Michael Courouleau Discusses the Danger of Combustible Dust

Michael Courouleau is an expert in environmental safety and health in the workplace.

Q: What are some unusual fire hazards in the workplace?

Michael Courouleau: Of course, everyone thinks of combustible chemicals or fuels, but dust is a major fire hazard as well.

Q: What kinds of materials can produce combustible dust?

Michael Courouleau: Coal, carbon, sawdust, fertilizer, cotton, flour, tobacco, soap, even dried blood can be hazardous in dust form.

Q: Are there questions about any material?

Michael Courouleau: Yes, petroleum coke is common in power plants and cement plants. It’s a lower-cost substitute for coal, but the jury is still out on its combustible qualities.

Q: What are the conditions for dust to become combustible?

Michael Courouleau: It has to be suspended in the air at certain densities or a certain concentration.

Q: Historically, how big of a problem has combustible dust been?

Michael Courouleau: OSHA figures show that more than 130 workers have been killed and 780 injured since 1980 in dust explosions.

Q: How recently has a dust explosion happened?

Michael Courouleau: As recently as 2008, at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia; 14 men lost their lives in that incident alone.

Q: Have there been any other notable explosion incidents?

Michael Courouleau: Unfortunately, there was a massive explosion at an ADM facility, and another grain-dust explosion in Galveston, Texas, that killed nine workers.

Q: What is the so-called “Fire Triangle?”

Michael Courouleau: Fire occurs when there’s an ignition source, fuel and oxygen. In this case, the dust is the fuel.

Q: Where, then, would the ignition source come from?

Michael Courouleau: It can come from equipment that causes a spark or heat, hot work processes, improper tools, electrical equipment, even improper work clothing.

Q: What are some other examples of dust explosions?

Michael Courouleau: The worst by far was a 1977 explosion at Westwego Continental Grain; it killed 36 people and destroyed 48 or 73 grain silos. Most of the fatalities came from men being trapped in a cinder-block control tower that was crushed by a falling grain silo.

Q: What sort of regulations are in place to prevent this sort of accident?

Michael Courouleau: OSHA has standards for grain handling, and the NFPA has published fire protection standards. Facilities need air monitoring systems, fire hazard protection systems, maintenance and (above all) training programs in the workplace.

Q: What are the measurements for this sort of hazard?

Michael Courouleau: Combustible dusts are measured by explosive severity, maximum explosive pressure and minimum ignition energy.

Q: What other factors are involved?

Michael Courouleau: Those measurements are all tied in to chemical properties, particle size, concentration of the flammable material, and the flammable characteristics of the suspended materials themselves.


Jeffrey Nimer Offers Tips to Celebrate Vegetarian Awareness

Any time of year is the perfect time to embrace all that a vegetarian diet has to offer, said Los Angeles Chef to the stars Jeffrey Nimer. His kitchen is stocked with a variety of local produce and whole grains, and he recommends that people start to take advantage of their farmers markets for seasonal items.

The tradeoff on missing out on those Fourth of July burgers and franks may be worth it, says Jeffrey Nimer, as research shows that vegetarians tend to weigh less and have lower rates of cancer compared to their omnivore peers. Although October is officially Vegetarian Awareness Month, any time of year is the perfect time to embrace a meat-free diet, says Haute Chefs Los Angeles Owner and Executive Chef Jeffrey Nimer.

Initiated in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society, whose mission is “to promote the joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism,” Vegetarian Awareness Month kicked off with World Vegetarian Day on October 1. The goal of Vegetarian Awareness Month is to celebrate fresh produce, whole grains, nuts, and legumes, and ways to cook them creatively, reports Jeffrey Nimer.

“For me, there’s nothing better than organic, local food,” states Chef Jeffrey Nimer. “Most people don’t understand, but by buying the best product out there and simply preparing it, the food will speak for itself.”

Jeffrey Nimer, whose client roster boasts names of A-list celebrities, is a classically French-trained culinarian. He has worked with many talented, world-renowned chefs, such as Nuevo Latin Chef Douglas Rodriguez and Miami Beach Chef Mark Militello. Jeffrey Nimer created Haute Chefs in 2005 and says that it is critical to be ahead of the latest trends while creating a diverse, inspired, and scrumptious menu.

In his kitchen, Jeffrey Nimer keeps a variety of in-season, local produce that he purchases from the local farmers market. Some of the seasonal produce choices in the Los Angeles area include root vegetables, such as pumpkins and yams, apples, and golden chanterelles. He emphasizes the importance of patronizing farmers markets to get the highest quality local produce.

“Vegetarians have a huge palate of different produce, and you can be very creative with vegetables and produce,” reports Jeffrey Nimer. “Really breaking it down and being very creative displays the mindset of at talented cook.”

The National Institute of Health has reported that vegetarians tends to consume fewer calories and lower levels of fat and cholesterol, while getting more fiber, potassium, and vitamin C in their diets. The closer a person follows a strict vegetarian diet, says Jeffrey Nimer, the lower their risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome. Whether a person is vegetarian or not, anyone can benefit from a diet high in fiber and low in fat, with a combination of vitamins and minerals, according to Jeffrey Nimer.

The position of the American Dietetic Association, published in a 2009 report, represents their official stance on vegetarian diets:

“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes.”

One of Jeffrey Nimer ’s many vegetarian specialties is a green and white asparagus salad. During the heart of fall season, asparagus is integral to Nimer’s menus.

Jeffrey Nimer founded Haute Chefs LA in 2005. The Los Angeles based catering company offers the finest culinary delights to both Hollywood’s elite and the general public alike. Jeffrey Nimer is known for combining the best service with scrumptious menus for any occasion. Nimer has received numerous awards and recognition as a world class facilitator of diverse, inspired services. Haute Chefs and Jeffrey Nimer offer personal chef services, catering, restaurant consulting and cooking classes and are pleased to accommodate clients to create a breathtaking culinary affair.   

Peter F. Spittler Discusses Urban Redevelopment

Today, the staff of Interviewing Experts had the opportunity to speak with Peter F. Spittler, a renowned architect and urban designer from Ohio. Peter F. Spittler has left a mark on many urban areas, through sustainable development and creative design.

Interviewing Experts: What does it take to execute your ideas for revitalizing an area?

Peter F. Spittler: Vision! It takes the ability to look at an urban brownfield site, a derelict factory, an abandoned railroad yard, and think about how it can be renewed, overhauled and re-purposed to respond to a market demand.

Interviewing Experts: What is it that drives you? Or, maybe another way of saying it is, what is your core conviction going into these projects?

Peter F. Spittler: I fervently believe that we can’t afford to keep expanding into suburbia. The impact of suburban sprawl on traffic, air quality, roads, taxing districts…we can’t afford it. Our future is in dense urban development where those infrastructures already exist.

Interviewing Experts: Tell us about the Pickwick and Frolic in Cleveland…

Peter F. Spittler: Sure. Working closely with Nick Kostas, we started out with a 1922 department store, gutted it, repurposed it with a 300 seat restaurant, 120 seat cabaret complex, 400 seat Hilarities comedy club and Martini Bar, while keeping the building’s exterior character and architectural details intact. Nick was a pioneer on East 4th Street in Cleveland and Pick Wick and Frolic was the flagship project. Since then there has been over 150 million dollars of investment on the street

Interviewing Experts: What were some of the special details that you included in that building?

Peter F. Spittler: We did things like refitting a giant chandelier salvaged from an old department store in Akron, built a vintage-style marquee, restored some of the building’s façade with custom-cast stonework. Most importantly, we created a unique dining and entertainment experience. The Hilarities comedy club is considered one of the finest comedy clubs in the country.

Interviewing Experts: Weren’t you involved in another urban project in Cleveland?

Peter F. Spittler: Yes, the Flats East Bank. The project is a 500 million 24 acres of mixed-use retail, office and residential development located at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. Phase 1 will be completed Spring of 2013 and will include a 500,000 sf office building, a 150 room Aloft Hotel, several restaurants, a fitness center along with a 14 acre public park and a 1,200 lf riverfront boardwalk

Interviewing Experts: I recently read something about your Midtown Miami project; could you describe that for our readers?

Peter F. Spittler: Midtown Miami is a 1.4 billion dollar urban redevelopment projected located on an abandoned railroad yard. The project is located just south of Miami’s world renowned Design District and includes several thousand residential units and a variety of retail, restaurants and entertainment venues. The project filled an enormous retail void located in section of the city. The project came to fruition through a collaborative effort between the City of Miami and the developers, Midtown Equities and DDRC. You just cannot have 56 acres of urban property sitting there being underutilized…it makes no sense and everyone agreed.

Peter F. Spittler serves as manager of Forum Architects. Peter F. Spittler ’s responsibilities have included program management, planning and design as well as investor and government relations and much more at the firm. Prior to this, he was a founding principal and president of GSI Architects, Inc. Peter F. Spittler is a graduate of Kent State University’s architecture program. Peter F. Spittler also served as senior project manager at Figgie International, where he worked with teams on commercial and industrial development. At The Austin Company, Peter F. Spittler took on many of the same duties, as well as traveling to Eastern Europe to consider the privatization of government controlled industries in that region. The hands-on approach of Peter F. Spittler has given him a great insight into how to make things work successfully in the world of urban redevelopment and public/private financing.


Rich Von Alvensleben – Home Remodeling Opportunities for Construction Workers

The economic crisis and rampant home foreclosures are hitting families in every state in America, but Rich Von Alvensleben says the problem is especially pronounced in California. In fact, Rich Von Alvensleben sees countless run down and vacant homes throughout the state that no one wants to purchase. However, Rich Von Alvensleben says this downturn has led to a major opportunity for blue-collar workers in the construction business that need work.

Rich Von Alvensleben says that although new home building is still slow, many people are opting to instead remodel and clean up vacant homes that have been lost due to foreclosures. In many cases, Rich Von Alvensleben says that simply remodeling or expanding a once neglected home can turn it into a showpiece for a family. Rich Von Alvensleben has seen many examples of unwanted homes being transformed into magazine-worthy homes due to the expertise of the construction crew. These transformations, says Rich Von Alvensleben, can often increase the desirability of a home tenfold.

California-based & licensed One Up Construction has thrived due to the remodeling boom, according to Rich Von Alvensleben. With so much demand for in-home construction and drastic changes to existing architecture, Rich Von Alvensleben says the company has had the opportunity to expand its work force to more than 30 full time, part time, and sub contractors who all work together to “rehab” these unwanted homes. In fact, Rich Von Alvensleben says that One Up Construction currently works on anywhere from 5 to 15 homes per month to get them to a level that can catch the eyes of new homeowners looking for that first place to call their own.

Rich Von Alvensleben also says that the company has a new division that works on rehabbing new rentals for Invitation Homes, a subsidiary of the multi billion dollar hedge fund, Blackstone Group LP (BX), —one of the largest single family home buyers in the nation. According to Rich Von Alvensleben, this opportunity not only gives the company the ability to clean up vacant homes throughout the area, but also gives them the revenue to continue doubling their work force of construction workers and contractors who need stable jobs. In addition, Rich Von Alvensleben says the company can create housing for families that otherwise might not be able to afford a home of their own.

This is a trend that Rich Von Alvensleben says may outlast the recession, as many homeowners and homebuyers may find it more economical to simply remodel rather than build a brand new home.


In the world of real estate investment and construction, Rich Von Alvensleben is a respected name. Over twelve years of ventures in the industry, Rich Von Alvensleben has made a specialty of acquiring, rehabilitating and selling distressed properties. Rich Von Alvensleben has profitably overseen a $40 million real estate fund and has companies bought and “flipped” approximately 1,700 homes, which sets him apart in an industry where most competitors have only been operational since the great real estate crash of 2007-2008.

At the beginning of his professional career, Rich Von Alvensleben was stationed at the Antarctic for four months as a commercial diver for the United States Antarctic Research Program. There, Rich Von Alvensleben was tasked with setting up a desalination plant for drinking water. The resume of Rich Von Alvensleben also includes a post as co-founder and sales manager of the marketing and sales powerhouse, World Concepts LLC, and a term as founder/co-owner of Associated Drilling Company.

Rich Von Alvensleben lives in the greater Sacramento area, where he serves as a volunteer at Del Oro High School amongst other volunteer duties. Rich Von Alvensleben loves to pursue outdoor fun with his family, such as hiking, cycling and camping.


Dr. James D. Sterling Supports Fathers of Chapin School Students

Dr. James D. Sterling spends much of his week serving the New York City community with a private practice in psychology, as well as clinical education work at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center. In addition to these important endeavors, Dr. James D. Sterling recently endowed a program that benefited the fathers of students at the Chapin School for Girls. Below, Dr. James D. Sterling answers a few key questions about this important program.

Q: What is the Chapin School for Girls?

Dr. James D. Sterling: The Chapin School is a noted educational institution in Manhattan for girls in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Q: It has a few notable alumni, correct?

Dr. James D. Sterling: Yes. Among others, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Jane Wyatt, and Sigourney Weaver attended the Chapin School.

Q: The program you endowed was targeted toward the fathers of Chapin School students. Why fathers?

Dr. James D. Sterling: The father-daughter relationship has been largely neglected in the literature about parenting until very recently is a vital one and the Chapin School realizes it.

Q: What was the program?

Dr. James D. Sterling: The program involved inviting notable experts in the field of child and adolescent psychology and psychotherapy to speak to the fathers of the girls and to answer questions from the fathers at the conclusion of their talks regarding with issues between fathers and daughters at the Chapin School.

Q: Can you explain more about your connection to the program?

Dr. James D. Sterling: I’m a family and couples therapist, so a lecture series dedicated to a parent-child relationship is along the lines of what I work with every day.

Q: You’ve done extensive work with couples and families. What do you feel is the most important part of the father-daughter relationship?

Dr. James D. Sterling: The most important aspect onthe father-daughter relationship s the daughter feels that her father not only loves her very much but also enjoys spending time with her. Open communication is always encouraged at the New York Center for Psychotherapy.

Q: And there’s a New York connection with the Chapin School, as well?

Dr. James D. Sterling: The New York Center for Psychotherapy makes an attempt to be a part of the New York community and support it any way we can.

Q: Does the New York Center for Psychotherapy work with the entire family or family members separately in counseling?

Dr. James D. Sterling: It depends on the situation. Often we meet with the parents and they try to resolve conflicts to open the channels of communication at home.

Q:  And if that isn’t effective, then what?

Dr. James D. Sterling: We will then attempt to meet with the family either separately or as one unit, depending on the situation and the parents’ personal preference.

Dr. James D. Sterling heads the New York Center for Psychotherapy, which specializes in family and couples therapy. To make an appointment with Dr. James D. Sterling, call (212) 348-3925.

Jay P. Clark Discovers the Beauty of Lake Powell

Jay P. Clark works hard on his Idaho ranch. When it’s time to relax and enjoy life, Jay P. Clark prefers to indulge his love for the great outdoors with beautiful waterfront scenery. Recently, while on his honeymoon, Jay P. Clark and his wife explored Lake Powell, which is located on the border of Utah and Arizona. Jay P. Clark relayed his experience at Lake Powell to the staff at Zrylw.

Zrylw: I understand that you took what some might call an unusual approach to your honeymoon, spending it on a boat. Tell us a little about that.

Jay P. Clark: About a week before our trip, I set up a boat with everything we would need for the week, including a place to sleep, a shower, and a kitchen.

Zrylw: You stayed on the boat throughout your honeymoon?

Jay P. Clark: We did take occasional side trips for some adventure, including a hiking trip and kayaking.

Zrylw: Did you fish while you were there?

Jay P. Clark: Absolutely! We both took advantage of the plentiful crappie and Northern Pike, which can only be supported in deep waters like those found at Lake Powell.

Zrylw: You mentioned earlier that your trip took you past Rainbow Bridge. Tell us a little about that.

Jay P. Clark: Rainbow Bridge is one of the world’s longest natural bridges, so that was exciting to see. We also visited Glen Canyon Dam.

Zrylw: That definitely sounds exciting. What is Glen Canyon Dam?

Jay P. Clark: Glen Canyon itself allows visitors to see formations that can point to erosion that goes back millions of years. While we were there, the dam’s water levels dropped dramatically, blocking our access to some of the camping areas.

Zrylw: That makes for an interesting trip…

Jay P. Clark: The interesting thing about it is, because the waterline can change with each visit, visitors feel like they’re getting a new experience each time.

Zrylw: Do you plan to visit again?

Jay P. Clark: Yes. One week isn’t nearly enough to give someone the full experience. There are more than 90 canyons around Lake Powell, in addition to all of the other things to see and do. I’m sure my wife and I will be frequent visitors to the area.

Jay P. Clark runs Clark’s Crystal Springs Ranch, LLC, where he harvests standard crops, as well as a few cutting-edge crops like camelina. He looks forward to many more breathtaking vacations on Lake Powell in the coming years.

Zrylw Discusses the Optimism of New Year’s Resolutions

People who are striving to improve themselves – and who are using the impetus of a New Year’s resolution to start – shouldn’t feel alone. Nearly 50% percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. And of those, approximately 40-45% keep them.

That’s a lot of cigarettes not smoked, cream puffs passed up, and homes de-cluttered across the country. In fact, so many people make those goals at midnight, that the government has a website with resources for resolutions. The topics range from becoming healthier by drinking less alcohol, to helping the planet by learning how to recycle. There are also more ambitious resources on the site, like learning how to travel internationally.

Of course, New Year’s resolutions don’t need to be grandiose. In fact, some of the best plans involve small steps that will lead to lead greater confidence, which will hopefully lead to bigger and better plans in the future.

For instance, it’s difficult to make plans to travel internationally when one is constantly behind on credit card payments. But if credit card bills keep getting buried under junk mail, the clutter can overwhelm a person to the point of inaction, because clutter is simply delayed decision making. So something as small as learning to organize a desk and mail area can make a person feel more confident.

However, one of the most important things to concentrate upon is keeping obtainable goals. It’s not realistic to drop 20 pounds by the end of January (and if you do, it’s certainly not healthy.) No smoker is never not going to be tempted again, nor will a person with a sweet tooth walk by a bakery without a twinge of longing.

However, the fastest way to self-sabotage is to quit trying. One chocolate brownie isn’t the end of the world, the important thing is to do better tomorrow.

One of the reasons that New Year’s resolutions are so appealing, is that a brand new year creates a sense of optimism. The chance to make a goal and reach it is something that everyone aspires to. Amd the difference with making a goal on New Year’s Eve, is that there’s a shared sense of inspiration.

J. Kale Flagg – An Inspirational Success Story

J. Kale Flagg believes in inspiring others. Nothing can ignite the fire in an aspiring salesperson like a good story. Often, he relates the story of a young man in Scotland in the late 1800s. A young, very poor dreamer by the name of Andrew Carnegie immigrated to the United States with only pennies in his pocket. According to J. Kale Flagg, from humble beginnings, with a lot of work and a lot of sweat, Andrew Carnegie became one of the first recorded billionaires in history.

Looking back over his success, Andrew Carnegie couldn’t figure out why he’d become so wealthy in the U.S. while so many others who were born here stayed broke. In his mind, creating wealth was so simple. As J. Kale Flagg relates, Andrew Carnegie met and hired a young man by the name of Napoleon Hill to find out what made people successful. According to J. Kale Flagg, Napoleon Hill traveled the country to conduct interviews, sitting down with such greats as Henry Ford, Wilbur Wright, William Wrigley, Teddy Roosevelt, and more.

After an astounding twenty years of research, J. Kale Flagg states that Napoleon Hill wrote the book Think and Grow Rich. Boiling the book down to one paragraph, J. Kale Flagg describes that Napoleon Hill discovered there are two groups of people in this world—the 97 percenters and the 3 percenters. The 97%’ers are worker bees and the 3%’ers are the rulers. While the 3%’ers control 97% of the wealth in this country, most people are wondering why they were given the short end of the stick, J. Kale Flagg says.

The good news, says Flagg, is that you control whether you’re a 97%’er or a 3%’er. J. Kale Flagg has found that those who have spent their lives around people who have achieved financial independence are more likely to think like a 3%’er. And you can think like a 3%’er, J. Kale Flagg says, by following a few simple techniques.

To be successful, Napoleon Hill stated that you use OPI (other people’s ideas), OPM (other people’s efforts), and OPM (other people’s money). Too many people let fear keep them from putting these techniques into practice, J. Kale Flagg has found. The most successful people—the 3%’ers—use other people’s money (credit), other people’s efforts (duplication), and other people’s ideas (a proven system), explains J. Kale Flagg.

According to J. Kale Flagg, you don’t have to be brainy or rich to become successful. You just have to be smart enough to identify an opportunity where the timing is right and what products are needed and then tell people about that opportunity. J. Kale Flagg stresses that you don’t need to invent anything. You don’t need to discover anything. Just find a great product and recruit other people to help you market it. It sounds simple because it is simple.

J. Kale Flagg is a Yale graduate who has hosted sales and business seminars around the country. J. Kale Flagg is the General Partner of the American Redevelopment Fund, LP, a real estate development fund and Chief Operating Officer of Array Asset Management, LLC—an asset management company providing services for owners of commercial and utility scale solar arrays.