Thursday, May 24, 2007

Beware the TAXMAN is coming... well maybe!

By Wayne Mansfield

As it seems that anything moves is being taxed, I thought it would be instructional to look at The World’s Wackiest Taxes.

Over the centuries, right up to today, taxmen across the globe have enforced crazy and nonsensical tariffs on a mixed bag of oddities: From beards and urine to tattoos and illegal drugs. Just recently, authorities in China have introduced the latest in a long line of strange taxes… a 5 percent consumption tax on wooden chopsticks.

Apparently, the Chinese produce 45 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks each year—using timber from 25 million fully grown trees. So the Chinese government will be taxing wooden chopsticks in a move to save trees and as part of a wider, ambitious plan to slash energy consumption and combat pollution.

However, other countries, including the good old U.S. of A., are China’s equal in every way regarding oddball taxes.

For example, state legislators in Tennessee and neighbouring North Carolina—along with 21 other states nationwide—operate a tax on illegal drugs. Of course, one would presume that not many citizens actually report their secret stash to the Department of Revenue. Nevertheless, those who do ‘fess up and buy tax stamps to affix to their illicit haul aren’t signing their own arrest warrants. Revenue employees are supposedly prohibited from calling the cops on these tax-paying druggies.

In Arkansas, those displaying their attitude permanently inked on their biceps are subject to a tattoo tax. A bonus 6 percent levy is added to all tattoos, as well as body piercings and electrolysis treatment.

To be continued

Friday, May 18, 2007

Making Resolutions That Work

Has it been long enough for you to have started giving up on all those New Years Resolutions? You are not alone. In fact, according to a new survey, most people now, saving themselves the bother of getting angry with themselves, just don't make any New Year Resolutions.

In a newly released survey of 1012 Americans, only 45% of Americans now say they write up New Years Resolutions down from 88% of Americans who did so in the past. The random telephone survey was conducted during the period August 5 to August 8, 2005.

The figures show a drop of almost 50 percent among Americans who use the annual goal-setting institution. Why the dramatic drop? Apparently, “New Year’s Resolutions just don’t work.”

Says the surveys author, Stephen Shapiro of Goalfree Living: “At some point, people just decide to stop hurting themselves, and they call the whole thing off.”

Setting a Resolution this Year? Use Common Sense — or Maybe Not!

Albert Einstein once defined common sense as ‘the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18.

According to the new study, of those who plan to set New Years Resolutions for 2006:

–34% say they will set a Resolution related to their wallet
–38% say they will set a Resolution related to their waistline
–47% say they will set a Resolution related to their head i.e. a self-improvement type goal
–31% say they will set a Resolution related to their heart — i.e. a relationship or dating goal.

“These are all good areas to focus on in the New Year,” agrees Shapiro. “But the danger in this type of goal-setting is that we become focused on where we are going rather than enjoying where we are right now. We sacrifice today in the hope that a better future will emerge — only to discover that achievement rarely leads to true joy.”

Article to be continued...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Online Cooking Help

I am a big fan of food. I can think of nothing better than coming home after the gym or long day at work, and sitting down to a delicious meal, especially during the winter months. Usually my mum's cooking was always there and ready for me to enjoy, so cooking for myself was usually reserved for lunch and breakfast. I recently moved out however, and now have to cook for myself. Trying to remember how to cook these foods is interesting to say the least. Looking for some good recipes that are freely available, I jumped on the net and came across cookingspot.com that details a list of great recipes, all healthy and easy to make. Best of all, they're free!

Here are some REAL time management techniques to consider

The other day I sent you a list of flippant time management techniques - hopefully you had a chuckle from them. Well, this morning I received an email from Donald Wetmore with 5 great ideas about achieving more that I just have to share with you. So, here are those ideas courtesy of Dr. Donald E. Wetmore of The Productivity Institute, Stratford, USA

Huge increases in your success do not always require huge increases in effort. In a horse race, the first place horse might earn $50,000 while the second-place horse might earn $25,000. The first horse got twice the money not because it ran twice as fast as the competition. It only had to be a nose ahead. Here are some good examples you can schedule into your day. Small changes for big results.

1. Read fifteen minutes a day. The average person reads at about 200 words per minute. The average person reads about 12 books in a lifetime. Schedule just fifteen minutes a day to read the stuff you're not getting to because you don't have the time.

You'll read approximately 3,000 words. The average page has about 300 words on it, so you'll have read 10 pages. Now do this every day. In a month, you'll have read 300 pages, one full book. Continue doing it for twelve months and you'll have read twelve books in the year, as many as the average person reads in a lifetime.

2. Learn a new word each day. It's easy to do. Buy a pocket dictionary and keep it with you. Take a minute or two each day to look up a new word. Use that new word several times in your day and it will be added to your vocabulary. Over the years you will increase your vocabulary with thousands of new words. Just a few minutes a day. Small change for big results.

3. Set out your clothes the night before. Now this won't take anymore time because you've got to select your clothes sooner or later. This just gets it done sooner. And the benefit? You start your next day with a little less hassle and stress.

4. Grocery shop for two weeks at a time instead of weekly. Many perishable items like milk and bread may have to be replenished more frequently. But the non-perishable items, the paper goods and canned goods, can be purchased for a two-week period. It probably doesn't require more time to load four cans of corn into your grocery cart than two and you cut your grocery shopping time in half.

5. Do a daily random act of kindness. Go out of your way to compliment someone on good service. Send a congratulatory note when someone you know achieves a success such as landing a job or getting a promotion. Be genuine and sincere. No phoney baloney.

Everyone loves to hear the compliments. (I don't know anyone who is suffering from complimentary overload.) Now the real reward is in the simple joy of giving away the compliment and seeing the reaction but, in addition, another rule of life kicks in the give a spin-off benefit to you. 'What goes around, comes around."

Over the next year, you send out 365 compliments, pats on the back, and encouraging notes, you'll start to get some of those compliments and good wishes directed back at you. Over time, you create an entire support system, a flow of support for you and it just takes a couple if minutes a day. A small change for big results

Rehabilitation Help for Sufferers

With the whole Ben Cousins substance abuse scandel behind us now, the focus in now on his rehabilitation and attempts to get him back and ready for the Eagles at the AFL level again. He's not the only one in a such a public position who has had this problem either, and I'm sure there are many others within this fraternity who are also struggling with this problem.

I wondered what kind of help was actually out there for people struggling with problems like this and came across this drug rehab website. 1800-nodrugs.com is a resource designed to help those suffering from a drug related problem, or know someone who is. It takes you through a step by step process that helps you identitfy the best and most approprite treatment, and ways to get ahold of and break the addiction. By calling the number, people are able to speak with experienced support staff, who guide you through the rehabilitation process.

With the Ice epidemic in Australia at the moment, resources like this are invaluble to curbing and hopefully stopping the problem altogether.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Keeping the dream alive

In a recent issue of The Bulletin magazine, an article sarcastically called "In his dreams" raises the question that the words to John Laws signature theme "Keeping the dream alive" may have been borrowed from an equally famous broadcaster, veteran American Paul Harvey. I started to wonder what the fuss was about and did some research.

It seems the words in question were neither the work of Laws, who credits Harvey for the inspiration, nor Harvey's, but were those of Lee Pitts. The nostalgic essay was published in his 1995 book People Who Live At The End of Dirt Roads and appeared in the 2000 book Chicken Soup for the Golden Soul.

What could be so powerful that the origin of it would be so important? Can words be so important men's careers depend on them? For to you decided, here is the original version:

"Keeping the dream alive" by Lee Pitts

We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse.
For my grandchildren, I’d know better.

I’d really like for them to know about hand-me-down clothes and home-made ice cream and leftover meatloaf. I really would.
My cherished grandson, I hope you learn humility by surviving failure and that you learn to be honest even when no one is looking.
I hope you learn to make your bed and mow the lawn and wash the car — and I hope nobody gives you a brand-new car when you are sixteen.
It will be good if at least one time you can see a baby calf born, and you have a good friend to be with you if you ever have to put your old dog to sleep.
I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in.
I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother. And it is all right to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he’s scared, I hope you’ll let him.
And when you want to see a Disney movie and your kid brother wants to tag along, I hope you take him.
I hope you have to walk uphill with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely.
If you want a slingshot, I hope your father teaches you how to make one instead of buying one. I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books, and when you learn to use computers, you also learn how to add and subtract in your head.
I hope you get razzed by friends when you have your first crush on a girl, and that when you talk back to your mother you learn what Ivory soap tastes like.
May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on the stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole.
I hope you get sick when someone blows smoke in your face. I don’t care if you try beer once, but I hope you won’t like it. And if a friend offers you a joint or any drugs, I hope you are smart enough to realize that person is not your friend.
I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your grandpa or go fishing with your uncle.
I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through a neighbour’s window, and that she hugs you and kisses you when you give her a plaster of paris mould of your hand.

These things I wish for you — tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Powerful stuff, I think you will agree. Worth staking careers on - I will let you decide.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mothers... don't you just love'm!

As I go about my business, there is often this booming voice going off in my head... "Now Wayne... you'll thank me for this when you grow up!"

And as I continue my journey in life, with my dear sweet mum long since past - nearly 25 years ago now, I still take heed of her advice. Funny, I can't really recall any profound stuff my Dad told me, but mum's advice hangs heavy in my everyday experiences.

What got me thinking about this? Well, an amazingly prophetic list called "My mother taught me!" crossed my desk ( actually my computer screen ) and I was taken back to the days I was still wearing short pants and getting around bare foot. Here is that list - hope it brings back some fond memories for you too!

My mother taught me!

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE. "If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning in here."

2. My mother taught me RELIGION. "You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL. "If you don't stop doing that, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My mother taught me LOGIC. "Because I said so, that's why."

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC. "If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the shop with me."

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT. "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

7. My mother taught me IRONY. "Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS. "Shut your mouth and eat your dinner."

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM. "Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA. "You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER. "This room of yours looks as if a cyclone went through it."

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY. "If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE. "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION. "Stop acting like your father!"

15. My mother taught me about ENVY. "There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION. "Just wait until we get home."

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING. "You are going to get it when you get home!"

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE. "If you keep watching the TV, you'll get square eye s."

19. My mother taught me ESP. "Put your jumper on, don't you think I know when you are cold?"

20. My mother taught me HUMOUR. "When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT. "If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

22. My mother taught me GENETICS. "You're just like your father."

23. My mother taught me about my HERITAGE. "Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a tent?"

24. My mother taught me WISDOM. "When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

25. And my favourite: - My mother taught me about JUSTICE. "One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you ."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Maybe the little leak DOES need fixing?

As a frequent flyer... 15 times around Australia last year for starters, I often wonder what else could be wrong with the plane when things like the sound system doesn't work... or the latches on the seats are broken... or the ground crew bring the long "de-planing" ladders which happened recently in Perth - they were the wrong height.

Now I am not an alarmist but this next tale got me to thinking... what little things can I get done before the year starts in earnest. So that's the challenge - what have you been outing off that will only take a few minutes to fix. Go on, JUST DO IT! ( with apologises to Nike )

As reported some years back in The Wall Street Journal:

Here is an awesome example of taking little things for granted. Here is a most expensive and frightening lesson learned by a major airline about taking little, easy steps for granted.

A mechanic working under an aircraft noticed a small leak from the forward lavatory. Having just completed the repair of a more sophisticated mechanical malfunction that threatened to delay the on-time departure of the plane, the mechanic decided the little drip could wait until the plane landed at the next airport.

The plane took off on time.

Well, that little drip kept dripping. And, as liquid is known to do at very cold temperatures, the drips began to freeze. The little drip turned into a big chunk of ice. At 870 kilometres per hour, that little chunk of ice broke off from the fuselage and slammed into an engine.

The impact from all those little drips-turned brick caused the engine to self-destruct and rip right off the plane.

After the emergency landing, officials determined that the part that could have prevented the nearly catastrophic mishap was a little rubber washer. More than a hundred lives were put at risk, and an engine costing more than $1 million was destroyed all for the want of, literally, a ten-cent part - and a little attention to detail by a mechanic focusing on the complex but not the simple.

Great story. I have a sign looking back me which says: "NOT TOMORROW! Make the call! Today! Now!" That advice has helped immensely in the last 12 months.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What does it mean to "drop 5kph!"

My inbox often has great emails which command attention... One arrived recently from Mark Pearson a great Maverick Spirit supporter from Ballart and I reproduce it as I received it:

Hi Wayne,

This appeared in my emails and I thought worthy of passing around:

Read This Slowly (it is based on a true story)

A siren, a flashing light and Jack looked carefully at his speedometer before slowing down: 73kmh in a 60 zone. Fourth time in as many months.

How could a guy get caught so often?

When his car had slowed to 10 kph, Jack pulled over, but only partially. Let the cop worry about the potential traffic hazard. Maybe some other car will tweak his backside with a mirror. The cop was stepping out of his car, the big pad in hand.

Bob? Bob from the golf club? Jack sunk farther into his trench coat. This was worse than the coming ticket. A cop catching a guy from his own club. A guy who happened to be a little eager to get home after a long day at the office. A guy he was about to play golf with tomorrow. Jack jumped out of the car and approached a man he saw every Sunday, a man he'd never seen in uniform.

"Hi, Bob.. Fancy meeting you like this."

"Hello, Jack." No smile.

"Guess you caught me red-handed in a rush to see my wife and kids."

"Yeah, I guess." Bob seemed uncertain. Good. "I've seen some long days at the office lately. I'm afraid I bent the rules a bit -just this once."

Jack looked at the pavement. "Diane said something about roast beef and potatoes tonight. Know what I mean?"

"I know what you mean. I also know that you have a reputation." Ouch.

This was not going in the right direction. Time for new tactics.

"What'd you clock me at?"

"Seventy.. Would you sit back in your car please?"

"Now wait a minute here, Bob. I checked as soon as I saw you.. I was barely nudging 65." The lie seemed to come easier with every ticket.

"Please, Jack, in the car."


Flustered, Jack hunched himself through the still-open door. Slamming it shut, he stared at the dashboard. He was in no rush to open the window.

The minutes ticked by. Bob scribbled away on the pad. Why hadn't he asked for a driver's licence? Whatever the reason, Jack wouldn't be playing golf with this cop again.

A tap on the door jerked his head to the right. There was Bob, a folded paper in hand. Jack rolled down the window a mere two inches, just enough room for Bob to pass him the slip.

"Thanks." Jack could not quite keep the sneer out of his voice.

Bob returned to his police car without a word. Jack watched his retreat in the mirror. Jack unfolded the sheet of paper. How much was this one going to cost?

Wait a minute. What was this? Some kind of joke? Certainly not a ticket. Jack began to read:

"Dear Jack, Once upon a time I had a daughter. She was six when killed by a car. You guessed it- a speeding driver. A fine and three months in jail, and the man was free. Free to hug his daughters, all three of them. I only had one, and I'm going to have to wait until Heaven before I can ever hug her again. A thousand times I've tried to forgive that man. A thousand times I thought I had. Maybe I did, but I need to do it again. Even now. Pray for me. And be careful, Jack, my son is all I have left."

"Bob" ...... Jack turned around in time to the police car pull away and head down the road. Jack watched until it disappeared. A full 15 minutes later, he too pulled away and drove slowly home, praying for forgiveness and hugging a surprised wife and kids when he arrived.

Mark's email finishes:

This is an important message; please pass it on to your staff and friends. Drive safely and carefully. Remember, cars are not the only things recalled by their maker.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Please forgive me if I have ever left a hole in your fence.

Some months ago I had the pleasure to meet Keith Ralfs who helped out at SmartMoves 2004 as a check in chick. Keith has been achieving amazing things with his Greenwig project - well done.

Last week Keith sent me a "National Friendship Week letter" - widely know as a urban myth on the net - you know pass this on or else stuff. My initial thoughts were to write to Keith and say, "There's no such thing as National Friendship Week." Instead I thought, "What does it matter - an excuse to tell people that you care is a good excuse."

And I that got me to have a look for other stories that had been sent under the pretext of The National Friendship Week, and The Nail Test was one. And with no particular reason to send it to you other than it is worth reading here it is. (Thanks Keith for getting me thinking.)

Nail In the Fence

Please make sure you read all the way down to the last sentence. (Most importantly. read the last sentence).

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.

The first day, the boy drove 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.

He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there."

A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.
Friends are very rare jewels, indeed.
They make you smile and encourage you to succeed.
They lend an ear, they share words of praise
and they always want to open their hearts to us.

Show your friends how much you care. Send this to everyone you consider a Friend. If it comes back to you, then you'll know you have a circle of friends.

In friendship, I send this to you. Now send this to every friend you have, and to your family.

Please forgive me if I have ever left a hole in your fence.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Just DO It! From Lacoste to Nike!

Ever visited that amazingly seductive place... Someday Isle? Even a good education isn't much of a help when it comes to being successful.

The results of a survey business school graduates M.B.A. graduates were very disappointing. Only 10% of those who completed the Entrepreneurial Studies program were successful in starting a business.

The problem?

Simple. The majority of the graduates kept waiting for everything to be right before attempting to launch a business (think "personal profit centre") . . . and that never happened.

In his book "Victory!", Brian Tracy explains that the students who succeeded were the ones who took action -- even if everything wasn't quite "right." He also points out that those who achieved success often did it in a different kind of business than the one they had originally planned for. If their first path was blocked, they tried another one -- or if an unexpected opportunity opened up, they jumped on it.

Quick Tip: How to Make Sure You Never Again Drive Off Without Your Important Stuff

Whenever you have an important carry-along -- a cash-filled briefcase, your Stradivarius, or even your laptop -- don't take the chance that you might leave it behind in your partner's office or a motel room. Before you set it down or hide it under the bed, put your car keys inside it.

It's Good to Know: About the Changing McDonald's Menu

McDonald's is making changes, spurred not only by anti-fat and anti-starch advocates but also by the demands of an aging baby-boomer population and changing tastes.

Hamburgers are on their way out. Salads and vegetable wraps are coming in.

How would Ray Croc feel about this? Years ago, the founder of McDonald's said, "I don't know what we are going to be selling at the beginning of the next century, but I know that whatever it will be, it will be what the consumer is expecting."

Donald Trumps is fashionable again...

There's a section in Donald Trump's new book, "How to Get Rich", that goes through a week of his life on an hour-by-hour basis. It's pretty interesting. For example, although he generally starts his office work between 8:00 and 9:00, he usually wakes up much earlier -- 5:00 or 5:30 -- and spends several hours reading (five to seven newspapers) and thinking.

One quote from the book: "I'm not antisocial, but to me, 15 minutes is a very long lunch."

And before there was Nike... Who Is Rene Lacoste?

Rene Lacoste is the French tennis player who became a legend when he and his team mates stole the Davis Cup away from the Americans for the first time in 1927. He was nicknamed "the Alligator" because of his reputation for tenacity on the tennis court -- "never giving up my prey!" as Lacoste put it. A friend designed an alligator emblem for him, which was embroidered on the shirts and blazers he wore on the tennis court. In 1933, he teamed up with a French knitwear manufacturer and the still-popular "alligator shirt" was born -- perhaps the first time a designer logo was featured on the outside of a piece of clothing.

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