ISBN – What Does it Really Mean?

ISBN = International Standard Book Number

Most small and self-publishers know that an ISBN is a necessary number that identifies their book within the book industry. But what do all those numbers actually mean? Can anyone look at an ISBN and extract any useful information?

Let’s consider what the 13 digits in an ISBN mean to the book industry (publishers, wholesalers, distributors, libraries, and retailers).

First, note that you may encounter two versions of ISBNs — the ISBN-10 and the ISBN-13. Besides three more digits, what’s the difference?

A few years ago, the ISBN folks realized that they would soon exhaust the mathematical possibilities of the 10-digit format. Too many books were being published in too many different formats. The solution was obvious — expand the format to incorporate more digits. You might think that adding three more digits would increase the available numbers by a factor of 1,000…but you’d be wrong.

It only doubled them.

How could that be? you might wonder.

To answer that question, consider the bar code on the back cover of a book. You will usually find the ISBN printed in human-readable form (i.e., in numerals) just above the bar code. Up until a couple of years ago, that would have been the 10-digit ISBN. Then, during a transition period, it frequently included both the 10- and 13-digit forms of the ISBN. Now, most newly published books will show only the ISBN-13 (although some are still including both). You might also have noticed that there are human-readable numerals sort of embedded along the lower edge of the bar code. Those digits are the ISBN-13…and always have been (even when there was no such thing as an ISBN-13).

In the days of only ISBN-10, a book’s bar code with its embedded numerals (technically known as the Bookland EAN, or European Article Number) consisted of the ISBN-10 plus a 978 prefix and, usually, a different final digit.

Now, with the implementation of ISBN-13, the ISBN and the Bookland EAN will be identical, including the final digit.

Confused yet? Hold on. Let’s decode an ISBN-13 to help clear things up.

The ISBN-13 and Bookland EAN, consist of five distinct parts:

  • 978 or 979 prefix (all this means is that the number refers to a book — after all, the EAN is used for a lot of other non-book products with their own unique prefixes)
  • Group or country identifier (for books published in the English group — meaning the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. — this will a “0” or a “1”)
  • Publisher prefix (this can from two to seven digits, depending on the size of the specific block of ISBNs)
  • Title identifier (this is actually the part that is assigned to a specific title, edition, and format published by the publisher identified by the publisher prefix)
  • Check digit (the last digit in the ISBN, always just a single digit, that is calculated using a specific mathematical algorithm and only really matters to computer databases and such — you don’t have to know how to compute it)

Note: To date, nobody has been assigned an ISBN block with the 979 prefix, although R. R. Bowker expects to begin issuing those later this year.

Since the ISBN-13 system allows for only two book-prefix possibilities (either 978 or 979), the change to ISBN-13 only doubles the available possibilities. One mystery solved.

Real-World Example: 978-1-934631-21-8

What does that string of numbers tell us?

Right away, you can see the “978” prefix that tells us this is a book. The next digit, the “1” following the first hyphen, says it was published in one of the English group countries. The next set of digits (934631) is the publisher prefix. If you looked up this prefix in one of the industry databases, like Books-in-Print, you would find out that “934631” identifies Slipdown Mountain Publications LLC…and only Slipdown Mountain Publications LLC. Nobody else will ever be issued that specific publisher prefix.

The next set of digits (21) represent one specific title, edition, and format in the block of “934631” publisher-prefix ISBNs. In this case, it is the first edition of my own book Devil in the North Woods and, specifically, the e-book format of that book. No other book will ever use the title identifier “21” with the publisher prefix of “934631” and the group identifier “0.” And that’s what makes it unique. And what makes sure nobody orders an e-book format for this book when they really wanted the paperback format.

Note: The paperback format of that same book has a different ISBN (in this case 978-0-9746553-1-4, which also has a different publisher prefix since our company owns two different blocks of ISBNs although both point only to us).

And then there’s the final, check, digit (8, in this case). The check digit calculation involves applying a mathematical algorithm to all the preceding digits (which is why the check digit for the ISBN-10 format is almost always different than the check digit for the ISBN-13 format of the same basic ISBN). The check digit can also be an “X,” which is used if the check digit calculation results in “10.”

By knowing the publisher prefix, you can immediately determine the size of that block of ISBNs. Since there are only 13 digits total, and the 978 (or 979 eventually) plus the group identifier always total four digits and the check digit is always a single digit, there are only eight digits left to work with. In the above example, the publisher prefix is six digits, leaving only two digits to assign to specific books and, thus, only 100 possibilities (00-99). Therefore, this represents a block of 100 ISBNs.

Since self-publishers usually buy a block of 10 ISBNs and small publishers typically buy a block 100, anyone who cares can quickly determine the size of your publishing venture. And they can determine that even if you leave out the hyphens…but that’s a lengthy subject better suited for a follow-up article.

If the ISBN for your book was assigned by one of the many subsidy publishers (who prefer to call themselves “self-publishing companies” or “POD publishers”), the publisher prefix will clearly designate that subsidy publisher as the publisher-of-record. Which means you did not really self-publish at all, as far as the book industry (trade journals, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, libraries, etc.) is concerned. Having a subsidy publisher listed as your book’s publisher is like starting your at-bat with two strikes already counted against you.

And that’s probably not the way you want to launch your book’s marketing campaign.

The Best Nutritional Snacks For ATV Trail Riding

You know the old saying, garbage in, garbage out? Well it takes on a whole new meaning when talking about riding and snacking. When you decide to hit the trail and go for a good long ride with your buddies, it’s important to bring along some good snacks. Let’s take a look at some of the best nutritional snacks for ATV trail riding.

You might wonder what the big deal is. After all, you’re not racing or doing any heavy duty riding. But sticking with the good stuff will result in more energy and less chance of hunger pangs or worse, a stomach ache. Some food just does not sit well in a stomach that is being jostled around.

Probably most importantly is to ditch the juice, soda and beer and replace it with plain old water. And unless you are really exerting a lot of energy with your ride you probably don’t need any energy drinks either. Basically you just need to stay hydrated and water does this best.

One of the best snacks to go along with the water is plain old fruit. Bananas are a good choice because they are packed with potassium which is good for the body. Apples and oranges are two other excellent fruits and may be easier to cart along without getting squashed. Eating any fruit is a lot better for you than just drinking juice because it will help to fill you up while helping to keep you hydrated.

Grab a baggy full of trail mix while you are at it. Making your own is a good option to avoid the higher sodium and sugar content of much of the prepackaged stuff. Toss in a cup of some high fiber cereal, along with a half a cup each of nuts and unsweetened dried fruit like raisins or apricots. You can even add a sprinkling of chocolate chips to satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you are going to be riding your ATV all day you can eat an energy bar in place of a regular lunch. They travel well and are packed with fiber to keep hunger at bay. Try to find a bar with a high proportion of protein. Avoid any that have a high sugar or high carb content. You want an energy bar, not a chocolate bar.

There is really no substitute for good nutritional snacks when trail riding on your ATV. You wouldn’t gas up your ATV with leftover lawnmower gas would you?

Maltese Law on Property – The Contract of Emphyteusis

Article 1494 of the Maltese Civil Code (Chapter 16 of the Laws of Malta), defines Emphyteusis as follows:

“Emphyteusis is a contract whereby one of the contracting parties grants to the other, in perpetuity or for a time, a tenement for a stated yearly rent or ground-rent which the latter binds himself to pay to the former, either in money or in kind, as an acknowledgment of the tenure.”

Emphyteusis is typical of Continental law (European) and not English law. It is very different from lease or rent of a dwelling house or a piece of land. This is because unlike lease, Emphyteusis is a real right which attaches to the land being contracted and not to the person contracting such right. On the other hand, lease, being a personal right, does not attach to the land or the dwelling house being granted, but only to the person receiving the lease. The legal implications arising out of these differences are considerable, especially with regards to the rights and obligations of the contracting parties.

The contract of Emphyteusis must be made by public deed before a Notary Public. It would be null if done by means of a private writing. Lease, on the other hand may be entered into by private writing and will have the force of law. The contract of Emphyteusis cannot be changed throughout the emphyteutical period. Once the ground-rent is established, it cannot be changed.

Article 1494 provides three key phrases which need to be clarified:

i. perpetuity or for a time

There are two types of empytheutical grants: Perpetual Emphyteusis and temporary Emphyteusis. The former is a payment which must be effected annually with the legal option of redemption. Redemption renders the land freehold. Temporary Emphyteusis, on the other hand, is a contract for a number of years. (Usually in Malta the most popular number of years contracted for are 17 years, 21 years, 99 years and 150 years.)

ii. stated yearly rent or ground-rent

The ‘canone’ or ground-rent must be stated in the contract, under pain of nullity, and is to be paid yearly to the dominus, i.e. the owner of the house.


The utilista recognizes the fact that he can legally enjoy that property and must acknowledge the dominus as being the real owner of such property.

The contract of Emphyteusis is a sui generis contract whereby the dominus, who is the real owner of the property, is temporarily divested of all his ownership rights. Such rights and obligations are shifted to the ‘utilista,’ the person enjoying such grant, throughout such period. Upon the expiration of the contract, the property, with all the improvements made to it, will revert to the dominus and there will be no right to extend the Emphyteusis.

In the old days, Emphyteusis used to be granted by land owners to farmers who tended the land. Sometimes the agreement would be that as acknowledgment, rather than paying money, the farmer would deliver to the dominus part of the produce, harvest or fruit yielded by that land.

Ownership rights and obligations are, during the running of the Emphyteusis, vested in the utilista and not the real owner. Article 1507 states that the utilista is bound to carry out any obligationimposed by law on the owners of buildings or lands. This demonstrates the responsibility which the utilista has in terms of maintenance of the property. He must treat such property as if it were his own. If, however, there is considerable expense in carrying out such obligation, the utilista may apply before the Civil Court First Hall to demand that the dominus be compelled to contribute a portion of the expense. In such a case the court will take into consideration, primarily, the contract of Emphyteusis entered into by the parties, the remaining period of the grant, the amount of ground-rent and other circumstances relevant to the demand.

The utilista has a very broad right of disposing of the property held under Emphyteusis; he may dispose of the emphyteutical tenement by means of a public deed which can either be an act inter vivos, i.e. made during his lifetime, or causa mortis, i.e. made after his death, in this case, by means of a will. The utilista may sell the Emphyteusis to a third party for a specified amount of money. Obviously, he will be selling the remainder of the emphyteutical period. Moreover, he may grant the property once again under Emphyteusis, known as sub-Emphyteusis, in which case, he will be receiving a ground-rent himself.

Such alienation of property does not require the permission or consent of the dominus, in either case. Moreover, the rights and obligations of the utilista will, upon transfer, be shifted onto the new utilista or sub-emphytheuta. The latter will only become the new utilista after the dominus has acknowledged him. Unless the new utilista is known to be incapable of carrying out his contractual obligations, the dominus cannot refuse to acknowledge him. In cases where the dominus refuses to acknowledge the new utilista, the latter will still remain personally bound to the former for the payment of the ground-rent.

During the period of the running of the Emphyteusis, the utilista has the right to ‘alter the surface of the tenement, provided he does not cause any deterioration thereof'(Article 1506(2)). Thus, if the utilista would like to build further or to add further to the already existing structures on the land, he may do so. Moreover, he is entitled to any ‘treasure trove’ that he may find on such property. The dominus is not entitled to a share.

On expiration of the Emphyteusis, the utilista is bound by law to return the land or tenement with all the improvements made throughout the years during which the property was under Emphyteusis.

How A Person Should Store Art Drawings

If a person has a love of art and drawing, then the chances are that such a person has been storing every single drawing for a long time. Where to put them might be a problem as an individual may not be sure where to keep them safe. It is very important for one to ensure they are stored well for future use and remembrance.

Being organized is the best thing to do. Every artist should be a person who is well organized. The drawings and paintings need to be kept safe and clean. This will show the seriousness of an individual in carrying out such an investment. There are many ways of keeping the drawings and painting safe from any kind of damage. It only needs a bit of organisation.

An individual is advised to convert an old cereal container into a file folder. It is very possible to fit quite a number of drawings into it. A person can use one cereal container for example, to store drawings of nature. An individual can have another cereal box for storage of drawings and paintings of cartoon character. It is advisable to use cereal boxes that are big enough. Small ones may not work as expected.

People need to purchase a portfolio folder. It is a type of a folder that is design to neatly hold ones drawings together. Purchasing such a folder can do great help in displaying the drawings quickly and easily. This kind of folder can even be made at home. It just needs two pieces of cardboard, glue, a strip of construction paper and a string.

Having everything at hand, you should glue the two pieces of cardboard to the strip to form a folder. One must then punch a hole. The hole has to be punched in the top center pieces. After doing that, the paintings and drawings should be placed inside the folder. The folder should then be closed up by pulling the string through the holes. Make sure to tie them together.

People can also use a scrapbook to keep the paintings and drawings safe. A scrapbook is design to have plastic covers. Each page has a plastic cover. This will definitely help in protecting your drawings. This can be a protection from any spills and even fingerprints when admirers are looking through the drawings. This very crucial in keeping the northern British art safe.

Purchasing an accordion folder is also advisable. This can be obtained from the local supply store. The benefit of purchasing an accordion folder is that it is designed to hold several drawings. They are being sold at very reasonable prices. Which means they are affordable to everyone. Your drawings can stay pristine and in their original condition. This is because it is design to allow one to slide a different drawing into each and every slot. If the drawings are kept in such a folder, they will never get wrinkled even if they are cramped together.

Therefore, keeping ones art safe is very important. The above options will cater for most situations, and will greatly help in ensuring the drawings are stored safe, clean and dry.’

Briggs & Stratton Model 030235 Portable Generator Information

I paid $649 for a Briggs & Stratton model 030235 portage generator on sale at Pep Boys. I live in Houston and there are often storms and flood events that can knock out electric service. I also wanted to have emergency power for my small insurance and mortgage business.

The generator is rated at 5550 watts with 8550 starting watts. It has a 5 gallon gas tank and can run for about 7 hours at 50% load. It has 120 and 240 outlets and came with a heavy duty extension cord set.

Oil was included in the box and after I put the oil and fuel in it started on the first pull. It is moderately noisy, about what you would expect from this size generator. The documentation is adequate.

One of the reasons I selected this generator is the large number for starting or surge watts. One of the main uses for my generator will be to run window air conditioners. A typical 10,000 BTU unit may run on 1200 watts but will need an extra 1800 starting watts. A larger unit could take even more starting watts so I suggest 2,000 or more extra starting watts if you want to run an air conditioner. You won’t be able to run your central air conditioner with this generator because they typically need 10,000 or more starting watts, plus the running watts.

Here is an idea of what you could run with this generator:

  • Two 10,000 room air conditioners (2,400 watts)
  • Refrigerator (800)
  • Freezer (500)
  • Television (500)
  • Microwave (1,000)
  • Plus a few small light bulbs

If you are going to get a generator here are some tips:

  • Don’t wait for a hurricane or flood, generators will be sold out or very expensive
  • Don’t undersize the generator, get one that is large enough for your needs
  • Get a few 5 gallon gas cans and some extra fuel
  • Add fuel stabilizer to the stored gas and change at least annually
  • Get a heavy duty extension cord designed for generators
  • Be careful and read the directions, generators and gasoline are dangerous!
  • Generators are a target for theft, store them securely

If you have any questions about this generator you can contact me at my Texas flood insurance website.

Motorcycle Airbrushing – Tips For Airbrushing Motorcycles

This beginners guide is for anyone considering learning about airbrushing motorcycles. No need to worry if they are an artist or not.

An airbrush can be mastered with practice just like most tools. And drawing skills can be substituted with the use of projectors and templates. Therefore anyone considering this field should not fret about whether they have artistic skills, or if they have never used an airbrush before.

There are many materials available to practice this art form on, prior to painting directly on somebody’s chopper. Items such as illustration board, tote bags and even wood provide exciting new challenges. Learning to paint on different surfaces teaches one how the various surfaces react to paint and to masking materials.

When the time comes that an aspiring airbrush artist feels ready to paint on vehicles, there are many lesser vehicles that can be practiced on such as rowboats, trailers or even lawn mowers. People love their items to be customized and may really enjoy free airbrushed graphics on them. This also begins an aspiring airbrush artists branding of work, by giving exposure to the public for possible paid work.

Creating a Work Space

Preparation of working space should be addressed first. Good lighting and wide open space are imperative. Make sure there are no items that will get in the way when moving around with brush and cords. Noise considerations need to be addressed as well because compressors can be loud and disturbing to others.

Climate control is important for storing paints and finishes. Temperatures should not get to extremes in regards to heat or cold. Make sure that tools and materials are stored away from excessive dirt and dust. A cleanup area with access to running water should accessible and electricity needs to be available as well.

Initial Supplies and Tools

By purchasing just the basics to begin with, a person can have everything they need to get started helping to them keep within their budget. Higher end items are always available, and when a person or their budget is ready, they can be purchased to help streamline work and increase style ability.

Before making any purchases, it would be helpful to research products on the internet to learn their precise uses such as types of paint. Initial items to purchase are paint, an airbrush, materials for masking and a compressor.

An artist also needs to do practice sketches and plan designs. So several large pads of sketch paper and paper made specifically for airbrushing are important to keep on hand too.

Work that is going to be kept outdoors on vehicles needs to be protected from the elements and damages from driving such as stones etc. So eventually a bike artist needs to purchase exterior overcoat finishes and a spray gun to apply them.

What Is the Difference Between Sleep Apnea and Insomnia?

Although both sleep apnea and insomnia are sleeping disorders and can affect anyone at anytime, they are very different and require different approaches for treatment. Here is an overview of each.

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a physical disorder. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the most common condition, results when relaxed soft tissue in the throat slides back and blocks airways, cutting off breathing. As a result, the brain jolts the body awake to reopen the airflow, disrupting sleep. In Central Sleep Apnea (CSA), a more rare condition, the brain malfunctions. When the airway is blocked, the natural reaction to jolt awake is hindered and the body completely stops breathing, not awakening immediately, but after a delay. CSA can be life threatening.


Insomnia has a very broad definition. In general, if a patient has trouble falling or staying asleep, they are diagnosed with insomnia. Because of this, insomnia can be its own sleep disorder, or a sign or symptom of any number of other diseases or disorders. As its own disorder, insomnia has three classifications characterized by how long the insomnia persists: Transient (a week or less), Acute (up to 4 weeks), and Chronic (any time over one month).


Because it is a physical disorder, sleep apnea is caused by physical conditions. OSA results from blockage that can be caused by lack of muscle tone as seen in older patients, people drinking alcohol or taking sedatives, or obese patients with excessive soft tissue. Those with CSA often have had congestive heart failure, stroke, head injury, or may develop it over time from years of suffering from OSA.

Insomnia’s causes truly run the gambit. When it is not a symptom of another disease, insomnia can occur from mental problems, especially stress or anxiety, hormonal shifts as in women during menstruation or menopause, environmental conditions such as noise or jet lag or abuse of over-the-counter medications or alcohol.


Finding the right treatment for sleep apnea or insomnia is based on the causes. Often both conditions can be relieved by living a healthier lifestyle. Eating well, maintaining a healthy weight and being active benefits sleep apnea sufferers as well as those with insomnia. The best solution is to see a sleep treatment specialist. Ultimately, a professional will be able to determine the underlying cause of the sleep disorder to guide you to the proper steps for overcoming it.

Learn more about how the Pillar Procedure cures sleep apnea, stops snoring, and allows you to get the great night’s sleep you deserve. Looking for effective snoring relief? You will find more information on the Pillar Procedure and various other treatment options and helpful tips on how to stop snoring at the Atlanta Snoring Institute website.

Why The Set Command Is So Important In Learning VBA For Excel

VBA commands and properties can be complicated, especially when you’re starting out developing Excel applications. Fortunately, the VBA language is quite intuitive and you can apply some common sense to get your code working properly.

Using the set command enables VBA to give you access to the properties of selections and ranges, making coding that much easier.

How To Use The Set Command

One scenario might be to access a column from a data table:

Names Sales
John 98
Maria 122
Henri 120
Mary 102
Peter 85
Jacques 130
Mary 100

If you use the current region command to select the first column and print to the

immediate window, the code might look like this:


For Each c In Selection.Rows
Debug.Print c.Columns(1)

The only problem using this method is that VBA doesn’t give you any help. For example you can get a count of the number of rows with this command:


That seems fine, but you need to know the row count command in the first place. VBA can help with this if you do things slightly differently and define the selection as a range first.

Dim mySel As Range
Set mySel = Range("a1").CurrentRegion

With the selection defined, VBA offers some help in accessing the properties of the

range. To access the properties in this case you can type mySel. and you are offered the choice of over 20 different properties.

To get the number of rows, you would select the rows option, and then the count property. In this way, you can use common sense and experimentation to get the result you need.


Using The Set Command To Code A Worksheet Function

We’ll use the set command in this example to find out how many cells contain the name “Mary”.

Without the set command we’d write something like this:

countStr = Application.WorksheetFunction.CountIf(range("a1:a8"), myStr)

We can also apply the set command to worksheet functions and this makes writing the procedure that much easier.

dim mySel as range
set mySel = Range("a1").CurrentRegion
Dim func As WorksheetFunction
Set func = Application.WorksheetFunction

The resulting code is simple and easy to read, especially if you need to use the function again later in the procedure.

countStr= func.CountIf(mySel, "Mary")

It’s useful to note that using the set command can make your code run slightly slower. But in situations where you’re not sure about the correct coding, it can make your procedures easier to write and is a worthwhile trade-off.


Using the set command is a good idea when writing any code, especially if you’re unsure as to the correct way of accessing the properties of a selection. One of the objectives when using VBA is to communicate your ideas in a clear and easy manner and the set command helps you do that.

What is Assertive Engagement

Assertive Engagement is a term used in a variety of fields to indicate a persistent and active approach to an interaction. It has an obvious use in military terminology (though it would be hard to imagine a military ‘engagement’ which wasn’t assertive!) but it is a term most keenly employed in a particular approach to psychiatric care. However, even in this field, assertive engagement is a concept requiring definition. It is a term born out of the move towards community treatment within psychiatric services in America with the development of ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) in the Seventies. It finds its expression in the UK through the development of Assertive Outreach Teams within psychiatric services. These are teams following strict and pragmatic models of intervention which concern themselves with the mechanisms that must be employed for effective treatment of patients within their own homes and without the assurances that hospital treatment engenders in the nurse. The literature on these models details at some length the importance of the conditions under which the teams must operate – the teams must be multi-disciplinary, must have a high worker to patient ratio, and hold home visits as the central tool for therapeutic work.

Within this, assertive engagement as a concept is often used but rarely, if ever, defined. Assertive engagement is seen as a by-product of the employment of these mechanisms – I.E. if you have a multi-disciplinary team, a small caseload and you visit someone in their home you are inevitably assertively engaging. There is some truth to this, the shift from working within the hospital to working in the community is a shift towards assertive engagement, but for the purposes of inculcating AE into a therapeutic framework we can all employ it is worthwhile developing an understanding of the concept in its own right and independent of pragmatic mechanisms.

Here we’ll seek to define the concept through a series of underlying ideas laid out in steps. This we will call the Presuppositions of Assertive Engagement.

The presuppositions of Assertive Engagement

1. That there are people who want to, or need to, effect some change in their lives because they recognize, or it is recognized, that aspects of their present lifestyle are damaging in some capacity.

There can be little doubt that this is true. There is frequent discussion of the distinction between wanting to change and needing to change. It is a valid discussion, however, it is a reasonable starting point for any care or support worker to assume that the purpose of the role is to effect positive change in someone else (who would seem to need it). Consequently the second presupposition holds that:

2. That lives can be changed for the better and that professional support workers can be a part of the process towards change.

Again, this is a statement that is true enough not to require formal evidencing. Understood within this is that change is difficult, that success in changing behaviors can be fleeting, and that a process towards positive change can be mired in a wealth of damaging coping strategies to the point that the support worker might themselves (let alone the client) lose sight of forward progress. It is understood that if we are working with the most vulnerable in society change is not easily come by and a worker (here we primarily talk about Assertive Social Intervention workers [ASI], a collective term we are using for a range of workers from prison workers to street outreach) may see no change in a client over years and years of effort. However, to focus on the positives, everyone knows someone that has changed and everyone, if a support worker for long enough, will have had some part in the improvement of a client’s quality of life. We are not so naive as to imagine that we will bring about massive change in the most vulnerable but small, incremental improvements in a person’s standing is always possible. These first two presuppositions are givens, the basis for any kind of therapeutic work or psychological therapy.

3. That change requires processing, decisions need to be made, and this processing is best achieved in certain circumstances and environments (i.e. environments that are safe, free from stress, supportive, with few other demands and needs to be met – roughly, those environments that we would term therapeutic).

There are by and large two conceptions of how change occurs. They are not mutually exclusive but rather dwell on different aspect of the change process. They are best viewed as passive and active. Here we are particularly concerned with active change, or a will to change* (an active belief that change must occur and action must be taken to enable that change). When this will to change is present, particularly in substance users, we often arrange for the clients to access therapeutic space – rehabs at the more encompassing end of the spectrum and therapist’s interview rooms at the other. They are safe environments and irrespective of the particular modality of a given therapist tend to be very similar environments. We hold it to be reasonably true that if a person is to commit energies to a process of reflection and change then there are environmental factors which are clearly accommodating of the process. They must be supportive, the impact of external stressors must be limited, basic needs should be met; there should be sufficient time; there should be sufficient evidence that positive change can occur (i.e. there should be some social proof) and on. We tend not to think too greatly about why we are often so keen to push our clients in the direction of therapeutic institutions but it is useful for us to sit and ponder a while what we expect to achieve through it. A therapeutic environment must ultimately amplify forward progress in challenging negative behaviors and then give the client space to consolidate newly emerged patterns of behavior. But, this is a step ahead of the work of workers engaged in Assertive Engagement whose work environment is by definition lacking these positive factors. Thus we say as step four:

4. That most vulnerable people do not live in environments and circumstances that are conducive to change. And most workers will encounter their clients in environments that are by and large untherapeutic.

Assertive engagement finds its origins in psychiatric outreach into the community but the barriers to working with someone in their own home are not hugely challenging as compared to prison inreach, street outreach, or working in houses of multiple occupancy. These are genuinely challenging environments to carry out change-driven therapeutic work in. These environments lack most of the qualities that are necessary for adequate reflection and change processing. If we hold it to be reasonably true that most vulnerable persons (I mean this as a euphemism for substance users, prolific offenders, the homeless, the mentally ill, people with personality disorders etc rather than the physically handicapped) already struggle to carry out the effort needed to effect positive change in their lives then it is surely of no great surprise to anyone that the environments they inhabit and move in further compound any positive efforts. Thus:

Given these things are true; Assertive Engagement then, is best understood as the process whereby a worker uses their interpersonal skills and creativity effectively to make the environments and circumstances that their service users are encountered in, more conducive to change than they might otherwise be, for at least the duration of the engagement.

Imagining the perfect circumstances for processing change, the perfect circumstances for carrying out therapeutic work of any modality one can then conceive of the shortfall between that idealized worker/client position and the particular context of a given encounter and begin to imagine what additional steps must be taken by the worker in order to bridge that gap.

(e.g. where a service user does not feel safe the worker will find ways of making engagement seem safe; where a client has limited time the worker will find ways of finding more time, or of making time spent with the worker more worthwhile through tangible reward, or of making the time available more useful through effective communication etc).

This definition is effective in that it allows workers to articulate the process they are engaged in when working with hard-to-reach clients. It anchors the basis of all efforts by ASI workers squarely in the field of therapeutic endeavor. It says that we are working in a similar manner to therapists but we are having to substitute the characteristics of their more ideal environment with heightened and dynamic interpersonal skills. It is effectively a paramedic analogy. There are circumstances and environments that are ideal for medical procedures which are, for example, clean, calm, with available specialized equipment etc, but these factors are by and large absent out ‘in the field’. There instead the paramedic operates similarly to a doctor but with their own specialized equipment and techniques to compensate for the shortfall. They work less perfectly than a doctor in a hospital but they prove to a greater or lesser extent effective. The essence of being a paramedic is not that they are out in the field in itself but in that they define themselves by virtue of how they compensate for the shortfall from idealized circumstances. Again we draw a parallel with the discussion of Assertive Outreach Teams and the assumption that by visiting a home they are necessarily assertively engaging – assertive engagement is the process of what they do when they visit not that they have visited in itself.

This gives us the opportunity to further articulate what it means to be effective when working with vulnerable or hard-to-reach groups. We are already good at articulating differing therapeutic techniques – a worker might say: ‘I am going to try some motivational interviewing now.’ Or, ‘the issue with my client is that she is precontemplative at the moment.’ But here we can now articulate further the task at hand and develop the intentions of the worker by saying for example: ‘I am going to try some motivational interviewing but I will have to be more directive in my approach than normal because I know we will be short of time.’ Or, ‘The issue with my client is that she is precontemplative at present and I am going to work additionally hard to establish a safe space for her to explore the consequences of this.’

A useful exercise

Detail the factors that you feel are the key environmental factors for effective therapeutic work, i.e. the factors you feel that are most suited to processing what steps need to be taken to achieve positive change (some are listed earlier in this article). Now take those factors and imagine how you bring them, or compensate for their lack, when you are carrying out your particular role. Dwell on the particular interpersonal skills you employ when working in, for example, a prison or the street. Time is always a good factor to think about. A key concern for most workers is that they do not get much time with their clients. The clients don’t turn up to keyworking, or are hard to find or when found often have something they would rather be doing. We are rarely creative about how we approach this issue but if you start brainstorming ideas you can explore new thinking on how we make time spent with us (workers) more worthwhile for the client, or how we buy client’s time with food or offerings, or how we use agencies and workers who are having contact with the client to achieve a particular aim. We can even look at how the client organizes their time. We can try and draw up a pattern of behavior so we know where a client is going to be and when. There are a wealth of different ways of solving the problem of getting time with a client but far too often clients are discharged from services for ‘failing to engage’. Yes, the client does have a responsibility to engage but ultimately the failure is on the behalf of any agency or worker who won’t be creative in trying to gain time with their client. It is when we start thinking: ‘What more do I need to do with my client to get some contact and make it valuable?’ That we are using Assertive Engagement.

Ultimately we can say that Assertive Engagement is the product of believing that solid therapeutic skills can produce positive change anywhere, and in any circumstance, and with anyone if allied to the creativity and determination of the worker.


o Assertive Community Treatment of Persons with Severe Mental Illness, Leonard I. Stein and Alberto B. Santos, 1998

o Assertive Outreach in Mental Health: A Manual for Practitioners, Tom Burns and Mike Firn, 2002

o Principles of Therapeutic Change That Work, Louis G. Castonguay (Editor), Larry E. Beutler (Editor), 2005

o Therapeutic Environment (Core Concepts in Therapy), Richard J. Hazler and Nick Barwick, 2001

o Psychiatry Takes to the Streets: Outreach and Crisis Intervention for the Seriously Mentally Ill, Neil L. Cohen, 1990

o Changing for Good, James L. Prochaska, 1998

o Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change, William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, 2002

Advantages of Professional Carpet Cleaning Services

So your carpet has become dirty and now requires extensive cleaning. What are you planning to do? Try it yourself with the tools available in your home, rent carpet-cleaning equipment from a home store or send your carpet off to professional cleaning services? Among all three options, the first option is the cheapest and the least effective. The last option may incur slightly higher costs but the results are beyond impressive.

Professional carpet cleaning services are really good at what they do, offering quality services that make your carpet look brand new once again. Here are some of the advantages you get when you hire pros to do the job.

Advanced equipment and quality cleaning solutions

The vacuum cleaner in your home may be the best there is, but compared to an industrial vacuum cleaner, it will be nothing. Same goes for all your cleaning solutions. Professional cleaning services use extremely powerful equipment that is more efficient in cleaning carpets. Their machines extract dirt particles that reside deep into the fibers and remove stubborn stains with great ease. The result is an absolutely spotless carpet.

No more hassles

If you chose to clean the carpet by yourself, you will have to remove all the furniture and then conduct the session. This may drain you off energy and leave you exhausted. When you hire cleaning services, they will remove all the furniture themselves. Depending on your chosen service, they will either clean the carpet at your home or take it to their facility. In the latter case, a professional company also takes the responsibility of uninstalling and re-installing the carpet. Whatever option you choose, there is nothing left for you to do.

Improved air quality

A residential vacuum cleaner only removes dust at the surface and the deeper particles remain in the carpet. If these are not eliminated, the indoor air quality in your house is lowered. Professional cleaning services use industrial grade equipment which properly removes all contaminants. As such, healthier levels of indoor air quality can be maintained.

Time Savings

DIY carpet cleaning involves so many things that take up so much of your precious time. You have to remove the carpet, treat the spots, vacuum, brush and so much more; indeed, the process is lengthy. You can skip all of this by availing cleaning services.

Better Results

As good as you may be with DIY tasks, professional carpet cleaners will always do a better job than you because of so many reasons: quality cleaning solutions, advanced equipment and a trained team. Their resources knowledge help them in achieving better results than you every can.

No chances of carpet damage

Every carpet requires a different cleaning method depending on the material used. Some carpets require steam cleaning, whereas others are treated with dry cleaning methods. Choosing an incorrect process will damage the carpet. Professional cleaners prevent this because they have the knowledge required.

5 Excellent Cat Toys and Games That Cost You Nothing!

There are all kinds of fun toys you can buy your cat to play with. But, what if I could show you some really cool cat toys and games that cost you nothing with objects you have in your home? My boyfriend and I have 5 cats. We have learned to be creative. Playing with your cats definitely helps you bond better with them.

Here are 5 cat toy and games we have discovered over the years that really keep our cats entertained.

1.) I call this one “Stick & Rug.” This is one of my cats favorites. Take a thin stick about 18 inches in length. Any stick wil do. I like to use the plastic sticks from cat toys I have. You know the ones I mean. The sticks with a piece of string on one end, and something soft and colorful attached to the string…Like feathers, a stuffed mouse or fish, a piece of fabric etc. Just use the stick part.

Next, you need a rug or a piece of carpet to play the game. Start to move the stick underneath the rug or carpet. The sound of the stick rubbing against the fabric will get your cat’s attention. Also, move the stick in-and-out from under the rug. This will arouse your cat’s natural hunting instincts. They will paw and try to pounce on the stick. Ally, my curious little star, even likes to go under the rug and try to capture the stick.

2.) Most cats love balls. Mine do, but they are not that amused with the store bought ones. I call this next cat game “bally ball.” Take a piece of notepad paper and crumple it up into a small ball. Any small piece of paper will do. These home-made paper balls make great cat toys!

Let your cat see and hear you crumpling the paper. This gets their attention. Then I set the paper ball on a surface near them, like a chair or a table, and flick it with my thumb and forefinger. Midnight, my 4 year old Tuxedo, loves to jump and grab the paper ball and flip it around.

You can also take an old sock and put a crumpled piece of paper in it. Squeeze it a little so your cat can hear the sound of the crumpled paper. Throw it around and see if your cat plays with it. Also, you can tie a knot on the sock with a piece of string. Then drag it on the floor and get your cat to chase it. When they make contact with the sock, the sound of the paper helps keep their interest.

3.) Cats are natural hunters. This next toy/game is a really good hunting exercise for indoor and outdoor cats. You can use any type of plastic bottle, but a 16oz-20oz water bottle works the best. Cut a small round hole in the side of the bottle, about one-half inch. Then unscrew the top and fill it with their kibble.

Start to roll it around the floor and the kibble will start to come out of the side hole. Your cat will see that when they move the bottle around they will be rewarded with food. You can put your cats favorite treats in the bottle too.

4.) Paper towel rolls or toilet-paper rolls make fun toys some cats really love. I like to take the empty roll and roll it around on the floor. My cats like to jump on the roll and give it a good “bunny kick.” You can also take a crumpled-up piece of paper, cloth, or a cat toy and put it inside the roll. Some cats really enjoy trying to get the object out.

5.) Another toy some cats really love is a shoe string. The longer the better. If it’s too short you may encounter some claw action. You could get scratched. Do not use yarn. It can easily break apart and be swallowed by your cat. Drag the shoe string on the floor and get your cat to chase it. If you like, tie

something to one end of it…like one of their toys, a crumpled piece of paper etc.

Besides the totally free stuff, there are also many cat toys you can buy for next to nothing. For example, most cats love a hand-held laser light/laser pen. You can buy a laser light at your local retailer for about three dollars. Use a flashlight if you like. I also like to check my local dollar store on a regular basis for inexpensive cat toys.

I hope I gave you some fun, entertaining ideas for that purrrfect cat in your life. But remember, some cats like to play more than others. Some cats enjoy different toys and games than others. Just like us humans.

Also, always remember to check your cats toys periodically for loose pieces, frayed strings, sharp edges etc.

What to Expect When Taking the IICRC Carpet Cleaning Technician Exam

IICRC stands for Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. Carpet Cleaning Technician, S100, is a designation that a carpet cleaner needs to prove that he or she is compiling with the most prevalent standards in the carpet cleaning industry. It has become increasingly important for a professional who is performing carpet cleaning services to have the “CCT” designation. There are some new carpets manufactured where the certification is not only suggested, but required. In other words, if you are cleaning carpets that require you to have the certification and you are not certified then the warranty on the carpet is void and you become liable.

I took my first class about 19 years ago and took my first test soon after. The material and the test have evolved greatly since that time. A new addition arrives this year. The CCT community has been working diligently on the new material for the past few years and it looks better than ever before.

These are some items you should know about the test:

Get the manual from your Instructor prior to attending the class (if possible). Read a few pages everyday. Usually the highlighted parts in the manual are extremely important to know and will probably be seen on your test. The test has a total of 160 multiple choice questions. The correct answer is not always the only right answer, but rather the best answer. Currently the answers need to be filled in on a Scan-tron sheet with a #2 pencil. There is no time limit for you to complete the test. You need to get 75% to pass. It may take up to six weeks to get your results and they are mailed directly to you. It is also available in Spanish if you request to take it Spanish when registering. The certification you get is a personal certification and stays with you regardless of who you work for. The cost of the test is currently $50. Cash, personal check, business check and credit cards are accepted. Checks need to be made to the IICRC.

Although I can’t tell you the questions on the test, I can give you a good example of what you will see on the test. Answering the questions below will also help you in figuring out how well you’ll perform on the test.

IICRC Test Examples:

1) Which of the following fibers are protein based: (A) Olefin (B) Wool and Silk (C) Polyester (D) Cotton and Jute

2) The temperature at which a dry solvent will ignite is called: (A) Explosion (B) Ignite (C) Flash point (D) Emulsion

3) When the primary backing and the secondary backing separate, what is it called? (A) Messed up (B) Delamination (C) Separation (D) Fluffing

4) What percentage of soil is insoluble in water? (A) 43 to 45% (B) 74 to 79% (C) 22 to 26% (D) Varies

5) Where should you empty your waste tank? (A) Storm drain (B) Street (C) Sanitary sewer (D) Your fresh water tank

6) TACT is an acronym for what? (A) Time Act Clean Truck (B) Time Agitation Chemical Temperature (C) Tufted carpet (D) 4th generation carpet

7) The process of drying is called? (A) Wicking (B) Capillary Action (C) A and B above (D) None of the above

The purpose of the test is to make sure that a technician learns as much as possible to do his/her job well. If you need carpet cleaning supplies or just want to talk, you are welcome to contact me. I would be happy to help you in your endeavor to learn. You can also find answers to these questions there under Articles Tab and then Test Answers.

Effective Stomach Pain Remedies and Cure

The term stomach pain refers to pain in any area between chest and the groin. The area above pelvic bone and under rib cage is commonly known as stomach. Pain can arise anywhere in this area when there is some problem with the natural function of internal organs. Stomach ache is mild in most of cases but it could be chronic and severe in many cases. Both men and women have to suffer from stomach ache every now and then. When pain is frequent and acute, it might be due to some serious medical condition.

There are some common disorders that can cause stomach pain. Constipation and indigestion are most common disorders that can awaken stomach ache. Stomach digests the food with the help of certain acids and enzymes. A damaged stomach lining will cause pain while dealing with stomach acids. Formation of excessive gas may dilate the liver or the internal lining of stomach. This dilation is unnatural and it can cause pain in the stomach. However, there are some more serious problems for rising stomach ache. Ulcer, appendicitis, kidney stones, hernia and infection in urinary tract can lead to stomach pain. In such conditions, when pain is chronic and acute, consultation of physician is recommended for proper diagnosis of any serious problem. There are some stomach pain remedies mentioned below to treat the problem effectively.

1. To ease stomach cramps, mix fennel with peppermint tea and drink it.

2. Take some basil leaves with 3 tablespoon of curd and mix them thoroughly. Pinch a little black pepper and add salt to taste. Have this mixture when stomach pain disturbs your routine.

3. Grind ginger to a paste, with the help of grinding stone. Apply this paste on belly and massage with firm pressure to work out its juice. This massage is very effective, especially in the case of children.

4. When pain occurs due to heavy meals, use this remedy for quick relief. Prepare a mixture by adding juice of one lemon with juice of one whole radish and drink it. It will stimulate the digestion and it will prevent from stomach aches caused by indigestion.

5. Prepare a mixture with two teaspoons of juice of lemon mixed with one teaspoon of juice of ginger. Add some sugar to taste. Drink this mixture for relief from almost any kind of stomach ache.

6. Prepare a paste by crushing three grams of tender tamarind leaves. Add one gram of rock salt; it will partially turn the paste into liquid. Have it for a quick relief from pain.

There are some precautions for preventing stomach aches. Drink at least 10 glasses of water in the duration of 24 hours. Water smoothes the bowel movements and it will prevent from constipation. Include green vegetables and fresh fruits in your diet. Develop habit of taking small walks after dinner. Avoid going to bed right after having meals. In order to keep digestive system healthy, light exercises and regular morning walks are important. Quit smoking and prefer not to drink alcoholic beverages. These precautions are not only helpful in preventing stomach pain, but also for healthy life.

What Should You Do If Bras Constrict Your Breathing?

Some women feel that the upper part of their body and their breathing is constricted every time they wear a bra. It feels as if they can’t breathe, or it is very difficult to breathe. But still, they wear one, because they have to. It could either be because they have too small breasts that need to be pushed up, or their busts are large that needs strong support. However, if it is a problem about breathing whenever you wear a bra, it is highly probable that your bra does not properly fit you. If the band is too tight around your body, and the cup size is too small for your busts, you can feel that tightness to be constricting your breathe.

So how should you remedy this problem? What should you do if your bras constrict your breathing? If you ask some women, you will perhaps be advised to use adhesive bra. It is a bra type that you only need to stick on your front without losing the support that your breasts need. The adhesive bra provides flawless coverage. It can easily be applied and can also be removed without pain.

But if you ask the experts they will recommend that you be professionally be fitted. A majority of women just settle on what seems comfortable to their bodies, because they don’t know actually what size is their bra. You know, getting accurate results when your body and cup size is measured is very important. Consult a professionally trained bra fitter. You can find many of them in most high-end bra boutiques and they can help you ensure maximum support and great fit.

When you wear a bra that does not properly fit, you may experience more than just discomfort. You can have poor posture, back and shoulder strain, and hardness of breathing. Additionally, your outfit would not look as good as they would in a properly fitting bra. Take the time to be fitted; 15 minutes is all that it takes, but you can reap the results for a lifetime.

You must realize that if your body shape and size change, so does your bra. If you have lost or gained weight in the past year, and still continue to wear the same bra that you used before the body change, you will end up being uncomfortable and experiencing some breathing problems (if you gained weight). A new bra fitting done by a professional can help end the common practice of women wearing unflattering and ill-fitting bras.

Hair Extensions and Excess Shedding Issue

Hair Extensions Shedding

Getting hair extensions can be very involved. There are many different methods available, many different types and qualities of hair to use and many different stylists to choose from. Hair Extensions are not something that you should rush into without thoroughly checking things out. Many things can go wrong if they are not properly attached, removed and maintained.

One issue that may come up with hair extensions is shedding. Shedding starts at the point of attachment. There are many different ways that the hair extensions can be attached. When the point where they were attached becomes loose, the hair extension will slip and fall out of the hair. Sometimes the natural hair will come out as well. Some shedding is to be expected. Here is a question from a woman that had this issue.

Hair Extension Question:

I have extensions that were fused into my hair using the strand method. I have had hair extensions before and it seems that I always have problems with excess shedding for some reason. I don’t have a hair thinning problem and my hair is fairly thick. I was wondering if maybe my stylist should use the hair with the glue that is already on the tips along with the regular glue she uses in the gun. Would this make the extensions more secure? I love having hair extensions, but within 3 weeks I am ready for a fill. I don’t think they should shed this much


I’m sorry that you are having problems with your extensions falling out. This can be a very common problem with some hair extension methods. I am not a professional cosmetologist, so I cannot offer you a professional opinion. But I have done extensive research on hair extensions and I can share with you some of the information I have learned.First of all, it is normal to lose some extensions and need filling in. Most hair extensions methods require monthly maintenance visits to address this type of problem. However, if you are losing a lot of the extensions, something else may be wrong.There can be 3 reasons why your extensions are falling out.1. Your hair is not strong enough to hold the hair. (You did not mention whether the extensions are pulling out your natural hair when they fall out.)2. Your hair for whatever reason (perhaps too oily, dry, etc.) is not working well with the glue that your stylist has used.3. The extensions are not being put in properly (Did you thoroughly check out your stylist’s qualifications and training for hair extensions?)

Some of the pre-tipped hair extensions available today are with certain distinct hair extension methods that the stylist must be trained and certified to attach. The chemical makeup of the pre-tipped extensions may be different than the glue that your stylist is using. I wouldn’t think that mixing two types of glues would be good for your hair. Is your stylist concerned about too many extensions falling out? A trained hair extension stylist will know when too much shedding is taking place and some action must be taken.If you are not satisfied with your stylist, perhaps you could schedule a hair extension consultation at several other salons in your area so that you can have another professional opinion about your hair extensions. Some salons charge a nominal fee for the consultation. For more information on hair extensions, visit