Choosing A General Contractor Becomes Easy – Learn How

You are planning to give your house a renewed and fresh look. But the task is tough. You have to find and hire the most efficient general contractor for your home renovation work. Finding and then selecting the perfect home renovation contractor can be easy if you think or consider about certain points.


It is essential to check that the general contractor you are planning to hire has professionals who have enough experience to fulfill your needs and expectations. It is not easy to take care or look after all home remodeling issues by any renovation staff. Only skilled and experienced professionals can find and diagnose all defects in your house which need to be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

It is also essential to check how many types of home remodeling or renovation work the contractor has performed before selecting. Skills make all the difference. A skilled professional can complete a task within a short span of time whereas an unskilled contractor can take a number of days to finish the same work.


It is also important to check whether a general contractor has a strong connection with several sub-contractors. Such a wide network of contractors will help in completing your home remodeling project on time. Say, some professionals from your hired contractor could not come one day. They can be replaced with professionals working with any of the sub-contractors.

All the professionals who are working with the contractor must be insured, bonded and licensed to do all sorts of home improvement works such as kitchen remodeling, bathroom remodeling, electrical wiring repair and so on.


What will happen to your project if you can not make the service provider understand what you exactly want? Just think of it before hiring a general contractor. Effective communication can often solve a number of problems which may have arisen in the course of the work. It is really essential that your service providers understand your needs and deliver the best possible work on time. Communication also help home remodeling professionals achieve their goals with perfection.


Interior home improvements can make your rooms look stylish and unique. Space can be utilized properly so that you find some extra space for your kids. Similarly with exterior home improvements, you can change the overall appearance of your abode in no time. Make your house look like a new one. You have to ensure that your service provider ensures you about some value added services like foundation quality check, pre and post service customer assistance, re-paint in case of any damage while their staffs are at work and so on. This creates trust among the client and service provider.


It is important to check that your home renovation contractor runs a stable business. This will give you a lot of mental peace as finiably unstable service providers may delay your project and also compromise with the quality of service they offer to their clients.

So, next time you look for a reliable general contractor, you have to keep all these points to ensure you get the most satisfactory home remodeling services.

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Things You Need To Know If You Are Taking Up Organic Gardening

Organic gardening is very popular these days but many people are afraid to dip their toes into it. The thought of starting a garden can be intimidating for many people, due to the fact that it is not something a lot of people are familiar with, and it does seem complicated. Read through this article and you can gain better insight on what it takes to start and grow your own organic garden; it’s not as hard as it may seem.

Avoid rose mildew. This fungus affects many types of roses, especially in wet weather, when days are warm and nights are cold. Small gray or white spots will appear on the plant, forming a felt-like down. Shoot tips are killed and buds fail to open. Don’t plant roses close together – they need good air circulation to avoid mildew. Spray any affected plants with fungicidal soap.

Key to any garden activity is using the right tools. While having a shovel is essential, so are other tools that work best with your garden size. For smaller gardens, short handled tools work best, for larger gardens longer handled hoes and spades work better. Make sure you keep a sharp edge on your tools for easier work.

You can test the viability of your seeds by soaking them overnight. Drop them into a container of water and keep them in a dark place for a day. Check the location of the seeds. If they sank to the bottom, they are usable. If they float the top, they may be dead.

Add some earthworms into your garden soil. Earthworms are great in tunneling and loosening up the soil, giving the roots of your plants plenty of air space. They help make soil that is rich in nutrients by breaking down dead plant materials. Earthworms are a much better solution for your garden than commercial fertilizers.

There are several all-natural ways to keep pests out of your garden, including certain plants. Slugs who want to enter a vegetable garden, for example, can be repelled by a simple border of marigolds and onions. Wood ash used as mulch helps repel pests as well when around shrubs and trees. These methods are environmentally-friendly and mean you do not have to resort to harsh chemicals.

Once you understand and begin utilizing the tips you have read, the thought of working on your own organic garden should not seem intimidating at all. It is relatively easy to have an organic garden, that you can show off with pride. Soon you can have fresh, environmentally-friendly fruits and vegetables on your table.

Why Topsoil Is Important To The Survival of the Planet

To put it simply: we need food. And except for seafood, we need good topsoil to grow nutritious food. We also need the topsoil to allow vegetation to remain stable and strong in its place. Thus the health of our topsoil is one of the most critical factors in keeping the health of our planet.

This fertile upper part of the soil which we call topsoil is the upper surface of the Earth’s crust. And it’s not much topsoil that we’re talking about. It is no deeper than approximately eight inches (20 centimeters).

Thus one good stroke with a shovel, or a pick, can put you to the depth of your topsoil. What is it that makes this thin layer of topsoil so necessary, compared to the soil underneath?

Earth’s topsoil mixes rich humus with minerals and composted material resulting in a nutritious substrate for plants and trees.

Plants and trees will of course grow even if the topsoil is not so rich, but the better quality the topsoil, the better quality of the ‘product’ — the vegetation or food — that grows in it. And the better quality of the food we grow, the healthier we are.

Or, in other words, when thinking about your health, you should concern yourself with the nutritive qualities of your food. Potatoes, apples, spinach or whatever other food, grown in rich soil will have more nutrition than the same items grown in depleted soil.

So if you are concerned about this, then you should consider how healthy or nutritive your soil is.

Thus the topsoil represents a delicate nutritional balance. And healthy topsoil results in healthy food and an overall healthy environment.

The delicate nature of topsoil was misunderstood until very recently.

An example of the dangers of ignoring topsoil occurred in the years leading up to the Great Depression in the USA, in the 1930s. Up to that time, farmers rotated crops to create a better crop yield but did not understand the process they were dealing with.

So, when economic pressures came full-on in the 1930s, farmers planted profitable crops repeatedly, rather than rotating the crops. There was just too much need for some predictable income. They needed a cash crop. In the short term this may have helped farmers, but ultimately this practice stripped the topsoil of nutritive value.

As the stripped soil did not support plants, even light winds could pick up the limited remaining topsoil.

The stripping of the topsoil, what we call erosion, has devastating affects on the quality of our food, and also on the ability of the land to retain water.

There has always been soil erosion. As part of a natural process, it’s termed as ‘background erosion’. In general, background erosion removes soil at roughly the same rate as soil is formed. But ‘accelerated’ soil erosion — loss of soil at a much faster rate than it is formed — is a far more recent problem.

This accelerated erosion is always a result of mankind’s unwise actions, such as overgrazing or unsuitable cultivation practices. These leave the land unprotected and vulnerable. Then, during times of erosive rainfall or windstorms, soil may be detached and possibly transported long distances, perhaps to the sea.

Accelerated soil erosion by water or wind may affect both agricultural areas and the natural environment, and is one of the most widespread of today’s environmental problems.

According to BBC news, “Soil erosion by water, wind and tillage affects both agriculture and the natural environment. Soil loss, and its associated impacts, is one of the most important (yet probably the least well-known) of today’s environmental problems.”

One way to avoid soil erosion and to enrich the land is to use crop rotation as an essential practice. And we need to understand why we do it.

Modern sustainable farming emphasizes crop rotation. Farmers keep crops in rotation; allow fields to lay fallow, and plant nitrogen fixing plants. Many farmers also plow plant material into the topsoil to enrich the humus and spread compost.

They may also put manure in the topsoil, to make it more nutritious and rich.

This delicate nature has not always been misunderstood. For example, in Biblical times farmers apparently knew to let the fields be unplanted for one year out of seven. This allowed the fields to regain their vitality.

Crop rotation was already mentioned in Roman literature, and referred to by great civilizations in Africa and Asia. From the end of the Middle Ages farmers in Europe for centuries used a three-year rotation, with rye or winter wheat followed by spring oats or barley, then letting the soil rest (fallow) during the third stage. The fact that suitable rotations made it possible to restore or to maintain a productive soil has long been recognized by planting spring crops for livestock in place of grains for human consumption.

So the next time you look at your soil, don’t just think of it as “dirt” but remember that our planet’s existence depends on topsoil.

1.800.TOPSOIL is a marketing and communications company that was formed to assist entrepreneurs in the topsoil business. We provide your organization with a substantial edge over the competition. Keeping potential clients away from the phone book and your competition, by providing them with a phone number they will instantly recall every time the need for your service arises. “They will never forget 1.800.TOPSOIL.”

1-800-TOP-SOIL members are the finest Topsoil and Landscaping supply companies in the nation. We currently have members spread throughout the United States. To find the best topsoil and landscape supply in your area call 1.800.TOPSOIL

CPAT – Candidate Physical Aptitude Test

As an increasing number of Municipalities across Canada and the United States make the CPAT their official physical test as part of the firefighter hiring process, recruitment candidates should familiarize themselves with this test, as well as understand how a metabolic and strength conditioning program can properly prepare them for it.

The CPAT began in 1997 as a result of what the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) and IAFC (International Association of Fire Chiefs) viewed as a need to standardize the physical testing of candidates being hired into fire services all across North America. The rationale was that candidates who were incapable of achieving the physical requirements of fire fighting were slipping through the cracks. A task force consisting of the IAFF / IAFC and ten leading fire services and their unions created the Fire Service Joint Labor-Management Wellness-Fitness Initiative. In turn, the CPAT was developed.

Using 1000 randomly selected fire fighters from the ten fire services, various standards were developed based on averages. Averages such as; what kinds of tasks fire fighters are required to complete, how much the average gear and tools weigh, the average height and weight of the fire fighters, and even the average weight of patients entering the ER departments of the cities where the ten fire services were located. Using these averages, an ‘obstacle course’ was created that the task force felt best replicated what the average firefighter would experience at an average fire ground scenario. After running their fire fighters through it, they also came up with an average time that candidates should pass.

Municipalities that decide to run the CPAT as their official test must be licensed accordingly by the IAFF in order to do so. This results in an across-the-board baseline whereby every CPAT is essentially the exact same thing. All distances, weights, instructions, and sequence is the exact same. The individuals manning the test have received recognized training as well. Because the CPAT is a recognized standard that has been developed with such an excellent attention to detail, candidates are essentially unable to legally challenge the results as being ‘unfair’ – since thousands upon thousands of applicants and hires have set precedence before them as to the universal acceptance of this test.

The general rules of the CPAT are pretty straight-forward. Every step of the CPAT has a particular aspect to it that can constitute an instant fail. Sometimes you get to have a ‘warning’ before you fail, again, this depends on the step you’re on. There is a set time you must complete all eight steps in to pass.

The CPAT starts with a candidate being ‘loaded’ with a 50lb weighted vest. They are asked to make their way to a stair-climbing machine and given an extra 25lbs (12.5 add-ons on each shoulder). A 20 second warm-up at 50 steps per minute is quickly followed by a 3 minute, 60 steps per minute set. You cannot touch the rail twice, or you will fail. This is the only part of the whole CPAT where you cannot go more quickly than the time allocated for it.

Step 2, the hose drag, involves grabbing a nozzle on 200 feet of 1 ¾ hose and running with it 75 feet to a drum then turning 90 degrees and running another 25 feet. You then get on one knee and drag the hose until the first coupling, at 50 feet, crosses the finish line. This is the only part of the CPAT that you can run as fast as you can. If you fail to go around the drum, it’s an instant fail. If one of your knees is outside the finish-line ‘box’ you get a warning. The second time it’s a fail.

Step 3, the equipment carry, involves carrying two saws around a cone and back to the starting point. This starts by picking up each saw from a shelf and placing it on the ground, one at a time. Once both saws are on the ground, they are picked up at the same time, one in each hand, and carried around the cone and back. They are then returned to the shelf in the reverse sequence as they were removed, one at a time. If the saws fall or touch the ground during the carry in any way, it’s a fail. If you run at all, it’s a fail.

Step 4, the ladder raise and extension, involves raising a 24 foot aluminum ladder from a lying position to a vertical one against a wall. You then move to the side and extend the fly-section of an identical ladder to its limit, then lower it back down to the ground in a controlled, hand-over-hand manner. Any loss of control during any part of this step, including having the rope slip in any fashion, will result in an instant fail.

Step 5, forcible entry, involves striking a 10lb sledge-hammer against a mechanical measuring device which is meant to simulate the resistance of a typical front door. Once the buzzer sounds, signalling that a successful amount of force has been applied, the step is concluded. Dropping the sledge hammer will result in an instant fail. Stepping outside of a marked box that you are standing in to swing the sledge hammer will result in a warning. A second warning is an instant fail.

Step 6, search, involves crawling through a darkened 64 foot u-shape maze (two 90 degree angles) with obstacles in your path requiring you to feel and make your way through it. Any event that results in the candidate requiring assistance out of the maze, either by panicking or running out of time, will lead to an instant fail.

Step 7, rescue, involves dragging a 165lb dummy around a drum and back to the starting line, totalling 70ft. If the candidate fails to drag the dummy around the drum, or the candidate touches or rests on the drum, they instantly fail.

Step 8, ceiling breach and pull, involves using a pike pole to perform four complete sets of three repetitions of pushing up a hinged door, followed by 5 repetitions of pulling down on a hook attached to a ceiling device. Both the hinged door and the ceiling device provide a weighted resistance. Stepping outside the designated area will result in a warning. A second time will result in an instant fail. Candidates are allowed to drop the pike-pole once, a second time will result in an instant fail.

Even without failing any of the eight steps, you must still complete them in a set time. If you go over the set time unfortunately this results in an instant fail as well.

Like most fire fighters, I spent a few years working hard to get hired. This resulted in my having done more CPATs than I care to remember. Because most of these CPATs were out of town, I spent numerous hours sitting around waiting for my turn, and this enabled me to see hundreds of other candidates perform the CPAT. While the majority passed, a surprisingly large number also failed – I would never have guessed that the failure rate was as high as it was unless I saw it for myself. I saw people pretty much fail at every single step. While many people failed for technical reasons such as dropping the ladder, panicking in the maze, not running around a drum, running when not supposed to, dropping a sledge-hammer (pretty much every failure mentioned in the steps above I’ve seen happen!) – The majority of people failed because they simply were not in proper shape to undertake the CPAT, plain and simple. I’ve seen people give up after less than a minute on the stair-climber! What on earth were they thinking the job entailed? A lot of people managed to make it through the CPAT, but not under the amount of time allocated.

Passing the CPAT requires that you get yourself in fire fighter shape. Fitness programs such as the metabolic and strength conditioning combined with powerlifting workouts are perfect for the particularities of becoming a fire fighter. I’ve seen my share of body-builder types (the stereotypical types that you would have to assume are in excellent shape if you didn’t know better) who made it off the stair-climber with rubber legs looking like they just got off a boat that completed a 6 year journey at sea. They had no gas left in their tanks and couldn’t complete the rest of it in time.

The fact of the matter is that unless you train for all aspects of fitness, you will lack the strength, endurance, cross-training, recovery, and general conditioning required for not only passing the CPAT, but performing your job as a fire fighter. Barely passing the CPAT is also not enough. Most fire services one you get hired and are in their drill school have their own physical tests which are much more demanding than the CPAT and have no problems cutting you if you can’t handle it. The days of getting instantly hired for the rest of your life are behind us and recruits are at an ever increasing chance of being let go due to poor physical conditioning. Even more challenging than the drill school physical tests are dealing with an actual fire. Ask any fire fighter with actual experience what the difference is – it’s pretty much day and night.

The CPAT should be seen as an absolute bear minimum of fitness level. If you can’t smoke the CPAT in under 7:30, you may get a nasty wake-up call in drill school or worse, on the fire ground. You shouldn’t be walking around with your head high if you barely passed. Use the time between the CPAT and getting hired to increase your physical conditioning! Being in excellent physical condition is your responsibility once you get hired – and if you are not willing to put in the sacrifice to achieve a high level of fitness, this job simply isn’t for you. There are numerous programs out there that can take you to the next level, so look around and do your homework. We like to think our program, which takes you safely and effectively from beginner to advanced is great, but we’re obviously partial since we’ve seen great results from it and have been perfecting it for over 4 years now. Whatever fitness program you come across, give it your best. As a fire fighter, doing nothing is never an option.

General tips for passing the CPAT are as follows:

  • Get in shape!
  • Follow all directions
  • Familiarize yourself with all the steps
  • Hydrate yourself properly prior to starting
  • Eat a healthy breakfast on testing day (as you should every day)
  • Get a goodnight sleep
  • Don’t stress out – Getting in shape, knowing what to expect, and being fueled will result in your success!

Does Asthma Cause Claustrophobia?

I’m asthmatic and have claustrophobia. Does being asthmatic necessarily mean you’re going to suffer, also, from claustrophobia? Maybe. I read about this in Prevention magazine. It seems that recent studies show that there is a striking connection between asthma and psychological problems, i.e. depression and anxiety. If you’ve ever been in a situation where you have not been able to breath, it’s not hard then for the mind to extrapolate, “small place, no air.” In the last year or so I’ve, unfortunately, had some anxiety attacks brought about by asthma. For example, during our trip to Russia I acquired some bug. When we returned, I was sick for a good 6 weeks with coughing, sinus problems etc. So the coughing exacerbates the asthma. I’m going to my allergist, taking all kinds of stuff and still having trouble breathing. One night I wake up in a sweat and am gasping for air.

I tried not to panic. I was able to slow my breathing down and work my way out of it. But it was scary as hell. I can not imagine what it would be like to have a fully blown panic attack. But, back to asthma and claustrophobia. I’ve tried to overcome the phobia. A few years ago while in Rome (oh, another vacation dropper), we decided to go to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. Now, if you’ve ever been in these old churches, you can only surmise that the people who built them must have been 5’5″ and 150 pounds because all of the walkways are very narrow and low. I decided to give it a try (my mantra is that if God put it on this earth, I want to see it). It was July and peak tourist season. As we begin to ascend, you’re walking in a spiral. So, you really only see the people’s butts in front of you. There are 100’s of people in front of me and 100’s behind me.

No escape! My dear, dear husband. How I love him so. But what does he say? “This can’t be very good for your claustrophobia”. Screenplay: Wife reaches back and strangles husband. Life: “I love you too dear”. As you get closer to the top of the dome, you are now bending to the right because the staircase mimics the dome. Help!!! Luckily, every so many steps there was a small slit of a window. I would stick my head out of the window, take a deep breath, and continue. I made it to the top! Congratulations! Now to go back down… Over the years I’ve climbed into the Great Pyramid of Giza, gone underground in the Valley of the Kings, gone into caves in Borneo (big ones), and had a Cat Scan. I can fight it but I can’t defeat it.

For the last 5 years I’ve been getting allergy injections. My asthma is almost, ALMOST, under control. And I’ve actually gotten better about being in small places But, any movie or TV show that has a person locked in a room, a room with no window, or, God forbid, watch Kill Bill, forget it. I can’t watch. If a terrorist wanted info from me, just threaten to put me in a small cell with no window and withhold my rescue inhaler… I’ll talk, I’ll talk!!!!! Oh, and no, no scuba diving. Enveloped by water and breathing through a small tube? I don’t think so…

How to Repair an Old Asphalt Roof

If you own an old commercial building with a flat roof odds are you have an old asphalt roof of some type. These roof surfaces are made up of layers of felt paper and tar stacked up on each other, which over the years it will or it has given you a lot of headaches. They are usually made of felt paper or felt paper that is covered with a layer of gravel, the gravel in theory was to help keep the roof cooler which it does a little but it makes repair much more difficult, not to mention all the additional weight that is added to your roofs stability.

One of the biggest problem with asphalt surfaces is that they dry up and shrink which eventually leads to cracking and this will cause your roof to leak. When this occurs you will notice that the roof surface may look a little like an alligator skin. In order to keep your asphalt roof in good condition it must be maintained. To accomplish this you should have your roof re-coated with an asphalt based coating at least once every five years or so, if you don’t it can lead to expensive and time consuming repairs. Over the years your roofs crucial oils are weathered out of the roof surface and it must be restored to maintain integrity, if you have areas with standing water then the process speeds up and your roof will fail in that area most likely first.

If you are on of the unfortunates owners of a gravel roof then you can have even bigger problems. Gravel was put on in a time when it was thought it would be beneficial to help reduce the roofs temperature with cheap gravel, it worked a little but not very much. Gravel roofs undergo the same problems as a regular felt roof but the leaks and standing water areas are much harder to spot. Another huge problem is maintaining the roof, in order to do a maintenance coating all the gravel must be removed. Sounds easier than what it is, you should contract out a gravel suction company to complete this task, but if you are feeling like you need a good workout a few flat shovels and a broom will do the job as well.

Another problem that asphalt roofs face are blistering problems. Blistering occurs when moisture works it way in between the roof layers and expands forming a huge gas pocket, eventually these pockets will expand to a breaking point and crack open, thus leaving you with a hole in your roof. If you have blistering problems you must cut them open with a cross cut so you can fold back the edges and fill them in with roof cement, then fold the cut edges back over the cement thus resealing your roof.

There are a few types of roof coatings that can be used to remedy and repair your roof problems. The most commonly used are asphalt based but if you want a better longer lasting coating you should consider using a elastomeric roof coating, they are much more durable, more energy efficient and longer lasting than asphalt coatings.

Asphalt coatings are generally black or silver in color and have a life span of about five years if applied correctly. They are generally the cheapest of the roof coatings but if you decide to go with this system be sure to purchase ones that are fiberglass embedded, they are much better at stopping and repairing leaks.

Elastomeric coatings are generally white in color and have a life span of 10 to twenty years, there are a few with a 20 year warranty as well, but they are very expensive. Elastomeric roof coatings work very well especially when combined with fiberglass mesh system as its base.

A Guide To Redesigning Your Used Caravan’s Interior

Have you ever spent a weekend or even a week travelling around the coast or countryside in a caravan, experiencing all the sights and sounds that our wonderful country has to offer? This is a fantastic way to travel – not only can you take along as many of your own possessions as you like, you will be able to prepare and cook your own meals (helping you to save some money). The only complaint that most travelers appear to have is that their used caravans have quite outdated interiors.

Fortunately, this is a problem that can easily be fixed, allowing you to get on with your travels as soon as possible. And, luckily for you, redesigning the interior of your used caravan could not be any easier. Using the following tips, you can rest assured that your van is perfectly suited to your needs and that you are able to travel in comfort.

  • As caravans only have a small amount of space, you should be aiming for as clutter free a design as possible. Make sure that there is plenty of cupboard space so that you can hide away all of the mess.
  • Opt for a darker colour scheme, as this won’t need to be cleaned as often and will not show up the dirt (especially with your carpet). Vinyl or laminate can be a good choice around the doorway for those muddier times of the year.
  • Add a mirror or two onto the walls, as this can help the space to feel much larger. This is especially useful if your used caravan is lucky enough to be fitted with a bathroom, which are notoriously small.
  • Consider covering your windows with roller blinds, as these have a simple design that won’t detract from the clutter-free appearance of your space and they are relatively maintenance free. Black out blinds are also a good choice if you like to sleep in.
  • Choose one brighter colour that you can use an accent, then begin using it in small amounts throughout the used caravan. A touch here and there is often enough to brighten the space up.
  • Give your caravan some small, home-y touches that will make your travels (especially long ones) much more enjoyable. Hang a clock on the wall over the kitchen area, for example, or put some photo frames on display. You could also use bedspreads instead of sleeping bags.

If you find the interior of your used caravan completely unsuitable for your needs, you might like to completely gut the space and start again. Not only will this enable you to update the space, it will enable you to design it according to your own needs. Perhaps you want some bunk beds for the kids or you want to make the living area smaller – it’s up to you.

Painting an Ice Cream Truck: The Do’s and the Don’ts

Q: Why is owning an ice cream truck vending company like owning a modeling agency?

A: Because looks count for A LOT.

There is nothing that is going to lose you more customers in less time than a truck which has a paint job which makes it look sketchy, trashy or just plain boring. So I’ve created a list of 5 do’s and 5 don’ts you should be aware of when making the crucial decision about how to paint your truck:


  1. DO use bright colors which make your truck standout – after all you want to be noticed!
  2. DO use your writing and text which will advertise you by drawing the eye and which is appealing to both children and adults.
  3. DO keep your design simple – don’t bombard your customers with distracting colors and images.
  4. DO go for a retro design. For many people, ice cream trucks conjure up treasured memories from their youth so you can never be too old-fashioned!
  5. DO you know your customer! Certain designs will work better in different locations and with people from different backgrounds and income brackets. An ice cream truck selling along Venice Beach is going to have a very different look and feel than a truck selling in downtown Manhattan!


  1. DON’T use brown, grey or other colors which make you appear to blend into the background or worse, appear boring.
  2. DON’T overdo it with decals and decorations. Doing too much visually can be almost as bad as doing too little.
  3. DON’T use color schemes which may be associated with drugs or other illegal activity. Some ice cream vendors have given the industry a bad name by dealing more than ice cream from their trucks!
  4. DON’T place decals and other signage too high or too low. Make sure that all writing can be seen by both children and adults.
  5. DON”T spoil your amazing design by forgetting that a window may have to go in the middle of it! Make sure that you take into account the practicalities of your vehicle and make a sketch before you start painting.

At the end of the day the design of your ice cream truck will be a major component in how people view your business. When in doubt keep it simple, it is better to have a well executed simple design then trying to get fancying and having an amateur paint job. The easiest things to do are also the most effective, add some color to your bumpers, wheels, mirrors, and your rooftop speaker. Customers will notice the little things like uneven paint, uncentered decals and lettering or crooked lines so make sure everything is done right, especially on the side of your truck that has the serving window.

And remember, just because you painted your truck doesn’t mean you can neglect it; make sure you spray it down with water every few days and whenever it rains, because the dirt the accumulates on your roof will bleed down onto the sides of your truck.

The Difference Between Lifting Straps And Lifting Slings

If you can’t tell a lifting strap from a lifting sling, this is the article for you. Both are used in moving items around but they have widely varied applications.

Some people use the term lifting strap and lifting sling interchangeably. However, they are actually two different tools with two different applications.

A lifting strap is also referred to as a moving strap. This type of moving aid can be used to help people – usually a team of two people – lift heavy objects. These straps can be a lifesaver in moving in and out of a residential home especially if you are moving yourself. Professional movers also use them instead of a traditional wheeled dolly because there are certain places you don’t want to wheel a dolly around a home. For example, you may not want to wheel a dolly over white carpet or fragile tile floors. There also may be pieces of furniture or appliances which don’t lend themselves to being moved with a dolly. A moving strap is usually secured around both persons shoulders and/or waists in order to provide stability and help you handle the heavy object. You may be surprised at the many items which can be lifted this way including washers, dryers, cabinets, refrigerators, couches and much more.

A lifting sling is generally used in an industrial or marine setting to lift or hoist very heavy equipment such as boats, trucks and construction equipment. They are made out of a variety of materials which are designed for specific applications including nylon, polyester, wire rope and chain. Nylon type are the most common choice. Chain type are the strongest option. All types are graded by the manufacturer for a variety of load factors and you need to be careful to purchase the correct hoist for your load. The slings are usually connected to the crane or whatever is being used for the pull with a shackle or other type of industrial strength connector.

Whether you call it lifting straps or slings, most sales professionals can figure out what you are really after. The important thing is to ask questions so you get the right tool for the job you need to do.

Corporate Governance and Small Businesses

Let’s start with some review of what types of companies primarily drive the US economy.   We know that there are about 16,000 publicly traded companies represented on the NASDAQ, NYSE and the AMEX.  The key economic driver in the US is the 27 million small businesses.  The Small Business Administration 2008 Presidential Report on The Small Business Economy clearly communicated “the economy generated 1.1 million net new jobs in 2007. In the first quarter of 2007, 74 percent of the net new jobs were in small firms with fewer than 500 employees and 22 percent were in firms with fewer than 20 employees.”   Yet, the gross amount of attention in the media and the federal bureaucracy is around what is happening in the Markets.  This is understandable with the volumes of dollars transitioning in this public environment. The economic recovery program is not addressing the core of the economy, small businesses.   More than ever the public market environment is being questioned about corporate governance.  The new legislation being considered for public companies has sections that may very well trickle down and require the small businesses to adhere to similar if not exact rules on Corporate Governance.

A simple definition of Corporate Governance for the small business:  

Corporate governance simply refers to the set of internal policies, rules, and procedures that a company follows on a regular basis to ensure that it operates in a fair, equitable, and appropriate manner for the benefit of the company, its management and its shareholders. A corporation usually has a board of directors and a senior “C” level management team.   Most small businesses do not have these organizational entities clearly defined and functional.  For private companies that are registered as a corporation and have investors, the various states require these entities to have a governing board.  Yet many small businesses incorporate for tax issues and do not necessarily pay attention to the concepts of corporate governance. 

How does Corporate Governance apply to small businesses?  

All businesses should look at their organizational structure and continually assess what will allow the company to perform in an optimal way.  The simplest way to implement this is to have an advisory board.  The advisory board is non-paid individuals that have business or industry specific backgrounds that can contribute ideas or mentor management.  In more formal and traditional cases a small corporation has a board of directors comprised of the founders, a spouse, an employee and maybe – just maybe an outside director.  The focal point of corporate governance within small businesses is that all businesses need to set company strategic goals, provide the leadership to put them into effect, supervise the management of the business, and if the company has stockholders, report to the stockholders on their stewardship.  For those small businesses that do not have the hierarchical structure in place to implement formal corporate governance plans, it is recommended that regular self assessment of the company will be the starting place for accountability, to enhance performance, grow the company and be a greater contributing force in the economy.  At the end of the day, if you follow some set of policies and procedures and are reporting your stewardship of the company to someone even if it is your dog, then you have accountability that is key to corporate governance practices.

Will the government impose its will and definition of Corporate Governance from the public markets into the small business environment?

This imposition of government from the public market companies to privately held companies is making its way through the halls of congress.  One idea being tagged onto present legislation is to extend Sarbanes-Oxley down to privately held companies.  Anyone that knows anything about SOX is aware of the high cost to implement the documentation processes and the reporting.   Pushing this down to the small business environment would be cost prohibitive and stunt economic growth.  The general politics of mandated corporate governance is to wait and see how new legislation will affect the small businesses driving the US economy.

As a final note, every company, no matter what size it is, will see the positive effects of implementing the principles of corporate governance.  The facts remain that there are 27 million plus small businesses in the US who are the job creators and the drivers of the economy.  The greatness of US business is that it performs the best when individuals come together in a free market environment to meet the needs of the economy and society.  In the end, best practices of corporate governance can be freely implemented to benefit the company or corporate governance can be instituted by the government, which can cost more in resources, planning and profit.  Take the time to assess how your small business views corporate governance and how this will enhance your growth in the market place.

Do Love Binding Spells Really Work?

Just to inform all those skeptics who pooh pooh away love spells, magic and witchcraft, one of the most effective kinds of forceful love spells are love binding spells and their job is to bind one individual to another through eternity and beyond.

The problem with love binding spells is that most people resort to them as a last ditch attempt to save a failing relationship with perhaps a most undeserving loutish person without realizing that love comes in your life many times and sometimes, you can get the right person for you at the fourth or fifth attempt, way in your mid life.

There is just no need to use a love binding spell. And when you desperately and selfishly use these spells to bind a lover with you by breaking up his/her home, it is just being evil. And such spells may not work out at all for either party and may prove to be completely ineffective.

When you use love binding spells to inflict pain on others, which pain will return to haunt you, three times more powerfully, according to the 3 fold law. These are the points you need to consider before using love binding spells.

Spells # 1

Here is a very powerful love binding spell that is highly effective. To perform it you will require 2 photographs of yours and that of your partner’s, a yard of red ribbon and some kind of a sharp object or a needle for poking holes in the photographs.

With the sharp object, you have got to poke holes in the two photographs. Then you have to sew them altogether. And all the while you need to chant out your desire in the form of a verse.

Spells # 2

This one is an apple binding spell. You need items like a red silk ribbon, two locks of hair from your lover’s head and from yours, honey and an apple. Now you have to cut the apple into 2 pieces in a horizontal manner in such a way that it reveals the star in the middle.

Warning about indiscriminate use of these love spells

The problem with all love binding spells and this one is that just as you are binding the other person to you, similarly, you are also binding yourself to your partner. Besides, love binding spells tend to get extremely complicated, so it is wise to think deeply over the consequences that might result from your spell before actually performing it! Are you sure that you are not binding yourself to a serial killer or a lazy bum or a cheat or a womanizer?

The Hoover Flights Fiasco and Unilateral Contracts

The Hoover Marketing Promotion

I have written previously about what has become known as the Hoover flights fiasco. To explain what happened briefly: in 1992, Hoover ran a promotion that promised two free seats on flights to Europe or America to any customers buying a Hoover product that cost £100 or more.

The promotion was enormously successful in encouraging people to buy Hoover products, but enormously unsuccessful in how much Hoover had to pay for flights. One estimate put the Hoover sales at £30 million and the cost of the flights at £50 million.

In my previous article I raised the question of why Hoover did not simple pull the plug on things when they knew the promotion was not doing quite what they wanted.

One answer, the PR answer, is that Hoover had already suffered serial PR disasters because of the promotion and how they were handling it. Pulling the plug would have just made things worse – exactly how much worse it could possibly have got is debatable, however.

I suggested that there might also be a second answer that is worth exploring, the unilateral contract answer. This answer is all to do with the nature of unilateral contracts, a type of contract that involves one person promising something in return for another carrying out an act.

It may have been the case that even if Hoover had cancelled the promotion sooner there would have been customers who would have been entitled to claim flight tickets because they had entered into a contract with Hoover to that effect, even though they had not yet bought a Hoover product.

English Contract Law

English contract law has historically recognised only bargains as creating legal obligations between two parties. A bargain involves an exchange: I give you something and you give me something in return. What we exchange may consist of an exchange of promises – such a contract is usually known as a bilateral contract.

Less often encountered, but still important, is the unilateral contract. With this type of contract what is exchanged is one person’s promise in return for another’s act. Rewards are good examples. If you see my advertisement offering £100 for the return of my lost dog (a promise) your returning the dog (an act) creates a contract.

In most cases, contracts consist of an offer and an acceptance. One person offers something that another person accepts. In a unilateral contract, the promise is the offer and the act is the acceptance. For example, I offer a reward for the return of my lost dog and you accept my offer by the act of returning my lost dog.

Usually, the person who makes an offer (often referred to as the offeror) can change her mind and cancel the offer. In technical contract language, the offeror is said to revoke her offer. However, to revoke an offer the law makes two stipulations: the offeror must communicate her revocation to the other party (who is known as the offeree) before he accepts it. This all seems to make perfectly good sense.

Unilateral Offers and Revocations

Let me give you an example of what could potentially form a unilateral contract. I promise you £1000 if you run and complete the London marathon. You make no promise to run the marathon; however, on the due day you are there in the starting line-up. If you complete the marathon; a unilateral contract is formed and I owe you £1000.

Just recall what I said about revoking offers: the offeror (I’m the offeror in the marathon case) can revoke an offer at any time before it is accepted by the offeree (you are the offeree in the marathon case) so long as she communicates that revocation to the offeree. Therefore, I can revoke my £1000 offer by communicating my revocation to you at any time before you accept it. If you think about it, this presents a problem where unilateral offers are concerned.

With a unilateral contract the question arises at what point does the acceptance take place? The acceptance is an act and an act is something that has a start and an end. An act is not instantaneous. In the marathon case, your act is going to be of several hours duration.

Although there are arguments to the contrary, in the marathon case the acceptance is likely to be when you cross the finish line because this is what I asked for – I asked you to run and complete the race.

Thus, if acceptance of my promise occurs only when you cross the line, according to the revocation rule I can revoke my offer at any time before you accept it – that is before you cross the line – so long as I communicate this revocation to you. We could, therefore, have a situation where you have completed 26 miles and some 350 yards when I jump out from the crowd and tell you my offer is revoked.

If I am allowed to revoke successfully my offer at this late stage, it seems unfair but it seems to be where the principles of contract law have taken us. Does English contract law really allow me to do this?

A Way Out of the Unfairness

I should guess that most people would say that allowing me to revoke my offer in the circumstances above would be very unfair. Contractual principles may appear to allow this but surely, many would say, you should be given the chance to finish your act once you have started it. The key points here are that you have acted in good faith in reliance on what I promised you.

It seems that English contract law would agree with this opinion. The position would appear to be that where there is a unilateral offer; revocation will not be allowed once the offeree has embarked upon the act. In most cases this seems pretty sensible. The position in English law was explained by Goff LJ in the case of Daulia Limited v Four Milbank Nominees Limited 1978.

The judge begins by saying that “… the true view of a unilateral contract must in general be that the offeror is entitled to require full performance of the condition which he has imposed and short of that he is not bound… “. Thus in the marathon case this means that you are entitled to you money only when you cross the line.

The judge continued by saying that “… there must be an implied obligation on the part of the offeror not to prevent the condition becoming satisfied, which obligation it seems to me must arise as soon as the offeree starts to perform.” Once you start to perform your act, therefore, I am unable to revoke my offer. Certainly, then, at the point the starters gun fires, I am unable to revoke my offer.

The question then is: what has this all got to do with the Hoover case?

The Hoover Case and Unilateral Contracts

Unilateral contracts are sometimes called “if” contracts or “if then” contracts because their form is always the same: if you do this then I’ll do that. If you run and complete the London marathon then I’ll give you £1000; or if you buy one of our Hoover products then we’ll give you two flight tickets from the UK to Europe or the USA.

Hoover had originally made their offer in August 1992 and it was set to run through until the end of January 1993. There is nothing preventing you revoking an offer even though you have said that you’ll keep it open for a certain period of time. Therefore, Hoover could have revoked their offer at any time before it naturally came to an end in January 1993.

What would the position have been had Hoover attempted to cancel their promotion – that is, to revoke their offer – in, say, December 1992? The question is whether such a revocation would be effective? From what was said above, a unilateral offer cannot be revoked once the offeree has begun the act that was requested in the offer.

The revocation would be effective with regard to anyone who had not begun the act of buying a Hoover before the point of revocation. Let’s say that the point of revocation was the 12 December 1992. That all seems straightforward enough doesn’t it? If you started the act of buying a Hoover product prior to that date; you’d be entitled to your flight tickets. But what would constitute the act of buying a Hoover Product?

The Requested Act

If the act of buying is handing over your money in a store then most of what follows is redundant. The act of buying, however, may be something more complex than that and may start even before you walk into the store. Let’s go back to the marathon.

I ask you to run and complete the marathon. It is highly improbable, not impossible but certainly highly improbable, that you’d simply go out and run a marathon without at least a few weeks training – perhaps 3 – 6 months training would not be unreasonable. The rationale for the rule against revoking once the act has started is that it is unfair to the offeree. It is unfair to the offeree because he relies on what he is promised and adjusts his position accordingly.

If I promise you £1000 to run and complete the London marathon your preparation for this may take up a considerable amount of time and be considerably expensive – you may need to buy sports clothing and who knows what else. Thus there may well come a point where your preparation is sufficiently detrimental to you – in terms of cost – that I will be unable to revoke my offer and deny you the opportunity to complete the act that was requested.

You can apply similar reasoning to the Hoover case. Let’s just stay with a fairly simple situation that could have occurred. It is quite conceivable that a potential purchaser may have decided that he would not buy a Hoover until the New Year. There could be any number of reasons why he might so decide. He may wish to save some money each week, for example. It is possible to think of multiple variations on such a theme as this that – should Hoover have cancelled their promotion – the fertile minds of customers denied their free flights might construct.


I’m not sure that the people at Hoover sat around discussing the jurisprudential niceties of unilateral contracts. I expect that the reasons that the promotion was allowed to run its course was that Hoover thought the PR damage was already pretty bad and a cancellation could only make things worse.

I’m pretty sure that someone did a calculation and came out with a worse case position in terms of the likely numbers of people who might take up the flights offer. However, I can’t believe that the figure of £50 million would have been arrived at and accepted.

I wonder, though, if someone with an astute legal mind might just have raised a warning about the problem of unilateral contracts. She might have reasoned that an early cancellation might cause greater problems. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of frustrated customers might argue that they had begun the act of purchasing a Hoover. This would bring further bad PR, heavy legal bills and, potentially, defeat in the courts, should things have gone that far, in many cases.

It’s interesting to speculate what might have happened had Hoover cancelled their promotion. What is almost certain is that any ruling that a court made – should litigation have occurred – would have been restricted to a very narrow point of law, which would have focused a light on other contentious questions of unilateral contracts: Questions to which I will return in future articles.

A Plantar Fasciitis Natural Treatment – The Ice Dip

There is an ice-dip plantar fasciitis natural treatment that can help ease the agony of this painful condition of the foot. It might get rid of your foot and heel pain for good, or it might not. Sometimes only temporary relief is found with the ice-dip treatment. It’s worth a try. There are other more effective, and certain treatments you can learn about.

How do you know if your foot pain is plantar fasciitis?

Do you suffer from pain in the heel of your foot, or do you have sharp pain in your foot when you first get out of bed in the morning that eases up when you begin to walk? Does the pain tend to return later in your day, probably after a period of sitting? Does the pain feel like you are stepping on sharp stone or a piece of glass? If so, then you might be suffering from a case of plantar fasciitis.

This malady is a common cause of foot and heel pain. It’s caused by the inflammation of the plantar fascia connective tissue on the bottom of the foot. It is a kind of tendonitis.

The Ice Dip Natural Treatment

This may help reduce the inflammation in your foot.

1. Find a container (a bucket, a tub, a pot, or pan) you can fit your entire foot into.

2. Fill the container nearly full with water and ice. Instead of ice, you could use frozen bottles of water.

3. Dip your foot into the container with the water and ice.

4. Dip your foot into the ice-water container for only 5-10 seconds. You can leave your foot in longer if you want, but the benefit is not worth the added discomfort.

Be cautious, you don’t want to freeze your foot. 5-10 seconds a time is plenty.

5. After the 5-10 second dip, remove your foot from the ice-water container.

6. Perform this ice-water foot dip at least 10 times a day. 10 times within a two hour period is good.

Continue this ice-dip treatment for an entire week. You are after the cumulative effect of the ice-dip anti-inflammatory treatment. It may take 2 to 4 days before you begin to feel any benefit or change in your foot or heel pain. Dipping your foot into ice-water is unpleasant, but stick with it. Hopefully you will turn the corner and feel some results. The ice-dip helps a lot of people, but not all. For those it does help, sometimes the pain returns after a time.

Important things to know about plantar fasciitis and its treatment:

* The ice-dip treatment I’ve given you may or may not bring permanent relief from the foot and heel pain you are suffering.

* Don’t wait for plantar fasciitis to get better by itself. This usually does not happen. You have to take action.

* The most common and recommended methods to get over plantar fasciitis won’t heal this painful condition like you expect and hope they should. There are things going on in your foot that cause the pain, they must be understood and corrected. The pain is the result of a condition. Instead of only treating the pain, you must treat the condition.

* There is more you can do besides the ice-dip treatment. Knowledge is power when treating this foot condition. You must know what works. You can learn how to use other methods to ease the pain and heal your foot tendonitis, or at least manage it so it you are as pain free as possible.

Climate – A Gout Cause You Never Suspected

You may have heard people complain about the weather outside affecting certain conditions such as arthritis, but you may never have suspected that the climate in which you live could be a gout cause. Over the last few years, it is becoming commonly accepted that previous hypotheses that said the weather could not affect gout are actually quite incorrect.

Though studies have been performed and have come up with some results, due to the high number of variables, the impact that climate has as a gout cause is by no means well understood. Therefore, the studies have looked into geographical distribution with regards to the number of cases of gout as a weak guide regarding the weather that is most likely to bring about the disease.

Results showed that flare-ups of gout were most common during hot and humid weather. This being said, these same scientists reported that drinking a lot of water was a notable preventative for gout attacks during these hot, humid periods.

The research was performed in 2006 by Boston researchers (and presented at the 2006 American College of Rheumatology’s annual scientific meeting) who studied 197 participants who had gout, and examined the influence of temperature and humidity on the frequency of the condition. When the participants experienced a gout attack, they completed a two-day control questionnaire.

Further data was obtained through the collection of the ZIP code of the participants and the federal climate data from those regions so that they would know when the participants were in risk periods, and when they were in control periods. Adjustments were made when additional gout cause risk factors were present, such as the consumption of meat, alcohol, or diuretics.

These scientists noted that humid, hot temperatures brought about a significantly increased number of gout attacks in the participants. However, in terms of barometric pressure and precipitation, no gout cause association was found.

It was suggested by the researchers that in order to prevent flare-ups of their gout, it was very important that they avoid dehydration by drinking additional fluids during times of hot and humid weather.

If you believe that you are experiencing gout, or you wish to discuss different risk factors or gout cause in your life, make sure to make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will be able to help you with additional preventative measures beyond simple hydration. You will be able to learn overall preventative actions and may be prescribed medications to help you to stop gout attacks from occurring, and to ease them when they do indeed happen.

If you live in a climate that is hot and humid, you should recognize that this is an important gout cause and you may wish to try to live and work in climate controlled environments. A dehumidifier may be helpful at a bare minimum, but an air conditioned environment will make all the difference for keeping the temperature gout-friendly and minimizing the additional humidity in the air. No matter if you’re in air conditioning or not, though, proper hydration remains key.

ONAN Or ONAF, What Is the Difference?

One characteristic of all transformers, regardless of size, style, or construction, is that when energized, they create losses in the circuit.

Some of these losses are from energizing the core and creating a magnet field, and some losses are resistive losses (I²R) from load currents flowing in the conductors of windings.

Both types manifest themselves in the form of heat, and heat is the number one enemy of insulation material.

The task for transformer designers is thus to allow transformers to dissipate excess heat and thereby ensure longer insulation life.

For air cooled transformers this is accomplished by providing adequate ventilation and cooling ducts in the coils. Where there is not enough air flow, fans are added to increase heat transfer away from magnetic elements and vulnerable dialectic insulating components.

For liquid filled transformers the approach is similar. Cooling ducts in the coils must be in sufficient number and size to allow dielectric fluid to flow through the coils to remove heat. This fluid can move by simple convection, or it can be “force cooled” by pumping fluid. Additionally, the tank surface must be large enough to transfer heat away from the fluid by a combination of conduction, convection, and radiation. As transformers get larger, tank surface area becomes a constraint, and external radiators are added to increase the surface area for heat transfer. To maximize this process, cooling fans can be added to expedite the heat removal through radiators.

How do transformer manufacturers indicate information on transformer rating plates?

For dry type transformers which are air cooled, ANSI/IEEE Standard C57.12.01 provide the following designations:

1. Ventilated self-cooled class: Class AA

2. Ventilated forced-air-cooled class: Class AFA

3. Ventilated self-cooled / forced-air-cooled class: Class AA/FA

4. Non-Ventilated self-cooled class: Class ANV

5. Sealed -self-cooled class: Class GA

Liquid filled transformers offer a few more options for cooling. ANSI/IEE Standard C57.12.00 defines a 4 digit code to describe the cooling attributes of the transformer.

The first letter designates the internal cooling medium in contact with the windings.

* O= mineral oil or synthetic insulation fluid with a fire point ≤ 300°C

* K = insulating fluid with a fire point > 300°C

* L = insulating liquid with no me3asurable fire point.

The second letter designates the circulation mechanism for internal cooling medium

* N = Natural convection flow through cooling equipment and in windings

* F = Forced circulation through cooling equipment and natural convention flow in the windings (also called “directed flow”)

* D = Forced circulation through cooling equipment, directed from the cooling equipment into at least the main windings

The third letter designates external cooling medium

* A = Air

* W = Water

The fourth letter designates the circulation mechanism for the external cooling medium.

* N = Natural convection

* F = Forced circulation (Fans (air cooling), pumps (water cooling))

For example: ONAN designates an oil filled unit that has natural convection flow in the tank and utilizes natural air convection cooling externally.

If this transformer has fans added for forced air externally, the designation would be ONAF.

A transformer that has natural convection cooling as a base rating and an elevated rating when fans were added later, would be designated as ONAN/ONAF.

High fire point fluids use the designation of “K” for fluid type. Thus a naturally cooled high fire point fluid would be KNAN and the same unit with fans would be KNAF.