Sunday, October 28, 2007

How not to waste time and money buying Life Insurance

If you are a parent with a spouse/or and child and children who depend on you to bring home a paycheck every month for their needs, Life Insurance is essential. I bought Life Insurance when I started a family 30 years ago. Why did I do that? I know how fragile life is. I have 5 young children and a wife who will face lots of financial and other problems should had I left this world prematurely. I still had a mortgage on my home for which I have to keep up with the monthly insurance. Default on that, and in no time, my family will end up without a roof over their heads. There are other necessities like groceries, school fees, text books, electricity, water and telephone bills to pay, installments on the car hire purchase, and lots more. Minus me, who is going to take care of that?

Answer is very simple - my insurance company. For I bought Life Insurance even before I had my fifth child. I go, and the insurance company pay. The amount payable will be the sum insured plus any bonuses. Buying insurance then is not as easy as buying insurance now. I had to depend on a life insurance agent. Did I get the best deal? I don't know. But if I am to buy Life Insurance now, I can be more assured that I have got the best and most suitable deal.

Why do I say that? I have a computer at home connected to the Internet. All I need to do now is to turn on my computer and modem, open a browser like FireFox, my favorite browser. That link is a link to a site explaining what you can get from Google Pack which include FireFox with Google toolbar. There are lots of good things I can talk about Firefox browser with tab browsing, but this post is not the post to sing my praises about FireFox and why you should be using it. Perhaps it is, because this blog is all about waste, and with tabbed browsing, you can avoid waste of time, computer memory, etc. But we are at the moment more concerned about Life Insurance, as Life Insurance is more important than just using a good web browser.

So now back to Life Insurance. What would I do now if I need Life Insurance? I would probably surf to, the online source for life insurance, for I can easily answer a few questions by making selections and get an instant list of life insurance companies offering different different premium and conditions, make comparisons and select one, click the "Apply" button, fill in a form, and if everything goes OK, I will get my very crucial Life Insurance policy to take care of my family if anything happens to me. And all this is without having to leave your home, drive around burning precious green house gases emitting fossil fuel, contributing to global warming and wasting time and money searching for the best deal.

However, more likely, before I do that, I would go to The Fundamentals of Life Insurance – A Caring and Smart Financial Decision to find out more about the various types of Life Insurance before I do that. The reason is there are many types of life insurance like Term Life Insurance which is the purest form of life insurance and will empty your pocket the least. It is pure protection. Nothing happens to you, you or your beneficiary or beneficiaries get nothing. But if the unfortunate happened, your beneficiary or beneficiaries can carry on with life without too much suffering. If you don't want to waste money, this is the type of life insurance you should go for, for it is the cheapest.

But it is hard to sell something which is just a piece of paper with no possibility of getting anything back if nothing happens to a potential insured. So Return of Premium Life Insurance was born. Now the insurance agent has a selling point. If, to put it crudely, you didn't die, at the end of the insured period, you get your money back. However, you will have to weigh if paying the higher insurance premium is worth the possibility of you out living your Life Insurance.

There are lots of other types of life insurance. If you are still young, it is up to you now to go learn about the various options and decide which type of life insurance is suitable for you. As for me, my job is done. All my children except one is now working, and in fact buying life insurance themselves.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wiser way to visit United Kingdom

I visited United Kingdom twice, once with my family 30 plus years ago when I was a student in Ghent, Belgium, and once on my own. Our first visit was confined to London, in fact, mainly, of all the places, Oxford Street. The second visit was less that 30 years ago, but I can't remember exactly when. But time spent was mainly in the Patent office of London, pouring over the patent documents. Hardly any sight seeing. There are lots more interesting cities in the United Kingdom I would like to visit. One of them is Manchester City. During both periods, no one have any inkling of the coming into existence of the Internet, its widespread use or its usefulness. You only get what they call bricks and mortar shops or physical travel agencies with shop fronts or offices, etc. Mention online merchants, search engines or online hotel booking sites, and people will stare at you with glazed eyes. More about this later.

Manchester City

Manchester City is the second largest city of the United Kingdom. Manchester has a great history. It is said that this is the place where the Industrial Revolution started. You can still see remnants of that glorious past in the form of a network of canals and mills. It is an interesting mix of old and new for you will find shinny sky scrapping skyscrapers there as well. A good example is the Beetham Tower which some refer to also as Hilton Manchester or Hilton Tower. Very nice, but I am sure it would be pretty pricey. But it is now standing proud as the tallest tower in Manchester. Probably not the kind of hotel you would be going for if your aim is ZERO WASTE

But Manchester is not only business and industry. It is also a city of history, art and culture with many museums, classic art galleries and famous theatres. Art galleries include Manchester Art Gallery, Cornerhouse, The Lowry. The little photo you see on the left is a photo of one such Manchester Art Gallery taken from Entertainment Guide To Manchester. This one you cannot miss - Museum of Science and Industry, a museum befitting Manchester as the first industrial city of the world. Here you will get to learn about the history, science and industry of Manchester.

And if you have some interest in Christianity, in the John Ryland Library, which is in an impressive late Victorian Gothic building, you will get to see the oldest fragment of the New Testament.

And every football fan will know about Manchester United and Manchester City, two great football clubs. In fact, my country's budget airline, Air Asia and the first and most successful budget airlines in Asia, is one of the sponsors of Manchester United. Air Asia even have one of its airplane painted with photos the the famous footballers of Manchester United. It will be great to see them in action in Manchester itself. And the former Prime Minister of our northern neighbor, Thailand, just recently bought over Manchester City Football Club.

Now back to this talk about Internet and online hotel booking websites mentioned above. When I visited United Kingdom (and other parts of Europe) 30 years ago, I had to face the horrible experience of having to hunt for suitable accommodation on arrival. These country are not like my own if you arrive in winter. It is hard to imagine what my family then would do if on arrival in winter, we could not find suitable accommodation at the right location and fitting our budget. Even if I arrive in summer, there is still time wasted hunting for accommodation when I could have been doing the things I had planned to do for my visit. That is time and money wasted.

Now, if I am to visit Manchester, all I need to do is to get onto the Internet, surf to a hotel booking site like Manchester Accommodation, search and compare, then book online. Not only will I travel with the peace of mind that my accommodation is waiting for me when I arrive, I also have the assurance that I am getting the best deal, for they have a Lowest Rate Guarantee. You can be assured of getting the best deal online because the guarantee says if you can find the same accommodation on the same day at a cheaper rate, they will refund you the difference. For all this convenience of booking accommodation online plus getting a Lowest Rate Guarantee thrown in, we have got to thank Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee who invented the World Wide Web. And such things goes a long way toward achieving ZERO WASTE.


Up north of Manchester is Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. I almost ended up in Edinburgh because I had, at one time, wanted to take up actuarial studies. And Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is the best university to learn actuarial studies. Another famous and highly reputable university is the University of Edinburgh. History tells us of the proud tradition of knowledge and education of Edinburgh. In fact, Edinburgh earned the nickname of the Athens of the North because the city was one of the major centers of the Enlightenment.

While Edinburgh may be a thriving educational and academic center, it is also well known for other things. The people of Edinburgh organized many festivals, is also known as the Festival City the best known of which is the Edinburgh Festival which takes place in the city in August each year. Edinburgh Festival actually comprises many festivals and events like the International Festival, The Fringe, Book Festival, Film Festival, Military Tattoo, Jazz festival and Edinburgh Mela. Then there is the Winter festivals which featuring a month-long Edinburgh's Christmas which ends with the world famous Hogmanay celebrations. In spring, there are the Ceilidh Culture and the Science festival plus the Children's Festival. Other festivals include the Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. And for the scientifically inclined, don't forget the Edinburgh International Science Festival which is held from the 25th of March to the 5th April in 2008.

Edinburgh castle
Photo of old Edinburgh castle taken from Edinburgh Castles and Heritage

If you like exploring old castles, you will find lots of them around Edinburgh. There is the Edinburgh Castle, Borthwick Castle, Dalhousie Castle plus a lot more too numerous to list here. You can see a fine example of an old Edinburgh castle in the photo above.

You wouldn't waste your money visiting Edinburgh for there is much to see and do. However, you will of course need accommodation, which for me, I will probably book online before departure via Edinburgh Accommodation. Edinburgh Hotels offers a great varieties of hotels, and if you are going there for the festivals, it is probably better to stay in one of the Edinburgh Hotels in the City Center.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Vacation or Business in Germany on the cheap

My previous visits to Germany

I visited Germany 4 times, I think. Twice or 3 times (can't remember exactly how many as that was 30 years ago) when I was a student in Ghent, Belgium. One was a one-day car trip to Cologne. Another was on an organized bus trip by students which included a visit to Fantasialand. The third one was a trip to Frankfurt in a car, and I vaguely remembered squatting with someone in Frankfurt.

A not-so-long-ago trip was a stop over in Frankfurt where I have a niece married to a German. I was then going home from the Geneva International Invention Exhibition. I was hoping to squat with them, but for better or for worst, 3 fellow exhibitors decided to tag along, so I don't blame them for booking a hotel for us on our behalf. In any case, we had a jolly time. However, if I ever visit Germany again, I will book my accommodation myself at hotels in Germany which gives a Lowest Rate Guarantee.

In an earlier visit to Germany, I remembered joining the crowds on the street for the Oktoberfest festival, but can't remember which town. It was definitely not Munich. I do remember resisting guzzling down the free flowing beer, but enjoyed the frankfurters and the sauerkraut plus other stuff I can't remember.

Future visit to Germany

Part of the ceremonial
procession. Photo from Munich Oktoberfest

I understand that the biggest and most famous Oktoberfest festival, which starts on the third Saturday of September, is held in Munich, which is one town I haven't visited yet. Just wondering if that would be any different from the one I enjoyed 30 years ago. Would be great if I can go to Munich in September to find out for myself. Other than the Oktoberfest festival, there is much to see in Munich, like the Neuschwanstein Castle which was built starting from 1868 by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Munich claims Neuschwanstein Castle as the best known castle in the world.

There is also the Peterskirche, or Church of St. Peter, which is the oldest church in Munich with interior decorated with old six century masters. What I would like to do is to walk to the top to get a panoramic view of the city. I would like to take a photo of its skyline from there and put it in my blog Business, travel and leisure, for Munich is not only good for leisure, as Germany's third largest city and the capital of Bavaria., it is also good for business. Ideal for a business cum leisure visit. For accommodation, I will probably try hotels in Munich.

There are some other German cities I haven't visited yet. There is Berlin, the capital of Germany. I am wondering if there is still some remnants of the infamous Berlin Wall. Perhaps it is not to late to try to take a piece of the historic Berlin Wall home if I can find some, but probably hoping for too much. No big deal, for there is also the famous Brandenburg Gate, one of the main symbols, not only of Berlin, but also of Germany. It would be great to see it for myself first hand.

Germany is famous for its technical and engineering prowess and this museum, Deutsches Museum, is the world's largest museum of technology and natural sciences in the world, with over 13 acres of exhibitions containing many original machines and equipment, models and reconstructions. Wonder how long it would take to cover 13 acres of exhibitions. Looks like a visit to Berlin is likely to end up as a long visit, and it wouldn't be wise or good to stay in an expensive hotel where you only spend a few hours a day to sleep. Would be wise to book a hotel from hotels in Berlin for after all, I have the Lowest Rate Guarantee to fall back on.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Don't waste money on expensive airline tickets

The age of the Internet is upon us and booking airline tickets or flight tickets have moved online and competition if fierce. The best way to purchase airline tickets is online and not physically via a travel agents as I think the days of the so called brick and mortar travel agencies are numbered. They incur high overhead expenses while an online airline ticket booking site can be run on practically peanuts and can therefore afford to pass the savings back to the passengers.

If you are in the market for airline tickets, especially if you happen to be planning to travel from or to an Australian destination, one of those online airline ticket booking sites is cheap flights. So if you don't want to waste money on airline or flight tickets, don't waste your time and traveling expenses going to a brick and mortar travel agency. Use international airfares to make airfare comparison and select your best option.

And if you want to travel on my favorite airline, Singapore Airlines, that is where you can book your airline ticket with my favorite and one of the most successful, if not the most successful airline in the world. Want to know why it is my favorite airline? Have a look at Mother tongue. Why Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew says it is important. I know the title of the post is "mother tongue", but there is mention of the person who led Singapore Airlines from when it was split from Malaysian Air System into two, to become the one of the leading airline in the world while the other half had to depend on the Malaysian Government to survive. Singapore Airlines also had the honor of operating the Maiden Airbus A380 commercial flight from Singapore to Sydney. The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, four-engined airliner, the largest passenger airliner in the world currently.

Singapore Airlines is a full service airline, and unless they auction their tickets on eBay again like for the weorld's maiden Airbus A380 commercial flight mentioned above, you are not likely to get cheap ticket from Singapore Airlines (but they give you good service). If it is budget airlines you want, try Jetstar. Jetstar Airways is a low-cost airline based in Melbourne, Australia, and is a subsidiary of Qantas, the Australian national airline.

Don't waste money on overpriced mailboxes

Are you in the market for mailboxes be it residential mailboxes which in the majority of cases are wall mounted mailboxes, or commercial mailboxes? If you are, I hope you take care not to end up buying overpriced mailboxes.

The links are links to mailboxixchange which is an unusual online merchant with unusual guarantees. They provide a 111% Guaranteed Price Match which states that if you can find the same mailbox being sold at a lower delivered price, all you have to do is to email their sales staff to report a Price Matching, provide the store's name, the item, and the location of the advertised item. They will verify their delivered price, ensure that the mailbox is new, is in-stock, the merchant are genuine dealers of that particular mailbox, and the mailbox has the manufacturer's warranty. Once they have verified that you can actually get the same product at a lower delivered price, they will match the lower price PLUS refund you a 11% discount on the difference between prices and complete the transaction at that lower price. Looks like you can benefit from a "misfortune".

Price is only one side of the story. The item must suit your needs, otherwise even a cheap mailbox can end up expensive. To take care of that, mailboxixchange also give you a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. If you want details of their 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, you can surf over there and read about it yourself.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Don't waste money on expensive hotels in United Kingdom

Britain was a prolific colonizer in the past and my country was a colony of Great Britain until some 50 years ago when we achieved independence. It was said that the sun never set on the British empire. Thus the influence of Great Britain or United Kingdom was spread far and wide, and rightly or wrongly, people in many parts of the world feel attached to the United Kingdom. A tendency to want to visit the country which colonized them is thus natural.

What are the places that attracts such visitors? I would say probably Manchester and London.

Manchester city

Manchester, said to be to have the fastest growing economy, is also known to be the centre of arts, media, higher education and commerce. It is among one of the most visited city in the United Kingdom by foreign visitors. It is famous for its two Premier League football teams, Manchester United and Manchester City. In fact, Air Asia, Asia's most successful budget airline, is one of Manchester United Official Sponsor and has one of its plane painted with the faces of its famous footballers. Manchester United, whether I like it or not, has lots of fans all over the world, who would love to visit Manchester to see their heroes in action on the football fields.

Manchester city is said to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and many of the spectacular warehouses are still standing. During those time, Manchester city was the international centre of textile manufacture and cotton spinning and many of its old cotton mills still exists. Manchester City Center has been placed on the "tentative list" of UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of its network of canals and mills.

Manchester city is not just a city of ancient buildings but have modern shinning skyscrapers like The Beetham Tower which was completed in 2006. The Beetham Tower is just one among many others high-rise buildings. Then there is The Green Building which is supposed to be a unique eco-friendly housing project.

Let us not forget the food. Manchester city has some local specialities like Bury's famous Black Pudding, Eccles' puff pastry and currant cake, Wigan's Uncle Joes mint balls and Manchester's fruity Vimto drink.

If I am to visit Manchester city, I would not waste my money on expensive hotels in which I may return only for a short period to sleep, only to go off to see Manchester city's many attractions. I would probably book my hotel from Manchester Hotels which has a Lowest Rate Guarantee which undertake that if you can find the same hotel/accommodation on the same dates and inform them within 24 hours of booking, they we will honor that rate for the night or nights for which you found a lower rate and refund you the difference. That is a real comfort to know.

London, capital city of Great Britain

I visited London twice before. The first time, my family was unwise and spent most of our time at Oxford Street, but did visit some of the better known attractions like Madame Tussuad's, Buckingham Palace, etc. The second time I spent most of my time at the Patent Office. Both time, I had to hunt for accommodation only upon arrival, not a pleasant situation. Now, with the Internet, I would probably book my accommodation ahead of arrival at Accommodation in London and be assured of having a place to sleep when I arrive plus the assurance of getting the cheapest rate as mentioned above.

Photo of London night skyline with the London Eye by Ian Muttoo
This time, I will probably take to trouble to look up more places of interest and keep far, far away from Oxford street. I would probably go to the Houses of Parliament, see the Big Ben and listen to its chimes, Jewel Tower, Westminster Abbey, Churchill Museum & Cabinet War Rooms (will be interesting to see how this remarkable man managed to defeat the mighty German military), probably the Tower Bridge and Piccadilly Circle. And of course now there is the London Eye. It will be great to ride the gondola up to the sky and get a panoramic view of London city.

This time I am going to make sure I don't make the mistake (actually not a mistake, just that Internet wasn't available then) of last time and book my accommodation online at London Accommodation

Free Travel Blog plus Travel Planner. An opportunity not to be wasted

This site travel blog represents a real opportunity that no one planning to do some traveling should waste. It is actually for you to blog about places you visit. I travel around Malaysia (mostly around the place I live) frequently, so I started a travel blog Malaysia, truly Asia using that free travel blog site.

This blog Zero Energy Waterwheel Aerator was inspired by an innovation Increasing the Efficiency of Aeration in Aerobic Wastewater Treatment. Wastewater treatment normally require aeration, and aeration is very energy intensive (that is, it uses lots of energy in form of electricity). Huge sum of money is spent on aeration and even if only a small fraction of that can be saved, it would still represent a huge sum. The innovation has been tested and it works. Only question is its viability. However, with ever increasing energy cost, even if it is not viable today, it may be viable in the future and lead to cutting waste plus help in protecting our now fragile environment.

I thought it would be real cool if I make a travel blog for travel to various wastewater treatment sites to observe their operations or to the offices of the wastewater treatment plant operators to discuss the viability and possible future of my innovation. I thus started a travel blog Wastewater treatment plants and operators in Malaysia. The blog hopefully will help spread awareness of my innovation and hopefully get some responses (comments) from wastewater engineers and plant operators.

There are other uses for RealTravel other than just creating free travel blogs. You can also use their free trip planner to research the places you plan to visit, add the destinations of your planned itinerary, share your plans with your travel partners, family and friends, get feedback and thus get useful inputs that may help improve your travel plan.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Don't waste your life without exercise (sports)

Why such a title for a post "Don't waste your life without exercise (sports)" you may ask. What has wastage to do with exercise or sports? Well your Creator has given you a life and to make that life a meaningful and enjoyable one, you need to maintain good health, to keep illness at bay, to have a long life, (and my children said to keep looking young) so that you can remain useful and not become a burden to your family plus waste precious fund on medical care, medication, nursing car. And for those, one need exercise. Don't waste the life our Creator have given us.

I know fully the implication of exercise and the lack of it on one's health and life span. I have a blog Food as medicine which I changed (title) to Natural Remedies because that gives me more flexibility in terms of the kind of posts I can put in that blog. For example, a post which is relevant to the subject matter of this post, but have nothing to do with food - Exercise may prevent pain in older people. Now how unobservant of me. I just noticed that is a category for exercise for the above blog. Whole trouble is, I am finding it difficult to practice what I preach (except for the nutrition part). I am tied to the computer nearly all my waking hours for I have become an avid blogger who just cannot finish all that I want to do on the Internet.

Not that I completely ignore my own advice. I take every excuse to walk. I turn down offers by my children to send me (by car) to the LRT (Light Transit Station), the shops, the banks, etc. That is, to every place where walking is viable. Where it is not, I try to take the public transport (I have given all my cars to my children since I retired), for I have an environmental blog Enviroman Says: an Environmental blog, and cars are not exactly what one will call environmentally-friendly. I used to walk up and down the stairs and do sit-ups and push-ups whenever there is a thunderstorm and I am forced to disconnect from the Internet. I walk to 7-Eleven to get the newspapers every morning from Monday to Friday. I walk to the bank (that is a half-hour walk) to collect my pension every month and each time I need to do some banking transaction. I walk to the Pasar Tani (Farmers' Market) every Saturday morning to buy fruits. I walk to the Pasar Malam's (Night Markets, there are two near our home each week), also to purchase fruits. I walk every Monday to Friday to the shops to buy cooked food for myself and my children.

But fortunately or unfortunately, I now have an addictive hobby and find it very difficult to get the motivation and time to get REGULAR exercise. I try to get people to give me that motivation. See My first grandchild at his grandfather's 58th birthday. In case you missed it, I was fishing for comments - 10 minutes of exercise for every comment made.

But I think I really do need regular exercise for people have started calling me "uncle", implying I have aged in appearance, probably in part caused by not having REGULAR exercise. Perhaps I should take up a sport, hopefully one as addictive as blogging. Any suggestion, anyone? Just as blogging need equipment like a computer, a modem to connect to the Internet, and the peripheries like a digital camera, a webcam and microphone (to make videos), etc., sports too need equipment.

I think I will have a look at Shopwiki: Sports and Recreation Equipment. They sell sport equipment there. They have Shopwiki Team Sport Equipment for most kind of team sports. Unfortunately for me, team mean having to find team members plus the need to synchronise our schedule with theirs. That is a tough call at my stage of life, but perhaps can help get this motivation to get exercise for there will be others to push and encourage you plus a chance to socialize.

Well, the above is not such a problem after all, for they have Shopwiki Individual Sports Equipment. I see inline skates there. My son is studying and working part time as an inline skating instructor. Perhaps I can get some free lessons. They have golf too, but that is out for me for I hate golf. A few privileged group hogging huge tracts of land plus adding harmful weedicides and pesticides to the environment, and the funny spectacle of a large man chasing after a tiny ball. They have equipment for gymnastics some of which perhaps may be suitable for people of my age.

Shopwiki also have Running Equipment. That sounds more like my kind of stuff for I have completed a marathon 20 plus years ago. They have running shoes which I can use for brisk walking instead of running. They also have Elliptical Trainers Treadmills (wonder what they mean by that, but I don't expect that to be very much different from any other threadmills). Perhaps my children can buy one for me for my birthday and I can do brisk walking without having to venture out of the house, rain of sunshine.

Let us hope I don't waste my life by trying harder to get that regular exercise I need. OK, forgive me for trying to fish for comments again. 10 minutes of exercise for every comment you leave in this post.