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How to Choose an Interior Finish

Perhaps the most nerve-wracking part of any project is picking interior finishes and colors. You've invested a lot of time and money; you want something that makes you proud. And, while a lot of skill goes into making custom cabinets, the finish is what stands out.

What to Consider When Choosing a Stylish Finish

Think about how you will use the piece. For example, are you adding cabinets to a busy kitchen or garage, or will they be in a quieter home office or walk-in closet? You might want an easy-to-clean look in high-traffic areas, while a custom interior finish would be more appropriate in your office or bedroom.

Consider how the finish will change with time. Some finishes age significantly over months and years. That may be desirable--think a rich patina--or it may not.

Will the item need to be protected from the environment? If it will be heavily used, think about all the accidents and spills that can happen. Even through a window, sunlight can lighten some finishes.

Will the finish you're considering give you the look you want? For example, you probably wouldn't want a brightly colored finish on farmhouse-style distressed wood cabinets in the kitchen, but a modern finish on garage catch-all bins might be perfect.

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Types of Interior Finishes

Confused by vocabulary? Don’t be.

  • Dark and colorful finishes are more dramatic, while lighter finishes show off the grain of the wood.

  • Gloss reflects the light for an attention-grabbing look, while soft matte finishes absorb the light.

  • Laminates and veneers provide a wide range of colors and textures.

  • Paint is made with a heavy pigment that does not show the wood's grain.

  • A glaze is a semi-transparent wash of color applied over paint to add dimension and depth by highlighting details.

  • Antiqued patinas are hand-rubbed for added character, allowing cabinetry to seem much older. Wood may be distressed by scoring surfaces to add age and a weathered rustic patina.

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Help! I Have Too Many Choices!

There is a lot to consider. Here are some ways to help you narrow your options.

  • Look at finishes in other areas of your home. For example, if you're adding new cabinets to a kitchen, you'll probably want to blend with woodwork in nearby rooms.

  • What do you like (or hate) about the finishes in your home now? Maybe you love white in the kitchen but hate the way it shows dirt. Or those black shelves seemed like a good idea at the time, but you can't find anything on them.

  • Do some research. Pinterest and Instagram are two good sources for collecting home design ideas.

  • Print out pictures and tape them up where you can see them. Live with them for a few days. Think about how they'll look over the long haul. Will the finish that is in style now become distracting or dated with time?

  • And finally, contact one of our amazing designers at any time, to help smooth out the process, and get award winning knowledge from Valet Custom!

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Working From Home: Creating A Space That Works for You

Who knew, two years ago, that so many of us would be working from home? For many of us, remote work was either the occasional luxury or driven by an emergency like a sick kid or admitting a repair person. We worked from the sofa, the kitchen table, or the bed; it may not have been ideal, but it was temporary.

Working from home is the rule for many of us now, not the exception; makeshift solutions are no longer adequate. Instead, a dedicated workspace that is cozy and inspirational helps you focus, mentally gets you into a work mode, minimizes distractions, and helps create a healthy balance.

Choosing the Right Space

When setting up your home office, you’ll have to balance available space with what you need to work effectively. For example, if you require quiet to conduct meetings and think, a separate room may be the answer for you. If that is the case, you may want to convert an extra space into a custom home office that meets your requirements. Valet offers a wide variety of finishes, cabinets and shelving that will make your custom home office perfect for you!

If you entertain and need a guest bedroom, consider turning a room into a double-duty space with ergonomic furniture and enough storage for both uses. Talk to our award winning design professional for advice on setting up the room as an organized home office and a guest refuge. Valet can create a custom Murphy Bed/Wall Bed that can have the function of a home office, while being an extra guest room when you need it! 

If you’re in a smaller space or can’t convert a room into a custom home office, you may be able to carve out a quiet corner for your dedicated use. You’ll find that ergonomic furniture and good lighting are critical, while a screen for privacy may help you function effectively. Our talented designers can work with you to get the right finish, function, and elegance you have always dreamed.  

Setting Up an Organized Home Office That Works for You

Regardless of where you locate your home office, you’ll need:

  • A setting that is cozy and inspirational with enough light and privacy to work comfortably and efficiently. We offer recess and built in lighting to accent your art, family photos, or function.

  • Ergonomic furniture so you don’t end the day with aches and pains. At a minimum, invest in a good chair that is comfortable and supports you adequately.

  • Valet Custom can work with you to create a work surface big enough to fit your computer and anything else you need to do your work. The solution doesn’t have to be a single desk; two tables set in an L-shape or a small desk and a bookshelf may meet your needs. Our designers can also advise you on built in wall tables, hidden pull out drawers for shedders or printers, or a back drop you can write or post notes on. 

  • Enough storage to organize and stow your belongings. If you don’t have the budget for a custom storage design, repurpose baskets, a bookcase, or storage bins to help you tame the unavoidable mess.

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What Is Hemp?!?

Hempature Clothing

Many people first ask the question “What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?” They are both from the cannabis sativa genome of the plant. It is also considered one of the oldest crops in human history for many various uses.

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Cannabis sativa has been cultivated throughout human history as a source of fiber, oil and food, and for its medicinal and intoxicating properties. Selective breeding has produced cannabis plants for specific uses, including high-potency marijuana strains and hemp cultivars for fiber and seed production. The molecular biology underlying cannabinoid biosynthesis and other traits of interest is largely unexplored. – Genome Biology

On first appearance, the visual difference between hemp and marijuana are how they grow. Hemp grows long and thin and is low in THC content, while marijuana grows shorter and broader with flowering buds that are higher in THC. Hemp is used for food, oils (edibles, biofuels, and plastics), and fiber (rope and textiles), whereas marijuana plants are used for more medicinal uses.

Food Source

As a food source, hemp is high in healthy fats and protein, and therefore makes for a great food source. The other advantage is the low sugar and carbohydrates, while being a good source of fiber with little else as a food. One could see why hemp as a food source would be highly useful for early societies and humans.

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BioFuel

Hemp as a biodiesel fuel is one of the biggest advantages towards addressing climate change. While electric cars are great for the short-term for vehicle fuel, the long term issues would be the disposal of all the lithium ion batteries, from the disposal to the mining. As such, the process leaves harmful wastes in the mining process, as well as the disposal process, and therefore they are not as safe for the environment as we think!

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In China, workers dig eight-foot holes and pour ammonium sulfate into them to dissolve the sandy clay. Then they haul out bags of muck and pass it through several acid baths; what’s left is baked in a kiln, leaving behind the rare earths required by everything from our phones to our Teslas. A Tesla battery is big—the pack in the Model S tops half a ton, far bigger than anything most e-recycling outfits take—so coming up with an efficient and cost-effective recycling process will take some work, and only a few companies specialize in recycling lithium batteries right now. “The challenge that we have with recycling these rare metals is enormous,” Abraham says, “because the products that we have now use metals in such a small quantity that it’s not economic to recycle.”– Source: ‘Tesla’s Electric Cars Aren’t as Green as You Might Think’ – Wired

However, in contrast, hemp productions add oxygen to the atmosphere during growth, has a fast growth rate as a crop, and can be both food (seed/oil) source along with a fuel source. 8,000 pounds of hemp seed are yielded per acre, and will create 300 gallons of seed oil and a by product of 6,000 pounds of high protein hemp flour (Source: Fiber Alternatives). While at the same time being more environmentally friendly when burned as fuel.

 

Textiles & Fibers

One of the huge advantages of hemp as an industrial crop is the ability for it to be a textile and fiber crop. Look at Hemp Clothing Australia, who is changing how we create clothing, and the crops for creating the change.

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This new high yield business model meant it was not sustainable for the cotton industry to be grown naturally. The rotation time is too slow and its resistance to pests is not very high compared to hemp which can do just fine with mass production and pests with zero reliance on chemicals. When cotton was taken abroad to countries where it was not native, the problems accelerated with climate, pest control, productivity and a heavy reliance on fresh water.
Source: Donarus

Hemp as a rope has been known throughout history as one of the strongest ropes in the world. The War of 1812 has hemp rope at the
center of the strength of the British Navy, and part of Napoleon’s plan to defeat the British Navy. Hemp was mainly grown in Russia during this period, and Canada had just begun growing hemp in a healthy crop. As part of his plan to defeat the British blockade of Europe, a ban was created to stop all sales of hemp from Russia to Great Britain, and even resulted in British Ships raiding American ships for their hemp cargo to keep their navy strong. So even as a strategy, the recognition of the great uses of hemp were long standing.

Hemp & Climate Change

While the use of hemp on the grand scale of climate change is only a portion of the process to begin being more aligned with the natural world. Hemp, historically, was a very important crop in the history of mankind. However, power and money changed that in the 1900s as more powerful men started propaganda to stop the use of hemp and marijuana. Henry Ford once created a vehicle made of hemp plastics and ran on hemp biofuel in the 1940s, but those in power of plastics and oils, banned the vehicle, and later got hemp banned through the US Congress and lobbying. As a society, we must remove ourselves from the poor laws and propaganda, and be critical thinkers and look deeper at alternative methods that can help us change. We must be critical thinker and engage in the change.

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Fall 2021 Interior Design Trends

With the holidays right around the corner, it's time to think about updating your home. Expect fall interior design trends to build on the past year's theme: your home as a refuge. Cottagecore is still popular, but designers are up-leveling it to rustic vouge with added touches of elegance.

Fall Design Tips

This autumn, color experts are swapping sterile grays and surgical whites for warm neutral shades. Think earth tones and muted sunset colors like ochre, gold, toned-down pinks, and dusty blues. They also suggest adding calm greens like sage or pine. These versatile colors can bring nature into your home without feeling too seasonal.

Bring the outdoors in with natural fibers, fabrics, and finishes. Incorporate wood with distressed finishes, wicker, or rattan for a rustic look. At Valet, we have a variety of finishes and hardware that that can be neutral enough to accent any season you wish, including fall tones. 

You don't need to redecorate the entire house to achieve this fall's style. Instead, look for accessories in richly textured neutrals. If you're feeling bold, paint or paper one wall or incorporate bright trim or accent pieces. For example, toss a cushy blanket on a chair, or add a new vase or some artwork with an attractive color scheme for pop and focus.

Autumn 2021 Styles, Room by Room

To achieve the rustic vogue look, imagine a country look for every room of your home.

  • Kitchen styles are less sterile and more relaxed, just in time for holiday cooking. Update your kitchen's look with visible wood grain, attractive countertops, and features that blend with the rest of your house.

  • Make your home office a focal point with crisp, clean lines, comforting touches, and creative inspiration. Simple touches convey motivation and thoughtfulness. Add artwork or frame a beautiful view with drapes; supply a reading nook with a throw.

  • Textured blankets and pillows in warm neutrals add coziness to a living room, guest room, or bedroom.

  • If you need privacy, a movable wood screen can do the trick nicely. Wicker and rattan are light enough to shift out of the way when not in use. And they give a much-needed sense of separation while letting you keep an eye on the kids.

  • Of course, as always, our Valet Custom Team of talented designers can assist you in making your living space, remarkable and elegant in every way.

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DETOUR!
The Road To Music Success Has Changed

I think there is a misconception about what bands see as the road to success in the modern industry, and the reason is:  they still believe the path is through a record label. The problem is that no one is buying records! We have coined the phrase dinosaur mentality for this view of the industry. The path to success now is through touring, and here is why you should detour now!

Is There A Time For A Record Label?

Some bands still believe that getting a record deal is a mark of success, but we have said Ad Nauseam why that can actually hurt you as an artist.

One area that is rarely discussed is how a record label decides to sign an artist. Record labels and industry insiders are now in a situation where an artist must conform to what is selling because remember, a record label’s sole purpose is to make money off your music sales. This also means that they want bands to earn chops by playing on the road and selling music before they choose to sign them (with some very rare exceptions). Meaning, you will have to do all the work to get to a certain point where you are profitable before they sign you, or you must fit into a preexisting popular (i.e. potentially profitable) niche. The days of developing artists are gone, so you need to do all the work and become a cash-making commodity.

The other thing that record labels will do is sign a bunch of bands with a certain sound, and use the funds they make from those artists to fund their more successful artists, leaving you screwed.  The problem with this methodology is that when you get to that point as an artist, if you sign with a label, that can be the point where your band gets killed and loses revenue. Not only that, but all your hard work for the band will be funneled to the label, funding their endeavors and not yours.

There is obviously a time to get strong representation when you are so large you need a company to handle those functions.  But you should be at a point where you are dictating the terms to the contract — not the other way around! Look at industry veteran Irving Azoff Of The Madisaon Square Garden Company, who sees that the traditional record label system is failing. He is looking to reinvent the business model forward, and so should you!

Booking Agent

If you look at our interviews, every major band we have talked to says touring is the way to success. Here is where the industry has turned the most. In the Golden Days (what dinosaurs in the current industry talk about with ignorance) most of a band’s revenue came from music sales. In fact, most bands didn’t really need to tour because of how well a record label could monopolize the market with revenue from albums and singles.

Today, that is gone. What bands should be doing is looking to find good booking agents. In order for a band to succeed, they must tour! DIY tours can be set up with Indie On The Move — even if it’s just weekend tour to build your fan base!

One thing that I see with local bands all the time is that they will play big local shows with major acts and then bitch and moan about not having big shows outside their area. This is why you need to DIY tour to build your brand!  The reality of those big local shows is that you’re playing in front of the same 1,000 fans at each show, playing early, and it truly doesn’t mean shit. Then, the bands are surprised when they go play a show outside their area and only a sliver as many people come. I have news for you:  I know plenty of major acts on tour that will show up to a venue for 1,600 people and there are  just 100. You are not special, you have to get out there and beat the pavement the hard way!

When you can start drawing good crowds on tour with your blood, sweat, and tears, it is time for a good booking agent. A booking agent will take 20% of your guarantee (if they are good), which is seriously a better percentage than what you will make with a record label where you get 5-10% of the cut. Plus, you can sell merch and CD’s to supplement on tour. Like it or not, you are a Traveling Merch Salesman who also happens to play music. If you were on a record label, you would be buying your CD’s for $7 each from the label to sell to fans while on tour — which would cost only pennies to produce them yourselves and sell them alongside all your other merch.

Check Your History

A lot of musicians don’t understand history where markets change, like the Value Of Free in technology or how Gillette started with giving away things for free to build their empire way back in 1921.  Those are just similarities, but what about the music industry direct in its history?

Before the phonograph, the only way to hear music was live music. Live musicians were plentiful and played events everywhere, being payed well. When the industry changed with the advent of recorded music, (which was Decried By Live Music Purists, just like the anti-downloading purists of today) performance musicians got the shaft. The age of the session musician was created, where a few musicians could perform on numerous recordings, and many live musicians took a huge hit to their livelihood. The market changed, just like it is changing now back to live music because of free downloads.

When the Beatles wrote their own music instead of having songwriters create the music for them, more artists began to write their own music.  As a result, professional songwriters shrank in size, and were used more for mass-manufactured popular music as they are today. But before the Beattles, 95% of all music was written by others, not the bands or artists themselves.  Again, the industry changed.

Contrary to cries that “the industry is dying,” the music business is Actually Growing since music now is easily accessible from anywhere in the world with a click of a mouse or tap of a smartphone.  However, the traditional music industry (where only a few labels control the vast majority of available product) indeed is shrinking and growing more irrelevant as independently-released music can have a comparable presence online as whatever big labels are churning out.  In other words, artists are able to control their careers more effectively now instead of relying on a label to do so and Exploit The Shit Out Of Them in the process.

As usual, change is for the better.

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Women: Stay Organized to Reduce Stress

Valet Custom Cabinets & Closets

In a perfect world, your walk-in closet would be meticulously organized and color coordinated. You would be able to find anything in your pantry at a glance. Your kids would find their favorite toys without your help. You’d never lose an important business memo again.

But Getting organized takes time, something many women don’t have enough of, but while it may only take a microsecond to find something, searching adds to decision fatigue. And that in turn leads to stress and poor decision-making. Who needs more stress?

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Easy Ways to Organize Your Closet

Even if you are working from home in t-shirts and sweatpants, an organized closet can help you start your day right.

● Purge anything you haven’t worn in two years.

● Sort your clothing seasonally, then by type and even color, if you’re so inclined.

● Hang garments by length to gain more room. You may be able to add shelving or a second pole under jackets and blouses.

● Use floor space wisely. Shoes can go in bins or on shelves.

● Don’t forget about jewelry and accessories. Scarves, bags and long necklaces can be hung on accordion racks.

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Pantry Organization

Have you ever found yourself with four bags of whole wheat bread flour but no spaghetti for a quick supper? Turn pantry organization into a family project and involve the kids.

● Clean out your pantry. Remove everything, throw out old, out-of-date and open but unused items. Dust and vacuum, then add shelf-liners to keep containers from sliding and spilling.

● Group items into categories like canned goods, beans and seeds, rice and pasta, and cereal and snacks. Store everything you can in clear containers and label them.

● Use extra wall space if you have it. Put up hooks to hold aprons, shopping bags and brooms. Use sliding shelves to make even items in the back more visible!

● Get the whole family involved to help keep the pantry organized.

Organize the Living Room in Under an Hour

The living room can be the most difficult space to organize. It seems to be the one place in every house where misplaced items turn up. Good news: you can de-clutter a living room quickly with these steps.

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Crowdfunding Is For The Lazy?

A couple days ago, Colorado tech-death metallers Allegaeon successfully raised over $7,000 Via IndieGogo to fix their van and get a new equipment trailer for their upcoming tour.  This made them the latest in a Long Line Of Metal Bands (and specifically Metal Blade Bands) who have relied on fans to fund their endeavors.

Naturally, like most good things in metal, a vocal Opposition Against Crowdfunding has also flared up. Specifically, critics say it’s lazy and encourages bands to not bother getting “Good Enough For A Record Label” because, apparently, your music only should be released if the notoriously backward-minded record industry endorses it.

But is crowdfunding really a horrible thing for music?

Or is it just the latest thing that scares industry vets because it’s “new” and different?

One of the biggest complaints from artists in the increasingly cost-cutting music biz is that they can’t get enough money from their record label.  As a signed artist, a label advance usually is your primary means of financing your next album, tour, etc.  Without sufficient funds, you risk being caught in “record label purgatory” where your band is effectively paralyzed from creating or releasing any new material.

The solution?  Look to your fans instead of your label to further your career.
After all, it’s not like you’re trying to “Buy Respect” — you already have made the fans!

A few weeks ago, The Frontman Of The Black Dahlia Murder Posted A Lengthy Rant about how his band had a million “Like’s” on Facebook, but most of those fans still pirated his albums.  He continued to scold fans by explaining how, without selling albums, Metal Blade Records wouldn’t pay attention to the band due to the perceived lack of demand — but then went on to “wholeheartedly agree” that this was a “completely archaic model.”

So, why does he still insist that we support such an Exploitative Model?
Especially since his band doesn’t even need to rely on it.

If Black Dahlia decided to do another album and tour, (without a label) they could easily raise $250,000 or even $500,000 on their own if each of their million Facebook fans donated an average of 25-50¢ each. They could give the album away to donors for free and still have plenty left to cover road expenses for a tour, even without show guarantees. (which they would obviously receive)  Do you honestly think promoters wouldn’t let Black Dahlia play because they “didn’t sell albums?”

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On the flip side, Mark Hunter Of Chimaira recently organized a successful IndieGogo Campaign for his band’s next album, raising over twice the amount of money they asked for. (and His Band only has about ¼ the Facebook fans as Black Dahlia!)

Afterward, Mark defended the campaign in an interview with Gun Shy Assassin when asked about crowdfunding’s potential for fraud:

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Like all things in life, a few bad apples can spoil a bunch.  But that doesn’t mean apples aren’t still awesome and can help sustain life.  The music world is evolving while removing old paradigms at rapid rates.  New methods have to be explored.

We have always been a band that experiments with and embraces the latest technology. When the band started in 1998, we used Napster and other digital outlets that, at the time, were unknown by the masses and considered taboo to the conservative.  Part of our reasoning behind the campaign was to experiment with and embrace a new ideology. Navigating the terrain of the music world these days is not as formulaic as it once was; creativity is necessary.

Chimaira aren’t alone, as countless other artists have successfully crowdfunded endeavors that a label would not cover — whether it’s New Gear or a New Album/Tour.  And just like the once-shunned digital music stores that Mark mentioned, these practices inevitably will become mainstream in the music biz.

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 These are Chimaira’s “GIMME ALL YOUR MONEY!” faces.

Luckily, they no longer have to use them thanks to the wonders of crowdfunding.

Metal bands in 2013 have access to an unprecedented number of resources and connections (for RecordingBooking Tours, etc.) that previously were restricted only to industry elites.  Soon enough, bands will realize they can sustain better without the antiquated business model of the Old Guard.

 

So, why not start now?

Stop worrying about a label, and go straight to your fans!

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Men, Here Are Four Organizing Ideas Just for You

Getting and staying organized is a skill all of us need. Men, every bit as much as women, have busy lives with a lot going on. Being organized saves time and reduces frustration, something we can all benefit from.

Men’s Clothes Closet Ideas

Even if you don’t have an executive walk-in closet, there are a few basic things you can do to get organized.

Folded clothing saves precious closet space. Sweaters, shirts, t-shirts, and jeans often store better when folded, as long as you know the right way to do it. (YouTube has some excellent tutorials on the ins and outs of folding clothing.) You can also consult with one of our designers to learn about all the functional accessories we offer to help!

Try different ways to organize your closet. You might want to sort by type (sports, work, formal or evening wear), by season, or by color. Or mix and match: try organizing by season then color. Experiment to see what works best for you.

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Tackle Your Home Office

Your home office is another place where a little organization can eliminate frustration. Even better: you can do this in small chunks, when you have the time. Start with a bulletin board, a single desk drawer or your desktop and work from there. Valet Custom offers a wide variety of functional tools and design elements that can make this easy.

● Ruthlessly purge paper.

● Create stations for things that require dedicated space like incoming mail or printing.

● Categorize and label everything so you can find it again easily.

● Have enough storage to stay organized.

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Create a Garage That Works for You

Ready for a bigger challenge? Organizing the garage makes a great weekend project for the whole family.

● Dispose of anything that’s not safe or attracts pests including paint, propane, pet food and paper.

● Organize storage by areas: automotive supplies, sports equipment, garden tools, tools and project workbench and so forth.

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Should PMS Be Covered Under MMJ Laws?

Hempature Clothing

The Suffering

Understanding that many women suffer tough menstrual cramps each month can mean debilitating pain for a week, and for others just a pain in the… well yeah! Many sufferers look to a variety of over the counter medicines, and some prescriptions for pain relief. And yet, many have been looking at Medical Marijuana (MMJ) as a solution! With so many states already having MMJ, with many more to follow, shouldn’t PMS count under the medical marijuana classification if it gives patients relief? Duh! We say yes!

Advocacy

Currently, Whoopi Goldberg stated “It seems so odd to me, but then I look at the folks who’ve created the bills and they aren’t people who would be dealing with periods” in a Forbes Article and further stated that she wanted to push to change New York State’s Law to include PMS in their list of medical conditions for MMJ. Whoopi & Maya have a complete product line that they are selling four products: Soak, Savor, Rub, & Relax. However, in New York State, which has the strongest medical restrictions for MMJ, this could be a tough fight.

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MMJ Conditions

While many states have a number of conditions that qualify under the Medicinal Marijuana Statues, there are none currently researched that have PMS as a specific condition qualifier. States like California and Colorado (which took many provisions from California), have open qualifiers that do not limit the prescription of MMJ to patients. What this does, is allow for doctors to make the determination rather than the government. As you can see in the Colorado Statute, there are qualifiers for severe pain, nausea and muscle spasms.

any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that substantially limits the ability of the person to conduct one or more major life activities (as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) or, if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the patient’s safety or physical or mental health” – California Law


“A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition other than HIV, cancer or glaucoma; or treatment for such conditions, which produces for a specific patient one or more of the following, and for which, in the professional opinion of the patient’s physician, such condition or conditions may reasonably be alleviated by the medical use of marijuana: CachexiaSevere Pain; severe nausea; Seizures, including those that are characteristic of Epilepsy; persistent Muscle Spasms, including those that are characteristic of Multiple Sclerosis; and other condition, as subject to the approval of the Colorado Board of Health” – Colorado Law

Best Strains

@TheWeedBlog did an article on the best strains of Marijuana for PMS, below is the strains according to their experts.

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• Obama Kush: This is probably one of my personal favorites at Brightside right now. It is a hybrid comprised of both indica and sativa. Due to the progesterone and estrogen spike in women’s bodies around day 7 in our cycle, we experience breast tenderness, cramps, acne, irritability, and fatigue often coupled with diarrhea and/or nausea. The Obama is my most recommended strain because not only does it effectively numb the physical pain during menstruation, it also puts me in a good mood due to the sativa in it. So when I am pissed at the world while my progesterone is spiking, The Obama Kush meets all my needs of pain relief while also taking me to a calmer mental state.


• Black Cherry Cheesecake: A cross between Black Cherry Soda X Cherry Pie, crossed with Cheese. This heavy indica is the ultimate pain reliever. Your body begins to relax as the high arrives and can last up to 2-3 hours. Whenever I’m going through any physical pain caused by the spike of prostaglandins (which triggers uterine cramps) this indica quiets all that noise down, and effectively dulls my pain. This is great strain to smoke before bed or when spending a lazy night in. I recommend the black cherry cheesecake when your in day two of menstruation hell and need swift pain relief.


• Blue Dream: This strain is another example of an affective indica-dominant hybrid. The blue dream is the ideal strain because it effectively relieves pain, while producing the popular cerebral affects of sativa. Estrogen is responsible for the mood swings women often endure when pmsing, and the sativa within this strain helps mellow me out. Blue dream is a great wake n’ bake go-to before work because it relieves my killer cramps, settles my stomach, and leaves me with enough mental clarity to be able to do my job without slowing me down.


• Dutch Treat: Another great hybrid to smoke if you have shit to get done. It effectively calms my raging hormonal mood swings while providing solid pain relief. I enjoy the cerebral high of this strain, and highly recommend it when you need a pick-me-up after watching too many Nicolas Sparks movies. Treat yo self with the Dutch Treat.


• Purple Urkle: This heavy-hitting indica is no joke. When I am in serious need of pain relief, the Urkle is the way to go. I would not recommend to smoke this indica if you want to get anything done, but is great choice when winding your day down at home or before bed. When you’re going through it cramp-wise, it’s a no brainer. Its pain relieving qualities are unmatched, so if you have a tolerance built up, go for it! Great strain for cramps and insomnia.

Leafly does not have a set up specifically for PMS, but they have something for muscle cramps. I am sure if enough people write them, they would add it gladly, as they are quite good about working with their followers. Should we start a campaign? Maybe an Instagram campaign might get them to change? What sayeth thou?

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Is Substance Abuse Your Biggest Career Obstacle?

Metalluminati

I really hate to perpetuate a negative stereotype, but drugs and rock & roll have always been comfortable bedfellows.  And not all of us have been fortunate to survive that cocktail.  Throughout rock/metal’s storied past — whether we’re looking at all-time legends like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, or more recent greats like Layne Staley and Mitch Lucker — too many artists have seen their careers (and, more importantly, their lives) cut short by drugs or alcohol abuse.

And last week, we saw another with the passing of Slayer Guitarist Jeff Hanneman.

Just to be clear:  This is not intended to be some preachy rant espousing the virtues of the “Straight Edge” lifestyle.  We’re not trying to run D.A.R.E. here. Nevertheless, since our only goal with the Metalluminati is to help musicians advance their careers, we can’t help but notice the setbacks that drugs or alcohol can bring upon your musical endeavors.

 

So, What To Do?

One aspect of our scene that exacerbates substance abuse problems is the “code  of silence” kept by other musicians.  Getting past that is relatively simple — if you care at all for your fellow bandmates, you should not be shy in taking the initiative to recommend help for them.  But even if you overcome the perceived taboo of criticizing another artist’s lifestyle, bandmates’ insistence can only go so far.

At the end of the day, if you have a problem, only you can act on getting it fixed.

Fortunately, more musicians are beginning to see the ramifications of chronic drug or alcohol abuse. Moderation is key — but if you’re not too good at calling it a night, abstinence is the next best thing.  There certainly is no shame in this; did you notice Zakk Wylde didn’t take a shot with Slayer’s Kerry King at Last Week’s Golden God Awards in remembrance of Jeff?

 

Rehab On A Budget

Back in 2000, voters in the state of California passed Proposition 36, which turned drug users into patients rather than inmates.  Folks can now be sent to treatment programs and get Suspended Sentences based on their completion of said programs.  Sixteen other states have since enacted similar “drug court” approaches to drug arrests because rehabilitative treatment is preferred over sending nonviolent drug offenders to prison with hardened criminals.

But while more successful artists with shitloads of money can go to pricey treatment clinics like Betty Ford or a rehab resort in Malibu, the rest of us working stiffs have to find other ways to get help.

Luckily, money doesn’t have to be an obstacle — there are plenty of Free Or Sliding-Scale Rehab Centers in California. Along with free clinics, you also can walk into any Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting right now and start getting help.  Not only are they free, but they also are worldwide, so you can find them virtually anywhere.  I personally know artists that go on tour and sneak in an AA meeting at the most random locations just because they happen to be there.

Of course,  I can speak from first-hand experience only in the state of California.  If you have information on effective and Free (Or Low-Cost) Rehab Clinics in your part of the country/world, feel free to leave some info in the comments section below!

If you need help, there’s no shame in getting it.
It’s the best way to ensure that you’ll keep making great music for many years to come!

R.I.P. Jeff
Hopefully, you’ll be one of the last.

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How Is Legal Farming Going In California?

Hempature Clothing

One of the biggest issues with California grow ops was the Lack Of Regulation from seed to sale, and not knowing where much of the cannabis being sold was coming from in the state. Being the first state to have medical marijuana, there were tons of production and pipeline issues that needed to be addressed.
 

Illegal Farming

If you have ever watched the documentary “Murder Mountain” on Netflix, you have seen how the progress from illegal farming and legal farming transformed the Emerald Triangle of California. With the increased costs of testing and regulation, illegal farms could do it cheaper, but with greater risk from not only rogue farmers, but the police as well.

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One story I heard, was that in Humboldt they have drones that patrol all of Northern California. A drone in this area found out an old high school friend who had been growing since the early days got visited by the police and asked to remove his whole crop. Luckily, they were agreeable and nice to him, and then told him where he could grow on his property and how much without a license for personal use. Change to legality is a tough road, and a costly one.

Legal Farming

While it does suck that the prices are going up, and the regulations and taxation make it difficult, in the early term (let’s not even get to all the extra packaging requirements, that are terrible for the environment), the greater benefit of knowing what is in your product is a good thing. Many of the smaller farmers in California couldn’t afford the cost of the licensing; however, grow ops and co-ops were created to help reduce the costs to those farmers in the short-term.

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Joey Hoover trims leaves off marijuana plants at the Pot Zero outdoor grow field Friday, Sept. 22, outside Gypsum. Hoover is removing the larger leaves in preparation for removing the flowering bud. (Chris Dillman, Vail Daily)

Over this past summer, Humboldt county stopped with raids with sheriffs as a deterrent, and instead have gone with civil penalties which include fines of $10,000 Per Day, per violation; along with property liens and forfeitures. While these growing pains can be difficult for most, the negatives of illegal cartels, pesticides in our weed (which California weed was testing high for, no pun intended, before), and better product quality; the costs suck in the mean time!

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Free Downloads = More Money?

There is a lot of debate going on in the metal community over the viability of free downloads and whether bands can survive while giving their music away.  Naturally, there also is a lot of misinformation fueling people’s opinions on the matter.

So, let’s try to weed out the RIAA talking points bullshit…

 

“I Buy CD’s Because I Support The Artist.”

One of the main fallacies about this statement cuts to the heart of the problem — record labels.  The first thing wrong with it is that Record Labels Retain Most Of The Profits each time you buy an album.  Unless the artist is independent, they’ll be lucky to get even $1 from each album sold due to the lop-sided terms they were forced to agree to for their record deal.  To put it another way, you’d be “supporting” the artist more if you bought them a $2.50 beer than if you bought their $10 CD.

This illustrates the greater problem of the business model that most of the metal industry is still using.  When it comes to funding a band’s album, record labels determine their advance based on past sales numbers. (as opposed to social media numbers, show attendance numbers, etc.)   This model is completely flawed because the artist usually ends up not recouping their advance due to their Record Deal’s Accounting Practices, which leads to them collecting approximately $0.00 in earnings and — since many Record Labels Don’t Provide Tour Support anymore — makes it that much harder for them to go on tour or do anything else to further their career.

In other words:  The system is stacked against bands from the beginning.

You may not even know this, but a lot of record labels force bands to buy their own CD’s from the label in order to sell them at shows.  And we’re not talking CostCo wholesale prices either — labels charge upwards of $7 per CD to their own artist just for said artist to keep a dollar from each disc they sell.

If you want to continue supporting these exploitative business practices, then continue buying CD’s.
If you want to actually support the bands and allow them to keep a bigger share of your money, go to their shows and buy their merch.

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“Give Music Away For Free?
But Then How Will Artists Make Money?!”

Fact:  Piracy is gonna happen, no matter how much you kick and squirm or preach against it.
So, you can either allow people to download your music directly from you or get it from a rando pirate site.

If you create a BandCamp page and setup a “Name Your Price” donation option, you can get valuable data to help your band run a much more efficient operation.  If you set your downloads to require an e-mail address and ZIP code, you will get something back from each “free” album you give away; you’ll get an address to add to your e-mail list and — perhaps more importantly — you’ll get location reports for future tours.  (market research!)

That last bit is huge — having locations of where people downloaded your music can save money come tour time because you’ll know exactly what cities to hit and skip.  Going to a town where you have no fans will only serve to kill gas, sell zero merch, and give your band a collective headache.  Instead, knowing exactly what cities are full of the most fans can make for a Much More Efficient And Profitable Tour via merch sales and better attendance numbers.

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Of course, there always will be fans who don’t want to fork over their e-mail address on your BandCamp, and instead will download your music from other pirate sites.  Nevertheless, even in those cases, you still will get More People Listening To Your Music and potentially becoming your newest die-hard fans!

What would you rather have — more people buying your album, or More People Buying Your Merch?

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Touring For Dummies

Touring is the most important thing you can do as a band.
However, it also is the most costly in terms of wear on the band and money.

Nevertheless, there are a few crucial tips that can help you make it out of a tour healthy, happy, and alive!  I’m gonna go over a few things here, but check out our previous posts for more Touring Advice

 

Budgeting

Necessary tour expenses can usually be broken down into three main categories…

 

Gasoline

The biggest cost you will find on tour is gas!

If you think about even a small tour of 3000 miles, you’ll be in a van that is roughly getting 20 miles to the gallon with all the gear or a trailer attached. In the U.S., gas is about $3.60/gal, which will make your trip cost about $525.00 for gas alone.  And, of course, that is for a small tour!  Think about a bigger one of say 8000 miles — that is about $1,440 in gas alone! Don’t even get me started on Buses and Drivers, a much bigger cost!

The best thing to do is to put all your guarantees and merch sales into the tank to offset this cost.

Where To Stay?

The other big cost you will have is where you sleep.  Sure, you can always sleep in the van — but if you don’t know the area you’re in, you could end up sleeping in the highest crime area in the city! Still, Walmart and other 24-hour parking lots can been used to park and get a good night’s sleep in the van, but you do have other options…

When you think about getting a hotel, $50/night split between 4-5 members could be worth getting a (shared) bed.  Almost as worth it as getting a shower!  Also worth noting, Hotels.Com gives you the 10th room free — so that’s like a 90% discount on rooms if you use them to book nights for a 10 or 20-date tour!

One other thing I always like to do is to drive 2-3 hours after the show and find a place to crash outside of the immediate city. It makes it easier to drive for the next leg of the tour, can avoid city traffic, and is a lot more forgiving in the morning (especially for those who are hungover).

Food

The last big cost you will find is food.

Try not to eat out (giggity!) too frequently because it’s can be pricey, (unless you don’t mind nothing but 99¢ Burritosfrom Taco Bell) and usually you will be eating crappy fast food, which isn’t really good for you (see the “Health” section below).  So, if you do go fast food, pick healthy choices.

Also, go to Walmart or the like and buy up supplies.  Load up on peanut-butter and jelly, bread, mayo, mustard, cold cuts, beef jerky, trail mix, fruit, or whatever you like — and then load up again on the road halfway through.  Buy in bulk for foods and snacks (even alcohol) because, over the long term, it will keep the costs down and keep you from starving!

Health

You are going to be on the road, residing mostly in a van in close quarters, drive 6-8 hours a day, pour out your energy onstage, load and unload equipment, have a few drinks (or more) with your fans, and finally get back in the van and do it all over again for the next 30+ days…

These are reasons enough why you hear about Dez Fafara talking about his tea and herb regiment. Others talk about their vitamin intake, singers drinking honey on tour or not speaking, keeping the drinking to a minimum, or eating healthy on the road. The reason? They all have gotten sick on the road, but the show must go on!  It is difficult enough to go on the road and be in these conditions — but being sick makes it worse. Not to mention you can get everyone else in the van sick!

You are already punishing your body each day for your art, so do your best to minimize it.  Drink lots of water, have a vitamin regimen that works for you, eat well (your body is a temple, treat it that way!), sleep at every opportunity you can, and keep the brutal drinking down.  I know the last one is rough, but it does hurt you over time. Plus, no one (including your fans) wants to see their idols all fucked up onstage, slurring their words and missing notes! Save that for the days off or specific times you have planned (i.e. not every night).

Keeping a healthy attitude is another way of staying healthy (mentally).  Remember that your bandmates and other bands you tour with are like family.  Let go of the little shit, and just let it roll off your back.  With all the stress and lack of sleep you will be dealing with, don’t let it get to you!  Have a healthy sense of humor, and just enjoy it all!

Tour Manager

One thing that is overlooked by a lot of bands is the importance of having a tour manager.

As an artist, you are already going to have your hands full with everything you are doing.  The last thing you want to worry about is knowing how long it takes to drive from Point A to Point B, figuring out routes, knowing when you should leave from here, when you are crashing there, and then dealing with the promoter or venue owner.

Also, if one of the band members is trying to handle this role, it can really put a strain on that member in a number of ways.  That member has to do more, resentments build — it’s just not a good idea.

So, let a tour manager handle that shit, and be the bad guy in certain instances. The tour manager can allow you to focus on the other areas needed each night to perform and reach fans.  They will handle all the mind-numbing clerical shit so you don’t have to.

Networking

Finally, touring is the greatest way to network.

Not only will you build long term fans, but you will build long-term relationships with the bands you play with.  Don’t be the band that sits back and doesn’t get to know the other bands.

Of course, you will build relationships with the bands you are touring with, but actually have at least a couple members go out and watch the local bands play.  Introduce yourself to the local bands because you never know what connections you will make, and how they might help you in the future.

Between the local bands and the bands on tour, you can seriously increase your fanbase from the relationships you build with the other artists.  When you are talking with other band members on Twitter, your fans will see those interactions and will want to know about the other band.

All in all, touring creates long-term relationships with fans, other bands, venues, and the press.  It also allows your fans to see that you are out there doing things, and going somewhere! (both literally and figuratively)

Got Any Other Tips?

Of course, if I missed something above, please do chime in the comments section below.
We’re all in this together to help each other as artists, so give us your own secrets to a successful tour!