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Save Money on Your Holiday Trip Hiring and Parking

Going on vacation or holiday is thrilling, but you must be careful from the car hire pitfalls. Here is an essential guide compiled covering the details of hiring a vehicle and how to keep your costs down.

Generally, the long queues complaints are acceptable with car hire companies. The additional insurance for waving the damage to the car when you take it on rent, besides the fuel charges, child seats, additional drivers cost and so on makes the whole hiring process aggressive. Thus, as you are on holiday trip, ensure to know the details of hiring policies and stick to it. You can compare sites before leaving from your home and get the best buy.

Having done with the hiring of car renting, do take pictures and make a note of any damage, be it flat tire or a patch work done on the seat. Make a note of everything in detail and get it duly signed from them, so that you are saved from them making a dent to your wallet and card.

Again, parking space is in most title schemes at a premium, so additional parking charges are to be paid in each place. Besides, you have to start early or else most of the time is spent on looking for appropriate parking spaces and the charges are high.

Escaping parking fines is impossible and it is not cheap. The parking offences committed are mostly by members abroad and on receiving a letter, they disregard it. But, you cannot escape it, even if you try to run away, on your return visit, you will be trapped and have to pay the fine and also more.

Remember, parking fines are regarded as civil offence and one thing is certain that it is sure to cost you. Firstly, never delay as this time-lapse makes you pay more. Parking is an issue and nowadays finding a suitable parking place is difficult to impossible.

Few ideas about parking

  • Adding more capacity such that it is done by adding more lanes or safety zones. They can also remove widening tunnels and bridge supports.
  • Improvements on traffic management such as reduction on parking restrictions, introducing greater competition for road space or limited city increasing non-monetary and monetary parking costs.
  • Park facilities allowing parking of vehicles to be done at a distance and also allowing continuation by ride sharing or public transport. Of course, now the park-and-ride car parks are at freeway entrances in suburban areas, metro stations and at the smaller cities edge.
  • Method of calming traffic and making people aware of the concept of shared space is mandatory. Reducing the road capacity by diverting them to other modes of travel will ensure more parking space availability.
  • Being strict by charging money for specific areas at particular times may restrict the congestion levels and the road users may also change their traveling times allowing free parking spaces.

Holiday trips, hiring vehicles on rent and finding the parking spaces are worth considering and having awareness regarding these ensures smooth transition.

Benefits of Bespoke Family Holidays

Planning a family holiday can be such a daunting experience. You have family members of all ages and everyone has different interests. This means keeping everyone entertained and considering everyone for the holiday can be exhausting, frustrating and in some instances, make you want to scrap the idea completely.

Bespoke family holidays can provide you with an extensive range of benefits that will provide you and your family with your dream holiday at a price you can afford. So how does these holidays benefit you in the long run?

The first benefit you will find is that you remain in complete control of your own holiday. You are not just agreeing to what is available, but rather working out what your family wants and what you want to do and then having a holiday that meets all of your holiday needs. This is a great way to go on holiday, as you know that the whole family is going to have the memorable experience that they deserve.

The second benefit of bespoke family holidays is that you can incorporate activities that everyone will enjoy. Depending on where you decide to go and the type of holiday you want (seaside, city or skiing), you will be able to focus on activities around the area so that everyone gets a chance to do something that they enjoy when on holiday, which means the entire family is happy and you all come home relaxed and refreshed, rather than irritated and frustrated.

Then you will find with the bespoke family holidays that you can enjoy your holiday at your own pace. If you choose a specific tour, for example, you will be working to the tour operators pace. When choosing one of these holiday experiences, you remain in control and therefore the holiday you have been dreaming of isn’t a rush, you can visit places, spend the day at the beach or find a nearby day spa, if the resort doesn’t have one. Either way, you are guaranteed a more relaxed pace that you and your family can work to.

The bespoke family holidays are arranged just for you. This is a major benefit. You can approach the specialist travel agency, advise them of the type of holiday you want and what your family wants to do and see and they can put a package together that will meet your unique holiday needs quickly and effectively.

In addition to this, the bespoke family holidays can be arranged within your travel budget. Ensure you have a budget in mind before you start shopping around, as this will help you identify what you can afford for the period you want to be on holiday. Remember look for holidays that are all inclusive or include certain activities, as this can reduce your overall cost in the long run, giving you more spending money and ensuring that your budget goes that little bit further.

The final benefit of the bespoke family holidays is the extensive selection that is available to you. You don’t have to simply accept one deal because it sounds good. You can spend some time, find a choice of deals and then identify the one that is going to meet your family’s unique holiday needs and budget.

Ensure you choose a professional bespoke family holiday specials company that works alongside the resorts and hotels to secure you a deal that is guaranteed to impress you and your family this holiday season. Do your research, identify the company’s strengths and identify what deals that they have that makes them your number one choice.

5 Ways To Prevent Identity Theft While On Vacation

Going on a holiday is one of the best ways to get rid of stress, explore new culture and places, and connect with new people and build a lifetime friendship. Unfortunately, we all know that holidays can be ruined by criminals. Taking some precautions before you leave home will make a difference between a long-term nightmare and happy memories. Here are these five simple steps that you can take to prevent the identity theft:

Get Out Your Wallet – you’ve been importance to do this in any case. Shred all receipts or document them at home. Put your checkbook in a sheltered place in your home, and utilize your credit or charge card while voyaging, or voyager’s checks. Leave gift vouchers at home unless you plan to utilize them traveling. You ought to never routinely convey your Government managed savings or Medicare cards. If any of these are in your wallet, evacuate them forever.

Advise Your MasterCard Supplier – Once you’ve chosen which credit or check card to go up against excursion, contact the organization to tell them where you’ll be voyaging and for to what extent. In like manner, contact the suppliers of cards that you’re deserting. The extortion units of all cards will know where you are to avert unapproved buys.

Take An Extra Wallet – Tuck a tad bit of money inside alongside an inn keycard from a past excursion. Men ought to convey this in their back jeans take while ladies ought to convey this at the highest point of things in their satchel. In case you’re the casualty of a pickpocket, this wallet will be stolen, not your genuine one. In the event that a looter requests your wallet, hand over the extra.

Try Not To Post Trip Photographs Via Web-Based Networking Media – Post notices that you’re far from home and fun get-away photographs may appear like a smart thought, however truly any of this individual data is helpful both to criminals and personality hoodlums.

Telephone Calls From “Front Work Area Fraudsters” – In the event that you get a call from the “front work area” saying there’s an issue with your Visa and they require a number from an alternate card, considerately disclose to them that you’ll get back to in a minute and hang up. Call the work area yourself to check if the call is honest to goodness. You may discover that a character hoodlum was attempting to take your card number or, if there is a veritable issue with your card, call the organization to settle the issue.

How to Start Your Travel Journal

Writing a travel journal can be a fun experience. You will be jotting down everything from your travels around the world and creating a memorabilia of sorts. After a few years, the journal will be like a fountain of nostalgia for you. So, if you have been planning to begin a travel journal for quite some time now, here are a few tips that will help you get started.

Choose a Medium for Your Journal Entries

Most people love the idea of writing their travel stories in a leather bound notebook. However, if you want the world to read about your adventures, you can even start a blog and start putting in your entries. It could be anything from a small paragraph about the places you are visiting or your experiences. And if you have the time, you can even write complete How-to blogs to help other people plan their journeys.

Start Travelling ASAP

In order to be able to maintain a travel journal, you will first have to start travelling. Pick up a destination and go there. If you have a busy life, dedicate a certain period of the year to your travels. If you don’t have money, you can save up and plan a trip on a budget. For instance, you can easily book cheap flights well in advance so that you save both money and time.

Earn Experiences

There’s a reason why most people these days want to be travellers and not tourists. It’s because tourists go around a place, sightseeing the important monuments or historical landmarks. On the other hand, travellers explore the local culture and lifestyle of the people living there. So, while you are travelling, remember to not just see the important places but to also get a glimpse into the life and culture of the local people. This will instantly add a lot of value to your travel journal.

Eat a Variety of Delicious Dishes

One of the best things about travelling is that you will be able to try a variety of local dishes, that might not be available in your hometown. Try out local eateries and small places that make and sell authentic dishes. Before starting your journey, you can even do a little research about your destination to know about the best restaurants there.

Maintaining a travel journal is one of the most beautiful ways of documenting your life. Years later, when you will look back at your diary or blog, you will be hit with an instant burst of nostalgia. And then, you will be thankful for beginning your travel expeditions. Bon Voyage!

How to Plan The Best Food Vacation of Your Life

Travelling is an extremely rewarding experience. But, it becomes all the more amazing when great food is thrown in. After all, isn’t food the best way of getting to know a country’s culture and eventually, becoming a part of it? If you love food and would do anything to combine it with the joy of travel, then you are at the right place. Below, we give you some tips on how to plan the ultimate food vacation that will satisfy both your inner wanderlust and foodie.

Decide what cuisine you want to explore

Before embarking on a food journey, it’s important to make sure that you know what you want. Whether you want Italian, Chinese, Indian, or Lebanese, it’s crucial to make the decision so you can prepare for the trip ahead. Once you have decided on the cuisine, start planning for your trip. Begin by budget flight tickets, cheap airfares, and affordable accommodation. This way, you will be able to save money that can be then spent on food.

Make a list of the places you want to visit

There are many apps these days that will give detailed information about restaurants in different countries. All you have to do is go through them and pick the few best ones. Read the reviews and understand what you would like to eat. Sometimes, it’s possible that you might have a penchant for an unpopular dish. This step is important because when you finally hit the road, you don’t have to waste time looking for places to eat. You just have to take out your list and follow it. You can also jot down the most popular dishes of the places you pick if you want to save further time.

Take care of your health beforehand

It’s important to ensure that you are in the best of your health before you begin your food vacation. Get tested for allergies to that you know what ingredients might harm you. Also, if you have digestion or any other problem that could be aggravated by food, then take proper medication for it. Carry your medicines with you so that you don’t face any difficulties in a new place. Sometimes, your body may take time to adjust to a new cuisine especially if it’s spicy or completely different from what you are used to eating. So, keep all the appropriate medicines in place before heading out.

While you follow the tips given above and go to all the restaurants you have earmarked, don’t forget to go to the small streetside place. There, you will not only find amazing food but will also get to hear wonderful local stories.

Travel Essentials for Family Summer Getaways

As soon as the temperature rises, school’s done for the year and about any cold beverage or dessert is being craved, you’ll know it is time to dust off your straw hat, swimming gears and of course try fitting in those swimwear. Yes, it’s summer! The one season we will be enjoying the 2 month vacation from school as well as look for that family destination to savor the sun, the sand and the sea.

But, before we all get excited, let me give you tips on the travel essentials to bring for your chosen (if not favorite) summer getaway. Grab your pen and paper and take down this list.

Travelling with Family Must-Haves:

Travel Documents. If you plan to travel here in the Philippines, make sure you bring your valid IDs for documentation of possible verification. If you will be travelling outside the country, then passports, visa must come in handy.

Funds. Importantly, you must bring cash and/or your credit cards for all the payments. However, you must be cautious enough not to bring too much cash at hand as we know robbers may be eyeing on you. So basically, practice being safe at all times specially when withdrawing at ATMs. Better yet, keep a note in your mobile phone or a little notebook where you write down your budget and possible expenses so you would be able to track down in/outs of your money and keep the whole vacation on budget.

Medicines, medical tools and first aid kit. If you or any of your family member have an existing medical condition, make sure to always bring enough and a little extra of the maintenance medicines. You may not be able to find an immediate pharmacy on the place you will going and you may need prescription as well, so keep that with the medicine kit. You can place this in a pouch or a small bag that you can bring with you at all times while travelling. This goes with your first aid kit. At least, make sure that the first aid kit contains medicines for common illness like headache, stomach pain, loose bowel movement, anti-allergy as well as band aids, betadine iodine, alcohol, cotton swabs and a nail cutter. You will need to bring also blood pressure monitor and blood sugar monitor in case you have diabetic loved ones.

When travelling with kids or babies, this will be a different story. You will pack another set of essentials just for them. Clothes, diapers, wipes, feeding bottles, sterilizer, just no name a few. So keep that in the list too!

When you will be commuting for the travel, make sure you have all commute stops planned. If you will need to be travelling by plane, you must be making the booking ahead of time. While, when you travel by land, make sure you will know the bus stops, etc. And when you will be driving, Google maps and GPS will be your best friend. Plan and make your research ahead of time. And when you are driving, make sure that your motor vehicle is at its best condition with enough fuel, air and water.

Accommodation at destination. Make sure you have booked ahead for resorts and hotels as they might not entertain you via walk in. Sometimes, you can save time and money by booking or making your reservations online.

Clothes, swim wears. Make sure you bring enough appropriate clothes. To save some space in your bags though, consider bringing lightweight clothes and learn how to pack smartly.

Gadgets, camera. What would capture your memorable summer but bringing in your mobile phones for your selfies! Bring in your digital cameras or action cameras too! Keep your gadgets in waterproof pouches in case you want to bring them while swimming.

Padlocks. For security reasons, make sure your bags have padlocks. Make sure you attend to you belongings as just about any establishment have no responsibility on your belongings in case of loss.

Snacks, water. Due to the hot season, we tend to be dehydrated. So make sure to pack some snacks and water while travelling to fill up that energy.

Toiletries, cosmetics. These are important too. Make sure you have napkins, tissue paper, wipes. Your toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner. Sunblock and sunburn recovery lotion. You may want to have travel kits where you can keep these essentials so you won’t need to bring the big bottles of shampoo. Just take a portion and place in these travel kit containers and you can refill those on your next travel destination.

7 Of The Most Beautiful Mosques In The World

Are you a holy person? If you are, you most likely be interested in knowing about the most beautiful mosques in the world. Here they are:

Al Haram Mosque-Mecca, Saudi Arabia

It’s the most famous worship mosque in the world. According to the Qur’an, it’s the first house built for humanity to worship Allah. It’s the world’s largest mosque and surrounds Kaaba, the holiest places for the Muslims. The current structure covers an area of 99 acres and includes both indoor and outdoor praying spaces. During the period of Hajj, it can accommodate up to 4 million people.

Faisal mosque Islamabad-Pakistan

It’s the fourth largest mosque in the world and the biggest in the south-east and southern Asia. From 1986 to 1994, it was the biggest mosque in the world before the completion of the Hassan II in Morocco. For many years, the worship center has been voted as one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Sheikh lotfallah-iran

It was constructed between 1602 and 1619 during the reign of Shah Abbas I. In addition to being a worship center, it has other roles. It also functions as a hospital, royal mint, royal caravanserai, and bath.

Taj ul mosque-Bhopal, India

Located in Bhopal, India, Taj ul mosque is also known as the crown of mosques. Featuring a pink façade, the worship center has two 18-storey minarets with marble domes. It also has a bulbous dome, marble flooring, and grand hallway. There is also a double-storeyed gateway that has four recessed archways. While its primary role is to serve as a mosque, it also doubles as an Islamic school during the day.

Wazir Khan-Lahore, Pakistan

It’s located in the northern city of Lahore in Pakistan on one of the busiest roads in the area. The mosque has been standing since the 17th century and is one of the most important landmarks in the city. What makes the worship center attractive is the colors and paintings. Both inside and outside the mosque are fresco paintings and tiles. The paintings feature a wide range of colors such as green, cerulean blue, yellow, purple, orange, and cobalt.

Blue mosque-Istanbul

It’s one of the landmarks in Istanbul. It boasts of six needle-like minarets and a series of domes and half domes. It was constructed during the reign of the Ottoman ruler Ahmed I between 1609 and 1616. In addition to the exciting domes, the mosque also has high ceilings featuring 20,000 blue Iznik tiles. The tiles have trees and flowers of differing patterns.

Ubudiah-kuala Kangsar, Malaysia

It prides itself of four minarets and a golden dome that was designed by a British architect, Arthur Benison Huback. Huback created the worship center at the command of Sultan Idris Mushidul Azam Shah who had vowed to construct a beautiful mosque as a thanksgiving after recovering from an illness.

Conclusion

These are some of the most beautiful mosques in the world. In the event you are visiting a city with one of the above-mentioned mosques, don’t hesitate to visit it and take in the spectacular beauty.

What is a Vulnerability Assessment & Why Do I Need One?

Vulnerability Assessments are intended to be instruments that identify real risks with some type of reliable, objective process leading to the targeted dedication of resources toward the protection of critical assets. More specifically, these are assets, which if degraded or destroyed would effectively halt operations for an extended period of time – or worse yet – altogether.

There is one large problem. There are so many versions of these types of assessments that it can become overwhelming and confusing to the consumer. Let’s take a look at what is out there.

Traditional Risk Vulnerability Assessment

Historically, Risk Vulnerability Assessments have tended to examine only structural elements, such as buildings, facilities and infrastructure. Engineering analyses of the built environment would effectively determine the following:
• The vulnerability of structures based on the building type.
• The construction materials.
• The foundation type and elevation.
• The location within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).
• The wind load capacity, and other factors.

Today, Risk Vulnerability Assessments are performed for a variety of people, property, and resources. The following are typical components, or styles you might find in a Risk Vulnerability Assessment.

Critical Facilities Analyses
Critical facilities analyses focus on determining the vulnerabilities of key individual facilities, lifelines, or resources within the community. Because these facilities play a central role in disaster response and recovery, it is important to protect them to ensure that service interruption is reduced or eliminated. Critical facilities include police, fire, and rescue departments; emergency operation centers; transportation routes; utilities; essential governmental facilities; schools; hospitals; etc. In addition to identifying which critical facilities are generally vulnerable to hazards due to direct location in or close proximity to high-risk areas (e.g., 100-year flood plain), further assessments might be conducted to determine the structural and operational vulnerabilities.

Built Environment Analyses
Built environment analyses focus on determining the vulnerabilities of noncritical structures and facilities. The built environment includes a variety of structures such as businesses, single- and multi-family homes, and other man-made facilities. The built environment is susceptible to damage and/or destruction of the structures themselves, as well as damage or loss of contents (i.e., personal possessions and inventory of goods). When structures become inhabitable and people are forced to relocate from their homes and businesses, further social, emotional, and financial vulnerabilities can result. As such, assessments can indicate where to concentrate outreach to homeowners and collaboration with businesses to incorporate hazard mitigation measures.

Societal Analyses
Societal analyses focus on determining the vulnerability of people of different ages, income levels, ethnicity, capabilities, and experiences to a hazard or group of hazards. Vulnerable populations are typically those who are minorities, below poverty level, over age 65, single parents with children, age 25 years and older without a high school diploma, households that require public assistance, renters, and housing units without vehicles, to name a few. The term “special consideration areas” indicate areas where populations reside whose personal resources or characteristics are such that their ability to deal with hazards is limited. For example, these areas generally contain higher concentrations of low-to-moderate-income households that would be most likely to require public assistance and services to recover from disaster impacts. Structures in these areas are more likely to be uninsured or under-insured for hazard damages, and persons may have limited financial resources for pursuing individual hazard mitigation options. These are also areas where other considerations such as mobility, literacy, or language can significantly impact disaster recovery efforts. These areas could be most dependent on public resources after a disaster and thus could be good investment areas for hazard mitigation activities.

Environmental Analyses
Environmental analyses focus on determining the vulnerability of natural resources (e.g., include bodies of waters, prairies, slopes of hills, endangered or threatened species and their critical habitats, wetlands, and estuaries) to natural hazards and other hazards that result from the impact of natural hazards, such as oil spills or the release of pesticides, hazardous materials, or sewage into areas of environmental concern. Environmental impacts are important to consider, because they not only jeopardize habitats and species, but they can also threaten public health (e.g., water quality), the performance of economic sectors (e.g., agriculture, energy, fishing, transportation, and tourism), and quality of life (e.g., access to natural landscapes and recreational activities). For example, flooding can result in contamination whereby raw sewage, animal carcasses, chemicals, pesticides, hazardous materials, etc. are transported through sensitive habitats, neighborhoods, and businesses. These circumstances can result in major cleanup and remediation activities, as well as natural resource degradation and bacterial illnesses.

Economic Analyses
Economic analyses focus on determining the vulnerability of major economic sectors and the largest employers within a community. Economic sectors can include agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation, wholesale, retail, service, finance, insurance, and real estate industries. Economic centers are areas where hazard impacts could have large, adverse effects on the local economy and would therefore be ideal locations for targeting certain hazard mitigation strategies.

Assessments of the largest employers can help indicate how many people and what types of industries could be impacted by adverse impacts from natural hazards. Some of the most devastating disaster costs to a community include the loss of income associated with business interruptions and the loss of jobs associated with business closures.

The primary problem with the traditional Risk Vulnerability Assessments approach of evaluating “everything” is the time and cost factors. This type of assessment, albeit thorough, it very time consuming and expensive.

Risk Assessment
“Risk Assessment” is the determination of quantitative and/or qualitative value of risk related to a concrete situation and a recognized, perceived or potential threat. This term today is most often associated with risk management.

Example: The Environmental Protection Agency uses risk assessment to characterize the nature and magnitude of health risks to humans (e.g., residents, workers, and recreational visitors) and ecological receptors (e.g., birds, fish, wildlife) from chemical contaminants and other stresses that may be present in the environment. Risk managers use this information to help them decide how to protect humans and the environment from stresses or contaminants.

Risk Management
“Risk Management” is a structured approach to managing uncertainty related to a threat, a sequence of human activities including: risk assessment, strategies development to manage it, and mitigation of risk using managerial resources. The strategies include transferring the risk to another party, avoiding the risk, reducing the negative effect of the risk, and accepting some or all of the consequences of a particular risk. Some traditional risk managements are focused on risks stemming from physical or legal causes (e.g. natural disasters or fires, accidents, ergonomics, death and lawsuits). Financial risk management, on the other hand, focuses on risks that can be managed using traded financial instruments. The objective of risk management is to reduce different risks related to a preselected domain to the level accepted by society. It may refer to numerous types of threats caused by environment, technology, humans, organizations and politics. On the other hand it involves all means available for humans, or in particular, for a risk management entity (person, staff, and organization).

ASIS International
(ASIS) is the largest organization for security professionals, with more than 36,000 members worldwide. Founded in 1955, ASIS is dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and productivity of security professionals by developing educational programs and materials that address broad security interests. The ASIS International Guidelines Commission recommended approach and framework for conducting General Security Risk Assessments:

1. Understand the organization and identify the people and assets at risk. Assets include people, all types of property, core business, networks, and information. People include employees, tenants, guests, vendors, visitors, and others directly or indirectly connected or involved with an enterprise. Property includes tangible assets such as cash and other valuables and intangible assets such as intellectual property and causes of action. Core business includes the primary business or endeavor of an enterprise, including its reputation and goodwill. Networks include all systems, infrastructures, and equipment associated with data, telecommunications, and computer processing assets. Information includes various types of proprietary data.

2. Specify loss risk events/vulnerabilities. Risks or threats are those incidents likely to occur at a site, either due to a history of such events or circumstances in the local environment. They also can be based on the intrinsic value of assets housed or present at a facility or event. A loss risk event can be determined through a vulnerability analysis. The vulnerability analysis should take into consideration anything that could be taken advantage of to carry out a threat. This process should highlight points of weakness and assist in the construction of a framework for subsequent analysis and countermeasures.

3. Establish the probability of loss risk and frequency of events. Frequency of events relates to the regularity of the loss event. For example, if the threat is the assault of patrons at a shopping mall, the frequency would be the number of times the event occurs each day that the mall is open. Probability of loss risk is a concept based upon considerations of such issues as prior incidents, trends, warnings, or threats, and such events occurring at the enterprise.

4. Determine the impact of the events. The financial, psychological, and related costs associated with the loss of tangible or intangible assets of an organization.

5. Develop options to mitigate risks. Identify options available to prevent or mitigate losses through physical, procedural, logical, or related security processes.

6. Study the feasibility of implementation of options. Practicality of implementing the options without substantially interfering with the operation or profitability of the enterprise.

7. Perform a cost/benefit analysis.

Do You Need A Vulnerability Assessment?

There are approximately 30,000 incorporated cities in the United States.

Terrorism
The 2005 edition of Country Reports on Terrorism recorded a total of 11,153 terrorist incidents worldwide. A total of 74,217 civilians became victims of terrorists in that year, including 14,618 fatalities. The annual report to Congress includes analysis from the National Counter-terrorism Center, a U.S. intelligence clearinghouse, which found only a slight increase in the overall number of civilians killed, injured or kidnapped by terrorists in 2006. But the attacks were more frequent and deadlier, with a 25 percent jump in the number of terrorist attacks and a 40 percent increase in civilian fatalities from the previous year. In 2006, NCTC reported, there were a total of 14,338 terrorist attacks around the world. These attacks targeted 74,543 civilians and resulted in 20,498 deaths.

It is relatively easy to disrupt major delivery systems of services in major cities through simple acts of sabotage. When that actually happens, there is likely to be a shutdown of transportation routes and delivery of basic services, including communications, food, water and gasoline. How long will it be before there is widespread panic, chaos and public unrest?

Natural Disasters
The economic and death toll from natural disasters are on the rise. It is arguable as to whether we are experiencing more natural disasters than decades ago. It is more likely whatever increases have been noted are due to more people living in more areas, and better equipment and methods of detection. Between 1975 and 1996, natural disasters worldwide cost 3 million lives and affected at least 800 million others. In the United States, damage caused by natural hazards costs close to one billion dollars per week.

Remember the California earthquakes? Public safety officials along with citizens did an outstanding job responding to the destruction. Lives were saved. Contrast that to hurricane Katrina, in which public safety officials and emergency response teams were basically frozen and ineffective.

The Katrina disaster was due to several factors; poor planning throughout the years, the nature of the event, poor coordination between agencies. Katrina serves to reinforce the misguided belief of safety through the federal or state government only. Individual communities must be prepared. Now imagine for a moment that there was appropriate emergency planning for New Orleans being under water in the event those levees broke down and flooded for whatever reason. It should have looked something like this:

*If the levees did break, vehicles would be inoperable, and people would be stranded. This leaves boats and helicopters as the rationale alternatives to disseminate emergency supplies and to provide rescue efforts.
*An emergency shelter (the dome) is designated as such, and food and water stockpiles are within quick logistical reach.
*Emergency personnel are given response stations and locations.
*Police, fire and state resources are coordinated with several types of contingency plans using many scenarios.
*Coordination with federal officials is a crap-shoot for any state; take it if you can get it but don’t count on it.
*With Katrina everyone is quick to point the finger at the federal government. Granted, the response was terrible, but what had the state and local government done to plan for what seemed to be inevitable? Had individual residents considered taking personal steps to protect their families with something as simple as an inflatable raft along with some extra food and water?

Do you have identifiable assets, which if seriously degraded, compromised or destroyed, would threaten the mission of your organization? Do you have concern regarding a specific threat? An organization’s specific assets may include a person, a thing, a place, or a procedure.

Examples include:
• A person being stalked or that has received specific threats.
• A municipality that desires security plans for critical assets.
• A corporation whose vision and mission may be compromised by vulnerabilities to their critical assets.
• An agency or corporation that has a person of such value that if he or she were kidnapped or attacked the agency or corporation would suffer serious setback.
• A gated community desiring an effective screening process for anyone who enters or an effective neighborhood response to an emergency.
• The physical location of documents or critical information that, if stolen or destroyed, would throw the organization into chaos.
• An institution that has a significant history of problem employees who have caused damage and as a result that institution may be interested in methods of effectively screening potential employees.
• An organization that, because of its geopolitical presence in the world or demographic location of its facility, desires basic safety measures at its location and safety awareness tactics for its employees.
• A corporation or agency that is exposed to a greater risk of violence due to present geo-political circumstances, such as media outlets, churches, financial institutions, and major events involved in capitalism, free speech, or religion.
• Public events that require a security plan.
• An entity that desires an office emergency plan.

Corporate Liability
There are OSHA guidelines regarding Violence in the Workplace that are generally unenforceable. However, when it comes to personal safety, any corporate entity can be held liable for not addressing worker safety concerns.

Negligence is defined as a party’s failure to exercise the prudence and care that a reasonable person would exercise in similar circumstances to prevent injury to another party. Generally, the plaintiff in these cases must prove the following in order to be awarded restitution, compensation or reparations for their losses:
• That the defendant had a duty of care;
• That the defendant failed to uphold this duty;
• That this negligence led to the plaintiff’s injury or death;
• The actual damages that were caused by the injury.

Gross negligence is usually understood to involve an act or omission in reckless disregard of the consequences affecting the life or property of another. For example, several employees of a company have formally complained to management about being approached by strangers in the parking ramp. No one takes any proactive action. Eventually, an employee of the company is sexually assaulted in the parking ramp. Is the company liable?

Critical Infrastructure
Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7 previously identified 17 critical infrastructure and key resource sectors that require protective actions to prepare for and mitigate against a terrorist attack or other hazards.

The sectors are:
• agriculture and food
• banking and finance
• chemical
• commercial facilities
• commercial nuclear reactors – including materials and waste
• dams
• defense industrial base
• drinking water and water treatment systems
• emergency services
• energy
• government facilities
• information technology
• national monuments and icons
• postal and shipping
• public health and health-care
• telecommunications
• transportation systems including mass transit, aviation, maritime, ground or surface, rail or pipeline systems

85% of all critical infrastructures are owned and operated by the private sector. The U.S. economy is the primary target of terrorism, accessed through these infrastructures, including cyber-security.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 7,000 facilities, from chemical plants to colleges, have been designated “high-risk” sites for potential terrorist attacks. The facilities include chemical plants, hospitals, colleges and universities, oil and natural gas production and storage sites, and food and agricultural processing and distribution centers. The department compiled the list after reviewing information submitted by 32,000 facilities nationwide. It considered factors such as proximity to population centers, the volatility of chemicals on site and how the chemicals are stored and handled. Experts long have worried that terrorists could attack chemical facilities near large cities, in essence turning them into large bombs. Experts say it is a hallmark of Al Qaeda, in particular, to leverage a target nation’s technological or industrial strength against it, as terrorists did in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The greater use of computer systems to monitor and control the U.S. water supply has increased the importance of cyber-security to protect the country’s utilities, a top official for a large water company said recently. “There are new vulnerabilities and threats every day of the week,” said the security director for American Water, one of the country’s largest water service companies. “The technology has advanced, along with the threat’s access.” The industrial water control systems and other utility companies use common technology platforms such as Microsoft Windows, which leaves them vulnerable to attacks from hackers or enemy states seeking to disrupt the country’s water supply. In addition, a major natural disaster such as a hurricane could shut down servers, forcing a disruption in the supply of water and waste-water services. Most of the nation’s water supply infrastructure is privately owned so the U.S. Homeland Security Department must work with industry as well as state and local agencies to help protect critical infrastructure.

Owners of our nation’s critical infrastructure are told to protect everything all the time. This approach is flawed for two reasons. First, there is no effective value proposition for investing in security. Asking a CEO to protect everything all the time is not reasonable, especially in the absence of any consistent or actionable intelligence. Second, there is no definitive consensus in the private sector of the level of risk.

The Benefits of a Vulnerability Assessment
• Identification of Critical Assets.
• Identification of Real-Risk.
• Risk Mitigation Planning.
• Emergency Planning.
• Reduced Liability.
• Reduced Insurance Rates.
• Protection of Critical Assets.
• Peace of Mind.

The Assault Prevention Vulnerability Assessment
We have dedicated several years to developing a strategic formula that had to accomplish two things:

1. It would incorporate the recommended approach and framework agreed upon by experts.
2. It would establish an approach and method of filtering through all the versions of assessments as defined above, with a formula that would consider the key principles in each version.

ICT Modernization Planning

The current technology refresh cycle presents many opportunities, and challenges to both organizations and governments. The potential of service-oriented architectures, interoperability, collaboration, and continuity of operations is an attractive outcome of technologies and business models available today. The challenges are more related to business processes and human factors, both of which require organizational transformations to take best advantage of the collaborative environments enabled through use of cloud computing and access to broadband communications.

Gaining the most benefit from planning an interoperable environment for governments and organizations may be facilitated through use of business tools such as cloud computing. Cloud computing and underlying technologies may create an operational environment supporting many strategic objectives being considered within government and private sector organizations.

Reaching target architectures and capabilities is not a single action, and will require a clear understanding of current “as-is” baseline capabilities, target requirements, the gaps or capabilities need to reach the target, and establishing a clear transitional plan to bring the organization from a starting “as-is” baseline to the target goal.

To most effectively reach that goal requires an understanding of the various contributing components within the transformational ecosystem. In addition, planners must keep in mind the goal is not implementation of technologies, but rather consideration of technologies as needed to facilitate business and operations process visions and goals.

Interoperability and Enterprise Architecture

Information technology, particularly communications-enabled technology has enhanced business process, education, and the quality of life for millions around the world. However, traditionally ICT has created silos of information which is rarely integrated or interoperable with other data systems or sources.

As the science of enterprise architecture development and modeling, service-oriented architectures, and interoperability frameworks continue to force the issue of data integration and reuse, ICT developers are looking to reinforce open standards allowing publication of external interfaces and application programming interfaces.

Cloud computing, a rapidly maturing framework for virtualization, standardized data, application, and interface structure technologies, offers a wealth of tools to support development of both integrated and interoperable ICT resources within organizations, as well as among their trading, shared, or collaborative workflow community.

The Institute for Enterprise Architecture Development defines enterprise architecture (EA) as a “complete expression of the enterprise; a master plan which acts as a collaboration force between aspects of business planning such as goals, visions, strategies and governance principles; aspects of business operations such as business terms, organization structures, processes and data; aspects of automation such as information systems and databases; and the enabling technological infrastructure of the business such as computers, operating systems and networks”

ICT, including utilities such as cloud computing, should focus on supporting the holistic objectives of organizations implementing an EA. Non-interoperable or shared data will generally have less value than reusable data, and will greatly increase systems reliability and data integrity.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR)

Recent surveys of governments around the world indicate in most cases limited or no disaster management or continuity of operations planning. The risk of losing critical national data resources due to natural or man-made disasters is high, and the ability for most governments maintain government and citizen services during a disaster is limited based on the amount of time (recovery time objective/RTO) required to restart government services, as well as the point of data restoral (recovery point objective /RPO).

In existing ICT environments, particularly those with organizational and data resource silos, RTOs and RPOs can be extended to near indefinite if both a data backup plan, as well as systems and service restoral resource capacity is not present. This is particularly acute if the processing environment includes legacy mainframe computer applications which do not have a mirrored recovery capacity available upon failure or loss of service due to disaster.

Cloud computing can provide a standards-based environment that fully supports near zero RTO/RPO requirements. With the current limitation of cloud computing being based on Intel-compatible architectures, nearly any existing application or data source can be migrated into a virtual resource pool. Once within the cloud computing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) environment, setting up distributed processing or backup capacity is relatively uncomplicated, assuming the environment has adequate broadband access to the end user and between processing facilities.

Cloud computing-enabled BCDR also opens opportunities for developing either PPPs, or considering the potential of outsourcing into public or commercially operated cloud computing compute, storage, and communications infrastructure. Again, the main limitation being the requirement for portability between systems.

Transformation Readiness

ICT modernization will drive change within all organizations. Transformational readiness is not a matter of technology, but a combination of factors including rapidly changing business models, the need for many-to-many real-time communications, flattening of organizational structures, and the continued entry of technology and communications savvy employees into the workforce.

The potential of outsourcing utility compute, storage, application, and communications will eliminate the need for much physical infrastructure, such as redundant or obsolete data centers and server closets. Roles will change based on the expected shift from physical data centers and ICT support hardware to virtual models based on subscriptions and catalogs of reusable application and process artifacts.

A business model for accomplishing ICT modernization includes cloud computing, which relies on technologies such as server and storage resource virtualization, adding operational characteristics including on-demand resource provisioning to reduce the time needed to procure ICT resources needed to respond to emerging operational or other business opportunities.

IT management and service operations move from a workstation environment to a user interface driven by SaaS. The skills needed to drive ICT within the organization will need to change, becoming closer to the business, while reducing the need to manage complex individual workstations.

IT organizations will need to change, as organizations may elect to outsource most or all of their underlying physical data center resources to a cloud service provider, either in a public or private environment. This could eliminate the need for some positions, while driving new staffing requirements in skills related to cloud resource provisioning, management, and development.

Business unit managers may be able to take advantage of other aspects of cloud computing, including access to on-demand compute, storage, and applications development resources. This may increase their ability to quickly respond to rapidly changing market conditions and other emerging opportunities. Business unit managers, product developers, and sales teams will need to become familiar with their new ICT support tools. All positions from project managers to sales support will need to quickly acquire skills necessary to take advantage of these new tools.

The Role of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a business representation of a large number of underlying technologies. Including virtualization, development environment, and hosted applications, cloud computing provides a framework for developing standardized service models, deployment models, and service delivery characteristics.

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides a definition of cloud computing accepted throughout the ICT industry.

“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.”

While organizations face decisions related to implementing challenges related to developing enterprise architectures and interoperability, cloud computing continues to rapidly develop as an environment with a rich set of compute, communication, development, standardization, and collaboration tools needed to meet organizational objectives.

Data security, including privacy, is different within a cloud computing environment, as the potential for data sharing is expanded among both internal and potentially external agencies. Security concerns are expanded when questions of infrastructure multi-tenancy, network access to hosted applications (Software as a Service / SaaS), and governance of authentication and authorization raise questions on end user trust of the cloud provider.

A move to cloud computing is often associated with data center consolidation initiatives within both governments and large organizations. Cloud delivery models, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) support the development of virtual data centers.

While it is clear long term target architectures for most organizations will be an environment with a single data system, in the short term it may be more important to decommission high risk server closets and unmanaged servers into a centralized, well-managed data center environment offering on-demand access to compute, storage, and network resources – as well as BCDR options.

Even at the most basic level of considering IaaS and PaaS as a replacement environment to physical infrastructure, the benefits to the organization may become quickly apparent. If the organization establishes a “cloud first” policy to force consolidation of inefficient or high risk ICT resources, and that environment further aligns the organization through the use of standardized IT components, the ultimate goal of reaching interoperability or some level of data integration will become much easier, and in fact a natural evolution.

Nearly all major ICT-related hardware and software companies are re-engineering their product development to either drive cloud computing, or be cloud-aware. Microsoft has released their Office 365 suite of online and hosted environments, as has Google with both PaaS and SaaS tools such as the Google Apps Engine and Google Docs.

The benefits of organizations considering a move to hosted environments, such as MS 365, are based on access to a rich set of applications and resources available on-demand, using a subscription model – rather than licensing model, offering a high level of standardization to developers and applications.

Users comfortable with standard office automation and productivity tools will find the same features in a SaaS environment, while still being relieved of individual software license costs, application maintenance, or potential loss of resources due to equipment failure or theft. Hosted applications also allow a persistent state, collaborative real-time environment for multi-users requiring access to documents or projects. Document management and single source data available for reuse by applications and other users, reporting, and performance management becomes routine, reducing the potential and threat of data corruption.

The shortfalls, particularly for governments, is that using a large commercial cloud infrastructure and service provider such as Microsoft may require physically storing data in location outside of their home country, as well as forcing data into a multi-tenant environment which may not meet security requirements for organizations.

Cloud computing offers an additional major feature at the SaaS level that will benefit nearly all organizations transitioning to a mobile workforce. SaaS by definition is platform independent. Users access SaaS applications and underlying data via any device offering a network connection, and allowing access to an Internet-connected address through a browser. The actual intelligence in an application is at the server or virtual server, and the user device is simply a dumb terminal displaying a portal, access point, or the results of a query or application executed through a command at the user screen.

Cloud computing continues to develop as a framework and toolset for meeting business objectives. Cloud computing is well-suited to respond to rapidly changing business and organizational needs, as the characteristics of on-demand access to infrastructure resources, rapid elasticity, or the ability to provision and de-provision resources as needed to meet processing and storage demand, and organization’s ability to measure cloud computing resource use for internal and external accounting mark a major change in how an organization budgets ICT.

As cloud computing matures, each organization entering a technology refresh cycle must ask the question “are we in the technology business, or should we concentrate our efforts and budget in efforts directly supporting realizing objectives?” If the answer is the latter, then any organization should evaluate outsourcing their ICT infrastructure to an internal or commercial cloud service provider.

It should be noted that today most cloud computing IaaS service platforms will not support migration of mainframe applications, such as those written for a RISC processor. Those application require redevelopment to operate within an Intel-compatible processing environment.

Broadband Factor

Cloud computing components are currently implemented over an Internet Protocol network. Users accessing SaaS application will need to have network access to connect with applications and data. Depending on the amount of graphics information transmitted from the host to an individual user access terminal, poor bandwidth or lack of broadband could result in an unsatisfactory experience.

In addition, BCDR requires the transfer of potentially large amounts of data between primary and backup locations. Depending on the data parsing plan, whether mirroring data, partial backups, full backups, or live load balancing, data transfer between sites could be restricted if sufficient bandwidth is not available between sites.

Cloud computing is dependent on broadband as a means of connecting users to resources, and data transfer between sites. Any organization considering implementing cloud computing outside of an organization local area network will need to fully understand what shortfalls or limitations may result in the cloud implementation not meeting objectives.

The Service-Oriented Cloud Computing Infrastructure (SOCCI)

Governments and other organizations are entering a technology refresh cycle based on existing ICT hardware and software infrastructure hitting the end of life. In addition, as the world aggressively continues to break down national and technical borders, the need for organizations to reconsider the creation, use, and management of data supporting both mission critical business processes, as well as decision support systems will drive change.

Given the clear direction industry is taking to embrace cloud computing services, as well as the awareness existing siloed data structures within many organizations would better serve the organization in a service-oriented framework, it makes sense to consider an integrated approach.

A SOCCI considers both, adding reference models and frameworks which will also add enterprise architecture models such as TOGAF to ultimately provide a broad, mature framework to support business managers and IT managers in their technology and business refresh planning process.

SOCCIs promote the use of architectural building blocks, publication of external interfaces for each application or data source developed, single source data, reuse of data and standardized application building block, as well as development and use of enterprise service buses to promote further integration and interoperability of data.

A SOCCI will look at elements of cloud computing, such as virtualized and on-demand compute/storage resources, and access to broadband communications – including security, encryption, switching, routing, and access as a utility. The utility is always available to the organization for use and exploitation. Higher level cloud components including PaaS and SaaS add value, in addition to higher level entry points to develop the ICT tools needed to meet the overall enterprise architecture and service-orientation needed to meet organizational needs.

According to the Open Group a SOCCI framework provides the foundation for connecting a service-oriented infrastructure with the utility of cloud computing. As enterprise architecture and interoperability frameworks continue to gain in value and importance to organizations, this framework will provide additional leverage to make best use of available ICT tools.

The Bottom Line on ICT Modernization

The Internet Has reached nearly every point in the world, providing a global community functioning within an always available, real-time communications infrastructure. University and primary school graduates are entering the workforce with social media, SaaS, collaboration, and location transparent peer communities diffused in their tacit knowledge and experience.

This environment has greatly flattened any leverage formerly developed countries, or large monopoly companies have enjoyed during the past several technology and market cycles.

An organization based on non-interoperable or standardized data, and no BCDR protection will certainly risk losing a competitive edge in a world being created by technology and data aware challengers.

Given the urgency organizations face to address data security, continuity of operations, agility to respond to market conditions, and operational costs associated with traditional ICT infrastructure, many are looking to emerging technology frameworks such as cloud computing to provide a model for planning solutions to those challenges.

Cloud computing and enterprise architecture frameworks provide guidance and a set of tools to assist organizations in providing structure, and infrastructure needed to accomplish ICT modernization objectives.

Plugging the Hole in Your Soul

Just where did we go wrong?

According to Genesis, the Book of the Old Testament, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in His own image…” Consensus belief is that God is almighty, powerful, loving, glorious, all-knowing, and perfect. If God is perfect and He created man in His image, then it should logically follow that man himself is perfect. Yet I know of no one who even remotely exhibits or emulates these virtues.

Looking at the word “perfect” from another angle, however, sheds a different light on it: “perfect” here is not defined as “flawless” and “incapable of making a mistake,” but instead as “whole,” “complete,” “totality of soul,” and “independent of external others or other things for existence, beingness, happiness, and fulfillment.” Again, who feels like this? Instead, the planet seems to be populated by people who often exhibit the diametric opposite of these qualities.

But “whole” and “complete” refer to the soul or spirit which dwells in the body, and not the body itself. The former emanates from a formless, invisible, eternal realm devoid of matter, energy, space, or time, and is therefore infinite. The physical body, on the other hand, is the opposite of it, subjected to flaws, errors, deterioration, and failure, and is therefore finite. The human condition is, by definition, a state of imperfection.

It is the former, independent of the latter, which is so complete that it can be considered “whole,” “perfect,” and “fulfilled.” But, again, I have yet to encounter anyone who is so euphorically complete that he does not need anything.

Although people usually pursue soul-plugging paths by attempting to fill their voids with cars, houses, boats, jewels, money, and any other number of material possessions, the desired result always seems unattainable and they end up doing little more imitating the dog-chasing-its-tail trap: the more they try, the less it resolves the problem, causing them to try even harder. The hole only deepens, and the process is an effective illustration of one of insanity’s very definitions of “doing the same thing every time, but expecting a different result.” The attempt only demonstrates the fact that most of us no longer even know what the soul is and usually confuse it with the ego.

The ego itself is the artificial, temporary, and fleeting opposite of your core whose easily-shatterable foundation consists of aspects such as your title, profession, accomplishments, possessions, and wealth. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with being proud of your achievements, when they serve to define your very “self” or “soul,” they create a false sense of who you really are, as illustrated by the statement which proclaims, “If you equate who you are with what you do, then when you don’t, you aren’t.” How can something you truly are be fleeting, as if it had stipulations or an expiration date attached to it?

Similarly, if your soul’s worth is equal to your monetary worth, would you then dissolve into nothingness if you suddenly lost all your money? For those who really prescribe to this correlation, they practically do. The larger the ego you create (and only you create it), the more you believe that it is the real you and the less you are able to identify your true core. This results in a disconnection from God/Source.

But if your soul were so autonomously created that it did not need anything external to it to be or become “complete,” then where did this hole come from in the first place and can any of these “externals” actually fill it? Let us discuss the situation.

Suppose I had been sipping water from a glass and realized that it had now been only two-thirds full. Suppose I had then asked you to refill it, but, when you had returned with it, it appeared to be at the same level. I probably would have said something like, “I don’t understand. You said you would fill it back up, but it’s still a third empty.”

Defending your attempt, you would most likely have responded, “Well, I tried!”

And I would have countered, “Tried? What do you mean you ‘tried?'”

And finally you would have explained, “I tried to fill it up. I put in sugar and flour, but it just didn’t rise to the top of the glass.”

Perplexed, I would have blurted, “Sugar and flour! There’s water in the glass and if you want to fill it up, you have to put in more water, not sugar and flour. You have to put in the same substance; otherwise, it will never fill up!”

That missing water could be equated to the hole in your soul, and trying to fill it with a material possession, such as a diamond bracelet, is analogous to attempting to fill the water glass with sugar or flour. They are different substances.

While it is apparent what caused the water reduction, it is not so obvious what caused the void in your soul. But if we could pinpoint its cause(s), it could be restored to its “whole,” “complete,” and “perfect” state. The question, however, is what had caused it?

The only logical method of determination seems to entail the retracing of your life’s steps in order to ascertain where you had made the “wrong turn(s).” After all, if I had invited you to my home one evening and instructed you to take the Expressway, get off at Exit 44, and then make a right at the first traffic light, you would easily find it if you had not deviated from the given route. If, on the other hand, you had failed to arrive and had telephoned me to report your lost status, you would only need to retrace the path you had just taken to determine where it had deviated from the correct one. Similarly, a retracing of your own life path would reveal where you had made the wrong turn(s).

In order to fully comprehend these “wrong turns,” it is crucial for you to realize and discern what you intrinsically know, but which most people have somehow seemed to forget-namely, that a person is comprised of two parts, his or her body and the soul housed by it. That error alone actually constitutes the first “wrong turn.” The soul itself is the life force, the “infused spirit,” breathed into everyone, and the command center behind every living, physical form, which permits integration with and negotiation of the physical world, but of which the soul otherwise shares no commonalities. Jesus succinctly expressed this when He had said, “You are in this world, not of it.” This separation between the two must therefore be continually acknowledged and understood; otherwise, the forthcoming discussion will have no value for you.

Five causes can be cited for this planetary-ubiquitous, crater-size hole in people’s souls.

The first, as just stated, is the loss of distinction between the two physical and eternal entities, the body and the soul. This error occurs before you even back out of the driveway and leads to all others.

The second is a progressive disconnection from reality and beingness. We were all created by the same Source and therefore all belong to the same whole. This fact and its related state were simplistically expressed by Jesus when he said, “I am.” These two worlds imply that there had been no beginning and there will be no ending-only continual, eternal beingness. The only applicable and accurate verb tense is the present one. This subtle disconnection begins with something equally as subtle: unreturned acknowledgment and communication. Your verbalizations project energy toward the whole, but when someone either fails to acknowledge or respond to them, it results in a disconnection from it. Try asking someone something and then examine your disconnected, empty feeling when he or she fails to respond, maintaining silence. You feel as if you do not exist, as if a gap between you and the whole had just been created. It was.

The third “wrong turn” can be labeled “untruth.” There are many degrees of “untruth”-from the incorrect information, knowledge, or direction given to you by well-meaning people who themselves were subjected to receiving it, located on one end of the spectrum, to the out-and-out deceit and lies on the other. Why does this create a hole in your soul? The soul’s intrinsic properties, like boundless beingness, are, again, those of your Creator. (He created you in His image.) Any deviation from them results in a subtle disconnection. Untruth, the opposite of truth, repels Him.

The “truth” accepted by and downloaded into the brain often disagrees with that intrinsically known by the soul, yet by sheer, early-year awareness of the brain mechanism, such as when you were only a few months to a few years old, you became associated with it, no longer relying on Source-connected knowledge, but instead drawing upon life path-amassed and accepted data. It may aid negotiation of the temporary physical world, but does nothing to increase understanding of the eternal one. That information is only stored in the soul.

Untruth, therefore, is the opposite of God, and only serves to disconnect you from Him by means of the attraction-repulsion dichotomy. As a creation and expression of your Source, do you yourself attract people who are like you in your life and generally repel those who are not? Why do you have the friends that you do, and why are your enemies not among them?

The first four causes of the hole in your soul can be explained as futile attempts to adopt God-opposite qualities. How can you perceive and feel one with someone whom you no longer emulate? The fifth cause is more extreme: conversion.

What is conversion? It can best be illustrated by its results. When I have coached people whom I know have reached very low levels in their lives and have resorted to drugs, lies, and whatever other Source-opposite methods they perceive as “remedies” to their internal unfulfillment, I often ask them if they believe in God in order to gauge their degree of conversion, and they invariably answer, “Well, I used to. But He’s not there any more.” Or, worse, “There is no God!”

As we have already seen, any God-opposite qualities automatically repel Him, causing you to disconnect and resulting in that void or hole in your soul where and when the disconnection occurred. But conversion is even more extreme. God and your soul, Creator and created, have, as you recall, no physical properties, such as matter, energy, space, or time. Resultantly, there is no “where” to where He could go. But people will nevertheless swear that He no longer exists.

Then where in the world does He go? The question may have greater benefit if it were rephrased to, “Where did you go?”

Conversion is the result of a little-known or understood part of the mind. Although you may feel that it is a computer-comparable mechanism which stores and processes data and enables you to pose solutions to the myriad of life’s problems and obstacles, you would only be half-correct. This part, which engages in this method of analytical thought, is appropriately named the “analytical mind.” But there is a counterpart to it, and it is called the “reactive mind.”

You may well believe that you have moved past your episodes of physical pain and negative emotion, but their related energy is only stored and “lies dormant:” in this area of the mind. Time may theoretically “heal all,” but the reality is that it depends upon what you do with that time to effectuate the healing. Unless, and in fact, you fully and emotionally dealt with these life turmoils and traumas as they occurred, they silently “wait in the wings,” possessing full, original power, to recreate themselves in your head when presented with similar or identical incidents in present time, as if no time between the original episode and the current one had passed at all. Tightening their grip on your soul, they control you, initiating the same reaction you had had the first time, converting life force into needed energy source in order to exert their effects, diminishing your soul’s intrinsic freedom and capacity, and creating another link in the chain of similar or identical first incident recreations. The more links on the chain, the more powerful they become to grip and convert you, fully transforming your nonphysical soul into physical properties, until you believe that your soul is physical, and not eternal, in a matter-antimatter type of correlation. Even when you are mildly tired, feeling attenuated and somehow “not quite there,” you can skirt the edges of this conversion, as if you were entering an alter-reality. When you are inebriated or ill and the room seems to spin about you, you are sinking deeper into this converted state.

This mechanism renders the soul the diametric opposite-from leader to follower, from creator to destroyer, from commander to observer-and, in its extreme, reduces one to helplessly “act out” the original reaction, powerless, as if he were sinking in quick sand, unable to exert any effect at the moment of re-ignition. It controls, as if it had a life of its own: it does, and your converted soul is the energy source it harnesses, causing you to act out in ways you do not even wish to. Like a broken record, it replays exactly the same scenario with every encountered incident. In its most extreme, it can cause the brain to compartmentalize itself, producing two or more personalities, like a Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde, and by means of the erected wall, one is unable to contact the other.

The purpose of this reactive mind mechanism is to steer you away from perceived danger, based upon what it experienced the first time, and hence it causes you to react exactly the way you had during its first creation, gripping your life force like a clenched fist in order to propel you away from it. It may have had value during the cave man era, but with humans’ ever-increasing intelligence and knowledge, it has exceeded its time and purpose.

And therein lies the dilemma. The answer to “Where did God go?” is the same answer to “Where did you go?” He went no where, but you did. You (your soul) became so converted, that you no longer felt or detected Him, since its intrinsic, God-like properties misaligned with Him. Hence, you repelled rather than attracted what now seemed to be your opposite.

Remember, you can only feel and connect with Him when you exude His qualities. (He created you, so who else could you be like?) But in the case of the reactive mind-caused conversion, you no longer feel His presence and your connection to Him, as if He were no longer there.

Now that we have examined the hole-creating wrong turns in your life, we can re-embark on the correct, remedial path to slowly begin to re-close them, like gradually healing wounds. However, in order for this to be effective, you must emphatically discern yourself as a separate entity, invisible and unprovable by conventional means, from the body which houses you (your soul) and allows it to negotiate and exert its effects on the physical world.

Before we journey down this corrective road, you can actually do more than just “believe” this soul-body exclusivity with a simple exercise. We have repeatedly said that the soul has no physical-universe properties, such as matter, energy, space, or time. Therefore, you can test the validity of this truth by audibly repeating to yourself, “There’s no such thing as time, there’s no such thing as time.” You (your soul) will actually begin to rise from your body and the physical world, where the concept of time does exist, to that state of timelessness, or eternity, where it does not and from where you came, where you always were, and to where you will return after this comparatively brief physical interlude. Once you have been reacquainted with this duality, you will once again realize that, when the body ceases to function and “dies,” that your soul will not go with it, but instead will separate from its earthly camouflage and return to its intrinsic, eternal state.

You may, at the moment, wonder why, if you had always existed in this state without a bonafide “beginning” as we know it here on earth, that you cannot remember it. After all, if I had asked you if you had remembered the movie you had seen last Thursday (a two-hour event), I am quite sure that you would reply in the affirmative. Yet you cannot recollect where you had been forever. The culprit is again that downloadable, computer-like brain in which you stored all your experiences, analytical thoughts, solutions, information, and data, and upon which you consistently relied throughout your life for retrieval as “memory” for personal benefit and use. The sheer fact that you had done so indicates that, probably at a very early stage in your life, that you had ceased viewing your self (soul) as separate from the body you now occupied, no longer drawing from eternal resources, in a vertical orientation, as you had before you had assumed physical form. You had neither body, mind, nor brain in that eternal state in which to “store” these memories; hence, they are not available for “retrieval” by the physically traditional method. The information is stored, but in your soul, not in your brain.

The task ahead of us lies not so much in “plugging” the soul’s hole, as if you could bandage or patch it, but instead in reversing the circumstances, decisions, and actions which opened it in the first place, allowing it to inversely close until you are once again whole. Your “whole,” however, must match that of the “whole” above and the creative Source of it all in order for it to naturally attract. Re-attract more accurately describes this dynamic. Otherwise, you would only be left with your earthly, but elusive “remedies” of repair.

The first corrective action entails an examination of your personal untruths-the “do’s,” “don’ts,” “shoulds,” “supposed to’s,” “not supposed to’s,” and misconceptions you have erroneously been told and taught to the point where they became etched in the stone of your brain, but which your life experience has indicated to the contrary-the “how come I was always told xxx, but my life experience doesn’t seem to match that?” If these personal, internalized restrictions are not bonafide laws and refusing to adhere to them will neither harm yourself nor others, then it is time to uproot them like the marring, undesired weeds in your garden. Only you can know what these falsities are. But a mismatch of beliefs and reality will provide an optimum starting point.

The next remedy is learning what the ego really is. It is not self, spirit, or soul. It is a false, fleeting, artificially stilted sense of self which you incorrectly believe and perceive to be the authentic “you.” It is supported by a tenuous, easily-shatterable foundation of “I am the manager!” “I have a million dollars!” “I have two houses!” “I am better than you!” “I am superior!”

Think back to all the toys, games, clothes, and things you received as a child, and their subsequent adult counterparts, such as automobiles, sports equipment, electronics, or whatever suited your fancy. Although they temporarily elevated your spirit above its chronic, unfulfilled state, leading you to believe that they plugged the hole in your soul, every one of those item-related “excitements” ultimately dissipated, as their “newnesses” wore off, leaving you once again to acquire the next material possession in order to achieve the next “high,” as if it were an addiction needing to be “fed.” In essence, the same principle is being applied. But this only proved an exercise of failure-bound futility. Did it ever occur to you that this method was not working, since you never truly seemed to “arrive?” Did it ever occur to you that you needed to adopt a different strategy?

You entered the physical world as force, as a boundless spirit, but with otherwise nothing (remember you were created in His image), and “from it you can take nothing.” What you are is “beingness,” your natural, intrinsic, eternal state. What you have is not. If the ego were a natural state, you would not have to “work toward” maintaining it. So diametrically opposed are soul and ego, in fact, that Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, renowned inspirational speaker, defines what the latter does by its three letters: it “edges God out.” If you continue to equate your soul with it, it will only lead you down the same self-destructive, destinationless path.

You can determine the fundamental truth of this by asking yourself the following question: when you are lying on your death bed, what will you care more about at that time-your three cars or to where you will go for your eternity? If the material things you took for your soul were eternal, you would be able to take them with you at the culmination of your physical existence.

The third corrective measure is to reconvert your soul to the free state it had always been, and this requires the re-creation of your painful and emotionally upsetting moments. However, it cannot be done alone, since any attempt to penetrate intervals and episodes of conversion will only result in greater conversion until you are virtually consumed by them–IF YOU ATTEMPT TO DO SO ALONE. The method, by necessity, must employ a trusted friend, coach, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist whose analytical mind, in combination with the remaining strength of your own, can erase the contents of your reactive one. How this is accomplished is actually quite simple.

Suppose I sat across from you and handed you a can of unopened soda, and then took an identical can and placed it in the center of the table. Suppose I then instructed you to place your can in the same location as mine, WITHOUT MOVING IT. (I do not mean near, around, close, or on top. I mean in the exact location, measurable with a micrometer.) You are likely to ponder the puzzle for a moment and then confess, “I can’t.”

There is a very good reason why you “can’t.” An object or entity can only occupy a single space and time in the universe and the only way your soda can could occupy the space and time of mine would be if you moved mine out of the way, freeing up its coordinates.

The reconversion process of therapy employs the same principle. The painful and emotionally painful incidents of your life, whether they occurred last week or 50 years ago, lie dormant, incorporating a recording of the negative energy originally generated by them and awaiting an identical or similar circumstance in which to become re-ignited, thus impelling you into identical action (reaction). But they are equally only able to occupy a single space and time, and when you purposefully recreate them-again with a qualified coach-you commence a process of desensitizing, diminishing, and ultimately erasing them, since the past incidents must, by the universe’s physical principles, “move out of the way” for the present-time recreations of them-the same way your soda can could only occupy the parameters of mine after it had been moved elsewhere. Pockets of life force, perhaps so long “held” in storage for later recreation, have, without consciousness, trapped, crippled, imprisoned, and converted you, and the process re-releases them, returning you to your natural state. You will regain strengths, abilities, and feelings you long forgot that you had had. In other words, the original incident collapses and the process is like the key which sets you free.

Although reading this may increase your understanding of these principles and the reactive mind mechanism, it is no substitute for the actual process. You must do the work, and the number of life path created incidents will increase the amount of time needed to attain erasure and release. But it is effective.

All of these methods result in the transformation of your soul, which has progressively been converted into source-opposite and -repelling properties throughout your life, back to its originally created state of boundless spirit, beingness, and love – and, by the means of natural attraction, to your Creator, refilling the proverbial glass with more of the same substance in a process which takes you from “hole” to “whole.”

I suggest that you begin now.

A graduate of Long Island University-C.W. Post Campus with a summa-cum-laude BA Degree in Comparative Languages and Journalism, I have subsequently earned the Continuing Community Education Teaching Certificate from the Nassau Association for Continuing Community Education (NACCE) at Molloy College, the Travel Career Development Certificate from the Institute of Certified Travel Agents (ICTA) at LIU, and the AAS Degree in Aerospace Technology at the State University of New York – College of Technology at Farmingdale. Having amassed almost three decades in the airline industry, I managed the New York-JFK and Washington-Dulles stations at Austrian Airlines, created the North American Station Training Program, served as an Aviation Advisor to Farmingdale State University of New York, and devised and taught the Airline Management Certificate Program at the Long Island Educational Opportunity Center.