Thailand: Cause of violence on the streets of Bangkok?

Watching the violence on the streets of Bangkok, i was reminded of my little sojourn to the Preah Vihear Wat in April 2009 on an observer’s assignment. Why was this significant, you ask? Well, it changed my perspective on life after 3 days and 2 nights, and when we were forcibly asked to leave due to “border tensions” for fear of loss of life, it reinforced my perceptions that there is no such definition as a generic people. Perhaps just the call for a cause…that people take up.

Borders dispute the territories of CAMBODIA and THAILAND by implication?

To get a reference point, it is about 1.5 hrs drive from the famous Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Situated on the top of a mountain about 500m above sea level, this serene and holy temple had stood the time of many battles through the centuries, adapted its architecture from many dynasties, and with a breathtaking view across a valley over a cliff, presented itself as an almost unassailable fortress.

We had a tough 50 minute walk up majestic steps of carved rock to reach the top. Every step nearer the peak made more dizzying by the feeling of optical illusion playing on vertigo [don’t stand up and look to the side]. The view of the temple [wat] was worth every single step. Magnificent doesn’t even come close. Unlike the traditional square layout, Preah Vihear temple is long with a North-South facing, about the length of a football field. When the sun sets, and you are on the parapet of the prayer hall near the far end, the rays of sunlight cast golden strips inside the halls in an ethereal shadow play.

North-South Planview of Preah Vihear Temple

Before I get all soppy, let me get to the point.

Cast into this story of a beautiful shangri-la, are 2 countries: Thailand and Cambodia. Both are [yes, present tense] still locked in dispute over who owns this piece of history, now declared a UNESCO Heritage Site as of 2008. Our observation team had trekked from the Cambodian side, and parked ourselves by the mountainside on the south-west with an oblique view of the wat, watching Cambodian villagers and pilgrims stream up and down.

What we saw through our binoculars, destroyed my beliefs in empathy of the human spirit. Innocent unarmed Khmer men, women, children and aged were being fired upon by Thais from the other side of the mountain. If this was a Buddhist temple and both these countries were steeped in the faith of the Middle Path, how could this be happening? There were casualties, and we don’t imagine how they could survive the journey to the nearest hospital. The shots were not designed to scare nor maim… but to kill!

When 2 shots hit our location, bullets narrowing missing me, we moved out of our makeshift tower, and called for assistance: 6 pan-and-tilt high resolution digital cameras, and 3 laptops. This enabled us to continue observation without risk to life and limb, via digital footage. I was shaken and more curious than ever. I had a lot of questions for our Khmer scout. Why was this happening? Aren’t they all Buddhists? Isn’t Preah Vihear already a Cambodian treasure? Who are these Thai fighters? The army? Are they factions with an axe to grind?

If you recall some history, Indochine is a French term describing the 3-country territory of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Colonized by the French around the 17th century, few realize that the borders have been “shifting” gradually. In fact, our scout had this to say: the border had already moved 1.8km towards Cambodia, and the encroaching forces have camped in the valley below. The number of troops had roughly doubled and skirmishes were regular. Casualties among troops were up, as with civilians.

By the 3rd day, we were instructed to vacate our location and return home. It was also 3 days before the National Day of Hatred in Cambodia which falls on May 20. This date commemorates the end of the cruel and vicious rule by the Khmer Rouge, who I call the “Red Bandanas”. I had had face to face experience with them in July 1997 during Ranaridth’s attempted coup [that, is another story altogether]. As a norm, most foreigners who work in Cambodia would take leave and “escape” to a holiday out of the country annually before this, and election time. Call it preventive action, or self-preservation, I wouldn’t blame them.

So, what has all this got to do with the current Thai crisis, where militia, insurgents, and common folk are engaged in violent clashes? Just reflect on these facts:

> No foreign powers have ever conquered nor colonized Thailand since time memorial. [I’ve been told many times that the Thais are not one people but many tribes from many provinces, united only by the passion of causes]

> Most, if not all, maps, land title deeds, and government records, were destroyed by Khmer Rouge forces prior to, and during the coup in 1997.

> Ex-Thai prime minister of Thailand, circa 2006, Thaksin Shinawatra, was appointed chief economic adviser by Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen. [can it be said that Cambodia is now aware of Thailand’s game plan?]

> It was rumoured that Thaksin made more than 20 Million British pounds when he sold Manchester City Football Club to Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi for about 210 Million British pounds in 2008.

> The “Red Shirts” who are pro-Thaksin, are calling for a disbandment of the current Thai cabinet.

Do we know the Thais better now?

While we are on the subject, here’s another play happening behind the scenes. Vietnam has been co-owning numerous farms in Cambodia, and selling goods and basic necessities at heavily Viet-state-subsidized prices to Cambodians. Local Cambodians cannot compete against >50% subsidized vegetables, and smuggled goods [the Mekong River is a major convenient border].

Question is, do we need to move borders to own territory?

It’s often what we don’t see, that make our passions powerless.

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Why Can’t I Burn 4.4Gb of Video onto a 4.7Gb DVD?

Here’s an interesting circumstance that happens every single day and drives people nuts…they can’t squeeze 4.4Gb into a standard regular DVD+R or DVD-R disc bought from the shop down the street. I had the same problem, and in a matter of minutes…discovered I was one of the millions of folks practically dumbfounded…deer caught in spotlights.

OK. You wanna know? It’s a marketing conspiracy…see if you agree.

The skinny:

“Disc manufacturers assume: 1 GByte = 1000 x 1000 x 1000 bytes, but computer software normally assumes: 1 GByte = 1024 x 1024 x 1024 bytes. So 4.7 (disc manufacturers claim) GBytes = is actually = 4.38 (computer software claim) GBytes”

The geeky:

A DVD+ single-layered data disc has 2,295,104 sectors, each holding 2048 bytes = 4,700,372,992 bytes. The salesmen among us call that 4.7 GB. You could call that a decimal measurement.

If you’re talking in binary measurements, a megabyte MB =1024 x 1024 bytes = 1,048,566 bytes, and a gigabyte GB =1024x1024x1024 bytes. Under this system of notation, that 4700372992 bytes becomes a tad over 4482 MB, which when divided by 1024 becomes what the scientists among us would call 4.3776 GB.

Some countries use labels like kibibyte (KiB), mebibyte (MiB), gibibyte (GiB) for binary measurement, while others name the same units kilobyte, megabyte, and gigabyte consecutively.

Ahah. So, that simply means that your 4.7Gb DVD blank is only capable of 4.37Gb storage space!!! We’ve been shortchanged!

DID YOU KNOW THAT? It sure makes me mad as hell!

The funny thing is, you might need to get some math done to figure out if your operating system was designed by a scientist or salesman!

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Can Online Games be a Form of Mainstream Physical Exercise?

There is this great debate about whether technology should be the backbone to fuel exercise.

Termed “Gamexercise”, mobile and remote controllers such as Xbox, PS3 and Wii are used in conjunction with visual and audio media to create an entertaining experience where one can sweat it out physically whilst being integrated to a virtual environment. Interactivity is the key word here, regardless of device or the story of the game.

PRO: fight sedentary lifestyles with interactive physical reaction – also, for education: learn while you burn [calories]

CON: global warming via excess carbon/energy burn with electronic devices; manufacturing and adoption issues

In 2002, I was in the lab that created a driving simulator for rehabilitating drivers who were disabled from auto accidents. They could practice their driving skills in this simulator and strengthen their limbs, hone their judgement, refocus their eyesight, or enhance their spatial awareness.

Around 2 years later, we experimented with augmented reality [beyond Jobe of the Lawnmower Man] by attaching Thrustmaster and Logitech control surfaces to Nautilus equipment, with linkages to a PC with Mechwarrior online LAN configuration. Wow. 3 people were really sweating it out as they were mimicking the mechs in battle. The faster you moved, your chances of a kill were better. You had to lift the chassis of the mech to get power [weight lifting], raise those arms for rocket launches [triceps], swing to hit another mech [abs], and use shields [pecs] to defend from blasts. Awesome.

So, now, in the new era of “body gestures as the mouse”, let us move everyone OUT of the house, pull them away from the HDMI LCD screen with the airconditioning at full blast, and ground-rocking audio subs, unhand those handheld controllers, or LCD eyeware, and help Mother Earth a bit…

First, embed waterproof accelerometer and GPS device on a person [a sensor]. you know, those prisoner ankle bracelets are not bad!

Send them into the forest, park or beach with a quest! Audio maps with a digital camera on a PDA wil do fine!

Tag items, activate sensors with wifi, locate virtual treasure, submit findings and pics, comment on art or fix-my-street issues, etc – earn mission points by doing certain profiled exercises – tracked by sensor, interactive with GPS geotags, communicating via UMA [unlicensed mobile access] bandwidth – hey, its free!

The results are interactively seen globally with a GIS game application……there! NOW> everyone can track your exercise regime, and that’s more than the ego reason to get started in your very own reality show!!! You can play this for days, weeks even….we’ll all be watching how you do with weight loss, or cardio, or whatever exercise regime you’ve signup up with the blessing from your qualified  fitness instructor. Divers need certification, then so do fitness instructors!!!

put the exercise into the person, take the tech outside!!!

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BIG ideas start from simple actions

On the sidewalks of Singapore are seldom seen the likes of the poor in tattered clothes. There are always hand-me-downs, even branded ones. The Salvation Army even rejects clothes if they dont meet a certain “criteria” or standard. The poor are often in homes away from the city and mainstream. Many have no savings and resort to collecting cardboard and cans to make the next meal, yet the flats or apartments they are stying in, are fully paid for. It’s a different definition of poverty.

More of the aged are taking to the streets with karaoke sets, a guitar, a flute or a harmonica. Occasionally, you get to hear a trombone or trumpet. They still need a license to perform as a busker, a luxury, that only as recent as 5 years ago, was allowed. Public performances can lead to the formation of a mob, legally defined as an illegal gathering of 3 or more people.

So, one day i was pleasantly surprised to see an old, dark but simply dressed, Chinese man in long grey pants and checked, fading but sturdy, maroon shirt. He is belting out Frank Sinatra hits, a selection of Teresa Teng classics, and even Bee Gees numbers in the subway tunnel. Nice acoustics! He misses a few notes, but the music is intact. You can see he has patched some parts of his pants with white thread. Of fashionable design, it is not. Bottom parts are neatly attached with packing tape.

He is blind, holding onto a drumstick [not the edible type] in one hand, facing a small tomtom drum. The other is clasping a harmonica. There is a single box speaker singalong “karaoke” box by his left side, as he sits on the short bamboo stool, headset mike next to lips. A stainless steel bowl is lined with a handkerchief inside, lies in front of the drum to complete the scene. Further down the passageway, some teenagers chat, and an executive lady in her 50s walks past, stops, pauses, hesitates, backs up, then throws in a few coins. The crowds flow as fast as the trains, and I am sure he “feels” the waves move by, but hardly anyone drops in their small change. Maybe it is the rumour that these buskers are part of a syndicate out to extract money from the public in an organised manner. This is Singapore, so why do foreigners often ask “is the mafia controlled by the government”?

I was carrying some school supplies. For no logical reason, I pulled out about 12 assorted pieces from a box of chalk. Pink, blue, yellow, green, white. I placed them neatly in a row in front of our old “Moon River” singer, and next to his bowl. Actually, i think the handkerchief was to stop the coins from clanking and distracting his singing, because anyone could have just taken his coins away. I waited and watched from a distance to see what would happen.

About 6 minutes later, 2 little girls, 5 or 7 years old, walked past with their older sister. They stopped, spoke to each other, then walked back to the busker. Now, I thought they would place money in the bowl and take a piece of chalk each, like the story of the little match girl. I was wrong. They picked up 4 pieces of chalk each, and started to draw on the floor in front of the old man who was now singing “Massachusetts”. Panic caught my throat. Oh no! What if they drew naughty pictures that might get him into trouble!

Slowly, i walked toward them, preparing to shuffle my shoes over whatever nasty drawings they might be creating to make fun of him. But what i saw brought tears to my eyes. The 2 girls were drawing a park scene with kites, birds, flowers, animals, big clouds, smiley sun, and 2 doves carrying a circle in the centre. When they were done, they put his bowl right in that circle! They opened their small “bus pass” purses, and emptied their coins into the bowl, then gave their chalk to the next set of children [students] who were walking past. With a hippity hop, they joined their sister and away they went. Holy moomoo i was thinking…I just met 2 angels!

The 3 students in school uniform decided to add their own trucks, trees and butterflies [i think the only girl of the 3 did that]. By now, the wave slowed down as people were curious as to what the drawing was about, and started dropping more coins in the process. You know, I bet they thought it was a great drawing effort by a blind man!

I guess this was an incident that inspired me to study multimedia. The lesson I learnt didnt come from the classroom.

12 pieces of chalk

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eMarketing Tools: Uncommon Valor


Uncommon eMarketing Tools Make Nicer Waves During Hard Times

A dedicated monitoring and tracking centre gives a boost to manipulating media resources. Hang the stats for now, until some proven measurement tool is accepted, you only want to see sales at your outlets online or in real life. You want to be having honest, sincere conversations with your audience, assuring them of support or giving advice or recommending buys. Any organisation would also want to buy media wisely. That’s where the analytics on both response and contact fronts kicks in. Build your own ratings engine to sync with the ROIs, so expectations are matched with the right budgets.

Without dashboard integration for easier media buys and ad reporting, mobile and social networks advertising will continue to struggle. It is good to see a burgeoning understanding and movement toward integration from key players. Online content requires a basic understanding of the combined use of words, pictures and videostreams. Creative content can be driven by yet another seldom-noticed tactic – product placement. Placements connect a brand directly with content producers and perhaps best overcome fans’ initial objections to advertising. Sponsors should also consider user-gen contests and other means of interacting with viewers which will increase brand lift and long-term sales much better than online video advertising alone. Brand engagement is both powerful and sensitive, so err on the side of caution because word gets around fast.

Making the conversation interactive opens up a whole new world.

In reality-type videos or programs, the main cost comes from hiring talent. Actors should be paid whatever the producer and the network agree on, not their professional rates. With the publicity they have gained from appearing on such a show, and should they then want to continue to make public appearances, they should join a guild. That’s because they have become what one calls a performer. I say that because not all performers are actors, but all actors are performers. This should be the guide when engaging reknown talent to endorse a brand in a production.

Manage the talent, but never forget to manage the budget.

Another powerful tool disguised as a media is the casual game. In the commercial sense, these are free. They are called advergames. The best casual games are free and will always be. Their quality and selection continues to grow, becoming the favored end of casual game play because they are “classics”Women form the majority of this target segment [66%] almost because their limited attention span and patience for learning dictate that. Measuring demographics is a major challenge for location-specific promotions or activations, but brands do not experience this if uplift and mindshare are the objectives. Many popular casual games like Bejewelled are “brand-agnostic” and make great ambassadors. Majong is used to great effect by juice company Minute Maid where the tiles are designed as juice cartons. Online casual games also make the crossover to mobiles as favourites. Brands then get moved by another viral tactic, word of mouth. Targeting players is a no-brainer, they download it [IP address], play it [consumption], comment on it [feedback], and tell their friends [WOM]. If the mobile element is done well, you already have an opt-in. How you reward loyalty can be made within a “personal conversation” mode. Are you game for a longtail relationship?

Entertainment is addictive. You can make your brand a blockbuster classic.

Thanks to many friends engaged in conversations in the marketing columns, I was inspired to put these favoured tools on the table. If these insights give you a new perspective to how complex e-marketing is, and why measuring media effectiveness is tough, do leave your comments here.

Be a part of it.

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Who Do We Like To Learn From

Who do we like? What would we like to learn? Who would we like to learn form?

Not an annoying 101 tips, nor the textbook signups for database scams.

We want to listen to heroes who appeal to us, folks who are the simple people with the real world problems struggling to put food on the table. To nail the corporate suits, it also makes sense to learn from our competitors. After all, they probably spent a million dollars researching something before implementation, and we can save all that cash and angst if we just paid attention. I would like to learn all their mistakes, too. Please teach me.

Put aside the hardcore lesson takeaways, but the feelgood factor has to evoke tears in our eyes. Because we can’t afford to cry and show weakness. Because we can’t show fear in the face of our business adversities. Because we can’t show our human front in a business forged in a corporate world. We take no prisoners, right?




What utter rubbish! Pish and tush! Crap! Poopoo!

Of course, we can. After all, humans run companies. Companies need faces to sell stuff.

Would you prefer to face an understanding financial advisor hired by your creditor to arrange a payment plan? or his bulldog-toting debt collector issuing you a letter of demand? 

Miller Brewing Co, unionised brewer of great beer [ i love the crispy bite without the bitter aftertaste] used to have a tagline:

“Think when you drink!” in a symbol of a hazard signboard. It was in all their posters [I like].

Now, why would a beer company want to caution you from drinking their beer. It’s plastered on THEIR posters and in all their ads, right? Then it sets you thinking… if a beer drinker, one of their fans, actually had an accident, there’ll be one LESS customer! Whoa..

That is truly business, responsible to the end of the consumer’s wallet, with the signoff that the company cares. 

Small lesson. Big takeaway.

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Why Are MMOGs Dropping Like Flies?

An update from LinkedIn popped into my mailbox, and this post caught my eye. Having played MMOGs all my life, and then designed one, I started with a formal response, then decided to craft and post it in a gritty gamer format [which took more than 15mins], so here it is:


the extended length of beta is to “educate” noobs, recruit evangelists, spawn protaganists. all these add to the ecosystem of an MMORPG. continuity is an ongoing CRITICAL effort, which has to bypass the lifecycle of play maturity [no more level ups]. clanship is essential to “respect” senior players with street creds – i can’t say how many times i quit a clan because the noobs think they know better, the strategy of teamplay.

the alternate personna of a gamer endorses respect from performance in a game, and consistent performance, i might add. with an assured level up ladder, the gamer works on strategy and skill improvements, then “matures” to belong to a tribe as a respected vet. this isnt any different from a day job, except we wont pay the price of a TK [teamkill] in quite the same way, nor gain respect from our boss with quite the number of rankups in a week.

maps are tantamount to clan domination objectives, but designers fail to “let like-minded clan nuances co-exist” and force them into territorial disputes – there is nothing wrong having multiple camps reside within a space – this is one of the biggest mistakes in game sociology techs make. technology does not a game make, tribes do.

monetization is a cultural phenomenon. the clue is in the details of what is the device and socially-accepted methods of payment. kids DON’T have credit cards. in korea, china, taiwan, malaysia, they have handphones – so how do they pay to top up their phones? even the bus cards are fair game for micro-payment,and every kid has one. therein lies the conscionable dilemma.

understanding the historical culture of a nation of players will also determine the “genre” – hackers, conscripts, grinders, loners, all originate from history, from people of nations. no one should ignore the “nature” of a player [DNA], not any less just the “nurture” in the learning curve [Rules of Play]. that is, IF the game has plans to cross borders. my playmates hail from czech, belurus, taiwan, shanghai, malaysia, australia, singapore, indonesia, isreal, hong kong, england, france, us, and more. we hit the servers at different timeslots to meet each other on the servers, chat, and smooze in the midst of battle. the styles and methodology are so diverse, its an education in culture every night and the occasional day.

perhaps one day, linkedin will be a game genre. see, now there’s a plan.

this is just a gamer talkin…

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Microsoft MPEG-1 (50) Codec Missing

My friend converted some old music CDs for me, so I could trash them in favor of the hard disk. Then I discovered I couldn’t play them in WMP. Codec missing was the error message. I had the latest WMP version. Web search went nowhere. My last 11 CDs were just dead files. I couldn’t get a blip out of them. All the songs were in MP3 format, and my friend played it in front of me on his XP machine with no problems. So I watched the debate on the web go on for about 2 years, that Vista was the culprit, etc. Workarounds were to batch convert the songs with Winamp and other 3rd party converters. 

Suddenly, out of the blue, came a really simple solution…I cried tears of joy when i read it. Thanks Ty!

Find out how simple alternative thinking can be…here:

Re: Microsoft MPEG-1 (50) Codec Missing



Open the folder with the MP3 file in it that you want Windows Media Player
to play.

Click on “Organize” then “Folder and Search Options”. Choose the view tag.
Untick “Hide extensions for known file types”. Click “OK”.

Right click in blank area of the folder. Choose “Properties” then the
“Customize” tab. Select “Documents” from the drop down menu. Click “OK”.

You will now see files in the folder with their extensions. Change the
extension of the file you want WMP to play from “.mp3” to “.mp2”.

Double click the file. It will play in WMP. The Codec is there all the
time. It is an mp2 codec!

Don’t waste time looking for a codec that does not exist.

I hope this makes everybody happy.

Have a good day mate.


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The Mistake That Learns

Never forget that we are someone else’s lesson. In whatever we do, we perform responses to every stimuli that surrounds us, speech or action, all form part of the drama we act in. How we react will inspire and influence our colleagues, children and impress our parents or friends. The same is equally true for any evil we create or participate in, only who we impress, is a subject of controversy.

The true lesson of any mistake is in the realisation. The experience of making a correction, and understanding that added value to your life, makes a solution possible. We now know there’s a way to solve that problem if it shows up again, in whatever form.

A teacher inspires, as part of his or her job, because it is a committed passion or a requirement for the post. But a teacher who smiles sincerely, or steps out of the way, is not doing so for money alone. Neither is a mentor who leads by example. 

Substance that is distilled from mistakes, shows/tells us that there is no hopeless solution. It is yet another problem in a different disguise. We need to look for the similarities, which will point us to the path around the problem, or the way toward tackling it. If you share a problem, there will be others who may be able to spot a pattern, then transpose [identify] yours onto their experience, and offer alternate results. 

There is always a solution to every problem. Do we know why?


Because every ONE of us has a choice! 


CHOICE is the single most powerful word in the world. 


Warren Buffet mentions that, like all of us, he was born with the options afforded to equal opportunity. It is how he used his choices despite the difficulties faced in his childhood, that made him the person he is, today.

How we use that to our advantage, cannot be explained by all the books in the world. How we use that to enrich others’ lives, is another challenge because free will belongs to one person only. It is really rare to find many who will share free will of theirs with you in almost everything. They will be giving up their choices in life so you can make it for them, or use their choices for your benefit, or better, for the collective benefits of others. 

The Dominican Monks is an example of those who do that, but it is also THEIR choice to be physically cut off from the world, and live by a vow of silence. Special charity causes to save the whales, sharks or tigers, perhaps. Or something as simple as following a leader on a hike. Maybe even listening to a lecturer. He point is, we have a choice.

Having a choice allows us to make mistakes. From those mistakes, we acquire wisdom. Sharing wisdoms is like sharing mistakes, so to a point, we are sharing opportunities to solve problems. Hey, that might be a business partnership!

Just imagine that we have to engage a personal tutor, to help us solve our everyday problems. We pay $1 for every answer he /she gives. Sometimes, it takes a minute for the answer, and at other times, it may take days. If we want to shorten the time it takes, we will have to pay more, or engage another tutor who specialises in that area. Alternatively, enrol for a course every time you encounter a field you are unfamiliar with, purely because you had to learn about the mistakes made in that area. That way, you won’t be making any of your own. 

Life wisdoms are exactly like that. One can never replace ones lessons, but you can add wisdom onto it with other people’s experiences. Learn to treasure them.


Hmmm… isn’t that why you are here?




Next…what type of people do you want to learn from?

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the Map of Life lies inside of us. journey deep within and discover answers that no one in the world can give you. 

here is how that works:


  • Create
  • Model
  • Test
  • Present
  • Execute


in case you haven’t figured it yet, this blog is about starting a new business. ever so often, we are in conflict with our priorities in money, management style, personal values, and our family needs.

let me share some of my experiences, some of those little wisdoms we learn the hard way, and how some simple steps can get you organised toward a holistic compromise to fulfil your dreams. 

my philosophy is a simple one:


truly enjoy what you do for a living, and you won’t have to work the rest of your life.


so, go get that business plan done well, synchronize it with your life goals, you are set for life. clear conscience. independent. secure. focussed. happy.

are you ready?

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