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Category Archives: Travel

A History of Trench Warfare

The prevailing image the majority of us have of trench warfare is circa World War I and involves mud-spattered troops carrying rifles and storming over the top of their trench toward an enemy trench yards away. While this is an accurate image of trench warfare at its peak, that particular military tactic did not spring fully formed directly from the dirt from which the trenches were dug. Soldiers have used some form of trench warfare for centuries and continued to use it in limited measure after World War I.

The concept of digging a hole or trench for battlefield protection is not a new one; castle defenses during the Middle Ages regularly employed moats, which are simply circular trenches filled with water. Roman legions would entrench themselves at night in temporary trenches while on the move. Trench and bunker systems were employed more regularly in the mid 19th century during the American Civil War, the Boer War, and others in response to the development of superior rifle and artillery technology. The Boers were especially known for their trenches and individual holes that allowed them to kill many more casualties than they took.

While World War I was not the first time soldiers employed trench warfare, it was the first time it had been used on such a grand scale. Trench warfare itself developed as a response to improving artillery technology, and its wide scale implementation led to several technological and tactical developments. World War I was the first war in which air support was employed, although airplanes served a largely informational role rather than a combative one. Tanks were developed by armies desperate to break the stalemate inevitably caused by the futility of trench warfare. In the end, tanks brought the protected mobility necessary to break the stalemate, but not before trench warfare had come to symbolize the futility and grinding senselessness of war.

The increase in mobility during the decades leading up to World War II led to a decrease in trench warfare, although soldiers still dug trenches for defensive purposes. Many of those in charge of World War II remembered the pestilential and relatively ineffective nature of the trenches and used them only to fortify larger military or natural positions rather than to engage in a grinding battle of attrition. After World War II, trench warfare was used in limited measure in Korea, Vietnam, and the Iran/Iraq Civil War. Modern examples of trench warfare exist primarily in areas under siege wherein trenches are used for transport of weapons and goods as well as general defense.

The rise of mobility led to the fall of the trench, and most modern warfare centers around easy troop and artillery movement. Trench warfare, as brutal and inefficient as it was, led to the rise of surveillance and mobility technology that ushered in a new age of warfare. Modern warfare owes much to those dirty, sodden trenches since they helped establish the use of airplanes and tanks in combat that assisted armies with movement.

Citations:

This article was provided by Pro-Tec Equipment, offering trench shoring products.

 

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3 Tips For Hosting Your Next Corporate Event

This year, you’re in charge of hosting your company’s huge corporate event. You’ll have to find a venue, purchase decorations, send out invitations, book a caterer and plan for entertainment. Corporate events can be enormous, especially if people outside of the company are invited. For example, many corporate events invite guests who are current clients or potential clients. Putting your best foot forward at an event of this magnitude isn’t an easy task. Plus, all eyes will be on the host. Even skilled party planners sometimes have trouble coordinating large scale corporate events. Luckily, there are a few tricks of the trade that will make planning the perfect corporate event a bit easier.
Host Etiquette
Knowing how to present yourself at a corporate event is possibly the most important skill to master. The host should always dress the part, even if the rest of the guests are dressed casually. The host’s attire should be formal and should stand out from the rest of the crowd without being loud. It should be obvious who the host of the event is simply by scanning the room. As a host, you should always have a smile on your face. Even if the event is falling apart and things are going wrong, it’s important to always put a calm, collected face forward. Resolving problems and staying confident throughout the night are key to overcoming obstacles and dealing with whatever goes wrong. One of the biggest things to remember is to not drink excessively at the event. You can’t effectively and professionally host a corporate event if you’re drunk. Keep it to one alcoholic drink every hour and sip water in between.
Print Advertisements
In a world where marketers rely heavily on the Internet and social marketing, print ads are dwindling in occurrence and quality. Stand out from the crowd with quality print advertisements. Despite what many Internet marketers may thing, print ads are actually extremely powerful in gaining new customers. Ads will showcase your company’s products or services. Create flyers, brochures or even catalogs that reflect your business. You can also create print ads that contain important information about the event itself or about a new product or portion of your business that you’re launching. These advertisements will be given out to your guests at the event.
Corporate Events on a Budget
Corporate events can be pricey. When the economy is down, the budget for business events has to be lowered too. There are a few simple ways to cut costs and still throw a quality corporate event. Instead of having a dinner, host a lunch or cocktail party instead. Serve sparkling wine instead of having a full bar. Hold the event sometime between January and March, when venue rates are lowest. Also, if you have the event on a week day, you’ll save a bundle, since rates are highest on the weekend. The best way to save money on a venue is to host the event in someone’s home instead of renting space.

Also, If you are looking to book a comedian for your next event, look no further than Andrew Taylor Management and More Comedy (http://www.andrewtaylormanagement.com/)

 

Claire is a Corporate Events Planner in Sydney, Australia, where she has been helping businesses plan important corporate events for the last 10 years. Claire has held events in all of the major corporate event venues Sydney has to offer.

 

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Transport: A Dirty Business

So, you’ve turned your office into an eco-friendly haven, ensuring that you’ve taken all the necessary steps to become a more sustainable business, but it feels like there’s something you’ve forgotten… transport!

Business transport has a huge impact on the environment, the various types of shipping and transportation used by businesses increase greenhouse gases, CO2 emissions and oil pollution. Shipping aggregator, uShip, reported that, in Germany alone, 45.5 tonnes of Carbon and Greenhouse Gas emissions are produced by delivery vans and trucks.
What can we do as a business to offset this pollution?

The first step to making your business transportation climate neutral is working out how much CO2/Greenhouse gases your company produces through transportation. When you know how much carbon your business is responsible for producing you can look into options to offset this amount.
Many businesses are investing in climate-neutral projects to offset their usage, and many foundations that fund carbon-neutral projects crying out for sponsorship. Your investment will fund solar collectors, wind farms and other projects across the world.

Take a minute to think about your transportation options. What do you use? Have you ever thought about shipping via rail or water instead of by road? This small change could significantly reduce your emissions.

When shipping to local businesses, choose a local shipping company to reduce the amount of time delivery trucks will be on the road, subsequently reducing emissions.

Your employees can help too!
Suggest a car-pooling system and if you are using delivery trucks advise your drivers on the most environmentally friendly driving methods.

This post was written on behalf of the shipping aggregator, uShip. uShip recently announced that were offering 100% climate neutral transport across Germany, and Mainland Europe and also offer a ’man with a van’ service.

 

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Owning the Long Commute

The volatile economy has forced more and more Americans to go where the work is instead of seeking jobs in their own hometowns. Long range commutes are no longer uncommon. Though everyone’s got to do what they can to survive it does put a strain on families when one parent is coming and going on a regular basis. Plus it isn’t too easy on the traveler, either. But here are a few simple ways to help ease the pangs of separation and travel.

Stay Connected

Thanks to technology there are plenty of ways to stay in the loop with each other. In addition to phone calls and texts don’t forget to set up specific times for video chatting with your family. If you have a young child maybe you can even be part of the bedtime rituals even if you’re across the country.

Also note that while traveling it’s easy to lose track of the days so be careful not to miss out on any important dates like birthdays and anniversaries. If you can’t be there in person still make a concentrated effort to have a presence by sending flowers or gifts and making phone calls no matter what the time difference. Keep communication open with family members and be as consistent and present as you possibly can.

Maintain Continuity

If your work takes you to many destinations in a short amount of time it is very easy to feel disconnected and confused. So wherever you are create some sense of ritual and continuity with photos, candles, a robe and slippers… any touches of home that your eyes can light on upon waking and going to sleep will have a stabilizing effect. There’s a reason high-end touring musicians have specific demands for dressing room continuity – not all requests are to be outlandish, some are to give a sense of home.

Make Use of Drive Times

If you’re driving long distances you’ve got ample time to listen to podcasts, language lessons or recorded books. And if you’ve got a hands-free arrangement you can tackle long talks as well. Just be careful that the stories you listen to aren’t snoozers that will make you sleepy.

And of course music was made for the road so don’t forget to create some spectacular playlists for your highways excursions. Feeling tired? Pump up the volume and rock!

Be Engaged When Home

If you’re away for long stretches at a time it can be difficult to fold yourself back into the daily routine back at home. It can be difficult for your family, too. If possible, try to talk about what you all need from one another, even if it’s just a few hours extra sleep or the chance to lounge by the pool for one quiet day. But as soon as you can start being engaged with the daily household events again. It would be easy to be too tired to attend band recitals or soccer games but these are times you can’t get back so be sure to make the most of them while you have them and to enjoy.

Long haul commutes aren’t easy but there are ways like these that can help smooth out the rough edges – giving you the chance to make the most of your time while away and when home again.

Written by Emily Rankin. Are you insured for those long drives? www.carinsurance.org.uk

 

Communication Skills for Business Across Cultures

If your company deals with international clients communication skills are invaluable to avoid translation or cultural differences. A gesture or phrase that is fairly common or positive for us could be seen as rude or impolite to other cultures; this is why it’s important to improve on communication skills.

Disagreement Requires Tact

For example, in western culture a respectful disagreement with a manager or boss is for the most part encouraged or welcome if you can back it up with a valid point however in other cultures an outright disagreement (respectful or otherwise) is considered inappropriate and rude. Which is why it’s doubly important to have good communication skills when expressing disagreement since it will take subtle tact and suggestion in order to effectively communicate; some western cultures will not even pick up on a disagreement expressed if they don’t understand it’s considered impolite to disagree outright in other cultures.

When Business Links Aren’t Enough

When it comes to western culture business relationships are merely business; it’s important to them to keep them professional. However, in other cultures it is expected that business and personal relationships are intertwined. Communication skills and techniques go far beyond the bounds of simple business; it’s often considered impolite to immediately begin work without inquiring about health or family for many cultures. We may think we’re being professional, but for many cultures business etiquette is not enough.

Addressing Authority

Key communication skills level the playing field when it comes to the all important addressing of authority. In western culture we may be comfortable calling our boss by their first name if we have a good repertoire with them, but this is not true for all cultures. When in doubt always properly address a client or potential partner formally. Keep in mind that while most western cultures have someone’s first name first and surname second, other cultures prefer to do this in reverse. Also nicknames may be common in the immediate workplace but it’s expected that formal addressing continues much longer than in other cultures than in western cultures.

Nonverbal Communication

Finally, skills for effective communication are not limited to verbal speech alone; there are many nonverbal gestures that need to be mastered before we attempt them. For example, our “thumbs up” is a positive sign of agreement or confidence, but it would be considered incredibly offensive to certain cultures. While we all know it’s important to maintain eye contact, depending on the situation this could be incredibly offensive. Standing close to someone, sitting down first at a meeting, reading a business card in front of the person presenting it and even using your left hand to give something is all gestures that are could be construed as negative; so keep this in mind.

All is not lost however; researchers have found that a genuine smile is universally understood to be positive; one does not need communication skills to show a good old fashioned free smile.

Eugene Calvini is a writer and an office expert; he has given pointers from serviced offices Hong Kong to serviced offices Canary Wharf and is happy to share his insight online.

 

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Here, Take my Wallet; a Cynic’s Guide to Travel

Do you ever get tired of having to chain your wallets to your belt to keep from getting hosed?

My wife and I are off tomorrow for a long deserved vacation at my favorite beach spot, which shall remain nameless, but you will all probably recognize.  We live near San Francisco; I have all my life, and have no illusion that there are banditos in every major city and vacation area we have ever been in.  I would say that it’s global, but there are places that they cut people’s hands off for that kind of thing, I just have never been there.

Having been a road warrior and international vacationer for 30+ years, and my wife been in corporate travel management almost as long, it seems like we’ve been screwed by just about every nationality from Cabo to Rome to Boston and back home.

This trip will be no different, were just getting smarter.  Last time we were down, we reserved a car from National, Paid the liability insurance, and arrived at the desk to pick up our car to be informed (again, it happens every year) that we were required to take their collision insurance as well.  This raised the price of our “economy” car from $16 a day to $45 a day.  $29 a day for insurance?  How is it that I can insure two $35,000 + cars in a major metropolitan area for less than $7 a day for two people, but in my favorite not so little resort area it costs $29 to insure a freeking five year old  Volkswagen Jetta?  Gotcha!

I tried my usual offer to the manager to leave a deposit on my credit card, which has worked for the last 30 years.  No dice.  They apparently have now unionized.  I looked at all the discount offers on the internet and they are all the same.  They offer really cheap car rates, then tack on the extra fees much the way airlines have started charging for bags.  To add insult to injury, to avoid the bandits at the airport we decided to take a transfer to our time-share, and then get a car a few days later from the concierge.  They now have a National Rent-a-Car in the lobby (it is a Sheraton property) and the car that the thieves at the airport wanted $45 a day for, is now being pimped for $65 a day.  Being that we have two golf courses, 6 pools, 3 restaurants,  two small stores with relatively reasonable prices, and we are bringing enough of our own food for several meals, I think we can whale watch for 3 or 4 days and then rent a car to go through the tourist corridor to have our Cheeseburger in Paradise next to Sammy Hagar’s joint.  We can get enough snorkeling in before we leave, and return home with the usual stories of the Marlin that got away.

Since we will be returning the car full to avoid their $10 a gallon surcharge, we will have the wonderful experience of the gas station once again.  Not only are you not allowed to pump your own gas, got forbid there is ANY action that does not involve at least three layers of tipping; there is always the payment game.  It is absolutely imperative to watch the gas pump.  Somehow if you don’t, your Jetta miraculously needed 30 gallons of gas in a 20 gallon tank.  No I am not confusing liters for gallons, I can do the math.

When you pay in the local currency the exchange rate is usually pretty simple, like 10:1.  If it is supposed to be 11.5:1, you still get 10.  Not a huge problem.  In several countries the denominations of bills are suspiciously colored for similar denominations.  In this case a 500 is the same color as a 50.  Be very very careful when you hand a 500 to someone, you make him acknowledge that you have indeed handed him the 500.  I’ve had this one pulled on me on three continents.  They take the red 500, go back to the cash register (always out of eye shot) and come back and hold out a 50 and tell you that indeed, that was what you had given them.  Easy 450 for them, and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.

I’ve had two camera bags actually cut off of my person, or someone I was with.  They come up behind you on a Vespa motorcycle, silent and small, slice the strap, grab, and are gone.  They don’t even have to slow down much to do it.  I’ve been pick-pocketed by a five year old while stopped to give a supposedly dying old lady a dollar.  We’ve endured the slums of Mumbai and Bangalore and grossly physically deformed beggars in Bahia del Salvador.   I’ve had a knife pulled on me near Haight-Ashbury in my own home town.  Has that ever stopped me from travelling? No, I just have become a bit more cautious in my old age.

Enough of my whining.  It’s time to pack my tequila, salt, and ice chest so I can be sipping from my $18 quart bottle of Hornitos while I watch the bloated turistos from Milwaukee drinking their $10 watered down margaritas by the pool.  I fear we have watched far too much Tony Bourdain to not have become somewhat jaded.

 

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Megacities and the Scale of the Future

  by Mike Macartney

Demographic trends in society are pointing towardsmegacities, defined as populations of 10 million or more, as the future for how most people on the planet will live. There are 21 such cities today and they include Cairo, Mexico City, Lagos, Los Angeles, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Manila, Moscow, Tehran, London, Paris, and others, growing every day. Tokyo was at 34 million in 2011. These cities and what supports them are at the core issues of scale and sustainability.

  • How large will these cities grow?
  • How will people in the future supply them with energy, food, water, transportation, jobs, housing, education, health care, and not least of all, entertainment?
  • How will these cities fit into national models – will they become city-states like earlier times in human history?

Scientific groups like the Santa Fe Institute are studying that very sustainability. Other, informal web based groups of people like New Geography are also thinking about what cities and human society will become.

The issue of scale may be the defining issue of the 21st century. The solutions are not simple or even invented yet. For example, it is well known in investment circles that alternative energy does not scale like the Information Age cornerstones of semiconductors, telecommunications, and software. Because of the laws of physics in the universe we live in alternative energy requires large investments in land, labor, and raw materials. These are needed to provide grid energy systems like the current fossil fuel and nuclear powered electrical grids. Innovation in alternative energy is not information or knowledge based. It is execution and implementation based. Even if we think we know how to do it, we still have to get it done. Very large physical scale collection and distribution systems are required to implement alternative energy solutions. Presently, the profit for investment in large-scale energy systems ties to large-scale tax systems. These are linked to government subsidies and government funded infrastructure build-out to solve the scale problem. Will the same go for alternative energy?

The scale needed for alternative energy competes directly with the scale needed for agriculture, housing, environmental preservation, and transportation. One example is the Three Gorges Dam project in China that displaced over 1-million people. Hydroelectric power systems are solar energy systems. The water behind a dam is stored solar energy. Very large amounts of land are required for hydroelectric systems just like for proposed solar, wind, and biomass systems. All the systems require very large solar collectors to operate in a grid power model. Efficiency can never be greater than one. There is no Moore’s Law of exponential growth hidden in the current efficiencies of a few tens-of-a-percent and 100-percent in alternative energy collection components. Are grid power systems the future of alternative energy?

The solutions to the scale problems of megacities with high consumption rates of food, energy, and living space are complex and competing. Complexity is one of the areas of study by scientific think tanks like the Santa Fe Institute and government funded institutions like Harvard University and MIT. How do you think scale will be achieved to support megacities in the future?

About the Author

Mike Macartney

Mike holds a BS and MS in mechanical engineering with emphasis in heat transfer and computational fluid dynamics. As a staff system engineer he developed advanced cooling systems for more than 15 different spacecraft and missiles, ranging from cryogenically cooled sensors and pre-amplifiers to on-orbit problem resolution of failing spacecraft. Mike has managed over 200 proposals for advanced aerospace systems, and terrestrial IT systems and custom code development for corporate customers.

Mike has advised start-up companies and high-tech incubators wishing to “spin-in” technologies from NASA and the National Laboratories as well as helped Russian enterprises do business in Silicon Valley. Mike has been a founder in three start-up companies for enterprise SW and publishing as well as a trade show manager for NASA technology transfer activities, and an executive liaison manager to facilitate business cooperation between aggressive Fortune 500 competitors. Mike has developed reengineered business processes for quality control, proposal development, and lean manufacturing.

He currently operates a small publishing company, Shoot Your Eye Out Publishing

 

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