Decorating Your Home Business Office

There are many benefits to having a home business. One of the great things is that you can be doing what you love to be doing and you can be doing this at home, surrounded by your family and able to stop work at any time to take care of things. However, being at home also means that you need keep your home office from simply being a part of your life.

Meanwhile, not everyone can afford to have a different room that is only for their home business, so many people decide to make an office for themselves somewhere in their homes. Whether it is a corner of the basement or living room or a smaller and unused room. No matter where you decide to be, you have to make sure that your office is somewhere you are going to be able to work without having a lot of hassle.

There are going to be many things that you can do to make this a reality, so remember it all starts with you. First of all, be sure that you are giving yourself plenty of space that is just for your office. Be sure that you have something that separates the room your office is in from your actual office so that you do not feel as if you are in the middle of your regular life.

Then, it is time to furnish your office. Try to do whatever you can to make sure you are giving yourself plenty of chances to have the office of your dreams but remember that you are going to be working form home and therefore you do not need a lot of expensive equipment or decorations. Put up posters and other things that make you feel as if you are at work and encourage you. Also, check your department stores and other retailers, because often you can find very cheap office supplies.

If you are going to be having customers come into your home office, you need to have a place where they can be and actually feel like they are in a business. It is very important in this case that you go to the trouble of creating a real office, because if you do not have one you are not going to look professional and this could hurt your business.

Remember that this is always something you should be aware of. You must always portray what you are trying to get across when it comes to your home office and how you run things. Remember that you are in charge of your office and your business and you are in charge of how you come off to customers at all times. This is something that is completely in your control.

Obinna Heche. Los Angeles – California

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Image from page 621 of “Baltimore and Ohio employees magazine” (1912)
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Identifier: baltimoreohioemp07balt
Title: Baltimore and Ohio employees magazine
Year: 1912 (1910s)
Authors: Baltimore and Ohio employees magazine Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company
Subjects: Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company
Publisher: [Baltimore, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad]
Contributing Library: University of Maryland, College Park
Digitizing Sponsor: LYRASIS Members and Sloan Foundation

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Text Appearing Before Image:
t, H. S. Adams, Chief Clerk toSuperintendent, Seymour, Ind. William F. Himler, checkman at the Sey-mour freight station, in service since 1903, isan ardent fan for the Cincinnati Reds. Thoughpast fifty years, he rises in time to catch No. 12,due at Seymour at 4.46 a. m. for the QueenCity and returns home on No. 3, arriving aboutmidnight. Mr. Himler had two sons in theservice, one a First Lieutenant. A third son,Hubert J., is office boy in our Superintendentsoffice. Recently an aeroplane did a land office busi-ness in riding passengers over Seymour. Sev-eral business men of the city were eager enoughto take a trip upward, in the hope of getting toheaven first, I guess. In the number wereseveral of our employes, including S. A. Rogers,road foreman of engines; Hubert Myron, opera-tor; Riley Whitman, Red Stants and HallieHolder of the Division Accountants office.George Henry, passenger fireman, enjoyed thenose dive, tail spin, etc. Others say they feela little more secure on mother earth.

Text Appearing After Image:
J. li. Sands, freight agent and Mr. A. H. Bowman, of the Bowman Freight Transfer Company. Louisville. Ky.,showing a catch of bass made on the afternoon of August 20, at Saranac Lake, N. Y.

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Home Business Leap Of Faith

It is clear that we live in the internet age. Most people can find a business and talk directly to people in the company within seconds. That is why you need to have good communication as a home business owner.

There are several advantages to running a business out of your own home. It allows you to cut cost; it makes work more convenient and allows you to conduct business the way you want to. All three of these perks are the reasons why people run businesses from their homes.

The great thing about running a business from your home is that there is no overhead cost of renting out an office. That lowers your initial startup cost and opens up money that you can direct elsewhere. Starting a business from home is also less of a risk because you are not tied to a rental agreement.

One way to combat office businesses is to raise public awareness about your own company. You should do things like sponsor a little league team when you can. You should also evaluate your money and spend where it is best suited.

You should consider getting a cell phone. If you are running errands and you are out you won?t miss a call. You can set your phone up so the office line goes directly to your cell phone.

There are a lot of advantages that home businesses can utilize to help them compete. Home businesses can utilize the money they save and time to their advantage. Working from home will allow you to capitalize on putting your money elsewhere.

An email address is crucial to your business. It helps you get in touch with suppliers, possible vendors, events, and clients. It is important that you check your email at least every hour.

One way you can compete with the traditional office business is by letting your clients know how personal your business is. Since you do not have the office to make you reputable, then you have to count on the personal level that you get from having your home and business intertwined. Having that touch of home in your business might help you compete.

By having your own business within the home, you can dictate how you want your business to be conducted. Having a familiar surrounding environment allows you to be somewhat personal with your work. That can be brought out in business meetings with your clients.

Open communication is crucial to your home business. It will connect your little office or work space to the rest of the world. It will allow you to grow as a company and develop professional relationships.

The thing you need to do as a business owner is let people know that just because you do not have that office in town, that you are still as good if not better than the competition. You should do what you can to help your business.

This is where you advertise your ezine, web page or item. International Data Entry From Home You might opt to on no account use the equity, however just know it is there in case of an crisis. This should contain a ‘dmo’, ‘every day procedure of operations’.

My Home Office
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Image by Hal Bergman Photography
I have never been able to figure out why this photo was my absolute-hands-down-most-interesting photograph of ALL the photos I’ve ever uploaded. Which is kind of annoying, actually, being as I fancy myself a professional photographer.

Anyway, that photo is over a year old now. Since I took it, I moved my furniture around countless times, rented an office, bought new equipment, and moved my office back home. Since I just cleaned the place, I figure it was time for an update.

So what does this setup do? It’s a freelancer’s swiss-army-knife. I’m a professional photographer, graphic designer, web developer, and I occasionally dabble in video editing and production for my video podcast GadgetGossip!. Somehow all of these jobs together pay the electric bill for the crap on this desk.

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Home Business Tips

If the home based business you are investigating requires an investment of over $ 500.00, then you should check with the State Business Agency of that State which the home business is located, to be sure that the business is registered with the State, as required by law.

Read Home Business Success Stories on the Internet. The Internet is a wealth of knowledge just waiting for interested parties to take advantage thereof. There are many websites, forums and chat rooms which detail this type of business and provide an avenue in which home business owners can chat with one another and perhaps pick up good tips as well.

If the home business opportunity requires only minimal investment, your next step in your internet home business investigation is via the numerous vigilante ‘home business’ watchdog organizations that proliferate the internet.

You may notice that ‘Google ads’ for assistance in determining the good ‘Work At Home’ and ‘Home Business Opportunities’ from the bad, seem to swarm around any area that discusses a home based business, like gnats hovering over ripe bananas.

Do some research and, if it’s possible, talk with other home business owners to learn more about how they made the decision to pursue home business opportunities.

Focus on your strengths and weaknesses. Pursue the home business ideas that you have – if only by researching them to see whether or not they really are great opportunities. By taking the time to understand yourself and the home business opportunities that appeal to you, you will find that it is far easier to choose the home business that will be ideal for you.

The home office deduction gets a bad wrap. There are so many rumors out about the home office deduction that you may want to avoid the whole subject. But if you have a home office and aren’t deducting it, you could be missing out on some very valuable tax savings.

Depending on the type of business you’ll be building, there may be permits and licenses required. Some businesses, for example, might even require you to have certifications or specialized training. Check with your local government for laws and regulations you might have to comply with.

Do you need insurance?That depends on the type of business you go into. Generally, you’ll need insurance if you foresee you’ll need some sort of protection, either to cover for your products, services or for employees you will be hiring.

Home Office Security -If you keep your home office under security, such as by using a security alarm system, using camera monitoring, or other similar ways to keep your home office safe, you can probably write-off those expenses in your taxes.

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Nomad children in Changtang, Ladakh
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Image by Dietmar Temps
Changtang in Ladakh, a high altitude plateau (average elevation 4500 meters), is the home of the Changpa nomads, a semi-nomadic Tibetan ethnic group. When the nomad children grow older they are nowadays lucky to get the chance attending a school, usually a boarding school all-year. The parents are quite happy about the education of their children because they believe the children can have a better life. Although the older people are proud of their traditions they know, that the new generation will probably not follow the hard life as a nomad anymore. The education level of the children opens a chance for a job in Leh or other cities in Ladakh.

From the viewpoint of a tourist it is of course a bit sad that the traditions of the nomad people might disappear in the future. But it is completely understandable that the nomad people also would like to participate in the improved education system and get a fair share of a growing economy. On the other hand, there is almost no industry in Ladakh, except of the tourism industry. Many of the young people work in the tourism business in their early twenties. But the season in Ladakh is only very short and the tourism industry cannot offer all people good jobs to earn enough money to raise a family. When I asked the young people about their dreams I often got the answer, they dream about a job in the public administration offices. Only a few would like to go to the military, which is also very present in Ladakh. And the times that the youngest son of a family inevitably starts a life as a Buddhist novice in a monastery are over. An interesting development in Ladakh in general, not only for the nomad children in Changtang.

Blog: Dietmar Temps, travel blog
Website, gallery: Dietmar Temps, photography

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Starting a Stay at Home Business

Working at home with no rules but your own has been the dream of most people. Who would want to work for a demanding boss if he or she has a choice of staying home and earning the same or more than she would make slaving in the office from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon? However, starting a stay at home business could be a bit daunting for most people. A lot of people would be intimidated by the thought of not receiving their monthly paycheck and would opt to simply stay with their present job.

Where many people would simply not pursue their dream of having a stay at home business, there are a few brave souls who would take the risk of starting out. For people who are brave enough to pursue their dreams, their first challenge would be to find the right kind of stay at home business that is profitable and enjoyable. Finding these profitable and enjoyable stay at home business is a matter of ingenuity and creativity. There are not hard and fast rules as to where to get your business ideas.

Some of the most creative business ideas came about through accident so you can never be too specific as to where to find them. However, there are places like the Internet, the library and you local trade and industry office, which can be good sources of inspiration.

Once you find the right stay at home business, you need to study all its aspects. Just because you have a stay at home business does not mean you don’t have any competitors. On the contrary, you could be facing stiff competition from fellow work at home business people and those companies with established commercial offices. It is therefore important that you study you competitors well and learn from them. In business, one of your best teachers is you competitors so take advantage of their experiences and learn from them.

As soon as you are ready to start, clear a space in your home where you could set up an office. Stay at home businesses need designated office space in your house where you can organize your files. If you have kids, it is better to have a door on your designated office that you can close to keep them from snooping on your work. Having kids running in front of you while you work could be very stressful so make sure that you have a stay at home business office where you can work in peace.

It would also be a very good idea to get another telephone line, which you will designate as your business phone. You use that phone number in your business card instead of your house phone. Having a business phone will make you sound professional.

Finally, there are many home business opportunities that you can start in your spare time that can eventually grow into a full time income while you work to pay the bills. If you know you want to eventually start working at home full time, you should take steps to get your home business started while you have a stable source of income from an outside source

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Nomad child in Changtang, Ladakh
office home business
Image by Dietmar Temps
Changtang in Ladakh, a high altitude plateau (average elevation 4500 meters), is the home of the Changpa nomads, a semi-nomadic Tibetan ethnic group. When the nomad children grow older they are nowadays lucky to get the chance attending a school, usually a boarding school all-year. The parents are quite happy about the education of their children because they believe the children can have a better life. Although the older people are proud of their traditions they know, that the new generation will probably not follow the hard life as a nomad anymore. The education level of the children opens a chance for a job in Leh or other cities in Ladakh.

From the viewpoint of a tourist it is of course a bit sad that the traditions of the nomad people might disappear in the future. But it is completely understandable that the nomad people also would like to participate in the improved education system and get a fair share of a growing economy. On the other hand, there is almost no industry in Ladakh, except of the tourism industry. Many of the young people work in the tourism business in their early twenties. But the season in Ladakh is only very short and the tourism industry cannot offer all people good jobs to earn enough money to raise a family. When I asked the young people about their dreams I often got the answer, they dream about a job in the public administration offices. Only a few would like to go to the military, which is also very present in Ladakh. And the times that the youngest son of a family inevitably starts a life as a Buddhist novice in a monastery are over. An interesting development in Ladakh in general, not only for the nomad children in Changtang.

Blog: Dietmar Temps, travel blog
Website, gallery: Dietmar Temps, photography

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Decorating Your Home Office In A Most Pleasing Way

More and more people are starting their own home based business, and there is a real interest these days in furnishing one of the rooms at home to turn it into an office that makes it easy for the person to actually work from home.

Of course the best place to set up a home office is at home. While people have tried using one table in the living room and working there, this is not as efficient as having their own office for working. Having a separate room makes sure that there is plenty of peace and quiet for the person to be able to properly conduct their business from the comfort of their home.

A home business office needs various pieces of furniture for proper functioning. At the minimum you will need to have a regular table, a computer table, a chair, some filing cabinets and a bookshelf. If you don’t have enough space, you can use your regular table as the computer table as well, provided it is big enough to support the pc as well. Also the chair needs to be comfortable enough, since you will be sitting in it for many hours every day.

When it comes to the size of the room, a smaller place will invite less pieces of furniture than a larger one. There are many sleek and very functional desks that can be bought which take much less space than a regular sized one. Also using a laptop instead of a desktop computer will save space in the room. Also a laptop is highly portable, something that a desktop pc is not.

While working from home, you still need to treat your work as a real job that earns you money. This is why you need to think of it as a real business, and not merely spending time at home. So avoid having any distractions such as having TVs or radios in the room. On the other hand, you can easily decorate your office with a few well placed plants that add a nice ambient to your home office.

Making use of a spiral coil binding machine is a great addition to any home office. For more information visit spiral binding machine.

Museum Tower seen with the Downtown Dallas Financial District to its left and the burgeoning Dallas Arts District in the foreground as well as behind the Tower, June 2010
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Image by skys the limit2
Museum Tower, at 560 feet tall and 42 stories costing 0 million dollars, is under construction with completion expected in late 2012. The rendering of Museum Tower in this photo shows what an incredible addition the tower will make on the Downtown Dallas cityscape. Museum Tower has been described as a "shaft of light".

Museum Tower, from this particular view, is visually located to the north of the Sacred Heart Catholic Cathedral, JP Morgan Chase Tower, 2100 Ross Avenue Tower, and the Trammell Crow Center with One Arts Plaza to the east. The explosive growth of dozens of skyscrapers and highrises in Downtown Dallas’ Uptown District are immediately to the north of Museum Tower and are not seen in this image.

As seen in the rendering, Museum Tower is literally surrounded by the 68-acre, 19 contiguous block world class Dallas Arts District with its numerous cultural facilities in the heart of Downtown Dallas. The Dallas Arts District is now perceived as the finest in the country, surpassing the Kennedy and Lincoln Centers in New York City: www.flickr.com/photos/52949402@N03/5128988435/in/set-7215…

The 5.2 acre Woodall Rodgers Urban Park is under construction; the park’s construction is not seen in this image. The Woodall Rodgers Urban park is creating a "Central Park" like setting amidst the skyscrapers of Downtown Dallas and will be the "front lawn" to Museum Tower.

The Woodall Rodgers Urban Park is costing 0 million dollars and completion is expected in 2012. The Park will seamlessly connect the traditional Downtown Dallas Financial District to the skyscrapers and highrises in its Uptown District just immediately to the north into one continuous whole.

Woodall Rodgers Freeway is becoming the new 21st century "Main Street" of Downtown Dallas with the intense development that has occurred fronting Woodall Rodgers Freeway from both the south (the traditional Dallas Financial District) and the north (Downtown Dallas’ Uptown District) sides of the freeway.
Here is a fantastic video of Downtown Dallas from 07-24-10 driving along I-35 on the west side of Downtown that shows the wonderful density that has developed in the Downtown core with its Uptown District from 2006 to 2010. Select 720p HD and full screen. If you pause at 13 seconds into the video, right in the middle of the image between Hunt Oil and One Arts Plaza Towers, will be where the under construction 0 million dollar Museum Tower in the traditional Downtown Financial District will make its presence known. The construction crane seen center left at a 13 second pause is for the 17 story 5 million dollar Perot Museum of Nature and Science that is also currently under construction on the north side of Woodall Rodgers, a couple blocks away from Museum Tower’s location on the side side of Woodall. Woodall Rodgers is the new 21st century "Main Street" of Downtown Dallas. Museum Tower’s almost 600 foot tall 42 story presence once completed in late 2012 is going to make a huge impact on the Downtown Dallas cityscape as it will stretch the Financial District so far north that it will completely meld into Uptown and vice versa:


This is another fantastic video shot from a helicopter circling Downtown Dallas on 07-09-10. Select 720p HD and full screen. The video generally focuses on the traditional Downtown Dallas Financial District, but if you look on the left hand side middle screen while the video is playing you will again see the incredible dense development that has literally sprung up almost overnight in Downtown’s Uptown District (between 2006 and 2010). From between 5 and 13 seconds at the beginning of the video you can see how impressive the Uptown skyscrapers are from just seeing the edge of Uptown that is directly facing the Financial District across Woodall Rodgers. Also from around 35 to 40 seconds into the video is when you can see the dense Uptown development from a bit broader perspective. Woodall Rodgers is the new 21st century "Main Street" of Downtown Dallas. Also, Museum Tower’s almost 600 foot tall 42 story presence once completed in late 2012 is going to make a huge impact on the Downtown Dallas cityscape as it will stretch the Financial District so far north that it will completely meld into Uptown and vice versa:


This is another great aerial video that literally offers a birdseye, multi-thousand foot view of Downtown Dallas shot on 10-24-10, in a jet flying over Downtown on its landing approach to DFW International Airport. Select 720p HD and full screen. For purposes of this discussion, freeze the video anywhere from 1 second to 10 seconds. The large mass of buildings in the very center of the video is Downtown Dallas, which includes all of the skyscrapers and highrises in Uptown as well as those in the more traditional Financial District which today forms the largest urban core in the nation outside of NYC, LA and Chicago with over 50,300,000 square feet of office space. The explosive growth of dense urban development in Uptown has vigorously extended Downtown Dallas northward. Downtown Dallas is now a long rectangle, anchored on its northern border by the CityPlace East (42 story) and Azure (31 story) skyscrapers with the mass of buildings stretching from the northern border southward through the traditional Financial District to just past I-30 to include the dense cluster of new developments in The Cedars District (the new City of Dallas Police Headquarters, the new Beat Condominium Tower, South Side on Lamar, and the just announced coup for Downtown Dallas of the NYLO Hotel South Side, etc.) . The W Hotel (31 stories) and The House Condominiums (29 stories) along with the Hyatt Regency Hotel (30 stories), Reunion Tower (50 stories) and the new half billion dollar Omni Convention Hotel (27 stories) clearly anchor the western side of Downtown running along Stemmons Freeway. One Arts Plaza (24 stories) and the dense Downtown Dallas Arts District along with the Sheraton Hotel’s twin towers (42 stories and 31 stories) and the Comerica Bank Headquarters Tower (60 stories) run along Central Expressway anchoring the eastern side of Downtown, and which then extends just a little further eastward to include the massive Baylor Medical District complex (seen in the video as the large mass of white highrises farthest east of the Financial District). Like a beautiful necklace extending just immediately north of Uptown/Downtown in the video, one can see the long chain of highrise apartment and condominium towers in the Turtle Creek area of Dallas tracking the large swath of greenbelt just immediately north of the CityPlace East and Azure skyscrapers. As a pre-cursor for continued vibrant Downtown Dallas growth, a major keystone development that heralds future massive and dense urban development for Downtown can be seen in the video in the form of the instantly iconic new Calatrava Bridge spanning the Trinity River, which will bring billions in new development by extending Downtown Dallas’ golden corridor, Woodall Rodgers Expressway, to the west side of the Trinity River. Woodall Rodgers has become the new 21st century "Main Street" for Downtown Dallas as it sets right in the middle of the bustling skyscrapers located on both the north and south sides of it. In the next ten to twenty years Turtle Creek, Uptown, Victory, Baylor, Deep Ellum, the Design District, the Financial District, The Cedars, and the newest urban frontier of West Dallas will seamlessly meld together to form a super dense core of the most dynamic and largest urban center in the nation outside of New York City and Los Angeles, and rivaling Chicago.


This cool video from 08-30-10 further reinforces the explosive growth of around 13,000,000 square feet in new Class A and Class AA office space that Downtown Dallas has seen in the last few years in its Uptown and Victory Districts from 2006 to 2010. Select 1080p HD and full screen. The video is shot from the same exact spot throughout but shifts its main focal point from the Financial District to Uptown at 14 seconds. From 0 to 13 seconds the focus of the video is the northern edge of the traditional Financial District with the bustling heavy traffic of Woodall Rodgers Freeway. During this segment one can imagine the imposing and impressive addition to the cityscape that the almost 600 foot tall 42 story Museum Tower will make as it will literally be positioned right behind Hunt Oil Tower, which is unmistakably dressed in its state-of-the-art LED lighting (blue at the time of the video). Still filmed from the exact same spot, from 14 seconds to the end, the focus of the video shifts slightly north looking across Woodall Rodgers Freeway to reveal just a small slice of the significant density of skyscrapers and highrises erected in Uptown mostly since around 2006. Woodall Rodgers is the new 21st century "Main Street" of Downtown Dallas. The construction crane that is clearly visible in this portion of the video is for the 17 story 5 million dollar Perot Museum of Nature and Science that is currently under construction:

Downtown Dallas is experiencing a renaissance from more than billion in new development that is currently underway in and near the Downtown core. As a result, Downtown Dallas is on the verge of a renewed greatness because of the billions in investment it has made in its Downtown core in general but also in its newest premier district, the Downtown Dallas Arts District.

An article published in the October 2010 "D Magazine" discusses how the relocation of corporate headquarters and businesses into Downtown Dallas is at an all time high. The level of interest in doing so (from out of state, in state and in town corporations) has also reached the highest level ever:


Dallas will surpass Chicago as the 3rd largest metro in the nation by 2030 or sooner, published 03-15-10 in The Dallas Morning News:


And another significant recognition and accolade from Forbes Magazine, published 09-02-09, naming Dallas as a "World Capital of the Future" that highlights Dallas’ worldwide reach and influence and its growing significance on the world stage:


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A Home Office For Your Home Business With No Room For One

No matter what type of business you have, you have to be able to set up a home office because otherwise you will not be able to conduct business. However, many people are not blessed to have an extra room in their home simply to work in. So, how do you find room for a home office when you simply do not have room for one?

The first thing that you have to do when you are looking for room for your home office is to make sure that you understand how much room you are actually going to need. What are you doing for your home business? Are you simply working online, which means that all you need room for is a desk and computer? Or do you need work space, like a large table? Do you need storage room as well? All of these things are important so that you can make the most out of the space that you need.

If all that you need is a desk and computer, you have it easy. This is going to be the best way that you have to get a real home office, just for yourself. You can find room for a desk and a computer just about anywhere the corner of a bedroom or dining room. The trick is that you have to be able to separate this from the rest of your home.

You might not think that it is important to do this, but if you cannot separate your home office area from the rest of your home you will find that it is too difficult to separate the home business itself from the rest of your life, which is very important in order to run your home business successfully. So, when you are looking at your home office space, you have to have it separated.

If all that you need is a desk and computer, you can separate this very easily. Find a roll top desk or a desk with doors that will close. That way, you can shut down your office when you are done with work for the day. This is something that you can do to make it easier on you, and it is something that you will be able to do quite easily as well.

If you need more room for your home business, you might have a problem. In small houses, or in houses where you have a spouse and kids and pets, you are going to run into trouble. But remember that as long as you can find an area to use that can be separate, you will be ok. Think about using a corner of the basement or garage for this. You can separate areas with room dividers, or even with sheets hung from the ceiling. No matter what, you should be able to make your home office a separate place.

Al Mahrouqi is an OBA business owner. Discover how to save thousands of dollars and years of your time and start a successful home business ready with products, websites, technological platform, support, and training for a small one-time entry fee at: http://www.onlinebizalliance.org

Sergei Takes a Gratuity
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Image by Viewminder
The ‘smugglers’ who shared the cabin with me on the Trans Siberian always placed a generous cash gratuity into our passports as we were to be searched. Andre ‘the elder’ would assert his authority as the head smuggler and collect all four of the passports… including mine… and he would give them to the officials with a mischevous smile and a nod that said ‘this is my gift to you.’ This is my business. This is what I do.

Andre always put the American passport on the bottom… I think he thought it would draw less attention there…and then he always shushed me with a stern and piercing look as he prepared for these most critical transactions. The first thing the official would do is put the American passport on top. I began to realize that although we shared that cabin and the comraderie of the rails… or confinement thereof… that Andre ‘the elder’ didn’t really think that having an American in his cabin was all that much good for business. It seemed to bring a little ‘extra special’ attention and scrutiny to his little clandestine smuggling operation. Maybe he had to bump up the bribes a notch or two to insure the safe passage of his valuable contraband. Either way you could just tell by watching him that Andre was a bottom line kind of guy.

By the end of the journey though Andre had invited me to live with him and his family in Poland… to work at his store… and to marry his daughter who he assured me had the bluest of eyes and breasts that were the national pride of Poland. Although I never saw him again I came to love Andre as a father in law even though I never met his daughter… somehow I feel like I know her.

It’s no joke either about Polish womens breasts being an object of national pride. Somehow Andre ‘the elder’ seemed capable of working it into any conversation relating to his motherland… to which Andre ‘the younger’ and their female companion would invariably agree with.

This usually led to a toast… a clanking of the glasses… the tipping of a bottle and a slurred chorus of ‘nasdorovia’s.’

Whenever the merits of Polish breasts were agreed on, indeed that meant it was time to drink some more vodka. Even to this day… when I think of Andre or Polish womens breasts… it makes me want to knock back a shot of vodka… but I don’t drink anymore and really I am more of an ass man… but still. I never had the heart to tell Andre that… I mean, talking about Polish womens breasts really seemed to make him so happy. I didn’t want to take that way from him. You’ve just never seen a guy so filled with joy as Andre was whenever his favorite subject was being discussed or debated… it really lit him up from the inside.

Anytime you want to make a Polish national feel good… or homesick… just bring up the fact that Polish women have the best breasts. It’s been good for a lot of free drinks for me.

I had just left Asia… everyday I travelled closer to Europe. With the passage of time and distance Andre’s observations were indeed verified though… the closer I got to Poland… the larger breasts became. I’m not kidding. Andre was right.

The first Russian I met… the man smiling in the photograph… was like most Russians it seemed…named Sergei. A few were named Alexander or Andre. I think Russians have only three names… except for politicians or people of fame. I might have met a couple of Victors and a handful of Igor’s as well. Somebody once said they’d heard of a Russian named Nikolai too. Still… most men in Russia are named Sergei. That’s just the way it is there.

Seconds after I took this photograph Sergei slipped into his pocket without flinch or hesitation the currency that Andre had stashed in his passport. I knew it was coming and I was watching closely for it. I barely caught it. And I grew up in Chicago.

Living on that train with those smugglers was like taking an advanced college course in the subtleties and techniques of graft. It was Andre ‘the elder’ who taught me that you need to keep variable amounts of currency in each of your four pockets… like five in one, ten in the next, then twenty and a hundred…and that you must properly size up the person you are attempting to bribe and choose from one of your pockets the minumum amount you are betting it will take to pacify that official.

That’s helped me more than once in life since then.

Andre also showed me that it was really important to telegraph the bribe… to look the mark right in the eyes and demonstrate that one… you were about to bribe him and two… that you were going to reach into your pocket and take out all of the money you had available to you for this transaction. It was really deep psychology according to Andre. The man had an ethic and he was a perfectionist. It’s always remarkable to watch such a master at work.

Andre pointed out that it was good form to allow your pocket to turn slightly inside out so that the mark could see that indeed you really emptied it. This he noted made them feel really special. Like you went all the way for them. He also taught me that a bribe is never to be peeled off of a larger wad of bills or taken from a wallet… unless you had done business with the mark before but in his opinion it was still a bad idea.

Andre’s bribes never failed or produced even the slightest trace of hesitation. The man was truly a master. Andre ‘the elder’ was the maestro of bribery. And he taught me well. Halfway through the journey he announced that he was getting sick of the train and that he and his cohorts were getting off at Irkusk and flying on to Moscow.

He gave to me a case of vodka and an envelope with additional bribes in it and told me that he would meet me in Moscow with the ‘goods’ next week.

I was proud and honored that Andre ‘the elder’ trusted me with the ‘stuff.’

I was officially a smuggler now.

When I went through Japanese customs they even pulled me right out of line… took me to this little office where I presumed I was going to learn what a rough rectal exam was like. They never even looked in my bags though… they just wanted to know if I slept with any prostitutes in Bangkok… it was a real interrogation too… they didn’t believe me when I said I hadn’t… they even tried to say I must be gay then. the fact that I didn’t seem to take much offense at their calling me gay really seemed to disturb them because thry had a little conference among themselves… in Japanese… so I had no way of knowing what they were saying.

I told them that i did get a killer massage at the James Bond Turkish Bath and Massage House… but there was no happy ending if you know what I mean. I only went in because of the James Bond motiff. I’m a sucker for that stuff… like the cosmonaut cigarettes on the train in Russia.

Still they didn’t believe me but they let me go with a warning… a reminder to call them if I wanted to change my story and they gave me this pamphlet that described all of the symptoms one might have after a hedonistic weekend in the city of angels… Bankok. Reading the brochure it made me really glad I just stuck with the massage. The pictures, even though they were in black and white, they were especially disturbing.

Bangkok… really the only reason I went there is because I loved that song by Murray McMurray… you know the one… ‘one night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble.’ I wanted to see what the inspiration for that song was… and I thought I could use some humbling. Murray was correctamundo… I was indeed humbled.

I dealt with smugglers before in Japan… Nigerians… but dealing with the Nigerians always made me feel dirty. And that was before they became famous on the internet.

Those Nigerians… they are a resourceful bunch though. And the colorful clothing… you haven’t partied until you’ve partied with a Nigerian man wearing a yellow daishiki with a matching hat. I couldda stared at those intricate psychadellic patterns forever. I still felt dirty though. But as a rule, if you ever want anything illegal, if you want to find the corruption or a cities dark underbelly… look for the Nigerians… you can’t miss them the way they dress. Or you can just find cab drivers… who are often Nigerian anyway. Cab drivers are also a valuable resource when you are looking for some sin in a new city. I never once got into one of those three wheeled cabs in Bangkok called "Tuk-tuk’s" without being offered a "massagy-massagy," Not once.

When I was in high school and I wanted some beer or alcoholoc beverages… I’d just call for a cab… and when the guy got there… I’d tell him to go get me a twelve pack or something… then I would do that "rip the twenty dollar bill in half" trick and tell him he’d get to keep the other half when he came back. They loved that. It always produced for me. It’s one of the most secret agent like things you could do… ripping a bill in half like that… it’s an all or nothing move… it’s like saying neither one of us trusts the other but this twenty… that’s what it’s all about. Of course you gotta figure in the cab fare too.

I think Nigeria has the worlds biggest cab driver school or something. Most Nigerian guys grow up to be cab drivers… the ones with more education do internet scams… white collar work. From what I’ve seen… those are your only two career paths if you’re from Nigeria. Smuggling and dealing in hashish is just a very common side gig. And they had this scam where they used a computer to alter prepaid phone cards and increase their value. Nigerians can be geniuses.

It was a Nigerian that taught me that if you took the local train long distance in Japan you could have a friend get on at the station before your destination and give you an extra ticket he bought there for like a buck and you could save hundreds because if you over rode your fair they didn’t check on the train… you just had to pay when you inserted your ticket at the exit. Those Nigerians.

The Japanese didn’t have much an apetite for the devils weed… they preferred amphetamines… something I never did. I always thought it would be pretty hillarious to hang out with some really stoned Japanese people. I wondered what their eyes could possibly look like when they were smoking pot.

The other gaurd in the picture… the mean looking one… noted the transaction as if to say ‘I had better get my cut’ and the money quickly dissapeared with all of the magnificence of a Las Vegas slieght of hand magician.

You could see it in the officers eyes… and he didn’t appreciate my shutter happy finger either. I thought this would be another precious roll of thirty five millimeter lost to the angry hands of the authorities. That stuff is hard to come by in Siberia you know.

It was obvious these men were used to being treated to such gratuities. Probably they sent word ahead… there is a man in the rear cabin who treats security officials very well.

It reminded me of the consulate officer at the Russian embassy in Beijing who informed me that they were ‘all out of visas’ until I produced my last eight american dollars… and even then he motioned for me to show him the inside of my bag because I’m sure he wanted to make it an even ten. That’s why you keep your money in different pockets. Miraculously the rubber stamp that made visas was rejuvenated and after a strong smack on the stamp pad was good for just one more visa.

Our cabin and our bags were never searched. Not anywhere on the entire journey. They could have contained a ton of heroin or four chinese children set out to work in the kitchens of europe.

At this time I didn’t know what the two Andres and their female cohort were smuggling, but I had hoped that it was indeed something that would make the journey more pleasant.

My passport was taken from me there at Manzhoulli and I was issued Russian travel papers that I carried for the duration of the trip. Papers that were stamped with a radiation symbol the morning after we tore ass through the radiated zone caused by the disaster at Chernobyl. To this day I wonder how the passport was returned to me as I departed Russia at the Polish border.

Later Sergei ‘the compensated’ and I sat outside the Manzhoulli station where he smoked a cigarette and asked me questions about America. It wasn’t small talk… Sergei had a deep interest in the way things were there… why our countries grew up in this diabolic situation of mutual assured nuclear destruction. What was so different about us his words seemed to say in a meandering way. I saw then that Sergei was raised too on the same diet of propoganda that I was… just the other end of the spectrum. I remember it seemed as if we both realized that right at the same time… his deep basso Russian laughter overwhelmed mine and carried beyond our immediate confines to precede me into Siberia.

I uncapped the pewter whiskey flask in my bag… the one decorated with the golfers on it that I shoplifted from Carson Perie Scott’s in high school and we shared a sip. The same one the port official in Shanghai uncapped to smell but never dared to partake of. I crushed that flask when I had it in my back pocket when I fell off the back of a moving truck… the flask was empty… which undoubtably had something to do with me falling off of the back of a moving truck… but I was crushed too because I loved that flask. I ended up filling it with water and freezing it repeatedly until the crushed metal expanded outward. Plus I think it’s realy the only thing I’ve ever shoplifted… except for candy and stuff like that. I just fell in love with that thing the first time I saw it. I knew then that I had to have it and I carried it around the whole world.

In Siberia vodka was golden… but whiskey… even the cheap Japanese stuff I carried…Suntory I think… it produced a reaction in my Russian friends like nothing I had ever seen. One sip… savored as if it were sent from heaven above and there were kisses and bear hugs. One sip of whiskey to a Russian then always opened up an immediate and strong friendship. Sometimes it even lasted longer than the fire it produced in your stomach and the burn in your throat.

I watched the sunset there that evening in Manzhoulli. Alone at the side of the rails I wished that someone would have walked over… sat next to me… and even in the silence of those who speak no common language… just appreciated that Manzhoulli sunset with me.

If I could have found one…I would have paid a prostitute just to sit next to me and enjoy that there. But I’ve heard that prostitutes always make you pay extra for weird stuff like that. I did after all have a bag of Yuan’s that I worked out of the black market in China. The ones that I was left with after they wouldn’t let me buy booze with them. The ones only chinese citizens are supposed to carry. Foreigners in China are supposed to carry a different money than the Chinese… they’re called foreign exchange certificates. I called them ‘fecks’ because I like to come up with acronyms or slang names for things. It makes me sound smarter… like I been around the block a time or two.

Chinese money confused me… they rarely used coins… I’d break a one yuan note… worth maybe twenty cents and about the size of a buck… and for change I’d get a bunch of smaller notes of differing sizes. It was like some of their cash was as small as a postage stamp. After a week I had so much of the stuff and couldn’t figure out how to use it… I’d just open my hip bag and let the bus driver or shop keeper help themselves.

It was the hearbreak of the solo traveller… that I should be in a place of such significance and see something of extraordinary beauty and have no one there to even draw breath with in in the way one does when confronted with such magnificence. The sigh of beauty.

Envy was the emotion I always felt as I watched others hold hands or share the entwinement of a lovers arms… those who whispered to each other at these moments… them who had someone stand on the pier or at the station to wish them bon voyage… even more so they who met someone to welcome them to their destination.

I always stepped off of my conveyance alone.

I was there alone as the sun set on Asia… I said goodbye as it was dropping low over Mongolia and casting a gorgeous and firery reflection off of the steppes and the deserts miles distant.

It would be to me my last sunset of Asia.

And my last stupid thought. Possibly it was the vodka the Andres forced upon me there… but I clasped my hands behind my head and layed back on my backpack as the sun rounded the earth… and I entertained myself with a promise that if I were ever to become filthy rich that I would buy my childhood home… the one I grew up in… have it taken apart piece by piece and put into shipping containers where I would then have them shipped here… or maybe to the Steppes of Mongolia in front of me… and reassembled exactly as it was. I didn’t care where… I just thought it would be loads of fun to take my childhood home apart and rebuild it somewhere really far away.

That I might live in my house and look out the window at this place.