Inner Treasures in Cuba Hotels

“The only worthy autograph of a man is that which he leaves written with his works”

Jose Martí

What could be more appealing to the traveler who is an art lover than to book and stay at hotels with their very own art patrimony. As one wanders through numerous Cuba hotels beautiful art works flood the eye with their magnificence and authenticity.

The Nacional de Cuba is a landmark hotel, which preserves the architectural and decorative magnificence that has captivated its visitors over its more than seven decades. Declared “National Monument” for its patrimonial value in 1988, in its featured 426 rooms, amazing lounges and modern comfort, this hotel shows some great value including an oil landscape by Enrique Domingo Ramos.

The property is full of columns and arches that show a singular confluence of neoclassic and neocolonial designs with art deco. Some rooms still have the original floor, bed frames and furniture from the 1930’s. There is actually a Historical Floor where many celebrities left their presence, like Ava Gardner, Johnny Weissmuller and Bola de Nieve.

When walking around the bustling corner of 23 and L at “El Vedado” district there is always a work of art that catches the attention. That is the amazing mural painting by Amelia Pelaez on the façade of Tryp Habana Libre hotel (former Havana Hilton). This facility, opened in the late fifties, houses a wide collection of contemporary Cuban art, which includes Clepsydra, a sculpture by Rita Longa in the lobby and paintings by renowned artists like Rene Portocarrero, Mariano Rodriguez, Servando Cabrera and Alfredo Sosabravo.

Since 2007 this modern hotel has added a mural painted by artists from the “Somos lo que hay Project”, a beautiful fresco that was placed in the lobby. It gathers artists from different generations and esthetics such as Nelson Dominguez, Lian and Li Dominguez Fong, Esteban and Alejandro Leyva, Ever Fonseca, Ernesto Garcia Peña, Eduardo Roca, Juan Moreira, Alicia Leal, Javier Guerra, Sandor Gonzalez, Manuel Comas, Herminio Escalona, Vicente R. Bonachea, Kike Wong, Enrique de la Uz, Rafael Perez Alonso, Eduardo Abela and Mayito Gonzalez.

Among Havana hotels, the Habana Riviera also offers valuable works of art. Situated next to the Havanan sea wall (malecón), this born-in-the-fifties hotel holds an ingenious architectural structure. The magnificence sculptures and duomo by the great Florencio Gelabert were restored, and so was the internal mural painting by López Dirube, witch remains as the artistic heritage of the hotel.

The Melia Cohiba hotel has acquired works from some of Cuba’s best contemporary artists as well. This luxury facility is recognized for its distinguished decoration that features oeuvres of famous painters Flora Fong, López Oliva and Zaida del Río.

If you seek a colonial atmosphere in your Cuba hotel choice, there are fine Old Havana hotels that boast a classic ambience and a rich cultural heritage. In this Cuba destination, art lovers are able to enjoy charming patrimonial places, the colonial and eclectic architecture of its buildings and the fusion of diverse styles.

The Sevilla hotel is one of these lodging accommodations that have preserved a priceless artistic heritage. Visitors looking for historically interesting properties will be pleased at this facility, because it is one of Havana’s oldest hotels (the establishment turned 100 in March of 2008), featuring a classy setting in its large, spacious lobby and rooms.

This traditional and classical property displays a truly Spanish atmosphere that can be appreciated as the hotel exhibits different architectural and decorative elements of remarkable Mudejar influence. The traveler will immediately notice it while catching a glimpse of its intricate façade. The sculptures of Jacopi and the “Aldeana” portrait by Ramos Martínez are some of the artistic features of the hotel.

On the other hand, the Inglaterra hotel, opened in 1875, it is one of the oldest hotels in town and it is another fine example of Cuban hotels linked to fine arts. Due to its preservation, relation with history and national culture, The Inglaterra hotel was declared a National monument in 1981. Travelers will discover a part of Cuba’s heritage within this facility.

The contrasts of different architectural styles and designs will hold your interest. The building features a beautiful neoclassical façade while the interior decor recreates the atmosphere of the colonial period with a strong Mudejar spirit. The interior spaces are decked out with gorgeous stained-glass windows, colorful mosaics, Spanish heraldic symbols, window grills, and lavishly ornamented ceilings that confirm the eclectic tendency of this city and its period. There is also a lovely sculpture “La sevillana” by Perinat, which symbolizes a Spanish female dancer, and collective mural paintings. Plus, if you stay there, you will find out that Cuban artists have designed every 3 months the menu for this hotel.

The Plaza hotel is one appealing option for those who recognize the value of a colonial era hotel that retains the glamour of the turn of the century. Opened in 1909, the Plaza boasts an eye-catching façade and incredibly beautiful lounges that take us back in time. Most visitors can’t help to notice the impressive lobby’s ceiling with an elegant bronze chandelier. Other alluring features of this classic hotel are its colonial patio, a picturesque fountain from the same period, abundant vegetation, exotic birds, sculptures and colorful stained-glass windows.

Hotel Raquel is another interesting proposal within Old Havana hotels that reflects a Jewish flavor. This intimate building exhibits an art nouveau style and expressive eclectic architecture, while some of its spaces allegorically evoke the Hebrew culture. It also shows great artistic features like the majestic sculpture of the ground floor and its beautiful marble columns. Plus, there is an impressive stained glass work to appreciate at this inn. All hotel floors and rooms are decorated with works of art of prestigious Cuban painters.

But if you prefer a lodge with a postmodern flair, then visit the Hotel Parque Central, which combines colonial and modern architectural styles. This distinctive facility is full of tropical woodwork and lush greenery, and some of its acquisitions include pieces from Cuba’s best contemporary artists like Sosabravo, Flora Fong and Adigio Benítez.

The Santa Isabel hotel, former mansion of the Counts of Santovenia, also houses plastic Cuban artists’ works and pieces in rooms and lounges, in order to recreate the elegant atmosphere of the 19th Cuban century. The hotel’s façade maintains its colonial flair, where colorful stained glass windows are the main part of the decoration. Its halls are festooned with lamps, vases and figures of great value. The whole ornamentation compels the visitor to be transported back in time.

Art lovers can also find patrimonial works of art in other Cuba destinations. Just to mention a few, at Varadero beach the Varadero Internacional hotel features a 1950 fountain, and a marble and stone table surrounded by walls decorated with beautiful paintings. The Jagua hotel at Cienfuegos province gives its guests the chance to enjoy a wonderful view of Cienfuegos Bay or the green nature of Sierra del Escambray, but also offers a lovely decor where porcelain vases, a Mudejar style bronze lamp and a painting of Aldo Menendez González catch the eye of any visitor.

In the hot city of Santiago de Cuba, the Casa Granda hotel features a marble statue of Venus, while the “El Colony” hotel at the International Diving Center of Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) shows sculptures of Rita Longa and a nice painting of E. Garcia Mata that represents “the treasure island” with colorful pirates.

So, if art is your thing and you are planning a visit to Cuba, you can live through a cultural experience with Cuban art in your own lodge. Just drop by and discover these inner treasures in Cuba Hotels.

Cleaning Electronics With an Ultrasonic Cleaner

Ultrasonic cleaning has become one of the most popular ways to clean electronics. The process saves time and improves results without compromising safety. Let’s take a quick look at how an ultrasonic electronics cleaner can be used effectively for circuit boards, PCB, and electrical assemblies.

Ultrasonic cleaners now play a crucial role in the circuit board and electronics assembly process. An ultrasonic circuit board cleaner helps to improve SIR test results while reducing rework and improving reliability.

An ultrasonic cleaner can safely and effectively remove solder paste and flux residues from post-reflowed circuit assemblies. If you are using an ultrasonic cleaner to clean PCBs after wave soldering, it is easiest to begin soon after the soldering process. Make sure that you allow the boards to cool below 70°C before starting the ultrasonic PCB cleaning process.

In the past, ultrasonic cleaners operated at a single frequency, and it was found that certain components in electrical assemblies suffered damage from the harmonic vibrations set up by the ultrasonic wave.ultrasonic circuit board PCB cleaner However, ultrasonic cleaners using frequency “sweeping” have been developed that quickly and reliably clean the electrical assemblies without causing damage. In Sweep mode, the frequency is continuously varied slightly, eliminating the potentially damaging standing wave.

Although there may have been a concern in the past about ultrasonically cleaning electrical components, the frequency sweeping ability of today’s ultrasonic electronics cleaners should alleviate any trepidations going forward. From using an ultrasonic cleaner on circuit boards all the way to small electrical components, the cleaning process is now faster and safer than ever.

If you regularly clean electronic parts, an ultrasonic electronics cleaner is the best tool for the job. The common concern is that ultrasonic cleaners will destroy delicate components. However, advances in ultrasonic technology have eased this concern by replacing the single frequency wavelength approach-known to harm electronic parts-with a variable frequency approach, called “sweeping.” This advance in ultrasonic technology has not only led to reduced production costs, but has proven to enhance reliability, thus reducing warranty costs as well.

In the area of electronics, every circuit board, PCB, and electrical assembly is reliant on precision craftsmanship, with no room for imperfection. In the past, the ultrasonic cleaning of electrical components was not viable. Certain electronic components immersed in an ultrasonic bath would be damaged by the harmonic vibrations set up by the single-frequency ultrasonic wave. In Sweep Mode, the frequency is continuously varied slightly, eliminating the potentially damaging standing wave. Additionally, Sweep technology offers more uniform cleaning of parts by eliminating “dead zones” where no cavitation occurs in the bath. Cavitation is the formation and energy-releasing implosion of tiny vacuum-filled bubbles generated by the ultrasonic waves.

Recommended Tools For Working on a Model Train Set

A model train set toolkit should be well-organized and contain a plethora of tools. A small toolbox or plastic container with a lid and handle will allow you to move your toolbox around the track or train area as needed. A gardener bag with pockets on the outside and a large interior is another good idea for a toolkit holder.

Include several rags or a roll or two of paper towels in your toolkit. The rags are useful for cleaning up spills, wiping brushes, or dusting the tracks. Washable rags may be less expensive overall.

Needle nose pliers are used for holding items that need cutting and bending. You can also hold wires and small pieces of scenery in place while joining or gluing them. The pliers should be 6″ to 8″ in length. Wire cutters at the end will be helpful.

A hobby hammer is much smaller than a regular household hammer and allows you to get in between train track rails and other small places. You will probably want both a ballpeen and footed hammer.

An X-Acto type knife is needed for trimming scenery, placing glue in place, and a myriad of other activities. Be sure to get at least a medium-duty as it will hold up longer. Rubber grips will provide a cushion for your fingers if you will be doing a lot of cutting and trimming.

A rail nipper looks similar to a pair of flat-topped pliers and is used to cut model train tracks. The cutting edge is square, which allows you to cut very close to the track. The best length is about 6-1/2″ long.

An assortment of small screwdrivers is needed for your model train set. You will need Phillips screwdrivers in sizes #1 and #0, and standard screwdrivers in both 1/16″ and 1/8″. Magnetized ends are helpful to pick up small parts that drop during construction and additions to your track.

Tweezers will be useful for detail work, building scenery, and putting together buildings and structures. You can pick up tweezers at any store, but you might consider a curved set so you can get inside small places.

Clamps, such as rubberbands, alligator clips, or small v-blocks are needed when gluing together model train assemblies. Use an old cookie sheet to store your work while it’s drying – the sheet will prevent glue from sticking to paper and creating more clean-up later.

Paintbrushes in small sizes are best because much of your detail painting is on a small scale. A good hobby shop or craft center has an array of paintbrushes; pick up an assortment in sizes 2, 3, 4, and 10. Look for round brushes with a good tip.

Filing tools are needed to remove leftover plastic or metal from your buildings and train cars. Get an assortment of about eight to ten files to start; you can add more later. Sandpaper will also be necessary when building track layout boards as you will want to be sure the surface is smooth. A sanding block or electric sander can make your job easier.

Solder iron is useful when you are doing any amount of wiring. There are corded and cordless models. It is recommended to find a solder iron with a fine tip so you can get into those tight wiring places.

Scissors are needed for cutting and trimming. Pick up several pairs ranging in size from small tips to larger tips for cutting track covering. A bent tip allows for precision cutting.

A lighted magnifying glass is useful when working with extremely small parts. A bench magnifier with either a movable or fixed base allows you to use both of your hands for your work.

Power tools, such as drills and saws, are nice for cutting boards and drilling holes for wiring. A miter box cuts perfect corners and a cordless drill allows you to move the drill wherever you need it.

Finally, be sure to get an NMRA gage for your model train set. Match the gage to your model train size. This gage allows you to check your tracks and switches for proper sizing of your model train parts. You use the gage to check and make adjustments to your train tracks and wheels.

Finally, it is recommended to always wear safety glasses when working with power tools, sanding, or cutting any items that may fly into your face.

Canine Hip Dysplasia – Symptoms, Treatment and Surgery

What is Hip Dysplasia?

The hip joint consists of a ‘ball” on the femoral bone, and a ”  socket ” on the hip bone. Canine hip dysplasia simply defined is when a dog’s hips do not develop normally and the ball does not fit snugly into the  socket .

What Causes Hip Dysplasia?

While there is no conclusive proof of the cause of hip dysplasia, there are 2 general schools of thought about its cause – 1) genetic or 2) environmental.

These two differing viewpoints often place the dog breeders at odds with the dog owners, causing each to blame the other for the problem.

Genetic: The puppy is born with the problem

Environmental: The puppy is too heavy resulting in excessive growth and/or over or under exercising a puppy during its growth phase resulting in developmental problems.

The most common theory is that hip dysplasia is indeed genetic. Most breeders have their breeding dogs’ hips rated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (Penn-HIP), or various other international orthopedic groups. We could discuss the merits of both theories, but it doesn’t change the facts. If your dog has hip dysplasia, you need to deal with it.

When Does a Dog Get Hip Dysplasia?

If you subscribe to the theory that it is genetic, they are born with it. Dogs that have severe hip dysplasia often begin to have problems as puppies. Sometimes, the hip dysplasia does not cause pain for the dog, so they do not show signs of it until they develop arthritis in their hip joints. Some dogs that are not as severe can live out their entire lives with few, if any symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia?

There are a number of symptoms of hip dysplasia. Some dog owners only say that their dog didn’t walk right. Others will say they saw no symptoms at all, or just that their dog began to limp. Following is a list of common symptoms, of which your dog may have a couple and not have hip dysplasia.

Bunny Hopping: The dog tends to use both hind legs together, rather than one at a time. This occurs when the dog is running, or going up stairs.

Side Sit: Also called lazy sit, slouch or frog sit. When the dog sits, its legs are not positioned bent and close to the body. They can be loose and off to one side, or one or both legs may be straight out in front.

Sway Walk: Also called a loose walk. When the dog is walking, the back end sways back and forth because the hips are loose.

Unusual Laying Position: Legs are straight out and off to the side when the dog is laying on its stomach or legs are straight out behind the dog. (All dogs lay with their legs behind them on occasion, many dogs with hip dysplasia lay like this all the time.)

Limping: The dog may favor one hind leg or the other, and may alternate legs that it is favoring.

Quiet Puppy: Puppies who are already in pain from hip dysplasia tend to be very good puppies. They do not rough house the way that normal puppies do. They also tend to sleep for a long time after playing or going for a walk. Some owners describe their puppy with hip dysplasia as the best puppy they’ve ever had.

Dog Doesn’t Jump: Not only do they not jump on you, they seem to pull themselves up by their front end onto furniture as opposed to jumping up.

Underdeveloped Hind Quarters and Overdeveloped Chest: This is caused by the failure to use the hind legs normally and jump. The dog also may actually be shifting weight forward.

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia

The only way to diagnose hip dysplasia is with x-rays. However, I must note here that you should treat the dog and not the x-rays. Some dogs with seemingly mild hip dysplasia are in a lot of pain, while other dogs with apparent severe hip dysplasia do not display symptoms.

What Can Be Done for My Dog?

If you have had x-rays taken of your dog’s hips at your regular vet, you may have been referred to an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon is going to recommend various surgical options for your dog. I am going to give you a very brief overview of these surgeries. You will need to discuss your dog’s options with the surgeon. They will provide the details of each surgical option. Some people are able to treat their dog with nutritional supplements and avoid surgery. Ultimately, it will be your decision to determine the best treatment for your dog.

Surgical Options:

Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS) – This surgery is performed on puppies under 20 weeks of age, generally when the puppy is neutered or spayed. It shows great promise as a preventive measure, by altering the pelvic growth. This surgery has a short recovery period, but is generally done before a puppy can be diagnosed. However, once you’ve lived with hip dysplasia, it may prove to be worthwhile for a puppy considered at risk for developing hip dysplasia.

Dorsal Acetabular Rim (DAR) – This surgery consists of bone grafts being taken from other areas of the pelvis to build up the rim on the hip  socket  (cup). The idea is for the femoral head to have a deeper  socket  to fit into. It’s relatively new, so there is some question as to how a dog will do into old age – there aren’t many older dogs that have had it done.

Triple Pelvic Ostectomy (TPO) – This surgery involves cutting the bone around the hip  socket  and repositioning the  socket  for a better fit with the femoral head. The bones are plated back together so they heal in the correct alignment. This surgery is performed on young dogs before they have finished growing.

Total Hip Replacement (THR) – This surgery consists of replacing the hip joint similar to a human hip replacement. A new cup is usually attached to the hip bone, and the femoral head is cut off the leg bone and an implant is inserted into the leg bone. This surgery is done on more mature dogs that have finished growing. Due to the size of the implants, this surgery is done on larger dogs. Previously, all artificial hip components were cemented in place. More recently, cementless hip replacements are being performed.

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) – Also know as femoral head and neck excision. This surgery consists of removing the femoral head of the leg bone to eliminate the pain of hip dysplasia. The dog’s body will then develop scar tissue to create an artificial hip joint. Long considered only appropriate for smaller dogs or as a salvage operation for a failed THR, it has become increasingly popular for larger dogs.

Non-Surgical or Conservative Management Option

Many people choose to have surgery performed on their dog only as a last resort. Some are able to manage their dog’s hip dysplasia with supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic care, exercise and weight management. Sometimes, the puppy will show signs of pain from hip dysplasia, and once it is done growing and the muscles are fully developed, they seem to “go into remission”, developing signs of hip problems again as the dog ages. Surgical options are still available to you if the conservative path is unsuccessful.

For additional information on hip dysplasia, please visit MyPoorDog.com.

How to Attract a Crowd to Your Grand Opening

A big, happy crowd is what every new business owner dreams of and hopes for at their grand opening party. So they put a lot of planning into making everything just right, wanting their first day to go as smoothly as possible. But all the planning in the world still can’t guarantee a big crowd on the day-of, that takes special talent and a little bit of luck. Here are some ideas for encouraging a crowd to gather at a business’ first day.

1. Hang a “Help Wanted” Sign

Almost as soon as a business has access to their new physical location one of these should be hanging in the window or other prominent location. Particularly with the current economy, there are many, many people looking for jobs. People looking for word (or even those who know of people looking for work) will stop in, looking for more information and a job application. Even once all positions are filled, its not a bad idea to keep a sign like that in the window. Those looking for work will continue to keep an eye on a “help wanted” sign, and by default, the new business as well.

2. Be Kid and Pet Friendly

A grand opening party needs to be as welcoming as possible for all members of the family. For those who stop by on a whim or on their way to a second destination, they will likely have their kids and pets with them in the car or out on a walk. These spur-of-the-moment guests will be much more likely to stop and stay if they see an area that is safe and secure. Some good ideas are to have a barrier between cars in the parking lot and where a crowd would gather which will provide protection particularly for those under 3 feet tall. Another idea is to put out water bowls for the four-legged members of the family in obvious, convenient places. Anything to make people feel welcome and comfortable. And of course, have water and food available for all ages of the human species as well. Doing these hostess type things will help remove barriers that people may have that would prevent them from stopping by.

3. A Crowd Attracts a Crowd

This simple fact is what can make attracting a crowd so difficult. In order to have the appearance of a crowd, invite (and consider guilt-ing) as many friends, family, and neighbors into staying for as long as possible. Many will probably volunteer to help out in some way, but even if they don’t, just their very presence will help push a grand opening to success. And if they are working, be sure to take good care of them with plenty of food, water, and the occasional break and smile. Put even these extra cars to work by parking them in a location that is clearly associated with the new business but that is also a little out of the way. The “best” parking spots should still be reserved for unreached, potential customers as part of idea number 2, being hospitable.

Fast Hole Drilling for High Rises which Go Straight Down

In the future the human species may have to build our city’s underground where they can be safe from the weather, global warming or a loss of atmosphere, which allows more space and solar radiation. We know that the cycles of ice ages and solar cycles to severely impact our planet over the period of millions of years.

Maybe not in our lifetimes, but definitely sometime in the future mankind may need to live underground for a millennium or more. Yet also consider that living underground advantages that perhaps you have not considered.

Living underground and using the walls that are already there means that construction will be cheaper. Strengthening these walls may not be as difficult as we think as we master laser molecular realignment technologies.

Is it possible to build a skyscraper which go straight down instead of straight up? Sure it is and many skyscrapers start by going straight down as they must reinforce the structure. Is there a way to thrill the whole straight down very very quickly?

Yes I believe I have thought of a concept, which will help us do this. We used laser cutting tools to cut the rock and dirt and giant Earth vacuums to remove dirt. As we drill straight down the reinforce the sites using laser molecular realignment technologies. This way the vertical tunnel cannot collapse within itself.

Once we get the building to the desired depth and to remove the dirt we simply start putting and cross members for the floors and build a giant elevator and work from their. You could build a skyscraper straight down into the ground in probably less than a third of the time to build it straight up. Please consider this in 2006.

Ballasts – Types

Electrical gas charged lights need a piece of equipment that will control the starting and operating voltage of the light. That piece of equipment is called a lighting ballast. This can be any part of the circuit that controls the movement of electricity that is going to the light. It goes from a single resistor to a more complex device. A resistor maintains a safe current. There are different types of lights that are gas charged:

* Fluorescent lights

* Neon lights

* High intensity discharge (HID) lights

A light has negative resistance and cannot regulate the current that flows through it. The lighting ballast prevents the light from failing. A passive component can be used on small lights to control the electrical current, like a series of resistors across a terminal. This won’t work on larger, high-powered lights and a more intricate lighting ballast is required due to the amount of electricity that would be consumed. This is more economical and reduces operating costs. There are different types of electrical ballasts that can be used for lighting.

Electromagnetic

This type of ballast uses electromagnetic induction to control the starting and operating current of a gas discharge light. The coil of wire and an electromagnetic field inside performs the function of transforming voltage. Some also include an igniter for high-power applications.

An electromagnetic ballast won’t change the frequency of the power input when it limits the current flow. Illumination occurs on each half-cycle of the power source. Flickering is noticeable on many fluorescent and neon lights.

Lead-Lag Lighting Ballast

This type of ballast can minimize flicker by alternating the flow of current to two lamps. It works by one of the lamps leading the frequency of the input power and the other lamp will lag behind it.

Electronic Lighting Ballast

This is the more modern lighting ballast and it uses solid state circuitry to transform voltage. This ballast differs from the electromagnetic ballasts because it has the capabilities to alter power frequency. The electronic lighting ballast is preferred because it can greatly reduce, and even eliminate any flicker in the lamps. It’s also more efficient, which makes it operate cooler.

Faking Mood Lighting in 3D Modeling

To create spotlight effects (such as under-lighting or light pooling), you can repeat the preceding “create it in MAX” technique or use the lighting filters available in many image-editing packages to get similar results.

Moving a MAX light around in 3D space can give you a much more specific effect than using a light fixed to a two-dimensional plane. Curved Surfaces: Creating a curved surface with geometry is an almost impossible accomplishment in real time because curves require a high number of polygons.

Fortunately, creating the illusion of a curved surface in a Texture map is not difficult. It can be painted into the map-using a highlight for the highest point on the surface and blending that into half-tone at the sides of the curve with shadows reacting to the light source.

Again, rendering a fully mapped, highly-detailed curved surface in MAX and then using it as a Texture map for the flat-surfaced real-time object yields great results. Rendering the image from MAX with anti-aliasing turned off provides a clean edge around the wheel.

By setting the background to an extremely bright color, not found anywhere else in the image, you can create a map in which you can easily replace the background color.Additionally, you can add other colors if your map does not easily fit exactly onto the real-time object (and might leave undesired edges).

If you see strange edges when the map is applied, you can go back to the image and tweak it to make certain that you get a clean texture map. Working with real-time models often requires a balanced use of both low detail geometry and convincing maps.

You will find that most real-time interactive titles on the market do this very well. This exercise demonstrates that you do not even have to be a 2D artist to create those convincing maps. Use your 3D skills whenever possible. With the right lighting, materials, and geometry your renderings can serve very well as 2D maps for lower detail models.

Using Opacity for “Impossible Detail”:

Sometimes an object is far too complex to be modeled convincingly in a low polygon fashion. When you are using 3D Application to create models of objects with holes and complex edges-objects so detailed that you cannot make them recognizable-you can use a simple opacity map to create the effect.

Fortunately, almost all real-time systems have some capacity for using Opacity maps-whether they are 8-bit gray scale maps or just 1-bit black and-white, cookie-cutter type maps. This capability enables the model maker to add detail that would otherwise be impossible. The effect is not quite as clean as it would be in your 3D Application, but the result is still quite effective.

It is very easy to show how show how opacity can be used to create the illusion of hair on a real-time character.

Jersey Barrier Versatility

Due to the increased versatility of the once restricted Jersey Barrier these new functions have proven immensely beneficial in a variety of circumstances. Their practicality and advantages have proven themselves to be incredibly valuable on numerous occasions. Jersey Barriers have even been used in a number of high profile events to do exactly what they were designed to accomplish. Several of these instances have even pertained to matters of national security. As a result of their careful design and sturdy construction Jersey Barriers have proven to be a phenomenal instrument of safety. One such occasion is a matter of international proportions. The Olympics have opted for these barriers on several occasions to ensure the safety of the athletes as well as the spectators. Since it is such a multi-national event, it is the responsibility of the host city and host nation to protect its guests from any potential dangers. Additionally, in a slightly different implementation, some of the world’s major race tracks, that is race car racing, have also installed Jersey Barriers as a way of protecting the racers and anyone else involved in the sporting event, namely spectators. These occasions are both representative of instances where Jersey Barriers have been incredibly useful in overall, general public safety. With respect to matters requiring a greater degree of elevated security, they have also been of tremendous value. Since the year 1993, they have been used at every Presidential Inauguration ceremony. This is for the protection of the spectators as well as the security of the many heads of state in the Nation’s capital. As the Presidential Inaugural Ceremony is a critical moment for America as a nation, many view it as a hot target for terrorists or attackers. Even though they are installed primarily for the safety of the President Elect, Jersey Barriers also help protect any spectators or bystanders from external, terrorist threats. It is important that safety and protection be kept in mind at all times so that everyone either directly involved or even those in remote contact with the event are not put at any unnecessary risks. Each of these examples demonstrates the wide range of functions that the Jersey Barrier can perform. They exemplify the immense versatility that this structure possesses, but also represents the fundamental purpose of the Jersey Barrier, and that is to establish and maintain public safety.

The Olympics is a tremendous event, marked by the gathering of many nations, politics aside, to compete in a series of sporting events. Hundreds of these international athletes travel to convene at a predetermined central location. Not only are these athletes present, but also hundreds of thousands of fans from around the world and even present and former world leaders and other celebrity figures make their way to the Olympic village to behold the games. In a vast multi-national situation such as this, widespread security is one of the first priorities on every agenda. To satisfy the need for protection and safety, Jersey Barriers have been used at these events as one of many instruments of security, for a number of reasons. First and foremost is crowd control. There are staggering numbers, certainly hundreds of thousands of international spectators who attend the Olympic games. It is of critical importance to ensure that these people are kept safe both from each other as well as any external threats. Jersey Barriers may be put in place to ensure that attendees remain in designated safe zones. These may be assigned not only to guarantee safety to the spectators but also, in certain instances, be outlined for the safety of the participants or other important individuals such as world leaders who may be a more specific target of any harm. The goal is to find a compromise between safety and entertainment, which often proves to be a difficult task. Nonetheless Jersey Barriers are the most effective way to accomplish this task. During the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, the original concrete Jersey Barriers were used as an anchor for a tall chain link fence around the entire perimeter of the Olympic village. This fence was designed to keep saboteurs and other threatening individuals from entering the premises. The Jersey Barriers were chosen for several reasons the first being that they are sturdy structures that can be temporarily installed for such a purpose. An additional motive was that these Jersey Barriers, as previously explained, pose less of a threat to passing vehicles than a fence structure would itself. These two vastly different applications of the Jersey Barrier demonstrate the ingenuity of its design. Its incredibly simple silhouette often betrays its immense versatility.

Another instance where Jersey Barriers have been incredibly valuable is on racecar racetracks. Jersey Barriers have even extended to international tracks such as those owned and operated by Formula One. Concrete barriers have made the sport immeasurably safer for both drivers and spectators alike. Prior to the introduction of the Jersey Barrier to racecar racing, metal guardrails, typically constructed out of steel, would line the track. These would often be two tiers and the audience would be set back a certain distance from the track and elevated above the railing for both safety and viewing purposes. Unfortunately, these precautions weren’t enough. Since metal rails are still flexible under high-speed impact, such as those encountered in this kind of racing, debris would sometimes make its way into the crowd injuring and even killing onlookers. Additionally, the drivers would be put at fatal risk and rarely survived these crashes without serious, lasting damage if they survived at all. In present day, mostly all major race tracks have installed Jersey Barriers along the entire length of the track from start to finish; this includes Talladega, the Indie 500 and as noted Formula One tracks as well. This has made major improvements in the safety of the sport. First and foremost is the vastly improved safety of the spectators. As previously discussed, Jersey Barriers are designed to lift and roll vehicles in the event of a collision. In the case of high-speed racing, this yields several consequential benefits. Upon impact, the car is rolled inward back onto the track instead of allowing the momentum to continue in the direction of the audience, propelling any potential shrapnel in their direction. This eliminates the majority of the previous risk to the members of the audience. Jersey Barriers that line the track also prove to have a benefit for the drivers. Rolling the car inward, as discussed, helps to transfer the momentum of the car, and by flipping it over can often reduce the amount of injury that the driver incurs. Concrete barriers have proven to be extremely valuable on the racetrack. They have immensely increased the overall safety of the sport of auto racing and have made it enjoyable rather than risky. Once again the Jersey Barrier is used in a unique manner to serve its original purpose of ensuring public safety.

Regarding matters of national security, rather than general public safety, Jersey Barriers have also demonstrated their flexibility. They have been a reliable method of protection, albeit just one among many, at Presidential Inauguration ceremonies. In fact, they have been used at every Inauguration ceremony since 1993 and have proven to be effective each time. Their main purpose at the ceremony is to protect the President Elect. Typically they are positioned at a set distance from the stage to prevent any attendees from getting too threateningly close to the future President, his family and any other important members of Congress or National leaders that may be on the stage with the President Elect. This is to protect them from both intentional attacks and accidental harm. At the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Ceremony these Jersey Barriers were even paired with bulletproof glass shields for added security. However these barriers are also installed to protect the attendees from each other as well as any external dangers. The Jersey Barriers are positioned such that they designate safe zones for the spectators. Additionally, they serve as guides for safe evacuation routes in case of any emergency. In these instances Jersey Barriers are also used for their original purpose as traffic directors. Since the Inauguration Ceremony is typically held in Washington DC, in the middle of the city there is a great deal of urban traffic and other unique challenges to manage. Jersey Barriers in this case, as they are designed to do, are ideal for making sure vehicles take safe routes about the city and avoid any dangerous encounters with the Inaugural party itself, attendees included. This generally helps ease the entire flow of the ceremony and helps security agents remain in command of the situation. The Presidential Inaugural ceremony is an incredibly important moment for the United States as a Nation and can easily be viewed as a target for attackers. Jersey Barriers help ease the concerns surrounding the event by ensuring certain safety precautions are taken to prevent harm from coming to anyone present. This is yet another example of the Jersey Barrier’s impressive versatility and consistent efficacy.

Since it’s inception the Jersey Barrier has proven to be a valuable asset to the public sphere. Through its careful development and improvement over the years its practicality has expanded enormously to include new realms of protection and security. From its original function as a highway median, the Jersey Barrier has come a long way to protect crowds of hundreds of thousands to even ensuring the safety of powerful world leaders. Originally the Jersey Barrier was intended to maintain order on the highways. It became an effective tool in keeping accidents controlled and minimizing the danger and damage that they may present. The elegant engineering that has gone into their design makes them the ideal structure for this purpose. As a result of this continued effort to keep the roadways safe for drivers the Jersey Barrier has been applied to a series of diverse circumstances, not the least of which is the Olympics. Barriers at this event have ensured the safety of hundreds of thousands of individuals: athletes, citizens and leaders alike. The strength and stability of the Jersey Barrier matched with its simultaneous adaptability made it the perfect choice for the Olympics’ security needs. Another of the Jersey Barrier’s widespread application is its installation in the world’s racetracks. Here it harkens back to its original purpose in vehicle safety, however its implications are far more dramatic. By ensuring that the vehicles flip inward, onto the track, instead of continuing onward into the crowd, many lives have been spared and numerous injuries avoided. In this case, it is the Jersey Barrier’s inherent design that has notably enhanced the safety of everyone involved in this sporting event. Another critical instance in which the Jersey Barrier has played a major role is at recent, past Presidential Inauguration Ceremonies. This occasion is a matter of national security and once again the Jersey Barrier proves to be an effective and adaptive instrument. This is perhaps the culmination of all the safety functions that the concrete barriers can offer. It is used to assist in traffic direction and regulation as well as crowd control. Most importantly it is an effective deterrent for threats and attacks on the President Elect. Through the years and in these diverse and difficult circumstances the Jersey Barrier has proven to perform far beyond what it was ever intended to do. It has ensured the safety of millions of lives since its introduction in 1946, and continues to be a versatile instrument of safety.

Essential Fireproof Wall Safe Information

Every person has documents he or she considers confidential. These might include education certificates, extra-curricular activity certificates, property title deeds, checkbooks, wills, and so on. These documents are private and they must remain with the owner. Banks offer a special account to store such items. However, many people prefer keeping them at home for easy retrieval. Such people buy a fireproof wall safe. This is a special tool installed into the wall of your house.

One must find a hidden place to install this facility. Usually, the intended use of a wall safe is preventing burglary. Even so, one must not overlook the fact that a wall safe that is not fireproof can result to loss of valuables. Fire can reduce papers to ashes in no time. This is why you must be careful if you wish to buy a fire-resistant in wall safe. In other words, make sure that the item is made of very fire-resistant materials. Currently, you can do your shopping over the Internet, but you must be careful.

Take care not to lose your money buying a piece of junk. A good fireproof wall safe must withstand very high temperatures. Note that these items are many and different. Some can withstand high temperatures than others can. Those that can protect your documents from very high heat may be a little more expensive. If you will soon start your search, you need to get used to Underwriters Laboratories ratings and their meaning. For instance, a wall safe with a rating of three hundred and fifty degrees can withstand this temperature range for a whole hour.

Many models such as this are available on the Internet. For that reason, you have to read customer reviews to find out exactly which brands sell first-rate items. As mentioned above, some of the available products have fake descriptions and features. Search for product reviews that a real previous client has written and read thoroughly. You will surely get a hint on the best home safe to buy. Other features you can expect these high-tech safes to have include a side-locking bolt, steel door, ready drilled anchor holes and much more.

Their design allows installation between two sixteen inches wall studs. You have two options to go for if you are eyeing a 350 degrees UL rating fireproof safe. The first option is obviously expensive with some of these items’ rates ranging between two thousand dollars and above. Option 2 items can cost you around five hundred dollars and above. Another detail you must not ignore is the fact that some products feature a classic lock and key.

Others have an electronic combination lock. For extra security, go for the latter. No thug can easily break into this safe. Secondly, it can keep your documents safe in case your house catches fire. Did you know that different brands offer different rates for a 350 degrees UL rating? The only way you can find out is conducting a proper online research. Some of the high-tech items even have explosion proof features. If you want to, it is easy to find a fireproof wall safe that completely match your needs.

Right Desktop Wallpaper for Your Computer

It is time for giving your computer an all-new look with desktop wallpaper that stands apart. In the present age, it is difficult to name a person who does not sit in front of the computer for a considerable time. I am sure you are one of them, and as it is expected, an entire day’s work with the computer can be tiring and at times boring. So, why not try something new with the very means of work that you use?

Well, you might have not thought about it, but did you know that wallpapers could be wonderful ways of expressing your uniqueness? But before that, you need to understand what you refer to as ‘unique.’ After all, it is your computer, and it is your decision that matters. For instance, relating to your computer with the help of wallpaper that has something in common with your character trait could be something unique.

You are an individual and you have your own preference, likes, dislikes, and creative instincts. So, you might very well exhibit your individuality by the wallpaper that you download and use. Interesting PC desktop wallpaper can actually go a long way in defining the person to whom the computer belongs.

If you are a fun-loving person, go for desktop wallpaper with splashes of bright colors. If you are a lover of nature, bring in shades of beautiful natural scenery. In a nostalgic mood for childhood days, go for wallpapers with cartoons and babies. Be innovative and think. Accordingly, choose wallpaper, download it, and install it in your personal computer. You could even love to change your desktop wallpapers with seasons and install one, which bears the spirit of the time of the year. During the Christmas week, get a wallpaper of Jesus or Santa; for the valentines’ month, get something to express love and affection.

Who says you need to shell out money in order to impart uniqueness to your computer? There are hundreds and thousands of wallpapers available, and you can easily embellish your desktop screen with the ones of your choice. Numerous free desktop wallpapers are also accessible; all you need to do is to go to your favorite search engine and hunt for one. Several specialized online directories are also there, and you would be able to locate many free PC desktop wallpapers proper to your taste.

Desktop wallpapers are available in various types and categories; for instance, there are animals, landscapes, seascapes, cartoons, celebrity posters and the list is countless.

Contractors Have the Opportunity to Build Like Children

What toy did you enjoy playing with the most when you were little? Was it playing with Lego’s and Lincoln Logs? You could create any building you wanted by snapping some tiny plastic bricks together, or could make forts for army men by overlapping brown logs on top of one another. These toys went together simply and they held together solidly, even when someone tried to destroy them. For a growing number of contractors the joy of connecting lightweight blocks together is no longer a childhood memory. Contractors are beginning to discover that they can create strong homes, commercial buildings, medical facilities and schools by stacking foam blocks on top of one another and then by filling the hollow center of the blocks with cement that is steel reinforced.

This simplistic ideal of childhood building is now an option in building today. By using insulated concrete forms (ICF’s) a contractor can literally snap a building together. The foam blocks are stacked to the desired height of a building’s wall and then cement is poured between the outside and inside foam. The use of ICF insulated concrete instantly gives a contractor a rock solid wall that is sealed to an outer and inner set of foam insulation.

Obliviously, the great thing about a building built using ICF’s is the walls assemble easily and are very strong once built, but ICF’s also make putting together the inner part of the building easy as well. A contractor who uses ICF products will soon discover that this building method is easier and faster than traditional methods.

What contractor would not love the joy of building massive Lego style buildings for kids? Contractors who use insulated concrete forms have that opportunity. They can create ICF schools. Think of the awesome feeling a contractor must have as his construction firm snaps together the building (most likely with future students watching) that will house the next generation. Because buildings that are built using ICF’s make less waste and are super efficient when they are built, the bonus is the contractor knows he is building a school that is friendly to the environment.

What Would You Do in a Wild Fire?

If you watch the TV or read the papers, you know it’s time for the wildfires! As the heat rises, and the vegetation dries, we’re only a spark away from disaster. Will you be ready?

If you live on a remote hillside, or in a valley, prairie or forest where flammable vegetation is plentiful, you could be vulnerable to wildfires. These fires are usually triggered by lightning or accidents.

1. Fire facts:

o Once a fire starts in a rural area, it is hard to control. Wildland firefighters are trained to protect natural resources, not our homes or buildings. The fact that many homes are located far from fire stations, causes longer emergency response times. Within a matter of minutes, an entire home can be destroyed by fire. Limited water supply in rural areas can make fire fighting difficult. Homes that are secluded and surrounded by woods and brush fuel fires.

2. Be prepared and have a fire safety and evacuation plan:

o Practice fire escape and evacuation plans.

o Mark the entrance to your property with address signs that are clearly visible from the road.

o Know which local emergency services to call and have those numbers posted near telephones.

o Provide access for emergency vehicles at least 12 feet wide with turnaround space.

3. Tips for making your property fire resistant:

o Keep lawns cut, leaves raked, and the roof and rain-gutters free from leaves and sticks.

o Keep Stacked firewood at least 30 feet away from your home.

o Store flammable things in metal containers outside the home at least 30 feet away from buildings and wooden fences.

o Create a “defensible space” by thinning trees within 30 feet around your house.

o Landscape with more fire resistant plants to prevent fire from spreading quickly. For example, hardwood trees are more fire-resistant than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus, or fir trees.

o Make sure water sources, such as hydrants, ponds, swimming pools and wells, can be reached by the fire department.

4. Protect your home:

o Use a fire resistant or protective roofing materials like stone, brick and metal to protect your home.

o Cover all exterior vents, attics and eaves with metal mesh screens to prevent debris from collecting and to help keep sparks out.

o Install multi-pane windows, tempered safety glass or fireproof shutters. This helps to protect large windows from heat.

o Use fire-resistant draperies.

o Have chimneys, wood stoves and all heating systems inspected and cleaned every year.

o Insulate chimneys and place “spark arresters” on top.

NOTE: The chimney should be at least three feet above the roof, and be sure to remove branches around the chimney, or any that hang over.

5. Follow local burning laws:

o Do not burn trash or other yard waste without knowing local burning laws.

o Before burning anything in a wooded area, make sure you notify local authorities and obtain a burning permit.

o Use an approved incinerator with a safety lid or covering with holes no larger than 3/4 inches.

o Create at least a 10-foot clearing before burning debris.

o Have a fire extinguisher or garden hose on hand when burning.

6. If a wildfire threatens your home (and you have time), consider this:

Inside

o Shut off gas at the meter. Turn off pilot lights.

o Open fireplace damper. Close fireplace screens.

o Close windows, vents, doors, blinds or noncombustible window coverings. Remove flammable drapes.

o Move furniture into the center of the home away from windows and sliding-glass doors.

o Close all interior doors and windows to prevent drafts.

o Gather people and pets into one room. Make plans to care for your pets if you must evacuate.

o Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape. Leave the key in the ignition and the car doors unlocked. Close garage windows and doors.

Outside

o Seal attic and ground vents.

o Turn off propane tanks.

o Place combustible patio furniture inside.

o Connect garden hose to outside taps. Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above-ground fuel tanks. Wet the roof.

o Wet or remove shrubs within 15 feet of the home.

o Gather fire tools such as a rake, axe, handsaw or chainsaw, bucket, and shovel.

7. If you are advised to evacuate, do it! Don’t wait. Choose a route away from the fire.

The secret of dealing with all disasters is being prepared!!! With a lot of thought and preparation, situations that may have been deadly, can often be dealt with safely.

Hanging Picture Frames – What You Need to Know

Once you have the pictures framed, you’re ready for the fun of getting your pictures up on the wall. Hanging pictures isn’t hard but it does require a few steps to be done beforehand, like making sure the frame has hardware on it and that you have a good idea of where you want to hang it. Then all you have to do is select how you want to hang it and get it done.  

First let’s talk about the different ways you can hang your picture frame. There are really three basic ways with which to do this: screws, nails, or adhesives.

Nails

Hanging photo frames with finishing nails is an excellent choice since the nails are easy to install and are small enough so that they don’t create large holes on your wall. You want to hammer the nail into your wall at a 45 degree angle and if possible put them into a stud in the wall. If you’re hanging large or slightly heavy frames you really need to hammer the nails into a wall stud otherwise your picture frames will fall. If you’re unsure how to locate a wall stud, you can purchase an inexpensive ‘wall stud finder’ at your local hardware store (or you can always tap on the wall until it sounds solid).

Screws

Hanging wall frames with screws can make larger holes and should only be considered, for the most part, when you’re hanging frames to concrete, stone or brick walls. In this case, you would need to pre-drill a hole in the rock wall using a “mason” drill bit that is the correct size for the screw. You’ll also want to use a screw anchor so that it’s properly secured.

Adhesives

A hanging wall frame can also be secured by the third method: adhesive. Adhesives are gaining popularity fast since there’s no need to put holes in the wall. 3M’s Command Strip is one popular brand used for hanging picture frames and they come in the form of Velcro or hooks. These adhesive items are only designed to hang smaller pictures, but some can hold up to 5 lbs. Carefully read the instructions so you know if your picture frame is too heavy. If you try hanging picture frames that are too heavy, you’ll risk damaging the picture frame.

Now that you’ve decided which technique is best for hanging wall frames in your home, now you need to decide where they should go.

Selecting Where to Hang Your Picture Frames

If you’re only hanging one or two frames, find someone to help you. Have them hold the frame along the wall and adjust their position until you find the perfect place. The ideal position for hanging picture frames is around eye level, or about ¾ the way up the wall. If these pictures are the only things that will hang on your wall, it makes your job super easy.

However, if you have other frames or items already on your wall, you’ll want to make sure the spacing looks good. For multiple frames, it’s a good idea to lay them down on the floor and see how they look together to get the best layout. To get your picture frames positioned just the way you want follow these simple steps:

  1. Take the measurements of the area of your wall where the picture frames will hang.
  2. Duplicate that space on the floor using a string as the border.
  3. Carefully place your picture frames on the floor (hopefully carpet) and move them around until you get a layout you like.his will keep you from putting a bunch of little holes in your wall while you search for the perfect placement. Once you have your layout, you may want to recruit some help to make the process go a little faster.

This will keep you from putting a bunch of little holes in your wall while you search for the perfect placement.  Once you have your layout, you may want to recruit some help to make the process go a little faster.

Hopefully by using the right hardware and following these basic steps, you’ll be able to hang your picture frames quickly and easily and keep them hanging beautifully for years down the road.

Cork Flooring Beauty – Environmentally-Friendly Too!

Cork Flooring Beauty – Environmentally-Friendly Too!

Growing Popularity

That wood flooring is gaining popularity is well known. When home owners see just

how beautiful and inexpensive a natural wood floor is they are keen to

get it installed in their own home. Hardwood flooring is the first

choice for most when they are looking at installing a wooden floor in

their home, Oak and Cherry because of the variety of colors

and shades are two popular choices, sometimes a more exotic hardwood like

Bamboo is the hardwood of choice. But one environmentally

friendly choice is also available and that is cork. Cork has

been around for centuries and used for floors for a very long time and

for a number of reasons,among those reasons is the fact that it is a very long lasting product and

that it comes from a renewable resource.

Source

Cork is harvested from the bark of cork trees, which are a variety of Oak

The cork is gathered through stripping off the bark on the outside of the trunk,

this regenerates in about six years ready for harvesting again.

This means that rather than cutting down a tree just once for material,

cork farms can strip the bark away again and again; there are still

trees being used in bark harvesting that are around 200 years old! For

for those of us who care about the environment, this makes cork

flooring an ideal material, since it comes from a renewable resource. Even for

those who have not considered the source of the material, cork flooring

is a wonderful alternative for hardwood floors.

Durability

Often when we think of cork, we think of the soft material used in cork

boards but in reality Cork is one of the strongest materials used. Not

only is it scuff resistant, it is elastic and hard to damage under

normal circumstances, but it also resists water penetration, unlike

other hardwood floors, so it is ideal for bathrooms and kitchens, for

this reason too, it is used as stoppers in wine bottles. Because of the

hard wearing qualities of Cork, there are flooring

installations that have lasted for over 100 years. It is also one of

the floorings of choice used in the United States Library of Congress.

Cork has excellent insulating properties, so good in fact that it can

help reduce heating or cooling costs. This makes it a very good

flooring material for basement floors for example. Cork

flooring is a good sound insulator too, a fact well known in the

building industry for years and useful for home owners in reducing

noise transfer from floor to floor.

Aesthetics

Cork flooring has a mottled appearance that we are all familiar with and

which makes it different from all of the other wood floors. It comes in

a variety of patterns and colors that you can select from to match your

own particular decorating style. Because of it’s elastic nature Cork

flooring is comfortable and quiet to walk on. – ideal for apartment

dwellers.

Health Concerns.

Cork flooring is much more than just an environmentally friendly material,

it is a naturally hypo-allergenic substance which does not

support the growth of mold or mildew , it does not

produce toxins or shed any fibres and it is antistatic. All of these

properties are good news for those people who suffer from allergies