Archive for July 2011

"Painting Reality" in Berlin

500 liters of waterbased environmentally-friendly paint on asphalt spread by 2000 cars. Obvously not in Tel Aviv, we just thought that this needed to be seen...from 04/2010 in Rosenthaler Platz, Berlin...

Changing Colour Mid Stream

 With less than 10 weeks to go before my exhibition its probably not a good time to be experimenting, though I walked into the studio this morning and could feel a change in the air.   A good friend had given me a load of old oil paints that her mother had painted with when she was alive.  I started to go thru the colours and realised just how personal colour choice is.  Lush crimsons, indian yellow, burnt sienna to name a few - colours I havent used for a while.    So I soaked the tubes in hot water, managed to get the lids off and squeezed the wonderful contents onto my glass palette.  I feel like a new women!!  Cant wait to open the studio door tomorrow and start all over again.  Thankyou Deborah for yours mothers paint, not sure how she would feel about my non-traditional landscapes - though her spirit lives on in the colour.


Lost Horizon was partly based on the idea of Shambala, which is an ancient traditional Tibetan Buddhist concept associated with Kalachakra Tantra. It refers to a Buddhist pure land. It has analogues in the Hindu and Bön religions as well, and various traditions speak to its actual location as a hidden kingdom.

The term Shambala has also found its way to Western culture, and I grew up more familiar with the term 'Shambala' than with 'Shangri-La'. This is mostly because of my Three Dog Night phase. While all the other kids were into Linkin Park and Evanescence, I was listening to:

"I can tell my sister by the flowers in her eyes
On the road to Shambala

I can tell my brother by the flowers in his eyes
On the road to Shambala

How does your light shine, in the halls of Shambala?"

Also: "Play something sweet/ play something funky/ Just let me lay back/ and  grin like a monkey"
Now that's good songwriting.
Some traditions refer to Shambala as a metaphorical destination in the journey to enlightenment. Quoth the Dalai Lama:

"Although those with special affiliation may actually be able to go there through their karmic connection, nevertheless it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there."


nothing is prohibited here, all signs are welcome

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Random He'Art' - 0011

Title: Untitled
Size: ACEO/ATC - 2-1/2" x 3-1/2"

Notes: Made with watercolors

German street artists: Herakut


Herakut is an attractive German art duo that gets regular coverage on street art blogs.

As happens with other artists, I had an existential crisis as I watched this video about them.

Herakut - OneThirty3 from onethirty3 on Vimeo.

In a moment of clarity I wondered which one - their names are Hera and Akut - I was more attracted to. I mean, they're both keut artists with keut accents, so it was hard to avoid falling for their likeable creative brand.

But I was just sooo confused about which one I wanted inside me.

Then I imagined them necking in a department store change room. I was caught up. I heard Mariah Carey singing 'Fantasy' in the distance, her voice wet with reverb.

As I played their interview over and over I hoped they'd have babies to save me from this post-Banksy world.

They have a real When Harry Met Sally vibe, don't they?

Now, when Herakut Google themselves and see this blog post, will they give each other awkward glances and make excuses to swap shirts? Or will they stammer as they discuss the foibles of meme-centric publicity?

I don't know. All I have is questions and a desire to get to know you through my own thoughts.

Shangri-La II

The name Shangri-La first appeared in the novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton. The popularity of the term Shangri-La today is a testament to both the pull of this concept on the Western psyche and to the tremendous popularity of the novel in its day, which also lead to a 1937 film directed by Frank Capra.

The book is public domain and thus freely available on the Internet. Because it was written during a time when there was an overwhelming fascination in the West with the forbidden and mysterious Himalayan kingdoms, I was not surprised to find that the book speaks a lot more to Western cultural values than to Tibetan ones. But I was surprised to find that I enjoyed the book quite a bit.

Two British government officials, a missionary and a mysterious oil-prospecting American are being evacuated from Baskul after an uprising against the British. Their plane is hijacked and flown over the Himalayas, and crashes somewhere in the mountain ranges of Tibet. They find themselves in Shangri-La, an idyllic isolated valley ruled over by a benevolent lamasery. The lamasery is rich and mysteriously equipped with modern amenities like central heating and a modern library and there are rumors that the atmosphere of the valley allows people to live extraordinarily long life spans. There are also several European monks, including one who claims to have been a former student of Chopin. Without giving away too many of the plot twists, I can tell you that reading it felt like watching a combination of the first and last seasons of Lost. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I seriously doubt that the writers of Lost were unaware of the plot of Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon: Like Lost, except much, much more British.

Also, more classy mustaches.

I would like to reveal one major plot twist, though, because it gets at the root of the term Shangri-La in our cultures and the particular nature in which the term represents the interaction between the West and the East. Conway, the highly intelligent and world-weary British protagonist, is eventually given an audience with the High Lama. In this meeting, it is revealed that the current monastery was founded three hundred years previously by a Roman Catholic friar who had been doing missionary work in Beijing. Over the course of a long life in the valley, the friar became enlightened and developed a particular fusion of Buddhism and Christianity by which he came to be regarded as an authority and demi-god by the Tibetan villagers living below. He also came across the method by which people in the valley live long life spans. Significantly, the lama notes that the anti-aging method works better on Europeans than on the native Tibetans. Sensing a coming world cataclysm (that would be WWII - good call, Hilton), he developed Shangri-La as a refuge of Western and Eastern knowledge and understanding, to preserve the pearls of human understanding against the coming onslaught. It is revealed that the High Lama is in fact the still-living friar, and that Conway has been chosen to be the new Jacob.

Here are some relevant quotes from the novel:

"And there came over him, too, as he stared at that superb mountain, a glow of satisfaction that there were such places still left on earth, distant, inaccessible, as yet unhumanized."

"It was, indeed, a strange and half-incredible sight. A group of colored pavilions clung to the mountainside with none of the grim deliberation of a Rhineland castle, but rather with the chance delicacy of flower petals impaled upon a crag. It was superb and exquisite. An austere emotion carried the eye upward from milk-blue roofs to the gray rock bastion above, tremendous as the Wetterhorn above Grindelwald. Beyond that, in a dazzling pyramid, soared the snow slopes of Karakal."

"Shangri-La was lovely then, touched with the mystery that lies at the core of all loveliness."

"'This ain't a bad place, when you get used to it. The air's a bit snappy at first, but you can't have everything. And it's nice and quiet for a change. Every fall I go down to Palm Beach for a rest cure, but they don't give you it, those places--you're in the racket just the same. But here I guess I'm having just what the doctor ordered, and it certainly feels grand to me. I'm on a different diet, I can't look at the tape, and my broker can't get me on the telephone.'" (This is the American talking, if you couldn't tell)

"'Te Deum Laudamus' and 'Om Mane Padme Hum' were now heard equally in the temples of the valley.'"

"There was a reek of dissolution over all that recollected world... The whole game was doubtless going to pieces... But here, at Shangri-La, all was in deep calm. In a moonless sky the stars were lit to the full, and a pale blue sheen lay upon the dome of Karakal."

"'Here we shall stay with our books and our music and our meditations, conserving the frail elegancies of a dying age, and seeking such wisdom as men will need when their passions are all spent. We have a heritage to cherish and bequeath.'"

Shangri-La has never been about Tibet. Right from the get-go it was about big city folk needing an escape from the maddening business and politics of their own world, to be found in an isolated paradise of wisdom and simple living. And even today that is exactly what Shangri-La represents: the ultimate vacation spot. That is why the word is seen on posters in Kathmandu that advertise cheap flights to Mustang or Tibet or Bhutan, the proclaimed last vestiges of uncommercialized, mystic, traditional perfection.

Will It Work? Tips for Determining the Feasibility of a Business or Project

By Kathleen Purdy, Olympic SBDC
Entrepreneurs are often faced with answering the question “Will it work?” Lenders, investors, perhaps
suppliers and others involved in the project should also ask that question or scan the business plan to see if
“will it work” is addressed. Whatever the specific project—starting a new business, expanding an existing one, or even selling or buying a business—the basic issue is feasibility.  Can it be implemented successfully?

Here at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) we work with entrepreneurs on a variety of projects, and most of them involve feasibility. Here are some tips on feasibility that we’ve found work in most situations.

Do A Rough Analysis First
A good starting point is what we call “back of the napkin” analysis. In a short amount of time and with little data, you can often get a rough idea of the feasibility of a project. The results of this rough analysis may quickly decide if you need to spend more time on the detailed analysis, alter your idea a bit, or move on to
another idea.

For example, say you are thinking of making cookies to sell to stores, cafes, espresso stands, and restaurants. In a short amount of time you can gather some basic data:

• The cost of ingredients of a batch of cookies, and how many cookies a batch makes.
• The time it will take you to bake them.
• How much rent will be to use a commercial kitchen (assuming you will lease space until you are established).
• The price of competing cookies (the price to your customer—the store, café, espresso stand or restaurant, that is).
• How much money you need at a minimum to take out of this business for yourself for the time you spend in it.

Although you will have other costs (insurance for example), you can quickly calculate using the above data, what your capacity is (how many you can make in the time you have in your leased commercial kitchen), and what your gross profit (sales less cost of ingredients) per cookie will be. You can then calculate how many cookies you need to sell per month to pay the rent, and provide you with the income you have decided is the minimum you need. You can then see if at this very basic level of analysis if it seems feasible enough to continue.

If the rough analysis seems feasible, you can gather more detailed costs and refine the analysis. Then you can start your market research to determine the level of demand. While our example is a simple one, this approach can apply to any type of business: starting a commercial fishing business, expanding a manufacturing business to add a new product, or starting a service business, such as bookkeeping services.

The tasks are the same:
• Gather rough estimates of your basic and largest costs, including profit for the owner(s)
• Figure out how many of your product you need to sell to cover these basic costs.
• Ask yourself if the resulting sales figure seems reasonable. Calculate how many different customers you might need.
• If your rough results are encouraging, proceed to next steps.
• Refine your cost estimates and redo the analysis.
• Start your marketing research to determine demand

What happens, though, if the rough analysis is not encouraging? Rework your idea — explore various options for parts of your plan. Being successful in starting a business or expanding an existing one involves determining if the venture is feasible — will it work. Start your analysis and contact the SBDC if you need assistance.


you can also play tourist by visiting the signs from around the world 
posted by our fun family of collectors.

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Shangri-La I

The shrine has "Love is Life" written on four corners in English, Nepali, German and Spanish -  my four languages 

This is Shangri-La International School, a private school in my village. It was started by a German aid organization and has a full Nepali staff. It is connected to the Shangri-La Orphanage, which is practically next door to the school in which I taught. Occasionally German volunteers live in Boharatar and work in the school or the orphanage. The village is isolated enough from the main roads of the valley that I was often mistaken for a German volunteer. Shangri-la School provided building materials to our school, and scholarships to many of the poor students in the area. I've played at their soccer field (recently sold for crop land) and ping pong tables. The Shangri-La students I met were generally more proficient in English because Shangri-La is English medium and the teachers are trained by European professionals. The volunteers I've met were dedicated and concerned that their 4-month stints making projects for the school should be sustainable.

This is Hotel Shangri-La, one of the nicest hotels in Kathmandu. The back face is only a stone's throw away from my apartment in Lazimpat. Fulbright has had receptions there, and I have played the grand piano in their lobby a few evenings. The former crown prince Dipendra, before he allegedly murdered most of the royal family because of their refusal to accept his choice of bride, was rumored to have illicit rendezvous at this hotel as it is a short walk from the Royal Palace. There is a large casino in the hotel, which is open 24 hours a day and caters mainly to Chinese businessmen and Indian tourists. They serve free drinks and food to gamblers, including something called a 'chicken popsicle' (which is much tastier than it sounds). There are few Nepalis in any of the casinos in Nepal because gambling halls are illegal for Nepali citizens, although they are open to tourists. 

In 2001, the name of Zhongdian County in the Yunnan Province of Southwest China was changed to "Shangri-la" in order to promote tourism in the area. 

One year later, The Washington Times* interviewed Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, one of the leaders of the Maoist insurgency that was sweeping the country:

"What motivated you to start the armed uprising in a country so tranquil the world knew it as a Shangri-la?"

His response:

"The so-called Shangri-la has merely been a misnomer, where the oppressed and exploited majority have meekly tolerated the inhuman brutality and violence of a handful of kings and priests for ages. You would surely agree that the silence of the graveyard is not peace and tranquility. It is now high time that this age-old violence and terror against the toiling majority be ended and a real 'Shangri-la' be created in the lap of the mighty Himalaya."

The name Shangri-La evokes the picture of an unspoiled paradise, a peaceful mountain utopia. It is not surprising that the name bedecks the posters of countless travel agencies and the signs of countless hotels and restaurants in the touristy areas of Nepal, despite the fact that the idea of Shangri-la is vaguely thought of as a Tibetan phenomenon.

Shangri-La is not an inherently native concept, neither in Nepal nor in Tibet. Business-savvy Nepalis know the term because it makes foreigners go all dewy-eyed. The Chinese renamed a whole county so that they could cash in. Even the Shangri-Las that have grown deep roots in Nepal have a distinct element of outsider ownership: Foreigners but not Nepalis can gamble at Hotel Shangri-La. Shangri-La International School was started and is funded through a European organization (though the current director and staff are Nepali). According to The Washington Times, "the world" knew Nepal as a Shangri-La. Still, it is a pretty word and a nice idea, and the appeal is powerful.

The word Shangri-La is vaguely Tibetan; I'm told '-la' means a mountain pass. But the name itself was created by an English writer in 1933. Shangri-La is a fictional utopia depicted in the incredibly successful novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton.

Next time: a book review, the connection between gospel rock and the Dalai Lama, and more scattershot rantings from yours truly.

* "Maoists Seek a Democratic Nepal: Interview with Baburam Bhattarai" - email interview by Chitra Tiwari in The Washington Times 14 December 2002

Social Media Marketing Featuring You Tube.

Here is an article that is a quick read on social media marketing plan featuring you tube.

INC Magazine Best Business To Start

A colleague forwarded this link to an article regarding businesses  start up opportunities.

Scribbling & Dreaming

"Abandoned Trek"

Last summer I spent alot of time drawing, swimming and painting.  These imaginative charcoal drawings were inspired by music, nature and the surrounding landscape.  A friend had given me this thick hand made paper which was an absolute delight to draw on - once I started I found it hard to stop. 
"Milton as a Drawn Dream"     

"Sailing without a Plan"
 Growing up I spent alot of time sailing with my family on Pittwater.  My grandfather lived in a little fibro shack on Dangar Island and we use to go visit him on the weekends - this drawing is full of those memories. 
"Steel Stringed Apple"

"Sweet Sorrow"

"Weeping Guitar"

"With My Violin Under my Chin"

live theatre

Live theatre from the works of George Bernard Shaw and his contemporaries,
the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake celebrates its 50th year this year. 

Mr Linky is sleeping. Come back next Wednesday to sign in for the new party. In the meantime, feel free to visit these posts.

Flying Solo

A  solo exhibition scheduled for October has me working flat out in the studio.  My paintings are stacked all around the walls which makes working in the studio sort of like being amongst a magical landscape.  I obviously need a bigger space - how much of the house should I take over??  

Still loads and loads of work to do, but at least I have a name for the show -  "Round a Lazy Bend".
Thats lazy - not crazy.

More to come in the next few weeks.

Texting and Endangered Languages

A cool article referred to me by a couple of friends:

Teenagers Revive Dead Languages Through Texting

Samuel Herrera of The Institute of Anthropological Research in Mexico City talks about teenagers who are texting each other in endangered languages. Textspeak and 1337 are common examples of how language technology can act as a code for in-group identification; people are picking up these languages for that purpose. Some linguists are excited because it suggests that these languages might be picked up by enthusiastic young speakers, who are the ones who hold in their hands the fate of these dying languages.

Reading the article reminded me of texting in Nepal. From what I've seen in Nepal there is a lot of code-switching between Nepali and English, which also acts a shibboleth. There are numerous examples of English-Nepali (and my attempts to keep up) on my Facebook wall. Nepali is by necessity written with a Roman script. The Nepali version of "What's up?" is "के छ ?" - "ke chha?"('What is?') But in text messages this is often written:

"k 6?"

Why does '6' represent the word 'chha'? These are the Devanagari numbers 1 to 9:

  १          २          ३          ४           ५          ६          ७          ८          ९
ek             dui           tin           char         páach        chha         saaT        aaTh          nau

Notice that the Nepali word for 6 is 'chha.' The word for 'six' is a homonym for 'to be' (third person singular). Also, the Devanagari character is almost the same: . When written as a word, the character has a bar across the top (). In other words, 'chha' means both 'six' and 'is.' So the Arabic numeral (6) stands in for the Devanagari numeral (), which stands in for the Devanagari word ().

I thought that was a particularly clever example of cross-cultural 1337speak. People who say that teenagers are dumb generally do not spend very much time around them. Although this is pretty cool, I'll get really excited when teenagers start texting each other in Chintang or Raj or any of the other endangered languages here.

How to Recognize a Business Opportunity

By Janet A. Harte, Vancouver, WA SBDC

Whether you are contemplating a new business or want to re-energize or expand your current one, you need to be able to recognize a business opportunity when you see one. You have probably had visions of one— customers buy things it cost a fraction to produce and you become fabulously wealthy. A businessperson’s dream come true! However, the reality is good business opportunities are hard to find.

Even if you think you have found one, it takes risk, skills and ability, and timing to take advantage of it. Risk attaches itself to any business opportunity. Therefore, objectively analyze the feasibility of your concept. Successful businesses have a product or service people want, at a price they are willing to pay, and it is easy to get. If you offer something you think people want without knowing it, you are risking more than necessary.

Let’s say you think an opportunity exists for a new restaurant. There are a number of things you can do to test your assumption. First, find out what is happening in the overall industry. Trade associations, magazines, and current books can give you an idea of current demand. Examples are the trend towards small, highly specialized food establishments (e.g., pretzel, cookie, ethnic, etc.) and mixed-use restaurants (e.g. play areas, movies, games, Internet, etc.). You can also gain a lot of information through observation. Stay current with local news and business periodicals and gain insights from the perspective of other businesses. You should also gather statistics on consumer behavior for your type of business. For a restaurant, you need to know how often people eat out, how much they spend, common personal or demographic characteristics, and preferences in dining atmosphere or services, etc. From there, you can evaluate your geographic area and see how well competitors are filling those needs.

Once you have gathered information, you can form a hypothesis about supply and demand. A business opportunity could be lurking somewhere between what people want and what they are getting. Find out how they are currently meeting their needs. For our restaurant example, you might find grocery stores have designated a special department or menus of established restaurants have been updated. Your challenge is to find out how well needs are being met and where people go to meet them. If people need something, they will find it. Locating establishments on a map will give you a geographic sense of how far people must travel. If convenience is a significant buying factor, you will be able to identify underserved areas. Once you complete this analysis, you will be in a better position to develop your own competitive strategy.

At the heart of your competitive strategy is your distinctive competence. Your distinctive competence is something (e.g. a skill, specialty, level of service, etc.) that sets you apart when compared with competitors. This differentiation and your pricing strategy define your business in the minds of consumers. A sound competitive strategy depends on your knowledge of the customers and their needs, the ways your competitors meet their needs, and the perceived value of the goods and services you offer. It’s what separates a business opportunity from a good idea.

It takes money to make money, so that means every business opportunity will have costs associated with it. Take the time and effort to know exactly what resources are required to optimally run the business. Capital expenses include hard assets like equipment and beginning inventory. It may be difficult to find a site designed for your purpose; therefore, you must anticipate costs associated with renovating a space. Be sure not to underestimate your working capital needs. Working capital is used to replenish inventory, pay employee wages, and finance other continuing operating expenses. You will always have a need for working capital because the timing of cash coming into the business does not always match the timing of cash going out. It takes most businesses a long time to achieve a predictable profit. Be sure you know if you have the financial reserves to cover the costs of startup (or expansion) and operation. If you must leverage your own money with a loan, be prepared to offer sufficient collateral to secure it. A true business opportunity will generate sufficient sales to support the cost and provide a profit.

There are many resources to help you analyze a business opportunity. You can find books on the above-mentioned topics, reference materials, and access to periodicals and the Internet. When you have completed your initial analysis, take advantage of no-cost, confidential business counseling from SCORE or the Washington Small Business Development Center. Advisors will help you evaluate your findings and assist you with the development of your business plan.

Describing Heaven to the Ruler of the Sky


     Don't judge a book by its cover.

     The early bird gets the worm.

     The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.


     अफू तक्छु मूडो, बन्चरो ताक्छ घुँो ।
     aphu takchhu muDo, bancharo takchha ghunDo
     I aim for the log, but the ax aims for my knee.

     धन देखदा महादेवको पनी तिन नेत्र ।
     dhan dhekda mahadevko pani tin netra
     Seeing wealth, even God opens three eyes.

     आकाशको फल आँख तरी मर
     aakasko phal ankha tari mara
     The eyes die staring at the fruit in the sky.


     न्हि बिसाम छामे थोबोरी बिसाम रा मे ।
     nhi bisaam chaame thobori bisaam ra me
     The woman is beautiful but her head is full of lice.

     आमा आबाला माया जामे काला रि जामे ओला रि मन युम्बा फिरी ।
     aamaa aabaalaa maayaa jaame kaalaa ri jaame olaa ri man yumbaa phiri
     Parents give their love to their children; children give their hearts to a stone.

     बिझी बिबाराम्बा अनुहार च्याजि सिबाराम्बा ।
     bijhi bibaaraambaa anuhaar chyaaji sibaraambaa
     Head held high when speaking; head held low when doing.


     ज्या ढासा आता आता आता नह ढासा बाटा बाटा ।
     jya dhasa ata ata nahu dhasa bata bata
     At work time people step back, back; at meal time people step forward, forward.

     वा मरु व्याची लै नेमा ।
     wa maru byachi lai nema
     The toothless frog wants a radish.

     आलु वे हु ढासा भान्ता वे वनी भान्ता वे हु ढासा आलु वे वनी
     alu be hu dhasa bhanta be wani bhanta be hu dhasa alu be wari   
     At the potato harvest he goes to the eggplant fields; at the eggplant harvest he goes to the potato fields.

I did a lesson on proverbs for my eighth grade class about a month ago. The first day I presented some common English sayings on cards and had a separate set of cards with corresponding figurative meanings. In groups, students had to match the sayings to their meanings.

The second day students had to bring back cards with a saying in their own language, like in the picture above. I told them to ask their parents to help with this little mini-project, and to use languages other than Nepali if they could. The next day I received 21 cards with a total of 28 distinct sayings. Twenty were in Nepali, four were in Newari, and four were in Tamang. We spent the next class period working on English translations of the sayings.

     एक थुकी सुकि सय थुकी नादी ।
     ek thuki suki say thuki nadi
     Spit once and it dries; spit many times and it makes a river. (Nepali)

Unfortunately, "translation" can mean different things in this context. Some students wrote their best literal English translation of the sayings (like in the picture). This was very difficult for many in the class, and they instead wrote down the figurative meaning of their sayings on the back of the card in Nepali. The Newari and Tamang speakers mostly translated their cards from their own language into Nepali, but some of them wrote only the figurative meanings and left the literal meaning untranslated. It took quite some time to sort out the mess.

Also, I noticed that a surprising number of students wrote down the same few Nepali expressions. They had discovered a novel way to cheat: their 8th grade Nepali textbook had a list of sayings in the back of that they simply copied. Meanwhile, all four of the Newari speakers copied down Nepali expressions from the book and then made their own word-for-word translations into Newari (the three Newari  sayings at top were contributed by a teacher at my school). It seems like they take great lengths to avoid bringing their work home, but I can't fault students for their ingenuity.

     चोक्त खान गाएको बवडी झोलमा डुबेर मरी ।
     chokta khaane gaaeko buDi jholmaa dubera mari
     In search of the meat, the old woman drowns in the soup. (Nepali)

Why am I deliberately confusing my students by bringing in other languages into the English classroom? Because these are the native languages of the students, the languages with which the fullest expression of their minds bears fruit. These are the languages of their home life, their culture, and their society, and the majority of these languages are criminally undervalued. English conversational competency is the goal, and so English is the primary medium of instruction and direct translation is kept to a minimum. But with these sorts of projects the students have an opportunity to share their own culture in the classroom, which makes the classes much more interesting.

For example, there is a 7th grade English reading passage on the spread of the Indo-European languages and how languages such as Nepali and English are related. Before I taught it, the passage struck me as absurdly beyond the reach of many of the students. Yet it was probably the lesson in which I saw the students most engaged. This was partly because as a student of linguistics this is a topic of great interest to me, and so I was very careful to explain the concept to my students in simple terms (brother/sister languages, parent languages) and to come up with examples of similarity that are catching to the eye:

English:     My          name           is         Luke.
German:    Mein       Name          ist         Luke.

Spanish:   Mi          nombre        es          Luke. 
French:     Mon       nom             est         Luke.

Hindi:      Mera       naam           Luke      hai.
Nepali:    Mero       naam           Luke      ho.

Then we played games where students had to recognize numbers in over a dozen languages, and we talked about these same words in Newari and Tamang, and how these languages are not Indo-European, but are related to each other (and to Chinese).

      बाँदरलाई लिस्नो
      baandarlaai lisno
      Like giving a ladder to a monkey (Nepali)

I've mentioned before that about two-thirds of my students are ethnically Tamang, a few are Newari, and the rest are Nepali-speaking Brahmin-Chhettris. So why did so few of the students write down expressions in Tamang? Well, many students copied the Nepali expressions from the book, or from each other. Many of the Nepali-speaking students wrote down four or five expressions on their card, while Tamang and Newari expressions generally came one to a card.

But I would guess that even by 8th grade students are not very used to speaking Tamang in the school setting. The school is English medium, and the teachers generally speak Nepali to the students out of class. Most of the teachers know some basic Tamang, but none could answer my questions about the meanings on the cards (I had to talk to students for that, which means that the Tamang expressions are much sketchier translations - in fact, I've probably I've made a few mistakes in all three languages). Tamang, unlike Nepali and even Newari, is not stereotypically known as a language of learning and civilization. It is the language of a historically oppressed Buddhist hill tribe. That is one reason I wanted to hear it more in the classroom.

If you dig deep you can find interesting comparisons to discuss. In all four languages, we find rhymes, we find parallel structure, and we find cross-lingual similarities in meaning. I had a lot of fun trying to think of similar English sayings to share with the students.

     जस्को शक्ति उसको भक्ति ।
     jasko shakti usko bhakti
     Who has power, he is worshipped. (Nepali)

... is similar to...

     Might makes right.

     इन्द्रका अगाडी स्वर्गको बयान ।
     indraka agodi swargako bayan
     Describing Heaven to the Ruler of the Sky (Nepali)

... is similar to...

     Preaching to the choir

In a country in which less than 50% of the population speaks the national language as a mother tongue, schools must take the languages of their students into account. Most classrooms in Nepal are like my classroom, with students speaking several languages side-by-side. We can look at this as an institutional impediment to understanding or we can look at it as an opportunity for educational enrichment.

INSPIRE, M-City & friends...

INSPIRE & M-City, originally uploaded by ! INSPIRE ONE !.


What SBA Seeks In A Loan Application:

By Jim Fletcher, Wenatchee SBDC

First, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency and does not make loans, SBA guarantees loans made by financial institutions. Under the guaranty concept, the business applies to their local business lender. The lender decides if they will make the loan internally or if the application has some weaknesses which, in their opinion, will require an SBA guaranty if the loan is to be made. The guaranty assures the lender that in the event the borrower does not repay their obligation and a payment default occurs, the Government will reimburse the lender for that portion of the loan guaranteed. However, the borrower remains obligated for the full amount due.  Additional informatioon on SBA loan programs and requirements can be found at

SBA 7(a) Loan Guaranty Program:  Most SBA business loan guarantees will be one of the various 7(a) guaranteed loan programs depending on the amount to be borrowed. A 7(a) loans can be used for most business purposes, up to a maximum guarantee of $1.5 million, with a typical maturity of 7 to 10 years depending on how funds are used.

504 Loan Program:  The 504 Program provides growing businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets, such as land and buildings. Loan made under the 504 program can be A 504 Loan is made by a Certified Development Company who work with the SBA and private-sector lenders to provide financing to small businesses. 

Typically, a 504 project includes a a private-sector lender covering up to 50 percent of the project cost, with the  504 loan from the CDC covering up to 40 percent of the cost, and a contribution of at least 10 percent equity from the small business being helped. The advantage of a 504 loan is a longer maturity and a lower interest rate on the 504 portion of the loan. The business/owners must contribute at least ten percent of the project total cost.

SBA Guarantee Eligibility
Repayment ability from cash flow of the business is a primary consideration in the SBA loan decision process but good character, management capability, collateral, and owner's equity contribution are also important considerations. All owners of 20 percent or more are required to personally guarantee SBA loans.

All businesses must: meet SBA size standards, be for-profit, not already have the internal resources (business or personal) to provide the financing, and be able to demonstrate repayment. Certain variations of SBA’s 7(a) loan program may also require additional eligibility criteria. Special purpose programs will identify those additional criteria.

Maturity  Maximum loan maturities have been established: twenty-five (25) years for real estate and equipment; and, generally seven (7) years for working capital.

The maximum maturity of loans used to finance fixed assets other than real estate will be limited to the economic life of those assets - but in no instance to exceed twenty-five (25) years. The 25-year maximum will generally apply to the acquisition of land and buildings

Equity Investment  Business loan applicants must have a reasonable amount invested in their business. This ensures that, when combined with borrowed funds, the business can operate on a sound basis.

Strong equity with a manageable debt level provide financial resiliency to help a firm weather periods of operational adversity.

Determining whether a company's level of debt is appropriate in relation to its equity requires analysis of the company's expected earnings and the viability and variability of these earnings. The stronger the support for projected profits, the greater the likelihood the loan will be approved. Applications with high debt, low equity, and unsupported projections will be denied.

Earnings Requirements  A company must be able to meet all its debt payments, not just its loan payments, as they come due. Applicants are generally required to provide a report on when their income will become cash and when their expenses must be paid. This report is usually in the form of a cash flow projection, broken down on a monthly basis, and covering the first annual period after the loan is received.

Applicants should write down all assumptions which went into the estimations of both revenues and expenses and provide these assumptions as part of the application. For new or expanding business with anticipated revenues and expenses exceeding past performance, the necessity for the lender to understand all the assumptions on how these revenues will be generated is paramount to loan approval.

Working Capital  Working capital is defined as the excess of current assets over current liabilities. Working capital is essential for a company to meet its continuous operational needs. Its adequacy influences the firm's ability to meet its trade and short-term debt obligations, as well as to remain financially viable.

Collateral  To the extent that worthwhile assets are available, adequate collateral is required as security on all SBA loans. However, SBA will generally not decline a loan where inadequacy of collateral is the only unfavorable factor.

For all SBA loans, personal guarantees are required of every owner with at least a 20 percent share of the business , plus others individuals who hold key management positions. Whether or not a guarantee will be secured by personal assets is based on the value of the assets already pledged and the value of the assets personally owned compared to the amount borrowed. In the event real estate is to be used as collateral, borrowers should be aware that banks and other regulated lenders are now required by law to obtain third-party valuation on real estate related transactions of $50,000 or more. SBA may require professional appraisals of business and personal assets, plus any necessary survey, and/or feasibility study.

Resource Management  Managerial capacity is an important factor involving education, experience and motivation. A proven positive ability to manage resources is also a large consideration.

Preparing A Loan Application. Obtaining loan approval is easier when the business loan application has been adequately prepared. This usually includes a current business plan, financial history with at least three years of federal income tax returns, personal financial history including credit reports and and credit scores, legal documents such as partnerships, leases, articles of incorporation, market research to support sales projections, sources of owners equity, lists of collateral and any other information the lender may require.

Seven Customer Retention Strategies

By Susan Hoosier, Longview, SBDC
Do you direct all of your energies to getting new customers? If so, you may want to take a closer look at the source of your sales since it is very likely that 80% of your business is coming from repeat customers. If you  find that 80% of your business is coming from 20% of your customers, you may want to consider some strategies for staying in touch with those customers! Retaining customers and serving them over their lifetime can mean thousands of dollars for your business.

Some practical ways to develop action around customer retention strategies might include some of the following steps:
1 Communicate with your existing customers on a regular basis.
2 Show your appreciation for their business and nurture customer loyalty.
3 Look for ways to build trust between your business and your customers.
4 Don’t make it easy for your customers to switch to the competition.
5 Expand product lines to provide more products or services for your customers.
6 Anticipate the changing needs of your customers.
7 Use cross-selling (selling other parts of your line to the same customer) and up-selling (selling more per order) to increase the average sale to each customer.

If you’ve lost customers, you may want to develop some strategies for getting them back. In order to implement a strategy, you need to have a database of previous customers. So, if you don’t keep a database, it stands to reason that that should be the first step in your strategy: Develop a database!

Next, you need to remind them about your business and tell them you want them back! However, you may first need to find out why they stopped coming to your place of business and, if you failed to meet their expectations, you need to make it right.

You’ve already invested a lot of money in the customers you retain and the customers you have lost. For that reason alone, putting some additional energy into retaining customers, and reactivating lost customers, makes sense for your business.

Do You Have Effective Internal Financial Controls in Your Business?

By Susan Hoosier, Longview SBDC

One of the very first private consulting jobs that I took on, several years ago was for a well-established company in the Midwest.  Day-to-day management of the company fell to the owner’s wife when he suddenly passed away. Since she was new to the daily operations, she began to scrutinize the financial information more carefully as a means of educating herself on the business financial condition. It didn’t take her too long to know that something wasn’t quite right but she couldn’t put a finger on the problem.
We worked together to analyze costs, analyze pricing and develop strategies for positioning the business to be put up for sale. Meantime, she shared with me that she had a concern that one of her employees was stealing from the company. So we turned our focus to the development of internal controls while we tried to identify whether or not her concern was valid. As it turned out, the tightening of internal controls caused the person in question to leave the company after over 20 years with the business. The owner, and her sons, were completely devastated to find out that the employee had been stealing from them consistently for many years. This employee was highly valued by the business and was considered almost like family after many years of service. The moral of the story is simply that no business is too small to institute effective internal financial controls.

How can you begin to develop controls? First you need to identify the areas that are high-risk in your business. High-risk areas may include: Cash receipts and disbursements, customer credit and collections (writing off bad debts), purchasing and storage of inventory, payroll (including worker’s compensation insurance fraud). Under no circumstances should an accountant, bookkeeper, or the Controller of the business be given check-signing authority. Fraud can easily be concealed if this person has authority to sign checks. The owner/manager should sign all checks. If there are multiple owners, at least two signatures should be required. Do not create a signature stamp that can be used in your absence.

Following are other recommendations:
• In a small company, if you cannot separate duties to provide a check and balance system, consider job-sharing through a cross-training arrangement.
• Require that employees who work in high risk areas take vacations. Pay attention as to whether employee life/styles seem to match what you may know about their salaries.
• Limit access to accounting records and year-end entries.
• Make surprise audits and inspections
• Discuss computer controls with your accountant or a computer security specialist
• Be sure that you pay attention to the legal aspects of internal controls. Be sure any controls that you put in place do not violate the privacy rights of employees or customers.

Article written by Susan Hoosier, Longview Small Business Development Center  To locate your local SBDC advisor please visit the SBDC web site


some people see signs as litter...

I am away for a couple of days, so to make sure this works, I'm putting this up early
Have fun visiting each other and remember to play nice while I'm gone
I'll pay you all a visit when I return

Mr Linky is sleeping. Come back next Wednesday to sign in for the new party. In the meantime, feel free to visit these posts.


Stencils- Lawrence KS

Articles in NELTA Choutari Magazine

An article of mine appeared in the July issue of NELTA Choutari Online Magazine along with an article written by my good friend and fellow English Teaching Assistant Kent. This is the discussion forum for NELTA (Nepal English Language Teacher's Association). 

Kent's article addresses the important issue of inappropriate supplementary English textbooks that are adopted by schools to complement the government textbooks. 

My article contains one or two of the same points as my blog post of the same name, but it is an expanded general summary of my ideas about the Nepali educational system and the issue of medium of instruction. I'd would love it if people would read and comment on the website - heap praise, add stories, provide criticism and counter-examples, revile and abuse, whatever. 

Graffiti Art II

[Part 1 is here]


Creepy Laughing Babies framed by "White Mischief" Vodka near Pulchowk


This is in front of the Himalayan Hotel, where the Maoist slogan mentioned here first appeared

North of Ratna Park