Monthly Archives: March 2017

When Business Reciprocity Is Appropriate and When It Is not

Certain types of reciprocity are appropriate; others are not in business dealings. This article discusses three types of reciprocity -gifts, bribes, or kickbacks – and how to distinguish between them.

One type of business reciprocity that would be ethical and appropriate would be a gift, which is something that is given without someone expecting that you or the company will do something for that person in return. Such a gift would generally be something of small value, designed to create warm, positive feelings and show one's appreciation, or it might be given in a spirit of friendship and continuing to have a good relationship. For instance, some common gifts that would be ethical and appropriate are giving a bottle of wine, flowers, framed photo, small memento of some activity, calendar, poster, or any number of small embossed gifts available through advertising specialty houses that can personalize the gift with the recipient's name. As an example of this general acceptance of such small gifts, a number of these premium services are accepted in the business community. Some owners are even on the board of the local Chamber of Commerce, showing that there is widespread support for such premium gift giving as an accepted, ethical form of practice. Some members of the Chamber also offer prizes for raffles, which are designed to get recognition for the company, but there are no strings attached for whoever wins the prize. So as a manager of a company, you might ethically offer such a prize.

However, it would not be ethical to offer a bribe or kickback. A bribe is a gift or monetary payment of value to influence someone to do something, while a kickback is a gift or monetary payment of value paid after an exchange. The difference between giving a gift and a bribe is that a bribe is large enough to influence someone to do something or not do something, while a kickback is paid after the fact, whereas there is no such expectation with the gift. For example, a bribe might take the form of an expensive free trip to a travel destination by a hotel or resort in return for promoting the hotel or resort, while a kickback might be providing that free trip after the deal is concluded. Often hotels or resorts offer a free trip to reporters, meeting planners, and travel agents to introduce their hotel or resort, but that is ethical if there is no expectation that the reporters have to write a favorable article, that the meeting planners have to book a meeting there, or that travel agents have to favor their hotel or resort rather than another hotel or resort which would be a better deal. However, it is ethical if the reporters, meeting planners, or travel agents make a voluntary decision after the trip about what they want to do based on what's best for their readers or clients.

The key difference marking the line between what is ethical and not ethical is the size of the item offered as a gift and the expectation that someone will act in response to having received it or receiving it in the future to benefit the giver of the item in a way that they would not otherwise act but for getting gift. This influence would be an even greater ethical breach if it leads the recipient to act in a way that is detrimental to others, such as offering an inferior service or a more costly one because of receiving the gift. An even worse breach would be offering a product or service that is harmful, such as sending tourists on a trip by a wholesaler who has inexperienced guides resulting in the death or injury of some participants.

Advantages of a Holiday House Exchange

Many people have never even heard of holiday house exchange. There are many benefits to this new and exciting vacation style. When you do a holiday house exchange you are basically exchanging lives with another family. You and the family discuss the details of the amount of time that the two families will be exchanging homes. Sometimes there can be a third person that deals with the details but most often it is the families themselves that work out the details.

Usually when you swap houses with a family you swap everything except your clothes. You leave your cars, bikes, boats, or anything of that nature behind. Of course there can be rules worked out where certain things are off limits. That is up to the two families swapping homes. Usually people that want to swap homes for a vacation want to do it with some one in another country. Of course this is not always the case.

A lot of people can not afford to visit other countries unless they do a house swap. When you house swap with someone you get to live in their home and live like one of the locals. You can even ask the home owner to leave you a list of all the great places to visit during your stay such as restaurants and attractions.

There are several benefits of swapping homes with a family. You do not have to worry about how you will fit your entire family into one hotel room. You do not have to worry about the younger children being awakened by the noise the older children are making. When you swap houses with someone your children can have their own beds.

You and your spouse can have your own room. You have plenty of space to put your belongings away so that you do not have to live out of a suitcase for the entire stay. You can also do your laundry before returning home so that you do not have to spend days catching up on laundry. This is always a good thing because usually coming home from a vacation can be very tiring.

Vacations are usually not very relaxing but when you swap homes they can be. You can actually have a vacation while feeling right at home. You will actually be living in a home instead of one room for weeks at a time. Another benefit to avoiding hotels and doing the house exchanging is that you do not have to spend a fortune on room service.

You will have your own kitchen to cook your meals in. This will also save you lots of money on having to dine out every night. You can even choose to stay in and order pizza and have a movie night just like you would at your own home because for however long your vacation is the house will be your home.

A holiday house exchange is great for everyone involved. If you are not sure whether this is something that is right for you then you may want to try doing some research online first. There are accounts of people that have done this and you can decide if it is something that you want to do.

Understanding the Importance of the Whip Effect in the Baseball Swing

I see whip effect in the baseball swing. When you crack a whip, there has got to be a deceleration to make the transfer of energy to the tip of the whip. The arm has to decelerate to crack a whip.

We need to understand how energy is transferred to the bat head in a swing in order to address the rotational obsession being taught in the baseball swing today. One way to illustrate proper transfer of energy could be to take a bucket of water and throw the water in the bucket at someone. If I should rotate my arms with the rest of my body and not stop its rotational movement (or decelerate the arms), the water would mostly miss my target and would mostly fly in a circular path to my target and all around my body even behind me. The water in the bucket would not have received the energy in such a way to directly and fully hit my intended target. The transfer of energy from the thrower to the water in the bucket never did occur with the rotational pattern of the throw.

In order to get the water out of the bucket and to hit my intended target with full force, I have got to brace my arms (decelerate my arms) in the direction of my target. There is a bracing effect that occurs, and then transfers from my body and then to the bucket, the bucket braces and the water is ejected toward my target.

What you see with what I teach, and what you see what biomechanists teach in golf and other sports but you do not hear much about in baseball, you have got to understand this cracking of the whip idea. Our goal is not to rotate. Our goal is to deliver energy to the bat head to deliver to the ball. The goal is not rotation.

When you hit a baseball, your legs should create a forward momentum transferring energy to the front leg, with the energy working its way up from the larger base segments up, just like when throwing the water out of the bucket. When you make that transfer from back leg to front leg in your baseball swing, your body should brace to let the energy transfer to the hands and bat.

The hands and the bat are the equivalent of the water in the bucket. The body braces and the hands and the bat are ejected. We are not trying to hit the baseball by rotating our body through contact of the baseball. We should not be spinning through contact of the baseball. It does not look good, but yet many coaches are talking about hips, hips, hips and spin your back foot and are giving that sort of baseball instruction.

Understanding whip effect, will help you understand the natural move, the natural swing, the way it happens in all other sports that require a throwing action. Think about it and name another sport where your goal is to spin your back foot. Many baseball coaches are teaching their students to spin their back foot to get rotation through the player's hips. Name any other sport where you see this type of instruction or this type of throwing pattern.

In tennis, golf, shot put, throwing or hitting any ball, we are transferring our energy in a straight line shift toward our target. You do not see spinning on the back foot in any of these sports or any other. This rotational hysteria is taking over baseball, but does not exist in any other sport. With batting in the last decade or so, coaches are teaching and we are seeing an epidemic of spinners.

Rotation does happen in the swing. There is no question about that. However, it happens as part of a straight line move of the back leg. It is a lateral driving of energy in a straight line at your target. If I throw a baseball and I spin my back leg, what would that do to the force my leg creates and to the direction of the ball? Rotating the back leg in a throw would compromise your back leg drive and it would send the direction of the throw away from your intended target.

Instead, if you drive hard in a straight line toward your intended target when throwing a baseball, your hips will naturally rotate after the drive of your legs in a straight line direction toward your target. Your hips will rotate much faster when you throw without trying to rotate.

The water out of the bucket is a big concept. We are decelerating and transferring energy and working in straight lines. Rotation will occur naturally. The hips will rotate and pull the upper torso. The rotation will happen without trying to spin.

We should be working in straight lines when attacking a baseball to hit it. The front leg will block the transfer, then fire the hips open from the front. As our body parts begin to naturally and sequentially rotate after the straight line shift, and we learn to decelerate our body parts just before contact, the huge force of energy will flow to our hands and then to the bat and then to the ball.

This is why you hear pro hitters talk a lot about hands. They might not understand biomechanically why they talk about hands, but they talk about hands because the hands are all they feel moving through contact of the baseball.

For great hitters, at the moment of truth at contact of the baseball, all energy has been funneled to the hands.

Constraints on Participating in Leisure

In “Constraints to Leisure,” Edgar L. Jackson and David Scott provide an overview of the field of leisure constraints research as of the late 1990s. They point out that originally researchers in the field studies what was then called “barriers to recreation participation,” but the word “barriers” refers to what is now considered only one type of constraint – something that intervenes or prevents one from participating in an activity . But now other kinds of constraints are recognized, including one’s interpersonal and intrapersonal influences, which lead one not to take part in leisure. In additional, Jackson and Scott explain that the word “leisure” is used rather than just recreation, since it is a more inclusive term, and the word “participation” was also dropped, since leisure research does not only involve whether a persona participates , but what they prefer to do, where, and what a particular type of leisure means to them.

Jackson and Scott also discuss the three major ways of looking at leisure that have evolved since the leisure constraints approach began in the 19th century. It began with considerations of “barriers to recreation participation and leisure enjoyment” based on the assumption that the main issue to address was service delivery, so that people would participate more if there were more services provided.

Then, starting in the 1960s, the focus shifted to looking at how particular barriers might affect the participation by individuals with different economic and social characteristics. Later, in the 1980s, the notion of constraints emerged, and the researchers realized that these constraints might not only be external, such as in the form of a facility or service, but could be internal, such as a constraint due to psychological and economic factors, or to social or interpersonal factors, such as a person’s relationships with his or her spouse or family.

Since the late 1980s, it would seem that three major concepts about the constraints affecting involvement in leisure activities have emerged, as described in a model proposed by Crawford and Godbey in 1987.

1) The structural or intervening constraint is one which affects someone from participating in some type of leisure, once the person already has indicated a preference for or desire to participate. As conceptualized by Crawford and Godbey, these structural or intervening constraints are “those factors that intervene between leisure preference and participation.” (P. 307). Research based on this conception of a constraint generally involves doing a survey to identify the particular items standing in the way of participation, such as time, costs, facilities, knowledge of the service or facility, lack of a partner for participation (such as a partner to participate in a doubles tennis match), and a lack of skills or a disability. The assumption underlying this approach is that a person would participate in any activity if not for these constraints, which seem much like the barriers conceived of when that term was in use. In looking for patterns and commonalities, using various quantitative methods such as factor analysis and cluster analysis, researchers found support for certain common structural and intervening constraints, most notably: “time commitments, costs, facilities and opportunities, skills and abilities, and transportation and access. ” Additionally, the researchers sought to look at how different groups in society were constrained in different ways, such as women, or groups based on age and income, eventually leading researchers to recognize that most constraints are experienced to a greater or lesser degree depending on personal and situational factors.

2) An intrapersonal constraint is a psychological state or characteristic which affects leisure preferences, rather than acting as a barrier to participation once a person has already developed those preferences. For example, intrapersonal constraints which might lead a person not to develop particular leisure preferences might be that person’s “abilities, personality needs, prior socialization, and perceived reference group attitudes.”

3) An interpersonal constraint is one which occurs due to one’s interaction with one’s peers, family members, and others, leading one to think of certain leisure activities, places, or services as relevant or not relevant leisure activities to participate in. For instance, based on one’s understandings from interacting with others one might consider certain types of leisure to be inappropriate, uninteresting, or unavailable.

Although a hierarchical model was proposed by DW Crawford, EL Jackson, an G. Godbey to combine these three concepts into a single model, based on one first forming leisure preferences on the intrapersonal level, then encountering constraints on the interpersonal level, and finally encountering structural or intervening constraints, it would seem there is no such sequential ordering of these constraints. Rather they seem to act together in varying ways and orders, though Henderson and other researchers have sought to combine intrapersonal and interpersonal constraints together to become antecedent constraints.

Whether such antecedents constraints exist or not, another way to look at whether people participate in a leisure experience based on the way they respond to a perceived constraint. If they participate and want to participate, that would be described as a “successful proactive response.” If they do not participate though they would like to do so, that would be considered a “reactive response.” Finally, if they participate but in a different way, that would be called a “partly successful proactive response.”

A good illustration of this response to a constraint approach might be a mountain climber who suffers a disability. The climber who gets a prosthetic and climbs the mountain himself might be considered to be showing a “successful proactive response.” The climber who decides to abandon the sport might be considered to be showing a “reactive response.” Finally the climber who is helped to climb the mountain by a team of other climbers might be considered to be engaging in a “partly successful proactive response.”

These ideas about constraints might be applied to how individuals get involved with some of the activities I have organized through several Meetup groups I run. These include an occasional Video Potluck Night, where people come to my house to see videos which I get at Blockbuster; feedback / discussion groups for indie film producers and directors, which might be considered a form of leisure, since most attendees are producing and directing films during their leisure time, often for free, and they have other paying jobs; and several teleseminars on writing, publishing, and promoting books, which is also more of a hobby for participants, since they hope to get books published, but have other jobs.

Structurally, some individuals who might attend these Meetup groups may be constrained because of the common structural problems that have been identified, including time commitments, costs, facilities and opportunities, skills and abilities, and transportation and access. Some people can not attend any of these activities, because they have another event to go to at that time or they may have extra work to do, so they can not spare the time to attend. Though there is no cost for the meetings, some people may be constrained by the cost of getting to my house, including the gas and toll from San Francisco, Marin, or the Peninsula, and the cost of contributing something to the potluck (which many people have to buy because they do not have the time to make something).

Another constraint is that some people may be uncomfortable about going to an event in a private house. Some may not attend the discussion groups or teleseminars, because they feel their skills are not yet up to par, although they hope someday to become a produce and director or finish their book. Some may not attend because they have problems with access, since they have trouble getting to my house if they do not have a car, because they have problems getting there by bus or BART (which are 1-3 miles from my house respectively) , and they can not get a ride. And if someone has a serious disability, they will have trouble getting into my house, which is not wheelchair accessible.

The intrapersonal constraint may come into play when some people decide not to come because they feel uncomfortable in large groups or meeting new people, such as to the Video Potlucks, since these not only involve socializing before the film over dinner but then sharing during introductions and in a discussion of the film after the showing. Others may not come because they fear opening up and showing the work they have done since they fear criticism.

The interpersonal constraint may occur when some people decide not to come because their friends or family may be doing something else or their peers may put down going to the activity. For example, their peers may be interesting in attending and discussing first run films in theaters, whereas my video potluck nights feature films on DVD from Blockbuster that come out about three months later than a theatrical release. Or their peers may discourage them from attending a director or producer discussion group, since they will be discussing their work with others who are similarly trying to break into the industry or producing and directing small films as a hobby. Their peers may claim they should only go to programs where they will meet people who are already established in the industry or convince them they do not need any more feedback, since their project is already very good.

How to Buy a Quality Used Sailboat and Avoid the Lemons

Buying a used sailboat can go one of two ways – it can either be a great bargain or it can turn out to be an enormous money pit. Of course, everyone wants to find that great bargain they can brag about to all their sailing friends. This article will help you understand the important things you need to consider when purchasing a used sailboat. If you are new to sailing and would not know a well crafted boat from an inflatable dinghy, consider bringing an experienced professional to help you inspect the boat. It will be worth the investment, and you'll probably get an education in the process.

Construction Material

The most important thing to remember with sailboat materials is to avoid wood. It is difficult and costly to maintain, in addition to hiding flaws that could be impossible to detect without tearing it apart. Fiberglass would be the best choice. While some claim that a fiberglass sailboat is "maintenance-free," this is hardly true. Plan on spending a few days per year on maintenance which could include applying antifouling paint to the bottom (to prevent the growth of barnacles and algae), regular waxing of the topsides with a good marine wax to prevent oxidation of the gelcoat, varnishing any teak trim annually, regular inspections of the mast and rigging (about as regularly as you have your car tuned up), annual inspection of your sails by your sailmaker to repair any small rips or tears, and regular engine maintenance.

If you're not a fan of fiberglass, you can also consider steel. However, be careful to inspect for rust. This is one problem you do not want to have. There are also boats constructed from a material called ferro-cement. Ferro-cement is the least expensive construction for boats over 25 feet. This construction methods uses steel wires covered with a sand and cement plaster. But, unless you build this boat yourself, steer clear of these as they are typically built by amateurs.

Engine

Only consider sailboats with newer engines, as older or vintage engines will be difficult to find replacement parts for. While it might be enticing to own a vintage model, really evaluate how much time and money you are willing to spend on maintenance.

The most reliable engine test is the "Smoke Test." Well-maintained diesel engines will blow small amounts of black smoke with some white – especially if started cold. However, steer clear of diesels that blow blue smoke or a steady stream of white smoke. While diesels are generally very reliable, they do require regular maintenance. Ask for maintenance records for oil changes, etc. Gasoline engines should be leak-free and have a bilge blower that operates correctly. Again, ask for maintenance records.

Sails and Rigging

The only way to make sure the sails are in good repair is to remove them from their bags and spread them out on a flat surface. Look for mildew, previously made repairs, worn spots, pulled stitches, and broken slides. Check that the winch operates smoothly. Inspect for worn pins and shackles, worn lines, broken blocks, and fraying wire. Hoist the sails, if possible, to ensure everything works properly.

Miscellaneous

Look for any leaks around hatches or portholes. These can be costly repairs to have to fix later on. Have someone who really knows electrical check the wiring. Again, this can be expensive to fix later, or even dangerous if a fire breaks out while on the water. Check to see if there are any wires banging around inside the mast – as this could certainly keep you up at night if you're a light sleeper.

Conclusion

Just remember when you're buying a used sailboat that you're really in the driver's seat. Most sellers are typically in either one of two scenarios: They are either upgrading to a bigger boat or they're getting out of sailing altogether. Either way, they will be pretty motivated to sell. Do not pay more than you need to. Start with a low offer and see if they counter. If buying through an auction website, do not get caught up the passion of bidding. There are plenty of boats for sale, so if you do not win the first auction, do not give up.

Use a reliable sailboat transporter, to ensure your new purchase arrives in the same condition you bought it in. And, above all, enjoy your new boat. There's nothing like a day on the water!

Disadvantages of Booking Online on Travel Portals

Online travel portal allows the customer to find the various destination of their choice, Information related to the place, availability, price comparison and hotel reservation or if they are looking for any package then they can also find with the help of the Various Vacation Package Booking . A traveler can enjoy a fast and efficient search for your travel need with the help of Online Travel Portals. Prior to the invention of Internet People used to visit the Travel agents and Tour operators for their Hotel Booking, Car Reservation or Excursion. But What I have seen that though the Online Travel Portals offers so options available to the end customer it still fails to attract the maximum number of Target Audience. We will discuss what are those Disadvantages of Travel Portals in the below.

1) Limited Options: Travel Agents who are offering good rates may not have the online Travel Booking Engine where the customer can directly book his Tickets and get the confirmation.

2) Real Time Confirmation: Many Tour Operators System will allow the customer to book online but do not offer real time confirmation.

3) Hidden fees and Security: Travel Agents and Tour operators they often advertise low rates to attract the customer but then they charge some hidden fees. Booking Travel Online requires to pay some amount to pay in advance this will put the customer in risk through an insecure website.

4) Paid Advertisements: Booking online will rarely gives a Customer to speak with someone about the service. There might be a case that Customer will find a testimonials on the website of Travel Agents and Supplier website but you can be never sure whether it is paid advertisement or genuine.

5) Specific Needs: Customer can not confirmed the specific requirement while making the Online Booking through the Hotel Reservation System.

Different Types of Hospitality Management Systems

Hospitality management systems are the software that runs your hospitality business. From the food ordering system in your restaurant, to online accommodation booking software, it enables efficient communication and management of your operation, ultimately increasing revenues.

With a range of hospitality management systems to choose from, understanding what is offered is important in order to find the right system that is tailored for your needs and budget. Depending on the type of operation you manage, you should consider the following systems, their advantages and suitability to your company.

Accommodation management software:

Accommodation software packages range from those aimed at B & Bs and small motel owners to ones for running big hotels, clubs and resorts. The basic package offers simple guest and room management, while the more complex ones cover every aspect needed to manage and run a big hotel chain. This includes reservations, service, retail, inventory, staff roster and training, accounting and much more.

Front desk: A front office software package should enable reception staff to keep track of all bookings, state of rooms, guest details and charges, coordinate restaurant reservations for guests, plan housekeeping duties and process guest check-in and check-out. They should also provide a means to communicate effectively with all travel agents and activity operators linked to the system. Features you should look out for include: Reports for arrivals & departures on a specific date. Guest ledger and reservation details, including activities and special requests. Room rates, discounts, package deals, group bookings, etc. Visual schematic of hotel rooms and status. Visual schematic of calendar with room availability. Facility for printing check-in cards for guests. Flexibility in re-assigning guests to different room. Facility to easily add charges to rooms from restaurants, spa, gift shop, etc. Incorporate all payment options upon check-out and print receipt. Print work roster for staff Facilities for storing guest history Communicate efficiently with reservation and travel agents

Housekeeping / maintenance software: Easy-to -use software for the housekeeping and maintenance departments of your accommodation place will increase the efficiency of cleaning and servicing of rooms. Main features of this module will be: Keeping track of room status – dirty, cleaned, inspected, check-ins and check-outs, etc. All information such as number of guests, number of beds, length of stay, special requests (eg baby cot, high chair) should be visible to both housekeeping staff and management. Staff can enter maintenance issues as they arise, and those are automatically sent to the maintenance department. Staff can request cleaning materials and toiletries ordered. Staff can keep track of laundry status for uninterrupted linen supply.

Online reservation system: This software package is essential to any accommodation place. It helps you increase direct online bookings instantly. Prospective guests can view hotel rooms (size, choice of beds), availability and prices, plus services and facilities offered. The systems should have instant confirmation of credit card payments or other secure online payment method. After payment of deposit and confirmation by email, guests should be able to login to view or change their reservation details. Cancellation policies should be stated, airport transport options mentioned.

Hospitality management systems for point of sale ( POS) operations: This includes restaurants and bars, the hotel gift shop, spa, tour desk and other guest services. It should have the options of direct payment or charge to room. Apart from recording normal vending operations, it should include issuing daily transaction reports to management or the accounting office, and a daily revenue report.

In the POS sector there are many operating hospitality management systems catering for the food vendor sector, namely restaurants, cafés, takeaway shops and delis.

Restaurant (POS) management packages. For POS management packages, you have the choice of an off-the-shelf system for restaurants and cafes, where you can set the options that suit your operation, or a customised one, specifically configured for your business. Most systems are quite easy to use and are cost effective. Their features vary, but most offer the following: Order taking, tallying, and cashier options using a hand-held PDA system. Credit-card processing interface Receipts customized for your business. The more advanced systems also offer: Integrating all transactions with your accounting software. Full inventory / stocktaking facility Translation facilities to selected languages.

Administration software: This module is directed at top management and offers access to all levels of the organization. It provides instant access to the data base of all sectors, ensuring total transparency of operations Overseeing and early intervention by senior staff can prevent mistakes being made by inexperienced employees and save money and the reputation of your business. · Other facilities in this package may include:

Tools for setting different rate systems for rooms and services: daily, seasonal, special promotions, etc. Statistical data – percentage occupancy over set periods, and other data used for policy making and customized reports for board meeting presentations. Organizing promotions and package deals. Inventory for different departments. Employee accounts and employee training programs

Remember: with the high staff turnover common to the hospitality industry, it is important to choose a system that needs minimal training to use, and has 'secure areas', which only authorised personnel (with the proper clearance) may access and use.

Choosing and introducing hospitality management systems for your business is a significant undertaking, both operationally and financially. But once up and running, the system will increase efficiency, cut costs and improve the service in your company. You will have happier staff and happier guests, who will promote your business and ultimately increase your revenue.

The Mystery of New Jersey’s Hookerman

Fantastic stories of ghostly lights which frequently appear near railroad tracks and, according to popular imagination, are carried by the spirits of long-deceased conductors have become a permanent and tantalizing feature of American folklore. Commonly referred to as “spook lights,” the phenomenon has captured the imagination of Fortean investigators around the world.

According to recent estimates, there exist more than 60 separate locations throughout the United States alone where this strange phenomenon occurs. The “Maco lights,” of North Carolina, have, by far, received the greatest attention of all, and are said to have been first sighted during the 18th Century.

Others, though less familiar, are equally well-documented, with many of the contemporary sightings having their roots in local Indian legends, such as the Hornet Spook Light, found in the southern midwest region of the country. Here, as in countless other cases, the belief persists that the lights are concrete proof of psychic survival after death, and that the discarnate personalities of dead railroad conductors and ancient tribal leaders are with us today.

Over the last five years, however, many researchers have sought to strip away the thick layers of myth and superstition which surround the spook light mystery, and have begun to employ sophisticated scientific equipment and methods in their research efforts. One such research group, Vestigia, has been concentrating its attention on strange lights observed in northwestern New Jersey, in an area known as Long Valley. Their investigation and findings, along with material gathered from other researchers in the field, have yielded some provocative answers to the spook light mystery.

The spook lights of Long Valley have been actively reported since the turn of the century. One particular section of the High Bridge Railroad is the focus of the activity, a stretch of railroad which is now owned by Con Rail. The spur was originally built in the mid-18th Century, and was, for a time, a bustling link between the iron-rich Long Valley area and the main line of the New Jersey Central Railroad as Chester, NJ The High Bridge Railroad was built by mine owners for the transfer of ore; the line later carried both passengers and freight until the 1930s. Today the line is an infrequently used freight spur.

The legend of this local spook light is, indeed, colorful, and conforms faithfully to the mythic storyline found in many similar cases. A brakeman of the High Bridge Railroad is supposed to have lost his hand in an accident caused by a mechanical malfunction. Mentally unbalanced by the trauma of the accident, he walked the tracks near the site of the mishap with a lantern swinging from a hook which replaced his lost hand. One night, legend has it, that hapless figure, while searching for his lost limb on the tracks, was struck by an oncoming train, and instantly killed.

It was believed that the lights appearing over the High Bridge Railroad were a psychic re-creation of that tragic night. The “Hookerman’s” lantern sways over the tracks, then, suddenly vanishes as he is once again felled by the approaching locomotive.

The High Bridge legend is almost identical to others across the country, both in reported phenomena and folklore. In almost all cases, the lights appear suddenly and at random, but seldom during heavy rain. The light itself, often a dull yellow, flickers much like a lantern, swinging from side to side like a pendulum. Generally it appears several inches to a few feet above the ground, and seems to move toward the observer in uncanny silence.

In one isolated incident, a young high school student was said to have been severely burned by the bizarre light, though this report ha yet to be confirmed. What is confirmable, however, is that the phenomenon is genuine, and has been reported by hundreds of people since the turn of the century.

At Long Valley, the researchers of Vestigia undertook a preliminary study of the spook lights in 1976, studying the history of the area, the High Bridge Railroad, and any accidents that could be linked to the Hookerman legend. It was learned that Long Valley was rural farmland until 1850, when iron ore began to be mined in the area. The High Bridge Railroad was, at first, a short spur that was used to transport ore from the mines to the foundry, and was actively used until 1885, when the mines began to cut back on operations. Eventually the railroad added several spurs, to the original Chester branch that ran to Long Valley. It was this spur that became the center of Vestigia’s study. By 1899, the railroad was renamed the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, and ran passenger operations until 1934. The line was still in use for freight until 1960. Today, there is little activity on the spur, which is now part of the jersey Central Railroad owned by Conrail.

The area is incredibly rich in folklore, including several tragedies associated with both mining and railroad operations. Many of these casualties are on record, but nothing in the records parallels the legend of the Hookerman, or gives any hint as to his identity, if he did, in the fact, exist.

Representatives from Vestigia collected background information from local residents about the legend, including several accounts that suggested the Hookerman was hospitalized at a local institution for the insane after his accident. Local hospital records and old railroad documents were carefully examined. The researchers even visited the local mental hospitals in search of the true identity of the Hookerman, but nothing could be found to link the legend of Long valley to reality.

Even if the Hookerman was the product of overactive local imaginations, the spook lights of Long Valley certainly were not. Researchers visited the area several times and each time they were able to see the Hookerman’s infamous “lantern.” Although the size, shape, speed of movement, and color varied from sighting to sighting, one thing was certain – the phenomenon was authentic and repeatedly observable. The directors of Vestigia then began the arduous task of amassing the technical materials, test equipment, and personnel necessary to study the phenomenon properly.

The first studies of the lights were scheduled for the fall of 1976 and the list of necessary equipment was extensive. Included were cameras, Geiger counters, methane gas sniffers devices, oscilloscopes, a Vascar radar unit, recording apparatus, thermometers, walkie-talkies, and assorted auxiliary equipment.

The team, led by Bill Wagner, was working on the theory that, if the lights could be seen, they should be recordable, photogenic and measurable. To that end, the team, 16 in all, amassed their equipment, much of it at their own expense. Next, the researchers selected the location for the study – a one mile stretch of railroad track, a virtual straightaway, intersected at its midpoint by a dirt road and bordered by two major roads.

While team members worked on collecting their gear, other Vestigia investigators secured the necessary releases, and received the cooperation of all authorities involved. Conrail was contacted, and permission was granted to use its right of way for the tests. A local resident whose house was in close proximity to the railroad tracks was contacted, and agreed to make power available from his home to the central post during the experiments.

On the night of November 20, 1976, the first of the field experiments were initiated, with three outposts set up. For the first time in Long Valley, the Hookerman’s light was going to be photographed, measured, and permanently recorded. The team assembled on the night of the initial test was composed of individuals from all disciplines and backgrounds. Within the group were experts in electronics, meteorology, physics, optics, photography, chemistry, and mathematics. What distinguished Vestigia’s study from any other was the quality and amount of technical expertise and equipment amassed from its study. A total of 10,000 man-hours were spent in the search, and the value of the equipment totally over $ 30,000.

What follows is a brief description of the first night of study into the Long valley spook lights. The investigation continues in the area, and Vestigia is presently collaborating with other research groups and universities in its probe.

On the night of the investigation, 4,000 feet of ground antenna wire was laid between the rails, and attached to an amplifier and oscilloscope which would detect variations in electrical frequency and amplitude. Other cables were attached directly to the rails to act as a capacitance test; anything metallic between or over the rails would register on a readout device in the equipment van. The Geiger counter was positioned at the presumed “hot spot,” and it, too, was wired into a readout in the command post. Other devices included a methane gas detector, and a parabolic listening device.

At Post Two (level with the command post), a group of observers on the track manned the Vascar radar unit as well as cameras which were loaded with infra-red sensitive film, and a motion picture camera containing ultra-fast film. Post One and Post Three observers, located a half-mile to the right and left, respectively, were armed with cameras, binoculars, and radio communicators.

At approximately 10 pm, researchers at the control van reported drastic fluctuations on their instruments. Researchers at Post Three simultaneously observed a small, distinct light that startled them with its sudden and unanticipated appearance. They described it as yellowish, of low magnitude, and from five to six inches in diameter. It hovered over the tracks, about a foot above the ground, and was positioned between Post One and the control vans. Cameras clicked, and recording devices were quickly activated. One puzzling thing occurred, however. Although Post Three was in visual contact with the object, and Post Two was clearly recording it electronically and had activated its cameras to photograph the phenomenon, observers at Post One had no visual contact with the light.

The oscilloscope, and other electronic measuring devices, recorded changes in the electromagnetic field of the area in which the light appeared, as well as discharges of electrical activity.

During the appearance of the light, the oscilloscope recorded a dramatic reaction for a period of one minute and 50 seconds. Amplitude varied from.5 volts to 2.5 volts, while a normal background signal is only.4 volts at 60 cycles. During this time the normal 60 cycles range swelled to well over 40,000 cycles.

These readings obviously indicated that whatever the observers were seeing, whatever the cameras were recording, were capable of producing a dramatic change in the electrical activity of the area.

Other equipment did not immediately respond to the sighting; no radiation was evident at the time of the incident. Although there were noticeable reactions in the rail capacitance tests, both the test and the radiation indicators became active after the sighting. One thing was certain: for approximately one minute and 50 seconds, the legend of the Hookerman became objective reality, and staged a performance for the most sophisticated audience in its history.

As quickly as the phenomenon occurred, it disappeared, and the team began to run through the tests to find any possible explanation for the incident. The observers at Post One never obtained visual contact with the object between them and the command post, but all tests, with the exception of the rail capacitance test, verified that the phenomenon had, indeed, physically occurred.

Team leaders checked the apparatus responsible for the rail capacitance test and discovered why it had not responded at the time of the sighting. It seems that one of the connections to the track had been knocked loose perhaps by some of the onlookers earlier in the evening.

At approximately 10:45 PM, a full ten minutes after the visual sightings of the light had ceased, test equipment used to record radiation began to show active readings from the track area. The Geiger counter recorded these readings for about five seconds before returning to its normal level. This occurred again nearly four minutes later, and persisted for seven seconds. There was a third and final recurrence 15 minutes following the visual sighting, this time lasting over 10 seconds.

The team worked on past midnight, hoping for a possible replay of the phenomenon, but all was quiet. Finally, at one am, the team leaders called it a night, yet the most dramatic proof of the evening would not be apparent until the photographs of the light were developed.

Two independent cameras at Post Two, near the control van, photographed an image, using two different types of film. A total of six frames of regular black and white, and seven frames of infrared were taken. Each frame reveals a definite image – a glowing ball of light. The black and white film shows a pinpoint of light, while the infrared shows a more detailed image. The black and white film (Tri-X) which was shot at 1 / 1250th of a second, shows only a light source, similar to that discerned by the observers’ naked eyes. The infrared film was exposed at 10 seconds per frame, and provides far more detail. This furnished us with important insight into the light range of the object, the film images showing density not discernible in normal black and white photographs.

What, however, does all of this prove? In what way do Vestigia’s findings contribute to an overall understanding of the spook light mystery. Just how have they succeeded in deflating the widespread claims of bodily survival.

To answer these questions, it is necessary to enter the realm of geophysical science.

It is fairly common knowledge that when certain types of quartz-bearing rocks are subjected to stress from within the Earth, an electrical potential results. This principle, referred to as the piezoelectric effect, is applied to telephone receivers as well as microphone transmitters, in which pressure from sound waves produce electrical responses in crystals. Physicists David Finkelstein and JR Powell, of New York, vigorously explored the phenomenon in 1970, and concluded that stress accumulated in rocks over a period of years may change in intensity very slowly just prior to major earthquake activity. They further hypothesized that such stress may be capable of establishing an electrical field whereby discharges of electricity would ionize the air in the area into visible light.

Intrigued by this curious theory, Vestigia investigators carefully examined geodesic maps of New Jersey, and discovered that a major fault, the Ramapo Border Fault, runs through Peapack in northern New Jersey and passes within a mile of Indian Point, NY It was also learned that since 1962 no fewer than 33 earthquakes have occurred along that fault, with a sizable portion in close proximity to the Long Valley area. After exhaustive study and field investigation, Bill Wagner and his associates within Vestigia became convinced that a definite correlation existed between the appearance of the light and local seismic activity. Through careful observation and documentation, they have succeeded in establishing, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the Long valley lights

persistently and predictably precede reports of local earthquake activity, and are entirely dependent upon natural, physical principles. Many, if not all, of the mysteries associated with the Hookerman have been unraveled.

For instance, the railroad bed at Long Valley is composed of granite, an extremely good conductor of electricity. Wagner has noted that the phenomenon is most prevalent in Long Valley either before or after changes in weather, and he cites barometric pressure as a logical correlative factor. As for the tendency of the light to recede as a human agent approaches, Vestigia believes it is foolish to automatically ascribe intelligent behavior to the light when a more sound and reasonable explanation exists. It is likely, they claim, that either the delicate field within the area is disrupted by the body’s own electrical charge, or merely that the static charge of the light itself seeks the natural ground of the approaching human and harmlessly discharges to the earth. But what about the radioactivity? Wagner and his co-workers suspect that the abnormal radiation recorded during their investigations of the light is associated with the presence of radon, an inert, natural gas, which is apparently bled off during earthquake activity.

The movement of the light across the tracks, though a bit more difficult to explain, has been linked by scientists to subsurface stress forces within a dynamic state of displacement. The spook light, according to informed speculation, is simply following the local fault lines, rift zones, and other rock strata that locally dissipate the stress. Dr. Michael Persinger, in his work, Space-Time Transients and Unusual Events, argues that “since the locus of the subsurface sources exists in a three-dimensional space, any movement of this source would be deflected, like a ‘transformation of axes,’ on the surface by the luminosity. ” Persinger maintains that the light’s apparent movement, whether pendulum-like or vertical, is dependent upon the source’s subsurface position.

Wagner and his team members are in full agreement with the findings of Persinger, and are currently refining their research techniques at Long Valley. They are confident that with additional research and investigation, earthquake prediction, based on the observation and the scrutiny of these spook lights, may evolve into a more precise and accurate science.

Due to Vestigia’s pioneering research on the spook light mystery, major universities and governmental agencies have begun to collaborate with the group in its probe of this highly elusive, but natural phenomenon. As for the legend of the “Hookerman,” local residents appear to be accepting the conventional explanations advanced by Vestigia. It would seem as though the colorful story centered around this mythic figure has begun to lose much of its luster, and that superstition, at least for the community of Long Valley, has been firmly replaced by truth.

Hotel Marketing: What Activities Should Hotels Consider?

Only last week the proprietor of a small hotel moaned to me that she had done "everything" to promote her hotel but was still unhappy with her hotel occupancy and hotel revenue. Everything turned out to be that she had a website (done by a nephew now at college) and she was on LateRooms (although never updating her rates).

I am often amazed by how much hotel owners decide to take on as they contemplate how to market a hotel. There is only just so much that you can do in a day and with your operational priorities and the specialist knowledge required something has to give. Undoubtedly hotel marketing is the key factor to focus on.

So here is my list of some of the Internet marketing hotel activities that you should consider outsourcing to professionals:

1. Hotel Website Design – it requires a great deal of time to create pages which are informative, visitor friendly, and attractive. You need to know the industry as well as have technical knowledge. Your website also needs to be optimized (different to SEO below) so that it delivers exactly what you want it to, once visitors land on it.

2. Maintenance of Website – your website needs to be constantly updated and changed so that the search engines find new and relevant content.

3. Creation of Content – text writing is a very specialized activity where you have to understand the mind of the website visitor.

4. Advertising – it is possible to put together a pay per click (PPC) campaign in a few hours, but research, testing and modifying the campaigns takes a lot of expertise and ongoing time in order to be effective.

5. Optimization (SEO) – making sure that your website is found by the search engines is vital. You need effective on-page SEO (meta tags) and you can participate in all sorts of link building and article writing activity but it is time consuming and needs to be very focused.

6. Social media – participating in sites like Facebook has been promoted as some sort of panacea. It can be effective if done well but it can also eat up much of your time to little effect. It all depends on how relevant participation is to your target market.

7. Management of Online Reputation – although Google Alerts can keep you up to date with what people are saying about you online, monitoring this and taking effective action can be very time consuming.

8. E mail marketing – e-mail is an effective channel to use to keep in touch with your customers. However crafting good newsletters takes time and expertise that you might not have in-house. Everyone's inboxes are much cluttered and it is a challenge to get your message opened let only acted upon!