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Nursing Careers – What Is Mental Health Nursing?

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Mental health nursing is a field of nursing that delves into psychiatry, caring and assisting mentally challenged people. A mentally ill individual requires a lot of caring, empathy compassion and support in addition to administering treatment. Since mental patients are often stigmatized, supporting them and making them feel important restores normalcy the patient had before hisher illness. Common mental disorders include Alzheimer’s, dementia, bipolar disorder and epilepsy. A complete list of mental ailments can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The stigma associated with mental health is gradually reducing thus there is an increase in the demand for mental health nurses and psychiatrists. A mental health career is satisfactory personally and financially it has its perks even though it is complex and demanding as it involves dealing with the human mind. Nurses specializing in this field have been quoted as earning over $80,000 dollars a year besides having same number of titles as a doctor.

Mental health nurses are required to have an impeccable knowledge of human behavior in order to be able to handle violent patients. They also need to have knowledge of the law as it will benefit them when dealing with police or other relevant authorities.

To become a mental health nurse one is required to possess communication and interaction skills such as listening, talking and writing in addition to knowing medicine and anatomy. One is required to also be empathetic and understanding because of the nature of patients being dealt with. Mental patients need help in doing ordinary tasks such as bathing, grooming or engaging in leisure activities. They need to express their thoughts like everyone else so a nurse should be prepared to listen to them without being judgmental. The nurse should also be prepared to support the patients through therapy in order to ensure their recovery. Thus one should carefully consider why he/she should become a mental health nurse and not do it just because of the money.

The career path to becoming a mental health nurse requires four years degree training course and to be a registered nurse. The syllabus includes biology, nursing theory, stigma, discrimination, law and policy, psychotherapy, developmental psychology, team- working and care management. After that, you need a master’s degree in order to become anAdvanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP).

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) assess clients, create healthcare plans and ensure all the patients’ needs are catered. They also meet with the patient’s family and assist in communication between all parties and the doctor in charge. In addition, they can arrange for counseling sessions and run group therapy sessions.

A PMHNP is concerned about improving the patient’s physical health besides bettering a patient’s mental health. A PMHNP also needs to know substance abuse counseling because many patients try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

A Registered Nurse with experience in mental health nursing can sit for the certified Nurse Specialist in Psychiatric Mental Health (CNS-PMH) exam. This certification can help one in getting a pay increase. There are also some mental health nursing programs available online.

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The History of American Trans Air

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Indianapolis-based American Trans Air, once an emerging carrier, continually searched for an identity.

Established in 1973 as an aircraft provider for the Ambassadair Travel Club, it inaugurated service with a single Boeing 720 dubbed “Miss Indy,” doubling its fleet five years later with a second, “Spirit of Indiana.” But its March 1981 issuance of common-carrier certification enabled it to operate in its own right.

Retaining its Indianapolis roots, it acquired ever larger aircraft, including eight 707s; its first widebody, a former Laker Airways DC-10-10 registered N183AT in 1983; and an ex-Northwest Orient DC-10-40, itself bearing registration N184AT. The quad-engine 707s were eventually replaced by more fuel efficient 727-100 tri-jets.

Annual passenger totals climbed: 96,426 in 1981, 269,086 in 1982, and 618,532 in 1983.

Relying upon Northwest for additional DC-10 acquisitions, but forced to substitute the comparable TriStar when it elected to retain its aircraft, American Trans Air purchased its first in 1985, ultimately operating 15 L-1011-1s, one -100, and four -500s.

It assumed a new operational profile when it inaugurated limited scheduled service on the JFK-Belfast-Riga (Latvia), Indianapolis-Fort Myers, Indianapolis-Las Vegas, and San Francisco-Kahului (Maui)-Honolulu routes, billing itself both as “American’s vacation airline” and “The nation’s largest charter airline.”

“We create the comfort. You create the excitement,” it advertised. “At American Trans Air, we know the only excitement you want on a vacation is the excitement you create. That’s why you can count on American Trans Air’s courteous, professional staff, top flight aircraft, consumer conscious prices, and all the little extras that have become characteristic of our growing company.”

Growing it was. Seeking to avoid scheduled airline competition, it had become the United States’ largest charter operator, attributing up to 90 percent of its revenue to both the civil and military divisions of this sector, with the remainder from scheduled operations, wet leasing, third party pilot training, and contract maintenance.

Operating a 23-strong fleet by 1992-including seven 727-100s, 12 L-1011-1s, and four 757-200s-it was profitable for 18 of its 19-year history, posting a $2 million loss the previous year for the first time because of the recession and the travel trepidation created by the Gulf War. It transported 2.4 million passengers that year.

It was that very Gulf War, however, which served as the cornerstone of its military operations, since its aircraft counted as part of the Civil Air Patrol fleet. Carrying 108,000 troops on 494 missions in support of Operation Desert Storm, it was also instrumental in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and provided 727-100 shuttle flights between Nellis Air Force Base and the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

Stretched -200s replaced the -100s in 1993.

American Trans Air once again adopted a new image when it devoted a significant portion of its aircraft resources to scheduled operations from a Chicago-Midway hub, in addition to continuing its military and government contract flights.

To facilitate its intended growth and modernize its fleet, it ordered 39 737-800s and 12 757-200s in 2000, taking delivery of the first of the former (N301TZ) in June of the following year and the first of the latter (N550TZ) two months later, introducing a livery change in the process to emphasize its new scheduled-airline, business-oriented route system, now branded “ATA Airlines.”

Equally seeking feed from small and secondary cities with more suitable turboprop regional equipment, it purchased existing Chicago Express for $1.9 million in 1999 and operated it as a separate “ATA Connection” subsidiary.

Its latest, elevated-image strategy, however, proved unprofitable, forcing it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection five years later, on October 26, 2004. The best method of keeping it alive, it decided, was to employ its assets for the benefit of a healthy carrier, which, in this case, was deregulation-synonymous Southwest Airlines.

Transferring six of its Midway Airport gates and 27 percent of its nonvoting stock to Southwest in exchange for a life-injecting cash infusion and continued operation under a code share agreement in December of 2004, ATA reduced its number of Indianapolis-served destinations to three and redeployed aircraft to Chicago, now assuming a business airline profile by flying to cities that Southwest did not, including New York-La Guardia, Dallas/Fort Worth, and San Francisco. Midway-bypassing services also enabled it to link Southwest focus cities, such as Orlando, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, with other voids in its route system, Denver and Honolulu among them.

The strategy resulted in a 20-percent revenue increase for Southwest, but did not necessarily suture ATA’s financial bleed.

To further reduce costs, it significantly pruned its fleet, selling 20 737-800s and eight 757-300s and only marginally plugging its capacity gap with the two-year lease, between November of 2005 and November of 2007, of three former United Airlines 737-300s. Even the lease rates, in the event, proved too high.

Coincident service reductions, not surprisingly, were extensive, as the lights dimmed on numerous destinations over a short interval: Boston, Newark, and Minneapolis in October of 2005, Indianapolis and Denver in November, and Orlando, Fort Myers, and San Francisco the following April, leaving little more than the skeleton of its once fully fleshed body. Indeed, 18 daily departures were dispatched form a single gate at Midway Airport and only 52 were offered system wide. A previous court approval had enabled it to sell its Ambassadair Travel Club division to Grueninger Cruises and Tours.

Although a $100 million financial package form the MatlinPatterson investment firm and pre-bankruptcy creditors enabled the now-privatized carrier to briefly emerge from bankruptcy and establish service to New York-La Guardia, Houston-Hobby, Ontario, Oakland, and Hilo (Hawaii), rising fuel prices, the rapid resignation of a shortly-serving CEO, the poorly executed replacement plan of its L-1011s with DC-10s, and the loss of a major military contract caused it to spiral back into bankruptcy, leaving Flight 4586 from Honolulu to Phoenix to mark its last landing at 0846 on August 2, 2008.

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The Top 10 Ways to Reduce Expenses When You’re Between a Rock and a Hard Spot

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If you’re in a career transition with limited financial reserves or up to your neck in alligators from overspending, run to, not from the problem. The longer you carry this issue around the heavier it will get. Choose to implement all of the action items below to immediately reduce your spending. Better yet, make it a game to see how low you can get your expenses…you just might find that less is more.

1. Phones

Eliminate your cell phone and shop around for a long distance carrier with a low rate per minute and no monthly fee.

2. Subscriptions

Cancel newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals. Everything you need is free at the library, accessible via the internet, or on television.

3. Utilities

Turn down the thermostat, use energy efficient lamps in fixtures, turn off the lights when you leave a room, ask your local utility companies about budget billing, and review the many other energy and money saving tips listed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.

4. Taxes

If you’re employed, ask if your employer offers a Section 125 Plan or Flexible Spending Program. If so, enroll in the plan as soon as possible to pay your health premium, health expenses and dependent care expenses (if applicable) with pre-tax dollars.

5. Medical

Purchase generic prescriptions when possible and obtain the best price by calling and comparing prices at local pharmacies, increase your medical coverage deductible, and read and understand your medical plan to be a smart consumer of health care services and save dollars.

6. Stuff in your home

Clean up, organize, and simplify your home environment. Hold a garage sale and fill it with the things you don’t use, don’t have room to display, or can’t access easily. You might also consider selling items on eBay. Another option is donating your items to a charitable organization as your gift may be deductible. Your stuff is someone else’s treasure.

7. Meals

If you’re working – take your lunch, shop at a discount grocery store and buy in bulk, cut out the junk food, avoid purchasing prepackaged meals, and avoid eating dinner out. Have you stopped to think that your daily latte may be costing you $600 per year?

8. Fitness

Terminate your gym membership. Try walking, running, hiking, or biking. It’s easier and more convenient to step through your front door and start exercising, plus the fresh air is invigorating.

9. Recreation and fun

Stay home with a good book or rent a video or DVD instead of going to the movie theater. Pop your own popcorn, snuggle up in your favorite chair, and have a fun night at home. As painful as it might be, you could also drop your cable TV.

10. Lifestyle

Money problems are seldom about money but rather emanate from your lifestyle choices. For example, I recently spoke with a small business owner who told me he was in financial trouble and was looking for ideas to save his business. He then mentioned that he was taking his family on vacation next month. He must have felt it necessary to justify his vacation plans because he proceeded to tell me he was taking the vacation in spite of his dire financial situation as it was important to create a positive memory and good time for his kids. I wonder how much he’ll enjoy the vacation when his business is about to tank.

If you’re in financial trouble or see it looming on the horizon, please don’t try to justify spending any more money, cut every expense today and when you’re out of debt start saving and building at least a years worth of financial reserve. It can be done! Good luck.

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What Type of Property Can Be Repossessed by Creditors and How?

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Okay so, what type of property can you have repossessed? Well, let’s consider the word “Repossession” for a second. The word does suggest re-possession which means that the creditor taking back the property to ‘repossess’ it must have once possessed it in the first-place. Sure, that makes sense, right?

Now then, if you buy a car on credit, you don’t really own it until it’s paid for, the bank does. See that point. Now, while it is true that you are in possession of the car, you don’t own it, rather you have promised to pay for it over time, and once it is fully paid for, then you will own it, when the bank sends you the pink slip and removes their lien on the car.

If you fail to continue to make the payments you promised, the bank will want to get the car back from you. This is called repossession. Then, they will sell the car to someone else or auction it off.

What Type of Property Can Be Repossessed?

Anything you buy on a payment plan will come with a contract, one which you sign promising to make payments and pay interest. If you fail to pay the creditor or bank, they have the right to have that item back or repossess it. After all, they own it, not you. People buy stuff all the time where they promise to make timely payments and sign a contract to do so. Think of the things you may have bought or are currently paying on?

Maybe you financed some furniture, a smart phone, or a car? Maybe you bought a recreational vehicle, a boat, jet ski, or some other toy? All of these things can be repossessed.

If you had a built-in swimming pool installed, and bought it on credit, it obviously cannot be dug up and repossessed, but the creditor could put a lien on the property and with a court order force you to pay.

If you fail to pay on your home the bank can’t repossess it, but they can foreclose on it and with the help of the court force you to leave. Foreclosures may seem like repossessions, as it amounts to the same thing in your eyes, but both have different legal definition and different sets of rules.

Do I Have Protections Under the Law During Repossession?

Yes, you do have protections under the law during a repossession. A repo man cannot touch you, except in self-defense. If they threaten you with jail or prison, it’s an idle threat and it is actually against the law for them to make such threats.

A repo man cannot force you from your car, or reach into your pocket to take back property. A repo man cannot go into your backyard through your gate, open it and cut the lock to take your car back, nor can they break into your garage to repossess the car. They can take it from a public parking lot or take it if it is parked in your driveway or on the street.

A furniture company cannot come into your house without your permission and take their furniture back if you fail to pay, but they can report you to the credit bureaus and ruin your credit.

The repo company must first report to the police that they are going to go repossess your car. This way the police know it isn’t being stolen in case you call up and report it missing. A repo company can ask for a police escort to protect them while they retrieve the property they are after, but you can deny them entry, as it is a civil matter. The police are only there to keep the peace between parties. The police cannot get involved, unless the company has a judgement and a court order.

Can I Get My Car Back if It is Repossessed?

The law does provide you with a remedy to get your car back, if you pay the bank that is financing it all the money due, plus penalties, plus the repo fees. You may also be able to negotiate with them for a more favorable deal. It’s recommended that you have an attorney go to bat for you in this case.

There are consumer credit laws on your side, but remember the bank owns the car until it is paid for and the furniture credit company owns that furniture until you make that last payment like you promised when signing the contract to finance it.

Law Firms Are There to Help

Law firms know that people can get entangled in complex financial hardships, often it’s a series of problems that bring about such situations. They can help you sort it all out. Many offer a free 30-minute consultation. They can explain the law and your potential options.

If they can help, they will tell you upfront, if not, they’ll also let you know. Being informed will help you make the best decision for the most favorable financial outcome.

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The Fruits Of Burma, Mango, Papaya And Co Part 1

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Writing about fruits is similar to writing about e.g. flowers and/or vegetables. I think one cannot confine oneself to describing the fruit, flower or vegetable and some of the respective botanical aspects alone but should whenever it is possible and/or makes sense also address their origins, their trees or plants, the issue of symbolism and the uses they are put to – from the kitchen to the religious shrine to the pharmacy, as it were – as otherwise not only the reading about them might become a bit boring but also because the picture will remain incomplete. If you do not agree please tell me of what use it would be to merely tell you bananas and coconuts are growing in Burma and that bananas are yellow and bend whereas the kernel of the coconut is round to oval and brown? You see what I mean? I admit this article is a bit longer than my usual ones because I am also using a lot of botanical names (for the botanists amongst you) but it will nevertheless – so I hope – make interesting reading. It will at least – that I am very certain about – be quite instructive. By the way, you will be surprised to read that many flowers and/or fruits you like very much are belonging to families you would have never expected. Would you e.g. have expected that the strawberry is a member of the family ‘Rosaceae’ the flowers of which are known to you a rose? Or did you know that the core of the banana stem and the banana blossom are not only edible but are also very delicious? These things and much more will be revealed in this article.

OK, let us jump at the opportunity and learn more about fruits, in general, while concerning ourselves with the fruits of Burma (since 1989 also called Myanmar), in particular.

Burma is like all tropical and subtropical countries benefited by a climate that allows continuous growing, cultivating and harvesting of fruits both of seasonal and year-round kind. With its abundant moisture and warm to hot temperatures in the lowlands and temperate climate in the mountains it produces the most diverse fruits in high quality and in great quantities.

When speaking of fruits of Burma we must not only classify them into seasonal and year-round kinds but also into almost globally grown and cultivated ones such as e.g. the apple and grape or the strawberry and fruits such as the mango and the papaya or banana that are native to and exclusively growing in tropical and subtropical climates and countries.

In other words, the apple, grape and strawberry are non-tropical/subtropical fruits because they cannot thrive well without longer periods with temperatures about and below 0 degree Celsius/32 degree Fahrenheit, i.e. without frost and without essential environmental conditions such as the appropriate nourishment, soil drainage, proper degree of humidity, right amount of hours of sunshine/day, average temperatures, amount of water, etc. Merely soil, water and sunshine are not sufficient enough for a tree, plant or flower to thrive well.

Trees and plants may grow in environments they are not adapted to – which to become takes without interference through e.g. grafting and/or budding, a long evolutionary process – but cannot unfold their respective qualities to the full. So, do not expect of fruits that are not native to the tropics what you are in terms of size, colour, odour, flavour, sweetness, juiciness, etc. used to in your non-tropical home country where these fruits are native to. Do you have tropical or subtropical fruits such as bananas, mangosteen or papayas growing in North Europe or the north of North America? You see what I mean?

Nevertheless, I will, without spending too much time on them, include certain non-tropic fruits in this article as far as they are cultivated in Burma and will hopefully in a combined effort of nature and men by e.g. crossing of desirable parents or beneficial mutation in standard varieties adapt to the climate here. At the end of this process of the fruits concerned may have been developed new varieties with wonderful characteristics and qualities. Who knows? We cannot force nature to do its job; we can only assist and learn from it. Therefore, do not blame Burma for the fact that these non-tropical fruits are not as good here as in the countries they are native to and do not blame me for admitting that and just telling the truth. Burma cannot help it because it is a matter of nature and I am just being objective.

As for the former (the apple, etc) they are not as good in Burma as in other countries with proper natural environment but that should not pose any problem to foreign visitors to Burma who come e.g. from Europe or North America as they have these fruits in highest quality and abundance in their own countries. After all, these people do certainly not come to Burma in order to eat here those fruits which are cultivated in their home countries, maybe in their own garden. Actually they are not coming just to eat fruits but once being here it would be a shame not to eat them. They would be missing out on something really wonderful. However, as for the latter (the mango, etc.), Burma/Burma has a lot to offer that is truly remarkable. Mind you, we are not speaking of fruits that are available in Burma when speaking of the ‘Fruits of Burma’. It is true, all kinds of fruits are available in developed countries, even the most exotic, and those fruits that are not available there do simply not exist anywhere else, but tropical and subtropical fruits such as those of Burma might be available in foreign countries but do not grow there.

When speaking of fruits of Burma we are speaking of fruits that are typical of Burma and ripen here on the tree, bush or on the stem and not artificially and at storage facilities as those fruits that are determined for consumption in foreign countries are plucked prematurely in order not to be overripe when ultimately displayed in shops of far-away countries. In other words, fruits are often transported over great distances what even nowadays with our fast means of transportation takes a long time from the tree of the fruit farmer to the shelf of the shop in which they are finally sold. They must arrive at their destination close to or on but not after the peak of their ripeness since fruits decay very rapidly. Therefore they are plucked or picked before they have almost reached this point on the tree. And that makes a great difference in colour, odour and flavour. This is a difference that makes out all that what eating of fruits actually is about: savouriness. And savour you can the fruits of Burma in Burma; they are tree-ripened.

If you have a soft spot for tropical and subtropical fruits, Burma is the place to be because here they grow. From A as in ‘Awza thee’ or custard apple, as it is called in English, to Z as in ‘Zee thee’ or plum, here you get something for every taste even when allowing for the fact that not everyone likes every fruit what may be true especially for the ‘Du win thee’ (durian) and/or ‘Pein gne thee’ (Jackfruit), which are very healthy and much loved by almost all of the locals but not necessarily so by foreigners as at least their pungent smell, if that is the word, needs very much getting used to; if that is possible at all, that is.

But that you get here something for everyone is not all. As for certain fruits that are also growing in other tropical countries, in Burma you get the very best of them.

Now if you do not mind come and accompany me on my trip into the realm of Burma’s flora. Let us take a closer look at the fruits of Burma and in doing so keep the very best, the highlights of the journey, as it were, till the end. This trip is a little bit longer but as I hope both informative and entertaining. Fasten your seatbelts; here we go. The non-tropical fruits cultivated in Burma are e.g. the apple, grape and strawberry.

Those tropical fruits that are native to Burma and those that are not originated in Burma but have over time become part of its native flora are, in the category ‘year-round fruits’, e.g. the banana, papaya, lemon, lime or sweet lime, grapefruit/pomelo, pomegranate, avocado, coconut and fig.

In the category ‘seasonal fruits’ these are in the sequence of their season e.g. the mango and jackfruit, durian and mangosteen, guava, rambutan, lychee, pineapple, custard apple, orange, and water melon.

Let us begin our journey with the apple locally called ‘Pan thee’ that as stated above – though not native to Burma – is cultivated here since British times. As the locally grown quantities were not sufficient to meet the demand in terms of quantity and quality apples were imported and according to those of my friends who ate them they were very delicious. Still, apples are imported from e.g. China but they too are not so good. They are big and look good but have in the way of flavour, sweetness and juiciness not much to offer that is worth writing home about. Besides, they are relatively expensive.

In Burma apples are mainly cultivated in the north-eastern part of the country, in the foothills of the Shan mountains where in the higher regions at about 3510 feet/1070 metres the micro-climate is European-like, thus the temperatures lower than the usually tropical temperatures. But in size, odour, flavour and colour they do not quite meet the quality of those growing in western countries as the locally grown apples are rather tasteless, quite dry and not very sweet either. As for the vitamin contents, too, the level may not be as high as in Europe so that the ‘An-apple-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away’ method might not work out so well here.

Be that as it may, ‘Pan thee’ is in Burma mainly eaten in the fresh state but can also be served as chief ingredients of deserts such as fruit salads, backed apples, apple pie and apple strudel. They can also be processed into dried apple slices, jelly, pasteurised juice, canned sauce, cider, vinegar and apple brandies. Apple upgrades as complement the flavour of many dishes but can also be an integral and main part of dishes, and is e.g. used as ingredient of pickled white cabbage (sauerkraut), goes very well with all kinds of game, is used as stuffing of goose roast and also makes a tasty meal when stewed and combined with either potato pancake or boiled potato topped with bacon sauce or in combination with fried sausage.

Apples are widely cultivated throughout temperate world regions such as northern Europe and North America and apple trees are best adapted to regions in which the average temperature approaches or is dropping to freezing point and below. Here the apples are best. The exact chilling requirements vary slightly from variety to variety but apple trees can withstand temperatures down to -40 degrees Celsius. Its native home is most probably the region between the Caspian and Black Sea.

The apple fruit develops from a blossom that is of rounded appearance and in its majority white with stripes or tints of rose. Some apple species do, however, bloom with white or red flowers. They wary in size from slightly bigger than a cherry to a grapefruit and have five seed pockets the number of seeds contained in them varying with the variety. Apple trees constitute the genus ‘Malus’ of the family ‘Rosaceae’. About seventy genera of the rose family are cultivated for e.g. food amongst them the apple and believe it or not the strawberry.

Strawberries though they too are not native to Burma are also cultivated here. The strawberry has no local name and is therefore here in Burma also called ‘strawberry’. This fruit that makes up the genus ‘Fragaria’ of the family ‘Rosachilaensis’ is although being smaller than the, e.g. in Europe consumed species developed from ‘Fragaria moschata’ growing galore throughout the cooler months of the year in the ‘Pyin Oo Lwin/Maymyo’ region. Maymyo is located some 68 kilometres/42.5 miles north-east of Mandalay in the foot hills of the Shan mountains.

The local variety is more like ‘Fragaria Vesca’, the forest strawberry, but very sweet when ripe.

Surely, this is good news for all those who cannot do without them for even a shorter time and happen to be here in the right period from January to March, which – by the by – is a time when in northern Europe the local strawberries are not yet on the market.

So, what most likely will immediately spring to the mind of western early post WW II generations visiting Maymyo/Pyin Oo Lwin during the strawberry season is the 1964 Beatles world-hit “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Strawberries are rich in zinc and vitamin B9 or folic acid, which is a coenzyme needed for forming body protein and haemoglobin (an iron-protein compound in red blood cells) and quercetin that helps to alleviate allergies.

Strawberries are mainly eaten in the fresh state with sugar and cream but are also made into juice, syrup, wine, jam, used as chief ingredient of desserts such as fruit salad, ice-cream and for e.g. strawberry tart and cake.

The grape, local name ‘Tha byet thee’, is another example of a fruit not native to but cultivated in Burma since some three decades. They are cultivated in the area of Meiktila (Mandalay division) but are in size, taste and sweetness definitely inferior to, for instance, European and North American grapes. They are eaten in a fresh state, processed into raisins, and tread and made into wine, which however is more often than not on the rather sweet side. But the influx of foreign specialist during the last years has led to the production of high-quality vines mostly offered in higher class hotels and restaurants.

The banana, locally called ‘Hnget pyaw thee’, is like the papaya, guava and lime one of the year-round tropical fruits. The banana tree and the fruit are cultivated for their versatility. The local name hnget pyaw thee is a combination of ‘hnget’ (originally spelled ‘het’), which means ‘splitting’, ‘pyaw’ what means as much as ‘pulpy’ and ‘thee’, meaning ‘fruit’.

The banana belongs to the family ‘musaceae’ and makes up the genus ‘musa’ one of which is classified as ‘musa paradisiaca’, the other ‘musa textilis’ or ‘Manila hemp’, also ‘abaca’, which is native to the Philippines. The fibres of musa textilis are as its name denotes used for the production of high-quality matting.

The banana family with its two genera and about 40 species and many varieties typically occurs in the tropics and is originated in Southeast Asia. Bananas have sterile flowers and the fruit develops unfertilized so that bananas contain no seeds. The production of new plants is by vegetative means and propagation is from suckers that develop at the bases of old plants. Planted once they multiply without end. The banana tree is omnipresent in Burma although certain varieties prefer certain regions. It is almost impossible to make a step without seeing another banana tree; even in the big cities. They grow everywhere from the flatland to mountains in altitudes of 4.000 feet.

In the tropics the stems are annual. They die after perfecting the fruit and then new stems develop from the buds in the rootstock. Their growth is so rapid that their fruit is usually ripe within 10 months after the offsets are planted. The banana fruit itself ripens within about 6 months as is reflected in the local wisdom: “The bunch of bananas is ripe and fit when the babies learn to sit.”

The stems, which are actually not a stem at all but overlapping leaf bases can grow to a height of 10 to 40 feet/3 to 12 metres with crowns of large leaves of a lengths of up to 10 feet/3 metres. The flowers spring from the centre of the crown and are arranged in whorl-like clusters along the spike. The flowers on the top are male flowers and those at the base female flowers.

The banana fruit varies in lengths from about 4 to 12 inches/10 to 30 centimetres and the average weight of a bunch is about 25 lb/about 11 kg with some of them exceeding 40 lb/18 kg. The edible part of the banana fruit contains on average 75 percent water, 21 percent carbohydrate and about 1 percent each of the fat, protein, fibre and ash. Usually the banana is of yellow colour but there are also green, red and blue varieties, the latter being very rare.

After having worked ourselves through a lot of rather general stuff pertinent to the banana issue we will now come to the part with more local flavour and take a closer look at the ‘Burma banana family’ with some 12 members out of some 25 varieties that are said to exist in Burma.

Our ‘family’ however consists of those varieties that are mainly cultivated. Starting with the smallest one, the first member of this family is ‘musa cavendishii’, the small, sweet and slightly sour Chinese variety with the local name ‘Wet malut’ or ‘Pig’s limbo tree’.

Two other members locally called ‘Thee Hmwey’ or ‘fragrant fruit/banana fruit’ are the golden yellow thin-skinned it and the even when fully ripe thin-skinned green one. They are my favourite and very tasty. To my opinion not one of the European import standard brands comes close to it. The fruit pulp of both is of slightly yellowish-white colour and not too soft.

Since a family to be complete needs a mother we take for it the ‘Nanthabu’ or ‘short and perfumed’. Nanthabu makes a good mother because it is petit, fragrant, soft-skinned, well and round shaped, sweet with firm yet soft texture (like the thee hmwey) and not stringent.

Wet malut’s (the smallest family member) bigger brother is ‘Hpee gyann’ or ‘coarse hand’, a name that indicates that the fruit has here and there grainy excrescences. Unlike other varieties, which are not very tolerant to pressure this one can take a biff as it is very thick-skinned. The fruit is very thick and angular in shape. Its pulp is a bit sour and grainy and has like its brother ‘Hnget pyaw’ or ‘blue banana’ the skin of which sheens silvery-grey medicinal properties as it is conducive to digestion and bowl movement.

The father of the ‘Burma banana family’ is ‘Byat pyeih’ or ‘tray full’. Byat pyeih is huge and therefore nicknamed by locals ‘Hsin an’ what means ‘elephant tooth’. The fruit is bulky and its bunch is very heavy due to the giant size of bananas of this variety. You eat a maximum of four of them and you have definitely had your fill. The edible part of the fruit is compared to other varieties rather tasteless and has quite a coarse texture but is none the less very well edible. I like it.

The eldest son and pride of the family is ‘Shwe nga pyaw’ (‘Shweyni’) or the variety ‘Rubra’ of ‘Musa sapientum’. This variety is also known as golden or red banana. In its early stage it is of greenish-brown colour but as it matures it takes on a more and more shimmering red and in places reddish-golden/yellow colour. The fruit is almost as bulky and huge as byat pyeih and its pulp is slightly mealy, scented. It has a slight after-taste of a kind which may not be to everyone’s taste and is more on the yellow side yellowish-white. Shwe nga pyaw is the favourite banana for ceremonial offerings and comparatively expensive.

Two other family members are from Rakhine State on Burma’s west coast at the Gulf of Bengal. These are locally called ‘Rakhine nga pyaw’ or ‘Rakhine banana’ and ‘Nga pyaw chin’ or ‘Sour banana’. Rakhine nga pyaw is called by the Arakanese (Rakhine nationals) ‘Kalar nga pyaw’ or ‘Indian banana’. The fruit has a round body with a yellow and thin skin. The pulp is soft, yellowish-white and has a very pleasant, sweet taste what makes it much sought after. Nga pyaw gyin (sour banana) is as the name implies slightly more stringent and smaller in size than Rakhine nga pyaw yet quite tasty.

The next – also a fragrant type – is ‘Musa sapientum var. champa’, locally called ‘Htawbhat nga pyaw’ or ‘butter banana’ what gives already the information that the pulp of this variety is of creamy texture. The taste is pleasantly sweet, slightly fragrant and its skin is thin and yellow. Personally, I find the pulp a bit too soft but the taste is good.

The last member of our ‘Burma banana family’ is locally called ‘Thange zar’ or ‘Children food’. Its pulp is somewhat grainy, sweet and slightly stringent. In size the fruit is rather small and its skin is yellow.

The banana fruit is generally eaten in a fresh state either as part of a meal or in between. However, it is also served as chief ingredients of various cakes, deep fried with a coat of rice flour batter, as pancake filling or coated in a layer of chocolate on a stick. It is also preserved into crispy, dried slices (banana chips) with and without honey.

But it is not only the banana fruit that is eaten. Its flower and the core of the stem too are very delicious. The red flower petals of the bud at the apex of the spike give a very tasty salad.

Slices of the core of the banana tree stem are indispensable part of Burma’s very popular breakfast dish ‘Mohinga’, which is a thick, peppery, yellow fish soup/gravy made of fish, banana stem, ginger, garlic, lemon grass, oil, chilli powder and turmeric that is eaten with rice-noodles. It is very, very tasty.

Finally, the banana bud is also an architectural design motif, locally called ‘Hnget pyaw bu’ and plays as such an important role in Buddhist architecture. The banana bud is to be seen on tired roofs of pagodas, monasteries and in the spires of stupas.

The next year-round fruits in Burma are ‘citrus fruits’, namely the lemon, lime and the grapefruit/pomelo.

Citrus is the common name for several related evergreen trees and shrubs of the rue family and generally for the fruits they produce. This includes the citron, grapefruit, shaddock/pomelo, lemon, lime, orange, tangerine and bergamot (a pear-shaped orange). Citrus are native to Southeast Asia, belong to the family ‘Rutaceae’ and constitute the genus ‘Citrus’.

The lemon, also of the category ‘year-round’, locally called ‘Than ma yo thee’ develops from blossoms with five petals that are on the upper surface white and on the lower surface pinkish. The trees are cultivated throughout the tropical and subtropical regions and are small and thorny. They grow to about 10 to 20 feet/3 to 6 metres height and are sparsely covered by foliage.

The lemon fruit is of pale yellow colour, elliptically shaped and technically a berry. Its pulp consists of 8 to 10 segments, is of light-yellow colour and contains small, pointed, white seeds. The peel surrounding the fruit contains ‘oil of lemon’, which is used in the manufacturing of perfumes and lemon flavouring. The fruit is picked six to ten times yearly and a mature lemon tree may produce 1.000 to 2.000 fruits in this period.

Usually, the fruit is because of its stringency not eaten but cultivated for its juice that is refreshing and has medicinal properties and flavour. Lemon juice and/or syrup is used widely as a constituent of beverages, as a drink, salad dressing and as flavouring. The pulp of the lemon is used to making concentrated lemon juice that is used medicinal for its high vitamin C and ascorbic acid content.

In Burma, lemon juice is much favoured as present for elderly family members around the full moon day of Thadingyut that falls into September/October. Lemon is an antiseptic and due to its vitamin contents ant scorbutic, which are properties that are conducive to maintaining teeth and bones, the cleansing of body impurities and the prevention of diseases. Lemon is classified as ‘Citris limon’.

Lime is native to Southeast Asia and cultivated chiefly in tropical regions. Its local name is ‘Tham ya thee’ and its fruit develops from white flowers, which have five petals. It is spherical to oval in shape with a thick, yellow-greed rind. The pulpy flesh of the segments is acid, juicy and of yellowish-green colour. The lime tree grows to a height of approx. 15 feet/4.6 metres. Lime juice contains small quantities of vitamin C. Lime is classified as ‘Citrus aurantifolia’ and the Perrine lemon as ‘Citrus limon aurantifolia’.

Now we have reached the end of this leg of our long journey through the flora of Burma and I hope that you have enjoyed it (I have done my best to keep things entertaining) and on our way developed an appetite for the ‘Fruits of Burma’. They are at their best here in Burma where they grow and are waiting for you.

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Driver Safety – Mobile Phone Usage Whilst Driving

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Driving is an extremely dangerous activity and requires our full focus and attention at all times. A single driver error could potentially lead to a catastrophe and loss of lives! Whilst many motorists think they have full control of their vehicle whilst talking on a mobile phone, research suggests that using a mobile phone whilst driving significantly increases the risk of causing a road traffic accident.

Over three quarters of the UK population are mobile phone users, and subsequently there has been a dramatic increase in the number of motorists who use a mobile phone whilst driving. According to research by the Department for Transport, the reaction times for drivers using a mobile phone are 30% worse than for driving under the influence of alcohol at the legal limit. In fact, you are four times more likely to crash when using a mobile phone whilst driving.

Majority of motorists are aware that usage whilst driving is illegal and those drivers who commit this offense will be prosecuted. However, under the new legislation many motorists are unaware that they may still risk prosecution if they are involved in an accident whilst talking on the phone and using a hands-free kit, for failing to have control. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (“RoSPA”) have stated that “research shows that hands-free phones are no safer than hand-held phones. The main danger of being on the phone whilst driving is disruption of concentration”.

According to research carried out by the RoSPA, using a mobile phone whilst driving can affect your driving in many ways. Drivers tend to veer out of their lane whilst on the phone, even if there is no traffic on the road ahead. They also tend to decrease their speed which clearly illustrates that they are having problems concentrating on their driving whilst talking on the phone. Many are simply unaware of the impact this has on their judgment and drivers often tend to react slower to changes, (e.g. the car in front slowing down).

Many motorists argue that talking to a passenger is equally as dangerous as talking on a mobile phone whilst driving. This is not entirely the case, and whilst talking to passengers can be quite distracting, research suggests that a driver would stop or slow down a conversation if they are faced with a hazard in front. Any passenger would also slow down the conversation as they are in a position to appreciate what is happening on the road ahead of them.

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Introducing The Affordable Website

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I believe web-as-a-platform services have matured to the point of offering exceptional value, and in my opinion, have moved the needle on affordable website design. I also believe this is good news because just creating a website and not marketing it in some fashion is like building a beautiful building in a field without any roads or even a footpath. To say the least, such a location is not going to do much good finding customers or vice versa! Yes, your website may be “beautiful”, but what good is it if no one can find it?

I have seen countless websites go bust-that is-not provide any kind of return on investment. This is why I broke away from the old paradigm of “if you build it they will come” and created Buzz Marketing. I believe in straightforward and modern web design that is easy to access on any kind of device, but the big question that people don’t ask is, what comes after that? My answer: Every website needs buzz factors to drive the best possible traffic. These buzz factors are different for every business and there are no silver bullets. Here are some common website buzz factors that can move the needle on a small business website.

As with any web project, it takes some research and experience before considering which marketing approach may yield the best results for finding desirable web traffic. Even though most business owners don’t like to hear this, it’s important to note that most marketing, despite all of the digital drumbeats promising this and that, is still an exercise in trial and error. Don’t believe that? You are likely 30 years younger than me-just a guess.

Of course, a website does not market itself. It has to be tied into your business model in a way that makes sense for your business. This takes effort and costs money, and it is as important as the website itself. If you’ve been in business for a while this insight is likely redundant, but I’m primarily writing this for new business owners who are at the mercy of many suspect services all clamoring they have “the best” marketing solution.

I’m here to tell you there is no best marketing solution. Every factor that makes marketing work for a company is a variable, and learning to understand those variables for your particular business will be a likely indicator of your future success.

Anyway, to make an affordable website happen for a reasonable design fee, the basic website may lack some goodies like professional copywriting, logo design, virtual tours, e-commerce, a blog, a booking system, a food menu, an event calendar, SEO, and the list goes on! No worries, as I often tell clients, it’s OK to build your website as time and money allows.

If you’re a new business, I don’t recommend going in debt for a website unless you are planning an online business–which in this case–is your virtual storefront and you need what you need to be in business.

What’s important for most non-eCommerce businesses is that you purchase only what you need when you need it. The DIY website is a possibility for business owners that have the time to figure out how to make a website. It’s not for everyone, however.

Consider finding a reasonably priced website starter package from a website design expert that gives you time to focus on growing your business income-not your expenses. If you don’t have the patience and skills to do this yourself, consider a freelance partner who has a pedigree to make it happen for you.

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