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best practice: call centres

first_img Comments are closed. Personnel Today’s monthly series reveals how managers tackle business problems and enhance performance. In this issue, Carol Borghesi, director of call centre management at BT, explores the personnel issues that confront call centre managers and looks at how to solve themBT has been running call centres for many years and now has 110 of them across the country, employing about 20,000 staff. The size of operations makes the managing of personnel issues a daunting task but, if you get the right practices embedded within an organisation, a positive and productive working environment can be created, whatever the size of the company. The goal should be to create an environment where call centre advisers feel confident and can interact with customers. This means more than providing a telephone and somewhere to sit. It is about engendering confidence, building teams and providing the necessary tools and systems. The perfect call centre should allow good customer interaction, with motivated groups of people led by inspirational team leaders.If the perfect call centre is about good customer interaction, it is important to look at the factors that can compromise the quality of calls. Staffing problems, bad management, lack of motivation and an unpleasant environment will affect call centres as much as any other workplace. Solving these issues will greatly improve productivity and quality. Perhaps the most obvious but most crucial problem is finding the right staff. Employers and advisers should view speaking to customers as an awesome responsibility, so managers should recruit accordingly. As the only contact many customers have with a company is through its call centre, it is paramount that the phones are staffed by the best communicators. Employers must have a respect for the job that needs to be done. Taking calls all day and dealing with each one to the highest standard is not an easy job and requires a particular talent. Because of the rapid growth in call centres, competition for people who can do the job is hot. But if you start with the right people, it’s difficult to go wrong.Confidence is a major factor for the success of a call centre. Ensuring advisers feel ready to take any call takes training and continuing support. You want people to start the job as prepared as possible. I call it end-to-end recruiting. This means that when your staff pick up the phone for their first call, there should be few surprises and support for people. This leads to better customer service and confident staff.At BT, there are regular changes to the offers and services. These changes need to be related quickly to the advisers so that they always have the latest information to hand. Internal communication is vital so advisers can stay ahead of the requests and needs of our customers. BT has installed video walls at each centre so information can be relayed quickly and efficiently to all staff. E-mails and regular team meetings also help to address new developments or customer-sensitive issues.Soft skills and hard factsA skilled call centre adviser does more than simply impart knowledge. Good customer service skills can transform routine calls into the kind of meaningful interactions that can resolve problems, keep customers happy and encourage them to use the services in future.You need a comprehensive and continuing training and development programme to ensure advisers can handle difficult situations. So called ‘soft skills’ – such as the ability to negotiate and deal with conflict – equip advisers with the tools they need to handle any situation with confidence.These skills need to dovetail with other career development programmes to create a workforce that feels respected, motivated and satisfied. Development for us means finding out what an individual brings to the job – and to their team – and how their skills and personality can best be used. Like any other career, people need to feel they are progressing and learning all the time.With more routine calls, motivational problems can occur, leading to boredom, dissatisfaction and less-than-perfect customer service. Managers must ensure that these advisers know that their job is vital and highly valued by the company. Although somewhat controversial, automating services leaves advisers free to take the more complex and challenging calls.Management style is important. There is no place in today’s call centres for command and control and managing by numbers. It’s not simply about logging the number of calls advisers make. Managers need to be able to recognise about a dozen key performance indicators to know how well their staff are doing. It’s good to workCall centres are functional places, but that doesn’t mean that they have to look functional. A pleasant work environment is critical. A call centre should be a good place to be, and this should be reflected in the friendly atmosphere as well as the decor. It is challenging to prove, but it does have an impact on productivity. BT has a number of purpose-built call centres. Ideally, people need a place to relax, a place for personal calls, a room for socialising and eating – all things that lead to a calm and supportive working atmosphere. A single-storey open-plan working environment can break down barriers of hierarchy, and promote a feeling of space and community. In some operations team-based scheduling is in place to assist colleague relations. Advisers sit in teams and work in teams to give them a sense of belonging. The work does not lose its priority in a comfortable, friendly environment. On the contrary, productivity and quality improve when advisers feel part of a good team in a happy office. The way to deliver a great standard is to put the importance of looking after people first. Ultimately, industry-wide standard call centres will drive more practitioners to reach for best practice ideas and solutions. Call centres are an expanding industry, and high standards reflect well on everyone, as well as making good business sense.ContactsAnne Marie ForsythThe Call Centre Association0141-564 9010Strathclyde House 6 Elmbank StreetGlasgow G2 4PFTop tips: Confidence buildingSet out your key performance indicators to ensure a consistent managerial approach. Performance management helps to monitor call standards as well as keep advisers informed of their progress and achievements.Good company communications helps advisers to be well informed before they speak to customers, increasing their confidence and improving the quality of calls.Training helps to increase confidence and reduces the risk of surprises when advisers take that important first call.Equip advisers with the tools they need to carry out their job to the best of their ability. People are the number one priority – not just customers, but staff too. Call centre success should not be measured on simply the number of calls taken; it should be a deeper process of gauging customer and staff satisfaction.The Best Practice ClubThe Best Practice Club is a professional knowledge network, pooling the ideas and advice gleaned from a diverse and global membership which spans manufacturing and service industries as well as the public and private sectors. Through a combination of education and shared experience, members are able to identify and adopt best business practices.For a full information pack, contact 0800 435399 or visit www.bpclub.com best practice: call centresOn 9 Jan 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

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What March Madness looks like on college campuses during the pandemic

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailCourtesy of Gonzaga UniversityBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News(SPOKANE, Wash.) — During March Madness at Gonzaga University, students typically are found camped around the Spokane, Washington, campus, or packed into its arena to root on the Bulldogs — if they didn’t travel to the tournament cities themselves.This year, of course, is different. Non-essential travel is discouraged by the state, and on-campus watch parties are limited to up to a couple hundred students, seated by household “pods,” on the lawn outside the student center.“March is a major production at Gonzaga, and what we’re doing is such a scaled-down version of that, that it isn’t even comparable,” Kent Porterfield, vice-provost for student affairs at Gonzaga, told ABC News. “But our students have really appreciated what we are doing, because there’s been so little of that this year. It is fun to see them having fun, but it is really dramatically different.”Last year, the NCAA canceled the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments a day after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.As this year’s bracket heads into the Sweet 16 weekend, officials overseeing bubbles at competing schools are doing everything they can to mark the occasion — while also pleading with students to not let their guard down when it comes to COVID-19.Gonzaga is one of several universities, including Baylor and Villanova, hosting outdoor watch parties this weekend, with social distancing and mask-wearing enforced.“We actually believe that it’s better to have some events on campus that we can help monitor than the unsupervised events that occur off campus,” Porterfield said. “The parties and gatherings there are much more risky than the ones on campus. So we’re really working hard to try to make sure that we’re providing opportunities for students to gather safely.”Loyola University Chicago is asking students to watch the tournament this weekend virtually or in small groups, after a large number of students gathered with “no social distancing” following the university’s recent win, school officials said.“Some of the behaviors that took place near the Lake Shore Campus this past Sunday after our win against Illinois were not acceptable or responsible forms of celebration,” Student Government President Maddie Drescher and Dean of Students William Rodriguez wrote in a message to students Thursday. “There were many students reported to have violated COVID-19 health and safety protocols, as well as open container laws.”Such behavior “could set us back and jeopardize future in-person opportunities,” the officials warned.Ohio University, now out of the men’s tournament, similarly had to address students after a few hundred people gathered over the weekend on Court Street, prompting police to block and clear the area, The Columbus Dispatch reported.Amid a “concerning” increase in the campus’ COVID-19 infection rate, Syracuse University officials implored students to remain vigilant during March Madness and watch games safely.“COVID cases are rising among our students and large gatherings could result in greater spread on our campus,” Robert Hradsky, vice president for the student experience, and Department of Public Safety Chief Bobby Maldonado wrote in a letter to students Friday. “Now is not the time to let your guard down.”The University of Houston had a similar message for its students, especially after Texas lifted COVID-19 restrictions this month.“I realize we are in a transitional phase and some guidelines may be undergoing changes, but it’s to everyone’s advantage that you continue to take the safest, surest route to good health and pandemic protection,” Dr. Stephen Spann, the University of Houston’s vice president for medical affairs, wrote in a letter to students and staff Thursday, reminding them to continue to wear a mask — required on campus — observe social distancing measures and wash or sanitize their hands regularly.For some schools, March Madness is occurring amid strict local measures and a minimal campus presence. At UCLA, most classes are remote, and the on-campus population — normally over 11,000 — is around 700 students. Large gatherings are not permitted in Los Angeles County.Crowds of college students who are ignoring calls for social distancing and mask wearing are worrisome because that population largely has not been eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, medical experts said.“The most under-vaccinated populations are also the ones that have the greatest mobility, the least amount of social distancing, mask wearing and the ones who have been traveling for spring break,” Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children’s Hospital, told ABC News. “The concern is that this is a population that probably is at the greatest risk of potentially some complications when it comes to COVID.”Brownstein, a contributor to the ABC News Medical Unit, pointed to recent findings in Michigan of large growth in hospitalizations of young adults. From March 1 to March 23, hospitalizations increased by 633% for adults age 30 to 39 and by 800% for adults 40 to 49, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.“We should be concerned that we haven’t fully protected the population at this point,” Brownstein said. “The NCAA itself has been practicing really strict protocols and trying to keep players safe, and I think the same should extend to the fans. We should be trying to create safe viewing opportunities.”Players in this year’s March Madness have been undergoing daily COVID-19 testing and staying in a tournament bubble in their respective cities.Spectators are also limited, with masks and physical distancing required. At the women’s tournament in San Antonio, fans outside of players’ friends and family haven’t been allowed to attend games. Starting with the Sweet 16, there will be a limited capacity of up to 17%. In Indianapolis, the men’s tournament is capped at 25% capacity for all rounds.Off the court, crowds remain a concern. After videos and photos depicted large groups gathering in downtown Indianapolis last weekend, many not wearing masks or social distancing, the local health department is urging people to follow protocols to help slow the spread of COVID-19.“We want to work with restaurants and venues to safely host gatherings during the NCAA tournament and in the weeks ahead,” the Marion County Public Health Department said in a statement to ABC Indianapolis affiliate WHAS-TV this week. “We continue asking everyone to wear a mask and stay socially distanced when going out in public. Taking these steps help keep everyone safe during this time.”Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. Written by March 27, 2021 /Sports News – National What March Madness looks like on college campuses during the pandemiccenter_img Beau Lundlast_img read more

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House prices growing across all regions of the UK – RICS

first_imgHouse prices are growing across all regions of the UK as rising demand puts pressure on supply, according to RICS.Sales of new homes increased for a third consecutive month – but as the Coronavirus spreads, the organisation has called for greater government support.The February 2020 RICS UK Residential Market Survey shows the number of new homes coming onto the market also increased for a third straight month, with a 15% rise in February.The West Midlands and the South-East saw the biggest increase in properties for sale.Residential lettings also saw demand increasing from prospective tenants, though the number of properties listed by landlords for rent fell again – extending the decline first recorded in 2016.One in five agents reported a rise in buyer inquiries, according to the survey, with 61% of respondents saying they expected the volume of homes sold over the year to continue to increase.Strong demandStrong demand saw prices rise in February, with 29% of contributors reporting house price growth – up from 18% the previous month.While there was growth in all regions of the UK, London, Yorkshire and the Humber and East Anglia saw the strongest increase in house prices.Furthermore, 22% respondents expected house prices to continue to rise further over the spring.However, the survey was carried out before the full impact of Coronavirus became clear. Concerns have been raised by property professionals about the impact of the disease, amid fears it could hit viewings and affect the traditionally strong spring house-selling season.Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, said: “It is encouraging that the results of the latest survey continue to show a positive trend both in terms of potential buyer interest and new instructions to agents. Indeed, this is the first time since 2014 that new supply to the market on the RICS indicator has increased for three consecutive months.“Inventory levels are still at historically low levels despite this but the firmer trend in appraisals suggests that the picture could improve over the coming months providing the Coronavirus doesn’t become more of an inhibitor of activity in the sector.” Letting demand up house prices house price growth RICS March 13, 2020Richard ReedWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021 Home » News » Housing Market » House prices growing across all regions of the UK – RICS previous nextHousing MarketHouse prices growing across all regions of the UK – RICSHouse prices continue to rise as supply is squeezed, but fears grow over the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak.Richard Reed13th March 202001,382 Viewslast_img read more

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Seven New Coronavirus Cases in County

first_imgOCEAN CITY1413 TOTAL ACTIVE153 MUNICIPALITYACTIVE CASESREPORTED TODAYOFF QUARANTINEDEATHS AVALON06 Avoid shopping if you are sick or have symptoms of COVID-19, which include a fever, cough, or shortness of breath. CAPE MAY POINT0 DENNIS TOWNSHIP7131 COVID-19 testing in Ocean City will be done at the Community Center’s parking lot. UPPER TOWNSHIP19341 WOODBINE1 TOTAL RECOVERED The Cape May County Department of Health reported Sunday that the number of COVID-19 cases has increased by seven, making a total of 211 cases in the county. No new deaths were reported.Currently, 45 people have recovered from the virus and there have been 13 deaths, according to a county press release.New Jersey has become the second-leading state in the United States with 85,301 total COVID-19 cases and 4,202 deaths.As more people are identified as COVID-19 positive in Cape May County, it is important that everyone stay home, unless for essential errands. If you must leave your home, it is important to protect yourself, county officials say.Following is a breakdown of the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths for each municipality in Cape May County: 13 SEA ISLE CITY02 1 WEST WILDWOOD1 WILDWOOD1413 Stay at least 6 feet away from others while shopping and in lines. STONE HARBOR0 WILDWOOD CREST53 CAPE MAY CITY13 LOWER TOWNSHIP54710 NORTH WILDWOOD213 Only visit the grocery store, or other stores selling household essentials, in person when you absolutely need to. This will limit your potential exposure to others and the virus that causes COVID-19. WEST CAPE MAY1 TOTAL CASES IN CAPE MAY COUNTY211 “We urge individuals to remain home. If they must leave on an essential errand it is important to protect yourself. By social distancing you can protect yourself and others,” said Cape May County Health Officer Kevin Thomas.You can protect yourself while doing essential shopping by doing the following:Stay home if sick. Order food and other items online for home delivery or curbside pickup (if possible). 45 Order online or use curbside pickup. TOTAL DECEASED MIDDLE TOWNSHIP348 Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when you must go out in public.When you do have to visit in person, go during hours when fewer people will be there (for example, early morning or late night).If you are at higher risk for severe illness, find out if the store has special hours for people at higher risk. If they do, try to shop during those hours. People at higher risk for severe illness include adults 65 or older and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions.Disinfect the shopping cart, use disinfecting wipes if available.Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.If possible, use touchless payment (pay without touching money, a card, or a keypad). If you must handle money, a card, or use a keypad, use hand sanitizer right after paying.After leaving the store, use hand sanitizer. When you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.At home, follow food safety guidelines: clean, separate, cook, chill. There is no evidence that food or food packaging has been linked to getting sick from COVID-19.Call your healthcare professional if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying health conditions.Stay up to date on the current situation as it evolves. Some reliable sources are the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System hotline at 211 or 1-800-962-1253, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov, the World Health Organization at www.who.int and the New Jersey Department of Health at COVID19.nj.gov.For additional information, visit https://capemaycountynj.gov/ or the Cape May County Department of Health at cmchealth.net.last_img read more

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Apple Reportedly Acquires Shazam Music Recognition App For $400M

first_imgShazam, the app that listens and recognizes what song is playing, has been a cutting-edge product since the company’s inception in 1999. The company’s widely useful and universally in-demand audio recognition technology has put them at the forefront of the space for years, and made Shazam one of the most popular apps in the world. To “Shazam” is now widely recognized and utilized as a verb in conversation.According to a report from TechCrunch, the British company is in the process of finalizing a deal to sell Shazam to U.S. tech giant Apple for sums estimated to be north of $400M. The move will allow Apple to further improve their music delivery capabilities and make for a more immersive listening experience for their customers.In recent years, the company has extended the technology beyond helping you remember “who sings that song that’s playing right now” It also integrates with other apps like Snapchat and Apple’s Siri, and it currently sends lots of traffic to other music apps like Spotify and Apple Music, which pay Shazam when those clicks convert to purchases. The Shazam app is now used as an interactive tool for advertisers, bars and restaurants, music venues and more. Shazam’s augmented reality brand marketing service lets you discover content based on pictures that you snap with the app. “You came for music, stay to experience McDonald’s Karaoke, MTN Dew VR Racing and much more,” is the company’s pitch on this feature.It’s not clear which of these operations will carry on post-acquisition, and which of these might be something that Apple would integrate into its own business (and how), but it’s notable that much of what Shazam does is very synergistic with what Apple apple already has in place and in the works. It’s likely that the technology will be used to attract more users to the Apple Music platform.This is not the first large-scale acquisition Apple has made in the music space in recent memory. In 2014, Apple acquired Beats for more than $3B, and absorbed Beats’ executive team–including Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine, and Trent Reznor–into the Apple family to continue pushing the limits of the product/service they created with the help of the tech monolith. Beats became the basis for Apple Music, which has roughly 30 million users as of this Fall (Spotify has 60 million paying customers, and 140 million overall).We are excited to see what the inventive minds at Apple will be able to think up to improve the music listening experience using Shazam’s unique technology.[via TechChrunch]last_img read more

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Students awarded Fisher Prize

first_imgThe Howard T. Fisher Prize for excellence in Geographic Information Science (GIS) for the 2013-14 academic year has been awarded to Graduate School of Design master’s candidate Leif Estrada for “Temporal Morphology: Synthetic Growth and Natural Decline of Alameda Island” and Jake Sobstyl for “Zero-touch scale-free and climate independent thermal energy audits.”Both students will receive $500. To view the award-winning poster entries, visit http://gis.harvard.edu/resources/awards/winners.The Fisher Prize was established in 1999 to promote and reward student work in the broad, interdisciplinary subject that is GIS. The prize is named after Howard Taylor Fisher, a geographer and mathematical cartographer who founded the Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Analysis at the Graduate School of Design in 1965.last_img read more

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Governor Douglas announces $630,000 in grants for five Vermont communities

first_imgMunicipalityVCDP Funds AwardedOther ResourcesBrief DescriptionBristol$50,000 $771,200 Grant to provide accessibility to the historic Holly Hall and bring it into full ADA compliance with state and federal regulations.Georgia$32,885 $32,885 Grant to provide accessibility to the Georgia Town Office building and bring it into full ADA compliance with state and federal regulations.Vergennes City$500,000 $5,584,481 Deferred loan to Housing Vermont to construct 25 unit elderly apartment building off Armory Lane which will include services for the tenants. The project will also extend sidewalks that will connect to downtown and nearby shopping center.Montpelier City$17,500 $24,444 Grant to conduct a study to review the combined capacity of the existing Senior Center at 58 Barre Street and the Recreation Center at 55 Barre Street to meet the existing and future needs of the Senior Center. In addition, the study will explore the feasibility of adding senior housing in the 58 Barre Street building.South Burlington City$30,000 $64,632 Grant to assist with the predevelopment and design of a new Burlington Aviation Technical Training Center at the Burlington airport.  Work includes architectural services, civil design services and permit applications and fees. Grand Total                    $630,385           $6,477,642      Source: Governor’s office. 3.5.2010center_img Governor Jim Douglas today awarded more than $630,000 in Community Development Block Grants to South Burlington, Montpelier, Vergennes, Georgia and Bristol.  At a ceremony at the American Legion Post 14 in Vergennes, the Governor announced funding for an affordable housing project for the elderly, as well as money for improvements to make the Georgia and Bristol municipal buildings handicapped accessible. This project will provide much-needed housing for seniors in Vergennes, with on-site services and easy access to nearby services and the community, Governor Douglas said. These kinds of projects are an important part of Vermont s housing stock, particularly as more of our population seeks to remain in their communities as they age. (See list below)The $500,000 Community Development Block Grant will be given to the City of Vergennes, then loaned to Housing Vermont, which will construct the new building and infrastructure improvements that together total nearly $6 million on the 12-acre site.  The building will have 20 one-bedroom units and 5 two-bedroom units, and will also feature a common area; community kitchen; private examination rooms; a meals on wheels storage area; and a business office for a part time resident service coordinator.This project is part of a planned development that also includes the initial permitting of a new daycare center and additional residential development proposed for the future. Five of the units are market rate; the remaining 20 will be affordable housing.  In addition to connecting to the city water and sewer systems and construction of a storm water treatment system, the site work will also include new sidewalks that extend to Monkton Road; pedestrian pathways that connect to city sidewalks; parking; and landscaping.  This site is conveniently located within walking distance of downtown Vergennes and will provide seniors with access to many amenities, social opportunities and community services.Another grant of $17,500 will be used by the City of Montpelier to study the capacity of the former Senior Center at 58 Barre Street, which was damaged in a December fire, and the existing municipal Recreation Center at 55 Barre Street, for their respective uses.  In addition, the feasibility of adding senior housing in the 58 Barre Street Senior Center building will be studied. Both of these buildings are presently underutilized and are extremely expensive to heat due to the inefficiency of the energy systems and the poorly insulated building envelopes, the Governor remarked. This analysis will be helpful as residents of Montpelier contemplate how these important services will be provided in the future.And two towns, Bristol and Georgia, received grants of $50,000 and $32,885 to make their municipal buildings handicapped accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Built in 1885, Holley Hall serves as both the Town of Bristol s town hall and town offices and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Governor said. This historic building is a vital part of civic and cultural life in Bristol.The first floor of the building, which also hosts town meetings, public hearings, recreational programs, performing arts and other events, will be completely renovated to accommodate the town offices and will include a new vault, electrical upgrades, and energy improvements. The second floor a large auditorium will be made ADA accessible; its floor will be completely renovated and restored; the roof system and balcony will be repaired; and the doors, windows and the bell tower will be weatherized.The Town of Georgia will receive $32,885 to help pay for handicapped accessibility modifications to the Georgia Town Office, which is the town s meeting space as well as its public records repository featuring a vault in the basement. These funds will help install a lift to make the building handicapped accessible to both floors, and complete other improvements to ensure that the bathroom, parking lots, entry ways, and other features of the building are ADA compliant, including way-finding signage; changing handrails; and reconfiguring parking spaces to accommodate side-loading vans, Governor Douglas said.In February, Douglas presented a $30,000 grant to officials from the City of South Burlington to fund preliminary work on a new Burlington Aviation Technical Training Center.Vermont receives about $7 million annually in federal CDBG funds, which are used principally to benefit persons of low and moderate income. The state awards the competitive grants based on recommendations of the Vermont Community Development Board and approval of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Kevin Dorn. These grants are important because they leverage other financial resources and help address critical needs in our communities, the Governor remarked. The $630,385 we are awarding will leverage more than $6.4 million in other funds from private and public sources.For information about the Vermont Community Development Program, please see the Agency of Commerce and Community Development website at: http://www.dhca.state.vt.us/VCDP/index.htm(link is external)last_img read more

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Road Bike Love

first_imgWhenever I’ve got a few hours for a good long bike ride, it’s the mountain bike I grab, heading to the peace of the woods, leaving my forlorn road bike hanging from its hook.In the back of my mind I know that my road bike is fun, but it seems mentally more difficult, until I actually ride it. That’s when I realize how much I love that mental game of pushing my legs and cardiovascular system to places it’s not used to going. Plus, the road bike can take me so many miles further. It’s the week after the ride that I love the most, when my legs feel stronger as I run up the stairs or do a tumbling pass at gymnastics.This past weekend my girlfriend’s birthday wishes got me back onto the road bike, and I’ve been grinning about it ever since. I felt like it was my birthday too. I actually saw fewer people on that road ride than I’ve gotten used to seeing in the woods over the last year.We chose a few steep mountain passes in the Barnardsville area to suffer on, but it’s hard to suffer when you’re riding through sun-drenched valleys lush with early summer green, grazing cows, happy dogs and bubbling creeks. It’s almost silly, really, so I giggled between the leg-burning climbs and laughed out loud in the swerving descents. It helps to be physically matched with a riding partner. Laura and I always manage to remain in the same ten degrees of fitness, trading off being the carrot. She’s pulled me through many runs and rides, reminding me what my body is supposed to be capable of managing. Her stretches of spin classes and summer races always encourage me to get my butt in gear when I’m leaning more toward a weekend of lying around at the beach with the kids or pulling out the tools to catch up on home maintenance.Although it was an awesome ride for my legs, I felt like my biggest challenge is always my brain. If you don’t know you can climb a mountain, the question burns behind the eyes at every turn of the cranks. We cruised for 25 miles, rolling through small hills before hitting the wall of Paint Fork. I had already resigned myself to what it was going to be like since the gearing on my bike is set up for someone with much gnarlier legs than mine. My heart was racing before the hell even got hot because I was so scared I wasn’t going to make it. It took some mind tricks to calm myself. By the time I finally gained control over my concern for failure I was already half-way up. I was standing in the pedals, convincing myself to quit checking for easier gears. Getting my shoulders over the handlebars made me grateful for all of the pushups and abdominal work I’ve been doing. It was great knowing I had backup muscles so that my legs wouldn’t be the ones take all the brunt.I’ve found that it’s best for me to avoid looking up, seeking the top of the mountain so that I can guess how many pedal strokes are left. What’s far easier is staring directly in front of the wheel, watching it churn the asphalt, telling myself, “We’re gonna be here for a good while, so get comfortable.”It was here that I fell into the paperboy action for a few feet, swerving back and forth to ease the “straight up.” By the time I realized the futility in that I had reached the crest where I had to stop to celebrate. While Laura ate a Cliff bar, I busted out the aluminum foil package stuffed into my jersey filled with the kids’ leftover whole grain pancakes smothered in honey. I thought of Lance Armstrong and those expensive stroep waffles that he sells and laughed.Flying down the other side of the mountain was enough to make me forget the initial cost of this fun. The sun kicked the heat of the day up a notch, leaving me the farmer/cycler tan lines for the week. We cruised along, able to regain conversation when Caroline sailed by on her motorbike and pulled out under a shade tree in the church yard to feed us cold watermelon and lemon-lime spritzers. My girlfriends are the best EVER. She found us again two hours later and complained of being tired of riding her motorcycle. We did not hit her, but I did imagine what it would be like to hold my bike while riding on the back of hers.We did begin seeing other cyclists once we hit the ever popular Town Mountain Road. My irritation over the lack of friendliness between road riders caused me to become overly animated in my efforts to say hello. I began enthusiastically waving like a 4-year-old seeing his mommy, shouting, “WHEEEEE!” in the parts where I was going fast, as they were on the opposite side of the road grinding painfully slowly. This all greatly improved my attitude.It was the River Road back to Weaverville where the slow climb made me the hungriest. We stopped at Ledges Park to eat the remainder of my pancakes, but mostly I wanted to see if I my back could twist from side to side or if it was going to be permanently stuck in this forward bend. Already I looked forward to my Monday morning massage appointment. Thank you Tavis Cummings for knowing how to fix me.So thank you little road bike, for making me love you all over again.For all of Bettina Freese’s posts, visit Spinning My Wheels!last_img read more

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Wendy’s says malware hit 1K locations

first_imgWendy’s says the list of locations affected by its malware breach now tops 1,000 – more than three times its previous estimate – and it said the malware targeted point-of-sales systems and cardholder names, numbers and verification codes.In June, the franchise admitted that a “significantly higher” number than the previous estimate of 300 restaurants had been affected, and they admitted the threat might not yet be contained. On Thursday, the franchise admitted that card information had been stolen at 1,025 of its locations.“It is an outrage that retailers continue to compromise the safety of consumers’ sensitive financial information and our economy,” said NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger. “Congress must act to implement national data security standards for retailers. Without these standards, essentially every time consumers use their credit or debit card they are gambling to see when their data will be breached, not if.” continue reading » 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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Alexis Sanchez reveals he asked to rejoin Arsenal after his first Manchester United training session

first_imgAlexis Sanchez reveals he asked to rejoin Arsenal after his first Manchester United training session Alexis Sanchez has opened up on his failed stint at Manchester United (Getty Images)Alexis Sanchez admits he wanted to leave Manchester United and return to Arsenal after his first training session with the club.United surprisingly beat Manchester City in the race to sign Sanchez from Arsenal in January 2018 but the Chile international, who was earning £560,000 a week during his time at Old Trafford, will go down as one of the most expensive failures in the club’s history.Sanchez was unable to make an impact for United and scored just five goals in 45 appearances before he was allowed to join Inter on loan last summer.Sanchez admits he was unhappy with the atmosphere in United’s squad under Jose Mourinho and believes that was a major factor behind his struggles at Old Trafford.AdvertisementAdvertisementADVERTISEMENTAnd the 31-year-old claims his was so dismayed following his arrival at United that he even floated the idea of returning to the Gunners to his family and agent.‘I want to tell you about my period at United, about many things that have been said which made me look bad,’ Sanchez said in a video on Instagram.‘Before going there, I had an agreement with Manchester City but it didn’t work out and I got the chance to join Manchester United. It was something nice for me, as a kid I liked the club a lot. Metro Sport ReporterFriday 4 Sep 2020 7:22 amShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link9.7kShares Advertisement Alexis Sanchez made the surprise move from Arsenal to Manchester United in January 2018 (Getty Images)‘I ended up signing without having a lot of information about what was happening with the move. During the first few days that I was with my new teammates, sometimes there are things that you do not realise until you arrive.‘After the first training I had I realised many things. When I got home and I asked my family and my representative: “Can my contract be terminated and can I to return to Arsenal?”‘They were laughing about it but I really felt there were some bad things going on at the club which I did not like.‘We were not united as a team. The journalists would talk without knowing and I would get upset, even ex-players who did not know anything about how things were but they would blame me.‘But as player you need the team to be united, to be a family, and we weren’t. And you could see it on the pitch, but because they had to blame someone they would always blame me. Alexis Sanchez admits he was ‘upset’ after Jose Mourinho left him out of a squad (Getty Images)‘Sometimes I wouldn’t even play or I would only play for 20 or 30 minutes but it would always be my fault.‘Of course I know I could have played better and I didn’t, I got injured maybe because I wasn’t happy and it would affect the team, but according to them it was always my fault and I would feel bad. I wasn’t happy about the whole situation.’Sanchez also recalled the time when he was left out of the squad by Mourinho and gave a special mention to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for allowing him to join Inter on loan last season.‘There was a match against West Ham where I didn’t even get selected and that had never happened to me before, it made me really upset,’ said Sanchez.center_img View 8 comments Alexis Sanchez came close to winning the Europa League with Inter last season (UEFA via Getty Images)More: Manchester United FCRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseEx-Man Utd coach blasts Ed Woodward for two key transfer errors‘I needed fresh air, and he said there was no problem with that and I left. I only have kind words to United for giving me the opportunity.‘I’m upset that things didn’t go the way I wanted. If the team was more united and we were more like a family, if everything was more positive, I think we could have achieved better things.‘I’m saying all of this because I have learned from this as a player and as a person.‘Thanks again to United and I am sad because I would’ve liked to win trophies and make the fans happy.’Follow Metro Sport across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more stories like this, check our sport page. Alexis Sanchez thanked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for letting him join Inter (AFP via Getty Images)‘I couldn’t understand how I had gone from being one of the best players in Premier League five months ago to not even playing.AdvertisementAdvertisement‘After that, I got home, I was really upset and sad, and the next day I did a double training session. That’s how I am and I try to do my best and football is what I love.‘The next season we got a new coach [Solskjaer], I spoke with him and I told him that I needed the opportunity to leave and Inter was as an option. Advertisementlast_img read more

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