VGA Cable – Buying Guide

There’s a good chance that you’ll never need to buy a new VGA cable. Every new computer setup includes one of these, and it’s really only when yours goes bad or when you have a very unique type of setup requirement that a new cable is needed. If the time arises, however, it pays to know a little bit about this type of cable and what you should remember when you buy a new one.

First, understand what it is. A VGA cable is a Video Graphics Array cable. It features three rows of five pins to deliver the video signal, and is one of the most common types of cables on the market. The main use for it is to connect a computer tower to a computer monitor, and chances are good that the image you’re looking at right now is being transmitted through one of these cables.

With that in mind, you’ve probably assumed that you can order the first VGA cable you find and get exactly what you need. That’s usually a safe bet, but taking a few extra things into consideration will help you get the best results from it. One point to remember is that you’ll need to match your length needs to the right cable. Buying a cable that is too long will result in a loss of picture quality, and buying one too short brings obvious limitations with it. A few standard sizes exist, so be sure to get the one that is best for your needs.

Be sure you don’t need an adaptor style VGA cable. For instance, if you’re connecting your computer to an HD television for some reason, you may need a VGA to HDMI adaptor. Many modern TVs have a VGA jack, but these cables are a viable option as well. Think about what you’re connecting in order to get the right kind of cable for your needs.

Finally, keep in mind that quality does matter. A higher-quality VGA cable will usually include better insulation and good coaxial cable inside to help reduce signal degradation, prevent ghosting, and give you the best possible transfer of data available. Paying a couple of dollars more for a better quality cable is usually a smart move when you want the best.

These are the only real concerns you should pay attention to when you start shopping for a replacement cable. Remember them and you’ll have no trouble finding the right one.

For Sale By Owner Marketing Generates Mortgage Leads

One of the best ways to generate mortgage leads is through working with home sellers

who are going it alone as For Sale By Owner or FSBO.

The key to FSBO marketing is creating partnerships with home sellers. Since almost

every buyer needs a mortgage, you provide a necessary service that will enable

a seller’s home to be sold. Real estate agents traditionally refer buyers to loan

officers during the home-selling process, but with FSBOs, there is no agent. That

means the seller assumes the role of referring buyers to loan officers and that’s

where you come in.

Most sellers are not very familiar with the process of selling real estate and won’t know that they should require interested buyers to be pre-qualified prior to accepting an offer. Helping sellers understand that you can save them oodles of time by pre-qualifying their potential buyers is a literal gold mine. You could also prepare a flyer on a variety of loan types and payments for a mortgage on that seller’s home. FSBOs want to sell their home and, therefore, they will give your business card to everyone that comes through. That means fresh mortgage leads for you, whether for this property or another one.

The most effective way to secure relationships with for-sale-by-owner sellers

is to offer more than pre-qualification services. FSBOs need marketing help like

a free ad on a for-sale-by-owner website and promotion to buyer lists. They also

need sample contracts and disclosures, industry contacts like title companies

and appraisers, yard signs, and even home flyers. These items can be bundled together

into a “for-sale-by-owner kit,” which can be offered to sellers in exchange

for the opportunity to pre-qualify all buyers showing interest in the home.

You can use a variety of sources to locate FSBOs in your area, including:

  • Local Newspapers
  • Yard Signs
  • Paid service that scours websites and newspapers every day

Some of the popular methods of contacting FSBO sellers are:

  • Phone
  • Direct Mail
  • Door Hangers
  • Web Links

Most FSBO sellers will be very enthusiastic about the services you can offer them and will gladly refer buyers to you. Additionally, the sellers themselves will most likely need a loan to purchase their next home, and, having established a professional relationship of trust with them, you put yourself in a great position to provide that loan. That’s another mortgage lead.

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.

Car Washing: Spic and Span – Inside and Out

Regularly washing the exterior of your car will not only make it stand out as shiny and sleek, but it will also help ensure its longevity. A clean car protects against dirt, salt and other contaminants picked up from the road every day. Anyone who lives in an area with harsh winters can attest what the crud can do to a car’s body- rust! Washing your car several times per month, or even once a week, can keep your car’s body in tip-top shape. Here are some tips for washing your car inside and out.

While a warm, bright sunny day may make your car scream, “Wash me!” contrary to popular belief that really is not the best time to wash your car. Why not, you ask? If a car is not kept cool while suds up, the water can evaporate rather quickly, leaving soap spots. So, your best bet is to wash the car on a cloudy day, or at least in the shade on a sunny day.

Before you start washing your car, you will want to gather all the necessary supplies. You’ll need access to water- usually through a garden hose or pressure washer, a bucket, soap, sponges or soft cloths, scrub brush, glass cleaner, paper towels (or newspapers) and any other cleaning materials you may wish to use. For example, polish, bug cleaner for headlines and windshields, tire cleaner or degreaser, etc. Once you have everything together, fill up the bucket with soap and water, making it really sudsy. Be sure to use a soap that is made to wash cars- shampoo and dish soap really won’t do the job.

Begin with the wheels. It is important to have clean wheels because they are in constant contact with the road, and can be prone to corrosion caused by brake dust. You are riding on your tires, and your safety depends on them. Be sure they are clean! You’ll want to use lots of soapy water and a scrub brush to get them clean. You may also need to use a degreaser. You may need to use some good ‘ole elbow grease to get down deep in the tread to get all the dirt and debris. Once clean, rinse them good. Then, you can also use polish your tires and wheel covers to give a finishing touch.

Next, start on the car itself. Start by hosing down the car to get the surface wet. Then, start with small sections at a time so you can pay close attention to detail. For example, you may want to start on the back left, and clean that area from top to bottom. Then, rinse and move toward the center of your car, working your way all the way around. For the car’s body, you’ll want to use something soft so that the paint job can be protected. This can be a range of materials from large sponges, soft chenille pads, wash mitts and even a sea sponge. During this process, you may alternate from the soft sponge to a scrub brush for the grill area to remove bugs. After you are done with all sides, give the car a final rinse.

Next, although the windshield and windows are all probably shining from the good washing, you may want to take another step to make them shine even more and use a glass polish to clean them. Paper towels work fine, but for a more polished look, try ‘recycling’ your newspapers as a window cleaning rag. They work wonderfully, and leave no lint behind like some paper towels do!

Next, you can wax/polish your car. This will rally help protect your car from the elements like dirt, road salt, pollutions and other debris. You can actually wash your car with a pre-wax treatment to prepare for this step. Apply the wax to one panel section at a time using a dry cloth. After the wax dries, you can buff it with a towel. One coat is enough to make it shine- but heck, you can add another coat or two of you want to make it really shine! The wax job can last about two months.

While the interior really doesn’t help maintain the car itself, it’s just nice to have a clean car inside out. After you are done washing and waxing, start by vacuuming the floors, mats and seats. You may need to use the attachments to be able to get in all the nooks and crannies. (Crumbs are everywhere!) If you have rubber mats, those can be washed along with the exterior and laid out to dry. Replace them after the car is cleaned inside. Next, wipe down all the interior surfaces with a damp cloth. Then, just like you did the outside windows, do the same for the inside. Some people like to use a polish to make the dashboard shine. Just don’t polish the steering wheel! It’ll make it slippery.

Flyers As A Promotional Tool For Your Small Business

Flyers are the perfect marketing tool for all businesses. They provide enough space, while also giving you the opportunity to connect with your prospects on a personal level. Connecting on this personal level is what allows you to form relationships, as well as allow you to blanket entire regions with your brand. They can be left in public places, cars, doors and even mailed. With these reasons in mind, it is important to recognize the fact that these flyers are possibly the easiest way to get in touch with your customers, while also building long lasting relationships. Below are the top three tips to get started on your flyer marketing campaign.

Paper – Make sure that the paper of your flyer is something that is durable. By having a durable paper, the likelihood of your flyer being passed around increases fourfold. By having your flyer passed around, you are not only enabling a word of mouth marketing campaign, but you are also tripling the effects of your marketing. So be sure that the paper you choose is a heavy cardstock. This will enable it to be passed around, as well as enable the recipient to clearly read the marketing material once it has made its rounds.

Copy – Make sure that the copy of the flyer is something that speaks to your target demographic. So try and engross yourself in your target’s lifestyle. Surround yourself in the things they surround themselves in and analyze the tone of the copy that they use in their materials. Then try to emulate a similar tone in your marketing materials. By using a similar tone, your recipient will be comfortable reading it, as well as be well adjusted in knowing what your business is about.

Shape – Try to go for a shape that is not rectangular. This will help in not only help in getting their attention, but will also help in delivering a message that is straight fourth and to the point. Just be sure that the shape embodies what your business. For example, dentists will often print flyers in the shape of teeth, toothbrushes, or a set of lips. This grabs instant attention and lets you set the tone for your marketing collateral.

When you are done, be sure to get the feedback from your friends, family and coworkers. Then take this feedback and apply it to the flyer, as well as your other printed collateral. This will help in not only producing the best marketing materials, but will also help in creating the best marketing and advertising campaign for your small business.

Engineering Business – 5 Keys to Increased Revenues and Profits

Are you finding it hard to earn a profit? Are your expenses devouring your revenues? Most companies, including professional service firms, like engineering, are always struggling to make a profit. The majority of a professional service company’s expenses are labor related. This is why many companies chose to do one or two things to increase their profits; increase work load, or reduce staff. But there are many other strategies that can have a similar effect.

A typical engineering company usually strives for a profit or 10 to 15% after all expenses including salaries. A very competitive market or a significant drop in the market demand for engineering services can drive these margins even lower.

The current market has driven many companies to lower their fees significantly, but is this really the answer. Ever engineering firm knows that there are certain expenses that they can not escape. Such as staff salaries, business licenses, professional licenses, business insurance, professional insurance, office expenses, and on and on the list goes. With a good handle on the company budget various adjustments can be done to retain a portion of the revenues.

Below is a list of the top 5 key strategies to increase your company’s profits without cutting staff.

Key 1: Increase Service Fees – This may sound a little counter intuitive right now during a recession, but a small increase can have a significant impact on your profits. As an example, your firm has a service which charges $1000 with a profit margin of 10% ($100). If you increase the fee by 5% ($50), your profit would increase by 50% ($150). This small increase in fees will most likely not even be noticeable to your clients, but it can be very noticeable on your company’s Profit and Loss Statement.

Key 2: Workload determines the Company Size – Your engineering business should be sit-up with permanent staff level and independent contractors. The number of independent contractors can vary depending on the workload. Hiring independent contractors or sub-consultants were possible is also known as out-sourcing. The only permanent employees are those that are absolutely necessary. Outsourcing allows the company to restructure to handle a large number of new contracts when the times are good and then reduce the number of contractors when there are fewer contracts during poor economic conditions. An example is to have one or two CAD Designers as permanent employees and then a pool of CAD Operators that are independent contractors.

In recent years the federal government has really cracking down on who is an independent contractor. Independent contractors are in business for themselves and are able to obtain work from numerous sources. Having an independent contractor sit-up an office within your business and only contract with your firm is probably not an independent contractor, and the government will seriously frown on this arrangement. You should discuss any questionable agreement with your tax advisor.

Key 3: Do not Focus on Sectors with Very Small Profit Margins – Although during a tough economy companies may be forced to take on what ever comes along, do not focus your marketing efforts on those sectors that constantly contract with the firm with the cheapest offer. Professional services companies like engineering firms should never compete on price alone. A good engineer can save a developer thousands if not millions of dollars which will usually far exceed the engineer’s fees. Sectors that haggles the service fees are usually not worth the expense. In essence do not buy the job. There are those clients that will expect that since times are rough you should provide even more concessions; free or drastically reduced fees to keep them as a client. It is almost never a good idea buying a project just to have work. Know were your company’s break even point, and what sectors and services make the most profit. Anything less will force your business to possibly close.

Key 4: Contact Existing and Previous Clients for New Contracts – The best source of new work is from existing or previous clients. If you did a good job for them in the past, they will be more than willing to use your services again. Even if they have gone with another engineer, they may want to contract with you again. The new engineer may have not treated them as well. In some cases, clients may have lost your contact information. In this instance they would be glad to hear from you again.

There is nothing better in business than satisfied clients. This is the foremost marketing tool used in the engineering profession. Losing clients to other engineering firms, means an immediate loss in revenues and can only be regained by finding new clients. In order to find new clients you will have to sit aside additional funds to market them, which will further reduce your bottom line. Your existing clients can increase your revenues by either awarding you with new projects or by assisting you in finding new clients.

They may be so satisfied with your performance that they may not have noticed that you need additional work. Your clients know other people in the same industry who maybe also dissatisfied with their professional designers. Your clients will be your best marketer. When their referrals call you they are already sold on your firm’s abilities and services. In some cases your clients may be so large a firm that they require the services of several engineering firms. If they really like your performance, they might just give you a larger share of their available jobs. The best source of new work is always through your existing clients.

Key 5: Deliver on Your Promises – Clients expect that the engineer will provide all of the services as stated in the contract. This is why the proposal is so important. The services to be provided should be as explicit as possible, and every attempt should be made to restate any vague language. Also a section in the proposal should include what is expected of the client. Before signing the Agreement make sure that both you and the client understand what is expected of both parties. If the customer believes you are to provide a service that is not in the contract, may cause serious problems later, and may cause the client to be disgruntled and not willing to do any more work with you. Whether the economy is in good times or tough explicit language in the contract is extremely important.

Most engineers have excellent technical skills, but not necessarily the same level of expertise in management. It is responsibility of the engineer to develop these management skills through continuing education. This training can be obtained through Community Colleges, Universities, Professional Training Programs, Professional Organizations, and online training courses. In most states these continuing education courses qualify for continuing education units (CEU) or Professional Development Hours (PDH).

In Part 2 we will discuss five more strategies that you can implement to increase your revenues and profits. Managers are often called upon to make difficult decisions that may impact the size of the support staff, having a list of other strategies that do not require cutting staff maybe the difference between a good and a bad manager.

How to Build a Garage: Save Thousands Building DIY Garage Vs Hiring a Contractor

Learning how to build a garage is not as daunting as one would expect, well, for detached structures at least. Homeowners who build their own garage can save thousands over hiring a builder who, in many cases, will subcontract to the same construction crews that you can hire. Or if feeling adventurous, or just downright thrifty, one can invite friends over for a few beers over the weekend and put them to work.

There are many items to consider while in the early planning stage such as:

Garage size: One car, two car, or even a three car garages can be designed with various sizes, but the lot and homeowner’s budget are generally the limiting factors. Local building codes vary, but typically a structure must not encroach within eight feet of property lines in rural areas and from zero to four feet in city limits. Detached garages must also be set back from other buildings by a minimum of eight feet, but this must be confirmed with local building offices as bodes vary. One important consideration is roof overhang. Eave and gable end overhangs are typically 12″ – 24″ (although less than 12″ is common in windy areas) and must be considered when determining building size and placement.

One method of determining the perfect size is to add 12′ to 15′ of width for each vehicle. If planning to use the interior walls on the sides for storage this will require another two feet of width per side. The length should be a minimum of 22′ and add four to ten feet for a work bench and storage. A two car garage could be calculated as 2 x 12′ +4′ for storage along each wall = 28′ x 22′ long without a work bench. Common sizes include:

1. One car: Common garage sizes include 12′ x 24′, 14′ x 24′, and 16′ x 24′. A length of twenty four feet is pretty much the minimum if you have a full size truck and even with a small or mid-size car there will be little wiggle room at twenty or twenty two feet.

2. Two car: The most common garage size in many states and provinces is 24′ x 24′ because many building codes required an engineered drawing and two inspections by a structural engineer for concrete floating slabs (monolithic) larger than this size. If space is scarce and the two cars are small to mid-size a 20′ wide may adequate, but certainly not comfortable.

3. Three car: There are many three car garage sizes due to more room for numerous designs and homeowners often have larger budgets when considering these larger construction projects. Common sizes are 36′ – 42′ wide by 26′ – 30′ long.

Foundation: floating slab (monolithic) and slab with frostwall are the two most common foundation options. The floating slab is less expensive and easier to build, but often require an engineered drawing and two inspections for larger concrete slabs (i.e. 24′ x 24′). In cold weather climates many contractors install 2.5″ foundation foam under the concrete to reduce heaving during freeze/thaw events. Engineered floating slabs in cold climates usually require this with an addition two feet extending out around the perimeter of the slab.

Adding 6′ x 6′ #10 wire mesh to the slab is an inexpensive method of increasing the floor strength and reducing cracking of the concrete. Most contractors install floating slabs with a thickened concrete perimeter 12″ – 16″ thick around the outer 16″ – 24″ of the perimeter. Adding two rows of #4 rebar will increase the edges. Concrete strength should be a minimum of 3,000psi and many contractors use 4,000 and 4,500 psi as the additional cost is minimal. Another consideration is ordering concrete with fibermesh, and macro-synthetic fiber used for secondary reinforcement of concrete. Local concrete suppliers can provide costs for adding this to concrete. Slab thickness is dependent on the concrete strength and reinforcement designs, however a good rule of thumb is to pour a 4″ or thicker slab.

Frostwall minimum depth is determined by local building codes and is typically 48″ in cold climates and 36″ in more moderate areas. Once the trench is excavated a footing approximately 12″ wide by 8″ thick is formed and poured and a keyway is etched the length of the footing to prevent movement of the concrete wall. The frostwall is formed and poured on the on the footing and anchor bolts are installed in the to attach the walls to the foundation. The concrete slab is then poured to designed thickness. Obviously this foundation system requires more time and expense.

Wall construction: If the garage is going to be insulated now or possibly any time in the future the wall studs size is important as 2″ x 6″ studs allow more insulation that can meet building code requirements (for garages with apartments) than 2″ x 4″ studs. Of course, 2″ x 6″ studs are stronger, which results in a more structurally sounds building.

Walls height: Walls are generally 8′, but 9′ and 10′ walls are common. In city downtown areas there is often a height restriction on structures, such as less than 16′ to the roof peak based on the average height from the four corners measuring at grade. This means that you can get a little extra height if the garage is nestled into a bank with a concrete curb or retaining wall on this end and backfilling to top of retaining wall. Another method to maximize height in these areas is to pour a 12″ concrete curb on the concrete slab perimeter and backfill earth up to the top of the curb and grade away from the structure. This method can gain 12″ of height while still meeting the height restrictions (confirm this will local building offices prior to implementing this strategy).

Garage door placement: The garage doors can be on the gable end or the eave side. A few things to consider:

1. Existing house design may dictate the direction of the roof line. A method to assist visualize this is to take a picture of the house and include the area where the garage will be built. Print two copies of the picture and hand draw in the garage using both the gable and eave options.

2. If the garage will be built in a cold climate the garage doors in the gable end is a better design as snow and ice will slide down the eave end.

3. Flexibility with the garage doors in the gable end allow height for a future car port.

Roof style: Often the roof style is dictated by the existing house, for example if the house has a hip roof this would be a good option for the garage. If this is a DIY project and the homeowner is building the garage it should be noted that a hip roof is more difficult to build than installing standard trusses. Roof pitch must be considered as well and often this should match the existing house. Roof pitch less than 4/12 (rises 4″ for every 12″ of run or length) is not recommended due to increased chance of water leaks. Higher pitch roofs with certain truss designs can allow for storage, loft, or even apartments above the main level. The most common roof trusses for garage roof design include:

1. Standard Fink: This is the most common residential truss.

2. Double fink: Designed to handle high weight loads for higher snow load requirements.

3. Attic: Common for designs that allow storage above the main floor. Access can be stairs or attic drop-down stairs and the option available may be dictated by local building codes.

4. Scissor: This options provides cathedral (vaulted) ceilings that provides more interior ceiling height. For example, a 24′ x 24′ garage with an 8/12 pitch may have a ceiling height of 12′ in the center and 8′ at the wall. This system is usually weighted against building with regular fink trusses and higher walls.

If this is a DIY garage project don’t forget to order two gable trusses for each gable end. Otherwise two regular trusses will require wood filling for attaching sheathing and siding (not too mention the building inspector may not pass the framing inspection. If insulating the ceiling consider ordering “raised heel” trusses to allow adequate insulation between the wall top plate and the roof sheathing. This is the only way to meet many attic insulation level requirements (i.e. R40).

Garage plans: Once decisions are made on the above items it is time to get the garage plans for the building permit application and the builder. It is important to obtain good quality garage plans that are easy to follow, accurate, and provide a materials list (well, a material list is not important, but it will certainly save a lot of time). There are several websites that offer garage plans create by dozens and hundreds of different company so consistency and quality control are something to keep in mind. There are a couple of companies that do their own in-house drafting and a search of the internet should find these companies. Another option is to hire a local draftsperson to create the garage plans.

Plot (plat) plan: The building compliance department will require a drawing showing (site plan) the lot with existing structures, proposed structure, and property lines with measurements indicating distances between property lines and structures. This can be a hand drawn diagram of a marked up copy of the plot/plat plan. The building department may require a survey to confirm accuracy of measurements for precise garage location requirements.

Building Permit: Make an appointment to meet with a building inspector to discuss the project and submit the garage plans, material list, and site plan to the building department. A building permit may be issued at this time or the building inspector will require a few days to a couple of weeks to review the documents.

Pressure Washing Business; Steam Cleaner Fuel Maintenance

It is essential that you fully understand how the fuel system works on your hot water pressure washer or steam cleaner. If you mess it up it could catch on fire and if you are not right there to put it out, you could potentially lose your machine. This type of equipment has been known to explode and Hydrotek out of California actually has a CD Rom video of a machine exploding when a fuel leak is ignited just to show operators what could happen. We recommend the Hydrotek Hot Water Pressure Washers. Some people prefer Landa, but we have tried them all.

If your hot water pressure washers is diesel fired then you must replace these Diesel Filters. All hot water pressure washers has a burner that uses either: Diesel Fuel, Kerosene or Natural Gas to heat the water. If you use diesel fuel or kerosene, make sure the fuel is clean. A clogged filter will cause blockage and it will turn off the burner due to lack of fuel flow. You should clean the crud out of your filter every other month.

There is a Fuel Pressure Adjustment on the burner. To adjust the fuel pressure in your burner (which we do not recommend), turn the adjusting screw counter-clockwise to decrease fuel flow; clockwise to increase fuel flow. Warning: Never exceed 145 lbs. of fuel pressure; If you do, you will create a giant flame out the top of your steam cleaner. You will also burn up the insulation around the coil. I’ve even caught the coil on fire. I turned off the heat but the fuel kept burning because it had soaked the insulation with diesel fuel. It also melted the paint off the coil shroud, burned up the transformer and worse yet, we ran out of water in the tank trying to put out the fire. So we drove down the street engulfed in flames and smoke, found a water spigot and hose at someone’s house at one a.m. in the morning, turned on their hose and put out the fire. All the neighbors woke up. Someone called the fire department and of course two police cars showed up. All this because the water wasn’t staying hot while we were cleaning sidewalks in the middle of the night and we thought we’d adjust the fuel pressure screw. This wouldn’t have helped anyway because we had a water flow problem that was shutting off the water early before it reached the correct temperature. Please don’t touch that screw! – Call the dealer. So you see you really can learn from our twenty years experience. That happened fifteen years ago, but we at headquarters will never forget it.

Fuel Control System

Our units utilize a fuel solenoid valve located on the fuel pump to control the flow of fuel to the combustion chamber. This solenoid, which is normally closed, is activated by a flow-switch when water is flowing through it. When you release the trigger on the shut-off gun, the flow of water through the flow switch stops turning off the current to the fuel solenoid. This closes the solenoid, shutting off the supply of fuel to the combustion chamber.

By controlling The Flow of Fuel in this way, our machines are unique in that they create instantaneous burn-or-no-burn situations. The solenoid allows us to maintain safety by eliminating high and low water temperatures. Temperatures too low won’t clean well and temperatures too high can cause an explosion, fire or melt down of the machine components. We’ve also nearly eliminated combustion smoke associated with our units by incorporating this shut-off gun. It also saves fuel and prolongs the life of the insulation. Not to mention that it doubles the time between regular de-scaling maintenance of the schedule 80 coils.

I recommend periodic inspection to insure that the fuel solenoid valve functions correctly. To do this, simply stand by the exhaust of the coils and pull the trigger on your gun. When it makes a low rumble sound you know everything is working great. With this patented solenoid in place on the machine we believe it to be a much safer piece of equipment.

Ignition Circuit

Periodically you should inspect the wires, spring contacts and electrodes for their condition, security and proper spacing. To perform a transformer test, use a screwdriver (with no defects) with an insulated handle. Be sure to keep your fingers off the metal parts of the screwdriver. Lay the blade across one contact and within 1/2 inch of the other contact. The transformer should arc with a small lightening bolt over the 1/2 inch distance. Be careful not to touch this because it is something like 10,000 volts.

Burner Nozzles

Keep the tip of the nozzle free from surface deposits. Use a clean solvent saturated rag. Be careful not to plug or enlarge the nozzle when cleaning. For maximum efficiency, replace the nozzle at tune up time every two to two and one-half years.

Air Adjustments

Usually steam cleaners are factory adjusted for operation at seventy-five feet above sea level. If your unit operates at five hundred or more feet above sea level, you may need to make a one time correction because the higher above sea level you are, the thinner the air. This correction will improve efficiency, performance, economy and extend your machines service life. If you notice smoky or eye burning exhaust coming from your machine, it probably needs adjusting. But first, make sure you are burning clean fuel. Number One home heating fuel is best, but kerosene is ok. Diesel fuel can be used also.

An oily smoky fire indicates lack of air and the air band should be turned to allow the air to flow through the burner. A sharp eye-burning fume indicates too much air is flowing through the combustion chamber and unburned fuel is escaping so turn the air band the opposite way.

Fuel flow to your steam cleaner is by far the most serious part of your machine, it can cause the most damage if not monitored or working correctly. If you have a trailer unit the jarring and speed bumps can cause issue with the system and you could find yourself trying to put out the fire in your machine. It could even blow up in your face and hurt you or potentially possibly if you were unlucky kill you. Play it safe, inspect it regularly and don’t get hurt or caught up in a lawsuit. Think about it.

A Secret and Natural Face Cream

I got this secret for you! When I was 15 I heard my grand aunt used lemon juice to wash her skin every day. From that day onwards, I copied what she did. The stinging sensation on the skin by the citric acid can bring tears to anyone's eyes. However, the skin feels much more firm and polished afterward.

I prefer this natural treatment than applying man made creams. You do not know what is in the creams usually. Most of these creams are made as a by-product of crude oil. I really believe that you should not use anything on your skin that you would not put in your mouth. You could do this at the end of the day, and even dilute the lemon juice with some water to reduce the sting of the citric acid.

My philosophy is to use natural raw juices. This also applies to what I ingest as food. Acids are converted to creams and sold at shops, so why do not you take the juice naturally instead? Does this make sense? The acid helps wash away all the dirt and dust that accumulates on your skin during the day. Your skin will appear for younger and polished. You do not have to apply the lemon juice every day, you could apply on the second or third third day. I've applied everyday and also at two to three day intervals.

You can try this too, but be aware of the effects and potential side effects; You may want to ask your doctor for advice.

Nutrition Made Easy: Simple Ways To Make Nutrition Fun

Nutrition is the cornerstone of good health. This article contains simple and helpful tips to keep your nutrition balanced and optimal. Don’t feed your body junk. Good nutrition will keep you looking and feeling great. These tips will teach you easy ways to keep your body healthy from the inside out.

Eat a Balanced Diet

To get a proper healthy nutrition you should make sure every meal you eat is balanced. Do not over-indulge any one food group at any one sitting. Putting all of your food groups together on one plate encourages you to maintain a balanced diet through sheer force of habit. You will find this a lot easier than trying to eat an all-vegetable dinner to make up for a vegetable-free day.

Try to include more tomatoes in your meals. The biggest benefit from tomatoes is their high concentration of lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that plays a role in the prevention of cancer cell formation. Research has shown that tomatoes also have potential benefits in the prevention of heart disease and lowering high cholesterol.

If you’re working on addressing your nutrition concerns, make sure you don’t villainize any food groups! Most things are okay in moderation, which means that, cutting carbohydrates out of your diet, is wholly unnecessary. Enjoy your pasta and bread in moderation and you’ll enjoy long-term energy, if you’re maintaining your protein intake, as well.

Increase Vitamin D Intake

Choose your dairy products carefully. While dairy products provide many nutrients including calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein, you should choose low-fat or fat-free products. Drink skim or low-fat milk, as this cuts the calories, but doesn’t reduce the nutrients. If you are lactose intolerant, you can try lactose-free milk or soy milk. Many cheeses are high in saturated fat, so opt for a reduced-fat version.

Consume low-fat dairy. Dairy products are a great source of calcium and vitamin D, which help build bone mass. Additionally, studies have shown that 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day can help you lose weight, particularly around your midsection. Low-fat yogurt is highly versatile and can be used as a substitute for sour cream, mayonnaise, and even cheese.

Drink skim, low-fat or non-fat milk on a daily basis. There are less calories and fat in these types of milk, but exactly the same calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients. Your body needs calcium to have strong bones. This is especially important in childhood while bones are forming and in old age when bone loss can occur.

People over 50 need to maintain good nutrition by ensuring they get enough vitamin D and calcium. This is because, as people age, their bones become more brittle. Calcium will help reduce bone loss, and vitamin D helps the bones absorb the calcium. People aged 50 and over should boost their calcium intake either via non-fat dairy products or through supplements.

Nutrition can be easy. The strategies in this article were designed to offer simple advice that will help you maintain good health by eating the right foods. Eating well is the best way to protect your body from sickness. Your body will thank you for following these tips to keep you looking and feeling healthy.

4 Food Groups – Bread, Cereals, and Other Grains

For all through most of the world, the foods in this group are actually the staff of life. They are the staples in the diet; Everything else revolves around them.

In Canada, except for breakfast cereal, bad for you foods are often passed by and even purposely avoided under the misguided concept that they're fattening. Actually, breads and cereals contain no more cals each gram than meats and far a less important number of than fats. They grant complex carbohydrates, a amount of incomplete protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, tracks of other minerals, folacin, and all-important fiber. The protein in breads, cereals, and other grains is converted into complete when they are eaten with foods containing the missing amino acids, for example legumes or milk. Foods from this bunch can substitute the cals you might otherwise be putting from sweets and fats and will greater satisfy your hunger.

Whole particles versus cultivated products. At the moment when whole wheat is refined into white flour, it loses much of its bran and germ, the most nutritious areas. What remains is the white, starchy endosperm. However, all cultured white flour (and the bread designed with it) is augmented with thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and iron. Moreover most cultured cereals are enriched with these nutrients as well. It's a excellent idea to take account of in the diet a amount of each, whole granules and enhanced, cultured grain products. Parboiled rice undergoes a matching transformation, however to a less important range. Parboiled white rice is nutritionally close to brown rice but lacks much of the fiber. Here, converted (parboiled) rice is a second most excellent judgment once brown. Enriched white rice is a third best selection.

Grains are the seeds of food grasses. An exception is buckwheat, the seed of a different family of herbaceous plants. Between all the grains, buckwheat has the greatest grade protein, for it holds lysine, an essential amino acid found only in low amounts in other grains. Oats too are high in protein as well as iron, calcium, and phosphorus. Rye flour and whole-wheat products go after consistently in nutritional significance. Rice is fewer nutritious, and corn still less.

What's a serving? If you do not ordinarily include many foods in this bunch in your diet, four or more helpings anyway sounds like a lot. On the other hand the size of the rations is really rather modest: Think of this, one serving is a slice of bread. But another example, is half a cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta.

At least one serving should most likely be a whole-grain product, and at least one a cereal. If no cereal is eten, it is superior to have five servings from the cluster. That's not hard if you have a slice of bread with every meal, rice, and two whole-grain crackers.

The History of Soil Stabilisation

The stabilisation of soils has been performed for millennia. It was recognised before the Christian era began that certain geographic regions were plagued with surface materials and ambient conditions that made the movement of armies and goods difficult, if not impossible, over the paths between villages and towns.

The Mesopotamians and Romans separately discovered that it was possible to improve the ability of pathways to carry traffic by mixing the weak soils with a stabilising agent like pulverised limestone or calcium. This was the first chemical stabilisation of weak soils to improve their load carrying.

Jump forward a few years to the war in Vietnam, the US military were looking for methods for rapid stabilization of weak soils for support of its missions worldwide. Over the past 60 years they had used cement and lime these being the most effective stabilisers for road and airfield applications, but although with careful analysis of ground conditions and the make-up of the existing soils these traditional stabilisers did have a remedial effective. They urgently needed a stabiliser that could be used quickly without having to carry out extensive site tests that would increase the strength of the prevalent soft clay type local soils rapidly to support the landing and take-off of heavy C-17 and C-130 aircraft traffic on their temporary airfields.

Various combinations of plasticisers were tested as additives to the cement to find an amalgam that could cope with the varying levels of moisture and prevailing air temperature. Laboratory tests confirmed that one particular application where chemical additives and hydrogels were added to a cement base mix increased the strength and toughness by a factor of over 100% whilst still retaining the degree of flexibility of surface the military were looking for.

The fore runner of our proprietary SMR soil stabiliser was born.

Early uses of SMR in the UK

Success in Stabilising Recycled Aggregate

Despite being the Highway Authority with the largest U.K. network, (some 12900 km) and having reputedly one of the strictest Street Works regimes in England; Devon County Council have been very receptive to the use of SMR Soil Stabiliser by Utility Companies since its introduction in late 1999.

Initial trials were carried out by John Kennedy (Civil Eng) Ltd, (now Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Ltd) on behalf of South West Water and under strict monitoring by Devon County Materials Laboratory. The trials encompassed numerous laboratories and field tests including C.B.R. and compressive strength testing, frost heave susceptibility tests and air void testing of wearing course applied onto SMR reinstatements. In all of the tests carried out, the SMR bound reinstatements were proven to outperform control reinstatements using Type 1 GSB.

Following these trials, permission was granted to South West Water for use of SMR in footway reinstatements under clause S1.5 of the SROH, New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, (more commonly referred to as the HAUC spec).

Based on the success of SMR in use in footway reinstatements and further trials in carriageways, the approval to South West Water was extended in December 2000 to include reinstatements in Type 3&4 carriageway.

The approvals permit SMR treated spoil to be used as a replacement for traditional materials up to and including Road base levels. Under the revised SROH introduced in June 2002, performance criteria set down for alternative materials in Appendix A9 to be used at these levels deem the material to be classified as an NFSMR (non flow able structural material for reinstatement).

To date, SMR has been used by South West Water on over 100,000 reinstatements within the footways and carriageways of Devon, without a single failure or recorded defect.

The fact that use of SMR mixed with excavated spoil eliminates the need for imported backfill material and eliminates the need to remove spoil to landfill since it is re-used, it means that the following environmental benefits have been realised.

  • Approx 150,000 Tonnes of Landfill Capacity have been preserved.
  • Approx 150,000 Tonnes of Primary Aggregate have been preserved.
  • Approx 300,000 Tonnes of Material movements have been avoided, reducing both pollution and disruption to the road going public.

In addition to the substantial environmental benefits, both South West Water and Devon County Council are more than happy with the performance of the SMR reinstatements, since nearly 5 years and 100,000 completed reinstatements on, there is still to be a single reported failure. Zero failure means zero remedial works, means zero traffic disruption.

Major financial benefits are also achieved, typically a saving of £40.00 per cubic metre is enjoyed by Utility Companies using SMR when compared to traditional methods, and these savings, currently running at around £18,000,000 can be further increased should the Utility Co. adopt a 1st time – single visit – permanent reinstatement policy.

The successful use of SMR in the UK is not limited to Devon and South West Water, although both must be considered as pioneers in the adoption of this highly sustainable and environmentally ideal technique. SMR is currently approved for use by in excess of 130 Local Highway Authorities nationally and has been used, without a single reported failure, on over 500,000 reinstatements, saving close to a million tonnes of landfill capacity and a similar quantity of primary aggregate. As word spreads, and the success stories increase, breaking down the industry’s “traditional approach” and its inherent resistance to change, more and more Utility Companies, Civils Contractors, and Highway Authorities will adopt SMR as their first option on footway and carriageway reinstatements.

Current uses of SMR in the UK

With a proven record of success in trench fill reinstatements, the stabilising properties of SMR have transferred over very easily to general land stabilisation applications, including the improvement and strengthening of weak or unstable soils, and the recovery and encapsulation of contaminated soils, the drying out and re-engineering of troublesome clay, chalk and sulphate bearing soils.

Over the next few years, the quality and reliability consistently achieved by SMR stabilisation will establish this product as the first choice solution for ground stabilisation.

Commitment Phobic Men – Tame Them by Avoiding One Key Mistake

The Roots of Commitment Phobic Men Why won’t men commit? Unfortunately, many men are potentially commitment phobic. They are taught from a young age to be strong, ambitious and in control of their professional and personal lives at all times. These expectations result in a fierce independence. After all, how can men be in control while relying on other people? So even though women are as likely as men to have careers, the notion persists that men should fulfill the role of protector and provider. This mentality sets the stage for the common scenario that puts relationships on the fast track to futility.

The Commitment-Robbing Scenario The modern woman relishes her socially accepted right to ask out the man of her choosing. Despite this, the man, armed with romantic initiative, usually makes the first move in the realm of romance. He pays for the first date, then the next few. As the relationship evolves, he delights in, if not insists on, becoming the go-to guy for his woman. Need your car fixed? Got it covered. Need that bookshelf assembled? I’m your man. Want your surround sound hooked up? Allow me. Being problem solvers comes naturally to men and feeds their innate need to protect and provide for their partner. Women understand this and play the role of damsel in distress, not because they are helpless, but because they believe it is what their man wants. Besides, isn’t it the natural and expected role of a boyfriend to take care of these kinds of things? For most couples, yes. But here’s the irony of it all: men often become overwhelmed by the extra responsibilities they have chosen to take on. They begin to feel the strain of added financial and time constraints levied by the relationship, which threatens their cherished independence and freedom. Unfortunately, men aren’t always adept at exploring their feelings. They sense that something is wrong but fail to see the connection between their choices and their feelings. Rather than remaining committed to the relationship, they begin pulling away and soon want out. The women involved are confused and interpret these actions as signs of commitment phobia.

Taming Commitment Phobic Men Balance is the essential key. Accept opportunities for your guy to be the strong, chivalrous knight in shining armor he craves to be, but not all the time. Graciously decline some of his offers of help. Arrange for your car to be fixed on your own. Take a taxi rather than relying on him for a ride. Offer to pay or help pay for dating expenses on occasion. If he objects, casually say, “Oh, I can take care of it this time,” or, “I’d really like to contribute.” He may not realize it, but you are protecting him from overextending himself and preserving his sense of freedom. Moreover, most men respect and appreciate a good measure of independence in their women, even if they don’t admit it.

10 Crucial and Surprising Steps to Build Trust in a Relationship

1. Be predictable. When do seeds of suspicion emerge? When one begins to think, What’s up? Why is he doing that? He’s never done that before. That is so unlike him. He loses 30 pounds, buys a new wardrobe and comes home late from work. He changes his patterns. His behavior becomes unpredictable. You get the picture? Any movement away from predictable behavior can become suspect and trust can deteriorate. Focus on acting predictably if you need to build trust. Be consistent in what you do. This doesn’t mean you must be boring. If there is a twinkle in your eye and a dose of spontaneity every so often, for goodness sakes be spontaneous and fun loving. But, be spontaneous consistently! Be true to who you have always been and be that consistently, whoever you tend to be!

2. Inform your significant other when you become “unpredictable.” No one goes through life the same person. We all make shifts and changes. Frankly sometimes we may be fairly clueless about what is happening and where we are going. Those times may be very intense and we do some silly things or make some downright dumb decisions. Life can get very squirrelly and unpredictable. (I have a favorite phrase: Gold is refined through intense heat.) Growth in an individual, marriage or family often is accompanied by a little chaos. Welcome these shifts, for there is a part of you searching for something better/different/richer/deeper, but for heaven’s sake, inform your partner of what you are experiencing. Say, “I really don’t know what is going on in me right now, but I’m moving in a different direction. Be a little patient with me while I figure this out. I might do some silly things, but my intent is not to harm you or scare you. Accept some of my wondering and wandering and please be there for me? I may need to run some of this by you every so often!”

3. Make sure your words match the message. Mean what you say and say what you mean. When your partner hears one thing in your words but your tone of voice, body language and facial expressions are really saying something else, you open the relationship to some crazy making days. Which message is she to believe? This can waste a tremendous amount of energy and she learns not to trust part of what you are saying. Here’s a very simple but common example. You are getting ready to go to a formal dinner. Your wife comes to you and says, “How do I look?” (And she’s wearing a dress you don’t particularly like and her hair is pulled back in a way that turns you off.) Not to spoil the evening you enthusiastically say, “You look great.” You don’t really mean it and a part of her knows you really don’t mean it. But, you leave it at that. This might not seem like a big deal – we all have done something similar – but if trust is shaky to begin with, it is even shakier now. Here’s how to match the words with the nonverbal: “I think you are a beautiful person. I want you to know that. I love you dearly and it will be wonderful to have you by my side tonight. Others will see your beauty. (As you say this, you look into her eyes as you put your hands around her waist.) She’s not concerned so much with how she looks but is expressing a need for affirmation. She’s not talking about her dress or hair, but about wanting to know the evening is going to go just fine. You respond to the real message. You can take this one step further, if you like. At some point you might bring up her need for affirmation and talk about that. Ask her is there is anything you can say or do so that need is met. Trust is awareness of the intent beneath the obvious message and responding to that!

4. Believe the other person is competent. I hear this phrase very often: “But, I don’t want to hurt him.” A couple things are at play here. First, she may not have the skill of confronting the other with the truth in a way that brings reconciliation and understanding. She believes truth telling is destructive or entails some sort of drama. Neither is true. The truth is never destructive and can be conveyed in loving ways. (With that said, what we believe to be the truth may indeed be a distorted perception that fits our personal needs.) Or, she may see the other person as a wimp; someone she believes cannot handle rigorous personal confrontation. She doesn’t trust that the other person has the internal strength or stamina or skills to be in a relationship of mutual respect and equality. The other person picks up on this mistrust and does what he does (feigns inadequacy and incompetence) to avoid the personal confrontation as well. A dance is acted out. Believe and know in your heart that the other person, somewhere and somehow, beneath the games, has the internal strength and capacity to handle anything. Such trust builds trust in the other person and begins to pervade the relationship. “Hey, she thinks I can handle this! Hmmmm, this is mighty good! I CAN engage her and be truly intimate!”

5. Be very very careful of keeping secrets. If he knows there is an elephant in the room and doesn’t talk about it, the elephant takes up tremendous space in the relationship. It takes energy for him to walk around it. She may not see the elephant but knows he is bending his neck to look around something. She will be curious, mildly disturbed, have feelings but no words to wrap around them, might wonder if something is wrong with her or struggle with trusting her intuition (her intuition KNOWS an elephant is there.) And, when we can’t trust the messages that come from within us, we find it very difficult to trust the messages of the other person. Secrets demand tremendous energy and erode trust. The relationship is doomed never to experience wall-banging intimacy. This is why extramarital affairs are so damaging. She is not so much concerned about him having sex with someone else as she is about the betrayal, lack of trust, the secrets and deception that are crazy making and energy draining. Now, please. I’m not saying that you sit your partner down and divulge the 23 secrets of your illicit past behaviors. If you have resolved those, i.e. forgiven yourself, understand those behaviors, learned from them and were able to use them to make the internal shifts necessary for your personal development, they do not qualify as an elephant. Hopefully, in the course of growing intimacy in your relationship you may want to share some of those events as you disclose to your partner where you were and where you are now. You do so without emotional charge. However, if a secret takes up room, i.e. still has an emotional charge and holds you back from disclosing more and more of yourself in the growing stages of intimacy, you have a problem that needs to be addressed with your partner.

6. Let YOUR needs be known – loudly. Be a little – no, be a lot – self-centered. (Be self-centered, but not selfish!) Here’s a problem I run into almost every day. He is backing away (perhaps attached to work, another person, etc.). She feels the trust and intimacy eroding, is scared and wants to “win him back.” So she begins an all out effort to “work on the marriage.” She invites him to do so as well. He may reluctantly agree. She blasts full throttle ahead trying to “be nice” and meet every need he ever said he had. She’s going to “fill his tank with goodies.” Doesn’t work. Her eyes are riveted on him. He feels “smothered” or maybe even resentful: “Why is she doing this NOW!” She’s hopeful, but eventually that turns to resentment. Her underlying motive – if I meet his needs, he will feel good and meet mine – just doesn’t work. It’s perceived as manipulation, which it is. Of course, he doesn’t say anything. After all, how do you get angry with someone who is so “nice and caring?” Trust disintegrates under a blanket of quiet niceties. Start with your eyes focused on YOU. What do YOU need? Explore your personal need system. Dig beneath the surface. And then say to him: “I need…x, y and z. I would like to talk to you about them. I would like us to work out a way so my needs are met. Are you open to that?” He is empowered to say yes or no. Or, he may say, “What about my needs?” You respond, “I am very interested in hearing what is important to you, certainly.” Have you ever been around someone who stated clearly what they needed/wanted? Didn’t you respect that person? Because you knew where he stood, and therefore where you stood, didn’t that interaction move toward a trusting relationship?

7. State who YOU are – loudly. It is very sad to see those in relationships of emotional investment hold back from letting the other person know who they really are. You build trust in a relationship by entrusting your SELF to the other person. This sounds easy but I find it difficult for most to pull off. Most of us have a difficult time declaring our SELF. For one thing, if you’re like most of us, you haven’t given much thought to what it is that makes YOU truly YOU. Don’t you feel like you glide through life on autopilot, focusing on tasks, goals, accomplishments, problems and the external realities? Don’t you tend to focus on those things out there or that person out there? You’re concerned about what he is thinking, how he is responding to you, whether he likes you, whether he will be an obstacle and where he will fit in your life? Your conversations may be pleasant but fairly superficial and bluntly, boringly inane. You converse about things/relationships/events out there. You are reluctant to share your thoughts, values, and impressions or take a stand. This doesn’t destroy trust. But it doesn’t create it either. And, if you do take a stand it may serve the purpose of protecting you or entrenching you as you react against someone. This more often than not creates trust barriers. Take some time to reflect on your standards. What are your standards for a relationship? What standards do you hold for yourself? What do you order your life around? What are the 4 top values in your life? What are some themes that you live by? What are you known for? And then…begin letting significant people in your life know. They will respect you. They will know you more deeply. They will thank you for the opportunity to know you. They will see you as a person of character. They will trust you. They can count on you. They know exactly what is behind and within you.

8. Learn to say NO! Sometimes you need to say NO! Often it is crucial to say NO! Saying NO sets boundaries around you that protects you from being hurt or venturing into territory that will be destructive to your heart and soul. You draw a line. You stop tolerating that which drains energy and makes you less than YOU. You refuse to allow the destructive behaviors of others to destroy you. You build a moat around the core of your life. You do this by informing the other person of what they are doing. You request they stop. If they don’t stop, you demand they stop. If they don’t stop you walk away without a snide remark, eye-roll or comment. To some this seems harsh, but saying NO is RESPECTED. Fear is the basis of mistrust. If you fear that someone will hurt you and believe you have no recourse but to endure that hurt, fear will prevail. How can you trust when you are in fear? Saying NO, protecting yourself, sends a message to the other person that you will not live in fear. This usually triggers a response of respect from the other person. After all, if you can protect yourself and refuse subjugation to that which is destructive, will not the other person come to trust you and see you as a person who just might protect him/her from harm as well?

9. Charge Neutral. When your significant other expresses something powerfully, charge neutral. Most of us are afraid of strong feelings or points of contention in a relationship. I commonly hear people respond by defending themselves (to a perceived attack), explaining themselves, counter-attacking, shutting down, or walking away. Of course, the relationship remains stuck in this quagmire of mistrust and fear. Rather than reacting and having your feelings flowing all over the place or shutting down, practice charging neutral. Communicate calmness, not only in your tone of voice but also in how you carry your body. Don’t speak with a charge to your voice. Control your voice! Say what you must say, state the truth and do it directly and calmly. You can do this, once you master your fears. It will dramatically change the flow of the relationship. You will be able to point out something big, without making a big deal out of it. You will be in control of you. This not only feels great, but your partner trusts that you won’t fly or fall apart. You will experience your personal power. This makes you very attractive. Don’t people really trust someone who knows their personal power and how to use it for the welfare of themselves and others? Your partner will love the fact that she can trust you consistently to operate from your “quiet center,” remain engaged, not back down and speak the truth with conviction and calmness.

10. Dig into the dirt. Relationships of emotional investment, by their nature, bring trials, tribulations, fears, chaos, turmoil, change, stretching and growth. They become the grist from which your life is shaped and formed. Be fearless when faced with turmoil, upset, crisis, questions, and fears. When the time is right, seek them out. Move toward the frightening unknown. Dig into the dirt of your relationship and uncover the treasures. Do you really TRUST that this can happen? The purpose of your relationship is not to make you happy. Do you realize this? Happiness may be an outcome, but your other is given to you to move you to where you really want to be. Obstacles, trials and moments of pain are given as lessons on which you intentionally write the script of your life individually and together. Embrace the difficult. Trust that in this embracing you will find more of your true self. Trust that you are given the resources and capacity to face what you and your significant other are to face. Once you are able to believe and trust these ultimate purposes, trusting your significant other will be that much more easy.

How to Fly You and Your Fencing Bag Safely to a Competition

Are you a fencer who will be flying? If so, then you should consider some tips to make your trip as smooth as possible. We learned in kindergarten that airplanes, buses and cars are different modes of transportation. However, as adults we need to consider some of the logistical differences, before packing our fencing gear before flying. If you are flying to another region, another country, or another continent, here are some steps to help make the experience as smooth as your fencing moves:

1. Buy the right fencing bag

Buying the right fencing bag for you may be more challenging than it may seem at first. You have many options to consider, including:

· color

· durability

· features

· size

· style

To help narrow down your choices, make sure to consider your particular needs. As a general rule, you should select a large fencing bag with wheels, if you are flying to a fencing competition. Such a bag will be able to store your sword(s), protective gear, and anything else you need for your journey. One practical matter to consider is that hauling all of that gear will be quite heavy! Thus, choosing a fencing bag with wheels will make it easier to transport the bag.

2. Consider packing your gear in a hard travel case

One of the hassles of flying is needing to pay airline baggage fees. Airlines can charge you if your baggage exceeds the maximum weight allowed. However, if you are exclusively flying to a fencing competition, then you probably will not have much luggage, besides your fencing equipment and enough clothes for a week or two.

However, the problem is that airlines tend to charge extra baggage fees, for luggage that exceeds certain dimensions. The dimension applies to the luggage’s length, width, or height. Considering the length of fencing swords, it is highly likely that their lengths will exceed an airline’s maximum baggage length.  

The good news is that airlines allow an exception on luggage dimensions, for hard golf travel cases. Unfortunately, soft fencing cases are not (yet) included in this exclusion. Thus, if you do a fair amount of traveling with your fencing gear, then you should consider purchasing a hard golf travel case. This will allow you to avoid extra baggage fees. However, keep in mind that if you still exceed the airline’s maximum baggage weight, you will still have to pay some sort of fee.

3. Verify that your fencing gear is completely secure in your luggage

This is important, to prevent your fencing gear from becoming destroyed while flying to your competition’s destination. Double-check everything before the airport processes your baggage, to ensure that all of your equipment is safe in its bags. Fencing gear is somewhat expensive to replace!

When flying to a fencing competition, make sure to follow these aforementioned tips. It will help to ensure that you and your fencing gear get to your destination safe and sound. Then you can focus on your main objective-winning the competition!