Friday, July 1, 2016

3 Reasons Why Creating a Blog is Great for Your Job Search

Developing and maintaining an online presence is becoming more important as employers rely on online background checks to research candidates. This is why it’s a good idea to create your own blog. Blogs are a great technique for building your brand and enhancing your job search as a whole. But if you’re unsure that it will work for you, here are three reasons to place it on your list of considerations:

1. You Have the Opportunity to Grow and Share Your Expertise

As your wealth of knowledge in your field grows, it’s great to share it with others. By creating a blog, you have the opportunity to do this on a large scale. Even better is that, as you share, you get to research the topic, which helps you learn even more. And you get to receive input from others who know even more than you, helping you to continue to broaden your horizons.

2. You Get the Opportunity to Network With Others

Networking is not just a plus when conducting a job search; it is oftentimes a necessity. This is why blogging is so beneficial. As you take time to write on industry-related topics and draw an audience, you get to interact with others in your field. This gives you the opportunity to build your arsenal of professional connections so that, in the future, you may be able to swap opportunities that can be helpful for everyone.

3. Building Your Resume Becomes Easier

Oftentimes, it can be difficult to find various aspects of our professional lives that are impressive enough to add to our resumes. But by starting an industry-related blog, you not only have additional information to include, you actually get to show that you are so dedicated to the field that you are willing to discuss it outside of the traditional work environment.

Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to include the actual link to your blog-in addition to its name-when adding it to your resume. This will help the employer easily locate your Web site.

It’s easy for people to think that blogging is not beneficial to a job search because so many people can start their own without having a professional background. But there are many blogs being written by well-respected professionals-so why not try it too? You might be surprised by how well it enhances your job search efforts.

For additional tips and advice on resumes and cover letters, follow us on Twitter @GreatResume or visit our blog.

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3 Reasons Not to Get Excited Over Fable III

Just recently, we have seen the latest trailer for Fable III pop up, and message boards across the have been blowing up with phrases like “awesome” and “looks great”. My thought on that is, of course it is! It’s a bleeping trailer! It would require a whole team of people that couldn’t beat a squirrel in tic-tac-toe to not create a trailer that at least looks good. It’s a trailer, they are going to show you exactly what they want to show you.

Sorry if this sounds a bit cynical. Actually, no, it is a lot cynical and I’m not all that sorry. If there is one thing that fans of the Fable franchise should have learned from the first 2 installments, it is that you should not get your hopes too high.

I am a big fan of Fable, and Fable II, but was sorely disappointed by the latter. This time around, I’m not going to get my hopes too high. I think Fable III will turn out to be a good game, but not the great game that we get all hyped up to believe each time around, only to suffer brain freeze from the cold dose of reality we get once the game actually lands on the shelf. If you think I’m being too negative, let me give you three arguments as to why we should all be a bit more cynical this time around. (Note: I will just go ahead and assume the folks reading this have already played the first 2 games, otherwise this may be a bit of a spoiler.)

First Reason: The story seems too straightforward… again.

The first Fable was a good RPG altogether, but the storyline itself was a masterpiece. You finish initial training, step outside the gates for the academy for the first time, and you have no idea what your main objective or who your true enemy is. Well, aside from those wasps you were told to eliminate. I mean, are you out for revenge? Who do you even go after to get that revenge? Do you search for what’s left of your family? Are they even still alive? What even makes your character so special?

The story unfolded gradually with enough good twists and turns to keep it fresh throughout the whole game. You don’t even learn who the main antagonist is until around the halfway point. I should say, you don’t encounter him until the halfway point, you learn of his sinister nature a little while later. The story was beautiful, dark, and kept the mystery alive for as long as it could.

Then comes Fable II. Within half an hour we know who the enemy is, what the objective is, and how to do it. We know exactly what we’re supposed to do because Theresa gives this long winded speech on just that. The hero is told to find certain people to accomplish this goal, but we are told exactly where to go in order to find them. The people are found, the bad guy is stopped, and the day is saved. The end.

Where the plot in Fable I was open ended, Fable II was not. There was no mystery, no plot twist, and no revelations to help a storyline that was so thin, that it wouldn’t even support the weight of Keira Knightley if it was a bridge. In fact, the story is so weak, it simply recycled some of the elements from the original story. What was the Arena in Fable I became the crucible, and instead of being tortured in Bargate prison for a while, you did spent time doing hard labor within the Tattered Spire.

Now, lets move on to Fable III. You are the child of the former Hero. Your brother is an evil king who commits some injustice against dear old dad. We also know already that your mission is to spark some sort of revolution, and unseat your brother from the throne. We also know that when you are king for the second half, you will have to face some foreign threat to Albion, and of course, you will have to make the critical choices on how to deal with that threat.

This sounds all well and good, but now I ask you, where is the mystery? Once again, the plot seems too straightforward too allow the kind of twists and turns that made the story great the first time around. It’s not that the premise seems bad, it just seems like the whole story is laid out beforehand. Part of the fun of any RPG, or even an action adventure game for that matter, is uncovering the plot/mystery as you go. Having it spoon fed to you by a blind old woman within the first hour meant that the game play and the choices you encountered along the way really had to be something great in order to make up for an already thin premise. While the game play and the moral choices were good, they were not great. In the end, the game suffered a bit from its lack of good storytelling.

Perhaps Lionhead has learned its lesson from the second installment, but the second reason I am going to give is why I choose to believe that they have not.

Second Reason: The changes between 1 & 2 were good, but not the ones that were needed.

In Fable II, you get your own little treasure-hunting dog. You have more options and freedom in your, ummm, “love” life. You can earn gold by becoming a real estate mogul. The thing where your character ages about fifty years in two hours? Gone. Of course, the obligatory graphic improvement is there too. While these changes were nice and certainly interesting, were they the ones that the game so sorely needed to improve upon?

The most perplexing change was the introduction of the one button combat system. Was the combat system ever a problem in the first place? The one button system seemed to make the combat too easy and watered down, and the spell casting was just made a bit too complex for the thick of battle.

The biggest flaw from Fable I that Fable II completely failed to fix was the annoying hive-minded AI of the townspeople. Sure, they now had their own likes and dislikes, but overall, either they all utter the same loop lines about how good you are when you play a good character, and how mean you are when you play an evil character. All these hive minded drones, and you’re supposed to pick a spouse out of this? Perhaps it is not the greatest sin a video game can make, but when a game claims to rely heavily on free will and how you interact with the people around you, doesn’t it just make sense to fix it when it doesn’t do what it should?

The other major problem that was never addressed was the fact that clothing was a purely aesthetic choice and provided no real benefit to any particular type of player. Sure, there was armor, but there was no speed or spell-casting penalty for wearing the heaviest armor, so unless your character didn’t mind taking as much damage as a cricket takes from my shoe, you went armor every time. Rather fix this problem and make clothing beneficial to the will user or for a melee heavy character, they just did away with armor all together and made the choice of clothing completely arbitrary and provide no protection whatsoever.

Let me just sum this up by saying the changes that came were either good but not need, or just plain not needed at all. What indication is there that they won’t do this again? Is it because creator Peter Molyneux says everything is rosy? Yeah, about that…

Third Reason: Peter Molyneux is still talking.

Remember how Molyneux was claiming Fable I to be the greatest RPG of all time, and then it simply wasn’t? Or he boasted how your character could have children in the game, and then you simply couldn’t?

Then there was Fable II, where he claimed it would be a completely open world, free of fences and rocks that blocked you from exploring. Well, you could walk around the woods a bit more, but you eventually ran into fences and rocks that prevented you from exploring any further. How about those videos where he went on and on about the dog, the AI of the dog, the personality of the dog, and so forth like it was some kind of revolution in the gaming world. Then the dog turned out to be nice, but far from some spectacular new element.

Now with Fable III, he’s at least talking a big game. He already declared Fable II to be “rubbish” at the E3 conference. He also has said that they are eliminating the traditional menu system for changing gear (we’ll see how that goes over) as well as another traditional RPG mechanic in order to cut down on clunkiness. All of which sounds exciting, but we’ve been down this same road before with Pete. The man is not evil or a liar, he just gets so excited and passionate about his work that he raises everyone’s expectation along with his, until we realize he’s over hyped his work yet again.

Like I said earlier, I have no doubt Fable III will be a good game, but I have my reason to doubt that this one is FINALLY going to be the great game that Fable fans have been waiting for. The great thing about cynicism is that if it fails, no harm done, but if it beats expectations, then I just look like a complete fool. Oh well, it wouldn’t be the first time anyway.

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3 Reasons You Are Failing to Change Careers

If you have been unsuccessful in your attempt to change careers, it is likely one of three reasons holding you back. You’re under qualified, overqualified or attempting to break into an industry with the wrong background. Once you’ve made the difficult decision to change careers, the excitement can quickly turn to frustration if the transition isn’t as smooth as you hoped. Identifying the reasons your transition is at a stand-still can help you to overcome them or help you to adjust your career plans. A job search is always challenging, but when you are changing careers that challenge reaches epic proportions.

You’re under qualified

Not having the right qualifications for a position is the most common block to a career change. You can also find yourself with too much of the wrong qualifications. You may decide you want to be a doctor. Unfortunately you can’t walk into a hospital and apply for a position without going through the proper training and education. While this is an extreme case, the same situation is common among many job changers. The best way to mitigate this challenge is to pursue the certifications and training that makes a candidate desirable in this industry. If you want to want to be a buyer, get your APICS of CPIM certification. Enroll in a college class and list it on your resume as soon as possible.

You’re over qualified

On the other hand, you may be over qualified. Many recruiters will look at your resume and think, “This guy will never take the salary we have to offer”, or “She must have applied to the wrong job!” If this is your scenario you should consider leaving your accomplishments off or your resume or application. This is often done by candidates concerned about age discrimination so you won’t be the only one.

Industry mismatch

If you are completely changing industries you may be facing some cultural differences as well. While it is expected for candidates to be aggressive when going after a sales job, it would be a turn off for a candidate to be aggressive when applying for an engineering position. Remember, you want to stand out as a candidate, but in a good way. If you aren’t aware of these industry differences be sure to network. Join groups or search out the right people on LinkedIn. Request a mentor. Most people would jump at the chance to make a difference in another’s life.

In order to make a successful career change you will need to recognize and correct the necessary challenges to your goal. As long as you do not leave your current position before you have secured your new career these challenges will not be life altering. Good luck in your new venture and may your diligence pay off.

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3 Reasons to Buy Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil

Fish oil has gained a lot of popularity in recent years due its long-chain omega 3 fatty acid content. There is some dispute, however, about whether one should buy cheap, drugstore pills, or invest in ‘pharmaceutical grade’ pills. There are a number of reasons to pay a little more for pharmaceutical grade if you plan to take fish oil long term. Here is an explanation of those reasons as well as further factors to consider when looking for a good supplement.

Pharmaceutical-Grade Fish Oil: Heavy Metals

The ocean has become a dumping ground for the pollution of industrialized nations, and the fish have suffered as a consequence. The two main contaminants, mercury and PCB’s, are known to cause complications for pregnant women as well as cognitive and neurological problems. Companies that produce Pharmaceutical grade fish oil generally use fish on the lower end of the food chain (who have accumulated less of these metals) and use expensive refining practices to clean out any heavy metals.

Pharmaceutical-Grade Fish Oil: Oxidation

These delicate, polyunsaturated fats have the ability to go rancid quite easily, which negative many of the benefits derived from fish oil supplements. Most producers of pharmaceutical grade oil address this problem by packaging the product fresh, and guaranteeing a certain level of protection from oxidation.

Pharmaceutical-Grade Fish Oil: More EPA and DHA

Many brands of Pharmaceutical grade products are 2 and 3 times richer in the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids DHA and EPA. These fatty acids were thought to have accelerated the enlargement of the human brain, thus boosting intelligence and emotional awareness! Many studies have been conducted on fish oil’s positive role in alleviating some of the symptoms associated with depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and autism. Omega 3 fats also play an important role in regulating inflammation and increasing the body’s immune function. Some benefits that I have personally noticed from taking Pharmaceutical grade fish oil are better sleep, increased memory, and elevated mood.

Pharmaceutical-Grade Fish Oil: Good Brands

Companies claiming to produce high-quality fish oil pills are Nordic Naturals, Omegabrite, and Sears Labs (Barry Sears, creator of the Zone Diet).

Conclusion:

If you are choosing to make a serious, long-term investment in your health, body, and mental well-being, Pharmaceutical grade supplements are the way to go. Drugstore supplements will not be as effective, and they will probably cause more harm than good due to their concentrated doses of toxic metals and possibly oxidized fats.

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3 Reasons Why Netflix is Better Than Redbox

Redbox is a freestanding machine that you can probably find in different locations in your city such as your local McDonald’s. The rental price is about $1.00 a day per movie; you can rent two DVDs on your first rental and return customers are allowed five DVDs. Netflix is an online company that allows you to receive movies and TV episodes through the mail. In addition, they also offer titles on their Web site that you can watch instantly. How it works is that you sign up on www.netflix.com where you choose a plan that fits your budget. I chose the 1 out at-a-time plan that meant I could watch unlimited instant titles and have one DVD out at a time for about $9.00 a month. My life has never been the same. Here are five reasons why Netflix is better than Redbox.

1. Overall, Netflix is much cheaper than Redbox.

Sure, Redbox DVDs only cost $1.00 a day, but you must return them by nine o’clock the next day to avoid a late fee. Not only do you have to plan your day around returning your Redbox movie, but suppose that you accidentally keep the DVD or temporarily misplace it. For every day that you keep it, you are charged an extra dollar. Additionally, you have to drive to the Redbox to get the movie and return it wasting your time and gas. With Netflix, you do everything from your home, and you don’t even have to pay postage. There are no late fees, and you can keep a movie as long as you want. If you misplace a DVD, you don’t have to scramble to find it for fear of being charged. There are also tons of movies to watch instantly with new choices added all the time. You can watch as many movies and TV episodes as you want without paying any extra fees. With Redbox excluding tax and late fees, you can rent nine movies for approximately nine dollars. With Netflix, you can get way more. Not only that, but you can try out Netflix for free for a whole month.

2. Netflix is more convenient.

Redbox might seem like a convenient way to rent a movie, but in reality that is not the case. One Friday night, I went with a friend to Redbox to rent a movie. We knew what we wanted, and all we had to do was run in and grab it. Right? Wrong. At our local McDonald’s we stood out in the cold behind a line of about four people. Four people, you say? That’s nothing. We thought so, too. These four people apparently had not decided before coming what they wanted to see, so they took their sweet time scrolling through all the titles that Redbox had to offer while we shivered in our boots. Finally making our way to the front, we searched for our movie, but alas they did not have it at that location. We ended up with a movie that neither of were too excited about. With Netflix, you simply pick a movie, put it in your queue in order that you want to see it, and your first choice is sent to you. After you send it back, the next in line is sent. Each movie takes about two business days or less to reach you. No driving and no searching involved; not to mention what a hassle renting from Redbox would be for those who live out in the country!

3.Netflix has a better selection.

If you’re looking for new releases, you might find them at your local Redbox, if they are not sold out. However, Netflix offers foreign, classic and indie films in addition to new releases. Sometimes you do have to wait a while to receive a new release, but you can reserve it before it’s released to DVD and greatly decrease your waiting time. Redbox does not have this option. Also, Redbox does not offer near the amount of titles that Netflix offers, and they offer very few TV episodes which is one of the best parts about Netflix. You can watch HBO and Showtime shows if you don’t subscribe to those channels. Netflix has also announced due to a partnership with a few major film companies such as Paramount and Lion’s Gate that they will add thousands more movies to watch instantly starting September 1st.

If you only watch a movie once in a blue moon, then Redbox might make sense for you. If you enjoy watching TV shows, a few movies a month, and some variety in the types of movies you can choose from, then you can’t go wrong with Netflix.

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3 Reasons Why Abercrombie & Fitch Needs "Jersey Shore"

Abercrombie & Fitch sent out a press release stating that they want Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino to stop wearing their clothes on MTV’s “Jersey Shore.” In fact, the company is offering “a substantial payment” to The Situation, as well as his Guido and Guidette cast mates, if they comply with the request — what the company considers a “win-win situation.”

In the statement, the A&F spokesperson explained that they “believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans.”

Well, the executives in New Albany, Ohio may think they are above MTV’s infamous reality show, but as the recent 8 percent dip in A&F stock price showed, this was a bad business decision.

“Jersey Shore” inspired clothing

As Pauly D was quick to point out via Twitter, Abercrombie & Fitch certainly didn’t think they were better than the show when they created “Jersey Shore” inspired t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “GTL” (“Gym, Tan, Laundry” — the mantra the gang lives by).

In fact, as earlier reported on OMG, the company even created a shirt inspired by The Situation — “Abercrombie & Fitch, their most popular shirt, they told me, is ‘Fitchuation.’ I mean, where did they get that from? Obviously from myself,” he said in a 2010 interview with “New York Magazine.”

If these clothing items (that the company did not pay the cast for) did so well, why would Abercrombie & Fitch diss The Situation and his friends now?

Free advertising

Regardless of what A&F may think of the show itself, the fact that the cast of “Jersey Shore” wears their clothing without any endorsements or promotional payment of any kind is the real win-win situation. Not only is the company receiving free advertising for their products, but the likelihood that people watching the show will want to buy clothing items because they saw the reality stars wearing them is significant.

Why would Abercrombie & Fitch want to interfere with free promotion and product placement in such a highly successful show?

People like train wrecks

This brings me to the main point A&F missed with this publicity stunt. No matter how much people may complain about the show or its Guido & Guidette-studded cast, it still continues to draw viewers in and succeed on MTV.

Why? Because it’s entertaining! Sure, it may drive people crazy that Snooki and The Situation get paid to get drunk and make fools of themselves, but people continue to watch the show and support the cast — as evidenced by the large response from fans via Twitter. Josh Groban even chimed in, tweeting: “Dear Abercrombie, I had no idea the situation was wearing your clothes until you mentioned it. #goodjob.”

So what did Abercrombie & Fitch hope to gain by releasing this statement? As the fan backlash has shown, it certainly wasn’t a good business decision.

What do you think about Abercrombie’s “win-win” proposition?

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3 Seconds

Sometimes I wish I was a goldfish. Then I could forget. You think my brothers are stupid, pretend they are not worthy. Don’t you remember the vows you took, promises you made? You are the only father they know, be an example, a leader, a friend.

Your voice makes my stomach churn. Hateful words fill innocent ears. I hear them all, like a knife to the heart with each jab. You treat me like a child, but we’re adults. Civil conversation a dream. I bring home doughnuts and the world crashes down, lost in your rage. “WE DON’T NEED THAT” resonates. Mom is unhappy, it’s obvious.

Tears stream with the water as she washes dishes, her eyes screaming in pain. Consuming herself in anything to avoid the truth. A mistake’s been made. She deserves better than you. Your controlling nature is her shadow. Images of her pain are tattoos on my mind. The heartbreak in my brothers’ tears ever-present, a never ending slideshow of anguish. Goldfish have the luxury of forgetting. Sometimes I wish we were all goldfish.

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3 Rules for a Six Pack

There are thousands of different tips and tricks out there that promise you a flat belly or six pack abs. Even I have to admit I’ve tried a lot of them and nothing really seemed to work. I would describe myself as athletic and someone that was always “in-shape”, but I never had that muscle definition in the mid-section that I could be proud of. Only recently have I come across the few things that brought me my six pack and the crazy thing is, it’s pretty simple. All you need is WILL POWER. You don’t need to do a million sit ups or run 10 miles a week. All you have to do is follow these 3 rules to get the six pack you desire.

Rule 1: Eat Right

I know you’ve all heard this, but 95% of getting a six pack is to change what you eat. You probably eat 25-35 meals a week plus snacks, but you only need to be working your abs out three times per week. Listen to me when I say this, no matter how much you work out your abs, if you have a layer of fat over them they will NOT show up. I’m not going to sit here and give you a laundry list of what to eat and what not to, just use common sense. Should I snack on potato chips or some almonds? Should I have some fruit loops or egg whites? Eat smart and eat in proportion and you should be all right. The only thing I will say that I found to be the most important food group to cut out was dairy. I’m talking cheese, milk, ice cream, all of it. Now I completely cut this out of my diet (I do take supplements to make up for the nutrients I’m losing), but if you need it by all means have it, just in proportion. Dairy equals belly fat, please try and remember this, it is very important. I know how difficult it can be to change your entire eating lifestyle, but try it for just one week and see how you feel. I bet you’ll want to do it again.

Rule 2: Drink Right

Weird, this sounds just like rule one. Well, if you want six pack abs nutrition is key. This time I will talk about what you should and shouldn’t put into your system. Obviously water needs to be your #1 go to drink. Most people say drink 8 cups a day, this is not necessarily true. If you’re working out daily you’ll need much more, whereas days you aren’t in the gym you may not need as much. Find the right balance for you, if you’re running to the bathroom every 20 minutes then you’re drinking too much. Another great drink is unsweetened tea. Yes, it must be unsweetened, check that label and make sure there is NO sugar. These two drinks are basically all I drink throughout the day.

Ok, water and tea seems easy enough, now let’s look at some drinks to cut back on and eliminate. Say bye-bye to any and all soda, and yes, even diet. This is not healthy. I know it tastes good. If it tastes that good you should know it’s not good for you. How about coffee and alcohol? Neither is good for your abs, but I understand these two things are necessary for many people. So what we’re going to do is find the right way to drink these lovely beverages. With coffee we want to try and limit to 1 cup per day with a tablespoon of half and half and NO sugar. With alcohol it’s all about limiting the intake. Also think about what you’re mixing your drinks with, are they sugary? Of course light beer is better than regular. I personally do not drink wine, but from things I’ve heard, one glass of red wine is probably your best drinking option.

Rule 3: The Right Workout

Yes, you must work out to get a six pack, but you guys knew that already, right? Here are a few tips to take to the gym with you. Don’t overwork you abs. I found 10-15 minutes without taking breaks, 3 times a week is plenty. I’m not going to give specific workouts, but mix it up. Just doing crunches won’t give you the results you desire. Look around for a few different abs exercises that will work all the muscles. You also want to throw in some cardio. I personally hate running on a treadmill, so I found other ways to get my cardio in. I take a plyometrics and a kick boxing class once a week. This is what works for me; it’s up to you to find the right cardio for you.

I know this sounds like a lot, but I want you to give it a shot for one week. You may not see immediate results, but you will feel better about yourself and that will push you to continue. I do have one piece of good news for all of you before I go and that’s when you start losing weight; belly fat is the first thing to go. So please follow these three rules. It’s amazing the impact they can have on your life.

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3 Reasons Why the Samsung 52 LN52A750 Should Be the Star of Your Home Entertainment System

The Samsung 52 LN52A750 is the perfect centerpiece for your home entertainment system. This television was made for optimal viewing of your favorite movies, TV shows, home movies and sporting events.

It’s got features galore and a picture that far surpasses the competition for quality and realism. The Samsung 52 LN52A750 is well equipped with connections for all your home theater accessories as well as other devices.

Here are three features that make this television the perfect focal point for your home theater.

Accessibility for a wide variety of devices

Their are four Simply compliant HDMI 1.3 inputs. One is conveniently located on the side of the set. The HDMICEC feature allows you to control all your CEC-enabled peripherals with one remote.

HD digital devices like disc players, game consoles, and satellite dish components can be connected into the two rear ports. There are also easy to access side mounts for devices like cameras and laptops.

The Wheel Key Remote control and the content management interface allow easy access to device menus for displaying content.

Audio Features

Samsung’s TruSurround delivers amazing surround sound through any two-speaker playback system. This includes internal television speakers and headphones. It’s fully compatible with all multichannel formats up to 5.1 channels.

Full HD 1080p

The Samsung 52 LN52A750 has 1.5 times more scanning lines than conventional HDTVs. This equates to more details and a better picture. The resolution is approximately 2 times greater than the competition HDTVs, and it shows in the lifelike delivery of images on the screen.

These are just a few reasons why the Samsung 52 LN52A750 is the perfect companion for your home theater system.

The Samsung 52 LN52A750 is the perfect pick for someone looking for the perfect centerpiece for their home theater setup. However, I’ve barely scratched the surface about why this TV is the number one pick for TVs in its class. If you want to know why electronics experts like CNET call this model “Superb”, go to http://ift.tt/294SiNu. There you’ll find real customer reviews as well as video review from the experts and info on where to find the best deals on Samsung 52 in TVs.

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3 Reasons Why People Smoke

Because of widespread media attention, it would be safe to assume that almost all people know at least some of the adverse effects of smoking.

Smoking is responsible for about 90% of lung cancer deaths as well as being a significant and primary causative factor in many emphysema and heart disease cases. In America, it is estimated that over 400,000 deaths a year can be attributed to tobacco use. Given this alarming information, what actually causes people to smoke? Here are some common reasons why people decide to smoke.

Young People Duplicate Smoking Behavior

The smoking habit is often initiated during the teen or young adult years. Oftentimes, smoking behavior is modeled in front of children and teens by parents, relatives and other authority figures. Consequently, teens seeking to be “grown up” adopt smoking in an attempt to emulate their perception of “adult” behavior.

Stress and Anxiety

Many people blame their smoking habit on a stressful lifestyle. One reason that the act of smoking is perceived as “relaxing” is the fact that taking a smoke break, especially in the workplace, grants people a short, permissible reprieve from stressful activities. People may think they need a cigarette when in actuality they just need a break.

There is a social component to the smoke break as well. Most of the time, people are given the opportunity to laugh, talk and otherwise socialize with one another which is the real stress reliever. In reality, smoking works to increase stress in the body. Performing this simple test is proof positive:

• Take your pulse before smoking.

• Smoke a cigarette.

• Take your pulse after smoking.

Smoking increases heart rate, breathing and can cause blood pressure to spike. In addition, smoking is a cause of many sleeping complications which adds to overall stress and anxiety.

Is there a Genetic Component to Smoking?

One of the factors that may come into play where nicotine addiction is concerned is genetics. Recent studies have indicated that people who have a certain dopamine transporter gene, referred to as SLC6A3-9, have a reduced tendency to start smoking or otherwise become addicted to nicotine. In addition, having this particular gene swimming around in the proverbial gene pool may also give people an advantage when it comes to successfully quitting smoking should they start in the first place.

People start smoking for a number of reasons. Young people often see smoking as a symbolic act of reaching adulthood. Other people start smoking in an attempt to relieve stress and anxiety. Still others may have a specific genetic component that may predispose them to picking up the smoking habit. Whatever the case, people can quit and millions succeed in smoking cessation annually. Finding a program to help you quit smoking is worth doing in order to preserve your health and extend your life.

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3 Reasons Why People Hire Attorneys to Draft Contracts Instead of Doing it Themselves

I cringe when I hear people say that they draft their own contracts instead of hiring attorneys to do the work. My reaction is not merely the result of professional snobbery; I just cannot help thinking about the misfortune that is bound to befall such people.

It is natural for people to want to save money and, because it can be expensive, legal work is often the target of cost-cutting. But people who try to save money by doing their own legal work are ignoring the complexity of that work. If they want to save money, they should focus on low-skill areas like lawn-care, car maintenance, and delivery services. Legal work requires a high level of skill, like other professional work such as accounting and medicine. You would never perform your own abdominal surgery to avoid paying “those crazy medical expenses,” so why would you perform another type of work that is equally complex and mysterious to you?

Here are three solid reasons why people choose to hire attorneys to draft their contracts instead of doing it themselves:

1. Ensure That The Contract Is Valid

Contracts require certain elements in order to be valid. At the most basic level, there must be offer, acceptance, and consideration. If you do not instantly understand what the preceding sentence means, then you should never attempt to draft your own contract. But even if you do, unless you have actual legal experience (typically obtained via three years of law school followed by several years of actual legal work), there is a good chance that you will do something to make the contract void, unenforceable, or otherwise useless to you.

2. Ensure That The Contract Accomplishes Its Primary Purposes

I have seen home-made contracts before, and have been astounded at how difficult it is for most people to state plainly and specifically what the contract is supposed to accomplish. Drafting a successful contract requires clear thinking, attention to detail, and command of the English language, as well as the ability to understand interactions of various provisions of the agreement. Attorneys have these skills, but most non-attorneys do not.

3. Prevent Future Disputes And Potential Liability

The contract-drafting ability most likely to elude non-attorneys is the ability to identify future issues and complications that might occur and guard against them in the contract’s language. For example, if you ask an attorney to draft a simple real estate transaction, he/she is likely to think of potential legal pitfalls that a non-attorney would not think of, such as potential environmental liability, based on his/her experience in the law. No matter how smatter, sophisticated, and wealthy you are, without spending years practicing law you simply will not be able to spot the issues that a seasoned attorney will identify.

Non-attorneys need to realize that contract law is not something you just figure out on your own. It is an intricate expertise with complexities that are not immediately visible to outsiders. Sophisticated people know that the safest move is to consult an attorney before signing a contract and never draft an agreement without an attorney’s input.

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3 Reasons We Plan to Have a Second Baby

Even before I became a mother, I’d never thought of having only one child. My husband and I each grew up with three siblings, so I’m not sure it ever crossed our minds to be a “one and done” couple. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are days – such as when our ten-month-old is acting particularly clingy, seems to have forgotten how to sleep at night, or is effectively breaking our belongings and budget – when we look at each other sideways and ask, “Are you sure you want a second baby?” But when it comes down to it, the answer is always a resounding yes. And here are three reasons why.

Siblings teach important lessons

As the oldest of four kids, I learned a lot of important lessons by virtue of having siblings. I learned about sharing toys, attention, and space. I learned about looking out for someone other than myself. I learned how to manage jealousy. I wasn’t always happy or gracious about having siblings, but the experiences I had as part of a large family planted seeds that helped me out later in life. I hope that by having a second baby, our daughter will build character and learn lessons that will guide her in future relationships.

There is no bond like that between siblings

I know it doesn’t always work out this way, but my siblings are among my favorite people in the world. I think I would be fond of them even if we weren’t so linked by nature and nurture, but in my experience, the bond created by a shared childhood can’t be matched. We have the same cherished memories, inside jokes, and understanding of who our parents are and how we were raised. We share traditions and values. We call the same place “home.” My sister and I even seem to have some sort of telepathy thing going on. I want to have a second child so that my daughter has the opportunity to experience – and hopefully benefit from – that unparalleled sibling bond.

We want to have a second child because we can.

Or at least I think we can, whether that means we choose to adopt a child who needs a home or I give birth for a second time. But the point is if we have the means to raise a second child, we believe we should. This largely stems from a religious conviction of ours. We’re Catholic, but the conviction doesn’t come from our decision not to use artificial birth control. (We’ve got the Natural Family Planning thing down.) Rather, we believe that if we have the physical, financial, and emotional capacity for another kid, we should open our homes and hearts to as many as we can and give them the opportunity to do good in the world.

So, for these reasons, I hope we’ll welcome a second baby into the family sometime in the near future. And when my daughter decides that her new sibling is completely ruining her life, I will read her these reasons and wait for the day that she realizes her sibling is not a curse but a blessing that she’ll have forever.

More from this mom:

No Gift-Opening at Kids’ Birthday Parties: Preposterous or Brilliant?

You’ll Have to Excuse Me – I’m a New Mom

How I’ve Changed Since Becoming a Parent

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3 Recipes for Apple Salad

Apples make delicious salads to liven up your meal or to take to potluck dinners. Here are three apple salad recipes that is sure to please. These recipes use fresh raw apples. You can peel the apples or leave the peelings on which ever you prefer. You can use red or yellow apples and your choice of sweet or tart depending on the taste you prefer. You can use sweet apples when making a recipe and the next time you might want to change to a more tart apple.

Apple Salad with Peanut Butter Sauce Recipe

1 apple, diced in small pieces
1 banana, sliced in small circles
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
How to Make the Peanut Butter Sauce
½ cup of peanut butter, creamy
¼ cup of whole milk
1 tablespoon of honey

Put apples and bananas in a large bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the fruit. Stir the fruit around to coat it with the mixture. Mix the peanut butter, milk and honey in a small bowl. Pour over the fruit mixture. Serve.

How to Make Caramel Apple Salad

1 cup of whipped topping
1 package of butterscotch pudding mix
1 can of crushed pineapple in an 8 oz. can (with juice)
3 cups of diced apples
1 cup of mini marshmallows
1 cup of dry roasted peanuts

Mix the whip topping, pudding mix and pineapple in a bowl. Be sure to leave the juice with the pineapple when adding to this mixture. Add the peanuts, marshmallows and diced apples to the mixture. Stir Well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Apple Nut Salad Recipe

2 boxes of lime gelatin ,3 ounce size boxes
4 tablespoons of sugar
3 cups of boiling water
1 – 8 oz. package of cream cheese (softened)
2 apples, diced
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 cup of pecans, chopped

Dissolve the lime gelatin and 4 tablespoons of sugar in the boiling hot water. Add the 2 softened cream cheese packages to the gelatin mixture. Mix ingredients until the cream cheese is blended completely into the gelatin, use an electric mixer. Put the mixture in the refrigerator to chill, leave until it has partially set. Put the diced apples in a bowl and toss it with 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Put to the side until gelatin is ready. Remove gelatin mixture and add the apples, the pecans and the other 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Mix well. Pour mixture into a mold or pan. Put back in the refrigerator until firm. Serve.

Apples are very versatile and can be used in many recipes from desserts and candies to breads and salads.

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3 Reasons Why My Realtor is Better Than Yours

Buyers on a budget are finding it harder to secure affordable housing due to investors gobbling up lower priced homes; sometimes before they are advertised publicly. Hiring a competent realtor is essential, or you may find yourself lost in house hunting purgatory. During the last 38 months, I have looked at homes in almost every state on the eastern seaboard and met at least a dozen realtors with varying degrees of expertise. The qualities I look for when choosing a realtor are dedication, a sense of humor and the willingness to be pestered at all hours of the day and night. The two best realtors I’ve encountered possessed all three of these attributes and have made the grueling process of home shopping fun instead of frustrating.

Dick Echorst of Century 21 Sbarra & Wells is located in upstate New York, an area I know very little about. He has kept in touch with me faithfully for the last three years through two hurricanes and all major holidays. Since I am far away, the task of touring potential homes falls on him alone. I send him multiple inquiries a week and he always responds the same day, even if it’s near midnight. Dick has an uncanny knack for narrowing down my housing choices with words of wisdom like: “You don’t want to live there.” or “It’s a nice area if you don’t mind flooding.” His dedication to caution never wanes and his level of honesty is steadfast. When I do find something he approves of, Dick is always willing to go see it for me & send a video.

My local realtor, Kevin Colman of Prudential Gross & Jansen Highlands in NJ, is like an overprotective mother, always looking out for his client’s best interests. I suspect he attended real estate boot camp instead of regular real estate school. According to Mr. Colman, most of what I see on the internet is already sold or too expensive for my budget. Everything I ask him about is either in attorney review or “not really for sale.” It almost seems like he’s trying to prevent me from buying anything instead of helping but his methods are designed to save time. Kevin specializes in commercial real estate as well as residential and is one of the busiest realtors I’ve met. I don’t think he ever takes a day off and he manages to answer all my questions, even if I’ve asked them more than once. Kevin also has a good sense of humor, which is important because finding a house on a shoestring budget can be stressful. He’s been showing me houses since 2007 and has never complained, even though I have yet to buy one. Most of the properties we look at are moldy or lacking essentials like sheetrock & flooring but he remains optimistic; always encouraging me that we’ll find the right one eventually. No matter what I ask of him, Kevin comes through. Whether it’s a seller willing to finance or a house big enough for 6 kids that fits my ridiculous budget; his dedication to working miracles is unwavering.

According to US Housing Conditions, the homeownership rate is the lowest it’s been since 1996, sales are at their lowest since 1997, and the production of new homes is the lowest it has ever been. Still, home prices are similar to those in 2003. What should you do if you’re a buyer trying to find an affordable home on a tight budget? Find a realtor like Dick Echorst who’s willing to answer emails at midnight & send video from two hours away. If you prefer comic relief with your house hunting; hire Kevin Colman, who’s brave enough to go inside a house even when the listing notes say “do not enter structure!”

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3 Signs that a Music Gig Will Be Terrible

As all bands know, there’s nothing worse than playing a bad show, whether it’s your band’s fault, the venue’s fault, the crowd’s fault, or simply nobody’s fault.

By recognizing the warning signs, bands can know when a show’s going to suck, and take steps to manage it–and avoid future bad gigs. Here are three signs that a show simply isn’t going to go well.


1. The venue seems bewildered when you call to confirm.
And by the way, if you don’t call to confirm your shows, get into the habit, because it’s a good habit to have. Calling to confirm makes sure that there’s no confusion, shows a venue that your band is professional and takes shows seriously, and lets you see if the venues feel the same way. If, when you call to confirm, the booking manager has no idea what you’re talking about, you can be fairly confident that he hasn’t been promoting. In your confirmation call, you’ll get a good sense of how professional the establishment that you’re dealing with really is.


2. The venue doesn’t list your show in any way.
Likewise, you should visit the venue before the gig, if for nothing else than to give them some flyers. See if they have any sort of show listing, whether it’s in a paper, a board at the venue, on tables, etc. If they don’t, again, they haven’t been promoting, and promoting is the only way to make sure that a show is going to be good.

While you’re at the venue, check on their sound system, and see if you need to bring your own. Even if the venue has been promoting, you’ll have a bad gig if the sound system’s bad, and it’s an easy thing to avoid.


3. You didn’t promote it.
Remember that ultimately, your band is responsible for the quality of its shows, and the only guarantee that you’ll have is that more people = a better time. Promote the hell out of every show that your band plays. Put up flyers, call friends, send out Facebook and Myspace invitations, bring people to your shows in any way that you can. That’s the only way that you can be sure that a gig won’t turn out to be a dud, or at least that if it is, it wasn’t your bands fault. You have two jobs when you book a show: play well, and bring as many people to the venue as you can. Make sure that you do both, and you’ll rarely (if ever) actually have a bad gig.

Do you have a band? What are some warning signs that told your band the gig wasn’t going to be what it was supposed to be? Post in our comments section below.

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3 Secrets that Will Make You More Money with Freelance Writing

Writing is a gift, a gift that not everyone has. Those of us that have been blessed with such a talent can use it to make a living. Freelance writing is a large business for many reasons. Even before the internet and article marketing, writing copy for books and magazines was in high demand. Companies and corporations know that it is crucial to have smart and correct content to brand their company. With this being said, there are a few secrets that will step your freelance writing career up to the next income bracket.

The three essential things that every freelance writer must focus on are writing, rewriting and marketing. If you can find a way to do all of these things in unison it will change your writing career along with your bank account.

Write, Write and Write More

Obviously, sitting down and writing is the first step in becoming a successful freelancer. There is nothing to market or sell if you have nothing written. Start out by writing quality articles on topics that you are passionate about. These will become articles that you can sell to clients or use as samples when trying to market yourself. Even after you have landed writing jobs you will have to continuously write while marketing and rewriting.

Rewriting is Key

An article or piece of content should never be released without being rewritten. Rewriting is the process of going over an article that has been written and improving it. Surprisingly, the rewriting process almost always gives a piece more character and flare. This process is not fun but it will help you push your writing to the next level. One of the worst things you can do is to provide a client a sloppy article. Avoid this situation all together by rewriting your articles!

Market Yourself

Potential clients are not going to come to you. How are they going to find you if you are sitting at your kitchen table writing away? They can’t. You have to go looking for work. Look at it like you are going out to get business. You will spend a lot of time doing this as a freelance writer so make sure you do it well. Provide potential clients with sample pieces and a portfolio or resume. Document all past experience and get references from previous clients. You are trying to sell you. If can’t convince yourself how good you are then how are you possibly going to convince a potential client?

This element of freelance writing will never stop, just like writing and rewriting. You will witness your income exponentially increasing if you can balance these three elements of freelance writing.

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3 Romantic Central California Coastal Weekend Getaways for Couples

Looking for a special weekend away with your partner? The Central California Coast offers numerous beautiful and romantic destinations where you can escape and enjoy some quite time with the one you love.

San Luis Obispo

Located half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo is an easy half-day drive from either metro area. This small college town boasts a friendly and walkable downtown with several great dining options. Take an evening stroll up and down Marsh Street and Higuera Street, which form the two main streets for the downtown night life. Thursday nights feature a farmer’s market with fresh produce, wonderful dining options, and entertainment. Stay right downtown at the romantic Garden Street Inn or experience the unique environment of the Madonna Inn, where each room has its own theme and no two rooms are alike. During the day, make a visit to a local vineyard. The hills surrounding San Luis Obispo and its neighboring cities boast some of the best wines in California.

Cayucos

This small coastal town is located about 30 minutes north of San Luis Obispo on Highway 1. While coastal clouds and fog can turn many a Central California spring and summer day gray, Cayucos seems to have a knack for staying sunny more often than other nearby towns. The Cayucos Sunset Inn is a romantic little bed and breakfast, located only steps from the beach and the pier. Great day trips from this town include Morro Bay, home of Morro Rock, and Hearst Castle, a short 45 minute drive north of town.

Santa Barbara

Often referred to as the “California Riviera,” Santa Barbara is located about 2 hours north of Los Angeles. Town offers a historic downtown area, located just north of the beach. Rent a bicycle from one of many choices offered along the beach and cycle around town for an afternoon. Then choose from numerous restaurants in downtown for a quiet and romantic dinner. Overnight accommodation options range from Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort right across the street from the beach, to the charming and romantic Eagle Inn.

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