Is Graffiti Art?

You can travel almost anywhere in the world, and you will probably see graffiti. Although graffiti art is usually more common in big cities, the reality is that it can occur in almost any community, big or small.

The problem with graffiti art is the question of whether it’s really art, or just plain vandalism. This isn’t always an easy question to answer, simply because there are so many different types of graffiti. Some is simply a monochrome collection of letters, known as a tag, with little artistic merit. Because it’s quick to produce and small, it is one of the most widespread and prevalent forms of graffiti.

Although tagging is the most common type of graffiti, there are bigger, more accomplished examples that appear on larger spaces, such as walls. These are often multicolored and complex in design, and so start to push the boundary of whether they should really be defined as graffiti art.

If it wasn’t for the fact that most graffiti is placed on private property without the owner’s permission, then it might be more recognized as a legitimate form of art. Most graffiti art, however, is only an annoyance to the property owner, who is more likely to paint over it or remove it than applaud its artistic merit.

Many solutions have been put into practice around the world, with varying degrees of success. Paints have been developed that basically cause graffiti paint to dissolve when applied, or else make it quick and easy to remove. Community groups and government departments coordinate graffiti removal teams.

In some places you can’t buy spray paint unless you’re over 18. Cans of spray paint are locked away in display cases. In a nearby area the local council employs someone to go around and repaint any fences defaced by graffiti. A friend of mine has had his fence repainted 7 times at least, and it took him a while to find out why it was happening! Certainly the amount of graffiti in my local area has dropped substantially in the last year or two, so it appears these methods are working to a great extent.

But is removing the graffiti doing a disservice to the artistic community? Maybe if some of the people behind the graffiti art were taken in hand and trained, they could use their artistic skills in more productive ways. It hardly makes sense to encourage these artists to deface public property, and so commit a crime. But perhaps there are other ways to cooperate with the graffiti artists rather than just opposing them. Graffiti artists can create sanctioned murals for private property owners and get paid for it.

Maybe we need to start at a very basic level, and find a way to encourage the creation of graffiti art on paper or canvas, rather than walls. After all, who would remember Monet or Picasso if they’d created their masterpieces on walls, only to have them painted over the next day? Finding a solution to such a complex situation is never going to be easy, but as more graffiti art is being recognized in galleries around the world, we do need to try.

Vegan Cooking School Options

So you’re vegan and have this passionate love of food. You would like to pursue this passion further, but you’re not sure what the vegan cooking school options are out there. Happily, there are plenty! There are quite a few schools that focus on plant-based meals, and many that aren’t exclusively vegan can be geared toward you, so you won’t find yourself chopping chickens and preparing fish if you’re not into that.

There are many casual plant-based cooking classes around the world if you’re looking for something just for fun without any fancy certification. In this article, though, I focus more on professional programs that have varying degrees of intensity. Some require only a little time and money if you don’t want to be a professional chef; others will take you the full distance to running your own kitchen.

Without further ado and in no particular order, here’s a list of some popular schools around the world, with some information about each.

Living Light Culinary Arts Institute
Where is it? Fort Bragg, California
What do they offer? 100% vegan and raw food instruction
When do the programs run? Multiple times a year, depending on the program

The Living Light Culinary Arts Institute is located in a small coastal community on the Mendocino coast. If you love the ocean, temperate weather, and raw vegan cuisine, you’ll love this school. Run by Cherie Soria, the “mother of raw food”, this is THE raw foods institute. This is the one that draws people in from all around the world and produces top-of-the-line celebrity chefs of all kinds.

There are several types of courses, including a Gourmet Chef Certification Series (6 weeks), Advanced Instructor Training Certification Series (4 weeks), Raw Food Nutrition Educator Series, and the full-out Professional Chef Series, which runs almost an entire year, including a 250-day internship at the school.

Many of the well-known raw food chefs around the world went to Living Light for their training, including Chad Sarno and Jennifer Cornbleet.

The Natural Gourmet Institute
Where is it? New York, NY
What do they offer? Public classes and professional chef training that are plant-based and vegan-friendly
When do the programs run? Inquire by e-mail on their website

The Chef’s Training program they offer is an intensive, professional course which can be taken part-time or full-time, but runs 619 hours. This school does teach people how to prepare seafood, chicken and eggs, but if you’re vegan you can opt out of that. This school teaches a wide range of cooking styles, including how to ferment, prepare raw foods and macrobiotic foods, and even Chinese medicine and medicinal cooking. The emphasis is on whole, plant foods.

The Natural Gourmet Institute offers a fun Friday night dinner, where the people enrolled in the school prepare a fine-dining experience for the general public at big, communal tables (with candlelight!), so if you’re in the area, you could swing by and see what it’s all about.

The Matthew Kenney Academyformerly the 105 Degrees Academy
Where is it? Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
What do they offer? Chef certification program in raw foods
When do the programs run? Monthly, or several times a year for the more advanced classes

Matthew Kenney offers very small and personal raw food chef’s training classes (typically 4-8 people). It’s designed for beginners and chefs alike.

There are two 4-week training sessions – Level 1: Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine, and Level 2: Advanced Raw Cuisine. The Level 1 courses run every month and is Monday to Friday, 9am – 3pm. The Level 2 course runs 4 times a year and is the same hours as the Level 1 classes.

Cordon Vert School
Where is it? Altrincham, Cheshire, UK
What do they offer? Vegetarian leisure classes and workshops, a diploma program for professional chefs only
When do the programs run? Several times throughout the year; programs are short

The Cordon Vert School offers classes at their Vegetarian Society headquarters, and they even have rooms for lodging. They have a variety of vegetarian courses, ranging from 1 to 2 day workshops, classes for leisure, and professional classes. Their professional diploma class, a week in duration, is only available to professional chefs. However, their workshops and leisure courses are open to the general public, and occur frequently throughout the year.

Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts
Where is it? Austin, Texas
What do they offer? Full professional chef program that is vegan-friendly, public classes
When do the programs run? Begins every August and February

This school specializes in vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, ayurvedic and raw food preparation and cuisine. They offer a full 900-hour professional chef training program. All of the training takes approximately a third of a year, if you jump straight from training into internship. This is an intensive course that will fully prepare you to work in a natural kitchen.

They also offer public classes, though they’re sparse and seldom due to the emphasis on the professional chef training program.

The School of Natural Cookery
Where is it? Boulder, Colorado
What do they offer? Professional training as a foundation course, with the option to go further
When do the programs run? Most are in the Fall and Spring

The foundation course at the School of Natural Cookery is a 16-week diploma course where you learn fundamentals, bread making, gastronomy, nutrition and more. If you achieve a very high mark in this course, you may take a 4-week personal chef course or teacher training course. However, in order to pursue the teacher training course, you must have finished their classes as well as have five years experience with natural food.

Courses are typically offered for a spring semester and a fall semester and run the duration of a typical school semester.

Vegan Culinary Academy
Where is it? Anguin, California
What do they offer? Online courses and a 1000 hour professional apprenticeship
When do the programs run? Anytime

There are two major highlights of this school – first, someone who is looking for a professional apprenticeship opportunity will find it here, and it can be completed in six months to two years depending on how much you work, and second, they offer a distance learning program. The online program requires only that you have a camera and a computer with internet, and each student gets personal attention from the instructors in addition to all of the class materials and lessons. The apprenticeship is geared toward those who are already chefs, dietitians or food service directors.

Heaven on Earth Vegetarian Institute
Where is it? Hamilton-Stoney Creek, Ontario
What do they offer? A vegan, macrobiotic and ayurvedic 3-module program
When do the programs run? Mid-October to mid-March for all 3 modules

This institute offers a Holistic Health Consultant & Cooking Certification program that runs in 3 modules and goes far beyond cooking. It delves into many aspects of holistic health, including yoga, pranayama, diet and lifestyle changes for preventing diseases, and of course healthy food preparation. All of the cooking is vegan with the exception of one class, where fish is included.

Natural Kitchen Cooking School
Where is it? Mercerfield, New Jersey, Haddonfield, New Jersey and New York City
What do they offer? A natural chef training program
When do the programs run? October to May, one weekend each month

This school has several locations and occurs during weekends, making it more accessible. The class sizes are kept small (12 or less) so personal attention and assistance can be given.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it does cover the major vegan-friendly cooking schools out there. Every year, more and more small classes pop up in different cities, so if you’re just looking for some basic instruction and have no interest in pursuing a career in cooking, check out what your city (or nearby city) has to offer. If you are looking to get serious with preparing that awesome vegan food, there are a few great choices on this list that could help you achieve your dreams.

The Boomerang Effect – How to Use Your Thoughts to Bring You What You Want

After spending quite a bit of time researching, writing and thinking about the power of intention, particularly my own, the “Boomerang Effect’ came to me as a better description of the concept of the ‘law of attraction’ currently promoted by a number of modern self help gurus.

It’s a metaphor…throwing a boomerang represents thinking with focused intention.

Have you ever thrown a real boomerang?

If so, you’d probably agree it’s much more difficult than you might first expect. Throwing it is one thing, but getting it to come back is the real challenge! If you don’t know what you are doing, it is not something that comes naturally.

Now this also seems to be the case when we talk about the ‘law of attraction’. How often do you put your thoughts or intentions out to the universe? And how often have you been successful in having an effect on your experience of life, such that you knew you attracted a specific outcome to yourself?

Lots of people throw their thoughts and desires out to the universe, but few ever return or show up in their lives as real things or experiences…why?

Winds of Change

I gave my nephew a real throwing boomerang as a gift. Of course as soon as he unwrapped it, he smiled a wicked smile, and asked if we could go outside and throw it?

So off we went to the front yard, where I attempted to show him the basics of throwing a boomerang. For him it was all about getting it to come back, so I tried to be wise and explain to him the correct technique…

My very first throw sent it spinning on a beautiful arc, but the wind gusted and blew it straight into a tree. It got stuck there, so we had to use an extension ladder to get it down.

This is the first lesson hidden in the metaphor…if you want a boomerang to return, you HAVE to align with the wind!

This is also the first lesson to take onboard with regards to affecting your experience of life. You have to align with the situation around you, before using intention for a specific outcome. So how does this work in your life?

First, stop and focus on what you truly want as an outcome. This means aligning with the winds of your life. Do you believe you deserve what you have? Where you are in life? What are you goals?

This will require an intense, personal analysis and planning session to be conducted.

Who do you want to be and where do you want to go?

If you’ve lost your job due to the economic crisis, you probably don’t feel in alignment with anything. Listen to the winds of life. Think in a series of steps. What are the steps required to achieve what you want? Identify those steps then only focus on one step at a time.

Like learning how to throw a boomerang, throwing your thoughts takes practice. Too many people are too caught up in instant gratification, and be assured that after throwing a real boomerang once or twice, you’ll learn that patience and practice is required to develop this skill. The ultimate result is experienced after a series of throws.

So, if you want the boomerang to return, you MUST first align yourself with the prevailing winds! If you don’t pay attention to the winds around you, there’s a good chance your thoughts will end up in a tree somewhere…

Focused Intention

“Where is my stuff?”

This, unfortunately, is where most people invest the bulk of their time and energy. I say ‘unfortunately’ because if you haven’t practiced the first set of skills (personal clarity, alignment and practicing how to project your thoughts properly) you will have a VERY difficult time catching anything!

How to catch the boomerang…

You now understand how the winds of life and practicing the technique throwing your thoughts are two skills to perfect, but no matter how experienced you are with aligning and throwing, there is a 99% chance the thought won’t return to exactly where you are standing. You will have to take action.

Bringing this metaphor back to how to use your thoughts to affect your experience of life, you need to consider two options:

1. Take Action

2. Do Not Take Action

Once you start throwing your well crafted thoughts around, you’ll start to notice a change in how things come into your experience. Some of these will align with your primary intention, but others will not. When trying to catch a boomerang coming back to you, there are many factors to consider.

Each mental throw, or the sending of mental energy in the form of intention, will bring about opportunities to take action or not. It is the wise person who can properly determine when to take action and when to avoid action.

To Act or Not to Act, That is the Question

The lesson is to understand that focused thoughts and intention also HAVE to be followed up with action to achieve your preferred outcome! In fact, it may take many throws to bring about the specific outcome you want to achieve.

You will rarely use your thoughts and intention to manifest something in your life, without taking some sort of action. When an opportunity comes into your experience, you have to identify it, then immediately decide if you should take action or not.

This is where so many people fail. It’s fairly easy to find alignment in your life after conducting a serious internal analysis. It’s also pretty easy to have a thought and throw it out there. But it is extraordinarily difficult to use thought energy to affect your physical experience of life, so most people try it for awhile then give up.

If you’re going to learn how to throw a boomerang, or design a website, or write a novel, or swing a golf club, or speak Spanish…it takes effort, tenacity and perseverance. Most people don’t want to hear that these days. Everyone has instant access to everything today, so why not instant access to mind power?

Well, just like golf, Spanish or throwing a boomerang, learning how to affect your experience of life with your thoughts is a skill that takes time, practice and belief.

So to recap:

1. Remember to first align with who you are

2. Craft your thoughts and practice throwing them again and again.

3. Be aware of your surroundings.

4. Look for opportunities to take action and situations to avoid.

When it is time to take action, do so with your full intention to succeed. When it is time to avoid a situation, do not give any mental energy to it; remove it from your mind.

Align. Focus. Throw. Act.

Bo Staff Training For a Complete Upper Body Workout

Anyone working towards the goal of seeing and feeling satisfying gains or weight loss knows that this process can become somewhat repetitious and expensive. Performing countless reps or tracking the distance you’ve completed hour after hour at the local gym can make success seem light years away from having the strength, stamina, and body type you long to achieve when beginning a training regiment. What is it that’s missing when so many training schedules fall victim to the, “It’s OK I can skip the gym today” or “I’ll start again on Monday” statements that we are so familiar with. Is it possible that the variety of machines and training routines available can sometimes get in the way of making simple decisions like how to go about getting the results you need to look and feel your best?

There is a traditional form of exercise that has been filling the void to these modern exercise conundrums we face when it comes to our physical appearance and mental well being. And martial artists have been capitalizing on these benefits for thousands of years. Practitioners of the martial arts have multiple requirements for self-defense techniques as a physical discipline, and combine it with the building of self-confidence and honor for both student and teacher. And this is considered basic training. Not only is this form of art a great blend of both cardio and anaerobic (weight training) workouts, it can help someone achieve a very defined physique by cutting and toning their body, in addition, this form of exercise teaches a self-defense system as the core foundation that contributes to the students dedication to progress and will to succeed. Weight benches, exercise bikes, and even loud personal trainers have yet to incorporate the three above mentioned martial arts attributes such as

1. Having a body of optimal strength and appearance

2. Feeling healthy inside and out and

3. Having the skills to protect all that you’ve worked for.

One particular self defense technique studied throughout the martial arts community and found in nearly every dojo as a mandatory skill taught to students around the world is the bo staff. Instead of stepping up to countless solid state machines or pumping reps with a free-weight bars jammed with dumbbells on both ends, how about taking and using just the bar itself? Probably the first combat weapon ever to be used following the fist, the bo staff would have been created quite easily with branches pulled from trees or fallen sticks found on the forest floor. If you have ever wanted a way to tone and shape your chest, back, and arms… the bo staff is a great tool for utilizing these muscle groups for a complete upper body exercise routine and there is no need to go to your local martial arts studio and register right away either.

There are many resources available such as YouTube, eHow, or even the EzineArticles directory where you can find many different instructors teaching the basics for free and it’s as simple as grabbing that broom stick in the corner of the laundry room or visiting your nearest building supply center to pick up a wooden dowel for less than ten dollars. Practicing and training with a bo staff can bring a complete workout that sharpens your upper body. Movements such as spinning and striking with the bo can be both physically demanding, but also a lot fun. If you can remember flinging a branch around when you were younger, or finding that perfect walking stick when camping or hiking… there is almost a nostalgic feeling when training with a 6 foot wooden bo staff, making it feel less like a chore as exercise can sometimes be.

When training with a bo staff you are learning a more than a thousand year old traditional form of weaponry. It can look and feel quite impressive when performing its most basic level techniques and it can be very useful as a form of self-defense protection for your self and others.

Piering – A Solution to Foundation Failure

Foundation failure can be dangerous if you do not correct the problem. Your house might actually become crooked. Unfortunately the signs of foundation failure do not present themselves until the problem has become serious. These signs included cracked walls, uneven flooring, cracked tiles and windows not closing right. If you notice any of these in your house, it would be wise to call a specialist to come in and do an investigation to find out for sure if you maybe have foundation failure.

This is caused by one thing. Most often or not the soil that foundation is laid on is the culprit. Usually soils that are under foundation that have problems contain clay. Once this clay is wet, it often will not dry the same across the board and this can lead to the problem of a failure. The factors that can contribute to the soil getting wet is many things, weather, poor drainage, pluming leaks, and even roots from trees can upset the soil under your foundation.

The solution to foundation failure is something called Piering or underpinning. Piering is the process of lifting and stabilizing your foundation. There are usually two styles of steel piers used for this. Both are acceptable though they each are designed for a specific foundation. Talk to your contractor to find out which pier he feels is best for your house.

First there are resistance piers which are hydraulically pressed straight down into the soil with the weight of the structure as counter balance. These piers go down until it reaches a layer of soil that is hard enough to support it. They work best in situations where the structure the needs to be raised has a very heavy load constraint.

Next are helical piers which are hydraulically twisted into the soil similar to how a corkscrew or a drill works. These piers consist of flights that will pull the pier into the ground. As with resistance piers the helical piers will stop going down once they reached soil that is heavy enough to support it. They cannot be pulled or pushed out. Helical piers are the most useful on slopes or hillside because of how they screw into the ground.

Helical piers can also come as pre-construction helical piers. These are installed where there might be some questionable soils. Some soils may not be enough to carry the load of the structure and this is where pre-construction piers would come in handy. They help prevent any future foundation failure.

After the piering are installed your contractor should give you a detailed report stating the exact location of the installed piers and also explain the hydraulic measurements. Keep this report with your important records.

The price of underpinning can vary depending on the type of piers you are using. Most commonly used are the either steel resistance piers or steel helical piers. Your price will also vary depending on how deep the piers need to go down. The deeper the depth the more money it is going to cost. Lastly you have to look at the labor costs. This is not job where you want to take the cheap way out. Yes this can be an expensive job, but think of the price if your house is destroyed by foundation failure.

Roofing Material For Your House In Kenya

There are various factors that determine which kind of roof to use for your house.


In hot desert-like climates where rainfall is low, flat roofs are very common. Areas such as North-Africa have a lot of these roofs.

A flat roof is not exactly ‘flat’. It usually slopes at an angle of 5 to 10 degrees. This angle can not be noticed easily and helps to drain water during cleaning or after rainy weather.

In traditional African societies, communities living in Arid areas of Kenya such as Maasai, Samburu had their shelters made of flat roofs. This is because rain is not common in these areas.

In rainy climates, the roof becomes steep. In snowy regions such as Northern Europe, the roof is very steep [over 45 degrees] so as to drain away snow. In traditional African societies which live in rainy regions such as Kisii, Mount Kenya and Coast, the thatch roof is very steep [over 60 degrees] so as to increase the surface runoff of rain water.


Roofing materials vary depending on the budget.

In Kenya, thatch roof is the cheapest at KES 180 per square meter.

It is followed by Iron sheets. The thinnest grade in the market at the moment is Gauge 32 which costs about KES 210 per square meter. Gauge 30 costs about KES 240 per square meter and Gauge 28 pre-painted costs approximately kes 500 per square meter.

Concrete roofing tiles cost around KES 400 per square meter.

Clay roofing tiles cost around KES 630 per square meter at Mombasa. These have the advantage of being light-weight and since they are made of natural clay with no added paint, their rain-water runoff can be consumed without any health issues as compared to the others which have paint. Paint contains Lead which is harmful to the human body.

Stone coated steel roofing tiles such as Harvey, Decra are in the range of the most expensive and cost approximately KES 1500 per square meter. These are usually gauge 26 in thickness and hence give a lifetime guarantee. Their light weight also gives savings to the timber supporting trusses which will be less than when supporting heavier concrete tiles.


Curved and cylindrical roofs require special types of materials such as copper and bituminous felts. These felts can take the shape of the roof easily.

Copper felt is expensive. This is usually copper in colour when new and turns greenish as it ages.

Hipped roofs are best laid using tiles since with tiles, there will be less cutting and hence less wastage. Some steel roofing suppliers in Kenya can supply curved roofs. Gable roofs can be done using any type of roofing products.

Some buildings such as Highlands restaurant at Afya Centre, Nairobi have glass roofs. These give nice views but are expensive to put up. A square meter of 10mm structural glass costs approximately kes 2,800.

The steepness of the roof can also be used to control cost. The more steep the roof, the more the surface area and hence the more the cost. Some roofing tiles such as Mangalore design require steep roofs to make sure that the rain water surface runoff is fast and hence no leakages.

Recreational facilities such as tourist lodges which require rustic natural finishes will opt for the thatch roofs which can be patterned to various designs.

Frank Gichuhi


How to Fix Quality Bathroom Accessories to Porcelain Tiles – Keeping You and Your Installer Happy

When you see beautiful bathroom photographs in glossy magazines and bathroom brochures they are often showcasing porcelain tiles, and for good reason. Porcelain tiles are a luxury product. They have a depth of colour and shine that is really sought after for luxury bathroom finishes, and are the first choice bathroom tile for many discerning customers. Porcelain is alleged to be harder than granite! As a material it is strong, tough, waterproof, easy to keep clean and doesn’t need treatments or coatings to make it bathroom proof, so in many ways it is quite unlike the natural stone products it imitates, such as slate, limestone and granite.

So why are installers reluctant to work with Porcelain? First of all, Porcelain isn’t so difficult to cut – in a straight line that is. But when it comes to hole cutting, for running pipes, or for fitting accessories such as mirrors, soap trays etc cutting into Porcelain can be very time consuming, and sometimes costly too. For this reason adding Porcelain to your bathroom specification can add to the cost, not only of installation, but also in breakage allowance. Your installer isn’t going to want to bear the cost of any tiles he breaks trying to drill into them, and he certainly won’t want to pay for your tiler to return to replace any he damages. Fitters who are prepared to do the work may need to purchase extra equipment, hole cutters etc, in order to work with porcelain. Installers may well bump up the price significantly, in order to buy special kits or drill bits, or even as a safety net for damage.

So what happens if you’ve had a gorgeous bathroom installed and luxury porcelain tiles fitted, and you ask your installer if he wouldn’t mind fitting a few lovely accessories you’ve bought before he packs up his tools. This might well be a problem. He’s happy with the work he’s done. The room looks fabulous. It’s doubtful he’s going to want to risk your goodwill, and his fee, by drilling into your perfect porcelain wall tiles. Most likely he’ll do that worrisome sharp intake of breath through the teeth that fitters do just before mentioning a big sum of money, and you’ll be left wondering whether to stump up the cost of a decent home computer to have your accessories fitted, or go without your loo roll holder and soap dishes!

There may well be an answer, and not surprisingly it’s come via our German cousins. No drill bathroom accessories are exactly that. They fix to your wall without drilling. Now before you click away, picturing nasty plastic suction pads or cheap accessories, these accessories are top quality brass bodied products, with proper chrome plated finishes. The fixing system uses proper fixing points with concealed fixings. There’s nothing cheap and nasty about no drill accessories – no tacky or flimsy steel accessories with flaky ‘chrome effect’ painted finishes such as you might find in a DIY shed, or discount store. Instead this is revolutionary German adhesive technology at its best.

No drill accessories use a scientifically advanced adhesive formula that bonds to almost any hard, firm surface. Special fixing adapters are bonded to the surface and then left to cure, after which the accessory itself is firmly clicked and locked on. The accessories have been tested to hold loads of up to 300kg. That’s like the equivalent of a couple of plumbers, a plasterer and a tiler all hanging off your towel rail at the same time without pulling it from the wall! The accessories themselves are fine quality and exquisitely designed for luxury bathrooms. Every bit as good as other premium ranges – and available in a choice of styles to suit all tastes.

5 Different Oil Painting Mediums To Enhance Your Oil Portrait Paintings

There are many different oil painting mediums that can aid and enhance your portrait paintings. For instance, most mediums are designed to dilute or thin paints helping you create thin glazes for painting techniques such as sfumato, which require subtle blending and fine detail, others are used to enhance the body of the paint, perfect for impasto.

In this article I will be highlighting some of the best oil mediums to use for blending and glazing in portrait painting:

Winsor & Newton Liquin: This low gloss liquid alkyd medium is used to improve the flow of oil paint and smooth out any brushwork, it also increases transparency making it the perfect medium for thin glazes and blending work. Also, by smoothing brushwork it is ideal for finer details. Liquin can also accelerate drying by up to half the usual time depending on the oil colour to medium ratio.

Refined Linseed Oil: Although usually mixed with turpentine to create an oil painting medium, refined linseed oil can also be used on its own. Linseed oil increases the fluidity of paint and also the transparency so again it is an ideal oil medium for thin glazes and blending. Retards drying allowing you to work longer with the paint.

Roberson-Parris Marble Medium: Roberson-Parris Marble Medium is made from refined beeswax, turpentine and a synthetic copal varnish or dammar resin. Mixed with oil paint at a ratio of 1:3 and diluted with rectified spirit of turpentine, this oil medium is used to create a non-reflecting matte like surface that can be ideal for creating the illusion of depth, especially for dark backgrounds behind a portrait.

Spectrum-Alkaflow: Spectrum-Alkaflow is an alkyd based oil painting medium that is used to thin oils and smooth out brush strokes. Its effects are similar to Liquin, although Alkaflow is a bit more viscous and creates a gloss-like finish. So again it is an oil painting medium perfect for thin glazes however the shine it creates is more ideal for areas such as the eyes or lips to give the interpretation of moisture or shine.

Roberson-Glaze Medium This oil painting medium is exactly what it says on the bottle; an oil medium you mix with the paint specifically to create thin glazes. It improves the flow of the paint and so is therefore ideal for blending and finer detailed work as well.

Layap – The Nomadic Herders of Bhutan

The mule skids on the wet ice and slides forward on the steep track. The man springs forward and grabs it by the muzzle. They both strain against the slope, breaking skids on the edge of the sheer precipice. The mule is lying on its belly, its forelegs dangling over the cliff. Braced precariously, inches from edge, the man strains to hold the animal on the narrow track. Within seconds, the man’s teenage son runs back and deftly unloads the mule, handing over the heavy packs to the woman standing behind the animal, holding it by its tail. Together they haul the mule back on the path. Far below them the mist swirls over the jagged rocks which line the bottom of the deep gorge.

A few meters behind, a 73 year old woman is sitting on an icy path, inching forward on her buttocks, using both her hand and feet to maintain her balance. She sits still and watches calmly as her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson save the family mule and a year supply of food grain.

An hour later, along with other families, they reach a swift stream. Without a thought the men, women, children hitch up their Ghos and Kiras (Bhutanese dress) to the waist and wade across, oblivious of the water which is at about freezing point. Young men pass lewd remarks at the women who are forced to expose their upper thighs to avoid getting their kiras wet. The women respond with quick witty remarks.

By evening, families are camped along the way in caves or under leafy trees. They care for the horses first and then sit down to a simple hot meal. By dark, after a few bottles of Ara and Sinchang (Local brewed alcohol and wine); they share their experience of the past months. This year, the highlight was the meeting in Gasa (District Head Quarters), where they met their King and Queens. They marvel that their king walked just as they did, all the way.


The four day journey from Punakha, usually stretched over several weeks as they relay a year’s food supply, brings the Layaps home to one of the most spectacular region in the Kingdom of Bhutan, the raw natural beauty of the high alpine range.

Spreading upwards from 12000 feet above sea level, Laya sits on the Lap of the 7100 meters Masagang, One of Bhutan’s 20 virgin peaks which are above 7000 meters. The mixed conifer forest above Gasa Dzong, dotted with maple and rhododendron in full bloom, merge into groves of birch, juniper, maple and mountain cane. The entire slopes are richly colored by wild flowers.

Across Bari-la and Kohi lapcha, two rugged passes, the terrain leaves behind the tree- line and the vast alpine grassland undulate towards the great northern glaciers. High above the crystal waterfalls which often cut through the ice formations on the cliff side, and the clear rapid streams, are their sources, the turquoise fresh water lakes many of which the local population hold in sacred awe.

This is the world where the snow leopards roam, where the blue sheep, Sambar, and Musk deer graze in solitude. Lower down, this is the home of Takin, the Himalayan black bear, numerous deer and the wild dog. The winged inhabitants of the region include the raven, wild pheasants, snow pigeons, the red billed cough, the alpine swift, the snow partridge, and the black necked crane.


The Layaps called their home Bayu, the hidden land, with good reasons. The cluster of villages is completely hidden by ridges and appears suddenly when the travelers reaches the first houses. The people believe that they are protected by an ancient gate leading to the main village. It was here that their guardian deities kept a Tibetan invasion at bay. In an important annual ceremony, the Layaps pay homage to the protective forces which turned all the stones and trees around the gate into soldiers to repel the invaders.

But if such legend is history in Laya, history is also Legend. This was the place where Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal entered Bhutan. In a journey which resounds with conquest of human and supernatural dimensions the Shabdrung crossed a chain of Mighty Himalayan ridges and entered Laya from Tibet. In a small meadow below the villages, called Taje-kha a chorten shelters the footprints of the shabdrung and his horse.

History and legend are still the realities of today. The pristine mountain ranges have not succumbed to changes over the centuries. Neither have its people, like in many other parts of Bhutan, the land nor have the people existed in a harmony which the modern world does not adequately appreciate. And it is in this context that the Layaps must be viewed. It is against this rugged backdrop that they must be understood.


“The Layap smell”, is one well known comment. “You cannot depend on the Layaps, is another, often from civil servants. “The Layaps are backward”, say people living in the lower valleys. “The Layaps are alcoholics,” say many who know them, most people stop to look when a layap woman passes by in her distinct, perhaps ‘quaint’ kira. Some would point her out to friends.

The Layaps is all of these, if you do not look beyond the surface or if you do not understand him in the right context. A discerning observer would probably find, however, that the Layap has far more substantial qualities to be admired than those passing these derogatory comments.

If the Layaps are weather beaten as the alpine rangelands they are as untamed and unpredictable as the forces of nature which are sometimes harsh That is why, perhaps, the frustration of a civil servants who finds that the Layap cannot be bound to a deadline or even to a responsibility. When you call them they always say yes but never turn up, explains one District official.

The Layaps are also as open as their environment, normally free of social inhibition. Men and women are open and relaxed on issues like the boundaries sexual behavior. This, in fact is, often exploited by occasional visitors like tourist guides, military patrolmen, and civil servants.

Survival has also sharpened the wiles of the Layap. Today, it is a nightmare for District officials to pin a Layap herder down on a number of yaks in his herd because he wants to avoid tax. Call a Layap family for official duty during the busy season and the best bet is an old woman who is not needed at home.

But inside the rough Layap exterior is a tenderness which is invisible to the casual observer. Every Layap, for example, identifies with a 46 year old horse owner who risked his life to scale and icy cliff to his horse which had fallen. The man was oblivious to the bitter cold as he sat with his dying horse for two days, feeding the animal water from his cupped palm, the water mixed with his tears.

The Layaps are most tender in their feelings for the Yaks which are the mainstay of their semi-nomadic existence. They officially own about 2000 of Bhutan’s 30000 yak population, both believed to be reduced figures. The 300 to 400 KG beast of burden is a source of food, shelter, draught power, transportation and part of the layap Identity.


The carefree life-style comes with the alcohol consumption by the layap men. Nearly every men drinks heavily, often losing time, effort and hard earned money in drunken stupors and converting all the hard toiled food grain into alcohol. 63 years old Ap Tshering claims to be a typical example of the Layap man. “I have lived a hard life,” he says with a proud smile. “Now I have two important goals in life. I brew sinchang (local wine) during the day and I drink it at night.”

In this patriarchal society where girls are married early and move to the husband’s home, polyandry is on the decline. With clear cut gender roles the woman bears a serious domestic responsibility, looking after the Yak herds, digging the fields, weaving the traditional clothing, and generally keeping the home and family together. The men are responsible for trade and the transportation of goods, their own and for the Government.


With about 60,000 semi nomadic pastoralists spread across the kingdom’s northern region, the 800 or so layaps share a strong community spirit. They are fiercely protective about the image of their community. Internal squabbles are normally settled within the community and even a child will not divulge the name of a Layap who is guilty of some wrong doing.

As a community, the Layaps are also proud of their self sufficiency in the basic necessities of life despite the day to day physical difficulties. Wealth is measured by the number of Yaks in a herd or the volume of rice. The Layaps are also quick to inform the visitors that they constitute an important proportion of the Workforce in Gasa District.


There is a strong spiritual element in the cohesion of the Layap community. The men pay obeisance to their Pho-la, the local guardian deity. Every archery match, every business trip, every journey, every development project starts with a prayer at the Pho-la’s sacred shrine, a small chorten above the village.

Like the broader Bhutanese society the advice of the village astrologer is sought on most activities and the local medium is usually consulted during illness. It is the legacy of the Shabdrung that the Layaps celebrate the Bumkar festival to plant barley and the Aulay festival during harvest.

A superstition is strong and is, in fact, one of the protective forces of the Layap identity. E.g., the distinctive Kira (women’s cloth) of Layap women has been kept partly because of the belief in its necessity. A superstition also controls etiquette and other aspects of the local traditions.


The layaps are traders, bartering their animal products for food grain and other edibles every winter. Starting in late October, when nature offers a respite between the rains and the snow, they move to Punakha, their horses and every person laden with Yak meat, butter cheese, incense plants from the wilderness and sometime trans border goods like dried fish, shoes and brick tea. By March, when the trail becomes accessible, they move back with rice, oil, salt, sugar, chillies, clothing and shoes.

The only relief in this annual venture is a visit to the popular Gasa Tshachhu (hot spring) where they join people from all parts of the country in the baths which are believed to be of curative value and a boost to general health.

Yak products account for 49% of Layaps earning, 18% comes from trade, 15% from animal transport and 4% from tourism, the last benefiting only 5 or 6 horse owners who are in contract with tour operators in Thimphu.


It is largely the exposure from these annual trips that have given Layaps a view of a rapidly changing world outside. A handful has ventured as far as Thimphu. And, in recent years, they have watched the widening gap in economic progress with some dismay.

The urge to reach out and pluck the fruits of progress which their fellow citizens are enjoying is beginning to gnaw at the roots of Layap culture. The goal of one man was to build a house like the one he saw in Punakha, a woman preferred a car so she would be spared a heavy loads, a young girl envied the Punakha School girls, and an eight year old boy rolled his father’s hat around the campfire, his mind on the plastic toy cars he had seen in the shops.

Two women who had been selected to visit Thimphu in a cultural entertainment team returned embarrassed about their Kiras because they were clumsy compared with the nylon kiras of the Thimphu women. When told by a Thimphu official that the beautiful and unique Laya kira should be preserved she retorted. “So you can send tourists to take photographs of us?”


It is an enlightened policy that the Royal Government of Bhutan has sensitively pursued in the mountains of Laya. The goal is to improve the life of the people without upsetting the delicate balance in the distinct cultural identity of the people, the pristine natural ranges, and the rich wildlife.

Finely tuned to the migratory pattern of the people, the priorities reflect an emphasis on improving the Yak herds and fodder, on the crops, on the road, and on the transportation of goods.

But the main benefits of development in Laya have come from the establishment of Health unit, a veterinary service, and the School. The Layaps however, place their long term hopes on a 100 or so children who represent the education of the community.

The Layaps have not been aware of the image of backwardness they suffer among a section of Bhutan’s population. “Once educated, our children can face other people with pride,” said one weary mother. A 56 year old father summed up the general sentiments, “Last month, when I went to Thimphu, my son read the bus ticket and showed me where to sit,” he said glowing with pride, his right hand gripping the boys shoulder. “I did not have to face the shame of sitting in the wrong seat.”


Laya today confronts an issue which Bhutan, as a nation, has been grappling with for the past four decades. If change is inevitable, will the experience be more harsh than the bitter winds which blow over the mountains?

It is a question with a familiar ring to it. It is a question facing Bhutan. The Layaps represents the Bhutanese population on a smaller scale, the harmony with their natural environment, the deep pride in their unique cultural identity, and the fierce will to protect their home.

“We Layaps have our good points and bad points.” Explains one village elder. “But in the end, our biggest pride is our land and our self. Yes we go out to trade, buy supplies, to drink, to flirt. We complain about our hardships, the heavy workload, and the tough road. We are embarrassed about our backwardness. But we would never want to be anything but a Layap.”

Top 1% of THREE MLM Companies! The Daniel K. Song Interview

Advancing to the top 1% of any MLM opportunity is quite a challenge, choosing to start all over with a new company and doing it again is absolutely astounding.

After taking a break from Network Marketing for almost a year… What Daniel K. Song plans to do next may be his toughest challenge; not only does he plan to do it again with a new, rather large company, he is going to do while working a full-time job! Why? To prove to you that it CAN be done.

It is said that in order to have success in network marketing you need to truly master one skill. Whether it is presenting, closing, encouragement, or (for the internet world) copywriting, SEO or social networking, it’s incredibly important to identify your talent and “run” with it.

Daniel K. Song has mastered the incredibly lucrative art of Team-Building: The branding of a culture and system of duplicating distributors that completely trust his leadership. He is an example of the power traditional network marketing methods have on those that can obtain this skill.

During this incredibly hectic time, I had a chance to meet up with him and I want to invite you to take a look at our conversation in hopes that you may gain some value from a true MLM guru.

* Disclaimer: does not encourage “opportunity jumping,” however the story of Daniel K. Song is a testimony to the power of the network marketing opportunity and reiterates our belief that people choose leaders before choosing a company. In other words, we believe that in the beginning, people are buying YOU; not your products nor compensation plan.

sK: I’m just going to start with the basics…how long have you been involved in Network Marketing?

Daniel: I’ve been a part of the Network Marketing Industry now for almost 7 years. The majority of which has been full time…I started back in May of 2003 as I was preparing to graduate from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. I’ve been part of The Health and Wellness Industry for all of the 7 years I’ve marketed. It wasn’t until this past year that I decided to take on two separate career paths; one as a designer & marketing manager, and the other as a network marketer (again).

sK: So what’s your age at the moment… you still seem like a kid to me.

Daniel: I’m 29, look 20, and probably act more like I’m 12… I enjoy being a “kid,” life was much more enjoyable when you were a kid. I envy the innocence, simplicity and pureness of a child’s actions, choices, and thoughts… although getting carded for ‘R’ rated movies at almost 30 is a bit annoying.

sK: I hear you brotha, I’m 31 and I get carded everywhere too! I’m guessing it’s an Asian thing. Prior to more serious matters…anyone that knows you, knows that you love cars… how many different cars have you owned?

Daniel: Umm… to date? I’ve owned (9) cars in the past (8) years… I started in network marketing with a Honda Civic that I bought in high school. The first car I bought “through” network marketing was a 1993 Acura NSX (which was my dream car growing up as a kid)… That NSX was then followed up with a: 2002 BMW 325i, 2004 Infiniti G35 coupe, 2005 Lotus Elise, 1997 Acura NSX-T, 2008 Honda Element SC, 2008 Lexus GS350, 2004 Honda s2000, and now a 2010 BMW 335i… I think that’s it… I really enjoy cars.

sK:…uhh yea you think?

Daniel: I mean, considering that I don’t have any other real vices (like drinking, smoking, or partying) this is my only real vice. I just hope my future wife-to-be can still love me for it.

Vice: Daniel’s custom Acura NSX – His “dream” car prior to network marketing.

sK: As long as she’s driving what she wants… you’ll be ok. Where are you currently living now?

Daniel: I currently live in the Newport, California. I used to be in Rowland Heights and Diamond Bar most of my life, but moved out to Orange County about (2) years ago because my brother wanted to be closer to work… and since I work from home, location really didn’t matter much to me. It’s definitely a nice area.

sK: Before I forget, on a serious note, I appreciate you taking some time out of your schedule to chat, with that being said… let’s just get down to it…WHERE THE HECK HAVE YOU BEEN!?

Daniel: Not a problem. Sorry it’s taken this long to finally sit down to have this conversation! Where have I been?! Haha…. Let’s just say I took about a year off to “reinvent myself” if you will.

sK: Reinvent? Like Madonna? What’s there to reinvent?

Daniel: To understand what I did, would mean you’d have to look a little further into my background before network marketing. I’ve always wanted to be an artist or a designer, this was my primary passion. I mean, I even went to an Art School to pursue this passion… and YOU know that coming from an Asian-American background, most parents want you to be a doctor, lawyer, or anything “prestigious”.

sK: Yea, I can understand that…at the very least an engineer right!?

Daniel: Right, so you can imagine the mental heart-attack my parents suffered when I announced that I “wanted to be an artist” and go to an art school! This would NOT make for good family dinner bragging conversations between aunts and uncles.

sK: It’s all about bragging rights with them…

Daniel: Ok, fast forward 3-4 years, and I got started in network marketing RIGHT out of college… I found myself in massive (and I DO mean massive) student loan debts, and credit cards graduating.

sK: Approx. how much?

Daniel: I think my student loan balances were in the $145,000 range, not including credit cards. So I was presented with a CHANCE to make some money through network marketing as I prepared to graduate from college.

sK: That’s a lot of debt…were you sponsored in MLM from someone that was already a leader?

Daniel: My sponsor was someone who has been very successful with his own network marketing career, and took me under his wings to mentor and teach me the “game”… and for 7 years, I did network marketing FULL-TIME; as the only means of an income source. It was GREAT, but it always weighed on my conscience that I seemed to have neglected my artist passions to pursue marketing.

24k +…not bad for a “BONUS” check! (Notice there is one behind it as well)

sK: Oh got it… you never really had a chance to reevaluate things…never “pulled over on the side of the freeway” if you will?

Daniel: Right…so after walking away from my last opportunity, I decided to take some time off to pursue a career that DIDN’T involve network marketing. This was a huge gamble to walk away from the ONLY thing I knew how to do, and the ONLY thing that paid my bills.

sK: So was it a mistake?

Daniel: Nope…the gamble paid off. I landed an awesome position as a design and creatives member of Leg Avenue Inc, one of the industries largest costume and lingerie manufactures in the US! I quickly took on a lot more responsibilities helping in all facets of the design and creative process there. It felt great to finally have a productive and positive outlet for my creative needs!

sK: They should’ve tapped into your marketing prowess…

Daniel: That’s what they did… they couldn’t ignore my past as a marketer. They quickly started to harness my experiences to help with branding projects, and marketing resources and tools. I just got promoted as a marketing manager there.

Daniel utilizing his design and art passion behind a desk for Leg Avenue Inc. Photo: Hank Lee

sK: So you completely forgot about MLM?

Daniel: Well no… with that being said, I also always had one eye back on the industry that helped make EVERYTHING possible for me. I mean this is the industry that truly opened up doors to many more opportunities for me.

sK: So where are we at now?

Daniel: Well, after taking a few months to search for a new home/opportunity to pursue, I decided it was time to jump BACK INTO network marketing. The only difference this time is that I still have a full-time career, but also juggling network marketing.

sK: What makes you think you can do it successfully on a part-time basis? When I say “successfully” I mean success as in “Daniel Song” -type success.

Daniel: There’s a lot of skepticism that without going full-time in network marketing, you cannot become successful. I’m here to prove that myth wrong! I strongly believe it’s about TIME MANAGEMENT, and the efficient USE of time (meaning: the quality of effort and planning) that leads to success and NOT the AMOUNT or QUANTITY of time.

sK:…keep going, this is valuable stuff…

Daniel:…some people can clock in 40-50 hours into their network marketing business and not make a dime, and there are some of us, who can just make 4-5 phone calls a week, and pull in an annual income of over 6 figures. What’s the difference? EFFECTIVE USE OF YOUR TIME! I’ve always been a multi-tasker.

sK: I think that’s important for many people to hear… I feel that so many networkers mistake movement for progress…when it’s really a matter of intention and focused enery. So how long has it been, or… how long have you been inactive?

Daniel: Approximately 8 months is the time it’s taken to: reevaluate, refocus, and readjust. I can’t say that I’m even currently “FULL-TIME” technically based on the definition of most working class…but I can TELL you with confidence that I am BACK in network marketing! I’m not an amateur playing with his hobbies, but a professional planning his business.

sK: Got it… sounds like you’re serious…you know from what I know about you, you really are a big proponent (at least in my opinion) of not “loving” Network Marketing, but appreciating its ability to deliver time and freedom in order to pursue what you really do LOVE….. Would you say that is accurate?

Daniel: Uh yes and no… I mean I do LOVE network marketing, but I think what I “LOVE” about network marketing is really it’s ability to open new doors and unlock new levels of potential which weren’t available to you previously. I mean it’s great that you can make money through network marketing, but if that’s your end-all goal, then it’s quite sad and limiting. Network marketing gave me not only the financial freedom, but the TIME freedom (which is MORE important – as time is NOT replenish-able like money is). The time-freedom gave me the chance to pursue my other passions of: photography, cars, art, and travel. Network marketing for ME, has been the “Vehicle” to me to pursue MY TRUE passions without the restrictions that most jobs would give you.

sK: Now there are people that could only dream of reaching the levels that you have reached in two different companies and spend a lifetime pursuing that… how were you able to do it with (2) different companies?

Daniel: Haha… you think? The problem and answer lies right in the question itself. Most people could only “DREAM” of reaching those levels. You can’t just WISH for it, or DREAM of it. You need to MAKE it, and CREATE it. You must attach a clear action plan, and strategy to the goals you want to achieve, and go do it.

sK: You really think it’s that simple?

Daniel: Well, I can honestly say that I was very blessed with an awesome team, great leadership group, found the right opportunities (but more so the timing IN those opportunities), and a strong desire to SUCCEED. As cliche as it sounds, “it all starts with STRONG motivators we like to call “YOUR WHY’s”… make your “WHY’S” clear and the “HOW’s” become very easy. I’ve been able to build a large downline group in (2) separate opportunities and hit leadership ranks that pay in excess of 6 figures a year, but what people don’t see is ALL of the planning, time, energy, and hard work that goes into doing it.

Daniel with yet another solid team at a company function.

sK: How important is timing to success in MLM?

Daniel: It’s very important that you find NOT only a GREAT opportunity, but more importantly look at the TIMING within that opportunity. There are so many great companies, which unfortunately the timing has come and gone. Any surfer will tell you, that in order to surf, you need to catch the wave from the front, and not once it’s passed, that’s how building a successful business is done. So many people are sentimentally attached to their opportunity (which isn’t wrong – I still love my first company to death… it’s like your first girlfriend, and you will always cherish those memories), but you have to still remember, we are “BUSINESS” people and “BUSINESS” decisions are sometimes best made when you can separate your emotional biases from them.

sK: Alright let’s talk a little about actual skills… what would you say is the one or two key skills needed to be able to start over and build large and build a team quickly?

Daniel: Finding a “good” opportunity with “great” timing; rather than a “great” company with a “good” timing…I’m sure most of your readers will understand what I mean by that. Being able to “smell” where the next opportunity is can make you a fortune. Make the wrong choice or decisions once too many, and you lose your ability to influence or convince people of that. The second skillset that can help when starting over and building a new team is to create a solid foundation… a house built on soft sand will inevitably come crashing down, never neglect the foundations and basics. Create a solid, duplicatable, and simple system that NOT only your downlines will follow, but you will follow and just GO TO WORK!

sK: You know that solid network marketing companies do an excellent job promoting motivational paraphernalia like books, CD’s, trainers/speakers etc… in your opinion, what is more important to success a solid skillset or a strong mindset?

Daniel: MINDSET!!!! If NASA can teach a monkey to go to space, we can teach you how to do network marketing. Teaching and learning skill sets is simply a choice and a process… nothing too magnificent or magical with that. Having the right mindset, or fertile soil upon which you can plant, is where the “MIRACLE” process begins.

Daniel stands behind personal development above personal skills.

sK: I highly value the importance of personal development, what are your thoughts?

Daniel: I am a BIG believer on personal development… It’s changed my life! Having the right mindset will make for a great foundation to learn all your skillsets on. I’ve seen way too many talented network marketers (those who posses high amounts of skills and abilities) but lack the proper mindset go to the wayside… often times they fail, not because of their talents, but because of their mindsets.

sK: It’s so true, even in my own downline… I’ve seen some of the most talented presenters and trainers… just fall apart with a weak mental frame. Daniel…you’ve primarily stayed in the Health and Wellness Industry….no water filters, legal services, telecommunications, or anything else…. Why?

Daniel: HAHAHAHAhaha…. the Health and Wellness revolution is here to stay! This isn’t just simply a trend…The Wellness Industry is going to be forever perpetual.

sK: What do you mean by “perpetual”?

Daniel: When the baby boomers move on, we (Gen X and Y) will soon replace the adult categories, we may ignore the value of wellness products now, being fairly young, but it will soon become a priority for us as we age, whether we like it or not. Once we move on, our children will become to next adult group. There will be NO end to the demands and needs of wellness-based products. Plus how many other things do you know that you can sell, and make money from, but know that you’ve made someone’s life truly better in the process? I don’t get too turned on about saving a few cents on someone’s long distance bill, but I DO get turned on about saving someone’s life…but that’s just me!

sK: We’ll put. This is a tough one I think… but if we surveyed each and every one of your personally sponsored downline past and present, what would they say is your greatest strength and what would they say is your greatest weakness?

Daniel: Wow. That would be scary. Not sure exactly what THEY WOULD say…I really don’t know. I mean if I had to take a guess, I’d assume they’d think my ability to multitask and organize is one of my major strengths. I’ve been told that I can get a lot done in such a short amount of time. People have often asked, if I’ve successfully cloned myself! I really think that time management goes hand in hand with the ability to multitask and organize. I was told by a mentor that I could increase my productivity and results just by simply being more organized.

sK:…and a weakness?

Daniel: As for a weakness, I am very picky and a perfectionist. It drives me nuts when things aren’t done to a 110% and done perfectly. These high standards keep me and my teams performing at the best of our abilities but it also sets me up for countless hours of stress and anxiety.

sK: We talked about this privately and earlier you gave me a great analogy of comparing it to breaking up with a first love, could you share that with us….what it’s like (for whatever reason) when you decide to leave your first MLM company, especially after so much success with it?

Daniel: Whew… for a second i thought you wanted me to comment on my breakup with my first girlfriend!

sK: No, that’s another time…most likely another blog.

Daniel: Haha… well when we join our first MLM company, we tend to get very emotionally invested into the company. Everything is brand new and exciting for us. It’s the first time writing new goals, the first time inviting, the first time building a team, etc. Because of all these “FIRST” time experiences, we develop a strong attachment to these memories. These attachments tend to be more based on emotions rather than logical or rational thoughts. When you’re young and in your first relationship, it can be sometimes dangerous. You may choose to ignore signs of danger or issues because you want to believe you are truly in love. They say love makes you blind and I believe it’s sometimes that emotional attachment that sometimes compromises our logical or rational judgment.

sK:…so you think it’s wrong to be emotionally attached to your first company? Isn’t that a part of commitment?

Daniel: No, there’s NOTHING wrong with having a sentimental value for your company, but it does become an issue when it prevents you from making good business decisions. I’m sure it’d be a no-brainer, but most people wouldn’t want to see a CEO of a major company make huge decisions for the company when they are emotionally compromised or have a biased interest in something. The first “breakup” is always going to be the hardest for MOST! I know it was for me. I thought my world was going to be doomed when I first broke up with my “girlfriend”. Sooner or later, life will show you that there is more out there. In the same way, you should never blindly turn away an opportunity or overlook it simply because of an emotional or sentimental attachment to something they believe to be true love. Separate the emotional attachment, and look at it as simply a business proposal.

sK: Tell me more about how it was when leaving your first opportunity?

Daniel: When I left my first company, and a large downline organization (after building it for nearly 4 years), it was a very painful and scary process. It felt like stepping out into the dark or into the unknown. After taking a lot of time to research, and study my second company, it was a slow but confident transition into the new company. Sure enough, I don’t regret my decision, and as a business move, it was a complete success. Like relationships, after each breakup, you become that much more wise and experienced. You learn what you liked about your significant other, and what you disliked. That information will SERVE YOU WELL when looking for a new girlfriend.

sK: I’m a proponent of analogies… continue!

Daniel:…you already come prepared for what to expect. The same applies for network marketing. I made a ton of mistakes in my first company but I took all the knowledge, experience, and wisdom gained from my first company, and applied it to the second venture. I made sure to steer clear of any of my former mistakes, and improve on the old, it’s a refinement process.

Is Daniel ready to take center-stage again?

sK: I feel like that is such a big decision…. what do you personally look for when selecting a primary opportunity?

Daniel: There’s really a lot that I consider when searching for an opportunity. There really isn’t a formal science behind the process either.

sK: Ok, give me like a 5-6 aspects you consider in a new company.

Daniel: First off, you check for the simple but important basics: 1) is the company legitimate 2) do they have a strong mission statement or vision 3) do they have a marketable and credible product 4) the corporate team and background 5) how is the timing of this company 6) the compensation plan.

sK: Simple enough…

Daniel: These are just some of the check lists I go through when looking for a company. I do a lot of outside research on the companies I am prospecting. Generally speaking, I always choose from a product-based company versus a service based company, and more specifically always in the health and wellness industry.

sK: What about product line?

Daniel: I also now prefer a more condensed and focal product line. Coming from a company that once had 50+ products and a large catalog/price sheet, I realized it would nearly paralyze some of my downlines from ever learning the product line. A condensed or focal product line allows all the members to quickly learn the products but at the same time, get a much more concentrated efforts to market and expose a product. Some of the largest and fastest growing network marketing companies in recent times have been with companies who choose a condensed or focal product line.

sK: I actually disagree somewhat, I feel there are pros and cons of having a larger product line… but you make some valid points…what about the compensation plan?

Daniel: I look for a comp plan that is lucrative, but also fair. I tend to always believe that the BINARY plan is the easiest of the basic types of comp. plans to build. The basic logic is: if you can’t build 2 legs, there’s no way you can build 3 or 4. Then I really look into the timing and growth cycle of the company. Is this product or company saturated and over exposed? Is this company a startup? Most startups have a higher risk of failure, but a company that’s too old may not have any opportunity left in it. That’s why it’s so important to find a company that has a good balance of stability and newness.

sK:…well since we’re on the subject… word on the social networking ‘street’ is that you’re officially “back” in the game. I heard that you just filled out an application for a new opportunity. Talk about a lucky sponsor (whew)! Without getting into the obvious question… what are you most excited about and what is one aspect of this business that you will never be completely comfortable with?

Daniel: Hahaha… I guess word gets out fast. Two weeks ago I began posting very vague Facebook status updates about me looking for opportunities in network marketing. Then a post about “myself” inviting me to a meeting, needless to say, that triggered a ton of post comments, inbox messages, emails, texts, and phone calls.

sK: What were they saying or asking?

Daniel:…people offering deals, incentives, or just pitching me on why I should take a look at their company. Anyways, so yes, after an intensive search process, I can proudly say that I’ve found a new home to build with. Ironically I also received the blessings of some of the TOP earners in my previous company who would only praise the company I chose…and yes, my sponsor is quite lucky. There’s nothing they could say or do to “sell” me on a company. The only thing they can do is present to me the information that I requested. It is up to me to be “sold” or not.

sK: So then you signed?

Daniel: I signed up, and started the process of building a team one more time. The difference now being that I am doing this part time (which I answered earlier).It’s also going to prove to so many that you can STILL build a financially rewarding business just from a part-time commitment, as long as you are serious!

sK: How excited are you?

Daniel: I’m just most excited about getting back in the trenches, and building something BIG again. It’s exciting to see the excitement that’s being generated by just me coming back. I truly have to admit I am the luckiest guy in the world. I have so many supportive, and loyal downlines, that I can’t even express with words. Their encouragement and support is probably the biggest reason why I still come back for more. I’m excited to see what we can do with this new vehicle of choice, as I think it’s truly the greatest opportunity the industry has seen to date. The growth of this company is second to none.

sK: What about the second part of my question, what part of MLM will you never completely be comfortable with?

Daniel: The one thing I’ll never be completely comfortable with is knowing that not ALL my downlines will always be with me. I always miss my old team members and the ones who have no longer chosen to pursue network marketing. I miss the people from the old companies who chose to stay or were just on the sidelines.

sK: Do you ever consider going back to one of the companies that you had done before?

Daniel: Who knows it COULD happen, but honestly, I think it’s doubtful. I didn’t leave on a irrational or emotional decision. It was a long process in the making. Plus I left partially because I feel strongly that the “opportunity” that once was there was no longer there. It has NO reflection on the quality of the company or its products.

The Numbers: A Candid Look Into Daniel’s Blueprint Of Immediate Advancement In His New Opportunity. When Is The Last Time You Were This Detailed In Achieving Your Goal?

sK: As of today, (during this interview)… it’s been about a week since you officially started…. how confident are you in getting back to an elite status in this new venture?

Daniel: Umm… my current genealogy shows approximately 800+ downline currently in the system, most of which has been “power-legged” to give maximum support and incentives for my team members. I’m just beginning to build my other leg now and my iPhone has been dying on me mid-day everyday for the last week.

sK: Pshh…800 new downline in about a week? That’s alright I guess… (insane sarcasm obviously).

Daniel: I think we’re off to a great start! Where I’ll ultimately end up in this company, I don’t know. I can tell you that it’ll be exciting either way!

If history and track record prove true, Daniel will be back on top in this newest of ventures.

sK: How about I check back with you later on this year? Daniel, I know it’s been incredibly busy for you these past few days, and I’m certain you haven’t gotten much sleep. I appreciate you sharing with me and my readers some incredible insight, value and knowledge…. Best of luck friend on this next chapter.

Daniel: Sure thing Soomin! Let’s not be strangers!

Thanks for sharing,

Soomin Kim

Using the Principles in "The Richest Man In Babylon"

It is just amazing to me that the wisdom from 8000 years ago still holds true today. I have just finished re-reading a classic called “The Richest Man in Babylon” that was written in the 1920’s. For anyone that hasn’t read it, I highly recommend that you do. It is a short book that is a quick and easy read. The main topic of the book is “The seven cures for a lean purse”. Since millions of folks are struggling with this same problem today, it is still a timely book.

The Richest Man in Babylon explains the basics of money and reveals the secret to personal wealth through stories and Babylonian parables. It talks about the secrets not only to acquiring money, but keeping your money and making it work for you. It also addresses how “good luck” is almost always preceded by “opportunity”, and that it is by acting immediately on opportunity that brings us our good fortune or “good luck”.

Babylon was a wealthy and glamorous city located by the Euphrates River. There were no forests or mines or other natural resources in this area that would enable those residents to earn a living. All of the resources of this civilization were man made. What they did have was the river and fertile soil and they devised dams and elaborate irrigation systems so that they could harvest crops.

The Babylonians were the first engineers, astronomers and mathematicians. They were also the first to have a written language which they carved into clay tablets. Whole libraries of these tablets have been found by archaeologists. It was upon these tablets that they recorded all of their stories.

The Seven Cures for a Lean Purse

“If you have a great desire for wealth and take advantage of opportunities available to everyone, anyone can become wealthy.”

The First Cure. Start thy purse to fattening.

The first cure is the principle that we call “pay yourself first”. Keep 1/10th of everything you earn. This money is the part of your earnings that you will invest.

The Second Cure. Control thy expenditures.

A lot of folks ask how they can keep 1/10th of everything they make, if they can’t cover their day to day expenditures. The advice given in this book is the same advice that any financial planner would give you today. And that is, keep cutting until you have a “balanced budget” in spite of the pain.

The Third Cure. Make thy gold multiply.

This principle points out that you must invest wisely to grow your money. After you are disciplined to save 1/10th of all you earn and have your expenditures in line, then it is vital to invest the money you are putting aside so that it will work for you and grow. Thousands of years ago, the Babylonians understood the “power of compounding”. While they describe it differently, the principle is still the same.

The Fourth Cure. Guard thy treasures from loss.

The basis of this principle might be compared to what we call “if it seems too good to be true it probably is”. It reminds us not to been tempted by opportunities that seem to be a shortcut to wealth; to invest only where our principle is safe, where we can get our money back if we desire, and where we will make a good return.

The Fifth Cure. Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment.

The men of Babylon were encouraged to take part of their earnings and buy a home. They understood that this would not only make for a happy family, but that owning property was indeed a wise investment that would help them to grow richer.

The Sixth Cure. Insure a future income.

This principle is about making preparations for when you are no longer young (for retirement) and for a possible time that you might no longer be with your family should you die. The sixth cure talks about investing in real estate as a means for providing future income. It specifies that all men should make regular payments in order to pay off the mortgage on the property in a timely manner. This would insure that he had “treasure” for his old age and for the protection of his family, no matter how prosperous his business and his investments may be.” Accumulating wealth from real estate was to be in addition to other earnings from business and investments.

The Seventh Cure. Increase thy ability to earn.

The seventh and final principle addresses the idea that we all need to increase our capacity to earn. The book states that preceding any accomplishment must be desires which are strong and definite. In addition to the strong desires, you must have a plan that is easy to execute. It cannot be beyond a man’s training or be so complicated that he will be defeated.

The value of additional education is also addressed as well as the value of a good work ethic. The seventh cure points out that wealth is accumulated first in small sums, then in larger ones as a man learns and becomes more capable. Even 8000 years ago, they understood that “the more you know the more you can earn”.

No book about money would be complete without touching on the subject of debt. The Richest Man in Babylon talks about debt and the negative effects it has on your life as well as the principles for getting out of debt. The formula laid out in the book states that 1/10th of all earnings should still be put aside even if you have debt. You were then instructed to take 2/10ths of the remainder of your earnings and use this to pay on your debt until it was paid in full.

As you can see, the principles for sound money management are pretty much the same today as they were 8000 years ago. I would encourage anyone that hasn’t read this book to pick up a copy today at your local book store or head on over to my blog and pick up a free e-book.

If you want to learn how to ditch that 9 to 5 job and replace a $50,000 income in one year, let me show you the way.

Similarities Between Options and Futures Trading

After spending much time explaining the differences between options trading and futures trading to beginners to derivatives trading, I think its time to touch on the similarities between options trading and futures trading. Is options trading and futures trading really that different? What are some of the similarities? Well, there are actually four main areas in which options and futures are similar.

First of all, options and futures are both derivative instruments. This means that they are both merely contracts that allows you to trade their underlying asset at certain specific prices, hence deriving their value from price movements of their underlying asset. Both options and futures are merely contracts that bind the exchange of the underlying asset at a specific price. Without an underlying asset, options and futures would not have any value for their existence at all, which is why they are known as “Derivative Instruments”. Options and futures both exist for the purpose of facilitating the trading of their underlying asset.

Secondly, both options and futures are leverage instruments. This means that both options trading and futures trading give you the ability to control the price movement on more of their underlying assets than your cash would usually allow. For instance, a futures contract with an initial margin requirement of 10% would allow you to control ten times the amount of its underlying asset than your cash would normally allow you to. A call option asking for $1.00 on a stock that is trading at $20 has a twenty times leverage as it allows you to control a stock worth $20 with only $1. Leverage also means that you could make more profit with options and futures on the same move on their underlying asset than you would if you bought the underlying asset with the same amount of cash. Of course, leverage cuts both ways. You could also potentially lose more than you would in options and futures trading than you would if you had simply bought the underlying asset.

Thirdly, both options and futures can be used for hedging. Hedging is one of the most important usages of derivatives. Both futures and options can be used to partially or totally hedge the directional price risk of an asset even though options are more versatile and precise as it allows for what is known as delta neutral hedging which allows a completely hedged position to still profit should the underlying asset stage a strong breakout in either direction. The hedging power of options and futures is also extremely important in reducing the downwards pressure faced by the overall market during market crisis because big funds and institutions can hedge the downside risk of their holdings using options and/or futures instead of selling their shares in order to maintain their account value. By reducing the amount of selling these big funds does, downside pressure in the overall market is partially relieved. Of course, this alone does not stop bear markets from forming when the general retail crowd (aka the “Herd”) starts to rush out of the market.

Fourthly, both options and futures can be used to profit in ways other than the price movement of the underlying stock itself. Futures spreads can be used to speculate in seasonal price differences between the price of futures contracts of different expiration months and options spreads can be structured to profit from time decay no matter which way the underlying asset goes. Yes, it is these options strategies and futures strategies that make derivatives trading so interesting and so rewarding for people with the knack for mathematical calculations and strategies.

So, even though options and futures are very different derivative instruments and have very different rules and trading characteristics, they are still very much the same in the above areas and you can be a more comprehensive and savvy trader or investor by understanding how to use both options and futures to your advantage.

Flea Infestation? These Low-Cost Strategies Work!

If your pet has fleas, chances are your house does too. You can get rid of them without resorting to pricey commercial treatments and toxic substances. The trick is to understand a flea’s life cycle and attack every stage of the reproductive process. Here’s how to do it.

1. Of course you have to get the fleas off your pet, and you’ll have to do it daily until the infestation is over (which will take a week to 10 days with these methods). Buy a fine-toothed flea comb. Then put some water into a plastic tub or large bowl. Add a tiny squirt of liquid soap (such as dish cleaner or laundry detergent) to break the surface tension.

Sit down with your pet and use the comb to find the fleas. Shake them into the water, where they’ll sink to the bottom and drown. (If you don’t use that little bit of soap, the fleas will bounce right off.)

2. Now you have to get rid of the larvae (worm-like early stages of a flea’s short life). Take a dustpan and broom into any room that has a non-carpeted floor. Optional: Take a flashlight with you. Carefully sweep all along the walls and corners. This is where fleas gravitate right after they hatch. You can see the wiggling larvae after you’ve swept them up if the light is good.

Empty your dustpan into a sturdy bag and take it outside immediately to discard it in a covered trash container. Repeat daily.

3. Carpets are a flea’s best friend. This is where most eggs are laid and most larvae spend the early part of their lives. Use a two-part approach for getting the fleas out of your carpets.

First, use washing soda to interrupt the early stages of the fleas’ life cycle. Buy a box of washing soda (you’ll find it in the laundry section of your grocery store) and toss handfuls of the powder all over your carpets. Then use a broom to spread the washing soda and work it into the carpet. Commercial carpet-treatment companies use a machine to do this, but a broom works just fine.

If you don’t like the appearance of the white dust on the surface of your carpet, use your vacuum cleaner to get rid of it. Most of the washing soda will remain in the carpet to do its work.

Fleas need moisture to live (that’s why they gravitate toward a pet’s head and tail). The washing soda absorbs moisture and dries out the eggs and larvae.

Second, make a flea trap to catch the adult fleas already living in your carpet. Put some water and a small squirt of liquid soap into a low bowl or other container. (The black plastic trays that come with frozen entrees are ideal.) Place the bowl on the carpet and put a small light over it–a desk lamp, for example. Turn off the other lights and go to bed.

In the morning the container will have 20 or 30 dead fleas in it. They’re attracted to the light, dive into the water, and can’t get out because the soap breaks the surface tension. Repeat for 7 to 10 days, until all fleas are gone.

These methods work, and they won’t bust your budget. Try them today!

Why You Should Get an Oil Filled Radiators Instead of Conventional Heaters

During the winter months it can get very cold in some areas of the country. During these times it can be a real life safer to have a heater ready to use at a moments notice. However traditional electric heaters have a few shortcomings and dangers associated with them. This is why oil filled radiators are a good alternate choice for your winter heating needs.

Oil filled radiators have several advantages over normal heaters that make them safer, and more efficient. The main complaint about electric heaters is that many don’t feel safe leaving them on at night. Electric heaters consume a great amount of electricity, and cheaper models are prone to short circuiting. This can lead to damaged wiring and in some cases electrical fires.

Unlike standard electrical heaters, oil radiator heaters do not have such a high risk of causing electrical damage. While they do still need to be plugged into a wall to draw power, the amount is only about one fourth of what a typical electric heater would use. The reason for this is the heating method the unit uses. The oil in the radiator is slowly heated to the desired temperature, and then the heating unit shuts off.

The oil is then circulated throughout the unit and over aluminum fins. These fins heat the air that moves over them and cool the oil as they cool. This will eventually cool the oil to a point where the heating unit turns back on. This method is much safer than an electric heater. Since there are no moving parts to take care of maintenance is rarely required.

The only thing you need to do is check the oil levels from time to time, keep it filled to the proper level, and clean off the unit. Most oil filled radiators have a cut of switch for overheating, electrical overload, and tip over accidents. This makes them very safe to leave running even at night. The way they heat the room also has a few other advantages.

Mainly the air in the room is not dried out. Everyone who has used an electric heater knows that they dry out the air. Since the oil filled radiator heats liquid rather than heating elements the air isn’t dried out. This allows you to breathe easy at night quite literally.

Due to the fact that the radiator doesn’t use a fan the air is heated via convection. The better airflow in your room, the faster the room will warm. In most cases however this type of heater outperformed its electric counterpart in heating capacity, and quickness. Best of all the amount of heat you need can be custom set. You can keep your office or room at 65 while others keep theirs warmer.

Oil filled radiators are becoming more common as people are trying to save on energy costs and heating. Since they do not require as much power they save on the electric bill, and the oil is never burned or used up. It can occasionally dry out but other than this small amount you will never need to replace it. Remember to leave plenty of space around the radiator though, common sense still applies here.

Air Conditioning Systems – Primitive to Sophisticated

The Romans had water therapy. They knew the pleasures of sitting by a cool fountain, but it was the ancient Egyptians who started refining the first air conditioning system.

To the Egyptians, the Nile River was the River of Life in many ways. Not only did it provide water for drinking and bathing, but it made farming possible in an otherwise arid landscape. Besides that, the Nile provided water for the first evaporative cooling on a large scale.

For eons, folks knew that putting water inside a semi-porous container, like an unglazed clay pot, resulted in a cool drink because of evaporation cooling. The Egyptians kicked it up a notch when they constructed parapets over which cascaded sheets of water. Slaves equipped with enormous fans stood nearby and kept the air circulating over the moving water. The result: evaporation cooling.

Several ancient cultures also used “wet mats.” We know that Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks all made use of wet mats to cool the air inside homes and other buildings. When a thick, damp cloth was hung over doors and/or windows, the air movement effectively promoted evaporation cooling and could reduce indoor temperature down to as low as about 66° Fahrenheit. The Egyptians even figured out how to make ice!

In the early days of air conditioning, especially in the arid parts of the United States, evaporative cooling was still in broad scale use. The boxy, adobe-style houses of the Southwest often have a roof structure designed to support the considerable weight of a shallow pond. When the roof is flooded, fans blow dry air across the liquid, speeding up evaporation. The cooled air is then routed through the building, a welcome relief in the hot summer months. These coolers, sometimes called “swamp coolers” are economical to operate and are still in use in some areas.

Modern air conditioning systems no longer rely on water for evaporation cooling. Gases like Freon or Puron are the modern refrigerants that lower air temperature. The actual air conditioning unit is usually placed outside the building because it is a harmless and more efficient way to get rid of the inside heat (into the atmosphere).

An important function of today’s AC system is to reduce the humidity levels inside the structure. Keeping the humidity levels low (in the area of 30%) reduces problems with mold and mildew, and helps to alleviate serious health problems for people who suffer with allergies. Also, dust mites find it difficult to survive in low humidity conditions.

When an air conditioning unit is up and running, it works to maintain a pressure level throughout the entire structure. To help the unit work efficiently, doors and windows need to be closed so that the pressure can remain as constant as possible. For spot cooling, consider adding a small fan to move the air right where you need to up the comfort level.