Monthly Archives: April 2007

BodyMonkey Work Schedule

So BodyMonkey.com was officially launched on 4-20-2007, and two days later I got my first order. Since then it’s got 3 orders through the web and 2 orders through the phone thanks to the Yahoo Shopping Network.

If you visit the website and click through the sections, it’s easy to tell the site is not “there” yet as you can tell from the lack of images on the products. The products are also not properly SEO’d (Search Engine Optimized) which is a large concern for an online business of this type.

So in an effort to properly restructure the site the first time around, I have to do everything over again. It’s relatively simple work, but VERY time consuming and monotonous.

For each product I must:

  1. Delete the old product entry.
  2. Create a new product ID.
  3. Re-enter the price, description, additional options, images, sub-images and SKU.
  4. Re-index the product in the proper section.

This sounds pretty simple, but there’s always steps along the way that take up more time. Usually I will change the product description on the spot or add images I took with my own camera which usually involves some sort of photo editing and size cropping. I also re-name the products with SEO friendly words.

I want to just work on this all day, but I also do other stuff, so I must dedicate at least an hour or two per day to get this done in reasonable time. There are ways to streamline this process but it still involves lots of very boring work, and there’s no way around that!

To keep myself accountable for the work I must do in the next few months, I created a schedule for this month’s work:

I’ve also placed this schedule in the top-right calendar section of NevBlog so I am constantly reminded of it. Well, cheers to hours of boring work!

House Account

In addition to my other million Bank of America accounts, I’ve opened up another savings account which I’ve dubbed the House Account so I can start saving for my new house being built circa November.

I originally wanted to have $8,000 in that account to prepare for buying furniture, TV’s, sound system, drapes, blinds, beds etc., but friends who already own houses told me that $5,000 should suffice quite nicely for a house this size.

I’ve started making contributions to this new House Account by putting 10% of my income in it. I might bump that up at some point if needed. As I mentioned before I’d like to pay for the whole house through one online business, but the initial expenses need to come from somewhere else, and this account is the place.

All my house expenses will begin coming up sometime around October 2007, so I have approximately 6 months to save up the House Account to an acceptable level. Hopefully I can push it far past $5,000 so I can keep some reserve cash laying around for miscellaneous house-related expenses.

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NevBlog Laboratories – Nevlab

I always try out new programs, web widgets, technologies, Photoshop and Flash effects etc. and have no place to put them. To solve that I created a section of this site called NevLab.

This is like the think tank of a big company where people just tinker around with ideas, new products or processes all day in hopes of stumbling upon something new or useful later down the line.

It’ll be like my internet technology testing area and playground.

The lab is very rudimentary in it’s design and will remain so. It actually uses frames which I haven’t seen on a website since 1997. Since some of the lab creations will have scripts in the head/body tags or require specific page colors or plugins, frames are the best technology for the job. Using a content management system (aka Blog) would be a terrible option for NevLab.

The NevLab is officially open!

My Trip to China

My trip to China went very well. The point of going was to educate myself about the place, because I knew absolutely nothing about it. In my lifetime it will be one of the largest consumer markets on the planet, so getting to know this place better couldn’t hurt.

I honestly packed my bags like I would be hardship backpacking through some 3rd world foreign land…I was WAY off.

I presumed from all the comparisons I hear on the news that China was like India, but it was in fact MUCH different.

I primarily went to Shanghai and Beijing which are NOT representative of most of China. It’s like coming to the United States, only going to New York City and presuming the whole U.S.A is like that.

LANGUAGE BARRIER
Here is why India gets all the international call centers instead of China: Very little English is spoken in China. We figured since we’re in Shanghai we would be able to get around very easily with only English…WRONG.

English was a very rare commodity, and when it was actually spoken, it was usually butchered. The Mandarin language is grammatically set up in a completely different way, so their English is sometimes very skewed….understandable….but skewed.

At a lot of restaurants we went to, they could not understand basic things like Coca-Cola, napkin, spoon, soy sauce etc.. If there were pictures on the menu, we would just point. Another tactic was taking picture of foods with my camera, then we would show the waiter and he would know “Ohh, they want dumplings”

FAMILIAR STUFF
Of course there were McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Pizza hut etc. all over China. McDonalds was relatively the same type of food and menu, I hardly noticed any differences. In these chains you would usually find people who spoke good enough (not good…just good enough) English to get you through an order.

IMPRESSIONS OF SHANGHAI
Most of my time was spent in Shanghai where I stayed at youth hostels or hotels, both always being quite nice. To me Shanghai felt like a mix between NYC and San Francisco. Just the impression I got.

I really liked it with all it’s very modern buildings, most of which had crazy illuminated tops or some sort of full-building lighting feature.

Pollution was quite bad though, as in on a clear day you cannot see the sun. It didn’t feel the pollution on the street that much, but a quick glance upwards and you can see the thick smog shielding the sun. I only saw the sun peer out fully one morning, and by afternoon it was gone.
The weather however was extremely pleasant and very mild.

Check out this picture of a relatively bright day with a bad pollution index. You can see how blurred the buildings across the river are:

The night sky in Shanghai was always lit up near this area along the river called the Bund. Lots of large buildings line the river, including “The Pearl” radio tower which is the big space needle looking thing. It’s like the Chinese equivalent of the Statue of Liberty, except it lights up in funky colors and is like a big lightshow in the night time.

FAKE STUFF
As me and friends travelled we couldn’t help but stand out as foreigners, meaning we were magnets for the street sellers. In some of the more commercial and shopping areas we were constantly approached by people selling knock-off watches, bags…you name it.

And of course…I bought stuff. It was however time consuming to sift through the different sellers who had good quality stuff and bad quality. I bought some really nice fake watches:

Pictured are a Breitling, Emporio Armani, Mont Blanc, Luminor Marina and Omega knock-off watches I bought for between $10 and $15. They have tons of great rip offs, and if you find high quality ones they are damn near indistinguishable from the real thing by the average person.

I also bought stuff like fake brand name cuff links….I’m not even sure if Louis Vuitton has cuff links that look like this, but oh well :)
After bargaining you can get them for about $1.50/piece.

TRANSPORTATION
Getting around was actually pretty easy. The roads & highways were very modern, they drive on the left like in the U.S. and most of the cars were relatively modern too. I was surprised to find out their emissions standards are higher than in the U.S., and also found it odd that EVERY taxi was a Volkswagen Santana 3000. I also see why General Motors is focusing so heavily on China, there are Buicks everywhere. I hardly ever see Buicks cruising around in the U.S. anymore.

Cab rides were relatively cheap, I don’t think I ever paid more than $3 for a cab ride, and I’m almost sure they were jacking up my price from time to time.

One highlight of the trip was a 250+ MPH bullet train that takes you from the Pu Dong airport to Shanghai. It’s top speed was 431 KPH which translates into 267 Miles Per Hour! It was pretty amazing since I got out of the airport thinking this was a poor, 3rd world country. The train whizzes by all sorts of farm land, small cities and even by the freeways where you see cars travelling at a pitiful 60 mph as you blow past them like they’re standing still! The bullet train cuts the airport to Shanghai travel time from 1 1/2 hours to 8 minutes!!

As for NORMAL train rides, I took a 12 hour train ride from Shanghai to Beijing, the captiol of China. The train ride cost about $40 because I chose the highest class ride I could get. I figured it would be a pretty boring trip, but it was actually VERY nice. You get a good size compartment with 4 beds in it, and 4 people. You get two meals, comfortable beds with warm blankets, slippers, toothbrush, dining table and more. It was nice because I left at 7pm from Shanghai, messed around for a few hours on the train then slept a full 8 hours. When I woke up they served a breakfast and you’re ready to start your day at 7am in Beijing! I actually preferred this to travelling by plane.

IMPRESSIONS OF BEIJING
Beijing definitely gives you a reminder that China is still a communist country. I didn’t get that vibe at all in Shanghai. First stop in Beijing, the Great Wall of China!

We took a private taxi 1 1/2 hours each way to get there, total round trip cost: $35.

Most parts of the Great Wall of China have been degraded to ruble over the last 2,000 years, but there is a large section which has been restored for visitors. We went here to go see this stretch of wall.

I don’t know what else to say other than it’s a big freakin wall in the mountains. I think the main objective of going there was 1.) to say I went to the Great Wall of China and 2.) to take a bunch of pictures on the Great Wall of China.

Probably my favorite picture: Doing a handstand on the Great Wall of China!

Here’s a “Where’s Waldo” picture, except “Where’s Nev”

We spent some time at the Great Wall taking pictures and whatnot, they had all the usual souveigneers and junk like any tourist attraction. We left shortly afterwards in the same taxi we came in (Who fortunately did not drive away with all of our stuff) and headed back towards the middle of Beijing to see Tiananmen Square.

Tiananmen Square was just a big ass concrete square with a bunch of people walking around. Dotted through the square were communist police perched on boxes. Their postures were ramrod straight and they moved their heads side to side like robots. At the base of each box was two fire extinguishers. I’m not sure why they had fire extinguishers in the middle of a giant concrete square, and they didn’t look friendly enough to ask.

This attraction was more for historical significance than anything. Of course I felt like taking another handstand picture:

*Note: More might be added to this post later.

Growing Orchids

Orchid Care and Maintenance : How to Water Indoor Orchids

Today’s orchid care and maintenance tips are all about watering your indoor orchids. I’m so excited to share my watering tips with you! I’ve been following these watering basics for a few years now and my babies have never been happier! Let’s get started! :P

Orchid Care and Maintenance

Water in the Morning

Watering Can

I water my orchids first thing in the morning while our coffee is brewing. Watering in the morning ensures that the orchids dry out by nighttime when the temperature drops. Remaining wet at night (or in cooler temperatures in general) makes them vulnerable to nasty orchid pests and diseases.

Use Room Temperature Water

This tip is simple, use room temperature water. Never use water that is too hot or too cold for your orchids. Uncomfortable water temperature can result in damage to your orchids—and you don’t want that! :(

Water Quality

Rain Barrel Collection

The kind of water you use will make a difference to your plants. My first choice is rain water. Did you know the organic matter in the rain water even nourishes the plants! I never miss the opportunity to collect rain water for all of my indoor plants. I have a rain barrel that collects the run off from the roof and I place buckets around the yard to catch all the rest. I store it in clean plastic gallon containers in my little shed. Now, I know relying on mother nature for rain is not possible in all locations. Tap water will work just fine—but you do have to be careful as our drinking water is often chemically treated with chemicals (like salt) that will harm your orchid if there is too much build up.

Ryan shares some great home remedies in his book Orchids Made Easy that will help remove water deposits from leaves. I recommend you check them out on page 40!

How

Orchid Care, Growing Orchids, Orchid Care and Maintenance

My method for watering my orchids is easy peasy! I like to call it the “DRENCH and DRAIN” method! I fill a plastic tub (you can use your bath tub or kitchen sink) with several inches of rain water or tap water if that is what you have. I then let my orchids sit in the water (about 50% of the pot should be in the water) for a few minutes–making sure they each get a good drink. Once the potting medium is thoroughly soaked, I let the orchids sit on a drying rack (or in the drained sink or tub) for a few minutes to make sure that all of the excess water has drained before placing them back on their shelves. I then give their leaves a light misting with a spray bottle. Once they are back in place I use a hand towel to dry off any water that might have splashed between the leaves. You want to make sure water does not collect deep down between the leaves because those areas can easily begin to rot! :?

How Often

In general, you want to keep the orchid potting mix moist. You can determine this by using your finger or a wooden chopstick from the Chinese restaurant. Simply poke 1 inch into the orchid medium, if the chopstick is damp/wet, your orchid is perfectly fine. It will take you just a few weeks to figure out what your watering schedule will be each week (once or twice a week, etc.).

Orchid Care and Maintenance, Orchid Care, Growing OrchidsBUT, there are few factors you should be aware of. The type of pot and potting medium you use do impact your watering schedule. For instance, both plastic pots and moss medium retain more water and stay wetter longer than clay pots and bark medium do. You also want to pay careful attention to the type of orchid(s) you have. Cattleyas, Cymbidiums, Phalaenopsis and Dendrobiums for instance each have different water requirements. In fact, most orchid problems (diseases and death) are the result of improper watering–usually overwatering.

(Be sure to check out my other posts where I’m sharing everything I know about caring for each of these orchid varieties. Also, don’t miss my special posts about orchid pots and orchid potting mix.)

Well, these are all the watering tips I have for you today! Hope they make caring for your orchids a tad bit easier.

ps. Don’t forget to check out Ryan’s Free Growing Orchids Tips. He offers some incredible watering advice I didn’t get the chance to share with you today!

Warmest wishes from sunny Florida,

Carol :)
The Orchid Care Lady

Orchid Care, Orchids, Orchids Care, Growing Orchids