The Importance of Winding Down and How a Dog Can Help

Woman stroking a Golden Retriever in the street
Photo by Ed Yourdon

Why I’m a Stressed-Out Businessman

I have a lot of stress in my life at the moment. We’re going through a prolonged period of change at work, which means we need to adjust the way people are managed, make some difficult decisions about who stays in the organisation and who should be invited to leave, and arranging new accommodation for the entire workforce.

As facilities manager, the accommodation problem rests squarely on my shoulders. It’s a weighty problem to wrestle with because it affects the lives of so many people. Depending on where we end up, some staff will have a longer commute to work each day, which might cause any number of complications with child care, transport arrangements, not to mention the extra cost of fuel which is trending ever higher these days.

In addition to the personal implications for people working for my organisation, the choice of which facility I eventually decide on can impact the bottom line and the very survival of our business. If I go for a prime location, this will cost big bucks and could make our operation less viable economically, whereas if I go for a cheaper option, this will inevitably be further away from our customers and will be lacking in prestige. It’s a tough decision.

How my Dog Relaxes Me

With all this stress in my life during the working day, the last thing that I or my family need is for me to bring the worry and fretfulness of the workplace home with me. It’s bad for the health and bad for the ambience of the household.

So how do I relax?

I spend some time with my dog. This makes me feel better in a number of ways:

My Dog is Always Pleased to See Me

No matter how grumpy I am when I return from a hard day at the office, my dog is always pleased to see me. It’s as if I’ve just come back from a year at sea with the Navy. It doesn’t matter to my dog whether I’ve been away for a month or even for 5 minutes, each time I walk back into the room, he’s all wagging tails and eager to be petted.

This makes a pleasant change from some of the characters I have to deal with at work. Many of these folk try to avoid me or complain and moan to me when they see me. But not my dog, he’s always a sight for sore eyes.

Take the Dog for a Walk

I love taking my dog for a walk in the evening. It freshens me up, blows away the cobwebs and takes my mind off my worries. Not only am I getting a change of scenery and some fresh air, but I getting some much needed exercise and enjoying the company of my old friend.

I Groom and Pet My Dog

Studies have shown that stroking and petting a dog significantly reduces levels of stress – both for the human giving and for the dog receiving the attention. It’s a form of bonding.

There’s nothing that relaxes me more than sitting in my favourite armchair with my dog on my lap, watching a good film and striking the dog and sipping a large glass of red wine. Pretty soon my troubles have gone.

Once a week I groom my dog, which involves a wash with some specially formulated dog grooming products followed by a towel drying and a brush of the coat. This keeps his fur nice and clean, smelling great and crying out to be stroked.

This little routine is what I look forward to every day upon my return home and is what serves to mark the end of the working day and the beginning of my relaxing leisure time. I have no trouble sleeping after unwinding in this way (unlike some of my colleagues who complain of sleepless nights at the moment), and awake the next day feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead.

Why Playing the Guitar Makes Me a Better Businessman

Smart businessman playing the guitar on stage
Photo by Alex Grant (alextakesphotos)

I’ll bet that got your attention didn’t it? Guitarists are not generally known for their business acumen, right? No, mostly we hear about them throwing TV sets off hotel balconies or trashing their rooms for fun.

Well, it may surprise you to discover that many famous guitarists are actually very astute in the field of business and I can offer some reasons why this might be the case. All in the name of fun you understand, none of this is scientific fact, I just thought I’d lighten things up a little with a change of pace on the blog. And, by the way, if you actually fancy taking up the guitar, I’ve added a bit more info elsewhere on the site to give you my recommendation on how best to learn guitar.

Guitarists are Typically Better Educated

In my experience, guitarists tend to be better educated than their fellow band members, certainly better than the drummers I’ve played with, that’s for sure!

Let’s take Brian May as an example here. Brian is the guitarist with Queen, one of the most successful rock bands of all time. He may have gone a bit soft in recent years and become more interested in saving badgers and foxes than making fans’ ears bleed with the sheer awesomeness of his guitar playing, but he deserves his place in the rock and roll hall of fame, no doubt about it.

So it may surprise you to learn that he is in fact an astrophysicist with a PhD from Imperial College? Well, you shouldn’t be surprised because the study required to excel in the guitar not only exercises the fingers, but also the brain.

The possibilities on the guitar are endless. You have 6 strings, each with up to 24 frets that can be (literally) pressed into action to give a huge number of potential notes, and that’s before you even think about bending the strings to alter the pitch. It takes an able mind to make sense of all those options and mould them into good music.

Guitarists Need a Good Head for Business

This is as true today as it ever was. Without a head for business, you’ll be taken to the cleaners by the record companies, the agents and everyone else who wants to take a cut of your earnings as a musician. With the rise of the internet and the decrease in the reliance of musicians on the record companies to get their music published and distributed, big business is taking a back seat to innovation and the rise of talent over commerce.

A great example of how bands can empower themselves by making radical decisions in how they run their own businesses is Radiohead, who took the decision in 2008 to give away their latest album.

It was a great tactic and operated on the basis of inviting donations from those wanting to download the album. Loyal fans would pay perhaps quite a lot as a way of thanking the band for the music they have enjoyed during the band’s career; others could choose to pay as little as 45 pence, which only just covered the credit card handling fees.

By far the biggest benefit of this tactic, though, was the free publicity that the unusual distribution model generated. That alone would have paid for any loss of revenue suffered because of people downloading after making the minimum donation. Genius!

So, the evidence is clear. Guitarists are better at business…fact!

Why not take up the guitar yourself and see whether the benefits translate into improvements in your own business acumen? I can highly recommend a free website called, Guitar Instructions, where you can find all the information you’ll need to get you started.

Give it a try! You might even enjoy it.

Taling Ngam in Koh Samui

Taling NgamKoh Samui has been a top tourist destination in Thailand since the 1980s. In that time it has developed a comprehensive road system, first class hospitals, and an international airport as well an impressive array of leisure activities for visitors to the island. Amidst all this development there has been those who have expressed concerns for the environment, and there are those are saddened by the decline of traditional island life.

There are, however, still a few relatively undeveloped areas in Koh Samui. One of them is found in the southeast of the island at a place called Taling Ngam. It is a wide bay that is sometimes called ‘the most remote beach’ on Koh Samui. It is here that visitors can discover some of the most pristine natural scenery on Koh Samui, and also experience the atmosphere of a beach that does not rely exclusively on the money from tourism for its economic wellbeing.

Taling Ngam has a long stretch of white sand beach. Behind the beach is a wide piece of flat land covered in coconut palms. There is very little development in the area. There are a few shops (including a quirky guitar shop where the owner gives free guitar lessons) and resorts and a small fishing village. The local restaurants in Taling Ngam serve seafood freshly caught for some of the cheapest prices on the island.

The resorts in Taling Ngam are spread out along the beach. There are a few budget bungalows but most of Taling Ngam accommodation falls in the middle range. The notable exception is the newly opened Conrad Koh Samui (Hilton) that offers private pool villas that fan out around the side of a rocky outcrop.

On the beach there is the Sunset Beach Resort. This is one of the few resorts in Koh Samui that makes any effort to be environmentally friendly. Among its green features include a desalination plant that provides clean drinking water free of charge to guests. The Sunset Beach Resort also has a fitness center, spa, sauna and a communal pool.

There is no night life worth mentioning in Taling Ngam. That is also part of the charm of the beach. Those seeking late night thrills and the inevitable sex workers are nowhere to be seen in Taling Ngam. At night the highlight is watching the sunset and then listening to the sea lapping on the shore.

Need Some Help Choosing An E Cigarette?

Although the e cigarette has only been on the market for a few years, and hasn’t been widely advertised in the mainstream media, it’s a product which most smokers have now heard of. It’s unsurprising that many tobacco users are excited about the possibility of finding a cigarette replacement which would allow them to continue using nicotine without many of the detrimental effects, but a number of us are put off making a purchase because we are confused about which of the many brands is the best. Thankfully there are now numerous e cigarette reviews posted on the Internet where we can learn from the experience of others the products worth buying, and those which are a waste of our hard earned cash.

There is a problem with relying on just any old review which you might find when searching Google, and that’s the fact that many of the so called “reviewers” are biased in the scores they give to a particular brand. Why is this? It’s quite simple, and it’s a problem which has gone largely unnoticed for years even in the more traditional forms of media. The fact is that many reviewers are given free e cigarette samples from manufacturers in the hope of getting a positive review. Human nature being what it is, it’s then inevitable that the reviewer is going to feel obliged to say more positive than negative things about a particular brand, no matter how they might feel about it in reality.

There is no easy answer to overcoming this problem if you are completely new to electronic cigarettes and need to get someone else’s opinion about the brands which are more satisfying to use. I can however give you a few tips to make it more likely that you will make the best purchase possible when you hand over your credit card details to a company on the Internet.

  1. Try to find an electronic cigarette review site where the writer states clearly and honestly there relationship with the company who’s product they are reviewing.
  2. Get your information from web sites which have a quality feel to them. Some one who has put a lot of effort into building their blog is more likely to take pride in the information they are providing.
  3. Look for web sites where the blogger has posted an image of themselves and attach’s their real name to the information they provide. Sites with a nameless, faceless reviewer are far more likely to be pushing products with an ulterior motive.
  4. Only use review sites who have tested out a wide range of products. Especially be wary of those which say there is only one particular brand worth buying.
  5. Use your common sense. If a particular review site is signing the praises of a manufacturer just a little bit too much then they are probably doing so because they got a kick back from the company to push that product.

If you stick to these rules when deciding which smokeless cigarette to buy as a tobacco replacement then you can’t do far wrong, and you’ll hopefully find that your purchase is a good one.

Prevent Cat Diabetes: Promote Exercise For Cats With Cat Toys

Diabetes is a terrible disease that can strike both humans and felines. A certain percentage of cats can suffer from this, and diabetes can occur when insufficient insulin is produced by the beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin is generated by the pancreas, and it is the job of the pancreas to introduce it into the bloodstream. As it interacts with cell membranes, glucose (for energy) is allowed to go into the cells. When insulin is lacking or insufficient, it will not be possible for the body to make use of glucose, and this can cause high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia. When the blood sugar is high, the kidney tries its best to get rid of additional glucose, and this is what leads diabetics to run to the restroom to urinate frequently, as well as drink a lot. Eventually, this disease can affect a cat by decreasing a cat’s appetite by a great deal. Check out what Cornell Universities College of Veterinary Medicine has to say about it here.

It is good to know that a lot of cat furniture are created for the purpose of helping a cat get some exercise, lose weight, and also have fun in the process. Cat stimulation of the physical and mental variety is beneficial for keeping feline health issues at bay, especially Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. Any cat furniture that will allow your cat to stretch out his muscles and walk or run for a few minutes should be good for your cat’s physical health. Below are some examples.

Cat Exercise Wheel

This structure works about the same way as a hamster wheel – it just happens to be bigger. Some cat exercise wheels are big enough to accommodate several cats simultaneously, while some are only big enough for 1 cat. Created using metal, cat exercise wheels measure around 36 to 48 inches in terms of diameter, and the left or right side is open, allowing cats easy access. In a sense, this wheel is like a cat treadmill, and promotes exercise for cats, and your cat is sure to get some exercise whenever he cat decides to play using the equipment. This is especially ideal for your cat if your cat is obese, or has just been diagnosed with feline diabetes. Likewise, you will be sure to promote a healthy lifestyle for your cat by buying your cat his own exercise wheel.

Toy Mouse

Another toy perfect for cat stimulation is a toy mouse. Cats like to play around with mice by throwing them around and chasing them, as well as pouncing on the small toy. This will allow your cat to keep himself entertained and getting some exercise without even realizing it.

Feather Dangler

A feather dangler will also allow your cat to stretch out his arm muscles as he tries to catch the light feather between his paws. Cats tend to think of birds when they see feathers, and so you will also be satisfying your cat’s natural instinct, with a feather dangler.

Eating Right to Avoid Osteoporosis

When it comes to bone health, what foods spring to mind? If you’re thinking of milk or dairy then you’re not alone. This is what we’re taught in school from a young age. Indeed many countries actually have a milk program which instills the knowledge that if we want strong teeth and bones, then we have to drink our milk.

However, there is an abundance of scientific literature that tells a different story. However, this is often hard to come by considering the power of the milk lobby which promotes dairy – and milk in particular – as the perfect source of calcium. I am certainly not claiming that milk doesn’t contain this mineral, we know it does. But what is less well known is that the animal proteins it also contains, effectively neutralize any positive benefit to our bones from drinking milk. This may come as a surprise – but it’s true.

This video shows just what can happen if we succumb to osteoporosis. One of the problems is that we simply do not know we are at risk until it is too late.

In an article about the alkaline diet, Heart Felt Foods write:

You may be wondering […] about […] milk. Doesn’t this have lots of calcium? As we know, it does. However, foods become acidic when they have high proportions of protein and phosphorus. This is why meat, fish and dairy are acidic foods.

So if milk isn’t the perfect food for strong bones, what should we be eating?

…fruits and vegetables are predominantly metabolized to alkaline bicarbonate, whereas proteins and cereal grains are metabolized to acids. The more protein people consume beyond the body’s true needs, the more acidic their blood can become and the more alkaline compounds are needed to neutralize the acid.

From New York Times article: Exploring a Low-Acid Diet for Bone Health

Picture taken from

To avoid osteoporosis, it is important that we maintain a strong skeletal structure. But what specifically do we have to do? There are a number of steps that are beneficial, regular exercise, avoiding tabacco products, limiting alcohol consumption – and of course diet! The bottom line is that the more animal proteins and processed foods we consume, the more acidic our diet becomes. For strong bones, ideally we want to eat a high proportion of alkaline foods. The reason why acid foods are detrimental to our bone structure is outlined below.

The average American diet, which is high in protein and low in fruits and vegetables, generates a large amount of acid, mainly as sulfates and phosphates. The kidneys respond to this dietary acid challenge with net acid excretion, as well as ammonium and titratable acid excretion. Concurrently, the skeleton supplies buffer by active resorption of bone.

From the Journal of Nutrition: Excess Dietary Protein Can Adversely Affect Bone

Wikipedia tells us the definition of bone resorption:

Bone resorption is the process by which osteoclasts break down bone and release the minerals, resulting in a transfer of calcium from bone fluid to the blood.

The message is clear – eating fruits and vegetables is essential if we want to maintain strong teeth and bones. As long as we eat high quantities of plant based foods then we may well want to carry on drinking milk as well. In all honesty though, do you really want to? Think about what milk really is for a second. It is an excretion from an animal which is meant to be drunk by calves. But instead of going to their young, a cow’s milk is mixed with other cows’ milk, pasturized, bottled (or cartoned) and sold to humans – a completely different species than which it was meant for.

Knowing the negative health consequences that can result from consuming acid foods – which includes all animal products – isn’t it about time that we started to reduce our consumption of these (factory) farmed products?

Drinking Green Tea is Good for Your Health

Of the huge number of ways there are to lose weight, not so many of them concentrate on a relaxing beverage like green tea to help you do the job more effectively. The fact is that you can drink it for weight loss success and gain a whole host of health benefits along the way.

That’s because this amazing tea has been tested quite extensively by scientists and researchers who keep coming up with ever more incredible health giving properties that were hitherto unknown to Western medicine. Of course, the ancient Asian civilizations have known about the health secrets of green tea for many centuries and we in the West are only catching up, but we are discovering these benefits scientifically and that means they cannot be refuted.

It goes without saying that if you are searching around for an effective means to shed some excess pounds from your overweight body, you can do a lot worse than to include this delicious brew to your daily diet program. By itself it has many beneficial properties but when combined with a healthy, low calorie diet, it really boosts the effects of your eating regime, often with quite dramatic results.

As to its several fat busting properties, this tea helps by inhibiting the insulin response to eating foods high in refined sugars or lots of carbohydrates with a high Glycemic Index (GI). It contains caffeine and other properties that boost the effects of that caffeine, while also, conversely relaxing and de-stressing to also help with digestion and metabolism efficiency.

When you are relaxed and not so highly affected by stress, your entire physiology responds positively. That includes your digestive system which, unburdened by the restrictive forces of stress can do its job of efficiently processing the nutrients you are consuming to improve your overall health and effectively manage your body’s distribution of fat and muscle tissue.

If you are interesting in finding pout more about how the positive effects of drinking green tea can help you, visit where its beneficial properties are explained in greater detail in terms that are easily understood by the average person who may not want to have to struggle through a medical manual to get the information they want.

Does this all sound like a dream come true? Maybe, but while it’s not the fabled miracle cure for obesity, it can boost the effects of what you are already doing to improve your physical health. It all makes this truly fascinating beverage an all round perfect aid to anyone wanting to be losing some of their excess pounds as easily as possible.