Home Improvement Loan or Personal Loan

Personal Loan or Home Improvement Loan? That is the question.

We love decorating our houses.

And there are phases in our lives when maybe we’ve spent too much time watching Food Food or TLC and thus have built castles in the air of visions of turning our kitchen into a chef’s paradise. Or perhaps our master bath is just one shower away from a disaster. For we really do love Italian tiles on our bathrooms.

And if so, then cheers, you’re not alone. Recently, the Joint Center of Housing Studies for Harvard University has investigated and reported that the home improvement industry should continue post record-level spending in 2016. For many people, this means borrowing money to pay for the well planned home improvements and home decorating schemes.

Now, one is ought to face a tough and difficult and perhaps hypothetical question.

So, which home improvement loan is right for you?

Many homeowners and homemakers look to tap the equity in their homes. But home equity loans or home equity lines of credit may not be possible or very practical for some borrowers. In that case, one should consider using a personal loan.

While it is known that one can use a personal loan for a variety of reasons, there are a few reasons why a personal loan can have advantages over home equity loans when it comes to a renovation loan, to be specific.

The application process for a personal loan is usually quite simple and quite straightforward. Your own financial situation-for example, your credit history and earning power; this is often the main deciding factor for whether or not you will be able to get a loan, for how much, and if so, at what interest rate. Some personal loans even boast of having no origination fees.

However, home equity loans or home improvement loans on the other hand, are akin to applying for a mortgage (in fact, home equity loans are sometimes called second mortgages). How much you can borrow depends on several factors, including the value of your home. Because you can only borrow against the equity you already have (i.e. the difference between your home’s value and your mortgage), you may have to arrange – and pay for – a home appraisal.

Let’s now see this case in the case of a home improvement loan. With a home equity loan or a home improvement loan, you can only borrow against the equity you have – which, as a new homeowner, is probably not much. You maybe have not had enough time to chip away at your mortgage and the market has not yet elevated your home’s price. A personal loan lets you start home improvements regardless of how much equity you have. So, that is one benefit of availing a Home Improvement Loan.

With a home equity loan, you use your home as collateral, which means an inability to repay could result in your home going into foreclosure. While failing to pay your personal loan carries its own risks (like ruining your credit and credit score), it is not tied directly to the roof over your head,like a gun on your head. Therefore, it is better and safer to avail of a personal loan.

So, if we were to decide, which one is better and safer and more suitable?

Personal loans may not be right for every borrower looking for a home improvement loan. For example, if you have significant equity in your home and are looking to borrow a large amount, you might be able to save money with lower interest rates on a home equity loan. Also, interest payments on home equity loans and lines of credit can be tax deductible under certain circumstances; but that is clearly not the case with personal loans.

On the other hand, personal loans can make sense for these types of customers:-

• Recent home purchasers.

• Smaller home improvement loans (e.g., bathroom or kitchen as opposed to full remodel)

• Borrowers in lower home value markets (if your home value has barely budged since you moved in, you may not have much equity to draw on for a home equity loan).

• For those who value ease and speed.

• Borrowers with great credit and cash flow.

While home equity loans and lines of credit are a good source of home improvement money if you have already built up equity in your home, a personal loan may be a better alternative if you are, say, a new homeowner and need to take care of a few updates to make your new home, just right and perfect.

Concluding, we conclude that a personal loan is a better option than a home improvement loan,anytime.

UGG Fashion Styles – An Overview

In fashion history, there are few brands like UGG in terms of legend of a twist. This branded boot achieved some notoriety during the world wars when air force aviators searched for cozy boots on their cold flights in high altitude. Once called ugs, uggs, ug, or ugg, these branded boots now become a hit on the fashion arena. Trendsetters are tripping over themselves to grab a pair to signify their sensible fashion tastes. Regardless of age, occupation, sex, nobody can just turn around seeing a pair of Ugg.

Search through the fashion market, a large number of UGG boot styles are available, ranging from waterproof sheepskin styles to knit designs. In this branded lineup, the Classic Tall boot is characteristic with various patterns, while embracing the freezing feet with extreme comfort and excellent traction. Ranging from romantic flowers to marbled prints and solid colors, the patterns of this mainstay of the UGG classic collection enable a multitude of options for different style statement. However, these boots are never known out of the Australian boundaries until the surfing crazy in the 1960s. When swimmers and surfers across the ocean gathered on the coastline of Australia, seeing local surfers wearing some big shafts all the time, they noted that and also took to wearing them in public and carried them along when they were en route.

Since then, these boots became more popular out of Australia and even gained worldwide exposure. The debut of this branded downright sheepskin footwear really shocked the western world and there were some fashion conscious people parading to ask it banned. Although it is not a plain sailing, UGG boots have finally won the hearts of the world with their incomparable comfort and now they are considered as a must-have for any stylish winter wardrobe.

Generally speaking, ugg boots are styled for casual wear. That is to say, they can go great with your favorite jeans. Actually these branded sheepskin boots have a versatile performance in terms of fashion expression. They can dress up most outfits from your closet. However, the best bet would be skirts and colored leggings, denim jeans and tights. To be more fashionable and chic, various decorative yet functional designs are added on this classic boot construction, which is also the precious heritage from ancient Aussie.

Sleek and unique, the most popular UGG sheepskin boots are blend of function and fashion to help you withstand the harsh weather in winter. Coming in oodles of styles and colors, it is hard to keep track of them all. The men’ s versions of this brand come in more basic, classic hues and styles but for women, the possibilities are endless in terms of hues and designs.

Now owned by an American company, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, UGG Australia dominates the fashion trend when it comes to winter footwear. Nothing would be short of trendy tastes with any pair of this branded sheepskin boots. A light-hearted winter will be felt!

India Tourist Visa Guidelines for Visa Extension

Longer extensions must be approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The process of applying for one can give you a bit of a grace period while they consider it. It’s important to note that if you stay in the country illegally beyond the period of your visa, you may face fines, deportation and/or up to five years in prison.

Visa conversions and extensions are handled by the MHA only between 10 A.M. and noon, Monday to Friday. The address for the main office is Foreigners’ Division, MHA, Lok Nayak Bhawan, Khan Market, New Delhi. If you want to change your visa status from one category to another, you should go in person to the office. In case of serious illness, you can send a representative. If you aren’t in Delhi, go to the nearest Foreigners’ Registration Office (FRO), which will forward your case to the MHA for approval. Applications for extensions or conversions should be made a few months before your current visa expires, if possible.

In general, you can’t change the category of your visa while you are in India; e.g., if you are in India on a Tourist Visa, you can’t just decide to take up a job. In such a case, you have to go back to your own country to apply for a new visa. The MHA does have the authority to give you a different visa if there are extraordinary circumstances, but they rarely do it.

PIO Cards and OCI Status- If your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were Indian nationals, or if you are the spouse of an Indian citizen or PIO, or if you once held an India passport, you can get a PIO (Person of Indian Origin) Card that is valid for 15 years. This card allows visa-free entry to PIOs living abroad, but you do have to register if you stay more than 180 days.

There is also a status called Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) that is available to PIOs or others who either are or were eligible for Indian citizenship at a certain time. This is not dual citizenship. Rather, it’s essentially a permanent visa that allows you to come and go as you wish and to stay as long as you like without registering. It gives you most of the privileges enjoyed by Indian citizens, except that you can’t vote, buy agricultural land, or hold certain public offices.

Exit Visa- If your passport is lost or stolen; you have gone to the FRRO so you can get your visa transferred to the new passport. Or you can get an Exit Visa, which will allow you a certain number of days in which to leave the country legally. Without one or the other, you won’t be able to leave India. To get an Exit Visa, you need to present your new passport, a letter from your embassy giving details of the lost or stolen passport, and the original police report, as well as proof of date of entry into India (i.e., your boarding pass, a letter from the airline on which you arrived verifying date and place for your arrival in India, or a photocopy of your visa and entry stamp).

Special Permits- In order to visit certain restricted or protected areas, including the Andaman Islands, Lakshadweep, parts of Ladakh, and some of the Northeastern States, you will need a special permit. Some permits (excluding Inner Line permits for border areas of Ladakh, which take only a day) may take a week or two to get, so you should apply well in advance. You can get permits come Sikkim from embassies and consulates abroad before you come, or the Foreigners’ Registration Offices in India, and in Darjeeling and Siliguri, as well as at certain major airports.

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Productivity Tips for Travelers – How To Be A Productive Road Warrior

You have seen them, they all look alike, the regular ‘road warrior’ with their determined expression, wrinkle proof suit and pulling a beaten up carry on bag…whether you travel a little or a lot with your company there are many ways you can boost your personal productivity when you travel. These before, during and after strategies will help you maximize your time, limit your stress and overall increase your travel productivity.

Before You Travel

Buy the tools – you wouldn’t build a house without the right tools, travel is no different. To be a productive traveler you want to ensure you have a variety of tools to assist the comfort and productivity of your trip. Tools to consider purchasing are quality luggage, Ipod, noise cancelling earphones, soft briefcase and GPS system.

20-22 inch Carry On expandable luggage – I like Briggs and Riley, it is durable, light weight, expandable, self healing and well made. These are allowed in the US and other countries as carry on baggage. When you are buying luggage look for features such as pull along, strong wheels, stability foot on the bottom (in case it gets too heavy), external zippers (to hold travel documentation and the Ziploc toiletry bag) and also make sure the pop up handle is a ‘one pull’ action.

IPOD or MP3 – this is not a luxury, this is a requirement for any travel. I have a created a selection of play lists, including one with very relaxing music so that when it is time to sleep I can turn to this group and fall asleep.

Noise canceling earphones – these are a little bit of a luxury, but I wouldn’t travel anywhere without them. My husband previously flew many long international flights and he turned me onto this great invention.

Briefcase – I like a soft tote briefcase that allows me to include personal and work related items. My favorite is from Coakley Business Class (sorry guys these are just for women) and they are the best travel briefcase I have ever found (and you can use it everyday!). For the gentleman, try the soft Samsonite one, it has great suspension in the shoulder strap. When looking for a brief case also make sure it has the feature to be able to slide it over your carry on luggage (many have a soft strap or a zippered section to allow you to do this).

GPS (Global Positioning System) – this was the best gift I ever got! They are now getting smaller and smaller and are perfect to plug into your rental car when you arrive in another city. Also when we were in Italy last year we downloaded the European maps and it was great fun to get around tiny little towns. I have named mine ‘Bella’ – she keeps me company when I am driving late at night or in a city where I don’t know my way.

Consider clothing – When you are regularly on the road I suggest a few strategies to help make your life easier for both packing and arriving looking together.

Travel Outfit – Create your own travel outfit, yes it can be the same every time. Mine is a pair of black pants, black top (I have a short sleeve one for summer and a long sleeve one for cooler months), pantyhose and a pair of black patent leather flat slip on shoes. I wear the same silver jewellery with it all and I know when I arrive at the security line I don’t have to remove anything (except my shoes) – that is why pantyhose (or socks) are good when you have to take off your shoes. The fabric of this outfit doesn’t crease and is comfortable (which makes a huge different on those long flights).

Airport shoes – think about the quality and make of the shoes you wear to the airport. I suggest slip ons of some description so you are not awkwardly trying to tie up laces or straps. Also ensure they are comfortable and well made as you often have to walk long distances between gates or to the parking area.

Carry a pashmina – for the ladies, I recommend you invest in a dark colored pashmina that has many uses. On the plane it is a great blanket (and so many airlines in the US don’t supply pillows and blankets). When I rent a car it becomes a booster seat for me (he he). When I have to sit on an airport floor (yes I have done that living here in the US) it is great to place on the floor … oh and yes I can wear it if I need to keep warm.

Jewellery – wearing the same silver jewellery when I travel I know I can wear it the next day and I can walk through the screening area without having to remove it. It simplifies the process and speeds up the line.

Belts – if possible, don’t wear an outfit that requires a belt as it is only one more item of clothing you have to remove at the airport line.

Productive Packing – there are many opinions on what to pack and I find the most productive way for me is having a series of pre-packed bags. This includes luggage, carry on plane survival kit, brief case, make up and toiletry bags.

Pre-packed luggage contents includes:

  • Ziploc toiletry bag
  • Underwear
  • First aid items (band aids, safety pins and head ache tablets)
  • Make up bag
  • Gym gear
  • Clothes brush (I have a long haired cat and her fur seems to make its way across the world with me)
  • Book of interest
  • Cell Phone charger
  • Laptop power pack
  • Stamped stationery (note cards and envelopes)

Carry on plane survival kit contents include:

  • Ipod
  • Noise cancelling earphones
  • Spare battery for noise cancelling earphones
  • Lip balm
  • Eye mask (for those long flights)
  • Pen
  • Eye drops
  • Travel size toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Breath mints

Make up kit – ladies if you travel a lot I suggest you buy a full set of make up and make up brushes and tools and keep them in a separate make up bag so you never have to go looking for something and you never forget something on your trips.

Ziploc Toiletry Bag contents include travel sized:

  • Decanted shower gel
  • Skin care
  • Hair care products
  • Travel sized perfume or aftershave (most brands now supply a smaller size compliant with airline safety standards)
  • Toothpaste
  • Spare contact lenses

Many department stores and pharmacies carry a range of travel sized products. I was fascinated when I was in Sephoria in Times Square recently that the merchandising near the payment counter had changed significantly and provided 50+ choices of regular band products in travel sized convenient containers.

Plastic helps – My friend Camille was an airline goddess for many years and gave me this great tip, using the plastic you receive from your dry cleaners around your clothes helps avoid creases.

Duplicate copies – to be more productive (and for a few extra dollars) consider investing in duplicates of everything you travel with. If you are a regular traveler, having a pre-packed bag will allow you to leave with minimum notice and save time and stress before any trip. On your list of items to buy you could include:

  • Toiletries available in travel size
  • Brushes – make up brushes, hair brushes or combs
  • Cell phone charger
  • Laptop power pack
  • Make up
  • Stamps and stationery
  • Spare items i.e. pantyhose, clothing brush.

Choose your seat – I like to sit in an aisle seat so I can get in and out and I don’t feel cramped by others. For longer flights (especially the red eye), my friend Shawn books the window seat so you can lean against the window to sleep, choose your seat wisely. If you have an option of an exit row choose this seat as it gives you more leg room. You may like to check out – it is a great website to see exactly what your seat will be on most major airlines.

Pre-print your boarding pass – whenever possible go online 24 hours before you fly and select your seat and print your boarding pass. This will save you time in the long lines at the airport check in and also help you find the seat you want.

Join airline clubs – if you fly frequently to same cities join the airline programs of those major airlines so you can also gather frequent flyer miles for all your travels. You may be able to use them for a fun trip with those you care for later on.

Join airline lounges – if you fly with the same carrier regularly to invest in a membership for that lounge so you have a quiet place to snack, get changed or to catch up on reading. I noticed in Australia this was a great use of money and well worth it however in the US the gates and lounges are so spread out and there are so many options to travel with different airlines this hasn’t been a worthwhile investment for me here, however if you fly the same airline every time it might be worth it for you.

Create a one page itinerary – create a one page template that includes your confirmation codes of all flight details, hotel and rental car information. Include on this template all your frequent flyer clubs and associations also so that if you arrive and they haven’t included this in your booking you can quickly get credit for your travel.

During Your Travel

Allow extra 30 minutes – add at least 30 minutes onto any amount of time you think it will take you to get to the airport or park. This additional time will save you stress if you are stuck in traffic, can’t find a car space or the security line is longer than you expected. If you have pre-packed a book or magazine you can use that 30 minutes to read or to connect with a friend or client.

Know the Parking Garage – if you regularly travel on the same airline, know the shuttle system or design of the car park so you can get in and out quickly.

Take your ticket – when you receive a parking receipt/ticket on your arrival place it in the same compartment of your bag or briefcase so you know where to find it upon your return.

Write the parking space on your ticket – in the US the parking garages are so big that I always write the color and space on my parking receipt so that when I arrive back after a few days away (often late at night), I can quickly find my car and not waste time wandering around the parking garage.

Ground transport notice – when you enter an airport, notice where the taxis, rental car shuttles or parking garages are. This will save you time when you return and allow you to quickly make your way to the next place.

Regular rental – Use the same rental company each time you travel will also boost your productivity because you will expect a certain standard each time you fly. You might also consider joining their frequent customer program too. I like using Enterprise because they are affordable and also each time you arrive they look so happy to see you and they pay attention to small details including water bottles in the car and also pre-printed local lists of radio stations and areas of interest.

Play music – by creating different play lists on your IPOD you will enjoy your travel more if you can listen to music and block out the noise around you. This is effective in the airport lounge, at the gate and on the plane. You might also like to include a CD in your packing checklist for the rental car.

Getting through security – there are several tips to help you get through the line faster:

  • Wear an outfit that doesn’t require any removal of items or have any metal.
  • Place your cell phone and keys into your briefcase or purse before entering the security line.
  • Keep your Ziploc bag of toiletries in an outside zippered compartment for quick access.
  • Get your laptop out of your briefcase before you reach your place in line.
  • Place your laptop, shoes and toiletries in one container on the security screen belt.
  • Keep your boarding pass and photo identification in your hands.

Check in or carry on – I always carry on luggage (up to a five day business trip), I have learn to pack well and have invested in a minimum number of outfits. I think there is so much time wasted waiting for luggage (not to mention the concern it may not arrive with you!) wherever possible try and carry on luggage for your business travel.

Laptop … or not – if your trip doesn’t require you to take your laptop, leave it at home. It is one less thing to juggle through security and some laptops add significant weight to your briefcase. Leave it behind if you can. If you have to take it with you consider buying a smaller, light weight model one that is easy to use and you can balance in small places. You do pay more for smaller, lighter models but it is money well spent.

Keep a reading file – as you collect articles, newspapers or journals you want to read, take them with you when you travel. Each week I receive the Philadelphia Business Journal and I take it with me on the plane to read and enjoy. It is a paper that keeps my interest and small enough it doesn’t crowd the person beside me.

Buy bottled water – part of my routine as soon as I get through the security line is to head to the nearest store to buy 2 bottles of water. During the flight it is essential to drink water to keep you hydrated, two bottles allows me to drink before the plane arrives (has been helpful when there are large delays) and during the flight.

Eat healthy – many airlines don’t supply quality food on board so try to find healthy solutions within the airport to satisfy your hunger. You may also like to buy something to eat on board for longer flights so you are snacking on healthy items. I like to travel with a bag of almonds and pecans so that I always have a yummy (and healthy) snack available. AS you are flying from the same airport each week, become familiar with the food offerings inside the terminal so you can quickly find something you enjoy eating.

Hotel routine – no matter what time I arrive at a new hotel I have the same routine. I open my suitcase, remove my suit and hang it on a hanger. If it has gathered small creases in the travel I take it into the bathroom, hang it up and turn on the hot shower to create a ‘steam room effect’ and this removes any creases. Now for my Australian readers who are experiencing a drought right now that seems very wasteful so you may want to hang these clothes while you are showering the next day to avoid water waste. You might like to take this opportunity to iron your clothes instead. I then plug in my laptop, set up my cell phone charger, set my alarm and pull out the documents or reading for the next day. By having the same routine each time you will be productive and not forget important details (and you save time in the morning also).

Exercise – if you don’t have a gym in the hotel consider either taking a walk outside at the beginning of your day or exercising in your room. I often place a towel on the floor and then do a series of stretches, yoga, sit ups and push ups. You can establish a routine especially for travel that doesn’t require any equipment i.e. push ups, sit ups, squats and any yoga.

Call a client – you often have down time in the airport so it is a great time to reconnect with a client or colleague. I use this time to touch base with important people in my life and it becomes part of my business development time.

Be strategic – time in hotel rooms can be lonely or unproductive so I use this time to design new products, review my business plan, catch up on reading and design new models or programs for my business. Some of my best ideas have come while sitting in my hotel room – use this time for strategy and thought space instead of turning on the TV to keep your company.

Stay connected – when you arrive at your location notify someone important to you. I like to call my husband when I have arrived in my hotel so he knows I am safe and sound and I get to hear his voice. Calling your family or friend is a great way for you to keep connected on the road.

Write thank you notes – because I carry stamped stationery with me when I travel, I use the flight home to write notes to people I met during my trip. When I arrive my next destination I post them. It is a great way to reconnect with people after you have met them and is a productive use of flight time.

After Your Travel

Know the quickest route home – understand the quickest and least traffic congested way to get out of the airport so you can be home with those you care for in the smallest amount of time. Where I live there are 2 major ways home and if you take the wrong one at some particular times during the day it can add up to an hour to your ride home (not so much fun after a long flight) so know which ways are best at different times during the day.

Unpack quickly – if you arrive home early enough, unpack your bag, refill any necessary toiletry items and allocate clothes for washing or dry cleaning.

Refill and replace – update any items in your ‘pre-packed’ toiletries or luggage that need attention to save you time for future trips. Note any additional items you may have forgotten on this trip and place them in your luggage so you don’t forget them next time.

Debrief your trip – recall any items you missed, notice things that you enjoyed or frustrated you and make the changes that are within your control. Each time you travel you may learn something new that will help you save time or save you frustration for your next travel experience.

Thank your team – if you have an assistant, let them know what went well about the trip and any enhancements you would like to make for your next trip. Thank your travel agent for the trip planning and also let them know if something didn’t go well and discuss how to fix it for the next trip. Thank your client for the opportunity to work with them. If you experienced great service at some point in the trip take the time to email or write a thank you note to that organization. The simple art of thanking people is often overlooked but is one of the most powerful things you can do to boost your productivity and make someone else day!

Gather your receipts – there is so much paperwork collected on trips including boarding passes, rental agreements, and food and hotel receipts. Keep this in a central place when you travel (I take a clear plastic folder for this very purpose each time I travel). When you arrive home quickly sort through the paper, action business cards and file any receipts or keep them aside for your clients. Process all your paper within 24 hours.

Action business cards – if you have met new people during your productive trip take the time to now action those cards. You might like to write a ‘nice to meet you’ note, scan them and add them to your database and write a note for any follow up action required. Following this process diligently each time you travel will avoid piles of business cards gathering on your desk (reminding you of action you haven’t taken!)

Be grateful – if you are traveling for business it means you have a successful job that is supporting you and your family. Stop hating it and start enjoying it. Giving thanks for the opportunity to see new places, meet new people and share your experience is a privilege.

Change your language around travel, enjoy it, embrace it and you will be more productive! Next time you see another road warrior smile at them and let them know you understand. You can be more productive every time you travel by applying these before, during and after you travel strategies… now where am I off to tomorrow?

DUI Breathalyzer Accuracy

Anyone that has been stopped and arrested for a DUI charge is likely to find the entire process to be very difficult and stressful. Plus, with the reported increase in accidents involving drivers under the influence of alcohol or illegal substance, the authorities are making every effort to prosecute all offenders. In order to prove a person is driving under the influence, the law enforcement official that made the stop has a choice of asking the driver to take a roadside sobriety test or use a breathalyzer. A first course of action may be the sobriety test which involves simple tests like walking in a straight line, lifting one foot off the ground, touch the tip of your nose, etc.

But, these tests aren’t entirely reliable and the most common option used is the breathalyzer. A field breathalyzer is quick to use and basically involves breathing air into a device that is analyzed to determine whether of not the driver has consumed too much alcohol to be on the road.

While the breath analysis is the favored method to test the concentration of blood alcohol in a roadside stop, they are nowhere near as reliable or accurate as blood tests. But, for the case of DUI investigations, it is seen as an acceptable option, provided it is administered in the correct fashion.

The breathalyzer tests aren’t complicated and a useful piece of portable kit to analyze a sample, but the result generated by this device may not be as reliable as the authorities would like you to believe. In fact, it has been reported that neither the spectroscopic BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) test nor the breathalyzer test is 100% trustworthy. This mostly relates to alcohol not affecting everyone the same, with many people able to consume quite a lot and still not be drunk.

Even though the test can give a positive indication that the BAC reading is high, this doesn’t actually confirm the driver was under the influence of alcohol while in control of their vehicle.

Scientific studies have taken place in relation to the accuracy of the breath alcohol tests, and their conclusion was that they are inherently unreliable. These studies have indicated that the breath readings can be up to 15% outside of the true blood alcohol levels.

So, in the event of being stopped for a DUI charge, you don’t really want the result from a breathalyzer to be the defining factor that determines the sentence issued. The best course of action is to get in touch with a skilled and reputable DUI attorney who is able to use their knowledge of the law to help fight this offense.

A DUI charge is a serious offense that has the potential to lead to a variety of legal consequences, which can include a period of prison time, attending alcohol or drug awareness classes, taking part in community service, having to pay a high fine, or the loss of your driver’s license. There are situations where the sentence given is more severe, such as having a minor on-board at the time or not being a first offense.

In the approach to defend the DUI charge that involves a breath analysis, any qualified criminal defense lawyer will be aware that there could be several operational and theoretical issues. There are a variety of factors that can lead to the results of blood-alcohol analysis being regarded as unreliable, and attempt to show that this type of data isn’t enough to prosecute. By using a lawyer it is possible to get the get outcome with a case either closed or a sentence kept to a minimum.

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Why Should You Always Try and Stay in a Five Star Hotel?

Let’s be honest, not everyone can afford five star, which is why so many people book into three and four star hotels. But before you start shopping around and book the first affordable hotel you find, there are a few things you should really know about.

The first thing is that every country has their own hotel rating system, which means a five star in London is not necessarily the same as a five star hotel in Australia or the United States. Every country has it’s own rating system, which could result in some confusion. In the United Kingdom stars are awarded on facilities, service and customer service, In France they focus on the quality of the rooms and in Italy they focus on cleanliness. Which means knowing the star rating system in the UK can help you look for hotels in other countries offering the same facilities, services and customer service, even if they are not awarded with five stars.

In the United Kingdom, facilities and services are taken very seriously and any hotel which is lucky enough to be awarded a five star status, must provide guests with exploratory facilities and services. They must also have experienced, qualified and excellent staff who focus on providing guests with the highest level of customer service, working to exceptionally high quality standards at all times.

The hotel should provide the finest level of cleanliness, it should be well-maintained and offer the delivery of any services to the highest of standards. In most instances a five star hotel will provide you with some benefits such as a fitness center and on-site wellness center, which should provide you with a range of quality treatments provided by qualities therapists. In addition to this, the hotel should also provide you with a twenty our hour reception desk for added convenience.

It is always advisable when visiting a new city or country, to choose a five star hotel with a concierge service. The concierge has a wealth of local knowledge and experience. They can make recommendations and suggestions on what to see and do, they will book a taxi for you or assist you with public transport. They can also make theater bookings on your behalf or make dinner reservations at a top hotel, saving you time and energy and reducing what you need to do when on holiday.

Further, they should provide a butler service. If you have hired a suite and have guests coming to visit you for an evening meal, then a butler could be the ideal way to spend the evening, enabling them to handle the dinner, serve the meal and clear the plates, while keeping glasses filled.

Most five star hotels will have a choice of public areas. They should have a full on-site restaurant that serves evening meals and maybe even breakfasts, they should also have a lounge bar or relaxed area where you can sit and chill out, maybe with a coffee or dinner cocktail, light snacks should be served here during the day. In addition to this, they should also provide you with twenty four hour room service to quality as five star.

Truth in Travel Pricing

None of us should be surprised at these quotes from a travel article in the TimesOnline (Oct 2008) by Stephen Bleach:

“Massive discounts on cruises were exposed as a con last week after leading line Fred Olsen admitted it had not sold a single cruise at full price for a year.”

A further quote from the managing director of the line, Mike Rodwell:

“the big American operators started it and the rest had to follow.”

Another surprise. On the same laptop page as this excellent article were three Google ads offering:

“Cruise Deals. Search The Top Online Cruise Deals. Read Reviews & Book Online Today.” Followed by:

“Cruise Discounts 75% Off, All cruise lines, all destinations.” And another:

“Huge Alaska Cruise Sale, Free Upgrades, Exclusive Deals & More with Guaranteed Lowest Prices!”

The travel operators behind these advertisements must think the traveling public is naive or even stupid but they would probably not use them if they did not work.

Also, these Google ads were run against a very negative, but truthful article about misleading advertising for cruises.

The traveling public continues to be treated with disdain by travel operators and advertising companies, not only by cruise lines and airlines but by all types of travel suppliers. What could be more misleading and false advertising than an airline advertising their fares in headlines that shout out:

“$49. one-way to Smithville” IN LARGE PRINT, and then:
‘based on return purchase, plus all taxes, surcharges for fuel, surcharges for security, checked baggage is extra, seat selection fees, and on and on and on.” And by the way, have fuel surcharges been reduced enough?

Not only cruise prices and airfares but also consider hotel pricing that often requires much investigation as regards the offered discounts:

“75% off! But off of what? A rack-rate that is rarely charged?

And, why can you often get cheaper rooms at an online reservation office than at the hotel front desk even when you are in their lobby and ready to book?

Next in line for pricing questions could be the packaged holiday market. How many of these are sold at the brochure price? Or, as with the above cruise line, are packaged tour operators simply following the lead of others?

Not only is the public being mislead by questionable advertising and pricing practices but once captured by a cruise line, airline or packaged resort operator they can be open to additional gouging whilst on-board the ship, aircraft or resort.

Apart from the on-board costs of alcoholic drinks which should be at duty-free prices (i.e. cheaper than onshore). Extras, such as shore excursions can also be more expensive when purchased on-board rather than ashore or even pre-departure using the internet. Similarly with resorts that have onsite booking agencies for off-resort activities. The prices are often cheaper when purchased directly from the operators or again at pre-departure directly over the internet. Airlines however, who are charging for all sorts of basic amenities from blankets, pillows, soft drinks and soon even water may not be free, have a more captive audience (the movie, ConAir comes to mind) and will continue to be the most reviled part of the travel experience.

There is hope for the future but so far only in Europe. In 2009 new rules for advertising standards will come into effect offering more protection for travelers. We must hope that these new rules will eventually spread to the rest of the world with further improvements to protect consumers worldwide.

In the travel industry. Where has the originality and creativity gone? Where are the leaders? Where has “lead, follow or get out of my way” gone? Only the followers know.

Another aspect of travel pricing is when consumers want to handle their own travel arrangements directly with the operators of hotels, lodges, tours and transportation. The pricing should reflect the fact that the products are being purchased directly from the source and not at the retail level. In other words, reduce the price by the commission that would have been paid to an agent, broker or retailer and give the traveler a direct booking discount. This action could encourage more travelers to make their own direct bookings, leading to more business and a competitive edge for the operator.

Of course, the traditional distribution channels have to be protected as many consumers require help and assistance and as yet not everyone has or wants the internet.

Travel providers do not normally show different prices on their websites as this could lead to potential clients seeking advice at the retail level and then booking directly with the operator to get a discounted price. It is unfair for retailers to lose their commissions when they have performed services for their travel-trade clients.

Consumers on the other hand, if they do not need expert advice or booking services, should have the opportunity to go directly to the source and get a direct booking discount.

Originality and creativity has returned to the travel industry. Travel providers are now able to offer travelers a direct booking discount service by using a new travel voucher system that has been introduced. With a website and the internet they can now reach out to the global travel community, not just travel agency or local traffic.

Any travel operator, from the smallest b&b to the grandest lodge or luxury tour, can offer this service. The voucher values represent the normal commissions that would have been paid out to sellers of travel but now will be given back to the buyers of travel. And, the discounted price does not have to show on their websites.

The service is leading with this new initiative and now wants to promote the thousands of small travel providers and other businesses around the world that do not use selling agents and therefore do not have sales commissions built into their pricing. The operators of the voucher service suggest that lower yields with higher volumes of direct booking discount travelers may achieve better overall returns.

Members of a new online travel club can get these vouchers free with membership and non-members can purchase them at deep discounts to their face values at another similar website. At present there are vouchers covering travel in over seventy countries from b&b’s to adventure and luxury tours.

The Club operators say that they do not charge businesses for listing their services as long as they participate in issuing vouchers enabling members to get direct booking discounts.

There are many directories linking the world of travel to the world of travelers but this new concept offers a directory with discounts on every travel selection if you are willing and able to handle your own travel bookings and arrangements directly with the listed operators.

The club operators are aware that many travel operators will continue to adhere to the business style of Mike Rod-well of Fred Olsen Lines and will continue to follow rather than lead and it is unlikely that they will ever be represented by this travel club. They are also aware that there are enough independent travel businesses that will find that their new business style of expanded selections and direct booking discounts is a better way of offering travel directly to consumers around the world.

Cost Effective Law Enforcement Aerial Patrol

While many of our law enforcement officers will make a major stand in regards to flying helicopters and the versatility of the helicopter, for many law enforcement agencies there are far more cost effective options available to perform many of the same mission roles as a helicopter.

Starting with the helicopter it does offer vertical takeoff and decent as well as hover capability. Hover capability is vital for performing officer insertion or extraction in confined areas where landing is not normally practical. Hover capability is also critical for life rescue work.

We now enter into an area that may turn a few heads. How often and how needed are these capabilities for your particular organization? Larger cities or metropolitan areas may in fact need all of the capabilities of a helicopter and may have the need even for a large helicopter for proper tactical deployment of personnel and or equipment. Now if an analytical approach to bang for the buck is applied to a majority of law enforcement missions, the actual number of times per year that these capabilities were utilized are most likely very low. For many cities not willing or by the private service of EMS helicopter operators, or the services of the Coast Guard, many EMS missions are not even covered by law enforcement agencies.

Large cities and metro departments can even benefit from a slightly mixed fleet of affordable aircraft and more expensive helicopters. With smaller cheaper aircraft to perform normal patrols and surveillance with the more mission – enhanced aircraft providing the special mission services it can offer.

Many law enforcement agencies not only in the United States but also across the world have made some very significant purchases in regards to new helicopters in the past few years. Aircraft such as the Eurocopter B2 and B3’s as well as Bell 206 L4 and 407 helicopters. Agencies have been replacing older aircraft with high component and or high airframe times with newer aircraft with more performance and the ability to safely carry the many mission support tools needed for airborne law enforcement.

Agencies have been able to find ways to procure new aircraft but very often the maintenance and repair area after the initial purchase is overlooked. Right along with this oversight is the increased operational costs and possible increase in insurance costs associated with the new purchase. A typical scenario seen across the industry is when an aircraft enters a major inspection is that the money needed to repair or replace the inspection items is often not available or was not budgeted for in the maintenance operating budget. This can be an administrative short-sight, an agency with a fixed maintenance budget, inaccurate information on DOC’s (Direct Operating Costs) as the area in which you operate may have more atmospheric contaminates to cause corrosion that were not taken into account at the time of purchase. Another possibility can be the hours that were actually flown exceeded the planned hours for the budget, this brings those time life items to an earlier calendar time than previously planned.

Now where to get approval for the unplanned expenses or if planned and the actual costs are higher than estimated? Since the budgets are tight many agencies have had to keep aircraft grounded until such time that funds are allocated, and the aircraft components repaired to get the aircraft back in the air. Consequently, have had some aircraft become the dreaded hanger queen for months while awaiting funding. This not only makes the unit less efficient but also sets the stage for the same scenario for the following year as other aircraft now bear the burden of additional flight hours from the previously mentioned grounded ship now carrying its fair share of the flight hour program.

The unit supervisor may be suddenly faced with some rather humbling data to provide the supervising police staff or civilian officials in regards to budget.

Operationally, there are some options available, be it for a small town or the large law enforcement unit. A quick look at actual mission roles and calls will normally reveal that calls responded to only required an aircraft to have slow circular flight capability and that hover capability was in fact not needed. A check with your pilots will also reveal a safety reason for doing orbits rather than hover. Hovering burns more fuel, the pilot is also in a vulnerable position in regards to performance (high torque, high EGT, or other operational parameters), and it is also a very vulnerable position if the engine or some other component decides to fail at this critical time.

For helicopters to effectively enter into an authoritative state there has to be enough potential energy available to become a successful maneuver. The pilot requires two things to perform this critical skill, altitude and or forward speed. Forward speed and altitude are the sources of our potential energy which induce the rotational forces needed to safely perform authorization. Since most police work is performed at low altitude the safe pilot will keep the aircraft moving forward in the event that an authorization should have to be performed.

A gyroplane is in a constant state of authorization and in the event to make an emergency landing, the pilot simply maintains airspeed to sustain authorization and perform the landing approach to touchdown.

Options that make a lot of sense from a budget point of view are, helicopters that can be operated for patrol use at a far cheaper rate than our mission specialized aircraft. This does not necessarily mean the aircraft is not capable of many of the same missions. Since the growth of the UAV market, many systems used for these aircraft are the same systems required for law enforcement use. These systems have become quite lightweight and compact in size. Another option is to use another aircraft that is still a rotorcraft but can operate far more efficiently than the helicopter in many of the same mission roles- the gyroplane. I would like to direct your attention to what has performed in both testing and actual missions roles with his gyroplanes. Pilots may frown on this move but they are your pilots and expected to fly as your pilots. Naturally training will be required but their job is to fly. The same holds true for the mechanics that may raise a fit about working on a small gyroplane. It is the ability to perform the mission that is their responsibility and management’s responsibility to the community to provide effective law enforcement capability but it shouldn’t come at too great of a burden to the taxpayer.

With these thoughts in mind as well as privatized law enforcement roles for gyroplanes Groen Brothers has recently released their newest gyroplane model. The Sparrowhawk III is designed for the use in homeland security roles, private law enforcement / security as well a normal law enforcement roles. The affectivity of light gyroplanes was been validated time and again from Ken Wallis and his use of specialized equipment to perform cadaver searches to port surveys for Saudi Arabia. Not too long ago the German government entered into testing of gyroplanes in a law enforcement role but not much feedback to the rest of the law enforcement community has surfaced from these tests.

If there is any indication of the value of the operational advantages of the gyroplane as simple look at the Sikorsky demonstrator and test vehicle X-2, a coaxial hybrid with a large pusher propeller located at the tail. For pilots and mechanic that simply are not informed of the aircraft type resistance to change can be accepted. Once they understand that the probable future of law enforcement aviation is most likely going to be an aircraft of similar design as the X-2, then the benefits of gyroplane technology will come to be appreciated.

Sticker shock of continuing maintenance costs after the initial purchase of a helicopter has left many agencies and local governments shaking their heads at the high costs they most likely never thought they would encounter. There are economical options; helicopters operations in most agencies began with small simple reciprocating powered helicopters. The purchase of former military helicopters showed the potential of turbine powered law enforcement helicopters but the added budgetary costs of newer aircraft and the tightening of local government purse strings has even lead to the loss of some law enforcement airborne units all-together. I am sure that any of those pilots would rather be flying and performing their law enforcement role than to be grounded or without a job. The modern gyroplane is no tinker toy and for any that approach the aircraft with as much of an attitude they will quickly get themselves into trouble. Like any other aircraft it does have operational parameters for safe flight and only flies like a gyroplane, not like an airplane and not like a helicopter, it is its’ own unique form of aerial transportation.

The gyroplane also provides as good of an observation platform as any helicopter and much of the associated vibrations found with helicopters is not as pronounced in gyroplanes putting less vibration on fragile equipment such as radios and navigation equipment. This means lighter equipment can replace bulkier equipment.

In regards to the dreaded airworthiness directives that can quickly down a fleet of helicopters the combined use of gyroplanes can still keep a unit effective and performing law enforcement aerial duties at a fraction of the cost. Inclusive to gyroplane maintenance costs is they typically have far fewer time life components to replace, inspect or overhaul further reducing the operational dollars needed to support the unit’s mission. Fuel being of concern of late can also be brought under a manageable budget with many aircraft using premium auto fuel in place of expensive Avgas or jet fuel.

So before a unit decides it can no longer provide the needed support to ground officers or provide valuable service to the community by closing the hanger doors. The unit may want to explore the possibilities of using a platform that quite simply provides more bang for the buck than the helicopter to perform many of the same missions.

Customer Service Can Makes a Company Great

What makes a company great, makes it stand out head and shoulders above the rest; has not only loyal but repeat customers who go back time and time again?

Is it the size of the company – bigger is always better?

Is it the amount of profits they make – well they must be good if they are making all that money – right?

Is it maybe they are the only business which has a particular item – hardly.

Or is their marketing excelling, taking full advantage of ALL media including online, social, TV and broadsheets as well as radio and tabloids.

What is their secret?

The truth is there is no secret, it all boils down to one thing – no matter size, profits, products, services or marketing plan, if you don’t have this one thing you may as well shut up shop and go home – and that one thing is Customer Service.

Don’t get me wrong the other things do help in some small way but Customer Service is King.

It should be natural and not forced. How annoying did “Have a nice day” become? It was novel at first but…

So how do you achieve great Customer Service?

Try following these dos and don’ts as guidelines:-

Do smile when talking – seems strange I know but it works, try it and see the difference.

Do listen and hear what your Customer is saying but don’t sit in silence use audible nods and empathise then repeat to show you have been listening using expressions like “If I have heard you correctly… ,” or “If I may repeat to make sure I have understood you… ” Goes a long way and also informs customer that you have been listening.

Never use the expressions “You need to… ,” or “You have to… ” They neither have to nor need to do anything.

Do ask permission “Is it OK if I take some details?” “May I have your name?” “Can I take a message?” “Are you happy to give me…?”

Don’t swear, be rude or argue back, tempting as it maybe, wait till your are of the call/ customer has gone/can’t see you, if you must vent/rant.

Don’t take it home, and never carry it over to the next customer.

Do treat each customer individually and although you may think that they are Bat Crap Crazy/stupid or what they are contacting you about is trivial, always remember to them it is important.

Don’t take it personally, they are just wanting to rant at somebody and don’t know you, all they want is for someone to take responsibility, not pass them from pillar to post and to listen.

And finally always end on a positive note, even if it’s a simple thanks for your call.

Follow these guidelines and you will notice a difference, not just in your customers but also in your staff who will be happier in their work and less stressed and if they are less stressed then they are willing to go that extra mile.

Knowing the Basics of Interventional Pain Management

Anyone, who is dealing with chronic and/or acute pain, knows the “pain” associated with the condition. In most cases, patients spend a considerable amount of time with primary care doctors, physical therapist, and specialists, hoping to find a more permanent solution. Interventional pain management is a practical alternative in such cases, where the concerned patient has tried all other treatment options.

Understanding interventional pain management

Interventional pain management is a specialized field in medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of chronic and/or acute pain and other related disorders. This is more of a “multidisciplinary” approach, which is offered by a team of experienced doctors and healthcare professionals. With interventional pain management, doctors aim to reduce chronic and or acute pain, besides focusing on better living. The treatment is entirely different from other forms of pain management because there is no direct dependency on pain-relief medications. In most cases, a physician may refer the matter to a pain management doctor, who will decide on the line of treatment, depending on the facts of the case. In case of interventional pain management, pain management physician will work together with chiropractors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, neurologist, and orthopaedic surgeon as needed to treat the condition by utilizing minimally invasive procedures such as epidural injections, facet blocks, trigger point injections, etc.

Things worth knowing

Interventional pain management is particularly beneficial for patients who are suffering from neck and back pain. Physicians may use more than one approach to the condition, depending on the diagnosis. The use of steroidal injections in the joints and epidural space is quite common, while injections are also used to treat a spinal nerve root, which is diagnosed as the source of pain. Branch blocks are also used for diagnostic purpose followed by radiofrequency ablation, while doctors may also use additional injections in the facet joints. Discography is also utilized to find the possible cause of pain, and in this procedure, a special dye is used in an injectable form into a disc to understand the pathology better.

In some cases, minimally-invasive procedures like “Radiofrequency Ablation” can be used for the medical branches, so as to restrict the movement of pain signals. Doctors may also suggest the use of heated electrodes for certain nerves that carry the pain signals, and this process is also known better as Rhizotomy. Not to forget, physical therapy and other forms of occupational therapies are also used for the treatment. Doctors also suggest lifestyle changes to patients, if they find any hope for better health.

The first appointment

You need to visit an Interventional Pain Management specialist, who will do a thorough exam to understand the possible concerns and issues related to the condition. Doctors may also suggest a few tests including x-rays and MRI for accurate diagnosis. You must also discuss the other kinds of treatments you have tried for your condition, and as required, doctors may suggest a line of therapy, after discussing the expectations, costs and other aspects.