8 Easy Steps for arranging your desk

1. Clear away clutter: If it’s paper, file it, scan it, or trash it. If it’s something that needs to be taken care of, do it now. Edit your essential desk-top items- do you really need 15 pens in your pen holder? Your desk is valuable real estate, and should be as clear and clean as possible.

2. Sit so you can clearly see the door. No one likes to be surprised when they are concentrating on their work. If you have a clear view of the door, you can see what’s coming, literally and figuratively.

3. If you have a blank white wall behind your computer screen, it can cause eye strain and fatigue. If the wall is large enough, add artwork. Preferably something beautiful, inspiring, or action oriented (a sail boat race, a waterfall, running horses…just make sure it’s an image that has a positive meaning to you. Do NOT display artwork of sinking ships, a battlefield, or dead or decaying items, all which elicit negative feelings)

4. Add a healthy living plant to the left corner of your desk. This is symbolically the wealth area of your desk, and you should nurture and care for a healthy growing plant in this area (You are symbolically nurturing and caring for your thriving career when you care for this plant, so be mindful of it). My favorite plants for this area are lucky bamboo (easy to keep alive), a jade plant (one of the favorites in the Asian culture because it’s leaves are the shape of coins), or a plant that is in bloom (orchids are beautiful and are in bloom for quite a long time). DO NOT LET THIS PLANT DIE AT YOUR DESK…as soon as it starts to deteriorate, get a new healthy plant to replace it.

5. Add two personal photos to the right side of your desk, in nice frames. This is the relationship/love area of your desk, so chose your photos carefully. I suggest a happy photo of you with your loved one(s), and a second photo of either your children, your pet, or something that you love. If you love to travel, you can use a photo of a favorite destination, or somewhere you long to visit.

6. Add a table-top fountain in the north part of your office. Keep it small and classy. And yes, it should be as close to the northern compass point in your office as possible. (If you have an I-phone, you can download a free compass application that can easily tell you where north is.) A fountain in the north keeps the vital “chi” energy flowing in your office space. Make sure you keep this fountain turned on 24/7, even on the weekends, and when you are out of the office. If you turn the fountain on and off, you are turning on and off the energy of prosperity…which will start & stop your forward career movement. I love to add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to my fountain, which creates a subtle but fresh fragrance throughout the day, and has the added benefit of helping to keep you alert.

7. Add a candy or treat dish to your desk, and keep it filled with a popular treat that doesn’t melt. Encourage quick visits from your office co-workers. A smile and a happy greeting from your co-workers will lift your spirits, keep you engaged, and bring a constant flow of energy to your work-space.

8. Keep positive affirmations close at hand. You can accomplish this in several ways; Famous quotes that inspire you posted on the wall/ the computer/or wherever you can see them; Books that inspire, or instruct you in career advancement; a screen-saver for your computer that has positive or motivational messages. Or add something personal to your desk or office that symbolizes success to you.

Of course there are many Feng Shui techniques that will apply to your specific office layout, but these are a few common tips that anyone can incorporate to make a positive change today!



Source by Tamara Romeo




Five major multifamily real estate investment trusts, Aimco, Boardwalk, Essex Property Trust, MAA, and UDR, are partnering with private owners Starwood Capital Group, Cortland, and GID to invest more than $100 million in a venture capital fund, which will be used to invest in “disruptive real estate technology companies” in the multifamily industry.



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Dean Graziose real estate investor teacher is certainly known for paving the way when it comes to sound advice in respect to realty investments. Naturally if one is new to the world of property investment they are going to want the advice from the best. To many Dean Graziose is considered the voice to listen to when it comes to property investment.

When one looks at the background of Dean it certainly depicts a successful story and just what is achievable with the proper planning and property investment. It also shows that one does not have to be a millionaire to be able to make realty investment a profitable business. Dean purchased his first piece of property at the age of eighteen. Then with a little hard work to put the property into good shape, ended up meaning he was able to put it back on the market and make a profit. This was the beginning of a very lucrative business for him.

Along the way no doubt that holding the title of Dean Graziose real estate investor teacher meant learning from his errors and no doubt he made a lot of mistakes, but he was determined to make these pay off for him as well. He ended up writing a program on how to sell. Although this program had to do with buying and selling cars the perspective was the same to be applied for property investment.

Later Dean went on to introduce a program called “Think a Little Different”. It was here that he revealed all of his knowledge of dos and do nots when it came to property investment. This was by way of an infomercial which he had been using successfully up to this point.

Finally he went onto publishing his first book called “Totally Fulfilled”. Although not centered specifically on property investment, it covers the various aspects of his life that contributed to his success. Following this was “Be a Real Estate Millionaire.”

Most of the publications that have been released by Dean would be well worth reading if one is having an interest in property investment. It is always a good way to start an investment by being well grounded in the suggestions and advise of one that has been successful. Dean Graziose real estate investor teacher is certainly a person that one would want to follow in his footsteps if looking for success in real estate investment. With the application of even a few of the techniques offered by Dean it is sure to make a positive difference in any investment.



Source by Mike Lautensack

In anticipation of my upcoming trip to Ottawa next weekend I have started to do some research and contacted Ottawa Tourism. Ottawa, as Canada's capital, is one of Canada's most popular travel destinations and it has a great variety of destinations, activities and events to offer.

I had an opportunity to talk with Jantine Van Kregten from Ottawa Tourism who was kind enough to give me a great general overview of things to see and do in Ottawa.

1. Please provide us with some general information about Ottawa. How large is the city, where is it located, what is the weather like?

Ottawa is the capital of Canada, and its fourth largest city. With the neighboring city of Gatineau in the province of Quebec, the region has about 1.2 million people. Ottawa is located in eastern Ontario, about four hours' drive northeast of Toronto; two hours west of Montreal; and one hour north of the border with the state of New York.

Ottawa enjoys four distinct seasons, with warmest temperatures and sometimes high humidity in July and August; a temperate fall with gorgeous fall colors; a cold and snowy winter; and a wet spring.

2. How can one get to Ottawa and what is the best way of getting around in Ottawa?

Ottawa is accessible with direct flights from major centers in Canada and several US cities including New York, Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta and more. Ottawa is a major stop along the Windsor-Quebec City corridor of VIA Rail and bus service also links the city with other Canadian cities.

By car, major thoroughfares include Highway 416 that links Ottawa with Highway 401. Highway 417 runs through the city, while Autoroutes 5, 50 and 148 are the major highways on the Quebec side of the river.

3. Ottawa is Canada's capital and has played a significant role in the history of this country. Please tell us more about that and the Canadian Heritage Experiences offered in Ottawa.

The story of Ottawa begins with the building of the Rideau Canal between 1826 and 1832 by Lt. Col. John By of the Royal Engineers and thousands of mostly Irish labourers. The Canal stretches 202 km (126 miles) through eastern Ontario to the St. Louis Lawrence River and was built to ensure a supply line in case of American attack (which never came). The Canal was never used for a military purpose and its 49 locks are still operated in the same way as when they were built. In fact, the Rideau Canal is Canada's nominee to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is expected in 2007, the 175th anniversary of its construction.

Queen Victoria decreed in 1857 that Ottawa would be the capital of the country that became Canada. The majestic Parliament Buildings were poorly constructed thereafter and remain a "must-see" attraction in the capital. As the capital, Ottawa is also home to 24 Sussex Drive (the prime minister's residence and not open to the public); Rideau Hall (home of the Governor General, with guided tours of residence and gardens available); and dozens of high agreements and embassies from Governments around the world.

Do not miss Laurier House, home to both Sir Wilfrid Laurier and WIlliam Lyon Mackenzie King, two former prime ministers, or the Mackenzie King Estate, King's summer home in Gatineau Park.

4. Please tell us about some of the major attractions, museums and galleries in the Ottawa area.

The latest addition to the national museum scene is the impressive Canadian War Musuem, which opened in May 2005 in a stunning location next to the Ottawa River. Canada's most-visited museum is Gatineau's Canadian Museum of Civilization. The National Gallery of Canada offers the largest collection of Canadian art, along with European and American masters. Other cultural facilities include the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography; the Canada Aviation Museum; the Canada Science and Technology Museum; the Canada Agriculture Museum; the Royal Canadian Mint; the Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada; and the Canadian Museum of Nature, currently in the midst of a massive renovation project, to be completed in 2009.

Other museums include the Bytown Museum, which tells the history of Ottawa's early days, including the building of the Rideau Canal; the Billings Estate Museum that traces the history of a prominent local family; and the funky Diefenbunker, Canada's Cold War Museum, a four-underground underground bunker that was constructed between 1959 and 1961 as the location to which the Canadian political and military elite would ride out the effects of a nuclear attack.

5. Our readers would like to find out about the festivals and special events in Ottawa.

The festival scene in Ottawa is a robust, year-round affair. The year kicks off with Winterlude, a huge winter festival held over the first three weeks in February. In March, the Irish community celebrates Irish week, and in March and April, the maple syrup season spawns a number of delicious festivals and events celebrating this tasty treat.

May belongs to the Canadian Tulip Festival – three weeks of celebration of Ottawa's favorite flower. During World War II, the Dutch royal family took refuge in Ottawa and Princess Margriet was born here, in a hospital room designated Dutch soil for the event. Canadians played a huge role in liberating the Netherlands and when the royal family returned home after the war, as a gesture of friendship, respect and appreciation, they sent thousands of tulip bulbs. The bulbs have followed every year since and now 3,000,000 tulips bloom in Canada's Capital Region.

Late May brings Canada's largest marathon as part of the Ottawa Race Weekend. Over the summer months, festivities abound: Doors Open Ottawa showcase heritage buildings; Italian Week; the Ottawa Fringe Festival; the TD Canada Trust Ottawa International Jazz Festival; the Nortel Ottawa Dragon Boat Race Festival; Cisco Systems Ottawa Bluesfest (Canada's largest); the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival (the world's largest); the Sound of Light fireworks festival; Ottawa Busker Festival; Ottawa GreekFest; CKCU Ottawa Folk Festival; the Central Canada Exhibition; and Pride Week.

On Parliament Hill, two free activities daily in the summer: the 10:00 am Changing the Guard ceremony and the evening Sound and Light Show.

In the fall, the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival colors the skies; while the La Vendemmia Harvest Festival tempts visitors' palates. The Ottawa International Animation Festival showcases artists from around the world while the Ottawa International Writers Festival provides a forum for authors' lively debts. Fall Rhapsody celebrates the glorious autumn colors.

The capital lights up for the holidays with the Christmas Lights Across Canada program.

6. What about restaurants and entertainment / nightlife areas in Ottawa?

Several neighborhoods offer entertainment options in Ottawa. The ByWard Market is one of Ottawa's oldest neighborhoods and also functions as its entertainment district, with over 100 food and drink options in just a four-block-square area. Whether it's fine dining, a good diner, a cozy bistro, or a romantic cafe, you can find it in "the market."

Elgin Street is another popular nightlife area, with an eclectic selection of bars, restaurants and cafés in just a few blocks. Bank Street offers three or four distinct areas along its length, including a popular area known as the Glebe. In the near west end, Westboro is also an attractive option for dinner and drinks.

Of course, one could also choose to explore the various options at the Casino du Lac-Leamy – whether it's gaming excitement or a show at its popular theater or a dinner at its five-diamond restaurant Le Baccara. The region's other five-diamond establishment (two of only 11 across Canada) is Signatures at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa.

7. Please give us an overview of the performing arts on offer in Ottawa.

The National Arts Center is Canada's premier performing arts center, offering English and French theater performances, dance, and the National Arts Center Orchestra. Numerous smaller theaters also abound, in both English and French, including the Great Canadian Theater Company, La Nouvelle Scene, Ottawa Little Theater, Third Wall Theater Company, Odyssey Theater (offering outdoor performances next to the Rideau River), A Company of Fools, and many productions at Arts Court, a municipal facility.

From May 18 to June 11, the Cirque du Soleil will bring its production of Quidam to Ottawa. The Canada Dance Festival takes place every two years (June 2-10, 2006) in Ottawa and the Ottawa Fringe Festival (also in June) is one of the best ways to see new productions and new innovations. In

The Centerpointe Theater in the west end offers a variety of performances, as do the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

Larger events are usually held at Scotiabank Place and the Ottawa Civic Center.

8. What are some of the shopping opportunities in Ottawa?

Some great shopping centers exist in Ottawa, including Bayshore Shopping Center in the west end, Rideau Center downtown, the St. Louis. Laurent Center in the close east end, and Place d'Orleans Shopping Center in the east end. These centers offer the best of the well-known brands.

For more eclectic offerings, the ByWard Market neighborhood offers great fashion and housewares; as does the Glebe, Westboro, and some small towns on both the Ontario and Quebec side of the Ottawa River – inclouding Merrickville, Manotick, Perth, Chelsea and Wakefield.

9. What are the outdoor, recreational and sports opportunities in and around Ottawa?

From a professional perspective, the Ottawa Senators are privately owned by Ottawans, as they march to a Stanley Cup victory! The Ottawa '67s offer a window to the Ontario Hockey League. The Ottawa Renegades provide Canadian Football League exclusion while the Ottawa Lynx are part of baseball's International League (they're the Triple A farm team for the Baltimore Orioles).

But sports in Ottawa are much more participatory than that. Home to hundreds of kilometers of recreational pathways, Ottawans love to cycle, inline skate and hike. The Ottawa River offers unbelievable whitewater rafting, as well as canoe and kayak adventures for the adventurous.

The highest bungee freefall in Canada is located just north of Ottawa, just outside Gatineau Park. Year-round, Gatineau Park offers something for the outdoor lover. Whether it's camping, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, mountain cycling or swimming in summer; or snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in winter, the park is recognized by all in the region.

As proof of how diverse a destination Ottawa is, it's the only location where you can skate on the world's largest skating rink and play in the world's largest beach volleyball tournament?

10. What type of accommodations options are there in Ottawa?

There are over 11,000 hotel rooms in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. The major chains (Hilton, Fairmont, Westin, Marriott, Delta, Sheraton, Novotel, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Comfort Inn) are represented, as well as more unique offers such as the boutique ARC the.hotel or Brookstreet Resort.

Downtown locations are within walking distance to many major attractions. Several bed-and-breakfast providers also offer a cozy alternative to hotels.

A comprehensive list of options is found at http://www.ottawatourism.ca
11. What are some of the major events and big news stories coming up in 2006 and beyond in Ottawa?

The Canadian Museum of Civilization celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2006. It began its life in May 1856, as part of the Geological Survey of Canada. The young museum grew into the National Museum of Canada and then, into the National Museum of Man. In 1986, it became the Canadian Museum of Civilization, moving into its magnificent Gatineau buildings three years later and continuing to present informative and entertaining exhibitions for a wide range of interests.

The Casino du Lac-Leamy celebrates 10 years of non-stop excursion in March 2006. Originally opened as the Casino de Hull, it has grown to be one of the top attractions in Canada's Capital Region, offering gaming each day from 9:00 am to 3:00 am; five-diamond dining at Le Baccara; an adjoining Theater offering matinees, musical programming, and variety shows of all kinds; docking facilities; an adjacent Hilton hotel with spa; and conference facilities. The Casino is celebrating with a series of themed activities, including the popular 7 Lucky Days promotion which offers a different promotion each day of the week.

Emily Carr is the featured exhibition from June 2 through September 3, 2006 at the National Gallery of Canada. Her paintings of First Nations villages and landscapes of the northwest Pacific coast, including many images of totem poles, help define Canadian art, especially that of the early 1900s.

In the third Indiana Jones movie, the climactic scene took place in a spectacular desert location carved into the side of a cliff. That venue is part of Petra, located in Jordan, and from April 7, 2006 through January 2, 2007, you can learn more at the Canadian Museum of Civilization's exhibition PETRA: City of Stone.

The Seven Years War is the focus of a new exhibit at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa's newest cultural attraction which opened with much fanfare in May 2005. The exhibit Clash of Empires: The War That Made Canada runs from May 18 to November 12.

Outdoor activities are a crucial part of Ottawans' lives. This summer, residents will be able to relish in others' accomplishments, too, as Ottawa plays host to more than 3,500 athletes and coaches during the 2006 Ontario Summer Games from August 9 to 13, 2006.

Québec Scene: April / May 2007: The National Arts Center has played host to two previous "scenes" – Atlantic Scene in 2003 and Alberta Scene in 2005 – and in 2007, it's Québec's turn to shine, as the very best of its theater, music, dance, comedy, culinary arts, literature and film forms the basis of this cultural festival.

Treasures from Beijing: May 11-September 30, 2007: At the Canadian Museum of Civilization, learn more about the development of Chinese civilization while viewing selected treasures from the National Museum of China. There will also be an attempt to provide a glimpse of China's recent history, including economic reforms and the Olympic Games bid.

Renoir's Landscapes: June 8-September 9, 2007: One of the best-loved of all the Impressionists, Renoir will be front and center next summer at the National Gallery of Canada.

FIFA World Youth Championship 2007: July 1-22, 2007: Ottawa has been selected as one of six Canadian cities for this three-week, 24-nation, 52-match tournament featuring the best youth (under-20) soccer players in the world. It is the second largest event staged by FIFA, following the FIFA World Cup.

Rideau Canal as UNESCO World Heritage Site: The heritage Rideau Canal, stretching 202 km from Ottawa to Kingston, is Canada's entry to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The design should be received in time for the 175th anniversary of the completion of the Canal in 2007.

Portrait Gallery of Canada: Following last spring's opening of the new Canadian War Museum, the next major cultural institution planned for Ottawa is the Portrait Gallery of Canada, due to open across the street from Parliament Hill in late 2007.

Thank you, Jantine, for providing such a great overview of all the things Ottawa has to offer. You have given me some great ideas for my trip next week and possible future excursions over the coming year.



Source by Susanne Pacher

The availability of funds in the primary market depends a great deal on the existence of secondary markets. First, mortgage funds are loaned to a homebuyer by a lending institution in the primary market. The mortgage is then sold to a secondary market agency that may, in turn, sell it to other investors in the form of mortgage backed securities. Mortgage backed securities fall into two general types: Bond-type securities and pass through securities. Bond-type securities are long-term, pay interest semi-annually, and provide for repayment at a specified date. Pass through securities, which are more common, pay interest and principal payments on a monthly basis. Some types of pass through securities pay even if payments are not collected from the borrower.

Because a primary lender sold the mortgage, the lender can take the money it receives from the sale and make another mortgage loan, then sell that new loan to the secondary market, and continue the cycle. The secondary market agency can pool the mortgages it buys to create mortgage backed securities, which they then sell to investors. As the secondary market agency sells the mortgage backed securities to investors, it now has more funds to buy more mortgages. It can then create more mortgage backed security pools to sell to investors again, and the cycle continues.

The market is able to function as it does because standardized underwriting criteria are used to qualify borrowers and property. A mortgage will only be purchased by the secondary market if the primary market lender conformed to the secondary market’s underwriting standards. Since lenders want to sell their loans, they must follow the underwriting standards of those agencies. The three largest secondary market agencies are Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae. Therefore, a conforming loan is typically a loan that conforms to Fannie Mae’s underwriting guidelines. Private companies such as hedge funds and investment banks also participate in the flow of mortgage funds by buying mortgage backed securities. The recent credit meltdown and economic recession was partly due to the buying and selling of mortgage backed securities. Investors borrowed incredible amounts of money and leveraged themselves so dramatically that when the value of mortgage backed securities went down, it was enough to create enormous liquidity problems for the companies and many went out of business (Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, etc.). Unfortunately, many of the same dynamics that caused the financial collapse are still in operation today. The secondary market still exists with Fannie Mae (infused with taxpayer money) now buying up to 99% of all loans originated in the United States.



Source by Joe Jesuele

We’ve often described the Northern California Wine Country as a ‘Disneyland for Adults’, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave the children behind. For many people, visiting wineries is only one day of their trip to San Francisco. After all, with all of the attractions it has to offer, the Bay Area is a great destination for the whole family. A daytrip to the scenic counties of Sonoma and Napa provides an opportunity to enjoy a relaxed pace with stunning views, wonderful tours and interesting wineries. The wineries and their gift shops are admittedly more interesting to the adults than the kids, but they will still enjoy the trip because it is, after all, farm country, and what kid doesn’t enjoy that? Sonoma especially takes great pride in their agricultural diversity, so as you travel around you’re going to see a wide variety of plantings, orchards and livestock in between the vineyards.

We’re seeing increasing numbers of children in Wine Country. While it is still a relatively small number, parents are finding ways to make it work. The secret to having a great time together in Sonoma and Napa is to realize that while many wineries are not suitable or enjoyable for children, there are many others that are. Sonoma and Napa have over seven hundred wineries, of which about half can be visited easily so there are plenty to choose from, as well as many other family attractions.

One of the most kid friendly and adult enjoyable destinations is the Plaza in downtown Sonoma. If you’re coming from San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge you’ll be at this historic and charming place in a little over half an hour. This is the ‘Philadelphia of California’, because it is the place where the Republic of California declared its independence from Mexico.

It is helpful to know that there are the counties of Sonoma and Napa, and the cities of Sonoma and Napa.

Even though Sonoma is a small city of about nine thousand people, it is big on history. It is the only city in California that enjoys all three of these distinctions; it was an official Pueblo, or city under Mexico, it was a Franciscan Mission (the twenty-first and final), and it was the military headquarters for the entire West Coast under both Mexico and the United States. Around the Plaza, which is the largest in California, there are numerous historic sites as well as nice restaurants and shops. In the Plaza there are great picnic tables near the playgrounds and the newly restored duck pond.

The tourist bureau sits on the Plaza in an old Carnegie Library building and it can provide additional information for a great day with kids. A unique attraction called Train Town is just two minutes back down Broadway, the road that led you to the Plaza. This is a small old-style amusement park suitable for young children up to approximately age ten. There is a small train to ride and a traditional merry-go-round and it harkens back to a time before special effects were digital. There is even a petting zoo.

Around the Plaza are several winery tasting rooms where you can taste some excellent wines without spending all day getting there. Then you can nip back to the playground before moving on to the next winery. Five minutes from the Plaza is one of the Sonoma originals, the Sebastiani Family Winery, with their great old barrel room, one of Sonoma’s best gift shops and some very nice wines for you to sample. They also offer a trolley tour of Sonoma that explains about its wonderful history. Just to the south of town is the Larson Family Winery, on the old Sonoma Rodeo site. This was where the champion race horse Seabiscuit stabled overnight when he was racing on the West Coast. It has a farm-like setting with llamas and sheep. Horse rides through the vineyards can arranged in advance, bocce courts and picnic areas round out the experience.

From the Plaza you can head north on Route 12 up the Valley of the Moon, a scenic route. Voted Sonoma’s best tour, the Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen offers a wonderful mix of agriculture, education and fine wine. Their vineyards are tucked in a pretty little valley on Sonoma Mountain just down the road from Jack London’s old ranch, now a park.

Their tour, aboard a tram attached to the back of a tractor, winds its way up into the vineyards where they explain the biodynamic approach to agriculture, a remarkable system that is increasingly popular with many high-end wineries. Next you visit the barrel caves and finish up in the winery for a tasting. Admittedly wineries are about adult enjoyment, but there are often children on the Benziger tour and they always seem to enjoy themselves.

Please don’t make the mistake of bringing children to trendy wineries where they have nothing of interest for kids. They will spend the hour while you are tasting wine bored with nothing to do. The wineries that are kid friendly have made a big effort to be so. At both the Sonoma Plaza and Benziger you’ll find good picnic tables, so pick up some sandwiches either at the Plaza or at the Glen Ellen Market.

Many of the wineries in the Valley of the Moon are kid friendly as long as you have an adult willing to keep an eye on them. The grounds are gracious and park-like allowing for a little outdoor enjoyment in beautiful surroundings. Some of those that come to mind are B.R. Cohn, Imagery, Landmark and St. Francis. Chateau St. Jean and Ledson Winery both have deli markets and picnic tables on site. They are all within five miles of each other along Route 12, the main road in the Valley. Hint: Bring a soccer ball or a Frisbee. There are some great lawns in the Valley of the Moon.

Visiting Napa with Children

Napa is a great place to visit because everything is close together. The whole valley is only thirty miles long by five miles wide, and while there are other wineries tucked up in the hills, the variety of wineries that are easy to reach is wonderful. However, it is not as agriculturally varied as Sonoma. Napa is another half hour farther from the Golden Gate Bridge, but the ride brings you through the beautiful Carneros district with its vineyard covered rolling hills that have a distinctly Tuscan feeling. Napa is closer to San Francisco via the less scenic Bay Bridge.

Napa has a bit more of a city style than its country cousin Sonoma, but there are several places that children will especially enjoy. Everyone enjoys spectacular architecture and great views, something at which Napa excels. A classic example of this is the Artesa Winery, with its hilltop site overlooking Carneros and the Bay. Artesa is close to San Francisco and despite not being built with children in mind, the feeling is relaxed enough and the variety of places to explore extensive enough that everyone in the family will be charmed. They even have an elevator for those with strollers.

Just to the north in Yountville is Domaine Chandon, one of Napa’s original makers of sparkling wine. This is a favorite for groups and people with children because the grounds are gracious and accommodating, with lawns, ponds and wildlife. Up on the patio, they offer snacks along with their elegant sparkling wines and the tables make it easier to keep everyone together. The springtime tadpole explosion in the ponds will keep any child entertained.

One of the most enjoyable family wineries is Francis Ford Coppola’s Rubicon in Rutherford, about half way up the Napa Valley on Highway 29 (St. Helena Highway). He took the historic Neibaum/Inglenook building and surrounded it with gardens that have all of the graciousness of a southern Italian villa. The exhibits and old barrel rooms upstairs are enough to entertain most children. During the summer they provide model sailboats to send gliding on the fountain pool in front of the building. There is a small café, with outdoor seating, a great gift shop and of course some wonderful wines.

Just to the north is the V. Sattui Winery which in this context is most valuable for their great deli offerings and large picnic area. Napa does not have a lot of picnic areas. On a Saturday in season it can get busy, but finding food, wine and picnic tables all together certainly makes the logistics of blending wineries with children much easier. The wineries have dramatically more traffic on Saturdays than Sundays.

The Wilds of Calistoga

For the San Francisco-based traveler, unfortunately, two of the most interesting wineries for children are all the way at the northern part of the valley, just south of the ‘old west’ style town of Calistoga, which is a great, kid-friendly place to visit onto itself. These two wineries are not suitable for infants in strollers, but for children eight years and older they are a fun experience. First is Sterling Vineyards, famous for its aerial tramway that carries visitors to its hilltop winery. Many years ago it was the first large winery to charge for their tastings. The price includes the tram ride. Between the tram, the gift shop and the tasting you need to allow an hour and a half to enjoy the place. Get there early to avoid the lines.

Just across Highway 29 is one of the newest, large wineries in Napa, although it was built to look old. The Castello di Amorosa is built like an authentic castle, from real stone and hand wrought iron. The vision, the forty million dollars and thirteen years it took to build produced a remarkable place. Children are restricted to the early morning tours so you should check their website for the schedule. The tour with tasting takes about two hours. The admission for Rubicon, Sterling and Castello di Amorosa all range between $20 and $25, although they offer discounts for children and young adults.

Napa gets hot in the summer, but very dry, so there are very few flying bugs. During the Winter it gets rainy, but not very cold. Both Spring and Fall are gorgeous, and harvest time, from late August through mid-November, is a very busy, exciting time in Wine Country.

Small, private wineries are often at people’s homes, so for the collector, traveling with children, you should ask your potential hosts if children are welcomed. If you want to get to the smaller wineries with children, consider hiring a guide with a car or SUV (avoid limos due to the need to sit sideways or backwards which increases the possibility of carsickness). While there are limo services in San Francisco, many of the experts live in Wine Country but they pick up clients in the city. Hiring a driver greatly reduces the stress and increases the enjoyment. Explain that you have children and ask them for a guide that is comfortable with that. Some guides are parents and actually like children. For them it’s something different and in fact we remember every tour we’ve ever done with kids. Touring with children is educational and a lot of fun, as long as you go to wineries that they’ll find interesting too. So enjoy your day with the kids in Wine Country.



Source by Ralph Deamicis

Philadelphia, the largest city in Pennsylvania, prides itself of its rich cultural heritage dating back to as far as the 1600's. Because of this, it is also considered to be an educational landmine and a commercial region waiting to be explored.

In its earlier years, the city was not so much as a metropolis but an Indian village of Shackamaxo which was allegedly occupied by the Dutch, English, and Swedish later on. These four colonizers wrestled to gain control of the land and each of them was able to do so for quite some time until the area was included in a charter for Pennsylvania.

The charter which would later become the Pennsylvania colony was given by Charles II of England to William Penn as a partial reimbursement of a debt but was also paid for by Penn to the Native Americans to be on good terms with them. It was at this time that he cave it the name "Philadelphia" which in Greek means "love" and "brother" and so it has been called since then the "City of Brotherly Love".

Nowadays, The City of Brotherly Love will always be remembered as the venue for the First and Second Continental Congress where the United States Declaration of Independence was signed and where it also hosted the First Constitutional Convention. The monuments that serve to remind the people about these significant times still stand in its bustling metropolis as well as newly constructed buildings. These historical sites include the Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed), the Liberty Bell, the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes') Church National Historic Site, the First and Second Banks of the United States, Fort Mifflin and many others. There are more than a dozen historical sites found within city.

Due to its rich cultural heritage appearance from its aged structures and historical texts, Philadelphia is an educational landmine waiting to be discovered. It contains many art museums like the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Rodin Museum which holds Auguste Rodin's largest work collection outside of France, and Philadelphia Museum of Art which is one of the largest art museums in the United States to name a few popular examples. Hundreds of artifacts are housed in these museums and each one has its own story to tell.

In consequence to those mentioned, Philadelphia is involuntarily made into a commercial region. Tourists from different parts of the world come to Philadelphia to learn more about its past and enjoy what it has to offer at the present time. Things to try out when in the city include Philly's local street food such as cheesesteak sandwiches, pretzels and other baked goods, pubs, theaters, and an assortment of accommodations ranging from hotels to apartments.

All of these make Philadelphia a truly unique place to experience. It is an ideal place to visit because you can enjoy the perks and learn about new things at the same time while staying in one of the apartments for rent. It really has so much to offer. Philadelphia is indeed a rich cultural, educational and commercial area.



Source by Henry C Drake

In early 2007 Trista Winnie, writing for NuwireInvestor said: “In 2006, Americans saved at a rate of negative 1 percent, according to statistics released February 1 by the Commerce Department, meaning they not only spent all of their after-tax income, they also dipped into their savings or increased the amount they borrowed. The savings rate in 2005 was negative 0.4 percent.”

We have all heard the news (unless you live under a very big rock) that we are not saving enough, not saving for retirement, not saving for emergencies, that generally America and Americans are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. I’m here to tell you that the evidence for this just doesn’t add up. Americans are saving at record rates, have tremendous assets put away for a rainy day and most are far from bankruptcy. Sorry to disappoint all you fear mongers and nay sayers out there but the numbers you’ve been fed (and feeding to us) have been rigged. How could this be you ask? Well, the way the government measures savings is directly at fault.

The government’s numbers are calculated like this:

“Personal savings rate is calculated by subtracting the amount of spending from the amount of after-tax income. A negative savings rate means that consumers are spending more money than they have. The personal savings rate does not account for any money gained through investments or assets.” (nuwireinvestor, ’08)

There is a large pool of U.S. savings that does not show up in the statistics. The smarter and more knowledgeable our average citizens have become, and the more sophisticated they get, the more choices they have and the more they continue to save. And the less their ‘real’ savings shows up in statistics. Here are some of the ways that everyday people across America are quietly saving a fortune:

1) According to some economists American’s may have as much as 100 Billion dollars in currency quietly tucked away. This is currency that has been printed but no longer shows up in currency circulation metrics…this makes up approximately 20% of the currency available, where has it gone? It has gone into savings. This method of savings, many people keeping their cash in envelopes stuffed in a drawer for a rainy day used to be a common way to save, some people just don’t trust banks (and with the recent events in the first half of 2008…can you blame them?)

2) Almost 60% of Americans own their own home, and while the value of their equity may rise and fall, the value of their home equity is not measured in the aggregate savings statistics.

3) According to sales data kept by large commercial coin trading companies Americans own more gold, silver and precious metal coins than any other nation (with the possible exceptions of Germany and Switzerland). Naturally these assets aren’t recognized as savings either.

4) Social Security isn’t counted. 15% of an individual’s wages (or a half and half match for those of us employed by large companies) go into Social Security payments all of which is (hopefully) set aside for retirement. It takes 40 quarters of credit to qualify for Social Security at retirement age, among other things. With the average US wage hovering around $36,000 a year this averages out to $5400 per working year times the number of years a person works, usually about 40, which is $216,000 in contributions per worker before any gains are added on by investment.

Isn’t that 15% mandatory deduction another source of savings? Why isn’t it counted in the savings rate?

6) Stock investment. By conservative estimates 50% of Americans are currently invested in the stock market. But the aggregate of their investment is not included in the government’s measure of savings. Neither are tax deferred retirement plans like Roth and Traditional IRAs, pension plans, profit sharing plans, 401Ks, medical savings accounts, 403 b7’s and a plethora of other retirement account types that would look like savings to any rational individual. $5.8 trillion in retirement assets are in the hands of American workers, retirees and their families and held in benefit plans. These are huge amounts of invested money and are also excluded from the government savings statistics.

7) Money Market Funds: By most estimates aggregate total cash parked in Taxable MMF’s is between 3 and 3.5 trillion dollars…and guess what, nope these aren’t counted either. They are considered investing along with retirement plans. So just what is being counted in the statistics? I know that the Money Market Fund I am invested in has hundreds of billions of dollars in it…that money is what I call my personal savings and represents about 3 months living expenses, or over 10% of my gross income. I put money in there most months, I consider it savings, my ’emergency’ savings…why isn’t it being counted?

After doing just a little digging, it seems plain wrong to say that Americans are suffering from a low savings rate. Many Americans have found more sophisticated ways to save, to pile up their money for retirement, to avoid anemic bank interest rates and sidestep excessive interest charged by credit card companies… and none of these savings show up in the government’s numbers.

When measured in the aggregate, America’s savings rates are fine, we may be the most affluent savers in history! If we weren’t, why would so many nations be so eager to invade our markets, and are fighting over the right to sell things to American buyers? Because we’ve got the money to buy stuff! There is another story being told if you just look inside the numbers.

The really big question that lurks behind all of this is: Why does big government and big media work so hard at creating fear and propagating lies? I think ‘big government’ decided that it is somehow better for the average American to think of themselves as worse off than they really are in order to pave the way for government to design a solution. It’s an old Madison Avenue trick: create the demand and the people will buy.

The solution will probably involve taxing the “so called” fat cats who are making “windfall” profits off the stock market (read: oil traders, corporate CEO’s, speculators etc…fill in your favorite fat cat category here!) and sharing that wealth with the “people who deserve it” i.e the average hardworking Americans who have been convinced that they need this type of help from their government, not realizing that they are themselves the targets of this “get the rich guy” mentality. (Anyone among my middle-class readers been hit by a falling Alternative Minimum Tax recently?)

I’ll let you in on a little secret: many Americans are going to be millionaires by the time they retire…

I’m more worried about how the congress plans on confiscating our hard won wealth than I am concerned about not having enough at retirement. What kind of confiscatory tax will be unleashed on all of those well mapped out retirement plans for those jackals in congress to get their share of what we all have worked so hard to gather? Do you really think that the largest transfer of wealth in history is actually going to happen without big government collecting more than they aught?

Just watch what happens to the tax rates and tax laws in the next 20 years. That will tell the story. Sort of like time will tell.



Source by Wayne Silverman

For you to determine your house market value, you will have to to know how it is different from the appraised value. This is always mistaken to be one and the same but here is the vital fact that you should be aware of.

An appraisal is when a certified appraiser determines the value of the property. This is often conducted upon the buyer’s request when they deal with their loans and they needed to provide this information to their loan company.

With house market value, it is similar to appraisal but it does not involve a certified appraiser. The appraisal however, will be done by the real estate agent or the broker. They will provide you the information you will need based on the data they collected or the property’s worth in comparison to other similar properties in your locale. This is what they call comparative market analysis because the evaluation is based on the recent sales of familiar estate. This is normally done by the concerned agent in the possible transaction. The comparables, recent market trend in real estate and other approaches to assessment the whole valuation of the property is the mass appraisal technique used by the agent.

The loan institutions require a thorough assessment of the property before they can even start with the procedures in processing a loan application. Whatever provided by your real estate agent does not apply to the lender as the information your broker will use to assess the property is basic. That’s why certified appraiser is hired as they will be more detailed in giving the value of the property.. They will look more into the size of the house, its square footage, age, house style or appearance, location and its present condition. This is to assure the lender that the property is in detail worth the loan request.

It also the same if you are selling your home, you need to have both your agent and the appraiser’s evaluation. It would help resolve a reasonable asking price. Sellers who do not know their house market value, will price it too high or too low which can have a negative financial result. Or if you want, you may also try to make some improvements first before putting it on the market.

Check the condition of your doors, windows and roof to find out if there’s anything you need to fix. One of the things that will highly affect you property’s market value is if you’ll uprade or if you have a well-maintained mechanical system. If you can get your house repainted, install new carpets, wallpapers, fixtures and all the small details are extra things you can do for your house. Update kitchens and baths as they are also the few areas in your house that are carefully inspected by prospective buyers. And remember not to spend so much if it’s not required.

It is vital that you know the market on all aspects. It is often advised for a buyer or a seller to determine your property’s value by appraisal and house market value.



Source by Allen D. Wright

The beginning of each calendar year is a very busy time for many businesses, and Property Managers are not left out of that category! Whether you are a large Property Management Company or an individual Property Manager, this is the time when all tax forms should be issued for funds paid out to Rental Property Owners or Vendors during the previous calendar year. The form that is used to complete this task is the 1099-MISC, and this form must be submitted to the recipient and the IRS by a specified date each year. When 1099s are submitted to the IRS, they must be accompanied by a summary form, Form 1096, to meet the tax filing requirements.

– Why is the 1099-MISC necessary?

The IRS uses 1099s to monitor any income source that is not filed on a traditional W-2 form, which only shows income received as a salary or wage. This is a way in which the IRS captures any income received by an independent contractor or rental property owner that may otherwise go unreported. A Property Manager or Property Management Company is acting as a reliable source for the IRS to help enforce that all income is being reported.

– Who should receive a 1099-MISC?

• Rental Property Owners – all rental property owners that have received $600 or more in rent disbursements in a given calendar year should be issued a 1099-MISC.

• Vendors – all independent contractors or vendors who are unincorporated and have received $600 or more in a given calendar year for services provided should be issued a 1099-MISC.

– When does a 1099-MISC NOT need to be filed?

Every situation has exceptions, and tax filing and reporting is no different. Here are some of those exceptions:

• If the total payments to a rental property owner or vendor are less than $600, a 1099-MISC does not need to be filed.

• If a rental property owner is a corporation, a 1099-MISC does not need to be filed.

• If a vendor is an incorporated business, a 1099-MISC does not need to be filed.

– What information is required on a 1099-MISC?

• Tax ID # – this can be an individual’s SSN or an EIN for an unincorporated organization.

• Address – this is needed for the 1099-MISC to be sent to the recipient.

• Funds Paid – this includes a total of all income paid to a vendor or individual rental property owner during the previous calendar year. (Remember, only if the total is greater than $600)

– What boxes are used on a 1099-MISC to report income?

• Rental Property Owners – all income collected that was for rent should be reported in box 1 “Rents” on the 1099-MISC. Any additional income paid (late fees, utility bill reimbursements, NTQ fees, etc.) should be reported in box 3 “Other Income” on the 1099-MISC.

• Vendors – all payments made for vendor services should be reported in box 7 “Non-employee Compensation” on the 1099-MISC.

It is also good practice to send all rental property owners a copy of their financials for the previous calendar year so they can see where the amounts in each box on the 1099-MISC were derived from.

Not filing 1099s when required can lead to penalties and fines by the IRS, so it is very important to keep accurate records of amounts paid to each vendor and rental property owner and request any necessary forms that you may need to file the tax forms to be compliant in this process.



Source by Mike Lautensack