Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas and New Years Holiday Safety Tips!

12 Holiday Safety Tips from the AMERICAN RED CROSS

(Reprinted by OUPD with Permission.)
  1. Beware of Holiday Candles~ Be sure candles are kept away from decorations or other combustible materials. Don't leave children unattended in a room with lit candles, and always keep candles, as well as matches and lighters, out of the reach of children. Never use candles to decorate Christmas trees. Avoid using candles during parties. Never display lighted candles in windows or near exits.
  2. Test Tree Trimmings ~ When decorating with lights, be sure to purchase only those labeled by a testing laboratory. Never use candles to decorate Christmas trees. For outside decorations, use only those lights labeled for outdoor use. Don't overload electrical outlets, and always unplug all lights before leaving home or going to bed. Never put electrical lights on a metal Christmas tree.
  3. Keep Christmas Trees Fresh ~ Choose a fresh Christmas tree and secure it in a sturdy stand. Place the tree away from heat sources and exits, and water it daily. If you purchase an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled as fire-retardant.
  4. Prepare for Holiday Parties ~ Decorate only with flame-retardant or noncombustible materials. Avoid using candles during parties. If guests will be smoking, provide them with large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. After the party, check inside and under upholstery and in trash cans for cigarette butts that may be smoldering.
  5. Designate a Driver ~ When attending a party, always designate a non-drinking driver. If you are the host of a holiday gathering, be sure there are non-alcoholic beverages available for guests who are driving.
  6. Inspect Fireplaces ~ Have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season and cleaned if necessary. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if not properly cleaned. Always protect your family and home by using a sturdy screen when burning fires.

    Remember to burn only wood - never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out of the chimney and ignite a neighboring home. Never use flammable liquids in a fireplace. If you are purchasing a factory-built fireplace, select one listed by a testing laboratory, and have it installed according to local codes. If you plan to hang stockings on your fireplace, do not use the fireplace for fires.
  7. Be Cautious With Portable and Space Heaters ~ Place space heaters at least three feet (one meter) away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets, and people. Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed. Don't leave children or pets unattended with space heaters and be sure everyone knows that drying wet mittens or other clothing over space heaters is a fire hazard.
  8. Watch Your Wood Stoves ~ Be sure your wood or coal stove bears the label of a recognized testing laboratory and meets local fire codes. Follow manufacturers' recommendations for proper use and maintenance. Chimney connections and chimney flues should be inspected at the beginning of each heating season and cleaned if necessary.

    Follow the same safety rules for wood stoves as you would for space heaters. Burn only wood, and be sure the wood stove is placed on an approved stove board to protect the floor from heat and hot coals. Be sure to check with your local fire department and check local codes before having your wood stove installed.
  9. Cook with Care ~ When cooking, do not wear loose fitting clothing. It can be ignited by hot burners. Always turn pot handles in. Don't store items on the stove top; they could catch fire. Keep kitchen appliances clean and in good condition, and turn them off after use. Don't overload electrical outlets, and don't use appliances with frayed or cracked wires.
  10. Buckle Up ~ During the holiday months, people travel more than ever. Wearing a seat belt may prevent injury in a motor vehicle collision. Ensure that all passengers are also wearing safety belts. Please remember to seat children in the back seat of the car and in approved safety seats if younger than six years old, or according to local law.
  11. Prepare a Winter Storm Plan ~ Have extra blankets on hand and ensure that each member of your household has a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat, and water-resistant boots. Stay tuned for storm warnings by listening to NOAA Weather Radio and your local radio and television stations for updated storm information. It's also important to have your car winterized before winter storm season.
  12. Enroll in a First Aid & CPR course ~ Although these tips can help prevent an emergency, it is also important to be prepared should an emergency situation arise. To enroll in a first aid or CPR course, contact your local American Red Cross (in the white pages).

      Reprinted by OUPD with permission of the
      ARC National Headquarters.


    Mariner Motel
    Woodstock ON
    T: 519 537 5332

    Be safe this holdiay season... From the staff of the Mariner Motel.  Visit us anytime! Thanks!

    Thursday, 17 November 2011

    New Woodstock hospital celebrating grand opening

    Mariner Motel is proud to announce that the new hospital in Woodstock Ontario is a beautiful facility for all in Oxford county.  Congrats!

    Officials, staff and guests gathered to mark the opening of the new 178-bed state-of-the-art Woodstock General Hospital on Friday.

    Minister of Health and Long Term Care Deb Matthews says "You deserve this hospital. You deserve the care that will be delivered in this hospital."

    Occupancy at the 350,000 sq. ft. facility will begin this fall, on time and on budget, almost exactly three years after workers broke ground in November 2008.

    Natasa Veljovic, president and CEO of Woodstock General Hospital, says "With great optimism we look forward to November 2011 as we move our patients into this new facility."

    The community has been lobbying for a newer bigger building for many years.

    The project has in fact been in the works for more than 15 years, says Ed Down, chair of the Board of Trust at Woodstock General Hospital.

    "The beginning of this long road started back in 1995 with the establishment of ‘Vision 2000.' It took until 2011, but we are here."

    The new facility is more than double the size of the current hospital, which opened in 1895, housed 113 beds and hadn't been updated in 30 years.

    A full range of clinical services and programs will be offered, and the province also announced Friday that it will provide funding for the operation of the MRI machine 40 hours a week.

    The MRI machine along means 3,000 fewer patients will have to travel to London or Kitchener for their scans.

    The new facility is badly needed in the area as the population of Woodstock grows, especially with the opening of the Toyota plant.

    Up to 200 new staff members and health professionals are expected to be hired, and 10 new doctors recruited once all beds open and services begin.

    Wednesday, 19 October 2011

    4 Ways Apps Can Help Your Business Be Greener

    4 Ways Apps Can Help Your Business Be Greener

    Green BusinessSeptember 29, 2011By Kelly Spors
    Among all the things your smartphone can do, did you know it can also help you lower your environmental footprint?
    More developers are rolling out apps for iPhones, iPads and Android to help businesses and consumers measure their footprint and reduce it in a variety of ways. Do a Google search for “green business apps,” and a huge array of lists pop up.
    green apps
    Here’s a look at four ways apps can help your business be environmentally friendlier, along with some options to check out:
    1)  Ditch the business cards. During business meetings, it’s almost inevitable that someone will pull out their business card, and then everyone else will, too. But all those paper cards mean more trees getting chopped down and other environmental problems. Some smartphone apps let you forgo the paper cards. The Bump app for iPhone and Android, for example, allows people to trade contact information by bumping their smartphones together.  The GreenCard app for iPhone also takes paper out of the equation, and if you update your GreenCard, all of your contacts get their entry for you updated, too.
    2)   Find green products. Need to find the right energy-efficient light bulb for your fixtures? There’s an app called the Light Bulb Finder that’s available for iPhone and Android. Want to figure which toilet paper is 100 percent recycled? Greenpeace has an app for that. Then there’s GoodGuide, which allows an iPhone user to scan the bar code for a product to look up information about its environmental friendliness.
    3)  Cut down on the gas mileage. It’s apps galore when it comes to finding ways to cut down on gas usage. The Fuel Saver app will actually make your iPhone beep at you when you’re accelerating or braking too fast, or simply driving too fast overall. Want to simply avoid having to brake? Green Driver uses traffic light information obtained from cities to help drivers plan a route around red lights.  Another strategy is to carpool more (and encourage employees to do so). Try Avego to find others in your area willing to offer a lift or needing a lift. Cartipate also helps set up carpooling networks for iPhone users.
    4)    Reduce your utilities usage. Lowering your electricity usage doesn’t just help the environment — it also helps you save money. There are several apps available to help rein in your electric and natural gas usage. MeterRead helps iPhone users better read their electricity meters, and even calculates estimates of future electricity usage. Green Outlet estimates your electricity bill based on the appliances you are using.
    Do you use green apps at your business? If so, do they help?

    Thursday, 29 September 2011

    Why come to the city of Woodstock!!!!!

    Woodstock (2006 population 35,480) is a city and the county seat of Oxford County in Southern (Southwestern) Ontario, Canada. Woodstock is located 128 km southwest of Toronto, north of Highway 401 along the historic Thames River. It is known as the Dairy Capital of Canada and promotes itself as "The Friendly City." Woodstock is the only city in Ontario to still have all of its original administration buildings.
    Vansittart Avenue (named after Admiral Henry Vansittart, an early settler) in Woodstock's west end has one of the finest residential Victorian streetscapes in the province. Woodstock has a community centre that hosts hockey games in addition to most social gatherings.



    [edit] Government

    City Hall
    The city government, Woodstock City Council, consists of four city councillors, two city and county councillors, and the mayor who serves as the Head of Council, currently Pat Sobeski. Woodstock is the seat of Oxford County, with the recently constructed County Administration Building located across from City Hall in the area of Dundas and Reeve Streets. For provincial and federal elections, Woodstock is included in the riding of Oxford. Currently, the MP of Oxford is Dave MacKenzie (Conservative), and the MPP is Ernie Hardeman (Progressive Conservative).

    [edit] Healthcare

    Woodstock General Hospital is the largest in the county. It is currently situated on the original site in North Woodstock. It has a workforce of nearly 600 people and 270 volunteers. In the fall of 2011, the WGH will move after over 100 years to a new location in south Woodstock. Through millions of dollars in local private donations, backed by government grants, the city will soon have a state of the art medical facility. The new hospital is close to the 401 expressway, and has many upgrades including a helipad and an MRI/cancer center.
    Woodstock was the former home of the Oxford Regional Center. Opened in 1906 as the Hospital for Epileptics, it was later renamed the Ontario Hospital in 1919. Originally on the west side of highway 59, the hospital then expanded on the east side in the 1950s and transformed as a house for mentally disabled individuals. At its peak, the center employed 1500 people. It closed its doors in 1996, and since then all buildings have been demolished.

    [edit] History

    The community was first settled in 1800 after it was determined by Sir John Graves Simcoe, governor of what was then known as Upper Canada, that the area would make a good townsite. The early settlers were American immigrants from New York state. Increased immigration from Great Britain followed in the 1820s and 1830s. In 1836 there were 200 people living in Woodstock, and by 1844 the population had grown to almost 1,000 inhabitants and nearly 200 homes. Woodstock was incorporated as a town in 1851 and had its first town meeting in the Royal Pavilion Hotel. In 1902 Woodstock, with a population of nearly 9,000, petitioned the provincial legislature for city status and the "Town of Woodstock" was incorporated into the "City of Woodstock"

    [edit] Devastating tornado

    On August 7, 1979, the Woodstock area was hit by three tornadoes, two of which registered at least F4 on the Fujita Scale.[4] On the west side of town along Ingersoll Road, a Dominion Food Store was heavily damaged while the tornadoes skipped over every other home and business. Dickson's Florist was wiped out and the Fry home was moved on its foundation. Father Grondziel of the new Polish Roman Catholic Church, next to the Dominion Food Store, had just stepped into the washroom when one of the tornadoes passed by and took off the roof of the church and everything in the room he had just been in. No one on the street was injured but the cleanup took many weeks. On the south side, the buildings of the Maranatha Christian Reformed Church and the John Knox Christian School were destroyed, and the only fatality occurred when a vehicle on Highway 401 was blown off the road and the lone occupant killed.

    [edit] Downtown Woodstock

    Downtown Woodstock stretches from Vansittart Avenue to Huron Street on Dundas Street, the city's main street. It houses the city's banks, administration buildings, independent retailers and several restaurants. The majority of buildings are a century old. Downtown promotes itself through its B.I.A. members as a place to shop, work, play and dine. Although there are a few vacancies in the city center, the downtown is full of beautiful historic buildings and several unique retail outlets. In the 1990s the city undertook an extensive makeover of the main street, adding many gardens and cobbled sidewalks. Every summer the main street is shut down for the cities "Sidewalk Sales" celebrations, a mix of retail sales and various entertainment.

    [edit] Demographics


    [edit] Attractions

    Woodstock has many popular attractions held throughout the year. The Woodstock Wood Show is held every October at the fairgrounds and is one of the largest in North America. The Canadian Farm Show is held every September at the North end of the city and is also one of the largest in Canada. The Woodstock Fair is held at the end of August at the fairgrounds and consists of a midway, contests, concerts and other events. On Victoria Day weekend there is a parade along Dundas that ends in Southside Park where there is also a Midway. Woodstock is also home to an OLG Slots, live harness racing, and 7 screen movie theatre (Gallerie Cinemas).

    [edit] Landmarks

    [edit] Old St. Paul's Anglican Church

    One of Woodstock's most notable buildings is Old St. Paul's Anglican Church. Built in 1833 and situated near the intersection of Huron and Dundas Streets, the first sermon was held in the rectory on June 29, 1834. The first person buried in St. Paul's cemetery was a blacksmith named Spencer who died of cholera the day following his arrival in Woodstock in 1834.[6] It is alleged that the church tower was infamously used as a temporary jail during the rebellion of 1837. The church, a beautiful, brick cruciform structure surrounded by Woodstock's oldest cemetery, boasts original box pews and dozens of memorial tablets commemorating prominent Woodstock citizens. The first incumbent was William Craddock Bettridge.

    [edit] Springbank Snow Countess

    Springbank Snow Countess
    Old City Hall
    The "Springbank Snow Countess" was commemorated by a life-size statue (designed by acclaimed Oxford County agricultural artist Ross Butler) which is located on the corner of Dundas and Springbank.
    This bell iron and lead statue was made to honour a record-setting milk production by a Holstein (Friesian) cow named Snow Countess.
    The statue was first unveiled on August 4, 1937, by the Holstein Frisian Association of Canada. Snow Countess was born on November 18, 1919, and died at age 16 on August 9, 1936. During her lifetime, she produced 9,062 pounds of butterfat, impressive at the time. The statue and granite base cost $4,000 to design and erect.
    The cow has become an important symbol to Woodstock and is used in many cultural events, such as the annual Cowapalooza Festival.

    [edit] Capitol Theatre, Woodstock

    The "Capitol Theatre" originally the Woodstock Opera House. This building was recently torn down.

    [edit] Education

    Woodstock has five high schools; Woodstock Collegiate Institute, the oldest in the city, home of the Red Devils; Huron park Secondary School, home of the Huskies; College Avenue Secondary School, home of the Knights; St Mary's Secondary School (catholic), home of the Warriors; and Ecole Secondaire Notre Dame (French catholic), home of the Wolves. Fanshawe College operates a post-secondary campus at the south end of the city, and offers a variety of full and part time programs. Fanshawe has applied for a permit to add on to their current campus and make it double its size and allow it to offer many new programs
    List of Woodstock schools, year built, and attendance:
    Public schools[7] Woodstock Collegiate Institute (1939), 584. College Avenue Secondary School (unknown), 842. Huron Park Secondary School (1955), 964.
    Algonquin Public School (unknown), 634. Central Public School (1880's), 289. DM Sutherland Public school (unknown), 192. Eastdale Public School(1955), 278. Northdale Public School (1950), 264. Roch Carrier French Immersion Public School (unknown). Southside Public School (1956), 266. Springbank Public School (1964), 272.

    Former public schools
    Broadway Public School, Chapel Public school, Hillcrest Public School, Princess Public School, Victoria Public School.
    Catholic schools[8] St Mary's High School (1997), 983. Holy Family French Immersion (1981), 192. St Michel's (1967), 300. St Patrick's(unknown), 249. St Rita's (unknown).

    [edit] Sports and recreation

    Woodstock has several parks and gardens. Most notably is Southside Park, which has a playground, baseball diamonds, public washrooms, soccer fields, gardens, and a new Skatepark. It also has a large pond, and many walking trails. At the North End of the city is Roth Park, which stretches along the Gordon Pittock Reservoir. This park contains a playground and several kilometers of walking, running, and biking trails. Woodstock has two ice rinks, two at the Community Complex at the south end of the city, and one at the fairgrounds in the central region. The Woodstock Soccer Club has built an indoor and outdoor soccer park at the north end, at the former site of the Oxford Regional Center. Woodstock two indoor swimming pools, Southside Aquatic Center, and the YMCA, and one outdoor pool, the Lions Pool. The Woodstock Public Library is one of the oldest in the province and has a large selection of books, movies, magazines, and newspapers and also has internet access for members.

    [edit] Museum and arts

    The Old Woodstock Town Hall, a National Historic Site of Canada,[9][10] now houses the Woodstock Museum. On the lower level is a permanent exhibit highlighting the history of the city and area, and the original town council room exists in its original state. Upstairs is a ballroom which houses several different exhibits throughout the year. The Woodstock Art Gallery is currently located on Hunter Street but will soon be moving into the old Shopper's Drug Mart building on Dundas Street across from Museum Square. The Woodstock Little Theatre houses plays year round in the former market building across from the museum.

    [edit] Infrastructure

    [edit] Pittock Dam

    Construction was started on the dam in 1964 and officially completed in 1967. The cost of the dam and land base at that time was close to $6 million. Present annual maintenance costs are about $40,000.[11]
    The Pittock Dam is designed for both flood control and flow augmentation purposes. It is designed to benefit water quality downstream during dry summer conditions and provide year round flood control capability to protect downstream communities.

    [edit] Woodstock Airport

    The Woodstock Airport is located 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km) west of Woodstock.

    [edit] Industry

    [edit] Toyota Plant

    In June 2005, Toyota, the world's largest automaker, announced plans to build a new, $CAD1.1 billion automobile assembly plant in Woodstock on a 1,000-acre (4 km2) undeveloped site in the city's northeast end. The plant was expected to employ 2000 people and begin full production of the Toyota RAV4 SUV in November 2008, at the rate of 150,000 a year. However, due to economic problems and slowing car sales, Toyota cut production by 50% to 75,000 a year and reduced the work force 40% to 1200 people. The other 800 workers are expected to be recalled when car sales increase. It was the first new auto assembly plant to be built in Canada in two decades.
    Late in 2008, the plant began producing vehicles, and on December 4, a ceremony attended by Ontario and federal government representatives as well as top Toyota executives, took place to celebrate its official opening.[12] Mayor Michael Harding used the movie phrase that captured the moment: "If you build it, they will come".

    [edit] Hino Motors Canada Ltd.

    Early in March 2006, Hino Motors, a Toyota Motor Co. subsidiary, announced that it will be the first Japanese truck manufacturer to build its vehicles in Canada with a new Woodstock plant slated to begin production in April 2006, in the former General Seating plant in the Pattullo Ridge Business Park near Highway 401 and Highway 59.
    The $3 million, 120,000 square foot (11,000 m2) plant will employ 45 and assemble 2,000 trucks a year when it begins production.[13]
    In late November 2008 the Hino Motors automotive plant was completed.[14]

    [edit] Woodstock Organ Company

    A major Canadian piano and organ and reed organ company operated under the name of Woodstock Organ Company for many years of the early twentieth century. It was owned by D W Karn, who was at one time mayor of Woodstock. Karn had previously operated an organ and piano manufacturing company under his own name.

    [edit] Other industries

    Woodstock is also home to: General Motors National Parts Distribution Warehouse, the largest of its kind in Canada. Vuteq Canada, an automotive supply company to GM and Toyota. Toyota Boshuko, an automotive supply company to Toyota. Tigercat Industries, a forestry and logging equipment manufacturer. RWF Braun, a heavy equipment manufacturer. Kelsey Hays, an automotive supply company for Ford. Firestone, a textile/tire manufacturing company. Purina, a pet food company.
    Some of Woodstock original Industrial Companies who are no longer there include Thomas Built Busses, Timberjack (later called John Deere), Harvey Woods, and Massey Furgeson.

    [edit] Media

    Woodstock has one daily newspaper owned by Sun Media Corporation, the Woodstock Sentinel-Review.
    There are three licensed FM radio stations:
    The city also has a rebroadcaster of Toronto television station Citytv, operating on channel 31 and primarily targeting London and surrounding towns.[15]

    [edit] Transportation

    Via Rail station in Woodstock
    Woodstock Transit provides bus service on weekdays and Saturdays.[16]
    For intercity travel Via Rail operates a train station in the city, offering Quebec City-Windsor corridor service to Toronto, Windsor, and points in between.[17]
    Highway 401 runs along the southern edge of the city, and its junction with Highway 403 is located in the extreme south-east. Woodstock is centred on the intersection of the former Highway 59 and Highway 2, now Oxford Road 59 and Oxford Road 2.
    The nearest airport with scheduled flights is London International Airport, 40 km to the west. The nearest major airport is Toronto Pearson International Airport, 128 km to the east.[18]

    [edit] Notable natives

    [edit] Further reading

    Art Williams. Bits & Pieces: A Montage of Woodstock, Ontario in Text and Pictures. Erin, Ontario: Boston Mills, 1967, 1990.

    [edit] References

    [edit] External links

    Mariner Motel Woodstock ON
    Friendly Motel
    T: 519 537 5332

    Wednesday, 7 September 2011

    8 Ways that Twitter Can Grow Your Freelance Business

    8 Ways that Twitter Can Grow Your Freelance Business

    Are you a Freelancer? Today Jenny Cromie, editor of The Golden Pencil, (follow her at @JennyCromie) talks about how Twitter can help grow a Freelance Business.
    When I first read about Twitter in a Wired magazine article a little more than a year ago, I thought: What a waste of cyberspace! Why on earth would anyone waste their time trading banal “news” items like: Wearing pink slippers and eating a PBJ. Or, Cleaned toilet. Now for the sink.
    Even productivity guru Tim Ferriss called Twitter “pointless e-mail on steroids.” At the time, I couldn’t have agreed more.
    But what a difference a year makes! Like me, Tim Ferriss has now joined Twitterville. Of course, he follows no one and has about 10,720 followers. But that’s beside the point.
    What I’m trying to say is that if you’re not orbiting in the Twitterverse, you might as well be living on Mars.
    Everyone is all atwitter about Twitter now. It’s the THING. It’s the new pet rock of the worldwide cyber village. But I also don’t think it’s a fad. Twitter and other social networking tools are changing the way companies and individuals do business, get information, and communicate.
    And the Twitterverse is getting more crowded by the day because late-adopter dolts like me finally get it. We’re all doing the “I-coulda-had-a-V8” head thump: Duh! Twitter is great for growing your business.
    If you own a business of any size and you’re still not Twittering, you’re missing out on what amounts to a worldwide virtual chamber of commerce networking event that’s at your fingertips 24/7. Only on Twitter, you don’t press flesh or swap business cards—you exchange links to your Web site, blog, e-books, and online résumé. And you build relationships 140 characters at a time.
    Still not convinced that Twitter can help your freelance business? Maybe my list will change your mind. As a business tool, Twitter can help you:

    1. Find new clients

    When I first joined Twitter, I didn’t think my participation would amount to anything but wasted time. But as my list of followers continued to grow, I began to realize the full potential of this microblogging tool. Just in the last week, I’ve received two inquiries from people who found me on Twitter and are interested in hiring me to do some writing for them. These are people who I would not have met otherwise. And I’m betting they would not have stumbled across my online portfolio and Web site without the aid of Twitter.

    2. Make new contacts

    In the past few days, I’ve made contact with two magazine editors and a literary agent via Twitter. We’ve chatted back and forth, and I’ve received an invite to pitch a story idea to one of the magazines. If not for Twitter, I never would have made these contacts or had the opportunity to talk to these people in near real time. Most editors and clients have overflowing inboxes, so I’m finding that Twitter can help you bypass the e-mail backlog that plagues most editors and potential clients these days. I’ve also made contact with other writers and editors from all over the world, tech people, social media gurus, other self-employed professionals, recruiters, and a number of other really interesting, talented individuals. Next time I’m looking for someone to interview for an HR or business story I’m working on, I’ll know exactly where to look—in my very own list of fellow Twitterers. And if I don’t have the expert I’m looking for in my current list of followers, all I have to do is use the Twitter search function, look for new people to follow, and contact them.

    3. Stay informed

    Staying on top of breaking news events and other news in your industry is a snap with Twitter. Witness how Twitter forever changed the way elections are reported or how the recent tragedy in Mumbai was broadcasted almost instantaneously by people who were actually living the nightmare. I don’t think Twitter will ever replace good old-fashioned reporting, but it sure does add another layer of real-time information that is invaluable. And if you have a question about a particular topic, all you have to do is post it and someone will answer. The other day, I wanted to find out how to change the background on my Twitter page. Within seconds, I had answers and some great new tools at my disposal.

    4. Generate story ideas

    Can’t figure out what to write about? Tune in to Twitter and listen in on some interesting conversations. Twitter is great because it allows you to be a virtual fly on the wall. In fact, I would argue that tracking Tweets is the cyber equivalent of sitting in a coffee shop with a notebook and writing down interesting snippets of conversation (if you’re a writer, don’t tell me you’ve never done this). My followers and the people I track on Twitter also have some very interesting blogs and articles sitting out there in cyberspace. And if you’re like me, reading always helps generate more story ideas.

    5. Build your brand

    One thing that distinguishes me from other freelance writers and editors is my area of expertise: HR and business. So every time I write an HR story or a post for The Golden Pencil, I publicize it on Twitter with a link. This helps build a following, and also provides information about my writing to potential clients, editors, writers, and other professionals. It also helps build my brand. Building a brand is a must for your business. I know, for example, when Darren Rowse has posted on Twitter, there’s probably a new story about blogging or Twitter that I will want to read. So if you Twitter often enough in a targeted way, your followers will start associating your name with a particular area of expertise. And that will help you grow your business.

    6. Drive traffic to your Web site

    Every time I Twitter about one of my blog posts on The Golden Pencil, I see a nice spike in traffic. And since I started building more business relationships on Twitter, I now have a few more regular readers who drop by every time I post a new link. If not for Twitter, I’m certain I would not have these new readers visiting my site every day. At the moment, I can’t think of a more immediate, effective, interactive marketing tool than Twitter. Can you?

    7. Improve your writing

    I can almost hear some of you now: How on earth can Twitter help improve my writing? Each post only allows for 140 characters! Well, as one of my journalism professors used to say: “Write tight!” Twitter helps you learn how to trim unnecessary fat from your sentences. And as someone who writes a lot of headlines for various e-publications, I’ve found that it’s also a great way to practice headline writing. You can tell when you’ve written a good one, because you’ll get a lot of comments. And on occasion, someone will like it so much that they’ll retweet it. This is valuable information—particularly if you have a blog. Using Twitter as a training ground, you learn how to write headlines that make people click on the link and read the rest of the story.

    8. Learn about new tools

    I recently started following @AlbertMaruggi, a very nice gentleman on Twitter who knows a ton about about podcasting. After finding out what he did for a living, I started asking a lot of questions. And as a result, I found out about Utterli. which is without a doubt, the coolest tool discovery I’ve made in weeks. Twitter also is how I learned about hellotxt and—two tools that I now use on a daily basis.
    So have I convinced you yet? Let me know! Please feel free to say hello on Twitter: @JennyCromie. Or drop by and visit me on my blog at The Golden Pencil. I’d love to hear from you!
    Written by Jenny Cromie, a full-time HR/business freelance writer, editor, and Twitter convert. Jenny also is editor of The Golden Pencil, a b5media blog about freelance writing and how to build a successful freelance writing business.

    Wednesday, 24 August 2011

    Why You Need Travel Insurance

    Why You Need Travel Insurance

    It's not a question of being able to afford travel insurance. It's more a question of can you afford to travel without it?
    When you're travelling, even a minor accident or sickness can become a major expense and inconvenience. So whether your plans include a trip outside your home province or territory, to the U.S. or to another continent, having travel insurance will go a long way toward ensuring you enjoy your time away.
    Please take a moment to review some of the reasons why travel insurance should be an important part of planning your trip:
    Anytime you leave Canada—even for a few hours—without travel medical insurance, you're taking a big risk. Like many Canadians, you might be surprised to know that when you travel outside Canada, you leave a large portion of your government health insurance plan (GHIP) behind.(1) Government health insurance plans also typically cover only a limited portion of medical costs once you leave your home province or territory, even if you are still in Canada.
    Plus, unlike a GHIP, a travel insurance plan can also offer benefits such as Baggage & Personal Effects Insurance, Flight & Travel Accident Insurance, and Trip Interruption/After Departure Insurance.
    So, whether you're travelling out of the country, or just out of your own province, make sure you understand what you're covered for and that you have purchased supplemental travel insurance to fill any gaps. This includes reviewing what coverage, if any, is provided by a benefits plan you may have through your employer.
    Some credit cards cover basic health insurance when you are travelling outside your province/territory of residence or Canada. However, there may be important distinctions between what Travel HealthProtector® insurance covers and what your credit card's insurance plan covers. Before you take a trip, it's a good idea to review any coverage provided by your credit card(s) to decide whether you need additional insurance.
    In a world where anything can happen, Travel HealthProtector insurance is your ticket to safeguarding your trip. For instance, what if you had to:

    Cope with an emergency in a foreign country?

    You're on your dream vacation in a foreign country and chances are you may not speak the language. How would you get help during an emergency? Our multilingual coordinators understand your coverage and can help you find the care you need. Simply call us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no matter where you are in the world.

    Pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses?

    If you become sick or injured while travelling, your government health insurance plan would only cover a fraction of the medical costs.
    Imagine a medical emergency that requires being taken by air ambulance to the nearest hospital. As you can see from the chart, treatment can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
    Emergency travel medical insurance can help cover these costs. Plus, RBC Royal Bank® offers up-front payment on claims whenever possible.

    Suddenly rush home because of an emergency?

    If you have to return home early, you could incur some serious expenses. Trip Interruption/After Departure Insurance can help reimburse you when your travel arrangements don't go according to plan.

    Replace lost baggage or personal effects?

    Don't let your vacation be ruined if your luggage or personal effects, such as a passport, become damaged or lost. Baggage & Personal Effects Insurance helps cover some of the replacement costs so you can get back to enjoying your trip.
    No one takes a trip assuming the worst. But should something happen, it's good to know that you and the people you care about will be protected.
    An essential part of every trip, travel insurance is a small expense for a tremendous amount of confidence!
    Learn about Plans and Coverage’s for Travel HealthProtector Insurance.

    Tuesday, 16 August 2011

    Wireless Internet at the Motel

    Mariner Motel now offers wireless broadband internet to guests staying at the motel. The advantages of having Wireless Internet are endless with guest being able to access the internet from anywhere in their room and not being restricted to a desk. Meeting are less restrictive with an unlimited amount of computers being able to access the internet and delegates can sit anywhere in the room as they do not need to plug their computer into a port.   Everyone is using a cell phone, laptop, tablets, e-readers these days and we want our guests to be connected.  Enjoy wireless internet services with the motel. 

    Mariner Motel
    Woodstock, ON
    T: 519 537 5332

    Friday, 12 August 2011

    Why Social Media for small business works?

    Mariner Motel
    Woodstock, ON
    T: 519 537 5332

    Social Media is huge and every business new or old should be using these great tools to promote awarness about their business.  Read below and enjoy. 

    I don’t want to say I told you so, but social media works for business and, finally, there is strong evidence to substantiate that claim.
    Several research reports over the past couple of months have validated the influence of social networks like Facebook and Twitter on the buying process.
    Specifically, the study of over 1,500 consumers by market research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies found that “60% of Facebook fans and 79% of Twitter followers are more likely to recommend those brands since becoming a fan or follower.” Not only that, but an “impressive 51% of Facebook fans and 67% of Twitter followers are more likely to buy the brands they follow or are a fan of.”
    Facebook Twitter research study graph
    It has become commonplace for brands to have a presence on these and other social media sites. Those that don’t face obsolescence. “If they’re not on Facebook or Twitter, then they aren’t in touch with the ‘electronic’ people,” said one participant in the study.
    “While social media is not the silver bullet that some pundits claim it to be, it is an extremely important and relatively low-cost touch point that has a direct impact on sales and positive word of mouth,” comments Josh Mendelsohn, a vice president at Chadwick Martin Bailey. “Companies not actively engaging are missing a huge opportunity and are saying something to consumers, intentionally or unintentionally, about how willing they are to engage on consumers’ terms.”
    eMarketer and MarketingProfs report the researchers explored why social media users become brand fans. “The top reason to friend a brand on Facebook was to receive discounts, followed by simply being a customer of the company and a desire to show others that they support the brand,” according to eMarketer. On Twitter, it was all about discounts, up-to-the-minute information and exclusive content that attracted consumer attention.
    In light of this new information, what should a brand do? Several things actually.
    1. Establish an outpost on Facebook via the use of a Fan Page. Not only are Fan Pages one of the few means by which businesses can legitimately engage in Facebook, it’s pretty darned effective, especially when time and attention is paid to the Page’s development. By that I mean frequently updated content, interactions with Fans, and the inclusion of custom content facilitated through the use of staticFBML or apps such as those offered by Involver, which are specifically designed for Fan Pages.
    2. Start tweeting for Pete’s sake. Even if you use Twitter only as a broadcast channel, at least you have a presence there. If you extend your engagement to include interactions with followers, even better, especially if you can accompany such engagement with special offers and highly-relevant content.
    3. Tell everyone you know in every way you can think of. Include links to Facebook, Twitter (and any other social media outlet you inhabit) on your company website, email signature, email newsletter, business cards, and other sales collateral. Heck, I know one furniture company that posted a huge billboard asking everyone to friend them on Facebook.
    4. Make your website a hub of social activity. Rather than your site being a stand-alone information silo, tie content produced there to Facebook and Twitter posts. If you have a blog, include the ability for readers to share your posts via Facebook/Twitter and other sites. Conversely, make sure that your social media outlets point back to your website or blog. I still believe the company website has relevance. It’s just not the only place where your presence can reside on the Web any longer.
    According to Facebook’s own figures, more than 1.5 million businesses have active Pages there. The average user becomes a Fan of four pages per month. As for Twitter, a survey done in November 2008 showed that 56 percent of those that use Twitter do so for business purposes, and that 89 percent of users agree that brands should engage consumers there.
    The facts are in. Social media works for business. Consumers want you there, expect you to be there, and will reward you with their attention and patronage if you are. Need more be said?

    Thursday, 14 July 2011

    Retirement Income Planning: Where Will Your Retirement Income Come From?

    Retirement Income Planning: Where Will Your Retirement Income Come From?

    Retirement is supposed to be the best years of your life.  So how much money will you need to make that happen?  Often, when people plan for retirement, we think of needing a number or a lump sum of money.  Another way to look at retirement is from the perspective of paycheques or income.  One of the biggest changes from your work life to your retired life is moving from a single paycheque system to a multiple paycheque system.  That’s right, when you retire in Canada, you are likely to receive many paycheques.

    Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

    Canada Pension Plan is one of two paycheques from the government when you retire.  CPP is a contributory plan, which pays a maximum of $934.17 per month at age 65.  When planning for retirement, I think you can count on getting CPP despite the common fear that it may not be there when you retire.  Although you are likely to get some CPP in retirement, don’t count on getting the maximum CPP because it’s not easy to get the maximum.  The amount you receive depends on how long you worked and how much you contributed between the age of 18 and 65.  Be aware that changes are eminent.  Back in July 2009, CPP submitted some proposed changes to ‘modernize the plan’.

    Old Age Security (OAS)

    The maximum Old Age Security is $517 per month.  Unlike CPP, most people get the maximum because it is based solely on residency.  If you were a resident of Canada for 40 years between the age of 18 and 65, you will get the full OAS.  If you make more than $66,733 of personal income while collecting OAS, you might lose some of your OAS to ‘clawback’ or ‘recovery’.  As you can see, you can’t survive on just OAS or even CPP for your retirement!

    Pension Plans

    A pension can be a very significant part of your retirement income if you stay with a company for a long period of time. Today, pension benefits will depend on whether you are part of a defined benefit pension plan or a defined contribution pension plan. The best pensions are usually defined benefit plans that replace a maximum of 70% of your pre-retirement income. Typically you have to work for the company for 35 years to get the maximum pension, which is rare because people are changing employers more frequently and fewer employers are offering pension plans as benefits.

    Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs)

    With fewer employers offering pensions, RRSPs will become one of the biggest sources of retirement income in the future. RRSPs provide a tremendous amount of flexibility. You can take out as much as you want subject to the government regulated minimum amounts. You can change income, investment options and tailor income to your specific needs. Good retirement planning will incorporate the best way to draw RRSPs for your income needs.  It is essential that people learn the proper use of RRSPs in their financial affairs.

    Non-RRSP Investments

    Investments outside the RRSP provide the most flexibility. Non-RRSP investments include stocks, bonds, GICs, mutual funds, investment real estate, etc. The after-tax implications of non-RRSP investments are crucial to your total retirement income plans. For many people, contributing to CPP, Pension Plans and RRSPs will make it difficult to accumulate significant amount of non-RRSPs.

    Income from work

    One of the fastest growing trends in retirement planning is that more and more retirees are working in retirement. It used to be that retirement meant not working but now that’s not the case. Some work for others while others works for themselves. Some work for money while others work for other reasons like keeping busy, maintaining social relationships or just for fun. Whatever the case may be, the key to working in retirement is to do work because you want to and not because you have to.

    Good planning makes all the difference

    If you want to know if you can retire, it is essential to know which sources of income you will get in retirement. Typically, the best place to start is to find out how much money you will get from your company pension, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS). Once you have that, you will need to figure out how to supplement your income with more flexible pots like RRSPs, non-RRSPs and income from work. Sometimes there can be debate over which source of income to start with. This is where a good financial plan can make all the difference. Whether you are just starting your career or whether you are already in retirement, understanding the retirement income pyramid will help you to build the foundation of planning for the future.
    Mariner Motel
    Woodstock ON
    T: 519 537 5332