Different Parts of Our Body Age At Different Times


WE all accept that getting older is inevitable, and now leading clinicians have revealed the exact age when different body parts start to decline, most alarming being the brain and lungs.

French doctors have found that the quality of men's' sperm starts to deteriorate by 35, so that by the time a man is 45 a third of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Here, with the help of leading clinicians, Angela Epstein tells the Daily Mail the ages when different parts of the body start to lose their battle with time.



BRAIN - Starts aging at 20
As we get older, the number of nerve cells - or neurons - in the brain decrease. We start with around 100 billion, but in our 20s this number starts to decline. By 40, we could be losing up to 10,000 per day, affecting memory, co-ordination and brain function.

GUT - Starts aging at 55.
A healthy gut has a good balance between harmful and 'friendly' bacteria. But levels of friendly bacteria in the gut drop significantly after 55, particularly in the large intestine, says Tom MacDonald, professor of immunology at Barts And The London medical school. As a result, we suffer from poor digestion and an increased risk of gut disease. Constipation is more likely as we age, as the flow of digestive juices from the stomach, liver, pancreas and small intestine slows down.

BREASTS - Start aging at 35
BY their mid-30s, woman's breasts start losing tissue and fat, reducing size and fullness. Sagging starts properly at 40 and the aureole (the area surrounding the nipple) can shrink considerably.

BLADDER - Starts aging at 65
Loss of bladder control is more likely when you hit 65. Women are more vulnerable to bladder problems as, after the menopause, declining estrogen levels make tissues in the urethra - the tube through which urine passes - thinner and weaker, reducing bladder support. Bladder capacity in an older adult generally is about half that of a younger person - about two cups in a 30-year-old and one cup in a 70-year-old. ...



LUNGS - Start aging at 20
Lung capacity slowly starts to decrease from the age of 20. By the age of 40, some people are already experiencing breathlessness. This is partly because the muscles and the rib cage which control breathing stiffen up.

VOICE - Starts aging at 65
Our voices become quieter and hoarser with age. The soft tissues in the voice box (larynx) weaken, affecting the pitch, loudness and quality of the voice. A woman's voice may become huskier and lower in pitch, whereas a man's might become thinner and higher.

EYES - Start aging at 40
Glasses are the norm for many over-40s as failing eyesight kicks in - usually long-sightedness, affecting our ability to see objects up close.

HEART - Starts aging at 40
The heart pumps blood less effectively around the body as we get older. This is because blood vessels become less elastic, while arteries can harden or become blocked because of fatty deposits forming on the coronary arteries - caused by eating too much saturated fat. The blood supply to the heart is then reduced, resulting in painful angina. Men over 45 and women over 55 are at greater risk of a heart attack.

LIVER - Starts aging at 70
This is the only organ in the body which seems to defy the aging process.

KIDNEYS - Starts aging at 50
With kidneys, the number of filtering units (nephrons) that remove waste from the bloodstream starts to reduce in middle age.

PROSTATE - Starts aging at 50
The prostate often becomes enlarged with age, leading to problems such as increased need to urinate, says Professor Roger Kirby, director of the Prostate Centre in London . This is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia and affects half of men over 50, but rarely those under 40. It occurs when the prostate absorbs large amounts of the male sex hormone testosterone, which increases the growth of cells in the prostate. A normal prostate is the size of a walnut, but the condition can increase this to the size of a tangerine.

BONES - Start aging at 35
'Throughout our life, old bone is broken down by cells called osteoclasts and replaced by bone-building cells called osteoblasts - a process called bone turnover,' explains Robert Moots, professor of rheumatology at Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool . Children's bone growth is rapid - the skeleton takes just two years to renew itself completely. In adults, this can take ten years. Until our mid-20s, bone density is still increasing. But at 35 bone loss begins as part of the natural ageing process.

TEETH - Start aging at 40
As we age, we produce less saliva, which washes away bacteria, so teeth and gums are more vulnerable to decay. Receding gums - when tissue is lost from gums around the teeth - is common in adults over 40.

MUSCLES - Start aging at 30
Muscle is constantly being built up and broken down, a process which is well balanced in young adults. However, by the time we're 30, breakdown is greater than buildup, explains Professor Robert Moots. Once adults reach 40, they start to lose between 0.5 and 2 per cent of their muscle each year. Regular exercise can help prevent this.

HEARING - Starts aging mid-50s
More than half of people over 60 lose hearing because of their age, according to the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.

SKIN - Starts aging mid-20s
The skin starts to age naturally in your mid-20s.

TASTE AND SMELL - Start aging at 60
We start out in life with about 10,000 taste buds scattered on the tongue. This number can halve later in life. After we turn 60, taste and smell gradually decline, partly as a result of the normal ageing process.

FERTILITY - Starts aging at 35
Female fertility begins to decline after 35, as the number and quality of eggs in the ovaries start to fall. The lining of the womb may become thinner, making it less likely for a fertilised egg to take, and also creating an environment hostile to sperm.

HAIR - Starts aging at 30
Male hair loss usually begins in the 30s. Hair is made in tiny pouches just under the skin's surface, known as follices. A hair normally grows from each follicle for about three years, is then shed, and a new hair grows. Most people will have some grey hair by the age of 35. When we are young, our hair is coloured by the pigments produced by cells in the hair follicle known as melanocytes.

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Strange Wonders Of The World

Sailing Stones


The mysterious moving stones of the packed-mud desert of Death Valley have been a center of scientific controversy for decades.Rocks weighing up to hundreds of pounds have been known to move up to hundreds of yards at a time. Some scientists have proposed that a combination of strong winds and surface ice account for these movements.

However, this theory does not explain evidence of different rocks starting side by side and moving at different rates and in disparate directions.

Moreover, the physics calculations do not fully support this theory as wind speeds of hundreds of miles per hour would be needed to move some of the stones.



Columnar Basalt
When a thick lava flow cools, it contracts vertically but cracks perpendicular to its directional flow with remarkable geometric regularity- in most cases forming a regular grid of remarkable hexagonal extrusions
that almost appear to be made by man.

One of the most famous such examples is the Giant's Causeway on the coast of Ireland (shown above),
though the largest and most widely recognized would be Devil's Tower in Wyoming. Basalt also forms different but equally fascinating ways when eruptions are exposed to air or water.


Blue Holes
 Blue holes are giant and sudden drops in underwater elevation that get their name from the dark and foreboding blue tone they exhibit when viewed from above in relationship to surrounding waters. They can be hundreds of feet deep and while divers are able to explore some of them they are largely devoid of oxygen that would support sea life due to poor water circulation - leaving them eerily empty. Some blue holes, however, contain ancient fossil remains that have been discovered, preserved in their depths.


Red Tides
 Red tides are also known as algal blooms - sudden influxes of massive amounts of colored single-cell algae that can convert entire areas of an ocean or beach into a blood red color. While some of these can be relatively harmless, others can be harbingers of deadly toxins that cause the deaths of fish, birds and marine mammals. In some cases, even humans have been harmed by red tides though no human exposure are known to have been fatal. While they can be fatal, the constituent phytoplankton in ride tides are not harmful in small numbers.


Ice Circles
While many see these apparently perfect ice circles as worthy of conspiracy theorizing, scientists generally accept that they are formed by eddies in the water that spin a sizable piece of ice in a circular motion. As a result of this rotation, other pieces of ice and flotsam wear relatively evenly at the edges of the ice until it slowly forms into an essentially ideal circle. Ice circles have been seen with diameters of over 500 feet
and can also at times be found in clusters and groups of different sizes as shown above.


Mammatus Clouds
True to their ominous appearance, mammatus clouds are often harbingers of a coming storm or other extreme weather system. Typically composed primarily of ice, they can extend for hundreds of miles in each direction
and individual formations can remain visibly static for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. While they may appear foreboding they are merely the messengers- appearing around, before or even after severe weather.



Fire Rainbows
A circumhorizontal fire rainbow arc occurs at a rare confluence of right time and right place for the sun and certain clouds. Crystals within the clouds refract light into the various visible waves of the spectrum but only if they are arrayed correctly relative to the ground below. Due to the rarity with which all of these events happen in conjunction with one another, there are relatively few remarkable photos of this phenomena.

Sinkholes
Sinkholes are one of the world's scariest natural phenomena. Over time, water erodes the soil under the planet's surface until in some cases, quite suddenly, the land above gives way and collapses into the earth. Many sinkholes occur naturally while others are the result of human intervention. Displacing groundwater can open cavities while broken pipes can erode otherwise stable subterranean sediments. Urban sinkholes, up to hundreds of feet deep have formed and consumed parts of city blocks, sidewalks and even entire buildings.


Penitentes
 Named after peak-hooded New Mexican monks (lower right above), penitentes are dazzling naturally-forming ice blades that stick up at sharp angles toward the sun. Rarely found except at high altitudes,
they can grow up taller than a human and form in vast fields. As ice melts in particular patterns, 'valleys' formed by initial melts leave 'mountains' in their wake. Strangely, these formations ultimately slow the melting process as the peaks cast shadows on the deeper surfaces below and allow for winds to blow over the peaks, cooling them.

Lenticular Clouds
 Ever wonder the truth about UFOs? Avoided by traditional pilots but loved by sailplane aviators, lenticular clouds are masses of cloud with strong internal uplift that can drive a motorless flyer to high elevations. Their shape is quite often mistaken for a mysterious flying object or the artificial cover for one. Generally, lenticular clouds are formed as wind speeds up while moving around a large land object such as a mountain.


Light Pillars
Light pillars appear as eerily upright luminous columns in the sky, beacons cast into the air above without an apparent source. These are visible when light reflects just right off of ice crystals from either the sun (as in the two top images above) or from artificial ground sources such as street or park lights. Despite their appearance as near-solid columns of light, the effect is entirely created by our own relative viewpoint.

Sundogs
Like light pillars, sundogs are the product of light passing through crystals. The particular shape and orientation of the crystals can have a drastic visual impact for the viewer, producing a longer tail and changing the range of colors one sees. The relative height of the sun in the sky shifts the distance the sundogs appear to be on either side of the sun. Varying climactic conditions on other planets in our solar system produce halos with up to four sundogs from those planets' perspectives. Sundogs have been speculated about and discussed since ancient times and written records describing the various attributes of our sun date back the Egyptians and Greeks.

Fire Whirls
Fire whirls (also known as fire devils or tornadoes) appear in or around raging fires when the right combination of climactic conditions is present. Fire whirls can be spawned by other natural events such as earthquakes and thunderstorms, and can be incredibly dangerous, in some cases spinning well out of the zone of a fire itself to cause devastation and death in a radius not even reached by heat or flame. Fire whirls have been known to be nearly a mile high, have wind speeds of over 100 miles per hour and to last for 20 or more minutes.


Orange Moons
This last phenomena is something most people have seen before - beautiful orange moon hanging low in the sky. But what causes this phenomena - and, for that matter, does the moon have a color at all?

When the moon appears lower on the horizon, rays of light bouncing off it have to pass through a great deal more of our atmosphere which slowly strips away everything but yellows, oranges and reds. The bottommost image above is true to the hues of the moon but has enhanced colors to more clearly show the differences in shade that illustrate the mixed topography and minerology that tell the story of the moon's surface. Looking at the colors in combination with the craters one can start to trace the history of impacts and consequent material movements across the face of our mysterious moon.


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Improve Your Brain Power - Memory

Everyone can take steps to improve their memory, and with time and practice most people can gain the ability to memorize seemingly impossible amounts of information. Whether you want to win the World Memory Championships, ace your history test, or simply remember where you put your keys, this article can get you started. Scientists believe that exercising your brain can create a ‘cognitive reserve' that will help you stay sharp as you age.

1. Convince yourself that you do have a good memory that will improve. Too many people get stuck here and convince themselves that their memory is bad, that they are just not good with names, that numbers just slip out of their minds for some reason. Erase those thoughts and vow to improve your memory. Commit yourself to the task and bask in your achievements — it's hard to keep motivated if you beat yourself down every time you make a little bit of progress.

2. Keep your brain active. The brain is not a muscle, but regularly “exercising” the brain actually does keep it growing and spurs the development of new nerve connections that can help improve memory. By developing new mental skills—especially complex ones such as learning a new language or learning to play a new musical instrument—and challenging your brain with puzzles and games you can keep your brain active and improve its physiological functioning.

3. Exercise daily. Regular aerobic exercise improves circulation and efficiency throughout the body, including in the brain, and can help ward off the memory loss that comes with aging. Exercise also makes you more alert and relaxed, and can thereby improve your memory uptake, allowing you to take better mental “pictures.”

4. Reduce stress. Chronic stress, although it does not physically damage the brain, can make remembering much more difficult. Even temporary stresses can make it more difficult to effectively focus on concepts and observe things. Try to relax, regularly practice yoga or other stretching exercises, and see a doctor if you have severe chronic stress.

5. Eat well and eat right. There are a lot of herbal supplements on the market that claim to improve memory, but none have yet been shown to be effective in clinical tests (although small studies have shown some promising results for ginkgo biloba and phosphatidylserine) . A healthy diet, however, contributes to a healthy brain, and foods containing antioxidants— broccoli, blueberries, spinach, and berries, for example—and Omega-3 fatty acids appear to promote healthy brain functioning. Feed your brain with such supplements as Thiamine, Vitamin E, Niacin and Vitamin B-6. Grazing, eating 5 or 6 small meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals, also seems to improve mental functioning (including memory) by limiting dips in blood sugar, which may negatively affect the brain.

6. Take better pictures. Often we forget things not because our memory is bad, but rather because our observational skills need work. One common situation where this occurs (and which almost everyone can relate to) is meeting new people. Often we don't really learn people's names at first because we aren't really concentrating on remembering them. You'll find that if you make a conscious effort to remember such things, you'll do much better. One way to train yourself to be more observant is to look at an unfamiliar photograph for a few seconds and then turn the photograph over and describe or write down as many details as you can about the photograph. Try closing your eyes and picturing the photo in your mind. Use a new photograph each time you try this exercise, and with regular practice you will find you're able to remember more details with even shorter glimpses of the photos.

7. Give yourself time to form a memory. Memories are very fragile in the short-term, and distractions can make you quickly forget something as simple as a phone number. The key to avoid losing memories before you can even form them is to be able to focus on the thing to be remembered for a while without thinking about other things, so when you're trying to remember something, avoid distractions and complicated tasks for a few minutes.

8. Create vivid, memorable images. You remember information more easily if you can visualize it. If you want to associate a child with a book, try not to visualize the child reading the book – that's too simple and forgettable. Instead, come up with something more jarring, something that sticks, like the book chasing the child, or the child eating the book. It's your mind – make the images as shocking and emotional as possible to keep the associations strong.

9. Repeat things you need to learn. The more times you hear, see, or think about something, the more surely you'll remember it, right? It's a no-brainer. When you want to remember something, be it your new coworker's name or your best friend's birthday, repeat it, either out loud or silently. Try writing it down; think about it.

10. Group things you need to remember. Random lists of things (a shopping list, for example) can be especially difficult to remember. To make it easier, try categorizing the individual things from the list. If you can remember that, among other things, you wanted to buy four different kinds of vegetables, you'll find it easier to remember all four.

11. Organize your life. Keep items that you frequently need, such as keys and eyeglasses, in the same place every time. Use an electronic organizer or daily planner to keep track of appointments, due dates for bills, and other tasks. Keep phone numbers and addresses in an address book or enter them into your computer or cell phone. Improved organization can help free up your powers of concentration so that you can remember less routine things. Even if being organized doesn't improve your memory, you'll receive a lot of the same benefits (i.e. you won't have to search for your keys anymore).

12. Try meditation. Research now suggests that people who regularly practice “mindfulness” meditation are able to focus better and may have better memories. Mindfulness (also known as awareness or insight meditation) is the type commonly practiced in Western countries and is easy to learn. Studies at Massachusetts General Hospital show that regular meditation thickens the cerebral cortex in the brain by increasing the blood flow to that region. Some researchers believe this can enhance attention span, focus, and memory.
13. Sleep well. The amount of sleep we get affects the brain's ability to recall recently learned information. Getting a good night's sleep – a minimum of seven hours a night – may improve your short-term memory and long-term relational memory, according to recent studies conducted at the Harvard Medical School.

14. Build your memorization arsenal. Learn pegs, memory palaces, and the Dominic System. These techniques form the foundation for mnemonic techniques, and will visibly improve your memory.

15. Venture out and learn from your mistakes. Go ahead and take a stab at memorizing the first one hundred digits of pi, or, if you've done that already, the first one thousand. Memorize the monarchs of England through your memory palaces, or your grocery list through visualization. Through diligent effort you will eventually master the art of memorization.

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Fantastic Colors of Sri Lanka - Incredible srilanka

School children descend the steps as they return after a visit to the rock fortress in Sigiriya. Sigiriya (Lion's rock), an ancient rock fortress and palace ruin situated in central Sri Lanka is a World Heritage Site.
A child holds an oil lamp in front of the Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) as they take part in a procession during the Esala Perahera festival in the ancient hill capital of Kandy. The festival features a nightly procession of Kandyan dancers, fire twirlers, traditional musicians and elephants and draws thousands of spectators from around the country.

Sri Lankan officer cadets march at a ceremony for 281 new army officers' graduation at the central hill town of Diyatalawa.

Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan bowls at a practice session ahead of the second one-day international cricket match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, in Dambulla.
A fisherman prepares his net for the night at Kandalama Lake, near Dambulla.

A visitor looks at frescoes on a rock face at the rock fortress in Sigiriya. Sigiriya (Lion's rock) is a popular tourist destination renowned for its ancient fresco paintings.
The shadow of the rock fortress is seen on the forest canopies below, in Sigiriya.

Kandyan dancers perform in front of the Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) as they take part in a procession during the Esala Perahera festival in the ancient hill capital of Kandy

A man displays a 3-day-old green turtle hatchling before releasing it into the ocean at a turtle hatchery in Kosgoda, north of Galle. Of the world's eight turtle species, Sri Lanka is home to five. Turtle hatcheries along the coast provide a way of earning a living for the people running them and also help combat the poaching of turtle eggs.
Three elephants, including one carrying a casket believed to contain a Buddha tooth relic (center), stand in front of the Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) as they take part in a procession during the Esala Perahera festival in Kandy

An elephant feeds at an elephant orphanage in Pinnawala The elephant orphanage aims to take care of orphaned or abandoned elephants in the jungles of Sri Lanka. The mahouts, or elephant keepers, feed the elephants and take them twice a day to a nearby river for bathing and drinking water.

An elephant herd bathes at a river near an elephant orphanage in Pinnawala
A Buddha statue is reflected in a lake at the Tsumani Honganji Vihara in Peraliya, north of Galle. The statue at the Vihara, along the coast, was built with Japanese assistance after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

People sit on the edge of a lookout on the walls of a 16th century Dutch fort as the sun sets in Galle.

Sri Lankan fishermen, also known locally as stick fishermen, sit perched on stilts fixed into the ocean floor as they fish in Koggala area, south of Galle
A Sri Lankan fisherman avoids a wave as he wades into the water to take his place on stilts, south of Galle

A Sri Lankan girl peeps from her window as the train rolls out from the railway station in Galle

Sri Lankan torch bearers wait for festivities to begin on opening night of the annual Kandy Esala Perahera festival Kandy.

Hindu devotees take part in a procession of chariots during the annual Chariot Festival in Wellawattha
A monkey rests on a wall as another grooms it at the rock fortress ruins in Sigiriya, near Dambulla

Sri Lankan traditional dancers from Budawatta Dance Troupe perform during the launch of "Meet in Sri Lanka" campaign, in New Delhi, India, Friday, July 31, 2009. The campaign is launched by Sri Lankan Tourism Ministry and Sri Lankan airlines to attract tour operators and Indian tourists.


Christian priest holds a small idol of Our Lady of Good Voyage as her main idol lies covered in floral tributes and decorations, right, atop a fishing boat, at a fishing port in Negambo, Sri Lanka, Sunday, July 19, 2009. Fishermen of the Christian community take out a traditional annual procession of the Lady of Good Voyage from a local church by foot and then later by boat to the ocean, as an expression of thanks for what the community considers her blessings for safe voyage.

Fishermen push their boat ashore as they use the waves to help them get it onto the beach in Unawatuna.

A Sri Lankan fisherman walks into the water in the Koggala area, Sri Lanka.


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How to Create filter in YAHOO and GMAIL - Informative

No doubt the mails circulated in various group are in huge numbers and they do mix up with our official/personal mails. Just to avoid all this please use the filters.

The procedure to create filter is as mentioned below:

Open your ID. Go to Options > Filters > Add. Now give the filter name as XXXX Group and in the subject line write/copy paste (so that you dont make mistake) ditto XXXX and then Move the message to ' To new folder. Give the name of new folder as XXXX. Save.

This way all the group mails will automatically go in this folder leaving your inbox free for your personal/official mails.



No doubt the mails circulated in various group are in huge numbers and they do mix up with our official/personal mails. Just to avoid all this please use the filters.
The procedure to create filter in GMAIL is as mentioned below:

Open your ID. Go to Settings > Filters >Create New Filter. In the subject carefully write XXXX. Now click 'next step . select the boxes 'skip the inbox archive it'. and apply the label. From choose label click new. Now give the label name as XXXX. Now select the box apply filter to conversations. Now click create filter. This way all the group mails will automatically go in this filter leaving your inbox free for ur personal/official mails.




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How to have a Great conversation


The art of conversation takes practice, and is not as hard as you might think. It will take some knowledge, practice, and patience, and you can learn to relax and enjoy a great conversation.

With these tips you will be well on your way to having a good, meaningful and entertaining conversation with anyone!



  • Make a good first impression. Smile, ask questions that require more than a yes/no answer, and really listen. Maintain eye contact and keep as friendly and polite as possible.
  • Listen. This is the most important part of any conversation. You might think a conversation is all about talking, but it will not go anywhere if the listener is too busy thinking of something to say next. Pay attention to what is being said. When you talk to the other person, injecting a thought or two, they will often not realize that it was they who did most of the talking, and you get the credit for being a good conversationalist – which of course, you are!
  • Find out what the other person is interested in. You can even do some research in advance when you know you will have an opportunity to talk with a specific person. Complimenting them is a great place to start. Everyone likes sincere compliments, and that can be a great ice-breaker.
  • Ask questions. What do they like to do? What sort of things have they done in their life? What is happening to them now? What did they do today or last weekend? Identify things about them that you might be interested in hearing about, and politely ask questions. Remember, there was a reason that you wanted to talk to them, so obviously there was something about them that you found interesting.
  • Forget yourself. Dale Carnegie once said, “It’s much easier to become interested in others than it is to convince them to be interested in you.” If you are too busy thinking about yourself, what you look like, or what the other person might be thinking, you will never be able to relax. Introduce yourself, shake hands, then forget yourself and focus on them instead.
  • Practice active listening skills. Part of listening is letting the other person know that you are listening. Make eye contact. Nod. Say “Yes,” “I see,” “That’s interesting,” or something similar to give them clues that you are paying attention and not thinking about something else – such as what you are going to say next.
  • Ask clarifying questions. If the topic seems to be one they are interested in, ask them to clarify what they think or feel about it. If they are talking about an occupation or activity you do not understand, take the opportunity to learn from them. Everyone loves having a chance to teach another willing and interested person about their hobby or subject of expertise.
  • Paraphrase back what you have heard, using your own words. This seems like an easy skill to learn, but takes some practice to master. Conversation happens in turns, each person taking a turn to listen and a turn to speak or to respond. It shows respect for the other person when you use your “speaking turn” to show you have been listening and not just to say something new. They then have a chance to correct your understanding, affirm it, or embellish on it.
  • Consider your response before disagreeing. If the point was not important, ignore it rather than risk appearing argumentative. If you consider it important then politely point out your difference of opinion. Do not disagree merely to set yourself apart, but remember these points:
  1. It is the differences in people–and their conversation–that make them interesting.
  2. Agreeing with everything can kill a conversation just as easily as disagreeing with everything.
  3. A person is interesting when they are different from you; a person is obnoxious when they can not agree with anything you say, or if they use the point to make themselves appear superior.
  4. Try to omit the word “but” from your conversation when disagreeing as this word often puts people on the defensive. Instead, try substituting the word “and”, it has less of an antagonistic effect.
  • Consider playing devil’s advocate – which requires care. If your conversation partner makes a point, you can keep the conversation going by bringing up the opposite point of view (introduce it with something like “I agree, and…”). If you overuse this technique, however, you could end up appearing disagreeable or even hostile.
  • Do not panic over lulls. This is a point where you could easily inject your thoughts into the discussion. If the topic seems to have run out, use the pause to think for a moment and identify another conversation topic or question to ask them. Did something they said remind you of something else you have heard, something that happened to you, or bring up a question or topic in your mind? Mention it and you’ll transition smoothly into further conversation!
  • Know when the conversation is over. Even the best conversations will eventually run out of steam or be ended by an interruption. Shake hands with the other person and be sure to tell them you enjoyed talking with them. Ending on a positive note will leave a good impression and likely bring them back later for more!



Warnings
  • Choose carefully when asking personal questions. You do not want to venture into overly personal issues. Even if the other person might be willing to talk about it, you may end up learning things that you really do not want to know. You certainly do not want the other person to think afterward that you coerced them into revealing personal information.
  • Be sincere! Compliments are great, but too much flattery is obvious and will reveal you as being insincere.
  • Beware of topics that can be inflammatory – such as religion and politics – and don’t venture into them unless you know the person has roughly the same convictions as you, or the circumstances otherwise allow for pleasant discussion. Again, it’s fine to disagree and can be nice to talk about differences, but it can also be a quick step toward an argument.
  • Try not to argue! You do not have to agree with everything someone says, but you do not have to tell them all about how you disagree. If you feel the need to explain an opposing viewpoint, express it simply and without putting the other person on the defensive. It is better to simply change the subject in a casual conversation than to get involved in an argument.
  • Try not to nod or respond with “Yes” and “I see” so much. It might make the person think you are bored and sometimes it may seem like you are rushing them along. Never say anything hurtful or offensive to the other person, this may project a bad feeling between you.
  • If it is a planned conversation, try listening to the news in case you run out of thing to say, it is always a good solution.
  • Also try not to cut the person off mid-sentence. It seems disrespectful and it makes it seem like what you have to say is more important than what the other person has to say. Let the person finish their thoughts and then continue on with thoughts of your own.


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The 10 Biggest Mistakes People Make Managing Organisational Performance


Mistake #1: Rely just on financial statements

Profit and loss, revenue and expenses these are measures of important things to a business. But they are information that is too little and too late. Too little in the sense that other results matter too, such as customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, customer advocacy. Too late in the sense that by the time you see bad results, the damage is already done. Wouldn't it be better to know that profit was likely to fall before it actually did fall, and in time to prevent it from falling?

Mistake #2: Look only at this month, last month, year to date
Most financial performance reports summarise your financial results in four values: 1) actual this month; 2) actual last month; 3) % variance between them; and 4) year to date. Even if you are measuring and monitoring non-financial results, you may still be using this format. It encourages you to react to % variances (differences between this month and last month) which suggest performance has declined such as any % variation greater than 5 or 10 percent (usually arbitrarily set). Do you honestly expect the % variance to always show improvement? And if it doesn't, does that really mean things have gotten bad and you have to fix them? What about the natural and unavoidable variation that affects everything, the fact that no two things are ever exactly alike? Relying on % variations runs a great risk that you are reacting to problems that aren't really there, or not reacting to problems which are really there that you didn't see. Wouldn't you rather have your reports reliably tell you when there really was a problem that needed your attention, instead of wasting your time and effort chasing every single variation?

Mistake #3: Set goals without ways to measure and monitor them
Business planning is a process that is well established in most organisations, which means they generally have a set of goals or objectives (sometimes cascaded down through the different management levels of the organisation) . What is interesting though, is that the majority of these goals or objectives are not measured well. Where measures have been nominated for them, they are usually something like this: Implement a customer relationship management system into the organisation by June 2006 (for a goal of improving customer loyalty) This is not a measure at all it is an activity. Measures are ongoing feedback of the degree to which something is happening. If this goal were measured well, the measure would be evidence of how much customer loyalty the organisation had, such as tracking repeat business from customers. How will you know if your goals, the changes you want to make in your organisation, are really happening, and that you are not wasting your valuable effort and money, without real feedback?

Mistake #4: Use brainstorming (or other poor methods) to select measures

Brainstorming, looking at available data, or adopting other organisations' measures are many of the reasons why we end up with measures that aren't useful and usable. Brainstorming produces too much information and therefore too many measures, it rarely encourages a strong enough focus on the specific goal to be measured, everyone's understanding of the goal is not sufficiently tested, and the bigger picture is not taken into account (such as unintended consequences, relationships to other objectives/goals) . Looking at available data means that important and valuable new data will never be identified and collected, and organisational improvement is constrained by the knowledge you already have. Adopting other organisations' measures, or industry accepted measures, is like adopting their goals, and ignoring the unique strategic direction that sets your organisation apart from the pack. Wouldn't you rather know that the measures you select are the most useful and feasible evidence of your organisation's goals?
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Mistake #5: Rely on scorecard technology as the performance measure fix
You can (and maybe you did) spend millions of dollars on technology to solve your performance measurement problems. The business intelligence, data mining and 'scorecarding' software available today promises many things like comprehensive business intelligence reporting, award-winning data visualization, and balanced scorecard and scorecarding and an information flow that transcends organizational silos, diverse computing platforms and niche tools .. and delivers access to the insights that drive shareholder value. Wow! But there's a problem lurking in the shadows of these promises. You still need to be able to clearly articulate what you want to know, what you want to measure and what kinds of signals you need those measures to flag for you. The software is amazing at automating the reporting of the measures to you, but it just won't do the thinking about what it should report to you.

Mistake #6: Use tables, instead of graphs, to report performance
Tables are a very common way to present performance measures, no doubt in part a legacy from the original financial reports that management accountants provided (and still provide today) to decision makers. They are familiar, but they are ineffective. Tables encourage you to focus on the points of data, which is the same as not seeing the forest for the trees. As a manager, you aren't just managing performance today or this month. You are managing performance over the medium to long term. And the power to do that well comes from focusing on the patterns in your data, not the points of data themselves. Patterns like gradual changes over time, sudden shifts or abrupt changes through time, events that stand apart from the normal pattern of variation in performance. And graphs are the best way to display patterns.


Mistake #7: Fail to identify how performance measures relate to one other
A group of decision makers sit around the meeting room table and one by one they go over the performance measure results. They look at the result, decide if it is good or bad, agree on an action to take, then move on to the next measure. They might as well be having a series of independent discussions, one for each measure. Performance measures might track different parts of the organisation, but because organisations are systems made up of lots of different but very inter-related parts, the measures must be inter-related too. One measure cannot be improved without affecting or changing another area of the organisation. Without knowing how measures relate to one another and using this knowledge to interpret measure results, decision makers will fail to find the real, fundamental causes of performance results.


Mistake #8: Exclude staff from performance analysis and improvement
One of the main reasons that staff get cynical about collecting performance data is that they never see any value come from that data. Managers more often than not will sit in their meeting rooms and come up with measures they want and then delegate the job of bringing those measures to life to staff. Staff who weren't involved in the discussion to design those measures, weren't able to get a deeper understanding of why those measures matter, what they really mean, how they will be used, weren't able to contribute their knowledge about the best types of data to use or the availability and integrity of the data required. And usually the same staff producing the measures don't ever get to see how the managers use those measures and what decisions come from them. When people aren't part of the design process of measures, they find it near impossible to feel a sense of ownership of the process to bring those measures to life. When people don't get feedback about how the measures are used, they can do little more than believe they wasted their time and energy.


Mistake #9: Collect too much useless data, and not enough relevant data
Data collection is certainly a cost. If it isn't consuming the time of people employed to get the work done, then it is some kind of technological system consuming money. And data is also an asset, part of the structural foundation of organisational knowledge. But too many organisations haven't made the link between the knowledge they need to have and the data they actually collect. They collect data because it has always been collected, or because other organisations collect the same data, or because it is easy to collect, of because someone once needed it for a one-off analysis and so they might as well keep collecting it in case it is needed again. They are overloaded with data, they don't have the data they really need and they are exhausted and cannot cope with the idea of collecting any more data. Performance measures that are well designed are an essential part of streamlining the scope of data collected by your organisation, by linking the knowledge your organisation needs with the data it ought to be collecting.
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Mistake #10: Use performance measures to reward and punish people
One practice that a lot of organisations are still doing is using performance measures as the basis for rewarding and punishing people. They are failing to support culture of learning by not tolerating mistakes and focusing on failure. It is very rare that a single person can have complete control over any single area of performance. In organisations of more than 5 or 6 people, the results are undeniably a team's product, not an individual's product. When people are judged by performance measures, they will do what they can to reduce the risk to them of embarrassment, missing a promotion, being disciplined or even given the sack. They will modify or distort the data, they will report the measures in a way that shows a more favourable result (yes - you can lie with statistics), they will not learn about what really drives organisational performance and they will not know how to best invest the organisation's resources to get the best improvements in performance.


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Informative Computer Tips - NTFS Vs FAT


To NTFS or not to NTFS—that is the question. But unlike the deeper questions of life, this one isn't really all that hard to answer. For most users running Windows XP, NTFS is the obvious choice. It's more powerful and offers security advantages not found in the other file systems. But let's go over the differences among the files systems so we're all clear about the choice. There are essentially three different file systems available in Windows XP: FAT16, short for File Allocation Table, FAT32, and NTFS, short for NT File System.


FAT16
The FAT16 file system was introduced way back with MS–DOS in 1981, and it's showing its age. It was designed originally to handle files on a floppy drive, and has had minor modifications over the years so it can handle hard disks, and even file names longer than the original limitation of 8.3 characters, but it's still the lowest common denominator. The biggest advantage of FAT16 is that it is compatible across a wide variety of operating systems, including Windows 95/98/Me, OS/2, Linux, and some versions of UNIX. The biggest problem of FAT16 is that it has a fixed maximum number of clusters per partition, so as hard disks get bigger and bigger, the size of each cluster has to get larger. In a 2–GB partition, each cluster is 32 kilobytes, meaning that even the smallest file on the partition will take up 32 KB of space. FAT16 also doesn't support compression, encryption, or advanced security using access control lists.

FAT32
The FAT32 file system, originally introduced in Windows 95 Service Pack 2, is really just an extension of the original FAT16 file system that provides for a much larger number of clusters per partition. As such, it greatly improves the overall disk utilization when compared to a FAT16 file system. However, FAT32 shares all of the other limitations of FAT16, and adds an important additional limitation—many operating systems that can recognize FAT16 will not work with FAT32—most notably Windows NT, but also Linux and UNIX as well. Now this isn't a problem if you're running FAT32 on a Windows XP computer and sharing your drive out to other computers on your network—they don't need to know (and generally don't really care) what your underlying file system is.


The Advantages of NTFS
The NTFS file system, introduced with first version of Windows NT, is a completely different file system from FAT. It provides for greatly increased security, file–by–file compression, quotas, and even encryption. It is the default file system for new installations of Windows XP, and if you're doing an upgrade from a previous version of Windows, you'll be asked if you want to convert your existing file systems to NTFS. Don't worry. If you've already upgraded to Windows XP and didn't do the conversion then, it's not a problem. You can convert FAT16 or FAT32 volumes to NTFS at any point. Just remember that you can't easily go back to FAT or FAT32 (without reformatting the drive or partition), not that I think you'll want to.

The NTFS file system is generally not compatible with other operating systems installed on the same computer, nor is it available when you've booted a computer from a floppy disk. For this reason, many system administrators, myself included, used to recommend that users format at least a small partition at the beginning of their main hard disk as FAT. This partition provided a place to store emergency recovery tools or special drivers needed for reinstallation, and was a mechanism for digging yourself out of the hole you'd just dug into. But with the enhanced recovery abilities built into Windows XP (more on that in a future column), I don't think it's necessary or desirable to create that initial FAT partition. When to Use FAT or FAT32
If you're running more than one operating system on a single computer, you will definitely need to format some of your volumes as FAT. Any programs or data that need to be accessed by more than one operating system on that computer should be stored on a FAT16 or possibly FAT32 volume. But keep in mind that you have no security for data on a FAT16 or FAT32 volume—any one with access to the computer can read, change, or even delete any file that is stored on a FAT16 or FAT32 partition. In many cases, this is even possible over a network. So do not store sensitive files on drives or partitions formatted with FAT file systems.


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Coal Miners Of Meghalaya, India

Source: Based in New Delhi for Getty Images, photographer Daniel Berehulak writes for LightBox about his photo essay documenting the working life of coal miners in the Jaintia Hills.

I traveled to India’s far northeast last month, before the monsoon rains set in and rendered the mines unworkable for the summer. In the Jaintia Hills, in the remote state of Meghalaya, miners descend to great depths on slippery, rickety wooden ladders. Men, women, even children squeeze into ‘rat hole’ tunnels lacing thousands of privately-owned and unregulated mines. There, they toil to extract coal by hand with primitive tools and no safety equipment.

I was unsure of what the story would hold or the conditions I would face. I spent a week there, though two days were lost to arguing with ‘guides’ who, we believe, were hired by the mine owners to keep us from reporting. We eventually got underground to witness what miners were enduring to scratch out such a sad and meager existence.


As I was shooting an image of miners being lifted out from a shaft, about 300-feet deep, I wondered what I would do if the cable were to break and come crashing down. That is how four miners had died only weeks earlier. Where could I hide? Narrow shafts do not offer many escape routes beyond a few ‘rat hole tunnels’ that are two or three feet high.

Prabhat Sinha, from Assam, carries a load of coal weighing 60kg's, supported by a head-strap, as he ascends the staircase of a coal mine near the village of Khliehriat, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India. miners descend to great depths on slippery, rickety wooden ladders. Children and adults squeeze into rat hole like tunnels in thousands of privately owned and unregulated mines, extracting coal with their hands or primitive tools and no safety equipment.

Workers load coal onto trucks at a mine in the Jaintia hills, located in India's far North East state of Meghalaya.


Fourteen-year-old Chhai Lyngdoh, kicks out the coal from a container, as it is emptied onto a heap, after being craned out of a 300ft deep mine shaft.

Workers load coal onto a truck at a coal depot.

20 year old Anil Basnet pushes a coal cart, as he and a fellow worker pull coal out from the rat hole tunnel 300 ft below the surface.

22 year old Shyam Rai from Nepal pauses as he works, digging out coal, using hands and a pick to get at the seams of coal.

A crane lifts miners out of a 300ft deep mine shaft, as they head out for their lunch break.

A miner unloads tools after being hoisted from the depths of a coal mine.

Coal miners wash themselves off as they break for lunch at a coal mine.

A crane lifts miners out of the 300ft deep shaft of a coal mine.

12 year old Abdul Kayum from Assam pauses for a portrait, whilst working at a coal depot carrying coal to be crushed

Workers load coal onto trucks at a coal depot. After traversing treacherous mountain roads, the coal is delivered to neighbouring Bangladesh and to Assam from where it is distributed all over India, to be used primarily for power generation and as a source of fuel in cement plants.

An umbrella lays discarded on a heap of coal.


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