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Everyone Wears Masks – Your Pastor and Priest, Your Mom, Dad, Family, and YOU!

Every human being on the planet wears a mask. Most wear many masks. Some call it the dark side, but in fact it is just another side. Humans are more complicated and needful in their spirit than some would allow them to be and Churches go to great lengths to control this other side. As a result, people wear masks, including all members of all churches, their prophets, priests and pastors.
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Recently, in Tennessee, we have seen the sad story of a charismatic pastor type, shot dead by “the pastors wife” as she would be known by the membership. I don’t know what went wrong, but I would bet it has to do with wearing masks and living with or not living well with the other side. It will have to do with what was expected as opposed to what was real. I do know that churches and the scripture place a totally unrealistic burden on men and women who feel called to serve as a pastor and example of what a “Bible family,” or marriage, or behaviors should be like.
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“Should” and “Must” are words that drive a lot of people over the edge as the impractical expectations of religion takes its toll. This pastor, like all humans probably was wearing a mask and since it was some form of unacceptable, in this case, it cost him his life. I also suspect his wife, wearing her own masks and endeavoring to live up to the unrealistic expectations of others in that particular religious mindset simply had come to the tipping point.
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Most churches don’t have a way for the minister and family to address real human issues and stay as pastor and wife. To speak up or ask for help is to demote yourself and forever be viewed as flawed and “weak.” Its the higher up flawed and weak leaders that place these labels on you. Ministers don’t seek help often because they become blemished lambs just for asking, so they don’t ask. When masks come off, people are so surprised.
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They knew them as “so nice,” or “so quiet and kind.” That was the mask. They never got to know them as a genuine human being. I wish her well in this most difficult journey now that has affected so many people. I hope that someone will look to see what fundamentalist religion can do the spirit that has to wear masks to cope with the differences between how we wish to think and do and what is expected.
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All ministers wear masks. It goes with the turf. As a pastor, I certainly did and I did because there was no room for being one’s self and a pastor. The pastor, male or female, is that religious leader that people want to live whatever they feel the Biblical life is, while going about their own business and doing what they themselves darn well please.
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Ministers and priests are the sacrificial human who is to be what others simple don’t wish to be, but are glad to see it’s possible, at least if the mask stays on properly. I would think that the admonition in the Gospels to “become ye therefore perfect, even as your Heavenly Father is Perfect,” might be a bit unrealistic for real humans, but the minister or priest is paid to go for it and show us how it’s done. Of course, it’s not done, but the appropriate mask is in place in the appropriate circumstance, always.
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They are always “such a nice and quiet young man,” or “happy family,” before they blow. Masks tend to come off at the most inappropriate time and manner. I was riding to work one Saturday morning when I heard the news of a man who went ballistic in a church in Milwaukee, killing eight, including the Pastor and his son and then himself. I knew. It was a Saturday meeting. It was a hotel meeting room. I knew it was one of the splinter groups of my past affiliations. An hour later, it was confirmed and what I felt was going to happen someday in that group, because it so forces people to wear masks, did happen. I thought it would happen somewhere else, but this was no surprise to me. I had “prophecied” it to myself years ago. Very sad, and of course the young man who did the killing was labeled as “demon possessed,” and the whole thing sank into history. Simply put, the Church, this one and all churches, had forced a mask to be worn and rather than be able to talk about it, it stays firmly affixed … until it doesn’t.
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In my years of pastoring, I saw how “me thinks thou dost protest too much,” works in the world of masks. Ministers who were known for raging against sexual sins, gays and “lustful practices,” were wrestling with it themselves and projecting their own confusion and guilt onto the audience. I am confident that they themselves had no clue that was what they were doing.
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Few get trained in how to spot a mask. It is therapeutic, and yet when the pastors mask comes off in some misadventure, he is roasted, eaten and the bones thrown in the trash. He certainly was not pefect as his Heavenly Father is perfect. Of course, the membership wore all the same masks but that does’t count. He was to be in fact what they would only be in masked compliance when convenient.
At least they leave a pastor, who did a lot of genuine human counseling with people, alone when he is thrown out, because he knows so darn much about the masks worn by others. They are afraid he’ll spill their beans. You’ll find the most supportive of the defrocked pastor are those that wore maks too but at least know it and may have shared this fact with the pastor. Maybe the pastor was kind and compassionate to them and now it’s payback time when he was found out. It’s an interesting dynamic. It’s human stuff.
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I have seen ministers rail on drinking who needed help with their own overdrinking born out of despair, living the perfect life and wondering why it feels so sucky. I can’t tell you how many members I have worked with who drank too much too often and held all sorts of positions in the Church, but he better not be the minister. We have to have our sacrificial lamb to be what we refuse to be. He is genuine so we don’t have to be, it seems the average person reasoned. His job is to keep telling us not to be and do what we still intend to be and do no matter what he says. He just better not be and do like we be and do! We pay him to be and do perfect as his Heavenly Father is PERFECT.
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Seems if you want to make a problem rampant, just make it illegal. I pastored in “dry counties” where the alcoholism rate was out the roof. Churches are good at demanding, upon pain of some eternal fate, that one never do lots of things. This causes people to wear masks as much of what the church demands one never do, is some kind of sin, rather than a mere choice that sometimes we overdo. Life is not all or nothing in reality, but it is so often in fundamentalist religious perspectives. Thus we all wear masks to stay safely tucked in at least two worlds.
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Anytime you join a group, you are going to have to get used to wearing masks on various topics and at various times to stay in the good graces of the group. That is just how it works. Individualism is frowned upon. Churches want dogs that can at least be trained, both as ministers and members. They certainly don’t want cats that are impossible to herd, as they say. Even a pit bull can be trained to do, momentarily what one wishes it to do, with training, but inside, it might still want to rip your leg off. A cat is a cat. No masks on any cat I ever met. “Here Kitty Kitty,” I call out as it walks away and doesn’t even look back. “Sit,” as it stands there and scorns me, and don’t even think the crazy thing will roll over or beg! It’s a cat. It knows nothing of masks. Long live Cats!
You’re church might more or less demand a tithe of your income as being reasonable for your support of the church. Of course, this is not really as biblically binding as you might be told and you really aren’t robbing God. God doesn’t really need money … but the Building Fund does or the payroll people do. Maybe the narcississitic pastor who is going to change the world for Jesus does, but God does not. You might do it in a form of fearful compliance, but it’s not what you really want to do or can afford to do even if you wanted to. But still you do it. You are wearing a mask. You will smile on the outside and be angry on the inside for which your body and spirit will pay.
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You’re church might make demands about what you must be a part of to show proof of your “loyalty and service to the Church” attitude. You conform and show up or do what you are asked, but you don’t really want to or don’t have the time. You are wearing another mask. Someone might wish to make you a “leader” because you have worn your other masks so well and want you take on this even bigger one. You comply and bingo, your face is really starting to feel heavy!
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The church might show you what the Bible says about many topics. They may inform you on how “God” wants you to date, or find a partner, or even if you should at this time. They might think you can’t pick ’em so they will do it for you. They will have the truth about prophecy and how near you’re particular denomination thinks Jesus return is. They will say things in sermons that you won’t really see or agree with but feel bad for not. They inform you of the Bible and God’s view of sex and you comply even though it just doesn’t work for you or seem anyone’s business but yours. And so you mask up when needed and do what you want anyway. This is not wrong. What is wrong is having to feel one is duplistic when in fact one is just making personal choices and expressing personal preferences on this topic that really is no one elses business. To the degree you don’t disagree publicly, you will wear a mask when theses topics or others come up. Ministers are forced just as much as members to do this to keep their jobs which is why many are sitting down on the outside when certain topics come up, but in fact standing on the inside and angry.
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Wearing masks can kill you. If one is not careful, one’s biography can become one’s biology. Repressed anger and the duplicity of wearing masks can cause dis-ease, and in particular, cancer. What is eating you, eats you. Peeling off a mask can be very very painful They tend to grow on you and stick to your flesh. Sometimes flesh comes off with the mask and you have to heal for a time. Your face might not look so good, but it will heal but I can’t say it won’t leave scars.

So what’s a minister or member to do?
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First of all, know that it’s just fine to disagree with your church or minister and he with you or even his own denomination. It is good mental health. Find something to disagree with and voice it! Ok, be careful if you want to stay part of the true tribe. It should not cost everyone their friendships, jobs and basic human respect. It does, but it shouldn’t. To the degree one thinks it is not OK to disagree with the group or Church, is the degree that masks will be firmly affixed when needed, and your dis-ease can begin. If you minister in, or a member of a church where you know your inclusion depends on compliance, leave now. If not, then someday you might not be able to get the mask off, and will be forced to have it removed surgically and probably without anesthetic.

Secondly, human trumps being perfect as “your Heavenly Father is Perfect,” EVERY time. To the degree you send the message that perfect is what we look for here, is the degree that those you expect it in will wear masks. Count on it. There are no perfect ministers, pastor families, children, ways to raise one, ideas, elders, deacons, youth guys, music ministers or organ grinders. The man who shot his pastor dead and then himself gave up on being single “God’s way,” and being being as as others expected him to be. He gave up on only finding a partner that thought like his church or his pastor thought he should think. He gave up on not being “unequally yoked with unbelievers.” Man, you can be pretty darn yoked with believers from what I have seen in lots of church relationships. He gave up on feeling marginalized and lonely. He gave up and took others with him, just as perhaps this pastors wife in Tennessee has done. We shall see. But you can bet it has to do with masks and trying to be good, and nice and all things to all men, which is another form of wearing masks to say the least. A man who says “I become all things to all people that by any means I might save some,” is duplistic and wearing masks beyond measure. You will never discover the genuine man under that perverse view. They tend to have thorns in the flesh they won’t share with you and won’t seek any other help, save from God himself, to work it out for him. It won’t get worked out and they will explode or implode or maybe just become more weird and project their own shortcomings and fears upon the unsuspecting church. Usually the “rules” the minister places on the congregation reflect this duplicity.

Finally, realize that many ministers don’t believe their own sermons and many members don’t either, no matter how many times they note what a “good sermon” that was. Ministers and Priests get in the habit, due to masks that stick very well, of saying what even they no longer or perhaps ever did believe. It’s tough to buck your organizational perspectives even when they are outdated, wrong or even dangerous to the human spirit. There were any number of topics I never spoke on that the denominational church thought it believed and would have wished me to pass on. Some were harmless ideas and some were plain stupid and harmful. It was nice when a position had to be rethought and I had not bothered to teach that anyway and did not have go back and look like the eternal, never changing God and truth had just changed. Other things I did teach but now have outgrown as that mask has come off too … ouch.

All humans wear masks. Who people’s do because systems are in place to even kill them if they wander from the true path of others making. Women wear masks as well as men and so do your kids and all their friends. We do it because it is not safe or profitable not to. That is unless being authentically you in this one lifetime is important to you. I won’t say it won’t cost you to take off the mask. You will lose friends and perhaps even family support. You might be asked to leave your church or be labeled as “of the devil” or at least, backslidden and “never converted anyway.” You might end up “the black sheep.” If you are a minister, you might lose your career or have to move on to a more open minded group of believers. They do exist as groups tend to sort out by personality anyway. But tearing off your particular mask may open new doors of opportunity to you as well.

We’ll never get rid of them all, but maybe part of our time on the planet is to work on that and get down to the baby pink flesh on our chubby sweet genuine faces that has been so covered up for so long with the masks we think we have to wear to get along with others and meet their expectations. Long live Cats!


CFTC vs Crypto Options

Intent on investing in cryptocurrency exchange and hot water employment exchange with the U.S. Futures Commission (CFTC) and allegations that it operates in the pyramid system.

In a press release Wednesday, Sept. 30, the CFTC says it will charge the Nevada-based circuit and its David Gilbert Zephron petitioner for fraudulent solicitation and misappropriation of investor funds, as well as registration violations.

With his girlfriend, Zafron offered binary options and cryptocurrency currencies and said he had invested $ 11 million and bitcoin since 2017.

The complaint alleges that Saffron fraudulently demanded at least 14 people participate in a circulation investment pool run by the Circulation Association, with a false claim by its trading expertise and a “guarantee of 300% profit”.

Instead of investing in binary options contracts in actual trading, Saffron used the funds – transferred to his crypto wallet – to pay off other participants, “according to the Ponzi scheme.” Most likely lies in the textile.

CFTC Chairman Heath Traverse said:

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“21st Century digital assets and other commodities are a great promise for our economy. Fraud schemes are likely to not only annoy innocent people by making hard money but also threaten the development of responsibility for these new and innovative markets.”

The court ordered that all property of the Saffron and Circle Association be frozen, as well as financial records. The discussion will take place on October 29.

The CFTC is looking for a cash plan, with fines and permanent bans and regular registration. The agency hopes to get the victim back, but he says he does not guarantee that full value can be obtained from the book and his office.

The Adventure Travel Tips for Solo Travelers

You may be intimidated at the thought of traveling alone to a country that you have not visited before. But if you are able to overcome your fear and your sense of insecurity that arise in your mind, then it is certain that you will enjoy your trip to a great extent. It is a wonderful opportunity to travel around the world and it is considered to be a memorable experience for you. This article will highlight on the top adventure travel destinations that are considered to be suitable for the solo travelers.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is considered to be the best hub of adventurous activities. As a solo traveler, you can have enough time to spend outside enjoying the natural scenery of the place, basking in the sun as well as watching the wildlife roaming around the place. Other adventurous activities include zip lining tour, kayaking trip and so on. In fact, Costa Rica is named as one of the safest countries to travel for the solo travelers.


Whether you visit this spectacular place during the summer season or you want to go to the place during the winter season, you can get a glance of wilderness and scenic beauty of the country. Long tracks of jungles and long stretches of rivers and lakes make Finland offers the best place to visit in order to enjoy different types of water sport activities. Night time travel in Finland is another popular activity for the solo visitors.


The word Chile is synonymous with adventure and excitement. If you want to travel on your own, it is advisable that you should choose Chile for your next trip. You can either go to the northern side of the country to visit the Atacama Desert or you can travel in the southern part of the country to watch Patagonia. If you wish, you can go to Santiago to watch the scenic beauty of the place from close proximity.


It is situated on the western coast of North American province. It offers everything for the amusement of solo travelers. California is a peaceful abode to popular tourist attractions such as Disneyland, Malibu beach and Hollywood while the northern side of California features Smoky Mountains, majestic hills of San Francisco, the wineries of the Napa Valley and a few more. Outside the major cities of California, solo travelers visit the spectacular national parks, participate in hiking and zip lining tours and enjoy walking round the dense forests.


Pristine beaches, outdoor activities and delicious food make Thailand quite popular amongst the solo tourists across the world. If you want to travel alone and you want to make new friends then you should plan your trip to Thailand. In the northern part of the country, you will watch how the forests and fields bump up against the snow capped mountains. Limestone cliffs, majestic waterfalls and picturesque landscape draw attention of the solo visitors from every corner of the world.


The best option for the solo travelers to explore a vast country that is almost one thousand miles long is to sail up to the pristine coasts or even trek around the creeks and cliffs. For comfortable accommodation they can stay in comfortable hotels or they can even stay in exclusive mountain huts.

England, 2016: Thirty-Year Reunion, College of Medicine, Class of 1986, Ibadan, Nigeria

The gathering took place on Friday, July 29th through Saturday, July 30th, 2016, at De Vere Venues, Staverton Park, Staverton, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom.

Days before the event, a final list of who would attend was sent out. Everyone wanted to look their best coming into the reunion to impress their colleagues, many of whom they had not seen for thirty years, since medical school graduation.

In Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Nigeria, and the United States of America, colleagues packed their bags. Anticipation reached a crescendo. The women purchased glittering dresses, and the men shaved and dyed their hair. Only Moses left his gray to run amok, for which he earned the Wisdom Hair award.

When we arrived at De Vere venues, matching all the names on the list to all the faces on the ground proved a task. Unless friends revealed themselves, they were strangers.

In the mid-afternoon of Saturday, Salako, Provost of the College of Medicine, on the speech podium, glanced at a man who had entered the auditorium. The man wore a brown-colored, dome-shaped hat. 'The hat,' the stranger confessed, 'is hiding badly-dyed gray hair.' Sympathy and laughter welcomed him.

Following the 'Remember to give back to Alma Mata' speech, people zigzagged across the hotel vestibule to search for classmates.

'Have you seen Fred Akpochafo?' asked a sharp-eyed, toothily smiling fellow of a bespectacled man with an easy smile and pumped-up speech. 'I am Fred,' the guy in glasses responded.

Upon mutual recognition, Chinwe Nwokoma and Fred mobbed each other in fifteen-minute bear hugs and handshakes, following which both men suffered elbow dislocation.

'Did you see Ntekim Bassey?' the guy with the badly-dyed hair asked Barry. A croaky voice answered, 'I saw him half a second ago.'

The longer people conversed, the more certain they were that a particular voice belonged to a particular colleague.

Ayo and I had exchanged many e-mails but not until Saturday was I able to match the person to the name. Yet he remained fuzzy in my memory. We continued to trade jabs of handshakes and hugs throughout the evening, waiting for a complete memory download.

Each handshake tugged on the memory. Each hug recruited more sleeping neurons. Yes! He is Ayo, his voice never left. It was just hiding, somewhere in the nuggets of the hippocampus. The same experience happened with Benjamin Oke, I think.

More mind authentication lazily occurred when I saw Ajibola and Osahon, Mase and Mojisola, Adebayo, Prof. Musa, Pal Loolo, Man Jaji and Evelyn, Kehinde and Sammy Best, Chuks, Essein, Tony N. and Taiwo. Peter Olukowi almost slipped away. 'My father is Henry Akpabio,' said a boy to me.

People such as President Yemi, Obi, Abolade, Emeka, Bolo, Onome, Peter Eweje, Ngozi, and Vero, I will never forget.

By the evening of Saturday, seventy percent of the class had been identified. More discoveries continued during dinner. Sunday morning and afternoon saw new revelations.

If Leslie owned Friday night by his picture-perfect poses, then Goze held the Saturday night by his dancing. Austin, Bhardwaj, Yinka, Titi George, Dayo, Ifeoma, and Adanna tried so hard to match him. Had Roro or Olaopa been there they would have given him a run for his moves.

Nobody could get enough of one another. The fellow with the poorly-dyed hair hugged Emma Nnopu thirty times to make up for the thirty years they hadn't seen each other.

During dinner time, more surprises snuck up like forgotten bills. Awards exchanged hands. A shower of money rained on a baby. Members of the Adanta dance group soar through the air like teenage eagles. An entertainer who transferred two fast-spinning aluminum basins from his pinky fingers to broomsticks kept us on our toes for seven hours.

Except for a cashew nut-colored mustache, Peter Olumese remained the same in physique and character and was rewarded. And for adulating Professor Cole, Leex and his party won a group contest.

'There you are' the man with the poorly-dyed hair said when he finally spotted Ntekim Bassey.

'Anselm, you have been looking for me, I understand', Bassey said.

'Yes, I have not seen you in thirty years.'

Suddenly, torsos, hands, and shoulders came together multiple times. Except for ten, maybe fifteen pounds' weight gain Ntekim had not changed a speck. Later, in an unchanging, even, confident tone he conversed with the ever-graceful Moji, O.

How Olamide and her team were able to stretch the funds to the level of fun we had is mind-boggling. Kudos!

Before the trip, I made name tags for each person on the list, not knowing the faces who would occupy so many labels. Not anymore. Every face is in my consciousness.

For two reasons, the event in London would be hard to beat. Dancing legs are yet to reach a breaking point, but will be there soon. Secondly, almost everybody has been discovered within fifteen years since the reunion began in Memphis, Tennessee. If colleagues yet to attend show up in the next event, then all bets are off.

Thanks to prayers, led by Morafa and Dave, all the heavenly stars aligned together in harmony.


Healing Holidays – Medical Tourism at its Best

For centuries, people have been traveling far and wide to be healed and yet today with all the information available at the fingertips, patients are still wary of trusting their health in the hands of a doctor thousands of miles away. However with the numbers of uninsured pegged at 47 million and the numbers of those not covered by dental insurance at 120 million, the medical scenario in US is grim with no end in sight.

Increasing medical costs and decreasing health benefits, is taking a heavy toll on those with either no insurance or a limited cover. At an age when health benefits are most sought, people struggle to stay healthy instead, for fear of rising medical bills. More often than not, the decision to stay healthy is taken right out of their hands and lands them in emergency rooms, where they are taken care of for the moment, but a lifetime of medical bills choke them to death. Even for those who live under a false security blanket that they are insured, having paid fat premiums all their productive years on the assurance that they will be provided quality health care when they need it the most, were in for a rude shock when news broke out that California Blue Cross, the state's largest health insurance providers has been found guilty of systematically dropping policy holders, when they become sick or pregnant.

In a scenario like this, most often they are forced to seek out alternatives and one of the most attractive on the horizon in traveling to other countries, which promise the same medical attention if not better at 1 / 10th of the costs as in a hospital in the US. What however finally clinches the deal for the patient, to board the plane and travel 10,000 miles for the very first time in their lives, is a promise of a holiday in an exotic locale thrown in as part of the healing process.

The promise of a world class medical treatment at any of the Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited hospitals in India, China, Thailand, Philippines and others, an extended comfortable stay for the patient and a family member in hospital rooms which offer the luxuries of a five-star hotel room and the availability of a 24 hour registered nurse beats the odds out of treatments here. Besides the crippling costs, the hospitals budgeting needs here means shorter and shorter post-operative stays, which does not bode well with the elderly and the pregnant women.

Though over the last ten years, medical tourism in these countries is booming, thanks to half a million foreign patients to India alone till last year, there are still several millions who are hesitant to take the first step and research the information needed to put their mind and body at rest with the medical options available elsewhere. For those not so discerning patients, Global Health Care Facilitators have stepped in to find low cost, yet quality health care. One of the only three organizations promoting medical tourism here in the United States, Global HCF is just a click away from making a smooth transition to a hospital on foreign soil. The organization based in Cookeville, Tennessee not only helps partner the patient with the right doctor, it also makes travel arrangements, takes care of accommodation and food with a consolidated bill at the end of a comfortable healing holiday.

To those cynics who believe in stories of botched surgeries floating around, Dr. Bill Thomas, the brain behind Global HCF, a seasoned traveler himself says that though life-saving medical procedures like heart surgeries, cancer treatment and elective surgeries like dental implants and cosmetic surgery cost as less at 1 / 10th of the costs in a procedure in the US, it is not because of a lack of expertise, rather a lack of malpractice suits and high administrative costs, which has crippled the health industry here. A surgery which would cost 50,000 dollars and above here in hospital charges alone can be performed for as less as 10,000 dollars all inclusive of medical costs and a holiday package, a realistic amount which can be put together with savings and loans. Global HCF takes care to see that they partner with JCI certified hospitals. In most cases the doctors have been trained in USA and in Europe and have impeccable career records, with less than one percent failure rates.

Countries like India which are actively promoting medical tourism are increasingly seeking JCI certification, to instill faith in the medical tourists coming to them, very well realizing that the publicity generated by one botched surgery could de-rail a burgeoning industry, expected to jump 30 percent every year. Besides the hospitals equipped with the latest medically advanced diagnostic equipments, Indian pharmaceutical companies too meet stringent requirements of the US Food and Drug administration. Medical advancements have meant that Indian doctors can now perform the hip re-surfacing surgery among others where the damaged bone is scraped away and replaced with chrome alloy, an operation which costs less and causes less post-operative trauma than the traditional hip replacement procedure done in the US.

To those who refuse to believe that anything could surpass the medical treatment available here in the US, there are statistics to show that the doctors in these developing countries, have far more expertise and a higher success rate in handling complicated life-saving surgeries, than the doctors here in the US, thanks just to the sheer volume of surgeries they handle on a daily basis. Besides in most cases, treatment here in the US is hardly an option for those with little or no insurance. In such a scenario, if traveling to an exotic destination would mean that they can be healed and lead a productive life post-surgery, instead of wasting away for want of expensive, medical care, then it certainly seems worth taking that one chance.

5 Tips to Help You Prepare for International Business Travel

Travel overseas for business can be a fun adventure, but it also needs to be taken seriously. Before traveling to another country, whether for work or pleasure, it’s important to learn the customs and procedures of your destination, while also preparing yourself for your trip.

As a business traveler, you’re not only representing your country of origin to all of those you meet, but you are also a representative of your company. It’s important to be knowledgeable about the country you are planning on visiting as a way to show respect.

Besides requiring the correct documents like a visa and passport, there are other obligations you will likely need to complete before making your way overseas. Many of these requirements are specific to a particular destination based on the laws and regulations for the countries you are visiting. Make sure you do your homework well in advance so you know each of these requirements.

5 Tips for Overseas Business Travel

International travel for business can be a very exciting opportunity. You not only get to see new and interesting parts of the world, but you even get paid while doing it. In order to have the best experience possible, there are things you can do in advance to prepare. Here are five tips to help execute the perfect international business trip.

  1. Create an Organized Itinerary: Make sure that your days are packed with opportunities to help your company. Scheduling time for appointments, meetings, and personal time is very important to executing a beneficial international business trip. An itinerary should be a good guide for your trip’s goals and achievements. Because you do not want to waste any time on this trip, it’s better to plan in advance to take full advantage of the opportunity.
  2. Learn about the Culture and Customs: Before landing in said country, it’s important to understand the environment, culture and practices of this region. Knowing up-to-date news and information about your international travel destinations will help you avoid inappropriate comments or disrespectful behavior. Not only is it important to understand the culture, but it is also beneficial to know protocols, customs and etiquette as well. This includes things like: common greetings, religious practices, business manners, dietary practices, and acceptable humor.
  3. Learn the Native Tongue: While not every business trip requires learning a whole new language, it’s always advisable to seek out some basic vocabulary for the region you are visiting. The use of a translator might be beneficial as well. Communication is a huge part of business and breaking down those barriers will only help you with your business endeavors.
  4. Protect Yourself: Traveling internationally can be exciting, but also very stressful and sometimes dangerous. A new environment can mean new hazards and threats. Don’t avoid protecting yourself to save money. Sometimes travel insurance is a valuable way to reduce the risk of health crises and other types of risks.
  5. Stay Connected: Plan to use your communication devices while staying overseas. Make sure that your plan is available in other countries, or rent a cellphone from the airport. Communicating back and forth between your headquarters, while in a different country, is often an important part of international business. Communicating with your coworkers back at the office is an important part of international business travel.

Traveling internationally for business can be a new adventure. It’s becoming increasingly common as more and more U.S. companies also have offices overseas in places like Ireland, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. In 2014, Forbes rated Denmark as the #1 country for business.

Regardless of where you are traveling, planning ahead helps to make the experience as positive as possible. Know the culture of the places you are visiting, and when possible, make ongoing communication a vital part of your trip. Try to maximize your time spent overseas by preparing in advance for productivity. The more organized you are, the more time you’ll likely have to enjoy some sightseeing and leisure. Always remain respectful, while keeping your goal in sight.

Best Places to Retire For Affordable Golf Course Living

Today, more and more avid golfers who are approaching their retirement years are growing increasingly concerned that the current economic crisis in this country might perhaps force them to abandon the idea of finding a place to retire on or near a golf course. True, for many golfers, their shrinking 401 investment portfolio and uncertain financial status might necessitate that they forgo the luxury of an expensive luxury home on the fairways of a prestigious private country club.

However, with careful planning, a willingness to downsize that dream retirement home and the investment of some time and effort in pursuit of an affordable place to golf, it is still possible to find a very well-priced and inviting home in a golfing environment that most retirees would consider as fitting their requirement for the best place to retire.

In fact, in nearly every area of the U.S., there are a number of communities with a ready supply of affordable retirement housing with challenging golf courses, both private and daily fee public facilities. Furthermore, with most new master planned golf communities, developers are drastically reducing prices in an effort to boost falling sales, and higher-priced golf properties are more reasonably priced than any time in recent memory.

Even with these circumstances, retirees who want to live where they can spend their leisure time on the links would be well served to explore certain towns and cities where golf is a major focus and therefore where housing inventories and prices are more attractive. Here are a few suggestions where, not only are prices for retirement housing extremely reasonable, but also there is an abundance of good, quality golf courses which can be enjoyed at very moderate rates.

It may be surprising to some to discover that the most affordable retirement destinations are often located in or near what are also some of the most popular and best known golfing communities. Among such places is Pinehurst, North Carolina, long considered to be one of America’s great golf resorts and home to a number of residential golf course developments, including the prestigious Pinehurst Club. In spite of the fact that most homes along the fairways can be pretty pricey, there are also a large number of resale homes and condos available at any given time for less than $200,000. In addition, several of the communities in and around Pinehurst and the neighboring small towns of Southern Pines and Aberdeen still have affordable building sites and resale homes.

Golf is also a major attraction in the mountains of western North Carolina, but here the price for homes and home sites located within a golf complex are among some of the highest in the country. However, if one looks a little closer at small towns like Brevard, Boone or Waynesville, or others around the Asheville area, single family homes are reasonably priced and yet not far removed from good golfing.

Most golfers are familiar with the golf courses that abound in and around the area of Hilton Head Island in coastal South Carolina, and while the home prices on the Island itself may be above the reach of the average retiree, there are a growing number of retirement communities in neighboring towns such as Bluffton with affordable homes, some of which feature golf courses as part of their amenities. South Carolina’s best known golfing destination, Myrtle Beach and the Grand Stand, a sixty-mile strip filled with oceanfront hotels and golf courses extending into Brunswick County, North Carolina, still attract an increasing number of retirees who have found the area meets their requirements for their best place to retire.

Georgia and Tennessee, two other Southeastern states with moderate climates that permit golfing almost ten months out of the year, are both home to small towns noted as being highly desirable retirement destinations for golfers. Several designer courses, bearing the names of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, have been carved out of the Georgia rural landscape along Lake Oconee. Initially, these developments were executive-style luxury communities, but a recent trend has been the arrival of new retirement properties, spearheaded by a Del Webb complex with a varied selection of affordable home designs near the picturesque small town of Greensboro.

And perched atop Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, Crossville, which bills itself as the “Golf Capital of Tennessee,” has been a major destination for retirees for the last thirty years. Lured by the presence of a number of affordable residential golf communities, the absence of a state income tax, a low cost of living and a thriving small town economy, retirees have made Crossville a major retirement and golfing destination.

Restaurant Supply Offers Commercial Ice Makers

Did you know the United States uses 80% of all ice makers in the world? Through restaurant supply web sites and various other outlets, big name ice manufacturers distribute their many different products to many different types of consumers. One way or another, whether sitting down to eat at your favorite restaurant or standing in line at a gas station, you've gotten close to some commercial ice machines.

Restaurant supply stores are sometimes called on to sell outside of their expected market. For example, hospitals, hotels and gas stations are all places that have a need for ice machines.

Ice machines are composed of various parts The actual ice maker is the top half of the machine; it is called the head. It is here that water flows over freezing chambers where ice cubes form over time. Restaurant supply stores sell various sizes of ice machine heads. If you aren't buying a complete machine, talk to a sales representative so you can be sure your head and bin will operate together.

The lower half is called the bin, and it is here where ice is stored when it drops from the head. Some ice makers are made with a built in anti-bacterial lining to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold in this dark and moist place. As aforementioned make certain you speak to the restaurant supply store's sales representative for help choosing a head and a bin that will operate together

A commonly overlooked item would be a water filter. Water filters are essential to an ice machine; they keep the water flowing over the freezing chambers purified so ice users have the best tasting, chilled drinking experience possible. When purified water flows over the freezing chambers in the head, freezes and falls into the bin below, you have purified ice! Tada! But how will you get it out? Restaurant supply stores carry ice bin accessories such as ice scoops and scoop holders; these tools are essential to prevent contamination of your precious pure ice.

Ice is available in a variety of shapes. For the average beverage, cubed ice is the most effective in providing a cool drinking experience. Half cubed ice is perfect for mixed drinks as it break down easily and provides a smoother finish. But everyone's favorite ice is the pearl ice, or Sonic ice as it is more commonly known. This ice fits in your mouth for an easy chew, absorbs the flavors of the drink it lies in and disperses smoothly. Ice machines are also available in air-cooled or water-cooled refrigeration units. There is much debate over which is overall more effective as both models have advantages and disadvantages. However, I have been told by an ice company's sales representative say that air-cooled machines are more energy efficient and more conservative of water.

Don't forget! Ice outside of the States is hard to come by; don't take this substance for granted. If you're in need of an ice machine, choose a restaurant supply to minimize your search effort; why scour the countryside when the power of Google is at your finger tips? Choose a restaurant supply that understands the value of good ice from quality ice machines!

Elvis and Graceland – His Memphis Office and Home

Elvis – the hip-swiveling singer with a penchant for giant quiffs and banana and peanut-butter-deep-fried-sandwiches. Who doesn't love a good Elvis number?

There is a ditty for everyone; the sad and lonely enjoy the bluesy flavor of 'Heartbreak Hotel', the young romantics 'Can't Help Falling in Love' and the randy gentleman gracing the dance floor want 'A Little Less Conversation' (A little more action please).

Known for the suggestive way he danced, Elvis was a breath of fresh air amongst other 1950's singers that made up the contemporary music scene. Described as 'Elvis the Pelvis', he went on to have massive billboard hits, become a Hollywood actor and generate a massive fan base.
But there is also something else Elvis is known for.

Presley bought the Graceland estate in 1957 – ever since then, the place has become synonymous with his name and a multitude of fans still visit the house today.

The limestone building is made up of 23 rooms including eight bedrooms and bathrooms. Elvis renovated parts of the property and created an area he called the Meditation Gardens. It is here where he was buried after his death in 1977.

The building, which Elvis partially used as his Memphis office base, was converted into a museum a few years later. His wife, Priscilla Presley, became the estate executor and came up with the plan to open the building to public viewings in an attempt to fund the yearly $ 500,000 it was costing to keep the property running.

Opened in June 1982, the space was declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27th 2006. Over 600,000 visitors tour the private home each year, making it second only to the number of people who visit the White House. The new museum generated enough capital to match the amount of money invested in it within a month of opening illustrating the ever-present wide spread appeal Elvis still has today.

It is clear that Presley's Memphis office space and home has become a giant tourist attraction and brings much business to the Tennessee area. It is safe to say that those swiveling hips have generated more than just a plethora of swooning female fans; they have created a business empire that produces enough money to keep the locals swimming in deep-fried chicken and banana sandwiches.

Profiles of Timeshare Companies – Westgate, Wyndham, and Worldmark

Westgate resorts, with more than 10,000 timeshare units, is the third largest timeshare in the world. Westgate has over 400 owners and employs 6,500 people, says the Westgate website. The brainchild of David Siegel, Westgate was founded more than 40 years ago, nurtured from a garage business into an empire. Westgate has gone down into history as the largest privately owned timeshare in the world. One of the company's proudest accomplishments is the building of PH tower, which, according to the company's history, is the only timeshare tower connected to a casino in Las Vegas. According to the Westgate website, PH Tower will be worth over $ 1 billion when it is completed. Westgate also reports that the building will have more than 2,850 units.

Some of the other Westgate properties include Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa in Orlando, Westgate Miami Beach, and Westgate Towers, near Disney World in Orlando. There are also properties in Utah and Tennessee.

Wyndham Worldwide is a leader in vacation rentals and vacation exchange and ownerships. Properties range from resorts, and residence clubs to yachts. Wyndham's vacation rentals has more than 200,000 units and 155 vacation ownership resorts. People who opt for vacation ownerships through Wyndham have the flexibility of staying in roomy condominiums around the world. There are about 820,000 owners. One of the highlights of Wyndham's property collection is the Registry Collection, comprised of 160 high-end properties. According to Wyndham, it is the largest luxury property exchange. Destination properties are in Belize, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, Italy, Malta, Mexico, Portugal, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, and the United States.

Wyndham resorts is also a leader in vacation rentals, and according to company literature, Wyndham is the largest marketer of European vacation rentals. Some of the rental brands that Wyndham operates includes Canvas Holidays with campsite rentals, Cuendet, with villas in Europe, Hoseasons Group, with villas and cottages, Landal GreenParks, and Novasol. Wyndham resorts has been named one of Fortune Magazine's Most Admired Companies in 2010.

Worldmark Resorts is a division of Wyndham and has 60 resort locations for vacation owners. Worldmark has both condominium-style accommodations and studios. The one and two bedroom condominiums are 60 percent larger than hotel rooms, Worldmark reports. Penthouse suites are also available to owners. Locations are in the continental United States, Hawaii and Fiji. Worldmark is also affiliated with another company, RCI and therefore can provide properties in the Caribbean, New York, Paris, Mexico, Australia, Ireland, Venice, Egypt, India, Hong Kong, China, Japan, the South Pacific, and the Cayman Islands .

Worldmark differs from other timeshare resorts because it offers its owners more flexibility. The point system isn't tied to the size of the unit or the location, so timeshare owners can stay at any of the 60 resort locations at any time.