What to Read and When

Either you need information or you desire entertainment. In either case, a young person’s time fills with activity. Yet, young people stumble and fumble through their early lives because they have not experienced the pitfalls and rabbit path trails of work, love, finances, and real estate. Young people should read voraciously to get an edge on what comes next in their lives. An older person might have more time in the day, but less time in life. Older people possess the wisdom to be selective in their reading. Rather than seeking an edge of knowledge, an older person might juice more sweetness from life by identifying with a fictional character who came out on top by living a moral life in spite of torment and misfortune.

Consider this: regardless of your age, the media bombards you with plenty of information on daily news that will enable you to converse socially. Are you an online social media aficionado? You know that it only takes a few glances and a tiny bit of reading to keep up with current events with your friends. In your profession, yes, you should read to advance your knowledge, but realize that by only reading yesterday’s technical guidance, you neither prepare well for today’s technical problem, nor do you advance technically for tomorrow. Besides that, the technical go-to-person in a company receives visits from people who have technical problems. Unless that person interacts socially with the managers and employees, he or she will not be remembered for promotion. However, the technically astute person who brings fun, happiness, charisma, and stands like a moral rock, might slice through company politics like a hot knife through butter, to advance beyond his or her peers. Read fiction to learn how to be that person.

Why read a made up story? Most fiction writers create interesting stories based on what they know – things that have happened to them. The singer, Prince, famously said, “Before I dreamed it, I lived it.” He meant that he had a better story to tell through song because he sang about things that happened to him. You learn his story, appreciate his experience, and possibly get an edge for yourself while he entertains you with his song. You can get that by reading fictional stories too. Don’t limit yourself to stories that closely align with your life. It will do you little good to read what you have experienced. Instead, if a writer piques your interest in the first five pages of any genre: thriller, mystery, romance, science fiction, drama, history, or comedy, acquire and read that novel. Especially, if you feel a hook in your mouth that pulls you into wanting to read the rest of the story, do it. Don’t walk away with regret.

The time and setting do not matter. A 200-years-ago story on the planet Mars can be relevant to you today, as well as entertaining while you read it. You will perk up when you read about a character who faces a nasty experience similar to one that happened to you at work or at home, yet, he or she determined the effect wanted amid chaos, planned, then acted on a plan that switched them from victim to world-shaper. That information may be far more useful to you than today’s news story or your friend’s latest Facebook photo. Like Prince, you might live it, then dream it. Find a lifetime of free fiction novels online, but understand that inexperienced authors break into the writing business by giving their work away. Don’t deny yourself the better read by being stingy with vending machine snack money. #TAG1writer

Steinbeck Hitchcock and Yes, Lifeboat

What on earth do Steinbeck and Hitchcock have in common? Well, nothing except that they made a film together called Lifeboat. They did not even share any common interests in terms of their work. John Steinbeck created novels such as Grapes of Wrath which is still considered as a literary masterpiece even by modern critics. The novel was highly controversial at the time it was first published in 1939 due to the anti-capitalist sentiments. But it also won the Pulitzer Prize. This and his work later were instrumental in getting John Steinbeck his maiden Nobel Prize for literature. Steinbeck also wrote some comedies such as Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat but thrillers, not any that I know of.

Alfred Hitchcock lived thrillers and absolutely thrillers. However, he did take some diversions into other genres such as comedies in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and also some nonfiction films just before the Second World War. After the war, he mostly stuck to what he knew best and that was making thriller movies. I don’t know what Steinbeck was thinking about while writing Lifeboat. Was he intentionally making a thriller or just an interracial film with a hypothetical situation about people from various communities of German and allied forces getting together and having to do battle together? I think it’s later and that’s where Steinbeck came into the picture.

Originally the screenplay of Lifeboat was credited to John Steinbeck. But after the film was released Steinbeck requested his name to be removed from the credits because he felt the film had unkind words against organized labor. However, the British and American press at the time thought the film glorified German characters and denigrating the US and British characters. Modern critics see things differently though. Hitchcock defended his characterization because he respected his movie villains. Characterization of a villain has been the hallmark of Hitchcock films over the years. The moral of the story in his opinion was to get the allies together to fight against Nazis.

Lifeboat was nominated for 3 Oscars but received none and it was not commercially very successful either due to the negative publicity and controversies surrounding the film. It was Hitchcock who came up with the idea for the film and considered several top writers at the time for the project including Ernest Hemingway and A J Cronin. Hitchcock didn’t use music in the film as he thought it was imprudent to do so. Where would music come from in the sea? He retorted when asked about it. He was countered with where would the cameras come from in the middle of the sea?

I am a diehard Hitch fan and have seen all his best work and more. I never felt him being racist or unkind to any community unless it is for the characterization. The very fact that he chose Steinbeck for this project confirms this fact for me. But it is a strange combination all the same. After so many years of Hitchcock, it is difficult to associate him with a writer who is not at all a thriller writer. It is a lonesome but great alliance all the same.

What To Note While Shipping To China

With a lot of players entering the international logistics market, shipping to countries that are located thousands of miles away from you, has become a hassle-free task today. Gone are the days, when you had to wait for relatives or strangers from a particular country to pass on things to your near and dear ones staying there. With international logistics becoming highly cost-effective as well, you can use them for your business and personal purposes quite easily. One of the hot shipping destinations is China. It is one of those economies that has been growing at an exponential rate. Hundreds of thousands of items worth millions of dollars get shipped to China on a daily basis. Here are some of the important processes that are involved while sending goods/shipment to this country.

1. Customs clearance/paperwork

When you want to send anything to China, you should be aware of the custom laws and regulations prevailing in that country. Items, whose values are quite low (approximately lesser than 500Yuan)are free from customs duty. If you are sending items that are worth more than this value, you need to pay the required customs fee and submit all relevant paperwork, so that your shipment doesn’t get rejected. Chinese laws are quite strict when it comes to documentation. You should have a checklist of the requirements and plan accordingly, so that you don’t miss out on anything.

2. Method of packing

Whenever you ship anything to China or any other country, you need to take extra care while packing your products. Fragile items should be covered in cardboard boxes that are well corrugated so that they are well-protected against abrasions and friction. All the items should be sealed to avoid leakages, breakages, spillage and other related mishaps. Your shipments involve a lot of investment; therefore, it is only natural that you take enough care in ensuring that they reach their destination safely and perfectly.

3. Banned items

This is one of the most important points that you need to keep in mind when you are shipping anything to China. Every country has different laws related to the list of prohibited items. You should be fully aware of the rules that stop you from taking certain items into Chinese territory, so that your package is not confiscated at the time of security checks. Prohibited items mostly related to food, electronics and other materials like wood, cane, bamboo etc. Under each category, you should know the list of items that are allowed or disallowed, permitted weight and other aspects, in order to get your shipments cleared without any hassles.

4. Service provider

This is the first step that you need to follow when you decide to send your shipment to China. Choose a service provider who is highly reputed in the world of international logistics and who has enough experience in this field. When you choose the right company, you will be given professional guidance about the items that can and cannot be shipped to a particular destination, saving you lot of time and embarrassment.

Top 7 Do’s for Successful Improvisation

Do you think you can’t improvise? Nonsense! All you need are a few chords, the right attitude, and a piano or keyboard. Follow these seven principles and you’ll be improvising at the keyboard in no time!

1. Do listen to what’s going on inside yourself before and while you sit down to play – your inner state will determine the emotional quality of your playing

2. Do let go of the need to be perfect. Trying to “be correct” will defeat the playful attitude necessary for improvisaiton

3. Do believe that you are good enough to begin. No one person knows it all so you might as well jump in and experience the joy of improvisation.

4. Do realize that you don’t need a lot of theory or technique before you’re ready to play piano in the new age style. If you don’t begin now, when will you?

5. Do understand that improvisation is not some mysterious skill, but a game that can be learned and played just like any other game

6. Do enjoy the process and let go of the outcome. Trying to control what comes out of you is a sure way to stop the creative flow

7. Do stop playing when you become bored or indifferent. There is a natural starting and stopping point to playing. Just like anything, when you feel yourself growing disinterested, stop playing.

Broadway In Chicago’s The Pirate Queen

There is a new production by Broadway in Chicago called “The Pirate Queen”. This musical is a must see for everyone. The book is by Alain Doublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg. The music is by Claude-Michel Schonberg and the lyrics are by Alain Boublil & John Dempsey.

Nothing was spared in producing the lavish new production. Everything about the play was excellent: Music, lighting, choreography, staging, sound, costumes, sets, and story line.

The entire production was a success and the audience expressed their satisfaction with standing ovations. Not only was the production excellent but the acting was superior at all levels. The actors really make you feel as though you were part of the action.

Briefly the story is set in Elizabethan England where friction is set between the Irish and the English. Captain Dubhdara is the head of a clan that is set upon keeping the English off of their land. A pirate that has a daughter, Grania, who he dearly loves and who eventually becomes in charge of the fleet of pirates to defend Ireland from England. The story goes on with Grania’s personal affairs leading to a final meeting with Queen Elizabeth I.

The action is ever present and the dancing outstanding. In particular the bar scene in the First Act was very lively and the dancing was outstanding. At times the audience felt like they wanted to go on stage and join in the dance. It was all very moving and exciting. It was a pleasure to be there.