The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act: The First 24-Months

This article chronicles the implementation of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, passed via referendum in the 2008 general election. As expected, once applied to our human tapestry, the MMA has been subjected to some already-classic judicial interpretations, with a strong promise of more to come.

The Michigan Legislature passed the MMA on December 4, 2008, making Michigan the 13th state to allow the cultivation and possession of marijuana for medical purposes. The Act cited a series of findings related to the beneficial uses of marijuana in treating nausea, pain and other effects from a variety of debilitating medical conditions. The Act also notes that according to the FBI, 99% of all marijuana possession arrests nationwide are done pursuant to state, rather than federal law. It is important to note that possession of the drug remains illegal under federal law.

The MMA defines a «debilitating medical condition» as cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C, and other diseases along with other chronic afflictions which cause pain and nausea. A «primary caregiver» is defined as, «a person who is at least 21 years old and who has agreed to assist with a patient’s medical use of marijuana and who has never been convicted of a felony involving illegal drugs.» A «qualifying patient» is «a person who has been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition.»

The basic mechanics of the Act provide that qualifying patients and primary care providers (marijuana growers) must possess a «registry identification card», issued by the Department of Community Health. Tens of thousands of applications have been processed; many thousands remain pending with more filed every week; the demand for certification, for marijuana, is seemingly insatiable here in Michigan.

The high demand is understandable. Cardholders are not subject to arrest or prosecution for marijuana possession/distribution provided the patient keeps less than 2.5 ounces of smokeable pot. Care providers are allowed to maintain up to 12 plants for each qualified patient; stems, seeds and unusable roots do not count toward the plant limitation.

Physicians also have immunity from prosecution relative to their certification of the patient’s need for the drug, so long as they conduct an assessment of the patient’s medical history. A legitimate physician-patient relationship is required.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Conant vs Walters in 2003, physicians have been able to recommend a patient’s use of marijuana (but cannot prescribe pot by placing the recommendation on a prescription form). Doctors can also make notes regarding their recommendations in the patient’s chart and can testify on behalf of a patient’s medical use of marijuana in a court of law. The Supreme Court’s Conant decision paved the way for passage of the MMA.

Primary care providers may receive compensation for their marijuana. Selling marijuana paraphernalia also is allowed under the MMA, and such paraphernalia cannot be seized.

Persons merely present during the use of marijuana for medical purposes likewise are not subject to arrest.

Sound too good to be true? When marijuana is distributed to persons other than qualifying patients, the registration card is revoked, and the provider is subject to a 2-year felony. Also, driving while under the influence of marijuana remains illegal, as does smoking in public. Use or possession of pot on school premises or on school buses remains prohibited. And yes, it remains illegal to smoke in a jail or a penitentiary, regardless of your medical condition.

The Act set a short timetable (120-days) for the Department of Community Health to promulgate regulations for the administration of the possession/distribution credential. The delay in the promulgation of these regulations gave way to confusion among law enforcement, the public and some judges as to what is legal and what is illegal.

For example, the 2009 Redden case from Madison Heights involved a couple arrested during a drug-raid. The couple had applied for certification cards prior to their arrest and received the cards a month after their arrest. In dismissing the case brought against the two defendants, 43rd District Judge Robert Turner characterized the MMA as, «the worst piece of legislation I’ve seen in my life», according to the Detroit News. Judge Turner’s dismissal was appealed by the Oakland County Prosecutor where it was affirmed in the Oakland County Circuit Court.

Earlier this year, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Oakland Circuit Court Judge Martha Anderson’s reinstatement of the criminal charges against Redden and Clark. Now, the accused Madison Heights couple will either have to plead or go to trial.

At the time of the raid on the couple’s residence, the Oakland County Sheriff seized 1.5 ounces of pot, some nominal cash, and about 21 small plants. Three weeks prior to the raid, each defendant had submitted to a medical certification exam with Dr. Eric Eisenbud (not making it up) of Colorado (and of the recently founded Hemp and Cannabis Foundation Medical Clinic) and applied for a medical marijuana card pursuant to the MMA. Their cards, however, had not been issued at the time of the raid.

At the couple’s preliminary examination before Judge Turner, the prosecutor argued that: a) the defendants were required to abstain from «medicating» with marijuana while their applications to the State of Michigan’s Department of Community Health were pending; and b) the defendants did not have a bona fide physician-patient relationship with Dr. Eisenbud.

Judge Turner indicated that the MMA was confusing relative to what constituted a reasonable amount of marijuana. The defendants in this case were found with an ounce and a half; the MMA allows 2.5 ounces.

Judge Turner made the following ruling:

For that reason, I believe that section 8 entitles the defendants to a dismissal, even though they did not possess the valid medical card, because section 8 says if they can show the fact that a doctor believed that they were likely to receive a therapeutic benefit, and this doctor testified to that. And Dr. Eisenbud is a physician licensed by the State of Michigan. And that’s the only requirement that the statute has. You don’t have to be any type of physician, you just have to be a licensed physician by the State of Michgan.

So, based on that, I find section 8 does apply. And I believe I’m obligated to dismiss this matter based on section 8 of the statute.

Under the applicable court rules, the prosecutor appealed the district court dismissal to the Oakland Circuit Court. In reversing her district court counter-part, Judge Anderson held that Judge Turner improperly acted as a finder of fact in dismissing the case. Judge Anderson also questioned whether the couple could avail themselves of the MMA’s affirmative defenses at all, due to their purported failures to comply with the provisions of the act; i.e. keeping the pot segregated and locked-up, and waiting until they received their cards from the Department of Community Health prior to growing their pot.

At the time of the Madison Heights bust, however, the couple could not have received marijuana cards because the DCH had not started issuing the cards. To date, almost 30,000 certifications have been issued.

In their September 2010 opinion affirming Judge Martha Anderson, the Court of Appeals held that the MMA’s affirmative defenses were available to defendants even though they did not have their cards at the time their pot was confiscated. The Court of Appeals held against defendants, however, on the basis that, at the time of their preliminary examination in district court, their affirmative defense under the MMA was incomplete and thus created fact questions.

The Court found the following fact issues to be unresolved at the conclusion of the exam: the bona fides of the physician-patient relationship; whether the amount of marijuana found in the residence was «reasonable» under the Act; and whether the marijuana was being used by defendants for palliative purposes, as required by the Act.

The most interesting thing about the Court of Appeals’ Redden decision is the scathing concurring opinion of Judge Peter D. O’Connell. Judge O’Connell wrote separately because he would have more narrowly tailored the affirmative defenses available in the MMA, and because he wished to «elaborate» on some of the general discussion of the Act set forth in the briefs and at oral argument.

Elaborate he did. Judge O’Connell’s 30-page opinion first notes that the possession, distribution and manufacture of marijuana remains a federal crime and further notes that Congress has expressly found the plant to have «no acceptable medical uses.»

In what will undoubtedly become a classic line from his opinion, Judge O’Connell writes, «I will attempt to cut through the haze surrounding this legislation.» The judge is skeptical that folks are really using pot to «medicate» and suspects that they are using the plant for recreational purposes.

He also takes note of the poor quality of the legislation to the extent that it conflicts with other provisions set forth in the Health Code.

Judge O’Connell next takes a tour de force through the legislative history of the MMA. Here, we learn that the act was based on model legislation proposed by lobbyists known as the Marijuana Policy Project of Washington D.C. The group advances both the medicinal and recreational uses of marijuana.

«Confusion», and lots of it, is how Judge O’Connell views the MMA. In one of the many footnotes to his opinion, the Judge warns against all marijuana use until the score is settled, once and for all, by the Michigan Supreme Court:

Until our Supreme Court provides a final comprehensive interpretation of this act, it would be prudent for the citizens of this state to avoid all use of marijuana if they do not wish to risk violating state law. I again issue a stern warning to all: please do not attempt to interpret this act on your own. Reading this act is similar to participating in the Triwizard Tournament described in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: the maze that is this statute is so complex that the final result will only be known once the Supreme Court has had an opportunity to review and remove the haze from this act.

Euan Abercrombie, 1st year student at the Hogwarts school would probably remark; «Wow».

For their part, the criminal defense bar, commenting via listserv, have basically gone wild over the concurring opinion, with its multiple web site references and pictures of marijuana advertisements. The consensus among the defense bar, however, is that the majority opinion is correct and that Judge Anderson, at the end of the day, got it right; Redden was not the cleanest case to dismiss under the Act.

The Oakland County Sheriff and Prosecutor correctly anticipated the Court of Appeals’ September decision. A few weeks prior to the Redden decision, they conducted a series of dispensary raids, ruffling tons of feathers along the way.

Of course, an application for leave to appeal has been filed with the Michigan Supreme Court.

For additional procedural guidance, we have prepared a legal guide for the MMA for those seeking to use marijuana for legitimate palliative purposes under the Act. Take note, however, that at least one appellate jurist would have folks managing chronic «pain» with prescription meds until the medical marijuana mess is sorted out by our Supreme Court.

Redden is not the only case causing some MMA consternation. Rodney Koon’s case has received notoriety. Koon was convicted of a misdemeanor because he admitted to police that he used marijuana to «medicate» earlier in the day that he was pulled-over by the police. Koon also admitted to consuming a beer, but his blood alcohol was within legal limits. Without sufficient funds to appeal, Koon is stuck with his conviction, even though he had a pot card at the time of his arrest.

Ordinances have sprung-up across the state to truncate the scope of the MMA. Bloomfield Hills, for example, passed an ordinance in October requiring card-carrying certified medical marijuana users to register with the Bloomfield Township Police Department. The ordinance also requires the submission of a form to the police disclosing the «patient’s» drivers license number and date of birth, whether the patient owns or rents their home, and identifying how many other patients share their home.

In addition, the ordinance limits the number of medical marijuana patients that can live at one address and prohibits growing medical marijuana anywhere in Bloomfield Township. Violation of the ordinance is a 93-day misdemeanor carrying a $500 fine.

Bloomfield Hills is among several municipalities that have passed ordinances that restrict the provisions of the Medical Marijuana Act, criminalize conduct authorized by the Act, or both.

Now the ordinance is the subject of a lawsuit filed against the township by two crafty [their «clients» are John and Jane Doe] veteran criminal defense attorneys: Tom Loeb and Neil Rockind. The lawsuit, undoubtedly heading to the Michigan Supreme Court, does not seek money damages but rather, declarative and injunctive relief.

Township by township, the MMA is coming under fire for a glaring flaw: it is a ruse for recreational pot users. Yes, there are legitimate medical marijuana users out there, in spades, for whom the MMA was designed to help. There are also many «patients» whose medical records were reviewed with a passing glance by a physician more interested in the high-volume review fees than in determining whether the person has a genuine chronic medical condition of the sort required by the MMA. The LawBlogger wonders how many certified users, among the tens of thousands of backlogged applicants, are under the age of 25; or are college kids whose only chronic condition is their desire to party down.

As these legal challenges grind through the court system over the next two or three years, the MMA will be subject to death-by-ordinance on a township-by-township basis. Attorneys Rockind and Loeb remarked in their press conference announcing their lawsuit that the ordinance in Bloomfield Hills cannot stand to the extent it contradicts a valid Michigan law.

While it may not be the best example of tightly drafted legislation; while it undoubtedly suffers from problems of perception/deception, the MMA is a valid state law. The appellate courts will have no choice but to invalidate ordinances that limit the scope of the Act, or criminalize it’s legitimate purposes.

This past fall, the recent election was a set-back for progressive marijuana laws. California’s Proposition 19 lost by a vote of 56% to 44%. If successful, the proposed law would have been the first in the country to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

In Arizona, the medical marijuana proposition lost.

In California, the pot initiative lost because too few voters under age 26 turned out and moderate voters rejected the initiative. Recent violence with Mexican drug gangs in both California and Arizona did not help either initiative.

Mixed messages float around the issue here in Michigan. Recently, a huge pot-expo scheduled for the Pontiac Silverdome, billed as the largest pot-party in the world, was canceled at the last minute.

All this raises the questions: do we really need to legalize pot? Is ours a pot-smoking nation? Does marijuana have genuine palliative properties?

One of the major problems of perception with medical marijuana laws is that folks are simply going through the administrative steps to get «medically» certified to use pot, but are smoking on a recreational basis.

No good comes of a law that sets requirements that are perceived as a farce. It would perhaps be better to legalize marijuana outright, then regulate its production, sale, and distribution.

California was really looking forward to billions in pot-derived state revenue. Here in Michigan, there is confusion about who can legally grow pot and how it should be grown and distributed to «patients». In Arizona, the question is too close to call 3-days after the mid-term elections.

So then, what are they smoking? That’s what Detroit-based Cannabis Counsel lawyer Matthew Abel is asking of the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee, who met earlier this year, in January, in order to discuss a package of bills which would amend the public health code so that medical marijuana must be dispensed by pharmacists, and to classify medical marijuana as a schedule 2 controlled substance.

«It seems that if the legislature ever passed these bills, they would be in conflict with the medical marijuana statute,» Abel said. «So they’d need a 3/4 vote to supersede the law, and you know that they can’t even get 3/4 of the legislature to agree on lunch, let alone this.»

Southfield-based lawyer Michael Komorn, who also serves as the treasurer for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, said the bills are similar to bills introduced last year; last year, the bills which also would have allowed for 10 marijuana growing facilities to be affiliated with a pharmacy, got no traction.

This year’s incarnation of the bills would essentially make all production of medical marijuana illegal, though use would still be protected by law, Komorn said.

«It’s like the stamp act, arcane and without any understanding of what really is going on with patient needs,» Komorn said. «Bottom line, this is an attempt to repeal the Michigan medical marijuana act.»

It’s impossible, Abel said, to require dispensing of medical marijuana through pharmacies.

«They don’t have a supply, and no way to get it. There’s just no way for them to do it,» Abel said.

Still, he’s resting easy with the idea that the bills are going nowhere, and are really more about grandstanding for political popularity than they are about the Michigan medical marijuana law.

Now that the MMA has been around long enough to generate some interesting cases and controversies, we must wait until one of them percolates through the Michigan Supreme Court in order to get a true sense of this legislation. Our blog takes the position that the MMA is flawed and thus, exposed to failure, so long as it can be used to mask recreational pot use. Perhaps the most common sense thing to do at this point is what Peter Tosh called for world-wide: just legalize it.

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Thinking About Going "Saltless" or "Sugarless"? Things You Should Consider

Cravings for Salt and for Sugar

If you, like me, are either diabetic, overweight, or both, I’ll bet your Doctor has told you, on more than one occasion, «Cut down on salt and stop using sugar.» While it’s easy to avoid adding sugar or sprinkling salt on our food, there are just too many places where salt and sugar hide. Processed meats, cheeses, prepared soups, Chinese take-outs, non-diet soda drinks, and even the lowly restaurant-prepared green leafy salads are all prime suspects.

Salt, is a conundrum Spice. Salt, chemically known as Sodium Chloride, is one of those minerals that are both beneficial and toxic to life. Also known by its chemical moniker, NaCl, salt in its various forms will be actively sought out by living creatures, instinctively. Everybody remembers putting out salt licks for wandering animals, especially in the winter months.

But there is a dark side: too much salt leads to liquid retention and in some cases, death.

Since ancient times, salt has been prized, either as an additive for foods or a preservative. Meat was regularly salted for long ocean or caravan trips between ancient peoples.

Our word for «money», salary, derives from a Roman custom of paying their troops in salt instead of hard currency.

For most of us in these modern ages, the foods we eat have been processed to include salt. Accordingly, we tend to overindulge our bodies in salt. While it is true that we need about 2.5 grams, or about 2500 mg salt daily for life, our modern foods typically give us more than the without our adding more salt.

Did you know that even salads served at restaurants are loaded with salt?

What do we use in place of Salt?

We could switch to some form of salt substitute. There are a number of readily available salt substitutes on the market, and almost all of them are based on some form of Potassium Chloride (KCl).

For most people for KCl is that it does stimulate our taste buds in a manner similar to NaCl salt. The down side is that for a considerable number of us, KCl leaves a bitter, metallic after taste.

Commercial formulations include «NoSalt,» straight KCl, NuSalt, and blends of NaCl and KCl, «SoSalt,» a blend of KCl and lysine. All of those are designed to stimulate our taste buds to trick us into thinking we’re tasting «salt.»

But there are alternatives. If you go on-line, you’ll find a host of articles that describe alternatives to Sodium Chloride (NaCl), notably herbs, citruses, and spices that also trick the body into believing its encountering NaCl.

While this article does not purport to be the «be all, end all» of salt substitutes, it recognizes that we do get a lot of salt ‘naturally’ through our processed foodstuffs.

Another downside of using Potassium Chloride-based salt substitutes is that the body does retain both NaCl and KCl. In the case of Potassium, we can easily overdose ourselves with Potassium and indeed ‘poison’ ourselves with too much Potassium.

Overdosing from Potassium is called Hyperkalemia.» Symptoms of hyperkalemia include but are not limited to, muscle weakness, tiredness, tingling sensations, or nausea. Severe overdoses can cause slow heartbeat, weak pulse and severe drops in blood pressure. Other symptoms reported include stomach pains, general feeling sick, and diarrhea. Other symptoms include: fatigue or weakness, a feeling of numbness or tingling, nausea or vomiting, problems breathing, chest pain, palpitations or skipped heartbeats.

But how can we eliminate adding salt to our diet without also adding Potassium? One of the most effective ways is to use a salt substitute that is potassium free, but still manages to stimulate our salivary glands is the same way that salt does.

Salt Substitutes:

We’ve already mentioned the more popular commercially available salt substitutes: NoSalt, SoSalt, and the like. All of these types of products are various forms of Potassium Chloride.

As we’ve also noted, most people don’t notice the taste difference, a sour, metallic aftertaste.

Coupled with the possibility of getting too much Potassium in your diet, these Potassium-based salt substitutes are not that healthy for you.

Fortunately, there are other salt substitutes on the market. These operate by stimulating receptors in the mouth that make us feel like we’ve ingested salt. The most effective contain some form of citrus or citric acid.

I have tried six commercially available products, Bragg™ Sprinkle Herb and Spice Seasoning, Mrs. Dash™ Salt Free Seasonings, Lawry’s™ Salt Free 17 Seasoning, Benson’s™ – Table Tasty Salt Substitute, Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning, and Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Seasoning Blends Magic Salt Free Seasoning.

All are acceptable alternatives to Potassium-based salt substitutes.

However, you may find others. There are even recipes on-line for concocting your own salt substitute that are sodium-free.

In this article, when I call out for «salt substitute», feel free to use whatever brand or version suits your fancy.

Sugar Substitutes:

There are a number of sugar substitutes on the market. Some contain natural ingredients, some contain only artificial ingredients.

I have tried most of them, and try to stay away from any artificial sweetener containing aspartame and similar artificially created ingredients.

Processed natural sweeteners, made from naturally occurring plant extracts, such as Swerve™, Stevia™, Monk fruit and sugar alcohols (such as erythritol or xylitol) tend to taste sweeter than sugar (Stevia™ is 200X sweeter than sugar). However, there are downsides for most of them.

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni)

The Stevia plant gets its sugary sweetness from a series of compounds, especially steviosides and rebaudiosides, that are estimated to be 150-400 times sweeter than common sugar. Because of the ease of processing, the commercial product named Stevia™ is usually made from Rebaudioside-A, or just «Reb-A». Reb-A does, however, leave a bitter, unpleasant licorice aftertaste.

Other Rebaudiosides, notably Reb-D and Reb-M, are more «sugar-like», and do not have any aftertaste. Reb-D is the most prevalent, and sugar substitutes containing Reb-D are now appearing in the marketplace. Their containers are clearly marked with «Reb-D». One such product is Stevia Naturals™, that has a taste very close to «real» sugar.

Erythritol

Erythritol, in granular form, dissolves slowly in liquids, but the powdered «confectioner’s » form is preferred: it dissolves much quicker.

Erythritol is not generally a 1:1 replacement for sugar. The ratio is more like 1: 1?, requiring a third more Erythritol than its sugar counterpart. However, the aftertaste of straight Erythritol is not as satisfying as sugar.

Monk Fruit Extract

Combinations of Monk Fruit extract and Erythritol do indeed taste much like sugar, and are affordable and acceptable alternatives to sugar, especially in baking. I’ve used this commercially available combination to make very good pancakes and waffles.

Xylitol

Xylitol is one of the compounds categorized as sugar alcohols. Chemically, sugar alcohols have a molecular composition that replicates and combines traits of both sugar and alcohol, hence the name. Naturally occurring compounds, sugar alcohols can be found in many fruits and vegetables. Humans also produce small amounts of Xylitol by way of normal metabolism.

However, Xylitol is not calorie free.

Sugar contains, on average, 4 calories per gram.

Xylitol contains 2.4 calories per gram.

Xylitol has 40% less carbs than sugar, but it still has carbs. Because of its low glycemic index, Xylitol is a very good sugar alternative for weight management and for diabetics and pre-diabetics.

Sugar alcohols tend to have low glycemic indexes – the measure of how the compound elevates blood sugar. Xylitol has a glycemic index of 7, while sugar has a glycemic index of 60-70.

Sugar alcohols, although technically a carbohydrate, tend not to raise blood sugar levels while giving the impression that you are ingesting sugar. Sugar alcohols are popular sweeteners for soft drinks and for low carb products.

You use Xylitol as a 1:1 direct replacement for sugar.

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Pilates Breath – The Goal That Keeps on Giving

Pilates is huge. Not in the cultural sense. Pilates was somehow everywhere before most people had even heard of it. Nor do I mean financially, that phase seems to have peaked. No, the hugeness I refer to is that of the system itself. A lot of folks might not realize how big the total body of the work is. Or, that the different routines inter-relate to support each other. Six different machines plus the mat, three to five Levels and Lengths of routine each, the volume of choreography and information is equal to a Black Belt in a respectable Martial Art.

Consider also, that the work evolved over decades to support consistent ideals. Meaning to say, if you are struggling with an intermediate or advanced mat exercise, there will very likely be a reformer or Cadillac exercise designed specifically to help you. The system is so wide that there are multiple directions one could take one’s study of Pilates. And, it can be confusing. Navigating the hugeness means having a goal, a relevant goal, maybe a series of relevant goals. Knowing where you want to go is as important as starting at the beginning.

Pilates, like any worthwhile pursuit, has layered goals. What one strives to «master» today may be no more than a prerequisite for next week’s study. Some goals we transition past and never look back. When was the last time you practiced your times tables? Other types of goal are never met, simple at first but progressively more difficult to maintain. «Keep your hands up.» is hardly news in the first seconds of a boxing match, but it turns into Rocket Science as the rounds progress. Without that basic skill firmly in place… other skills will lose their relevance. The Boxer becomes vulnerable.

Pilates has a similar vulnerability. The more advanced moves are as tempting as they are complicated. We tend to want to notch our belts as we did on the earlier moves. But those moves were simpler, and the incorporation of good breath goals are stressed quite clearly. The very structure of many basic Pilates movements helps to show the need for breath as a tool, and not merely a metronome. «Spine Stretch» and «Roll up» are both good examples of this for different reasons.

«Spine stretch» is obscure and a simple «inhale when you do this/exhale when you do that» will not help you find the always subtle, and initially distant, sensation of the Nuchal Ligament. However, if you demand that both inhale and exhale display classical hallmarks of intentional breathing as, or before, the outward movement begins, then you will at least have a direction for your efforts even if they aren’t immediately rewarded with a clear feeling. The exercise itself helps us focus on the mechanics of breath.

Look at «Roll up». For most of us, this exercise is just hard enough that we can only do it if our breath really helps. Saying your exhale at just the right time, like a line on cue, is not going to get your torso up off the deck. An actual redistribution of body weight is needed for most of us, and until we stop «trying harder» and let the breath lead, we are doomed to flop and arch like a fish (Well I did, and I’m pretty strong.). A Perfect Basic Exercise because success, and ohh, let’s call it «pre-success» are self evident. If the Client/Practitioner is striving or tensing in a possible injurious way, then that will also quickly reveal itself. Again, Seemly the definition of a Basic Exercise.

The Vulnerability I spoke of lies in the more advanced moves. As the complexity and difficulty increase, the self corrective aspects decrease. Its the standard » ‘nuff-rope-to-hang-yourself problem «. Please examine «Arabesques» in the Advanced Reformer. There is potential for repetitive stress damage to the hip, lumbar, and shoulder. These damages could take months to show themselves, and you would have been enjoying your workout the whole time. Problems of this nature ought to be solved by Breath. Using the inhale or exhale to align the skeleton before movement lends protection from as well as sensitivity to distortion. The original sensations of proper skeletal alignment are stored within a focused, almost ritual Breath.

Retaining these sensations is the best way to protect yourself as you progress, and the breath is always there to provide guidance. Without that guidance, you cannot know if you are safe or even correct. It is a layered goal. Don’t leave home without it.

Now, all of this presupposes that somewhere along the line you were taught an ideal breath to create alignment and activate your core. That you practiced enough for it to morph from choreography to sensation. That you own it at a deeper than verbal level. This is super important because your verbal learning parts are always busy at Pilates Class.

The necessary relationship between core and alignment need not be re-proven. It is how these two triangulate with the breath that needs to be more closely observed. The core is forever linked to breath by a simple fact. A person’s «Core» is like Big-foot, it cannot be photographed. It doesn’t exist in stillness, there are no muscles you could lock into place to display it. Your «Core» is more of an event than a collection of anatomy. It only manifests during motion like climbing or running or jumping or, best of all, breathing. The essential support for the essential movement. The «flow» (a Pilates buzz word) or counter-tension in the low frontal torso is a response to breath.

The primary muscle of inspiration is, of course, the diaphragm. Neither the core (a list of muscles and tendons) nor the «Core» (a holistic event) respond to the Diaphragm. The Diaphragm exerts no upward force and does not expand or contract the Ribcage. Those functions are served by the secondary muscles of inspiration and these are the muscles that trigger core response. Furthermore, the greater the total percentage of secondary inspiration muscles activated, the greater the total percentage of core muscles activated.

Whole careers (mine included) are based on describing this phenomenon. My favorite visual metaphor is of a mushroom cloud, an omnidirectional expanding plume driven ever higher by an arcane column of force, oh yeah, that’s the stuff. In reality, its kind of the opposite. Your Ribcage is cleverly anchored to your Spine, Shoulders, and Head and the secondary muscles of inspiration pull it multi-directionally away from the Diaphragm’s tug. This enhances the basic function of the Diaphragm and creates more expansion in the Ribcage. It also serves to counter the downward pull so you don’t slump. Because expansion and contraction of the Ribcage are necessarily linked to the Ribcage traveling up and down the Spine, even a rudimentary study of improving Ribcage volume (not total breath volume) will enhance Spinal alignment. Simply put, you could stifle this monorail-esque traveling up and down the Spine of your Ribcage, but then you could never reach or improve your Ribcage Volume potential. The up/down is structurally built into the expand/contract of the Ribcage. The longer and straighter your Spine, the further up your ribs can go, the further up, the more they can expand. So, it follows that breath and alignment are permanently linked, but it goes deeper than that. A well studied breath can create significant therapeutic effects in and of itself. Consider that the maximally expanded Ribcage shows the least imprint of tension, stress pattern, or injury. An exhale begun from this point has the best chance of ending in an optimal contraction. A well studied exhale can reset the scapula and neck, lessening the unwanted imprint. Even the Diaphragm itself, as it resets during the exhale, gives direction to the Spine if not actual support.

A complete list of the secondary muscles of inspiration would invite tepid debate and violate the spirit I’m trying to create. Namely, that you should/ought/must spend some shirtless time in front of a mirror isolating, recognizing, and recreating the effect until some measure of clarity and confidence develop. Ya’ know, practice.

My description shall be inexact and imperfect, try to have fun with it. Get all skins to the waist in front of a good, well lit mirror. Since we are studying the inhale first, we’ll need to finish a pretty good exhale as a jumping point. For our purposes, a good exhale is one that vents air without losing any height. Not as easy as it sounds. The mirror reveals that our exhale tends to slightly lessen bearing, bust, and stature. Just keeping your full height as the air flows completely out is a good challenge. All tall and empty, your inhales should begin as I describe. If it doesn’t, one possible reason might be that having pursued your exhale into unknown territory, your inhale is coming with awkward suddenness. A bit of practice will help find the difference between a complete exhale and an intense one. At the beginning, your pre-contracted ribs will seek to expand due to stored potential energy. Allowing them to do so helps start the process which we hope to enhance. The low belly will draw inward and upward, keeping pace with the rising Ribcage. This effect will persist for less than half the total inhale, and may be staccato or intermittent. More practice will smooth this out until each studied inhale has a gut-in and a gut-out phase, with the first phase ending as the ribs stop expanding. The directionality of the guts during the gut-in phase is «Core». Elongating this core active, gut-in phase is the main benefit of Pilates, and also the key to progressing in it as well. It may feel goofy at first but, you can increase your personal quotient of Ribcage expansion.

The mirror is vital at the outset when the sensations of progress are unfamiliar. Seeing breath happen real-time aids in rooting out unnecessary tension patterns (Hulk Smash!) normally present during exertion. Various muscle groups may need to relax against habit so you can see/feel the Ribcage expand or the «Core» manifest. In other words, an extra big Ribcage does not require shoulders like football pads. Use that mirror!

You’ve already absorbed the key aspect of a good exhale, so I’ll just elaborate a bit. The further your exhale progresses without a loss of height, the more correctly you have contracted your Ribcage. Begun well, the pattern is easy to follow. The mirror should report greater release of Trapezius and most other neck area muscles. What the mirror might not reveal is the upward resetting of the Diaphragm, although its productive effects may be visible elsewhere in the Spine.

Good inhales beget good exhales, but it will take focus time to modulate the intensity and chain these events into a series we Scholars call breathing. Until this goal is achieved, its wise to avoid the complicated or dangerous exercises because the whole point of the advanced work is to retain the benefits of proper breathing through the more distracting or difficult challenges.

Breath is the goal that keeps on giving, and the reason why I never accept money from anyone for their first Pilates session. I want to change their view of Life, the Thoracic Universe, and Exercise. I don’t want to talk about skinniness or studliness or serenity or even layered goals, I just want to talk about breath.

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The Top 8 Myths You Need to Shatter To Become A Published Author

One of the greatest feelings on earth one can experience is to join the ranks of published authors. Once your book is published you join the ranks of the immortals. You begin to rub shoulders with legends like Homer, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Frederick Douglass, Virginia Woolf, Tom Peters, Peter Drucker, to mention just seven.

With the advent of the internet many are joining the book writing train with gusto but the overwhelming majority are being held back by pervasive myths about book writing and the book trade in general. This article sets out to debunk the top 8 myths, clearing the way for you to jump into the book writing fraternity and publish your New York Times best seller starting now. Jump in, the water is warmer than you think, but first, the myths.

1. Book writing is for the most educated people

The most educated people are professors, some with triple PhDs. The likes of Marshall Goldsmith, Michael Porter, Ali Mazrui all come to mind. But do you know the very first writer had no education at all? Homer, one of the earliest writers whose works date back more than 2500 years ago had no academic qualification. If Homer could do it then, you have no excuse whatever with all the resources available in the internet, Google, Amazon, that make book writing a walk through the park.

2. Only old people write books

This myth is related to the fact that the earliest drawings and artworks of writers always depicted them with long white beards. The earliest writings by prophets, the apostles, and disciples all had this hue. While that might have been the case in ancient times, today a writer can be of any age. Dorothy Straight was only six when her book, How the World Began, was published in 1962. Christopher Paolini, the author of The Inheritance Cycle, a best-selling book series that has sold over 20 million copies was 15 when the first cycle was released. So start writing your book as young people write books too.

3. You must be wise to write a book

This myth is closely aligned to myth one but takes the myth a notch higher. Wise men by definition have stellar education, have white beards, and a sprinkling of blessing from on high so the saying goes. Nothing can be further from the truth as myth two already debunked above clarifies. Some of the world’s most beloved authors are ordinary men and women that have found their passion and a message to share with the world. Such is the case of the Delany sisters, Sarah Louise Delany and Annie Elizabeth Delany, who wrote their first book in 1994, aged 106 and 104. Sarah was a school teacher and Annie a dentist. Their book, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, set the reading world on fire and became New York Times best-seller. The import of the story is that you are never too old or too young, and you don’t have to be a wise person to write a book.

4. You must be an expert before you can write a book

This myth is closely aligned to myth two also earlier debunked but with the added twist that you must be a celebrity recognized the world over as an expert in your field before you can write a book. In this regard, Ben Carson, widely recognized as one of the world’s most gifted neurosurgeons, quickly comes to mind. Ironically none of Ben Carson’s over 10 books, including The Gifted Hands, The Big Picture, and A More Perfect Union, is on neurosurgery. Neither are Bill Gates books, The Road Ahead, and Business At the Speed of Thought on coding and computer programming. So you don’t have to be an expert to write a book as you can write on any subject that tickles your imagination.

5. You need an agent to get your book published

This must have been the case in the era that no longer exists when the powerful and monopolistic publishing houses held sway. Today, with self publishing companies, widely derided before by the powerful publishing monopolies as vanity publishing, helping lesser mortals like me and you to bring our ideas and stories to light, anybody can write a book and get it published. So say goodbye to literary agents and get your book off to a roaring start starting now.

6. It is very expensive to publish a book

This was the case in the analogue age when literary agents held sway. It cost a small fortune in those days to get a literary agent. Literary agents were like investment bankers, the charged by the hour and only the most financially well-heeled could afford them. Thanks to technology, today that’s no longer the case. In fact, some self publishing technologies, like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Create Space, and ACX are so simple, you can produce an E-Book, a paper back or audio book from the comfort of your laptop only. You don’t even need to convert your book into any arcane language like mobi or epub, the Amazon platforms do everything for you. Type your book in MS-Word and leave the rest to the Amazon platforms and you’re a published author. So is it very expensive to publish a book? The answer is self- evident.

7. You need seven years to write one book

This point is both a myth and a fact. It is a fact, in the sense that anything worth doing is worth doing well. Take Michael Jackson, widely revered as «King of Pop», as an extreme example. On average it took him between three to five years apart to come out with his mega albums such as Off The Wall (1979), Thriller (1982) and Bad (1987). At the same time you don’t need seven years to come up with a well crafted story. John Locke who has written more than 12 books and sold more than a million eBooks publishes his books an average of nine months apart. Recently I learnt from Chandler Bolt a «secret» how to write a 200-page book within 90 days, so be rest assured you don’t need seven years to write a thriller.

8. Book writing is difficult

This myth is a summary of all the other myths we have so far covered. If you have read up to this point, you will agree that writing a book and getting it published is easy and achievable by anyone – baby, man, woman, educated and not so educated. Anytime any of these myths rear their ugly heads, take a deep breath and shout at the top of your voice, I know what you are, you are just a myth and I am going ahead to write and publish my book right now.

There is no better time in all of human history than now to write a book and get your voice heard the world over. Everyone has a story, tell yours as others have told theirs. You could become a New York Times best-selling author. Take the case of J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. Her first book was rejected by several publishers but she persisted and today she’s one of the wealthiest people in the UK. The same can also be said of Jack Canefield and Mark Victor Hansen of the Chicken Soup for the Soul fame. According to them, the first book in the series was rejected a whopping 400 times but they pressed on and today the Chicken Soup for the Soul series has sold over a billion copies. So start writing even if you hate writing. There is a trick you can unleash to start loving to write. I promise to reveal to you the secret if you are willing to let me show you. This is the secret: start writing now. Pick a piece of paper and a pen and write on the top of the blank paper I LOVE WRITING and just keep writing until you have written 250 words. Was that not simple?

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Modern Marketing – Viral Marketing?

What Is Viral Marketing?

It’s hard not to notice that modern telecommunications have seriously changed virtually every aspect of our life. Just ten years ago, we’d never heard of Google, a word that has since entered the dictionary. Five years ago, YouTube wasn’t a household name. Just a year ago, nobody had even heard of Twitter. Now they’re all huge parts of our society. After all, you’re reading this article on your computer right now. Not surprisingly, advertising has sought to keep up with changing trends, to be relevant to a society raised on absolute communication.

Viral marketing is a broad term used to describe an advertising concept in which advertisers take advantage of people’s social networks to increase brand awareness and product sales. While that probably sounds vague and arcane, it’s actually quite simple. Viral marketing uses word of mouth to spread its message. The trick is to somehow inspire people to talk about your marketing gimmick in a way that raises product awareness and increases sales. The name «viral marketing» refers to the way the advertising spreads rapidly and organically, like a virus.

To do this, companies produce all sorts of alternative forms of advertising, from internet games to video clips, software, and even text messages. Marketers identify people or demographics most likely to respond to the advertising and spread it, and then tailor the campaign to these people. The basic premise is that once these people accept the advertising, they will begin to spread it to other people, which will spread to other people, and so on. Viral marketing has gotten so advanced that there are algorithms used to describe the rate with which it spreads, and the maximum solvency the advertising will achieve.

Some of the most famous examples of viral marketing include:

  • The ad campaign leading up to the 1999 film The Blair Witch Project, which involved web sites and publications which claimed that the film was factual rather than fictional.
  • In 2002, luxury car manufacturer BMW produced a series of short films featuring their cars. The directors ranged from famous to up-and-comers, including John Frankenheimer, Wong Kar-Wai, John Woo, and Tony Scott. The films starred Clive Owen, and developed a serious fan base.
  • Burger King is particularly known for the technique, including a website called «Subservient Chicken» which allowed visitors to type in requests that a video chicken would perform. Another campaign involved leaving wallets around certain American metropolitan areas. The wallets contained money and coupons for Burger King products and came with a note explaining the gimmick.

Viral marketing is just the latest attempt of advertising to communicate something unique and personal to the public.

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Art Graduate Survival 101 – What Support Can Art Students Look To?

The cuts to the art industry is one of the most short-sighted acts of vandalism in recent years. With prospects for graduates glooming, what support can art students look to?

Google search results can be terrifying. See also: uncertain career paths, wonky prospects, and a vague idea of what life after art school even is. After chalking-up years of arduously studying art, history, and a whole lot of Foucault, art students slip into a workforce that doesn’t always appreciate the curation of heterotopias, but would rather appreciate extra foam on their cappuccino. Occupying Starbucks, art student’s attitudes become as bitter as the coffee they’re hired to make.

The landscape that art graduates encounter isn’t one Theresa May would find strong or stable. It’s on shaky grounds, and not many institutions are facing the matter of art graduates. In 2016, only 69.1% of fine art graduates landed a job. Such jobs were mainly retail, catering, and a rather ominous ‘other’ category. This is as worrying as it is important. These statistics make a powerful and compelling case for the precarious situatedness of graduates. Is studying Herodotus something we should pay people to do? Currently, it’s a no. The cultural work graduates can offer is restricted, dismissed, and erased by non-art circles. The (mis)treatment of art graduates is a sign that something is wrong with how particular societies locate the arts.

Upcoming artists are crucial to keeping things fresh. Whilst we pay these practises a certain amount of lip-service and Instagram postage, clicks and shares won’t pay the rent. Art institutions are crucial in providing platforms and forums for the curation of new and promising artistic modes. But some of these can be arcane, leaving art studies struggling to exoterically explain their art. University faculties take refuge in niches. Whilst this enables students to navigate specificities, the outside world neglects this.

Art award schemes can provide graduates an opportunity beyond the white walls of university to express themselves. The variety and vitality of schemes, such as the BP Portrait Award, Frieze Artist Award, and the Sunny Art Prize, provide ways for upcoming artists to be recognised globally. When Art was listed top of Forbes’ 10 worst college majors across the pond, the need for healthy art exchanges is needed more than ever before.

Over 2,557 artists from across 80 countries applied for the BP Portrait Award in 2016. 53 artists were selected by the judging panel and saw their still life come to life in the National Portrait Gallery. So, when just 2% of artists who enter find their work selected and be in the running for £30,000, the program provides a critical platform for portraiture; an arguably dying medium. By divorcing strict figuration, the portraits range from tactile finger painting-esque pieces, to photorealist methods. Commissioned works come to form an exhibition that represents the diversity, creativity, and vision of contemporary portraiture. The competition carries the prestige capable of changing an emerging artist’s life.

Jettisoning the portrait, we encounter spatial arrangements that test the idea of the site in the Frieze Artist Award. The competition allows emerging artists to realise a major commission at Frieze London. The site-specific works are ambitious, often interrogating concepts of digital media, video, and sculpture and the methods in which these can find relief. Previous winners range from Yuri Pattison’s navigation of the self-as-data across networked data systems, Rachel Rose’s layering of communication and sensory perception, and Mélaine Metranga’s unhurried negotiation of emotional-economic exchanges in a series of videos and an on-site café-installation. Produced under the guidance of the Frieze Projects team, the Award sets a budget of up to £20,000.

The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition is one of the world’s largest open-submission showcase. The panoramic scope of the exhibition illustrates art’s pluriformity. Running since 1769, the Summer Exhibition is open to all artists and hangs within its palatial walls everything that is happening in the art scene. Both fresh and established artists can submit, and with £50,000 worth of prizes floating about, it’s a peak into the whimsical realm of contemporary art.

Held by the Sunny Art Centre, the Sunny Art Prize creates a transnational space for art from across the world to come together. The institution aims to showcase the plurality of fine art today, from 2-dimensional paintings to 3-dimensional sculptures. By crafting a worldy grammar through art, the competitions sees art from London, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Macau represented and articulated to a larger audience. Cash prizes are on offer (with up-to £3,000 for first prize) alongside a public solo exhibition at the Sunny Art Centre, and a one month residency along with a show at their partner galleries.

Visibility is key to art. It is a language not of stillness, but robust dialogue. It refuses to be silent. Art has been inflected with superficial associations, meaning that culture has become obfuscated. Art’s insights have been lost, so the sooner we find relief in art, the sooner we’ll view art graduates as more than future-baristas.

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Bringing Punctuation to Life (Part 2)

For many beginning writers – and some veterans as well – punctuation can get confusing. The rules of punctuation sometimes seem arcane, abstract, even random. But if we see punctuation as a form of traffic control – commands to stop, pause, look ahead, etc. – it’s easy to master these necessary rules of grammar. In a previous excerpt, we explained how to use periods, commas, colons, and semicolons.

Hyphenate words to combine ideas. People regularly coin new words by combining several words. Glued together with hyphens, these expressions often evolve into single words. The word for the America’s national pastime began as base ball, evolved to base-ball, and finally took the modern form of baseball. The latest example: electronic mail transmogrified into e-mail and then into email.

Hyphens offer a great way to show how things relate to each other. Consider the following sentence: «East-Coast liberals like Hillary Clinton differ from West-Coast liberals like Jerry Brown.» We could say, «liberals from the West Coast,» but that’s not as pithy.

Of course, connecting too many things with hyphenation can get silly. Thus: «The first-term-African-American senator from south-side Chicago made his first-ever run for the White House in 2008.»

Use em-dashes-like this-to make asides. If you want to set off whole phrases or lists, turn to an elongated hyphen known as the em-dash. Look at this sentence:

The Chicago Cubs’ inability to win a World Series for 100 years-a period that saw nineteen different presidents-has caused angst among fans.

The em-dash helps the author make an aside. The em-dash tells the reader to pause, as if to say, «Hey, check this out.»

Critics say the em-dash cheapens writing by encouraging a loose, informal style. To be sure, overusing any tool can be annoying. When we use the em-dash too much-like here-it distracts-and annoys-the reader. But in moderation-again, not like this-the em-dash offers a useful-and even fun-way to emphasize a point.

Use ellipses to show thought trailing off… Every time I see an ellipsis, a set of three dots, I hear the sound of the harp music. Ellipses (plural of ellipsis) suggest thought trailing off, pondering, open-ended ideas. Ellipses allow us to drift for a moment…

Case in point: «Dorothy considered her challenge: ‘If only I could get to see the Wizard of Oz… «‘ We see the girl with braided hair, a wicker basket, and a dog named Toto looking off into space, in her own world, lost in thought.

Ellipses also perform more technical task: marking gaps in quoted passages. Quotations often leave out whole sections. People rarely speak in compact packages, so writers need to stitch together comments made at different moments. To indicate a gap, use an ellipsis. Therefore, we can quote John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address this way:

Ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country…. Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

The ellipsis here indicates that the writer has cut words from the original source. Connecting one part of the quote to another makes a point quickly.

Psst: Use parentheses to make asides. Sometimes, you want to offer a tidbit of related information. That information might strengthen the argument (providing details or context) or simply offer an aside. (Ben Yagoda loves parentheses).

Parentheses offer an efficient way to add background information. When you want to provide examples of a several things, use parentheses rather than saying «for example» over and over. When Barack Obama began to assemble his administration in 2008, he drew from America’s elite universities. New York Times columnist David Brooks described the emerging team:

January 20, 2009, will be a historic day. Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford). Phil.).

Here an elite, there an elite, everywhere an elite. Brooks uses parentheses to make this point nicely.

Profligate use of parentheses makes writing choppy. It’s disorienting when you get taken off the main train of thought, over and over. On the other hand, sometimes you want to show just how choppy the world can be. «So are my parentheses part of my style?» Yagoda asks (rhetorically). «Actually, yes. I am drawn to them in part because they express my belief that the world and language are multifarious, knotty, and illuminated by digression.»

Use quotation marks to say exactly what someone said. To indicate that you are using someone’s exact words, use quotation marks. So:

«Ask not what you country can do for you,» President Kennedy said. «Ask what you can do for your country.»

Use the speaker’s exact words. If you want to paraphrase, quote only the words that were spoken and use your own words to connect the phrases. So:

After challenging the nation to «ask what you can do for your country,» President Kennedy challenged other nations to «ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.»

Punctuation usually belongs inside quotation marks Therefore: «Ask not what your country can do for you,» Kennedy said.

Put punctuation marks outside quotation marks to avoid confusion about what’s being quoted. When the TV journalist Tim Russert died, one website posted this headline: Tom Brokaw as Host of «Meet the Press?» The headline suggests that Brokaw was in fact the host, and that the program’s name contains a question. The headline should have asked, «Tom Brokaw as Host of «Meet the Press»?

Sometimes you need to quote someone quoting someone else. To do that, use single quotation marks, inside double quotation marks, like this:

«I went back to the doctor and he says, ‘Henry, I told you, you can’t make it, you’re going to die in that mine.’ I said, ‘Well, Dr. Craft, let me try it one more time,’ because I had some debts I wanted to pay.»

And what about a quote inside a quote inside a quote? Go back to double quotation marks («), like this:

«I met Joyce at the rally, and she called out to me, ‘Let’s sing something. How about, «Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around»? Let’s do that one.'»

Use exclamation marks-rarely!-to show excitement or get emphatic. I once worked with someone who used exclamation marks, lots of them, all the time!!!! Whether talking about something mundane or exciting, she ended every sentence with a throng of these happy punctuation marks!!!! I guess it’s not much different from someone who agrees with you all the time, or says «have a nice day» no matter what’s happening!!!! But it’s just too much!!!!

Sober wordsmiths avoid exclamation marks, except to show someone shouting. They note, for example, that the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech does not including shouting «Fire!» in a crowded theater. The novelist Elmore Leonard suggests using no more than two or three exclamation marks every 100,000 words (the length of a book). And I agree. Mostly! To show real emotion, tell a great story rather than relying on perky punctuation.

And yet, I so admire Tom Wolfe that I admit the value of any and all of his exclamations. By one count, Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of the Vanities contains 2,343 exclamation marks in 659 pages. «I’m trying to restore punctuation to its rightful place,» Wolfe once explained. «Dots, dashes, exclamation points were dropped out of prose because they ‘reeked of sentiment.’ But an! shows someone getting carried away. Why not? The writer carefully not using this punctuation doesn’t bother to convey what’s exciting to the reader.»

Wolfe uses the exclamation mark cleverly, conveying excessive zeal or innocence or naivete or boorishness. It works for him. For most of us, though, it’s like a sharp object better left in the drawer!

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Review of Trinity’s Convergence (A Trinity of Flames Book 1)

Author John Beachem weaves a unique and fascinating sci-fi fantasy tale, with intriguing twists and turns that will easily captivate the reader’s attention from the beginning. The author paints an adventurous and action-packed story in a very vivid and convincing way. In addition, the characters are drawn with great credibility and conviction. It’s a fast-paced novel that will keep you engaged from the first page to the last.

The book description gives a sneak preview; ‘Magic has vanished from the world. Whereas once every living person could wield the powers of the arcane as easily and naturally as breathing, those days ended in a flurry of fire and destruction that has left the world a shell of its former, glorious self. For generations, the survivors have struggled to find new ways to live with only mundane tools and abilities as they fight over resources and artifacts of the old world.

For Miryam and her family, survival means trade: moving across the lands by wagon and bartering for their livelihood. They stay away and apart from the conflicts that surround them, but a chance encounter with a stuttering, nebbish scholar changes everything. Finding herself caught in a lengthy, brutal struggle between two rival clans, Miryam now faces an uncertain future that may mean leaving everything she knows and loves behind. Worse, it means considering that her encounter may not have been chance, but the beginning of a preordained series of events that will lead her to become the savior of the world, or the one who finishes what the flames of magic started so long ago… ‘

The story had every element a good story should have. An exciting plot, attention to detail, but best of all fleshed out, well-written and well-rounded character development. There’s an abundance of well-illustrated scenes that really make you feel like you are right there in the story, and that’s something I really look for in a good book.

Captivating and commendable, this work had me immersed from the beginning. The story flowed from scene to scene with ease, and the author shows exceptional ability when it comes to storytelling. There are plenty of attention-grabbing moments in this page turner that will take the reader on a truly spellbinding journey!

It’s one of those books that come along occasionally that makes you want to read it non-stop until you get to the end. I’m giving nothing further away here. And this, I hope, will only add to the mystery and enjoyment for the reader.

Now, if what I’ve said above isn’t enough to whet your appetite, I don’t know what will. But if you want to find out what happens, you’ll just have to turn the pages for yourself! However, I will say it was well worth the read. It’s my first time reading this author and I must say I was very impressed.

If this book is anything to go by, I’ll certainly be looking forward to reading more from John Beachem in the future. I would definitely recommend this book and would love to see it adapted for the Silver Screen. I honestly think this would make a great movie. It goes without saying, that this story bares all the hallmarks of making a great series. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

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Top 100 Salsa Dance Songs – A Dancer’s Perspective (Part I)

When it comes to pleasing the dancers, you need to play the top 100 salsa dance songs. But, what are they and who decides what the top 100 salsa dance songs are?

That is a question that many salsa DJs have pondered, when trying to play the top 100 salsa dance songs for their audience. There’s just such a wide variety in styles, speeds, singers and songs that makes choosing a hand full (or even the one to play next) such a dilemma. A good DJ always finds a way to please the majority, though. On the other hand, a novice DJ, who doesn’t have the skill level, knowledge or has ever been a true, dance to the meaning of the song and music, salsero… well, a disaster is an understatement.

There have been times, when I have had a PARTICULARLY hard day and I’m so stressed out! I go to the salsa clubs, in hopes of hearing some of the top 100 salsa dance songs that will transform my stress to joy. Some DJs, from the first note/beat just manage to truly perform miracles, by playing songs that are not only fun to listen to, but exiting to dance. The blood starts circulating and yet there’s a chill in your spine. The feet start moving… and no matter how aware of people staring at you, that you are, you just can’t help but move your feet (and get lost in that rhythm!).

Then, there are those DJs that don’t understand the music or the words, much less the meaning or feeling , of the songs. The kind of DJs that either play the same songs over and over, in the same sequence even, every time they DJ at an event/club. OR even worse, the kind that seems like they just stopped at the local Starbucks, saw a salsa CD in between the Frank Sinatra and the Yoga Relaxation Jazz CDs and decided… «sounds good, I’ll play that all night».

As an «Old Style» salsa dancer, whom understands what the singer is singing (and his «soneos» [improvisations]), that stuff just totally turns my salsa joy dial, almost, all the way down, as disappointment sets in, longing to hear any of the top 100 salsa dance songs instead.

What you will find, below, is a list I have compiled of the top 100 salsa dance songs that are being played by DJs all over the world. It is a compilation of the most common songs found on DJ website and articles from all over the world. I spent 2 months researching, asking questions and listening to each song to prove it’s validity (It started as a list of 500; but I’ve taken out all Cha-cha’s and some Merengues that sneaked their way in). I also broke the list down to 5 top 100 salsa dance songs lists. KEEP in mind, there are many more than these top 100 salsa dance songs out there; These are just THE ones, DJs all over the world have chosen (to post, at least), according to my research; plus a few of my own, that I play when DJing. Also, they are in alphabetical order and NOT in order of popularity or dance-ability. If you would like to submit YOUR top songs for consideration for this list, leave us a comment with your suggestions.

Here’s the top 100 salsa dance songs…

|Name| Artist| Album| Duration|

|1-800- Quiereme| Luisito Rosario| Rumba Del Barrio| 4:06|

|1-800-Quiereme ( Remix)| Luisito Rosario| Rumba Del Barrio| 5:02|

|A Bailar Pa’ Dentro| Orquesta La Solucion| Pa’ Bailar| 4:23|

|A Cali| Conjunto Clásico| Felicitaciones| 3:16|

|A Él| Oscar D’León| Éxitos De Con La Critica| 3:47|

|A Golpe De Folklore| Grupo Niche| A Golpe De Folklore| 4:59|

|A Gozar| José Alberto «El Canario»| Sueno Contigo| 3:34|

|A la hora que me Llamen Voy| Candido Fabre| 4:30|

|A La Hora Que Me Llamen Voy| José Alberto «El Canario»| On Time| 5:11|

|A La Memoria Del Muerto| Fruko y Sus Tesos| 4:22|

|A Mi Me Huele| Orquesta Mulenze| Salsa Fiesta!| 4:11|

|A Mi Suegro (Don Pedrito)| Various Artists| Coleccion Estelar De Salsa Dura| 3:55|

|Acere Bongo| Tipica 73 | 4:36|

|Avisale a mi Contrario| Grupo Mandinga| Back to the 70’s| 4:13|

|Aguzate| Louie Ramirez- Ray De La Paz| Sabor Con Clase| 6:06|

|Ajiaco Caliente| Eddie Palmieri| Mozambique| 5:38|

|El Amor| Alex leon| Salsa Caleta| 5:06|

|Amor Callejero| The Latin Brothers| Best of the Latin Brothers| 4:51|

|Arrepentios Pecadores| Willie Rosario| Back To The Future / 40 Aniversario| 4:31|

|Arrepientete| Orquesta Broadway| Salsa Fiesta!| 4:01|

|Arrepientete| Ray Barretto| At His Best| 5:14|

|Arroz Con Manteca| Oscar D’Leon| Con La Dimension Latina| 4:00|

|asi me gustas gordita| cesar nicolas| lo mejor de lo mejor| 4:00|

|Asi Soy Yo (That’s How I Am)| Larry Harlow| Asi Soy Yo| 5:42|

|Así No Se Quiere a Nadie| Tipica 73| 3:52|

|Ataca de Nuevo| Joe Cuba Sextette| Cocinando La Salsa| 3:25|

|Atízame El Fogón| Willie Rosario| Oro Salsero – 20 Éxitos| 5:07|

|Atrevida| REY RODRIGUEZ| En El Sonido De Hoy Vol 1| 4:38|

|Aunque Me Llores| Raphy Leavitt| Oro Salsero 20 Exitos Vol 2| 4:52|

|Ave Maria Lola| Sonora Carruseles| Heavy Salsa| 4:08|

|Avisale a Mi Contrario| Orquesta Tabaco y Ron| Salsa de Verdad| 7:14|

|Ay Caray| Adalberto Santiago| Popeye El Marino| 5:31|

|azucar Pa Un Amargao| Oscar D’Leon| Con La Dimension Latina| 2:54|

|Babaila| Soneros del Barrio| Siguiendo La Tradicion| 4:41|

|Babarabatiri| Tito Puente| Live At Birdland-Dancemania ’98| 8:29|

|Baila Que Baila| José «El Canario» Alberto| Serie Cristal: Greatest Hits| 4:48|

|Ban Ban| Joe Arroyo| Grandes Exitos, Vol. 2| 3:12|

|Banderita (A Little Flag)| Larry Harlow| Asi Soy Yo| 5:36|

|Bandolera| Héctor Lavoe| Comedia| 9:34|

|Bar Y Copas| Various Artists| Salsakidd’s Salsa Mix| 4:17|

|Barrio Negro| Sensual 990| Ultra Mix The Best Of Salsa Tropical Dance| 5:34|

|Barrunto| Willie Colón| The Big Break – La Gran Fuga| 5:37|

|Bembelequa| Celia Cruz| Irrepetible| 4:55|

|Beso Gitano| Colombia Te Canta Ii| Colombia Te Canta II| 5:14|

|Beunaventura Tiene Ricura| Orquesta Guayacan| Guayacan Y Del Bueno| 5:19|

|Blanco y Negro| Joe Arroyo| 20th Anniversary| 5:03|

|Boca Mentirosa| Andy Montañez| Oro Salsero| 4:44|

|Boricua Rumbero Salsero| adalberto santiago| salsa gorda| 4:05|

|Bravo Rumbero| Alfredo Naranjo y El Guajeo| A Las 6 Es La Cita| 3:28|

|Buena Ventura y Caney| Grupo Niche| Historia Music, Vol. 1| 6:19|

|Buenaventura Llego La Hora| Huber Angel| Gózame| 4:18|

|Busca El Ritmo| Willie Rosario| Oro Salsero – 20 Éxitos| 5:35|

|Buscando Un Amor| Orq. Matecana/Orq. Guayacan| Serie Batalla| 4:22|

|Busco Lo Tuyo| Fania All-Stars| Fania All-Stars «Live» June 11, 1994| 7:01|

|Busco Olvidarte| Willie Rosario| Back To The Future / 40 Aniversario| 4:35|

|Cachondea| Fruko & Sus Tesos| Fruko Y Sus Tesos – Power Salsa| 4:57|

|Cali De Rumba| Fruko & Sus Tesos| Fruko Y Sus Tesos – Power Salsa| 5:26|

|Cali Flamenca Mix| Melcochita| Mis Mejores Exitos| 6:21|

|calla buey| Hector «tempo» Alomar| lo mejor de lo mejor| 5:13|

|Campana Mayoral| Jose Mangual Jr.| 5:15|

|Cantando| Los Niches| Grandes Exitos| 4:29|

|Cantando Se Fué| Cuco Valoy| Sonero| 4:18|

|Canto Abacua| Ray Barretto| At His Best| 8:17|

|Capullito De Azucena| Oscar D’Leon| El Panquelero| 4:32|

|Carnaval| Joe Arroyo| Y la Verdad| 5:06|

|Castígala| Cesar Nicolas| Lo Mejor de Lo Mejor| 4:10|

|Celebrando| La Puertorriqueña| Orquesta Puertorriqueña : 20 Aniversario| 5:02|

|Celia| José Alberto «El Canario»| On Time| 6:00|

|Chimpun Callao| Orquesta Macondo| Ultra Mix The Best Of Salsa Tropical Dance| 3:43|

|Como Es Posible| Louie Ramírez| Louie Ramirez y Super Banda| 5:04|

|Como lo Canto Yo| Spanish Harlem Orchestra| Across 110th Street| 4:32|

|Como Olvidarte| Oscar D’León| 4:01|

|Companera De Camino| Raphy Leavitt| Oro Salsero 20 Exitos – VOL 1| 4:04|

|Corazón de Acero| Cuco Valoy| Sonero| 4:14|

|Cuando te Vea| Grupo Mandinga| Back to the 70’s| 4:08|

|Cuando Te Vea| Spanish Harlem| Across 110th Street| 4:50|

|Cuerpo De Guitarra| Various| Esto Si Es Salsa De Verdad!| 5:32|

|Culpable| GRUPO GALE| Esencia Latina| 4:17|

|Cumana| Valentin Valdez Bebe De La Salsa| 4:17|

|De Una Vez Gozando| La Sonora Carruseles| De Una Vez Gozando| 5:17|

|Descarga ’73| Tipica 73 | 4:53|

|Descarga Total| Maraca| Latin Village Salsa (Mixed By DJ Mauri)| 6:00|

|Devuelve Mi Alegria| Willie Rosario| Mas Ritmo| 4:10|

|Déjate Querer| José Alberto «El Canario»| Herido| 5:11|

|Digo Yo| Grupo Niche| Historia Music, Vol. 1| 4:58|

|Dime Que Si| Antonio Cartagena| Dime Que Si| 4:25|

|Dime Que Si| Gilberto Santa Rosa Tres Con Cache| 4:19|

|Dime Si Llegue a Tiempo| Celia Cruz & Johnny Pacheco| Tremendo Cache| 3:51|

|Dinamita| Fania All-Stars| Commitment| 4:50|

|Dolor Y Amor| Ismael Miranda y Orq. Harlow| Abran Paso| 3:57|

|Dolores| Cano Estremera| Opera Ecuajey| 4:26|

|Dominicano Soy| Raulín Rosendo| Dominicano Para El Mundo| 4:54|

|Don Toribio| Grupo Mandinga| Back to the 70’s| 4:26|

|Dos Amigos| Domingo Quiñones| Greatest Hits| 4:00|

|Echando Pa’Lante| Oscar D’León| El Cachumbambe| 3:57|

|El Apartamento| Willie Rosario| Back To The Future / 40 Aniversario| 4:19|

|El Artista Famoso| Roberto Blades| 5:51|

|El As de la Rumba| Jose Alberto «El Canario»| Back to the Mambo: Tribute to Machito| 4:48|

|El Bailarin de La Avenida| Sonora Carruseles| Con Todos Los Hierros| 4:11|

|El candado y la llave| Tito Allen| El Intocable| 4:34|

Don’t get me wrong, there a multiple opinions on what the «top 100 salsa dance songs» are and aren’t. But there are quite a few selections that are considered THE top 100 salsa dance songs all over the world. In LA and in NY, in Italy and South Korea, in Puerto Rico and Venezuela, in Colombia or Panama… these songs will fill the dance floors and keep salseros (and salseras) happy and dancing until they drop!

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If You Were to Die Today

English Version

IF YOU WERE TO DIE TODAY

If you were to die today, do you know where would you go?

Everybody has to die, we know that it is for fact, it is just a matter of when and how, nothing else! Are you prepared for the journey beyond death?

Whether you believe or not in eternal life it does not make a difference, because eternal life does exist, it is a fact, written in a trustworthy Book, the Holy Bible, which is a guide for living life to the full. So we must be ready for the journey beyond, because we do not know when or how.

In Dr. Dennis L. Siluk’s Christian poetry books you, through poetry, will learn the way to eternal life with our Lord Jesus Christ in his Heavenly Kingdom.

In the Christian series, «The Galilean» (Poems for the Soul), and his sequel «The Nazarene» (Poems for the Son of Man), from per near over ninety-sources-in a 30-month period, and over 3200-hours- the author brings to life, the ancient sacred scriptures, in a most profound historical melodramatic way; in poetic prose canto; to be read and reread. These books, have their own soul. Written in English and Spanish.

Spanish Version

SI FUERAS A MORIR HOY

Si fueras a morir hoy, ¿sabes a dónde irías?

Todos tenemos que morir, sabemos que es de hecho, es solo cuestión de cuándo y cómo, ¡nada más! ¿Estás preparado para el viaje más allá de la muerte?

Ya sea que creas o no en la vida eterna, no hace la diferencia, porque la vida eterna si existe, es real, está escrito en un Libro confiable, la Santa Biblia, que es una guía para vivir la vida al máximo. Entonces debemos estar listos para el viaje del más allá, porque no sabemos cuándo ni cómo.

En los libros de poesía cristiana del Dr. Dennis L. Siluk, aprenderás, a través de poesías, el camino hacia la vida eterna con nuestro Señor Jesucristo en su Reino celestial.

En la serie cristiana, «The Galilean» (Poemas para el alma), y su secuencia «The Nazarene» (Poemas para el Hijo del Hombre), de cerca de más de noventa fuentes -en un período de 30 meses, y más de 3200 horas- el author da vida a las antiguas escrituras sagradas, de una manera melodramática histórica muy profunda; en prosa poética; para ser leído y releído. Estos libros, tienen su propia alma. Escrito en inglés y español.

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