered flights boosted the package tour market and led to the establishment of organised mass tourism. The Boeing 747, a 400 seat craft, brought the cost of travel down sharply. The seaside resorts in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Caribbean were the initial hot spots of mass tourism.

A corresponding growth in hotel industry led to the establishment of world-wide chains. Tourism also began to diversify as people began to flock alternative destinations in the 70s. Nepal and India received a throng of tourists lured by Hare Krishna movement and transcendental meditation. The beginning of individual travel in a significant volume only occurred in the 80s. Air travel also led to a continuous growth in business travel especially with the emergence of the MNCs.

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Pros and Cons of Wild Animals As Pets

Many people find the idea of having wildlife as pet as exotic and exciting. However, if you want a wild animal as a pet, you should have thorough understanding of the animal and its behavior and needs. The people who have these animals as pets are invariably trained to handle them, but even they will tell how unpredictable these animals can be. You may have read stories in the newspaper of zoo keepers being mauled by their wards.

So, having wild animals as pets has become quite a sensitive and controversial issue. Some people like to highlight the pros, while others just point out the cons. However, both should be weighed equally and only then a decision should be taken to keep a wild animal as a pet.

Here are some pros and cons of wildlife as pets.

Sometimes, conventional pets like dogs and cats cannot be kept due to lack of space. In such circumstances, one can keep a wildlife like a hedgehog or gecko as a pet as they do not require that much space. Some wild animals have their own benefits. Like a hedgehog can be used to keep insects and others pests at bay in a house.

Often it has been seen purchasing a wild animal can be cheaper than purchasing a pet that is popular and has a pedigree.

Also, many proponents of wild animals feel that some species have a better chance of survival if they are adopted. It has been seen that the dart frog is facing a problem in the wild as its natural habitat is diminishing. Hence, if this animal is adopted, it will have a better chance of survival.

However, there are sufficient cons and disadvantages of owning wild animals as pets. First of all, one has to take into consideration the welfare of the animal. Having a wildlife means giving due consideration to its diet, exercise and social interactions. Often, the animal will not have any interaction with other animals of its own species and will be left to leading a lonely and solitary life. Also, the owners will not be equipped to provide proper care to the animals as they may not be well-versed in these things. Many wild animals look cute and cuddly when they are small. However, as they reach adulthood or sexual maturity, their wild side takes over and the animal becomes aggressive. This is the time many owners abandon their pets or give them away to zoos.

Wild animals are carriers of many diseases that are lethal to humans. For instance, reptiles and amphibians are carriers of salmonella infection and each year thousand of people in the US contract this disease due to their pets. Also, rats imported from Africa are known to carriers of monkey pox. An outbreak of this disease occurred in the US in 2003 when Gambian rats brought in the monkey pox into the country.

Above all, the demand for wildlife as pet is increasing. So, many illegal traders are taking advantage of this demand. Most of the wild animals are captured and then transported in cruel and inhuman manner to reach their owners. In addition, majority of the owners do not know to take care of the animals and this causes them to fall sick or even die.

So, weigh the pros and cons of having wild animals as pets before jumping to adopt one. Make sure that you are properly equipped to handle the care of the animal. Do not adopt one if you have any doubts.

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How to Start a Foreclosure Cleanup and Property Preservation Company

A new article on June 3, 2009 from MSN Money writer Michael Brush indicates that there is a third wave of foreclosures still to come from prime borrowers (i.e. those previously “safe-borrowers” with sound credit and fixed-rate mortgages) as a result of job losses thanks to the worsening economy (“Coming: A 3rd Wave of Foreclosures”).

The article states that “In the first quarter, the percentage of these borrowers who were behind on their mortgages or in foreclosure had doubled from a year earlier, to nearly 6%” and goes on to say that “Credit Suisseanalyst Rod Dubitsky predicted last week that 8.1 million mortgages, or 16% of all mortgages, will go into foreclosure over the next four years. A weak economy, continued declines in home prices and rising delinquencies among prime borrowers all but ensure that foreclosures “will march steadily higher,” he says.” Not such great news for the economy, but good news indeed for entrepreneurs interested in starting a foreclosure cleanup business to clean and repair foreclosed homes for the banks.

To put this in perspective, this means that there will be over 2 million foreclosures a year and more than $2,025,000,000 up for grabs in money that will be spent on cleaning up these foreclosed properties (since the average bill is $1000+ to clean up one of these properties).

Let’s take a look at how you can position yourself to capitalize on this coming foreclosure movement

Set Up Your Company Properly

If you want to be hired for cleanup or preservation work, you’ll need to operate your business as a professional company. The good news is that you can set up a business quickly and inexpensively, and usually on your own. Many people decide to set up an LLC (Limited Liability Company) because of how quickly and easily it can be done but you’ll want to check with your accountant or other business professional to select the type of business entity that’s right for your personal situation.

If you do decide to start an LLC, you can usually find all of the documents you need online from your state’s government website. Usually the branch you’re looking for will be called the “Industrial Commission” or “Corporation Commission” or similar. Try typing in “start a business + ______ (your state)”. Anything ending in “.gov” is usually a good place to start as it indicates a government site.

Once your business is set up, you’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which is like a SSN for your business. You can register for one online: type in “IRS” & “EIN” into a search engine to find the online registration link.

As soon as you have your EIN (which you can usually get immediately online), you can open up a business bank account for your company. This step is very, very important. In the excitement of things, many people get caught up in the day-to-day dealings of running a business and use their personal accounts to pay for business expenses. Not only does this present an accounting nightmare at the end of the year, but it could present problems for you with the IRS if you don’t keep your personal and business finances separate.

Once you legally set up your business, you may be required to register your business with your county or city in order to get a business license to operate. You can start by calling City Hall or the Office of the County Clerk to inquire as to whether or not you need a city/county/state business license and if so, how to get one.

So to recap:

1. Legally set up your business

2. Get your EIN # and set up a business bank account

3. Apply for a business license

4. If you want to do preservation work, determine whether or not you need a contractors’ license

Get Insurance

You absolutely must have a Commercial Liability Insurance policy and Workers’ Compensation Insurance in order to run your business. Not only is insurance essential for protecting yourself from liability and protecting those that work for you in the event of a work-related injury, but many asset management companies will not do business with you if you do not meet their minimum insurance requirements.

Insurance will likely be one of your largest start-up costs, however, most insurance companies allow you to pay the premium on a monthly (rather than yearly) basis, which definitely makes this expense more affordable.

General Liability Insurance policies can cover the following: bodily injury, property damage, contractual liability, personal and advertising injury, professional liability (also known as Errors & Omissions (E&O) insurance, this coverage protects you and your business from litigation caused by charges of professional neglect or failure to perform your professional duties), hired auto and non-auto liability and umbrella liability.

You’ll want to speak directly with your insurance agent to get a better idea of the extent of the coverage provided by their particular policy and one that is best suited for your individual needs

Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required in most states when you have W2 employees, and some states also require your insurance to cover your 1099 contractors also. Workers’ Compensation (“Workers’ Comp”) covers your employees’ medical and disability expenses related to work-related illness and on-the-job injuries.

In the states where you are not required to cover your 1099 contractors you would need them to provide proof that they carry their own Workers’ Compensation insurance. Although tempting to shift the financial burden of maintaining a policy onto your 1099 contractors, in all reality, you are probably better off to take on the cost of all staff Workers’ Compensation (all W2 employees and 1099 contractors). The reason is that it’s difficult to find only independent contractors that have their own policy. In addition, this industry has such high turnover that if you put this restriction on your independent contractors, you’ll waste valuable time and lost revenues trying to find replacements in a hurry.

Here’s a great tip: sometimes you can get “pay-as-you-go” insurance where your workers’ compensation insurance premiums are based on your actual payroll, rather than an estimated amount. This is great for companies that are just starting out or have a fluctuating workload. Type in “pay as you go workers comp” into a search engine for results in your area.

As a second tip, we’ve used Farmers Insurance for years and have always had excellent customer service and great rates. Just Google “Farmers Insurance” for an agent in your area.

Foreclosure Cleanup v.s. Property Preservation Services

As the name suggests as a Foreclosure Cleanup Company, you’ll be cleaning out all of the junk in the house (also called a “trashout or a “junk out”), as well as cleaning the interior of the home. You may also be required to remove vehicles on the property. Usually foreclosure cleanup companies are also responsible for doing a basic landscape cleanup which includes hauling out any junk from the front/back yards, cutting the grass and trimming trees/bushes.

Cleaning up the property is the extent of services offered by a Foreclosure Cleanup Company, whereas a Property Preservation Company is also involved in the “securing” of the property and the “preserving” of the property.

Here are some of the services that a preservation company may offer (note that a Property Preservation Company will generally also offer cleanup services):

Securing the Property

o Initial vacant property inspection

o Lock changes

o Boarding of windows and doors

o Temporary roof repair

o Securing swimming pools

Preserving the Property

o Exterior Debris removal

o Abandoned vehicle removal (cars, boats, etc.)

o Interior Debris removal (junk-out)

o Hazardous waste removal

o Interior cleaning services including carpet cleaning

o Window washing/graffiti removal

o Window replacement

o Pool services (draining, acid washing, maintaining, etc.)

o Pest control services

o Yard maintenance/landscaping

o Snow removal

o Winterization

o Gutter cleaning

o Pressure washing

o Carpet removal & replacement

o Tile/Floor repairs

o Painting

o Sheetrock/drywall repairs

o Carpentry repairs

o Plumbing fixtures repairs & replacements

o Fire & mold remediation

o Fence repair

Here are a few things to consider when determining the extent of the services you want to offer:

A Contractors’ License is generally not required for Foreclosure Cleanup Company but is likely required for preservation companies doing work over a certain dollar value (usually $500 – $1000+). Sometimes this license can be obtained by attending a course and successfully passing a test whereas other states require previous, verifiable industry experience.

The insurance premiums tend to be higher on companies that offer preservation services as they are considered to be a “general contractor”. However, the revenue potential is much higher as preservation services tend to run from a few thousand dollars upwards instead of $800 – $1500 for each cleanout.

Usually what people do is start out initially offering just the foreclosure cleanup services and then when things pick up, they’ll add preservation items to the list of services they offer. This let’s them get their foot in the door without having to spend a whole lot of money upfront when setting up their company.

Source the Right Equipment & Tools

The great thing about starting a foreclosure cleanup company is that the initial expenses are quite low as much of the equipment and tools needed for cleaning foreclosures can likely be found in your own garage:

o Cleaning chemicals (i.e. all purpose cleaner, disinfectant, toilet bowl cleaner, window cleaner)

o Cleaning supplies (broom, mop, scrub pads)

o Vacuum cleaner

o Garbage bags and shovels

o Work gloves and disposable plastic gloves

o Lawn mowers & lawn tools

o Wheelbarrow

For the smaller items you don’t have on hand, check your local dollar store. Their prices can’t be beat and they usually have the same chemicals and cleaning supplies as the other retailers. Once you start doing some volume, consider shopping for your supplies at Sam’s Club or Costco to keep your expenses low.

You can also find used equipment in great shape (such as vacuums) by going around to your local Saturday morning garage/yard sales. If you have a “Re-Use” center or a Salvation Army, you may consider checking there also as they often have vacuums and other small equipment or yard tools for sale.

For hauling junk, you’ll need some sort of trailer and a vehicle large enough to pull it. If you don’t have a truck and a trailer, you can always borrow a friend’s truck and rent a trailer from U-Haul or just go ahead and rent a moving truck from U-Haul. (Remember though, that you’ll be charged a daily rate plus a per-mile rate when you rent a moving truck whereas if you use your own truck and just rent the pull-trailer, you’ll only incur the daily rental rate for the trailer.)

Sometimes you’ll be required to clean a property that doesn’t have electricity or water. In the event that there’s no electricity, you’ll need a generator to operate the vacuum cleaners and other electrical equipment. These can be rented at Lowe’s or Home Depot and is a much better alternative to purchasing one outright unless you’re going to use it on a regular basis (a new one will run you about $500+).

To save on expenses, it’s best to rent equipment in the beginning.

Once you get up and going, it may be worth looking into purchasing equipment of your own. Check the online classifieds ads (such as Craigslist, Kijiji and Backpage) for used trailers, generators, etc. You should also check with U-Haul as they have been selling some of their excess trucks as of late.

Stay Safe on the Job

As a business owner, you’re responsible for keeping your staff safe while working on the job. Working safely is paramount to the health of your staff and the reputation of your business (and also keeps your insurance premiums low). It’s imperative that you review safety issues prior to allowing anyone to work on the job – you must provide both classroom and on-the-job safety training to all new hires.

Now, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy; you can spend 20 – 30 minutes reviewing safety policies, safe working practices and answering any questions and then you’ll be done! Make sure you have people sign in and out of the meeting and that you document that a safety meeting took place.

It’s also very important that you become familiar with OSHA and Safety Standards as well as the health & safety hazards associated with this industry so that you can keep your staff safe, avoid accidents and costly fines. You can find the OSHA Pocket Guide to Construction Safety (it’s a short and an easy read) at the main website (OSHA DOT gov) by searching for the report name.

Another way to protect your staff and your business is to make sure that you check references before you hire someone. Insist that they list non-related references (i.e. not mother, sister or best friend) and instead list references of previous employers or someone they know in a professional capacity. We also do drug testing and background checks – it might sound paranoid to some, but the safety of our staff, our customers’ property and our company’s reputation is far too important to risk not spending $20 on a background check or drug test.

Price Your Services Right

In this industry, the lowest price always wins the bid (unless, of course, the lowest bidder has a terrible track record of not completing work and is utterly irresponsible and unprofessional, in which case the company has just committed “reputation-suicide” and will never be hired again). Lenders don’t want to spend any more than they have to on these properties so you want to make sure you price your services comparable with the going market rates (but at the same time, priced so that you still make a great profit and don’t leave any money on the table).

For cleaning out foreclosures, most banks expect to spend anywhere from $500 – $1500 for a cleanout (trashout, interior clean and initial landscape cleanup), but it could be a bit more or a bit less, depending on your area. It’s important to know that most lenders have prescribed “price caps” for the maximum amounts that they’ll pay for services.

If you’re also providing preservation services, a great site that we’ve used before to determine our prices for doing repairs is www.CostEstimator.com for getting the market rates for construction costs – you can get a free 30 day trial (no need to enter credit card – it really is free!). There are over 3,000 cost items adjusted for over 210 local, geographic regions to create your bid and you can add as many others as needed. If you want to sign up after the trial, it’s only $15/month.

Market Your Services

It’s true – “nothing happens until somebody sells something”… and you’ll need to get out there and sell, sell, sell your business. Once you’ve done a few jobs, you’ll find that word of mouth advertising and referrals will provide a large pool of new jobs for you, but in the meantime, you do need to do everything possible to let customers know you exist.

A large portion of work will come from the relationships that you build with Real Estate Agents (“Realtors”) who list bank-owned homes (often referred to as REO listings). They are often given the task of bidding out the cleaning and repairs of new listings by the asset management company so you’ll want to make sure the agents in your area know your company handles this type of work.

A great way to find out which Realtors in your area list REOs is to go online to the major bank’s REO websites and “data mine” the contact information for the listing agents (name, email, phone numbers). It can be painstaking work, but definitely worth it.

Here’s an example of a bank REO sites to get you started collecting Realtor information

WELLS FARGO (Properties managed by Premier Asset Services): pasreo.com/pasreo/images/pas_logo.jpg

NOTE: In order to access agent information, select the state and click search. Then, individually select each listing and click on “Print Property Report CVS”. Each listing and corresponding information (such as agent name, phone # and email) will be created in an Excel spreadsheet. You can access the page

Remember to follow up with a phone call a few days later. Don’t be shy about asking the Realtor if he/she has any jobs for you to bid, either – most of them are very accommodating and willing to give a new company the opportunity to provide estimates.

The other way jobs are bid out is through large Asset Management Companies (also referred to as Marketing & Management Companies, REO Field Service Companies and Property Management Companies). Essentially, the lender says, “ok – I have thousands of properties to get rid of. Here, national ABC Asset Management Company: clean, fix and sell these properties for us”. And the national Asset Management Company will then subcontract out the work to local foreclosure cleanup and property preservation companies. In order to work for these companies, you usually need to sign up your company as a potential vendor. Many times this can be done online.

There are both positives and negatives associated with working for the larger companies. On the positive side, you will probably be given a few projects to work on at a time so you will be kept relatively busy. On the negative side, they usually want you to offer ‘wholesale pricing’ and don’t pay until 30 – 60 days after you invoice them for the work. Working for one of these companies, however, will give you the experience you need to go after more work.

Other possible customers include wholesale property investors (groups of investors that purchase foreclosed homes at the auctions and then sell them to smaller investors at a wholesale price), investors, landlords, property management companies, Realtors and so on.

You should also consider attending your local networking events such as the Chamber of Commerce meetings and any local investor meetings in order to hand out your card and network with potential customers. The more you get out there, the better chance you’ll have of securing some great, long-term customers!

This is definitely an exciting industry and a very profitable one for those of you who don’t mind getting your hands a bit dirty! Good luck!

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The History of Online Shopping

The internet is a fantastic and useful tool. With a click of our mouse we can read today’s news, play an online game and if we wish shop to our hearts content. But when did it all start? What is the history of Online Shopping and what does it mean to shop online?

Online shopping is the process a customer takes to purchase a service or product over the internet. In other words a consumer may at his or her leisure buy from the comfort of their own home products from an online store. This concept was first demonstrated before the World Wide Web was in use with real time transaction processed from a domestic television! The technology used was called Videotext and was first demonstrated in 1979 by M. Aldrick who designed and installed systems in the UK. By 1990 T. Berners-Lee created the first WWW server and browser, and by 1995 Amazon expanded its online shopping experiences.

The history of Online Shopping is amazing. Gone are the days of waiting in traffic and working our way through overcrowded stores. All we need is a computer, bank account, debit or credit card and voila freedom! From books, to cosmetics, clothing and accessories to name a few, shopping online is the answer to the 21st century. Simply find the website that offers the objects of your desire, price and delivery terms and in a matter of a few days your purchase is at your door. The advantages and convenience are obviously predictable as we are offered a broader selection, competitive pricing and a greater access to information in regards to our purchase. Online stores are usually available on a 24 hour basis, and permit consumers to shop at their leisure without any traveling and outside regular business hours!

Another point to take into consideration is that when the internet was first conceived it was not with the ideal that it would change the way we shop. On the contrary the web was created as a tool for communicating, which in time let to the convenience of shopping virtually. The history of online shopping by itself symbolizes the change in our society and has by now become a service used by business and regular shopper all over the world.

Shopping online is easy, fun and secure and has for many taken the place of the Saturday afternoon window shopping at the mail. Still considered as a fairly recent phenomenon, online shopping has without a doubt made the life of countless consumers easier and more convenient. May it be for a home loan, buying car or ordering your weekly groceries, the web has forever changed our outlook on shopping.

The history of online shopping shows to all that a good idea, great presentation, and a desire to offer the best to your customers can make a dream come true. Now considered tried and true, it will be interesting in the next 20 years or so to see where the History on online shopping will take us!

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