looking on the bright side of sales

The resorts, cruise lines and tour agencies are sensitive to economic woes, so they are cutting their prices down like I have never seen in my 20 years in this business. Whether you are looking for a family vacation, maybe a Romantic Getaway or a trip with your friends, my top picks for this week fit all of the above!

I found 6 incredible deals that fit different travelers’ needs.

1) Barbados All Inclusive, Barbados Beach Club: The deal of the century: $399 per person includes airfare, 5 nights hotel including food, drink and entertainment! The Barbados Beach Club is located directly on the beach of the scenic south coast, a stone’s throw away from the very best in shopping and nightlife. This all inclusive offers three restaurants, nightly entertainment and a dedicated area for families. The main hotel is for singles and couples, this resort carefully separated the families from the rest so everyone has an environment to fit their needs.

Barbados Beach Club mealtimes are leisurely and informal at the Poolside Restaurant and bar. The main restaurant is open 7 days weekly and serves buffet breakfast, lunch, dinner and evening tea. On Sundays, enjoy the Bajan Brunch Buffet with delectable local dishes … simply described as the best buffet in Barbados. If you are looking for something quieter and more upscale, Benvenuti! Venetos serves á la carte Italian cuisine or overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Sea Rocks Restaurant offers a unique dining experience with impeccable service.

2) Jamaica All Inclusive, Fun Holiday Beach Resort, Negril, Jamaica: I have been going to Negril for 15 years and what I love most about it is I still feel that REAL Jamaica feeling, there are still shops that are shacks with native food, music and drink. Yes, Negril has become more touristy over the years, but there is still an ambiance of Island Reggae making you feel that you have left civilization for a calmer, simpler life. Negril is also one of the best beaches in all of the Caribbean. Across from the beach, The Fun Holiday Resort is a simple all inclusive resort in a good location offering Fun Time Band for live reggae 2 nights a week at the beach restaurant that features seafood and Jamaican cuisine! For more late night fun, check out the disco across the street! On premises car, jeep, jet- ski and scooter rentals for when you aren’t spending time in your air conditioned room watching the cable TV or listening to the optional CD player or ordering Room Service from the beach restaurant! All food and drinks in the restaurants are included. $499 per person includes airfare to Jamaica, transfer to the hotel, 7 nights hotel, food, drink, and some activities. You can not leave Negril without taking a ride to Rick’s café – where there is cliff diving and some of the most beautiful sun sets I have ever seen.

3) Exclusives at Club Med and SuperClubs: For those who do not know about these two chains, Club Med is an all inclusive (not including soda or alcoholic drinks) that has a property to fit every person. Properties are categorized as singles, couples (adults only) and families. The family Club Meds are the best for children, with continuous activities for all. Club Med is also known for very unique sports and activities. Currently Pavlus Travel is offering exclusive specials as low as $333 per person. All 2008 Club Med vacations are on sale!

SuperClubs also offer all inclusives for all needs. Unlike Club Med, Super Club includes alcoholic beverages. Super Club has Grand Lido, an amazing adult “spa” resort, that is quite simply, heavenly! Breezes and Star Fish are for families, especially fun for the little ones and Hedonism is one of the best known singles getaways. Pavlus Travel is offering 12% off all SuperClub land packages – you can’t find that anywhere!

4) Atlantis, Paradise Island: Even the more upscale resorts like Atlantis in Paradise Island is offering air fare credits, 35% off regular rates and meal plan deals for children. Atlantis is perfect for families, with the Aqua Tots program for children 3-12, Discovery Kids Adventure and the Atlantis Kids’ Club; children’s pools throughout the property, in room babysitting and a “Gentle Travel” kit for babies including tips from Dr.Trachtenberg, a lullaby CD, a nightlight and variety of JOHNSON’S© best baby products. Don’t worry; this is also a singles/couples without children destination as well. This large resort and casino which dominates the island’s real estate, is a mega-plex of fun and excitement. They have everything for those of us that feel that money is no object (they house one of the world’s most expensive hotel suites in the world – $25,000 per night) to those of us that are more price savvy.

The Caribbean’s largest casino offers over 1,000 of the newest slot machines each equipped with state of the art player tracking system. Atlantis features 21 restaurants and 19 bars and lounges offering everything from fine dining to quick-and-easy favorites. When you venture outside to the grounds, immerse yourself in water experiences unlike any other. Innovative new slides and rides that redefine water fun allow guests to enjoy the water in a variety of ways all day long without ever leaving it.

So, what is the deal? This luxurious resort usually runs around $300- $400 per night. Currently they are offering 35% off plus $200 Air Credit when you book 3nts or more. There are also deep savings with the kids dining plan where kids 6 and under eat free, this will save tons of money if you take advantage of it. A 3nt package is only $339 per adult, use code XDH386.

5) Family Friendly Resorts at Shell Vacations Hospitality: These unique resorts are great for families, however, don’t turn away if you do not have children; these resorts have something for everyone. If you want to stay in the U.S. for your Summer/Fall vacation, consider staying at one of the Shell Hospitality resorts. Currently they are offering 15% of their regular rates plus a $15 gas card to help you out with driving around. Resorts are located in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Texas, Nevada and Canada. Teach the kids some history and take the family to the Alamo staying at Hill Country Inn & Suites at Salado Creek Villas. This is a seven acre resort with a Texas Hill Country charm and comfortable accommodations such as ranch style porches, 2 oversized Jacuzzis surrounded by lush garden greenery, daily continental breakfast, outdoor swimming pool, children’s playground and barbecue grills and picnic tables throughout the property.

6) Orlando Vacations: When we say Orlando, we think Disney, Universal, Sea World, and tons of other family entertainment fun. Yes, there are tons of expenses on this trip – so the hotel really can not be one of them. So you want to be on Disney property because it is convenient and easy, but think it is too expensive? I found a deal for $89 per night inside Disney, including breakfast and up to $200 off in half price Gas. Stay inside of Disney with continuous shuttles to all the Disney parks, FREE continental breakfast for two guests each day, a $25 Food and Beverage Credit to be used at the hotel plus other great Best Western amenities like free wireless internet throughout the hotel and private balconies to relax on. For those who want a more upscale hotel, the famed Swan & Dolphin is offering amazing holiday, Summer and Fall rates.

News Blogs Vs The Newspaper

Grapevine has it that the paper boy may soon be out of business with the emergence of news blogs on the internet. Conventionally, most home owners, especially those belonging to the older generation are used to reading the daily newspaper in print in order to stay updated with current global news. However, this trend is experiencing a change where the newer generation now looks to the internet when it comes to staying updated with the latest happenings around the world.

This shifting trend poses a threat to many of the conventional print newspapers. So much so that many of them have initiated the move to go online. Many newspaper companies have experienced a drop in their sales due to this new emerging trend. However, the danger for news agencies is far from over because they are being rivaled by another creation of the web that comes in the form of news blogs.

These are basically online websites that deliver round the clock updated breaking news from around the world. These news aggregation websites do not only give you the daily news as quoted from other news sources but they also give you the opportunity to watch original news programs covering your favorite niches. Many of these blogs feature separate sections, writers, videos and original programs on politics, business, sports, entertainment, biz and tech and much more. In essence a news blog is everything that a newspaper could ever wish to be.

There is no denying the fact that news blogs offer the news seeker a much more enhanced experience. At the same time however it has had a significant impact on journalism. This is because readers are given the opportunity to comment and give feedback on anything they read, see or hear on these blogs thus keeping the journalists in check. Unlike conventional media where it is difficult to identify a twisted agenda, with news blogs intentions are always kept in check.

When examined in detailed this phenomenon comes across as a very important and vital development of our century. In an era where the media is being blamed for promoting vested agendas, news blogs deliver impartial breaking news and headlines from around the world in an unbiased, unprejudiced and informative manner.

The newspaper in print can never even dream to match the value that news blogs have to offer. This is why you will find them to be increasing in terms of popularity all over the world whereas the sales and popularity of the conventional printed paper seem to be dwindling fast.

Reliable Alternative Sources for International News

Conventionally we are used to catching up with international news through printed newspapers, the radio and of course the television. However, many people have started to doubt the credibility of the mass media and the search for reliable alternative sources of international news is on. Still more search for alternative news sources that will allow them to stay updated with current global news on the go and the answer comes forth in the form of web based news blogs.

In today’s fast pace world most of us do not have the time to sit and watch television after returning home from our hectic day jobs. The fact the television channels telecast more advertisements than the actual content we are interested in makes it even more of a drag. This is one of the reasons people have started flocking to the internet especially when it comes to catching up with current global news.

The mass media has long been labeled as pushing overt agendas. This is especially true when it comes to news agencies and channels. However, the unbiased amongst us want insight on the real news as it happens without any bias, lies or deception. While the news telecasted on the television and in print media can go unchecked, the case with news blogs is totally different.

In the majority of cases, news blogs that are focused on provided unbiased international news allow users to give their feedback in the form of comments. This helps to keep the journalists in check. If there is any malice, deception or concealing of facts it is instantly exposed and the truth is uncovered. This is something that you can never get with the television which is why finding reliable alternative sources for international news on the internet is easier.

There is much to be careful about however when it comes to the internet. Freedom of speech is at its zenith on the World Wide Web and everyone can have a say. There are a large number of websites that have been created to push certain overt agendas which you need to be careful of. This is why it is important to be aware of the leading news blogs renowned for delivering unbiased, informative and factual news.

There are other merits to catching up with the news online. The first is that you can do so on your own sweet time and don’t have to log on at a specific time to watch updates. In fact you can even subscribe for updates and stay informed while you are on the go. The mobility and flexibility is one of the biggest plus factors when it comes to news blogs. The fact that you won’t have to bother with any pestering advertisements that waste your precious time is yet another reason why the world is keen on making this transition.

News Connects The World

News not only educates the people but also is a means for the posterity to learn from the past mistakes, and hence it becomes critically important that news is documented. There are many people who believe everything that a news agency reports, however one should be cautious in believing a news piece as its capacity to do harm is great.

News has become the centre point of the world. It is the process of dissemination of information. In the old glory days, the process of news gathering was quite primitive compared to today’s standards. A reporter had to phone in or bring the printed news into a newsroom. There it was typed and either transmitted over wire services or edited and manually set in type along with other news stories for a specific edition.

The term news, these days, has become stale as live satellite technology is used by broadcast and cable news services to bring current events into consumers’ homes live as they happen. Radio, television, mobile phone, and the Internet have ushered us into an era where events that used to take hours or days to become common knowledge in towns or in nations are fed instantaneously to consumers through these means.

News is created these days by the media, not simply reported. The objective and job of all news media is to inform the audience of what’s going on in their community – locally, nationally or globally. The news media provide a valuable public service in this sense.

If a news piece is unable to answer the five basic questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?, to satisfy the curiosity of the reader, then it does not qualify as a news piece.

Reporting of facts is news, but when someone is exaggerating and distorting news information, it is known as sensationalism, and if someone is indulging in sensationalism, then he is deviating from the truth, facts and news.

News plays a pivotal role in human affairs. The spread of education has greatly increased the importance of news. To make vital decisions in life, people need a well-rounded understanding of politics, the environment, social structures, and economy, in short- of news.

The news exerts a profound influence on the audience as a lot of people believe almost everything that news agencies report. Therefore a news piece can cause a lot of harm if it is reported wrongly, either by mistake of design. One the other hand, a news agency can do a lot of good if it has a policy to promote the welfare of the people. For example, it could exercise its influence to persuade the government of a country to do many things for the benefit of the people.

In summation, news is very important in the current scenario, but not all of it is true. We must sort the trivial from the profound, judge it appropriately, and then, if needed, act on it. Without this, we may find ourselves overwhelmed with information or, worse, giving opinions when it would be better to remain silent.

Three Management Lessons From the Financial Crisis on Wall Street

In a series of unprecedented moves, the Federal Reserve stepped in as “lender of last resort” to save a financial system on the brink of disaster. Reuters news agency (September 19, 2008) called it an “extraordinary” rescue plan. First it was Bear Stearns, next were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and AIG. Then, the Fed converted two investment banks, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, into conventional banks, a move that will significantly increase oversight and regulation of these institutions.

In a matter of months, with most of the damage occurring in a matter of days, the very foundation of the world’s financial system had been shaken.

While there were many interesting details that chronicled the steps and missteps leading to this crisis, and while this saga will very likely change the face of banking (certainly investment banking) in the United States and probably the world, one interesting question that needs to be asked is how we got ourselves into this mess. Where we victims of “a pattern of dishonesty on the part of financial institutions, and incompetence on the part of policymakers” as suggested by George Stiglitz, Nobel prize-winning economist and Professor at Columbia University writing in the Guardian on September 16, 2008?

There is another interesting question that also needs to be asked. Are there lessons that all managers can take away from this extraordinary crisis?

Three lessons seem to be worth considering.

Managing in an Age of Complexity
The first lesson is that we manage in an age of complexity. Software applications (ERP), as one example, can be very complex when independent modules function as an integrated system. Drug discovery (Vioxx), another example, can be complex when the easier breakthroughs have already been made. Even public works projects (Boston’s Big Dig) can be complex when constrained by existing infrastructure and social issues.

Certainly, the crisis on Wall Street has taught us that the way in which our financial system has evolved over the last decade has added an unprecedented layer of complexity to an already complex system.

Consider the players and their recent behavior within this system.
1. Prospective home buyers, motivated by increasing home prices, applied for mortgages.
2. Mortgage brokers, motivated by earning commissions, were happy to oblige and write these mortgages, even when the ability of the borrowers to meet their monthly payments was uncertain.
3. The mortgages were then sold to mortgage consolidators who asked few questions as they bundled this debt into Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs). The objective of this bundling process was to spread the risk much like purchasing shares in a mutual fund , with its hundreds of stocks, spreads investment risk.
4. Then, the CDOs were sold as high yield investments to institutions such as banks, securities firms, and insurance companies.
5. AIG then insured the CDOs so institutions that held these instruments would be confident that their investment and income streams would be secure.
Indeed this was a complex system, one built on trust (CDOs were unregulated), and one in which everyone prospered as long as the housing bubble continued to grow.

But it didn’t.

Then, in August 2007, the bubble burst. Home values started to fall. Discovering that the equity in their homes was less than its value, many homeowners walked out the front door leaving the keys behind. Now, there were more homes on the market and prices continued to fall. Lower prices accelerated the process and the spiral continued.

With homeowners missing payments and eventually defaulting on their mortgages, the CDOs not only became less valuable but they also became difficult to value.
What were they worth?

The CDOs were like black boxes, few could see inside, or cared to look inside. The home buyers who took out the mortgages in the first place were basically hidden from view. Transparency was gone. There were so many players – homeowners, mortgage companies, debt consolidators, insurance companies, and banks – that it was impossible to determine the quality of the debt.

Because the value of a CDO was so hard to determine, and because many banks and securities firms were either unaware of the financial risk or were in a state of denial, the value of the CDOs on the institution’s balance sheet . . . statements which summarize the financial health of a company . . . was overstated.

Now, the ability of these institutions to borrow money, necessary in their day-to-day operations, was severely limited. Who would loan money to an institution whose balance sheet was not only overstated but whose investments in CDOs was impossible to value?

What had started as an opportunity for people to own their own home, turned into a bubble, which then brought down some of the most respected names on Wall Street, which later became a credit crisis. The complexity of the process contributed to the biggest crisis since 1929.

We Need Information not Data
The second lesson is that managers need timely information to manage effectively. Raw data is of little value; in most cases what they do not need is volumes and volumes of data in rows and columns. What they do need is information, useful information in summary form that helps make sense of complex situations.

Under better circumstances it may have been possible for data to have moved upstream as part of the mortgage loan package and become part of the CDO package. Then, the institutions holding these CDOs may have had a better chance of monitoring the quality of the instruments on their balance sheet. However, even if this were the case, falling home prices and an increase in foreclosures would have continued to deteriorate the value of the CDOs.

But the data that could have been used to expose the fragile nature of these CDOs was stored in different locations or not available at all. In any event, it was not possible to bring them together. As a result, decision makers were forced to fly blind and almost every institution, certainly the ones that failed, carried the CDOs on their balance sheets at prices much higher than they were actually worth. Consequently investment banking firms like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch were overvalued until reality reared its ugly head.

Would it have been possible for better and more up-to-date-information to have softened the blow? That’s a difficult question to answer, but the absence of information and the uncertainty expressed time and time again about the vulnerability of the system and the inflated values of the CDOs on balance sheets, certainly suggests that the lack of information contributed to the crisis.

Denial can Bring Catastrophic Results
The third lesson is that management cannot afford to be in a state of denial. In 2006, I attended a presentation at a New York investment bank and asked the senior economist at this firm for his views on an inflated housing market that some concluded was about to implode. He assured me . . . supporting his argument with compelling data . . . that this was an unlikely outcome.

A New York Times article by Joe Nocera on September 16, 2008, suggested that “most of the big firms have been a day late and a dollar short in admitting that their once triple-A rated mortgage-backed securities just weren’t worth very much. And one by one, it is killing them. ” The article continued to explain that Mr. Fuld, the CEO of Lehman Brothers, went to the Korea Development Bank to ask for help in shoring up Lehman’s balance sheet. It failed because Mr. Fuld demanded more for Lehman than the Koreans thought it was worth.

Denial was everywhere, from the homebuyers who felt they could afford a $600,000 house on a $75,000 income, to the mortgage originators who looked the other way, to the debt consolidators who put together the CDOs, to the banks who purchased the CDOs and kept them on their balance sheets at unrealistically high prices, and to the insurers who grossly miscalculated the risks they were taking.

Lessons Learned
Complexity has increased in most industries, and in September 2008 we learned how important it is to understand the linkages that tie systems together in the financial industry. Organizations and their leaders ignore complexity at their own peril.

Information and its use to support management decision making at the strategic level is more important today than it has ever been. No one would fly a Boeing Dreamliner without information displays in the cockpit.

Learn How To Trade Forex From The Home And Office

It’s a little like using a ‘play ‘ version of the system. It is really important to appreciate that no system is profitable all of the time. You may have paid something for a method or read it in a book or ebook that had superb reviews, but you still have to check it out in practice for yourself before you start hazarding any real money. More and more folks are wishing to know how to market currency from home so as to make additional cash or perhaps give up work to trade on-line full time.

This is probable because all forex trading deals are a subject of exchange. You invest in a currency pair that you suspect will rise in value, then exchange your cash back if and when it does, so that you make a profit on the deal. Keep your forex trading position and your threat low, and always set a stop loss so that your forex trading account will immediately close out when the value goes against you. Discovering how to trade forex can be lucrative and some of the people do become rich, but it is a dodgy undertaking. The benefit of this is that you don’t have to understand lots of complex business detail. However, most forex trading programs are based totally on analysis of figurations which tells you which direction the price of the pair is moving. Forex or currency trading is a kind of speculative investment sort of like stock trading. Becoming involved in the forex trading or foreign exchange marketplace has come to be simpler and easier over the last few years but this doesn’t necessarily mean that making profits with fx trading is automatic.

This is a great way to trade. Some trades will unavoidably lose, and a stop loss will aid you in reducing the quantity of the losses. It’s a necessity to get to know the industry and the basics of trading. But if you can do this successfully, knowing how to trade currency can bring you a lot of delight and with a little luck masses of money too. If you have a system that will identify when a price is starting to move in either an upward or downward direction, you can open a forex trade and ride the trend.

Different people operate forex trading systems in different ways. However, systems have to be tested.

When you do, it is better to start little.

Sooner or later it is going to be time to make the switch. You will potentially also have a different broker.
Forex market values rely on the industrial performance of individual nations. These elements can make a change. You adjust it back the other way to earn money.
You can check out the forex broker’s services and test the ability of your system at the exact same time. In fact, when you know the way to trade forex you can also sell a currency pair that you suspect will come down in value.

What News Blogs Really Offer

News blogs are the best source of round the clock reporting on any area of interest. There are specific blogs designed to cover current global news, journalism and breaking news from around the world. These are all available on the internet. With the PC being used for much more than computing, you can find news sources harnessing the power of this medium. You have many up and running blogs which provide focused content.

When it comes to financial and business news you can subscribe to an RSS feed. This gets you email alerts on the latest breaking news in the business and finance sector. Leading news channels and reporting agencies have taken the web by storm. They provide accurate and timely information on a host of subjects. Whether you need insight on politics or business or are an avid technology buff, the latest international news can be had at the click of a button.

For hardcore entertainment fans you can follow music, movies, videos and more online. Whether its news blogs concentrated on the launch of a film or covering the activities of your favorite star, there’s information available as it happens. The whole aspect of online TV has changed the way we are entertained. You can totally eliminate the clutter of TV adverts and focus on getting the news.

Interestingly sports fans are perhaps at a great advantage. You can find the leading sports channels online. Today you can watch international sporting events online with video streaming. There are news blogs which update sports scores in real-time if you can’t watch the game. The in-depth commentary on the blogs lets you get breaking news during a sporting tournament. Certain news blogs also allow readers to hold their own discussions. The space allows you to discuss the impact of various events and analyze current affairs. You have your own opinions presented on the same platform as that of readers from around the world. Expert opinions and commentary can also be enjoyed on various aspects of international news. You can follow journalists and analysts from around the world at your convenience.

You can find breaking news that is continuously updated from numerous sources across the web. There are region specific channels and blogs. These focus on providing commentary on a region and its economy and conflicts if any. This means that you have insight from a local perspective along with the international headlines. Insightful content is presented in a crisp and fresh manner to hold the viewers interest. Most of the international blogs are highly unbiased. They do not carry tones of religious leaning or authoritarian elements. This allows readers to get an experts viewpoint which is based on facts and logic.

Why Are Energy Monitoring Systems Important?

There are many energy monitoring systems available on the market. What do these systems do? Basically they monitor energy usage in a facility. This is a very critical system that most companies do not have in place. The only resource they have is their power bill that comes once a month. They see their monthly costs rising, but they do not know where they can conserve energy. Imagine operating a company without an accounting system. You do not know your income or your expenditures. This is the same for a company with no energy monitoring system; they have no clue that there are energy efficiencies in the company. Now some companies prefer to get an energy audit, rather than investing in a system. But what use is that in a year, in 5 years. Equipment changes, people change and all that knowledge is lost. If you install a system that tracks energy usage, then it is there for a very long time, and it works 24/7.

How Does It Work?

The system will measure energy usage on phases in the main distribution panel. This is done be installing CT’s (Current Transformers) on electrical loads in the main distribution panel. The information then is fed to an internet based interface that allows users to download reports, change set-points and compare energy usage by size, location etc. In addition, energy monitoring systems can be used to verify energy usage reductions from “energy saving” equipment like new compressors, lighting, control systems etc.

The energy manager can do facility benchmarking, view energy usage by equipment type and verify savings from commissioned facilities. The energy monitoring system made by EG Energy Controls is capable of monitoring up to 2500 stores within the company’s network. The system can monitor any desired electrical, gas or oil loads.

Examples of loads that can be measured are:

Main entrance


Low and Medium temperature compressors (can monitor pending equipment failure)


Motors (can monitor pending equipment failure)

Parking Lot Lights

Water usage

Oil/Propane Usage

The system will monitor equipment kWh usage and send e-mails to alert the Energy Manager of abnormal energy usage. The system will also contact the weather station daily to gather weather information to allow it to accurately predict energy usage for the next day and avoid inaccurate alerts. This is a very important feature, since the problem with some energy monitoring systems is that they send redundant emails that end up annoying people.

The other good aspect of an energy monitoring system is the ability to foresee pending equipment failures. This is called motor performance tracking:

Motor performance. Tracking motor current levels and unbalances is a key component of a good online monitoring system. Sometimes it’s found that current level is defined as the average current level for all phases. For predictive maintenance reasons, however, the highest line current level developed is of much greater importance. The heat in each motor winding is interdependent on the amount of current that flows through it. Hence, the weakest point of the motor’s insulation with respect to current level is the phase with the largest current

Energy Monitoring and Energy Awareness

It is amazing how energy usage drops in a facility when employees know that there is a system that is monitoring what they are doing. Since the system can also be used to monitor sections of a facility, or even individual departments, people become naturally more energy conscious. For example, turning of lights when they leave the room or not leaving the computer on at night. These may seem to be minor changes; however the mindset is already being changed to become more energy conscious. These people then come to their own home and start noticing energy efficiencies, and they start doing changes in their own home.