Have You Ever Heard of Viral Marketing?

Viral Marketing is the spread of a word from one person to many others on a quick basis similar to a virus by an infected patient to other people surrounding him/her. It’s a new form of informal advertising by passing along a message or making other people aware about a product or a service just by talking about it.

The name viral is derived from the image of a person being infected with the marketing message, then spreading it to friends like a virus. The major difference, however, is that the customer voluntarily sends the message to others.

Viral Marketing messages include ads for goods and services, hyperlinked promotions that take someone immediately to a website, online newsletters and various games. Statistics indicate that 81 percent of recipients who receive a viral marketing message pass it along to another person. Almost 50 percent pass it along to two or more people.

The marketing message can be more deliberate such as when an individual recommends something to a friend. It can also be transmitted passively, when the message is simply attached to an email. Viral Marketing allows a firm to gain rapid product awareness at a low cost.

The main advantage of implementing viral marketing technique is getting fast and effective results by using this technique widely on the Internet. This gives a better exposure to the website as well as its owner and make other people aware of its existence. It also helps in conveying the desired message to a larger audience therefore building a good reputation for both the company/website and the owner.

Another benefit is that the more popularity the website gain, the bigger number of webmasters it will attract who will be willing either in exchanging links or just placing inbound links. This will definitely increase the value of the website by having external links which will ultimately result in improving its page rank with search engines.

The number of visitors to the website will also rise on a regular basis as it gains popularity and search engine ranking. The website owner will really benefit from the high volume targeted traffic that is going to blow his or her website fame and shoot up his or her revenue. Therefore, I can not emphasize more on the importance of viral marketing in boosting the Internet Marketing industry these days.

Blue Marble, a viral marketing company, created a program for Scope mouth wash. Consumers were able to send a customized, animated e-mail – kiss – to their friends. The attached marketing message reinforced the brand message that Scope brings people – kissably close. People who received the e-mail kiss could then forward the message to someone else. Scope’s tracking technology indicated most did forward the message.

The term – viral – may connote the negative image of a computer virus. Consequently, More concern should be shown when offering this program to a certain company. Company leaders may want to find some other term to describe the technique to the general public so that no undue suspicion or fear arises.

Flu Prevention and the Gym Member

Health officials’ warning this month of a potentially harsh flu season should be a red flag to avid aerobic-bunnies and gym-jocks alike. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warn that the flu is transmitted when flu virus in the air is inhaled after an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. Transmission also occurs when a person touches a surface that has flu virus on it and then touches his or her nose or mouth. Those familiar with the typical health club milieu, then, can easily liken a workout in the gym to sitting in a veritable Petry dish…

Heavy-breathing members on closely-placed cardiovascular machines and in crowded group fitness classes, hundreds of kinds of shared equipment from dumbbells and weight plates to public restrooms and the corner water fountain provide countless opportunities for contact with the flu virus. So, short of ditching our fitness goals until mid-Spring, it would do us well to learn more about the flu, it’s prevention, and what we can do about it.

What is the flu?

The flu, or influenza, is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. It attacks the respiratory tract in humans (nose, throat, and lungs). The flu is different from a cold; it usually comes on suddenly and may include these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness (can be extreme)
  • Dry cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Body aches

About 10% to 20% of U.S. residents will get the flu each year. Among these persons infected, an average of 36,000 will die, and 114,000 will be hospitalized. Although the CDC claims it is not possible to accurately predict the severity of the flu season, this year’s early incidence of Type A flu strain is historically associated with a more severe flu season, including higher numbers of related hospitalizations and deaths. To make the outlook more grim, an epidemiological assessment by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) already reports “widespread” influenza activity in over 10 U.S. states.

Who is at risk?

Although anyone can get the flu, including individuals who are healthy, there are various groups who are at higher risk for complications. These high risk groups include:

  • persons aged > 50 years;
  • residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that house persons of any age who have long-term illnesses;
  • adults and children > 6 months of age who have chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma;
  • adults and children > 6 months of age who need regular medical care or had to be in a hospital because of metabolic diseases (like diabetes), chronic kidney disease, or weakened immune system (including immune system problems caused by medicine or by infection with human immunodeficiency virus [HIV/AIDS]);
  • children and teenagers (aged 6 months to 18 years) who are on long-term aspirin therapy and therefore could develop Reye Syndrome after the flu; and
  • women who will be more than 3 months pregnant during the flu season.

How to Prevent Getting the Flu

Health officials are encouraging people, particularly those in high-risk groups to obtain a flu shot. The CDC states that an annual flu shot is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get the flu.

The best time to get a flu shot is from October through November, although you can still benefit from getting the vaccine after November, even if the flu is present in your community. Be aware that it takes about two weeks after the vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body to provide protection.

Obtaining the vaccine does not guarantee a flu-free season, however. Influenza viruses are constantly changing, and vaccine effectiveness depends on the match between vaccine strains and circulating viruses and the age and health status of the person getting the shot. Although the strain in this year’s flu vaccine is different from the circulating strain, the CDC states that studies indicate that the vaccine should provide some cross-protection against the circulating A strain.

Some people resist getting the flu shot because of the belief that they will get severe side effects, or even the flu itself, from the vaccine. The viruses in the vaccine are inactivated, so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Certain side effects are possible, such as soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, fever (low grade), and aches.

Chances that the shot will cause serious harm, or death, is very small and allergic reactions to the vaccine, though possible, are rare, states the CDC. Most people who get the vaccine have no serious problems with it. However, the following groups should not get a flu shot before talking with their doctor:

  • People with an allergy to hens’ eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past.
  • People who have developed Guillian-Barre Syndrome in the 6 weeks following a flu shot.

Since obtaining vaccination doesn’t necessarily guarantee immunity against the flu, it is wise to add common sense to our prevention efforts while we are busy pumping iron at the health club. Old fashioned hand-hygiene can go a long way in helping to prevent flu transmission. Although you don’t want to spend your entire workout running to the restroom to wash your hands after every set, it’s certainly advisable to make sure your hands are clean before and after the workout. Refrain from touching your nose and mouth during the workout to avoid obtaining the virus. Use of hand-antiseptics which include alcohol can also help to prevent transmission of the flu virus.

What to do if you get the flu

So what if you obtain a flu shot, practice stellar hand-hygiene and manage to contract the flu anyway? Since it is impossible to tell if you have the flu based on symptoms alone, visit your doctor. Tests can be performed in the first few days of the illness to determine the diagnosis. Since influenza is caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t work to cure it. You need to rest, drink plenty of fluids, avoid using alcohol and tobacco, and possibly take medication to relieve symptoms.

The CDC warns never to give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever, without speaking to your doctor. Doing so can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye syndrome.

By all accounts, we may be in store for a particularly harsh flu season this year. Take precaution to reduce the likelihood of getting the flu, particularly if you are an avid gym-goer. Preventative measures may not only help to avoid the flu, but also interrupting hard earned progress on your fitness goals.

For more information about the flu, it’s transmission, prevention and treatment, check out the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/

The "Worthy" Poor VS The "Unworthy" Poor

In American Society, we have divided the poor into two classes, the “worthy” poor and the “unworthy” poor. The “worthy” poor are those we feel are worth being on state/federal aid and do not complain about assisting. The “unworthy” poor are those are receive aid as well but for some reason society feels they could take care of themselves and not depend on the aid.

Society feels that those in the “unworthy” class are capable of providing for themselves financially. The reason being that most of the people who fall into this class are younger then the people who fall into the “worthy” class. Many who fall into the “worthy class” are the elderly who are beyond working age, and find it hard to support their selves without some form of a fixed income.

Although the majority of the “worthy” class is made up of the elderly, there are certain situations where the “worthy” class also includes some of a younger generation. Many of those come from the deeply impoverished corners of the United States Society. Many don’t have a chance of surviving and living a better life then they are being given unless the someone, whether it be the government or a small organization, step up and find some way to show them the way to improve themselves.

There are a few such organizations and federal programs in place already, but there are not nearly enough to tackle the large need that we have for the issue. Many people feel that even though they fall into the “worthy” category, they are still not worth wasting time, resources, and money on to educate towards a better life. Many look down on those who need aid regardless of the situation and feel the same about them. They think that they are children, and as they grow they will learn and they will make something better of themselves. Unfortunately, this is not true. As they grow up in a poverished lifestyle they will learn from what they are surrounded with. They will grow up and realize it isn’t so bad to be where they are, because they have not had anyone show them that there is a different way in life.

As American’s, we are a large extended family. Everyone is supposed to look out for their family and protect them. I do not know why no one is protecting the children of these “unworthy” groups and showing them the way to better themselves and enrich their lives. It is going to take more then giving their family a few hundred dollars a month in food stamps and other aid to teach these children how to succeed in life. It is going to take educating them. Not only do these children need to be shown the way, but their parents/parent as well need to be educated on how to enrich not only their lives but their children’s lives as well. It is a two step process, and it is time as a society we step up and start making it a reality instead of a vision. With a little hard work I honestly believe that poverty in the US could be helped dramatically by just a few nice neighbors holding out their hands and showing that they are willing to assist.

Online Education – Do You Want To Return To School?

In our rapidly changing global world, millions of students are currently taking college-level online (distance education) classes. Private and public universities in the United States and abroad are offering Certificate, Baccalaureate, Masters and Doctoral degree programs over the Internet to adult learners. From Ivy League to Community Colleges, an increasing number of students can log on to their classes from home, work or while commuting by bus and train. Adult learners frequently juggle a myriad of responsibilities including raising children, career, and care giving for senior parents. Formerly, a university of interest may have been out of reach geographically. Presently, an employee located in the United States can register for classes taught half way around the world. Non-traditional venues outside of the more traditional classroom offer viable opportunities for continuing one’s education.

Adult learners make up the largest demographic of post-secondary institutions in the United States. For this student group, the benefits of online academic programs are:

o To update current skill sets

o To learn new skill sets

o To earn an undergraduate or graduate level degree

o The fulfillment of academic requirements necessary for a current job or promotion

o To change careers

o The satisfaction of certification or licensure requirements

o Personal and spiritual growth and development

Not for the faint of heart, success in distance education academic programs requires high levels of stamina, discipline, and motivation. A good candidate must be computer literate, possess the ability to read massive amounts of material in short-time frames, have good writing and communication skills, hold high expectations for good grades, enjoy applying critical thinking and commit a minimum of 15 hours per week per course (be prepared to allocate more, if necessary).

The Internet and the World Wide Web provide the critical technology platform for distance education. University technological and operational infrastructures (including hardware, software and transmission) provide the additional cornerstones to the technology platform needed to execute distance education programs. The delivery of academic content may be accomplished in several formats. The more traditional venues are correspondence courses, videos, audio-cassettes, CD-ROMS, and broadcasts via television and radio. Modern formats include synchronous and/or asynchronous education content distribution channels. Synchronous delivery refers to real-time interaction between instructor and student i.e., two-way video-conferences, whiteboards, chat rooms, telephone software (ex. Skype), and mobile technology devices. Asynchronous interaction does not involve real time communication. Instead, interaction between instructor and student is accomplished through the use of e-mail, DVDs, and the traditional education delivery formats.

As a student, you will need a desktop or laptop computer, an Internet Service provider, a cell phone, software (i.e., word processor, financial spreadsheet, calendar and Power Point), a backup storage disk drive (nothing can make your heart drop faster than losing a body of work that you’ve diligently developed), a headset with microphone for virtual team discussions and the traditional school supplies. Optional technology may include memory upgrades, scanners, digital scanners, and fax machines.

Ten Tips For The Successful Online Student:

o Have a credit card or debit card ready for downloading e-books and other required course reading materials.

o Maintain a list of more than one bookstore in the event that a required textbook is sold out. It’s always a good idea to obtain a list of the required textbooks midway through the term and order in advance for the following term.

o Do not be shy about asking for help if needed. I cannot stress enough the importance of communicating openly with your professor or instructor about course material that you may not understand. Online academic programs tend to move rapidly and course content that you do not understand will most likely cause problems down the road resulting in frustration and possibly, lower grades.

o Seek out a tutor. If there are areas that you know need strengthening, even before the class begins, have a tutor on stand-by. Also, the telephone number of a computer specialist should be in your rolodex.

o Time management will be critical. Keep a planner. Read your syllabus as soon as it becomes available and plan accordingly.

o Uphold your responsibilities as a virtual team member. Your contributions will directly impact the team grade.

o Exercise. Long hours at the computer can cause strain on the neck, shoulder, arm and back muscles, not to mention the hands. Remember to periodically stretch and tone.

o Eat a healthy diet. Keep good healthy recipes handy. Hydrate. Avoid heavy snacking on calorie-laden food and instead eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Avoid white flour and choose high fiber grains.

o See your doctor. A healthy body feeds a healthy mind.

o Stay in contact with your Academic Advisor to be sure that you are satisfying the requirements needed to complete your degree.

In the Fall term of 2006, 3.5 million students representing 20% of all U.S. higher education students, took at least one online course (2007. The Sloan Consortium). It is projected that distance education will continue to grow in popularity domestically and internationally. The most commonly offered online academic programs are Business, Computer Science and Engineering, Education, Engineering, Library Science, Nursing, and Public Health. Whether you select a community college, public institution, private institution or Ivy League university, enjoy the learning experience.

© 2007-2008 Jeanna Foy-Stanley

Do I Really Need a Lawyer to Get a Trademark?

As an experienced Trademark Lawyer, I am frequently asked if individuals or small companies need an attorney to register for a federal trademark. The short answer is no — just as one doesn’t technically need a mechanic to change a car transmission or perform a major engine overhaul. Nonetheless, in both cases, hiring a professional is still advisable.

First, it is essential to conduct a thorough search of all available public records to determine if your proposed name and/or logo are confusingly similar to names or logos that are already being used in commerce by others.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website allows one to search public records online for free. However, smart businesses hire a third party research firm to conduct this exhaustive research for them. If you attempt to do such a search yourself, you will probably miss something, and that could create significant problems for you down the line. Further, there are multiple sources of information about unregistered, but still relevant “common law” uses that must be considered.

This voluminous research will undoubtedly reveal third-party uses that are somewhat similar in some way, shape or form to your proposed use. For example, if you are interested in using the mark “COMPUTER” in connection with jeans, there will be other marks with “computer” in them. Are they confusingly similar? That is the key question, and like most nuanced issues in law, it is often a matter of degree and professional opinion.

Once you are comfortable with the knowledge that your proposed brand name and logo are clear of any major, conflicting third party uses, there are a number of questions to still ask: Is the mark “generic”, that is, the name of the class of goods for which you intend to use it?

For example, one cannot trademark the brand name “computer” for use in connection with computers. However, “computer” could theoretically become the brand name of a pair of jeans, because in that context, it is actually “arbitrary” or “fanciful.” Other categories of marks are “merely descriptive,” that is, does it merely describe an attribute of the product you are branding? Is the term “suggestive,” that is, does it not describe but suggest a feature of the goods? A legal professional can evaluate this issue based on how similar cases were handled on the past.

If you are still comfortable with the mark as proposed, you would then file a formal application in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This application costs a fee of several hundred dollars all the way up to thousands of dollars, based on the number of “classes” of goods or services that you intend to use the trademark in connection with.

Eventually, you would receive a response from an Examiner working at the Trademark Office. That Examiner would probably ask a number of questions about your proposed mark, and often will seek further clarifications about your application. BE CAREFUL. Whatever you say in response to these questions will become public knowledge as part of the government file.

Further, whatever you do in response to these Office Actions can limit or affect your rights later. For example, disclaiming a portion of the mark, or narrowing the classes of goods for which you are seeking a trademark, can come back to haunt you later. It is easy to give away your rights, but much harder (and sometimes impossible) to ever get them back.

So, to answer the recurring question, one does not technically need an attorney to apply for a US Federal Trademark on a new brand name that one intends to use in commerce. However, it is a long and complicated process, especially if you are unfamiliar with it. And like replacing a car transmission, it requires skill and experience.

What Are Forklift Trucks?

Forklift Trucks are used in industrial settings to lift and move heavy objects. Since its development in 1920 by   transmission  company: Clark, and by hoist company: Yale and Towne Manufacturing, they have become a vital piece of machinery in warehouses across the world.

Forklift Trucks are classified into different  classes  and lift codes:

  • Class 1 include Electric Motor Riders. Their lift codes include: Number 4, which is a three-wheeled, sit-down, counterbalanced truck. Number 5, which is a cushioned, solid tire, sit-down, counterbalanced truck. And, Number 6, which is a pneumatic tire, sit-down, counterbalanced truck.
  • Class 3 include Electric Motor Walkies. Their lift codes include: Number 2, which is a low-lift pallet truck. Number 5, which is a high reach lift type. And, Number 7, which is a high lift, counterbalanced truck.
  • Class 4 include: Internal Combustion Engine Riders. Their lift codes include: Number 3, which is a cushioned, solid tire, sit-down, counterbalanced truck.
  • Class 5 include: Internal Combustion Engine Riders. Their lift codes include: Number 4, which is a pneumatic tire, sit-down, counterbalanced truck.
  • Class 6, which is Rough Terrain. Their lift codes include: Number 1 which is classified as all types.

Besides counterbalanced, there are speciality trucks which include:

  • Articulated Counterbalance Trucks. These are Forklift Trucks which have front wheel steering and a very narrow aisle truck. These are able to offload trailers, as well as place and move loads into narrow aisle racks.
  • Guided Very Narrow Aisle Trucks. These Forklifts are rail guided. Their lift heights are 40 feet to 98 feet, non-top tied or top tied respectively. These Forklift Trucks are only able to be used on floors with a high standard of flatness.
  • Explosion Proof Trucks. These are for use in the operation of the movement of potentially explosive materials.

In the interest of saving man-power and the wages associated with it, some companies now employ the use of these. These trucks are often computer operated and are becoming more and more available by manufacturers around the world. While they save on man-power in terms of having someone to operate the machine by standing behind or sitting in it, there is still the wages of the computer operator to consider when deciding if Forklifts actually save a company man-power or wages at all.

The Search for the Best Treatment for Common Cold Symptoms

Opinions vary about the best treatment for common cold symptoms. Zinc common cold remedies are much in the news, but some controversy surrounds their use.

Over the counter products, vitamin supplements and herbal remedies are really the only options a person has for treating a cold. Because colds are caused by viruses, there are no effective prescription medications and a visit to the doctor is usually unnecessary, unless a secondary bacterial infection, such as a sinus or ear infection occurs. Antibiotics are not effective for either preventing or treating a cold. Over-use of antibiotics has led to the development of more resistant strains of bacteria.

According to many experts, the best treatment for common cold symptoms is to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Probably, because so many people have a busy lifestyle, pharmaceutical companies keep coming up with products like zinc common cold remedies and other multi-symptom cold relievers. Advertising for these products typically suggests that these can help you “get on with your life”. But many of these products have unwanted side effects. Some can be relatively serious, considering that cold symptoms are typically gone in a week or so.

Some people who have used a zinc common cold nasal spray or gel have lost their sense of smell. One company was sued and settled out of court without admitting fault. At least two different clinical studies have confirmed that these zinc common cold remedies effectively reduce the duration of symptoms, but other studies confirm that these preparations can cause a permanent loss of the sense of smell. In fact, one study performed by the George Eby Research Group in Austin, Texas concludes that “it is unethical to introduce any potentially permanent anosmia-inducing agent such as zinc or other heavy metals into the interior of the nose in a manner that could result in contact with the olfactory region to treat a temporary discomfort such as a common cold or allergy.” The term anosmia means loss of sense of smell.

Several other studies confirm that when zinc common cold remedies come into contact with the lining of the nose, permanent loss of the sense of smell can occur. Manufactures of these products claim that they may be the best treatment for common cold available and can reduce the duration of cold symptoms to as little as two days. But, in fact, many people recover from a common cold in a couple of days, anyway. Some viral infections last longer in some people and symptoms may last as long as two weeks, but the study in Texas showed that the zinc common cold remedies did not significantly reduce the duration of common cold symptoms. The majority of volunteers had recovered within a week, whether they were given the zinc common cold remedies or a placebo.

Because some people recover from symptoms so quickly, without treatment, it has been difficult for researchers to determine the best treatment for common cold symptoms. Some people are more susceptible to infection with cold viruses than others. A recent study indicates that asthma sufferers, who typically have more than their fair share of colds, produce less anti-viral proteins than normal. Supporting the belief that efforts to improve immune system function can be the best treatment for common cold symptoms, as well as the best prevention.

Vitamin C supplementation is considered, by some, to be the best treatment for common cold symptoms, but opinions vary. Some studies have shown that it is an effective preventative; others have shown it to be less effective. Again the difference in the results of these studies is probably related to the difference in people. Injecting the rhinovirus directly into the nose causes an infection in 95% of people, but only 75% of them develop any symptoms at all. If you decide to increase your vitamin C intake and you develop diarrhea, then you are getting too much vitamin C and should reduce the daily dosage.

Many herbalists still recommend Echinacea as the best treatment for common cold symptoms. Some still recommend it as a preventative, but clinical studies have shown that taking the herb for extended periods of time can be toxic to the liver. It was used traditionally by Native Americans as a treatment, not a preventative. For occasional use Echinacea appears to be safe, but there are safer herbs.

Andrographis paniculata, an herb used in traditional Asian medicine, may be the best treatment for common cold symptoms and an effective preventative. In one study, a group of volunteers were given the herb or a placebo and results showed that those who were given the herb were less likely to become infected with influenza viruses; these are some of the viruses that can cause common cold symptoms. In those people who took the herb and did develop the flu, symptoms were less severe and complications, such as pneumonia, did not develop. Andrographis paniculata has been shown to have no toxic effects on animals, even when used in large amounts.

The complications that are associated with zinc common cold nasal sprays or gels are not associated with dietary supplements of zinc. And, zinc is important to proper immune system function and overall good health. For more information about natural products that are believed to be the best protection from and the best treatment for common cold symptoms, visit www.immune-system-booster-guide.com.

In With the Nu

AS YOU sit in one of the small and scruffy departure lounges at Kunming Airport, waiting for the connecting flight to Xishuangbanna in the southwest, you turn your attention to two large billboards situated prominently near the windows facing the cluttered airstrip. The posters, with glossy defiance, celebrate the ongoing construction of two large hydropower stations on the Jinsha River, the western branch of the Yangtze. The plants, built also to reduce the siltation pressures on the Three Gorges Dam further downstream, are airbrushed in clean and shiny whites and greys, and the water around them remains a perfect and implausible blue.

They are among many such construction projects currently being considered in Yunnan, where economic development has been given the priority above almost everything else, and where power corporations from the east have been rushing to take advantage. A project that will eventually submerge the celebrated Tiger Leaping Gorge – on the section of the Jinsha north of Dali – is also underway, arousing significant international opposition. The International Rivers Network says that the damage caused by the flooding of the valley to the local ‘cultural heritage sites’ will be ‘irreplaceable’. They are also concerned by the irreversible changes to a unique ecosystem.

Meanwhile, the provincial capital of Kunming continues to grow. The train station, renowned as the most unbearable in the whole of China, is still surrounded by rubble and temporary wooden partitions marking some new road or building. The entire city, cowed by roadblocks and scaffolds, picked at by cranes, seems – like many others in China – to be on the verge of an explosion. As the government slogan announces, peremptory and beyond refute, ‘Development is inevitable’.

In the far west of Yunnan, the untouched Nu River seemed to have been given something of a reprieve a few months ago. China’s single remaining virgin waterway, which winds north through some of the province’s most beautiful landscape, was about to be given a big seeing-to by the nation’s energy-mad authorities. Earlier this year, Premier Wen Jiabao was said to have intervened personally, asking developers to reconsider their plans. Still, one imagines that the ‘rape’ of the Nu is just a question of time.

The philosopher, Martin Heidegger, chose to illustrate the two different approaches to nature by comparing the construction of a bridge with the construction of a hydroelectric dam. Modern technology, he wrote, was ‘a manner of unprotecting’ nature. A bridge, connecting up the two banks, shows ‘respect’ for the river, but a hydropower station actually turns nature into part of its own ‘inventory’. The power plant is not built into the river, but the river is built into the power plant.

To illustrate the difference in perspectives, Heidegger compared the Rhine as part of the inventory of modern technology with the Rhine described in a poem by Holderlin. After it has been devastated by technology, the river remains as ‘a provided object of inspection by a party of tourists sent there by a vacation industry’. Such a description seems appropriate in modern Yunnan. While the power companies work their way through the region’s rivers, foreign and domestic tourists have transformed old cities such as Dali and Lijiang, and plans to improve the transportation infrastructure to the west and to the south will see the character of prefectures such as Xishuangbanna and the Nu River changed beyond recognition.

There are a number of small bridges connecting the banks of the Nu, but the favoured means of crossing by the local farmers seems even purer than that. Hooking themselves into a harness consisting of a rope and a piece of flat canvas, they sweep back and forth at massive speeds on a cable attached to a couple of trees, and carry bags of cement, grain and sometimes even livestock between their knees as they do so. One farmer agreed to carry me. Slung across the grey autumn waters and into a patch of worn grass on the Nu River’s left bank, the bowel-shaking fear quickly gave way to a sense of exhilaration.

I was taking a long ride from Dali with an incompetent local tour guide to the town of Liuku in western Yunnan, right on the bank of the Nu River. The area is a picture of health, ruddy and rugged and robustly green. Farmers spin past on motorbikes, trading chunks of meat with local guest houses and restaurants. At one stop along the way, situated on a bend on a country road, a three-legged horse skipped past – cheerfully enough, considering the circumstances. The half-whistle, half-bleat of the local birds could be heard everywhere. Tiny communities lived in wooden shacks on the hills, emerging on Tuesdays to trade at the local markets.

It was tempting to call the place quaint, and worthy of any preservation order that might be made to stick. It was, however, dirt-poor, and though much better and much more lively than a decade or so ago (according to our guide), most of the people living here would love to replace their stilted huts, their latrines, their drafty outhouses, with new buildings and indoor plumbing.

Usually, it is only outsiders who get sentimental. We, after all, can go home somewhere else. One isn’t entirely sure that the life of the poor throughout China would be improved by any degree were their barns, their slums, their shanty towns to become ‘heritage sites’. On the other hand, it is clear that the mass destruction caused by economic growth is not of much benefit to the communities affected. It is also clear that the ecology of Yunnan – one of the most varied and vibrant in China – is being put under threat.

Still, crossing the upper reaches of the Mekong, watching the silt-filled, chocolate-coloured waves and negotiating the old van past the piles of rocks cast down during a recent landslide, one cannot fail to be impressed somehow. I have been bruised, stupefied and generally thrown about by hundreds of poor-quality roads throughout China. Here, the biggest challenge was the occasional ford cutting across a narrow but mostly impeccable mountain pass. In harsh conditions, the road builders had performed well.

Roads are the big thing in Yunnan. Plans are underway to complete a regional high-speed road network that will connect Kunming with Singapore. Coming back from the wild elephant park in Xishuangbanna, we were halted by a fleet of trucks and steamrollers inching along to assist a team of miscellaneously-dressed labourers spreading grit across the tracks. Above us was the skeleton of an overpass, its bare stanchions planted in the fields nearby. The old road will eventually become superfluous for the majority of freight traffic surging through the region and into southeast Asia. Things will change, we thought, and Jinghong, the region’s major city but run at a painfully slow pace, will no doubt be brought up to speed by an opportunistic migrant population from Sichuan or the northeast.

LIUKU is a small urban centre and trading spot for the hundreds of small counties and villages scattered throughout the area, several hundred kilometres west of Dali. Whatever purists might think, the locals would love it if streams of tourists were suddenly to pour in from the more fashionable areas further east, but apart from the way it nestles comfortably – if a little chaotically – in the mountains running along the banks of the Nu, there is little to distinguish the place. Its greatest advantage is its location, and visitors note the great potential of the riverfront, where a couple of cafes now provide much of the town’s nightlife.

As one enters the town, an old Ming Dynasty temple lies on the mountain above the intersection of the Yagoujia River and the Nu River itself. As is customary, the temple appears as if it was built out of papier mache and painted yesterday morning by industrious local schoolkids. A huge laughing Buddha decked out in gold paint seems to dominate the gaff from his little stage. Dogs patrol the high steps, and spiders, each two inches long, nest in the frames of doors and in the overhead lights.

Across on the other side of the river, the effects of the previous night’s rain storm were clear to see, with policemen knee-deep in mud and the road – the only route north – blocked by piles of displaced rock.

The foreigners, so prevalent in Dali, and less so in Jinghong further south, were nowhere to be seen. Hardcore travellers head north to see the enclaves of Tibetans, or the old ethnic ways of the Lisu, the Nu and the Drang nationalities. Some come to see the immense volume of indigenous butterflies, with a couple of Japanese collectors even managing to steal a few rare specimens under the noses of the local authorities a few years ago. There were also stories of a pair of American travellers crossbowed in the back by Lisu hunters after trying to abscond with some significant local religious icon – the man with the story wasn’t quite sure what the object was. The rest of the local legends about foreigners involve them being attacked by Tibetan dogs and carried out of the forests, bleeding. Still, foreigners here are once again the objects of fascination, rather than the sort of seen-it-all-before scorn one gets in Shanghai, or the dollar-sign gazes in Dali and Lijiang.

Guidebooks such as Lonely Planet abhor the current pace of Chinese development, of course, and as the years pass and the new editions enter print, the laments about the high-rises and highways seem to get longer and longer. China is losing its character.

We can understand this. And yet, after a week on the road along the Nu River, speaking no English and staying in the dingiest of guest houses, we still longed for the pizzas, banana pancakes and foreign influences in Dali. Many agreed, and many long-hatched tour plans are thwarted by the magnetism of the town’s bars and cafes. Some foreigners on year-long tours find themselves stuck, unable to leave, trapped in a perpetual marijuana haze and remaining lucid enough just to teach a few classes in the main city and pay for their lodgings.

Travelling further north from Liuku on the way to Fugong the following day, rain clouds lingered like smoke on the mountains, and dozens of blue, three-wheel buggies chugged down the slope on the only road out. We drove through building sites, where workers squatted on dunes of mud, and through villages in which cattle and old nags wandered wearily past, and where tiny, friendly little dogs lounged on almost every stoop. Streams of water, bloated by a heavy rain storm the previous evening, cascaded into the rough Nu waters.

We stopped off in a small market village called Gudeng, close to the Binuo Snow Mountain, and watched the local farmers manhandling a couple of disobedient black pigs. Another offered us a glass of warm corn liquor he had just produced at a makeshift stove attached to a dirty plastic pipe. The dominant presence in the town was the family planning centre, where government slogans about improving the quality of the population were pumped out from a pair of loud speakers, drowning out the Chinese disco beats emerging from the market itself. Apart from the family planning centres, there are other things that seem ubiquitous throughout China, from Xinjiang to Shanghai and from Guangdong to Yunnan. One of them is the pool table. Another is the bill poster advertising cures for sexually-transmitted diseases.

WE CAME to understand that in the pretty little town of Fugong, where we spent Mid-Autumn festival, the local residents – mainly of Lisu minority – would also have longed for the sort of opportunities afforded to Dali. Cafes, restaurants, and a place on the tourist trail would revitalize the place, and would ultimately be of far more value than a hydropower station. Can the two be disconnected? Some of the villages along the banks of the Nu River didn’t even have a watt of electricity until the last decade. It is a fact of life that further development – including the tourist industry – requires more power.

Purists are unlikely to consider the contradiction, and may indeed prefer to slum it – for a week in any case – in tents or in the dingy, second-rate guest houses available en route. Still, the woman at the reception of the guest house in Gongshan seemed apologetic. ‘Are you sure you want to stay here?’ she said.

Heading across the river, we came across a large wooden public house built on an old water mill. Wheels driven by the Nu River itself churned away beneath a section of rooms lined with soggy woven carpets and old Lisu paraphernalia – the traditional costumes and weaponry of the bulk of the local people. A dozen girls from a local hair salon were dancing in the middle of one of the stages on the upper tier of the building, moving two steps forward and two steps back, hand in hand. They greeted us favourably, encouraging us to join in their drinking games. We had a ‘one-heart drink’ (tongxinjiu) – where two people drink from the same glass, their cheeks and mouths touching – with every one of them, the sweet local liquor dripping onto our clothes.

Hours later, after crossing the bridge again and singing Lisu songs as we parted company with our new friends, we managed to stumble through a tunnel and into the grounds of the local Public Security Bureau, where the Fugong police were also celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with a form of dance which, by the time we started to participate, seemed to involve running at top speed while kicking our legs as high as possible in the air. Local police chiefs, conforming to the stereotypes of drunkenness that seem more or less international, told us that national boundaries didn’t matter, and that friendship transcended all countries. We agreed.

The next morning, driving out of the town and past a long row of old wooden buildings with red sliding doors and a range of shoddy garages that serve as shops and diners, we headed for Gongshan along a spectacular stretch of scenery, part of a 300-km gorge lined with waterfalls, brooks and white cloud pierced by the mountains on both banks. Houses seemed to balance precariously on the plateau, only a storm away from complete collapse. Women carried large squares of corrugated iron along the slopes, their children following.

The whole Gongshan region, an old man in the guest house told me, has now been renamed the ‘Three Rivers Gongshan Region’. ‘They are creating a trademark,’ the man said, shrugging his thin shoulders. The Mekong, the Nu, and the Jinsha all pass through before reaching their source, and the local government are trying to draw in the trade.

The town itself, another sleepy cluster of apartments, restaurants and trading posts all piled up in layers along the slopes leading from the river to the mountain, was actually far from untouched. As was the case in Liuku, the missionaries had already been and gone, leaving a curious legacy of Roman Catholicism among the local minority communities. Mothers sat weaving on the steps of a church – a square, squat one-storey affair with a bright red cross built on the mountain – waiting for evening prayer. Prayer notices on the wrought-iron door of the church were transcribed in a romanized version of the local Lisu language. Some hours later, an implausible disco beat pounded out from a wooden house further up the hill, and the church was empty.

A Tibetan girl, working in a curious entertainment complex close to another Catholic church further down in the valley, asked us if we were fellow believers. She answered to her Catholic name of Mary, and was from Dimaluo, an ethnic mishmash of Tibetans, Lisu, Drong, and others some way further north along the river. There was a sadness to her as she told us her life story, about her stalled education, about the death of her father after a sudden and inexplicable ‘infection’, and about her preference for the countryside from which she hailed.

In the stores nearby, posters of Zhou Enlai, Sun Yatsen and the Panchen Lama swayed slightly in the wind, and beneath them lay the usual clutter of mooncakes, cigarettes and cheap, defective batteries.

What worried us about ‘untouched’ places like Fugong or Gongshan was not so much the prospect of development, and the ‘exploitation’ or ‘despoliation’ or ‘swamping’ of the local culture and character, but the thousands of local residents, educated to a degree, certainly aspirational, but cut off even from the possibility of ambition, marooned in a remote town that is linked to the nearest city only through a single mountain pass that requires two days to traverse. As we did at the Three Gorges, we started to wonder whether the sacrifice of the local scenery could somehow be made worthwhile, if it could allow these people a way out. After all, it might be more appropriate to judge the vitality of a culture by its porousness, and more pertinently, by the opportunities it gives its members to escape and try something new.

Heidegger hated the way the Rhine had become an object of the tourism industry as well as the hydropower industry, but on the Nu River, we had to allow for the fact that the proposed construction of an airport in remote Gongshan, the construction of highways, and the development of local industry might actually be good for the area, in the absence of any other options. Heidegger hated TV and spent most of his final, disgraced decades in a wooden shack in the Black Forest, but he had choice. The local residents in Fugong and Gongshan have TV, and they see the glitter of wealth and opportunity. But they have no wealth. And no opportunity.

And yet, the ‘current mode of development’ is all about exploitation, and the further enrichment of China’s east coast at the expense of the west. The scenery is ruined, the ecology is damaged, and old farming communities are moved to nearby urban slums, where they have little prospect of work or prosperity. Here, as in the Three Gorges and other regions, one imagines that the local people will reap little of the rewards of ‘opening up’.

Herpes and Pregnancy

Herpes, both oral and genital, are highly communicable diseases caused by the two strains of the Herpes Simplex Virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Genital herpes is transmitted sexually and is rarely transmitted from a pregnant mother to her unborn child, but could prove fatal for the unborn infant if it is transmitted.

It is possible, though unlikely that someone can transmit the virus through the placenta during pregnancy. If this happens, chances of the baby being born with a defect or a miscarriage increase.

The   transmission  also depends upon the stage of pregnancy in which the primary episode of herpes sets in. If the women had primary genital herpes during the first trimester, then there are less chances of the baby being infected. This is because it usually takes the body three to four weeks to buildup antibodies against the virus.

So if herpes happens at the onset of pregnancy, the body gets enough time to build up the immune system. As a result, these antibodies are also passed onto the baby. Generally, mothers can have a normal vaginal delivery.

But this is not so if the woman gets the infection in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. If the blood tests confirm that the women has never had herpes before the experts will recommend a caesarian delivery. This is because at these stages, the body does not get enough time to build up the immune system and the chances of  transmission  are extremely high.

It is easier to prevent herpes than it is to cure it. The highest risk to an infant comes from an infected mother who contracts HSV-1 or 2 during pregnancy and the best way to avoid this is by preventing this situation. Since Genital Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, steps should be taken to ensure that you don’t transmit herpes during this crucial time.

Pit Bikes – How to Decide Which One to Buy

A pit bike differs from the dirt bikes and the mini motos in the size of their engines and the power packed in their engines. A pit bike usually has a larger engine and comes fitted with a manual gearbox and gears whereas minimotos come packed with automatic   transmission  and a centrifugal clutch.

The average maximum speed for most of the Pit bikes available readily in the market is anywhere between 40-50mph, but if you add a few accessories to your bike, you can surely get a lot more fire and power from your engine.

It is because of these performance enhancing parts, which are now becoming readily available and the otherwise constant improvement in the performance of the bikes that people have started taking a lot more interest in these bikes. It has also resulted in the setting up of various Pit Bike races and shows on international level. The popularity of this bike is going the dirt bike way. Leagues and international venues are being setup in a fashion similar to the way in which dirt biking was promoted.

Dirt bikes and dirt biking became a fashion and a sport for the adventure lovers in the 90s. There appeared a lot of leagues and similarly sponsors around that time. Dirtbiking stars suddenly became famous overnight and names like Destry Abbot, Jeremy McGrath, Derek Costella and Ryan Ambrigo became idols of dirtbiking enthusiasts.

These pro dirtbikers are a regular appearance at the famous races and shows at Las Vegas each year. These people are now also promoting pit bikes and have been spotted at various pit biking events.

Pit bikes of late have found a lot of manufacturers, both those manufacturing out of their own garage and the large companies involved in the manufacturing of other bikes as well.

Pit bikes are available in the market upwards of $500 and the price increases with the engine power, and the make. For a Pit biking enthusiast a good choice would be MonsterMoto’s 125CC bike. This bike has a 4 stroke air cooled engine and the maximum power that it can generate is roughly 9HP @ 8500 rpm. The compression ratio is about 9.6:1.

This is a good value buy because the engine is made by a company that also supplies engines to Honda, which manufactures sports bikes for events like Moto Grand Prix (Moto GP)

You can also customize your Pit bike like people do to their dirt bikes. While you can add a few parts to enhance the look of your bike, you can add a few to increase the bike’s performance. You can buy a coloured muffler to enhance you bike’s look for about $90 and you can also buy a BBR style exhaust, a stainless steel exhaust for increasing the performance of the bike.

You can similarly buy different fuel systems, carburetors etc. to improve the efficiency of the bike and also buy various accessories like alloy wheels to enhance the bikes looks.

Truly speaking, Dirt bikes and pit bikes are here to stay and will continue to rush adrenaline through the blood of all those who love adventure sitting on two wheels.