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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Meet James Van Gelder, Author

Enter Mo Pai: The Ancient Training of the Immortals by James Van Gelder is an informational book for those who are serious about learning and understanding the 2,000 year old meditation practice known as Mo Pai. The book is available for purchase through CreateSpace.

1. How did you first become acquainted with the practice of Mo Pai?

John Chang made quite an entrance for himself when he was featured in the Lawrence Blair documentary, The Ring of Fire. In this documentary, John Chang is observed by skeptical physicists as he burns paper into ashes in front of them using his "chi energy." He is doing what many believe to be impossible, and on camera! You can see more on YouTube. At the time I saw this film, I already had a lot of interest in energy cultivation and meditation, so I knew that this was very possible, but seeing John Chang do it was on a different level. John Chang truly has a level of power that most masters can't reproduce.

2. For Westerners who haven't heard of Mo Pai, is the energy that you are talking about the same energy we hear about in practices such as acupuncture and Tai Chi?

For the most part, yes. John Chang himself actually takes acupuncture to a whole new level by introducing his "electric qi," also known as houtain qi by the Daoists. In normal acupuncture, the professionals are using the needles at specific points in order to stimulate qi flow within the meridians. John Chang actually uses electric qi to reproduce the stimulation effect but to an exponential degree. Tai Chi works with refining chi into shen and then finally into wuji or ling with a goal of lifting one towards enlightenment, so in that regard Tai Chi is a bit different.

Both Mo Pai and Tai Chi are involved with cultivating internal energy for martial arts purposes. In martial arts today, many are still very unaware of internal energy and cultivation. When we consider a move like the palm strike, to many westerners it just seems like a very useless move. However, to Mo Pai and Tai Chi masters, the strike can be very deadly. The palm strike connects the energy center in the palm directly to another's body, allowing the chi to actually force its way into a person and overwhelm their system. John Chang illustrates how if a person has more yang chi than another a strike like this could actually stop the other person's heart.

3. What are some of the benefits of practicing Mo Pai?

Mo Pai was primarily created as a means for self-defense and immortality. The system itself was created so that people could not only defend themselves here on earth, but also have conscious control of themselves after the death of the physical body. John Chang outlines how even a being with a little bit of yang is much different than a normal human with regards to the afterlife. While the benefits seem tempting, the system itself can be very dangerous if trained improperly. Kostas Danaos equates the training to being similar to taking steroids in the regards that it can turn out very badly for a practitioner.

4. What will readers find in your book, Enter Mo Pai: The Ancient Training of the Immortals?

In this book, readers will gain an understanding of Mo Pai on an energetic level. They will understand what is actually going on and how the Mo Pai technology works to produce the results that it does. One of the more important aspects is with regards to the fusion of the yin and yang chi. It explains how people outside of the Mo Pai tradition have been able to fuse Yin and Yang and also how that compares to the actual Mo Pai fusion of Yin and Yang chi. Hopefully the book will clear up a lot of misunderstanding that has been generated in the cultivation community over the last decade when trying to compare Mo Pai with other systems of internal cultivation.

5. Is there anything else you'd like to share about your book?

Enter Mo Pai: The Ancient Training of the Immortals dives into the world of Mo Pai, a legendary internal cultivation system that has been secretly handed down by successions of meditation masters for well over 2,000 years. The path of Mo Pai develops the practitioner in the present life, but also ascends the practitioner in status with regards to the afterlife. In the present life, the goal of Mo Pai is to develop supernatural abilities capable of aiding an individual both in self-defense and in the rejuvenation of the physical body. Concerning the afterlife, the true master of Mo Pai reserves the ability to consciously navigate their soul after the death of the physical body, freeing themselves from the continuous cycle of death and rebirth.

The greatest Mo Pai practitioner on Earth today, Master John Chang, has publicly displayed his extraordinary developments to the world by performing many spectacular abilities on video such as electrokinesis, pyrokinesis, levitation, suspended animation, and telekinesis. Behind these spectacular abilities is the knowledge of harnessing the secrets of nature in order to boost the potential and natural development of the human body. In order to attain supernatural capacities, this ancient training is focused towards gathering and harnessing the two fundamental life-force energies known as Yin Chi and Yang Chi. These two energies are abundant in nature and play an important role in sustaining the human body. Developing these vital energies to levels that many would consider unnatural, the Mo Pai student quickly gains an edge when compared to the average human. Included in this book is an analysis of the Mo Pai training and the techniques used for gathering, manipulating, and finally combining the two fundamental vital energies of Yang Chi and Yin Chi.

Thanks, John!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Meet Daintry Jensen, Author of The Hidden Forest

Daintry Jensen has a background in dramatic writing from Skidmore College and UCLA's Professional Screenwriting Program. Before that, she was acting professionally in Los Angeles and NYC. Growing up, she spent her summers on Nantucket Island were she had many an adventure that sparked the imagination, and where she returns to whenever she gets the chance.

Learn more about Daintry by visiting her website. Her middle grade fantasy adventure novel, The Hidden Forest, will be published on June 12, 2015 by Green Writers Press, and you can read all about it here.

1. What first gave you the idea for The Hidden Forest?

Growing up in the summertime on Nantucket, my grandparents had a house out in Polpis near the real Hidden Forest. My grandfather used to take us on twilight walks nearby and we'd see tiny paths going under the brush. I would always wonder who lived there--what was happening there that was hidden from us humans?

2. I can remember getting very caught up in biographies of famous people as a kid. What is it about Amelia Earhart that inspires your protagonist, Adelaide?

That's such a great question. I think in Adelaide's mind, Amelia had no limits because she could fly! What could be better than that? If you can fly, than you can go wherever you want--a great thing for an adventuress! You could have breakfast at the Great Pyramid Of Giza in Egypt, lunch at Machu Picchu in Peru, and dinner on the peaks of Kilimanjaro. Amelia Earhart was also incredibly courageous and had tons of moxie, which is all very appealing to Adelaide. Amelia was a woman who really lived life to the fullest and followed her dreams.

3. What are some of the challenges of writing a fantasy book?

I actually feel like there a fewer challenges with writing fantasy because you can completely create your own world and the rules that apply there. You're the boss, and it's really great fun to not be bound anything but your imagination. That being said, because The Hidden Forest takes place on Nantucket, I wanted to make sure to capture the island itself, a place that is very near and dear to my heart.

4. What are some of the elements of your book that make it engaging for middle grade readers?

Summertime! I think kids have very visceral experiences during the summer because you're outside so much. Also, adventures, exploring hidden worlds, and dealing with the consequences of breaking the rules.

5. How did your background in studying dramatic writing and screenwriting help you in writing your book?

Dramatic writing is all about creating an emotional experience for the audience. The best way to do that (a little tip I learned in screenwriting) is to create conflict. Conflict almost always causes emotional reactions, sparks. Relationships are also front and center (and something I love exploring) and writing dialogue that has subtext and layering. But for me, emotion is #1. There's a quote I read by a famous actor recently that goes something like "I go to the theater/movies to laugh and to cry, and that's why I go." I feel that way about books, too. People want to connect. Emotional journeys are a great for that and create a lovely and fulfilling experience. In the words of E.M. Forester, "Only connect."

Thanks, Daintry!

Meet Charlie Bennett of Bennett Atherton Investments

Based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, Charlie Bennett is the CEO and a founding partner of Bennett Atherton Investments, a firm that buys, restores, and sells houses. He's a licensed realtor and active real estate investor with a passion for rehabbing old homes. As a lifelong resident of Tonka Bay, MN, Charlie is an expert on the small, yet complicated markets that make up the Lake Minnetonka area. Learn more at http://www.ba-invests.com.

1. How did you first get into buying and selling houses?

I was a used car salesman. It wasn't a career I was too enthusiastic about which was a real problem in my life as my Dad and both grandparents were all car dealers. There was a local eyesore property, and I drove by it every day. I had no money and no experience, but I was certain we could bring it back to life. My mother is a designer, and I had seen her do some pretty neat projects. I didn't have enough money to buy anything on my own, so I found a business partner, Richard Atherton. We bought our first property for $85,000 and sold it "for sale by owner" for $240,000. The rest is history.

2. What are some of the most important things to change and update when you sell a house?

If you're on a budget, start with THE INSIDE!!! It's where you live. It's what you see the most. I would rather have a rockstar interior and an average exterior than vice versa! Wouldn't you? The art of living is living in art :)

3. How has the housing market changed in Minnetonka, Minnesota over the past few years?

I focus exclusively on Tonka Bay, Shorewood, and Excelsior. It's a very small area geographically. Many houses are turning over for the first time in well over a decade. A properly priced home is moving quickly, so offers need to be quick and near full asking price.

4. What makes a house a good investment for you--or in other words, how do you choose which properties to buy?

I'm looking for properties within Minnetonka School district. We buy and remodel everything as if we're moving in. We want good bones (layout) with a good lot. Cosmetics don't matter in the slightest bit as we're remodeling 100% anyway. Unfinished square footage is a bonus!

5. For anyone reading this who wants to get into investing in properties and fixing them up to resell, what's your advice?

My advice is to consult experts. I'm part of a multi-person team. I'm the real estate / investment side, my designer designs, and my builder builds. Trying to wear all the hats is not a good idea.

Thanks, Charlie!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Meet Jason Griffith, Audio Engineer and Owner of Vibe Speaker Co

Jason Griffith is the owner of Vibe Speaker Co, a manufacturer of in-ceiling/in-wall speaker systems. Jason's background and education is in audio engineering. He spent many years working in live production/sound reinforcement in Nashville, TN and Orlando, FL before returning to Western KY and getting involved in custom installation/systems integration.

1. What are some of the particular benefits of in-ceiling and in-wall speakers compared to freestanding speakers?

There are several benefits, but I would say that the biggest one for a lot of people is simply aesthetics. Architectural speakers do not take up valuable real estate in your room, and they don't intrude on the decor of a room. The best in-ceiling speakers, with zero-frame grill design, are virtually invisible.

2. How difficult is the installation process for in-ceiling and in-wall speakers?

It's actually very easy. Anyone that's comfortable using some basic hand tools can easily install them in a relatively short amount of time. Our company actually offers full support to our customers during their entire project and will answer any kinds of questions that may arise. We are custom installers ourselves, so we make our years of experience available to anyone that wants the high end audio experience in their home.

3. What inspired you to start Vibe Speaker Co.?

I own a custom installation firm, and I wanted to develop the best speakers made with the absolute best materials for our clients. That process just naturally led to starting Vibe Speaker Co., so that we could share those speakers with a larger group of customers beyond those that we work for locally.

4. What do you like best about your work as an audio engineer?

As a music lover, there's just a certain feeling you get when you can walk around your house and have your favorite music pouring down on you in every room. It can turn a bad day good, and a good day even better. I love being able to share that with people.

5. When you listen to music yourself, what are your must-haves for getting quality sound?

Well, offhand I would say high quality speakers (of course), a high quality amplifier, and the one thing that a lot of people overlook: good quality speaker cable. Some people go cheap and buy thinner gauge wire, but I recommend always using at least 14 gauge wire in any installation. The sound quality difference can be staggering.

Thanks, Jason!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Introducing EmploTime, A Time and Attendance System for Small Business

Do you run a small business and want an easy, affordable way to monitor your employees' time and attendance? EmploTime has developed a web-based system with the needs of small businesses in mind. EmploTime's web application costs just four dollars per employee per year, much less than many attendance-keeping alternatives.

The system consists of two basic parts: the EmploTime clock and the administrator portal. The first part, the clock, is where the employees report their arrival and leave times. This page can be set to be used from any PC, tablet, or mobile device. The administrator decides from which computers the employees may clock in and out--and you can set unlimited time clocks. This flexibility is very useful if you have employees clocking in from multiple locations, such as employees who telecommute.

The second part is the administrator portal itself. The administrator needs to log in to this portal to complete tasks such as adding employees, viewing and modifying employees' working hours, and printing and exporting reports.

If you'd like to get a better idea of how the EmploTime system works, you can check the functionality of these pages through the demo application. Click here to check out the demo clock. And click here to check out all main features.

It's great to find companies who create functional, easy to use products that meet the needs of smaller businesses. I especially like that this product is web-based and can be launched from multiple computers/devices.