Is Pornography A Valid Vehicle For Our Sacred Erotic And Sexual Expression?

Storytelling is the most powerful tool of communication we have, so it’s no surprise that erotic stories and art can be found, worldwide. These have been with us from early engravings in rock and have lived on to become a favorite theme in adult videos.

Erotic stories are a celebration of human sexuality. Practically every civilization has left a legacy of erotic art and stories, from the earliest civilizations onward. Exquisite examples of ancient erotic art can be found in Japan, China, India, Ancient Greece and Rome. Through art, sculpture and literature, to modern day erotic videos, humans have been recording erotic tales.

With the advent of photography, the first erotic images came to life, in London’s Victorian era, and the world has never been the same since. The fascination of the forbidden has always been a motivator and it was no different with erotica.  

Is Pornography An Evolution Of Earlier Expressions Of Human Sexuality?

Photography put into question the moral ethics of such images and a fine line was created between erotic art and pornography. To this day there is still a lot of confusion between these two. Is pornography simply an evolution of earlier expressions of human sexuality? Some high profile erotic video makers, such as Carrol Lee, argue that in order to remove the negative connotations associated to the term ‘pornography’ it should be reclaimed so as to represent a more contemporary view on human sexual behavior.

With the internet, we witnessed a global explosion of erotic content, from 1990’s on. Some would say the internet was originally fueled by pornography.  Nowadays, with a few simple keystrokes you can access erotic videos from any part of the globe. A long shot from mail order days and VHS rentals. 

This in itself clearly indicates we have come a long way and we no longer live our sensuality as a forbidden, sinful pleasure.

Who And What Are Erotic Videos For?

The erotic stories we share and pass on serve a purpose beyond voyeurism or entertainment. They can be a resource for couples wishing to reignite their love lives or to learn new ways of pleasing each other. Erotic stories can enhance our lives. These can help us open up to new ways of living our sexuality.  No matter how classic or unusual your tastes may be, there’s something for everybody. There are so many platforms to choose from, and the selection of online content so rich, it is practically intoxicating. After all, variety is the spice of life.

Similar to how a picture or video of a tasty grilled sirloin steak and baked potatoes can make you salivate and feel hungry, an erotic video can stimulate and titillate your senses, excite your imagination and make you hungry for some healthy fun. Your skin will flush and your heart rate increases, as your bodily senses are awakened and your sensual self comes to life.  

Sex is as important as air, food and water for human sustenance. The veil of shame and taboo, which religion had tainted human sexuality with for centuries, has been lifted in many cultures. Without this oppression, we can freely explore and express our individual sexuality and preferences without any stigma.

The list of online adult entertainment websites spans a truly vast and diverse landscape. 

Tube Sites

Tube sites are essentially porn video sites using an interface similar to YouTube and these have lots of freebies you can watch. Three top contenders in this category are XVideos, PornHub and XHamster

Live Cam Sites

Live cam sites offer a one on one live cam experience. At the top of the list you’ll find Jasmin, Bongacams and ImLive

VR Sites

Technology has turned video into a sensory experience with the application of virtual reality. The technology has been around for approximately five years. Special equipment is required, although the prices have dropped since these first appeared. If you want to try VR sites, check out Brazzers, The GF Network, Reality Kings or Digital Playgrounds.

Feminism And Pornography

Feminism, in great part, shaped how women perceive pornography. Since the 1970s, feminist preoccupation with pornography adopted widely differing positions, either for or against, with little middle ground. In the past two decades, we have seen a lesser interest from feminists with regards to pornography, as their focus shifted to other more pressing issues, such as economic justice, violence against women, LGBTQIA rights and constitutional equality.

The accelerating and far reaching effects of the internet, as well as the indisputable fact that sex is a commodity, has spawned the creation of women’s porn/erotica as a distinctive alternative to men’s pornography. In fact, feminists themselves, have noted and highlighted the ways in which cybersex can facilitate and provide opportunities for identity-bending, with users being able to assume different roles and characteristics, such as gender, age, sexuality, race, and physical appearance. Other benefits have also been noted, such as improved access to sex education, ‘safe’ sex, a unique opportunity for the sexual empowerment of people with disabilities and an array of opportunities for women to produce and distribute their own representations of eroticism.

No matter which way you toss and turn it, the adult entertainment industry continues to flourish, and has become a valid industry with talented people on both sides of the lens. They even have their own Oscar night, it’s called AVN Awards, to recognize achievements in the adult entertainment industry. 

Humans are complicated and creative and so is our expression of sexuality, which is reflected in the endless assortment of contemporary erotic video genres and as far back as Paleolithic cave paintings, the oldest surviving examples of erotic art. Erotic storytelling, helps us realize that there are others who also enjoy the same type of sexual play we do. It connects us to our own sexual nature and gives us the opportunity to be accepting of our own sexuality, as well as that of others. It is an occasion for mature consenting adults to freely explore the vast realm of sexuality.

Ten Things You Can Do To Help If A Loved One Is A Hoarder

Living with a hoarder can be treacherous and devastating. You will find yourself having to pave your way around mountains of clutter, that keeps growing day by day. Hoarding is a disorder. Those who hoard not only find it practically impossible to part with anything that comes their way, they also collect and take home any junk they deem to be valuable by their standards.

All surfaces, from the floors to counter spaces, will be cluttered with useless junk, that no one in their right mind would remotely dream of keeping, such as dated newspapers, complete and incomplete crosswords dating back 20 years, used toilet paper roles, outworn clothing, envelopes, old calendars, expired foods, expired flyers, little packets of condiments, sugar and salt from every restaurant outing, outdated coupons, empty containers and so on. In most cases, nothing of value is being hoarded. There are also cases where animal hoarding occurs, contributing to an unhealthy, nefarious environment.

The detrimental effects of hoarding, on the quality of life, are overwhelming and devastating. Studies indicate that hoarding affects over 6% of the population in the USA. That is a whopping 19 million Americans. These are reportedly conservative estimates.

Hoarding is an obsessive compulsive disorder which can range from mild to severe. Living with a hoarder, is a depleting, confusing, frustrating and hazardous. Finding a clean surface to work on is impossible. You will spend most of your time moving stuff around, trying to carve out a small space for yourself, in the mountain of junk that your home has become.

Hoarding makes day to day life impossible. If your loved one is a hoarder, you will discover that nothing is sacred, not even your bed. Hoarding creates a chaotic and unhygienic living environment, which takes its toll on healthy relationships and is not conducive in creating a safe and suitable environment, in which to raise children.

Hoarding gets passed on from one generation to the next. If your children spend years picking through clutter on the floor, to dress for school, there is a pretty good chance they will become hoarders as well. The old heredity versus environment debate, points heavily at environment being the key factor. Studies to date have not given any real indication that hoarding is genetically inherited and hoarding symptoms are found to start during childhood.

I was raised by an obsessively clean and organized mother, who prided herself on the indisputable fact that her floors were so clean, you could eat off them. My mother hated knick knacks and opted for a minimalist home environment. Any useless gifts that made their way into our home, were promptly hidden away, only to resurface temporarily, when the person who had gifted us was expected for a visit.

I was still in college the first time I discovered what hoarding was. I was visiting a young couple in their new home. When I stepped inside the door, I was stricken with horror at the sight of their toddler crawling through dirt and piles of garbage, which littered the floor and every surface of their home. I never visited again.

I have personally witnessed a situation where hoarding affected an entire family and ended in divorce. The two children, who grew up with a mother who hoarded, have both become hoarders, to their father’s dismay.

As a young woman, living in Toronto, I found a job at a local shop which sold maps and atlases, amongst other travel items. My job was to attend to shipments. On the first day I entered the premises, the stench which hit my nostrils, catapulted me into a cleaning frenzy, organizing and tossing away everything, which by my standards, classified as garbage. I distinctly remember filling up endless bags with half empty, take away containers. Some of these had been around so long that I saw an array of hairy mold specimens I never knew existed. I was not expecting to be rewarded for my hard work, but I certainly was not expecting the reaction I got, when the owner came to close down the shop, at the end of the day. It was inconceivable to me that anyone could be displeased, let alone angry, about a super clean up job. I had no idea what I was dealing with and my best intentions were apparently misplaced.

Because hoarders have a strong attachment to the items they collect, they can be quite opposed at accepting any help or throwing away anything. Often times hoarders are in denial and truly believe there is value in what they are accumulating. Compulsive hoarding can’t be resolved by simply cleaning out the house.

Look at it this way, if you were dealing with a drug addict or an alcoholic, would you resolve their problem by simply tossing the drugs or alcohol? The underlying problem needs to be addressed, otherwise the cycle will simply start again. Hoarders whose homes are cleared without their consent can become seriously distressed, even depressed, refusing any further help. There are things you can do to help a hoarder return to some semblance of normality.

Ten Things You Can Do To Help Treat Hoarding

  1. Find and join a local support group or team up with a coach to help sort and reduce clutter. Remember that relapses can easily occur if the right steps are not taken 
  2.  Challenge the hoarder’s thoughts and beliefs regarding the items they keep and try to make a pact for them not to pick up more junk each time they head out of the house. 
  3. Develop a plan to prevent any future clutter.
  4. Self-help books, support groups, individual talk therapy, medications and group therapy have been known to help hoarders get internally motivated to change their ways
  5. Returning to a normal life is a life long challenge for a hoarder. Staying in treatment has proven to decrease the chances of a relapse.
  6. If someone close to you is a hoarder, be certain to acknowledge that they have a right to make their own decisions at their own pace. To develop trust, do not throw anything away without asking for permission first.
  7. Be empathic and remember that everyone has some attachment to the things they choose to own.
  8. Make an effort to understand what importance, if any, the items they hoard hold for them. This process will assist the hoarder to gain a new perspective.
  9. Encourage and motivate them to come up with solutions to make the home safer, such as moving clutter away from doorways, halls and stairs.
  10. Team up with them, don’t go it alone. Never argue about whether to keep or discard an item; instead, through constructive communication, attempt to discover what will help motivate them to discard and organize the environment. Perhaps the promise of a social life? Together, you could organize a dinner at home with friends, to motivate them.

Through empathic communication you can help a loved one recognize that hoarding actually interferes with their core goals or values, their quality of life and their family’s wellbeing. These steps will assist them in paving their way back to a healthier lifestyle.

Why Sleep Is More Important Than Food

Have you ever stopped to think how much of your life you spend sleeping? The average lifespan, in 2020, according to surveys, was 79 years. Of those 79 years we spend an average of 26 years sleeping. For those who are light sleepers and have trouble getting to sleep, add another seven years, which are spent trying to fall asleep. To sum it up, we spend an average of 33 years of our lives in our beds.

The terror of sleepless nights is a grueling reality many are faced with. Tossing and turning, unable to switch off that internal chatter, falling into a dizzying loop, as the night slips away from us.

Do you ever have nights when it feels as though you have forgotten how to fall asleep? The harder you try, the further away sleep seems to be? You are not alone. Insomnia is a commonly reported sleep problem. Insomnia symptoms include trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, or both. Approximately one in seven adults suffers from chronic insomnia and one in three people, in the USA, reportedly use prescription sleeping aids.

Collateral Effects of Insomnia

Humans can go up to three weeks without food whereas we can only manage, give or take, one week without sleep. The collateral effects of sleep deprivation can literally destroy us, slowly crippling us, sucking the joy out of life. Like a leaky faucet, our life energy is being drained away, one drop at a time, with every sleepless moment. The collateral effects of insomnia can be debilitating, putting our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing at risk.

  • Loss of long and short term memory
  • Mood Changes – irritability
  • Inability to focus, be creative or solve problems
  • Weakened immune system, leading to frequent illness
  • Accident prone
  • Daytime chronic fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Low sex drive
  • Weight gain
  • Risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • Instability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations

Sleep is essential to keep our central nervous system functioning properly. During a night of normal sleep we go through four to five sleep cycles, which are in turn composed of individual sleep stages, broken down into two categories: rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and non REM sleep.

Breakdown Of Normal Sleep Cycles

The first three cycles of sleep are non REM sleep. The first stage is short, and this is the time we spend dozing off and transitioning into sleep.  The second stage is when the body and mind slow down as we settle into sleep. The third stage, is often referred to as deep sleep. This is when the body goes into recovery mode, and slows down further. During this stage our overall brain activity also slows down.

The fourth stage is REM sleep. During REM periods, brain activity shoots up to levels very similar to when we’re awake. During REM we experience our most intense dreams. Both breathing and heart rate increase during REM sleep and most of our muscles are paralyzed. This might sound frightening, however this paralysis is what  keeps us from acting out our dreams. In fact some people suffer from sleep paralysis issues, which is topic unto itself.

REM sleep is necessary since it stimulates areas of our brain that are essential in learning, making and retaining memories. “According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a study depriving rats of REM sleep significantly shortened their life span, from two or three years to five weeks. Rats deprived of all sleep cycles lived only three weeks.” 

During REM sleep, our brain exercises important neural connections. These are key to mental and overall well-being and health.

What Can You Do To Overcome Insomnia

  • Avoid daytime naps
  • Cut out caffeine – if you are not able to, then save it for mornings only
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday
  • Relaxing activities, such as reading, meditating, or taking a bath before bed are helpful
  • No heavy meals within a few hours before bedtime
  • No electronic devices before bed
  • Exercising regularly, preferably during the day as opposed to prior to bedtime
  • Reduce your alcohol intake

Creating a comfortable, relaxed environment for yourself can help you wind down. Is your bedroom cluttered? Give it a good clean and remove all paper and or work related stuff from your bedroom. Your bedroom should be a temple, a place where you can safely leave your body behind as you journey into deep sleep.

Are you easily awakened by noise and/or light? If you live in the city and suffer insomnia, then noise is most certainly a contributing factor to your sleepless nights. Sleeping with earplugs and an eye mask can improve the quality of your sleep.

Hi-Tech Gadgets To Combat Insomnia

Science and technology have provided us with many drug free alternatives for dealing with insomnia. Hi-tech insomnia gadgets provide a wide range of methods, from guided breathing exercises, to electrical brain stimulation, that help overcome insomnia and solutions for sleep apnea. Not all of us suffer insomnia for the same reasons. For some it’s noise, or anxiety, while for others it may be issues with breathing, such as sleep apnea.

You will find Hi-tech gadgets designed to intervene and target specific insomnia related issues. I myself, have had issues with falling asleep. I tend to be high strung and very sensitive to noise. I have found a very simple solution to help me fall asleep. A free App which gives me a choice of sound effects to fall asleep to worked wonders for me. They offer sounds of splashing waves, soft rainfall or thundering rain, white noise, nature and animal sounds. My personal favorite, which works for me every time, is the sound of a crackling fire, with crickets in the background.

If you suffer from sleepless nights, or have trouble falling asleep, consider a non prescription solution. We all know that pharmaceuticals often fix one thing at the expense of another. Long term use of prescription drugs, as a sleeping aid, can lead to serious side effects, including addiction, undermining your health and wellbeing.

The Rise And Fall Of An Empire

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Words Have Power

The Rise And Fall Of An Empire

In the year 1878 George Eastman won the world’s attention with his gelatin dry plates. These would replace the clunky and messy wet plate photography which still prevailed at the time. Dry plates could be exposed and developed as needed, whereas wet plates, which necessitated a coating, had to be exposed and developed immediately.

The story of the Kodak Eastman company reads like an epic trilogy, covering the rise and fall of an empire. From the start, Kodak were pioneers in their industry. They introduced innovative products for photographers and film makers for well over a century.

  • In 1903 Kodak introduced their Non-Curling Film, which became the standard for all amateur photographers, for almost three decades.
  • In 1928 Kodak revolutionized the motion pictures industry with their 16 mm KODACOLOR Film. This was the first microfilm ever on the market.
  • In 1929 Kodak once again kept abreast of developing technologies by introducing their first motion picture film, for the emerging sound motion pictures industry.

Kodak enjoyed its position, as industry leaders in their sector, for over one century. In the early 80’s Sony released their first electronic camera. Digital photography, although it was in its embryonic stages, had already shown the potential to catapult the entire industry. An industry that could literally wipe out Kodak’s established, film-based business.

In the race against advancing digital technology, Kodak had roughly ten years to adapt. Something which proved to be difficult for the 131-year-old company, whose core business had been selling film. Despite all their best efforts, by 2008 Kodak was in trouble. Around that time Citigroup provided Kodak financing of $950 million to keep them afloat.

The world was left speechless, when Kodak ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2012, leaving its legacy business and selling off all its patents. It was the fall of a giant and it reverberated throughout the business world.

How could a colossal company such as Kodak have taken such a fall? In 2012, in an article entitled How Kodak Failed, Forbes referred to Kodak’s demise as a “staggering corporate blunder.” Kodak had entirely missed the opportunity to gain a foothold in the digital landscape, which ironically was a technology that Kodak themselves had introduced. Kodak’s strategic failure was heavily criticized, as Kodak’s film based business legacy was being ravaged by digital photography.

Kodak was not the only company that was unable to bridge the gap, during the digital transformation which rapidly replaced older technologies. In fact, Kodak is one of the numerous companies which met a similar fate. There was Xerox, who invented the photocopier and Motorola with their mobile phone. Let’s not forget Sun Microsystems who were behind the Java programming language and another giant, IBM. We can look further and find Olivetti, HP, Nokia, and Blockbuster, just to name a few. All of these companies failed to adapt to the new technology which had swept across the globe and forever altered the way people worked and played.

Regardless of all the other giants who fell, with the advent of digital technology, Kodak has been used as an example of failure. No company had been as successful, with their continuous breakthroughs and innovative products. They had monopolized the market with low-cost professional solutions for decades.

It was not for lack of trying that they failed since Kodak did invent the very first digital camera in 1975. It came with a digital cassette recorder, which was the modern-day equivalent of a memory card, back then. In 1991 Kodak unveiled the DCS 100, this was the very first commercially available digital SLR camera, designed with professional photojournalists in mind.

So what went wrong? How could a giant like Kodak fall? Kodak failed to develop the potential inherent in digital technology. Perhaps they were too slow or started too late. By the mid-1990s the market was already saturated with digital products that were extinguishing Kodak from the picture.

Some say that Kodak failed to recognize the transformative power of digital technology. Kodak kept investing in film and older technologies, whereas a more winning strategy would have been to embrace digital technology full-on. Kodak had the know-how and experience to once again be a leader in the new and exciting digital landscape. They made their move too late. Their business was already in decline and they were trailing so far behind their competitors, they no longer stood a chance.

Why Video Is Essential For An SEO Friendly Website

BENEFITS OF VIDEO ON SEO

Over 300 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute. People watch over 1 billion hours of videos, daily, on YouTube. These numbers alone speak loudly. Recent trends have clearly demonstrated that the use of video on company websites has become an industry standard in SEO. Simply put, Video Search Engine Optimization refers to the use of video in order to rank higher in search engine results and drive more traffic to a website.

A well produced short video, that shows people what your company does, will get far more attention and results, than a text driven message ever will. Videos allow people to consume more content, faster. A video on YouTube will extend your Brand’s reach to get you the customers you want.

YouTube continues to capture audiences’ attention, because streaming video is the most versatile and profitable digital marketing tool available. A well produced video can tell your story in less time. Grab peoples’ attention. Showcase your product and services. Explain how your company works and build trust. Showing people what you do as opposed to telling them, will give your business a kickstart.

Since the dawn of language, storytelling has been a culture building phenomenon. Marketing is storytelling. The internet has revolutionized the process of storytelling. You could say that the Internet is video. Two years from now it is entirely probable you might be watching, instead of reading this post.

Benefits of Video For Your Brand

Now that Brand storytelling is all the rage, it isn’t going away anytime soon. The most efficient way to tell your story is to produce a video. When you are browsing through a company website, what draws your attention most? If you can choose between a text driven page, describing the company’s missions, goals and so on, or a video, which would you choose?

Using video to tell your company’s story is more likely to peak people’s curiosity and interest in your product. Video gives your company a more organic online identity. Video gives your company a face. Authentic storytelling is a powerful medium, which creates connectivity. This also explains why websites and pages showcasing videos have outperformed traditional text driven websites.

People only retain 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see and 70% of what they hear and see. In an age of information overload, it is vital for a business to produce content that meets consumers expectations and the content better be engaging and easy to digest, otherwise consumers will just move on to the next. YouTube’s streaming video platform can catapult your marketing strategy to a whole new level of performance. The use of videos in SEO has proven, beyond any reasonable doubt, that they yield results.

If a picture can tell a thousand words, ask yourself how much a one minute video can reveal. In a world where success is literally measured in seconds, a one minute video stands a far better chance of engaging your customers, long enough, to make a purchase. When people stop to watch a video on your website, they will stay longer on that page. This will signal to Google and other search engines that the content on your website is relevant and interesting enough to capture people’s attention. The longer they dwell on your website, the better for your rankings, which in turn will grow your online business. This in a nutshell is how video benefits SEO.

Including videos on your company website will help you rank higher in search results and it is the only way your business can hope to rank in Google’s first page results, because Google loves rich content. Consumer video consumption has risen exponentially and as a result, search engines have increased the ranking factor of video on landing pages. This practice will only increase in the near future, which is why including video on a company website has become increasingly important, to boost ranking on search engines.

If you are just now considering using videos on your company website, you could start with a company overview or an About video. Below is a list covering the video genres used for online marketing.

ONBOARDING VIDEOS

These videos show clients how to get started. They help them understand your culture and create a bond with your company. Onboarding videos are an excellent way to help companies hire because they provide prospective new talent an opportunity to get to know your company culture and how you operate.

COMPANY CULTURE VIDEOS

Company culture videos can assist in creating a sense of community, promoting company values, best practices and missions. They also make your business more attractive to candidates, if you are hiring.

PRODUCT VIDEOS

Product videos demonstrate the benefits of your products, inspiring people to buy and they make your product pages more SEO friendly.

TUTORIALS

Show and tell videos can be used on a product page. Depending on the type of business you run, these tutorials could be part and parcel of your onboarding video. Tutorial videos are perfect for YouTube, where potential customers may be searching for tutorials related to your product, service, or industry.

TESTIMONIALS

Show your potential customers that you are trustworthy and qualified. Interview real customers on camera. Testimonials instill trust in potential customers, because people tend to empathize and respond more positively when hearing a testimonial from one of their peers.

EDUCATIONAL

Educational, webinar-style videos are an occasion for you to showcase your expertise and drive new traffic to your website. These are also helpful with video SEO.

A well produced video will inspire people to take action. There are clearly costs associated to video production and marketing. You may be tempted to produce your own video, which these days is simple enough. A cautionary message though, better no video than a badly produced video. If you have the time, there are plenty of blogs and videos on YouTube, that will show you the ropes and the do’s and don’ts. Your other option is to hire a professional.

The increased demand for marketing videos has given birth to a whole new online platform of digital marketing services. These companies help businesses with their online presence. The advantages of having a professional on board are several. Aside from the technical know which they bring to the table, there is another important ingredient. A digital marketing expert speaks the language. Video, like any other form of communication, has rules and exceptions. Depending on how these are applied, you can either make it or break it. This is what a typical breakdown for a product video looks like:

  • A Hook
  • Video Introduction
  • Delivery
  • Bonus/Offer
  • Call to Action

A digital marketing expert can help you define and build your brand, and most importantly create a digital marketing strategy that will give you results. They have the know how to target traffic to your website that will convert. With Google constantly changing their algorithms, SEO is hard to control, and this in itself makes hiring a digital marketing expert a wise investment. People have high standards when it comes to digital content and the competition is fierce.

Once your video is ready to be showcased on your website, remember that videos need to be optimized for SEO and this can be tricky, if you are not in the know. A simple solution is to embed videos on your website, from your YouTube channel. There are numerous optimization strategies to give videos a higher chance of ranking on YouTube. YouTube SEO can help increase important metrics like follower count, brand awareness, website visits, and revenue. The video description you use on YouTube should be clear and concise. Be meticulous in your description of the video your are uploading. Include a call to action in the description. The copy you enter will be read by search engines and anyone who finds your video online.

Make sure you pick an appropriate image to use as a thumbnail, when uploading your video to YouTube. This is the image that will show when the video appears in a search. The image you choose to use as a thumbnail should be clear, in focus, compelling and relevant to the content of the video.

Video will increment your company’s visibility on Google, resulting in an increase in your website traffic, conversion rate, and revenue. The benefits of video in SEO derive from the simple fact that no other content type online has the viral potential that video has demonstrated so far.

  • YouTube reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any broadcast or cableTV network
  • 64% of users are more likely to purchase a product online after watching a video
  • Conversions may increase by as much as 80% with a video on your landing page
  • Visitors spend 88% more time on a website that includes video
  • Video gets more sharing and other interaction on social media than any other type of content

Why should you consider using video? Because video offers a rich sensory experience which lures people, and there’s a fairly good chance your competitors are already using video.

Astrology A Tool For Self Evolution

Astrology has been with us for almost 2500 years, dating back to Babylonia. It has been used as a divinatory tool, by educated and powerful men and women, for centuries, including Theodore Roosevelt, Einstein and Carl Jung. To this day Astrology has maintained its fascination and is considered a viable pseudoscience by many outstanding and high profile contemporaries, from politicians to some of your favorite movie stars.

Many people believe Astrology to be the sun sign astrological forecasts in their local newspaper or those crafty blog posts they find on their google feed about which signs will have the worst year and who will get rich and who will find the love of their life. It’s all bogus. There is no one size fits all.

Many might not willingly admit to reading their astrological forecasts, in their feed or local paper. Personally I would not admit to taking advice from a small column astrologist hired by my local newspaper.

Many fail to understand the utility of Astrology as a tool for personal evolution. It goes far beyond some form of witchery that predicts your success or demise in love, money and life. When each of us comes into this world, the exact time and location of our birth determines our individual birth chart. Our birth charts are as unique as our thumb prints.

The Birth Chart

Your Birth Chart is a snap shot of your potential as a sentient and intelligent being. It can be translated into a diagram which depicts the positions of the Sun, Moon, Ascendant and all planets. It shows how they were positioned at your time of birth and as seen from your place of birth. This includes astrological aspects and sensitive angles, which tell us about the relationship between planets in a chart at the time of a person’s birth. The word horoscope has its roots in the Greek language and stands for ōra and scopos meaning “time” and “observer”.

As time flows and the planets keep moving, they create a new picture, as the moving planets make aspects to the planets in your birth chart. These are called transits and progressions and are used to determine the nature and quality of time in your life now or at any given time.

Your Birth Chart is a toolkit you have been given to work with in this lifetime. Whether you choose to use this toolkit and how you use it, will determine future events in your life. In other words you are the master of your life. Astrology is not destiny, it is not a message carved in rock.

There are those born into a life of luxury with all the means provided for them. They need never worry about where their next meal, job or lovers come from. It would appear their lives are superior to yours, until the day shocking headlines reveal this person to have taken their own life. Many successful people take their own lives. Why is that? Is it possible that the toolkit they were given was never opened, because the conditions in their lives, made it difficult or because they assumed they had everything they needed already?

There are those who set their toolkit aside and polish every piece like a valuable collector would, alas never putting these tools to any use.

Astrology can pave the way to self awareness and taking responsibility for our own destiny when properly used. Beware of those that promise you the world. The world is yours only if you are willing to pick up that toolkit and get to work on yourself.

Where To Start With Astrology

Astrology is a language which can be interpreted into layman’s terms. A good Astrologer will know how to properly translate your chart, transits or progressions. A good Astrologer will familiarize you with your toolkit and how to use it, in order for you to overcome challenges and help you become the best version of your self.

If you only want to hear great things about yourself, then don’t get an astrological reading. If you think that a reading is going to give you a quick effortless out of the box solution, then you’re in for a disappointment. The only way to grow past your less performing self and leave behind unpleasant character flaws and dispositions, is to face these. Only when you are prepared to take a good and honest look at yourself, can you finally shed that old skin and begin making positive constructive changes in your life.

If you are curious and want to know more about your Birth Chart and how Astrology can be a tool for your betterment, there are a few very valid and reputable websites you can consult. My absolute favorite is Astro Dienst, and as far as I am concerned they are the real deal. They have been operating for more than three decades. They boast some of the heavy weights of Astrology on their eight member team, such as Liz Green and Robert Hand.

These guys are serious and you can get some free stuff, by entering your birth data, however, I recommend you consider their professional readings. At a reasonable cost you can get some valuable professional readings, which you can either download in PDF format or have printed, bound and mailed to you as a book.

I don’t know about you, but I personally prefer to deal with professionals that have a good record of performance, whether I need a plumber or an astrologer.

Astrology is not magic. In the hands of the right person Astrology can be revelatory, inspirational and motivational, helping you pave the path to your better, higher self.

Moving Past Fear – A Hero’s Journey

How will the year 2020 be remembered? None of us were expecting reality to make such an abrupt shift. The terrifying thought, for many, is not knowing what it is transforming into. Uncertainty has become a daily staple on our planet.

Pessimism has taken its toll, fueling anxieties, generating ever more uncertainties. The unpredictability we are faced with has left many with a sense of foreboding, leading to panic and in some instances aggression. It all boils down to fear. 

Not everyone experiences fear in the same manner. While some are being quietly consumed by anxiety, stress, sleepless nights and little hope for the future, others are acting out in an attempt to gain some control back. These are not happy times. Had the song “Don’t Worry Be Happy” been released in 2020, very doubtful it would have been a hit. 

Fear Of The Unknown

2020 has made it painfully obvious that we are spoilt for choice. While we were all feeling the impending doom, from the climate crisis, envisioned food and water shortages, nuclear war, the demise of capitalism, identity theft, political corruption, financial collapse, and losing basic human rights, along came Covid.

Our already exhausted sense of hope, for a bright future, collided and joined forces with an unannounced invisible enemy. A mysterious, insidious virus which has managed to catapult the entire planet in record time. Leaving us all feeling unprepared for what lies ahead, unleashing widespread panic and aggression in some instances.

We outdid ourselves, emptying shelves of food supplies, not to mention toilet paper and looking for undeserving scapegoats to blame. How will we fare in this chapter of our story on earth? What sort of legacy are we leaving behind for future generations to discover about us, and how we coped during these challenging times?

How we wish to be remembered or whether we wish to be remembered at all, is determined by our words and actions at times such as this.

The unique blend and brand of fear ushered in by the 2020 pandemic, is an entirely new beast. This relentless villain is digitally fueled and has rapidly gained notoriety around the world. It has gone viral in the virtual realm, where it thrives as easily as it does in the physical realm.

The New Face Of Fear Generated In The Matrix

We are witnessing an unprecedented worldwide split, with all sides convinced they are the sole bearers of the torch, on a variety of alarming topics, from the climate crisis to Covid-19.

It is wise to distinguish this pandemic from the tragedies of war or natural disasters, which regardless of the carnage and suffering they seminate, have the power to unite people on a large scale. When we are faced with global events which we have no control over, it’s a life changer. In the pain, suffering and loss, we find a common denominator that connects us all and keeps us human.

It is a discouraging sign when people are divided and fragmented. This pandemic did not unite people as much as it created a rift and invisible borders, to separate distinct realities that can not coexist.

The internet and social networks have created platforms where people can subscribe to different constructs of the truth and reality. There’s something for everyone, from the eclectic to the absurd, to explain the unexplainable or to disprove consolidated facts, such as the earth’s shape being disputed by flat earthers. This global community rooted in the matrix, that promotes a pseudoscientific belief and argues against hard proven facts, is insanely enough still gathering momentum.

We have witnessed the rise of virtual tribal wars, inciting increased levels of intolerance and uncertainty. What we fail to realize is that this invisible enemy we are facing, has no prejudices, no favorite race, religion or political associations. This invisible enemy has shown us that we are all one and made of the same stuff. Do not underestimate the collateral damages of mass induced reality, propagated in the matrix. It is ripe with fear.

It is during difficult times such as these, that we are revealed to ourselves and to others. Moments that lay bare the truth about who we are and the world we have built. Only once we are able to confront our fears and act from selflessness, can we truly distinguish ourselves.

Fear and Panic Are Not The Answer To Survival

Fear is an internal mechanism dating back to our ancestors. Fear, like a loyal friend, has helped us cope and find our way out of danger since the dawn of time.

In the presence of danger, fear takes a hold of us, constricts our breathing and speeds up our heart. As our body responds to a threat all our muscles tighten and every single follicle of hair on our heads stands to attention. These are powerful, primitive emotional and physiological responses to danger.

Panic can be a life saving reaction, when faced with immediate danger. Unfortunately fear induced panic is not the solution to long term threats, such as those we are faced with now. We’ve never witnessed this particular brand of fear, on such a large scale, prior to the 2020 pandemic. Most of us are familiar with fear induced by what we perceive to be a personal threat.

These internal mechanisms will work against us once we get caught in the loop. When our actions are driven by fear we become enslaved to a destructive force, ruling over our thoughts and actions, mercilessly contributing to the vicious cycle.

How To Remain Resilient In The Face Of Fear

Resilience is the art of bouncing back, no matter how hard you fall. Resilience is not avoidance. It is a skill like any other life skill. Learning how to thrive in the face of adversity is no easy task, but at times it is the key to our survival. Fear is paralyzing and swallows us slowly, like quicksand. How can you remain resilient when faced with gut wrenching anguish, hopelessness and desperateness?

Surround yourself with people that can assist you in lifting yourself out of the quicksand. Shift your focus. Whatever the source of your anguish, you need to build a new foundation. You must cultivate self awareness, self care, purpose and positive relationships. 

Self awareness gives you a clear perception of your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, beliefs and values, helping you understand what motivates you and what moves you emotionally. Self Awareness not only teaches you about yourself, it will also teach you to understand others and how they perceive you.

Self care refers to our ability, as human beings, to function effectively in the world, while facing the multiple challenges of life with a sense of energy, vitality, and confidence. Self care requires our active engagement.

Purpose is the recognition that we belong to and serve something greater than ourselves. Our purpose in life helps to shape our mindset and attitude towards others and the events we experience, in our lives. We can find purpose in faith, family, or being part of an organization with like minded individuals, working together to achieve something greater, whether it is a group involved in climate change or being of support to our community.

One of the most profound experiences, as humans, is the connection we make with other human beings. By building positive relationships with others, we strengthen the foundations that will provide us continued support. As a result we are happier, more fulfilled and connected. Positive and supportive relationships help us live healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives.

Moving Past Fear — A Hero’s Journey

Most of us grew up on stories where in order to get the prince/princess, the treasure or whatever the reward might be, the protagonist had to be willing to put their own life at risk. It’s a classic hero’s journey that has stood the test of time and is still being propagated to this day. You will find this archetype in just about any Netflix Series or Movie. The hero is able to defeat evil and survive death, only through brave selfless acts of valor and nobility. Perhaps the time is ripe to review the core principles and teachings these stories actually stand for.

On a more mundane note, being in a prolonged and persistent state of fear can be devastating, causing anxiety, depression, leading to bad choices.

Assessing risks in the face of uncertainty is no easy task, however, when our actions are dictated by fear, our wellbeing and quality of life take a plunge. We stand to lose loved ones, friends and everything that is dear to us, making our worst nightmares come true.

Ignorance is what most of us should fear. Ignorance and fake news, both of which are spreading like wildfires in the virtual world we inhabit. It is time for a reality check, lest we want to collectively lose our minds and dignity as a species.

“Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” Bertrand Russell.

DIY-HOW EASY IS IT TO REMOVE OLD TILES?

Tired of those old washroom or kitchen tiles? Need to liven up your shower stall? Want to remodel the fireplace in the living room?  Ceramic tiles are always a nice choice, they are resistant, hypoallergenic, easy to clean and are available in an infinite amount of colors, sizes, shapes and textures. 

If you’re thinking of replacing old tiles, renovating your bathroom, kitchen, or other tiled surfaces, doing it yourself can save you money, as long as you have the time and you know what you are doing. 

I’m about to move to a new home with a washroom floor that needs a total overhaul. I’ve done my share of home renovations over the years and am no stranger to power tools.

Having the right tools for the job, is always a good place to start and can make the difference between a job well done and an amateur job. The biggest part of renovating a tiled area is the removal of the old tiles. The first thing to figure out is the best way to remove the old tiles, without wasting too much time, energy and money. This will depend on the size of the renovation.

AIR HAMMER FOR TILE REMOVAL

Using an air hammer to remove tiles will save you time over the more manual, hammer and chisel approach. I’ve used an air hammer with a compressor for carving rock. An air hammer is a versatile tool which can be used for a variety of jobs around the home, basically any job which involves, chipping, cutting, piercing, or scraping. An air hammer can be used on stone, laminated tiles and metal.

I’ve discovered a whole line of air hammers, for home renovations, which can be purchased online. These don’t need a compressor. They are compact electric, handheld air hammers. 

HOW DOES AN AIR HAMMER WORK?

The electric motor in the air hammer, moves a piston or rod which, depending on the model, can produce anywhere from 1200 strokes per minute and upwards, with pro models. No need for an external compressor. These handheld air hammers generate enough power to cut without any external force needed. 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT AIR HAMMER FOR THE JOB

The size of the area you wish to renovate, will determine what kind of air hammer you will need and whether to buy or rent. 

For backsplash tiles and for vertical tile removal, electric handheld air hammers will do the job. For under $50, you can opt for a kit which includes different shaped and sized chisels. This is a good pick if you like to do a lot of small jobs around the home. If you already have chisels for the job, you can also purchase the air hammer and chisels separately.   

If you’re setting up to remove tiles from a large horizontal surface, such as a large kitchen  floor area, you’ll want to consider an alternate solution, such as a wide angled heavy duty electric hammer, which covers larger areas, and comes with a wide chisel, placed at the right angle to remove tiles from a large floor area, without breaking your back.

A small handheld air hammer is not suitable for removing tiles from large horizontal areas such as floors, unless you want to spend days, bent over, on your knees. For large areas you will need a more powerful tool designed for the job. Unless you plan on doing lots of floor renovations, a rental may be more economical than buying one of these.

HOW TO REMOVE TILES WITH AN AIR HAMMER

There are videos, available online, that show you how to use an air hammer to remove tiles. It is important you set up for the job. Know what you’re getting into. Be prepared to make a hell of a mess, loads of dust and noise.  Removing old tiles is a dirty job. Keep a big bin nearby to clear the floor of old broken tiles as you keep working. A vacuum cleaner to keep the dust under control.

Before using any power tools, make sure you prep your work area, wear safety glasses, gloves, ear protection and a mask to protect your lungs.

  • Always make sure your working area is clear of debris and well lit
  • Remove baseboards and anything in the way
  • Loosen and remove old grout between tiles to make tile removal easier. This helps with the first few tiles, by making room to insert chisel and start removing large areas of tiles. You may or may not need to loosen grout on all tiles
  • Choose the right chisel for the job; for tile removal, use a flat wide chisel

HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER IT’S A DIY

When removing tiles from a floor, you may find surprises underneath, such as older tiles, which were not removed by the previous owner, before placing a new floor.  Always best to test a corner, to see what you’re dealing with, before moving ahead. 

Once all the tiles have been removed. You will need to smooth the surface before laying down new tiles. The work to be done will depend on how the tiles were attached, whether these were laid to bare cement, onto plywood or mason board. Then there is the unfortunate possibility that these were affixed to a previously installed floor, which means you have twice the amount of work you bargained for.

Determining whether or not your tile renovation project is suitable as a Do It Yourself job, will depend on what you’re dealing with, your level of skills with power tools, and most importantly, whether you have the staying power to get the job finished.

If you’ve never done tile renovation, start with a small project, like a backsplash. A large and time intensive project, such as a washroom or kitchen floor, can quickly become discouraging for a novice. You can either hire a professional or you might want to consider, other viable solutions, which don’t involve removing the old tiles, to give your home a new fresh feel.

HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE?

VIDEO PRODUCED AND EDITED BY MADDALENA DI GREGORIO

As we reach the end of a harrowing year, many are eager to put 2020 behind us. It is traditional for us to turn our attentions towards the future, and make resolutions, in pursuit of a better year ahead. What will your New Years Resolution be for 2021?

Perhaps you are familiar with the term “in pursuit of happiness,” which has taken a sharp dive, in 2020, and left many in pursuit of an undefined future. Like mice on a treadmill, we are racing towards a point in time, that we can never reach. We dream, speculate, imagine and conjure up the future, in our individual and collective minds. Some seek the counsel of fortune tellers, tarot readings, psychics, mediums, and religion to ease anxieties over the so called future. Money, Love, Health, Happiness, Dream Job?

The word future is referred to as, a period of time following the moment; in other words, it refers to what is still to come.

The future is rooted in the past, meaning that the present is the only moment we really have any interaction and engagement with, in the physical realm. The present is the only point in time we can engage with actively with all of our senses. 

In the present, you can determine, to some degree, what your future may hold in store, by how and what you do NOW, and even then there are no guarantees.

All of the anxieties we foster, worrying about future events, serve only to drain us physically, emotionally and mentally.

Take into consideration external factors, which we have no control over. Those life altering events, that can sweep across a nation of people, such as war, natural disasters, disease. Or a virus sweeping havoc around the globe, unravelling, and permanently altering the fabric of our reality, such as Covid-19 has done. The 2020 pandemic has ushered in extreme levels of uncertainty, blanketing over our vision of the future, abruptly landing us in the present, which demands that we shift our focus to the moment we are living in. 

2020, has turned up the dial on uncertainty, to unprecedented levels, at least for our generation, those of us living in the west, born after WWII. We are now faced with global uncertainty, which has been playing out like a Dystopian backdrop for an apocalyptic preview of the future. 

There have always been waves of fringe religious groups and cults who predict the end of the world. On September 23rd., 2017 the Apocalypse was supposed to begin. Some believed the Rapture would unfold and others that the planetary alignment pointed to a series of cataclysmic events.

We managed, somehow, to keep afloat, dodging terrorism, climate change, violence, natural disasters, Fukishima, ongoing unrest in the middle east, immigration problems, threat of nuclear war, the fall of the Twin Towers, USA’s demise with Trump in office and Brexit. What’s different about this pandemic? For all those born from the 1950’s on, it’s as close as we’ve ever been to experiencing a global disaster. There is no escape as the world waits in bated breath for a vaccine to pave the way back to normality.

Many people’s anxieties and uncertainties over the future are not so much about the end of the world or death. For many, the decline of Capitalism is the greatest threat, as it would usher in the end of the world, as we know it. 

Over four years ago, Janus Capital’s Bill Gross wrote “that capitalism, the global elite’s preferred economic model, risks burning itself out just as we know the sun will one day.”  He argues that our economy has expanded only on credit, or borrowed money, over the last 50 years give or take and the capacity for additional borrowing is drying up. In other words, the economy is exhausted.

The 2020 pandemic has just put a huge dent in the already depleted economy. Major airlines going under, unemployment rates skyrocketing, worldwide. As the pandemic brusquely drove us away from a fossil fuel driven economy, the ripple effect has been a game changer, and we haven’t even begun to see the fallout. So how do you see the future in such dark times?

While contemplating the end of the world or the end of Capitalism, we might also contemplate on the fact that change is imminent and often in order to have change something has to give or be given up. Sometimes, it’s a lover, a friend or a job.  For some it is their lives. People have died, in support of political and religious views that have shaped the world we live in, so we could enjoy better working conditions, freedom of speech, equality, voting rights and so on.

Some refer to “The New Normal,” when envisioning our post pandemic world. What will this new normal be like? Will tourism be a thing of the past? Will we all have a basic income? Perhaps we are asking ourselves the wrong questions at the moment, trying to predict the future.

The only way to move forward is to be engaged in our present. Live the moment and do our best with what we have or what remains of our lives before Covid. Only then are we contributing to our future. No point knowing the future, while ignoring what is actually happening right in front of us NOW, no matter how unsettling it may be. The very nature of life is rooted in change. None of us can avoid change. Don’t be afraid of reinventing yourself. We need to embrace change instead of fear, in order to create a bright, new future together.

STOP BORING YOUR EMPLOYEES TO DEATH

Humans are storytellers and since the dawn of man we have been looking for ways to communicate with one another and to communicate at a distance. It used to be carrier pigeons and smoke signals. In our digital based society we have SMS, emails, voicemails, apps and so on.  In a device dependent and  permanently connected digital landscape of business, video is bringing back the human spark.

In less than a year, the 2020 pandemic has ushered a new way of working. The remote work landscape keeps expanding. In this new new panorama, keeping people in your company connected and engaged is going to take more than Zoom, Skype, newsletters or Microsoft Teams.

You really need to stop boring your employees to death. Long drawn out, daily online meetings are not going to promote the sense of community necessary to keep an entire company on board, receptive and engaged.

ENGAGE YOUR EMPLOYEES

Your employees are less likely to skip through a video than a newsletter or an email. Video strengthens employee engagement, your message has a better chance of actually being absorbed.  Any company initiative can benefit from a video. Video exponentially increases the chances of the message actually being effective.  

Whether it is a video to encourage & motivate your employees to recycle or a video to let your employees know what the company is doing to promote environmental sustainability, the new gym or special company events, the viewers will be engaged and the message will be received. Video can assist in creating a sense of community, promoting company culture, best practices and missions. 

KEEP REMOTE TEAMS CONNECTED

Remote work is a global trend– not just among employees, but also for many companies as a result of repeated lockdowns, due to Covid. Doing away with traditional office life has positive as well as negative consequences. 

Removing a fixed workspace also means getting rid of an established community, lunch partners and friends.  For managers it may prove more difficult to observe and evaluate their employees. There is the question of how much of a connection remote workers can form with their company if they only know their colleagues via group chats or Skype and have only seen the headquarters in photos. 

Video communicates more than chatrooms, phone calls, emails, and they help alleviate the alienation that remote workers can often feel. The advantages of Remote work are clear, however, the social factor should not be underestimated. Employees need to be involved in and connected to the company and video can do this.