How Home Renovations Increase Home Value

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When it comes to the real estate market, a home’s value is relative to many different factors, such as location, comparable home values, and age and condition of the home. While the overall market is unpredictable, there are have always been, and always will be, those homes that stand out and command a higher value. Historically, regardless of the economy and market conditions, homes that have been renovated within five years of the date of sale command higher prices than homes in the area that lack similar updates. Even in the current economy, there are numerous home renovations that can increase a home’s overall value.

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Whether you are planning to sell your home within five years, or plan on living in your home for years to come, certain renovations can add value to your home. This value can include both real cash value and personal value derived from enjoyment of the finished product. Traditionally, some renovations, including kitchens and bathrooms, result in the best return but other smaller renovations are surprisingly beneficial to a home’s value as well.

It’s no secret that kitchens and bathrooms can make or break a sale. An outdated kitchen or bathroom can turn a potential buyer off just as easily as an updated kitchen or bathroom can sell a home. For a number of years, kitchen renovations topped the list of return for investment in home renovation projects. While the price of a remodel has increased and the return has fallen slightly, the kitchen is the one area of the home people focus on first. If you’re living with an outdated, ugly kitchen or one that is not functional, the cost of a renovation will be recouped by personal enjoyment alone but you can also recoup up to 80 percent of the cost if you sell your home within five to seven years.

Similarly, bathroom renovations have been in the top five of investment versus return value for years. Today’s trends lean towards the spa-style bathroom, with a preference towards separate showers and tubs, double sinks, and even seating areas. Even in homes where bathroom space is limited, there are a number of improvements that can be made to increase the functionality of the bathroom and the value of the home.

Major renovations may be out of reach for some homeowners’ budgets, especially in the current economy, but some minor renovations can also add value to a home. One of the leading minor renovations in terms of cost and return is the home’s entry door. Replacing the entry door with a mid-range replacement door helps provide curb appeal, a welcoming entrance and energy efficiency all at the same time. Another minor renovation that adds instant appeal, and thus value, is detailed trim work like chair railing, crown molding, and cornice board. Carpeting and paint are also minor renovations that add value and appeal.

As more people focus on energy efficiency, replacing major mechanical systems, such as a furnace, air conditioning system, water heater and windows, with energy efficient equivalents can also add instant value to a home. Not only will your energy bills be reduced but the resale value of the home will improve. A new roof and insulation will add to the investment.

If you’ve already focused on the inside of your home or are confident that the interior is at least moderately up-to-date and efficient, turn your focus to the outdoors. In 2008 and 2009, the term “staycation” was coined to refer to people who preferred to stay home and enjoy downtime over traveling in order to save money. With this trend came an increased demand for outdoor living space. Decks, patios, and outdoor kitchens conducive to entertaining and relaxation are improvements that are in demand. In fact, like kitchens and bathrooms, decks are in the top five of renovation returns.

Investing a large sum of money into home renovation for the sole purpose of resale should be considered carefully and you might want to consult a real estate expert in your area before you decide to invest in a major renovation project. However, if you have budgeted for a large scale project because you want to enjoy the improvement while adding potential value to your home, invest in the project that is most important to you now. It may be unrealistic to expect an increased sales price of $100,00 on a $50,000 renovation but you can expect to recoup some of the cost if you sell your home before the update becomes outdated again.Home Renovation Guide provides free information and advice on all aspects of home renovations and on a variety of topics ranging from roofing and landscaping to windows and doors we have the information you need to get the job done right. Visit them today.

8 Steps To Accelerated Hypnotic Learning

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Who are the most amazing learning machines on our planet? How can we develop accelerated learning techniques from them? Do you want to know how to learn as fast as the most amazing people in the world? Then read on…

During the past couple of months, I have been privileged and overjoyed to have spent some time with my Brother and sister-in-law’s beautiful 6 month old baby. It is truly amazing to behold how she learns and develops.

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While most of us are holding down jobs and/or raising children, and generally leading busy lives, learning things faster would be a very welcome skill to acquire. Wouldnt you agree?

If you want to know how to accelerate your ability to learn, it is useful to engage in a little modelling of the most amazing learning machines in the world: Babies, toddlers and children. Seeing my niece developing so fast made me think. When we were children we learnt a phenomenal amount in a very short time, not just information and knowledge but also social skills, body-mind co-ordination and much, much more. So how did we do this?

I want to show you how to identify the right conditions for learning, so that you can once more be free to learn as effectively as you did when you were a small child.

So how did you manage it all those years ago? The first five years of your life represent the most amazing accelerated learning programme ever developed. Not all of this is necessarily good, of course, in terms of its usefulness later in life but certainly small children learn thoroughly and with every part of themselves. They learn without labelling what they are doing as learning. They begin to map out their world through the fullest use of all their senses every waking moment. This is truly total immersion learning. Everyone starts out as a fast learner. I mean everyone.

8 Steps To Fast Learning:

Step One: You have to want to learn.

When we are little, life is fascinating because everything is utterly new to us. We dont yet have experiences or filters that tell us some things are more important or more worthwhile than others. Everything is new, everything gives us more to absorb.

Learning is highly meaningful for a number of reasons: because it is interesting, because it relates to some immediate goal, because it is rewarded, because it helps us to model someone who is important to us, because it gives us more autonomy, power or means of self-expression and because we are curious and just want to know.

All these reasons give us important incentives to learn fast and learn well. The process of learning is something the learner actively wants to do.

So, make sure you are motivated have a good reason for anything that you want to learn, and know what it is.

Step Two: Engage In The Moment.

Very small children pay a lot of attention to what is going on around them and what they are doing. They are not thinking about how today compares with yesterday or looking for references of similar experiences. Those concepts come later in life.

They are not distracting themselves. They can and do get distracted, but then they are totally immersed in the distraction. Attention is 100 per cent. They focus and are concentrated.

So, catch wandering thoughts. It may well help to write down things that require action later, so that you do not have to carry them alongside what you are currently doing. Having done so, bring yourself back to the here-and-now.

Step Three: Be immersed in the learning experience.

At those young ages, learning is done in a highly associated state which produces high neurological and physiological engagement and enables the learner to make huge strides very rapidly.

Choose your timing, and your setting, and your state to give yourself the best chance of becoming immersed. Cultivate the art of being fully associated in your experience. So really tune in, be aware of what you are seeing, hearing and feeling. This leads nicely on to our next step…

Step Four: Use all your senses when learning.

Children do not think about how they learn, or should learn. All their senses are on-line to pick up and process information.

This means that what they are learning can be encoded in multiple ways, making it more rapidly and effectively part of them.

Therefore, engage more of your senses in the act of consciously learning. Always consider how you can incorporate more of the senses into even formal learning using more visual, more auditory and more kinaesthetic stimulus. For instance, you could make notes, construct models and literally walk things through (kinaesthetic), create mind-maps, colourful visuals and use coloured pens (visual), or play music by Baroque composers such as Bach or Vivaldi, which has been shown to enhance concentration and learning (auditory).

Step Five: Your efforts are frequently praised or rewarded.

Very young children usually get plenty of praise for trying to do things, as well as for actually achieving them. You know when everyone delights at them doing something. Even if there comes a time when the grown-ups start to take their skills for granted, there has usually been a good grounding of positive encouragement for first efforts at sitting, crawling, and standing, talking and walking. With luck, a foundation has been laid, which can become the basis of self-encouragement in their willingness to take on the risk of trying new things.

Today, find ways to praise and reward yourself. Use encouraging internal dialogue. Break your goal down into stages and give yourself treats for accomplishing each stage.

Step Six: Free yourself of success and failure notions.

The early learning child or baby has not yet learnt to think in terms of success and failure so they are not easily daunted when something does not work out. In fact, being frustrated is more likely to make them want to try again.

Very small children mostly do not get labelled as failures when they try something that does not work. Childrens first words, or first steps, are too exciting and too major for most adults to discount them as not good enough. A new walker who falls is likely to be encouraged to try again.

Be kind about your mistakes and limitations. People who endlessly criticise themselves tend to become disheartened. Those who forgive errors and lapses make much better progress.

Step Seven: Pace Yourself.

When they lose interest, or get tired, babies simply switch to something else or fall asleep. They have not yet learnt to pressurise themselves unduly or to make unreasonable demands of themselves.

Pace yourself- do not drive yourself too hard. Even when you are doing well perhaps especially when you are doing well have a break. And do not move the goalposts because you achieved something sooner or more easily than you expected.

Step Eight: Digest and process.

The early learner sleeps long and deep, which gives the unconscious mind time to process what has been learnt, and the body time to recover from exertion and build its strength.

Sleep is a major ingredient in successful learning, it allows the body to rest and repair itself after exertion. Mental exertion requires energy and stamina, so any kind of learning is potentially tiring. Learning is processed and stored unconsciously which is why we relatively soon forget the actual processes that are involved in even complex skills like walking, talking or reading. And sleep is a time when the unconscious part of the mind is very active in processing new material and making connections.

Respect your bodys need for rest. Give yourself enough sleep time to process what you have learnt.

SoFree Web Content, now we have seen the criteria for that kind of fast learning that babies and toddlers do. Think of ways that you can apply these seven simple steps to your own learning processes whenever and wherever they may be. Have some fun with this.

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byAlma Abell

When you’re sick and your regular physician is not available normally you would go to a medical clinic for treatment. Why go there and spend a lot of money and wait for hours to be seen, when you can browse the internet for an online medical provider. It is a well-known fact that this is an internet age, where almost all things can be done online. Currently, you do not need to go to any clinic to see a physician since there is a range of fully certified and licensed doctors available online with whom you can make a virtual doctor appointment. Advantages of online doctor consultation are saving money, time, and getting the medical attention you need faster.

Some Benefits of Online Doctors Services

Some of the benefits of online doctor services are; not being able to leave your home because you’re too sick, you’re traveling and away from home, and you can make a virtual doctor appointment in the convenience of your own home. An online physician is friendly, polite, and will encourage you to ask questions about your various health concerns so you can get your doubts clarified. Whichever consultation you choose whether it is video, regular, or VIP you will get expert advice. The detailed report and explanation will help you to understand clearly and work towards improving your health.

Dedicated Professionals Are Always Available

Online medical consultations and prescriptions are available wherever you happen to have internet access and a s. The licensed doctors are ready to access their online medical services as well as render high quality care. Keep in mind these physicians only treat common ailments and do not write prescriptions for any types of painkillers. If you would like more information about a virtual doctor appointment, contact MDProactive today by visiting their website

Day of attacks continue in Israel and Lebanon

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fighting continued in Israel and Lebanon as Israel attacked targets in Lebanon using aircrafts and ships. Rockets were fired from Lebanon and landed on the Israeli side of the border, Thursday. Israel called their military action “Operation Just Reward”.

The clashes follow a Hezbollah raid into Israel which they called “Truthful Promise” in which Hezbollah claimed to have captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel said the men were kidnapped.

Israeli aircraft launched missiles at Beirut international airport and damaged runways and fuel stores. Additional targets were attacked, including 18 bridges, and a Hezbollah run TV station, Al-Manar, which continued to broadcast after being targeted, but later went partially off air.

45 Lebanese civilians and two soldiers were reported killed as a result of Israeli overnight raids and 103 people were injured. In some areas Israeli planes had dropped leaflets to warn residents to stay away from Hezbollah buildings.

Over 100 rockets were fired from Lebanon towards northern Israel Thursday, which the Israeli Army says are the acts of Hezbollah. Two Israeli civilians were reported killed over 100 injured.

The Lebanese road communications network was targeted: 18 bridges were damaged and early on Friday the highway linking Beirut and Damascus was hit by five Israeli missiles. The highway is the only route out of the country after the airport was shut down. Witnesses said that the road was free from traffic when the missiles hit.

In a television interview, Wednesday July 12, Brigadier Gen. Dan Halutz had told Israel’s Channel 10 that if the Israeli soldiers were not returned Israel would “turn Lebanon’s clock back 20 years”. He also said of Lebanon “nothing is safe.”

An investment in Bangalore Real Estate

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In year 201, witnessing the significant developments that impacted the Indian economy by rising interest rates, global uncertainties, declining foreign investments dip in GDP et al. Investment options in Residential property in Bangalore abound but the yield varies from 4 percent and above depending on the location, specification, type of development and amenities offered in the residential project. The investor should look at other options as well like row houses, town houses and villas as they accompany with more land areas that enhance the overall return on investment in residential apartment.

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Today majority of investors are invariably looking at North and East Bangalore for real estate investment options, untapped potential exists in West Bangalore with proximity to city areas. Bangalore the commencement of the Metro will give the commercial and residential real estate market a fresh growth prospect. Bangalore being the largest real estate markets of the country with increased infrastructure initatives around them are going to become the new growth corridors and will witness stronger demand and price increases. Thus, from an investment standpoint one can expect good returns in the future.

As an investor, one needs to observe the planned initiatives and enter at an early stage and stay invested for the long-term. Many Bangaloreans are now opting to buy large-format apartments. These residential apartments cost crores of rupees which also means that they can easily afford to buy villas too. With the high prices of the residential property in the central business district (CBD) areas, the suburban and peripheral locations are favoured by investors. The scope for capital appreciation during the projects’ implementation period is high in such cases. With more land available, improved connectivity and proximity to IT corridors, the suburban and peripheral locations are witnessing the emergence of a number of residential projects at competitive prices.

Prices of Property in Bangalore are bound to turn dynamic with an upward bias in the near term. Location is a key issue. An emerging residential catchment near a planned commercial hub in a suburb will turn a prime locality as the facilities come up and more people look for housing options in the belt. Bangalore now having the improved connectivity, the demand for residential units in the vicinity of IT/ITes companies is likely to go up including the scope for rental accomodation. As a result, investors are looking at suburban and peripheral locations for the right option to derive maximum yield. Investment in residential property in suburban and peripheral areas offer immense scope for price appreciation due to prevailing competition, attractive prices and the growing demand for residentail apartments.

Bangalore “The Silicon Valley of India” features being the home to the Information Technology Companies and the Information Technology Enabled Services. Many multinational companies and corporate brands have established their retail stores and finally the commercial Real Estate Development of Bangalore started flourishing. In year 2011 Bangalore witnessed significant developments that impacted the Indian economy. In the fast changing scenario, real estate investors are invariably faced with a dilemma as where to put their money to get maximum yield. Investment in plotted development is a better option for those who do not need housing in the coming years as price appreciation will serve as an hedge against inflation.

Some property analysts believe Bangalore is possibly the safest location for investments in the world. Here the price of the property do not skyrocket or get hyped and they don’t even go downwards too like they have in many other prominent location in India. Bangalore is a market where most of the property purchases are by end-users and not speculators. They treat it as a pure investment for financial gains. A Property in Bangalore has attracted all the times to be a portion of Real Estate in Bangalore. As the average raises the real estate growth has resulted in the development power achieved by the garden city. As Bangalore distinctively experienced the most preferred destination for the leading housing companies to express the latest housing projects known responsible for the growth of the city in general.

This article provides a brief and an easy way out for solving the problem of selection of the best antivirus download. Due to the malicious programs like virus, adware, worm, spyware and other malwares, the PC users have literally forgotten of enjoying a sound-sleep. Threats to the system privacy are heftily increasing nowadays and so is the heavy rush of the websites providing latest antivirus software. This both type of increments are churning out heavy chunk of bucks for both the hackers and security providers. Not only the bucks, but also it adds to the woes of the users who end up with thick lines of confusions on their foreheads.

More on bug sweeping here

Downloading the best antivirus protection for system is as vital as selecting a good security guard for a bank. Your system contains your private info. Likewise, if you’re an e-banker, banking credentials or SSN are supplied by you for ransoming of the product you purchase online. This highly sensitive data needs to be protected and traveled via secure hands over the network. A virus or spy ware may get an access to these and can sweep out all the money and passwords from your safe.

Not only internet, but if you rely on the external storage devices like flash memory: pen drive, CDs, etc., a virus may get an access to your healthy system. Hence, data transferring or purchasing and installing any new software raises a high alarm for the need of latest antivirus software. Nowadays, many of the websites are providing ‘free download antivirus’ option which increases the ambiguity of the user to make a selection from a vast range. These websites definitely have some free antivirus comparisons displayed on their web page itself which makes the user to breathe in a confusion-free atmosphere.

These free antivirus comparison tables clearly indicate the ranking of the products in the various parameters like reliability, latest updates, scanning efficiency etc. However, for the beginners, it is recommended that they do follow only the overall rating of the product. Also, one should read the reviews of a particular product, given by experts, before making the selection. After you make the selections, even a best antivirus download may not prove successful in its cause if it is not updated regularly. So, updates of latest antivirus softwares also play an important part in declaring it as the best antivirus protection.

Be very careful while selecting the best antivirus software for your PC in order to make the most of the product you have paid heavily for. These go a long way in providing the long-life along with fool-proof security to your system. Just a click on ‘Free antivirus download’ is needed to buy the sturdy and tough security guards who’ll take care of your privacy holistically.

Is The Family Law System Fair To Fathers?

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There are many flaws with the child support systems in America. Minnesota is no exception.

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One dirty secret of the child support system is that it is incentivized by federal money.

How Does it Work?

The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 was designed to reduce budget deficits by providing states with government funding for recovering welfare costs. This included within its scope child support since child support is recovered by the state to pay any welfare benefits provided to a custodial parent. It unintentionally also included child support paid by those who did not receive welfare benefits.

Based on recent statistics, it is estimated that the federal government provides $4.2 billion in grants to states for their child support collection services. The payments to the states are based on a percentage of their child support collections operating costs. As a result, the larger the child support enforcement costs, the greater the federal funding. Of course, the best way to increase the size of the system is make sure that the state is collecting as much child support as possible. The end result in Minnesota, and other states, is that state collection of child support is mandatory unless:

1. No public assistance is provided to the custodial parent on behalf of the children; and
2. Both parents elect to waive that withholding.
Even more compelling, the state also appears to have an incentive to avoid joint physical custody arrangements where less child support is likely to be exchanged.

Child support is not tied to the necessary financial needs of the child.

Child support guidelines were created to provide some uniformity to child support calculations. However, those guidelines often provide financial incentives to custodial parents to have serial children with multiple child support payers.

Under Minnesota’s pre-2007 child support guidelines, a non-custodial parent would pay child support that is usually 25% of that parent’s net income. If that individual is a father and he has two children with the same mother, he would pay 30% of his net monthly income. If, however, he has a second child with a second mother, he would pay another 25% of his net income after deducting the first obligation. Similarly a mother with three children from three different fathers could receive 25% of the net income from each father. See the incentive?

A simple review of child support awards in absurdly unbalanced cases also supports the conclusion that child support guidelines often ignore reason. In 1995, the actor Jim Carrey agreed to pay $10,000 a month in child support for their daughter, Jane. Recently, his ex wife, Melissa has asked the courts to increase that amount. Similarly, a court recently awarded the mother of the child of actor Matt LeBlanc a staggering $15,000 per month.

Under the law, a court cannot modify a child support obligation retroactively. As a result, parents that fall on unanticipated hard times may find themselves falling behind in child support. Even when a motion is filed, the hearing may be scheduled many months into the future. In the interim, the unemployed parent may be labeled a deadbeat, have their driver’s license suspended, and incur judgments and interest on judgment for any arrears.

One of the most compelling examples of this problem occur with the National Guard. With war in Iraq and Afghanistan, increasing numbers of Minnesota troops are activated and reserve units deployed. Many of those troops, unfamiliar with the system or how to modify support in the short term are unable to have child support hearings held before they are deployed. With their reduced wages, all too often they fall behind in child-support payments. Once they fall behind, they incur penalties and interest as well has having Judgments docketed against them. Even given their special circumstances, there is no forgiveness for those arrears.

Unlike child support modifications, an initial determination of child support may be made retroactive for up to two years. This most often impacts fathers in cases where they may not know that they have a child OR where the mother asked the father not to be a part of that child’s life. Yet, even though the parent was not advised that he may have fathered a child or was not allowed to play a part in that child’s life, it does not prevent the mother or the state from filing an action for child support at any time and seeking as much as two years of past due child support. Such proceedings often result in financial disaster for fathers and any new families they may have established.

A growing problem is also paternity fraud. Paternity fraud is the act of falsely naming a man to be the biological father of a child. It often occurs for the purpose of collecting child support or to cover up infidelity which occurs during a marriage. In many instances, named fathers may be required to pay child support when the relationship with the mother dissolves. However, when there is conflict regarding custody or parental rights, nothing prevents the mother from seeking to establish paternity of the true biological father and, thereby, eliminate or reduce the rights of the parent that has been paying support for a term of months or years. Even more incredible is that in most cases, there is no viable legal action through which the fraudulently obtained child support can be reimbursed.

There must be major reform in the child support industry. Child support guidelines must be modified to reflect contributions for actual child support expenses rather than based on a rigid grid formula that is in place today. The laws must also allow some flexibility for modifying child support, even retroactively when special circumstances exist. Perhaps the best solution would be legislation that creates a presumption for joint physical custody thereby eliminated or significantly reducing child support awards.

In the real estate business, commercial investment property refers to purchasing a property meant to be used for business or commercial purposes. As compared to the residential investment property, the commercial investment property is less risky because after it is sold it provides good income. The commercial property can be used for retail and office rentals, parking, storage and even community use.

More on residential investment properties here

There are numerous ways that an investor can benefit from the commercial investment property. Depending upon the nature of the property there are numerous ways that a handsome amount of profit can be earned. The scope of commercial properties is very vast. You can buy a land and rent it to farmers or resale it once its value is raised or you could construct a building or industry on it and either rent or sell it. The building it self can be rented out to offices or shops. Another thing that you can do with your commercial investment property is that you can turn it into a parking lot which can be used by all nearby businesses. Buildings can be rented out as storage facilities to other businesses that lack storage space in their own vicinity.

As far as taxation is concerned, your commercial investment property is charged lower rates as compared to the residential property. And another thing you can do is to include the taxation fees with the rental asking price to cancel out the cost. The rental income should be set so that you can cover the expenses and still get some profit.

Even if you do not have any experience in investing in properties, you can still benefit greatly from commercial investment property. Sometimes people pool in their investments and purchase a commercial investment property in the form of partnership. This way you do not have to pay a very big amount to purchase the property and along with the other investors, you can participate in the costs and profits of the property equally.

Another good reason to commercial investment property is that the tenants are professional workers and therefore treat the property civilly. In the residential properties, tenants are usually careless and complain about leaking faucets or broken windows and the commercial property is usually safe from all such matters. In most residential property cases, there are minor damages that you as an owner have to address and pay for while in commercial investment property the tenants usually take care of such things themselves.

The value of the commercial investment property is less affected with the rise and falls in the market as compared to the residential properties and is therefore a more stable choice of investment. Due to the size of the building, the nature of investment and the potential of producing income the commercial investment property make for a good asking price and are more valuable and are much easier to dispose off in the market than a residential property to other commercial property investors…… Find more tips, property investment advices and a detailed property investment guide on

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bat for Lashes is the doppelgänger band ego of one of the leading millennial lights in British music, Natasha Khan. Caroline Weeks, Abi Fry and Lizzy Carey comprise the aurora borealis that backs this haunting, shimmering zither and glockenspiel peacock, and the only complaint coming from the audience at the Bowery Ballroom last Tuesday was that they could not camp out all night underneath these celestial bodies.

We live in the age of the lazy tendency to categorize the work of one artist against another, and Khan has had endless exultations as the next Björk and Kate Bush; Sixousie Sioux, Stevie Nicks, Sinead O’Connor, the list goes on until it is almost meaningless as comparison does little justice to the sound and vision of the band. “I think Bat For Lashes are beyond a trend or fashion band,” said Jefferson Hack, publisher of Dazed & Confused magazine. “[Khan] has an ancient power…she is in part shamanic.” She describes her aesthetic as “powerful women with a cosmic edge” as seen in Jane Birkin, Nico and Cleopatra. And these women are being heard. “I love the harpsichord and the sexual ghost voices and bowed saws,” said Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke of the track Horse and I. “This song seems to come from the world of Grimm’s fairytales.”

Bat’s debut album, Fur And Gold, was nominated for the 2007 Mercury Prize, and they were seen as the dark horse favorite until it was announced Klaxons had won. Even Ladbrokes, the largest gambling company in the United Kingdom, had put their money on Bat for Lashes. “It was a surprise that Klaxons won,” said Khan, “but I think everyone up for the award is brilliant and would have deserved to win.”

Natasha recently spoke with David Shankbone about art, transvestism and drug use in the music business.

DS: Do you have any favorite books?

NK: [Laughs] I’m not the best about finishing books. What I usually do is I will get into a book for a period of time, and then I will dip into it and get the inspiration and transformation in my mind that I need, and then put it away and come back to it. But I have a select rotation of cool books, like Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés and Little Birds by Anaïs Nin. Recently, Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch.

DS: Lynch just came out with a movie last year called Inland Empire. I interviewed John Vanderslice last night at the Bowery Ballroom and he raved about it!

NK: I haven’t seen it yet!

DS: Do you notice a difference between playing in front of British and American audiences?

NK: The U.S. audiences are much more full of expression and noises and jubilation. They are like, “Welcome to New York, Baby!” “You’re Awesome!” and stuff like that. Whereas in England they tend to be a lot more reserved. Well, the English are, but it is such a diverse culture you will get the Spanish and Italian gay guys at the front who are going crazy. I definitely think in America they are much more open and there is more excitement, which is really cool.

DS: How many instruments do you play and, please, include the glockenspiel in that number.

NK: [Laughs] I think the number is limitless, hopefully. I try my hand at anything I can contribute; I only just picked up the bass, really—

DS: –I have a great photo of you playing the bass.

NK: I don’t think I’m very good…

DS: You look cool with it!

NK: [Laughs] Fine. The glockenspiel…piano, mainly, and also the harp. Guitar, I like playing percussion and drumming. I usually speak with all my drummers so that I write my songs with them in mind, and we’ll have bass sounds, choir sounds, and then you can multi-task with all these orchestral sounds. Through the magic medium of technology I can play all kinds of sounds, double bass and stuff.

DS: Do you design your own clothes?

NK: All four of us girls love vintage shopping and charity shops. We don’t have a stylist who tells us what to wear, it’s all very much our own natural styles coming through. And for me, personally, I like to wear jewelery. On the night of the New York show that top I was wearing was made especially for me as a gift by these New York designers called Pepper + Pistol. And there’s also my boyfriend, who is an amazing musician—

DS: —that’s Will Lemon from Moon and Moon, right? There is such good buzz about them here in New York.

NK: Yes! They have an album coming out in February and it will fucking blow your mind! I think you would love it, it’s an incredible masterpiece. It’s really exciting, I’m hoping we can do a crazy double unfolding caravan show, the Bat for Lashes album and the new Moon and Moon album: that would be really theatrical and amazing! Will prints a lot of my T-shirts because he does amazing tapestries and silkscreen printing on clothes. When we play there’s a velvety kind of tapestry on the keyboard table that he made. So I wear a lot of his things, thrift store stuff, old bits of jewelry and antique pieces.

DS: You are often compared to Björk and Kate Bush; do those constant comparisons tend to bother you as an artist who is trying to define herself on her own terms?

NK: No, I mean, I guess that in the past it bothered me, but now I just feel really confident and sure that as time goes on my musical style and my writing is taking a pace of its own, and I think in time the music will speak for itself and people will see that I’m obviously doing something different. Those women are fantastic, strong, risk-taking artists—

DS: —as are you—

NK: —thank you, and that’s a great tradition to be part of, and when I look at artists like Björk and Kate Bush, I think of them as being like older sisters that have come before; they are kind of like an amazing support network that comes with me.

DS: I’d imagine it’s preferable to be considered the next Björk or Kate Bush instead of the next Britney.

NK: [Laughs] Totally! Exactly! I mean, could you imagine—oh, no I’m not going to try to offend anyone now! [Laughs] Let’s leave it there.

DS: Does music feed your artwork, or does you artwork feed your music more? Or is the relationship completely symbiotic?

NK: I think it’s pretty back-and-forth. I think when I have blocks in either of those area, I tend to emphasize the other. If I’m finding it really difficult to write something I know that I need to go investigate it in a more visual way, and I’ll start to gather images and take photographs and make notes and make collages and start looking to photographers and filmmakers to give me a more grounded sense of the place that I’m writing about, whether it’s in my imagination or in the characters. Whenever I’m writing music it’s a very visual place in my mind. It has a location full of characters and colors and landscapes, so those two things really compliment each other, and they help the other one to blossom and support the other. They are like brother and sister.

DS: When you are composing music, do you see notes and words as colors and images in your mind, and then you put those down on paper?

NK: Yes. When I’m writing songs, especially lately because I think the next album has a fairly strong concept behind it and I’m writing the songs, really imagining them, so I’m very immersed into the concept of the album and the story that is there through the album. It’s the same as when I’m playing live, I will imagine I see a forest of pine trees and sky all around me and the audience, and it really helps me. Or I’ll just imagine midnight blue and emerald green, those kind of Eighties colors, and they help me.

DS: Is it always pine trees that you see?

NK: Yes, pine trees and sky, I guess.

DS: What things in nature inspire you?

NK: I feel drained thematically if I’m in the city too long. I think that when I’m in nature—for example, I went to Big Sur last year on a road trip and just looking up and seeing dark shadows of trees and starry skies really gets me and makes me feel happy. I would sit right by the sea, and any time I have been a bit stuck I will go for a long walk along the ocean and it’s just really good to see vast horizons, I think, and epic, huge, all-encompassing visions of nature really humble you and give you a good sense of perspective and the fact that you are just a small particle of energy that is vibrating along with everything else. That really helps.

DS: Are there man-made things that inspire you?

NK: Things that are more cultural, like open air cinemas, old Peruvian flats and the Chelsea Hotel. Funny old drag queen karaoke bars…

DS: I photographed some of the famous drag queens here in New York. They are just such great creatures to photograph; they will do just about anything for the camera. I photographed a famous drag queen named Miss Understood who is the emcee at a drag queen restaurant here named Lucky Cheng’s. We were out in front of Lucky Cheng’s taking photographs and a bus was coming down First Avenue, and I said, “Go out and stop that bus!” and she did! It’s an amazing shot.

NK: Oh. My. God.

DS: If you go on her Wikipedia article it’s there.

NK: That’s so cool. I’m really getting into that whole psychedelic sixties and seventies Paris Is Burning and Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis. Things like The Cockettes. There seems to be a bit of a revolution coming through that kind of psychedelic drag queen theater.

DS: There are just so few areas left where there is natural edge and art that is not contrived. It’s taking a contrived thing like changing your gender, but in the backdrop of how that is still so socially unacceptable.

NK: Yeah, the theatrics and creativity that go into that really get me. I’m thinking about The Fisher King…do you know that drag queen in The Fisher King? There’s this really bad and amazing drag queen guy in it who is so vulnerable and sensitive. He sings these amazing songs but he has this really terrible drug problem, I think, or maybe it’s a drink problem. It’s so bordering on the line between fabulous and those people you see who are so in love with the idea of beauty and elevation and the glitz and the glamor of love and beauty, but then there’s this really dark, tragic side. It’s presented together in this confusing and bewildering way, and it always just gets to me. I find it really intriguing.

DS: How are you received in the Pakistani community?

NK: [Laughs] I have absolutely no idea! You should probably ask another question, because I have no idea. I don’t have contact with that side of my family anymore.

DS: When you see artists like Pete Doherty or Amy Winehouse out on these suicidal binges of drug use, what do you think as a musician? What do you get from what you see them go through in their personal lives and with their music?

NK: It’s difficult. The drugs thing was never important to me, it was the music and expression and the way he delivered his music, and I think there’s a strange kind of romantic delusion in the media, and the music media especially, where they are obsessed with people who have terrible drug problems. I think that’s always been the way, though, since Billie Holiday. The thing that I’m questioning now is that it seems now the celebrity angle means that the lifestyle takes over from the actual music. In the past people who had musical genius, unfortunately their personal lives came into play, but maybe that added a level of romance, which I think is pretty uncool, but, whatever. I think that as long as the lifestyle doesn’t precede the talent and the music, that’s okay, but it always feels uncomfortable for me when people’s music goes really far and if you took away the hysteria and propaganda of it, would the music still stand up? That’s my question. Just for me, I’m just glad I don’t do heavy drugs and I don’t have that kind of problem, thank God. I feel that’s a responsibility you have, to present that there’s a power in integrity and strength and in the lifestyle that comes from self-love and assuredness and positivity. I think there’s a real big place for that, but it doesn’t really get as much of that “Rock n’ Roll” play or whatever.

DS: Is it difficult to come to the United States to play considering all the wars we start?

NK: As an English person I feel equally as responsible for that kind of shit. I think it is a collective consciousness that allows violence and those kinds of things to continue, and I think that our governments should be ashamed of themselves. But at the same time, it’s a responsibility of all of our countries, no matter where you are in the world to promote a peaceful lifestyle and not to consciously allow these conflicts to continue. At the same time, I find it difficult to judge because I think that the world is full of shades of light and dark, from spectrums of pure light and pure darkness, and that’s the way human nature and nature itself has always been. It’s difficult, but it’s just a process, and it’s the big creature that’s the world; humankind is a big creature that is learning all the time. And we have to go through these processes of learning to see what is right.

Friday, July 3, 2009

On Friday, a new generation solar powered cargo vessel, the Auriga Leader has docked in North America for the first time. Toyota Motor Corp will employ this car carrier for automobile shipments to Europe and North America from Japan. The vessel will be operated by the Japanese-based NYK Line.

Auriga Leader has 328 solar panels to provide 40 kilowatts, about 10% of the ship’s power while sitting idling in dock. This amount of energy is the equivalent to the power used by ten average homes.

“This is the first ship to direct the solar power into the ship’s main electrical grid. It’s helping all of the time, and its helping with everything, like the ship’s thrusters and the hydraulics for the steering gear,” said Brian Mason, national manager of marine logistics and export for Toyota.

The panels are installed on the ship’s car-carrier, and then connected to the onboard 440 volt electrical network. Nippon Yusen K.K. and Nippon Oil Corp created the Auriga Leader’s US$ 1.6 million innovative green technology solar power grid. The cargo ship has a length of 200 meters (656 ft) and gross tonnage of 60,000 GT, which is capable of carrying 6,400 automobiles.

Richard Steinke, executive director of the Port of Long Beach said of the joint demonstration project, “From our standpoint, it’s another positive step,” to reduce diesel emissions and the release of greenhouse gas.