Category Archives: Articles

Proportional Representation: A Post-mortem Analysis

Someone rightly said: “Experience is the best teacher.” The outcome of the recent regional elections in Rodrigues has a lot to offer in terms of whether the PR (proportional representation) system in its actual form does real justice to the parties and the candidates who actually stood for the elections. The euphoria of the overwhelming victory has quickly been overshadowed by confusion and frustration on the winning side, while the distress of the defeated party, on the other hand, has been patched up with the allocation of five additional seats.
Serge Clair, leader of the OPR, expressed his concern over not being allocated any additional seats based on PR. He went even further with the grudge that the gap between his party and the opposition, which was eight just after the poll results, has been narrowed down to three after the allocation of PR seats to the opposition. Indeed he has a claim, but the law is such that there’s nothing he can do about it in the foregoing.
Conversely, Nicolas Von Mally, leader of the MR, said it was only legitimate that his party be allocated the additional five seats based on the formula adopted by the Electoral Commission in conformity with the legal provisions.

 

But the problem of the PR does not stop at these controversial stands. The issue is pertinent to the party that has got lesser number of returned candidates as it is to the winning one. It is still more pertinent, in my view, to the candidates themselves, especially those who have not been returned. The system doesn’t seem to do justice to candidates who had struggled hard to canvass people and who have not been able to get elected, some with a low margin, while those in the PR party list have found their way to the RRA without, so to say, substantial effort. So far so good. There’s nothing illegitimate in that. It’s the system. We need to abide.
The PR system has been introduced to restore balance between the winning party and the unsuccessful one. It’s a good form of checks and balances for democracy in aiming at preventing the route to dictatorship with an absolute majority. Democracy seems to function better when there are matching forces. So the PR system proves to be useful in making appropriate adjustments towards this end. The formula adopted is excellent in bringing the right balance.
Opinions and remarks are being voiced out from various quarters through the social media regarding the pertinence of the system. The people are getting more and more concerned in trying to understand the working of such system. It may appear simple and complicated at the same time. It’s not the aim of this article to probe into the mathematics of the system.
The system, as it is, seems to be discriminatory towards candidates who actually stood for the elections. Why stand for an election when you can have a seat without doing so, in particular if it may, rightly or wrongly, be anticipated that the party has a lesser chance of forming the “government”? This is a question that requires some attention and has a direct bearing on those in the PR party list.
I am not making any insinuations, but let’s figure out the following scenario. The PR party list candidates may not put in the required effort; worse, they may even campaign against their own party (although this is unethical – well, after all what is ethics in politics?) to ensure there is minimum number of elected candidates within their party so that they in turn can secure a seat through the PR. (The more the number of elected candidates in a party the lesser the chance of a candidate in that PR party list to be nominated and vice versa).

 

Such scenario was reported to have happened in previous elections. It’s very unfair towards those who stood as candidates, struggled hard in the field attempting to convince people to vote for them (with all the risks associated when faring in hostile grounds). These unreturned candidates find themselves outside the assembly (in “carreau cane” as we say in the Mauritian jargon or “dans bois” in the Rodriguan jargon). Don’t forget that the winner today may be the defeated tomorrow. There’s no room for complacency.
My intention is not to question the system out of the blue. I have no problem with the nominees of party list (congratulations for those nominated). It’s not a question of the “persons” in the list; rather the list itself. My concern is the “source” for the allocation of additional seats. The party list does not seem to be a fair source. It may be fraught with the issues highlighted earlier. The choice would appear fairer, in my opinion, if the allocation were made among the best losers.
It appears that we are confronted with a situation that seems to be unfair. If matters can improve for the betterment of democracy there’ll be no reason to make a creak. I’m just putting it to the political and electoral gurus to give some thought to such scenarios, most often than not unpredictable, with a view to coming up with a fairer and more equitable framework that will do better justice to those who are actually in the forefront of the battle field. I am of the considered view that the allocation of seats on the system of PR needs to take on board best losers. In other words, a system of PR based on BLS (best loser system). Remember it’s not a question of community or ethnic belonging here. It’s purely national.
“L’intérêt national doit primer” as they say.

Alfa King Memories

International Epilepsy Day

Today the world celebrates International Epilepsy Day. This day was first celebrated around the world on Monday 9 February 2015 at the joint initiative of the International Bureau of Epilepsy (IBE) and the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE). Such celebration has been the subject of much debate in these organizations until a consensus was reached to mark this day on the second Monday of February every year onwards.

As for other international days, a theme is chosen every year. This year the theme is “Putting Epilepsy in the Picture”.

The aim is to provide a platform for those with epilepsy to share experiences and stories, and for sensitising people, organizations and governments on the need to encourage epileptic persons to live their life to their fullest potential, to have appropriate legislations to guarantee their human rights, and on the urgency of increased investments on IT-aided support and research in epilepsy with a view to securing more appropriate diagnosis, treatment and medication options.

It is a day to reflect upon how we can contribute and how we can join hands together and pool resources to bring epilepsy out of the shadows. It is a day dedicated to those who, by their condition, are looked down, stigmatized, discriminated and marginalized. It is a day that aims at bringing hope and comfort to those often sidelined as mental patients.

But first we need to understand this dreaded condition which affects one in every 100 people in the world.

Epilepsy is characterised by recurrent seizures. A seizure occurs when the brain is unable to organize and coordinate messages coming to it from the rest of the body and the spinal cord through nerve fibres. The person experiences bouts of fits and he faints; his body stiffens and his muscles convulse; the whole body jerks.

Well, most of the time seizures can be controlled successfully through various strategies – medication, psychological and medical counseling, physiotherapy, neurotherapy, massage therapy and social and environmental support, to name but a few. What is difficult to overcome is the stigmatization and discrimination they are often subjected to. That’s the root of most of the problems of epileptic patients.

Epilepsy is all too often misunderstood, whence the backward thought and taboo around it. So let us see what epilepsy is and what it is not.

  • Epilepsy is not a mental illness; rather a neurological condition, although in certain cases an epilepsy can accompany mental conditions. It has been categorized as a disease in 2014 by the ILAE. This, according to ILAE, constitutes “a very important step forward in ensuring that legislators, public health officials, media people and funders see epilepsy for what it is: a major serious health issue which can destroy lives”. In other words this categorization aims at giving epilepsy the prominence it deserves.
  • Epilepsy does not have any spiritual or supernatural cause. By the ancient nature of epilepsy some people believe that epileptic patients are “possessed” by evil spirits and should be treated by invoking mystical powers. This is merely a myth.
  • Epilepsy is a physical condition in the same way as arthritis and blindness (arthritis occurs in the joints, epilepsy occurs in the brain).
  • It can be triggered by various factors, often by a head injury, an infection in the brain or a stroke or brain haemorrhage; brain tumours or structural abnormalitiesbrain not developed properly in the womb or damage caused during birth. This is symptomatic type of epilepsy.
  • However in 50% of people diagnosed there is no apparent cause. Genetic cause is suspected and thus it is thought to be inherited. This type of epilepsy is known as idiopathic
  • In cryptogenic epilepsy, the third type, no cause is found but a structural cause is suspected.
  • Epilepsy is not contagious. It cannot be transmitted from one person to another.
  • Anyone at any time of their life can develop epilepsy. It is most common under the 20’s (case of seizures in unborn child, which will continue after the baby is born. Some are born with low seizure threshold. Others with physical cause); and over 60’s: because they are more susceptible to stroke and other cardio-vascular problems, and because the brain may be damaged as a result of any of these they may go on to develop epilepsy.
  • Epilepsy can simply go away, called spontaneous remission, usually in children reaching puberty. Some children just grow out of their epilepsy, usually by the age of 15 or 16, after which they will no longer have seizures.
  • There is no need to worry. Epileptic patients are no different from others. Contrary to common beliefs, they are not dangerous. If you observe somebody having seizures don’t panic, although it may be scary to watch. Most seizures are not medical emergencies; they end up after one minute or two. Let the person recover by himself. Just keep them away from objects that can cause them harm, if possible put something soft under their head. Once the seizure is over, put them in recovery position. If the seizure lasts for more than 5 minutes or should you observe any signs of injury or sickness, seek medical help.
  • With appropriate treatment and follow-up most epileptic people may keep their status under check. They may lead a normal life like anyone else; they can go to school, work, practice sports, get married and socialize.

Many famous and well known people have had epilepsy in their lives. Here are some of them:

  • Sir Isaac Newton, famous scientist who studied many scientific disciplines and formulated the laws of motion and of gravitation,
  • Agatha Christie, English crime fiction writer,
  • Charles Dickens, English novelist of the Victorian era,
  • Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, armaments manufacturer and the inventor of dynamite,
  • Richard Burton, well known for his distinctive voice and at one time the highest paid Hollywood actor,
  • Chanda Gunn, American ice hockey player. She won a bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
  • Alexander the Great, ancient Macedonian king.
  • Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the U.S. He was subject to epileptic seizures, but was still a man of courage and strength appreciated by many.

People with epilepsy can live to their highest potential provided they get the necessary supportive environment. Each of us, family members, friends, neighbours, colleagues, social organizations, governments, has a role in setting up the necessary framework aimed at targeting our efforts towards helping them to unleash their potential and get more self confidence so as to better manage their condition and remain fully integrated in normal life.

For those seeking help and support, know that there are centres around the world that can bring answers to your queries and apprehensions. In Mauritius there’s an epilepsy centre in Port Louis at 442 Boulevard Rivaltz. If you are in Rodrigues the centre is situated at Manique, La Ferme. Both are under the aegis of EDYCS Epilepsy Group. You can avail of a variety of specialist support services.

Wish all concerned with the subject of epilepsy a fruitful day.

References:

  • Alice Hanscomb and Liz Hughes – Epilepsy, a publication of EUCARE in association with The International Society for Epilepsy
  • Website of the IBE and ILAE

Alfa King Memories

Solitary as the Solitaire

Time is running. Already three months and three weeks since I landed here in Rodrigues. Can you recall I wrote about this island of volcanic origin as a Hill in the Sea? My hitherto solitary status reminds me of the symbol of this island: The Solitaire or the Pezophaps solitaria.rodriguessolitaire.jpg

For many it might not mean anything. But for the people of Rodrigues it’s a symbol of their identity that’s present in the coat of arms of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly.

The Solitaire was described as a slightly plump flightless bird with a small head and strong wings, and weighing about 40 to 50 pounds. It was a descendant of the pigeon of Nicobar, South East Asia. It became extinct with the passage of man and wild cats in the hunt for food. It was dead for ever, as the Dodo of Mauritius.

The name Solitaire was coined by François Leguat, an orthodox protestant who stayed long in a solitary status on this isolated island between 1691 and 1693. In fact it’s through his memoirs that this bird’s existence was revealed when his book “A New Voyage to the East Indies” was published in 1708.

The real existence of the Solitaire was subject to controversy for quite some time. But the bones of this unique bird discovered in the south west of Rodrigues, namely in the limestone caves at Grande Caverne in 1866, speak for themselves. And it is from this discovery that a famous naturalist from Cambridge, Alfred Newton and his brother Edward presented a paper to the Royal Society, “On the Osteology of the Solitaire or Didine Birds of the Island of Rodrigues, Pezophaps solitarius”, giving a scientific description of the Solitaire.

rodriguessolitairebones.jpgBones of the Solitaire can be seen exposed at Grande Montagne Reserve Interpretation Centre and François Leguat Museum at the Giant Tortoise & Cave Reserve at Anse Quitor not far from the Sir Gaetan Duval Airport.

It is said that the name Solitaire could have been inspired by the solitary nesting behaviour of the bird and the long solitary stay of François Leguat on the island.

As for me the solitude won’t be too long. My son will be joining me around mid-June and my wife around the end of July. It’ll then be time to pack up as I’ll have to be back to my homeland during the first week of August. But that’s some other two and half months away.

That’s life.

When the Clouds Crack – 13 Ways You Can Protect Yourself

This week started with an unstable weather here and in the region. We had a thunderstorm on Monday night which continued until the early hours of Tuesday. On Wednesday Mauritiuswitnessed a thundery weather; offices and schools were dismissed earlier. The electricity went off for some time.

 

On Thursday the weather was cloudy but no thunderstorm as forecast over Rodrigues. Still there was some panic. The school authorities were concerned about the safety pf school children.

 

The tragic consequences of the torrential rain episode of 26 March in Mauritius are still vivid in their minds.  And they know that regions like Riviere Cocos, Port Sud Est, Batatran in the east are particularly prone to flooding during heavy rainfall.

 

Precautions are even more important during thundery weather. Why? What special precautions are required? In order to answer these questions we need to understand the nature of a thunderstorm.

 

So let’s see what a thunderstorm is, how it is formed, how it strikes and how you can protect yourself.

 

Thunder clouds 

A thunderstorm is a storm with lightning and thunder, heavy rain, gusty winds and sometimes hail. It occurs when the atmosphere is unstable. The air is warm and humid. Coupled with active cold fronts and sea breezes it rises to form cumulonimbus clouds with high vertical extent. These clouds, which may reach up to 12 km high, become highly electrically charged and are sometimes referred to as thunder clouds.

 

Electric discharges 

The rising air causes the charges to separate; the positive charges concentrate at the top and the negative charges at the base of the clouds. When these charges come into contact, as they certainly will with instability, they produce electrical discharges and huge sparks or thunderbolts. Lightning is visible and seconds after you can hear a rumbling sound, thunder. You see the lightning first because light travels faster than sound. The air temperature at the discharge point may reach about 27 000 oC.

 

Lightning and Thunder 

Lightning is an electric current, a bright flash of electricity produced by a thunderstorm. It is very dangerous and is known to kill more people than tornadoes.

 

Thunder is caused by lightning which expands the air while finding a path to the ground. When the light is gone the air collapses back creating a sound wave we hear as thunder.

 

Thunder occurs in our region usually during the period December through April, about three times in a month and 17 days per year. On rare occasions, like this week, thunderstorm occurs in May also. The winter season doesn’t favour the formation of thunder clouds.

 

Can you assess the distance of a thunderstorm? 

Sometimes there’s only lightning, no thunder. Why? Well, the answer is simple. The thunderstorm is far from the point where you are, too far to be heard by the human ear. Usually beyond 10 km you cannot hear thunder.

 

But if you hear thunder and you want to calculate its approximate distance (in km) just divide by three the time (in sec) elapsed between the moment you see lightning and the moment you hear thunder. (To find distance in miles, divide time by 5).

 

And if you hear a deafening cracking sound almost momentarily after a lightning then it is most likely that the storm is overhead or very close to where you are. You need to be very vigilant.

 

Lightning targets 

Lightning takes the shortest path to the ground. Thus an object that is closer to the cumulonimbus cloud will be the prime target. Trees, mountain tops, high buildings, TV antennas, electric poles, masts, boats in the open sea and the highest point in a plain are all lightning targets. So the basic thing you can do is: stay away from these targets during a thunderstorm.

 

Protecting yourself 

A lightning strike actually kills and may cause damage to buildings and structures and may even trigger a fire. You’ll protect yourself if you follow simple rules as outlined hereunder:

 

  1. Be on the lookout for darkening skies, lightning and increasing winds. These are precursors of a thunderstorm. Pay heed to the weather forecasts. Don’t wait for the rain to begin.
  2. If you hear thunder, go to a safe place immediately
  3. If you are at sea, rush to the shore and find a shelter immediately
  4. If you are in an open area, crouch down; but don’t lay flat, minimize contact with the ground
  5. If you cannot find a shelter stay away from any tree, at least twice as far away from it as it is tall
  6.  If you are in a forest, seek shelter in a low area under small trees
  7. If you are on a mountain, climb down immediately
  8. If you are in a vehicle, stay inside. Don’t touch any metallic parts
  9. Do not take shower, wash hands, dishes or do laundry. Stay out of water as it is a good conductor of electricity.
  10. Disconnect all electrical appliances at home or in the office
  11. Don’t use the corded telephone. Mobile phone is safer.
  12. Stay off porches and away from doors and windows
  13. Protect your house or building by installing a lightning conductor or rod. It is a device that provides an easier path for current to flow to the earth than through your house or building. It is made of a vertical metal strip or rod, usually of copper or similar conductive material placed on the roof top and connected to the ground. This system was invented by Benjamin Franklin.

You can assume that the thunderstorm has ceased or moved away if you don’t observe lightning or thunder for at least 30 minutes. You can now resume your routine.

 

Five Rituals for a Healthier You

We always hear about keeping fit, healthy and adopting a healthy lifestyle. What does that mean? You’ll often come across people saying: “Oh, I eat well, work well, sleep well, and I have no disease; I’m a healthy person.

 

Well, the fact is despite these assertions a person may still be leading an unhealthy life. Have you heard of this: “I just met Mr. X; we had a good time together; he was OK; I can’t believe he’s passed away? Aren’t you joking?

 

Yes, this is a common feature today. Many people suffer from health problems like high blood pressure, stress, cardiovascular disease and diabetes without knowing, until they find themselves in the doctor’s consultation room for an emergency.

 

Yet there are visible risk factors associated with these. Physical inactivity, bad eating, smoking and alcohol consumption habits, obesity, age, and family history are all factors that contribute to worsen your health, slowly but surely.

 

Oh, I mentioned “habits”; the topic of the post is about “rituals”. So let’s get things clear before going any further.

 

A habit is a passive, automatic and often unconscious behaviour, done in repetition although the outcomes may not be positive.

 

Whereas a ritual is something you do deliberately and consciously with a clear purpose in mind. It is more powerful than habit.

 

A habit may be good or bad. What you need to do is to adopt those habits that are good and turn them into rituals with a clear and specific objective in mind.

 

OK? Right, over now to the rituals to help you maintain a healthier lifestyle.

 

1. Eat healthy

  • Know what you eat, how and how much. Don’t eat with your eyes; they may mislead you over a sensible portion. Don’t eat in between meals. Be reasonable. Be moderate.
  • Eat more fruits, salads and veggies
  • Take low fat or fat free dairy foods
  • If you are non-vegetarian, go for lean meat, poultry and fish
  • Check your sodium intake: less of it, more of herbs and spices
  • Grains, nuts, seeds and dry beans are all right
  • Check your sugar consumption
  • Check if you have enough daily fluid intake. Six to eight glasses (about 1.2 litres) of fluid a day are recommended by the UK Food Standard Agency, based on fluid lost by the body; although a recent study by scientists at University of Pennsylvania rules out the actual beneficial toxin-flushing-ability of water. “There’s no clear evidence of benefit from drinking increased amounts of water,” they say. Anyhow, remember that you need to take adequate fluid to avoid dehydration.

2. Be physically active

  • Unfortunately, modern technology has rendered life more sedentary. People confine themselves to their car, office and home with little if at all any significant physical activity. You need not do vigorous physical activity, nor run or jog. Just simple activities can help maintain a good posture, lower blood pressure, burn the calories and the body fat and improve the circulatory and heart problems. So what in essence can you do?
  • Walk. The Executive Health Organisation says walking is a very efficient exercise and is the only one that you can follow all the years of your life. Studies have yielded definite improvement in health and proved beneficial to the heart and weight-loss of thousands of people.
  • Do some household chores, like gardening, sweeping, washing (car, floor, etc), cleaning the yard. These may not be vigorous exercises, yet will keep you on the move usefully.
  • Leave your car or motorcycle when you proceed to the nearby grocery, bakery or market. Walk. The idea is to break your sedentariness.
  • If you can, do some exercise, like swimming, cycling, dancing, skiing, etc. This will help reduce stress, improve your mood, reduce anxiety and depression, maintain bone mass, prevent osteoporosis and fractures and improve memory in the elderly.

Remember however that there are conflicting views about how much exercise you should do. Some believe 20 minutes per day is sufficient; others recommend one hour per day. Scientific research and studies indicate that a roughly-20-minute-a-day exercise, although will not melt off your kilos, can significantly prevent your cardiac risks.

3. Keep your weight under control

  • Heavy weight is considered a major cardiac risk factor. So all you need to do is maintain a healthy weight. Now what is a healthy weight? Put simply it is one that respects your Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. It is obtained from dividing your body weight (in kg) by the square of your height (in centimetres). 

Consider yourself:

  • Underweight if your BMI is equal to or below 18.5
  • Normal weight, between 18.5 and 24.9
  • Overweight, between 25.0 and 29.9
  • Obese, if your BMI is 30 and above.

4. Quit or avoid smoking and drinking

  • It’s no news: smoking tobacco has negative effects on nearly every organ of the body. It impairs overall health. From lung cancer to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases smoking remains the leading cause of death that can be prevented.
  • Like smoking, alcohol affects every organ in the body. Beer, wine, and liquor contain an intoxicating ingredient in the form of ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Alcohol is readily absorbed into the bloodstream. It acts on the central nervous system with depressive outcomes. How intense is the effect of alcohol on the body depends on the amount consumed, not the type of alcoholic drink.
  • The choice is clear. If you smoke or consume alcohol quit, or simply avoid.

5. Keep a medical watch

A medical surveillance will go a long way in keeping any health inconsistencies in check. Make it a ritual to:

  • Visit your health institution. Talk to your doctor. Keep a health diary and follow-up regularly.
  • Take any prescribed drugs as may be directed.
  • Don’t grab any dietary medication or “health pills” from the street corner shop; seek appropriate specialized medical advice if you intend to go for a dietary programme. Pseudo-medical advisors and self-medication can do more harm than good. Your health control needs to be adapted to your metabolic set up.

If you follow these rituals there’s no reason why you should not enjoy a better health. You can start at any age. A small step can make all the difference. If you eat healthy, stop smoking and do more exercise you could have an extra 12 years’ life. In fact, a study from the University of Cambridge reveals that: 

  • You can live up to five years longer if you eat five fruits and vegetables
  • You could have another four to five years if you stop smoking
  • You can have up to three years extra life if you do more exercise.

The choice is yours now.

 

If you have any other suggestions for an improved lifestyle I’d be pleased to read about them.

 

To your health.

 

The “Rhythm of Writing” Formula

Even great writers will tell you: writing has never been an easy stuff. Granted to some extent we are all writers for doing some sort of writing now and then – letters, notes, mails and the like, which I’d call informal writing. Here you may not need to worry much about the quality of your writing. But when you are writing for a wider public then things become more serious and complicated. You have to know what you want to convey to the reader and how best you can do it to avoid the least confusion and monotonous reading.

One word of caution, though. The purpose of this post is not to tell you the ABC’s of writing. I just want to hint you on how the use of sentences is important in delivering the right meaning. If you are already an experienced writer this may not be for you.

Should our sentences be long or short? How long? How short? That’s the dilemma that writers often face. Any writer. Don’t feel awkward. It’s simple. Ask yourself questions. Do you want to be specific? You want to get to the point? Want to add stress or punch? Yes? Use short sentences.

Do you want to convey intense emotion, especially in writing fiction? Then use longer sentences.

Too much use of either the short or long sentence makes you appear a novice. Worse it bores the reader. And you don’t want to. Do you? What you are interested in is producing writing that will not suck; that will keep your reader tuned. Right? You need to keep the right balance. A good mix of short and long sentences is what makes a well-balanced writing. How to get that “good mix”? Relax. There’s a “simple formula”.

If you want to know more about the “simple formula” for sentence lengths, read Kristy Taylor’s Varying Your Sentence Lengths. “Learning the ‘rhythm of writing’ isn’t something you’ll learn overnight, but with practice you’ll catch areas in your writing that lack variety and you’ll learn how to transform your sentences into memorable prose,” says Kristy in concluding her article.

To your writing.

April Fools and Writer’s Block

If you’ve been sent on a “fool’s errands” as soon as you woke up this morning; or if somebody played pranks on you to make you believe something ridiculous; or still if you discovered the picture of a fish taped on your back, remember it’s April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day. The French call it “Poisson d’Avril” (April Fish).

“Oh, how could I be so gullible,” you feel embarrassed. Sheer absurdity, isn’t it? And if you had planned to wake up for a quiet writing day, it’s all spoilt. Your mood is off. Your mind is still revolving around this moment where you find yourself a standing jest. You can’t do anything about it. It’s a day of hoaxes celebrated in many countries around the world.

Don’t feel blocked in your writing though. And if this is what you’ve been dreading of, know that this fear can lead to the condition of the blank page or screen, writer’s block. It’s not the prank of April’s fool anyway. You probably need to shake yourself up, take a deep breath and start over again before you get stuck as you don’t want to break your writing rhythm.

Incidentally, in her article “Writers Block – What to Do about It”. Anne Wayman provides some useful tips to address this awful condition which affects to great extent beginners.

Anne identifies two types of fatigue that, according to her own experience, “can lead to temporary writer’s block”: fatigue from “not getting enough rest; and fatigue from not taking enough breaks during the writing process”.

Taking deep breaths, drinking water to lubricate the brain and the body, doing some physical action to change your state, talking about it are among the practical solutions Anne proposes to tackle this issue which, if not addressed properly, can exacerbate and become “a sign of deeper problems” that might require professional counselling.

And if you do fancy having another practical look at this problem you might consider taking a peek at “Is this writer’s block?”, which I wrote last year at the beginning of my blogging trail.

Have fun as you read.

You Can START a STROKE Treatment

Leading killer

Stroke is the killer number three and adult disability factor number one in the United States and Europe. It takes away the life of more than 150 000 people every year in the US; and affects some 800 000 new or recurrent stroke sufferers yearly. A definite medical emergency and life-threatening neurological injury affecting people’s health on a global scale, stroke can cause permanent brain damage and death. More than 65 billion USD will be required this year to meet related medical costs.

Tough but possible

If left undiagnosed, stroke will become the leading cause of worldwide deaths. Although the symptoms are not easily identifiable it is vital to recognise, diagnose and treat a stroke victim as quick as possible. Tough but possible, neurologists are optimistic. They say they can reverse the effects completely provided the stroke victim is brought for treatment within three hours. There’s very little hope beyond that time frame.

Scene of stroke

But a stroke occurs suddenly, so fast that it shocks bystanders. It may happen anywhere, at home, on the road, at work; and you may be the only person on site. Imagine yourself with a victim headlong or otherwise, in a weak and confused state. It could be anyone from your close relative to a dear friend, or a fellow worker. What do you do?

Unless you have been trained to deal with emergencies you’ll panic. Won’t you?

But if you know the techniques of recognising a stroke you can make all the difference. You can save a life; you can prevent the victim from getting crippled for life. How? Let us first of all try to find out what a stroke is and how it affects people.

What is a stroke?

A stroke which is also called a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or cerebral infarction is a cardiovascular disease. There are two ways a stroke can strike.

First when the blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked by a clot (thrombus). This condition is called ischemia (lack of blood supply).

And, secondly, when the blood vessel bursts and causes hemorrhage. In either case the brain is deprived and starts to die.

It is therefore vital to restore the blood flow as quickly as possible. A long period of blood deprivation to the brain may cause nerve cells to die. The brain can be damaged permanently and irreversibly.

A higher death rate is associated with hemorrhagic stroke. But ischemic stroke, also called thrombotic stroke, is more common and accounts for more than 85 per cent of all strokes. It occurs mostly at night or in the early morning. It is often preceded by what is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a “warning stroke” which lasts only a few minutes. If you identify a TIA victim bring him to immediate medical care.

What are the effects of a stroke?

The effects depend largely on where the obstruction or disruption is located and how much the brain is damaged. The brain is a complex organ and functions such that one side of it controls the opposite side of the body.

A stroke in the right side of the brain will affect the left side of the body and the right side of the face. The left side of the body is paralysed and the victim may experience vision problems and memory loss, and display quick, inquisitive behaviour.

A stroke in the left side will affect the right side of the body and left side of the face. The victim may suffer right side body paralysis, experience memory loss and speech problems and display slow, cautious behaviour.

Treatment

As a layman it’s not your job to administer treatment. Leave it to the professionals; neurologists and emergency physicians will act according to the type of stroke. For ischemic stroke they’ll usually administer clot-busting drugs while a surgical intervention would be necessary for hemorrhagic stroke. But these medical specialists are not always on the scene of the accident. Can you as a bystander do anything? How will you handle the situation?

What you can do

Well, at least you can START the process of treatment. Note I said “process”, which means there are other things you can do before effective (professional) treatment is available. Fair enough if you know a bit of first aid principles. It shouldn’t be a big deal if you don’t.

The most important thing is to act promptly. Remember every minute counts. Don’t panic. Recognise the problem and call the ambulance immediately. If you are in Mauritius dial 114; in the US it’s 911, otherwise check your country’s emergency number. You are the key person here. You are going to START the treatment. How will you recognise the symptoms? Follow the steps below and give a clear description of your own observations to the emergency team once they are on site:

S – The patient cannot SMILE if asked to; there’s sudden numbness of the face
T – If you ask him to TALK he is incoherent
A – He is not ALERT; has trouble seeing and suffers severe headache
R – He cannot RAISE both arms; there’s loss of balance; he cannot walk
T – His TONGUE is crooked or sways sideways.

Don’t forget you have only three hours for a proper treatment; and the victim needs to be hospitalized within an hour of the occurrence of the stroke in order to allow for appropriate evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.

Learn also to know who are vulnerable to stroke

Basically the risk factors are the same as for other cardiovascular diseases. People with hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, migraine with aura, previous history of stroke or TIA; cigarette smokers; cases of atrial fibrillation, thrombophilia (a thrombosis tendency) and older aged persons are most at risk.

What next?

Take your health in your hands. Doctors cannot do it all. Once you are aware of the risk factors you can take action to reduce the risk of recurrent episodes of stroke. Cardiovascular complications are the result of unhealthy lifestyle, lack of exercise, improper diet or uncontrolled medication. You can prevent a stroke if you adopt a healthier lifestyle. If you feel you are at risk or you have ever experienced a TIA there’s no better way to keep it under control. Here’s what you can do:

• If you are diabetic and hypertensive try to keep these under control. Very often people are not aware they have diabetes and hypertension until they are diagnosed as a result of an emergency
• Practise physical exercise, control your weight
• Control your diet, eat healthy
• If you smoke, quit.

Alternatively medical specialists may prescribe drugs to “thin” the blood.

If you follow the above carefully you’ll go a long towards keeping the stroke incidence at a low level. Not only you’ll contribute to a healthier world population, you’ll also help save billions of dollars for fighting against this big killer.

Further reading:

American Heart Association
National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
KNOW STROKE: KNOW THE SIGNS. ACT IN TIME

Alfa King is a Mauritius-based blogger and emerging copywriter and freelance writer. He is a former editor of trade union newsletter and has contributed articles for various in-house magazines and newsletters. He has written technical papers for trade unions, employers and professional organisations. As a professional in Occupational Safety & Health, First Aider and advisor in Human Resources he has worked with both public and private bodies and conducted training programmes at various levels.

Fly my butterfly

One year already, since I started and launched this blog, my first ever encounter in the blogosphere. It’s been a passionate journey into the world of writing. I do indeed have to confess, I learnt a lot from this, shall I now call it, hobby. Battling in the field of pros was kind of very exciting, enriching and above all inspiring. That’s the least I can say.

I didn’t choose to launch my blog site on the day I started it, that is on the eve of the independence and republic day of my country. “It’s a mere coincidence that I start my first blog on this auspicious occasion of our independence,” read one of the lines in my first post Figures 39 and 15 on 12 and 3, which ended with “It’s a day for me to take the first bold step…

I’m still wondering on this mathematical-puzzle-type heading, and whether it was appropriate to the story. With hindsight I find it somewhat funny. Anyway I was just taking the plunge into the ocean of letters, figures and characters. “Survive if you can, or never ever dare show yourself again,” I pledged to myself.

Bold step it was indeed; hardest for being the first. I never knew I could keep up with the rhythm: 167 posts; OK not too much, not too little either, about one post every two days on the average. Not fair enough as a part timer? Agree, at times it could’ve been all crap. But that’s what it may be like when you set off crafting.

Each moment is one where your adrenalin is at its highest. Often getting wrecked looking for the right words, gone for ever once lost. Who hasn’t had a ready-to-burst itching head? Is it always swift writing? Who can tell?

And then you realise that the stumbling blocks on your way and your never-let-go temperament are what help mould your craft with renewed vigour. That’s what brought me to where I find myself today; not much of perfect, but still better than the novice I was on the same day last year.

Would I convince you if I told you it’s damn hard work? Those who’ve been through this journey know what I mean, unless they were born bloggers or writers (Is there something like a “born” blogger or writer?) like the born “leaders”.

I wouldn’t be the blogger I am (granted I have yet a long way to go), had I not peeped in and drunk from the well of other experienced and well-established bloggers and writers, although I didn’t always leave any comment. It isn’t pretty much my thing to comment just for the sake, I’m sorry. A comment is worth when it adds value to the discussion. Skelliewag knows what I’m talking about. Skellie found in me the “most valuable commenter of the week” for my “thoughtful” comments in her “Ask the Readers: What’s Your Definition of Success?

Incidentally, you may wish to read her remarks in her subsequent post Ask the Readers: Where are the Holes in Your Leaky Bucket?

You’ll also find a reflection of the comments in my own post

From a strictly writing perspective I have been particularly impressed and inspired by renowned professionals like Darren Rouse (Pro-Blogger), Skellie (Skelliewag), Nick Daws (My Writing Blog), Linda Jones (Freelance Writing Tips), Suzanne Harris (Suzie – My Digital Desk) to name but a few; the list would be too long.

But on the technical side I have to say it loud: I am greatly indebted to my webmaster, Wakish. From the design and layout to the theme and avatar, from free to a paid hosting service with my own domain name, the credit goes to him only. He’s the one who’s been by my side, always, since the inception. His excellent workmanship and his unflinching technical support, guidance and collaboration have been determinant in the process of realising and hosting of this site. It was all Greek to me. Would it suffice to just say thank you so much Wakish? For one thing, no money can compensate for the perseverance you had in putting up things for me.

Well, folks if you find me still afloat it’s thanks to your trusted readership and support. And if you’ve been through my welcome and about pages, you should already be aware that Alfa King Memories is dedicated to sharing knowledge and experiences with a view to honing one’s writing. This is still valid today and will ever be; more so with enhanced professionalism and commitment to excellence.

One year after, am I still crawling? Or toddling? Am I, like my country, able to stand on my own feet? You know, one can never be objective towards oneself. You people are better placed to gauge how I’ve been faring. So use my comment box. Tell me how I can improve. More than a stumbling-block, criticism is for me a propellant, a stepping-stone, keep this in mind.

How will I rate the success of my blog? I don’t have a straightforward answer. I’d define success in terms of the extent of feeling of satisfaction and recognition I derive in the step-by-step realization of the goal I’ve set. It’s a passionate journey, as I said at the beginning, and each day is a fulfilment in itself, a success for my blog.

I’ll end up with Gabry PONTE’s My Butterfly lyrics:

Fly or never fly, across the sky fly forever fly my butterfly fly or never fly,
across the sky fly forever fly my butterfly every time I close my eyes
I can fly across the sky I spread my wings I feel fine I see my world so blue
and no doubts I’d seel my life for a dream come true
live one day and then I’ll die like a butterfly. I fly, I fly, I fly
.

Cheers.

Thinking of writing a press release?

You’ve established your blog and started writing. Yeah? That’s a bold step into the world of writing. The first step is always the hardest. Alfa King Memories is not privy to this. But you’d understand from my previous post that it’s a great opportunity to practise your writing skills. As you proceed you’ll see the avenues are numerous.

However, there’s no single way you can break into print if you are serious about it. OK, I know you are determined. That’s why you are here. But it all depends on how you look at it although you may not be an expert in a particular field.

Go ahead, slowly but surely, as they say. Grab the area you are most at ease; but don’t neglect those that might offer opportunities for steady income if you get to master the skills. Press release is one of them. That’s exactly what we are going to see together in this post. Can I ask a question before we proceed?

What is a press release?

Any guess? OK, let’s find out.

Put simply a press release is a statement, and as its name implies it is meant for the press. The aim is to announce a product or service or whatever that is newsworthy in order to get media coverage at no cost. In other words it’s a free publicity opportunity for the item presented.

What a press release is not

No shrugging. I can legitimately anticipate your question: “But is it not advertising?” No it isn’t. Advertising is different. It uses a different language, boasting and flowery style. It aims at appealing to the customer with a view to persuade them to buy a product or service.

In a press release you are not selling. The aim is not to sell. You are not talking to the customer. If you followed me I mentioned “newsworthy” and “media coverage”. This implies:

(i) You are writing for a particular audience: the press or the media, which is not interested in buying something. The media seeks rather to fill the need for news. The press release should therefore appeal first and foremost to this target audience.

(ii) The press release should answer the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, why) of the news item and provide as much information as possible.

A word of caution however:

But beware. Don’t overwrite. Stick to the KISS principle. Keep it short, simple (I won’t say silly or stupid, because you need to be serious here. We are talking business).

Write it all in a business tone. Avoid emotion. Be factual. Use active voice; avoid jargon and too flowery language; be objective but provide adequate background information about the product or service including corporate profile.

A well written press release should be no more than 400 to 500 words.

Are you still with me? So before wrapping up, let’s cast a glance at the constituents of a press release.

What are the elements of a press release?

A typical press release will be composed of elements such as:

(i) A headline – a single line that tells what the press release is about. It should grab the attention of the journalist for whom you are writing. So if you can write from a journalist’s perspective you’ve got it.

(ii) A dateline – the release date and usually the city of origin.

(iii) A summary – a synopsis of the news to be released, elaborating on the headline.

(iv) An introduction – a first paragraph with basic information to grab the attention.

(v) A body – a paragraph giving further details and explanation.

(vi) An about section – also called a “boilerplate”, providing corporate background information.

(vii) A Contact information section – spelling out the name, telephone number, mailing address, e-mail or any other means the media can reach the company.

Hold on; not finished yet. How would you indicate the end of the press release? Simple, insert the characters “# # #” or “-30-” at the bottom of the page.

That’s it folks. Whether you’ve decided to write a press release or otherwise, I hope you find it useful. I’d welcome any other viewpoints, suggestions or comments.

If you want to read further I’d suggest the following:

How to Write a Proper Press Release

Some examples of how to write a press release

Don’t write off your rights

Do you always think about your rights when you write? Well, I mean especially when you write for publications. Whatever you put down on paper in your own words belongs to you. It is your copyright. Not only when you are writing, but also, and more importantly, when you are about to sign a contract. Very often the joy of a fresh writing position drives you crazy, especially if it’s your first contract. You just head for the signature line and there you are, you give your consent without even giving a thought to what’s in there that you are agreeing to.

Yes, a contract is an agreement; once you sign it you are bound to it. And when you realise it may be too late. You find yourself with all your rights on your writing lost or you end up at the courts. And you know what it means: shear wastage of months or even years of your time and energy.

Pay heed to every word. Sometimes the most important part of the contract may be written in small characters which make it difficult to go through attentively. You have the tendency to skip the never ending terms and conditions. That’s the worst mistake you make.

It can never be over-emphasized. Have the patience to read every word. It may take some time, but it’s important. It’s even more important when you write on the net. More often than not you land up on people you have never seen, never heard of and you may not know how credible they are. They may be stealing your rights with a contract.

In his article “Don’t Sign Away Your Rights” writer Jonathan Bailey from The Blog Herald hints us on what we should watch out for. He calls our attention to words like “Exclusive, Sub-licensable/Transferable, Perpetual/Irrevocable, Moral Rights (Outside US), Non-Compete Clause” making their way in the contract agreement. Those are the words that will tie your hands to the publisher.

Jonathan Bailey tells us also about what we can do in compromise if we are not comfortable with anything in a contract. Even what we don’t sign may put us in awkward posture. “Be Careful of What You Don’t Sign”, he warns us.

So the next time you have a contract in hand do pay attention. Make sure you understand every clause of the terms and conditions. What rights you offer and what you keep for yourself is as important as what is vital for your survival as a writer and what you can do away with without much worries.

Degree or experience?

Around the beginning of last month I came up with a post about the relevance or not of a degree for one to be a writer. I suggested that although you may have a good academic qualification you’d need to master some basic writing skills.

It was in some sort a follow up to a previous post where I stated that “there’s no straightforward answer to it.” And that “most writers, coaches or writing course providers would say you don’t need an English degree. They’d say a good command of English is all you need.”

This question of whether you need to have a degree has been haunting the minds of people on a global scale. While some time ago when not everybody could afford higher education for various reasons, a degree was held in high esteem. Degree holders were “demigods”. Today everybody seems to have access to higher education up to some college or university level. They haven’t lost their importance though.

But then people start talking about experience. Many companies look for experience in addition to your degree. New degree holders are often held in hostage while seeking jobs. How can you acquire experience when you haven’t had the opportunity to work? And how can you apply for jobs when you don’t have the qualifications?

This brings me to the question: “which is more important: education or experience?” And that’s what precisely JCM Enterprises, “a professional team of Canadian and U.S. writers with experience, talent and high-caliber skills” attempts to answer in their latest post “Do You Need a Degree to Be a Professional? 

Some interesting comments follow the article which, I’d say, is written in a well-balanced manner. Like one that says: “I agree that my writing skills owe more to my high school English teachers than to anything I learned in university.” Or another one: “my room mate, a structural engineer, never went to college, never got any kind of formal training, and is totally self-taught. He works for a major Sign Company here in Vegas and totally blows away any of the other engineers in his department.

I’m keen to know more about this problematic issue which I consider of vital importance in an environment of cut-throat competition. I am also concerned about how it works in different counties. In my own, a degree is required for important positions. Then you are a professional. So folks, what do you think? Do you value a degree? Do you consider that a degree is essential in life? Or experience? Or both?

Enhancing your authority

It’s the aim of every blogger to become an authority in the blogoshpere. For whatever reasons; little does it matter. And once they accede to a certain level, it’s legitimate to want to reach the summum bonum. I’m sure you’ve made this as one of your resolutions for the new year. Am I right? Well, don’t feel uncomfortable if you haven’t. You can still think about it.

One of the ways bloggers gauge their authority is through the popular social media. Technorati is one of them that lead you to the desired recognition. I said “desired” because you set your pace. You’ll get recognition if you desire recognition. And when you are recognized, you are appreciated, you drive in-bound traffic; you enhance your authority.

However, one thing you should bear in mind. Your degree of authority lies where you are in the authority hierarchy of Technorati (because we are talking of Technorati). You can easily guess that the most authoritative of all would be those that lie in the Top 100. Can you make it? Huh… That’s big achievement. Yeah it is.

Whatever the level of your blog, if you are committed to delivering quality materials to your readership, there’s no doubt you’ll pull traffic to your site (for whatever reasons). People want value content written in a clear, concise and consistent manner. If you can do this there’s no reason why you can’t reach to the top of the table.

Still sceptic? I’ll tell you how. Just follow the seven tips that Skellie gives us in A Guide to Breaking Into the Technorati Top 100.

Good luck.

Booze off with SMART resolutions

Booze off

Back to work guys. Fire crackers’ time’s over now; the festive time too. Work resumed today, at least here in Mauritius, although quite a number of commercial undertakings are still on holiday – not necessarily merry-making, rather taking a well-deserved rest after the rush of the end-of-the-year crazy sales. Government employees were released early as on every 3rd January. Tomorrow will be a normal day, pending serious business as from Monday.

There was some rush at the petrol stations this morning. As my tank was practically empty, I headed straight to my usual petrol station. “No petrol, Sir,” shouted the attendant before I could stop. I drove to another station some 500 metres away. Several vehicles were queuing. I managed to get the boy’s attraction towards me. He approached hesitatingly. I handed over a 1000-Rupee note and he was on the point of activating the pump when his colleague snatched away the petrol gear. The service was interrupted as the station owners were awaiting a price rise to make windfall gains.

Frustrated, I glanced at my fuel meter. There seemed to be sufficient amount to run some 20 kilometres to my office. I decided to take the risk. There were at least two other stations which I could still try on the way. I was fortunate at the third one. I could have missed a day’s work.

But the much-awaited (by station owners) and much-dreaded (by customers) price increase didn’t take place. The Automatic Pricing Mechanism committee which met late in the afternoon decided to keep a status quo.

Revitalize yourself

Well, that was some side news. Let’s go back to our business.

Are you still boozy? Any hangover? OK, try the following:

(i) Take a good rest; sleep;
(ii) Avoid caffeine;
(iii) Re-hydrate yourself with water;
(iv) Revitalize with Fruit juice/orange juice for Vitamin C.

Anyway it’s always hard to start a new year. The festive mood is still in the back of your mind with the weekend ahead. 3rd and 4th falling just before a weekend always makes you feel clumsy. So you got another couple of days to revitalize yourself and get ready for the daily routine as from next week. See your activities with a fresh look. Learn from past events. Find out where you erred or failed. Don’t forget failures lead to success, only if you can recognize them.

Take a fresh look ahead

New Year is also time for new resolutions. If you made any, the routine should look different. Did you? Don’t worry if you didn’t. It’s never too late. Get yourself to the task. Work out your objectives that you want to attain for this year. Better write them down or publish them and make sure you discipline yourself towards achieving them.

Here’s how you could proceed:

(i) Make a list of the things you want to achieve during this year. These are your goals. List as many in different areas of your life.
(ii) Brainstorm at least a couple of them in each area. Find out which ones you cherish most and why. How they are going to improve your life or will positively impact on your life. This will help you gauge their importance to you, hence the need to achieve them. Make a priority list.
(iii) From the potential goals select about five or six that you feel are most important. You cannot focus on too many goals. You need to narrow down.
(iv) Make a detailed road map that’s going to guide you from where you are now to where you will have to be in order to realize them. The steps should be clear and easy to understand.
(v) Put your plan into action.
(vi) Monitor your progress regularly, perhaps at least once or twice a week. Be true to yourself. Devote some time for this exercise. This will help you to keep on track.
(vii) Keep yourself motivated and review to make sure you are not distracted or disrupted by anything that stands on your way at any time at any point. –

Be SMART…

For a resolution plan to be successful it should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

When formulating goals make sure they are:

(i) Specific – not ambiguous; exactly what you want to achieve, not just vague assumptions;
(ii) Measurable – there needs to be a system to measure progress against a standard you’ve set yourself;
(iii) Achievable – not far-fetched; and capable of being reached with reasonable amount of effort and application;
(v) Relevant to the improvement of your life; and
(vi) Time-bound – set reasonable time frames with specific start and completion dates and times.

…or rather smartER

I’d propose to add two more letters to the mnemonic:
(i) E for Enthusiastic, fostering enthusiasm towards reaching the goals; and
(ii) R for Reliable – a plan that you can rely upon to fulfill your objectives, a plan that’s not going to let you down in the middle of the road. Above all you should yourself be reliable.

If you were already smart last year I do hope you become smarter this year. All the best.

If you have any other suggestions, please let me know. Shout in my comment box. You may also consider subscribing to my feed or spread the word.

REVOLUTIONARY WIRELESS READING DEVICE

Blogging year, against all odds

As we are on the ebb of 2007, I wish to thank you all for your kind support and encouragement throughout. If I had to qualify this year, it’s been a blogging year for me. Reluctant at first, I threw myself in the water. I managed to remain afloat, against all odds.

It’s not a happy-go-lucky thing when you have a full time job, a family commitment and especially when you are the only bread winner. Sorry, I’m not whining. I know I’m not the only one in this situation. Bloggers are what they are, confident, perseverant, consistent, forward-looking…

When I started this blog in March I had little idea how it would fare. The idea of blogging was churning in my mind since long. But I hadn’t really planned for it. I just started out of the blue. I was wondering whether I’d be able to sustain it. I was indeed a novice and understood very little about this thing.

At first I’d write anything, trying to keep a daily schedule. Whether it was at work, home or shopping I had only one thing in my mind: what will be my next post? It was like an obsession until I realized the blood in my veins was rushing for nothing. Why should I kill myself for something that doesn’t bring any material reward? One day during a short break in my office I tried to figure out the whole issue. I resolved that I couldn’t write just for the sake of writing. So I set myself to write when I have something worth to say and to share with the world. This proved to be a positive choice.

Of course in any undertaking you have ups and downs. I was no exception; the more so as I am not an expert in the IT thing. But I didn’t let this weakness dominate my spirit to achieve. As long as my webmaster (Hi – he’ll recognize himself) is behind my back I know that I can rely upon him. I am very thankful to him for having been constantly by my side, assisting me in setting up Alfa King Memories and Le Journal d’Alfa King encouraging me all along. He would look after the technical issues while I had to concentrate more on my contents.

Le Journal d’Alfa King is my french blog and is dormant at the moment. I take a resolution to reactivate it next year.

Blogging has been a very fascinating experience. I’ve made lots of friends, albeit virtual; met quite a few established bloggers and writers. I’ve learnt a lot and still have a long way to go. Can you imagine how gratifying it is to be able to share your experiences, knowledge and skills with the world? I have every reason to be satisfied and I look forward to improve upon what I’ve acquired during this period of running in.

I am aware that many people out there make money from or through their blogs; and they encourage fellow bloggers to get into it. Some even say they’ve left their day job to concentrate full time on their online occupation. I am still wondering whether this is an area I can focus on during the coming year and whether it is really achievable in my case with the limited resources at hand. I need not mention the financial implications here, you know about them already.

To be honest, I haven’t given it any serious thought till now. I have no reason not to believe what others say. Perhaps, like me, they started from scrap. When I was setting up my blog I had in mind to hone my writing skills through sharing of knowledge and experiences in areas I am conversant. Making money was not on the agenda. Well, this could be another resolution for the coming year; if not from my blog, through it.

As we creep into the New Year I wish to extend all my best wishes to you and your dear ones for a safe and healthy year 2008. May the New Year bring lots of happiness, prosperity and success in whatever you are planning to achieve.

Just a couple of links you might be interested in before I pen off:

(i) The Top 10 Blogs for Writers 
(ii) Top 10 Blog Posts for Writers
(iii) 5 Ways To Keep Your Writing Resolutions This New Year
(iv) 50 Tips to Unclutter Your Blog

Cheers!