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Tag Archives: Energy

How to Set up a Business and Save Money

I get a lot of people ask me how I was able to afford setting up my own business. It’s true that it’s not an easy time to make any business successful right now, but there are ways. Just because the economy is in trouble doesn’t mean you have to let your ideas linger until the time is right. There may never be the perfect time to go it alone, so why hold back? I have to admit it hasn’t been easy, but it is possible if you are frugal with money, are careful with each and every penny and look for ways to save money.

If you are starting a business I have a few tips that should help you get off on the right foot:

  1. There is nothing wrong with second hand, or third hand for that matter. I set up my business with used machinery, used IT equipment and even used furniture. I didn’t buy anything brand new unless I really had to. You can find brilliant suppliers that will sell you decent equipment that costs far less compared with buying brand new. You can save a fortune this way so that’s why this is my number one tip.
  2. Choose your suppliers carefully. I am not only talking about parts and products here, I am talking about all supplies from paper to packing materials. Always seek out the most competitive prices from companies that provide a quality service.
  3. Don’t waste energy or water. Look at ways of reducing heating costs, such as reducing the thermostat by one degree. You can also reduce water use by asking your water company for a water displacement bag to put in the cisterns of your toilets. Remember to open the blinds in the day so the sun can help to heat the rooms and close them at night to stop heat escaping. It’s also useful to set the heating to come on just twenty minutes before your employees arrive, any earlier is just a waste.
  4. Sell your unused equipment on. Don’t leave items unused in your stock room for months. If you no longer need the item find someone to buy it off you and put the money back in the business.

Providing you implement sensible spending you should find that you make every penny count. It has certainly helped me stay in business so far and it’s something I plan to continue doing even as the business expands.

Buy the best used equipment and save a fortune. Electro Motion supply quality stock for less, suitable for all types of businesses and ventures.

 

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The Office Vampire: 5 Things to Know about Computer Power Consumption

We all love our computers. We take them for granted. Few of us stop to consider the affects these ubiquitous machines have on the environment. On one hand, they greatly reduce our paper use and waste. Email, word processors, and countless other applications have certainly spared many a tree an unpleasant encounter with a chainsaw.

On the other hand, computers and their various accompaniments greatly increase our energy consumption. In the workplace, the cumulative carbon mouseprint is significant. In addition, businesses see considerably larger energy bills, increasing overhead. With a bit of conscious effort to cut back on computer-related energy consumption, your company becomes more environmentally friendly and enjoys notable savings on the electric bill. Corporate responsibility and reduced operating expenses: it’s a win-win.

To Turn it Off or Not to Turn it Off?

While computers do experience a small surge in energy consumption when turned on, it isn’t nearly enough to excuse leaving them on all the time. The US Department of Energy recommends personal computers be turned off when not in use for at least 2 hours. This doesn’t make sense in most offices, though. Even if computers go unused this long, employees would lose productivity waiting for computers to boot up all the time. However, it’s reasonable to shut down computers if they go unused for at least 4 hours. Always shut down computers, printers, scanners, fax machines, copiers, and other office machines when the workday is over. That’s just good advice for the longevity of your hardware, too.

Turn Off the Rest and Make Some Upgrades

There’s no reason monitors, external speakers, printers, and other peripherals can’t be shut off. It’s more energy-efficient to turn these components off when not in use for 20 minuter or longer. If your company still has CRT monitors, it’s time for an upgrade; Cornell University reports that LCD monitors use 40 percent less energy than CRTs of the same size. And speaking of energy-efficient upgrades, consider outfitting the office with laptops. These run on about half the energy of desktops. Opt for Energy Star-certified models.

Go to Sleep

All the computers in your office have a power-down or sleep mode setting, and many also have a hibernation mode. Newer computers run on up to 70 percent and 90 percent less energy respectively in these modes. Configure computers to power down after 15 minutes unused and to hibernate after 30 minutes. Skip the screen savers; they’re not more energy-efficient than sleep modes and today’s LCD screens don’t need them.

Get Granola

 A very interesting application that’s been around for about two years now, Granola works by using your computer’s built-in systems to monitor how much work you really need the CPU to be doing at any given time. Unlike most power management choices, Granola works in the background and saves you energy while your computer is actually on and in use. They say that there is little to no sacrifice in performance, even though power consumption drops.

 Strip!

As a final measure, plug all the computers, printers, copiers, and other office appliances into power strips rather than directly into wall outlets. When the machines are turned off for the night, also switch off the power strips. This prevents the appliances from consuming small amounts of energy, which they continue to do while off if they’re plugged into the wall. Keeping so much technology plugged in throughout the office is just like leaving lights on everywhere. The power consumption of plugged in devices might be invisible to the eye, but it sure isn’t invisible to your wallet.

We’ve grown so accustomed to an “always on” environment at work and at home, that it’s easy to overlook the fact that the actual time spent using a computer (or other technology and appliances) often represents a minority of out waking hours, and much smaller percentage of time when nights and weekends are taken into account. Powering devices we aren’t using doesn’t do anyone any favors.

Andria Morrisey is a freelance writer who specializes in outsourced IT consulting in Los Angeles. Andria leads a group of computer network consultants.

 

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Megacities and the Scale of the Future

  by Mike Macartney

Demographic trends in society are pointing towardsmegacities, defined as populations of 10 million or more, as the future for how most people on the planet will live. There are 21 such cities today and they include Cairo, Mexico City, Lagos, Los Angeles, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Manila, Moscow, Tehran, London, Paris, and others, growing every day. Tokyo was at 34 million in 2011. These cities and what supports them are at the core issues of scale and sustainability.

  • How large will these cities grow?
  • How will people in the future supply them with energy, food, water, transportation, jobs, housing, education, health care, and not least of all, entertainment?
  • How will these cities fit into national models – will they become city-states like earlier times in human history?

Scientific groups like the Santa Fe Institute are studying that very sustainability. Other, informal web based groups of people like New Geography are also thinking about what cities and human society will become.

The issue of scale may be the defining issue of the 21st century. The solutions are not simple or even invented yet. For example, it is well known in investment circles that alternative energy does not scale like the Information Age cornerstones of semiconductors, telecommunications, and software. Because of the laws of physics in the universe we live in alternative energy requires large investments in land, labor, and raw materials. These are needed to provide grid energy systems like the current fossil fuel and nuclear powered electrical grids. Innovation in alternative energy is not information or knowledge based. It is execution and implementation based. Even if we think we know how to do it, we still have to get it done. Very large physical scale collection and distribution systems are required to implement alternative energy solutions. Presently, the profit for investment in large-scale energy systems ties to large-scale tax systems. These are linked to government subsidies and government funded infrastructure build-out to solve the scale problem. Will the same go for alternative energy?

The scale needed for alternative energy competes directly with the scale needed for agriculture, housing, environmental preservation, and transportation. One example is the Three Gorges Dam project in China that displaced over 1-million people. Hydroelectric power systems are solar energy systems. The water behind a dam is stored solar energy. Very large amounts of land are required for hydroelectric systems just like for proposed solar, wind, and biomass systems. All the systems require very large solar collectors to operate in a grid power model. Efficiency can never be greater than one. There is no Moore’s Law of exponential growth hidden in the current efficiencies of a few tens-of-a-percent and 100-percent in alternative energy collection components. Are grid power systems the future of alternative energy?

The solutions to the scale problems of megacities with high consumption rates of food, energy, and living space are complex and competing. Complexity is one of the areas of study by scientific think tanks like the Santa Fe Institute and government funded institutions like Harvard University and MIT. How do you think scale will be achieved to support megacities in the future?

About the Author

Mike Macartney

Mike holds a BS and MS in mechanical engineering with emphasis in heat transfer and computational fluid dynamics. As a staff system engineer he developed advanced cooling systems for more than 15 different spacecraft and missiles, ranging from cryogenically cooled sensors and pre-amplifiers to on-orbit problem resolution of failing spacecraft. Mike has managed over 200 proposals for advanced aerospace systems, and terrestrial IT systems and custom code development for corporate customers.

Mike has advised start-up companies and high-tech incubators wishing to “spin-in” technologies from NASA and the National Laboratories as well as helped Russian enterprises do business in Silicon Valley. Mike has been a founder in three start-up companies for enterprise SW and publishing as well as a trade show manager for NASA technology transfer activities, and an executive liaison manager to facilitate business cooperation between aggressive Fortune 500 competitors. Mike has developed reengineered business processes for quality control, proposal development, and lean manufacturing.

He currently operates a small publishing company, Shoot Your Eye Out Publishing

 

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The Pros and Cons of Programmable Thermostats for Cutting Energy Costs

As energy and fuel costs continue to soar, programmable thermostats are increasing in popularity. Although programmable thermostats are a great way to save on energy costs, there are other factors to consider. Programmable thermostats are not a perfect solution for everyone.

Automatic Comfort and Savings

Programmable thermostats offer multiple settings for different times of the day. This is an energy-saver’s dream come true. For example, if no one is home during the day, you can set the thermostat to keep the central off while you are out and then come back on an hour before you typically arrive home. You can arrive home to a comfy house without waiting for it to cool down. During the late night and early morning hours while you’re sleeping, you can also program the thermostat to change temperatures during times when the weather naturally grows cooler. The same methods apply to heat as well. You may not need that much heat at night while you’re under the blankets, but with a programmable thermostat, you can wake up to a warm house without waiting for the heat to come on.

Not Suitable for All Families

One of the downsides of programmable thermostats when it comes to reducing energy costs is that you can’t really maximize their benefits if there is always somebody home that doesn’t want to be too hot or cold. If you have older children that are home during the day while you’re at work, a spouse who works a different shift or works from home, or someone who is retired living with you then it’s nearly impossible to program the thermostat effectively.

Convenience

Programmable thermostats reduce the amount of effort you have to put into being energy-conscious. Many people only need to adjust their settings less than six times a year as the seasons change. You can cross setting the thermostat off your to-do list for weeks at a time assured that you’ll save money without having to think about it every day.

Change Isn’t Easy

If you have a flexible schedule, or have to adjust to multiple family members’ schedules, reprogramming the thermostat can sometimes be tedious and annoying. If your household routine isn’t fairly consistent, a programmable thermostat may be more trouble than it is worth. It also really won’t save you that much money.

Compatibility

It is important to know that programmable thermostats aren’t compatible with all heating and cooling systems. You should consult with a professional before trying to install your own programmable thermostat.

Overall, programmable thermostats are a nearly-effortlessly way to save money on your energy costs. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re doing something that is environmentally sound as well. However, some people prefer to manually control their energy consumption on a day-to-day basis. Whatever you decide, any decision you make that conserves energy is a wise one.

About the Author: Deborah Dera is a full-time writer with a passion for personal finance and money saving techniques. She is the founder of Write on the Edge and creates both unique and PLR articles for site owners to integrate into their online marketing campaigns.

 

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Can Odd-Looking ‘Diwheel’ Be Electric Vehicle of the Future?

As the electric automobile industry tries to get manufacturers and consumers alike to think out of the box while global warming necessitates a drastic move toward cleaner transportation technology, could it be that all the revolutionary electric vehicles appearing on today’s automobile market are not really out of the box at all but just inside a slightly larger box?

When it really comes down to it, every transportation device on today’s streets, even the strangest prototype from the most cutting-edge electric start-up, is fashioned in the likeness of either a typical car frame or a typical motorbike frame. That is as true for the Smart ForTwo as it is for a van, a semi, or even an electric scooter. Each of these models is just a glorified version of either a motorbike or a car.

Whether this is a good thing or not, those two basic frames have so dominated the transportation market that they have become the automatic ground zero for practically all attempts to create cleaner, greener vehicles. Even the most revolutionary personal transportation prototypes and the most fuel-efficient, battery-powered EVs all seem to begin from one of these two given starting points, the car or the motorbike.

With this mind, undergraduates from the University of Adelaide have attempted to develop something so completely out of the box that it relies almost not at all on either of these two typical basic automobile building blocks. They have come up with a transportation machine they call the Electric Diwheel With Active Rotation Damping – EDWARD, for short. EDWARD is unlike anything you may have ever seen and is definitely no car or motorbike.

Two huge, parallel wheels make up the majority of EDWARD’s girth. Inside the hollow cylinder framed by these wheels sits the tiny passenger cabin, dwarfed by the mammoth circles that circumference it. This device is controlled by a joystick and has a top speed of about 40 miles per hour. It also boasts regenerative braking technology and a lead acid battery, identical to those found in regular cars, with a lifespan of about an hour of intensive driving. EDWARD makes use of lightweight materials for its construction and, as a result, weighs practically nothing.

Although EDWARD is certainly not the first diwheel, it is definitely the first to be powered by something other than human effort or an IC engine. EDWARD also features an active damping system that solves one of the diwheel’s major problems ever since its inception: stopping. Because of the disparity in the size of the wheels compared to the size of the passenger cabin, diwheels have been known for their jarring stops. The cabin would tend to swing forward heavily every time the brakes were applied. EDWARD solves this dilemma with a slosh control system that stabilizes the cabin and its occupants during harsh acceleration and braking.

While you probably shouldn’t hold your breath for mass production of these vehicles, what this invention really illustrates is that there is more than one way to skin a cat – in this case the cat of fossil fuels. Electric engines and lithium-ion batteries no longer have a monopoly on reducing our carbon footprint and reliance on filthy energy. There are other options.

Filling out a quote at Kanetix.ca will let you see which insurance companies in Ontario provide the most affordable rates of insurance for your particular vehicle. Doing a comparison of quotes at Kanetix can help you find cheap insurance and save you hundreds of dollars on insurance.

 

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The Sky is Laughing at Me – a Young Woman Comes of Age

- Anonymous

I’m sitting on my bed looking out of my windows at the canyon, and out at my campus. Even though it’s almost summer, the sky is filled with grey clouds, and its dark outside. The light seeps through crevices in the storm, only to illuminate the fluttering of the leaves on the trees that are swaying in every direction. I don’t sleep because the howling wind encloses my corner room, and is slapping against my windows.

So, I’m sitting here, watching. It’s amazing how the earth can be so full of energy. But that energy is neither good nor bad, and it is not happy or sad. This energy is movement, and existence. It’s not complicated, it just is. This energy just happens, it can’t be controlled, and it can’t be predicted. It affects everyone at different times. Sometimes bad things happen as a result of storms, but sometimes people are lucky enough to safely observe them from inside their comfy rooms, and comfortable lives. I am sitting on my bed, but I know my heart is outside, struggling, swaying, in the dark, and howling. But at least, it is existing.

A little bird just perched itself up on my window sill, and then quickly flew away. For a moment, as I glanced over I felt a flutter of happiness for something so small to exist among the storms in life. But this was fleeting, as the black bird flew away against the backdrop of the storm.

When the trees stop moving for a second, there is a tangible tension. You know they are waiting for more wind. They are still for a second, stiff with anticipation of what to come. But when the wind blows, the move fluidly and without ceasing. The wind decides when they move, and in what direction they will go. The clouds play too, and let a little bit of sunlight through, so that everybody can witness this. This is a game. There is an energy between them, and I feel that I can sense it.

Is there a tension between them and me as well, that I foolishly think is blocked by the window and wall that separates me from outside? Am I a part of this game of existence? Is it possible for my energy to be neither good, bad, happy nor sad, and can I just simply exist? Can I just be, or am I more?

Who do I want to be? Do I want to exist, or do I want to be more? I want to be one with these trees, and the wind, and the clouds, and the darkness. I don’t want to fear. I want to move when I am pushed, and sway when there is force against me. Let the stresses of a storm press against me, that I may discover who I am in the silence of its passing.

At one time I found happiness in an idea of who I wanted to be. I wanted to be the woman my boyfriend loved. I wanted to be popular among my friends, loved by my family, the funny girl at parties, the nerdy student who always attended, and eventually the beloved teacher who also had her own kids that she and her husband adored. Like the light shining through the clouds illuminating the movement of the trees, it is so clear to me now that I can still have all those things. I am still moving even in this storm, and in this darkness. The only thing that has changed is that now they won’t all be with “him.”

So I am a tree, and I wait for the next set of wind to move me. I feel stiff with anticipation and anxiety because I do know more is to come. I’m still, and in a storm, this feel unnatural. I am nervous, and I don’t like it. But I can’t escape the truth because of the glare the sun is giving me dares me to realize the game is not over yet.

As the black bird perched atop my windowsill allowed me to admire it for a second before flying away, so “he” brought me the same glimpse of happiness. He stopped at my window and for a second I knew him, and he let me see him and love him. Away he flew, and the moment of rare happiness was left with a void and empty foreground atop an abysmal set of storm clouds. But since that moment, I have seen other birds fly by, and even though they are mere shadows cast by the rays of the sun piercing the black clouds, I know they are in this storm too. I wait for one of these birds to rest for a second, and let me see it. At least I know there are other birds.

Like these trees, I want to let life move me. I want to be flexible, and experience everything that happens around me. I want to see, I want to play, and I want to be.

Eventually I may get used to waiting for wind, and my energy will just exist. I don’t want to be this sad person that I have become. I know I can still have a nice life, and just one variable has changed. I want to close my heart to him, but open it up to love this deeply in other areas of my life.

I want to sincerely serve others. When I tutor I want to love the students in the after care center so much that I can’t wait to get to go there. I want to love my family, and enjoy hearing about everything they say, feel, hear, think, see, eat, do…everything. I want to be thoughtful and considerate. I want to be kind, and in tune with people’s needs. I want to listen to my friends, and hug them more often. I want to compliment people more, and appreciate them for what they do. I want to be friendly and welcoming. I want to be easier going, and less bossy. I want to be a lover, and a sweet girl. I want to feel free.

I want to feel. I want to know love in all the parts of my body like I do now. The way I know in my bones, stomach, heart, soul, mind, and everywhere that I loved him.  I want to know that sort of love, but for others. I don’t’ want to know love in my bones, heart, soul, mind and gut because it makes me weak and sick. I want to experience a love that I feel in my toes, and fingertips because it makes me better, and emboldens me. I want to love so powerfully that I feel it in my core, and I want to be somebody that helps people.

I don’t want there to be room for badness, sadness or anger in my body anymore. When there is no wind moving me, I want to stand tall and firm. I don’t want to wait nervously, but instead excitedly. I want to anticipate storms and embrace them as they come, as a confirmation of my existence. I am strong. I am. I am part of this, and I am more than this. I am more than an energy because I have life. Even though life is where the good, bad, happy and sad come from… life is what makes you free. I can do more than exist as an energy does, because I can live. I can be a tree, and await a storm,  but I get to choose how I wait. I can wait nervously, or I can be joyous for what is to come. Storms are solely energy, neither good nor bad, happy nor sad…so I can choose. I have choice. I can choose if this is a good storm, a bad one, a happy storm, or a sad one. It exists, but I live it.

I’m the one moving with the wind. Life is a choice, and I can choose who to be and what dreams I have. I can love people to my roots, and touch the world with my branches. I can wave to birds passing by with the flickering of my leaves.

I can’t control this storm, but I can control me. I can be an energy that is good, and I can live a life that is happy. The sky is laughing at me because the light I see shinning through already knew what its message was all along, but sometimes it’s hard not to get lost in the darkness.

I am a tree, and there are other trees with me, but I know now that he was just a bird.

 

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Green Business Transportation

Cutting carbon emissions has been the subject of much attention in recent years with the British Government vowing to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050.

There has been a resulting focus on energy consumption in businesses with various regulations and incentives for organisations to become, and remain, environmentally friendly.

Cutting the amount of energy used in the physical workplace, whether it is an office, hospital, educational establishment or otherwise, is one of the main ways for a business to become more eco-friendly.

Transport is another major area which can be adapted to embrace energy saving measures. If you have a fleet of cars which are used for business purposes then there plenty of scope to save both energy and money.

When purchasing company cars, make your selection based on fuel efficiency. This will not only save your business money but will have a significant impact on the emissions released. Car sharing could be another option worth considering. Think about whether or not each individual staff member needs their own vehicle for everyday business. If not, a car pool scheme could be the ideal way to save a hefty sum.

It can prove worthwhile to provide your staff with training for fuel efficient driving techniques. According to Business Link, men and women who have taken part in the Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving (SAFED) training course save an average of £500 each year, simply by driving in a more energy efficient way.

Face to face interaction is important for business transactions but there may be instances where email or video conferencing can be used as opposed to travelling to make the visit in person

How your employees get to work is another area to consider when cutting energy consumption. Promote car sharing amongst employees and do everything possible to make the system accessible and easy to use. Ensure there are good facilities, such as showers or bicycle racks, for staff who cycle or walk to work.

If you are searching for new office space then look at locations in close proximity to public transport links. This encourages staff and anyone else visiting your office to make use of public transport instead of driving or taking a taxi.

The same principle can be applied to any business events being planned. Using an easily accessed venue will make it more likely that visitors will use public transport.  

Many organisations are introducing travel plans to reduce car use and increase energy efficiency, with funding and incentives often available. The Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme offers a tax incentive to businesses that invest in energy saving equipment and there are numerous ways in which your business may be rewarded for adopting an eco-friendly approach to transport and other running costs, such as business electricity.

Jennifer is a part of the digital blogging team at cashzilla.co.uk who work with a growing number of finance brands. For more information about me, or to keep up to date with the latest in finance news, check out my posts at cashzilla.co.uk or visit my Twitter account, @cashzilla.

 
 

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Learning from Others: Finding Influential People When You Are On Your Own

My early years were blessed with always having owned a boat.  These were the frolicking years just after grad school with all the single folks jamming a deserted beach on a far away lake.  Naked waterskiing on a full moonlit night, was followed by running out of gas in the middle of the lake and paddling to shore with a water ski.   Ah, youth.

As the years passed, and children grew the excitement of the boat began to give way to other family responsibilities, and differed maintenance began to accrue.  Time was spent loading the thing with groceries and camping supplies for two weeks in the mountains, feeding 12 kids and 8 adults.  The yearly “tune-up” was accomplished, but little things piled up.  After about 15 years of this, it had come to a point of catharsis.  I was no longer motivated to keep the boat up, the kids were gone, and it seemed to be reasonable to give the thing up and move on.

This is where the power of the pen turned my life around.  In blogging about marketing, it seems to serve well to include a personal story and this was such a time.  Publishing the lament felt as a result of this dilemma yielded an unexpected, but welcomed response.  A good friend read the post and responded with a question as to my willingness to take a partner.

The attraction was immediate, and for a different reason than was later revealed.  It was attractive to have someone else to share the work load, to share in the cost, and to provide some renewed energy towards the project.   What was not yet apparent to me was that this person was my perfect complement.  He has an attention to detail that I don’t exercise.  If asked the proper way to accomplish something it is usually quite simple for me to utter a detailed step-by-step procedure of the correct sequence of activities.  Does this mean that this is the way I would ever proceed?  Hell no!

A good example is the boat trailer.  It has been rusted from salt water, the lights were almost all out, and the surge breaks hadn’t worked in years.  My new partner Scott looked at it and made some comments regarding an obvious course of action.  The wheels needed to be taken off and greased, the wiring repaired, the boat taken off, and the trailer ground, sanded, and sandblasted down to bare metal before priming and re-panting.

Well duh.  I knew that!  Why then was my first conclusion that the most logical course of action was to either buy a new trailer or just scrap the thing?  The most amazing thing happened when we dug into the work.  At first Scott did everything.  Finally the shame was too great and I picked up the wire cutters and pitched in.  Within a couple of hours we were working along side-by-side like the pit crew at an Indy race.  Wheels were coming off, bolts greased, tires changed, new lights installed, road test successful;  all things that I knew how to do, but would never have taken the time to do by myself.

That boat is like a business.  All it took was a fresh perspective to make it feel new again.  If circumstances are such that a “partner” is not the solution, there are alternatives.  I belong to several “success” groups and “Meet-up’s” where we get together with other professionals and share perspectives.  Many ides and disciplines come from these meetings, and they help me not only to see things differently, but to focus on the actions that are agreeably correct, but might not have been my intuitive course of action.  Webinars, podcasts, and YouTube videos are also great sources of educational and inspirational material. I try to schedule at least 2 hours a week in these activities, and then make sure that I document what they taught.

There are several ways to take advantage of the knowledge and inspiration of others.  We don’t have to do this all alone!

 

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