3 Important Steps for Keeping Your Child Safe From Abuse

This is an ever-changing world and there are many things in it that we would like to protect our children from . The last thing any parent wants to see is their child violated, hurt or in pain.

As parents, we do our best to provide our children with safety equipment, expose them to lessons that will give them the tools to protect themselves and be there for them when they need us. Unfortunately, we can not be with our children 24-7, especially as they grow and venture into the world towards independence.

After our role as protector, we can only control so much of what will happen to our children BUT we can equip them with the most powerful weapon of all – knowledge and information.

A parent's worst nightmares are many and having your child fall victim to sexual abuse is perhaps one of the worst among them . Is it possible to make a child abuse-proof and resistant to the enticements of a perpetrator?

In addition to all the quick and easy stranger danger tips and the important information found in books and on websites – the message that their body belongs to them, encouraging them never to keep secrets, telling them to say NO – what more can a parent do ?

There is a lot a parent can do in order to protect their children from this heinous crime even if a child is on the Autism spectrum and they can begin at a very early age . True protection goes beyond telling your socially challenged child not to talk to strangers – true protection lies in creating a child that is internally resistant, a child who inner strength will make them less vulnerable to the crafty approaches of a child molester.

The following suggestions may seem simple because we automatically do them as parents but we often do not realize how powerful they are in keeping our children safe:

1 – Strive to enhance your child's assertiveness skills : Learning how to be appropriately assertive rather than aggressive or passive is one of the best gifts we can give to our children. Individuals who seek out children for their own distorted purposes are counting on them to be passive and will not spend time grooming a child who is likely to speak up for herself. We can begin this process at the early age of two or before when our little cherubs take their first step towards assertion by discovering the word "no". This simple word contains much power and could be the one thing that keeps them safe.

Simply encouraging your child to look at the color of a person's eyes when talking to them will make them appear confident and self-assured. This may be a difficult task for most kids with Autism but it is doable if practiced persistently. The trick is to teach your child the right balance between assertiveness and aggression and still remain respectful. This is why good social training training is important.

2 – Help your child acquire a capable sense of self . Children who appear capable are less likely to be targeted by individuals who prey upon children. These individuals are searching for those who are vulnerable, those who seem helpless. Helping your child become independent is your job and the sooner you nurture appropriate independence the better.

As you teach your children to do things for themselves rather than do it for them, their confidence grows. Do not ever hesitate to help your child learn and master a new task if you think they are ready because the feeling of "I can do it myself" is powerful and will serve as one more layer of protection from the hands of a perpetrator.

3 – Make sure your child knows what a healthy relationship is : Your child must have an accurate sense of what constitutes a healthy relationship in order to have proper instinctual knowledge – a gut feeling – of what is normal. Perpetrators spend a lot of their time trying to convince their intended victim that "this is what people do when they care about each another". Their success lies in their attempts to normalize the invasive behaviors that they use to set up their potential victims.

Be very specific and make sure your child knows that a healthy relationship does NOT require keeping secrets, uncomfortable Touches and insidious remarks. This will ensure that these messages fall on deaf ears. They will know that "normal" does not mean constant enticement with gifts, atypical attention, special favors or uninvited physical contact.

Your job must go beyond role modeling healthy relationships to talking about it with your children, honestly, specifically and often, until they fly from your nest. When your children are grounded in what a healthy relationship looks like, sounds like and feels like, you are not only providing them with strong armor that will shield them from possible harm but important knowledge that will reap many positive benefits in all aspects of their life For years to come.

Clean and Sober in Baja California

Based on Baja's old image one would not think it to be a place to get clean and sober. However, Baja has addressed one issue in a set of complex issues and has created a government supported organization called CRREAD; A very long Spanish name meaning clean and sober. Its program helps men through the withdrawal and detox stage of their addiction. It focuses on every detail needed to be successful, and therefore it has a 6 month commitment to the rehabilitation process. It has been seen that 28 day programs do not have the time to address all the real issues once a person gains sobriety, and it takes time to anchor health in a person's mind, body, and spirit.

CRREAD's foundation is based on the 12-steps of Alcoholic Anonymous. And in one of the newer facilities just south of Rosarito Beach in Northern Baja, the 3 story structure was built on donated land near the Pacific Ocean. It grows to its three-story height one brick at a time; The work done by the recovering men. For as the men become clean and sober their natural skills return. Under one roof one will find all the skills needed in construction, including plumbers, electricians, wood workers and artisans.

In 2012 the facility is housing 200 men under one roof! Any ideas that comes to mind about how this might look and sound like would be wrong. On occasion, I take visitors through the quiet and immaculate structure. Floors are polished mosaic tile designed by the sober artisans. Everything is in perfect order from the pantry that holds large bags of rice and beans, to the kitchen that feeds the men three meals a day. What is clear is a shared goal for sobriety and everything that includes. A doctor comes in to care for the men going through the DTs or withdrawals from heroin, as it can be a life-threatening process. A sterile environment in the infirmary provides the visiting doctor a place to check on the patients' physical well-being. Even a barber shop staffed by one of the men. The 12-step meetings go on all day and into the night. When the men are not in a meeting they have work details inside the grounds, which are silently guarded by "brothers" with more sobriety.

When a drunk starts to sober up, they will often discover that sobriety means much more than just not drinking. Their families have been harmed in many ways because of the addictions, and now for the first time those relationship can begin to be heal. It takes everyone's effort to heal the family system. Families need the support as much as the addict, and 12-step can also help with the Al-Anon program. While the men are in the program, they can not leave the building, but are allowed to have family visits on the weekend.

After a certain level of sobriety they can work in the community, bringing "home" the wages earned which goes to support the co-op that supports them. They never go out alone. They always "buddy" up so there is no temptation to "fall off the wagon." Each phase of sobriety takes as long as it takes, each man is different, but the safe environment, the steps back to sobriety in all areas of life, will lead naturally to serving others. CRREAD each year invites the children in the local community to an Easter egg hunt and a Christmas event with a real Santa Claus. Some of the men are "lifers" and stay on to be part of the program to help others. While others may move into administrative positions. They all attest to the fact that CRREAD gave them the time they needed to develop the skills to reenter society, and that the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous saved their lives. The only time I ever heard 200 men raise their voices was at the end of a meeting, "It works if you work it!" Was their affirming roar.

Review: Modern Art

The world of art is a theme that hasn’t been much exploited by the board game industry. Modern Art shines gloriously from this point of view, embracing the vicious world of art galleries and the trading business of paintings in such a unique way that it seems almost real. Of course nothing less could be expected by the famous designer Reiner Knizia. Modern Art is actually a card game, with cards representing the paintings of five fictional artists: Nex, Bahut, Sadland, Darmoir and Koriko, each one having his own particular style in painting. The prevalent mechanic in this game is auctions, which take place in many different ways and determine the popularity of painters. Let’s see the basic rules of the game:

The game lasts four rounds. At the beginning of the game each player is dealt a number of cards (depicting paintings) depending on the number of players and some money (essential for starting any business!).

The amount of 100,000 euro/dollars is given to each player in the form of cardboard coins which are kept hidden during play, behind each player’s screen.

Players are gallery owners who buy paintings and then sell them for profit to the bank at the end of each round. Paintings are sold through auctions and there are five different ways to hold an auction:

  • Open auction: This is a typical auction where players can bid as many times they want, any amount they want
  • Fixed-price auction: The auctioneer announces the price he wants for the painting and players are asked in clockwise order if they are willing to give that amount to buy the painting. The first one who does, gets the painting
  • One-round auction: Starting with the player on the left of the auctioneer and continuing clockwise, each player may bid an amount of money to buy the painting. The last one to bid is the auctioneer. Each player has only one chance to bid.
  • Hidden auction: Each player secretly chooses the amount of money they are willing to offer for the painting and hides it in his closed palm. Then all players simultaneously open their palms, revealing the amount each one has offered.
  • Double auction: This type of auction allows players to sell two paintings of the same painter in a single auction. If the player who started this auction doesn’t want or can’t sell a second painting, then the next clockwise player has the chance to offer a second painting and so on. If another player except the one starting the auction, offers a second painting he becomes the auctioneer and gets all the money from the sell.

Each round players take their turns in clockwise order, putting on auction a painting from their hand (or two in the case of double auctions). Each card has a special symbol on it, determining the type of auction that must me used for selling that painting. A player putting a a painting on auction, can also buy his own painting in which case the money he pays will go directly to the bank. In all other cases the money the final bidder pays, goes to the player putting up the auction. When the fifth painting of the same artist is revealed to start an auction, the round ends immediately (without the painting actually going on sale).. Then the most successful painters are determined, based on the number of paintings they have sold. The painter who has sold the most paintings for the round has a market value of 30.000 which means that each of his paintings will be sold to the bank for 30000. The second one has a value of 20000 and the third 10000. All other painters get a market value of zero which means their paintings are worth nothing. There is a nice and convenient scoring board which helps keep track of each painter’s value. For each of the three most successful painters of the round a market value chip with the appropriate value (30,20,10) is put on the scoring board.

It must be noted that the value of paintings of the three most successful artists each round is cumulative. That means that it is the sum of values of all previous rounds plus the one that just ended. However that is the case only for the first three painters. If a painter although successful in previous rounds, isn’t very successful in the current round and drops to the fourth position that painter’s paintings are worth nothing for this round. It’s kind of sad but the world of art is so cruel! Today a king, tomorrow a beggar.

After values have been determined, players sell their paintings to the bank, Then new paintings are dealt to players and the next round starts. However they also keep the remaining paintings from previous rounds. The game goes on in the same way until four rounds are player at which point the richest player is determined and announced as the winner.

Lets go through our usual rating system to talk about the aspects of a game that really matter:


Many different editions of this game exist by Mayfair, Matagot, Pegasus etc. In my opinion the latest edition by Matagot is by far the best from components point of view. The overall graphic design of the game has been trully enhanced

with beautiful colors and sophisticated graphics on every component, from the illustrious box art, to the players’ screens (each with a different artistic theme). Player screens conveniently describe the different types of auctions on the inside (player) side.

Considering that this is a game about art, such an upgrade makes the game much more appealing. As for the cards of the game (representing paintings really). each painter has his own unique, artistic style which makes the paintings more recognizable and actually gives the feeling of dealing with true paintings. At some point you may find yourself favouring the artist whose paintings you like more, a strategy that will most not likely not work but you never know! It would be an interesting idea to feature this game with real paintings from real artists. I guess that would invoke copyright issues but it still would be nice. Maybe a home-made version? The scoring board is pretty nice, from hard cardboard and in the same colourful style as the rest of the game. Money is represented by the classic cardboard round coins, nothing special there. Every player’s screen is unique, with a cartoon-style image showing people inside an art gallery. Very good job indeed! 9/10


Reiner Knizia, is a masterful designer with a PhD in mathematics and true knowledge of economics. That is an asset he has fully taken advantage of, producing very well-balanced games. Modern Art is one of the most characteristic examples of his work, displaying the way markets really work and could easily be used to teach children the principles of supply and demand. The more popular a painter is, the more people want to buy his work and the higher his value gets. This situation however reaches a peak, where the supply decreases (because many paintings have already been sold) and the few paintings appearing in auction tend to sell in high prices because painters’ value is carried over to subsequent rounds. In many cases you will find yourself making more money by selling paintins at high prices rather than buying and then selling to the bank. The different auction types makes the game more interesting. A thing to consider well is when to choose a certain type of auction instead of another according to what you are trying to accomplish at that point of the game. A nicely-thought game with an interesting theme that will probably keep you engaged for a long time, trying to refine your strategies and find the most profitable ways to run your gallery.There is no direct player interaction in Modern Art, however you can influence your opponents progress by sabotaging the painters they promote. 8/10

Learning Curve:

The game’s rules are pretty simple with makes Modern Art an ideal board game for the whole family. As all great games, it’s easy to learn but difficult to master, a goal that every designer seeks but rarely manages to conquer. 8/10


Not many board games exist that deal with the world of art which makes the game feel pretty refreshing on its own. Reiner Knizia succeeds in creating the atmosphere of buying and selling paintings although the different auction types don’t seem very realistic. Game components enhance the theme the best way they could with beautiful art flowing everywhere in the game. 8/10


Due to its gameplay depth, this game will make you want to play it again and again. Apart from it being fun, it’s also challenging for the mind and there are many different strategies to try out so it isn’t a game you will find yourself not wanting to play. The game’s length being decent (about 45 – 60 mins), not very short and not very long plus the fact that it can be easily taught to new players makes it pretty replayable. 7/10


Although economic games rarely are much fun, this one is probable one of the most party-friendly through the auction mechanic which always stirs things up. If you are the convincing type you could try to find interesting reasons to convince your friends to buy your paintings. They will probably not bite but you can always try. 6/10


  • Great artwork
  • Original theme
  • Easy rules
  • Gameplay depth


  • The different auction types are not very realistic

Recommended for: Everyone whether they like art or not. A must have for auction games lovers!

How Much Does A Log Home Cost?

"How Much Does a Log Home Cost?" Is the single most asked question in the industry, and also the most difficult one to answer. The customers are not the only ones who are frustrated; Dealers and manufacturers are fully aware that not giving an easy answer could lose a sale. However, in reality the answer is "That Depends", and the sooner the homeowners accept this statement the sooner they can start looking in the right place.

WHAT DO I MEAN BY THE RIGHT PLACE? Like everyone else, my husband and I started our search by oohing and aahing at the majestic, multi-faced homes with numerous peaks in the roof, giant trusses, huge windows, and big logs. What we did not realize right away is that every one of our favorite log homes were hand-crafted, and so far out of our price range that we might as well have been shopping for a castle.

The first thing you need to do is distinguish between a handcrafted log home and a milled log home. Handcrafted log homes will cost anywhere from 2-4 times as much per square foot as a milled log home, when you take into consideration the size of the logs and the intense labor required from the first day the logs are selected. If the logs are not even sized, you know right away you are looking at a handcrafted home.

MILLED LOG HOMES: If you select a handcrafted log home, you do not need to be reading this article! For the rest of us, there are other basic factors to consider if you are looking at log log, log species, and log corners. The first two factors speak for themselves. The corner system, however, can make a big difference. For instance, think about how the logs are stacked. If you remember your Lincoln Log toy, you had to find the half-log to start the first course. This is the way a Saddle-Notched corner system is constructed. The courses are staggered and logs are notched to fit snugly together, and when you look at the corner you will see each log end lying on top of the one below it, creating a continuous unbroken stretch from top to bottom. The notches require another run through the mill, and will add to the future cost.

When you look at a Butt-and-Pass log home you will see a gap between each log past the corner. This is because all the logs are laid on the same plane; The first course is started with a full log and it butts up against the other wall log which runs past it. The next course reverses the process. There is no notch to hold them together, since a less time in the mill. If you compare a butt-and-pass house to a saddle-notched house, dollar for dollar the butt-and-pass house should be less expensive. This is where aesthetics kicks in.

A home with logs that are flat inside-and-out will probably be joined with a dovetail system, where the logs are notched at an angle and snugly fit together. Think of the corner of your kitchen drawer. These also require more precision equipment and are a little more expensive to build.

There are other corner systems, but these three are the most common. Just bear in mind that the corner creates one of the big differences between one milled manufacturer's product and another's.

LOG PACKAGES. After you have decided on the corner system, you'll find that every company quotes their logs differently. To get a real apples-to-apples comparison, you must ask for a quote on the logs ONLY. And remember that the logs institute 1/4 to 1/5 the cost of the temporary house. I think you're going to find that within the same size, species and corner system, the basic costs will not vary all that much from one manufacturer to another … not including shipping, of course.

Many companies quote on a Weathered-in Shell, which means all the components for a weather tight house: logs, windows, roof sheathing, doors. It's tempting to get this kind of quote, but remember that you may be paying thousands of extra dollars to ship generic lumber across the country. And when the extra stuff is delivered, it's up to you to store it all safe and dry on site. If your contractor buys the lumber locally, you can get it delivered when you need it, rather than months ahead of time.

IT'S A CUSTOM HOME. Once you get past erection of the log walls, you're going to discover that your log home is not a whole lot different from any other custom home. The roof materials are the same, the heating systems are the same, the windows are basically the same. Most of your decisions are on the inside of the house: stock kitchen vs. Custom cabinets, granite vs. Formica, wood floors vs. Carpeting, tongue-and-groove vs. Sheetrock, antler chandelier vs. Wagon wheel … here's where the wild differences in price can add up. It's a custom home, remember, and the choices are up to you. In the mid-Atlantic states, the square foot price of a custom framed house and a custom log home will be pretty equivalent. When looked at that point of view, the whole pricing equation starts to make more sense.

BOTTOM LINE: This is where we all get into trouble. There's no agreement as to a budgeting price, because local costs vary so much. Four years ago, when I started designing my home, the magazines said to budget $ 150 per square foot. I thought this was outrageous, but in the end, we spent about $ 157 per square foot for a saddle-notched home with 8 "pine logs and some upgrades, so I'm glad I paid attention. If you start there, you'll At least be in the ballpark.

Gardening Tools – An Overview

Most people know very well about the rules and regulations to keep your plants to grow healthy in your garden. For getting sustainable growth from your garden plants, they do require good soil quality, sun light and sufficient water. Although these items have been gifted by nature, gardening tools are necessary to upkeep your garden. Good gardening tools will assist you in taking care of your plants as well as cultivating good growing conditions, thus having a positive effect on your plant’s health.

Defective gardening tools can be detrimental to your garden and to you. Defective gardening tools can cause injury to your plants or injury to yourself. Gardeners should find the best quality garden tool that they can afford. Once you have labeled your garden tool as “the best”, it implies that the tool provides quality work for which it was designed for and with the least labor possible.

Below is a list of some common garden tools and their uses.


Luxus Push Reel Mower rated as best by the gardening aficionados provides large top cover that protects overhanging flowers and shrubs. Another special gardening tool called American Lawn Mower Deluxe has also been accredited as best, which will be helpful to operate on elbow grease alone and causing no pollution. However, this is not conducive for too tall grasses.

Garden Shredders

In general, all garden shredders have a high watt motor and come with silent crushing system. This kind of gardening tool accelerates your shredding activity. Gardening shredders with an electric shredder are easy to assemble and aids in tree pruning with maximum of 40 mm. The garden shredder also aids in shredding debris from punning your hedges. This gardening tool is considered the best among all the garden shredders since it is available with a plunger for increased portability and built-in wheels.


These modern gardening tools are available with patented tines to help in cutting the hard compacted soil smoothly. Cultivators are available with a free border edger. It is perfect to use in cleaning the moss, aerating and in thatching. This garden tool helps extensively in preparing vegetable plots, flowerbeds, etc.

Leaf sweeper

These gardening tools are extensively used for smaller lawns. It is having an infinite height adjustment with 200-liter collector.

Edge Trimmer

The gardening equipment reviewers have also accredited this gardening tool as important equipment. This aids in trimming the hedges and aids in plant pruning.

Spading fork

This is a wonderful gardening tool used for aerating and transplanting. By using this gardening tool, it is possible to perform splitting grasses and perennials. In addition, this garden tool can be used as a manure fork, mulch fork, and sorting hay.


Mattock is an important gardening tool for breaking up the clay soils and working around established trees with the roots. There is no need to have a pick and a hoe, if you have a mattock.

Before you leave the garden center, it is highly advisable to have a look at this checklist of gardening tools and confirm if you have all the gardening tools you need to make your garden picture perfect.

Arizona Snakes

Why would you want to know about Arizona snakes? If you are an outdoor enthusiast or just get involved with a lot of outdoor activities and have ever thought about a holiday in Arizona then there are a few basic things you need to know before you begin your journey.

Firstly, Arizona is home to a large number of native venomous creatures. This is due, in large, to the climatic conditions which are quite tropical and promote the habitability and environmental conditions that attract such creatures and promote their survival.

It’s worth noting that for almost all venomous creatures, which also include spiders, lizards, bees, scorpions, by and large very few deaths have resulted from bites from any of these over the years. Today there are anti-venoms and anti-venins which will treat pretty well all the bites you are likely to ever get in Arizona.

A point to note: “Anti-venom” generically refers to chemically produced antidotes to venomous bites and “Antivenin” are biologically produced antidotes derived from animal serums.

Each year in Arizona there are thousands of visits to emergency departments as a result of snake bites and other venomous creature bites. And only a handful result in deaths. For example, only one death from a Bark Scorpion bite has been recorded since 1964. Although painful in most cases, bites from Arizona’s snakes are rarely fatal or cause permanent disfiguration.

However, you would not want to ignore a bite on the basis the odds were in your favour that it wasn’t going to be anything more than a bee sting experience. ALWAYS seek urgent medical attention and then you’ll always be sure to walk away in one piece.

Know your Snakes:

Knowing what’s out there and understanding the precautions and the risks has to be your first step.

There are 17 species of non-venomous snake and 22 species of venomous snake to contend with in Arizona. Below is the list for reference.


  1. Arizona Long-nosed Snake
  2. Arizona Milk Snake
  3. Arizona Mountain Kingsnake
  4. Arizona Patch-nosed Snake
  5. Banded Leaf-nosed Snake
  6. Black-necked Garter Snake
  7. Blind Snake
  8. Checkered Garter Snake
  9. Coachwhip Snake (Red Racer)
  10. Common Kingsnake
  11. Desert Kingsnake
  12. Glossy Snake
  13. Ground Snake
  14. Desert Rosy Boa Snake
  15. Saddled Leafnose Snake
  16. Sonoran Gopher Snake
  17. Western Hognose Snake


  1. Arizona Coral Snake
  2. Banded Burrowing Snake
  3. Brown Vine Snake
  4. Mexican Vine Snake
  5. Tropical Vine Snake
  6. Sidewinder Rattlesnake
  7. Grand Canyon Rattlesnake
  8. Arizona Black Rattlesnake
  9. Great Basin Rattlesnake
  10. Tiger Rattlesnake
  11. Hopi Rattlesnake
  12. Lyre Snake
  13. Mojave Rattlesnake
  14. Night Snake
  15. Northern Blacktail Rattlesnake
  16. Prairie Rattlesnake
  17. Arizona Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake
  18. Southwestern Blackhead Snake
  19. Speckled Rattlesnake
  20. Western Coral Snake
  21. Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
  22. Western Shovel-nosed Snake

An understanding of the animals and their nature is always helpful. A majority, if not all, of the snakes around the world are generally non-aggressive and will steer away from humans given a chance and fair warning.

Lastly, the bite of a snake, venomous or otherwise, is generally used for one of only two reasons:

1. To hunt and kill it’s food,

2. For self-defence if all else fails.

So keeping an eye out for these creatures and avoiding them is the best approach always, but should you encounter one and be fascinated enough to want to get up close – always keep in mind that it will be frightened of your attention and will assume you are a predator and up to no good. They will not understand your motives and any attempt to handle or corner one will result in an aggressive self-defence response in most cases a bite.

Now that’s all well and good assuming you can see them first. But as we know, the diversity of Fauna in Arizona is the highest in the continent of the USA and, as we know, nature has given each creature the tools to make its way in life and camouflage in the animal world is stunningly good. You may never see the snake that is about to bite you!

So to sum up this brief resume on Arizona snakes;

  • Snakes bite if threatened or handled,
  • Almost half of them are non-venomous but that doesn’t mean a bite won’t hurt.
  • They are more frightened of you then you are of them (probably)
  • Very few can inflict a fatal bite to humans that are healthy and of generally strong disposition – i.e. they are potentially dangerous to the very young or the very old, and pets – dogs etc.
  • Always seek emergency medical treatment if you are bitten.
  • Learn to identify the snakes you may encounter and what their habits are so you may avoid any encounter you may regret later.

What A Beautiful Tan! Did You Just Ski Aspen?

Ski tans are in and skiing is big business. Last year, just the State of Colorado enjoyed a record 12.53 million skiing days and took in some 2.5 billion dollars, and they are expecting even more this skiing season. That is big and still growing.

This winter there will be millions of healthy, athletic, beautiful people sporting ski tans during the winter skiing season. The rich and famous spend small fortunes to ski at exotic locations such as Aspen. And, when they return home they show off those magnificent ski tans to the envious pale people.

Wouldn’t you like to belong to the upper class and show off your personal Aspen ski tan to your friends this winter?

Just where did this tanned skin envy come from?

Less than a century ago – pale skin was upheld as the mark of the upper class. Pale skin then separated the elite from dark tanned farm workers and outdoor laborers. After all, one needed to be rich in order not to have to be employed working in the sun. Then in the post war 50’s, wealthier families began vacationing in the sun belt and returning home with beautiful tans. This changed the acceptance from pale to bronzed skin. Now wealthy means having enough money and leisure time to relax on a beach sun tanning while the pale folks labor away indoors as retail, manufacturing and office workers.

In the late seventies, tanning beds came to America and the indoor tanning business exploded into a multi-billion dollar business. Tanning Salons are now seemingly outnumbered in locations only by fast food venues and convenience stores. There is no question that people enjoy getting their tans in the relaxing and much safer tanning beds of the new millennium. To drive this viewpoint home, scantily clad, full body tanned advertising models can be seen in all the media.

Full body tans are wonderful for those who have the time and expendable resources to go to and enjoy their favorite tanning salon or spa.

Others want to belong and want to look just as beautiful as anyone around them. But, they have to go to work to earn their income. When all the world sees them in their fully clothed working mode, their beautiful ski tan serves them just as well as a covered up full body tan. Their peers are still as jealous and full of envy as if the ski tan were a full bodied tan.

When others ask about their Apen ski tan, they just tell them “Thank You.” And then they explain that Aspen is nestled high in the Elk Mountains branch of the Rockies and for good reason – has long been known as the playpen of the rich and famous. Aspen and its sister town of Snowmass Village service four major ski areas (Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk.) The average snowfall for the area is 200 inches.

Aspen Mountain rises above the town of Aspen, with a top elevation of 11,215 feet; a vertical drop of 3,267 feet; 673 acres of skiable area, with 76 runs and 8 lifts including one cable car line. Aspen Mountain is the premiere ski resort in the Aspen area, catering to advanced skiers with difficult runs. (Terrain:: No beginner trails; intermediate, 48 percent; expert, 52 percent.)

Aspen Highlands has 790 acres of skiable area with a vertical drop of 3,635 feet. There are 131 runs and 5 lifts. (Terrain: beginners, 18 percent; intermediate, 30 percent; expert 52 percent.)

Buttermilk is a small resort in the Aspen-Snowmass resort complex. Buttermilk Ski Resort has 420 acres of skiable area with a vertical drop of 2,030 feet, 41 runs and 7 lifts. Buttermilk caters heavily to snowboarders Buttermilk as the world’s longest terrain park with two full miles of features including a super pipe, more than 30 rails, and a beginner sections.

Also, Buttermilk heavily caters to beginner skiers with slopes that are friendly to newcomers to the sport, and is home to a world-renowned ski school. (Terrain: beginners, 35 percent; intermediate 39 percent; expert 26 percent.)

Snowmass ranks among the top 10 resorts in America in size, and it’s the second-largest in Colorado (after Vail). It covers more than 3,100 acres of skiable area with a vertical drop of 4,406 feet the longest vertical drop in the United States, 84 runs and 20 lifts.

Snowmass also offers Cross-country skiing, the first run of the day tours, naturalist-guided ski/snowboard tours, powder tours and naturalist-guided snowshoe tours.

For those into extreme skiing there is the Grand Traverse beginning in Crested Butte, Colorado.

There one can ski over the mountains to Aspen on a perilous 12-hour journey risking avalanches and total exhaustion.

The Aspen ski area is located about 220 miles West from Denver on Interstate 70 and is among the most popular ski destinations in the entire West becoming celebrity central in winter . The surrounding peaks are some of Colorado’s most breath taking and picturesque.

Christmas in Aspen is especially wonderful! There are plenty of shopping opportunities to pick up that last minute gift Plus there are many retail outlets and Ashcroft Ghost Town, Silver Circle Ice Skating Rink and even Sun Dog Athletics snowshoeing.

While Aspen has much to offer skiers, as well as those who enjoy the night life in a ski town, they should expect lots of crowds and lift lines on the slopes. This is the playpen of the rich and

famous, and many people choose this ski vacation spot simply for that reason as well as for the great runs, nightlife and beautiful ski tans.

With over 100 restaurants and many outdoor decks, one can obtain a beautiful ski tan while enjoying a fine meal outdoors.

The best news of all, you do not even have to go to Aspen to get your Aspen ski tan. For less than the round trip airfare, you may well be able to purchase your own sun lamp and use it as a facial tanner in the comfort, safety and security of your own home to obtain your beautiful ski tan.

And, not for just a weekend – for many years.

Think of your new beautiful Aspen ski tan just like you do your hair coloring, only your beautician needs to know.

Happy Ski Tanning!!!

Approaching Wealthy People As Potential Investors for Your Real Estate Business

Approaching wealthy people as potential investors for your real estate business takes some thought and planning. You don’t want to come off as a “pushy salesman” or someone that only care about people because they have money. You also don’t want to break any regulations or securities laws and I’ll tell you flat that in that area you need specialized advice (and it ain’t me, because I’m a marketing consultant not an attorney).

Approaching wealthy people and presenting your investment opportunity to them legally is kind of like, if you were a guy who was attempting to attract women into your life. You wouldn’t want to just walk up to attractive women (our comparison in this analogy to wealthy potential investors) and say, “I’d like to sleep with you, what do you say?” Likewise, you don’t want to go to rich people and say “Give me 100,000 dollars to invest for you, cool daddio?” Would you get a one in a couple hundred response? Sure. You probably could. How do I know that? That’s neither here nor there. However, what you can do is much better than that, and you will have a much higher percentage of people responding to you favorably– not beginning to walk the other way when they see you coming down the hall.

Please remember that I’m a marketing consultant. I’m not here to give you all the legal pieces because I don’t know them. Other people do that for my own businesses, and I’m very thankful that they keep our activities on the right side of the law and out of the ignorant masses who try to do this and oftentimes, break the law without even knowing they’re doing it. Again, this is marketing advice not legal advice.

That being said, the first thing I would do when approaching wealthy people as potential investors for a real estate business would be to have several elevator pitches already designed and in mind for the types of people that you’re likely to run into.

Secondly, you’d want to tailor your conversations toward the individual each time. If you have a previous relationship with them, if you’ve already talked to them, if you’ve already bumped into them, if you’ve exchanged chit chat with them about their job, keep a file on particulars and information you know about them. It’s not Machiavellian; it’s smart marketing and salesmanship to know these things.

If these are people that can put $100,000 into your pocket or into one of your deals, would it not make sense to know: their childrens’ names, where they live, what type of hobby they have, that they’re interested in fishing, that they are a University of Georgia fan, that they grew up in Harlem and now they’re proud of the fact that they’re a first-generation white-collar worker, or anything similar? Sure it would.

These things are important to know about people that you want to approach and ask for money, because they are important things you want to know about ANYONE you’re looking to connect with at a higher level in your business (or even in making friends for that matter).

What is it that they do for a living? Are they a CPA? Are you going to appeal to the CPA the same way that you would a doctor? No. So you gotta know those things.

Third, find people who are used to dealing with that kind of person already. For example, let’s say you come across doctors and you want to know how to talk to them about your investment opportunity. Would it not make sense to talk to several pharmaceutical salesmen who do that for a living? It just so happens that I know of at least four people who already do that, and chances are you do too. I’m sure they could give you wealth of tips about how to approach doctors. Same goes for whatever kind of wealthy person you want to approach-find someone else in your sphere of influence that deals with people like that in the course of their every day life (usually not for real estate purposes, or they might be a competitor!) and pick their brain about how to talk to the kinds of people they know well.

They might not have approached those same doctors to get them to invest in a project, but they’ve talked to them regularly. They know how their existing approach works. They know how to fly in under the radar. They’re able to work with those people, or they’d end up getting kicked out of that business because to extend our doctor and pharmaceutical sales rep metaphor, pharmaceutical sales is a very unrewarding business if you don’t have the ability and the assertiveness to take control of a conversation with a busy doctor who has lives on the line and you’re taking up his time to try to sell him a widget. I mean, timid salespeople have skinny kids, ya dig?!

But to continue our line of reasoning with doctors as an example group of wealthy people and pharmaceutical sales reps as people who make a living talking to and selling to that market, you will see that these guys and gals who sell to doctors are sharp and have very good conversational skills. They know what works and what doesn’t with doctors. It’s the same with CPAs. CPAs are a certain type of breed. We all know we don’t like being stereotyped, but we still all do it. If you all want to learn more about that, one of my favorite books is Marketing Influence: Science and Practice, by Robert Cialdini. I tell everybody about that book. It’s great. It tells you all about human influence, how to find what motivates people, what people are interested in, and the principles of influence causing people to make one decision over another.

While no one likes being stereotyped, it can be helpful at times. You don’t want to price people out of your information, your market or whatever it is and say because that person is this or that they wouldn’t be interested in it. You could talk to people who sell cars, for example, and they’ll tell you that if a black person walks in, they aren’t going to buy a car. Then, there are others who will tell you, if a Jewish person comes in, they’re not going to pay full retail for a car. Or, if an Italian person comes in, they’re only interested in being macho and having a big red convertible car. If that type of person walks in and they don’t have that type of car in inventory, or they don’t like dealing with people who won’t pay full retail, or they think that they’re broke, they won’t even try to sell them a car.

Yet, those people have proven just by walking into the car dealership that they’re interested in buying a car. What if that same car salesperson had somebody walk in who was Black, Jewish, Italian, and a woman who smoked cigars? How would he sell to that person? Think about it. Someone could be in all of those groups, which means most of those stereotypes wouldn’t hold true, so don’t get too caught up in stereotypes, but use them to find out what people have in common.

Let’s get back to the subject at hand: approaching wealthy people as potential investors for your real estate business. As I was saying earlier, it’s important to have a number of different elevator pitches already prepared to give to these people who you just bump into. You have a quick chit-chat. Keep things very low key, and then say something like, “Oh, by the way, I don’t know if I ever told you this but…” It’s not a sales pitch. It’s simply throwing out a net and seeing if they step into it. This is the best way to fish.

I really don’t have the patience for fishing, but if I did, I would look for a way that I could throw a net out and just let the fish hop into it because they wanted to. Do this for your doctor, your CPA, your attorney, and the affluent professional that you run into in the building where you work, where you’re going, where you spend time, or at a conference. Keep it low-key. Let them step into your marketing net, if you will, and then give them more information. You don’t want to overload them with too much.

A good example elevator pitch you can use for approaching wealthy people as potential investors in your real estate business might be something like this: “By the way, I don’t know if you ever knew this or not, Dr. Smith, but I work with a number of affluent individuals, both myself and through investor groups, some of whom have seen the intelligence of placing money in secure projects that are backed by real estate, receiving a very healthy and generous return that currently outperforms what you’re probably already getting on your existing savings or retirement accounts.”

I have used something similar to that for years, and it works for me and for my personality. Your job is to create what works for you and your personality, but those are the points that you want to hit: others have seen the intelligence of doing this- that’s social proof- safe, secure, and backed by real estate.

You may ask why say “Healthy and generous return” and that’s a legal question. Do you want to give it a number? In my experience, no not at first you don’t want to talk percentages. Not unless you want to go to jail. You’ll give that later-after you’ve established a relationship with these people. Remember, my advice is not legal advice; it’s marketing advice. You’re having a conversation with somebody you bumped into in the café of where you work or in an elevator. You want to let them know that it’s safe and secure, backed by real estate-healthy and generous return that outperforms what they’re currently getting in their savings or retirement accounts. That’s all you need to say, and let them tell you if they want to learn more. Then and only then can you qualify them per appropriate legal regulations and then share with them more particulars and specifics about returns they can expect as one of your private investors or lenders for your real estate business.

I like saying “others have seen the intelligence of doing so” in a situation like this because everyone (especially those with large egos) wants to be seen as and to feel ‘intelligent’. It’s a loaded word that in our culture is highly priced-even by dumb people. I mean think about it, how is it that in blind surveys over 80 percent of respondents consider themselves “Above average” when presented with a range of options with regards to their intelligence? I mean, just 3rd grade math tells us that 80% of people CANNOT be ‘average’ yet again and again people’s perception (or secret hope) about themselves is that they are ‘smarter than the average bear’ as Yogi would say. You’re hitting that social proof button also when you say something like “others have seen the intelligence of investing”.

Here’s one last thing that you want to throw in there that I like to call the upper-cut. You may not have a project right now to put them into but you still have your feelers out looking to raise money for your real estate business. You may not have a property right now that you’re raising money for, but you want to be able to get them to identify themselves if they’d be interested in that, so that you can follow up with them later.

By the way, these are not people that you send a whole bunch of emails or whatever. These are important people who raised their hands and said I’ve got the ability to give you $100,000 or $500,000. You follow up with them one-on-one because they deserve it. Not that everybody doesn’t deserve it, but we’re talking about leveraging your time. If you’re like me and you’ve got 25,000 or more people on your buyers list, you might only find 80 people who are willing and able to give you $100,000 or $500,000 and those people should hear from you regularly, whether you have a project to put them into or not. That doesn’t mean the rest of the tens of thousands are unimportant, it just means you have to prioritize your time if you are looking to approach wealthy people as potential investors in your real estate proejects.

That being said, the next thing that you want to do is let them know, “Sometimes I have a project that’s available for investing. Other times, I’m completely oversubscribed, meaning other people invested. However, I’d like to have your permission, Dr. Smith, to keep you in mind for the opportunity to invest with me when I come across things that meet your criteria. Is that okay?”

It’s very simple. That whole conversation can be had in less than 2-3 minutes and touch on each of those terms I mentioned. That’s why those things are called elevator speeches. You’re between levels 14 and level 1 heading down in the lobby, they’re getting ready to go to the pool, you’re getting ready to go to lunch, whatever; you just had a 60-second to 180-second quick conversation.

You threw the net out, and they jumped in and said “Yes. I do have some funds that I think I could probably get some better returns on. How to I find out more?” Bam! You exchange cards with them and say “I’ll follow up with you Dr. Smith, Dr. John, CPA Tony”, or whoever it is. That is how simple approaching wealthy people as potential investors for your real estate business can be.

DVD Printing – Choosing the Right Printing Method for Your Project

Digital DVD Printing

This method of DVD printing utilises pre-manufactured printable DVDRs. The discs will either have a white or a silver printable surface which is receptive to an inkjet printer. Printable DVDRs are widely available in high street stores or online and even high quality discs are inexpensive.

A Digital DVD printer works on the same principle as a desktop inkjet printer. The cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink cartridges are loaded into the printer and a printer head makes a series of passes over the printable disc surface depositing the ink according to the artwork file. It is possible to print extremely detailed high resolution images using this printing method but it does have a couple of drawbacks:

  • The digital DVD printing process is slow compared to other printing processes – Commercial digital DVD printers are only capable of printing up to 200 DVDs unattended and each print can take up to a minute depending upon the complexity of the artwork.
  • Each disc needs to be finished with a layer of clear lacquer – this is to protect the printed surface from potential moisture damage when handled. This adds more delay to the process.

However, this DVD printing process does not have any fixed set up cost which makes it ideal for short runs of less than 100 DVDs which is a service that is very much in demand with the advance of the digital download.

DVD Screen Printing

Screen printing is a tried and tested printing method that has been used in the commercial printing industry for decades. DVD screen printing is an adaptation of this process, modified to allow printing onto a disc. This process is great for printing areas of solid colour using vibrantly coloured inks mixed from various proportions of base cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink. There are also fluorescent and metallic inks available for use with this process.

A screen printing machine has a large rotating platform. The platform is split into 5 printing stations with a UV lamp between each station and the next. DVDs with a base coat of any colour can be printed on, which allows for a maximum of 6 different colours in the artwork design.

The printing screen, from which the process gets its name, is a very fine mesh screen which is initially covered with a thermally reactive emulsion. A separate screen is required for each of the colours featured in the final artwork and a celluloid film is also made for each colour. The film is black in the areas where the colour is required on the disc, and clear where it is not required. The film is attached on top of a screen and placed into an exposure unit. A hot, bright light is then briefly switched on over the top of the film. Where the light and heat go through the clear portions of the film to the screen beneath, the thermal emulsion on the screen is hardened. Where the film is black, the heat and light do not pass through the film and so the emulsion remains unchanged.

The screen is then transferred to a spray booth where it is sprayed with a fine water jet. The water washes away the emulsion which has not hardened leaving a screen where ink can pass through the mesh only in certain areas where that colour is required according to the design. The screen is then fitted to its station on the DVD screen printing machine. The other 4 screens are prepared in the same way and the machine is then ready to print.

The DVDs are loaded onto the printing machine automatically. They are presented on spindles and each disc is lifted by a robotic arm with soft rubber vacuum cups. The DVD is placed into a metal jig which holds the disc securely to prevent any movement whilst it is being printed. The metal jigs are lined up around the machine and the DVDs are loaded, printed and then removed once printing is complete. A DVD that has been printed and then removed is replaced at the next machine rotation with a fresh unprinted disc. This process continues until the production run is complete.

At each station a different coloured ink is applied to the disc when a rubber squeegee blade passes over the screen. The screen is pressed down onto the disc surface and the ink is forced through the mesh by the blade. Once the ink has been applied the blade returns to its starting position ready for the next disc. The machine platen rotates one position and the freshly printed disc passes under a UV lamp. The UV light from the lamp cures the ink instantly and the disc moves to the next station where the next coloured ink can be applied without any possibility of smearing of the previously applied ink. The printing and curing process is very fast and a modern DVD screen printer is capable of printing more than 3,500 DVDs in an hour.

The requirement for screens and films for each different ink colour in the design to be printed onto the DVD, means that there are fixed costs associated with this process. These costs can be minimised by limiting the number of colours involved in the DVD print design. It is perfectly possible to design an attractive disc using just a single colour print onto a printable silver DVD. The fixed cost, however, does make it a less viable process for very small orders of less than 100 DVDs.

Lithographic DVD Printing (Offset printing)

This process, as with DVD screen printing, is a popular printing method for producing high resolution images on paper or card stock and has been adapted to suit DVDs. Lithographic printing is the best process for producing DVDs with a photographic print or artwork involving a subtle colour gradient but is not great for printing artwork that has large areas of solid colour due to potential coverage issues which may result in a “patchy” print.

The lithographic DVD printing process involves making a metal printing plate which is curved around a roller. The basic principle at work with this process is that printing ink and water do not mix. The printing plate surface is treated in some areas so that it attracts ink, the remaining areas are treated to attract water and not ink. The result is a printing plate that can be introduced to ink which only adheres to it where required. The ink on the printing plate is transferred or “offset” to another roller which has a rubber blanket wrapped around it. The rubber blanket roller applies the ink to the DVD which is held firmly in place in a metal jig on the machine bed.

This process is equally as fast as the screen printing process and so many thousands of DVDs can be printed every hour that the machine is running. Once again, there are fixed set up costs involved here and so the cost to print orders of less than 100 DVDs is high.

DVD Printing Process Summary

In a nutshell, if your project is only for a small run of discs then digital DVD printing is the way to go. There is certainly no print quality compromise with digital printing over the other 2 processes and even though it is the slowest process, this is not really relevant if you’re only having 50 discs printed. There are many companies specialising in 24 to 48 hour turnarounds on short runs of discs who use this printing method exclusively and have it down to a fine art.

For projects where the amount of discs required is more than 100 and the artwork features bold, solid colours, then the DVD printing process of choice has to be screen printing. The metallic and fluorescent inks available for this process make for some truly eye-catching and distinctive designs. If the artwork for the discs is a photographic image or contains a subtle colour gradient, then the printing process best suited to this type of artwork would be Lithographic printing. For screen and lithographic printing, the more units ordered, the cheaper the unit cost becomes.

The Nor’easter

As I recall it was the winter of ’96, blizzard after blizzard griped the northeast. Me being a New Englander having moved to Massachusetts from Chicago some 25 years earlier I can truthfully say that I have been accustomed to the frigid temperatures winters always bring. But it was on that one February day I was sensing there was something that was not going to be normal about this one particular nor’easter. I had been up late last night watching and listening to the latest weather reports and they were predicting a normal nor’easter. That’s if anything is normal about a nor’easter but that’s what they were telling folks.

With that information I began gathering up as much firewood as possible thinking that a typical nor’easter brought with it power outages and heavy snow. I guess in the back of my mind I thought maybe this one just could be a bit more interesting. With that thought I managed to make one last run to my neighborhood store to stock up an a few of the basic supplies to tide me over just in case this storm would last a little longer. With supplies of meat, veggies and of course beer and wine I just made it back when the first flakes of snow started coming down. If the power went out with the temperature out side was a rosy 18 degrees I could use my makeshift outside cabinet as a temporary freezer to keep my perishables from spoiling.

Around 6 o’clock the snow was really starting to really come down. The heavy winds though were blowing the snow horizontal and drifts were piling up along side the house. By 9 o’clock that evening the first floor windows were covered by the mounting snow drifts. By now the lights were flickering and that meant with this heavy snow and winds now at gale force the power would soon go out. In the back of my mind I thought about that back up generator I saw at Home Depot a month ago but the cost just to get the permit was more than the unit itself and me being on a fixed income well I just had to settle with the fireplace in the living room and the wood stove in the kitchen. There was just one problem, when the power goes out the toilet won’t flush because of the septic system is tied to the electric panel. This is because the location of the home is too far from the city’s main sewer lines. I remember as a kid our summer home before it was connected to the towns sewer lines the outhouse was just a few yards away and at night it was an experience to say the least just to go use the bathroom. It was not only in the summer that we used that home but as kids on cold winter nights when my family decided to get away the bunkhouse that we slept in during the summers now served us as a winter oasis when my family decided to get away. With a space heater it provided heat and some comfort on those winter nights. It was at that time of year instead of trudging out into the cold of night to the outhouse the good old pee pot served us well. That’s how people over a 200 years ago went to the bathroom in the middle of the night. There is an old custom associated with pee pots but that is another story.

With that frame of mind I knew what to do. Now confident I had made all the necessary preparations for the long siege of this nor’easter I put some wood chips in my wood stove and more logs in the fireplace just in case that when the power does go out the house will maintain a somewhat cozy temperature. Keeping the bricks around the fireplace warm by keeping the fire going is the key to radiant heat. The same can be said of the wood stove in the kitchen. I am often confused by the new homes that are going up today. So many don’t have fireplaces and if they do the fireplace is at a wall on the side of the home so the heat from the fireplace goes mainly outside instead of radiant heat for the interior. In my house the fireplace is in the center of the home, so what radiant heat there is spreads evenly throughout the whole house. Centuries ago homes always had fireplaces in the center of the home and often had them in every room of the house. Back then that was their only source of heat and for cooking. Today, I often use the wood stove to keep a pot of coffee on and use the fireplace that has bread nooks to keep food warm when the power is out which in New England happens when ever there is a nor’easter. In addition a fireplace automatically adds thousands of dollars to the value of a home. Something an in ground pool or a jacuzzi can’t do.

By 10 o’clock the power went out. With candles lit and the fire going I was content to wait out this storm till morning. Luckily I have my computer charged so I checked the latest weather forecast. Now, they were saying another low pressure system is on a collision course with this nor’easter bringing with it the potential for that perfect storm scenario. Laying my sleeping bag on the living room rug in front of the fireplace I was just about to settle in for a winter’s nap when I hear outside cries for help. Jumping up to look out the window but the window was covered over so I ran upstairs to the hall window and saw what seemed to be headlights piercing through snow drifts. A women was standing on top of her buried car waving for help. I kept thinking what possessed this women to drive in this weather only to get caught in snow drifts that covered her car.

Now you would think that more people would be able to respond but my house was the only one that seemed to be occupied, by me. The other houses where my neighbors stay have packed up and went to a safe haven to wait out this storm. Thinking quickly I grabbed my parka and snow shoes tying a rope to the underside of the up stairs hall window. I managed to slide down my roof and using the rope as a life line trudged about 100 feet to where she was standing atop her car. The wind was howling as the snow was making visibility very difficult but just as I was about to say hello the wind blew her off balance right into my arms. Caught off balance I knew we had to make it back to the house and up to the second floor window because the first floor was already inaccessible before we were all trapped outside.

After about ten minutes using hand over hand pulling along the rope as a lifeline we managed to make to the side of my house. The snow was already 5 feet deep. As I stared at the upstairs window where my rope was tied to I managed to climb and open the window so that I could adjust my feet to bend over and grab her arm as she put here foot against the wall she managed to climb up my rope with my assistance and low and behold she slipped into the window exhausted landing on the floor. Quickly I shut the shutters and the window just as a burst of gale force winds brushed against the house. Now, safe inside she introduce herself as Alice saying she was on her way to meet her husband who just arrived in Boston having served a six month tour of duty as a merchant marine. She left her house thinking she could beat the storm and make to the port before the storm hit.

With the power out the only way to communicate was through my computer which I had installed a wifi device to make my whole house a hotspot just in case of a power outage. Now comfortable in front of the fire in my living room Alice e-mailed her husband saying she was alright and staying with an acquaintance until it was safe to travel again. As I began cooking popcorn on in the fireplace Alice got a response from her husband where he managed to get a room at the Long Wharf Marriott until the storm passes. For two days we exchanged stories and managed to be quite comfortable. The power was restored sometime the following morning. On the third morning after the storm hit I managed to dig our her car and by 10 o’clock Alice was on her way to meet with her husband. I can truthfully say that nor’easter of that February will be one for the record books and forever remembered for me saving a damsel in distress.

7 Lessons I Learned From My Dad’s Bankruptcy

A defining moment in my life was at the age of 16 when my dad went bankrupt. He owned his own business and was really passionate and knowledgeable about his product. But what he wasn’t so passionate and knowledgeable about was Sales and Marketing. He didn’t know how to attract prospective customers or how to convert them into high paying customers.

Marketing to him, was word of mouth and a few leaflet drops.

When he went bankrupt we lost EVERYTHING. The business, the cars, the house, EVERYTHING!

The bailiffs came in and valued every last teaspoon. They were very kind to my mother and said if she could borrow £300 (A ton of money when I was only 16) she could buy back our essentials. So she managed to borrow the money and bought back our beds, sofas, cooker etc…

The day came for us to move and we had to go into a council house, nothing wrong with council houses of course but when you are forced to go it is a different matter.

It was TRAGIC… we were all devastated. My father couldn’t cope and his drinking got worse and worse as did his anger and violent behaviour. So we ended up leaving him to go to our new house on our own.

He really did lose everything including his family!

When I became involved in Sales and became a Sales Manager I worked tirelessly learning everything I could, reading books, going on training courses, watching and talking to the best in the business. I decided to be an expert in attracting prospective clients and converting them into high paying clients who gave repeat and referral business.

I diligently trained and coached my teams to be the best they could be so they could enjoy success and NEVER be in the position of being humiliated and feeling like a failure, the way my father had.

The results were astounding. We were always in the top 5% in the country and in 1998, when I was Regional Manager for a global company, my teams achieved TOP position in the whole country. We were top against target, we had the best staff retention rate, we had the best compliance scores. We had the highest level of repeat business. We were THE BEST WE COULD BE.

So, what were the 7 lessons I learned from my dad going bankrupt;

1. He would go from day to day working randomly, waiting and hoping tomorrow would bring better results.

What to do – Work on bringing in new customers EVERY DAY

2. Not all of his customers were good customers, some were late payers, little profit or hard to work with.

What to do – Know the profile of your ideal customer inside out and where they hang out so you can attract more of the clients you WANT to work with

3. He didn’t know how to demonstrate to customers the value and benefits of buying from him. He knew how good his product and follow up service were but didn’t let people know. (Not really surprising as his marketing efforts were virtually nil)

What to do – Create value in your marketing messages that will massively differentiate you from your competition. Demonstrate the benefits your customers will get by using your product or service

4. My Dad’s idea of marketing was a flyer which had his company name and address, a description of what he did, his business address and telephone number. The sum total of business from these flyers was “NONE”

What to do – Create marketing materials that are customer focused and included the 4 elements that will have your prospective clients say “Yes, that‘s me I need your help

5. My Dad was an expert at what he did but he was the best kept secret.

What to do – Have a marketing plan to include multiple marketing activities and position yourself as the expert in your field“The go to guy” Expose Yourself… metaphorically speaking… haha!

6. He knew his product inside out. He would talk and talk and talk about every detail of it and what it would do. Because of this he often found himself in a price war with his competitors.

What to do – Understand your customers. Be focused on what they want to achieve. Uncover the problems they are having that prevent them from achieving their objectives. Ask questions, don‘t tell until you know what is relevant

7. He didn’t EVER contact his existing customers to explore the opportunity of helping them further. There would have been endless opportunities to sell additional products. His is attitude was “They’ll come to me if they want more” How could they if they didn’t even know what his additional services were?

What to do – Make sure you use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, even if it is on an excel spreadsheet. Capture the details of your customers, segment them into A B C categories and create a contact programme for each segment. You need to create “Top of Mind” thinking so they will come to you when they are thinking about your product or service.

Oh how I wish I knew then what I know now. My dad died when he was 52 without ever reaching his full potential.

To continue my story;

In 1999 I had an experience which prompted me to leave the corporate world. Another story for another day!

I made a commitment to dedicate my professional life as a Self Employed Sales and Marketing Leader and Coach and Speaker helping Professional Business Owners and Professional Sales People get more business clients in record time through my workshops, products and coaching programmes.

My work has taken me across the UK and into Europe, America, Canada and South America. My purpose and passion is to help those selling to other businesses to achieve SUCCESS through implementing step by step proven strategies THAT WORK!

If I can help you in anyway, please let me know. I will help you take your business to levels you never thought possible.

How to Cut Lattice Panels

You can use lattice panels to extend your existing fence, section off your yard or garden, or make a privacy nook within your garden. You could also create a nice decorative effect with the lattice panels. Choosing lattice lets you enjoy the refreshing natural flow of air.

Lattice comes in 4 by 8 foot and 2 by 8 foot lattice panels. PVC and wood are the most common for lattice panels. They could be installed easily when you know how to cut them.

Here are some tips to help you finish your project successfully.

1. Measurements

It’s crucial to take precise measurement for the project, especially the width. This ensures that the lattice panels properly fit into the support posts and framing. If the area that requires framing is no square, it will be necessary to perform extra cuts in order for the panels to fit correctly. Make sure there’s 1/4 inch of space on all sides of the lattice panels to accommodate contraction and expansion.

When installing on graded areas, you should cut the panels in accordance to the slope of the ground. Alternately, cut the lattice panels with a couple of inches allowance which could extend into the soil. Make a chalk line to mark off the cut line.

2. Remove the Staples

The panels have many staples which help to keep them in place. Get rid of as many staples are you can that are along the cut line. Use a screwdriver for this, in order to minimize the amount of flying small pieces of staple as you cut.

3. Tools

To cut the lattice panels to size, use a power saw (a fine toothed hard saw or a circular saw). It’s best to attach a carbide tipped wooden blade to the power saw for timber lattice. This will allow you to cut through the staples in your panels easily. It also lets you cut effectively and precisely.

4. Cutting

See to it that the “face” side of the lattice is upwards when you’re using a fine toothed saw. But the “back” side must be up when you’re using a rotary saw. To prevent the material from cracking or chipping, it’s important to cut at a steady pace. As you reach the end of each cut, make sure you provide a firm support to the panel, especially at the cut line. If the lattice isn’t firmly held down, it could tear or split.

5. Protective Gear

Little pieces of materials and sparks could fly when you’re cutting the panels. So it’s important to wear goggles to safeguard your eyes. Gloves are also a good idea.

Looking for a New Pine Bed?

If you are looking to purchase a new bed that's durable, attractive to look at and reasonably priced, then why not consider purchasing a pine bed. Whether you are looking for a bed for a new house, newly decorated bedroom, or because you have had your current bed for far too long and need a change, then there are many pine bed options for you to choose from.

Pine wood can come in various shades, and each piece is unique due to the nature of the wood. The natural appearance of pine is light and smooth, with various knots and lines indented into the wood due to its natural nature. The wood can be stained with various colors ranging from the natural to a darker stain. Pine wood can also be painted to match the color of your bedroom.

Therefore, if you want your bed to match your current furniture, then you can paint it white, brown or any other color so it fits in with the style of your current furniture. Pine beds can be purchased in this fashion, be painted or stained by a professional, or with the right equipment, be done following purchase.

Although pine wood is durable, even if you are not planning to paint stain or paint its surface, then your should ensure it is stained with a clear varnish to protect the wood from damage. Usually when you purchase pine furniture the wood will already be varnished with a protective coating, however it is best that you check this before purchasing. Pine beds are incredibly versatile, natural and if cared for properly, a good quality.

Legalities Surrounding Service Disconnection

In December 2000, a body corporate disrupted the electrical supplies to the sections of owners who disputed the method of calculation, and failed to pay a special levy raised to pay for improvements to common property. The affected owners made a joint and urgent application to the High Court, as a result of which the Court ordered the immediate restoration of the electrical supplies to the sections. The Court also ordered the managing agent and body corporate to jointly pay the costs of the application.

The case above deal with non-payment of a special levy that was not in any way connected to the supply or consumption of electricity. Would the situation have been different if the body corporate had switched-off the electrical supply to an owner who failed to pay for electricity or a monthly levy? The answer is "no". Unlike a local authority, a body corporate is not considered to be a supplier of electricity and therefore can not terminate the supply to one of its members. A body corporate purchases electricity from the suppliers and re-distributes it to sections within the scheme. In fact, neither the Act nor the rules make it compulsory for sectional schemes to be supplied with individual electric meters. Neverheless, levies and costs must be paid.

Owners who continue to enjoy the benefits and services provided to them while in arrears with their levies may be considered as parasites that are doing so at the expense of their neighbors. However, irrespective of how justified it may seem, a body corporate can not interfere with either the electrical or water supply, and a body corporate that sanction disconnection must be aware of the risks of so doing. Lost data on a computer, a missed fax or telephone message or spoiled supplies in a refrigerator may well give rise to a claim for damages against the body corporate. Along with many property practitioners and sectional owners, we would welcome a change in the law to make it possible, under strictly controlled circumstances, to terminate supplies to owners who fail to pay for the electricity that they consume. However, if permission should ever be granted there would be a risk of abuse.

We know of a scheme at which the electricity is switched-off if owners fail to pay their levy and electrical accounts by the fifth day of the month. At others, supplies are interrupted for "offences" such as "illegal" parking or failure to comply with conduct rules. There is even a scheme at which the chairman denies that electricity is disconnected. He claims that supplies "trip-out." What a coincidence that this should only happen to non-payers. Clearly such tactics, loved by the bullies and power-junkies, are punitive, unacceptable and against the spirit of Sectional Title. The reason most often given by trustees who disconnect electrical supplies is that "it works". Of course it works! So would tarring and feathering defaulters, or throwing a rotten egg at them but that does not make it acceptable! There are legal and effective ways that a body corporate can and should employ to recover debts.

If the sectional community is granted the right to switch-off electrical supplies, it will need to do so fairly and to all defaulters. There can be no exceptions or selective application. The switch-off would have to be restricted to non-payment of the electricity portion of the levy and could not be used for arrears of either the monthly levy or a special levy. If sanctioned, interruption of supplies would have to be on terms similar to those used by local authorities. Sectional owners must pay their share of expenses, but the power to punish late payers and nonpayers should not and must not, be put in the hands of a lay person.

The Play

The only aim I e’er got off my old man was a date cardboard when I was ten. He’d departed off when I was digit and unexpended me and mam and my girl to fend for ourselves. Mam never talks around him but my fille remembers him.

‘What was dad similar?’ I ask.

She looks at me through glum, asleep eyes, pushes her fuzz okay from her eyes. Her munition are scabbed suchlike she’s been shinning up a unskilled piping and unexpectedly slid hind drink and skinned herself. ‘Whu?’

‘I said, what was dad same?’

She smiles at me, and I suss that she’s plant trippin’ and I should ask her after when she’s individual.

Anyhow, the only action I ever got from him was a date separate when I was ten. It said Elated Date Mickey! And then there was a poetise inner the paper that went:

Now you’re ten, and how you’ve grown

It truly won’t be nightlong

‘Til you’re a man, and fully grown

With blazon both big and brawny.

And on the frontal of the salutation was a illustration, a wit, of a short boy wearing a hardhat and swing a tractor. But I mingy, how would he experience I’d grown? To be honest, I was stunned he knew where I was, we captive so often.

But the grampus was, at the bout of the salutation, beneath the rime, he’d intercalary:

Recollect, no one’s got your rearward

XX. Dad.

I’d unnatural this record on statesman than one ground, disagreeable to touch out few depth to what he was apprisal me. ‘Laura, what was dad like?’

Three hours later and she’s work up. The dutiful daughter. She looked up a little, intellection virtually my challenge for a secondment or two. Then she said, ‘I sex him. Ease.’

‘Well I hate him. What was he similar, though?’

And she said, ‘Stern.’

‘Stern, huh?’

‘I don’t poor demanding; writer similar sober. Like you, a bit, but smarter, taller and gambler sensing.’ Then she laughed and mistreated me crosswise the arm, ‘Dry the dishes,’ she said.

It’s peculiar, I learn a lot from my fille, mainly don’t do drugs, which I should possess longhand in character letters instead of italics, but never intellect, the occurrence is, when she’s not higher or quivering ‘cos she needs several stuff, she’s real pain and, truth be told, she’s the nucleus of our fellowship, the strength, anticipate it or not. Straight, she keeps us together. There’s me, fifteen, effulgent, got a succeeding, they recount me, tho’ I haven’t and I’ll inform you active that afterward together. Cos mam’s a anomaly and unusable, and I, essentially, am at a baggy end; financially, educationally, socially, morally… I won’t go on.