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I have always been a great admirer of the artist John Miller. His simplistic coastal landscapes are a wonderful escape from the rigours of city life in Birmingham.But what of the subjects of his work? Were they just figments of his imagination or did these places actually exist?Since buying my first print 'Estuary', his worlds have always seemed a beautiful Utopia, scenes of unrivalled natural beauty, somewhere I wanted to be.Eventually I discovered his work portr...

In Pursuit Of Miller's Landscape

In Pursuit Of MillerI have always been a great admirer of the artist John Miller. His simplistic coastal landscapes are a wonderful escape from the rigours of city life in Birmingham.But what of the subjects of his work? Were they just figments of his imagination or did these places actually exist?Since buying my first print 'Estuary', his worlds have always seemed a beautiful Utopia, scenes of unrivalled natural beauty, somewhere I wanted to be.Eventually I discovered his work portrayed much of the coastline of St Ives Bay in Cornwall, the county of unrivalled myths and legends, and that the estuary in question was in Hayle.It wasn't long until I was making my way south along the M5 motorway in pursuit of the landscape John Miller had found so irresistible. The M5 takes you to the south of England.Picking up the A30 would take me into the far reaches of the southwest, first Devon and ultimately into Cornwall.The journey down the M5 was fairly nondescript. There's little to catch your eye as you make your way south. The motorway is simply a link to all the towns and cities along the west coast.But upon reaching Devon, the A30 takes you through beautiful English countryside. Green rolling hills frame the horizon. The land is dressed like a patchwork quilt as farmers go about their daily business harvesting the land and seeing to the many animals scattered about their fields.Driving through Cornwall was equally enjoyable, though the skyline was dominated occasionally by manmade structures.The green land and blue waters of isolated lakes were interrupted by huge wind turbines. Stood like giant white sentinels, though they may be a little sore on the eye, they are an essential piece of the jigsaw if governments are to find alterative energy sources to ease the threat of global warming.The 'Welcome to Hayle' sign was greeted with a sigh of relief having spent the past five hours on the road. I headed for the docks and parked the car.There were a dozen or so fishing boats in the harbour, many manned as fisherman prepared their vessels for a days work.I left the boats and followed the water as it led through the estuary. It snaked its way through the contours of the land.As I rounded a final bend the river met the sea and for the first time I could see where Miller had painted 'Estuary'. I stood at the precise spot he must have sat with his easel. It was easy to imagine the inspiration that must have flooded through his body.As I walked nearer to the sea, the scene unfolded before me. To the left the coast continued to sweep around before reaching the town of St Ives.I headed right, trying to stay out the way of the dozens of wind surfers scattered about the beach. Now the whole of the bay was visible. Several miles of golden sands lay before me.As the shoreline drifted away to the left, Godrevy Lighthouse stood at the end of the bay, so prominent in many of John Miller's paintings. Finally I had seen Miller's landscape come to life.

The Dot Com Era is Back

The Dot Com Era is Back

In a recent article titled "Internet use threatens to overtake TV in Canada" it discusses the threat of online marketing to traditional media sources in Canada. This isn't a a threat anymore in the US. It is a fact.An article written by Thomas Mucha from Business 2.0 says: People are spending more time online than watching TV, which gives marketers a better chance to reach consumers in a place where they are just one click away from making a purchase. "More than 75 percent of companies using the Internet to advertise report confidence in their return on investment," writes the study's lead author, Jupiter Research senior analyst Gary Stein. This confidence, Stein argues, will sustain spending momentum across all the key online ad areas: paid search, display ads, classified ads, and rich media.Interesting to note that two studies are similar. Although The Ipsos Reid study of Canada claims radio is losing more interest than TV in Canada, it may soon lose to the Internet as well.Mr. Mucha claims 40 percent of total spending by 2010 will be paid advertisements on Google, Yahoo and MSN to an estimate of $19 billion per year. Not much wonder why the search engines are trying to dominate each other and the marketplace. The one that becomes the most popular will also make the most money.What will become of the little guy? Will it put an end to buying keywords for ad placement on search engines? Will the small business owner get shoved out of the picture? Maybe not altogether... but let's face it. If GM decides they want to use the keywords you are using, can you afford to compete? The search engines will be laughing "all the way to the bank" and the cost per clicks will just keeping going up... (he-he) similar to the price of gasoline at the pumps these days.Even though the cost of clicks may get pricey, the major search engines will always have to index relevant websites and include these results and return them on any keyword search. Professional sites (versus linkfarm, affiliate, spam sites) will always be in favour, and the sooner business can get their company sites built, if they haven't already; the better. Google seems to be the top search engine right now, and new sites often get sandboxed. If they hold on to their dominant position, new websites want to make sure this doesn't happen to them.I've always felt that there was something Google was doing that gave some sites more relevance than others in its index, but wasn't sure how it was applied. At the Search Engine Strategies conference last week in San Jose, California, Rand Fishkin learned that Google places some new Web sites, "regardless of their merit, or lack thereof, in a sort of probationary category" for six months to a year to "allow time to determine how users react to a new site, who links to it, etc."On a final piece of advice he suggests: "Several people have also predicted that Yahoo! or MSN may take up similar techniques to help stop spam. This phenomenon could seriously undermine new SEO/Ms and new campaigns, but it is a possibility. My recommendation is not to discount this possibility and launch projects or at least holding sites and their promotional efforts ASAP. The web environment right now is still relatively friendly to new sites, but will certainly become more competitive and unforgiving with time, no matter what search engine filters exist."Although it is starting to sound a little like the "Dot Com era is back" it will be a little different this time around. In 2000 when it went bust, it is partly because the percentage of consumers purchasing online didn't justify the amount of spending. There was a lack of confidence. It is different now. Jupiter's study shows that "73 percent of Americans who use the Internet have made a purchase online and four out of five of these potential shoppers have responded to an online ad."

San Francisco Bay Area Information

San Francisco Bay Area Information

Nestled along San Francisco Bay, the Bay Area boasts of one of the finest natural harbor in the world, which has a total area of around 450 square miles. Home to almost 8 million people, the "San Francisco" Bay Area provides the only real break in the coastal mountains of California making it one of the most ideal spot for living within the state. It is divided into 6 sub-regions (North Bay, San Francisco, East Bay, Peninsula, South Bay, and Santa Cruz) and composed of 10 counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma).North Bay is a sub-region north of the Golden Gate Bridge, is separated by water from the rest of the Bay Area. It has numerous affluent communities and is probably the least urbanized among the 6 sub-regions. North Bay has many undeveloped parks, farmlands, and plantations. One popular location is Napa Valley, which is well-known for the world class red wines produced from its vineyards.The City and County of San Francisco was once the largest city, in terms of population in the whole Bay Area. Although it no longer holds that distinction, it remains as the traditional, cultural, financial, and urban center of the region. The most famous landmark in this area is the Golden Gate Bridge, which spans the Golden Gate Strait, a water passage connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The bridge connects the city/county of San Francisco with Marin County in the North Bay.The East Bay area is split into 2 regions, the Inner East Bay and the Outer East Bay. Inner East Bay, located along the bays coastline, is more urban, densely populated, and has a more ethnically diverse population. Old buildings in the area suggest that it is one of the oldest developed regions. Outer East Bay, on the other hand, is composed of inland valleys separated from the Inner East Bay by hills and mountains. Its development dates back to less than 60 years ago and is mostly suburban to rural.San Francisco Peninsula (or simply Peninsula) is the area between East Bay and San Francisco. It is composed of a series of towns, small cities, and suburban communities along [*_*] Bay and the Pacific Ocean.South Bay is the sub-region where the past blends well with the present and the future. The past is typically characterized by the city of San Jose, the oldest city in California, while the present and the future could be gleaned from the products churned by Silicon Valley. In 1990, San Jose became the most populated city in the area.Santa Cruz, although regarded by most as part of Monterey Bay Area, some agencies and records show it as a part of [*_*] Bay Area. It is sprawled along [*_*] Peninsula, Santa Cruz Mountains, and Monterey Bay.With tourism being the regions leading industry, the Bay Area is teeming with tourist destinations and historic landmarks. It is one of the wealthiest regions in the United States. Of the 280 metropolitan areas nationwide, the Bay Area has the highest median household income with $62,024. Six of the top ten places in California with the highest per capita income could also be found in the Bay Area. These figures are a testament of the boundless opportunities available for the citizens residing in the region.With its idyllic setting and mild climate, living in the Bay Area is an investment that you can never be wrong about.

How to Get the Lowest Airfare Possible

How to Get the Lowest Airfare Possible

Everyone knows that air travel can be expensive and we are all looking for ways to get it a little cheaper. With all of the added fees and such, there is little left to the imagination of the extreme costs that come with this form of travel. There are however ways that one can ensure they are getting the lowest airfare possible without having to go into the poor house to do it. All you need to do is make a few plans and there is no reason why you can not travel for a decent amount of money on pretty much any airline that is currently in operation.First and foremost you should plan ahead if you want the "lowest airfare" . Airlines will give deep discounts to those that book well in advance of the departure time. If you know when you need to leave then this is a good idea. You can book in advance for up to eight months on most airlines and this will mean that you have some of the best rates. Those that get their reservations in well ahead of time and are on the plane first get the best rates for that flight. This method is great for those that know when and where they are going to be traveling and that can mean a large discount.For those that can not schedule in advance there is the good old stand by system to make for the lowest airfare. In the event of a cancellation the airline is eager to fill that void. In this event, there is a very good chance that you can get the seat at a greatly reduced rate. This is due to the fact that the airlines want to make sure that they have as many people on each flight as possible to make sure that there is enough profit to mandate the flight. Of course there is a chance that you may not be able to get on the flight if there are no cancellations. And the fact is that you have to be in the terminal waiting for the cancellations. This can mean some very long waits indeed.For those that are internet savvy there is the popular online discount houses to get the lowest airfares. These sites are very popular and have been saving people millions of dollars in airfare for the years that they have been in business. Using a direct link to the airline these sites will search the best possible packages to make sure that you get only the lowest fares.

Caribbean Stud Poker: How to Play

Caribbean Stud Poker is gradually gaining in popularity as compared to its stud twin: Texas Holdem mainly because it is an easier game to learn and you can play it face to face and still enjoy.Originating in the Caribbean and based loosely on five card stud poker rules, this game offers a fan alternative to traditional table games with an opportunity to place a side bet and hit a big jackpot too. Some of these jackpots are progressive and you can win millions of dollars if you break those machines or tables..What is Caribbean Stud?It is not a traditional poker game in the sense that you play against the other players and the best player wins the pot. Caribbean stud belongs to the family of games including Pai Gow poker, Let it Ride and Three Card poker for example, where your opponent is the dealer and your goal is to form a better poker hand than the dealers hand. However, basic knowledge of traditional poker hand ranking is required. The Rules of Playing Caribbean Stud:1) The game begins with the players placing an ante bet at the same amount as the table minimum on the ante circle on the table.2) At the same time, you should decide whether to place an additional side bet for the progressive jackpot.3) Then, the dealer deals each player five face down cards plus four face down cards and one up to himself.4) After looking at your cards, you should decide whether to fold or to call. If you decide to call, you should place an additional bet double the amount of your former ante bet.5) After all the players have made their decisions, the dealer shows his hand. In order to qualify in a Caribbean "stud poker" game, the dealer must have an ace and a king or better. If he does not qualify, you will be paid back your ante bet but the call bet is a push.6) If the dealers hand qualifies, he compares hands against each of the players individually. If his hand is better than yours is, you lose both your ante and your call bets.7) If your hand is better than the dealers hand, you would be paid even money for your ante while for your call you would be paid according to a paytable. The paytable can vary from one casino to another. Generally, US casinos pay out 50:1 on a straight flush; 20:1 on four of a kind; 7:1 on full house; 5:1 on a flush; 4:1 on a straight; 3:1 on three of a kind; 2:1 on two pairs and even money on one pair or less.
In case your hand and the dealers hand are even, both ante and raise will push.One of the reasons that "Caribbean stud poker" is so popular is the option of placing a one dollar side bet and winning a large progressive jackpot prize. In order to qualify for the bonus payout you should have a flush or better. For a flush, you would be paid a 50 dollars bonus and in order to win the jackpot that usually resets from 10,000 dollars, you must have a royal flush. However, your chances to hit a royal flush are estimated as about 650,000 to 1, therefore I would recommend skipping it.

Grand Cayman Island After The Hurricane Season

One of the ports visited on our recent Royal Caribbean cruise was Grand Cayman. This was an eagerly awaited port since I've been there before but wanted to take my girlfriend scuba diving there. We were worried that we might miss this port since the Caymans were hit pretty hard by the hurricanes and indeed, they had closed the islands off to tourist travel for part of the summer/fall. Fortunately for us, Grand Cayman had reopened just about two weeks prior to our cruise at the end of November.Getting to Grand Cayman is by tender since it had a shallow harbour. This can be a potential problem in itself because we were told that if the wind and waves are too rough, the captain would cancel the port and spend the rest of the day at sea. Apparently in the past, one of the tender boat workers had fallen and got crushed to death between the boat and the dock during one of the rougher wave days. This resulted in the cruiseships being much more careful in deciding whether to allow tendering or not given the conditions. Again, fortunately for us, the weather was picture perfect during the day we were in Grand Cayman last week.The downtown area pretty well recovered from the effects of the hurricanes and the shopping was business as usual. There were four ships at port during the day we were at port. Grand Cayman is above average in terms of cleaniness and the attitude of the locals for a Caribbean island. It is also one of the pricier island though. Bargains can still be found though, especially in the liquor where there are examples of certain liquors being even less expensive in Grand Cayman than even Cozumel. For example, Malibu rum was $10 US in Grand Cayman, $13 in Cozumel and about $19 back in the Miami home port. Everything else like restaurants and activities were generally more expensive than other islands.According to other passengers who ventured to other parts of the island, the damage from the hurricanes was more visible with fallen trees and some buildings still not repaired yet. A few of the organized tours by the cruiseship were also not available. We decided in advance to do some scuba diving off the shore and Eden Rocks Scuba Center was a 5 minute walk from the port. There are two decent shore dives right in front of their dive shop and we spend the morning diving the site called Devil's Grotto. Instead of paying $85 US for a typical Cayman boat dive trip, I ended up paying just $8 US for a rental for a tank.I didn't go to other parts of the island during this trip but have been to the turtle farm, Hell village and Stingray City before. They are all worthwhile sites to visit. I wanted to take my girlfriend scuba diving at Stingray City in the afternoon but for some reason, only the snorkelling sections of Stingray City were available that day. So after returning to the cruiseship for lunch, we went back ashore to do some shopping. We would like to come back to Grand Cayman again for a longer stay in the future. In summary, most of Grand Cayman appears to be back in business again after the hurricanes. It is one of the nicer but pricier ports to visit in the Caribbean.

Summary

I have always been a great admirer of the artist John Miller. His simplistic coastal landscapes are a wonderful escape from the rigours of city life in Birmingham.But what of the subjects of his work? Were they just figments of his imagination or did these places actually exist?Since buying my first print 'Estuary', his worlds have always seemed a beautiful Utopia, scenes of unrivalled natural beauty, somewhere I wanted to be.Eventually I discovered his work portr...