Shoe Repairs And Several Other Things When I Was 7

Shoe Repairs And Several Other Things When I Was 7
My Dad repaired most of our shoes believe it or not, I can hardly believe it myself now. With 7 pairs of shoes always needing repairs I think he was quite clever to learn how to “Keep us in shoe Leather” to coin a phrase!

He bought several different sizes of cast iron cobbler’s “lasts”. Last, the old English “Laest” meaning footprint. Lasts were holding devices shaped like a human foot. I have no idea where he would have bought the shoe leather. Only that it was a beautiful creamy, shiny colour and the smell was lovely.

But I do remember our shoes turned upside down on and fitted into these lasts, my Dad cutting the leather around the shape of the shoe, and then hammering nails, into the leather shape. Sometimes we’d feel one or 2 of those nails poking through the insides of our shoes, but our dad always fixed it.

Hiking and Swimming Galas
Dad was a very outdoorsy type, unlike my mother, who was probably too busy indoors. She also enjoyed the peace and quiet when he took us off for the day!

Anyway, he often took us hiking in the mountains where we’d have a picnic of sandwiches and flasks of tea. And more often than not we went by steam train.

We loved poking our heads out of the window until our eyes hurt like mad from a blast of soot blowing back from the engine. But sore, bloodshot eyes never dampened our enthusiasm.

Dad was an avid swimmer and water polo player, and he used to take us to swimming galas, as they were called back then. He often took part in these galas. And again we always travelled by steam train.

Rowing Over To Ireland’s Eye
That’s what we did back then, we had to go by rowboat, the only way to get to Ireland’s eye, which is 15 minutes from mainland Howth. From there we could see Malahide, Lambay Island and Howth Head of course. These days you can take a Round Trip Cruise on a small cruise ship!

But we thoroughly enjoyed rowing and once there we couldn’t wait to climb the rocks, and have a swim. We picnicked and watched the friendly seals doing their thing and showing off.

Not to mention all kinds of birdlife including the Puffin.The Martello Tower was also interesting but a bit dangerous to attempt entering. I’m getting lost in the past as I write, and have to drag myself back to the present.

Fun Outings with The camera Club
Dad was also a very keen amateur photographer, and was a member of a camera Club. There were many Sunday photography outings and along with us came other kids of the members of the club.

And we always had great fun while the adults busied themselves taking photos of everything and anything, it seemed to us. Dad was so serious about his photography that he set up a dark room where he developed and printed his photographs.

All black and white at the time. He and his camera club entered many of their favourites in exhibitions throughout Europe. I’m quite proud to say that many cups and medals were won by Dad. They have been shared amongst all his grandchildren which I find quite special.

He liked taking portraits of us kids too, mostly when we were in a state of untidiness, usually during play. Dad always preferred the natural look of messy hair and clothes in the photos of his children.

How and Why Should We Use Natural Skin Care Products

IntroductionThe human skin is the largest organ of the human body. It not only has quite a complex structure, but also performs several life sustaining functions.We can live without a Spleen, Gall Bladder, or an Appendix, and we can survive with only one Kidney or one Lung, but we cannot survive without our skin. As a result it is of the utmost importance that we take care of our skin.Using natural skin care products is a good first step in providing the skin with the right nutrients and building materials to retain its health and functionality.What Does Our Skin Actually Do for Us?Our skin has many functions, most of which we are unaware of until something goes wrong. They include:
Regulation of body temperature;
Protection against the elements;
Sensation;
Excretion;
Immunity;
Blood storage and
Synthesis of Vitamin D.
If you want to read about these functions in more detail you can have a look at this article: “Anatomy & Physiology of the Skin”.In summary, these functions provide us with awareness of our surrounding climatic environment, protect us against some of the bacteria and other potentially harmful bugs in our surroundings, allow us to experience touch and feel, eliminate toxins from our body, store blood, and provide the means for our body to obtain vitamin D while protecting our body from the sun’s UV-rays.Considering these vital functions our skin has to perform, it is no surprise that we need to look after our skin and make sure it is given every opportunity to function properly and remain healthy.Why You Should Choose Natural Skin Care Products?With all the media and news reports warning consumers of the potentially toxic ingredients in many of the commercially available skin care products sold in supermarkets and department stores, this is an easy question to answer.Firstly, many of the commonly used skin care products contain artificial and/or synthetic ingredients that the body has difficulties in eliminating, and as a result it tends to store these chemicals in its tissues. Research has shown that the accumulation of many of these substances can have serious health effects.If you are interested in learning more about some of the toxic chemicals used in skin care products, please read the article ” Potentially Toxic Ingredients In Skin Care Products”. It will provide you with much information and research references for you to be able to identify what is in your skin care products and what should not be there.Holistically natural skin care products do not contain artificial or synthetic ingredients. They should also not contain isolated, concentrated, natural substances, such as parabens (pseudo-natural preservative) and the like, that have been shown to be potentially hazardous.How To Choose Natural Skin Care Products That are Safe and Effective?This is where it starts to get really difficult. You see, many so called natural or organic skin care products are in reality nothing of the kind. Adding a minuscule amount of aloe vera to water does not constitute a holistically natural skin care product. It may be ‘natural’ or even ‘organic’, but it will not be effective and therefore is a waste of your money.To have an effective aloe vera product for example, it requires at least 10% of the overall content to be aloe vera. Or, the aloe vera needs to be combined with several other active, natural ingredients that are combined to achieve a specific result.The term ‘Organic’ is another area where consumers are being misled. Adding a single ‘organic’ ingredient and then calling the products ‘organic’, is quite simply wrong. You see the commercials on television and magazines every day… “xyz product contains organic this and organic that”… but no mention is made of the other ingredients that are contained in these products, many of which have been shown to be hazardous to our health.There is yet another problem with natural skin care products, that is an area of confusion and potentially misleading. Just ask yourself what exactly is “natural”? What is actually meant by the term “natural”?The word ‘natural’ congers up images of nature – pristine environments that make us feel good. A safe, natural environment that is conducive to health and a sense of wellbeing. Spring water, waterfalls, pristine lakes, a healthy salads, Rainforests, etc., are all images that we perceive as ‘natural’, or in other words ‘good for us’.The cosmetic industry has ceased on this and is using the word natural to instil in their advertisements a sense of wellbeing and the idea that this product is good for us. Unfortunately, one or two natural ingredients does not a natural skin care product make… Far from it, natural skin care products should not contain any ingredients that are not naturally sourced. This brings us to another problem with natural skin care products.A naturally sourced ingredient, such as the various forms of paraben, may still be potentially hazardous. Just think about it – would you put arsenic or lead on your skin? No of course you wouldn’t. But, they are natural, so what’s the problem? Natural substances too can also be deadly poisons.Applying this to skin care products, you might be looking for a product that is natural and contains AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), which we know help to remove dead skin cell layers which in turn helps to remove fine lines and wrinkles, revealing new vibrant skin.Now, you could buy a product that lists as one of its ingredients AHAs, it might even contain AHA in its name, or you could buy a product that contains a concentrate called papain, which is a natural substance from the Papaya fruit. So, yes papain is natural and yes this product could, depending on other ingredients, be called a natural skin care product. However, papain is a concentrate and as such many people have experienced side effects because the papain is present in too high a concentration for some people.A truly, holistically natural skin care product would not contain papain as an extract. Rather it would contain Papaya fruit itself. You see, the whole fruit still contains papain, however, it also contains other ingredients in the papaya that modify the excessively strong effect of the papain. Choosing such a product will, at least to a large extent, reduce any potential side effects from the papain, because the product is naturally balanced and contains naturally balanced ingredients that will benefit your skin rather than burn it.The results of removing fine lines and wrinkles may take a little longer, but are overall better and you reduce the chance of ‘burning’ your skin with a concentrated AHA. Remember AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid and we all know acids burn our skin.How To Use Natural Skin Care Products?Following directionsThis is actually a lot more important than most people think. Directions for use are a communication by the manufacturer of a product to their consumers about how to use and get the best results from a particular product.It has been our experience, that most people who purchase our natural skin care products do not read the directions and use our products the same way that they have been using their previous brand. This however, may or may not be the correct way to use our products.Properly formulated products contain ingredients in sufficiently high quantities to achieve a desired effect if used in accordance with the product’s directions. Using more does not mean better or quicker results, rather using too much can have adverse effects or no more effect than the lesser quantity.Conversely, if for example, the product’s directions suggest that it be used 2 or 3 times a day using it merely once is not likely to produce the desired effect in most cases.This is obvious when we think about taking medicine. We read the directions and take the drugs, herbs, or what ever, as prescribed and hopefully we get the desired result.So why is it that we do this when it comes to taking medicine, but ignore it (for the most part) when it comes to using skin care products or other personal care products?Reading the instructions carefully and following them ensures that a) you are not wasting your money, and b) you should get the desired results.Good and Bad Reactions from Using Skin or Personal Care ProductsThere are several possible reactions you may experience. There are good reactions and negative reactions. Let’s look at good reactions to begin with.Good Skin Reactions to New ProductsHerbs, essential oils and most of the other ingredients that you’ll find in our range of products have a medicinal actions and are included for a specific purpose, that is, the formulations that make up our various products were originally designed to treat particular skin health issues. This intent, though we do not actively promote this, continues to this day.As you probably know, there are three basic skin types; Normal, Oily and Dry. In addition, your skin may also be sensitive, prone to allergic reactions or under the influence of hormonal changes that are taking place in your body. The herbs and essential oils in our products are specifically chosen to normalize the skin given one of the skin types. The herbs and essential oils will have a therapeutic effect on the skin’s structure and function in order to provide an environment under which your skin will start to function normally again.Similarly this is relevant for sensitive skin that tends to react inappropriately to different stimuli. It is possible, for example, that an individual with sensitive skin who is using our products for the first time, will experience a reaction which they may see as being a negative reaction.This however, may well be totally the opposite to what is actually taking place. You see, in order for your skin’s health to improve, it has to change. This change may appear at first as a worsening of a particular skin issue and this will understandably be interpreted as a negative.Under normal circumstances however, this type of reaction, if the products are continued with, will only last for a few days and following this time the skin will improve and end up much healthier. This process is sometimes referred to as ‘A healing crisis’, and is actually a good thing to happen.
It signifies that the ingredients are doing what they are supposed to, that is they are repairing and normalizing the skin’s functions. This is a normal and in fact good reaction.Bad Skin Reactions to New ProductsObviously there are times when a new product may actually cause a bad skin reaction. Unfortunately a bad reaction often appears very similarly to a good reaction. So how can you tell the difference and what should you do?The first thing to do when ever you purchase a new skin or personal care product is to test it to see if you have any adverse reactions to this product. Below is a detailed outline and links that will provide you with all the information you need to test a new product in order to determine whether or not your skin is going to react adversely to it or not.Test the Products to Avoid Allergic ReactionsAnother important aspect to using any skin care, personal care or cosmetic products, whether they are natural or otherwise, is to test the products first in order to see if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.To do this, follow the steps described in our article “The Skin Patch Test”, which will provide you with a simple, yet effective step-by-step test that you can easily do at home over a 24 hour period, to reasonably ensure that you will not experience major adverse reactions to the ingredients in products you want to use on your face, or anywhere else on your body. This test is simple and very effective.Finally, before you purchase a product, look at the ingredients list and see if the ingredients are easily recognisable. As a rule of Thumb, if the ingredients are easily recognizable it is more likely that the ingredients are of a natural source and have not been excessively modified. If on the other hand you need a chemistry degree to understand what the ingredient is, it is likely not to be a holistically-natural ingredient. It may still be a natural ingredient, but it is likely that it has been isolated and is used in a concentrated, possibly even synthetic form.For the most part, most ‘natural skin care products’ widely available in the market place are far from natural or that matter organic. Most have minimal quantities of some natural ingredient in an otherwise non-natural product and are referring to the one natural ingredient in the product, rather than the nature of the product itself.Hopefully this article will clarify some of the confusion that exists about what is a natural skin care product and what is not, help you to choose natural skin care products that will actually live up to your expectations, and clarify why using natural skin care products is a healthier choice.

Best in Class Finance Functions For Police Forces

Background

Police funding has risen by £4.8 billion and 77 per cent (39 per cent in real terms) since 1997. However the days where forces have enjoyed such levels of funding are over.

Chief Constables and senior management recognize that the annual cycle of looking for efficiencies year-on-year is not sustainable, and will not address the cash shortfall in years to come.
Facing slower funding growth and real cash deficits in their budgets, the Police Service must adopt innovative strategies which generate the productivity and efficiency gains needed to deliver high quality policing to the public.

The step-change in performance required to meet this challenge will only be achieved if the police service fully embraces effective resource management and makes efficient and productive use of its technology, partnerships and people.

The finance function has an essential role to play in addressing these challenges and supporting Forces’ objectives economically and efficiently.

Challenge

Police Forces tend to nurture a divisional and departmental culture rather than a corporate one, with individual procurement activities that do not exploit economies of scale. This is in part the result of over a decade of devolving functions from the center to the.divisions.

In order to reduce costs, improve efficiency and mitigate against the threat of “top down” mandatory, centrally-driven initiatives, Police Forces need to set up a corporate back office and induce behavioral change. This change must involve compliance with a corporate culture rather than a series of silos running through the organization.

Developing a Best in Class Finance Function

Traditionally finance functions within Police Forces have focused on transactional processing with only limited support for management information and business decision support. With a renewed focus on efficiencies, there is now a pressing need for finance departments to transform in order to add greater value to the force but with minimal costs.

1) Aligning to Force Strategy

As Police Forces need finance to function, it is imperative that finance and operations are closely aligned. This collaboration can be very powerful and help deliver significant improvements to a Force, but in order to achieve this model, there are many barriers to overcome. Finance Directors must look at whether their Force is ready for this collaboration, but more importantly, they must consider whether the Force itself can survive without it.

Finance requires a clear vision that centers around its role as a balanced business partner. However to achieve this vision a huge effort is required from the bottom up to understand the significant complexity in underlying systems and processes and to devise a way forward that can work for that particular organization.

The success of any change management program is dependent on its execution. Change is difficult and costly to execute correctly, and often, Police Forces lack the relevant experience to achieve such change. Although finance directors are required to hold appropriate professional qualifications (as opposed to being former police officers as was the case a few years ago) many have progressed within the Public Sector with limited opportunities for learning from and interaction with best in class methodologies. In addition cultural issues around self-preservation can present barriers to change.

Whilst it is relatively easy to get the message of finance transformation across, securing commitment to embark on bold change can be tough. Business cases often lack the quality required to drive through change and even where they are of exceptional quality senior police officers often lack the commercial awareness to trust them.

2) Supporting Force Decisions

Many Finance Directors are keen to develop their finance functions. The challenge they face is convincing the rest of the Force that the finance function can add value – by devoting more time and effort to financial analysis and providing senior management with the tools to understand the financial implications of major strategic decisions.

Maintaining Financial Controls and Managing Risk

Sarbanes Oxley, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Basel II and Individual Capital Assessments (ICA) have all put financial controls and reporting under the spotlight in the private sector. This in turn is increasing the spotlight on financial controls in the public sector.

A ‘Best in Class’ Police Force finance function will not just have the minimum controls to meet the regulatory requirements but will evaluate how the legislation and regulations that the finance function are required to comply with, can be leveraged to provide value to the organization. Providing strategic information that will enable the force to meet its objectives is a key task for a leading finance function.

3) Value to the Force

The drive for development over the last decade or so, has moved decision making to the Divisions and has led to an increase in costs in the finance function. Through utilizing a number of initiatives in a program of transformation, a Force can leverage up to 40% of savings on the cost of finance together with improving the responsiveness of finance teams and the quality of financial information. These initiatives include:

Centralization

By centralizing the finance function, a Police Force can create centers of excellence where industry best practice can be developed and shared. This will not only re-empower the department, creating greater independence and objectivity in assessing projects and performance, but also lead to more consistent management information and a higher degree of control. A Police Force can also develop a business partner group to act as strategic liaisons to departments and divisions. The business partners would, for example, advise on how the departmental and divisional commanders can meet the budget in future months instead of merely advising that the budget has been missed for the previous month.

With the mundane number crunching being performed in a shared service center, finance professionals will find they now have time to act as business partners to divisions and departments and focus on the strategic issues.

The cultural impact on the departments and divisional commanders should not be underestimated. Commanders will be concerned that:

o Their budgets will be centralized
o Workloads would increase
o There will be limited access to finance individuals
o There will not be on site support

However, if the centralized shared service center is designed appropriately none of the above should apply. In fact from centralization under a best practice model, leaders should accrue the following benefits:

o Strategic advice provided by business partners
o Increased flexibility
o Improved management information
o Faster transactions
o Reduced number of unresolved queries
o Greater clarity on service and cost of provision
o Forum for finance to be strategically aligned to the needs of the Force

A Force that moves from a de-centralized to a centralized system should try and ensure that the finance function does not lose touch with the Chief Constable and Divisional Commanders. Forces need to have a robust business case for finance transformation combined with a governance structure that spans operational, tactical and strategic requirements. There is a risk that potential benefits of implementing such a change may not be realized if the program is not carefully managed. Investment is needed to create a successful centralized finance function. Typically the future potential benefits of greater visibility and control, consistent processes, standardized management information, economies of scale, long-term cost savings and an empowered group of proud finance professionals, should outweigh those initial costs.

To reduce the commercial, operational and capability risks, the finance functions can be completely outsourced or partially outsourced to third parties. This will provide guaranteed cost benefits and may provide the opportunity to leverage relationships with vendors that provide best practice processes.

Process Efficiencies

Typically for Police Forces the focus on development has developed a silo based culture with disparate processes. As a result significant opportunities exist for standardization and simplification of processes which provide scalability, reduce manual effort and deliver business benefit. From simply rationalizing processes, a force can typically accrue a 40% reduction in the number of processes. An example of this is the use of electronic bank statements instead of using the manual bank statement for bank reconciliation and accounts receivable processes. This would save considerable effort that is involved in analyzing the data, moving the data onto different spreadsheet and inputting the data into the financial systems.

Organizations that possess a silo operating model tend to have significant inefficiencies and duplication in their processes, for example in HR and Payroll. This is largely due to the teams involved meeting their own goals but not aligning to the corporate objectives of an organization. Police Forces have a number of independent teams that are reliant on one another for data with finance in departments, divisions and headquarters sending and receiving information from each other as well as from the rest of the Force. The silo model leads to ineffective data being received by the teams that then have to carry out additional work to obtain the information required.

Whilst the argument for development has been well made in the context of moving decision making closer to operational service delivery, the added cost in terms of resources, duplication and misaligned processes has rarely featured in the debate. In the current financial climate these costs need to be recognized.

Culture

Within transactional processes, a leading finance function will set up targets for staff members on a daily basis. This target setting is an element of the metric based culture that leading finance functions develop. If the appropriate metrics of productivity and quality are applied and when these targets are challenging but not impossible, this is proven to result in improvements to productivity and quality.

A ‘Best in Class’ finance function in Police Forces will have a service focused culture, with the primary objectives of providing a high level of satisfaction for its customers (departments, divisions, employees & suppliers). A ‘Best in Class’ finance function will measure customer satisfaction on a timely basis through a metric based approach. This will be combined with a team wide focus on process improvement, with process owners, that will not necessarily be the team leads, owning force-wide improvement to each of the finance processes.

Organizational Improvements

Organizational structures within Police Forces are typically made up of supervisors leading teams of one to four team members. Through centralizing and consolidating the finance function, an opportunity exists to increase the span of control to best practice levels of 6 to 8 team members to one team lead / supervisor. By adjusting the organizational structure and increasing the span of control, Police Forces can accrue significant cashable benefit from a reduction in the number of team leads and team leads can accrue better management experience from managing larger teams.

Technology Enabled Improvements

There are a significant number of technology improvements that a Police Force could implement to help develop a ‘Best in Class’ finance function.

These include:

A) Scanning and workflow

Through adopting a scanning and workflow solution to replace manual processes, improved visibility, transparency and efficiencies can be reaped.

B) Call logging, tracking and workflow tool

Police Forces generally have a number of individuals responding to internal and supplier queries. These queries are neither logged nor tracked. The consequence of this is dual:

o Queries consume considerable effort within a particular finance team. There is a high risk of duplicated effort from the lack of logging of queries. For example, a query could be responded to for 30 minutes by person A in the finance team. Due to this query not being logged, if the individual that raised the query called up again and spoke to a different person then just for one additional question, this could take up to 20 minutes to ensure that the background was appropriately explained.

o Queries can have numerous interfaces with the business. An unresolved query can be responded against by up to four separate teams with considerable delay in providing a clear answer for the supplier.

The implementation of a call logging, tracking and workflow tool to document, measure and close internal and supplier queries combined with the set up of a central queries team, would significantly reduce the effort involved in responding to queries within the finance departments and divisions, as well as within the actual divisions and departments, and procurement.

C) Database solution

Throughout finance departments there are a significant number of spreadsheets utilized prior to input into the financial system. There is a tendency to transfer information manually from one spreadsheet to another to meet the needs of different teams.

Replacing the spreadsheets with a database solution would rationalize the number of inputs and lead to effort savings for the front line Police Officers as well as Police Staff.

D) Customize reports

In obtaining management information from the financial systems, police staff run a series of reports, import these into excel, use lookups to match the data and implement pivots to illustrate the data as required. There is significant manual effort that is involved in carrying out this work. Through customizing reports the outputs from the financial system can be set up to provide the data in the formats required through the click of a button. This would have the benefit of reduced effort and improved motivation for team members that previously carried out these mundane tasks.

In designing, procuring and implementing new technology enabling tools, a Police Force will face a number of challenges including investment approval; IT capacity; capability; and procurement.

These challenges can be mitigated through partnering with a third party service company with whom the investment can be shared, the skills can be provided and the procurement cycle can be minimized.

Conclusion

It is clear that cultural, process and technology change is required if police forces are to deliver both sustainable efficiencies and high quality services. In an environment where for the first time forces face real cash deficits and face having to reduce police officer and support staff numbers whilst maintaining current performance levels the current finance delivery models requires new thinking.

While there a number of barriers to be overcome in achieving a best in class finance function, it won’t be long before such a decision becomes mandatory. Those who are ahead of the curve will inevitably find themselves in a stronger position.