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A Pet Dog or Cat, Which Is For Me? Learn The Positives and Negatives.

Pet dogs or pet cats, both of these animals are popular pet choices available for us to choose from, but which pet is right for you? Cats and dogs are pretty much polar opposites of each other, from the personalities they carry, to the mannerisms they outwardly display, and if you want to identify what pet is right for you, then we need to learn more information about these amazing animals.

I’ve lived with dogs and cats for a long time, helping to raise them from a young age and eventually into full grown adults, so I understand the pros and cons each one of them holds. For your benefit, I’m going to list those positives and negatives from my personal experience, which will hopefully allow you to answer the question: “Is a dog or cat the right pet for me?”

Behavior – How Loving Are These Two?

Pros for Dogs: Dogs always appear to be happy, no matter what the circumstance. As long as you bought a puppy at a young age and gave them plenty of love as they grew up, then the dog’s attitude should be a fun and loving one, and that’s exactly what owners want. Dogs are loving, loyal, and are simply entertaining to just be around. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible for dogs to feel another emotion besides joy! Well, they also feel guilt when they do something wrong, but besides that, dogs are constantly brimming with positivity and it is absolutely infectious at times. Imagine a tiresome day at work, coming home and plopping down on the couch, and then being greeted by your happy animal companion who wants nothing more than to cheer you up. Aw, how nice of them!

Cons for Dogs: However, dogs sometimes can get too needy for your attention. Maybe after that long day of work, you instead want to go home and rest without any interruption, but a dog may still attempt to smother you for a pat on the back. Dogs also have the tendency to get jealous over other pets who are being given any form of attention, and may exact revenge if you don’t provide the same amount of love towards them. I had a Poodle that would pee in undesirable locations knowing it was bad, but did it anyways because she got angry or jealous. That was one bad dog. Not all dogs have such an obnoxious characteristic, however.

Pros for Cats: Unlike dogs, cats have more than one emotion! They are also far more independent and conservative. Cats will always have a fondness for their owners, but they choose to show it only when they are in the mood. A cat might wake up after a brief rest, and spontaneously think: “Well, I feel like getting some attention now,” and they’ll walk over to you and start rubbing up against your legs while purring. That’s when you know the cat is in a good mood, when they sound like miniature car motors.

Then there are other times when you will try to pet them, and the cat will just be like: “Yeah, whatever, thanks I guess.” Or the cat is in an extremely lazy mood and will refuse to respond to anything you do. Nobody ever knows how a cat will react, their behavior is random. You kinda have to “earn” their respect and attention, but hey, nothings wrong with that. Plus, cats won’t always be a bother when you’re busy.

Cons for Cats: The problem with a cat’s attitude is that it’s inconsistent, or arbitrary. There are occasions when you just want a friendly pet to come lay down on top of your lap or next to you, and cats will certainly do that, just not whenever you want. What I’m trying to articulate here is cats are not as loyal or willing to comply as easily as dogs.

Here’s an example: Once a dog learns his name, he’ll respond without hesitation when you call him. A cat, however, even when he hears you calling, will choose to either listen or completely ignore you. The cat will even raise it’s head towards you, acknowledging that he’s heard your call, and then close his eyes and go right back to sleep. How rude! Cats will listen every now and then; it’s just if they are in the mood.

Conclusion: The personality is a preference thing. People like loyal and loving pets, but they also enjoy pets who show can show some restraint.

Messiness – How Clean Or Messy Are Dogs and Cats?

Pros for Dogs: Uh, well, you know, um… Okay dogs are not really the cleanest animals around. The good thing is you can potty train them, and training them to go to the bathroom outside is both convenient and a whole lot less smelly for your home. That’s really all I have to say for the positive side. Dogs will take care of themselves most often, but you will probably need to give a bath from time to time to help keep them clean.

Cons for Dogs: First off, if you haven’t potty trained your dog yet, you should! Otherwise, the dog will pee or poop wherever they please, and that’s just gross. On top of that immense problem, dogs are known to chew on wires, shoes, or anything else accessible on the ground. Wires that have been chewed through will render whatever appliance it was powering to be fully useless. Depending on what the appliance was, it may need to be replaced, and means spending money. The same goes for the shoes.

To remedy this problem, you can buy cord covers to cover any vulnerable cords laying around. Make sure the covers are hard enough to prevent any chewing. As for the shoes, put them away in a closet somewhere. Also, consider having a few chew toys available for your dog to satisfy their chomping urges; it’ll save you money in the end.

Pros for Cats: Cats, to match their independent behavior, clean themselves many times. It’s part of a cat’s daily routine. They even have tongues that have a sandpaper like texture to help clean and groom their hair. Due to a cat’s frequent cleaning, they rarely need to be bathed, which is great. I mean, have you tried bathing a cat before? It’s a nightmarish experience for sure.

Most cats are already potty trained, all you have to do is have a few litter boxes scattered throughout the house, the rest can be left up to them. How convenient is that? You can even let a cat outside and they’ll take care of business, even burying it after they’ve finished. Cats are very clean animals.

Cons for Cats: Until they throw up a nasty hairball, that is. A major downside for cats is the perpetual vomiting. Some cats do it more often than others, but at some point, the cat is going to get a hairball from their constant cleaning, and you will have to clean it up! It’s kinda gross, but you’ll get used to it eventually.

Additionally, it’s important to spay or neuter a cat as soon as possible. It’ll prevent them from spraying your home with urine. Seriously, the earlier the better. You don’t want a cat to develop a spraying habit, it’s the worst.

And of course, cats have the tendency to claw furniture! There are scratching posts one can buy to discourage this type of behavior. Placing the posts next to the piece of furniture is most effective.

Conclusion: Cats are cleaner than dogs, but have the potential to be messier, especially if they are not spayed at the right time. But self-cleaning and instinctive potty training are two very convenient hygienic qualities to have in a pet.

Fun – Are Dogs or Cats More Fun To Play With?

Pros For Dogs: Because of a dog’s willingness to listen, to put it simply: it allows you to do more fun activities with them, and that can be way more fun for certain people. You can teach a dog new tricks, like sitting, rolling over and playing dead; all of which are entertaining for you and your family to see. Dogs also love to go for walks in the parks for some healthy exercise, or play an exciting game of fetch. Undoubtedly, dogs are very amusing animals and most of the fun comes from the owner interacting with their pet, unlike cats. I’ll explain below.

Cons For Dogs: Fun stems from an energetic and friendly attitude, which is precisely where dogs excel. If you are looking for a fun pet then, dogs will rarely disappoint. No real cons come to mind in this department.

Pros for Cats: Cats, despite their supposed sophisticated demeanor, are captivated by the simplest of things. If you’ve raised a kitten before, the first thing that stands out is their ability to entertain themselves with absolutely anything. It’s a cat’s self-entertainment that is so enthralling and fun to watch.

My cats will attack innocent rugs, rolling themselves up inside and clawing at the furry mat as if it were alive. They’ll also chase their own tails around in circles until they get dizzy, in which case they’ll stop for a few seconds, and do it all over again! Cats will stalk bugs in the house, hiding behind cover and methodically pacing themselves towards the unsuspecting insect, then they crouch down, shake their behinds back and forth until finally ending with a vicious pounce. It’s hilarious to see, and you would be surprised at how effective cats are at eliminating bugs.

If you want to participate in on the fun and interact with a cat, you can. All you need is a single piece of string. Seriously, cats cannot resist the opportunity to play with a piece of string. Even if you were to wake a cat up in the middle of the night, and they see a string wiggling vigorously in front of them, they’ll instantly become wide awake and start playing around with it.

Cons for Cats: While cats will amuse themselves with simple things, you’ll have a hard time getting them to learn any tricks. Or going for walks. Or playing with things that are not strings or string equivalents. Oh well!

Conclusion: Two different styles of fun are at work here. Dogs are more willing to learn and play with their owner, and that’s fun. Cats on the other-hand, are more willing to amuse themselves, which is fun for the owner to watch.

Cost – How Much Will These Pet Dogs and Cats Cost Me?

Dogs: The average cost of a dog varies and is usually dependent on their size. Bigger dogs such as German Shepherds will require more food to eat, while smaller puppies like a Maltipoo need much less. The more food you buy, the costlier it becomes. Other dog expenses might include flea medications, chewing toys, cord covers to protect electrical wiring, and a new shiny pair of shoes if they get chewed up! If your dog is not potty trained for the outdoors, pee pads can cost money as well.

Cats: Cat expenses include dry food, flea medications, litter boxes plus litter (unless you let the cat outside all the time), and possibly hairball medication if they struggle getting a hairball up. Cats most often than not don’t have trouble with hairballs because dry foods have a specific ingredient to help lubricate the hair. Also, don’t forget scratching posts for the cats to scratch, the posts cost substantially less than the furniture!

Conclusion: Both cats and dogs require money to take care of, is anyone surprised? Dogs may cost more if you get a bigger breed.

There you go! Those are the positives and negatives for owning a pet dog or cat. They each come with their own unique set of problems, but if you are able to look past them and pick a pet that has a personality that closely matches your own, I think it’s a decision you won’t regret making.

You could also just get both. Dogs and cats living together… what a crazy thought, but it’s possible. I do it!

 

When it comes to the choice between using an online travel agency or not for your next trip, there are several factors to consider with several pros and cons.

One of the main concerns that seem to arise with online travel agencies is the trustworthiness and security of paying such large amounts of money online. While online security is a major factor for any online travel agency, this is true of all online businesses. So it is more a matter of choosing a travel agency online with a quality reputation by looking at their customer reviews and see what their actual site itself is like. What’s more, when you are logging on and preparing to pay for any online costs, there should always be that small symbol of a lock at the bottom right hand side of the screen as a sign of the level of security attached.

The benefits of using online travel agencies are that unlike their physical counterparts, they are available at any time, ideal for emergency travel situations, and also for any late after-hours bookings that you need to complete. Additionally you can compare travel deals and special available all over the world in order to find the very best deal for you and your travels. What this means is that while a physical travel agency will have a great range of deals for you, they are limited by who they can work with in terms of other travel professionals. With these online agencies, it up to you to decide who you work with, allowing you to create your ideal travel plans.

What you may also find when working with online travel agencies that you will have a great range of methods to pay for the holiday, offering greater flexibility and financial choice. These choices can range from the standard credit cards and accounts to payment plans and travel accounts.

Overall when talking online travel agencies it is more a matter of preference of the customer and how they prefer to do their business, either online or in person, that should dictate how they book their travel plans.

 

International travel can be a great experience; it allows you to witness many new cultures and lifestyles. International travel has many benefits which make it better than your traditional domestic vacation. Depending on your destination, traveling abroad can also save you money because of the current exchange rate. These rates change and may not be available in the future. A good exchange rate or activity that you would like to see may not be available if you put off planning the vacation. Another benefit of planning an international trip today is the current technology, which makes booking a trip easy. Technology can help eliminate the hassle of finding the best prices and locations based on your budget.

Traveling, whether for a long weekend away to a nearby country, or clear across the globe, is invigorating, refreshing and expands so much in one’s life that it is something that more people should do. Traveling abroad can greatly change your life for the better because there are many cultures and lifestyles to experience. These cultures can provide you with an entirely new perspective on life. Once you begin experiencing the beauty of the world, you may even begin planning yearly international vacations.

Currency rates fluctuate regularly and, as stated before, this may be a good reason to plan an international vacation today. Money is necessary if you are planning to travel and see the sights the country has to offer. If your currency can be exchanged at a reasonable rate, this can greatly improve your vacation experience. This is an important reason for traveling internationally now since you can get the most out of your trip. If you put the trip off the exchange rate may change for the worse and you can lose money after arriving at your destination.

Practical reasons

However, let us get down to the more practical reasons for traveling internationally. Frankly, it is understandable why most people would be hesitant to travel now. The economy appears to be in bad shape and many people are trying to save money. However, in some instances, this can be beneficial for travel, the airlines may lower their prices in order to get your business and this can save you money. Airline prices also fluctuate between airlines and by looking around you may find a special promotional vacation package that may not be available in the future.

Vacations are meant to be fun and enjoyable and this is another reason for traveling abroad today. There are many locations to visit from the beaches of the Caribbean to the beautiful and exquisite city of Paris, France. Experiencing something new is always the best way to live and an international vacation provides just that. This can spice up your life by allowing you to find things that you would not normally consider trying.

In fact, these days traveling is so much easier, more efficient and less time consuming than it used to be. We can travel across the globe faster and it requires much less energy than was required years ago. It is also possible watch TV, movies or listening to music while traveling. On some airlines, you can even follow the path of your airplane via satellite!

Technology and travel

Due to the technology available, planning a vacation can be stress-free as well. By using the internet to purchase your international flight tickets, you can plan your trip, get travel advice, and shop around for great deals. Technology has come a long way especially for finding the best travel packages. You can book your hotel, car, flight, and even your entertainment all on one website. If you are unsure of your destination, you can browse through the millions of videos and pictures of different locations to find which location best suits you. Planning an international trip can be an enjoyable experience when compared to the hassle involved years ago.

It is highly recommended to travel abroad at least once in your life and there are many benefits to planning your trip now. Saving money is the main reason for planning your trip today. When traveling abroad, you may have to exchange your money for the local currency. Currency exchange rates change frequently and this can have a large impact on your vacation. Since you do not know what the rates are going to be in the future, it is best to plan your trip while a good rate is available. You should also consider planning a trip because of the cultural value. Experiencing new cultures and lifestyles can help provide much value to your life. It may even change your life completely because you may find something new that you like. If you are planning an international trip, you should consider these suggestions because they can help you get the most out of your trip.

 

The reason I love animals so much is that they give off an attitude of happiness, innocence and unconditional love to their people.  Our pets are just as happy being a part of our household as we are of having them with us.

But sometimes an animal comes into our life that is a bit “out there!”

For instance, the dog that has an irrational fear of rain and won’t for the life of him go outside to potty during a rain shower.  Or the cat who hides for hours when a friend comes over.  Or, how about the dog with attachment issues that destroys the house while you’re at work?  Any of these sound familiar?

My cat’s, Sammie and Max, love to hang out on our screened-in patio.  But whenever the garbage truck comes rolling in, they flee for their lives!

It might sound crazy to us, but whatever your animal’s fears or wacky behaviors may be, they are completely legitimate in their minds.

Using essential oils on your animals can really take the edge off of their anxiety, big time!

Because of an animal’s heightened senses, they respond very well to essential oils.  In the wild, animals eat specific plants to heal themselves.  In captivity (our homes), the plant kingdom is not readily available.  Using essential oils on your pet gives them access to the vast healing properties of nature.

The three best essential oils to calm your pets are:

Lavender

Roman Chamomile

Peace & Calming® (a blend from Young Living)

These essential oils can be used to support your animal with; fear of rain and thunderstorms, separation anxiety, hyperactivity, trauma/abuse, depression, Illness, trips to the vet’s office, grief/loss of another family pet and any other situation that causes great stress for your animal, such as garbage trucks!

When you apply essential oils to animals, always remember less is more as animals are very sensitive to essential oils.

Also, with animals, it’s best to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil such as organic olive oil.  I recommend one part essential oil to 1 part carrier oil for all animals EXCEPT cats. The dilution ratio for cats is 1 part essential oil to 10 parts carrier oil.

Use caution with cats!

Any of the essential oils listed in this article are safe for dogs and horses, however; cats are a different story! Cats are extremely sensitive to essential oils containing phenols, such as oregano and thyme. Cats can not effectively metabolize phenols because they lack an enzyme in their liver to digest the phenols. Avoid Peace & Calming® essential oil blend on your cat, as it does contain phenols. Lavender and Roman Chamomile essential oils ARE safe for cats.

How to apply essential oils on dogs, horses and cats:

For calming dogs:

Mix 1 drop Lavender, Roman Chamomile or Peace & Calming® essential oil with 1 drop carrier oil.  Rub this mixture on your dogs pads, ears or comb through their fur.  Apply any time you sense your dog is stressed.

For calming horses:

Mix 1 drop Lavender, Roman Chamomile or Peace & Calming® essential oil with 1 drop carrier oil. Rub this mixture on your horse’s muzzle, ears or cornet bands. Apply any time your horse is stressed.

For calming cats:

Mix 1 drop Lavender or Roman Chamomile essential oil with 10 drops carrier oil. Rub this mixture on your cat’s pads, ears or comb through their fur. Apply any time your cat is stressed.

By the way, the essential oils in this article are also good for easing your anxieties, too!  Dilution is not required on humans.  Just apply a drop or two on your wrists, shoulders or behind your ears.

And the next time you’re opening up a bottle of lavender essential oil, share some with your animal friends!  They’ll thank you!

© 2008 Christa McCourt

Introduction to the Topic

Australia is one of only a few countries with the capabilities to design cars from scratch and manufacture in significant volumes. Car sales in Australia are also an important factor of the Australian Automotive Industry and the Australian Economy in total.

The Australian Auto Industry (A.A.I. in short) can be divided into two interrelated sectors, the Production ( Manufacturing) sector and the Car Sales (or Import-Sales) sector, both equally important for the total performance of the A.A.I. On one hand, the Manufacturing sector refers to the market conditions under which Australian Manufacturing businesses compete, by producing vehicles and related products, with the main aim of maximizing profits. On the other hand, the Sales sector refers to the market conditions under which car representative sale businesses compete, by the sale of cars and related products, having the same aim with businesses within sector one.

It is very important to state the distinction between these two sectors within the A.A.I., as we will be talking about two different market structures, business strategies, competition conditions, e.t.c. In order to analyse these market structures it would be appropriate to develop two economic models, one for each A.A.I. sector.

1.1-Analyzing the Manufacturing Sector

There is only one market structure that can best describe the market conditions in the Manufacturing sector if A.A.I., this is Oligopoly. As there are only two organizations that produce cars in Australia, and these are Ford and Holden, the competition methods and pricing strategies are based between these two organizations. The following economic model shall help define the competition and economic conditions for the Australian Automotive Manufacturing market.

The first important characteristic of Oligopoly that needs to be stated is that prices between competitors tend to be “sticky”, which means that they change less frequently than any other market structure. This statement will be explained in more detail later on, when we will be developing the Game-Theory model, as it is a very important concept of competition. The second most important characteristic is that when prices do change, firms are likely to change their pricing policies together. These two characteristics can boost up competition within the market. Firms will either try to match rivals’ price changes or ignore them. This is depended on the Game-Theory that is explained bellow.

However, the recent market conditions for the Australian Automotive Industry and the actions of the Australian Government have worsen the competition conditions and possible pricing options available for firms in the market. The production and maintenance costs for a manufacturing business in Australia are already high and rising, mostly due to lack of economic resources and advance of technology. That is, as Holden and Ford try to compete each other, given that prices tend to be “sticky”, they are forced to focus on technological advantage and marketing. Both of these business sectors produce high costs. Furthermore, the Australian government has made it clear that is unwilling to further subsidize automotive organizations in the market. All these factors stated above produce a negative effect on the competitiveness of both firms. In other words, rising costs alongside with decreased revenue push firms in experiencing lower and decreasing levels of profitability.

Profitability and the level of competitiveness are highly interrelated in an oligopolistic market structure, being the two most important factors, alongside with product differentiation, in the competition policies that the firms follow. When we say that the level of competitiveness of a firm is very low, we mean that the firm cannot react effectively to any price changes or competition changes or even changes in production costs. This may leave the firm depended on its’ competitor’s pricing and competition actions, not being able to affect the market competitiveness at all. The firm is then exposed to external danger and can be pushed out of the market, or even worse to shut production and declare bankrupt.

1.2- The Game-Theory Model for Oligopoly

The Game Theory model is used to explain the pricing and competition policies of firms in an oligopolistic market structure. Furthermore, it can show the few different competition policies based on pricing that the two firms can follow, that is High and Low as stated above. All firms in this market structure follow a Game-Theory model, although it is surely more detailed than our example, in the process of trying to forecast competitors’ pricing and competition movements and also keep track of the competition levels in the market and market share. But how does this happen?

For example, let’s say that there are four different fields, each divided in half. These fields represent the pricing strategies that Holden and Ford may use in the process of competing each other. Field A and C represent a High-Pricing policy for Holden, while fields A and B represent a High-Pricing policy for Ford. Lastly, fields B and D represent a Low-Pricing policy for Holden, while fields C and D represent a Low-Pricing policy for Ford. When both firms decide to follow a High-Pricing policy they share a profit of, let’s say, $12 million. If Holden decided to move to a Low-Pricing policy it will experience a maximum of $15 million profit, while Ford’s profitability will fall to $6 million. The exact opposite may also occur, while if both firms decided to follow a Low-Pricing policy they would realize a maximum of $8 million of profit.

What we can identify from the above example is that firms in an oligopolistic competitive market rarely change their pricing policies because this may produce a negative effect on their profitability levels. However, Holden and Ford, being the only two firms in the Australian Automotive Industry, they will focus on competing through product differentiation and marketing. That is, they will try to compete by differentiating their products, for example by producing vehicles with different features, or even base their production on technological advantage. Marketing plays an important role here, as it is the main tool that delivers and connects the customer with product. For example, if Holden introduces a new driving technology that improves driving experience and safety and produces this technology alongside with a newly designed vehicle, it is quite likely that Holden will effectively differentiate its newly designed vehicle from a relative vehicle of Ford and lure more customers in the store. Holden may also use marketing techniques to deliver this technology to the public, in the form of knowledge; hence try to boost sales without changing its pricing policy. However, it is important to state that this new technology may produce higher production costs, if not evaluated properly; hence Holden can only rely in increasing its market share to gain greater profitability. The sales part, however, will be analyzed in more extend within the next chapter of this report.

The Game-Theory is not just a theory for the Automotive Industry in Australia, it’s a fact. It shows us that auto manufacturers in Australia have based their competition strategies on all the factors stated above and as much as they possibly can on pricing strategies. They may advertise that they have low prices, but in fact their prices are very stable. If we have a close look at Holden’s or Ford’s websites, we will identify that there is a huge variety of products and each firm competes in that. However, the new market conditions stated before have greatly changed the way auto manufacturers think of the future and this in turn may change their pricing and competition policies, or even determine their existence in the market.

2.1- Analyzing the Import/Sales Sector

While the auto manufacturers are considered to be operating in an oligopolistic market structure, importing and selling vehicles or relative products is a different story. The import and sale of vehicles is the second and equally important business sector of the Australian Automotive Industry. There are many different car selling businesses and we shall only consider first-hand sales, as second-hand sales in general are not included in economics and more specifically in GDP measurements. To enter the industry hard at all as there are not many barriers to entry, however someone who is interested needs to consider of the high costs in setting up an automotive dealership. All businesses in this market are mostly based on product differentiation to compete and while prices are not “sticky”, pricing competition is set up by the market mechanism and tends not to be considered a regular phenomenon. Lastly, cost analysis and cost management play a very important role. All of the above characteristics refer to the Monopolistic Competition Market Structure. In this market structure we will focus on two phases, the short-run phase and the long-run phase, each with different competition characteristics and outcomes.

An important factor that we need to state here is that when the costs of developing a vehicle in the manufacturing sector rise, then the cost for selling the vehicle for a dealership may rise as well. This is always depended of course on if the vehicle was produced in Australia and if it was produced overseas, under what economic conditions was it produced. Price might be “sticky” for manufacturers, however prices will change much easier in this sector if needs be. Here firms will change their pricing policies if costs either rise or fall and this is always depended on the market mechanism. The amount of competitiveness along with the amount of price elasticity of demand will depend on how many rivals the monopolistic competitive firm will have to face.

In such market the following situation is very common, a situation that helps us distinct between short-run and long-run:

Stage One

In this stage the firm experiences economic profits. However, this fact will draw new firms in the market causing the profits to be competed away.

Stage Two

The economic losses indicated in this stage will cause many firms to exit the market, as they cannot keep selling under these market conditions.

Stage Three

In the final stage, the market clears-up, or reaches equilibrium point. As all firms that needed to exit the market have done so, the market mechanism comes to the point where no economic profits/losses are realized by the firms. This is the point where the market is most stable.

Studying the situation above we can identify one very important fact for any monopolistic competitive firm in the Australian Automotive Industry/ Sales sector. That is that in this market structure, in the long run, firms will realize only normal profits and the market mechanism will eventually reach an equilibrium point. Hence, in the long-run firms will compete mostly through product differentiation. However, in the short run firms may experience economic profits or losses and this is what causes firms to enter or exit the market and “shows” firms how to compete and when to apply pricing competition policies.

Conclusion

The Australian Automotive Industry may be experiencing rough market conditions, mostly because there is no more government support; however competition and profit maximization is still possible. Thinking of moving overseas is not always a good option for the manufacturing businesses, as the Australian Economy needs the manufacturing sector, as it represents a reasonably big part of GDP.

Market competition conditions are well defined for every manufacturer or car dealership, hence any business in the market ought to use the available to them competition strategies and achieve higher market share and profitability level or stabilize its profitability levels. Either way, these are the main goals for almost every profit-motivated business in any market type under any market structure. However, every business ought to define the market structure that is operating in, so that it can then clearly define its goals, strategies and policies. The market mechanism is in all cases responsible for all the above strategies and most of the cases responsible for setting up pricing policies or indicating pricing and marketing strategies.

One of the main purposes of travel is to gain experiences that allow us to grow and develop as individuals and it is important that people travel the way that bests suits them at a particular time. For example, I like to go on adventure holidays and this invariably includes a small group and expert guide, and I frequently participate in writing retreats around the world with like-minded people. However for me, the real joy of travelling has always been to take off on my own and just ‘see’ what comes along the way. Of course this can sometimes be fraught with frustrations, difficulties and even dangers.

Advantages of travelling alone

  • Freedom
    Most people who travel alone generally cite freedom as the great motivating factor: freedom to please themselves, go where and when they want, change their plans on a whim when they hear about something that is a ‘must’ to see, and to accept spontaneous invitations by locals.
  • No compromises
    This is associated with the previous point. Even if travelling with one other person, be it friend, colleague, lover or spouse, there will always be some compromises required. Not everyone has the same interests or the same energy levels, some people need to be emotionally supported all the time, others are apathetic, some have different attitudes to time. With solo travel, there is no peer pressure over finances, the unspoken need to divide up restaurant bills equally, or guilt trips when you want to go off on your own for a while.
  • Meeting people
    Travelling solo does not mean that you will always be alone. In fact, it allows you to meet more people because other tourists and locals find an individual traveller more approachable than those in a tightly-knit group. Also, people in groups have very little need to reach out to others for communication. I have met more people, had more interesting conversations and invitations and made more long-term friends while eating alone in foreign restaurants or sitting alone at bars. But then I am gregarious. Travelling alone allows you to choose the people you wish to spend time with rather than having to face the day-after-day annoyances of the inevitable clowns and whingers found in any large group.
  • Discoveries
    There is a real sense of discovery involved in travelling on your own, and that includes self-discovery. You don’t have to rely on an often ill-informed guide to lead you around on a leash, and there’s the surprise and thrill when you find something you weren’t expecting, like the time I became lost and ended up in a small Bavarian village with a monastery that contained a library with tens of thousands of Medieval manuscripts. Travelling alone allows you to discover more about yourself as you overcome simple challenges such as missing a bus or boat and realizing there is no other for a day or a week. Then there is the sense of achievement when solving much more challenging problems like finding yourself lost in a strange town at midnight or running out of money on a holiday weekend with no ATM in sight and the banks closed.

Disadvantages of travelling alone

  • The single supplement
    For those who like to stay in decent hotels, there is the unfair single supplement that can add thousands to the cost of your trip.
  • Lack of help
    There is no one to watch your luggage while you go to the restrooms at airports or train stations, no one to help with persistent touts, no one to be there for you if you get sick or if you are being stalked or harassed by a determined male in the street.
  • Photos
    There are times when I would like to have had more taken of myself in certain places, but there again, there are always people willing to snap one or two for you.

I know there will be times in the future when I will travel as part of a group out of choice because I want to visit areas where it is just not possible or sensible for a woman alone, or because I wish to be with family or like-minded people. However, due to my particular personality traits, my preference is to travel alone. I guess it really doesn’t matter how people travel, but that they travel.

 

What is advertising?

It is hard to find a satisfactory definition of advertising.

A picturesque way of putting it is to call it business imagination, an imagination that sees in a product possibilities which can be realized only by appealing to the public in new ways to create a desire where none existed before. It is a very broad word, an omnibus word conveying different ideas to different people.

No advertising definition is here possible except as this entire article may be accepted as a definition. So rapidly has advertising advanced through its various changes that even the latest dictionaries and encyclopedias are out of date in their attempts to define it. The advertising of yesterday is not the advertising of today. Men not so very old have witnessed its entire development from an untrustworthy instrument of quacks to its place as an engine in the conduct and expansion of business.

Advertising in the dictionary sense has a history as old as that of the human race. Just as soon as there were enough people in the world, some sort of formal announcement had to be made. The early history of such announcements – from proclamations to the beginning of pictorial and lettered inscriptions, from these primitive posters to the discovery of printing, and from the advent of printing to the beginning of real advertising – is of interest only to the archaeologist. It is of no value to the business entrepreneur. It would be of no assistance to understanding modern advertising than ancient Phoenicians coins would be to comprehending the principles of a modern bank.

Every attempt to secure the sale of a product or service is advertising. The wares of the primitive merchant displayed invitingly in front of his booth is advertising. A want ad, to secure a job or an employee, is advertising. An inscription on a wall, the barker in front of a side show, the promises of an internet marketer, the announcement of a new online technology, membership in an affiliate program, wearing a peculiar shirt or distinctive sticker in your car – all these are forms of advertising in that they seek to attract attention to a product or a service that is for sale. For a product or a service of general use, rich and poor, high and low, men, women and even children, must be appealed to.

At least one principle we know of, stays constant, not eroding with the passing of time or the use and or abuse of men, not concerned with the weather outside, nor considering your personal health status, or taking into account your surrounding circumstances, and that is that you have to keep doing it, it has to be fed, no way around it, it keeps asking for every ounce of your commitment if you expect any kind of visible returns.

Whatever the appropriate definition of advertisement is, one thing is to conclude, it is because it has been. And every succeeding year since the beginning of the human entrepreneurship it has left its precious deposit of new ideas, better methods, larger and swifter efficiency, and the promise of an even greater growth.

 

A recent survey conducted by this writer on the Internet for a quick, snap shot sense of the subject matter, immediately revealed that there’s a state of relatively scanty knowledge of, or information about, this particular refined petroleum product called the AGO, among international oil dealers and suppliers. In deed, in one rather remarkable instance involving a popular ‘Ask for Answers’ online discussion portal, one reader expressly posited the question, soliciting information from the readers as to what is/was ‘the meaning’ of the petroleum term AGO, among three other refined petroleum products, which he went on to list – DPK, PMS, JET A1. There was just one response – a response that has stood the same for 5 years since. Oddly enough, however, of the 4 oil products that the answerer named, the answerer was exactly accurate in the definition he proffered on three of those. But, on ONLY one of them, the AGO product, the answer given by the answerer was somewhat slightly off, as he gave the definition of the product as meaning ‘Automotive Gas & Oils.’

So, first, we start with this basic question: What is AGO Oil Product, or the Automotive Gas Oil?

What the AGO Oil Product Is

The term AGO, which specifically stands for the Automotive Gas Oil, is the name given to the fuel type that’s used by road vehicles (cars, trucks, buses, vans, and the like) that are powered by DIESEL engines. That is, in a word, it is the diesel vehicle engine fuel. In terms of how the fuel gets to be produced or manufactured, the fuel is the type that, in the distillation and processing of crude oil work, is obtained in the mid-boiling range of that process. Related fuels which are used for non-road applications including off-road diesel engines, such as the Industrial Gas Oils (IGOs), are obtained from the same ‘fraction’ of the crude oil barrel.

Technically speaking, the term Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) is the technical name used by the oil industry in describing this particular fuel. However, in terms of the ordinary consumers in the market, the term ‘automotive diesel fuel,’ or just plain ‘diesel,’ is the more commonly used and more widespread name that the ordinary consumer uses in describing this fuel. Petroleum products are usually grouped into THREE categories: the ‘light distillates’ (LPG, gasoline, naphtha), the ‘middle’ distillates (kerosene, diesel), and the ‘heavy’ distillates and residuum (heavy fuel oil, lubricating oils, wax, asphalt). This classification is based primarily on the way crude oil is distilled and separated into fractions (called distillates and residuum). Within the oil industry, the generic oil industry name that’s used to describe gasoils – which include both AGO and IGO – fall under the ‘Middle Distillates’ category, meaning those kinds of refined oil products whose ‘boiling range’ fall in the MIDDLE, that is, between those whose range fall in the higher levels or in the lower levels. (See the Chart below). As you can readily see in the Chart below, at a Boiling Range of between 520 to 650, the AGO falls right in the middle range of most categories of the refined oil products.

The Market & Primary Uses of the AGO oil Product Among Its Customers

AGO is used in two main types of vehicles: 1) the heavy-duty vehicles, such as trucks and buses, and 2) the light-duty vehicles, such as vans and passenger cars. In most countries, including the USA as well as the developing countries, the heavy-duty vehicles make up the bulk of the market for AGO. In a country such as Japan, there is a significant light-duty vehicle sector, but it is in Europe that the demand for AGO from this sector is highest, with more than one-third coming from the passenger cars and other light vehicles. Customer requirements between the two types of fuel usage differ to some extent. Diesel engines are widely used in heavy-duty vehicles. Such vehicles are frequently operated in fleets and are re-fuelled centrally with the fuel delivered directly from the supplier. In the light-duty vehicle sector, recent advances in engine design now also allow light-duty diesel engines to compete with gasoline engines in terms of the performance standards. Light-duty vehicles are generally re-fuelled through retail outlets. In any case, whether it is in the light-duty sector or in the heavy-duty sector, in both sectors the customer will generally be looking for the fuel that provides economy, power, reliability and environmental acceptability.

Use As Car Fuel

Diesel-powered vehicles, such as AGO-powered vehicles, generally have a better fuel economy than equivalent gasoline engines and produce less greenhouse gas emission. Their greater economy is due to the higher energy per-liter content of diesel fuel and the intrinsic efficiency of the diesel engine. True, petrodiesel’s higher density results in higher greenhouse gas emissions per liter compared to gasoline. However, the modern diesel-engine automobiles have a 20-40% better fuel economy, and this well offsets the higher per-liter emissions of greenhouse gases, while a diesel-powered vehicle emits 10-20 percent less greenhouse gas than comparable gasoline vehicles. Biodiesel-powered diesel engines offer substantially improved emission reductions compared to petrodiesel or gasoline-powered engines, while retaining most of the fuel economy advantages over conventional gasoline-powered automobiles.

How Crude Oil Fractions Are Processed Into Refined Oil Products, Including AGO and Other Products

How do we get to have refined petroleum products, of which a product like AGO is one? Put simply, it is out of the refinery processing (i.e., out of the ‘refining’) of crude oil that many other usable products – products that we generally refer to as refined or finished petroleum products – are produced. Meaning products such as gasoil, gasoline, kerosene, AGO, etc. The process of oil ‘refining’ or processing is a very complex one, and involves both chemical reactions and physical separations. The substance that’s called Crude Oil is composed of thousands of different ‘molecules,’ and according to chemical engineers and molecular experts, it would be nearly impossible to isolate every molecule that exists in crude oil and thereby make finished products from each molecule.

Consequently, the way chemists and engineers deal with this problem, is simply by them isolating the mixtures (also called ‘fractions’) of molecules according to what is known as the mixture’s “boiling point range.” For example, molecules for the gasoline product might boil within the ‘range’ of from 90 to 400 oF. While the range at which the home heating oil product’s molecular mixes could boil might be from 500 to 650 oF, and so on. For purposes of convenience and simplification, each mixture or fraction is assigned a specific name to identify it.

The following chart illustrates the ‘boiling range’ and name of the petroleum fractions.

Fraction

Boiling Range,oF.

Butanes and lighter

<90

Light straight run gasoline (LSR)

or light naphtha (LN)

90-190

Naphtha or heavy naphtha (HN)

190-380

Kerosene

380-520

Distillate or atmospheric gas oil (AGO)

520-650

Residua

650 +

Vacuum gas oil (VGO)

650-1000

Vacuum Residua

1000 +

In sum, refined products are products that are produced by isolating the mixtures or fractions of molecules that come from the raw crude oil, and combining them, along with those from various refinery processing units. These fractions are ‘blended’ or mixed to satisfy specific properties that are important in allowing the refined product to perform in accordance with the specifications or requirements that are designed by or in an engine, in terms of ease in handling, reducing the undesirable emissions produced when the product is burned, etc

FINDING OR OBTAINING A SUPPLY OF THE AGO

Simply stated, the KEY term and task here is finding an authentic AGO oil product supply or supplier. Or an AGO buyer, as the case may be. Why? This is simply because, today, in the international refined oil products trading market, specially in the so-called “secondary” market, probably the single most fundamental and most difficult common problem which legitimate dealers who seek to find reliable suppliers have, is often NOT so much finding a party who will claim heaven and earth that he/she has the AGO oil product to sell and can supply you the product. Or that he can buy one from you, as the case may be. BUT finding such a party who is actually AUTHENTIC & LEGITIMATE, and can actually DELIVER on the product.

MOST PEOPLE WHO SAY THEY’RE SUPPLIERS OF PRODUCT PROVIDE NO VERIFIED OR VERIFIABLE PROOFS OR SOURCES

A well-established reality and a given today, is that in world oil deals involving trading in the crude oil and refined petroleum products, specially in the so-called international “secondary” market, probably the single most fundamental and most difficult common problem which legitimate buyers frequently confront today, is the problem of the genuineness and authenticity of the supplier of product and his ability to deliver on the sales offer he presents. Refined petroleum products, such as AGO, D2, Mazut, Jet fuel, etc., are certainly not immune or exempt from such endemic problem that seems to plague the entire secondary market oil trade industry, but rather are, in deed, right in the middle of it.

It’s a problem whose central source can simply be summed up in one word – namely, that not unlike most persons or entities who claim via the Internet to be oil or petroleum products suppliers or “sellers,” most who claim to be suppliers of AGO, as well (or of similar refined oil products, such as the diesel gasoil or Russian D2, Mazut, Jet fuels, and the like), either provide NO proofs or evidence at all of that, or provide proofs or evidence that are often absolutely meaningless because they’re unverified and unverifiable. That is, for the serious or credible Internet petroleum buyer involved in the world oil deals and seriously intent on finding duly verifiable authentic AGO oil product supply or supplier, there are generally just NO such supply or suppliers of the product in the so-called “secondary” market.

Most such serious or genuine AGO buyers (or suppliers, as well, as the case may be) seeking to find equally genuine AGO suppliers (or sellers seeking buyers, when applicable) in the international secondary market, find that the problem is particularly acute and compounded by the fact that almost all “sellers” (or suppliers), or their brokers or intermediaries, that one meets on the Internet, are essentially unknown, unestablished dealers who lack any name, reputation or identity, or any known location on the planet, and lack any record or history of past performance in doing the business. In consequence, a serious AGO buyer, for example, is often being asked – and actually being realistically expected – to, in effect, merely take “the word” of some dubious, anonymous, unidentified and apparently unidentifiable, phantom “seller” or “supplier” for it, with no credible supporting evidence provided, and no verification or authentication whatsoever of the Internet seller’s offer or claims.

In sum, he’s being asked – and actually being expected – to risk, or, rather, to gamble away, his hard-earned mini-fortune of some hundreds of millions of dollars merely on such a “word.”! This, it should be added, is being expected of the buyer in a business environment and climate that is patently awash in fraud and a network of notorious scammers worldwide!

WHERE TO BUY AGO OIL PRODUCT, HOW DO YOU FIND THE SUPPLIERS?

Clearly, then, if you are a real buyer of product seriously intent on finding authentic diesel AGO oil product supply or suppliers (or those of any similar refined oil products, such as the diesel gasoil or Russian D2, Mazut, Jet fuels, and the like) – meaning one that is duly verified and verifiable – probably the most critical, vital, even life-or-death task for you, is that you had better be sure to develop, in some way or manner, a skilled and effective strategy for finding, vetting, selecting out and authenticated suppliers that can provide you reliable steady supply of the product, and which will be scam-free, assured, and long-lasting.

How?

Quite oddly enough, the answer to that question is actually not that complicated or complex. For our limited purposes here, suffice it simply to just say, that there is, in fact, such a methodology, tool and strategy for doing just that long in practical use in the industry. Long in practical use by knowledgeable, experienced and trained eyes and experts, and the successful traders, in the business. If you are, yourself, in fact a provable legitimate trader or authentic practitioner of the petroleum trade (assuming you are actually one) operating in the secondary market, and are truly serious about finding and securing authentic and reliable AGO oil product supply or supplier, or about finding and securing a buyer of equivalent caliber for the product, as the case may be, that’s actually readily within your reach. There’s just really one crucial proviso, only – namely, PROVIDING that you’re equipped with the requisite knowledge, skill, training, tool, methodology and practical experience, by which to undertake the whole process of doing so.

To be sure, true, in today’s world oil deals of the international secondary market, including sourcing for AGO product, which is largely an Internet-dominated world, and is for the most part prevalently awash in fake dealers and scammers, finding duly verified authentic petroleum or automotive gas oil product supply, suppliers and sellers of such caliber (or buyers, just as well), is not ordinary or commonplace. Nor is it at all an easy task to attain. It is, however, by no means impracticable, nor are such suppliers non-existent. Far, far from it! Quite to the contrary, such suppliers abound. It’s only that you just have to search around for such suppliers (or the legitimate buyers, as well, as the case may be) more diligently and skillfully and in the right places from the right sources, and know precisely how and where. That requires, unavoidably, supreme industry knowledge, skills set, training, know-how, connections, precious time expenditure, and experience.

FOR A FOLLOW UP

YOU WANT TO FOLLOW UP ON HOW TO FIND AUTHENTIC AGO OIL PRODUCT SUPPLY OR SUPPLIERS, OR EVEN BUYERS, THAT ARE ALREADY VERIFIED, CONFIRMED AND VERIFIABLE AND SCAM-FREE? Please see the link provided in the author’s Resource Box below.

So you’re vegan and have this passionate love of food. You would like to pursue this passion further, but you’re not sure what the vegan cooking school options are out there. Happily, there are plenty! There are quite a few schools that focus on plant-based meals, and many that aren’t exclusively vegan can be geared toward you, so you won’t find yourself chopping chickens and preparing fish if you’re not into that.

There are many casual plant-based cooking classes around the world if you’re looking for something just for fun without any fancy certification. In this article, though, I focus more on professional programs that have varying degrees of intensity. Some require only a little time and money if you don’t want to be a professional chef; others will take you the full distance to running your own kitchen.

Without further ado and in no particular order, here’s a list of some popular schools around the world, with some information about each.

Living Light Culinary Arts Institute
Where is it? Fort Bragg, California
What do they offer? 100% vegan and raw food instruction
When do the programs run? Multiple times a year, depending on the program
Website: rawfoodchef.com

The Living Light Culinary Arts Institute is located in a small coastal community on the Mendocino coast. If you love the ocean, temperate weather, and raw vegan cuisine, you’ll love this school. Run by Cherie Soria, the “mother of raw food”, this is THE raw foods institute. This is the one that draws people in from all around the world and produces top-of-the-line celebrity chefs of all kinds.

There are several types of courses, including a Gourmet Chef Certification Series (6 weeks), Advanced Instructor Training Certification Series (4 weeks), Raw Food Nutrition Educator Series, and the full-out Professional Chef Series, which runs almost an entire year, including a 250-day internship at the school.

Many of the well-known raw food chefs around the world went to Living Light for their training, including Chad Sarno and Jennifer Cornbleet.

The Natural Gourmet Institute
Where is it? New York, NY
What do they offer? Public classes and professional chef training that are plant-based and vegan-friendly
When do the programs run? Inquire by e-mail on their website
Website: naturalgourmetinstitute.com

The Chef’s Training program they offer is an intensive, professional course which can be taken part-time or full-time, but runs 619 hours. This school does teach people how to prepare seafood, chicken and eggs, but if you’re vegan you can opt out of that. This school teaches a wide range of cooking styles, including how to ferment, prepare raw foods and macrobiotic foods, and even Chinese medicine and medicinal cooking. The emphasis is on whole, plant foods.

The Natural Gourmet Institute offers a fun Friday night dinner, where the people enrolled in the school prepare a fine-dining experience for the general public at big, communal tables (with candlelight!), so if you’re in the area, you could swing by and see what it’s all about.

The Matthew Kenney Academyformerly the 105 Degrees Academy
Where is it? Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
What do they offer? Chef certification program in raw foods
When do the programs run? Monthly, or several times a year for the more advanced classes
Website: kenneycuisine.com

Matthew Kenney offers very small and personal raw food chef’s training classes (typically 4-8 people). It’s designed for beginners and chefs alike.

There are two 4-week training sessions – Level 1: Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine, and Level 2: Advanced Raw Cuisine. The Level 1 courses run every month and is Monday to Friday, 9am – 3pm. The Level 2 course runs 4 times a year and is the same hours as the Level 1 classes.

Cordon Vert School
Where is it? Altrincham, Cheshire, UK
What do they offer? Vegetarian leisure classes and workshops, a diploma program for professional chefs only
When do the programs run? Several times throughout the year; programs are short
Website: cordonvert.co.uk

The Cordon Vert School offers classes at their Vegetarian Society headquarters, and they even have rooms for lodging. They have a variety of vegetarian courses, ranging from 1 to 2 day workshops, classes for leisure, and professional classes. Their professional diploma class, a week in duration, is only available to professional chefs. However, their workshops and leisure courses are open to the general public, and occur frequently throughout the year.

Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts
Where is it? Austin, Texas
What do they offer? Full professional chef program that is vegan-friendly, public classes
When do the programs run? Begins every August and February
Website: naturalepicurean.com

This school specializes in vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, ayurvedic and raw food preparation and cuisine. They offer a full 900-hour professional chef training program. All of the training takes approximately a third of a year, if you jump straight from training into internship. This is an intensive course that will fully prepare you to work in a natural kitchen.

They also offer public classes, though they’re sparse and seldom due to the emphasis on the professional chef training program.

The School of Natural Cookery
Where is it? Boulder, Colorado
What do they offer? Professional training as a foundation course, with the option to go further
When do the programs run? Most are in the Fall and Spring
Website: naturalcookery.com

The foundation course at the School of Natural Cookery is a 16-week diploma course where you learn fundamentals, bread making, gastronomy, nutrition and more. If you achieve a very high mark in this course, you may take a 4-week personal chef course or teacher training course. However, in order to pursue the teacher training course, you must have finished their classes as well as have five years experience with natural food.

Courses are typically offered for a spring semester and a fall semester and run the duration of a typical school semester.

Vegan Culinary Academy
Where is it? Anguin, California
What do they offer? Online courses and a 1000 hour professional apprenticeship
When do the programs run? Anytime
Website: veganculinaryacademy.com

There are two major highlights of this school – first, someone who is looking for a professional apprenticeship opportunity will find it here, and it can be completed in six months to two years depending on how much you work, and second, they offer a distance learning program. The online program requires only that you have a camera and a computer with internet, and each student gets personal attention from the instructors in addition to all of the class materials and lessons. The apprenticeship is geared toward those who are already chefs, dietitians or food service directors.

Heaven on Earth Vegetarian Institute
Where is it? Hamilton-Stoney Creek, Ontario
What do they offer? A vegan, macrobiotic and ayurvedic 3-module program
When do the programs run? Mid-October to mid-March for all 3 modules
Website: heavenstudio.ca

This institute offers a Holistic Health Consultant & Cooking Certification program that runs in 3 modules and goes far beyond cooking. It delves into many aspects of holistic health, including yoga, pranayama, diet and lifestyle changes for preventing diseases, and of course healthy food preparation. All of the cooking is vegan with the exception of one class, where fish is included.

Natural Kitchen Cooking School
Where is it? Mercerfield, New Jersey, Haddonfield, New Jersey and New York City
What do they offer? A natural chef training program
When do the programs run? October to May, one weekend each month
Website: naturalkitchenschool.com

This school has several locations and occurs during weekends, making it more accessible. The class sizes are kept small (12 or less) so personal attention and assistance can be given.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it does cover the major vegan-friendly cooking schools out there. Every year, more and more small classes pop up in different cities, so if you’re just looking for some basic instruction and have no interest in pursuing a career in cooking, check out what your city (or nearby city) has to offer. If you are looking to get serious with preparing that awesome vegan food, there are a few great choices on this list that could help you achieve your dreams.

Reminiscing about the good old days when we were growing up is a memory trip well worth taking, when trying to understand the issues facing the children of today. A mere 20 years ago, children used to play outside all day, riding bikes, playing sports and building forts. Masters of imaginary games, children of the past created their own form of play that didn’t require costly equipment or parental supervision. Children of the past moved… a lot, and their sensory world was nature based and simple. In the past, family time was often spent doing chores, and children had expectations to meet on a daily basis. The dining room table was a central place where families came together to eat and talk about their day, and after dinner became the center for baking, crafts and homework.

Today’s families are different. Technology’s impact on the 21st century family is fracturing its very foundation, and causing a disintegration of core values that long ago were what held families together. Juggling work, home and community lives, parents now rely heavily on communication, information and transportation technology to make their lives faster and more efficient. Entertainment technology (TV, internet, videogames, iPods) has advanced so rapidly, that families have scarcely noticed the significant impact and changes to their family structure and lifestyles. A 2010 Kaiser Foundation study showed that elementary aged children use on average 8 hours per day of entertainment technology, 75% of these children have TV’s in their bedrooms, and 50% of North American homes have the TV on all day. Add emails, cell phones, internet surfing, and chat lines, and we begin to see the pervasive aspects of technology on our home lives and family milieu. Gone is dining room table conversation, replaced by the “big screen” and take out. Children now rely on technology for the majority of their play, grossly limiting challenges to their creativity and imaginations, as well as limiting necessary challenges to their bodies to achieve optimal sensory and motor development. Sedentary bodies bombarded with chaotic sensory stimulation, are resulting in delays in attaining child developmental milestones, with subsequent impact on basic foundation skills for achieving literacy. Hard wired for high speed, today’s young are entering school struggling with self regulation and attention skills necessary for learning, eventually becoming significant behavior management problems for teachers in the classroom.

So what is the impact of technology on the developing child? Children’s developing sensory and motor systems have biologically not evolved to accommodate this sedentary, yet frenzied and chaotic nature of today’s technology. The impact of rapidly advancing technology on the developing child has seen an increase of physical, psychological and behavior disorders that the health and education systems are just beginning to detect, much less understand. Child obesity and diabetes are now national epidemics in both Canada and the US. Diagnoses of ADHD, autism, coordination disorder, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders can be causally linked to technology overuse, and are increasing at an alarming rate. An urgent closer look at the critical factors for meeting developmental milestones, and the subsequent impact of technology on those factors, would assist parents, teachers and health professionals to better understand the complexities of this issue, and help create effective strategies to reduce technology use. The three critical factors for healthy physical and psychological child development are movement, touch and connection to other humans. Movement, touch and connection are forms of essential sensory input that are integral for the eventual development of a child’s motor and attachment systems. When movement, touch and connection are deprived, devastating consequences occur.

Young children require 3-4 hours per day of active rough and tumble play to achieve adequate sensory stimulation to their vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile systems for normal development. The critical period for attachment development is 0-7 months, where the infant-parent bond is best facilitated by close contact with the primary parent, and lots of eye contact. These types of sensory inputs ensure normal development of posture, bilateral coordination, optimal arousal states and self regulation necessary for achieving foundation skills for eventual school entry. Infants with low tone, toddlers failing to reach motor milestones, and children who are unable to pay attention or achieve basic foundation skills for literacy, are frequent visitors to pediatric physiotherapy and occupational therapy clinics. The use of safety restraint devices such as infant bucket seats and toddler carrying packs and strollers, have further limited movement, touch and connection, as have TV and videogame overuse. Many of today’s parents perceive outdoor play is ‘unsafe’, further limiting essential developmental components usually attained in outdoor rough and tumble play. Dr. Ashley Montagu, who has extensively studied the developing tactile sensory system, reports that when infants are deprived of human connection and touch, they fail to thrive and many eventually die. Dr. Montagu states that touch deprived infants develop into toddlers who exhibit excessive agitation and anxiety, and may become depressed by early childhood.

As children are connecting more and more to technology, society is seeing a disconnect from themselves, others and nature. As little children develop and form their identities, they often are incapable of discerning whether they are the “killing machine” seen on TV and in videogames, or just a shy and lonely little kid in need of a friend. TV and videogame addiction is causing an irreversible worldwide epidemic of mental and physical health disorders, yet we all find excuses to continue. Where 100 years ago we needed to move to survive, we are now under the assumption we need technology to survive. The catch is that technology is killing what we love the most…connection with other human beings. The critical period for attachment formation is 0 – 7 months of age. Attachment or connection is the formation of a primary bond between the developing infant and parent, and is integral to that developing child’s sense of security and safety. Healthy attachment formation results in a happy and calm child. Disruption or neglect of primary attachment results in an anxious and agitated child. Family over use of technology is gravely affecting not only early attachment formation, but also impacting negatively on child psychological and behavioral health.

Further analysis of the impact of technology on the developing child indicates that while the vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile and attachment systems are under stimulated, the visual and auditory sensory systems are in “overload”. This sensory imbalance creates huge problems in overall neurological development, as the brain’s anatomy, chemistry and pathways become permanently altered and impaired. Young children who are exposed to violence through TV and videogames are in a high state of adrenalin and stress, as the body does not know that what they are watching is not real. Children who overuse technology report persistent body sensations of overall “shaking”, increased breathing and heart rate, and a general state of “unease”. This can best be described as a persistent hypervigalent sensory system, still “on alert” for the oncoming assault from videogame characters. While the long term effects of this chronic state of stress in the developing child are unknown, we do know that chronic stress in adults results in a weakened immune system and a variety of serious diseases and disorders. Prolonged visual fixation on a fixed distance, two dimensional screen grossly limits ocular development necessary for eventual printing and reading. Consider the difference between visual location on a variety of different shaped and sized objects in the near and far distance (such as practiced in outdoor play), as opposed to looking at a fixed distance glowing screen. This rapid intensity, frequency and duration of visual and auditory stimulation results in a “hard wiring” of the child’s sensory system for high speed, with subsequent devastating effects on a child’s ability to imagine, attend and focus on academic tasks. Dr. Dimitri Christakis found that each hour of TV watched daily between the ages of 0 and 7 years equated to a 10% increase in attention problems by age seven years.

In 2001 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement recommending that children less than two years of age should not use any technology, yet toddlers 0 to 2 years of age average 2.2 hours of TV per day. The Academy further recommended that children older than two should restrict usage to one hour per day if they have any physical, psychological or behavioral problems, and two hours per day maximum if they don’t, yet parents of elementary children are allowing 8 hours per day. France has gone so far as to eliminate all “baby TV” due to the detrimental effects on child development. How can parents continue to live in a world where they know what is bad for their children, yet do nothing to help them? It appears that today’s families have been pulled into the “Virtual Reality Dream”, where everyone believes that life is something that requires an escape. The immediate gratification received from ongoing use of TV, videogame and internet technology, has replaced the desire for human connection.

It’s important to come together as parents, teachers and therapists to help society “wake up” and see the devastating effects technology is having not only on our child’s physical, psychological and behavioral health, but also on their ability to learn and sustain personal and family relationships. While technology is a train that will continually move forward, knowledge regarding its detrimental effects, and action taken toward balancing the use of technology with exercise and family time, will work toward sustaining our children, as well as saving our world. While no one can argue the benefits of advanced technology in today’s world, connection to these devices may have resulted in a disconnection from what society should value most, children. Rather than hugging, playing, rough housing, and conversing with children, parents are increasingly resorting to providing their children with more videogames, TV’s in the car, and the latest iPods and cell phone devices, creating a deep and widening chasm between parent and child.

Cris Rowan, pediatric occupational therapist and child development expert has developed a concept termed ‘Balanced Technology Management’ (BTM) where parents manage balance between activities children need for growth and success with technology use. Rowan’s company Zone’in Programs Inc. http://www.zonein.ca has developed a ‘System of Solutions’ for addressing technology overuse in children through the creation of Zone’in Products, Workshops, Training and Consultation services.