How to Use a Grilling Plank

A grilling  plank  is a piece of wood used to grill food on. They are most commonly used for fish, but some meats can be cooked on them as well.

Grilling  planks  are made from a variety of woods, and impart unique aromas and flavors to the food. A number of different woods are used to make grilling  planks . The most common is cedar, but you can use alder, oak, apple, cherry, hickory, and many others.

You can find grilling  planks  at grilling and cooking specialty shops, or you can make your own. When making your own, be sure the wood you purchase is untreated. Some wood at the lumber store are treated with chemicals that would be unsafe to cook on. Cut the lumber to be 1/2-1″ thick and 12×8″ wide.

Using Grilling  Planks 

Soak the grilling  plank  in water. Place something heavy on the  planks  to hold them under the water. The  planks  are soaked so they will not catch fire when on the grill. We only want the  plank  to smolder, not to burn. The smoldering creates the smoke that adds the aromas and flavors to the food.

– Softwoods such as cedar need to be soaked around 2-4 hours.

– Hardwoods such as maple and oak need to be soaked up to 24 hours.

For an even more unique flavor and aroma, try soaking the  planks  in wines, juices, or beer.

Heat the  Plank 

Place the  plank  on the grill over direct heat. Toast both sides of the grilling  plank  if it is the first use of that  plank . Between 5-10 minutes of toasting should be sufficient. You will hear the  plank  start to crackle.

Place the Food on the  Plank 

Lightly brush the  plank  with a bit of olive or canola oil, this will help prevent any sticking. Place the food on the grilling  plank  and close the lid. The grill will start smoking. Keep a spray bottle of water close by to spray the  plank  if it should catch fire. You want the  plank  to smolder, not to catch fire.

There is no need to flip the food that is on the grilling  plank  because it is cooking indirectly.

Removing the Food

Remove the food and the  plank  together and set on a heat resistant surface. You can serve the food straight off the  plank  for a nice visual appeal or remove and place on plates.

 Planks  can be Reused

You can use grilling  planks  several times. Once they start cracking or are too charred they need to be replaced. Clean your grilling  planks  with warm, soapy water after each use and thoroughly dry them.

Grilling  planks  are a wonderful way to add the smoky flavors and aromas to your food. You can grill a variety of items on grilling  planks  from your popular fish to meats and poultry. There are so many different types of wood to experiment with, and with the ease of use, you’ll want to try them all.

Advantages Of A Good Business Plan

Planning is a vital ingredient in the success of any business. Developing a business plan is not just a requirement, but a basic necessity for building one’s business nowadays. It is an honest truth that every business needs a plan, starting from large corporations to entrepreneurs. Developing a business plan will help one build a framework that would push his business to his actual destination. The business plan helps one develop work guidelines, map out strategies, understand one’s target market, measure performance, monitor progress, make future plans and raise additional capital either for expansion or to boost operations.

Quite often, the thought on the mind of most business owners or investors is failure. The only way to overcome this failure is to address the common reasons why businesses fail up front. Presently, the world is facing though economic challenges, global economic meltdown, high cost of commodities, high rate of foreclosure and difficulties in obtaining credit from banks, stiff competition, complicated tax laws and high operational costs, etc.. All these challenges faced by businesses today, even make it more challenging for start-up businesses to survive. In today’s world, both small and large-scale businesses have come to realize the need to evaluate their business potentials and formulate strategies for the future.

However, inadequate planning has been the reason so many businesses fail, and the rate at which they fail is overwhelming. It is usually believed that most businesses fail in their first year of operation and among those that fail, 80% of them do not have a well researched plan. It has been observed that business failure is not only connected with small businesses alone which I chose not mention here, go down too. Though the rate of failure is highly significant in small businesses, and it is the main reason why a good business plan is needed. Probably for raising additional cash and to provide potential investors and lenders with the information required to make investment decisions. This makes developing a business plan extremely important. One’s business plan has to stand out and his projection has to be firm due to higher competition in attracting funding for his business. Investors no longer risk their money on businesses that do not prove to have great potentials for them.

A business plan is like a road map, it shows one the route to take, the pitfalls to avoid in order to reach his destination, For instance, if one decides to travel by road from one place to another, he would first need a road map that shows him the route to take. He will need to determine the distance and how much gas his car will need to take him to his destination. Moreover, he will need to calculate how much the journey will cost him, if he intends to raise money, if he’s borrowing, how he intends to refund the money. Putting all this into consideration, he now has a traveling plan that will take him to his destination. In the same vein, that’s what a business plan provides one with, the strategies, the route, and a road map to success.

Incidentally, the idea of working with a business plan is for one to keep focus on his set goals. Statistics has it that many businesses fail due to inadequate planning. If one doesn’t know where he’s heading to, any route seems to be the right one. Most people make great mistakes by jumping into business without adequate preparation and planning. A good business plan helps one maintain focus on his goals and execute the strategies that the plan assisted him in creating. Just like a road, one’s business plan has to be consulted to make maintain his focus and not running business in a layman’s way.

Working with a business plan, it will prevent one from entering unfamiliar territory. The plan becomes a working map for him and his organization. I t spells out the things to do and things not to do, the functions and how everyone and every department should operate. It helps one become more efficient, reduce waste and redundancy, channeling one’s resources to rightful place and being a guide to the successful running of his business.

As a performance tool, it measures the progression of goals in one’s business by tracking, monitoring, as well as evaluating, and can also be used as checkpoints in measuring performance. The world today, is so dynamic that what applied today might not apply tomorrow, and as a result of this dynamism, a good business plan needs to be setup in order to protect one against risks associated with business.

In addition to a performance tool, perfect business plan should contain other necessary tools in its system, which really make it a perfect plan. It must have a human resource tool, a marketing and strategy tool, financial tool, communication tool, and most importantly, an investor’s guide. A well-defined business plan attracts others to be part of the vision. It has to have a well-defined goal and objective that will set the stage to bring others into the business. It should inspire teamwork and creativity among its people and ensures everyone understands the goals and objectives.

However, a good business plan defines one’s target market, the class of people he intends to sell his products to, how to reach them, promote his products, in addition, defines one’s market mix- people, place, product and price. People- this defines the people involved in the promotion one’s goods and services. Product- this defines what one’s goods and services are. Place- defines the location which also includes the means of delivering the goods and services. Price- defines how much one’s products and services are worth in the market which will enable him analyze and evaluate his return on investment (ROI). A marketing and strategy tool defines one’s business strength, his weakness, his opportunities and threats. It plots a graph that helps one reduce cost while maximizing profit.

A financial tool in a good business plan enables one understand his business financial position, develops his budget and determine how his finances will be allocated. It also calculates one’s return on return on investment, analyzes his income statement, cash-flow, balance sheet, break-even point i.e. the analysis that tells one how much sales needed in order to cover expenses, which gives the basis for pricing his products and services, and at the same time calculates how much that is needed to finance one’s business which helps in making his financial needs clear.

A good business plan communicates one’s ideas to people, communicates his mission, objectives, management approach, responsibilities and demonstrates how one’s strategy will increase profitability and performance, identifying his audience without overreacting his aims and objectives of his business plan. A business communicates in two ways- Internal communication and External communication. Internal communication includes communication of corporate vision, shared value, strategies, guiding principles and employee motivation. External communication includes branding, customer relation, marketing, advertising, media and public relations etc..

A good business plan is used to attract funding from investors. Most investors will look at a business plan as a decision-making tool. There are certain things investors look out for in a business. These include one’s management team, every investor will want to know a business owner’s managerial skills, passion, and his dedication to his business. A comprehensive description of how one’s products or services should be discharged, his customer base, his market and financial analysis. A business plan should have a realistic financial forecast. Every investor will always like to see his business associate’s return of investment, cash-flow and break-even analysis. Hence, a well prepared business plan is the key to attracting investors.

How to Install a Handrail

An essential part of a staircase, handrails ensure people’s safety by supporting them as they either ascend or descend the stairs. On installing them, one may hire a worker to do it, or one may cut costs by learning how to install a handrail by themselves.

The materials needed in how to install a handrail are a screwdriver, a saw, mounting brackets, a drill, chalk or powder, and of course, a handrail. One should also make sure that they are properly protected for the labor by wearing safety goggles and work gloves.

The first step is measuring how high the handrail should be placed. While they are usually positioned 36 inches from the ground, a height of either 32 or 34 inches is also acceptable. Once the height has been settled on, the chalk is used to draw a line from the stairway’s topmost point down to its lowest. However, construction authorities highly advise using powder to draw the line as they are easier to clean off than chalk.

From thie chalk line, the top, middle and bottom points are chosen as these are the points onto which the three mounting brackets are to be attached. If one wishes to attach longer handrails, however, three brackets may not be enough to support it, in which case additional brackets would be needed. After the chosen points have been marked, the drill is used to make the holes for the brackets.

Each mounting bracket is placed into each hole and held in place using screws. The brackets have to be screwed in tightly and must be strong enough to support the handrail. To give the handrail a stylish and elegant look, one should first paint it before putting up on the wall, and ideally in a color that blends in with the ambience of the house or in whatever location it is situated in. It is recommended to use darker hues as dust and dirt tend to show up easily on light colors. Once satisfied with the railing’s appearance, all that is left is to clasp them in place with the brackets, and one has successfully learned how to install a handrail.

Just as the handrail is built for safety, one should always take safety into consideration when attempting to put them up. Having learned how to install a handrail securely and having followed the proper precautions and procedures, the staircase will be a much safer place for those who pass through it.

Aluminum Balusters’ Advantages and Disadvantages

Aluminum balusters are metal products that are usually made in bulk to be placed in strategic places to protect people and objects from going through railings. There are many different kinds of designs and patterns for these things. In fact, they can even be made to order to suit the preferences of the person who orders it. These products have a lot of benefits if the home owner or the building owner chooses to use them for the railings. These products also come in different materials such as wood and other forms of metal as well as plastic.

Advantages

Among the advantages that come with using aluminum balusters is the variety of designs and patterns that it comes in. Due to the fact that this kind of metal is malleable and easy to manipulate, there are several designs that they can be made into. Custom made designs can be done if the person who ordered the design wishes to have a lot of them made. This means that the manufacturer will not be at a loss when it comes to income because of creating the design and the holders or molds of the design. Some manufacturers like to have more than a hundred made in order to have some form of income.

If the manufacturer thinks the design is profitable, it is possible that they will patent it or make sure to market it and make more sales. Another advantage of using this material is the abundance of it in the world. Although the processing of the material takes some time and effort, the process has been perfected and there are a number of manufacturing plants that can handle the demand with ease. Aluminum balusters do not have shortages unlike wood. The material is also resistant to a number of elements which it may be exposed to. It does not rust at all, unlike other iron, which is commonly made into similar products. It also does not react to snow and sun exposure which is a good thing. It does not rot or splinter like wood and unlike steel, the paint will not discolor after several years. This metal is unlike steel and iron which may shrink or expand according to the weather.

Disadvantages

One disadvantage of using this material is the fact that there are some grades or degrees of this material that are softer than steel or iron. This makes them prone to dents if they are hit strongly enough. There are some grades that are stronger than others and one can choose to have these instead of the softer ones. Another disadvantage of using aluminum balusters is its resistance to paint. Usually they are anodized for a much longer tint. If one wants to paint them, a process is necessary to make them more susceptible to it.

These are just some of the disadvantages and advantages of using aluminum balusters for decks. The advantages of the material far outweigh the disadvantages that come with it which is why many business and home owners prefer it.

Benefits Of Steel Balustrades

While balustrades have aesthetic benefits, their primary purpose is serving as a safety and support application for stairways and balconies. Balustrades come in several different designs that vary depending on the environment in which they are places and the builder’s budget. When you are renovating your home, or you are in the process of creating plans to build from the ground up, it is important to understand the benefits of steel balustrades. While glass was previously a popular material used in the construction of balustrades, the many advantages steel offers has encourages builders to shift their focus from glass to steel.

Steel balustrades are the most durable choice on the market today. Not only is steel a material that requires little to no maintenance throughout time, it is also one of the strongest building materials used in the manufacturing of home applications. Because steel is extremely strong and durable, you can rest assured that your balustrades will offer the support and the safety it is meant to. Most steel balustrades are also made with a galvanized coating that will not corrode and a powder coating for an attractive finish for years.

While some builders prefer the look and the feel of wood and glass balustrades, others appreciate the fact that steel balustrades will compliment modern and contemporary commercial and residential properties. These applications can be designed to suit your own personal needs. Because steel can be shaped into practically any design, unlike wood and glass, unique and beautiful architectural designs can be achieved to add design to both the inside and outside of the dwelling.

Inventive designers and builders are now choosing to use both glass and steel materials for the best of both worlds in terms of balustrades. Glass balustrades supported by steel frames are stylish, strong, reliable and elegant. If you are looking for a fresh and clean look in your home, you may want to consider incorporating both materials for a modern contemporary look.

If you are on a mission to beautify your home or office by installing balustrades, compare the benefits of steel applications in comparison to other materials. By doing your research and pricing various designs, you can choose to either order a pre-made application or order a custom-built balustrade through a reputable manufacturer. Not only will you improve the outer appearance of your home, you will also increase safety features once they are installed.

Mortgage Calculator

Finding mortgage loan offers in the UK is not difficult. From newspaper advertisements to surfing the Internet, mortgage loans sporting low interest rates and additional benefits to entice borrowers to sign up are literally everywhere. But, when a mortgage offer claims that it can save ‘x’ amount over the competition, how can you be sure just how much it will save you when applied to your own mortgage loan? Moreover, if the deal offered is short-term, how much will the offer’s standard mortgage rates compare with the mortgage rates you are currently paying for your loan? The answer to these conundrums is to compare the mortgage offers against each other, and to do this we need a loan calculator mortgage calculator.

Making comparisons with a loan calculator mortgage calculator

A loan calculator mortgage calculator is a clever little web program that is freely available on many loan and mortgage related websites. The principal behind a loan calculator mortgage calculator is quite simple – input the amount of the mortgage loan into the calculator along with the interest rate applied to the loan and the loan duration, hit the ‘submit’ button and ‘hey presto’ you have a schedule of monthly loan repayments. So, for two or more mortgage offers you can enter the loan parameters into the calculator along with your mortgage balance and get an idea of what a particular mortgage offer will cost you each month, as well as what it will cost you in total over the lifetime of the loan.

To accurately compare your loan calculator results for different mortgage offers it is a good idea to print off each set of loan calculations from the calculator and make a side-by-side analysis of them. If the calculator you are using cannot handle multiple interest rates across the life of the loan then you may need to do several calculations to arrive at the final loan cost before making your side-by-side comparison. As an example, if you were to spend say 4 years on a fixed interest rate of 4.5%, and then change to a standard rate of 6.75% you will need to make two calculations – one at 4.5% to work out repayments across the first 4 years, and then a second calculation at 6.75% for the remainder of the mortgage term.

Aside from mortgage loan comparisons a loan calculator mortgage calculator can be used to work out how much of a mortgage loan you can afford in the first place. To do this simply choose a calculator that allows you to ‘reverse’ the calculation process by entering the repayment amount that you want to pay / can afford to pay each month and the interest rate. The calculator will take the loan input information and from it extrapolate the total mortgage loan you can apply for. Do bear in mind though that mortgage companies are rarely willing to lend more than 3.5 times your salary on a 75% mortgage or any loan greater than 75%.

Video Ads Out-Performing Television Commercials?

I recently had an interesting question from a customer I created a television commercial for. It was a 30 second spot for a text messaging service, and they wondered if they should run it as an online video ad first, as a ‘tester’ (their term, not mine).

I thought this was a pretty ingenious idea, for quite a few reasons, so I offered the following insights and suggestions:

1. Running the commercial initially online, as a video ad, will save money because it’s free.

2. The online video ad will generate interest and create brand awareness at the same time…for free.

3. The video ad can be watched over and over again, sent to friends for them to check out, and the viewer can even bookmark it to return to the page later for information about this text messaging service.

4. It’s FREE – FREE- FREE

5. The viewing audience for this customer’s product (text messaging) is friggin’ built in…It’s the same demographic that watches video ads (18-44).

6. You can literally track views in real -time if you are the compulsive type. No more waiting to see how well your commercial effects sales. Now you can track who sees it, how much of it they watched, where they live, what they’re wearing, and whether they’re democrat or republican…ok, I made those last two up – but the rest is true!

My suggestions were:

1. Run the video ad on video sharing websites, as well as their website as a ‘click-to-play’.

2. Create a YouTube channel and send their video ad to current subscribers

3. Definitely add the video ad to Revver and BlipTV

4. Create a MySpace page for the product, and use PimpMyPage.com to make it really pop…connect with their audience

Now keep in mind, I create TV commercials as much as possible…it pays more and I still believe in the medium. But I gotta say, this online video ad stuff is starting to make a whole lot of sense! If you’re looking to cash in on the online video ad rush, here are some of the premier companies that I think create the best video ads at the best prices:

CommercialMaker.com (video ads, TV commercials)

Video4site.com (Video ads, Virtual spokespeople)

Overweb3d (virtual spokespeople)

InnovateAds (video ads, Virtual Spokespeople)

Hope this helps.

Dimmer Switches – a Guide to Types available and Their Use

The Use of Dimmer  Switches 

Basically dimmer  switches  are use to vary the brightness of light bulbs. They are used mainly for incandescant bulbs and halogens, but there will shortly be on the market a compact fluorescent (energy saving) bulb which can be controlled with a dimmer  switch , although these bulbs will be relatively expensive. Dimmer  switches  save energy, in that a bulb dimmed to, say, half power only uses about half the electricity, there being very little consumption in the  switch  itself. Most cheaper dimmer  switches  contain a high current variable resistor which is run in series with the bulb. Some more expensive ones dim the bulb electronically, but for normal home use I would recommend the former. Some contain fuses, and if the dimmer  switch  fails, check if a fuse inside it has blown. This is particularly liable to happen if the bulb blows.

Different Types of Dimmer  Switches 

The most common is a wall  switch , which replaces an ordinary light  switch . They are easy to fit. There are 2 terminals on one way  switches , and the wires can fit either way round. There are 3 terminals on 2 way  switches , usually marked ‘C’, ‘L1’, and ‘L2’. Just connect the wires on the dimmer  switch  exactly as they were on the original  switch . A 2 way  switch  can be used as a one way one, leaving either the ‘L1’ or ‘L2’ terminal not used. In a 2 way  switch  system, only one  switch  is replaced with a dimmer, and this controls the brightness. The other  switch  just  switches  the light(s) on or off, the brightness being determined by where the dimmer  switch  is set.

Pull cord dimmer  switches  for bathrooms are available. With these, you just keep pulling the cord, until the desired brightness is reached.

In-line dimmer  switches  for floor and table lamps can be wired into the mains flex. Alternatively, for these lamps, plug-in dimmer swithes are very simple to use. No wiring is involved; the unit plugs into the mains socket, and the lamp plugs into this. Dimming is controlled by a small rotary knob on the plug-in unit.

Considerations When Using a Dimmer  Switch 

Dimmer  switches  are rated with maximum and minimum load wattages, say typically 40W to 400W. This means the total bulb wattage that the dimmer  switch  controls must be within these limits. If using mains halogen bulbs, leave plenty of spare capacity; ideally double the wattage of the bulbs to get the maximum load wattage of the dimmer  switch . 12 volt halogen bulbs can give problems with dimmer  switches . If you want to use one, make sure the transformer can be used with a dimmer  switch  and vice versa, otherwise the lights may flicker and there may be an appreciable hum. Your retailer will give you advice on this.

There are commomly two types of dimmer  switches  – push on/push off and those which click off or on at the end of the knob rotation. The former have the advantage that the previous dimmed setting is maintained the next time it is  switched  on, but I prefer the latter, as I think they increase bulb life. The bulb is always brought up from zero to full brightness, rather than applying the full voltage to it immediately it is  switched  on. This more gradual increase is better for the life of the bulb.

Dimming Low Energy Bulbs

These cannot generally be easily dimmed. As has been said above, a compact fluorescent will soon be available which can be used with a dimmer  switch , but I think a better option is to buy one which can be dimmed with an ordinary  switch . These are already available – see the link below. LED lighting again cannot be easily dimmed at present, but this is generally not very bright, and dimming is usually not needed with these.

Car Accidents – Common Injuries Caused By Air Bag Deployment

Injuries Commonly Caused By Air Bag Deployment

According to Safecar.gov, airbags are designed to deploy in moderate or severe crashes in frontal or near frontal collisions. These are defined as hitting a fixed barrier at 8-14mph or more and/or striking a parked car of equal size to the barrier at 16 to 28mph. Airbags are intended to deploy to provide a cushion and prevent major injuries that would result from the driver or passenger hitting the dashboard at full force or being struck by a part of the car that intrudes enters the cabin as a result of the force from an accident.

According to The National Institute for Highway Safety, “NHTSA estimates that as of 2013, 39,886 lives have been saved by frontal airbags. In frontal crashes, frontal airbags reduce driver fatalities by 29 percent and fatalities of front-seat passengers age 13 and older by 30 percent. The fatality reduction in frontal crashes is larger for belted drivers (52 percent) compared to unbelted drivers (21 percent). NHTSA estimates that the combination of an airbag plus a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of death by 51 percent, compared with a 45 percent reduction for belts alone in frontal crashes.” Although airbags save lives and reduce risks of major injuries, they are not entirely safe.

As seen in the recent air bag recalls, airbags can also cause injuries. In some brands, deployed airbags had loose metal fragments that pierced through the airbag and injured drivers. This massive recall exposed the industry and no matter how advanced air bag technology is, there is still risk for injury; whether due to a company’s negligence in producing poor airbags or the nature of the crash and the impact with the airbag.

To understand potential injuries, it is important to understand that airbags work based of off sensors that detect trigger upon a sensed impact at a certain speed. This is important because one of the more common reasons airbag injuries occur is because the sensor malfunctions and the airbag does not deploy. This can lead to major head, neck, and upper body injuries that may include lacerations, fractures, broken bones, or brain trauma. The severity of the injury depends on the speed and nature of the accident.

There are some minor injuries that airbags can cause too. These include abrasions or burns, and the chemicals released when it deploys can induce asthma attacks. Airbags have also been known to cause eye injuries, sometimes-severe if the bag hits someone in the eye.

Unfortunately, airbags bags cannot always prevent death or result in minor injury. If someone is leaning very close or against the steering wheel or dashboard at the moment that the airbag deploys the force of the deployment could cause serious injury and even death. The recommended distance drivers stay away from the steering wheel by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is at least 10 inches. Below is a more comprehensive list of possible airbag injuries. The type and severity depends on several factors including speed, closeness to the airbag, and nature of the collision:

• Abrasion to the face, chest or upper extremities

• Contusion of the face, chest, upper extremities, knees or internal organs

• Strain, fracture or blunt trauma to the cervical spine

• Burns on the chest, upper extremities or hands

• Fracture or break in the face, upper extremities or wrists

• Fracture in the skull or rib cage

• Loss of consciousness or concussion injuries

• Bruising or swelling of the brain

• Laceration to the veins, arteries, heart, lungs or brain stem

• Laceration to the liver or spleen

• Compression of the brain or traumatic brain injury (TBI)

• Rupture inside the heart muscle

• Eye injury such as rupture to the globe, retinal tear, corneal abrasion or conjunctivitis

• Hearing loss or ear trauma

• Trauma to the fetus of a pregnant women or puncture in the placenta

• Internal bleeding

• Wrist trauma and sprained fingers

• Irritation in the throat, asthma attack or coughing

• Irritation of the skin, also called airbag dermatitis

Airbags are a great safety addition to automobiles and can reduce the possibility of sever injuries and death. However, they can also malfunction, causing injury. Although the human body is amazing, it was not designed to withstand the impact of an automobile collision at any speed, so it is important to keep a safe distance from the steering column and ensure the airbag is not under a recall and has a working sensor. This ensures at the minimum the airbag is in the best condition to protect and not injure.

Montreal Biodome

The power of Television is not to be underestimated. Watching a documentary one night some shots of the Montreal Biodome were included and we found it fascinating to see some of the ecosystems of the American continents. We could see all of the systems at the same time! At the time, we were planning an overseas trip and were endeavouring to define where in the world to go! Intrigued by the concept of the Biodome we decided to travel and see it personally on a trip to the US and Canada.

We reached Montreal after taking the trains in and across the US leaving from Los Angeles. The first day after our arrival was the day we had chosen to see the Biodome. Taking the train was easy as it was close to the Biodome itself. As we did not know what to expect, the walk through the first door had us hooked. The recycling of the old Olympic stadium was wonderfully done. In its former life, the Velodrome had been part of the 1976 Montreal Olympics

The initial walk into the tropical rain forest was a warming one after the very cool temperatures outside. All the plants and animals were part of the South American rainforests. The rain forests are rapidly being cut down so to see a replica at close quarters was great. The monkey cute, but he was shy of having his photo taken! The animals all appeared to be happy in their environment, despite the happy chattering and wonder of many schoolchildren, admittedly a little too noisy perhaps.

The Laurentian Forest is a seasonal one and the internal climate is controlled to ensure there is autumn, winter, spring and summer conditions. To allow the plants and trees to have the colder temperatures that they need to shed leaves and re-emerge in the spring. I really loved the otters they were fun to see and watch. There were beavers as well but we were not lucky enough to see them. There were of course birds, fish and many other animals living out their lives.

As we moved into the Gulf display there were seabirds flying without a concern in the world. Plenty of room, as well as a fake sea coast that defied description. It was so real, it was amazing that this scene was actually enclosed. As we walked on through there was a tank full of fish including a stingray and shark as well as plenty of others in the seawater aquarium alongside the track. The seawater is actually created at the Biodome, as you will be aware Montreal does not have a sea frontage.

From the tropical to the bare rocks and landscape of the Labrador coast and sub Antarctic conditions found off the tip of Sub Antarctic islands and South America. You immediately get the feeling of how hard living in those conditions must be for animals. We then came upon the penguins, which were adorable to watch. The Biodome is also able to breed the penguins, this speaks volumes that they like living in the enclosure. You can spend all the time in the world wandering here and being amazed at the achievements of the people who came up with the ideas found here. A place to return to time and again.

Roofing Shapes – Get Acquainted With What’s Out There

Roofing is a very important aspect of any home. Even if you have not built your own home, as a home owner you should have a basic knowledge of what different shapes a roof can come in.

One of the defining characteristics of every dwelling is its roof. The style of a roof is often what determines the type of home it is classified as. For example there is roofing that is modern in nature, classic, American, Victorian, gothic and so on. The line of a roof can help the owner of a home to figure out the most appropriate way to make an addition to the residence or to position the chimney. The shape is very telling when it comes to its structure. In other words, how strong it will be to withstand the harsh elements of nature and the climate of the region.

The more you understand about roofing terms the better. For instance, how do you define a roof? The most basic and simple definition is that it is the exterior and upper surface of a house or any type of building or structure. Just as the foundation of a house is significant, so is its upper surface. Here we look at some basic terminology in terms of roof shapes to give you a better understand of the structure that provides the topping for your home.

The two most common shapes for a roof are known as gabled and hipped. Let us take a brief look at each one of these.

A gabled roof has a straight slope that runs from ridge to eave. This type features a triangle or a peak that is located either on the front facade or the side. Houses that are built with the gabled roofing shape have eaves on the non-gabled facades and rakes on the gable facades. Gabled roofs are broken down into front-gabled, side-gabled and cross-gabled.

The categories of houses that have the hipped roofing style do not have a triangle or peak at the junction where the roof meets. Instead the plane is broken down along the line of the slope. The purpose of this is in order that the roof will wrap around the dwelling as it is supposed to do. Buildings that are hipped feature an even roof to wall junction that goes all the way around the structure. These buildings also have eaves on all sides. Hipped options can be classified into three groups. There are simple ones, pyramidal ones and cross-hipped ones.

Other types of gabled options that are less common but can still be found include the gambrel style (which is most often used when building barns), the saltbox style and the shed. The shed design is commonly used for raised-roof sections of a residence, as well as porches and additions built onto a home. Another type of hipped roof you sometimes see is the mansard which has two distinct pitches on the rooftop and slopes low from the ridgeline or the flat top.

There is also a flat roof which does not fit into either the gables or the hipped groups. This type stands alone because it has no slope to speak of and can end with eaves or without them. The choice is up to the builder.

8 Tips to Make Derailments on Your Model Railroad a Thing of the Past

For the beginner in the model railroading hobby there are a few problems that arise.

One of these problems are the trains derailing which can be very frustrating to the point that leads many beginners exiting the hobby. I know when I first started in the hobby I was plagued by derailments, to the point of almost giving up.

I dreamed of having a smooth running layout, and if you are reading this article then I know you do as well. The truth is it wasn’t hard to achieve after a bit of attention to detail.

Here are 8 ways to make derailments a thing of the past on your own layout:

1. Check to make sure the track is laid down properly.

One of the most common reasons for trains derailing is poorly fitted track joints.

Take a second look at the joints in your track, they should feel level when running your fingers across them, with the gaps between them kept as small as possible. A good tip is to solder the track joints together as this prevents the rails from pulling apart with the vibrations of the trains running across them. After soldering the joints together take a small file or sandpaper and flatten the joint out for a level, smooth track.

Soldering the joints will also help with the conductivity of the electricity powering the trains as this establishes a better circuit for the current to pass through.

2. Ensure the gap (or gauge) between the rails is consistent throughout the track and especially at the track joints.

If the gauge isn’t consistent thought the track then this can cause derailments. If the gauge is too narrow then the wheels will ride up the track and your train will jump off the track. The same goes if the gauge is too wide the wheel flanges can’t span the track properly which results in too much sideways movement leading to a derailment.

You can correct the gauge of the rails by gently heating them up with a soldering iron and moving the track the desired direction, and allowing to cool off slowly. Care must be taken so you don’t create more damage than there was. With a little bit of practice on an unused section of track you will get the hang of correcting the problem areas on your layout.

3. Ensure sharpness of the switch points while switching.

New switch points can have dull edges on the moveable section where it makes contact with the stock rails, which can grab the wheels and cause a derailment.

By using a small file you can smooth the transition between the rails for buttery smooth transitions at the switching points. Be sure to check the gauge at both positions of the switch as you did on the rail joints to ensure the gauge is correct.

4. Make sure the couplers on the cars and locos are smooth.

A coupler that isn’t smooth can cause derailments, by the coupler snagging on rough edges. This is normally the case with new cars, due to the manufacturing process which can sometimes leave rough edges on the couplers.

To help the couplers move more freely with one another, clean off any of the rough edges that may be present on the couplers. This can be done using a small file or fine grit sandpaper. The trick here is to just remove the rough spots to make the couplers move more freely with one another.

After cleaning up the rough spots, be sure to adjust the couplers for proper centering and height. The manufactures will usually provide instructions on how to center the couplers properly.

5. Add weight to the freight cars.

Some freight cars are just too light resulting in the wheels not contacting the rails evenly. To correct this you can add a small amount of weight to the cars. Which will make them want to stay on the track better. This also helps the cars in tighter turns. Adding weight to the cars will also let the cars travel more smoothly over the track.

It is best to add the weight in the center, and as low as possible to the cars creating a lower center of gravity. This also helps top heavy cars stay on the track as well.

6. Wheel alignment can also be a possible cause for cars derailing.

Just like on an automobile if the wheels are not aligned properly, or if there are worn out parts on the carriage can result in the wheels wandering all over the place making your trains skip off the track.

Ensure that the wheels are the correct gauge (distance apart) and that there are no bent/ worn out parts in the carriages. If the pivot points on the carriages are not moving freely this can also cause derailments especially on turns. It is also important to make sure the carriages are not crabbing (crab steering/ working against each other) which can result on the flanges being pushed into the rails, making the wheels ride up and come off the track.

7. Proper lubrication.

Proper lubrication of the wheels and couplers are extremely important for a smooth running railroad layout. A small drop of oil can make a huge difference on a wheel or a coupler that’s hanging up. If parts can’t move freely where they need to then things lock up and cause problems. Those problems of course being your train derailing.

Make sure to not go overboard when oiling parts as it can get messy, as well as attract unnecessary dust. Not to mention it can also cause damage to paintwork as well.

8. Dust / debris on the track.

Not only does dust on the track hinder the conductivity of the power being delivered to your locomotive, it can also cause derailments. To avoid this problem clean the track regularly with a paper towel / cloth. You can also use a track cleaning car to clean the track while the trains are running around the layout.

When making scenery around your layout sometimes the glue can drip on the track if you don’t mask it off prior to making the scenery. Small drops of glue can create bumps on the track which can derail the trains.

By following these 8 simple steps you can create a smooth running railroad without frustrating derailments. It all comes down to taking your time and setting things up properly, as well as doing regular upkeep on the cars, locomotives, and track.

How to Make a Solar Panel Without Breaking the Bank

You can build a solar panel system yourself even if you aren’t technically gifted and not so great with do-it-yourself projects. Even a novice can build a panel without problems. A homemade panel is easy to build and can be done for less than $200 if made from parts that you can find easily find on e-bay or your local hardware store.

The key component is Solar cells which are almost always made from silicon. This is the same material used to make computer chips. Silicon is one of the world’s most common elements; a solar cell is built in layers, with two layers of silicon separated by a thin layer of insulating material. All three layers work together and convert sunlight into electricity. It is not necessary to purchase class (A) cells, class (B) cells will work just as well.

You will need solar cells, wood plate,   soldering   iron ,  solder , flux, and tabbing to make a panel. Special tools are not required so, if you have any tools at all you are probably ready to go. Here are the materials that are recommended for a simple system:

Caulk silicone material
Diode
Jones Plug
Lumber
Plexiglas
Screws
Solar Cells

Wire

This solar panel unit will quickly pay for itself when it saves you money on your electricity costs, so it’s a very worthwhile project. Good luck, while there are do-it-yourself kits that are plug_and_play, stay away from them because they require tampering with your wiring system. Not exactly a job for a novice.

How to Select a Gaming Processor

When selecting a gaming processor, the aspects associated with such a process require you to understand at least the minimum specifications. No matter what the occasion, a gaming computers CPU is behind all operation while a system is functioning. In this article, you can find details regarding processor performance qualities and other relevant information.

Games are being introduced into the market with more complexity than ever, requiring gaming processors to balance enough technologies to meet such a dilemma. Finding a processor within a suitable budget is fairly easy to accomplish, so lets emphasize on the details you need to understand.

First and foremost, you should begin this process by selecting a manufacturer, either Intel or AMD, and then choose one of the many models they offer for gaming enthusiasts. In regards to performance capabilities, your budget and preferences will suite your needs, which will ultimately determine a contender. After you have chosen either of the brands and selected a potential model, here are the facts you need to be aware of.

  Socket  Relationship

Since the processor is a separate component, it requires proper placement on the motherboard. Gaming motherboards come equipped with “ sockets ,” to incorporate a CPU into. These  sockets  are very specific, so choosing one with the appropriate specs. is necessary. We recommend any gaming processor that fits in an LGA 775 ( Socket  T) or AM2  Socket  at minimum. Its up to you to pick a compatible motherboard / processor combo.

Gaming Processor Speed (Frequency)

The clock speed is the measurement of how fast a gaming processor can perform an activity. Clock speeds are signified in GH/z, which generally run at a higher operating frequency for gaming processors, especially when overclocking is involved. To benefit a gaming computer, ensure that the optimum frequency is attainable when your considering overclocking and produces stable results in conjunction with the FSB, that’s if your mobo still uses a FSB. You can find more information by visiting the links below.

Dedicated Memory Supply

Every modern gaming oriented processor is equipped with its own deposits of fast-access cache. These caches frequently access previously used data, upon request by the processors “core.” For gaming computers, we recommend purchasing the largest amount possible, particularly for the capacities of the “L2,” and “L3,” caches. How does this benefit gaming environments? By allowing the CPU access to data it needs in a more effective manner, this prevents it from requesting data from the system memory and secondary memory drives, which operate slower and take longer to retrieve data.

Amount of Processor “Core”

With all new CPU technologies, so come initiative processes for calculating data. Multi-core solutions seemed to have done the trick, and the method Intel and AMD have implemented these architectures to increase productivity, has benefited gaming computers significantly. The aspect to this specification is simple. You should aim for a processor that has either two or four processing cores. The technicality behind this schema involves how these individual core operate. For more details, the links below provide you with more information regarding gaming CPU operation.

There are still many important concepts to choosing a gaming processor, so we included the links below so you can access this information. With all of this advice provided by this article and on our site, you should be able to make a confident purchase when browsing the various gaming processors available.

Creative Ideas For Store’s Grand Opening

A store’s grand opening is an exciting time, and probably the best time to draw new customers in to check out your offerings. Yet, most new stores do not make the best use of this opportunity that they could. Do not let a mediocre new store opening happen to your business! Here are three ideas you should use to make your store’s grand opening an enormous success:

Include a celebrity appearance

Advertising that one (or more) celebrities will be in attendance can be an excellent way to get the attention of your target audience. You might have a special sale, with the discounts offered only while the celebrity is on the premises, to motivate the masses even further. You can have the celebrity autograph some of your promotional material, so customers have a keepsake which also keeps your store top-of-mind when they consider who to go to in the future.

Have a surprise gift for customers

Since most people now have some form of mobile communications device(s), surprise gifts can be a great way to get your customers buzzing even more about your store’s opening. Encourage them to call, text, or otherwise inform their friends of the special giveaway, and you will soon have more customers interested in the opening. You can also include other special prizes for those customers who are able to pull in the highest number of friends to the store’s grand opening. This friendly competition can get people very excited, and talking about your store for quite a while afterwards.

Include a raffle with prizes for your customers

A raffle is a great grand opening strategy, since you can advertise it beforehand, and build up even more excitement amongst your customer base. In addition to raffle tickets, you might include door prizes, or other incentives to increase the publicity of your new store, and create a strong impression on potential customers. For continuing sales, your raffle prizes might include a gift certificate which can only be redeemed at the store at later date(s). This can get customers into the habit of frequenting your store, leading to continued sales in the future.

Thus, by including celebrity appearances, using surprise gifts, and holding a raffle for your customers, it is possible to have a grand opening, which is also a grand success for the start of your new business. This can give you a great advantage over the current competition, and ensure that customers think of you first in the future.

Copyright 2010, by Marc Mays