Reasons Why Your Business May Fail

According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months of operation. That’s a terrifying statistic if you’re a business owner. That simply implies that 80% of those who started blogging or any other online business will fail in it too.

Why do businesses fail? What can make your business fail? How can you avoid them?

1. Lack of Planning:

For many individuals, they desire to be engaged in a business just to make money or to be able to brag about it. They have no clear-cut idea where they want the business to go. They only plan to start a business but they do not do real planning on how to achieve it. Your plan is like your aim. Planning involves everything you need to do and put in place to get to your aim. If there is a plan without proper planning, it is only a matter of time before the plan comes crashing. The popular 6P formula states that: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

2. Lack of Discipline:

Having an online business can gift you with plenty of spare time and the liberty to work when you want. This same benefit can be a curse if you do not know where to draw the line. You need discipline to be able to work even when you don’t feel like working. You need to sustain your desire to work irrespective of whatever may be limiting you. A disciplined businessman with little capital will always outdo an undisciplined businessman with huge financial capability.

3. Lack of differentiation:

Many people often attempt to imitate others in their style of business. They think they can create success by imitating the top shots in their niche. It does not work that way. There can only be one Nairaland. There can only be one ImportExpert. There can only be one Linda Ikeji. Rather than copy them, pick the lessons and build your brand. If you imitate others, you will only remind your customers of the real thing. Build your brand. Be different. It is what will give you visibility. You can learn from different experts and be yourself.

4. Lack of capital:

This point can be seen either as lack of capital or refusal to invest capital. If your business would grow, you may need to spend some money. Sometimes, people want everything to come free, especially those in online business. Don’t be tight-fisted about your business. It does not just need your time and attention but your money. This is what will make your investment in the business complete.

5. Lack of focus:

Focus is a result-multiplier. Online business requires focus. The online world on its own can be very distracting. The thrills of the social media and multiple fora can easily divide your attention. You must always be conscious that even though you enjoy doing what you do, it is beyond fun; it is a business. You must therefore treat it as such. Be grounded in the purpose of the business and constantly choose to ignore every distraction. As jobs has always said: Focus is not just saying yes to what you have to do but focus is the ability to say no to those other thousand things that may come by while trying to do what you must do.

6. Lack of valuable content:

Content is everything. Content is what will keep people coming back to you. If they realize that there is something that you offer that they probably cannot get anywhere else, they will keep coming to you. Whatever the mode of your business may be, ensure the value is of a high standard. Create strategies to multiply the value that your audience can get from you and watch their loyalty become yours.

7. Lack of accurate knowledge:

Knowledge is everything in today’s world. One piece of knowledge at the right time is enough to take your business to a new height. Your continued relevance in your niche will be dependent on what you know that your competitors don’t. Always search for new information. Information will save you years of trial and error.

No one desires his business to crash at any time. It is wisdom to know what a business needs at the moment for its survival and success. Always be on the lookout for what your business needs at the moment to keep flourishing.

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My Progression in Snowboarding

We all know the feeling… you go out snowboarding for the first time for the season and the next day, you feel so sore that you can barely walk. You remember the awesome day you had riding yesterday but now you are paying the price for it with ice packs, hot tubs, and maybe Flex All.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Matt D. and I have been a part of the ski industry for more than two decades. I switched from skiing to snowboarding back in the early nineties when snowboarding really exploded. I loved to ski but snowboarding attracted me from my background in surfing and skateboarding in Southern California.

I rode all through my teen years with anyone who could give me a ride to the mountain. When I turned 16 and was old enough to drive, I bought my first season pass. I would drive 3 hours each way to get to the mountains on the weekends, often times travelling back and forth Saturday and Sunday. I loved snowboarding and it was all I could think about.

Getting ready to go to college, I of course had to get out of Southern California and go to school where I could snowboard. Colorado was obvious at first but then I learned you had to travel quite some time to get to the resorts from school. I stumbled upon Utah and visited while still in High School on one of the nightmare bus tours. I fell in love and I knew that Utah would be where I would move.

Upon moving to Salt Lake City, one of my first orders of business besides school was to get a season pass. I had ridden at Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird, Wolf Mountain (R.I.P. now Canyons), and Park City Mountain Resort. I had to get the most bang for my buck and pick something close to the dorms. Brighton became my choice, partly because of it’s proximity and also because it was in all of the magazines at the time. Also, not all resorts allowed snowboarding or restricted the days they I could go ride. (My how things have changed) I had a lot of fun at Brighton. Then, with friends help I found Snowbird, Utah.

Snowbird is a tough, rough, steep mountain. It will kick your butt as a snowboarder. Some people don’t like it for this reason but I assure you that they just don’t know what they are missing. There is no other mountain in North America that has the quality and quantity of snow, variety of terrain, and exposure. I thought I was pretty good at the time until I started riding at the “Bird.” Snowboarding there definitely improved my ability but the problem was that I simply wasn’t strong enough no matter how much I was snowboarding. I wanted to ride longer, harder, and faster. I wanted to keep up with the expert local skiers there. I didn’t want to ever get stuck, I wanted to absorb bumps, and I wanted to send myself off of cliffs. I needed to train.

Sure, I wouldn’t get as sore and stiff after a few days on the mountain, but that wasn’t good enough. I wanted my money’s worth and I wanted to take advantage of nature’s, “best snow on earth.” When I went on vacation to other resorts, I wanted to ride from first chair to last chair, everyday. I didn’t want to be tired two days into a ski vacation and not reap the rewards that the resort had to offer. The problem was that I simply wasn’t strong enough but my brain would not allow me to stop even though my body did. This was the cause for injuries. Simply, you are more susceptible to get hurt snowboarding when you are weak and tired.

About two years into living in Utah, I realized I had hit a wall in my progression in Snowboarding. I wanted to go even bigger, faster, and just be more powerful. It wasn’t until I started working out in the off-season and cross training that I was able to progress again. I finally realized the importance of having a strong core, legs, arms, everything. I had heard it all before and seen the articles in the ski mags. I just didn’t believe it. I thought that once I got over the initial soreness in the beginning of the season that I was fine. Boy was I wrong.

There are a lot more muscles being worked than I realized and strengthen even the ones I didn’t think I used helped me tremendously. I could now go on vacation and get the most out of time and dollar. I was opening a whole new door of possibilities in snowboarding that I didn’t even think was possible. I wish I had started this earlier in my life because that would have helped me turn pro.

As any workout routine goes, it is hard to stay focused. For me, it was hard to remember the ski season in the summer. It was even harder to go and workout in the winter. Fact is, I was working for a ski resort, getting to ride for free and I was becoming lazy. I knew a fitness regimen would help but it was just hard to stay focused and I needed help. This is where I found the secret The people who developed this secret hit it right on. Anyone serious about getting better at snowboarding or skiing needs to at least check this out.

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Disadvantages to Cruise Ship Travel

Cruise ship travel is not for everybody. Although many enjoy cruises, some travelers prefer other types of vacations. Before going on a cruise, take time to consider whether or not this is the best method of travel for you. Be sure to research information about the specific companies you are considering as well as read reviews from other customers. Also consider talking to those you know who have traveled on cruises before and see if it sounds like something you would enjoy. It is important to get more information than just a recommendation from someone. What one person finds fun, you may not, so it is important to find out why a person did or did not enjoy a cruise ship experience.

Some do not enjoy cruises simply because of the nature of traveling on a boat. Those who are prone to motion sickness may not enjoy being on a boat because of the high likelihood of experiencing sea sickness. Severity differs for everybody, and sea sickness usually is not serious, but it can still be an unpleasant experience and can ruin a vacation. Consider whether or not this is something that concerns you. Medications and wrist bands help some who suffer from sea sickness, but they are not effective for everyone. For some people, sea sickness runs its course relatively quickly, but only you can decide whether or not this is a possibility you are willing to face.

Others are afraid to cruise because of the possibility of the boat sinking. Only you can decide whether or not you are a person who worries about this possibility. It may help to do some research. Any type of travel has inherent risks, of course. Some are terrified of airplane travel but sill travel on cruises. Others travel frequently on airplanes but would not consider going on a cruise. It is true that being on a boat is a different kind of experience than any other form of travel. Some are not so worried about the boat sinking but are afraid of being out in open water, unable to see the shoreline. Only you can decide whether or not being on the ocean bothers you.

Perhaps the most common fear of cruises in the last decade has been based on the media coverage of viral outbreaks on cruise ships. In the last couple years, this problem has improved, but most travelers are familiar with outbreaks of viruses such as the Norwalk virus. These viruses run rampant on cruise ships because of the large number of people in close proximity to one another for extended periods of time. Although general precautions can certainly decrease a persons’ chances of catching a virus on a cruise ship, it is true that illnesses are more difficult to avoid on a boat.

Along with viruses, crime on cruise ships has also been widely publicized. It is important to research each cruise line and get accurate statistics. Also, read reviews and information to learn how incidents are handled, and make sure you understand the level of security that will be present on the ship. Fortunately, most crime committed on cruise ships is property crime rather than violent crime, and this is relatively common with any type of travel.

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How Much Is A Great Business Logo Really Worth?

A great logo can help a business project a positive image while a bad
Logo can bring a negative impression about a company. For many
Companies, a logo is the only identifiable mark a potential customer may
Ever see, so it needs to be memorable, descriptive and easily
Recognizable. If a logo is the company spokesman, how much is it really
Worth?

Cheap logo designs are all over the Internet – logo designs under $ 150!
$ 99 logo designs, $ 75 logo designs, $ 49 logo designs and even lower!
You will easily find a wide range of prices for logo design on the
Internet. Be careful of cheap logo design offers, some designers may be
Using clip art. A logo design that includes a royalty free piece of clip art
Can not be copyrighted. That same piece of clip art could be used on
Dozens of other logo designs. A designers portfolio should be displayed
And there should be a wide variety of logo samples. At $ 49 each, do all
Of the logos look the same? Do the majority of them have block lettering
And a swoosh?

Some logo designers charge one flat fee for a logo with no questions
Asked. Can you imagine Coca-Cola purchasing a logo design for $ 99?
What a deal! Or how about Bob's bait shop paying $ 750 for a logo.
There goes the budget! All companies are not equal in size, budget and
Usage. All designs are not equal. Does a swoosh take the same amount
Of time and effort as creating a detailed motorcycle?

The confusion does not stop there. Some logo designers charge
Additional costs for extra colors, extra modifications and extra
Preliminary designs. You have to get your calculator out just to figure the
Final cost of your logo. Do you really know what you are paying for?

How much is a logo design really worth? Ask Coca-Cola, Polo, Nike,
The Hard Rock Cafe, Hallmark or any other company that treats on their
Logo as their number one spokesman. Not every company is as large as
These but every company should have a logo that is easy to identify and
Stands for the integrity of that business.

A logo design is more valuable to a company than a single spot
Illustration. An illustration is normally used once or used for a limited
Campaign, whereas a logo is used for years and is placed on business
Cards, letterheads, envelopes, web sites, vehicles, buildings and
Products. Do you see the difference in value to a company? A logo has
More value than just the hours spent on creating it. It becomes the
Companies identity.

With that said, should not a logo be worth more than just the time involved
In creating it? Professional graphic design rates average anywhere from
$ 30 to $ 75 per hour. If you see a logo design priced at $ 125 and that
Designer charges $ 50 per hour for design work, do you assume that
They spend 2.5 hours on your logo? That price would include the time
Sent to contact you, the research done on your company and
Competition, the preliminary ideas, the changes, the finalizing of the
Logo, the file prep for each different format, sending the logo, billing and
Allowing you to have all rights to the design. So how much time was
Actually spending creating your logo?

My conclusion is that a logo is much more valuable to a company than a
Standard illustration so the price should reflect the added value. Many
Professional graphic designers would be hard pressed to create a top
Notch illustration for under $ 150 let alone a creative, well designed logo.
So beware of logos priced under $ 150, you may get what you pay for.

There's even more confusion about logo pricing. Some designers base
Their logo rates on several of these factors:

Logo Modifications – You could get charged for each time you want a
Change or modification to your logo. If a logo designer asks the right
Questions, does the research and stays in close communication with the
Client there should be no need for major changes during the creation of
A logo design. Be a good communication and explain to the logo
Designer exactly what you want your logo to be saying about your
Business. As a designer, you should get signed approval for each
Modification showing that the client was in agreement at the time.

Extra Colors – Printers charge more for extra colors. If a logo designer
Charges more for a two color logo than they do for a three color logo, get
A detailed explanation as to why. It only takes the click of a mouse to
Add an extra color. In today's world there is very little need for color
Separations so there should be no need for a designer to charge by the
Color.

Preliminary Designs – A few choices is good, to many choices is overkill.
A logo designer should be able to decide for you the correct amount of
Preliminary designs it will require to create your perfect logo. Be leary of
Eight, ten and more initial designs. How much time could actually be
Spent on each design? If you do not like your first two or three designs
You can easily request two or three more.

If you are on a committee or a board, I assure you that you do not want to
Present ten logos to ten different people. You may never get down to a
Winning design.

On the other hand, if you need an additional presentation of logos due
To a complete change in direction on the companies part, there should
Be an extra fee. An example would be asking for a yellow duck logo
Design and changing your mind to a red dog design once the logos are
Presented to you.

Adding an identity program to your logo is a legitimate cost. Designing
The business card, letterhead and envelope layouts are normally a
Higher priced package. You should receive camera ready files for each
Design.

There is a standard reference for pricing graphic design and corporate
Identity projects. It is Pricing and Ethical Guidelines, published by the
Graphic Artists Guild. Any logo designer can purchase the book. A
Professional graphic designer would have a tough time supporting a
Family and a studio designing all of their logos below $ 200.

I'm not writing this to give exact prices for a logo design because each
Logo designers circumstances are different. Amateur logo designers
Charge much less to get their feet wet, but slowly increase their rates as
They gain experience and creativity.

The standard logo design rates are based on two major components,
Company size and application or distribution size. The majority of logo
Designs created over the Internet are created for small companies and
Individuals with limited application and distribution uses. Fortune 500
Companies typically pay much higher logo design rates and use
Advertising agencies.

My conclusion is that the value of a logo should be based on a few
Important criteria:

1. Experience of the logo designer

2. Size & budget of the company using the logo

3. Scope and usage of the logo

4. Difficulty of the design

An individual or small company with small to average uses should be
Prepared to pay anywhere from $ 300 to $ 1500 for a top quality,
Professional logo design.

What's included with your logo? The worst part of paying for a cheap
Logo is finding out that you were not sent the correct file formats for
Printing and web. You will then have to pay another graphic designer or
Printer to create the correct files. Be aware of what file types you will be
Needing and ask your logo designer what file types are included in their
Price.

The most common file types needed are AI (Illustrator) and EPS for most
Professional print jobs. These are vector format files. These files should
Be in a CMYK color format. Vector art allows you to reduce or enlarge a
Design to ANY size without losing detail or clarity.

For home use and some print jobs you will need TIFF and BMP files.
These are pixel files and should have a DPI (dots per inch) of at least
300 dpi. 600-1200 dpi is best for professional printing. These type of
Files lose their detail when enlarged but can be reduced.

The last file types you will need would be JPEG and GIF. These are
Pixel files and are used for web design. They should be in a RGB color
Format. Be aware that not all colors translate well on the Internet,
Especially GIF files. Ask if the logo designer used web safe colors. You
Should receive crisp 72 dpi files for the Internet. A GIF file should be
Transparent if you do not want a white box around it when displayed on
Your page.

Be sure and ask your logo designer about your logo colors. Ask them for
The Pantone PMS color numbers for each color. You will need this
Information each time your logo is printed. This insures that you get the
Exact same colors with every printer that you use.

Will you get your files over the Internet or will you receive a CD? Try to
Get a CD, it is much easier to take that to your local printer. Ask your
Designer how long they keep your logo on file in case you lose your
Versions later down the road.

You should also receive all rights (copyright) to your logo. Since a logo
Is a companies identity you will need to own all rights to get a trademark.
Ask for this in writing if you have any doubts.

Ask for the background on the logo designer you choose, you should
The very least know their name. Do they have a degree? How long have
They designed logos? Is this their profession or a hobby? Where is there
Portfolio? Can you contact their other clients? Can you speak to them
Directly? With the amount of software available today and the invention
Of the Internet, any sixteen year old kid can start his own logo design
Company.

In closing let me say that the information above is a personal opinion
And is taken from years of searching logo design web sites and reading
Books on graphic design. The prices and information I have explained
Here only certain to the work of graphic designers, not advertising
Agencies. An advertising agency handles logo design on a larger scale
And incorporates an entire corporate identity service. Their logo design
Rates are many times higher than a graphic designers.

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The Blue Mountains Are a Vacation Paradise Only Two Hours From Sydney

Only two hours from Sydney is a truly amazing wilderness. The Blue Mountains are an excellent place for a vacation as there is something for everyone. Blue Mountains accommodation is scattered through this accessible and exquisite place.

The region has been designated a World Heritage Park and draws lovers of the natural world from far and wide. They travel there to appreciate the ancient and dramatic rock escarpments, various kinds of forest, heath lands, canyons, waterfalls and the wealth of wildlife. You can find experienced guides available for hire or it is simple to get out and enjoy the wilderness unaided on the many trails which are clear and well signposted. If you enjoy the countryside but can not or do not hike there is a new driving tour. It has been well designed to take in the best known attractions and take you through some remote scenery. The roads are all well surfaced and feature many places to pull in and admire the scenery. There are also a number of detours which the more intrepid can take to view a few of the wilder places.

The park is a popular place for family vacations because of the variety of places and activities it has to offer. For children it has several places with adventure parks and play centers. For the entire family there is a famous zig zag steam railway and a cable car with glass bottom cars. There are many interesting and picturesque villages with shops, museums, cafés and tea shops. Concerts are held regularly in one of the caves with good acoustics. There are also ancient caves with rock paintings and beautiful formations. The Blue Mountain arts scene is flourishing so there are several galleries and craft shops.

For the adventurous the region is something of a playground. The list of possible activities includes; Horse riding, climbing, canyoning, abseiling, mountain biking and adventure caving. There are a number of tour companies specializing in adventure pursuits who can cater to the newbie and the adrenalin junkie.

There are so many beautiful areas and attractions in this vast national park that choosing a place to stay is no easy task. Obviously you can move around and stay in multiple places to cut down on daily traveling and widen your experience. There are a number of travel agencies operating in the area so you could book an all inclusive tour and have the benefit of a guide. They run adventure tours in 4x4s and bespoke tours with private transport. The park also has some bus services. They run all around the area and you can get on and off them anywhere.

Whether you would like to have self catering accommodation in order to enjoy the award winning restaurants in the area or full board accommodation, there is a lot of choice. The region has everything from resorts with great facilities to simple log cabins. There are exclusive historic hotels at the high budget end and caravans and budget hotels for the budget traveler. You can also get spa retreats and country clubs for those seeking a tranquil getaway.

All these kinds of accommodation can be reserved on the internet. There are several websites dedicated to the area with photographs, videos, maps and information.

There are many small town offering accommodation in the Blue Mountains, Katoomba is the largest and most central. You will find a good range of Katoomba accommodation available for all budgets and tastes. The region is easy to access once you are there and even before, via the internet.

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That Day On The Beach

It felt so real. The rain, the leaves, the lovemaking (but was there any passion, or was it just perfunctory. I did not feel any pleasure. It felt like I was twenty-two again. Living amongst xenophobic South Africans, and Johannesburg people, I sensed winter coming on acutely). And then there was the kiss. Something inside of me died (well I always felt a succession of deaths after writing, and I went cold). Yet there was something there that was still absent. I woke up then. How could I put it into the words? There are no consequences on the astral plane. You lose everything if you think of desire as being simplistic. Oh no, it is much, much more complicated than that. So complex that scientists in North America are studying it. My dreaming of late left me depressive. The illness was returning. There were signs. A homosexual man with beautiful eyes, and sensitive hands passed me on the street. I wanted to find that confidence that I saw in his swagger on the page. I thought if I could do that it would explain everything, especially what I had been dreaming about. I needed to know why romance to me was like a lighthouse. I was always swimming away from it, backing away, getting shipwrecked. Left wondering why I was never anchored?

It was scary. I couldn’t define the moment or the place. Where I was? It did feel as if I had been spirited away to another dimension. Perhaps dreaming vividly can do that do you? This man in my dream well he reminded me of someone who I had met a long time ago. A lecturer I had fallen in love with. Madly in love with. Naïve and sexually inexperienced, he became my world for nearly two years. He was an investment. He was an assignment. He would turn out later to be the love of my life. But with dreaming came a terror. The dreams were not real, and in the dreams I was happy. I was oblivious to the hidden dangers that I experienced when I was awake. When I was experiencing reality. When I say happy what I mean by that is that I felt no fear of anything real or imagined. No fear of hypomanic psychosis or the anxiety, the physical tremors that came with hallucinatory images. There was no darkness. In my dreams there was no longer any experience of suffering, or depression, or the rigid pull of madness, and the mercy of the flight from it in high care. Being on suicide watch. There was no night-land. There were only ordinary people. Ordinary people falling in love, making love, talking, and having conversations about love.

I would dream about all of these things. What was my subconscious trying to tell the self-conscious actor in me? That I should discriminate? That I should do something else with my life other than write? That I should put aside my writing rituals, using cooking as therapy, and go out into the world, find a husband, have those children, walk down that yellow brick road, that sunny road, and accept that happiness took too much commitment, too much energy, time, but just do it anyway. Do it brilliantly. Do it excellently. Do it wisely. Do it effortlessly. If I could bake a chocolate chiffon cake effortlessly, could it not be effortless to bring up children the same way? If I could make a lasagne, or bolognaise excellently by following my sister’s neatly handwritten instructions, could I not make an excellent wife for someone, but that would mean I would have to come clean. That would mean I would have to submit to questioning, to interrogation, of how my mother had ‘touched’ me as a child. The baths we took together. She would always leave the door open. Call me while my father lay sleeping, and ask me to wash her back. I don’t want to remember. I feel a terror whenever anyone touches me.

Don’t let’s go there. I don’t want to think about it. Please. Please. I’m asking you nicely. But she didn’t understand. Educated. Cultured. Highly favoured. Thought highly of. How on earth could she be expected to understand the physical aberration of sexual abuse? The damaged psyche, and mind of the vulnerable child raised in an abusive environment day after day slowly becoming programmed to live complicity with both denial and grief. That explicit violation, that graphic violence, when she could not glimpse into my world. The world of abandonment, and neglect. I thought my father knew. I thought he did. That’s why there were barriers in my childhood world. I thought that we were being protected, shielded from children who were rough. In retrospect I became wiser. Instead I wanted to be like my mum when I grew up, but I was never as elegant and beautiful as she was. Never. I had failed her. I had failed both of my parents in that regard.

Skin against skin like fabric, like sleep, like water in wild places. I don’t need you to show me that you love me, I need you to tell me. I need it like breath, like self-pity, like fractured air, like remembering my Ouma’s wizened hands by arthritis, but know this dearest lover. I know we won’t be together forever. There is a part of me that is terrified of the letting go of you. Seeing you gone from the world of the living to the world of the dead. The world of the dead filled with the utmost of biblical proportions. Realise this. I’m a failure. As a woman I’m a failure, because I would be a failure in raising your children, or dancing with you under the moonlight, or being innocent as you enter me, my hair framing my face. Know this. You do not know anything about me although I might toy with you, or give you my physical body, sate you, leave your body glistening with sweat, and lying beside you in the dark watch you sleep. Watching over until the early hours of the morning. I know you will leave me lover. I don’t blame you. Your children. Show me pictures of them. Show me pictures of your angels. Show me a picture of your soft love light. You know my terms by now.

Call me up if you want to talk, or have a good time. I’ll listen to all of your troubles. I will love you like that. I will make you my world for one night. Your wife I imagine is nothing like me. Is she anything like my mother, I wonder to myself? Women who are anything like my mother always have this need to be worshiped. Women who are anything like my mother terrify me still. I am nothing like that beautiful, elegant woman in the photograph that you have your arm around. Does she truly make you happy? If she does them I am happy for you. I will not miss you. You don’t want to know anything about me, believe me. You don’t want to hear stories about my childhood, my competitive streak, how successful we have all become at not being successful at marriage though, but we’ve passed through life with flying colours with everything against us. We’ve accomplished, my siblings and me I through thick and thin, our flimsy dreams, those goals our parents had for us excellently, though not as excellently as I would have liked for my own life. No elixir of a sunny road for me and my sister. Have a heart and don’t wake up yet.

The only place where I don’t feel a fool, where I feel safe is here in your arms lover. Here I forget about Dante’s hell, genocide, and the holocaust. Let me forget about Rwanda and Auschwitz. Bergen-Belsen and Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Let me forget about that day on the beach. Tracing the Caesarean scar, fingering it as if all the stitches would collapse into thin air, and I wouldn’t exist in this world. I would be gone without a trace. Help me to understand the lack of mother-love. Win. Win. Win. My teen-age heart would chant as my name would be read out. I would make my way to the stage and the principal would hand me something beautiful. A certificate. Intelligence was never enough. A vague kind of prettiness, an attractive personality was just never quite enough. Please, please, don’t let’s go there of all places to a time I’m through navigating. My own personal hell was what invisible people called childhood. I am Alice. I have a Cheshire cat. I live in my own wonderland, and I’m sure as hell not going to let anyone take that away from me. I don’t want to remember the lack of mother-love. The quiet, that open door leading to the passage of promiscuity.

The hair was always damp at the nape of her neck, curling slightly because of the steam. With the scent of soap on my hands I would wash her back in circles. I remember her hunched shoulders. She hunched her shoulders (was she hiding her breasts, was she insecure, or was she just tired of her highly-sexed manic depressive husband). After dressing she would show her Caesarean scar. Tell me how the doctor had taken me from out of her, like Jonah and the whale. Now grownup I have more of her personality than my father’s. Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me. Don’t look at my face. It will have to be in the dark if you want to really make love to me. Why do you desire me, me in the first place? Are you anticipating my permission? What are the terms of love, of being boyfriend and girlfriend, of the mother who says she is tired, cannot read my essay. I am not a child of Buddha. I am a child of something lesser. Self-actualise that. First I’ll go down on you. In front of you on my hands and knees I will beg you to humiliate me. I will, promise. A psychologist doesn’t come with multiple choice questions where you have to color the blank dot in next to the correct answer.

To tell you the truth I have no desire to become a wife in real life. I don’t find it appealing in any way. It’s not attractive to me. Like the way the words Los Angeles moves me. Its waves gives me the feeling of good vibrations. It seems married life would mean I would have to give up the writing life. I would have to put on a pretty face in photographs and smile. And what if he drinks? And what if he smokes? How many children does he want to have? Does he like red meat? Does he like exotic dishes like couscous, will I have to become adept at trying out new recipes, or will he like to eat out, and try fancy restaurants, eat dinner there every night, or is he a steak and a potatoes man like my grandfather once was. He had two children by another woman. My grandmother persevered. She was a strong woman. I could not be that strong if my husband looked for love with another woman, and took her to bed. My mother has taught me nothing extraordinary and everything about women. How the seed of manipulation is planted inside the man’s eye. How different a woman’s personality is from a man’s. Her sensuality. The second sex’s femininity, and sexuality.

How man must be forgiven for thinking only of his own aura, his identity, his psyche, his ego, the frailty of his mother, and how much more delicate she becomes now that she has grown older. Now that a man’s mother has become elderly, ended up in a home, the best his salary can buy, he becomes aware of his own mortality. All people should be encourage to grow something. To plant something. To nurture something on a patch of land. Plant a tree, or forest. My mother did. She would spend hours hard at work in her garden. We had a perfumed, moneyed garden in apartheid South Africa and post-apartheid South Africa. That was mum’s triumph. She had no close female relationships. To me that made her exotic. As an adult I have no close female relationships. I should have seen it coming. Instead of marking it as a milestone. Why didn’t you love me mum? That day on the beach I called out your name. Why didn’t you turn around and wait for me to catch up to you? You made me hate you. But you couldn’t hear me. And I felt like a child in time waiting for you again. Like the day you forget to pick me up from my extra lesson, my rehearsal.

The day we didn’t have enough money to pay for our groceries (it was a Sunday.)

You were wearing your church heels. You looked impeccable as always. I was wearing white stockings. How you never smudged your creamy pink lipstick that found its way into the creases of your lips was always a small wonder to me). You, you, you left me standing next to our trolley filled with bags of food that would last us for the four weeks of the month. Went home which was twenty minutes away from the shopping mall to get dad’s credit card because you did not have enough money on your own or salary had not been paid into yours yet. Vincent, my cousin who was staying with us because he was doing a bridging course at the local college who was older than me, more mature than me, turned his head, and walked away from me. He ignored my plaintive stare. And I wish he had waited with me. That would have been kind of him. But Vincent was never kind to me. Only until he found the sunny road of having a spouse, raising two kids of his own. Did he buy his Indian wife flowers, expensive perfume? Did his son and his daughter know that at night he found himself engrossed by erotica, downloading it off the internet, that and violent pornography too. I guess that’s what every man does. Find women electric.

When do they first become aware of that? That desire. Like the desire I feel not when I’m their company, but in my dreams. Of course I remember everything. The heat of the day. Dust. That Sunday morning. I remember the cashier smiled a crooked little smile, and I looked away. I remember the young man not much older than my cousin who had put the groceries in the trolley. He did not meet his eyes. Men grow cold as girls grow old, right? Right. Beautiful children are always surrounded by an aura of the mystique of sexuality. Are girls going to grow into being promiscuous or virtuous? Are they going to obtain a degree and change the world around them, or make a man happy, serve his needs, butter his toast, make his breakfast, have children, become unhappy, drink too much of that merlot, or cabernet, and lose their looks no matter how intelligent they are in the beginning? In their formative years. Women do not find romanticism in pornography. They want flowers, and expensive perfume. They want a house, spacious enough for their family to grow, to fill with the heart’s desires. Everything expensive, expensive, you see.

Everything of the best, you see, you see. But I’m easy. I’m your relief lover. I’m your release. I have a natural born killer instinct. My physical body is all you’ll ever want, need, desire. I am your conquest. Although you’ll never know anything about my spiritual poverty, only how insatiable you make me feel. Tender is the night, my darling. We met on a beautiful summer afternoon. It felt like a summer’s day. I wanted to brush your dark hair that framed your features out of your face, out of your eyes. Of course I immediately fell for you, walked by your side, fell in with you, in step with you, kept up with your pace, warmed to your life, to your genuine dignity. You must understand all I felt was gratitude. I stopped thinking about the arrival of death. The wish-fulfilment that I sometimes carry with me in my darkest hours, and thoughts of despair. When it comes in waves, fashioned by cutting through the quiet light I think of you, of us. I watched you very carefully. How you would punctuate your sentences with a hand gesture and all I could think about was that hand on my wrist, or that hand in my hand. All I could think about was that hand on my shoulder, in the small of my back.

All I dreamed about was that hand on the nape of my neck. And that childhood barriers were no more. I became angelic, ethereal, otherworldly, and you were my prize for all the effortless commitment, and refreshing hard work I had put in for all my adult life. That made me feel pure, that washed away all my sins in time. I felt highly favoured. And then there came turning points, the unquiet otherness of revolution, selfhood illumined, and imagination. You began to inspire me. We did not have to speak for hours, or childhood. Thank you. Thank you for everything that you did for me, and most of all, your generosity, for the long hours that we spent in each other’s other company. Thank you for the laughter that you awakened inside of me, and I am elated that I could perhaps in some small, treasured way have done the same for gifted you. Thank you for your talents. For passing on your knowledge, your life experience, your influence to me. For wiping away my invisible tears, my rain, and my moods that were like a season of bad weather, for your inspiration, and everything that composed itself around that landscapes of my picturesque happiness. I know who you are now.

Some days the negativity is still there. I know that that will always be so. It’s a fact of life. But the silver lining is also a fact of life. Golden, golden. Always golden, like my glorious notebook. There is nothing that I can do about that, and there is a succession of men in a never-ending line. I know they will never stay for an indefinite period in my life, but they will teach me for as long as they can all they know about the world around them. They will accept me for who am I in the role that I decide to play while I am in their company. The petulant child, the docile girl, the gamine adolescent, or the adult woman in her thirties who now accepts her infertility, her education, and her culture as only she can. On her own terms. She will call it self-control, order, and the blurred lines that veil all the legalities in between. It is not that I want to forget the decisions I made in my early twenties, it is not that I want to forget my depression, it is not that I want to forget about my the chosen field of my career, my choices, whether they were the right life choices, whether promiscuity is a lifestyle, or phase, or why it comes more naturally to some women than it does to others. Fact remains. I remember.

Always will. Goes without saying. What more can I say, offer as proof for my life, for my love, for my desire, for my willingness to surrender, and permitting myself to life, love, desire, and willingness? And now it comes down to this. Yes, I was always going to come around to this. I know why I had to meet you. Both of you. I’ve accepted what you had to teach me, and this is the time for me to move forward. You are no longer my possessions. My Keats and my Shakespeare. I know why we will never meet again. But I have accepted that now. Why I had to dissolve in that euphoric happiness, and let my spirit be cleansed by it. It’s all coming back to me now with so much intense clarity of thought. The romanticism is coming back to me. I am wiser now. Shelved that day on the beach into memory. A past that is now dead to me. But the both of you. All of you will never be dead to me. Wise thoughts. Annihilating wisdom. She did not love me, my mum, but you did. She did not desire any part of me, like the both of you did. One in an introverted, old-fashioned, gentlemanly-like predisposition, and the other madly. I don’t think of you as ancient.

I never thought of you as an old man (perhaps shy when you made your intentions known, what you really were after in the end, I didn’t understand, let me explain why, or have explained to the best of my ability here in this story, only it is not a story. For surely you can read between the lines. Read that I am writing to reach you. Perhaps one day you will get this), only older, wiser, much more advanced than I was. Your skin was only a fabric. You annihilate that day on the beach. Everything negative from my childhood. The lack of mother-love. Her lack of desiring of me as a child, adolescent, and young adult. Conversation with me as an adult woman filled her own needs, and desires. You are my turning point. You are the inspiration, the fluid escape behind the poetry that I write, and send out into the universe. You are my light. My Southern cross. You are my lighthouse. ‘You reduced me to a thing’ constructed of an inter-dependent psychological framework. The room that I go to to escape from the rest of the world’s magic, when I want to be alone, or when I want to write. Separate myself from the predetermined original, and cast myself out into the spiritual world.

I had to become the otherworldly, ethereal feminine instead of just existing in the realities of this world. I grow into a shamanic Cinderella in that otherness world, grow attachment to my writing rituals once again. Grow attachment to the invisible. There is a new man in my life. There will always be a new man in my life. I can’t summon up love, adopt it, or yet make the proper adjustments yet. Perhaps this time I will not destroy what has been given to me by God. You are my manual. You are my survival guide. I must believe now that another man will take your place, and that I will love again, but this time this love, the romanticism that will take place will be different, and once again I will feel safe. And this man will be a sage. This man will be a scribe. This man will be an artist. This man will do a great many things in his lifetime, and I will be by his side as he builds his kingdom, empire after empire (so this is why we had to meet. This is why I have to feel a succession of deaths after I write something, put it away before I send it out into the world, like a shaman’s smoke signals. This is why I had to desire you, feel the pain of the mind acutely, and feel anchored by sensitivity.

And love, and the humiliation, the ardour, the embarrassment, the shame, the blessed abundance of wisdom that comes with it all. With wanting it all. If the glove fits. And most of all the measure of it all. Perhaps the next man will be a poet. Rhyming the cosmos telepathically with his eye to the telescope to every star in the fabric of the universe. Will it be under his self-control? Will it make him alert to his innerness, his humanity, humility, his own shimmering depression, and attempt at greatness, or accomplishing great things? You can talk, and talk, and talk about your empire, and the empires you want to conquer, and the fact that you want to go on to build a kingdom. I’ll be quiet. Rest my head against your shoulder, sit next to you, be your pretty woman if that’s what it takes. Go down, down, down to the depths of your despair, your moments of humiliation (not mine), of utter desolation (yours not mine), and I will finger that sacred gold band as if it belonged to me. Imagine all kinds of things (this is what makes me a dangerous woman. This is why I will never be yours for long). Can you imagine all the difficulties of a mental illness? How I will threaten your world, your livelihood?

Instead let me imagine the pure light of the angelic off your face, and learn to erase it from memory. Let me erase the shine of it off your face dearest until it is once more like a blank slate. I’ll imagine that white wedding lace, the happiest day of my life that belonged to me and you, our union before God, in front of guests in the church where our children will be baptised, what do you say to that? Cat got your tongue? Are you strong enough to remain by my side, to be my man, to take me on, that and the illness? Stories are meant for books, for the literary establishment, for publishers and editors. Despair is meant for tortured poets. I can act to death, sometimes with a little success. I can produce many, many wonderful things with my female intuition, and my feminine understanding, and sensitivity, swap recipes, torture spices in the kitchen, wipe down counter tops with smiling finesse, but you will never see that side of me unfortunately for long. Soon I will take to my bed. I need my rest. So do the voices that rain down on my parade, rain down on me like coins in the metro (Ezra Pound’s metro). And I will go from Alba to Orlando, the face of love to camping out in a mysterious desert in the wilderness surrounded by shrub, and heatwaves. So this is it then for me. Time to say adieu.

Time for me to go from happy go lucky to frustrated. It can take me hours to do menial chores, or not to do them at all. Parting lover is such sweet sorrow, but like everything I do it damn well. I impress as I move from the world of the ordinary mundane, the ordinary madness, to the world of very real, very exquisite madness. I need books. What you don’t understand is I need my books. Without them to be quite honest I feel quite lost, don’t have the energy to take a shower, wash my hair, and brush the tangles out of it. I need information. Anything will do. Take this shroud away from me. The darkness. The negativity. The depravity. Give me up instead to purity. I don’t know why it’s not making any sense to you when it makes perfect sense to me. I need plenty of them. I need them around me. Covet them. I need them within reach. Need to make sense of the words. I need to find something to do. To fill up my personal space, the hours in the hospital, from keeping me from going bored, or high, or low. Depressed that I cannot keep you, have you, consume you at any time or hour of the day. And in my writing the highs, and lows shows. There is no more you therefore there is no more inspiration.

There is no more ardour. Once childhood governed me, like that day on the beach with my mother always governs me. She’s dancing away from me, out of my reach. And I’m dying a fate worse than death. Doesn’t every child who is at first vaguely away of the lack of mother-love? I’m always rewinding that death cassette. And I dance too slowly to the music. I can never catch up to elegant her. Although I wish that the two of us could be watching television together right now. Though I’d be reading (engrossed in a novel), and you’d be watching the World Cup. But the reality of the situation is that you probably are. And the woman in your life is your wife. Confess. Confess, I hiss. You will not be under any obligation to be there, from relapse to recovery, although I would want that very much. But I would want you to know that without me telling you. Do you worry for me, darling? Darling, well don’t. I don’t want your pity. There is no remedy for it anyway. No remedy for this chronic illness. Electricity and I go good together. We’re perfect for each other. It cuts right through like a blade. You put that blade against my wrist and what else do you but put pressure on it. Blood divine.

Oh, blood divine.

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Traditonal Vs. Neo-Traditional Tattooing

Some say that there’s no difference between traditional tattoos and neo-traditional tattoos; though the differences are slight, they are still there. Traditional tattoos consist of dark heavy line strokes and solid colors. They are intentionally kept simple in design and use a limited color palette that consists of red, green, yellow, brown, and blue with little to no shading.

Tattoo culture at the time was very much fringe and on the outskirts of society, unlike the mainstream appeal and fine art credibility it has today. These sailors would get iconic images stamped on their body as a celebration of their service; only accomplished sailors that have been to far away lands and traveled a certain number of miles were able to get swallows, for example. Traditional tattoos were not customly created, rather they were just flash picked off walls.

“Traditional” adheres to specific imagery: patriotic symbols like eagles, ships, anchors, the American flag, daggers, pin ups, swallows and nautical stars. All of these symbols stemmed from classic sailor and Navy icons that were prevalent in the early 20th century when servicemen would return stateside and get tattooed.

Neo-traditional tattoos pay homage to the classic, timeless art form through the same techniques; bold lines and heavy color saturation with minimal shading and detail. However, the imagery and designs used are generally more diverse and the color palette used is more diverse. A purely “American” tattoo style, neo traditional has included candles, lighthouses, diamonds, coffins and other concepts and rendered them in a “traditional” fashion.

Not to be confused with “New-School”, a more cartoonish, exaggerated and colorful style of tattooing, Neo-traditional is a revival of the “Old-School”, a celebration of roots and origins.

The innate beauty that the traditional tattoo style offers appeals across all generations of enthusiasts; bold lines and solid colors tend to fade less, offering the longevity and long lasting quality that so many desire.

Aside from black and grey, traditional has proven to be the one of the only tattoo styles that stand the test of time, and will always have an audience to wear them. The beauty of traditional tattooing is just that; there will always be artists looking to recreate the classic tattoos and culture that helped pave the way and make the tattoo industry what it is today.

Today, artists like Myke Chambers are paving the new generation of professional traditional tattooers, elevating the art to a new frontier and keep tradition alive.

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Bowling Balls

Bowling balls are available with a wide range of options. Such options as overstock, weight block, top weight, and pin location to name a few. With so many variables, how do you choose the right one for you? Many factors, should be considered when making a decision on your next bowling ball purchase.

Let's briefly breakdown what each of the above mentioned terms mean in reference to bowling balls.

-Coverstock is essentially to outer surface of the bowling ball that creates the shell. Typically, the overstock can either be dull or shiny on a bowling ball.

-A weight block is the core of the bowling ball. Depending on the shape and density of the weight block, it can influence the reaction of the bowling ball.

-Top weight is the core variation within the bowling ball. If the core is higher in the ball, it produces a higher top weight. If the core is lower, then the bowling ball will have a lower top weight.

-Pin simply designates the location of the top of the weight block in a bowling ball.

These definitions simply apply to the bowling ball itself. What factors not related to the make / model of the bowling ball? For these we are referring to factors such as your bowling game itself. Things such as ball speed, track flare, axis tilt, etc all play an important role in bowling. Each person has their own unique way of bowling. Knowing your game and style will make it easier for you to make the proper selection when buying a new bowling ball.

Below is a brief breakdown of a few key definitions.

-Ball Speed ​​is simply the speed at which you roll your bowling ball. Many of the newer scoring systems measure the speed of your bowling ball. However, not all are 100% accurate, but it can give you a general idea of ​​what the speed is.

-Track flare is the "oil rings" that appear on your bowling ball after you throw it. These rings show the progress of the rotation of your ball as it is rolling down the lane and the ball changing its axis of rotation while seeking its preferred spin axis.

-Axis tilt is the angle of rotation of the bowling ball.

Depending on your style and lane conditions, making the right decision can be tricky at times. The easiest and best way to decide which bowling ball is right for you is to visit your local bowling pro shop. Many pro shop owners have been around the game of bowling for quite some time. With their knowledge and experience, as well as watching you bowl, they can give you strong recommendations on which bowling ball will suit your game.

However, not every bowling center has an on-site pro shop. Luckily the internet provides a plethora of information relating bowling balls. Many of the manufacturer sites provide in depth analysis of reactions and characteristics and even a few videos with the bowling balls in action. Customer reviews found on various bowling ball message forums can also provide real life insight as to what a particular bowling ball can do on certain lane conditions. There are even a few retail sites that provide bowling ball reviews, which are customer reviews for various products.

As you can see the internet can be an excellent resource in helping you determine which bowling balls will take your game to the next level.

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Geography of the United States

When talking about the Unites States of America in a geographical sense we refer to the US as a part of the American continent and also its other territories. The US is located in the North of the American continent and also consists of Alaska, Hawaii, US Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico. Not all of these are found in the continental America. Some like Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are, as the name implies, islands and do not come into contact with the US continental territory. They are however governed in a looser or tighter way by the United States of America.

For instance the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is US territory and it is under the jurisdiction of the United States of America, although it has a government of its own that comes with the separation of powers. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has a population of approximately 3,548,000 and the capital is San Juan.

Guam is another territory of the US that is situated in the Western Pacific Ocean. This territory is not incorporated within the US and has a civilian form of government. Guam is considered to be a non-self-governing territory. The territory of Guam consists of the largest Mariana Islands and is located in the south of this group of islands. The most important city in Guam is also its capital called Hagatna, Guam has a population of approximately 160,000.

The third territory will discuss is actually a group of islands consisting of Saint Croix, Saint John, Saint Thomas and surrounding islands. The territory of the US Virgin Islands has a population of 106,405 and the capital of Charlotte Amalie, the US Virgin Islands are located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Hawaii is the newest state in the US of America with Honolulu as its capital. It joined the US in 1959 and is located Oceania. It has a population of 1,419,561 and is the 41st state when measuring population.

There are also 2 smaller states that also represent US territory these are the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the American Samoa.

The US’s total area is considered to be around 9,629,000 square kilometers. This makes the US the 4th country in the world when measuring the total area of its territory and with a population of around 318,900,000 it is the 3rd country in the world.

When talking about the continental US we mention the whole 48 states plus Alaska that have the following borders: to the north Canada and northwest Russia, to the south Cuba and Bahamas. The coastline consists of the Pacific Ocean in the west and the Atlantic Ocean in the west.

Washington is located in the District of Colombia and is the capital of the US. It has a population of 658, 893 and is the 23rd largest city in the US, it has been the capital of the US since 1791.

The US has a total of 50 states each with a governor and different laws that govern them, however the United States of America are a federation and thus a federal law governs over all.

When taking into account the 3 biggest states population wise we refer to California (38,802,500), Texas (26,956,958) and Florida (19,893,297) while on the other hand the least populated territories are Northern Mariana Islands (53,883), American Samoa (55,519) and US Virgin Islands (106,405).

The biggest US states when considering area are Alaska (1,717,854 square km), Texas (696,621 square km) and California (423,970 square km). The smallest are Rhode Island (4,002 square km), Delaware (6,030 square km) and Connecticut (12,548 square km).

Alaska is the biggest state of the US when territory area is considered, it was purchased from the Russian Empire in 1867 with the total of 7.2 million dollars. The capital of Alaska is Juneau and its biggest city is Anchorage.

US territory is varied when it comes to natural landscape and it consists of all types of geographical figures.

In eastern part of the US we find a coastal plain that includes the Florida peninsula and moving into the central and western part of the territory we come across mountains.

To the east the Appalachian Mountains are found, they span from southern Canada to Central Alabama. The highest peak in the mountain range is Mount Mitchell with an elevation of 2,037 meters.

The central-eastern part is made up of the Great Pains that are situated between the Mississippi River to the east and the Rocky Mountains to the west. It is an important agricultural reserve and before this role was fulfilled it served as a grass plain. The only notable higher elevation found in the Great Plains is the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains.

In the north-central the Great Lakes can be found, they consist of a total of five lakes. The biggest of the lakes is Lake Superior with a total area of 82,103 square km and stretching through Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario, it is followed by Lake Huron (59,570 square km).

Missouri is the largest river in the US with a length of 3,767 km, it starts its course in the Rocky Mountains (Montana) and meets up with the Mississippi river in St. Louis. The second biggest river is located in the center of the Great Plains and is the Mississippi river with a total length of 3,544 km. It flows from the north of the US continental territory (Minnesota) to the south state of Louisiana.

To the west we find the Rocky Mountains – Rockies that stretch from the north (Canada) to the south (New Mexico). The total length of the mountain chain is 4,830 km and it was formed around 70 million years ago. It has a maximum elevation of 4,400 meters represented by Mount Elbert and is home to the Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park.

Alaska is separated from the 48 states by Canada and has the biggest coastline when compared to all of the other US states. The territory of Alaska is home to the biggest elevation mountain wise in the US territory, Mount McKinley (6,168 meters).

Southwestern US is made up of mountains, basins and desert lands that is why southwestern US features an arid terrain that consists of rocky hills of limestone and granite.

A total of five climate regions can be found across the US territory based on the geographical features that are present in those areas. To the south west we find a desert climate a dry climate that offers a high temperature, around 38 degrees during the summer. The far side of the south west is dominated by a Mediterranean climate significantly cooler at around 25 degrees.

The south is dominated by a subtropical climate due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, this climate is represented by mild winters and hot, humid summers. This brings temperatures to 32 degrees in the summer.

The Middle Coast and Western Plains have temperate and continental humid climate. The temperate climates are represented by four distinct seasons with hot summers and cold snowy winters.

Northwestern US has a temperate oceanic climate that is dry in the summer and wet and cool in the winter. Averagesin the summer are around 26 degrees and in the winter temperatures drop to as low as -1 degrees.

The most densely populated areas in the US are the cities that make up of 81% of the residing citizens. California and Texas are the most populated states and city wise New York is the biggest state with around 8 million inhabitants. The second biggest city is Los Angeles with a population of 3,884,307.

The average density for the US territory is around 32.52 people per square km making it the 180th country when considering population density.

A total of 72% of the population is made up by white Americans followed by 12% African Americans and around 5% Asian Americans, the rest are Pacific islanders, Alaska natives or Native Americans and others.

An American male has an average life expectation of 77 years while females live up to 81 years of age. An average 2.5 immigrants per 1000 Americans are present in the US. From the total population of the US a percentage of 66 % makes up the adult population while 14 % are represented by people over 65 years and 20 % are under the age of 14.

There are 4 big parts when talking about the US’s resources; these are agriculture, forestry, drilling and mining. The agriculture enjoys a climate variation that suits all types of plants and crops like fruits, vegetables, cotton and tobacco. Crops can be found in the northern Mexico and Texas.

Forestry is predominant in the Pacific Northwest, the Gulf States and on the coast of South Atlantic. Coal is the primary mining product because the US holds a total of 27 % of the world’s coal reserves, the main area that coal is extracted from is located near the Appalachians. Drilling is done in the Gulf and Arctic regions of the US and oil and gas are the predominant drilling products that make up the drilling industry.

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Winterize Your Home to Survive Winter Weather: The Ultimate Home Prep Checklist

Every winter, your home goes up against the roughest of weather. From relentless snow, to pounding storms to ever-lingering ice, the elements sure do put your home through the ringer. And according to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2014 alone, American homeowners who failed to winterize their homes lost a collective $ 2.4 billion dollars from damages caused by snow, ice, and freezing winter temperatures.

How, you ask? From all of the associated property damage. For example, the average claim for damage caused by a frozen pipe that's burst is about $ 18,000. This cost often includes replacing or repairing the pipe itself, as well as the draked floor and drywall. And collapsing trees – with weak or dead branches that can be snapped off by the howling wind, or from the weight of ice and snow – can cause anywhere from $ 5,000 to $ 10,000 dollars in damage per tree when they come crashing into your house.

But the good news is that the winter does not always have to have its way with your home and wallet. Preparing your home for winter weather can help prevent, avoid, and reduce these and other problems that could cost you thousands of dollars to repair. And the best way to see what needs fixing in your home is to perform a winter home fitness test.

There's a long list of benefits that go along with winterizing your home. Real estate experts note that weatherization efforts, on average, lower homeowners' energy consumption by 35%, as well as reduce their annual energy costs by 32%.

And as an added bonus, weatherization efforts also boast a strong ratio of savings from the home improvement investment. For example, for every $ 1.00 you spend on saving your home from airflow and insulation issues, you'll net a return of $ 1.80 in savings in your bank account.

On top of all the energy savings, preventing a small problem from becoming a huge issue will save you thousands. As our wise founding father Benjamin Franklin once quipped, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." And here's how you can make the most of your prevention efforts this winter.

4 Ways the Winter Elements Can Destroy Your Home

Contrary to popular belief, your home is not indestructible. It might feel that way when you're sitting by the fire as the wind howls outside, but there's probably a problem brewing at this very moment. So, let's look at some of the common ways the elements damage your home

1) Ice Will Destroy Your Chimney

Go outside and take a good look at the mortar on your chimney. There's no way it's going to last as long as your roof, and over time, the rain will begin to find its way inside the cracks. As it freezes, you'll find chunks of the mortar falling off. And now your flashing (that thin sheet or strip of water-resistant material that's installed at roof intersections) will not be able to save you because the water will get in and roll down your interior walls. If you're really unlucky, you could end up with a mold problem you had no clue about.

2) Extremely Powerful Winds Are Determined to Damage Your Roof

If you live in an area where hurricanes, blizzards, and very strong winds commonly strike, then you know that they can be powerful enough to rip branches off trees and send them hurtling towards your roof. Once this happens, it can easily tear your roof apart until you have large holes where the rain and snow will find its way inside, causing all sorts of water damage. The best way to make sure this does not happen is to keep an eye on trees and cut off any old or broken branches. It's one of the reasons why steel roofs are becoming ever more popular, as they're capable of withstanding almost anything the wind will throw at it.

3) Your Pipes Can Freeze and Burst

One of the most annoying ways the cold weather can damage your home is by causing your pipes to burst. It's a much harder problem to fix, especially if you end up with additional issues like a flooded basement. Burst pipes are caused by the water inside your pipes freezing up until they expand so much that they crack. It's common when your pipes run outside to garden taps or through uninsulated walls. You could always stop using your garden tap during winter, but it might not be practical, and this does not solve every issue. The best thing you can do is add insulation to your pipes to stop them from getting too cold.

4) Piles of Heavy Snow Could Collapse Your Roof

Snow might look pretty when it's lying on your roof, but if there's too much of it, then it's becoming dangerous for a number of reasons. The most worrisome one is that the snow may slide off – like a mini avalanche – and fall on top of someone standing or walking below it. An old roof could also buckle under the pressure, which would cost a great deal to fix.

Even if the pile of snow on your roof is not heavy enough to damage the roof itself, your guttering might not be so lucky. With all that added weight, it could soon come crashing down to the ground. To prevent this, you can clear your gutters of leaves and other tree debris ahead of time so the snow does not build up as easily, and then you can remove any piles yourself with a rake if there is enough there to be deemed dangerous.

How to Prepare Your Home for Winter: The Space-by-Space Home Fitness Checklist

When was the last time you took a tour of your home and thought "How do I protect my house from winter weather"? It's probably been years, and in all that time, it's likely that a few important things have slipped through the cracks. But if enough melting snow starts seeping into those cracks, it's going to cause far too much expensive damage to your refugee from Mother Nature's cold shoulder.

Because winterizing your home entails a lot more than just making a quick trip to the nearest supermarket for some eggs, milk, and bread. You have to keep in mind that the blizzards, sleet, and the extreme cold can wreak havoc on your home's structure and safety. And to ensure that your home is fit and properly prepared for the next blast of winter weather, use our Winter Home Fitness Checklist below to do a complete once-over of your property and fill those cracks. It's a simple breakdown for how you can prepare and protect your home – both inside and out.

For Your Indoor Spaces

Adequately winterizing your home's interior for the cold weather is critical, as you're going to be indoors most of the time. Here are a few important steps to keep yourself warm and protected. A few quick fixes around the home could alleviate many energy inefficiencies and reduce your monthly costs through winter and beyond.

Insulation: Check the insulation in your attic, foundation, and garage. According to data collected by the National Association of Realtors, improving insulation alone can reduce your heating bills by 20%.

Pipes: Make sure all the pipes passing through these unheated places are adequately insulated. Ideally, they should be wrapped in electrical heating tape first, followed by foam insulation. Bursting of pipes from freezing is far more common than it needs to be, and it can give rise to some seriously expensive repairs.

Ceiling: Check for leaks in the ceiling and repair or replace any damaged or missing shingles

Heating: Examine your furnaces, heating vents, thermostats, oil tanks, wood stoves, and water heaters. Make sure they're clean and in good, working condition. Buy a space heater to keep on hand as a good back-up on those extra chilly days

Filters: Replace dirty filters in your furnace and HVAC system every month or two. Dirty filters can, sometimes, lead to a fire. And if you use a propane or oil-powered furnace, be sure that you refuel it.

Vents: Keep your vents free of obstacles to allow the free-flow of air.

Smoke Detectors: Check for smoke and carbon monoxide leaks with the help of proper detectors, and replace old batteries as well.

Fireplace / Chimney: Examine the fire brick in the fireplace for open mortar joints. Should you see any, get them repaired immediately to prevent the possibility of a fire breaking out.

Weather Stripping: Check for weather stripping on all sides of the doors and the windows. If some it cracking or missing, apply new or additional weather stripping. You can also use rope caulk for this by simply pressing it into the areas where air leakage has been taking place. Air leaks can cause the cold air from the outside to come in and allow your warm air to escape, compromising your home's efficiency by up to 30%. It is, therefore, crucial to avoid them.

Fans: Make sure that your fans are spinning in the right direction. During the summer, ceiling fans run counterclockwise to create cool breezes. Turning blades in reverse displaces hot air as it travels upward to the ceiling, sending that hot air back into the room – making the space more comfortable for those nearby and reducing heating bills by up to 10 percent. So circulate smarter and save!

Water Heater: While most water heaters are set to about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the can actually operate at 120 degrees without a perceptible change in performance. Stepping down into your basement or into the maintenance closet to adjust your furnace will just take a few minutes, but the positive impacts will last until next spring. Covering your water heater in a special insulating wrap will also keep it working more efficiently.

For Your Outdoor Spaces

The outside of your home will be taking the main brunt of the winter weather. So make sure you give it the TLC it needs to make it through to the spring. Many of these solutions are simple, affordable, DIY projects that you can often complete in under an hour.

Windows: Dual-pane windows are not only safer, but they're also really good at insulating your home. The double layer of glass between you and the world outside is filled with argon gas, which will greatly help with the insulation properties of your windows. You could also have the UV coating on your windows which lowers the chance of fading for any artwork and furniture inside your home. You could also have ones with safety film on, which keeps them from shattering into pieces in case of impact.

Roof: Check your roof for cracks or other openings. Make sure you replace any missing shingles and install weather striking on the roof opening (s) to deter melted snow from seeping into your home.

Pipes: Turn off the water supply to all your exterior faucets, and drain out excess water from plumbing lines, underground sprinklers, garden hoses, and pipelines by opening up the exterior faucet. Doing so should help keep the pipes from freezing and bursting.

Gutters: The gutters and the spouts should be devoid of leaves, grime, and other devris. The deposits of wet leaves in the gutters adds substantial weight and volume to them in winter, which increases the risk of damage. Clean out the gutters to reduce the risk of ice dams as well.

Chimney / Fireplace: Make sure the chimney's flue and draft is functioning properly and fully operational. It needs to easily and securely open and close, and then drawing up the smoke as well. Apart from that, keep your chimney clear of bird, rodent, and other animal nests.

Patio Furniture: Since you will not be using it much in the winter, keep your patio furniture covered and protected.

Deck: Apply an extra coat of sealer on your deck so the sitting winter water does not warp it.

Pool and Fountain: Drain your pool and water fountains, and unplug their pumps as well.

Doors and Shutters: Repair any loose shutters or doors to minimize possible damage from wind. And be sure to apply weather-stripping around these as well.

Walkways and Driveways: Spread anti-slip gravel out all over your walkways and driveways. This will help prevent slips, skids, and falls when the snow comes down. Also, make sure you've got shovels and rock salt on hand for when the next snow storm strikes.

How to Win the Winter Weather War: Prevention

There are thousands of things that could potentially go wrong with your home in the winter, and we've only touched on the most common ones today. However, far too many people wait until something goes wrong before they fix a problem affecting their homes, and this almost always ends up costing them a lot more money. That's because it's cheaper to prevent anything bad from occurring in the first place.

So if you can take care of potential home issues before something gets damaged and take the time to winterize your home, then your wise prevention will save you a lot of hassle and keep you from having huge bills to pay. Remember, your home is your castle, and it's smart to start treating it as such. So make the smarter move and devote the time it takes to properly prepare your home for whatever wicked winter weather may come your way. Because, after all, it's always smarter to over-prepare than to be left out in the cold.

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