Friday, December 16, 2011

Who Wants to Remember Things Fast and Easily?

Think about these: Why is it so hard to memorize history but so easy to memorize lyrics to a song? And why is it much easier to remember celebrities on TV than the great heroes, emperors and idols in history?

You might be thinking that remembering something is easy, but as you can probably attest from the above examples, it’s not particularly "easy" either.

Training up your memory is key. The brain is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.

Here are some mnemonics that will help you to remember things, especially those things that you would normally have a hard time with:

1. Acronyms

We always easily forget the name of organizations or institutions that are unfamiliar to us. If you want to recall those names easily, try to form letters into a phrase.

Examples of companies which apply this skill to let people from all over the world recall their names easily include: "LV" for Louis Vuitton and “CK” for Calvin Klein. The tip is to capitalize the first letters of what you want to remember and spell them out into a word or phrase, which will be easier to remember.

2. Rhymes and Rhythm

Rhyming is one of the most effective ways to remember disparate things. Conversely, converting a Chinese poem into a song makes remembering it justa piece of cake. (I used to form lyrics out of our Chinese History studies and sing whatever tune I come up with.)

3. Word Games

Spice up your life by inventing funny phrases out of words difficult to transcribe to mind. Can't spell the word “Arithmetic”? Form “A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream” into an image and recall it back taking only the first letters of the words in the phrase.

As for names of colleagues, you can also imagine something which is relevant to the person. For example, if her name is Blair, then try thinking of "a girl with a black hair" and add it into your reference list.

Other Suggestions

Improve Your Posture

Information goes from the outreaches of the body to the brain and back. The spine carries the crucial nerve supply from the brain that allows the body to function. This explains why we can have a better learning and feedback when we sit up straight than lie down studying in bed.

Jot Notes Down

If you're all grown up and outside school, don't be embarrassed to keep writing down the important information on your notebook. Don’t be embarrassed to read it verbally, even in a crowded public place! By hearing your own voice repeatedly, you will just be surprised later that you've memorized hundrdeds of words you've previously found abstruse.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Invest in Your Future. Invest in Wine.

With the global equity market in turmoil and sluggish local property market, alternative forms of investment have become increasingly popular. Wine investment is considerably one of the most attractive options now. With correct application of the basic fundamentals, investors could enjoy steady returns at minimum risk levels.

Essentially, wines are offered for sale while they’re still ageing in oak barrels, 2 to 5 years before they are bottled. Investing in wine have rewards which include securing highly sought-after wines that are difficult to obtain from great labels and great vintages, as well as securing the wines at a lower price than otherwise anticipated when they are out in the consumer market.

So what should a potential investor look for when investing in wine?

Wine Selection

Investment grade wines are the acknowledged and prestigious ‘blue chip’ wines that generate steady investment returns for investors. These wines have to be produced in limited quantity, be highly sought after worldwide and improve in quality over time. Demand for these wines will always remain high as the total number of bottles available will reduce as they are consumed, resulting in a rise in its price.

Invest in wines that have received at least 90 pointers and above by influential wine critic Robert Parker, who is undeniably the most influential wine critic in the world. Buy only in unmixed sealed original wooden case (OWC), as these will be worth the most and can be traded internationally.

Suggestion and Advice

Trusted through the years for its premium quality, Bordeaux wine prides on its established resale history and is still the primary investment medium. Fine Bordeaux wines are produced in limited quantities, which is the primary factor for the supply and demand theory to work on wine investment. Less than 1% of all the wines worldwide are investment grade and Bordeaux makes up 80% of these wines. Prices of fine Bordeaux wines can be tracked from their day of release “En Primeur” (or wine futures) till their auction sale, offering investors total transparency in prices.

Refrain from investing in wines that do not have a strong global market presence and demand as they are definitely high-risk and purely speculative. Avoid allocating too much of your wine portfolio in New World wines as they generally have a much shorter ageing potential and their vineyards do not practice Bordeaux’s limited production output to ensure the best return on investment.

Storage & Insurance

Ensure that your wines are stored in a temperature and humidity-controlled warehouse and that your investment can only be moved with your written approval. While many modes of commodity investments in the market would involve the investor being charged taxes at one point or another (for duties and excises etc.), wine investment is an exception. 

There would be no costs incurred in taxes as wines bought for investment are usually stored in bonded warehouses (i.e. warehouses in which goods with unpaid duties are stored under bond and in joint custody of the importer, or his agent, and the customs office). You should also ensure that your wines are insured at full replacement value. If you buy via a wine brokerage company, this should be included in your wine portfolio.

Wine should be regarded as a medium to long-term investment, with a minimum 3-year holding period and the best returns over a 5 to 8-year period. But should your investment depreciate, you could always open a bottle to drown your sorrows!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eyeing LASIK? Hope You Know These

Many people long to be freed from the debilitating experience of waking up to blurred vision and the inconveniences of wearing contact lenses and spectacles. One booming surgical eye procedure now is called LASIK eye surgery. Advertisements say that there's little to be feared for undergoing LASIK. But as in anything, we need to be informed about its risks, results and complications before finally deciding to go for it. 

Here are some of the common patient concerns and answers as explained by Dr Lee Sao Bing, Clinical Director and Consultant Eye Specialist at Shinagawa LASIK Center:

Q: What are the risks of going blind?

A: With sight being so precious, it is natural to be concerned about the loss of vision after a LASIK procedure. For ideal candidates, LASIK is a very safe and effective procedure.

Q: Will it hurt?

A: Performed while the patient is fully conscious, a mild sedative is given to patients to ensure that they remain comfortable and they are given a topical anesthetic (eye drops) to numb the eye, so they experience no pain or discomfort during the procedure.

A sensation of pressure will be felt as the surgeon applies a vacuum ring just before his or her vision fades for a few seconds. Some patients may experience mild sensations similar to that of opening the eyes while swimming in chlorinated water, which diminishes after a few hours.

Q: How soon will I see the results?

A: The visual results of LASIK are usually very rapid and within hours of the surgery, most patients have functional vision. Immediately after the eye surgery vision will be a little blurry, but most patients achieve good vision the day of surgery and find that their eyes feel fairly normal within a day.

By the next day, most will see well enough to drive and go back to work; however immediate results can depend on a number of factors including age, amount of correction and individual healing characteristics. Usually it will take around a few weeks for full healing to take place and your new improved vision to take hold completely.

Q: What if I move my eye during the procedure?

A: Advanced computerized tracking systems that monitor eye movements, added to the experience and skill of your doctor will ensure that the surgical procedure is very precise.

As you will be awake throughout the procedure, your doctor will also talk to you during surgery so that you know what is happening and what to expect next.

Q: What are the post-operation complications?

A: With the advance of LASIK technology and medical processes, the documented risk of complications occurring in LASIK surgery is less than 1%.
These complications are generally temporary and treatable and include dry eyes and night visual disturbances (glare and haloes). Infection is very rare and if it does occur, there are good antibiotics to treat the condition. While in certain scenarios, your vision might be over or under corrected, this can easily be rectified through an enhancement operation 3 months later. Additionally, one of the other common complications to expect after an operation is having dry eyes but this is easily treatable.

Q: What about dry eyes?

A: Dry eyes may be caused by having LASIK, but they may also occur both before and after LASIK surgery, especially if you have a tendency for dry eyes. This is because during the LASIK procedure, a thin layer of tissue is created, called a flap, under which the actual laser energy is applied to reshape the cornea. But, when the flap is created, very fine cornea nerves may be severed.

This is a normal part of the procedure. However, these nerves are required in order to "signal" your lacrimal gland to produce tears. So, sometimes, this temporary interruption of corneal nerve impulses can actually cause a lesser amount of tears to be produced, resulting in dry eyes after LASIK.

Hence, all LASIK patients need to use artificial tears or lubricating drops as a matter of course, as they help the tear film reestablish itself after the LASIK procedure.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Planning to Buy a Hair Dryer? Read Me First!

Having the best blow dryer can be a great help in achieving your preferred selected hairstyle. Here are some points to consider when choosing the best blow dryer for your hair:

Choose one with at least 1800 watts.

If you're on busy and hectic schedule, you definitely don't want a hair dryer that takes forever to do its job. Normally, hair driers can run as high as 2000 watts. But you can get by with as little as 1800 watts.

If you're really pressed for time, you may want to consider the new thermal styling tools that use negative ionic energy to dry your hair in about half the time of a conventional blow dryer. What's more beneficial is that they produce moisture into your hair during the drying process, making your hair healthier. The only drawback for most is the pricey cost.

Choose one with a nozzle attachment.

A nozzle attachment allows the flow of warm air to be more focused so you can direct the flow of heat to certain parts of your hair that may be hard to reach. This is particularly effective for straightening your hair, as it tends to have a smoothing effect on the hair shaft when directed downwards.

Choose one with a diffuser attachment.

This is useful if you have curly hair and want to enhance your look. This enables you to enhance the curls of your hair while taming any unwanted frizz.

Choose one which offers several heat settings.

At the very least, you'll need a hot or warm setting and a cooler one. The cooler setting will come in handy if you color treat your hair and have sustained damage which may respond poorly to heat. The cooler setting can also help to seal the cuticle of your hair which helps to hold your hairstyle in place. The hotter setting is convenient if you have relatively strong, undamaged hair and you need to dry it quickly.

Choose one which is light-weight.

You don't want to strain your arms in blow-drying your hair, right? If you have long and thick hair, chances are, you'll be holding the blow dryer for long periods of time to get your long hair dry. Putting your arms up and carrying a heavy blow dryer may cause hand fatigue. If you're going to be using your dryer a lot,  choose one that's lighter in weight is best.

Also suggested if possible is you test out the blow dryer on your hair for a couple of minutes before proceeding with your purchase, to complete the overall check.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to Combat Varicose Veins at Home

Here are a number of ways on how you can prevent varicose veins from growing longer like purple and green snakes on your skin and treat them on your own.

1. Exercise regularly.

Exercise increases the body’s ability to circulate blood. Maintaining a good weight through a daily exercise routine also keeps you from being obese. You don't want to strain your legs. Your legs should be able to carry your body weight without putting too much pressure which causing varicose veins.

In line with this, don't lift weights more than you can really handle.

2. Don't cross your legs for long periods of time.

Leg crossing is a matter of routine rather than manners for women, especially when wearing skirts. This is okay if only for a few minutes. But when done in a long time, crossing your legs will really slow the flow of blood from your leg veins up to your heart. This increases the pressure inside your leg veins and distends the veins in your lower leg and ankle, causing varicose veins.

3. Don't wear tight clothes.

Tight clothes restrict blood flow. Women should wear loose and comfortable clothing more often. Wearing compression stockings for Varicose Veins is often the first line of treatment at home.

4. Have a healthy and balanced diet.

Food high in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes help in warding off varicose veins. Physicians advise women to add herbs like bilberry or horse-chestnut to their diets. Others find relief with gotu kola or Butcher’s Broom.

Eat as many blackberries and cherries as you can. Including ginger, onions, garlic and pineapple in your diet is also beneficial.

5. Elevate your legs for 20-30 minutes a day.

Recommended elevation level of the legs is above the heart. You can do this while watching TV, sitting down to read or preparing for sleep.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Truth or Myth: Wearing High Heels Causes Varicose Veins

In the Philippines where I come from, Filipino female workers would usually leave their high heels in the office's drawer or workstation. They change their footwear from comfy slippers or "step-ins" to business or formal high-heeled shoes upon arrival. Corporate world aside, store attendants who are required by management to wear high heels while they stand for about 8 hours long attending to customers also change into flat shoes after work.

When I got to Singapore, day in and day out, I see many Singaporean ladies wearing really high-heeled pumps and stilettos while standing for a long time in the MRT or walking long distances to work. How can they stand the pain? I asked one local and she said she's just so used to wearing them already that she doesn't care about the pain anymore.

The females here wear corporate dresses or skirts, exposing their legs which have varicose veins.

Question is, does wearing high heels cause varicose veins?

In the Internet, at least, there are no real explanations pointing to "yes" as answer. Doctors do not have specific study results that can conclude this either. Jeffrey H. Miller, M.D. of Novi, MI conferred that there is no proven evidence that high heels cause varicose veins other than potentially sore feet (and back pain).

Craig I. Schwartz, D.O. of Vein Centers for Excellence of Kansas City shared that 
"high heels minimize the full range of motion of the foot and ankle when walking and therefore decrease the amount of flow by the "muscle pump" of the calf causing the vein issues."

The true reasons why varicose veins come out are of heredity, genetic or a history of blood clots. Mostly, women are likely to develop these spider veins than men, especially pregnant women, those taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy.

Lucky for you if varicose veins don't run in the family. But still be careful. Don't stand for long periods of time as there will be more strain on the legs and blood vessels. Varicose veins occur when the valve inside the vein becomes weak and so allows blood to leak and pool inside.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why Are Most Online Writers Selfish?

As I've come across reading hundreds of online articles now, I have noticed one common trend (or is it a rule, I'm not sure): online writers, bloggers, webmasters and/or marketers alike avoid linking out to other website links other than theirs. Why is this so?

If you're one of these people, do you feel that you're doing yourself a disservice by including outbound links? Do you fear that you will somehow lose your Google Page Rank by doing this? Or are you just too lazy to look for topics that can make your article be a better source of info?

Readers will be more interested in what they're reading (in this case, your article's topic) if they can find other articles for followup. As a reader myself, I find outbound links helpful as I need not go to a search engine for related contents.

If you're thinking that outbound links will add little value or nothing to your ranking, or drain your Google Page Rank (by metaphysically jumping to other pages), then think about this:

Let’s suppose that the Google Page Rank of one "Master Website" is at 5 and you're linking out to this site's posts which you found relevant to your article’s theme. If you're very lucky, this "Master Website" might give you a back link in return, and that will only improve your ranking. If you're linking to good, non-spam, non-link farm sites, reciprocal links will not harm your Page Rank. The incoming karma is just as marginal as the one you give out, but all those bits and pieces will add up over time.

So there you go: It's okay to add outbounds link into your posts but make sure the links don't cause problem. Choose links that are relevant to your article, and keep the outbound links spread throughout the body of the article. 

Happy writing!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Give Me 3 Minutes and I'll Make You a Good Link Exchanger

Link exchanging is one online method of free advertising and promotion. If done properly, link exchanging can improve your search engine rankings, increase your web traffic and help you make more money online. There are three different types of link exchange you have to know:
  1. Reciprocal Linking is when you place a link on your site and they in turn place your link on their site.

  2. One Way Links, very powerful for SEO (search engine optimization), work when you get your link on a site but do not have to place their link on your site. Example is when a blogger or author of a site cites your article in their post.
  3. Three Way Linking is a link exchange among three domains instead of two. This type of linking seems more natural and can be more effective in improving your page rank.
Here are some helpful tips on how to manage your link exchange program:

Look for quality websites.

Don't just paste your links anywhere (e.g. unrelated sites or irrelevant forums) that would take it. It's best if you can find quality sites of which topics can be connected to yours. For example: if you own a site promoting gym equipments, exchanging links with an online flower shop wouldn’t count as effective. You can opt to build relationships and exchange links with those which sell multivitamins or supplements for body builders.

DO NOT exchange with link farms or FFA (Free for All) sites which just list every type of link submitted to them.

Build your links slowly but surely.

Take your time submitting your links to directories online. Manual submission is always better for your ranking. When you use too many automated link submission sites too fast, Google (and other search engines) will be flagged.

Submit articles for one way links.

Writing and publishing articles is always a safe and powerful promotion method. It will not only build your reputation and give you free advertising, it will also give you a lot of one-way links.

Post on blogs/forums to get more links to your site.

Posting comments on blogs and getting involved in forums is a good way to get more links back to your site. Do not post frivolously. Be sure to write meaningful and involved posts. Give advice and answer questions when you can.

Conduct a regular checking to make sure your links are not removed.

Once you do a reciprocal link exchange with a webmaster, always do periodic checks to make sure they do not remove your link or let their domain expire. If this does happen, you will want to remove their link from your site, too.


Link exchanging, as with any effective promotion method, takes work, diligence and commitment. It is free and it can do a world of good for your website and business. But learn the proper way to conduct your link exchange campaign and you will be delighted with the results! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How to Establish Your Presence in Twitter - 6 Easy Steps

People on Twitter are media savvy, wide readers who share common interests and connect with others. With this trend, Twitter can be a powerful social media tool to promote your website or market your business' products and/or services. Here are ways on how to make your mark and establish yourself as a tweeter in Twitter:

Step 1

Join Twitter and sign up for an account. Start tweeting. Get used to writing short tweets and sharing important information from your company, blog or yourself. Not every tweet has to relate directly to your these big three. Anything that interests people can be valuable.

Step 2

Follow Twitter users who tweet about topics that are relevant to your domain. When you begin following people, people will start following you back. Soon, more and more people will also get potential targets to start reading and replying to your tweets (symbol is '@'). Example: @rochkirstin How are you today?

Step 3

Post tweets with links to your blog and/or individual articles. After each post, use relevant hash tags (symbol is '#'). For instance, if you're area of specialty is about healthy living, after the message, type #healthyliving. This will allow your post to show up when people search for the term 'healthyliving.'

Step 4

Read the topics that you post about on Twitter. For example, if you post about low fat foods, read posts with the hash tag #lowfatfoods. When you find a post that you find interesting, reply to it. The person who wrote the post will read your reply. In the process, you may attract a new reader who will follow your blog or visit your company website.

Step 5

Tweet regularly. Engage people that read your tweets. Ask questions and encourage people to answer. Tweet random (but relevant) things without linking to your blog so your Twitter account is more than an advertisement.

Step 6

Feel free to ask people to repost links to your website on their Twitter acounts, blogs and other social media outlets. In exchange, offer to do the same for those who help you out. You'll meet great people and find new, exciting blogs and websites.