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Posts Tagged ‘Creativity’

From Homeless Shelter To Science Star!

Talent Finalist Is An Incredibly Amazing Kid, once was Homeless!

 

In March, Lane Gunderman, a senior at the University of Chicago Lab High School, will fly to Washington, D.C. to compete for one of the nation’s most prestigious high school science awards. The 18-year-old is one of 40 finalists — out of more than 1,700 applicants — for the Intel Science Talent Search.

 

Such an achievement may not seem unusual for a student at an elite private school. But Gunderman’s journey to reach this point has been anything but typical. Six years ago, he and his family were homeless and living in a crowded Chicago North Side shelter. Schoolwork, he says, is what helped him get by.

 

There wasn’t much to do at the shelter, and there was very little privacy“, he said the other day. “I focused my attention on on schoolwork — especially since lights had to be out at 8 P.M. Through his tenacity in the classroom, Gunderman who now lives in an apartment with his mother and younger sister, has found a niche in the intellectual hive of the University of Chicago.

 

Lane was brought into a completely different part of the city and culture; he started out a little introverted and shy,” Lab School Assistant Principal Asra Ahmed said, “he’s an incredibly amazing kid that’s never asked for any special treatment — even when he should have. He rose to the challenge of this school and has done exceptionally well.”

 

Gunderman said his family has been “poor or extremely poor” for his whole life. They always managed to scrape by, but in 2006, Gunderman, his parents and two siblings lost their apartment. Over the next several months, they stayed with a relative in a pop-up trailer and moved around the Chicago area.

 

When his parents divorced that same year, the bottom fell out. One night his father dropped the family at a police station and drove away. Gunderman and the others slept on a bench in the police station, later moving to a temporary overnight shelter. The family spent the next year or so in various homeless shelters. Previously home-schooled by their mother, Gunderman and his siblings enrolled in public school for the first time.

 

Gunderman gained the attention of teachers for his dedication to schoolwork. He received high grades and did well on tests, leading teachers to suggest he could make it to the U. of C. Lab School. Gunderman’s application to Lab and back story stood out, Ahmed said. he was accepted and awarded a full scholarship from the Malone Foundation, a group that provides educational options for gifted children.

 

After a year of living in homeless shelters,, Gunderman and his family managed to stay in various apartments. And after 3-1/2 years at Lab School, Gunderman is thriving both academically and socially. He was accepted last year into the school’s Summer Link Science Research Program, which helps place science-focused students in real lab settings. Gunderrman was able to work with Greg Engel, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Chicago, in a lab where his Intel Science project was born.

 

Last summer Gunderman joined a working team of scientists and graduste students on a project that “explains how photosynthesis uses quantum physics,” Engel said. After just a few weeks of working together, Engel said he realized Gunderman’s immense potential in the field. “Lane jumped into a dfficult project in a complex system. It was great fun watching him tackle big questions in the field,” Engel said. “He’s so driven and talented, I think he’s someone with potential to be a truly spectacular scientist.”

 

Over the summer, Gunderman created a computer simulation of his project, along with an in-depth analysis of the work.  That was submitted to Intel in November and this week he found out he was one of 40 finalists and could win up to $100,000. “It’s the dream of a science teacher to see someone achieve what Lane has,” said Lab School biology teacher Sharon Housinger, who had encouraged Gunderman to apply to the Summer Link Program.

 

Gunderman has big plans for his future. He has applied to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago and is also looking at schools like Harvard, Princeton and the California Institute of Technology. The trip to Washington, though will be his first time aboard an airplane. He admitted he’s a little nervous about that. “It’ll be an adventure to my next adventure,” he said.

This article written by Chicago Tribune reporter Bridget Doyle appeared in the Tribune January 25.

 

Hope you were as inspired as I was when I first read Lane Gunderman’s story. It truly shows what an individual can do when one has the right attitude and is willing to seek their next adventure. Perhaps your next adventure could be owning your own business. I know it made a difference in my life when I opened my own business in 1970 and saw it grow into Chicago’s largest independently owned mail order advertising agency and it could make a difference in your life, too.

 

With just a computer and an internet connection you could be in business for yourself in just a few months selling your products all over the world from your own home. The book I wrote HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE contains everything I’ve learned about mail order selling. Mail Order experts have called it “the definitive guide to success in direct response/mail order.” It is a complete guide to starting your own business.

 

You’ll learn:

  1. HOW TO GET STARTED
  2. HOW TO FIND GREAT PRODUCTS
  3. HOW TO MAKE YOUR BUSINESS PROFITABLE RIGHT FROM THE START
  4. HOW TO PRICE YOUR PRODUCT FOR BIGGEST PROFITS
  5. SECRETS OF CREATING WINNING MAIL ORDER ADS
  6. 14 SURE FIRE CHECK-OFF LISTS THAT GUARANTEES SUCCESS

and in this newly revised edition everything you need to know on HOW TO USE THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA TO SUPER-CHARGE YOUR BUSINESS

 

HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE is available from Amazon for it’s published price of $39.95 plus s&h or you can order it direct from the publisher and save more than $10. Either way it’s guaranteed to help you start your own business or your money back.

 

To order direct send a check or money order for $29.95, s&h is FREE, to SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1032 Chicago IL 60601

George Lauer — The Man Who Changed The Way Everyone Shops!

The Biggest Surprise is That Neither He or His Company Patented It

 

On a Sunday afternoon in 1971, an I.B.M. engineer stepped out of his house in Raleigh, N.C., to consult his boss, who lived across the street. “I didn’t do what you asked,” George Lauer confessed.

 

Lauer had been instructed to design a code that could be printed on food labels and that would be compatible with the scanners then in development for supermarket checkout counters. He was told to model it on the bull’s-eye-shaped optical scanning code designed in the 1940’s by N. Joseph Woodland, who died in December. But Laurer saw a problem with the shape: “When you run a circle  through a high-speed press, there are parts that are going to get smeared,” he says “so I came up with my own code.” His system, a pattern of stripes, would be readable even it was poorly printed.

 

That pattern became the basis for the U.P.C., the Universal Product Code, which was adopted by a consortium of grocery companies in 1973, when cashiers were still punching in all prices by hand. Within a decade, the U.P.C. — and optical scanners — brought supermarkets into the digital age. Now an employee could ring up a cereal box with a flick of the wrist. “When people find out  that I invented the U.P.C., they think I’m rich,” Laurer says. But he received no royalities for this invention, and I.B.M did not patent it.

 

As the U.P.C. symbol proliferated, so, too, did paranoia  about it. For decades, Laurer has been hounded by people convinced that he has hidden the number 666 inside the lines of his code. “I didn’t get the meat,” Laurer said ruefully, “but I did get the nuts.”.

 

This article first appeared in the New York Times Magazine January 6, 2013 under the byline of Pagan Kennedy.

 

Did you know there’s a Museum dedicated  to the bar code? The ID History Museum is run by Bill Selmeier who was interviewed for this story:

You worked at I.B.M. in the 1970’s and then helped promote the U.P.C? Yes, I started the seminars where we invited people from the grocery and labeling industry into I.B.M. We were there to reduce their fear.

 

What were they afraid of? They were afraid that anything that didn’t work right would reflect badly on them — particularly if it was only their own package that wouldn’t scan. The guy from Birds Eye said “My stuff always has ice on it when it goes through the checkout.” So we put his package in the freezer and took it out and showed him how it scanned perfectly.

 

Why are you still so interested in the history of the U.P.C. code? Let me put it this way: What bigger impact can you have on the world than to change the way everyone shops?

 

Even my book How To Become A Mail Order Millionaire has its own unique U.P.C. and as a visitor to my blog I want to offer you a special low price to order the book on a no risk trial. Plus an extra bonus. You can save more than 30% off the price and if you’re not completely satisfied, return it for a full refund. Sold everywhere for $39.95 plus s&h, you can order it direct from the publisher for only $29.95 and shipping is FREE.

It has been described by experts in the field as “the definitive guide to success in mail order/direct response

 

How To Become A Mail Order Millionaire is a complete guide to starting your own business, a business you can run from your home with no cost for an outside office or place of business and utilizing the power of the World Wide Websell your product or service all over the world.

 

You’ll learn:

 

How To Get Started
How To Find Great Products
How To Make Your Business Profitable Right From The Start
How To Price Your Product or Service For Biggest Profits
Secrets of Creating Winning Mail Order Ads
14 Seure Fire Check Off Lists That Guarantee Huge Profits
and included in this newly revised edition:
 
Complete Up-To-Date Information on How To Use the Internet To Super-Charge Your Mail Order Business

 

and for all new buyers I’m offering you a huge bonus. Order from this posting and you also receive a full years personal consultation from the author at no cost. Fred Broitman is the founder/CEO of SUNMAN DIRECT Chicago’s largest independently owned direct response advertising agency.  To receive this extra bonus, just send your name and address along with your check or money order for $29.95 to: SUPERIOR PRESS Dept. 8103 333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1032 Chicago, IL 60611

HOW TO FAIL… THE KEY TO SUCCESS!

A String of Failures Is Far More Valuable Than A String Of Wins.

Very early in my advertising career, a client taught me a very important lesson.

At the first agency I worked for my boss, the man in charge of recommending which magazines should carry this clients first advertisements asked me to make these recommendations. A little scared and not wanting to make any mistakes, I did my best to do some research. My boss went on vacation and was not available. Not wanting to delay my task, I recommended 5 magazines for their first advertising with our company. Shortly after their ads ran I called the client to find out how their advertising performed and was told that 4 did well but the 5th did so poorly they would never ever place another ad there. I was devestated and apologized for making this mistake.

 

Not a mistake at all, our client said. When this magazine failed to produce sufficient profits from our investment we learned that other similar magazines should also not be used. You probably saved us far more dollars than the cost of this one magazine. How To Fail… The Self-Hurt Guide Augusten Burroughs #1 New York Times Author of Running With Scissors newest book THIS IS HOW explores age old questions in his delightful easy to read book. From his cover blurb. “If you’re fat and fail every diet, if you’re thin but can’t get thin enough, if you lose your job, if your child dies, if you are diagnosed with cancer, if you always end up with exactly the wrong kind of person, if you always end up alone, if you can’t get over the past, if your parents are insane and ruining your life, if you really and truly wish you were dead, if you feel like it’s your destiny to be a star, if you believe life has a grudge against you, if you don’t want to have sex with your spouse and don’t know why, if you feel so ashamed, if you’re lost in your life.  If You Have Ever Wondered HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO SURVIVE THIS? THIS IS HOW Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decreptitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.”

 

One of his chapters is headed HOW TO FAIL. Mr. Burroughs writes: “You will learn much more from failing than from making straight A’s in life. A string of failures is far more valuable than a string of wins. The reason is that our brains were programmed in the factory to look for and pay special attention to novelty. Which is to say the unique.”

 

“So if you’re a straight A student in school or a metaphorical straight-A student in your adult life, that’s a whole lot of same old, same old. One A+ paper blends right into the next. It’s when you get a D that you learn something valuable. It’s when you fall on your ass that you actally make progress. I am a complete and total fuck-up. Which is exactly why I am equipped to write this book and tell you how to live.”

 

“I make rings out of gemstones and bronze and I never went to school for this. I never took a design class and I have no business, actually handling 1,525 degree metal and chrysoberyl cat’s eye gems. But I do it anyway. And when I began, I made one hideous disaster of a ring after another until I had made maybe three hundred. Each time, I tried  to make one nice ring. Each time, I totally failed. Until ring number 301. Which was suddenly, inexplicably cool.”

 

“Now I make more good rings than lousy ones. There are always new mistakes to make. But I never make my old rerun mistakes. Perfectionism is the satin-lined casket of creativity and originality. If you’re a perfectionist, at least stop telling everybody you’re one and try to get over it yourself, alone in your home with the lights off.”

 

Here’s just a few other chapter headings in THIS IS HOW:

 
How To Find Love
How to Be Fat
How To Be Thin
How To Feel Sorry For Yourself
How To Be Confident
How To Get The Job
How To End Your Life
How To Get Over Your Addiction To The Past
How To Finish Your Drink
How To Hold On To Your Dream Or Maybe Not
How To Identify Love By Knowing What It’s Not

 
This is just a small sampling of what this book contains. Mr. Burroughs book is published by St. Martins Press and is available from Amazon as is my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE. Lauded by industry experts as “the definitive guide to success in direct response/mail order” If you have always had the desire to start a business of your own there is no better time than now. Using the power of the Worldwide Web you can sell a product or service to anyone no matter where they live and you can start your own business where you live.  In the beginning you can do it without employees or outside office expense… This newly revised edition will help you learn:
 
How To Get Started
How To Find Great Products
How To Make Your Business Profitable Right From The Start
How To Price Your Product or Service For Biggest Profits
Secrets of Creating Winning Mail Order Ads
14 Sure-Fire Check Off Lists That Guarantee Huge Profits
Complete Up-To-Date Information On How To Use The Internet To Make Easy Sales

 

HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE is available from Amazon at its published price of $39.95 plus s&h…. or you can save $10 and order it direct from the publisher for only $29.95 and shipping is FREE. To order send check or money order along with your name and address to: Superior Press 333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1032 Chicago, IL 60601. Sold on a 100% Guarantee of Satisfaction or your money back.

David Ogilvy Continues to Teach Us – We Sell or Die

It still so true we should repeat it at the start of every new year.

25 Great Businesses Start-Ups You Can Launch for $500 or Less!

SHOESTRING START-UPS:
25 Great Businesses You Can Launch
for $500 or Less!

Gas prices continue to go up and that means costs for anything that travels and ships are also increasing. Inflation is on the move in just about every category of our lives. But there is plenty of hope to start a business on a low or even no budget. Entrepreneurs launch everyday on small budgets.

A shoestring startup may be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Unemployment in the U.S. is still more than 8% and many of  those millions of men and women have been out of work for a year and even longer. They may not be aware that you can start a small business on a part-time basis and pocket extra income every weekend, or go for the gold by starting a full-time venture. Even if you don’t have a lot of startup funds you can launch a business right at home. A shoestring startup may be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Entrepreneurs have a knack for knowing what niche needs filling. Don’t under estimate your ability  to come up with a perfect business idea. Take a look at your community. Is there a business that needs to be started? If you already have a job, you can test the small business waters with a shoestring start-up without leaving the comfort and security of a steady paycheck and perhaps even nice medical benefits. Maybe you can turn a hobby you love into a profit-making venture.

If you have been let go from a job during our troubled economy, perhaps you can turn that work experience into a small business. As you conduct your own due diligence research, you might find that there is already a business that caters to your proposed market. Analyze the existing business. Could you complete the task faster? Cheaper? Better? If after careful analysis, the anwer is “yes,” then you should prepare to take on the competition.

Thanks to  the Internet, it is possible to do research on just about any topic quickly and easily from the comfort of your own home or local public library. Do a search online to look for business ideas and inspiration. And if you choose a seasonal business, combine it with other businesses to round out a full-time fortune. Planning is key to your success.

Whether you want to pick up extra cash or start a full-time venture, a shoestring startup is for you! Here are 25 idea suggestions that can be started for $500 or less. The businesses are listed in no particular order.

  1. Pet Biz: Pets are a $50-billion industry just in the U.S. alone! Shouldn’t you be grabbing a piece of this pie? Start a pet sitting, walking, furniture, clothing, etc., venture
  2. Sell Wholesale: Find a product that clicks with our culture and buy it wholesale; sell it a profit point that brings in big bucks to you.
  3. Lawn Service: Everyone with a home loves a green lawn but often can’t get results or take the time to care for it.
  4. Window Displays: Every storefront has a window that could be your next moneymaking assignment. If you have a flair for design, consider offering this service.
  5. eBay: Check out your attic or basement or scout out yard sales in your neighborhood. There’s real gold to be found if you’ve got a good eye. Selling your finds on  the online auction site is fun and it’s easy.
  6. Blog for cash: Visit blogger.com and start blogging immediately. Sell ads on your own site or blog for others for money. Use social media to build revenue.
  7. Tailor: If you have sewing skills you can make a mint hemming pants, taking in dresses or taking out an outfit. Work at home or even piggyback on a neighbor or friends facility.
  8. Birthday Biz: Check out your neighborhood card, gift, plant and garden or balloon shop for ideas. Put together a few concepts and sell it as a package via your website.
  9. Delivery Service: Find businesses in your community that don’t offer delivery and ask them if you can start a freelance delivery service. It’s a win-win situation for both of you.
  10. Flea Market Entrepreneur: Become a professional flea market salesperson. You can keep your own job and just run your small business on weekends. Find an old table, and some goods to sell.
  11. Detailing – Boats/Cars/RVs:  People like a clean machine but don’t have the time nor the inclanation to get the job done properly. There are a number of products you can purchase  to make the job an easy one.
  12. Holiday Decorating: There are dozens of holidays throughout the year that offer decorating potential. Scope out restaurants, diners and other small businesses to see if they’d be interested in your work. Create a portfolio.
  13. Junk Removal: Plenty of people have junk around but don’t have a van or truck to haul it. This is where you come in and turn their trash into your treasure.
  14. Personal Assistant: There are plenty of lawyers, accountants, small business owners, local figures and more who need help with their email, shopping, organizing, etc. You can take on as many clients as you can handle.
  15. DJ: A mobile disc jockey business is a very lucrative career. You can work your own hours and party your way to to profits.
  16. Errand Service: There are plenty of businesses and individuals who need help with chores and errands and you can launch a service helping them get the jobs accomplished.
  17. Gutter Cleaning Biz: Every homeowner dreads gutter cleaning. Combine this business with a few other seasonal offerings such as raking leaves, garden and yard cleanups and you are on your way to success.
  18. Concierge Business: You can start your own concierge service right from your home. Local businesses can use your service as well as tourists to the area.
  19. Assembly Service: Have you mastered the little pieces from the IKEA box? Then you can start a business assembling furniture, gas grills, bikes, etc., for your customers. Big potential.
  20. Freelance Writer: If you have some talent as a writer, you can make money putting together anything from press releases to web content for a wide variety of clients.
  21. Digitize Movies: That old video is fading fast and your customers will be delighted that you will transfer the treasured memories to a DVD. Google the various ways you can do it, and place an ad in your local paper.
  22. Just Weeds: Weeds are everywhere and there are a number of small business owners who make a living just pulling weeds and cleaning up.
  23. Power Wash: If you have a power washer you can start a business cleaning homes, decks, etc., for your neighbors and clients.
  24. Garage Sale Organizer: There are garages all over the world that are full of items that could be sold. You sell it for the homeowner and pocket a commission. Fast, easy money.
  25. Herb Garden: People love to cook with fresh herbs but many don’t have the time to start a garden. Buy some pots and start growing. Set up the gardens for your customers.

These are just some suggestions to help you get started thinking how you could take some skills you may already have and turn them into money making businesses. Perhaps some of these ideas will start you thinking about other potential businesses you could start easily from home.

This posting is excerpted from an article that originally ran in SMALL BUSINESSES OPPORTUNITIES November 2012 .

If you decide to consider any of these money-making ideas or if you have the need and desire to start your own business, I would like to offer you a copy of my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE at a specially discounted price. This book will show you how to take your new start-up business to the next step. You’ll learn:

  • How to get Started
  • How to find Great Products
  • How to Make Your Business Profitable Right From the Start
  • How to Price your Product or Service for Biggest Profits
  • Secrets of Creating Winning Mail Order Ads
  • 14 Sure-Fire Check Off Lists that Guarantee You Huge Profits
  • and included in this newly revised edition Complete up-to-date information on How To use the Internet to Super Charge your Mail Order Business.

The book is guaranteed to provide you with an easy to follow roadmap to success in a business of your own or your money back!

The book is available from Amazon at its published price of $39.95 plus s&h but you can now save $10 and order it direct from the publisher for only $29.95. Send check or money order along with your name and address to SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601. Offer is good only in the U.S. Contact the publisher for details for shipments to other countries.

The Secret Formulas for Success

ARE THERE MATHEMATICAL LAWS THAT GUARANTEE SUCCESS?
Scentists have uncovered special laws that reveal How To Become Successful!

  • Success Code #1…The Power Handshake. Putting your free hand on the arm of the person you’re shaking hands with signifies power and influence.  The handshake is a key determinant of success–it conveys, among other things, the level of regard in which you hold the person you’re shaking hands with. Make your grip firm, but not too firm. Your palm should be cool and dry, and hands should be pumped up and down three times–but for no longer than a total of 3 seconds. It’s also very important to look the person inthe eye and smile.
  • Success Code #2…Promote your “Happiness Hormones”. Happiness can spread like an epidemic. If you’re happy you will attract successful happy individuals to your side. Your motivation level will rise and over a period of years by making friends with happy motivated people, who usually are successful, you’ll become one of them.
  • Success Code #3…Learn to drink moderately with your friends and coworkers. The key word here is “moderately”. A study has shown that people who drink one to three beers with their friends or coworkers earn 17% more on average than those who don’t imbibe socially. Heavy drinkers are also known to earn around 6% less in salary on average.
  • Success Code #4…It’s called the “Pareto Principle”. It’s a simple formula that almost always produces business success. The founders of Google knew from the get-go that their company would be successful because they relied on this principle. It’s also known as the 80-20 rule. It states that 80% of a company’s success is generated by just 20% of the work and effort expended by its employees. Therefore, one of the primary components necessary for them to be successful was to have each employee at the company spend 20% of his or her time in the development of new ideas,–such as Google +.
  • Success Code #5… 1.618 If you have the desire to build an exemplary house, shoot the perfect photo, or paint a picture that all the galleries will want then make sure you know this number: 1.618. It expresses the perfect proportion between two lengths. Leonardo da Vinci’s teacher discovered this Golden Ratio (aka the Divine Proportion) in old manuscripts that he came upon more than 500 years ago. He then passed the knowledge on to his pupil, who used the formula  to create  the most precious painting of all time: the Mona Lisa.
  • Succes Code #6…Watch your body language.  Your body language can help you become successful. Start with your posture. The right posture will make you more confident. Arms relaxed, lean back slightly, chest protuding a bit. Mastering these posture hints will actually program yourself to adopt an attitude of self-assurance. A slightly tilted head is usually an indication of interest or contemplation–but if the tilt is accompanied by arms folded protectively in front of the body, it’s a sign of a defensive mechanism. This programs the brain to be uncertain and ready to flee. Keep your body straight and arms relaxed to the side. Now that you’ve figured out the situation, you’re relaxed and confident. Your eyes communicate this attitude by looking firmly straight ahead or to the side. If you’re in a position to talk to someone, make eye contact. The brain then sends out the message that “everythings under control” Do not look down or away from the person you’re speaking to. Looking down indicates an attempt to distance yourself from a situation, causing your brain to get distracted and become programmed to feel disinterest and a lack of self-confidence. Your brain then shifts its focus to concentrate on internal conflicts. If you tend  to play with your fingers you’re sending negative signals. People do this generally because they’re attempting to calm themselves down when in a awkward situaion. Be aware of everything your body is doing at all times and you will be well on your way to becoming successful.

Todays blog post is excerpted from one of my favorite magazines i.d (Ideas and Discoveries) You can subscribe online: Idea & Discoveries Magazine

Now that I’ve got you properly motivated to become successful, let’s pause for our sponsor.

HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE can assure success in a business of your own. It is a complete guide to starting your own successful home based business. Written by long time mail order expert Fred Broitman, it contains everything you need to know about Mail Order.

You’ll learn:

  1. How to Get Started
  2. How to Find Great Products
  3. How  to Make Your Business Profitable From the Start
  4. How to Price Your Product or Service for Biggest  Profits
  5. Secrets of Creating Winning Mail Order Ads

and included in this revised edition…Complete Up-to-Date Information on How to Use the Internet to Super Charge your Business.

HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE is available from Amazon at its published price of $39.95 plus s&h or you can save $10 and order it direct from the publisher for $29.95 plus $3.50 s&h (Total $33.45). Send check or money order along with your name and address to: SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601.

Death comes to visit the living – Jeff Zaslow’s tragic passing.

This blog post is dedicated to someone I knew only through his writing. Jeff Zaslow was a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. His untimely death occurred Friday February 10. The words are not mine but someone who knew the deceased well, who worked with him, shared good times with him and admired him.

Neil Steinberg is also a columnist for the Sun-Times and a damned good one as was Jeff Zaslow. Since this is my blog and I can post anything I care to, here is Neil’s column from the February 15 edition of the Chicago Sun Times.

Ludwick Wittgenstein’s Tractus Logico- Philosophicus is a list of numbered propositions, each leading to the next. Number 6.4311 begins “Death is not an event in life. Death is not lived through.” For the person who has died, that is. That person is whisked away to whatever reward awaits us after death.

It is those of us who live through death, big time, who must cope with it, particularly accidental death, which radiates outward, sending shock waves, first to those at the scene, stunned to find death intruding onto an ordinary day. Then to the oficialdom who must deal with death regularly and handle the particulars. Then exploding into the lives of family, who suffer the most and, finally the thunderclap reaches the outer world, where people hear it and look up, moved to the degree they knew the deceased.

Jeff Zaslow died in a car accident Friday, as you’ve probably heard. Longtime Sun-Times readers will fondly recall his thoughtful, human and funny advice column that ran from 1987 until 2001, or his best selling books such as The Last Lecture.

I don’t do grief well–I’m self-centered and over-analytical, a bad mix–and no sooner feel loss then immediately start  questioning it, to see if it’s legitimate. Jeff’s death came as a sickening shock, yet I instantly pulled back, certain that I occupy  too distant an orbit among his concentric circles of friends to be entitled to feel awful, which is reserved for his wife and daughters and family, the true epicenter of suffering. Any hurt I feel must be ersatz, overdramatic.

No matter How I tried to focus my  thoughts on others–Jeff’s genius, the key to his life: he was a big-hearted, generous man, a true friend–I kept returning  to my own experiences with him. Memories bubbled up, random stuff. as if my brain were venting everything it knew about Jeff Zaslow, from the fact  that at birth, he was delivered by Dr. C. Everett Koop, the future Surgeon General, to his sister’s hand-made picture frames, to his love of Bruce Springsteen–we once went to a concert together–to the day, almost 25 years ago, Jeff was being given his welcoming tour of the Sun-Times newsroom and I hurried over, curious to discover just what kind of idiot leaves a job writing front page stories for the Wall Street Journal to advise women how to get stains out of a broadloom rug on page 27 of the Sun-Times.

If a Russian novelist tried to create two separate characters to split the spectrum of qualities a writer can possess, might cook up Jeff–happy, concerned for others, frenetic, sincere–and me: melancholy, self-absorbed, shambling, scarcastic. Jeff wanted to help everybody. He held  those enormous Zass Bashes at Navy Pier because he got so many letters from lonely people, and wanted to fix them up with each other, to give each one a shot at the joy he found with his own wife, Sherry. I thought he was crazy. “Jeff”, I’d say. “You’re not a social service.”

When I got the awful news–we have the same literary agency–I dutifully phoned it in to the newspaper. “Do you want to write something?” an editor asked. I said “No.” The planet of my ego is such– think Jupiter–I knew it would be impossible to launch a tribute to Jeff without having it circle back and crash into myself. “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” is the final line of Wittgenstein’s book. Good advice. I wanted to honor Jeff by shutting up, an under appreciated art form.

But silence felt even worse. We Jews bury our own, and standing at Jeff’s graveside, mutely waiting for my turn with the shovel, I stared at my shoes and tried to block out the sound of his daughters weeping. “This is the worst thing in the world,” I thought. “I hate this I hate this I hate this”.

Silence has no utility, it isn’t a sharp enough blade to scrape at the icy loss that Jeff’s death frosts over the world. I wish I could wrap this up tidily, with an inspiring  thought that counterbalances the tragedy in the world and leaves you with a smile. Jeff was so good at that. Alas, he is not here, a hard fact that touches on the often cruel nature of life, one that we lucky enough to have known Jeff will struggle with for a long time.

Thanx, Neil for allowing me to share this with my small group of bloggerfriends. If my mother were still alive and I could have read her this column, she would have said to me in Yiddish “Gut Gazooked”…roughly translated as “Well said”.

17 Year Old Starts Own Business – It’s Not Rocket Science Or Brain Surgery

Over the years I’ve spoken at many trade shows and conventions about starting your own mail order business and many of the attendees ask me how hard is it to start your own business, especially in this difficult economy and I usually wind up telling them “well, it’s not rocket science or brain surgery”. The easiest and best way to begin is to rely on advice from people already in the business who have been successful. Going this route will save you many dollars and keep you from making the dreaded B-B’s…beginners blunders. See how easy it is to begin by first reading the following article which appeared in the November 27th issue of the New York Times written by Nicole Laporte.

DON’T KNOW HOW? WELL, FIND SOMEONE WHO DOES!

Is advanced technical knowledge necessary to become an inventor? Look at the story of Katherine Bomkamp, and you will see it isn’t. Ms. Bomkamp, 20, came up with the idea behind the Pain Free Socket, a prosthetic device that is intended to ease phantom limb pain in amputees. The device, now awaiting a patent, works by applying heat to the amputee’s joint socket through thermal bio-feedback. The theory is that as the nerve endings are warmed, the brain is forced to focus on the heat rather than send signals to the absent limb.

Now a sophomore at West Virginia University, Ms Bomkamp was in high school when she began working on her invention. At the time, she had zero background in chemical or electrical engineering, which were essential to the creation of the device.

“It was all completely foreign to me. I had no interest in engineering before this,” said Ms Bomkamp, who was a criminal-justice major at the magnet high school in Maryland. In college she’s studying political science, with plans to attend law school.

Her experience shows how ambition, persistence and an ample supply of curiosity can lay the groundwork for achieving breakthroughs, even technological ones. (A bit of youthful pluck helps, too.) It also shows that drawing on other people’s experience and resources is often as good as, if not better than, doing everything yourself.

Politicians know this. Business leaders like Steve Jobs knew this. And yet when we think of a solitary soul hunkered down in a basement lab for weeks or months before emerging to claim an unshared victory. To this, Ms Bomkamp would say: think again.

The seeds for the Pain Free Socket were sown when Ms. Bomkamp, whose father is a disabled Air Force veteran, found herself in waiting rooms at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center—the hospital in Virginia that has since closed—seated among wounded soldiers just back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of them were amputees.

“They would tell me their stories, and phantom pain kept coming up,” she said. She started researching the condition and learned that “most amputees are prescribed antipsychotics and barbiturates which are expensive and have high addiction rates.”

“So I wanted to see if I could eliminate the need for those holistically,” she said.

An opportunity to pursue her idea came when a teacher announced a school science fair. Wanting to “do something meaningful that impacted the community,” she said, she decided to work on a device to treat phantom pain.

“My thought process was: when I pull a muscle, I apply heat to it. If I applied the same concept to treating phantom pain, I thought that could work.” The only problem was execution. Ms Bomkamp was the furthest thing to from a math or science geek; there was no way she could do this alone. So she began e-mailing engineering professors at universities in the area and asking them for assistance. “They were all very receptive,” she said. “they all invited me to come work in their labs. I chose the University of Maryland because it was closest to my house”.

And every Friday, she would take the day off school—with permission—and her mother would drive her to College Park. There, she worked with Professor Gilmer L. Blankenship in the department of electrical and computer engineering, and his lab manager, Jay Renner. “They taught me electrical engineering from the bottom up—electrical programming, heat-wiring,” she said. “Basically, everything, they had to teach me”.

They helped her build a prosthetic socket as the first prototype; heated socks used by hunters served as the gadgets heat source. But engineering was only half the battle. Ms Bomkamp wanted to expand her invention and build a prosthetic limb. Who would build it – and not charge her $15,000, the typical cost of an artificial leg?

Again she resorted to grass roots outreach, printing the names of prosthetic companies she found on the Web site of the Amputee Coalition of America, and making calls. “A lot of people hung up on me, saying, “This won’t work, you’re just a kid, don’t waste my time” Ms Bomkamp said. Finally she reached Jake Godak, who at the time was working at Cascade, an orthotic and prosthetic supply company in Chico, California, and remains a consultant in prosthetics. “He said this could really work, and so he built sockets and a leg for me,” she said. “I still work with him”.

In the second generation prototype, the heated socks were replaced by ribbing cable, and the electronics were such that the amputee could control the temperature of the socket.

The device “appears to be a very promising prototype for one of the possible ways for amputees to deal with phantom pain”, she said. Joe McTernan, a director of coding and programming at the American Orthotic Association. “This certainly is interesting and intriguing research,” he said, adding; “but it is, as far as I can see, currently very much a prototype”.

At West Virginia University, Ms Bomkanp has acquired a new set of mentors in the school’s entrepreneurship program. She has set up her own company and is working on third, and fourth generation prototypes. These will have smaller, more compact electronic boards and will be able to be operated by a mobile phone.

In the meantime, she has applied for a patent, and the device will be tested. She also is in talks with a domestic prosthetic company about licensing the rights to sell the device, which is subject to the approval of the Food and Drug Administration. She hopes to receive a small percentage in royalties from future sales.

Otherwise, she’s just an ordinary college kid—sort of. “I definitely don’t have the typical college student life”, she says, “But at the same time, I do. I still worry about tests and getting scholarship money. But yet I’m a C.E.O., and I’ve got this project and I go on business trips. I walk the line between the two. And yes, she won the high school science fair.

So what has this wonderful story got to do with starting your own business? Hopefully it will inspire you to take a chance on something new, something you know nothing about. My book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE is like having a mentor right next to you answering every question you will ever have on becoming successful in mail order… and even if you don’t become one of the mail order millionaires like some of my clients have, you’ll have the opportunity to make an excellent income in a business of your own.

The book is sold on a money back guarantee of satisfaction, so you have nothing to lose.

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests

That’s the headline to Matt Taibbi’s article in the current issue of ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE. Last week’s post was from a conservative columnist who writes for FORTUNE MAGAZINE. It’s only fair for a progressive view–and there’s few as good as Matt Taibbi. He alone is well worth subscribing to one of my favorite magazines ROLLING STONE. Herein are excerpts:

“I have a confession to make. At first I misunderstood Occupy Wall Street. The first few time I went down to Zuccotti Park, I came away with mixed feelings. I loved the energy and was amazed by the obvious organic appeal of the movement, the way it was growing on its own. But my initial impression was that it would not be taken very seriously by the Citibanks and Goldman Sachs of the world. You could put 50,000 angry protestors on Wall Street, 100,000 even, and Lloyd Blankfein is probably not going to break a sweat. He knows he’s not going to wake up tomorrow and see Cornel West or Richard Trumka running the Federal Reserve. He knows modern finance is a giant mechanical parasite that only an expert surgeon can remove. Yell and scream all you want but he and his fellow Franksteins are the only ones who know how to turn the machine off.

That’s what I was thinking during the first few weeks of the protests. But I’m beginning to see another angle. Occupy Wall Street was always about something much bigger than a movement against big banks and modern finance. It’s about providing a forum for people to show how tired they are not just of Wall Street but EVERYTHING. This is a visceral, impassioned, deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual bankruptcy that American mass society has become. If there is such a thing as going on strike from one’s own culture, this is it. And by being so broad in scope and so elemental in its motivation, it‘s flown over the heads of many on both the right and the left.

The right-wing media wasted no time in cannon-blasting the movement with its usual idiotic clichés, casting Occupy Wall Street as a bunch of dirty hippies who should get a job and stop chewing up Mike Bloomberg’s police overtime budget with their urban sleepovers. Just like they did a half-century ago, when the debate over the Vietnam War somehow stopped being about why we were brutally murdering millions of innocent Indochinese civilians and instead became a referendum on bralessness and long hair and flower-child rhetoric, the depraved flacks of the right-wing media have breezily blown off a generation of fraud and corruption and market-perverting bailouts, making the whole debate about the protestors themselves—their hygiene, their ‘envy’ of the rich, their ‘hypocrisy’.

The protestors, chirped Supreme Reichskank Ann Coulter, ‘needed three thing: showers, jobs and a point’. Her colleague Charles Krauthammer went so far as to label the protestors hypocrites for having iPhones. ‘OWS’, he said is Starbucks-sipping, Levi’s- clad, iPhone clutching protestors (denouncing) corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over’. Apparently because Goldman and Citibank are corporations, no protestors can ever consume a corporate product—not jeans, not cellphones and definitely not coffee’—if he also wants to complain about tax money going to pay off some billionaire banker’s bets against his own crappy mortgages.

Meanwhile on the other side of the political spectrum, there were scads of progressive pundits like me who wrung our hands with worry that OWS was playing right into the hands of assholes like Krauthammer. DON’T GIVE THEM ANY AMMUNITION! we counseled. STAY ON MESSAGE! BE SPECIFIC!. We were all playing the Rorschach-test game with OWS trying to squint at it and see what we wanted to see in the movement. Viewed through the prism of our desire to make near-term, within the system changes, it was hard to see how skirmishing with cops in New York would help foreclosed-upon middle-class families in Jacksonville and San Diego.

What both sides missed is that OWS is tired of all this. They don’t care what we think they’re about, or should be about. They just want something different.

We’re all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and unresponsive. People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something.

I think I understand now that that’s what the Occupy movement is all about. It’s about dropping out if only for a moment, and trying something new. It doesn’t need to tell the world what it wants. It is successful for now, just by being something different.”

These are only excerpts from Matt’s excellent article in the November 22nd issue of ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE. To read it in its entirety, pickup a copy or better yet become a subscriber. I’ve been hooked on their political reporting for 25 years and with age, year after year, it only gets better.

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