Wednesday, January 20, 2021

4 Early Decisions That Make Businesses Successful

The whole process of starting a business can be a difficult one to get right. But if you are concerned about trying to make a success of it, there are a lot of key things that you can pay attention to. In a sense, what you do in the first few months is one of the most important things in trying to make your business more successful later on. In this post, we are going to look at four of the early decisions you need to make if you want your business to go on and be as successful as possible.

The Right Industry At The Right Time

One of the things you need to think about first up is what industry you are going to be operating within. This will be fairly straightforward if you have a specific product or service in mind already, but if you don’t then you are going to need to think about which industry is likely to work for you. Essentially, this is all about research, finding out which industries are doing well at any one time and working to fall in line with your findings. At the moment, the automotive industry is looking particularly good, as well as food retail.

Competitors Or Customers?

Should you spend your time focusing on competitors, or your customers? This can be a challenging thing to work out, but if you are keen to find success you do need to weigh these options up as best as you can. If you spend all your time focusing on your competitors, that could mean that the customers feel left out. On the other hand, if you fail to look to your competitors at all, you are almost certain to miss a trick. It’s often best to strike a balance between the two.


Adaptable Campaigns And Products

Of course, early on you are going to be thinking a lot about your products, and the marketing campaigns to go alongside those products. It will generally serve you well if these products and their campaigns are easily adaptable, as you never quite know what’s around the corner that your business might need to respond to. Do whatever you can to keep them as open as possible, and you should find that it makes for a much more lucrative way of doing business later on.

Outsourcing Vs. In-House

There is no right or wrong when it comes to outsourcing or whether to do things in-house, but you do need to decide early on which you are going to do. If you fail to do this, it could mean that you end up following a botched, half-and-half approach, and that is often the worst approach of all. As long as you think about it in advance, however, you should be able to do much more outsourcing when you want to, and yet do whatever you still need to do in-house.

These simple decisions are going to make a profound difference to your business, so they are important to think about.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Cool Kitchen Interiors To Inspire

If you have ventured into 2021 with a focus on renovating your kitchen and making it fit for purpose, you need to consider the latest trends. While you aren’t one for following fashions and succumbing to whatever is currently gracing the covers of design magazines, you don’t want to choose a style that you will soon tire of. Investing in your kitchen is expensive, but it is the hub of your home so it is worth it. While you can give your living room a lick of paint every couple of years, a kitchen is only ever coiffed every decade or so. Take a look at these cool kitchen interior ideas that can inspire your project.

Units

If your cabinetry is in great condition and the integrity of the frames are sound, you might be able to get away with just replacing your door fronts. The frames are the same whatever kitchen style you choose so overhauling the doors and handles can uplift your entire room. You can swap your shaker style country kitchen unit doors for something more high gloss and modern. Or perhaps you fancy a new worktop for your kitchen. That expensive granite quartz worktop might be a step too far so go for a manmade engineered laminate instead. If you are looking to save cash, head to a local DIY showroom and check out their ex-display kitchens. You might not have as much choice of style, but you could pick up a bargain.

Pipework

Your kitchen isn’t all about the aesthetics. You also need to consider how your kitchen works. On occasion, you might want to reconfigure the whole layout of your kitchen. If you want your sink in another spot or you want to add some new pipework for your dishwasher ambitions, you need to have the number of a 24/7 plumber to hand. Check out local reviews and use word of mouth recommendations to find the right tradesperson for you. As you reconfigure your room, you are making it more conducive to your lifestyle. 

Kitchen Diner

More people than ever are choosing to create larger and more open plan spaces within their homes to design a new heart of their renovated home. Your humble abode may be in need of a focal point. Consider knocking down the wall between your dining room and kitchen to create a more enjoyable space. Here, you can watch the kids do their homework while you cook up a gastronomic feast. You might want to utilize this room as a place where you can chat with friends over coffee. Or you could find yourself enjoying a date night with your partner in your new open plan kitchen diner. By utilizing the space within your pad a little more effectively, you will feel like you are living in a better and bigger home.

Kitchens can be expensive and they take a great deal of effort and time to renovate. If you are eager to overhaul your kitchen and make it fit for twenty first century living, take heed of these cool inspirational kitchen ideas.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Giving Myself Time To Read

I love books. Reading is one of the things I really enjoy. I liken myself to a sponge, eager to absorb new information and draw inspiration from great literary works.

I do not favor a particular genre when I sit down to read. Anything would do - a paperback novel, a compilation of short stories, old magazines and cookbooks. I share the same passion with my husband who introduced me to the exciting world of crime and suspense bestsellers. Lee Child, James Patterson, Mario Puzo and John Sandford are now included in my list of favorite authors.

On the other side of things, I have always loved reading inspirational books. In my lifetime, there are but a few books I have read and re-read with as much joy as the first time.

Let me share with you my favorite Inspirational Books List and the unforgettable quotes that have created an impact in my life. Let's do a countdown from the "Best" to the "Greatest"

5. THE GREATEST SALESMAN IN THE WORLD - Og Mandino.
This is a book about a poor young camel boy named Hafid who found success as a salesman by understanding, applying and living the lessons inscribed in ten scrolls.

The Ten Scrolls
An excerpt from Scroll IX
 
4. THE PEARL - John Steinbeck
This is a story about Kino, a pearl diver of Mexican-Indian descent, his wife Juana and their infant son, Coyotito. It is about how a young family, although living in poverty have learned to cope with whatever little possesions they have until that day, when Kino finds the "Pearl of the World." The family started to live with fear, and was exposed to the evils of greed. "The Pearl" is an excellent book that teaches us that about the evils of the world and how it can destroy one's humanity.



3. JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL - Richard Bach
A beautifully written fable that teaches us about breaking out of the daily struggles of monotony. It inspires us to break out of our shell and strive to achieve our dreams, to rid ourselves of limitations, and to go after a more meaningful life.
 
"For most seagulls, life consists simply of eating and surviving. Flying is just a means of finding food. However, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is no ordinary bird. For him, flying is life itself. Against the conventions of seagull society, he seeks to find a higher purpose and become the best at doing what he loves. 
This is a fable about the importance of making the most of our lives, even if our goals run contrary to the norms of our flock, tribe or neighborhood. Through the metaphor of flight, Jonathan’s story shows us that, if we follow our dreams, we too can soar."




2. THE LITTLE PRINCE - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This is a story about a pilot whose light aircraft crashes in the middle of a desert. In this same desert, he finds a little boy who fell to earth from his home, an asteroid. The reason this book is so heartwarming to read is because of the portrayal of the child's innocence. It is also about how grown ups tend to see things superficially. The Little Prince is a book that helps us to understand that in order to appreciate the true worth of anything and everything, we must look beneath the surface.

"Here is my secret. It is very simple. 
It is only with the heart that one can see clearly.
What is essential is invisible to the eye."
 


1. THE HOLY BIBLE
The best and greatest book ever written. It is my go-to resource for guidance, comfort, happiness and love. If any one needs an instruction book to live a meaningful life, pick up the Bible. Everything we need to know is there. 

And no matter how many times you have gone back to the Bible for guidance, there is always something new you can learn from it and from the gospels. Picking up the holy scripture and re-reading a passage may offer you a different point of view on a situation. You might also find a different interpretation of a concept, such as end times that you had not thought of before. What a great opportunity to learn something new.


May you all have a blessed weekend!

Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing The Ring

While some would argue that it gets too much of the attention and energy that goes towards a wedding, there’s no denying that choosing the ring that you’re going to be wearing for the rest of your life is a big deal. As such, you don’t want to make any mistakes that could make the hunt a lot harder on you. Here, we’re going to look at some of those exact kinds of mistakes, and what you can do to avoid them.

Not having a budget

Wedding budgets are notorious for growing endlessly. The more you spend on them, the more they seem to keep demanding and the same is very much true of wedding rings, as well. There are a lot of wedding and engagement ring budget sites that can help you set an arbitrary budget. It’s best to stick to paying what you know you can reasonably afford but, if you don’t know what that is, you should set a basic limit at the very least to make sure that you don’t go too far overbroad with it.

Not knowing what you like

You’re going to feel like a kid in a candy store if you go jewelry shopping without any idea of what you’re looking for already in mind. There are so many different ring types, jewel cuts, settings, and more, that whittling it down by eye alone can be hard. Get an idea of what kind of wedding jewel and band you want, in advance, getting to know the different styles so that you can better narrow down your options when it’s time to choose. You may want to match it with your other rings, as well, so keep in mind those styles.

Not picking out just a few stores

If one jeweler has more than enough variety to keep you guessing, then you can only imagine what it’s like when you go to one after another. There’s nothing wrong with picking out more than one store, but you should whittle your choices down before you actually make the trip. Make sure you’re getting quality service and good prices by looking at online opinions from customers like this Jared review. That way, you can at least rest easy that you’re not wasting time on overpriced places with poor service and low-quality rings.

Not considering your lifestyle

You might think that your wedding ring is a purely aesthetic choice. Indeed, if you don’t mind taking it off and putting it back on regularly, that might be true. However, if you want to wear it constantly, you need to make sure that it fits your lifestyle. More rounded, thinner rings tend to be better for those that use their hands a lot, such as to play an instrument or use tools. Those who manually work with their hands should also consider not getting too many loose gems that could easily come out, too.

No-one can guarantee that the hunt for the right wedding ring is going to go smoothly. However, so long as you follow the tips above, you can at least make sure it goes a little smoother.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Why Use A Removals Company?

When you start to plan out your house move, it will probably all start many months, or even years, in advance. You’ll start to get weary of your current home, or you’ll see that it’s no longer suitable for your needs and circumstances. Then you’ll start to toy with the idea of just taking a look at what’s out there as an alternative. Then you’ll get serious, realizing that there is a decision to be made – will you move or not? 

 Once you’ve decided that it is time to move, everything else needs to fall in place. You’ll have to find the ideal place to move to, and eventually, the time will come when your moving day will arrive. But do you have a removals firm in place to help you get from one place to the next? If not, you might regret it. Read on to find out more. 


It Saves Time And Energy 

We all know that moving home is a stressful event, even if it’s worth it in the end. It takes a lot of time to pack everything up, move it all into a van, then unload it at the other end, and when you have plenty of other things to be dealing with and thinking about, this extra – very big – task can be absolutely overwhelming. 
 
This is why it’s always best to hire a removals firm to do it for you. They will be much quicker than you could be, and they will understand the logistics of maximizing space in their van. You won’t have to worry about ensuring everything is out of your old home in time for the next owners to move in either. You won’t even have to do any heavy lifting or ask friends and family for help when you outsource the entire moving job. 
 
One Cost

As well as being stressful, moving is an expensive thing to do. Even if you’re downsizing to granny flats Victoria there will still be items to pay out for for the move itself. Boxes, packing materials, tape, van rental, the fuel for the van, the added insurance, even the time of your friends who are coming to help you, will all need to be paid for. It can soon add up and become much more expensive than you might have budgeted for. 
 
If you hire a removals firm all of this will be taken care of with one single price. You’ll pay the removals company a pre-agreed rate (and it is crucial to have this in writing before you begin), and that’s it; you won’t have to pay any more. 
 
Peace Of Mind 

The biggest benefit of hiring a removals service is the peace of mind it will bring. We all have an emotional connection with objects, and we want to protect them from damage. A reliable, professional removals firm will know exactly how to pack, move, and store precious items so that they are safe and can be unpacked in one piece at the other end. 
 
When you have other things to think about, and you’re emotional about leaving your home anyway, having to deal with broken possessions is the last thing you’ll want. Don’t risk it; hire professionals and it won’t be a problem (and if something does go wrong, they’ll have insurance to help you). 

 
Following the year of 2020, which was all about surviving, 2021 should be the year of thriving. This is especially true from a financial perspective as the last 12 months have shown the fragility of your financial health. Now is the time to regain control of your situation to open new opportunities and put your mind at ease.

Here are eight great ways to bolster your earnings in the months ahead. Start to embrace them right away, and you should notice the difference in next to no time.

#1. Work for a promotion

Perhaps the most obvious and logical way to increase your earnings is to focus on getting a better job. Your career is likely to be the primary source of income in 2021 and until you retire. Therefore, knowing how to ask for a pay rise and get it is essential. Before approaching your boss, though, you’ll want to ensure that you are the strongest possible candidate. This means investing in your resume, appearance, and relationships with hiring managers and bosses.

If you successfully land a promotion, internally or elsewhere, it won’t only boost your finances in 2021. The benefits can last a lifetime.

#2. Maximize your rental property earnings

Real estate is one of the best assets that anyone will ever have at their disposal. Therefore, squeezing every last dollar out of yours is essential. Traditional landlord duties are still a good option, but vacation rentals. Knowing the best way to advertise your VRBO property and get the recommendations to gain more bookings will take earnings to new heights. In truth, the short-term agreements are likely to outweigh monthly rentals, even if only full for 50% of the year.

Domestic vacations are likely to be more popular than overseas trips due to the pandemic. So, you may find that the earnings are even bigger than expected.

#3. Launch a side business

Starting a new business will require an investment of time and money. Nonetheless, the climate makes it more accessible than ever for home-based ventures and small local firms. Whether selling a service or creating products with the support of outsourced staff, you can run a business from your smartphone. It does not have to stop you from enjoying a successful career in traditional employment. And when things go well, you’ll be able to make the transition you crave.

There will be difficult moments ahead, though, which is why you should aim to work on something you love. When you do, the rewards are huge.

#4. Become an influencer

Shooting for increased earnings without any risk is a particularly popular solution right now. Affiliate marketing through CBD schemes or other products can be a great way to gain success without ever handling products. Whether you have a lot of friends with joint interests or know how to target a niche through social media marketing doesn’t matter. The potential of this highly versatile arena should not be ignored. As a small side hustle, the fact it can be done from home is amazing.

Aside from removing the need to risk your capital, it solves headaches linked to managing an inventory of products. The ceiling is limitless too.

#5. Utilize your knowledge

When you have skills or experience in a particular field, it’s likely that novices are looking to follow in your footsteps. With the best podcasting equipment or home video camera, you can monetize your knowledge. Creating courses to become a tutor or mentor can open the door to a new revenue stream without having to abandon your career. Moreover, the use of pre-recorded content means you can take on as many digital students as you can find. It’s an ideal solution to refresh your mind.

Even 100 students at $50 each would boost your annual earnings by $5k. If you do well, it could grow far bigger than that.

#6. Start gaming

If you’re looking for a fun way to earn a few extra dollars, gaming for money may be the ideal solution. It does come with a degree of loss if you’re using a platform where you pay to play with a chance to win cash. However, there are plenty of free competitions out there too. In fact, the best players are signed to esports teams and can turn their passion into a career. Even if you are just looking for a way to earn a little extra cash in your recreation time, it’s worth researching.

Besides, it will make the gaming activities feel far more engaging and exciting than playing against the computer. Just be sure to be responsible.

#7. Make investments 


Utilizing your savings in a successful way will have a telling impact on your future financial health. While Bitcoin has gained a lot of headlines, the whole crypto arena offers great opportunities. This is because the market is very volatile. So, when you trade at the right time, you can see stunning results. Another option is to support other businesses through funding in return for equity. There is a degree of risk, but calculated decisions should yield good results. Especially as most savings accounts pay low-interest rates.

You can combine this with a desire to go green by supporting eco-friendly schemes. After all, society’s desire to embrace them can only increase their hopes of success.

#8. Sell unwanted products

You probably feel that you are fairly good at removing clutter from your life. In reality, it’s likely that your home is packed with many unnecessary products. The good news is that they can be sold using the best online apps and websites. Whether it’s old electronics, collectibles, or clothes doesn’t matter. You could quickly generate a four-figure fee to boost your finances in 2021. It will simultaneously create space around the home. This is surely a match made in heaven.

There’s never been a better time to make the changes. After all, it’s a new year while the chances to socialize are limited due to the pandemic. Use the time while you can.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

5 Tips For a Stress-Free House Move


Moving to a new home should be exciting. You are beginning a new chapter of your life and improving your circumstances. You should be counting down the days until you get the keys to your property and you can make it your own.

But unfortunately, this milestone can be somewhat ruined by the stresses of moving day. Transporting all your worldly belongings from one home to the next takes a lot of time and energy, and can be very costly too. You will worry about things getting lost or broken during the move, as well as dealing with unruly children and last-minute delays. Moving day causes a lot of anxiety for many families, and the last thing you want is for your memories of your new home to be marred by this. 

But as long as you plan ahead and are smart about your move, it’s relatively easy to move all stress from the proceedings. Here are five tips to relieve your moving anxiety.

Make an inventory

More often than not, worrying about anything happening to your belongings will turn out to be in vain. But you can set your mind at ease by drawing up an inventory of everything that needs to be moved. This will make packing a lot easier as you can tick things off as you go. And once you arrive at your new home, you can easily check that all of your stuff has arrived as planned.

Pack smart

It may be tempting to shove everything into cardboard boxes to get packing over with as quickly as possible. But you'll be making things harder for yourself in the long run. Once the move is complete and you start to settle into your new home, you don’t want to spend all evening hunting for your kitchenware or bath products. Do your future self a favor by dividing your packing by rooms of the house. Label all your boxes clearly, and make sure they are well taped and secure to prevent things from going missing en route.

Start early

Don’t leave all the packing to the night before. This is a guaranteed recipe for anxiety. Start the packing process as early as possible, by getting all your cardboard boxes ready and packing anything you won’t need until after the move. Start deep cleaning your home well in advance, so you’ll only need a quick spruce up on the day.

Hire a removal firm

Although a removal firm will cost you, it is often more than worth the reduction in stress levels. A good moving company such as Allied Van Lines will handle all the packing and transport, so you can take a moment to breathe. 

Plan your first night

Once the last cardboard box has been moved, you won’t want to start unpacking all your kitchen stuff and cooking dinner. Make a plan to ensure your first night in your new home is as laid back as possible. Order in a celebratory takeaway for the family to save on the washing up. Keep a go-to bag close to hand throughout the move so you have everything you will need that night right with you. This way, you can save the unpacking for the morning.

How To Spot The Warning Signs When Test Driving A Used Car

Buying a used car is a great way to save money, but it can be risky. When you buy a new car, you can guarantee that it’s in good working order and there are not any hidden problems. However, with a used car, you have to take the word of the seller when they tell you that it’s in good condition and there is always a chance that it will have expensive maintenance issues that you need to deal with. 

Following these simple tips will help you avoid getting ripped off when buying a used car but the most important thing you can do is to test drive it. If a dealership or a private seller is unwilling to let you test drive the car, start looking elsewhere because you can pretty much guarantee that the car is in bad shape. When you are able to test drive cars, there are certain things you should look out for to make sure that you are getting a good deal. Here’s everything you should be on the lookout for when test driving a used car. 

Check The Bodywork 

Before you get behind the wheel, take a good look at the outside of the car. If there are some small dents and scratches, that’s not the end of the world. As long as you are happy to live with it, they shouldn’t affect the performance of the car, just scratches fixed as soon as possible or they can cause the car to rust.

Speaking of rust, avoid buying cars that are covered in it because you will need to do extensive work on the body of the car and that can quickly get expensive. A little bit of rust here and there isn’t the end of the world but if the wheel arches are starting to fall apart, it’s not worth buying. 

When checking over the bodywork, pay particular attention to the different panels and how they fit together, and look for any slight variations in color. This can be an indication that the panels have been replaced because the car has been in an accident, in which case, you need to ask the seller about the extent of the damage. 

Test The Brakes 

The brakes are one of the first things you should test because the car is dangerous to drive if they don’t function properly. Test that the car stops in a straight line and listen out for any squeaking or scraping noises when you stop. If there are strange noises, this is an indication that the brake pads are wearing down. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t buy the car because you can just look for local brake repair shops and get it fixed. However, you should consider whether the deal that you get on the car is good enough to justify spending money on new brakes. In some cases, you might be able to haggle them down and get them to knock off the price of a new set of brake pads. 

Try All Of The Gears 

Clunky gear changes can indicate issues with the clutch or the gearbox, so make sure that you try all of the gears to ensure they are smooth. In an automatic, take note of the gear changes and listen for any noises (ideally, they should be smooth and silent). Pay attention to where the biting point is as well because if it is near the top, that’s a sign that the clutch needs replacing soon. 

Check The Steering 

Make sure you can find a long stretch of straight road during your test drive so you can check the steering. If the car naturally pulls to one side when driving on a straight road for a long period, that’s a bad sign. There shouldn’t be too much noise when steering either, and the action should be smooth. A quiet whining sound is normal in cars with power steering but anything else is a cause for concern. 

These are the main things that you need to check when test driving a used car, but you should also be on the lookout for anything else that feels strange. Looking at the pedals to see how worn down they are is a good way to get a sense of how old the car is, which is important because some people may lie about this. When you are buying a used car, always trust your guy and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it. Instead, look for other options and hold off until you find something that you feel confident about. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Hearing health is something that a lot of us are aware of, but we rarely check up on it. Unlike our overall physical health, our teeth or even our eyes, many of us tend to ignore our hearing health. This isn’t because we’re neglecting it, but it’s likely because most of us don’t know the effects of hearing loss. When you start losing your sight, it’s rather obvious because you start to notice differences in what you can see versus what others see.

This is a lot different from our hearing health because it happens very gradually as we age or if we’re exposed to loud noises. As such, we typically can’t tell if we have hearing loss or not and we usually brush it under the rug. Sometimes we just don’t notice a sound or we might be focusing on something else so we don’t hear someone calling for us. It’s fairly natural for this to happen and we usually don’t do anything about it.

So what are the signs that you should get your hearing checked? What kind of things should you be looking out for if you want to take better care of your hearing?

Source: Pexels (CC0)

Others complain about the volume that you listen to things at

One of the biggest telltale signs that you could be losing your hearing is if someone else complains about the volume that you listen to things. If you’ve ever passed your headphones to someone and they reel back because it’s too loud, or if they tell you to turn down the TV or your speakers, then there’s a chance that you might be experiencing hearing loss.

You work in a loud workplace

If you work in a relatively loud workplace that requires you to wear hearing protection, then it’s worth heeding their caution and ensuring that you have ear protection. Likewise, if you work in a loud environment such as driving a train, working as a DJ or even playing live music, then you’ll want to learn more about molded earplugs that could save your ears. If you work in a loud workplace, it’s a good idea to get your ears checked now and then so that you can ensure you’re not being affected by hearing loss.

You occasionally miss calls or alarms

Missing a call or alarm now and then is fine, but if you find that it happens more often than you’d like, then it’s worth seeing a hearing specialist. If it happens too many times and has caused you problems in the past, such as missing an important call or leaving a friend waiting outside your house for a long time, then you should definitely see an expert about it.

You find yourself pointing your ear at someone when you want to hear them

If you find that you’re constantly pointing your ear at people to hear them, then it could be a sign that you’re starting to lose your hearing. However, it could just be because you’re in a loud place, but it’s a concern that you shouldn’t ignore. While it doesn’t mean that you’ll need to start wearing a hearing aid every day, it could be a good wakeup call so that you start paying a little more attention to how loud your environment is.

Having a conversation makes you feel tired

Another sign that you might have hearing loss is if you feel tired after you have a conversation, particularly if it’s in a relatively loud space such as a crowded area. Trying to listen to people when we have hearing loss can be surprisingly stressful. This is because our body needs to compensate for our hearing loss, so we tend to strain our body if we want to hear something. This means that we can feel a little fatigued after a conversation. This makes it hard for us to be in social situations and can lead to us feeling isolated from others.

You experience a ringing or buzzing in your ear

A ringing or buzzing in your ear indicates that you have tinnitus. However, it doesn’t always mean that you have hearing loss. It’s worth checking as the conditions for both hearing loss and tinnitus are similar, but it doesn’t mean that one causes the other. While they are closely related, it’s good to remember that tinnitus can usually be treated in a number of different ways. You can retrain your ears to filter out the tinnitus, or you can even use devices to mask the tinnitus.

Friday, January 8, 2021

If you have an old car that is causing you problems, you might be wondering whether you should keep fixing it or just scrap it instead. Is it really worth the time and money that you spend on repairs? 

This is a tough decision to make, especially if you like the car, and in some cases, you shouldn’t give up on it just yet. But in other cases, the car is just a financial drain and you’d be better off scrapping it. If you don’t know what to do with your old car, here are a few things to consider. 

How Much Is The Car Worth?

When deciding whether repairs are worth it, you should consider how much the car itself is worth. If the car is only worth $500, do you really want to spend $400 on repairs? It’s only worth repairing the car if it’s actually going to be worth something afterward. If fixing it will cost almost as much as the total value, you’re probably better off scrapping it and investing in a new car. 

Can You Sell It? 

In some cases, it’s worth paying for repairs if you can then sell the car on afterward and make a good profit. So, when you check the total value of the car, think about whether you might sell it on afterward. If you can get some interest from potential buyers, it may be worth paying out for repairs. However, if it’s a car that nobody is really interested in, it’s best to just scrap it instead. You also need to consider the time involved with selling a car. If you search junk my car online, you can easily find companies that will take away your old car and give you a fair price for it right away. But if you are going to sell it privately, the whole process could take a long time. You need to think about whether you’re willing to put the time into repairing and selling the car or if you should just save yourself the hassle and scrap it instead. 

How Bad Is The Damage? 

Looking at the extent of the damage will give you an idea of whether you should repair or scrap your car. If the damage is mainly cosmetic and it won’t be that expensive to fix, you shouldn’t give up on your car just yet. If everything under the hood is working just fine, you can continue driving it for a bit longer. However, if there are some serious problems with the engine or the brakes etc. that’s a sign that you should replace your car. Severe damage can make the car unsafe to drive and it will be incredibly expensive to fix. In that case, the safest and most sensible thing to do is to get rid of the car and buy a new one. 

You might not want to scrap your car but it’s important that you are realistic about these things. Unless the car is actually worth something and it will be safe to drive, you shouldn’t waste your money on repairs.  

5 Hidden Dangers For Dogs You Need To Know

 As a dog owner, you’ll undoubtedly want to make sure your canine companion is at his or her best. You might feed your dog the best food and give them plenty of love, attention, and exercise each day.

But, are you aware of the hidden dangers to your dog that may lurk in and around your home? Don’t worry because a lot of dog owners seldom know about those hidden dangers. Here are 5 of the top hidden dangers you need to know and how your dog can avoid them:

1. Rodents

Some people keep rodents like mice and rats as pets and look after them like any other household pet. However, wild rodents that roam the outdoors can pose serious health risks to dogs (and humans, for that matter). But, just how serious is the problem posed for dogs?

Mice and rats can bite dogs if they’re scared and feel they are in danger. A bite from a rodent can cause serious problems for dogs because rodents can transmit leptospira bacteria. That results in leptospirosis: an infection that can often be fatal to dogs of all ages.

You can take practical steps to minimize the risk of your canine companion getting bitten by a mice or rat. Examples include:

  • Pest control surveys. Pest Authority and other pest controllers can check your home inside and out for rodent infestations and help you eradicate the problem;
  • Store sealed garbage outside. Rodents will bite through plastic garbage bags to find discarded food to eat. Store your waste in trash cans or locked dumpsters.

2. Food and Drink

You would think that food and drink isn’t an issue for dogs. However, there are some foods and beverages you should never give to a dog or let them eat if someone in your household drops it on the floor. The foods dogs should steer clear of include:

  • Chocolate;
  • Candy;
  • Coffee;
  • Alcohol;
  • Raw cooking ingredients, such as raisins, avocados, onions, garlic, and salt.

Suppose your dog has accidentally ingested even a small quantity of the above. In that case, you must immediately take them to Shallowford Animal Hospital or your preferred local animal hospital for treatment to help them expel the contents of their stomach.

3. Toys

All dogs enjoy playing with toys as it gives them mental stimulation and helps them stay fit and healthy. There are many different toys available to buy that get marketed as dog-friendly. And while that might be the case, the problem with those toys is when dogs break them.

It’s no secret that many dog toys get manufactured out of plastic for durability reasons. The trouble is, when dogs chew through those plastic toys, some pampered pooches might try to swallow them.

As you can imagine, when that happens, you’ll have to take your dog to your nearest animal hospital for treatment. Firstly, fragments of broken dog toys can pose choking hazards. And secondly, the jagged edges of plastic toys can cause internal tearing and bleeding.

You should keep in mind that those same hidden dangers also apply to dogs that chew and swallow toys for children. Always supervise your dog whenever he or she plays with toys, and keep children’s toys stored away from dogs.

4. Small Household Items

Most households will have things like remote controls and toys that require batteries to operate. If you leave batteries lying around within easy reach of dogs, the temptation for dogs to chew on those items might be too much to resist.

The same applies to other small items used regularly in households, such as buttons, rubber bands, and twist ties. Some dog breeds are more likely to pick up small household items and chew on them than others.

Still, irrespective of your dog’s breed, you should try to keep anything remotely interesting to a dog out of sight.

5. Small Animal Bones

There’s no denying that most, if not all dogs, will enjoy chewing on bones. If you live in a household where chicken and similar food gets eaten regularly, you might get complacent about where you discard the bones.

Let’s be clear: the only bones you should ever allow a dog to have are large ones sold by pet stores. Never give your dog discarded chicken bones as they can splinter and cut your dog’s mouth or puncture their stomach or esophagus.

Make sure you always dispose of chicken and other small animal bones in your garbage soon after you’ve eaten your meals.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Getting Used To Life With A Stoma

 

A stoma is a small bag you will be given after having an ostomy operation - and it is used to help the body to divert urine and faeces out of the body if your digestive system has been compromised for any reason. 

Living with a stoma is a daunting prospect as often these will protrude from the body in the form of a small pinkish bag, and it is common for those who get a stoma for the first few months to feel a little self conscious and uncomfortable with this addition to the body. 

Today we want to take about stomas and how you can get used to living with one if you have one this year. It is not as difficult as you may think and you can absolutely live a full and happy life with one. 

Your stoma nurse 

The great thing about the process of having ostomy products on your body is the nurse. Your nurse is trained to make you feel as confident and comfortable as possible and they will talk you through what a stoma is as well as how to live your day to day life with one. Your nurse will teach you how to care for your stoma, they will help you get used to food and drink with a stoma, and how to be confident in your intimate relationships. Your stoma nurse is a brilliant resource and you should utilise them. 

Don’t be scared to ask 

When you first have a stoma installed on your body it is only natural that you may feel uncomfortable and confused. There will be a lot of questions you will have for your nurse and doctor and this is the time when you should absolutely ask as many questions as you need to to understand life from here. Never feel afraid to ask a question because the more you ask the better it will be for you in the long run. 

Find the right one for you 

There are a few different types of stoma you can have for your body and it is important that you get the right one for your needs. When choosing a stoma for yourself you have 3 different options: regular, inward, or outward. When a decision is made on a stoma it will most likely be to down to the severity of your condition and your needs. 

Clothing 

One of the hardest things for you to get used to as a stoma wearer is fashion. We all know how hard it can be to feel confident in our clothing choices on a regular day but when a stoma is added to the mix things are more complex. However you can still feel happy and confident with a stoma as long as you consider wearing clothes more suited to one. Think of flowing styles of tops and dresses and stick to low rise jeans and pants to give room to your stoma. You can still dress to impress with a stoma so don’t feel as if you have to wear baggy T-shirts and sweats all the time! 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The Easiest Ways To Reduce Life’s Expenses

Life can be a lot of fun, but it sure can be expensive. It seems that there’s always one cost or another to be paid, and while this may mostly be manageable, it can also leave us in a precarious position. All it takes is one large, unexpected expense, and we’re in trouble. While you can’t get rid of these costs entirely, there are things you can do to keep them to a minimum. In this blog, we’re going to run through some of the best methods for keeping your bank balance healthy, without compromising the essentials of life.

Review Your Costs

The expenses can just rise, rise, rise as we go through life. Once we’re in the adult world, it seems that all we’re doing is just adding cost after cost, especially once we’re settled. Even if these costs aren’t astronomical, you could find that they add up to a pretty penny when they’re all tallied together. If it’s been a while since you purged some of your costs, then perhaps now is the time to take a look at doing so. You could save a significant sum of money each month just by canceling subscriptions that you no longer need.

Read Up On Best Practices

The internet isn’t perfect, but it has changed the game in certain ways, including the information we have access to regarding saving money. You might know how to live on a cheaper budget, but there are people out there that do -- and they’ve happily shared that information with the world. So don’t think that you’re alone in your quest to save more money. There are many communities out there that’ll tell you what you need to know about saving money on just about everything imaginable, and all you need to do is spend some time reading.

Don’t Pay More Than You Need To

It’s bad enough paying for the essentials that are compulsory, but it’s oh so much worse to pay for things that aren’t our responsibility. Yet that’s just what many of us do. Not every bill that comes your way is a necessary expense. In some cases, the price will be negotiable -- you can often get a reduction just by haggling a little. In other cases, the expense will really not be your responsibility. If you’re in an incident on the road, then an auto accident attorney can help you to get the money that’s rightfully yours. People even overspend on their taxes because they don’t realize that things like sales tax and health insurance premiums can be written off. 

Earn More Money

If you want to reduce the percentage of your income that you’re spending on expenses, then you have more than one method to reach your goal. You can reduce your expenses directly or you can earn more money. The latter may sound like a pipe dream, but it’s not. You can add 10-20% to your income just by starting a side-hustle or by asking your employer for a raise. Many bosses are happy to give it if they’re asked.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Get Money Calm for the New Year

 

Image courtesy of Pexels

Coming out of 2021, you would be forgiven for being a little more optimistic than usual. Vaccines are on the way, we understand more about the Covoid-19 disease and how it spreads while millions of people look forward to lockdown measures being over and done with.

But for many, 2020 was a year of financial hardship and uncertainty. Job losses were astronomical, especially for the service industry, the arts and airlines. While these industries are still being affected, news of several vaccines means that the world should start getting back to business within the first half of the new year.

This is good news for people who might still be worrying about money issues, are suffering as a direct result of the virus or work in one of the many affected sectors. Governments of the developed world have provided what aid they could in the form of paying wages and extending low rate loans to businesses, while others furloughed workers or provided stimulus cheques.

However, despite the best efforts of world leaders, many people still suffered financial hardship, and if this was you, then you aren’t alone. Organizations such as Anchor Law Firm provide free infrastructure and advice for staying informed as you move into 2021.

While people still suffer, despite the upturn in recent events, you will need to keep a clear focus on what your financial matters are for at least the coming six months. Even with vaccines rolling out as industry begins to pick up, it could be a while before you personally find yourself in a better position.

Now would be an excellent time to actually sit down and analyze your financial circumstances. Do not be afraid to look at your current money situation because only by understanding exactly where you are right now can you begin to form a plan for the future.

The first thing you should do is form a realistic plan as to what you can afford to spend on essential items such as utilities, food, and medication, and don’t be afraid to cut something if you don’t need it. Some things, such as a dental checkup, can be saved up for or revisited at a later date. 

Next, look at local and national financial advice websites for the latest information on any aid you might be able to receive because of the Covid-19 measures. Many localized organizations and charities are actively working with world governments to provide aid to millions of families.

Add any financial help you are entitled to on top of any money that you might be able to make now. Many people are turning to the internet to make a living since most large shipping companies and commercial sites such as Amazon are still operating pretty much as normal. If you own a home-run business then you might have been fortunate enough to continue to work.

Following your financial analysis, look at any expenditures that you don't need. It is best to be honest with yourself when doing this. If you have a subscription to a service like Netflix, ask yourself; is it really necessary at this time? Services such as this can be canceled at any time without incurring charges and offer easy cancellation through their own websites.

Even the best financial plan can't alleviate all of your stress though. A good practice is to set aside some time for personal things such as a socially distanced walk, exercise or meditation. Try to carry on as normal as possible and don't forget about the things that are important to you.

With all the good news lately, fingers crossed that it won’t be long before things begin to get back to the way they were.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

 


Dinner time. Xiao Tang was full of questions.

"Papa, how come Nai nai  is rich and you're not? I heard that you and Mama were hiding from her. Why is that? And why were you so angry when you saw her? Did she do something wrong?"

Dao Ming Si and San Cai looked at each other. 

San Cai spoke. "Dao Ming Si, I think you and Xiao Tang should have a little father and son talk after dinner."

Dao Ming Si nodded and said, "Xiao Tang, after dinner, Papa will go to your bedroom. There are things we need to tell you. Finish your dinner first then wash up afterwards, okay?"

"Okay, Pa."

That evening, Dao Ming Si told his son everything. He did not sugar coat the facts, he spoke to his son like he was speaking with an adult and not a 5 year old. He knew he understood. This way, there will be no more secrets, Dao Ming Si told himself. After he had tucked Xiao Tang in bed, he gave him a kiss and wished him good night. As he closed the door, Dao Ming Si had a feeling of relief. No more emotional baggage. This is what family is supposed to be.

San Cai was listening outside Xiao Tang's bedroom, listening to the father and son conversation. When Dao Ming Si came out, San Cai hugged him tight. "Thank you Dao Ming Si. Now that everything is out in the open, we can have peace of mind. No more running, no more hiding. You are the best husband and father any woman can ever have."

"I need to claim my reward then." Dao Ming Si had a naughty smile on his face.

"Reward? What reward?" San Cai had a puzzled look on her face.

"My reward for being the best husband!" Dao Ming Si says.

"Oh. Do you want me to cook something for you?" San Cai replied.

"Nope. I will claim my reward in the bedroom!" Dao Ming Si lifts San Cai up on his shoulder and carries her into their bedroom.

"Dao Ming Si!!!" 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

"Hua Ze Lei? Did you get to speak with Meizuo?" Ximen was on the phone with Lei.

"Yes, I did. He called me. That was wonderful news. I knew that in time, they'd patch up. We should give each other a pat on the back. It just seemed like the stars were all aligned we won heaven's favor. Happy to know Ah-Si has come to his senses." Lei said.

"When are you flying back home, Lei? We are all invited to Dao Ming Feng's birthday celebration next month. It would be nice if we would all be complete again." Ximen asked.

"I can book a flight next week. There is not much work to do at the office right now so I am sure my father would let me go on a vacation." Lei said.

"Great. Meizuo is staying here. It was only his mother who flew back to Los Angeles. His fiancee will  flying in from California a few days from today, so he stayed. So I guess we will complete. I am so excited to be with you guys again!" Ximen was smiling ear to ear. 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Dao Ming Si and San Cai have decided to travel to Taipei to visit San Cai's parents. 

"My parents will be so surprised. I am excited to see them!"

"See who, Mama?"

"My Ma and Pa, Xiao Tang. You will get to meet your Wai po and Wai gong." San Cai replied.

"Wow. Before it was just you, and me and Papa. Now I have a Nai nai, a Wai po and a Wai gong!" Xiao Tang was jumping with excitement. "When are we going to see them?"

"Next weekend we will go to Taipei to meet them." Dao Ming Si said. He then whispers to San Cai, "I hope they will be happy to see me too. I know they think I stole their daughter from them. Please protect me from your mother's frying pan."

San Cai jabbed her elbow into Dao Ming Si's side and laughed. "Haha. I don't think my Ma would hit you with her frying pan, but if she would ever attempt to, I will protect you."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dao Ming Si,Xiao Tang and San Cai stand outside the gate of her parents house. She rings the doorbell.

"Who is it?" San Cai hears her mother's voice. She keeps quiet. Rings the bell again.

"I'm coming, I'm coming! Stop ringing the doorbell! Electricity is not cheap!" Oh, that familiar high pitched voice that I miss so much, San Cai says to herself.

The door opens. Dong Mama is stunned to see San Cai, Dao Ming Si and Xiao Tang standing there. She drops to her knees and cries.

San Cai helps her mother up. "Ma... I'm home."

"Is it really you? Am I dreaming? San Cai? 6 years!"

"It is me, Ma. You are not dreaming. Come here, Dao Ming Si. Don't be scared of my mother. You know she adores you."

"Master Dao Ming Si..."

"No more titles, Dong Mama. I am just Dao Ming Si now. Oh, by the way, meet your grandson, Xiao Tang."

"Hello, Wai po. Xiao Tang greets his grandmother with a shy smile.

"My grandson? Lao gong! Your daughter is back! Come here and meet your son in law and your grandson! Lao gong!!! You pig head! Come here!"

Dao Ming Si and San Cai smiled. Just like the old times. 

The family had a lovely time catching up on each other's lives. San Cai told her mother about everything that happened and most especially about the recent incident of meeting Dao Ming Feng, the reconciliation, and all that. San Cai's parents were happy that all turned out well, even if it took years. Dong Papa's happiness was so evident in the way he played with his grandson. Even with a bad back, he willingly let Xiao Tang ride piggy back on him. 

The family stayed there for a night. The next morning, they were set on visiting Dao Ming Feng. San Cai gave her parents a big hug. She gave them her address and phone number in Hsinchu. 

"Ma, Pa. You can visit or call us anytime you want. It would be a nice break for you guys to do some travel once in a while. We'll have to go now. Dao Ming Si promised his mother a visit too." San Cai said.

"I will miss you Wai po and Wai gong. When you visit me in Hsinchu, I will show you my trains. We can play the whole day." Xiao Tang said as he embraced his grandparents.

"Oh, I will miss you too, Xiao Tang." Dong Mama kisses Xiao Tang. "Be a good boy to your parents always."

"Yes, Wai po."

Dong Papa pulls Dao Ming Si aside and says, "You better take good care of my daughter. You hear me?"

"I will treasure her with my life." Dao Ming Si says with all sincerity.

The three leave after saying their goodbyes.

Meanwhile, at the mansion, Dao Ming Feng was busy ordering the butler and the maids to be prepared for Dao Ming Si and his family's visit.

"Are my grandson's toys in his room? Did you get everything a little 5 year old boy would like? The food? Is it ready? They will be here soon."

Dao Ming Si and his family alight from a taxi. They got off a block from the mansion and walked towards the gate.

"Pa, where is your Mama's house? Is it still far to walk?" Xiao Tang asked.

"No, my son. Just a few meters more and we will be at the gate." Dao Ming Si replied.

"Here we are!" Dao Ming Si pushes open the gate. Two men in suits greeted him respectfully and bowed.

"Young Master Dao Ming Si. You're back!" One of the men said.

"Young master? You are Young master Dao Ming Si? Papa?" Xiao Tang looked puzzled. "You must have been really rich."

"Hush, my son. Just keep walking. Your Nai nai is waiting for you." San Cai said.

When they reached the foyer, Xiao Tang could not control himself and said, "This is Nai nai's house? It is as big as the earth!"

"Xiao Tang!" Dao Ming Feng calls out to her grandson

He runs to her side and hugs her. "Nai nai, Papa said you were rich but I did not know you were THIS rich!"

Dao Ming Feng smiled. "In time, Xiao Tang, you will have all this."

"Ma..." Dao Ming Si said. "We have already talked about this."

"I'm sorry. San Cai, come inside. The food is waiting. I asked the chef to make a sumptuous dinner for us all."

The family enjoyed a good meal and a lively conversation. This was something new to Dao Ming Si, because his mother rarely talked to him during their meals. It felt wonderful. And to think his mother was actually having a nice conversation with San Cai. Perfect. Just the way I want it to be. Dao Ming Si said to himself.

Dao Ming Feng calls for the nannies to help Xiao Tang upstairs to his room. "I got toys for you in your room, Xiao Tang. I hope you will like them." Dao Ming Feng said.

"Thank you Nai nai!," and he runs upstairs with the nannies.

"San Cai," said Dao Ming Feng, "Don't forget to invite your parents to come on my birthday. I want all of you to celebrate with me. This is going to be a very special birthday for me."

"I will let them know, Madam, I mean, Ma." 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

The family goes back to Hsinchu after spending the weekend at San Cai and Dao Ming Si's families. Xiao Tang enjoyed his little vacation and was eager to go back to Taipei to see his grandparents. 

Meanwhile, Dao Ming Si went back to his work at the restaurant and San Cai busied herself with taking care of her family. On the 28th of the following month would be a special day for everyone. This reunion would mark the start of emotional healing, and that both Dao Ming Si and San Cai never expected that this would happen this soon.

A day before their trip to Taipei, San Cai was looking at the clothes she had in her closet.

"What should I wear, Dao Ming Si? I am scared your mother would not approve of a casual attire. You know all her big wig business friends would be there too." San Cai said.

Dao Ming Si hands her a present. "Here, sweetheart. Take this. I saved some money out of my pay check last week and I got you a pretty dress. I hope you like it."

San Cai opened the box. Her eyes widened at the sight of what was inside. It was a satin gown in the prettiest shade of lilac. "Thank you, Dao Ming Si. I love it. But you shouldn't have spent so much for this dress. But still, thank you! But what about you? What are you going to wear?"

"A coat and tie of course. I got one for Xiao Tang too." Dao Ming Si smiled at his wife who was still marveling at the beautiful dress.

"We better get to bed early. Mama called. She said she will have a driver pick us up tomorrow at 8 am, so we don't have to take the train. She's going to have someone pick up your parents too. Please let them know tonight so they will be ready."

"I will. Thank you so much for this dress." San Cai kisses Dao Ming Si on the lips.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

The big day finally arrives.

The Dao Ming mansion is all decked with tables for the guests, complete with very expensive tablescapes. The entire garden has been lined with flower bouquets - tulips and chrysanthemums imported from the Netherlands.

Guest started arriving and Dao Ming Feng greeted them all with a smile on her face. Yu Tian made an announcement asking everyone to take a seat. Dao Ming Feng then spoke to the crowd.

"My friends, today is a very special day. It is my birthday but other than that, today I celebrate the homecoming of my son, Dao Ming Si. You may have heard rumors about our family issues, but its all in the past. Please let me introduce him to you once more. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my son, Dao Ming Si, his wife San Cai and my beloved grandson, Xiao Tang."

Everyone stood up and applauded. San Cai had her head bowed. She was not used to this kind of attention. "Look up at the crowd and smile, sweetheart." Dao Ming Si said.

"Do I look okay? Is my hair okay?" San Cai whispered.

"You are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid my eyes on." Dao Ming Si looks into her eyes and smiles.

San Cai blushed.

"San Cai! Mama is here!" Dong Mama was waving at her daughter, telling everyone around her that she is the mother of Dao Ming Si's wife. 

"Thank you everyone for your warm welcome for my son and his family and your heartfelt birthday greetings. Please sit back and enjoy the day. Wine will be served right now and the meal will follow shortly after. Again, thank you." Dao Ming Feng said to the crowd.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Hua Ze Lei, Meizuo and  Ximen and his wife Xiao You arrived. Dao Ming Si run to greet them.

"You made it! I am so happy that we get to have this chance to be together! Come in, come in!" Dao Ming Si had his arms around his friends.

San Cai greeted them soon as she saw them. "Lei, Ximen, Meizuo... thank you for coming. It seems like it has been forever since we were together like this."

"You look beautiful, San Cai. So elegant in that dress." Hua Ze Lei could not keep his eyes off San Cai.

Dao Ming Si puts his arm around San Cai's waist and says, "She sure is beautiful. I am the luckiest man alive."

Yes you are, Ah-Si. You are very lucky to have San Cai as your wife. She would have ended up with me, but I could never replace you in her heart. You are the one she loves, not me. I am just her good friend, and I vow to protect her forever from any harm and hurt. You can count on that Ah-Si. Lei said to himself.

"San Cai, you and Xiao You go ahead and enjoy. I am going to do some catching up with these three monkeys. Haha!" Dao Ming Si laughed.

"Okay," San Cai said, and then took Xiao You by the hand and led her to the gazebo which was quite a distance away from the crowd. Then they heard a familiar voice.. 

"San Cai! San Cai!" And they saw Qing He running towards them.

"Qing He!" San Cai gives him a hug. "How are you? I did not know you were here too."

"My father's company was chosen by Dao Ming Feng to build her new hotel in Keelung. I am glad that she did. This would be a big boost for my father's company."

"Come here and sit with us, Qing He. It has been years since we last had a good conversation." Xiao You said.

San Cai looked around to check on Xiao Tang. Her son was busy riding the electric toy car that Dao Ming Feng bought for him. San Cai had to chuckle watching the three nannies chase after her son.

This is such a wonderful day. San Cai smiled.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

In the meantime, Dao Ming Si, Hua Ze Lei, Ximen and Meizuo were engaged in a lively conversation. They were reminiscing about their younger years, their college days, the red tags, and their spoiled brat moments. All of a sudden, Dao Ming Si turned serious.

"I can never thank you guys enough. really. I still don't want this kind of lifestyle for my son. Too complicated, too stressful for a young boy. I'd rather want him to have a normal life, to mingle with kids his age, to be want he wants to be. But I am happy now that my mother and I have finally understood each other. It seems like a huge weight has been taken off my chest." 

Dao Ming Si then asks Ximen a question. "Ximen, you know that San Cai and Xiao you are the best of friends. Maybe you can let Xiao You visit San Cai once in a while. I know it will make both of them happy. Can you do that?" 

"Sure, why not?" Ximen replies.

Dao Ming Si then turns his attention to Meizuo.

"Meizuo, will you please hurry up and marry that girl? We are not getting any younger. Do it now while your knees can still hold you up! Hahaha."

"No rush, brother. I will marry her when the time is right. For now, let's just drink and have fun!" Meizuo raises his glass for a toast.

Lastly, Dao Ming Si speaks with Hua Ze Lei.

"Lei, my brother. I know we have had so many misunderstandings in the past but you were always there, supporting me, helping me. You have been my wife's crying shoulder and I really appreciate all those things you did to help her through her troubles - even if most of  her heartaches were because of me and my mother. I wish you find a wife who will care for you. Someone like San Cai. Honestly, if fate had it that me and San Cai did not end up together, I really wished she'd end up with you because I know you would treasure her like I do."

"Ah-Si. There is no one else like San Cai. I have been and will forever be her best friend, you know that. I will protect her and not allow anyone to give her heartaches again. That is a promise I will make to you, today, tomorrow and even beyond this earthly life. Promise me you will cherish my good friend and much as I treasure her friendship."  Hua Ze Lei said.

"I will, Lei. Promise you that."

"These two guys must be drunk! Cut out the drama, you too! Today is a happy day! Let's celebrate!" Meizuo said, laughing.

"I raising a glass to celebrate your homecoming, Ah-Si. Welcome back! Cheers!" Ximen said.

"Cheers!" All four friends raised their glasses, drank their wine and smiled.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Suddenly they heard a commotion. Dao Ming Feng's security personnel were running. Dao Ming Si stood up and tried to find out what was happening. He looked towards the gazebo where San Cai was. He saw her running towards Xiao Tang and grabbed him. Dao Ming Si started running towards his wife and son. Hua Ze Lei, Ximen and Meizuo followed suit.

What they saw stopped them in their tracks.

President Shui had a gun pointed at Dao Ming Feng's head. He was furious.

"Listen everyone. This woman here promised me the building contract. Then all of a sudden, she gives it to Chen Builders Corporation. Dao Ming Feng, do you know how much money I lost? I have sealed contracts with suppliers and hired workers then you would just drop me like a hot potato? You will have to pay!"

Dao Ming Feng answers back, "I never promised you anything. I gave every bidder a fair chance. It was your mistake, not mine!"

President Shui slaps Dao Ming Feng.

"Shut up, you bitch! Today is the day you will burn in hell." He cocks his pistol. The security personnel move in an attempt to disarm President Shui.

"Stand back or I will blow her head up right now."

Dao Ming Si flung himself towards the gunman. He wrestles with him trying to free the gun from his hand.

"You will do no harm to my mother!" Dao Ming Si shouts.

"Dao Ming Si!!!!" San Cai was now crying hysterically. "Dao Ming Si!!!"

"Papa!!!" Xiao Tang cried

President Shui was strong. He managed to kick Dao Ming Si in the abdomen. Dao Ming Si fell on his back in pain. President Shui pointed the gun at Dao Ming Si. 

"You will join your mother in hell today."

Bang. The sound of a gunshot.

President Shui drops his gun. He could not believe he could shoot someone out of anger... because of money.

Security personnel wrestle him to the ground and cuff him.

Dao Ming Si was shocked to see Hua Ze Lei beside him on the ground, bleeding from a wound on his chest.

"Lei! Lei! Why did you do that?" Dao Ming Si was frantic. 

Lei spoke while gasping for breath. "I do not want her to get hurt anymore. Remember I told you just now that I will protect her? She cannot lose you Ah-Si. That will break her heart.  Do not feel bad if I took the bullet for you."

"Hua Ze Lei!!!" Dao Ming Si was crying. He shouted at the crowd. "Someone please call an ambulance! Please!!!"

"I am fine, Ah-Si. It will only be my body that you won't see. But I will be with you guys forever in spirit. Promise me you will have a good life. Take good care of her."

"Hua Ze Lei! San Cai was beside him now. Don't do this!"

"San Cai. My best friend. I love you. I have always loved you...Please take care of yourself. I will see your guys in the next life."

Hua Ze Lei died in Dao Ming Si's arms. 

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Several years passed.

A teenager lays flowers and a toy train on a tomb marker.

"Hello, Uncle Lei. I am a big boy now. I am doing as I promised you. Mama is fine. She reminds me of you everyday. She tells me stories of how good a friend you are. I hope to find a friend like you someday. Papa is learning about the Dao Ming business. Nai nai is not forcing him to do it. It was Papa's decision. Nai nai is old now and Papa wants to make sure he knows what to do when the time comes that Nai nai cannot do her job anymore. We still live in Hsinchu. It is a nice place to grow up. I love my school, and I am working hard to get a scholarship too. I am going to make you proud of me, Uncle Lei. But most of all, I want to thank you for everything that you did for us. Please continue to watch over us, Uncle Lei. I love you, and yes... See you in the next life."

The End.

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© Eileen L. Layno 01/02/2021

Part 1 - Click here
Part 2 - Click here
Part 3 - Click here
Part 4 - Click here