Deck Construction Maintenance Tips

September 30, 2016

You can hire a deck construction company to build your dream deck, but how do you take care of it to keep it looking nice? Performing basic maintenance and upkeep on your structure will keep it looking and functioning great for much longer than if you just let it sit there. Here are some tips to get you started.Repairs
Each year, check the supporting posts and joists underneath that hold the deck up, as well as the screws and bolts that connect it to your home. Inspect for wood rot, structural damage, or loose bolts and screws. Also check the railings and flooring for loose nails or screws, as well as damaged wood and splinters. If you find any problems, make sure and correct them before doing any further maintenance. This may be as simple as tightening bolts and hammering nails back in or as complicated as replacing posts. If you find wood rot on your supporting posts, it is best to give your deck construction company a call. These types of problems often require major renovations and are best left to the professionals.

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SandingIf your deck is older and looks beaten up, consider sanding rather than washing it. Sanding an older structure can give it new life and add another 10 years to it. Before sanding, make sure all nails and screws are sunk into the wood so they don’t catch on the drum sander. Sand diagonally first with sandpaper that is 40-50 grit, then go back and sand it again horizontally using 70-80 grit sandpaper. This process evens out the surface while opening up the pores of the wood.Homemade Cleaning SolutionHere’s a recipe for an effective deck cleaning solution that you can make at home. Combine one quart of household bleach with 1/3 cup of powdered laundry soap and 3 quarts of warm water. Apply and rinse off.StainingStarting at an inner corner, use a sprayer to apply semi transparent stain. Watch for overspray on siding or any other surfaces nearby. Go over any puddles with a roller to even out the finish. Don’t let the stain completely dry before applying a second coat because it will not soak into the wood. Not all structures will require more than one coat. Use a stain that has a high amount of resin in it so it will last longer. Look for solids at or above the 50 percent level. In the years between staining your deck, a water sealant can be applied to protect the wood.

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Ask your deck construction company about installing low-maintenance decking if you prefer to avoid frequent upkeep and repairs. These kinds of decking materials are stain, scratch, mold, mildew, and split resistant.

Five Similarities Between Religion and Spirituality

September 1, 2016

When we were children we were asked, Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If we based our answer on the creation story in the Bible, we would answer, Chicken. But if we based our answer on our experience in raising chickens, our answer would be, Egg.The same can be said of the answer to the question, Which came first, Religion or Spirituality?In terms of our experience with religious books and discussions, religion came first. It is only now that more and more people are talking about spirituality and writing about it. In terms of the origin of the reality behind those words or in terms of the object of our understanding, spirituality came first. The spirit was there before there was any religion. God was there before there was anybody to worship him.We can even say that spirituality is an offshoot of religion. For many centuries people professed religion. Some of them fiercely opposed religions other their own. Christians for many centuries opposed paganism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and any other religion. This has happened also with paganism, Islam, and the rest with respect to the other religions. They too opposed other religions.

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But more and more people discover that mere religion cannot answer their deeper yearning for a better experience of life. So, they turned to something deeper and better than religion. They found this in spirituality.Because spirituality in a sense is an offshoot of religion, there is bound to be some similarity between them, just like the similarity between the egg and the chicken.First, both believe in a higher power of some kind. Religion believes in God the Father or Jesus, or Allah, or Brahman, or Tao. Spirituality believes also in this God or it may conceive of God as a universal or primal energy. Both believe that such being possesses power higher and greater than what we have.Secondly, both religion and spirituality desire to have a relationship with this higher power. Although the nature of the relationship is different in religion than in spirituality, the desire for this relationship is there. Religion connects with this higher power with fear and trembling. Spirituality connects with this higher power with love and affection.Thirdly, both religion and spirituality have rituals and practices which deepen one’s religiosity or spirituality. Religion usually has sacred rites or sacraments. Spirituality has meditation or yoga sessions.

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Fourthly, both have respect for the sacred, the other worldly. This is not just respect for God. This is respect for the reality that is beyond our senses and reason. When religion pushes this respect to its extreme, it becomes superstition. When spirituality pushes this respect to its extreme, it becomes religious spirituality.Fifthly, both have fear of failure. In religion this failure is punished by hell fire or repetition of existence or some other worse fate. In spirituality this failure is the inability to realize one’s true worth or value and the destiny of a life of meaninglessness. Hell, repetition of existence, non-existence, meaninglessness are forms of punishment for failure, either in religion or in spirituality.

Is Learning Tennis Important?

August 18, 2016

Learning tennis can start at various ages. Some pick it up at a tender age of 3 – 4 years old. Others do not have the opportunity until later in life. Nevertheless, learning tennis is important for all ages, especially for kids for the following reasons and arguments:• Tennis is a form of exerciseNo matter how you see it, tennis will always give you some cardio work out which makes it a form of exercise. Tennis involves running, sprinting at times, stretching for the ball, power and grace. It not only requires physical agility but mental prowess as well. I thoroughly enjoy tennis as it gives me a good work out;• Tennis stimulates the mindFor most people, tennis is merely a physical sport. Nothing more. But, if you look closely, you will realize that tennis requires more mental toughness and mental alertness than one would think it requires. For the competitive player, it is easily more than 80% mental than physical. Choosing the correct shot at the appropriate time is more important than just whacking the ball hard. This requires the mind to be nimble and agile to quickly discern the appropriate shot to make in order to win the point.

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• Tennis improves your social network and self esteem.We are all human beings. We require to be amongst people. Tennis will give you that opportunity to mingle and interact with people in a fun and engaging environment. It will help you to form or enter an already established social group. It helps to build you up as a person too. Not all of us are champion tennis players. That said, being able to hit a tennis ball well at times certainly gives me a sense of satisfaction and raises my self-belief a little more. It allows you to make more friends and feel that you belong.• Tennis improves your mental toughnessTennis, unknown to most players, requires one to really focus and execute an action within a split second. For competition players, tennis helps to improve their self worth and esteem. One has to be able to lose graciously, pick one self up and move on in life to the next match. Losing helps to humble oneself. It teaches one how to lose and yet be happy about it. One has to realize that here is more than life than just winning.• Tennis is good for young kidsIf you have the ability, let your kids try tennis at a young age. It will help to build them up physically and mentally. Tennis will open doors for these kids ie they may be able to get scholarships to various universities. It will help to toughen them up mentally. Of course, the physical aspects of tennis training will also make one stronger and fitter.• You could learn tennis and be a coachTennis can be a means for making a living for some. Ideally, a competitive player, once retired or being injured could decide to take some coaching courses and become a tennis coach. Coaching can be rewarding financially but more importantly it can also be beneficial emotionally as you see your charges grow up to be men or women of stature in society. For some, tennis could give you an extra bit of income while you are studying in university.

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• Tennis can be a businessApart from being a coach, there are many business aspects relating to tennis. One can open up a sports shop selling tennis gear and equipment. You can sell tennis rackets, tennis shoes, tennis bags and many other items related to tennis. You could start and run a tennis club with membership fees. It can be quite lucrative and fun at the same time. Organising tennis tours to various tournaments globally can be another venture to look into.Ultimately, if you ask any tennis enthusiasts what he thinks of tennis. You will get the answer that tennis has become a part of his life because of all or some of the reasons above. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for your first tennis lesson and you will not look back again!. Happy Playing and Learning!

Womens Health – The Secret Behind Good Health

October 22, 2016

Maintaining good health is important for women as they have to do many activities in the daily life. Lots of women have been suffering from many types of Womens Health related problems due to the lack of essential vitamins and minerals in the body. Vitamins are very important and essential ingredients for the body because the help the body organs function properly and due to this reason they need to keep themselves in a good health. Good quality vitamins help the women in slowing ageing process, strengthen the immune system, improve the energy levels and also support the hormones. But before looking for vitamins, a medical consultation is very essential as the medical professional will be able too find out the most suitable vitamins as per the body formation and functionality of vital organs.

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Physicians can provide better guidance when it comes to the Womens Health care as lots of studies in the medical field have proven that the body of women needs lots of anti ageing substances which are natural and provide specific benefits to their health. Fresh fruits and vegetables always help in supplementing for the vitamins and minerals required for the body. Apart from vitamins and minerals, women also require nutrients like amino acid, antioxidants and so on.Nutrients are important for both the genders but some nutrients are specially required for Womens Health because they are much important in balancing their female hormones. It is a fact that the women who are between 25 and 45 years of age need extra bit of care for the maintenance of their good health. Osteoporosis is a significant situation in women which begins when they attain 30 years of age so a diet of calcium and magnesium supplements and other necessary nutrients regularly are specially recommended to those who attain the age of 40.

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It’s important for the Womens to give proper care to their health and get the regular checkup done to keep them fit and disease free.

Benefits of Holidays and Vacations

November 2, 2016

As a frontline medical practitioner for over 20 years, I have been actively encouraging and motivating my patients, relatives, friends and other people to take holidays and vacations on a regular basis. Except for those people who have serious medical conditions, there are no restrictions to travel and enjoy holidays. Even the elderly, disabled or pregnant women (within 28 weeks of pregnancy) can travel as much as anybody else. The benefits of holidays and vacations are numerous, both short-term and long-term, but most people fail to appreciate the benefits. As a result, only a small percentage of people worldwide travel and harvest the benefits of holidays and vacations. Research has shown that even workers who are offered paid vacations by their organizations do not take advantage of such offers to take some weeks off their work.In this article, I will briefly highlight some benefits of holidays and vacations.Longer and healthier lifeA recent survey conducted by the State University of New York has shown that people who take holidays regularly every year reduce their risk of early death by about 20 percent. The survey also revealed that those who did not take any holiday in 5 years faced the highest death rate risk, along with higher incidence of heart diseases. This can be explained by the fact that during holidays people are happier, relaxed, carefree, spending more time with family and loved ones, and away from the regular stressing environment. A happy relaxed life increases longevity.

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Improvement in mental healthOne study conducted by the Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield and published in Wisconsin Medical Journal showed that women who went on frequent vacations had lower susceptibility to depression, tiredness, or tensions and they were more satisfied with their marriages. Women who took rare vacations displayed higher stress levels in their homes, felt more exhausted and tired and slept lesser. It is without doubt that regular holidays will not just unwind people from the stress accumulated during the day to day hectic life in the short-term but also will improve the overall mental and psychological well-being of an individual in the long-term. Many researchers have shown that depression increases the chances of heart disease. Since holidays provide a break from the normal boring routine, they also help in relieving the symptoms of depression.Revamping of relationshipsThe always busy, work-obsessed and chronically duty-minded culture of people of modern life has indeed taken a heavy toll not only on our physical and mental health but also on our relationships. People do not have much time to spend with their partners, children or families. As a result, there is disharmony in the family, children are not looked after well and there is increased tension between partners, which has resulted in increased number of separations, divorce and other marital conflicts. Taking regular breaks from work and enjoying holidays and vacations not only revamps the strained and estranged relationships but also renews, revitalizes and strengthens family relationships and bonds.Improvement in self-confidenceWhen we travel, we encounter various types of situations and meet different kinds of people. Such encounters improve our self-confidence. It also helps improve our social skills and prepare us for unexpected or unknown.Creative inspiration through holidayingWhen we do the same thing again and again, it becomes monotonous and stereotyped. This is what has happened to us in today’s world. We have become victims of monotony that has gradually crept into our system and destroyed our creative abilities, new thinking processes, and inspirational opportunities. When we travel, we come across new situations and different environments. Such situations can induce and help develop the creativity within us.Increase in productivity Many studies have shown that holidays not only motivate people to work better but the relief from the monotony also rejuvenates people, resulting in higher productivity.Seeking adventureHolidaying is a time to pump adrenalin for many adventure lovers. This is a chance to make their dream come true and try many daring sports and adventures, such as, bungee jumping, water rafting, surfing, mountaineering and many others. Such adventures give people a sense of achievement and happiness.

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Mental and psychological escapeMany people these days view holidaying as a form of mental or psychological escape. The change in atmosphere, climate, scenery, quiet surroundings, slow pace of life, and clean air is regarded by many travelers as pathway to happiness and spirituality.Improve physical fitness, and lose weight tooObesity has become a global epidemic. Holidays and vacations can at least induce people to do some form of exercise. They have more time and any form of physical activity (and away from TV and video games!) can help lose weight. If they can continue the same sort of exercises once they are back home, it can at least help people change their habit and lose some weight at the same time. Losing weight not only improves the physical fitness and appearance of a person but also reduces the chances of getting depression, some cancers, heart diseases and other conditions.In conclusion, holidays and vacations not only bring joy, excitements, fun and break in the usual monotony of life, but they also have far reaching effects in the long-term including improvement in physical and mental wellbeing, longer and happier life, revamping relationships, improving self confidence and productivity, and instilling creative inspiration within us.

Private Banking Services Vs Retail Banking

September 24, 2016

Private banking is a much more personalized banking service given to individuals who invest substantial sums, typically over U$S1M. The most noticeable difference between retail and private banking services are that private clients receive customer service on a 1-1 basis via a relationship manager or a private banker. Wealthy individuals with private accounts can expect to meet their bank contact in person, and have direct phone access to a relationship manager. Usually the private banking arm of a bank is separate from the retail banking arm and the service is completely distinct.A private bank is one that is not incorporated. Private banks are favoured by conservative investors because the directors are personally liable, and more likely to be cautious in managing client funds. Financial institutions like these are sometimes family owned and only cater to the very rich. One of the reasons why wealthy people choose them is their confidentiality – a pledge to maintain client records secret. For some it is a case of not wanting to be targeted by criminals, lawsuits or corrupt governments. Others use this secrecy to shield income from authorities like the IRS and evade tax.

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Many of the world’s private banks are found in Switzerland because of the strict bank secrecy laws and sophistication of Swiss financial services. Small banks in countries like Switzerland are also more likely to keep their client records secret because they limit their operations to within the country’s bank secrecy laws.Not only private banks offer private banking services – in fact some of the biggest providers of private banking and wealth management services like UBS, Credit Suisse and the Barclays are not privately owned. Private clients of these huge banks can take advantage of their in-house trading and research departments, and sometimes choose to have almost all their assets managed by the bank. This way they expect much higher returns than those given by a simple savings account or certificate of deposit.Types of Private Banking ServicesUsually only very affluent clients demand wealth management – where private bankers manage an investment portfolio for a family or an individual. The fee for this service varies from bank to bank and is charged yearly as a percentage of the total amount invested. The return of a portfolio will also depend on the standard of the private banking service. While some will provide excellent returns, others will continue to charge high fees while investing client funds in the bank’s own investment funds, regardless of whether or not this is beneficial to the client.

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A popular alternative to wealth management is Self-Directed private banking, where the client manages his own portfolio, at times calling on advice from the bank. The advantages of this type of account are lower fees and greater personal control.Inheritance and tax planning are extra private banking services provided either directly or by referral for an extra fee.

Importance of Branding for E-Commerce Businesses

October 11, 2016

E-commerce businesses are becoming a reliable way to buy products online. Branding plays a direct role in improving chances of e-commerce business success. An increasing number of global customers are switching to e-commerce sites to purchase everything from groceries to apparel, and electronics to lifestyle products. The e-commerce industry has completely transformed the way in which consumers around the world access products and services. It has suddenly brought a world of options to the fingertips of end users. The future seems bright for the e-commerce industry, with major players branching out into newer product categories frequently (thus setting the standards for smaller brands).For e-commerce businesses, things are going well enough, but the competition is also fierce. New e-commerce brands are launching every day and persistently trying to get a foothold online. When it comes to branding, e-commerce companies are leaving no stone unturned. In this scenario, it is vital that you build and implement a high quality branding strategy for your e-commerce business.Branding Strategies For E-Commerce BusinessesBy having a result-oriented, effective branding plan for your e-commerce business, you can stand out amongst your competitors. To achieve that, you must determine what makes your e-commerce business a unique player in the industry. Are you offering high quality products at the best available rates? Do you organize regular discounts and offers for your customers? Are you adding new product categories to meet more customer demands? What are the factors that would convince customers to choose your brand against others? E-commerce business owners must strive to highlight the unique selling points of their brand. Only then can an e-commerce brand be boldly promoted to larger audiences.

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As an e-commerce brand, you have to be at the forefront when it comes to attracting product vendors as well as consumers to your e-store. Vendors would be interested in using your marketplace, if it has a strong brand that keeps providing value to customers. The number of sellers and customers you bring in to your network depends on the strength of your e-commerce brand, and how well it delivers on its promises. If you are intelligent in your branding, and consistent in your service quality, your e-commerce brand can achieve considerable success.E-commerce branding, like all branding, is influencing the perception of your brand and its services, in the eyes of the customer. Effective e-commerce branding will make marketing easier, retain more customers, drive up loyalty, and create better potential value for steady, long-term success.The way you must approach an e-commerce branding strategy is by highlighting some key points. With branding, you must uphold your business’s core mission, the problems you aim to solve for your customers, standards that it adheres to, and proof of the quality of services you provide. What are the factors involved in business branding and their importance?E-Commerce Branding – Methods and Importance1. Your Brand Image – A stellar, uniquely identifiable brand image helps customers attach value to your e-commerce brand’s personality. This includes various things such as logos, banners, taglines, marketing captions, social content etc., which should always represent your brand the best. This is quite important if you want to create value for potential customers and convert them into loyal customers. A good brand image goes a long way in retaining customers, by continually generating interest for your e-commerce brand’s offerings.2. Customer Satisfaction – Customers are everything, when it comes to e-commerce or any other type of business. You can actually enhance customer experiences and drive up satisfaction (and loyalties). This is a big part of establishing your e-commerce brand. Put your best foot forward while marketing, deliver on your promises you make, and provide unmatched service and support to enhance your brand’s potential value. Remember that satisfied existing customers can and will bring in newer customers to your e-commerce business. Maintain your integrity and keep reinventing to bolster your brand’s chances of business success.3. Find Your Unique Selling Proposition – As an e-commerce business owner you must determine the USP of your brand. This will help you brand and promote it better to larger groups of potential customers. Think about what sets you apart from dozens of competitors vying for true e-commerce glory. Is it your service quality or support? Is it the trust of your customers and your track record? Do you provide innovative offers, discounts and promotions on special occasions? Do you house the widest variety of rare products? You must determine why customers would choose your e-commerce site. What extra value can you offer to your potential customers that convince them to use your platform again and again? Find your USP and use it to strengthen your brand.

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4. Utilize All Channels – Technological advances in the past decade demand that your e-commerce business maximizes its presence on all social, web-based and mobile platforms. More and more potential customers buy and sell through handheld devices, and almost all of them are on social websites. All your competitors are doing it, and so should you. It will help you make your brand easily accessible to larger audiences, which in turn will bring more conversions and significantly better revenues. Social and mobile should be the front and center of your branding strategy.E-commerce sites can benefit from the above mentioned branding strategies. By using the concepts provide here, you can establish your e-commerce brand and take your business to the next level.

Put Power Behind Your Nutritional Information

September 21, 2016

Nutrition information and natural remedies are now being used by a large population in the United States and throughout the world. People are looking for alternative ways to create health or recover from long standing illnesses. Drugs have been applied for around a hundred years and we all know that they are good for emergencies and for short term use to get past health dangers.If you are sick or have certain body conditions that are creating pain, then consider learning enough nutrition information that will help you eliminate that sickness or pain. Learning the basic principles of nutrition is not hard, but it does take a little effort in finding the right nutritional course that teaches practical ways of applying nutrition.Nutrition is actually a science, which can get quite complex in theory. Nutrition information is concerned with the chemical make up of food, how this food is digested, how it is absorbed and used by your body. It is all about how it is used to promote health, and how it is used to prevent and eliminated illness.

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Applying practical nutrition stops the beginning of inflammation. This prevents the formation of disease. If disease is developing or well established, nutrition can reverse these conditions. But it can only do this if not to much tissue or cells in that area have not been destroyed.Inflammation comes from excess acid in your body. This acid is created from the foods you eat. Eating certain foods leave an acid residue in your cells that then travels into the liquid surrounding your cells – lymph liquid. In the lymph liquid, this acid can damage the surrounding cells and tissue and in doing so starts the inflammation process.Many scientists and medical researchers have uncovered the basic principles of the acid-alkaline body. Maintaining an acid body, which many people have, is what creates and maintains various deadly diseases. Most pathogens like an acid body. Cancer thrives in an acid body.Nutrition gives you the information you need to know on how to maintain an alkaline body. It gives you the information on what foods are acid and alkaline. Eating the right foods is how you maintain your health. But, nutrition information goes further in explaining how your body uses the foods you eat and how your entire body functions with this good food.Nutrition says your body is bioelectrical. Your body is run by electrical and chemical reactions. You need to discover what foods support these electrical and chemical activities. Without the right electrical activities in your body, your cells will not get the right nutrition, which is necessary for your survival. Nutrition is also about discovering what food, nutrients and minerals your body needs and what illness you develop if you don’t get them.

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Learning natural nutrition information is now possible online. In the past it was difficult to learn nutrition without going to school. Finding courses in practical nutrition can be difficult but what you and most people need is to learn is nutrition that you can put into practice. Find the time, find the course, and find the health that you need with the right nutrition course.

Retire a Young Military Millionaire

August 21, 2016

Being young and in the military has its advantages. One of the biggest rewards is a powerful force that will almost ensure that you can become a young military millionaire. There are simple steps you can take when you’re young that will help you harness the power of this force; making becoming a military millionaire a breeze.Attention young military personnel. You can turn that military paycheck into a million just by following a simple, consistent, investment plan. Just by automatically investing on a regular basis you could be on your way to an early military retirement. For example:-A $174 invested monthly starting at 18 years old could make you a young military millionaire by age 53.-A $701 invested monthly starting at 18 years old could make you a young military millionaire by age 40.Knowing how to handle your military money gives you advantages that the most people miss out on. You can afford an early military retirement just by following a simple investment strategy. Starting an investment plan young may be enough to ensure you become a young military millionaire.Because you have the power of compounding interest on your side it’s easy to become a young military millionaire when you start young. Compounding interest is defined as the interest earned from the initial money you personally invested from your military money plus the interest earned from the amount your investments have already returned. To clarify, the money that you already made from your investments starts to earn you money. That means that every year you are making money off money your investments have already paid you.

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By investing your military paycheck at a young age you are able to fully harness the power of compounding interest. This is due to the fact that your investments are earning you a return on the money already paid to you from the investment. The younger you start the faster and larger your investment account may grow. That’s why investing while you’re young and earning a steady military paycheck gives you a huge advantage.1) Save Money. The first step on the road to becoming a young military millionaire is to set up a simple savings plan. Pay yourself first by setting money aside into an investment before you start spending your military money. The habit of paying yourself first will benefit you throughout your life and will help you retire young.2) Invest Young. You may not of been taught how to invest in high school but don’t let that hold you back. There are simple investments available to the beginner investors that will get allow you to invest your military money young.The stock market offers some investment vehicles that are perfect for the new military investor. There are lower-risk investments that offer the potential for long-term gains that may help you to put your military money to work.One type of investment, known as broad based market index investments, may offer you a simple way to get your military money working for you. ‘Broad market index investments’ are simply investments in the overall market like the NASDQ 100 and S&P 500. To illustrate, one S&P 500 index traded fund will allow you to own a portion of all 500 stocks in that index. The S&P 500 index is one way for the new military investor to profit from the stock market without having to have a lot of experience.3) Consistent Investments. There is a basic military investment technique called ‘dollar cost averaging’. A dollar cost averaging plan is simply buying a fixed dollar amount of your broad market index investment at the same time each month. Your bank and brokerage firm can be set-up so it automatically invests the amount you want at the same time each month. Once this structure is set up you can sit back and just review your monthly statements. With a consistent military investment plan you could reap huge profits over a long-term.The basic investment method discussed will get your military money working for you. If you’re looking to become a military millionaire young there are other ways you can increase your returns. The investment vehicles discussed below take more effort however you will be able to reach your military millionaire status sooner.5. Real estate. Real estate investing can be credited with making the majority of young millionaires. It gives you the power of leverage so you are making money of money the bank loaned you. When done right you could expect to double your investment each year! Just by purchasing real estate while you’re young could easily make you a young military millionaire.

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The military offers many benefits that will allow you to become a homeowner. VA loans allow you to borrow 100% of the purchase price which means you won’t need money for a down payment in most cases. Combine that with BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) for civilian housing and you can have your mortgage payments paid for.This is a huge benefit because you purchase a $100,000 home your property could be valued at over $570,000 in 30 years. The best part is using BAH you could of not even made a payment with your own money.6. Entrepreneurship. Being in the military you can start a part-time business that earns you an extra few hundred a month or one that surpasses your military paycheck. Either way it can help you to become a young military millionaire or just added another income so you can invest more. There are also tax benefits available to business owners that will keep more of your military paycheck money in your pocket.Becoming an entrepreneur can help you become a young military millionaire and give you the luxury of being able to retire young.The sooner you start investing the sooner you can become a young military millionaire. Start now and the take steps to become a young military millionaire today!

A Brief History of Female Sexuality – Part 1

October 31, 2016

Sexuality is a “condition” that is characterized and distinguished by sex and passion. It is, again, according to American Heritage Dictionary, “the quality of possessing a sexual character or potency.”I really like that one. Potency. That means power.Where “sex” is an act that has a beginning and end, “sexuality” is a quality, a sexual character and power. It has no beginning and end, no more than your personality does or your sense of aesthetics does. Sexuality is essential to your nature. It is you. It is your vitality. It is a wonderful thing.Of course, the two – sex and sexuality – are related, and very often delightfully intertwined. However, I would argue that while it is possible to be sexual without having sex it is pretty close to impossible to truly enjoy sex without being in touch with your own sexuality. Which, in and of itself, is a pretty good reason to want to embrace your sexuality.Too many women in the 21st century are divorced from their sexuality even as they participate in sexual acts. They may be having sexual intercourse with their partner or partners multiple times and reaching multiple orgasms but what they are engaged in is about as meaningful and deeply satisfying as riding an exercise bike. As a result, they come away from sex acts with a sense of “what’s the big deal?” or that felt good for the moment. Or, worse, they feel degraded and/or diminished; reduced to an object. For many of them, a good session at the gym would be more fulfilling – and might even provide a more satisfying release.My dear, let me be very clear – that is not the way it is supposed to be.Sex without sexuality is too often demeaning, it reduces the sexual act to little more than a heaving, grunting, often-sloppy and sweaty physical endeavor. It is not called the “beast with two backs” for nothing. If all you’re focused on is the “beast” part, the physical act, you cannot possibly be truly engaged in your own sexuality. Your sexuality is not engaged. And, when your sexuality is not engaged, you are removed from the power of the act.However, with your genuine sexuality engaged, there is nothing you cannot do alone or with a partner that is not uplifting, satisfying and consistent with the person your are – whether that’s a twenty year old college student or a fifty-two year old church volunteer. With your sexuality engaged, that heaving, humping beast with two backs is an explosion of wonderful passion.In short, it is and can be exotic and mind blowing. And when sex is emotionally deep and erotic, you and your partner are truly bonded together – rather than being the sexual equivalent of opposing and competing wrestlers, with you invariably being the one pinned down for the count, you are in control. You can be more or less dominant and be thrilled by either because no matter how you behave in a sexual encounter, it is true to who you are; it is true to your sense of your sexuality.Unfortunately, history has rarely embraced this uplifting view of female sexuality. It has long viewed male and female sexuality as opposing forces, in opposition and in competition to one another. Not as it should be.In ancient China, men who engaged in masturbation risked a complete loss of vital yang essence. As such, it was strictly forbidden. Women did not risk the same loss of their vital essence. The rules about female masturbation were much more specific and focused on a particular concern; women were free to masturbate as much as they liked, as they possessed an unlimited yin, however, they were warned against masturbating with foreign objects which could injure the womb and internal sexual organs.Because women were understood to have an inexhaustible yin essence, they could keep on having orgasms long after their male partners had been reduced to shrunken, limp lumps of flesh snoring alongside them, while female sexuality was expressed in multiple ways. In addition to masturbation, lesbian relations were encouraged. Male homosexuality was forbidden, however as such behavior was thought to result in a complete loss of yang essence. In this Chinese understanding, sexual relationships between men could only result in the net loss of the yang without any possibility of regaining it, which was possible with heterosexual relationships.Although a bit at odds with our modern sensibility, at least sexuality in ancient China was deeply rooted to a sense of essential essences. Sex was never just a physical act. Sexuality had everything to do with something basic in the nature of what it meant to be a man or a woman. Therefore, any sexual act was understood in the context of their fundamental essences – yin and yang.For this reason, prostitution was very much accepted in ancient China. Men seemed to think that engaging with prostitutes gave them the opportunity to gain additional yin from them, more than from “normal” women. Men could “gain” some of that essence from women. In particular, the belief was that a woman who had sex with many men began to acquire some of the yang essence from her customers, yang essence that could then be “shared.” Consequently, it was possible for a man to gain more yang from a sexual encounter with a prostitute than he lost and more than he could gain from relations with his wife who, presumably, only had sexual relations with him.This somewhat balanced the understanding of what essential male and female sexuality meant and began to change during the Ch’in Dynasty (221 b.c.e to 24 c.e.) when the role and place of women shifted from one of sexual energy to one of more familiar modern gender roles.When the Ch’in Dynasty shifted from the Taoist culture that had predominated China to a Confusianist culture, women’s roles and the understanding of sexuality and sexual behavior then shifted dramatically. No longer was sexuality and behavior determined by essential nature, by the yin and the yang. Instead, there was a more “traditional” – patriarchal cultural dynamic. The dynamic many of us are currently familiar with. Women were not just possessing of a different essence than men but they were considered inferior to men. Physical relations between men and women were found mostly in marriage and were only to take place in the bedroom. At the conclusion of such “contact,” all physical contact was to end – there was to be no contact even between husband and wife.In a way that is only too familiar to those of us in Western Civilization, sex itself came to be considered sinful and tolerated solely for the process of procreation.Even at the conclusion of the Ch’in Dynasty, when the Han Dynasty embraced a return to a Taoist worldview, new perspectives on sexuality and sex had taken hold. Taoism had become a more structured and organized religion, with its own churches and priests. So too, sexuality and sexual behavior had become more rigidly structured. Sexual behavior was formalized, even finding expression in written texts. Two of the most famous of these texts were The Handbook of the Plain Girl and The Art of the Bedchamber.In both, a “Yellow Emperor” sought to live a long, healthy life and to attain some degree or form of immortality through sex. In order to accomplish his lofty goal he needed to become an expert at techniques that would prolong his orgasm and allow his sexual partner to orgasm several times. By doing so, he would maximize the amount of her yin essence that he would gain from their encounter while minimizing his own loss of yang essence.While concerns about yin and yang are foreign to our understanding, one valuable insight we can gain from these perspectives is that sexuality was considered essential to who we are and that sexual mores change. This Eastern view is consistent with our understanding that one is a dynamic, constant sexuality fluidity and the other is defined by the times and circumstances of sexual behavior and roles. During times when the two were balanced, there was a sensible and satisfying cultural norm that blends sex and sexuality.Unfortunately, there have been too many other times when the two were in conflict. This back and forth seems to have defined much of Western culture and history, as well as the role of women and sex in our society. And, as frustrating as it is to find ourselves at the dawn of the 21st century still sorting out the power and need for sexual awareness and the ability to embrace sexuality. Fortunately, we are in a better place than women have been through most of history. We still have a long way to go for women to feel comfortable and confident with their sexuality and know the difference between sex and sexuality.In Medieval times people’s fears focused on three things: the Devil, Jews, and women. The fear of women was completely tied into the perceived threat of female sexuality. In the “dark, moist heat” of women’s sexuality, men became prostrate with fear and trembling, a fear and trembling that have continued to the beginning of the twentieth century and, in far too many places across the globe, to the dawn of the twenty-first century.Ironically, texts from the time display an astonishing detail of female anatomy and function. Men seemed to get the physical component right but when it came to understanding and embracing a woman’s essence, they fell far short. And these were not mere “common” men. As seems to be the case over and over again, the hysteria that punished women for being women came from the very minds and men who were capable of understanding physicality. The condemnation of doctors, “physics” and ministers might seem astonishing to us now – the stuff of witch hunts and fiction – but it continues to inform our sensibilities.The times taught that female sexuality was a serpent that was secretly guided into the heart. Goethe, writing about syphilis, used similar imagery when he demonized the disease as a beast and warning of “a serpent which lurks in the loveliest of gardens and strikes us at our pleasures”.In this poetic turn, Goethe captured the true “horror” of female sexuality and gets at the heart of men’s fear – it ensnares men in that “loveliest” of gardens, striking them at their “pleasures,” when they are most vulnerable.In the last half of the nineteenth century, when more “rational” thinking took over, the female disorders of nymphomania, masturbation, moral insanity, hysteria and neurasthenia were almost universally believed to be a serious threat to health and life and civilization. Most “experts” presumed these dire maladies were the inevitable result of reading inappropriate novels or playing romantic music.Novels and music?!As irrational as this might seem, there are still large, mainstream religious institutions which separate boys and girls, prohibit music and dancing, and discourage any contact with modern culture.Are we so very different than those who lived in the Victorian age?Then, there were instances of mass hysteria much like the Salem witch episodes in which women were taken with something called “menstrual madness” and insanity, diseases which required an immediate response and often a very radical “cure.” Menstrual madness was often “cured” by laparotomy and bilateral “normal ovariotomy.” This is the removal of normal ovaries known as “Battey’s Operation”.One professor of psychology, Charcot, gave public demonstrations of hysteria in women in the 1870′s that emphasized his belief that most mental disease in women resulted from abnormalities or excitation of the female external genitalia. Or, to put it bluntly, he masturbated these women in public!Now, these public demonstrations may strike you a bit pornographic because… well, according to our standards today, they were!You could be sure that these “clinical tutorials” were very well attended by scores of men who were only too pleased to witness – in the most graphic detail – the demonic role of the vulva and clitoris in the causation of hysterical attacks in Charcot’s young and, not incidentally, attractive patients.The Internet does not deliver anything any more graphic or pornographic.In an historical note, one of Charcot’s pupils was none other than Sigmund Freud, who attended these demonstrations at the La Salpêtrière for five months, repeated this fashionable view in his writings and lectures while also stressing the effect of the mind on gynecological and mental disease.There is reasonable evidence that Freud modified his case histories – excluding the realities of deviant sexuality and sexual abuse and replacing them with sexual fantasies which would be much more acceptable to the Viennese upper middle class who were his audience.I trust you are beginning to recognize a pattern here. There is a very clear thematic trend in the history of female sex and sexuality.During Victorian times, when much of our “modern” understanding of women’s sexuality found its voice, women were taught not to enjoy sexual activity. They were taught to actively repress their passions. They were actually taught – in so many words – that their enjoyment of sex existed in direct proportion to the moral decline of society.With that kind of burden, it is not surprising that few women felt any sexual desire and satisfaction. How could a woman embrace her lover in full joy when, in the back – or front – of her mind she held the belief, a belief imposed upon her by her teachers, her clergy and her family, that by doing so she was contributing to the destruction of all that was good in the world.Talk about a surefire way to inhibit pleasure and orgasm!For the Victorian woman, sex had one purpose and one purpose alone – to procreate. Ugh! Makes it sound like an unpleasant chore, doesn’t it? It followed from this that a girl or woman’s worth prior to marriage (the only social structure in which this procreation could take place) had worth only if she remained chaste and pure.Once married, she could expect to be engaged by her husband in conjugal acts only when “necessary.”Let’s pause for a moment just to parse the profoundly disturbing truths in that last observation. The first, of course, is that sex was reduced to an act that was engaged in only when “necessary” – presumably for the relief and release of the husband and to further the goal of procreation. The second, however, is more subtle and even more damaging. “She could expect to be engaged by her husband…” In regards to sex acts, and her sexuality, the woman was to be passive. She was nothing more than the recipient of someone else’s sexual wants, needs and demands – for purposes that she did not demand. She had no control over, no rights to, and indeed, was meant to remain ignorant and disapproving of her own sexuality.It is impossible to examine the nineteenth-century medical attitude to female sexuality and come away with the feeling that it was anything but cruel and heartless. We would be kind to call it ignorant. But it was too malicious to be merely ignorant. It was damaging and malevolent. With professionals, gynecologists and psychiatrists, leading the charge, the medical professions designed treatments designed to “cure” those serious contemporary disorders, masturbation and nymphomania.The gynecologist, Isaac Baker Brown (1811-1873), and the distinguished endocrinologist, Charles Brown-Séquard (1817-1894) advocated clitoridectomy to prevent the progression to masturbatory melancholia, paralysis, blindness and even death! A rational person might think that these professionals would have been tarred and feathered for their cruel views.A rational person would have been wrong.Society as a whole embraced their horrific view of women.Before becoming self-righteous in our judgments, however, we must ask ourselves, Have we changed so much? Compare the perspective and behavior of those Victorians to our modern world where this same operation is still being forced upon women and girls in Asia and Africa and certain religious communities throughout the world!Look at our own communities where young girls and women are made to feel ashamed and “dirty” for having sexual thoughts and desires.Still, things are much better than our Victorian past, when the medical contempt for normal female sexual development was reflected in public and literary attitudes. Consider that there existed virtually no novel or opera in the last half of the 19th century where the heroine with “a past” managed to survive to the end.The Victorian woman was reduced to simply a vessel. Oh, she was a highly-valued and a necessary “vessel”. After all, sex was necessary to further the biological imperative. (Imagine someone using a line like that in a bar! “Hello, my dear, would you consider furthering the biological imperative?” My guess is that someone using that line wouldn’t be getting laid that night!)Any sexual desire that a Victorian woman experienced was, by definition, contradictory to her virtue. According to The Physician and Sexuality in Victorian America (1974) by John S. Haller Jr., and Robin M. Haller, sexual promiscuity was an “ominous indication of national decay,” and not a sign of women’s liberation at that time.This was the dominant perspective during Victorian times. As bad as it was, Victorian times were not Medieval times. Even against this bleak backdrop, there were other points of view being expressed. Many early “love manuals” actually emphasized sex for pleasure also. These manuals took the position that there could be equality in the marriage bed. An early indication that for sexuality to flourish, there has to be an acknowledgement of the equal needs and value of the partners in the sex act. There has to be respect and value on the needs, wants and desires of each partner.These manuals took the revolutionary position that a women’s interest in sex depended upon her ability to seek satisfaction along with her partner. Sex could be an enjoyable act separate from its procreative imperative alone.Joy of joys!Of course, even these enlightened views were tempered by the presumption that indulging in sex too frequently was likely not a healthy thing and indicative of moral shortcomings.So, there were other, “quieter voices” that spoke out in favor of greater sexual expression and enjoyment. Unfortunately, the dominant view took the more powerful grip on the culture’s defining morals. During the 1840′s there was a greater emphasis on the health aspects of “conjugal discourse” and less on the enjoyment aspects. There was a tendency to advocate for even less frequency in sex than earlier years. William Acton wrote in his text, Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs (1888), that women experienced “no need for sex.”No need for sex!? Certainly the idiocy of his position would have been disputed on its face.Of course it wasn’t. Not only was it not disputed but it was actually applauded by others, including women. Acton’s belief that women were apathetic to the notion of sex in marriage had a great ally in Mary Wood Allen, M.D., Superintendent of the Purity Department of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She held that “the most genuine love between a husband and a wife existed in the lofty sphere of platonic embrace.”Thanks for nothing, Mary! I guess her idea of a successful marriage was a husband and wife having a “sleepover” together, perhaps going so far as to hold hands and gaze warmly at one another as the night deepened around them.As if to prove that when it comes to silly ideas no degree of extremism is impossible, other manuals of the time embraced the idea of marital continence, which referred to the ” voluntary and entire absence from sexual indulgence in any form.”People who took this position pointed their boney, self-righteous fingers at women who deigned to seek sexual satisfaction and accused them of not leading “God-filled lives.” We have evolved remarkably since then. We tend only to call them names like “slut” or “nymphomaniac.”Thankfully, there were also sensible voices shouting to be heard. Sometimes, the arguments seemed to build on the foundation that women did not desire sexual satisfaction, as the argument of Elizabeth Blackwell, a physician who believed that female’s lack of sexual lust came from a fear of injury in childbirth. Implicit in her belief was that women lacked sexual desire or lust. So too when she noted that women were passive because men would be rushed to perform quickly, leaving them without gratification.At least her observations hold true in one fundamental aspect – women have consistently blunted their sexuality and sexual desires in order to maximize the “gratification” of men.There were enlightened voices crying out. Not everyone was blind to the truth of women’s sexuality. There were physicians who argued that a women’s capacity for sexual gratification was at times more intense and prolonged than the males. These physicians viewed ignorance as the root of the problem women had with sexuality. They argued that women’s lack of sensible sexual education had taught them to believe that any sexual feeling was “indecent and immoral.” As a result, women had become a race of sexless creatures, little more than “married nuns,” who experienced no pleasurable feeling during sex.But no matter how loudly these voices cried out; no matter how reasonable and rational their arguments, they did not carry the day. Acton’s view remained the dominant articulation of women’s sexuality from the late 1800′s through the middle of the 20th century.