Energy Explained Simply

Energy, it is fair to say, is a very vague concept. So where does one go to learn more? Does one have to take a physics course? I don’t think so, and to test my theory, I have tried to explain energy as briefly as I can, right here.Energy 101Energy is what makes the world go round. Literally. Every neuron that sparks in your brain, every electron that fires down a wire, every molecule burning in a fire, carries with it a sort of momentum that it passes on like a baton in a complex relay race. The batons are flooding in all directions all around us and across the universe – they are energy and we have learned how to harness them.The actual word “Energy” is a much abused term nowadays – because energy is used to represent such a disparate range of phenomena from heat to light to speed to weight, and because it seems to be able to change forms so readily, it is cannon fodder for pseudo-scientific and spiritual interpretation. However, you will be pleased to hear that it actually has a very clear (and consistent) nature.I like to think of energy being a bit like money – it is a sort of currency that can be traded. It takes on various forms (dollars/pounds/Swiss francs) and can be eventually cashed in to achieve something. However, just like money, once spent, it does not vanish. It simply moves on a new chapter in its life and may be reused indefinitely.To illustrate the point, let’s follow a ‘unit of energy’ through a visit to planet Earth to see what I mean. The [number] shows every time it changes currency (see the key below).The energy in our story starts off tied up in hydrogen atoms in the sun [1]. Suddenly, due to the immense pressure and heat, the nuclei of several atoms react to form a brand new helium atom, and a burst of radiation[2] is released. The radiation smashes into other nearby atoms heating them up so hot [4] that they glow, sending light [2] off into space. Several minutes pass in silence before the light bursts through the atmosphere and plunges down to the rainforest hitting a leaf. In the leaf the burst of power smashes a molecule of carbon dioxide and helps free the carbon to make food for the plant [3]. The plant may be eaten (giving food ‘Calories’), or may fall to the ground and settle and age for millions of years turning perhaps to coal. That coal may be dug up and burned to give heat [4] in a power station, boiling water to supply compressed steam [5] that may drive a turbine [6] which may be used to generate electricity [7] which we may then use in our homes to heat/light/move/cook or perhaps to recharge our mobile phone [3]. That energy will then be used to transmit microwaves when you make a call [2] which will mostly dissipate into the environment heating it (very) slightly [4]. Eventually the warmed earth radiates [2] this excess of heat off into the void where perhaps it will have another life…Energy currencies:[1] Matter is energy, according the Einstein, and the quantity relates to mass according to E=mc^2 (c is a constant equal to the speed of light).[2] Radiation (like sunlight) is a flow of energy, and energy content relates the frequency according to E=hf (h is the Planck constant).[3] Chemical energy – the most complex energy, a mixture of different tensions in nuclear and electromagnetic force fields.[4] Thermal (heat) energy- this is really just a sneaky form of kinetic energy [6 below] – small particles moving and vibrating fast are sensed by us as heat.[5] Compression (or tension) energy – while compressed air is again a sneaky form of kinetic energy[6], a compressed spring is different – it’s energy is more like chemical energy and is stored by creating tension in the force fields present in nature (gravity, electromagnetism and nuclear forces).

[6] Kinetic energy – is energy by virtue of movement (like a speeding bullet or unstoppable train)[7] Electrical energy – this energy, like a compressed spring, is stored as stress in force fields, in this case electromagnetic force-fields.This short story is testament to an enormous quantity of learning by our species, but there are some clear exclusions to be read into the story: Energy fields (auras) or the energy lines in the body that conduct the “chi” (or life force) of Asian medical tradition
Energy lines on the Earth (aka Ley lines)
Negative or positive energy (as in positive or negative “vibes”)These energy currencies relate to theories and beliefs that science has been unable to verify and thus they have no known “exchange rate”. Asking how many light bulbs can you power with your Chi is thus a nonsensical question, whereas it would not be for any scientifically supported form of energy. And since energy flows account for all actions in the universe, not being exchangeable would be rather limiting.Where exactly is Energy kept?This may sound like s strange question, we know Energy is kept in batteries, petrol tanks and chocolate chip cookies. But the question is, where exactly is it stored in those things?Energy is stored in several ways:as movement – any mass moving has energy by virtue of the movement, which is called Kinetic Energy
as matter – Einstein figured out that matter is just a form of energy, and the exchange rate is amazing – 1g = 90,000,000,000,000,000 joules (from E=mc^2)
as tension in force fieldsThat last one sounds a bit cryptic, but actually most of the energy we use is in this form – petrol, food, batteries and even a raised hammer all store energy in what are essentially compressed (or stretched springs).What is a force field? Why on earth did I have to bring that up?All of space (even the interstellar vacuum) is permeated by force fields. The one we all know best is gravity – we know that if we lift a weight, we have to exert effort and that effort is then stored in that weight and can be recovered later by dropping it on your foot.Gravity is only one of several force fields known to science. Magnetic fields are very similar – it takes energy to pull a magnet off the fridge, and so it is actually an energy store when kept away from the fridge.The next force field is that created by electric charge (the electric field). For many years this was though to be a field all on its own but a chap called James Clerk Maxwell realised that electric fields and magnetic fields are in some senses two sides of the same coin, so physicists now talk of ‘electromagnetic’ fields. It turns out that electric energy (such as that stored in a capacitor) consists of tensions in this field, much like a raised weight is a tension in a gravity field. Perhaps surprisingly, light (as well as radio waves, microwaves and x-rays) are also energy stored in fluctuations of an energy field.Much chemical energy is also stored in electric fields – for example, most atoms consist of positively charged nuclei and negatively charged electrons, and the further apart they are kept, the more energy they hold, just liked raised weights. As an electron is allowed to get closer to the nucleus, energy is released (generally as radiation, such as light – thus hot things glow).The least well known force field is the strong ‘nuclear’ force. This is the forces that holds the subatomic particles (protons) together in the nucleus of atoms. Since the protons are all positively charged, they should want to repel each other, but something is keeping them at bay, and so physicists have inferred this force field must exist. It turns out their theory holds water, because if you can drag these protons a little bit apart, they will suddenly fly off with gusto. The strong nuclear force turns out to be bloody strong, but only works over a tiny distance. It rarely affects us as we rarely store energy with this energy field.Now we understand force fields we can look at how molecules (petrol, oxygen, chocolate) store energy. All molecules are made of atoms connected to one other via various ‘bonds’ and these bonds are like springs. Different types of molecules have different amount of tension in these bonds – it turns out coal molecules, created millions of years ago with energy from the sun, are crammed full of tense bonds that are dying to re-arrange to more relaxed configurations, which is exactly what happens when we apply oxygen and the little heat to start the reaction.The complexity of the tensions in molecules are perhaps the most amazing in nature, as it is their re-arrangements that fuel life as we know it.What exactly is Heat then?You may have noticed that I did not include heat as a form of energy store above. But surely hot things are an energy store?Yes, they are, but heat is actually just a sort of illusion. We use heat as a catch all term to describe the kinetic energy of the molecules and atoms. If you have a bottle of air, the temperature of the air is a direct consequence of the average speed of the molecules of gas jetting around bashing into one another.As you heat the air, you are actually just increasing the speed of particles. If you compress the air, you may not increase their speed, but you will have more particles in the same volume, which also ‘feels’ hotter.Solids are a little different – the atoms and molecules in solids do not have the freedom to fly around, so instead, they vibrate. It is like each molecule is constrained by elastic bands pulling in all directions. If the molecule is still, it is cold, but if it is bouncing around like a pinball, then it has kinetic energy, and feels hotter.You can see from this viewpoint, that to talk of the temperature of an atom, or of a vacuum, is meaningless, because temperature is a macroscopic property of matter. On the other hand, you could technically argue that a flying bullet is red hot because it has so much kinetic energy…Is Energy Reusable?We as a species, have learned how to tap into flows of energy to get them to do our bidding. So big question: Will we use it all up?Scientists have found that energy is pretty much indestructible – it is never “used-up”, it merely flows from one form into another. The problem is thus not that we will run out, but that we might foolishly convert it all into some unusable form.Electricity is an example of really useful energy – we have machines that convert electricity into almost anything, whereas heat is only useful if you are cold, and light is only useful if you are in the dark.Engineers also talk about the quality (or grade) of energy. An engineer would always prefer 1 litre of water 70 degrees warmer than room temperature, than 70 litres of water 1 degree warmer, even though these contain roughly the same embodied energy. You can use the hot water to boil an egg, or make tea, or you could mix it with 69 litres of room temperature water to heat it all by 1 degree. It is more flexible.Unfortunately, most of the machines we use, turn good energy (electricity, petrol, light) into bad energy (usually “low grade heat”).Why is low grade heat so bad? It turns out we have no decent machine to convert low grade heat into other forms of energy. In fact we cannot technically convert any forms of heat into energy unless we have something cold to hand which we are also willing to warm up; our machines can thus only extract energy by using hot an cold things together. A steam engine relies just as much on the environment that cools and condenses water vapour as it does on the coal its belly. Power stations rely on their cooling towers as much as their furnaces. It turns out that all our heat machines are stuck in this trap.

So, in summary, heat itself is not useful – it is temperature differences that we know how to harness, and the bigger the better.This picture of energy lets us think differently about how we interact with energy. We have learned a few key facts:Energy is not destroyed, and cannot be totally used up – this should give us hope
Energy is harnessed to do our dirty work, but tends to end up stuck in some ‘hard to use’ formSo all we need to do to save ourselves is:Re-use the same energy over and over
by finding some way to extract energy from low grade heatAlas, this is a harder nut to crack than fission power, so I am not holding my breath. It turns out that there is another annoying universal law (the Second Law of Thermodynamics) that says that every time energy flows, it will somehow become less useful, like water running downhill. This is because energy can only flow one way: from something hot to something cold – thus once something hot and something cold meet and the temperature evens out, you have forever lost the useful energy you had.It is as if we had a mountain range and were using avalanches to drive our engines. Not only will our mountains get shorter over time but our valleys will fill up too, and soon we will live on a flat plane and our engines will be silent.The Big PictureSo the useful energy in the universe is being used up. Should we worry?Yes and no.Yes, you should worry because locally we are running out of easy sources of energy and will now have to start using sustainable ones. If we do not ramp up fast enough we will have catastrophic shortages.No, should should no worry that we will run out, because there are sustainable sources – the sun pumps out so much more than we use, it is virtually limitless.Oh, and yes again – because burning everything is messing up the chemistry of the atmosphere, which is also likely to cause catastrophe. Good news is that the solution to this is the same – most renewable energy sources do not have this unhappy side effect.Oh, and in the really long term, yes we should worry again. All the energy in the universe will eventually convert to heat, and the heat will probably spread evenly throughout the universe, and even though all the energy will still be present and accounted for, it would be impossible to use and the universe would basically stop. Pretty dismal, but this is what many physicists believe: we all exist in the eddy currents of heat flows as the universe gradually heads for a luke-warm, and dead, equilibrium.=============If you liked this article, you might like my series on efficient motoring.

Arcade Fun

An arcade often refers to an entertainment establishment or an area within an amusement park that houses different coin-operated machines and video games. It is a popular hangout for many teenagers and young adults alike. However, there are still a number of adults who still enjoy a game or two when visiting arcades. The different types of arcade games include video games, pinball machines, shooting galleries, ball toss games, crane machines, dance and music games, and simulated games, among many others. Most, if not all, arcade games are coin, token or magnetic card operated, and you can get a prize immediately or collect tickets or points for redemption of various items depending on the number of tickets or points.Arcade and video games’ origins can be traced back in early 20th century and grew in popularity in the 1970s with machines built mostly by Japanese companies such as Atari. However, coin operated games can actually be traced back as early as 350 BC during the time of Alexander the Great. According to one story, there was a man who presented Alexander the Great a game that once you placed a coin in it, the players would be able to bring balls up and down to disappear in several holes as controlled by the players. The winner could get twice what was given as a bet. Another coin operated machine used as a game of chance and to win some money was a slot machine invented by a jester in 1108. It was described similarly to the slot machines we know today – put in a coin, operate the level and get a chance to double your money.

Subsequently, other coin operated games were invented and introduced to the public with intention of providing entertainment and multiple chances of winning more than they betted. The rise in producing different kinds and types of coin operated machines for entertainment started around the late 1800s but reached its highest peak, including other arcade and video games, in early 2000. However, from 2004 until pretty much today, there was a decline in arcade games with the rise in popularity of portable video game gadgets such as Play Station and PSP, Xbox, Wii, PCs, and even mobile phones, among many others.Nevertheless, arcades in different parts of the country still have considerable following especially as part of amusement parks and inside shopping malls. Young kids and teenagers can still be seen hanging out in arcades to meet friends and to compete with others who have the same interest on playing arcade and video games. Nowadays, the most popular arcade and video games include Sega’s Extreme Hunting 2 Tournament (video kit), JVL’s Retro (countertop), Raw Thrills-Betson’s Fast & Furious (video dedicated), Raw Thrills-Betson’s Fast & Furious Super Bikes (video simulators), Stern Pinball’s Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean (pinball game), Skee-Ball’s Skee-Ball Too! (alley bowlers), Skee-Ball’s Super Shot (sports games), Rainbow’s Rainbow (cranes & rotaries), Betson’s Sponge Bob Jellyfish (children’s games), ICE’s Deal or No Deal (novelty games), Family Fun Co.’s Football Fortune (coin drop), Benchmark’s Wheel Deal (coin drop), Andamiro’s Hammer (bopping/stomping games), and LAI Games’ Stacker (prize vendors), among many others.

Three Types Of Livestock That Can Be Raised By Beginner Farmers

When people move from the city life to live in the country side they get interested in raising livestock. The reasons may vary as to why people want to raise livestock, some people raise them as pets and some raise them because they want to make some money by selling the livestock produce.What ever reason may be, raising livestock can be done by almost anyone who is dedicated to being a livestock farmer and someone who is willing to put aside a lot of his time in managing and taking care of their livestock. In order to raise healthy livestock you have to give the animals proper care such as feeding them nutritious food plus clean water on daily bases, building them some good shelter and have them checked by a veterinarian for health issues.There are various types of livestock you may want to raise as a beginner livestock farmer. Some of them need more care than others and maybe suitable for new farmers to raise. Three types of livestock that are suitable for beginner livestock farmers are goats, cattle and sheep. Below are more details on how you can go about raising them.Raising Cattle:A lot of farmers start by raising cattle in their farm ranch. Cattle are a stress free livestock to raise when taking good care of. Their produce such as milk and meat is in high demand in the markets for its nutritious benefits. When you own cattle you will be able provide your family with fresh milk on daily bases and save lots of money in buying milk.

When starting out in raising cattle you have to first choose the kind of breed you want to raise. There are over 800 types of breeds which are in 3 different categories known as the zebus, the hybrids and taurine cattle. Some types of breeds are good for the production of milk whilst others are suitable for meat production.When raising different types of cattle a farmer should install stalls that separate those that eat grass and hay to those that eat sophisticated feeds.Since cattle are grazing animals you have to have some large piece of land if you want to raise them. The land in which they graze on has to be well fenced so secure the livestock. For the fence you can either use electrical wiring or use a wood and steel fence. You should also prepare some equipment needed to raise cattle such as pails, water containers and feeding beds.Although cattle don’t require some sort of roofed shelter that doesn’t mean you can’t build one. A roofed shelter will also help you in storing your livestock equipment and can be used to milk your cows.Raising Goats:Goats are another type of livestock that can be raised by a beginner farmer and they are less prone to diseases than cattle. They can also be raised for the production of milk and meat which high in demand and cost more than cattle produce.When starting out raising goats you have to first make up your mind on what type of goat breed you want to raise. The type of breed depends on the end product you want to produce from your goats, you can either raise goats for the production of fiber, tasty meat and milk that is high in nutrients.Once you have made up your mind on the type of goat you want to raise you have to decide on the number of goats you are planning on raising. Knowing the number of goats you are planning on raising will help you estimate how large your land should be. One thing to note is that goats reproduce almost every year so the land should be large enough to accommodate the growth of your herd.Goats also need some shelter to rest at the end of the day. The shelter should be large enough for all your livestock to fit in properly without being over crowded. The shelter should be comfortable so that they can sleep at night and protect them from harsh weather such as too much sunlight, rain and snow. Don’t forget to fence the entire grazing land so that predators don’t attack and kill your herd.Raising Sheep:Raising sheep is very interesting and rewarding as raising cattle and goats. These type of livestock can be raised for various reasons such as producing quality wool, producing cheese from its prolific milk and the obvious tender meat. These produce can also be sold since they are in high demand.Sheep are animals that like grazing the field. If you want to raise healthy sheep then you have to have some large land of green grass for the livestock to graze on. Although feeding your sheep grain supplements plays a big part in their diet, grass fed sheep produce a higher nutritional value produce. Since sheep like grazing in a large group as a livestock farmer it can be daunting to manage them on the field so it would be wise to have a helper dog to assist you.

An essential part of raising sheep is keeping them within their confines, this helps them in not getting lost in the wild and end of being eaten by wild animals such as bobcats, bears and wild dogs. At the same time it helps in keeping these predators out of the grazing area. Using an electrified fence can help a lot and its easy to install as well.In order to ward off natural elements that can be harmful to your livestock you have to invest some money in building good housing for your sheep. When designing the house make sure you build a chute to manage the sheep when you need to make some checkups on each and everyone of them or when vaccinating them.As you see raising livestock can be done by almost anyone even if you don’t have any past experience or were not raised in a farm ranch. Just like any other type of pet they need to be taken care for and make sure they leave in comfortable conditions.When starting out its best to first start with raising one type of livestock then move on to another type when you have gotten the experience from your first set of livestock.

Still More Anomalies: Another Top Baker’s Dozen

You may not be happy with the world as it is, but at least it’s orderly and makes logical sense. Walk, don’t walk, green yellow red; money trickles in, money flows out; friends and politicians come and go, enemies and stuff accumulate; the sun rises and sets, the moon waxes and wanes; people are born, people die; the days, weeks, months, seasons. and years come and go with regularity. But dig a bit deeper beneath the surface and the world and the cosmos it inhabits, is one anomalous place.THE BIG BANG EVENT: This is no doubt a concept that nearly everyone has heard about, and swallowed hook, line and cosmological sinker because scientists present this creation of the Universe scenario as fact. It’s not fact; just the most viable theory of many theories and it has serious flaws. The accepted theoretical account of the creation or event that kick-started our Universe off not only has that event a something that created all of matter and energy, but all of time and space as well, and this creation event, to boot, all took place in a volume less than that of a pinhead (something in the realm of the quantum) and for no apparent reason at all. First there was nothing; then there was something. Wow!At best observations that support this are indirect being made some 13.7 billion years after-the-fact. Those indirect observations that provide evidence for the Big Bang event are the fact that the Universe is expanding; the Universe has a temperature – the remnants from the hot Big Bang called the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) and the amounts and ratio of hydrogen to helium. In reality there are no direct observations as nobody was present at Ground Zero all those billions of years ago.There are really a couple of anomalies present in the standard Big Bang account. 1) You have a violation of causality – something (space, time, matter and energy) created from nothing which is a violation of several conservation laws or relationships. 2) You have a violation of pure common sense that tells you that you can not stuff the contents of the entire Universe into the realm of the quantum, something actually way less in volume in fact than a pinhead. If that’s not anomalous, I don’t know what is!SPEED OF LIGHT: The anomaly here is that in any other scenario, velocities can be added and subtracted, except the velocity that’s known as the speed of light. Within Relativity Theory, if there is anything unintuitive it is the fact that in the entire Universe, it is the speed of light alone that is absolute or fixed, not something like space or time. It’s unintuitive in that all other bits and pieces that are in motion can be added or subtracted. So, if you are in a train that is moving at say 100 km/hour and you throw a ball at 10 km/hour in the direction at which the train is moving, to an observer outside the train, your ball is traveling at 110 km/hour. If you throw the ball towards the rear of the train, an outside observer will measure the ball as moving at 90 km/hour. If on the other hand, you shine a flashlight in the train, an outside observer will see the velocity of the resulting light beam moving at the speed of light – not the speed of light PLUS the velocity of the train, or the speed of light MINUS the velocity of the train, but at the speed of light! That’s nuts, but it’s scientifically nuts and been proven again and again in any experiment you care to devise.QUANTUM GRAVITY AND THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING: We have the Theory of General Relativity (gravity) and Quantum Physics. Both are bedrocks of modern physics. Both are accurate to a high degree of experimental precision. Both aren’t compatible – with each other. Apparently, one (or both) of these theories must be wrong, or at best incomplete. That’s why the unification of the two (a theory of quantum gravity) is physics’ Holy Grail. However, that Holy Grail is proving as difficult to find as the Biblical Grail itself! But for the moment, it’s like the universe has two independent sets of laws – one governing the very large (gravity); one the very small (the quantum). This makes no natural or scientific sense.We have observations of four physical forces yet no theory which unites the three quantum forces (electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force) with the one classical force – gravity. Theory needs to be satisfied. All of the four fundamental forces should be interconnected; some sort of unification principle must be in operation that relates all four, one to the other. However, these four fundamental forces that govern the Universe show no signs of any obvious unification – well actually the three quantum ones do (known as the GUT – Grand Unified Theory), but that’s where the unification ends. Gravity remains the wallflower. If the Big Bang theory is to be proven correct as stated, scientists must of necessity come up with a viable theory of quantum gravity that is an acceptable unification of the trio of quantum forces with gravity. There is, to date, no viable theory of quantum gravity despite thousands of physicists searching for one over many generations now. Mother Nature is an anomalous bitch!

QUASARS: Quasars are ‘quasi-stellar objects’. They are ‘stellar’ because they aren’t all that large (like a galaxy). They are ‘quasi’ because they give off energy way, way, way more times greater than any star known in any astronomical catalogue. They seem to be primordial objects – they formed long ago and are now far away. Quasars, like stars or galaxies, are their own entities and if two or more show a very close and special causality relationships then they should show identical recessional velocities (since the Universe is expanding and they are part of the Universe and that expansion). Recessional velocities are measured by an object’s red-shift. Theory identifies red-shift with velocity. However, you apparently have some observations of causality connected quasar pairs with vastly differing red-shifts (measurements of their recessional velocities). The anomaly, in an analogy, is that you can not have a runner running at 15 miles per hour holding hands with another runner running at 3 miles per hour!MASS: There are three fundamental properties of particles (like the electron, neutrinos, the numerous quarks, etc.) and their anti-particles (like the positron). They are charge, spin and mass. As the song goes, two out of three ain’t bad, but that still leaves one out of three out of joint. In this case, it’s mass. Nobody can predict from first principles what the masses of the fundamental particles should be. That’s fairly disturbing for something as fundamental as mass. Despite the relatively large number of particles (including their equal and opposite anti-particles), there are only a few allowed values for charge and spin, values pretty much confined to the physics infield. But, for some reason, the mass (usually expressed in equivalent energy units – Einstein’s famous equation) of the various particles are not only scattered throughout the physics ballpark but are all over the city map and beyond. They take on values (albeit one value per type of particle) over many orders of magnitude without any apparent pattern or regularity or relationship between them – and nobody has the foggiest idea why, not a validly theoretical idea, or even a ‘far out’ idea. Why should mass differ so greatly from the other fundamental properties part and parcel of those elementary particles? It’s like someone just drew a few dozens of numbers out of a hat containing multi hundreds of thousands of values and assigned them to the few dozens of particles willy-nilly. Something is screwy somewhere because something so fundamental shouldn’t be so anomalous.PHYSICAL CONSTANTS: There are constant reports of physical constants that aren’t – constant that is. Physical constants are just that – a constant. They have just one value, everywhere, every-when, and no exceptions. But apparently some ‘constants’ have more than one value depending of where and/or when. Theory and observations (if correct) are yet again not in harmony and that’s totally nuts!TIME TRAVEL: Time travel to the past is a staple of science fiction, but surprisingly has actual viability in modern general relativity physics. In general relativity physics, time travel to the past is theoretically possible – though damned difficult in practice. However, that means that those time travel paradoxes are possible, even likely.The anomaly are those lovable paradoxes like going back in time, say ten years, and killing yourself (which is a novel way of committing suicide), which means you couldn’t have existed to go back in time in the first place in order to kill yourself, which means you’re not dead so you can go back in time and murder yourself, etc. What kind of physics is that?The second anomaly however is that no time travelers have been observed from our future. You would think various significant historical events would be swarming with historians and tourists from the future where time travel is possible. Nobody from our present or past has time traveled back in time and left a proof-positive calling card that we’ve ever found in the fossil record or recorded in the history books.If something is possible, especially something as interesting as time travel, we would expect to see either people from our future in the here and now, or evidence that we’ve traveled to the past, like finding a human skeleton buried inside a T-Rex skeleton, as in inside the area where the T-Rex’s abdominal cavity would be! We don’t.CATTLE MUTILATIONS: There’s no disputing the bona-fides of this gruesome reality. It has been observed – after-the-fact – photographed, documented, and investigated by all manner of officialdom, as well as unofficial private investigators. And though oft referred to as ‘cattle’ mutilations, all manner of wildlife and other domestic livestock have been targeted too, the first reported case being a horse. Like the crop circle phenomena, there are three possible explanations: natural, human or alien.If natural, why has this phenomenon only become an issue since the 1960′s? Predator-prey relationships, scavengers, etc. have existed and been observed ever since humans have inhabited the continents. There should be no anomaly here if animal mutilations are just the normal continuation of Mother Nature in tooth and claw. But there is an anomaly. If predators or scavengers, why are there no footprints, and especially if predators, why no signs of a struggle? How can predators account for precision removal of just certain body parts with razor sharp incisions? Since there’s no blood associated with the mutilated carcasses, did predators drink up their entire victim’s blood like an animal version of Dracula?If humans or cultists are responsible, why hasn’t anyone claimed responsibility? Why hasn’t anyone been caught, tried, convicted, fined and/or imprisoned for trespass, animal cruelty, destruction of private property, etc.? Why no signs of human activity like tire tracks and footprints and litter (say a cigarette butt or beer can or two). Again, why no signs of a struggle?Some have suggested this is the work of government, or government departments, taking samples to monitor for various bovine nasties, like diseases, or other types of contamination that could endanger human health if these livestock were consumed. Really! There are vastly easier ways of legally gathering up tissue samples than sneaking around in the dead of night and killing/mutilating animals for a few body parts.So of course it has to be extraterrestrials! How can aliens mutilate cattle (and other livestock and wildlife), decade after decade, without ever being seen? Why would aliens be interested in wildlife and livestock in the first damned place, or at least some of their highly selected body parts?HUMAN CULTURE & CIVILIZATION: There are two relatively unexplained turning points in the evolution of modern man when contrasted with our more primate-like ancestors. One is the acquisition of what we call culture. Culture (like art appreciation and abstract ideas like an afterlife) happened within a fairly narrow timeframe, roughly 50,000 years ago, wherever nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers gathered. Why the sudden transition? The second great leap forward, again, within a narrow timeframe, some 9000 years ago, was the transition from nomadic lifestyles to settlements – farming crops and herding now domesticated wildlife. Settlements rapidly became villages became towns became cities. While some nomadic hunter-gatherers still roamed the plains, like the Australian aboriginal, what was once that nomadic rule now became that exception to that rule. In both cases, culture and civilization, the observational evidence is rock-solid; theory can’t really explain the transition, or at least the relatively rapid transition, around the world, from the tried-and-true before-the-fact pre-cultural nomadic lifestyle to the unknown leap of an untested experiment with culture and settlements.ANCIENT EGYPT: LIGHTING THE PYRAMIDS, etc. We all are aware that many of the ancient Egyptian structures, like pyramids and the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, contain vast numbers of deep and twisting passageways inside. Many of those interiors have been elaborately decorated with all manner of paintings and carvings of hieroglyphs, etc. Whether or not the interiors were decorated, there must have been a requirement for lighting. There were no glass windows. There were no battery-operated torches or flashlights. There was no electric lighting back then, though of course that’s how these structures are illuminated today for tourists and/or archaeologists. Neither source of available luminescent technology back then really holds a candle as it were to how they could have been actually employed. The obvious sources were burning torches, oil lamps, candles, etc. Now you don’t really want to undertake construction, detailed painting or carving stone by candlelight. In any event there are no traces of soot residue on the walls and ceilings. The alternative method was to position bronze or copper mirrors that reflect sunlight onto another mirror which in turn reflected that light onto another mirror further inside the structure which in turn reflected the light it received onto the next mirror down the line, etc. The physics problem is that the original sunlight gets so diluted so quickly after just a couple of mirrors in, that it becomes an impractical ways and means. If you have to penetrate very far inside the structure, and some passageways are indeed, very, very far inside, lighting with mirrors fail. The anomaly is you need adequate lighting yet there’s no really adequate source.

EXODUS, BOOK OF: There are multi-dozens of anomalies, things that just can’t be, reported in the Bible. Of all of these, the most anomalous is the Book of Exodus, because some of the events recorded there can be checked against another independent historical source. If the history in the Book of Exodus is found wanting, and it is, then if one holy book goes down the gurgler, then all the rest of the books are suspect too.The anomaly here is that the Book of Exodus features the land and peoples of ancient Egypt fairly prominently. A couple of key Biblical characters play leading roles there – Moses and Joseph – not to mention thousands of alleged Hebrew slaves. Nasty things happen to that land and those peoples like the ten plagues and the drowning of pharaoh’s army. The anomaly here is that you’d expect ancient Egyptian records to verify and collaborate and substantiate the Book of Exodus, but you don’t find anything of the sort. It’s as if the Biblical version took place in a parallel universe – or in the imagination of the all too human author.BIBLICAL MIRACLES: Then there’s this Biblical bit about Joshua commanding the sun to stand still (at least that’s the way I recall it). That’s a tall tale or myth but whatever, it can’t be a physical reality. But wait, there’s more! There’s Jonah and the whale; Eve’s creation from a rib; walking on the waters; the walls of Jericho tumbling down at the sound of no doubt out of tune trumpets or rams horns. In the Bible we have this tale of the multiplying of loaves and fishes out of virtually nothing.Miracles are part and parcel of any and all supernaturally based religions. Miracles of the supernatural kind (and that’s the only kind of miracle that counts here) violate one or more laws, principles or relationships established by science. There can be no such thing as a supernatural miracle in theory. However, there have been numerous reports of supernatural miracles.Reported events cannot violate the natural state of things. If they do violate that natural state of things, then they must be supernatural. There’s no known theory that can accommodate supernatural events. That’s part of the conflict between science and religion. The conflict is an anomaly.THE AFTERLIFE: A concept that closest to the hearts and minds of nearly all humans and human cultures past and present is what happens to us after we kick the bucket. The answer is we transcend into another life – an afterlife. Every culture, past and present, has an afterlife concept, a life after death concept, or some sort of an eternity or immortality worldview. Not all of the versions of the theoretical afterlife can be correct however. Idealistic theoretical expectations that when you die you won’t stay dead, versus practical reality that observations show that dead things stay dead, are indeed conflicting, therefore anomalous. However, nobody has ever come back from the dead to prove the reality of an afterlife to the satisfaction of any unbiased referee.From the examples above, I conclude that it almost seems as if someone (something) is ultimately responsible for our Universe, but he / she/ it / they didn’t quite think things through sufficiently. Methinks an all knowing, all powerful supernatural God type being wouldn’t have stuffed things up. So either the Universe is naturally stuffed up, or it was created stuffed up!

How Effective Is Weight Loss Surgery?

For severely overweight individuals that have failed to see results from diet and exercise alone, weight-loss surgery has become the safest and most effective means of achieving significant weight loss. In fact, studies have shown that with diet and exercise alone, nearly 95% of obese patients will gain all the lost weight back within 5 years. On the other hand, long-term success rates for weight-loss surgery – including the LAP-BAND procedure – are remarkably high, allowing patients to maintain a loss of between 50-70% of their excess body weight. Though there are many factors that can impact an individual patient’s weight-loss success, weight-loss surgery is simply the most effective long-term weight loss and healthy lifestyle solution for severely obese patients.Studies show that most patients that undergo weight-loss surgery will lose between 50-70% of their excess body weight within the first three years following their procedure. Those that undergo gastric bypass surgery will lose excess body weight more rapidly in the first 12 months than those that choose LAP-BAND surgery. However, gastric bypass patients typically experience a greater number of complications and side effects than LAP-BAND patients, as the LAP-BAND procedure allows for more gradual and natural long-term weight loss.From a clinical perspective, a weight-loss surgery is considered successful when the patient loses at least 50% of their excess body weight and keeps the weight off for at least five years. While important lifestyle changes need to be made to ensure that the weight loss is maintained in the long term, studies have shown that most weight loss surgery patients are able to maintain a 50-60% loss of excess body weight 10 years after the surgical procedure. However, it is important to note that a weight loss of just 10% of total body weight can begin to have positive health effects in resolution of obesity-related condition like asthma, gastric reflux (GERD), and diabetes. As weight-loss surgery is usually performed on patients that are at least 75-100 pounds overweight or have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 35 with a health condition, overall weight loss can range anywhere from 40 pounds to over 100 pounds. But the patient is really the leader behind achieving these results.

While patients will certainly look and feel better after weight-loss surgery, there are also numerous health benefits associated with successful weight loss. In most cases, health conditions that develop as a result of excessive body weight or are worsened by obesity can be improved upon or, in some cases, remedied by weight-loss surgery.But there are other ways to measuring success with weight-loss surgery, like the LAP-BAND System. For instance, many weight loss surgery patients take great pride in being able to perform certain activities that may not have been possible for a number of years, like crossing their legs, bending over to tie a show, walking up stairs without being easily winded or sitting comfortably in an airplane seat.While most patients that undergo weight-loss surgery experience incredibly positive results, there are many factors that can impact the overall success of an individual patient’s procedure and follow-up treatment. Here are some important factors to consider as you try to determine whether weight loss surgery is right for you.Pre-surgery WeightGenerally speaking, the higher a patient’s pre-surgery weight or BMI, the more excess weight the patient can lose after surgery. However, recipients of weight-loss surgery with less excess body weight will eventually come closer to their ideal weight when committed to long-term diet and exercise. Also, resolution or improvement in obesity-related diseases can occur with even moderate amounts of weight. Often many diseases can become closer to cured than improved with earlier intervention at a lower weight.Overall HealthWhile pre-existing health conditions can impact the overall success of weight-loss surgery (for instance, patients with type 2 Diabetes typically lose less excess body weight after surgery), studies have shown that many ailments linked to obesity are either improved upon or fall into remission after a successful procedure. For instance, a 2000 study performed on 500 weight loss surgery patients showed that nearly 96% of health conditions associated with obesity – such as high blood pressure, depression, sleep apnea, back pain and diabetes – improved greatly following loss of excess weight and long-term commitment to diet and exercise.Surgical ProcedureAs there are potential risks and complications associated with any surgical procedure, potential patients should always seek to have their weight-loss surgery performed by a trusted medical staff. Prospective patients should inquire about their surgeon’s success rates with weight-loss surgery and listen to the experiences of former patients. Additionally, a patient’s weight-loss success may also be impacted by the quality of post-surgery care and counseling provided by their bariatric outpatient facility.Diet and ExerciseAs diet and exercise are two of the most important factors in any weight loss plan, patients with the physical ability to exercise after weight-loss surgery have increased chances of meeting their goals. To maintain the weight loss achieved by surgery, both exercise and healthy eating habits must become integral parts of a patient’s lifestyle.

CommitmentThe ability to remain committed to suggested dietary guidelines, exercise regimens and any follow-up care recommended by the bariatric outpatient facility is important for both short-term weight loss and long-term weight management.MotivationPatients that are motivated to lose weight and willing to follow through with diet and exercise prior to receiving weight loss surgery may experience greater levels of success immediately following the procedure and in the long term. Most people did not find themselves severely obese overnight. It took years to reach that weight and therefore patients should be patient with the weight-loss process, which will also not occur overnight. Successful patients find small victories along the way to celebrate and stay motivated.SupportAs weight-loss surgery will require some time away from everyday activities, it is important to have the support of family, friends and coworkers before undergoing any surgical procedure. Furthermore, as the ongoing weight-loss process following bariatric surgery may require a certain level of emotional support, prospective patients may want to establish a support network – including friends and family members that can join in on exercise and healthy eating.Considering that significant weight loss can not only remedy many health concerns, but also improve an individual’s quality of life, the potential benefits of weight-loss surgery are plentiful. For severely overweight individuals that are unable to lose weight via diet and exercise alone, weight-loss surgery is the most effective method of losing weight – and keeping the weight off.

Credit Collection Laws And You

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Act has helped thousands of debtors free themselves from collection agents and junk debt buyers who act like complete Neanderthals when collecting debts. Junk debt buyers, collection agencies and sometimes, even original creditors are known mostly for their unforgiving, intimidating and often illegal collection tactics to extract money from debtors. Since laws have been enforced, consumer rights are protected against mean-spirited credit collectors, which is why it is important to educate yourself with credit collection laws to minimize the chances of being harassed by creditors or collection agencies.

One of the most common ways debt collectors obtain information from debtors is asking for their bank or credit card information. In the past, debtors have no other choice but to divulge such sensitive information from creditors or collection agencies. However, things have changed, laws are enacted and junk debt collectors and collection agencies can no longer make a person give his or her credit card and bank information.Once contacted by a debt collector, debtors are given 30 days to dispute the debt and make the debt collector prove the ownership of the debt in dispute. The bottom line is, you don’t need to pay anything just because someone claims you owe them money. If they can’t produce proof that you owe them money, they can’t collect the money nor can they file a credit card lawsuit.Apart from proving the debt’s ownership, collectors can no longer threaten, use profanity, vulgarities or use demeaning language to scare debtors into paying the debt. They can no longer humiliate you or talk to third parties about your financial problems. They can no longer discuss confidential debt information to other people. They can no longer threaten to garnish your wages, put lien on your properties when they haven’t gained legal authority to do so. They can only obtain a portion of your paycheck if they win the credit card lawsuit they filed otherwise, no such threats are allowed under the FDCPA.

If debt collectors continuously call you at the dead of the night or early in the morning, you can send them a Cease and Desist letter, information them that you do not wish to be contacted via phone calls and will respond only in writing. In response, the debt collector can only notify you about their next step, usually filing a credit card lawsuit, in writing. If they refuse to comply, they are violating the mandates of collection laws and will be brought to justice.

10 Alternatives To Getting Rid Of Your Pet

So you’ve had your dog or cat for a while, and your life is changing, and now you think you need to get rid of your pet. But are you sure this is what you want to do? Getting rid of your pet is a very drastic measure. If you leave your pet at a shelter, you may think he will find a new home soon. But it is unlikely. Many high-kill shelters must euthanize animals each day in order to make room for new ones who have come in. Some animals are only at the shelter for four or five days before they run out of luck. Fifty-six percent of dogs and seventy-six percent of cats in shelters are euthanized… many of them healthy, well-behaved animals whose owners simply didn’t have time for them anymore. Even in a no-kill shelter, your pet may be doomed to live out the rest of his life in a small cage if he is not chosen for adoption.
If you are willing to try keeping your pet, there are many things you can do. Lets look at some of the most common reasons why people get rid of their pets, and how to get around them.Reason 1: I’m moving.
Solution: Bring your pet with! A quick Google search for “pet-friendly housing” will show you many different directories of rental housing that allows pets. Here are just a few that I found: People With Pets, Pets Welcome, My New Place, Pets911, Home With Pets, and Dog House Properties. And pet-friendly housing is not just limited to those sites! Many apartment buildings and complexes will allow pets. You may have to pay an extra security deposit. But in the end, it will be worth it, to keep your pet with you!
Here is something else you should know. If things get really bad and you have no place to live, you still may not have to give up your pet. Pets Of The Homeless is a website that works to help homeless people to keep their pets, or find temporary homes for their pets until they get back on their feet.Reason 2: I can no longer afford my pets.
Solution: Call your local animal shelter, or food pantry, and ask about pet food banks. They do exist, and are becoming more and more common! You can even make your own dog food, which may be cheaper in the long run. (Its not difficult! Dogs can eat much of the same things we eat!) Your local animal shelter, or your veterinarian, may also be able to tell you about free or low cost vet care for your pets.

Reason 3: My new boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/roommate doesn’t like pets.
Solution: Are you really going to sacrifice your pet on someone else’s whim? Are you sure you want to date someone or live with someone who doesn’t like pets? That’s a pretty big lifestyle change to make for someone else. If you’re sure you want to stick with this person, work out a compromise. Maybe your pet can be banned from certain areas of the house, like the bedroom or the kitchen.Reason 4: My new boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/roommate is allergic to my pet.
Solution: As long as the person’s allergy isn’t life threatening, there are many things you can do to greatly reduce the allergens on your pet. Keeping your house clean is a giant step. Dust and vacuum frequently, and use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter if possible. You can buy an air filter for your home that sucks the allergens out of the air. A company called AllerPet makes a special liquid that you can wipe your pet down with regularly to get rid of the allergens on him. Sprinkling flax seeds in your pet’s food can also reduce the amount of dander he produces. The person may even be willing to take allergy medication! After all, many people have seasonal allergies and take medicine regularly. They don’t just get rid of the seasons!Reason 5: We’re having a baby.
Solution: Pets and children are a great combination! Most pets are perfectly fine around children, although they may be a little confused by the new arrival at first. You should always supervise your pet around young children. When your child is an infant, he probably won’t be unsupervised anyways, right? As your child gets older, you will have to teach the child to be gentle with the pets. Do not allow your child to pull your pet’s tail, poke him, pick him up, etc. Many people feel that a pet should be obligated to put up with whatever your child deals out. But that is not good for anyone involved! Teaching your child, from a young age, to be calm and nurturing around pets, is a great learning experience for the child. If you have a dog, you may want to do some extra training with him before the baby comes, to teach him not to jump up on you when you’re holding the baby, etc. Other measures may include banning the pets from certain areas of the house, hiring someone to come walk your dogs or clean up after your pets when you don’t have time to, etc.Reason 6: I have developed health problems.
Solution: Speak to your veterinarian, neighbors, friends, people at your place of worship, etc. You can probably find some volunteers to help you take care of your pet. Having a pet can be a source of comfort when you are ill. In fact, many studies have shown that people with pets have lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, and are generally more healthy, than those without pets. If your health problems are so severe that you must move into a nursing home, maybe you can find someone willing too foster your pet for you.Reason 7: My pet has developed costly health problems.
Solution: Speak to your veterinarian about this. They may be able to guide you to low cost veterinary clinics, veterinary schools that offer low cost treatment, etc. Many veterinary offices now offer payment plans for treatment. They may be able to help you find creative ways of raising money to pay for your pet’s treatment, too!Reason 8: My pet still isn’t house trained.
Solution: If your pet is suddenly having “accidents” around the house when he used to be house trained, there could be a medical reason. You may want to consult your veterinarian. If the house training has just never completely been accomplished, you may have to start over from scratch. For a dog, take him out more frequently and try to get him on a schedule. If you are not home during the day, and your dog is eliminating on the floor or furniture while you are gone, you may want to consider crating him while you are not home. For a cat, switching to a different kind of litter, getting a bigger litter box, or moving the litter box to a different area of the house, can help. Clean up accidents with a mixture of vinegar and water. This mixture gets rid of the scent of urine or poop, so that the pet doesn’t feel the need to “mark” that area again.

Reason 9: I work long hours, and don’t have much time to spend with my pet. Its not fair to him.
Solution: While it may seem unfair that your pet has to spend time alone, it is still better than making him take his chances in a shelter! There are simple measures, such as providing stimulating toys for your pets, or leaving the TV on during the day, that can help your pet to feel less lonely. One nice thing you can do is buy your pet a special blanket. Sleep with it in your bed for a few nights before you give it to your pet. It will smell like you, and offer comfort to your pet when you are away from the house! You may also want to consider pet day care, or hiring someone to stop in during the day to play with your pets. Also, spending as little as fifteen minutes before you leave for work, just playing with your pet and spending quality time with him, can make a real difference. You don’t have to be a perfect owner and spend tons of time hanging out with your pet. He will love you the way you are… and again, it is better to be alone at your home than to die alone in a shelter.Reason 10: My pet has behavior problems. He bites/scratches/jumps on me, barks too much, etc.
You may want to consider a training class for yourself and your pet. Petco and Petsmart offer fairly inexpensive training classes. It can be a good investment! If you can’t afford this, then the library can provide books on dog training, and the Internet can provide websites with tips. Try Googling a specific problem you’re having. For instance, search for “teach dog to stop barking.” Spending ten or fifteen minutes a day working with your dog, and then consistently rewarding your dog for positive behavior, can make a huge difference.These are just a few of the common reasons why people consider giving up their pets. But remember, every problem has a solution. So, before you give up on your pet, please take some time to remedy the problems!

How To Start A Photography Business – Knowing When You’re Really Ready And Knowing Other Differences

Here’s a question: How do you know when you’re ready to start a photography business? Answer: When you ‘know’ that you ‘know’ (the doublespeak is for emphasis) the difference between your artistic photography skills and your understanding of business. Knowing the difference makes the difference between success and failure when you start any type of business, for that matter.Tip #1Think about it, the art of taking pictures is getting easier and easier – especially with the advancement of technology. Digital technology has made photography so easy that it appears that everybody and their brothers and their sisters are photographers! Such ease makes photography a very popular attraction and very compelling to start a photo biz.But, what many budding photographers fail to realize and take seriously is that: Business is Business. Whether selling teddy bears, cell phones or photography, the business principles are the same. And they are basic and simple (not easy – simple). Successful photographers aren’t necessarily the most skilled. They understand and practice the basic and simple principles of running a photography business. They also don’t confuse the quality of their photography with the need to plan, market and operate their photography business.Don’t be confused! You must consistently produce top-notch quality products and photographic services. Constantly improving your skills is critical. So is the learning and consistent practice of business principles. If you don’t consistently practice the necessary business principles, budding photographers that do know the difference and practice the principles will get the customers and the business that should be yours. If you fail to practice the principles you will fail at your photography business attempts. Period. You will be another charter member of the ‘starving artist’ club! There’s a reason why they’re ‘starving!’

Once you do start a picture-taking business, every day that you’re in business there’s opportunity to grow and prosper, and the chance to stagnate and fail. Your being clear on the difference between photography practices and business practices determine the success of your photography business more than your photographic skills and talents. Be sure to spend as much time developing your photography skills as you do your business (marketing, self-promotion activities, for example) skills and you will find success.Compliment vs Reality – Tip #2Most budding photographers have this experience: a good friend, family member or neighbor sees a photograph and ‘raves’ how good it looks and how ‘valuable’ it ‘should’ be! Somewhere in their raving they proclaim, “you should sell that, you’ll probably make a lot of money!” Red flag warning! What is given as a compliment of your photograph is instantly translated to your having a “diamond” that you can sell and that will change your ‘status’ in life. Here’s a test: the next time you receive such a ‘compliment,’ do this: thank them and then ask them how much are they willing to pay you for the photo? I promise you that the same ‘expert’ that just raved about your valuable artwork will pass on the ‘opportunity’ to grab up your ‘valuable’ artistic photo. In the photography business value is determined by other criteria than a compliment or two. Knowing the difference contributes to your success in business.Develop your knowledge and skill and your confidence as a photographer will dramatically increase. Likewise with business: develop and practice basic business principles and your confidence as a successful professional photographer will dramatically increase. I promise.Research Builds Confidence – Tip #3Do your research. Go online and read the available research on the business of photography. Read before you buy. Online research is just a click away. Take your time. Take advantage of free and easily available information online. If you choose to buy something offered, determine what goals you want to accomplish and ask yourself will what you’re buying help you to really meet your goals. Avoid the resources that promise and guarantee you that you can make $200 – $300 a day overnight – for obvious reasons. Also, there are no “secrets that the pros don’t want you to know!” There is information that you do not know now. But, isn’t information that is unknowable or impossible to find out – they’re just unknown to you at this time. Do your research. Besides, if they’re for sale, how “secret” can they be? Do your researchIn the business of photography, it is more profitable to specialize. Specialization (also referred to as your “photography niche”) is how your customers will find you. Another development of technology is how customers – those who can afford and are willing to spend money for photography – find the photography that they buy. They look for something specific (in photographer speak that means “photography niche”). Go online and do a search on “photography niche” and take advantage of the information available. Remember, read before you buy; there are no “secrets that the pros don’t want you to know;” and great photography does not sell itself. In the world of business, nothing does.For business purposes, go online and do a search on different business topics that you want more information about. For example, do a search for “photography marketing” or “marketing for photographers” or “amateur photography tips” or “how to sell photos online” or “how to start a photography business” etc. etc. Read before you buy.Know And Start Where You Are And Be ‘Sincere’ – Tip #4

Start where you are with the equipment that you have. If you don’t have a photography studio don’t take on photography jobs that require a studio. Don’t be all things to all people – remember, specialize (research “photography niche” – you’ll be head and shoulders above the majority of your competition). If you feel that you have to purchase equipment to take on a job – that’s a red flag that you’re not ready, yet. In successful photography, the profit is in the “photography niche” and your understanding of that simple difference.Doing your research will prepare you for one of the biggest challenges most photographers have – pricing. The challenge of knowing exactly what to charge stops most of us in our tracks. It shouldn’t! Do your research. Search “photography pricing,” for example. The information is available and most of it is free. Remember, read before you buy.In my opinion, there really is no one criteria needed to start a profitable photo business. However, my experience has convinced me that self-confidence is the most significant asset a photographer in business can possess. You develop that self-confidence by knowing what you know and knowing what you don’t know – and being crystal clear on the difference. Confidence is gained by knowing the necessary criteria needed and knowing that you possess the knowledge and skills to consistently accomplish tasks in a satisfactory manner.Research, develop and practice both your photography knowledge and skills as well as your photography business knowledge and skills.Finally, when vaudevillian, George Burns, was asked what was the secret to his successful career, he responded – “sincerity, be sincere – even if you have to fake it!”

Evolving Healthcare Trends

The model trends in the healthcare system have been changing over the period of time. The old trend gave importance to the individual patients and the emphasis was on treating illness. The goal of the hospitals was to do inpatient admissions, fill up the beds and more emphasis was given to acute inpatient care. The role of managers in the old paradigm was to run the organization and coordinate services. In the old system, all providers were essentially the same. The hospitals, physicians and health plans were separate and not integrated.The newer trends that evolved gave importance to the population as a whole. It not only treated illness, but emphasized on promoting the wellness of the people. The goals of the healthcare system after being transformed over the years is to provide care at all levels which is continued. The role of managers in the new paradigm is more broad. They see the market and help in quality and continued improvement. They not only run the organization, but also go beyond the organizational boundaries. In the evolving system, the providers are differentiated according to their ability. The hospitals, physicians and health plans have formed an integrated delivery system.One of the current trend in the healthcare delivery model is that continued care is emphasized. The key professionals are not only treating patients for their illness, but they are promoting and managing quality of health. For example, a patient with high cholesterol visits a doctor. He is not only given one-on-one medical treatment, but he is also offered to attend a group session where information is provided on how lifestyle and behavioral change can help. The patients learn from the clinicians and also from each other. Another current trend is to take care of the health of the defined population and not only individual patients. All the health needs of the population as a whole are identified and served. It is emphasized that the community uses the health and social services provided. Healthcare has become more population-based. Another trend that has evolved is that the hospitals, physicians and health plans have got connected and have formed an integrated delivery system. More investments are being made with a goal of providing services to the customers and retaining them.There is a beneficial impact in the transformation of healthcare towards emphasizing continued health. The way healthcare has been viewed in the past has been changing. The shifting of care from treating acute illnesses to providing continued care is resulting in enhancement of the health of the people. The only appropriate and feasible model is to provide a continuum of care with the emphasis firmly on the family and community. The health of the population and community is considered as a whole. This is advantageous as it creates value in the healthcare delivery system. The healthcare providers work with the community as a whole and consider to improve the health of the general population. Even though this requires new kinds of ways of organizing and managing healthcare services, it helps in understanding the health needs of the target population. By studying their needs, the right health and social services could be provided to them. Examples of promoting wellness of the whole community are organizing health campaigns and providing preventive education to the people in general. Another example is providing awareness about flu vaccines and encouraging people to get the vaccination.

Integrating the healthcare delivery system has led to certain advantages to the patients. For example, they can be offered alternative sites of care depending on their convenience. It helps in meeting the needs of the customers and their preferences which is taken into account. The number of providers are expanded and the patients get to have a choice. The relationship between providers and health plans are organized in the current trend and this ensures that the right care is provided in a convenient way to the customers.There are defined budgets and expenditure targets for the populations which implies that there is a need to be efficient and productive. The formation of strategic alliances, networks, systems and physician groups can also add value. There are capitated payments and budgets allotted to the healthcare organizations. These are used to provide care to the defined population. The organization might like to improve on the payments and budgets as the expenditures of the companies increase. This results in the management to make decisions like forming strategic alliances with other organizations and increase the total resources. The growth of such networks will help in providing better care to the customers. Financial resources greatly influence the efficiency and productivity of the organization.The aging population is influencing the healthcare delivery. There is increased demand for primary care of people over 65 years and for chronic care of people over 75. The ethnic and cultural diversity is also influencing the healthcare delivery. This provides a challenge in meeting patient expectations on one hand and diverse workforce on the other. Biological and clinical sciences have met with technological advances and have led to new treatment modalities. This has led to open new treatment sites and manage across the organization. External forces change the supply of certain areas of health professionals like physical therapy and some areas of nursing. The management needs to compensate for such shortages and they need to develop different teams of caregivers at different work sites. Changes in education of health professionals implies that the management be more creative in offering healthcare services. With an increase in diseases like AIDS and morbidity from drugs and violence, there is more and more need to work with community agencies, form social support systems and there is a need for more chronic care management. Advances in information technology is another area where there is a need to train the healthcare employees in new advances. They also need to manage issues of confidentiality and rapid information transfer. Increasing expansion of world economy has led to more competitive management of strategic alliances, care of patients across the nations and of different cultures.Current environmental trends impact the healthcare delivery model. Organization’s success depends on its external and internal environment. The complex environments made up of uncertainties and heterogeneity of components leads to different organizational designs. The current environmental trends influence managerial and organizational decision making. The unique challenges facing the healthcare delivery organizations should be analyzed in order to develop and implement new and effective operational processes and strategies. As an impact of current environmental trends, the healthcare delivery system needs to improve individual, team, and organizational accountability and performance. The impact of advances in medical knowledge and information technology on the process of healthcare delivery should also be examined, and it should be leveraged to improve quality of care, process and cost controls, and revenue. New strategies would need to be identified and implemented for learning and performance improvement to create a culture that supports accountability, safety, and high-quality care. Innovative models in healthcare delivery would also be required in order to develop and implement strategies that promote organizational success and competitiveness.Due to the current environmental trends, more emphasis is given to the customers and there is more of a patient-focused care. The healthcare delivery model has been shifting to the community based care. There has been an increased modification in care processes. The traditional ways are being challenged and more experiments are being performed to fulfill the demands to improve the quality of care. Due to the shift in the environmental trends in the healthcare delivery model, more emphasis is given to quality improvement. This will help improve the performance levels of key processes in the organization. The performance levels are being measured, the defects are eliminated and new features are being added to meet the customer’s need efficiently.There is a new emerging contemporary trend in the U.S. healthcare system. Presently, the management research and assessment have been offered increased recognition. The emerging trend seen is that this is slowly forming an integral part of managerial and organizational effectiveness. With the emerging efforts in information management, it is leading towards clinical and financial networking. The trend seen among the physicians and nurses is that they are being increasingly involved in managerial activities. The managerial trends are also changing with respect to role performance and changing values. The managers role is getting more and more recognized in managing finance and human resources. Management training, lifelong and distance learning is being offered in preparing future managers.The healthcare executives and managers will be faced with the major responsibility and challenge in the years ahead. They will be working with other healthcare providers and will be creating a competitive future for their organizations. They will not only be managing organizations but also a network of markets, services and joint ventures. Formation of more and more strategic alliances and partnerships will lead the management to manage across boundaries. The management will change from managing a department to managing the continuum of care. The management will be following a community-based approach. Trend in management is also shifting from just coordinating services to providing improvements in quality.As the demands in healthcare are increasing, the management is responsible for forming performance standards. The management is also challenged to maximize the productivity and quality to serve the health needs of the community. The management is looking after the demands of the external environment as well as attending to the performance of the internal environment. The management is responsible for the performance of the organization.Healthcare organization leadership will be responding to new trends and competitive forces. It will respond to continuum of care, overall health status of the population and more complex organizational structures. These emerging trends in the healthcare system will effect the organization’s leadership. The future managers would need leadership skills and vision to integrate the organizations and help in providing the best care. The managers will have to be committed to leadership and work on giving their organizations the best place and help their organizations adapt to the changing circumstances. More value will be given to leaders who will be able to lead the change process. As changes are inevitable for the betterment of the organization, the leaders should be able to identify how the change is to be received and how it is to be communicated at all levels of the organization without damaging the implementation process. The leaders might have to deal with increased pressures due to organizational complexity.

The leader in the organization provides strategic direction to the organization, manages diverse stakeholders, becomes mentors for management, is willing to take risks, helps the organization interact with the external environment and attends to the internal needs as well. Where required the leader will involve physicians in governance process and align physician and organizational interests. There will be a need for formation of learning organizations. Transformational leadership will create the required vision for the organization. Leaders will have a greater role complexity and they themselves will have to adjust rapidly to new situations. The healthcare organization leadership will have to live up to the values of the organization and will help in fulfilling the mission of the organization.Individuals and groups within the healthcare organizations require more and more competencies. An enhanced lifelong learning is required due to the fast, changing environment. The individuals and groups within the healthcare organizations will be benefitted as there will be rapidly developing medical technologies which will result in increased services. More sophisticated health services will be provided to the consumers. The range and quality of services provided will be regulated for the benefit of people requiring home care, long term care and ambulatory care. The anticipated future development will also result in the increased competition among the health services organization. The individuals and groups will be involved more and more with the community for issues like drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and violence.Individuals and groups will be faced with increased strategic planning and management in the healthcare organizations as there will be ever increasing involvement by the trustees and physicians. As the future environment in the organizations will be more complex, the individuals and groups in the healthcare organizations might feel more pressurized. They will need to serve the changing demands of the community as the population of elderly patients will increase. These individuals will require more professional training, increased levels of education and should be taking part in continuing education programs.Due to the anticipated future development in the healthcare organizations, those individuals and groups will be valued, who are adaptable, committed, are able to add value and embrace change. These individuals will be required to experiment more and help in redefining the mission and goals of the healthcare organizations.

Politics And Politicians

I hate politics and politicians! What have they done for you lately?We need balance – not extremes. Our government is supposed to represent its citizens and “provide for the common good” – not focus on special interest groups that try to influence legislation and regulations that support their unique agenda. Libertarians have a lot of good points – such as smaller government – but not their extreme view of gun and drug “freedoms”. Progressives also have some good points – such as social “protections” – but not the extreme views on abortion and gay “rights.” Politicians often pay attention to irrelevant issues. Like when we are at war (2 or 3!) and have debt that our kids and grandkids will never be able to pay off, and 10% unemployment, etc., etc. What do they focus on? Trivial stuff – like when Congress considered banning shopping bags that are purchased to save plastic and paper bags – that were found to have some lead in them. Did anyone ever ask Congress to do something about the lead in the solder in your copper water pipes?But we have a kind of system of government that, in the long term, seems to work. Some things are bad and some are good – about the “greatest democracy in the world.” Winston Churchill once said “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” The U.S. is considered by many to have an ideal model of democracy, but it is imperfect and democracy itself has its own inherent problems and limitations. Some things are necessary – like Defense, Environment, Health and Safety, Civil Rights, etc. – which we need to do right at the national level because they can’t be done effectively at the individual or state level. The U.S. federal government’s organization and processes are archaic and inefficient – but sometimes it seems to work – for example, the “Stimulus Package/Bill” in 2009 actually did help the country recover from a serious recession (despite some its shortcomings and problems). Others don’t seem to work well or belong at the national level – like the unbelievably complex, convoluted and inequitable tax code (more on that separately).There are lots of examples of stupid, unproductive, and irrelevant political actions. Here are just a few of my favorites:• Earmarks – those projects for specific congressional districts or states that are funded by tacking them onto unrelated congressional bills in exchange for votes – so called “pork barrel.” So, if you look at a major funding bill – that may be essential, such as the Defense Department budget – you will find hundreds of earmarks attached to it to fund a lot of strange, arcane, and sometimes useless projects (like the famous “bridge to nowhere” or local airports with almost no passengers, etc.). These projects may bring some federal money back to their districts, but they are in many, if not most cases, funding pet projects of political contributors. The individual requests in many cases are relatively small (at least by Washington standards) – perhaps a few $ million – but there are thousands of them every year. Collectively they can amount to hundreds of billions of dollars. And without a line item veto by Congress or the President, these projects get funded automatically when the major bill passes. How’s that for representative government spending your money?

• Political Priorities – The Congress and the President are often involved in the absurdities and travesties of what they view as political priorities – at our expense. For example, pursuing a constitutional amendment against gay marriage while passing a law exempting gun manufacturers and dealers from all potential liabilities – including illegal sales to criminals! That’s just screwed up!! Who thinks up this stuff – and who do they think they are representing?• Gerrymandering – Our elected Congress works very hard to get re-elected – on our dime. From Wikipedia: “Gerrymandering is a practice of political corruption that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected, and neutral districts.” With the manipulation of election districts, it is possible for minority parties to win a majority of districts in an election – or neutralize a strong district of a majority party. This is a process that is facilitated by the mandated re-assessment of congressional representation after every 10 year census – and it can neutralize your vote! There are no uniform electoral districts. Your representatives design the election districts to protect incumbents. For example:o “In 2004, not one of California’s 173 state legislative and federal congressional seats changed party-hands.”
o “No House member from Tennessee ever lost a bid for re-election during 1980-2005.”Other developed countries have established processes for “defining constituency boundaries” by objective third-party organizations. But politics in the U.S. is not that progressive – so much for “one person, one vote.”• Subsidies – Our government, which we pay for, thanks to our politicians, provides substantial subsidies to some very profitable industries – at our expense. Here are a couple of examples:Agriculture – Agriculture is obviously very important to an economy, so what is wrong with federal programs to support it? First, a few facts (from The Cato Institute): “The U.S. Department of Agriculture distributes between $10 billion and $30 billion in cash subsidies to farmers and owners of farmland each year… More than 800,000 farmers and landowners receive subsidies, but the payments are heavily tilted toward the largest producers… Although policymakers love to discuss the plight of the small farmer, the bulk of federal farm subsidies goes to the largest farms. For example, the largest 10 percent of recipients have received 72 percent of all subsidy payments in recent years. Numerous large corporations and even some wealthy celebrities receive farm subsidies because they are the owners of farmland… In 2008, Congress overrode a presidential veto to enact farm legislation that extended existing supports and created new subsidy programs… The 2008 farm bill added a new sugar-to-ethanol program under which the government buys excess imported sugar that might put downward pressure on inflated domestic sugar prices. The program defends domestic sugar growers’ 85 percent of the U.S. sugar market, and it provides for the government to sell excess sugar, at a loss if need be, to ethanol producers… Since 2000 the USDA has paid $1.3 billion in farm subsidies to people who own land that is no longer used for farming.” Agricultural subsidies in the U.S. comprise 11% of farm production.So, why are subsidies to farmers bad? Simply, because they don’t achieve the intended results. Most of the money goes to large, profitable farms and corporations. They can upset the natural balance between supply and demand – by facilitating over-production – which can unrealistically affect the prices of food commodities and farm land. “Perhaps the biggest scandal with regard to farm subsidies is that congressional agriculture committees are loaded with members who are active farmers and farmland owners. Those members have a direct financial stake whenever Congress votes to increase subsidies, which is an obvious conflict of interest.”Other countries have experimented with eliminating agricultural subsidies – with some success. New Zealand is one example. “New Zealand’s farmers have cut costs, diversified their land use, sought nonfarm income, and developed niche markets such as kiwifruit… New Zealand farm productivity, profitability, and output have soared since the reforms.”Oil – The largest, most profitable industry in the U.S. – and worldwide – receives federal subsidies! Why?? Technically they are tax breaks, but only because of the way our Congress writes the rules and defines the terms. The subsidies/tax breaks to the U.S. oil industry amounts to about $4 billion each year. This includes a “depletion allowance” that treats oil reserves as capital equipment – in addition to very favorable terms for writing off exploration costs. But the major oil companies have been making more than 10 times that in profits each year. Do they really need incentives to explore for oil – when the world market price for oil has been in the neighborhood of 3-5 times the cost of production for decades? And what is the attitude of our politicians? – “we’re only talking about four billion dollars.”!!• Social Security – One of my pet peeves has been the most sacred of all federal government programs. For over 70 years, Social Security has been “an insurance program for everyone”. But up until 1984, government employees, including Members of Congress, did not pay into the Social Security program – when all of us “citizens” were required to by law. The Social Security program, which has been going broke for decades, was good enough for “the people”, but not for the government employees and politicians who are supposed to be serving them. So now it is an example of how a political abuse can be fixed. However, the benefits for federal employees are still very attractive – and not typical of industry jobs. In addition to now participating in Social Security, federal employees have a defined benefit pension plan (which no longer exists in most of industry today) as well as a “Thrift Savings Plan” – the equivalent of a 401K plan – with up to a 5% match. Members of Congress are eligible for full pension at age 62 after only five years of service – and they are eligible at age 50 if they’ve served 20 years. So our “public servants” have more rewarding benefits than most taxpayers receive.

And there is more – much more!!So, how can the “greatest country in the world” be so screwed up (at least at times)? I blame it on the politicians and the uninformed/uninterested electorate. Other countries must just be worse. Part of the problem is that the public is often not well informed – or just doesn’t care. How do you communicate important political issues so that the general public really understands – the complete facts and truth? Most news and views are at too high a level (e.g., small “sound bites” – or talk show opinions) so that they leave either a limited or wrong impression. For example, issues like abortion and stem cell research are highly controversial and emotional and don’t really get covered objectively.Is there a solution? It would be nice if we could focus on real/important issues and attract intelligent, sincere people into politics. What kinds of people want to run for political office? – ego-centrics, power hungry, self promotional – are these the type of people we want to represent us?? Why would you trust a politician with your life and welfare? But that is what we have – at least in many cases. And what are the financial implications? How can really good political leaders afford to be politicians? Even with the elevated salaries and benefits for politicians (at least at the Congressional level), the cost of the life style in Washington, DC is far too expensive to be covered by federal payments. So, they must either be independently wealthy – or seek an opportunity to capitalize on their political position – either during or after their term in office. What would make a constituent think that their representative is working in their best interest?
I don’t have a solution. That’s why I hate politics and politicians.All Rights Reserved © 2011 Henry P. Mitchell