Cause of Lower Back and Groin Pain: The Iliolumbar Ligament

The iliolumbar ligament connects the fifth lumbar vertebra to the crest of the ilium, or hip bone, in the lower back. It is one of the thick, strong ligaments that supports the sacroiliac (SI) joint, which forms where the ilia meet the sacrum at the base of the spine on each side.

The ligaments around the SI joint facilitate pelvic stability and, since the pelvis is attached to the base of the spine, spinal stability. The lumbar spine is a highly mobile segment that bends forward, backward and sideways as well as rotating. The ligaments that attach to lumbar vertebrae are susceptible to injury if this spinal segment is overexerted.

Causes

The iliolumbar joint can be injured in a number of ways, including lifting a heavy object, impact from a fall or repetitive rotation of the lower back. Iliolumbar syndrome occurs when the ligament is chronically torn or strained. This is usually the result of a repetitive use injury, such as sustained by golfers, tennis players, or others who constantly twist at the lower back.

Ligaments have a difficult time healing; they naturally receive poor blood supply, meaning they do not get fresh oxygen and nutrients to facilitate healing. When a ligament is injured, inflammation in the region can cause pain in the area and in other parts of the body. The SI joint is affected when any of its supporting ligaments is injured; the joint loses support and becomes unstable. Inflammation in the area can cause the joint to seize up and interfere with nerves that pass through the area to other parts of the body.

Symptoms

Stabbing lower back pain, usually on one side

Hip pain

Groin pain

Pain on inner or outer thigh

Pain when bending to either side

Pain when twisting the spine

Misalignment of the L4 and/or L5 vertebrae, if ligament has been weak for prolonged period of time

Treatments

Treating an injured ligament is difficult; while any motion can irritate it, prolonged periods of rest and immobility carry their own risks. Treatment of the ligament depends on the severity of the damage.

If you have only a minor strain of the iliolumbar ligament, ice and a brief period of rest followed by gentle stretching and eventually strengthening exercises should suffice to recover.

More severe strains may benefit from friction therapy, a form of massage designed to stimulate the ligament just enough to break down scar tissue without aggravating the injury. Exercise therapy follows to build strength and flexibility in the hips, buttocks and lower back.

Iliolumbar ligament syndrome that doesn’t respond to these forms of therapy may benefit from prolotherapy, a relatively new form of treatment for ligament injuries. It involves the injection of irritants into the ligament area to spark the body’s inflammatory response, which is part of the healing process. Since ligaments receive poor blood flow, the body’s initial inflammatory response may have been too weak to facilitate healing. Ligaments are expected to heal after 3-10 sessions of prolotherapy.

Injury to the iliolumbar ligament is fairly distinct in that it causes SI joint and lower back pain along with groin pain. If you have these symptoms, help your doctor arrive at an effective treatment plan for your pain.

Nine Things You Did Not Know About Night Life In Mauritius

Mauritius is a country controlled by regulations especially when it comes to night escapades. Designated night places especially clubs occasioned by tourist have a bit more relaxed regulations, therefore, one can still enjoy his outing. Here are nine things you may not have known about night life in Mauritius. These will help in your decision to spend a Mauritius Holiday with your family and friends.

  1. Casinos are very active at night. Even if one may not be a gambler, it offers something entertaining to everyone. An example of a popular casino is Trou Aux Biches casino and Caudans casino. People will gamble their hearts out at such places.
  2. Sega nights is a popular local dance place where one can enjoy dancing. Many clubs will treat the tourists to a taste of local dances. Sega is the Mauritian identity dances. The theme is mainly the traditions and the struggle for identity of Mauritians. It is normally mixed with other flavors like local jazz, pop, rock and rhythm artist and other concerts.
  3. Tipping your attendant is considered a virtue. As you go for your night outings you will find that the people who tip their service providers are accorded much attention.
  4. A tourist needs to be careful at night. One should avoid visiting isolated places or accepting lifts especially when they are alone. Although the level of criminal activity is fairly low, one is advised not to take chances. It is always wise for people to guard against instances that may lead them to the hands of a criminal at night.
  5. Tourists need to know about strict dressing code at night. To discourage prostitution tendencies, walking around in hotels in surfer shorts or bathing suits is normally discouraged. Pornography and casual sex is regarded as a taboo. Do not expect the locals to act openly towards the tourists. They face serious restrictions and tourists need to be aware of it.
  6. For those who smoke one has to carry enough cigarettes while clubbing at night. Most night clubs do not sell the stuff. You may get a rude awakening when you decide to have a puff only to be turned back. The clubs which stock them will sell to you at a very expensive price.
  7. Zanzibar night club is a place where many tourists seeking to enjoy music and shake off some stress. One needs to brace himself for a crowded dance floor. There is a balcony where clients can watch people having fun. There is another floor for people who choose to engage in dancing and there is an open space where people enjoy when taking a break.
  8. Weekends are full of night actions in clubs like Grand Baie. It is a time when the locals have time to visit and a mixture of folklore converge at the club anyone to enjoy. One can be entertained with a lot of drinking till the wee morning hours the following day. Many of these clubs will offer free entrance and those that charge just charge a few amounts.
  9. There are other clubs where one can enjoy sports. A club like Patch and Parrot will provide people with an opportunity to either play or watch sports action. There are still some mild dancing that takes place in such clubs to keep everyone entertained.

The discussed things may be obvious but many a tourist may not be getting all the details about them. They can guide one to having a fun time and remain safe when on a Mauritius holiday.

Tomato – The God Food for Nutrition and Human Health

A recent study conducted at Ohio State University in the US reported that the dietary carotenoids, that gives tomatoes their colour, will protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) light damage. With the number of people being diagnosed with skin cancer increases with each passing year, it’s a good news that the daily consumption of tomato may cut the chances of skin cancer.

This small, round, sweet, juicy, delicious red fruit is one of the largest consuming vegetables in the world, not only because of its culinary purpose but also due to its numerous health benefits and nutrition. Tomato for skin cancer was just the latest example for its infinite fitness blessings.

From the time immemorial, there exists a long love affair between man and tomato due to its capacity for better acclimatization to various environment. Today, it comes in a vast array of varieties differing in colour, size, shape and taste. Now tomato has emerged as one of the most desired vegetables in the world due to its unique taste and nutritional qualities. More than 100 new tomato varieties are being made available in the world market with each passing year.

The health benefits of tomatoes gave it the title “God food” and forms an integral part of cuisines all over the world. Tomato is also a good source of potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and copper. Organic compounds like lycopene also attribute to the health benefits. The criteria for selection of tomato varies with country and the culture. Asian markets for tomatoes are particular about lighter colours while in European markets, small shapes of tomatoes are preferred.

So how the “God food” dominate the seed market? A report by Market Intelligence, a market research firm, states, ‘The Tomato Seed Market revenue covers a whopping 829.8 Million USD of the 7.8 Billion USD revenue of Vegetable Seed Market’. The numerical figure clearly depicts the dominance of seed market by tomatoes.

Tomato is the most widely grown and consumed vegetable globally. China is the largest producer of tomatoes followed by India, United States, Turkey and Egypt. The food processing market occupies 30% of the destination market for tomato while 70% of it is consumed as fresh produce.

Nowadays, the main focus of leading seed companies all over the globe is to improve the yield, adaptability to various climatic conditions and developing varieties with disease and pest tolerance. High emphasis has been laid to developing disease resistance tomatoes because tomato is attacked by more than 200 diseases and pests. Some of the important diseases of tomatoes are bacterial wilt, Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV), Groundnut Bud Necrosis Virus (GBNV), etc. Breeders from companies are also working on developing flavours for the final taste of tomatoes. The growth of tomato seed is heavily credited to the use of hybrid seeds and usage of high-value experimental varieties in developed economies. Although the investment in this industry is high, the return on investment is dramatically encouraging farmers globally to adopt hybrid tomato seeds for its production.

Adoption of improved varieties and hybrids will surely drive the tomato global seed market. Companies like Monsanto, Groupe Limagrain, Syngenta are working with their best teams, aligned with international standards and practice. This helps them to achieve not only their business objectives but also helps create value to society that is demonstrated by their strong effort in the research field of tomato seed production. Their far-reaching vision may have serious benefits for the sustainable production of the nutritional and healthy vegetable- “The God food”, Tomato.

How Export Control Software Can Ease Pains For Your Business

Exporters and importers would certainly prefer their business flourish by mitigating unnecessary risks that may hamper their brand name, reputation and import & export privileges.

On the other hand, the companies which failed to comply with export control regulations ended up with heavy fines and penalties. In fact, some companies still remain unaware of the set of laws codified as the US export control regulation, until they fall into the non-compliant companies and organizations situation when the U.S. government export enforcement office investigates them for violations.

The governmental agencies, particularly, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement, U.S. DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Department of Justice request exporters to conduct certain safeguarding activities, widely known as checks and verifications under “Know Your Customer”, as in the following:

Check customers, suppliers and other trade partners thoroughly prior to completing any business transactions with them,

Check if ordered products match the customer’s businesses practice or not.

Verify about modes of transportation and packaging requests.

Check for the red flags in routing of shipment through multiple countries.

Deny high-value transactions in cash.

Carefully screen their names and addresses against Denied party lists.

The aforementioned methods would also be great steps in implementation of good export compliance posture. Several U.S. Government agencies and other country government agencies, including the International organizations, regularly publish red flags and lists of banned, prohibited and denied persons, entities and companies. Periodically referring to those large numbers of lists, one can discover whether an entity is acceptable to do business from the U.S. export control regulations perspective or not. But, would this be effective enough for you? Does it make easier or faster for you? Absolutely not! Unless there’s something as efficient as automated export control software, the fact-checking against restricted party lists will be quite difficult, cumbersome and labor intensive.

How the software can help your business?

In the current scenario, if you don’t keep up with the recent technological trends and the speed of international trading you may hinder your business’ progress. Having efficient and accurately working export control software is a definite must. Automated restricted party screening software will help you check your trading partners against several internationally barred and denied company lists. Not only that, it will also help you keep a tab over ever changing international and national import and export control regulations. You can request top software providers for a complete software package that also helps you with ECCN and HTS classification as quickly as possible. The advantages of using this software include:

Reliable trade partner screening prevents long hours of manual search operations. With greatly improved flexible searching capabilities, such as phonetic search and fuzzy logic search, screening software in the market today allow users to find accurate results in a fraction of seconds.

Batch/bulk screening of lists makes it highly efficient for businesses that have got a lot of work to do. You will have a cost-effective solution at work, which helps you with compliance measures and saves money at the same time.

Some companies were severely misguided when they’re told that verifying only BIS and OFAC lists were sufficient. But, that’s not it. Companies operating globally would be bound by screening their trade partners against 100-120 U.S. and international denied party lists.

Under the defense export control regulations, achieving high level of ITAR compliance prior to importing and exporting defense articles is a major requirement. Unauthorized trading will invite an application of criminal and civil penalties. Per violation may impose a fine up to $500,000 and debarment under criminal penalties.

Therefore, you should utilize robust compliance automation software in your business transactions that helps you in complying with US export regulations while you focus on your core business processes.

Satisfying And Light Chicken Salad Recipes

Chicken has grown to be the favored meat especially in Asia. Mainly because chicken do not have the same strong taste like say, beef, it has become a favorite addition to salad recipes. The combination can not be any greater, the filling effect of the chicken without the strong taste to clash with the light, fresh taste of the fruits, vegetables and dressing.

Below are two well-studied recipes that are guaranteed to satisfy your salad cravings. So what are you waiting for? Get your choppers ready and let's start making that salad!

CURRIED CHUTNEY CHICKEN SALAD (from AllRecipes.com)

2 whole chicken breasts (or about 5 cups cubed cooked chicken)

1 cup seedless white grapes, cut in half

1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into cubes.

Greens of your choice for serving

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted.

1/2 cup thinly sliced ​​green onions, white and green parts

Dressing:

1/3 cup bottled Major Gray's chutney, large pieces chopped.

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 cup mayonnaise, homemade or high-quality purchased.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon grated lime zest

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Roast the chicken. When it is cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the chicken. Pull the meat off the bones and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Place the meat in a large bowl. Add the grapes and pineapple.

For the dressing, in a bowl, whisk together the chutney, curry powder, mayonnaise, lime zest, lime juice, and salt.

Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture. Toss gently but thoroughly. At this point, you may refrigerate the salad for up to 3 hours, or turn it out onto a platter lined with lettuce leaves, chill briefly, and serve. Sprinkle the pecans and green onions over the salad before serving.

MEXICAN CHICKEN SALAD RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup cider vinegar

3 Tbsp. Honey

1-1 / 2 tsp. Cumin

1/4 tsp. Salt

Pepper to taste

1 Tbsp. Olive oil

2 whole chicken breasts, skinned, boned, and cut into 2 "strips

1/2 tsp. Garlic salt

16 oz. Pkg. Frozen corn

1 cup chopped plum tomatoes

15 oz. Can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 green onions, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

10 oz. Pkg. Lettuce mix

2 avocados, peeled and chopped

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

3 cups lightly crushed blue corn tortilla chips

1 cup sour cream

10 oz. Jar thick and chunky salsa

Combine salt, vinegar, cumin, pepper, and honey and mix well; Set.

Heat oil in skillet. Sprinkle chicken with garlic salt, then saute in pan until white, about 5 minutes. Combine cooked chicken, corn, tomatoes, black beans, onions, and red peppers in large bowl. Stir in dressing. Chill for an hour.

Mix chicken mixture with lettuce. Serve along with avocados, cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream and salsa.

Increasing Your Profits With Dynamic Pricing

Your pricing strategy determines your earnings as well as how your customers view the products on your eCommerce website.

Some of them may appreciate that the price of an item which they keep coming back to your website for never changes, but a bigger number of customers will be thrilled to buy from your store if that item was priced lower.

Dynamic pricing and fixed pricing are both used by online retailers, but one of them just happens to offer more benefits than the other.

In dynamic pricing you adjust the price of your product based on its demand and supply in real time. Fixed pricing, however, is setting a price which doesn’t change regardless of reason or condition.

Why Use Dynamic Pricing?

You can get ahead of your competitors in the eCommerce race with dynamic pricing as it increases the demand for your products, and consequently improves your profit margin.

Because you can set tiered prices on your product for different types of customers, you can tap into a wider market.

Customers love that you are willing to adjust the prices of your goods, hence the reason they stay loyal to you.

Their positive reviews of your products even help drive traffic to your website and subsequently generate more sales for your business.

Checking the pricing strategy of your competitors as well as your product’s actual price in the market using a real-time price monitoring software makes setting a competitive price easy.

Imagine the significant amount of money you can save using that strategy instead of manually assessing the value of your product or hiring somebody to do it for you.

What about Fixed Pricing?

If there is high demand for your product within a well-defined target market, which guarantees gains above and beyond its market value, logic dictates that you use the fixed pricing strategy.

Businesses that offer seasonal products or services which require specialised tools and skills would normally use the fixed pricing strategy too.

However, this may not be the best approach to omnichannel retailing as it could hinder the growth of your business, especially online where shoppers have many choices.

If you want to constantly meet, if not exceed, your profit margin, then you have to aim for a broader market.

Even if your current customers are comprised of the richest people in society, you run the risk of losing sales the moment they start looking around your competitor’s store.

Factors Affecting Dynamic Pricing

This type of pricing strategy entails familiarity with the different types of customers.

Aside from their age, gender and location, you have to look at a customer’s shopping behaviour and lifestyle.

Split up compulsive shoppers, meticulous shoppers and returning customers, among others, into separate groups.

That way you can come up with segmented prices and assign them to each group.

Dynamic pricing, though, is not just about pulling down prices to make the consumers happy.

It also involves constant monitoring of the market price of your product, and how your competitors are dealing with it.

By taking all of these factors into consideration, you can rest assured dynamic pricing will increase your conversion rate as more customers will be interested to buy from your online store.

What pricing strategy are you using and how does it benefit your business?

Weighing In and Results – When Is The Right Time To Check My Weight?

Today I finished Day 50 of the Chalean Extreme and Turbofire hybrid with Push Circuit 2. This workout consisted of squats, one-legged squats, bicep curls, v bicep curls, overhead tricep extensions, and tricep extensions to name a few. I really love the weightlifting aspect of this hybrid! I used 20 lb. weights for the squats and 12.5 for the bicep curls. I then completed the triceps with 7.5 lbs and 20 lb. weights for the overhead tricep extensions. It felt great after I completed it and I pushed really hard and to failure on all the reps. For the push circuit exercises you do 6 to 8 repetitions of each particular move to failure. Failure means your muscles couldn’t lift one more time. This is why you must lift heavy during the push circuit aspect of this program. Then after going to failure in 6 to 8 reps you “get extreme”. This consists of three more reps with the same weight, but this time it is 3 super slow reps with the targeted muscle group. This is where you get your results. These extreme exercises break down the muscle fiber which causes the muscle to rebuild and thus create the lean, toned look I am looking for.

Most people are under the impression that lifting weights and especially heavy weights will cause you to become very muscular and bulky. This is true for men since they have more testosterone than us women. However, lifting heavy for women in this manner will cause sleek toned muscle and not bulk. This addition of muscle to your body also speeds up your metabolism which is fantastic for those wanting to lose weight. I think that a hybrid program designed like this is so much more effective for those wanting to lose weight compared to a typical cardio program. Don’t get me wrong though cardio is still necessary for burning calories and is basically a rest for those days you are lifting. I recommend anyone wanting to lose weight quickly to pick a program such as Turbofire and Chalean Extreme for the best results. Total body workouts like P90X and Insanity are also fantastic programs for a quickly weight loss goal. Understand that quick doesn’t necessarily mean overnight!

I didn’t start seeing real changes in my body until day 30. This didn’t mean that I had none either. When you are first starting your program don’t be a slave to the scale. Find an old pair of jeans you don’t fit in and use those as a tool for your results for a while before jumping on the scale. I also take measurements of my arms, thighs, chest and waist on day 1, 30, 60 and 90 days. I also jump on the scale as well. I would suggest not doing these measurements until each of these scheduled days along with a picture too. Doing them too often may hurt your motivation and ego if you are not seeing a change every week.

Anyways, after my recovery drink I then had a blueberry protein smoothie and Greek shrimp orzo salad for lunch!! Yummy!!! Now to play with my son and mow lawn! What a beautiful day here in Chicago!!

Simple Egg Diets for Dogs

Egg diets are quite easier in nature, since they come with a balanced amount of nutrients with the taste. Mixing a small amount of salt could give out a great taste to both human beings and dogs. It is very much essential to feed the dog with a proper food, which is both balanced with nutrients and taste. Most of the dogs love to eat egg dishes on a regular basis, since they can be slightly compared with a non-vegetarian dish.

How is it Important?

Eggs are quite cheap compared to any other nutritional food for dogs and it can be fed on a daily basis to provide a balanced amount of nutrients for the dog. Egg is a good source of Vitamin A, B12, Iron, Riboflavin, Fatty Acids, Iron and Selenium. Most of the dishes are pretty much similar to our dishes, since dogs can consume egg with and without few ingredients. Unlike human animals, dogs can even consume egg shells, as they have the capacity to digest easily. Raw egg shells can be fed to dogs on a regular basis by grinding them in a coffee grinder with a piece of meat.

Some of the highly recommended and the most common egg diets for your dog.

1. Scrambled Eggs with Cheese

Ingredients

• 1 Egg per dog
• Water
• Cheese – optional
• Powdered garlic

Cooking Method

• Add water in a microwave container
• Crack eggs and mix it with water properly
• Add cheese to the container (optional)
• Place it in the oven for a span of 2 minutes
• Take off the water carefully (optional)
• Cool it and serve it to your dog on a regular basis

2. Scrambled Eggs with Fruits or Vegetables

Ingredients

• 1 egg per dog
• Vegetables or fruits
• Powdered garlic
• Oil and pan
• Cheese – optional

Cooking Method

• Crack the egg
• Add water in the pan and mix it with eggs
• Fry or boil all the vegetables or fruits
• Cook the pan for a span of 5 minutes
• Add fried or boiled vegetables and mix it properly
• Cool it and feed your dog on a daily basis.

3. Egg and Bread

Ingredients

• 2 slices of bread
• One egg per dog
• Garlic to taste
• Oil and pan

Cooking Method

• Crack the egg in the center of the bread
• Crush all the egg shells and mix it on the bread
• Place the bread in the pan with oil or keep it in the microwave oven
• Add a mix of garlic paste to add taste
• Cool it and serve it to your dog once in 3 days

The History of Quartz Countertops

In 1963 Marcello Toncelli founded a company known as Brevetti Toncelli, which roughly means Toncelli Patents. A few years later that name was shortened to Breton, he took the Bre from Brevetti and the Ton from Toncelli to create a new brand. Afterwards he developed a patent for his process of solidifying quartz and resin slabs to be used in countertop surfaces. The Italian inventor created the Bretonstone technology used for producing engineered stone, also known as vibrocompression under vacuum. As a result he was able create an extremely durable surface that would one day be used around the world for all sorts of surfaces, particularly countertops. This method has been picked up by other companies around the world such as Dupont, Cambria, or Cosentino in order to create their own specific mixture. Zodiaq for example, is Dupont’s version of a quartz countertop.

It’s not just popular around Italy, according Wikipedia it’s the second most abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust. Not only is it abundant, but nearly every ancient culture revered quartz for different reasons. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Australian Aboriginals, and Romans all used quartz crystals as talismans. The Romans used rose quartz as a seal to signify ownership, and the Egyptians believed the stone could prevent aging.

It’s often found in passage tomb cemeteries around Europe, such as Newgrange or Carrowmore in Ireland. The Irish word for quartz is grianchloch, which means “Sunstone.” This has resulted in a number video games referring to it as a Sunstone. Quartz was also used in Prehistoric Ireland, and many other countries, to make stone tools; both vein quartz and rock crystal were knapped as part of the lithic technology of prehistoric people.

Made from one of the hardest minerals on earth, quartz countertops are one of the most durable options for kitchens. However, unlike natural-stone slabs, which are mined, these slabs are engineered in a factory. They are made of a little over 90% ground quartz and the other 10 percent is made up of Polyester resins and pigments.

Until recently people would refrain from using quartz as a countertop because it lacked the beautiful patterns and color variations you can get with natural stones such as marble and granite. But thanks to plenty of technological advancements that is no longer the case, we now have the ability to make quartz slabs that have a variety of flakes and swirls to generate random patterns that can make quartz slabs absolutely stunning. Finally able to rival the natural beauty of marble and granite.

Precautionary Factors to Remember in Home Construction

Building or constructing a house calls on all your abilities and skills in planning, budgeting and executing the task in hand. Although you may not be physically involved in the actual building up, as the home owner you have the responsibility of building a safe, secure and healthy home with all the factors considered.

There are several areas in home construction that need attention from the roof to the floor literally and everything in between. A building contractor or expert can provide advice on the basic necessities that include all matters relating:

• Building engineering like rooftop, walls, ceilings, floors etc.
• Plumbing
• Electrical works
• Heating, cooling and ventilation
• Woodwork
• Masonry
• Water proofing
• Damage proofing or earthquake proofing

These form the basic concepts of home construction; It makes a world of difference getting them right the first time because constant corrections, repairs, renovations and alterations can weak the structure of a house rendering it unsafe and unworthy.

Apart from the concept of a solid home construction, there are many precautions that are useful to consider that will absolutely provide healthy living. Some of the important factors that go into a 'precaution list' as far as a home is concerned are:

1. Building in a clean location – Choosing the right site for building a home is top priority. A home should be built in a clean area where the air is of good quality and the vicinity is free from pollution.

2. Doing soil testing for strength and presence of pests is very essential. Every home needs a prior anti-pest treatment to prevent insects and pests from invading living spaces.

3. Remembering basic elements of physics – The shape of a house matters a great deal in construction; Unnecessary nooks, corners and angles are not only a hindrance but also negatives as far as energy efficiency is concerned.

4. Giving adequate attention to structural elements – Proper laying of foundations and concrete in roofing and flooring and giving it adequate time to harden and strengthen are very essential to prevent cracks, seepage and other harmful effects.

5. Installing proper plumbing and adequate drainage – Pipelines and sewer lines must be given a lot of planning to prevent backflows and flooding. Access to pipelines must be easy to get hold of to carry out repairs and maintenance if necessary.

6. Controlling infiltration – A proper mechanical ventilation system minimizes the amount of uncontrolled infiltration serving to improve the quality of indoor air and prevent exposure to outdoor chemicals and toxins. Using multiple approaches like heat recovery ventilation, central exhaust and other fresh air circulatory approaches have advantages.

7. Use of solid wood or metal for fittings – Readymade bathroom and kitchen cabinets are made of wood and wood products and coated with glues and substances that have high formaldehyde content. Wooden or metal cabinets and fixtures that are custom made provide better and safer alternatives.

8. Using water based adhesives and paints – Water based paints and products tend to have much lower levels of VOCs (volatile organic chemicals). Beside VOCs there are other contents and ingredients used in paintings that can cause health problems. Adequate ventilation is very essential for painting jobs for a completely dry effect and for coats to last long without peeling and caking.

9. Testing sensitivity tolerance to substances and chemicals – Upholstery, carpeting and drapes can sometimes cause allergies and reactions in people with very sensitive dispositions; Wall, floor and wood coverings should be chosen suitably keeping these factors in mind.

10. Avoiding floor carpeting without absolutely necessary – Carpeting is one of the ways in which allergens and pollutants flood a home; The microbes, mites, dander and dust that accumulate under heavy carpeting is almost impossible to clean. Shampooing and washing off with strong chemicals add to the problem.

11. Ensuring that the house remains dry in all weather conditions to prevent mold, fungi and other moisture carrying content from damaging interiors and exterior of the home.

Prefabricated Building Materials

Prefabricated building materials are used for buildings that are manufactured off site and shipped later to assemble at the final location. Some of the commonly used prefabricated building materials are aluminum, steel, wood, fiberglass and concrete.

Prefabricated metal buildings use galvanized steel and galvalume as the chief materials for building. Galvalume is a form of steel coated with aluminum-zinc. This is to protect the building against corrosion, rust and fire. It also provides a sturdy and protective covering to the prefabricated building. Almost all the components of a metal building such as beams, frames, columns, walls and roofs, are made of steel. Most prefabricated military buildings use steel or aluminum frames. Synthetic materials are used for the walls and roofs. To provide enhanced security, a combination of both metal and cloth materials are used. Plastic flooring materials can be quickly assembled and are very durable.

Prefabricated building materials used for small prefabricated buildings are steel, wood, fiberglass, plastic or aluminum materials. These materials are cheaper than regular brick and concrete buildings. Materials like steel, fiberglass, wood and aluminum are used as prefabricated building materials for sports buildings. These materials provide flexibility and are preferred for making structures and accessories like stands and seats for stadium and gyms.

For making low cost houses, prefabricated materials like straw bale, Ferro cement, Calcium silicate products, composites and other cheap wood based materials are currently being used. Calcium silicate bricks are strong and durable. Ferro cement consists of a cement matrix reinforced with a mesh of closely-spaced iron rods or wires. In this type of construction, the techniques used are simple and quick.

Using prefabricated materials one can make durable, water and fire resistant and cheap prefabricated buildings. Most of the prefabricated building materials are eco-friendly and affordable.

Weight Loss Meals Could Be Tasty

Weight loss meals do not have to taste bad they just need to be healthy. So many of us get used to eating a certain way that when it comes to thinking about a diet, we automatically feel that it will be hard, or that we will feel hungry all of the time. That is simply not true, we can lose more weight by eating six small meals and snacks every day than trying to starve ourselves.

When you think about a diet differently it will be easier to lose weight. Don’t keep thinking that it will be a hard thing to do, it’s not. Only make small changes at first. Don’t give up drinking coffee when you still want to. Change your cream to lower fat milk or creamer, and use a low calorie sweetener instead of sugar.

Maybe you like a full breakfast with eggs and toast with bacon. Make a small change by getting rid of the bacon and use a low fat ham instead. When you want to do a complete change, switch to a bowl of cereal and fresh fruit. Whenever you need to grab a quick breakfast stay away from the pastry and get a bagel with a fat free topping.

Maybe you like a full breakfast with eggs and toast with bacon. Make a small change by getting rid of the bacon and use a low fat ham instead. If you want to do a complete change, switch to a bowl of cereal and fresh fruit. Whenever you need to grab a quick breakfast stay away from the pastry and get a bagel with a fat free topping.

Have an afternoon snack of fresh cheese, or fruit. Pistachios or cashews make a great snack, as long as you are not allergic to nuts. When you feel you are hungrier than just a small snack have a sandwich made with whole wheat bread and tuna fish, mayonnaise is alright to use, just cut back on how much you put in the tuna.

Fish is great to have for dinner, any type that you like is healthy. Change the side dish you have to rice, and remember the vegetables. If you would normally put butter on your fish and vegetables try lemon or a butter substitute. A great dessert is a flavored ricotta cheese mixed with a sugar substitute, or fresh fruit and yogurt. By adding variety and changing a few small things weight loss meals do not have to feel like a diet.

Review: Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas From Galveston

I had planned this cruise for seven months. A friend and I who had previously cruised with Carnival and Celebrity were eager to try Royal Caribbean after hearing so many positive things about the beauty of the ship, quality of food and service, etc. For the second time, I surprised my retired parents by taking them with us (the previous year I had surprised them with an Alaskan cruise which I will review later), and they were absolutely giddy with excitement when they found out that they would once again be traveling aboard Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, which they claimed was their favorite ship of 13 other cruises they had taken. With the ship fresh out of dry dock for upgrades, were set to go to some brand-new destinations none of us had ever visited: Roatan Island, Honduras and Belize City. Expectations were high.

Then cruise time came. While I am not prepared to say that we had a BAD time on this cruise, I think it is fair to say that our expectations were a bit deflated, pretty much from the minute we arrived at the Port of Galveston. Allow me to take you through the high and low lights of life on the high seas aboard Navigator of the Seas.

The Highs

Our dining experience– Most definitely the best service we received on the ship was in the main Sapphire Dining Room, which is without a doubt the most gorgeous dining room I have seen on a cruise ship. Walking into the dining room is like entering a regal opera house complete with grand stair case and three levels of dining with windows on each side. Our two servers were extremely attentive, noting my step-mother’s preference of making her own ice tea with two glasses of ice, 2 tea bags and some hot water, which was waiting for her every night after night one. I could fault her for being a “tea snob,” but then I’d have to look at myself in the mirror with my Starbucks in hand turning my nose up at Folgers. All of us enjoyed the variety of meal choices and thought the food was of very high quality, with service running like clock work. It was truly a pleasure to dine each evening.

Here we are at dinner. I am the goof-ball in blue.

The Cabin– Inside cabin 7667 (Aft Port) was home sweet home for our week at sea. My parents were right next door in 7669. For an inside cabin, there was plenty of room to stow all of our stuff and have a completely clear space to move in. I would say the bed was a bit hard, but it’s all about your preference as my friend and traveling partner Jay (the guy in purple) said his was just right. Ample closet and drawer space allowed us to each have sufficient space to unpack. Our steward service was also top-notch, re-stocking and tidying up twice daily.

The ship– Navigator is definitely a beautiful ship. Of note is the Royal Promenade, a series of shops, restaurants and bars running aft to forward giving cruisers the feel of strolling down a cobblestone street while at sea. I recommend the Two Poets Pub for some nice ambiance and people-watching. The main atrium is gorgeous, and the various lounges and bars are designed with a very classy yet comfortable feel. The pool deck is also impressive, featuring two main pools flanked by several hot tubs, some of which are shaded. For the most part there are plenty of chairs both in and out of the shade, but if your cruise is full you had better get there early to snag one. We also thought the nightclub overlooking the pool deck with its floor-to-ceiling windows added a nice touch to the ship’s offerings. The ship’s casino is also pretty decent, but since smoking is allowed in there, you may come out smelling like an ash tray.

Overlooking the Royal Promenade

The Grand Atrium

Beverage Package–Three of us on this cruise had the premium package for $55 per day, but since my dad only drinks beer, we got him the basic package. At first glance, this package might seem a bit pricey (Royal Caribbean’s beverage packages are some of the most expensive at sea), but overall we got our money’s worth. What I especially liked was that basically nothing on the drink menu was off limits short of the super premium stuff. You could even opt for Grey Goose vodka at no extra charge. The flip side here is the bar service (see below).

Theatre Entertainment–If you ever find yourself on Navigator of the Seas, don’t miss the ice-skating show. It is fantastic and was much better than I thought it was going to be. We also enjoyed the Elton John impersonator, the bar flair show and the adult game show.

The Lows

Embarkation/Debarkation–The words fiasco, nightmare, eternity and disorganization come to mind for both. This was hands-down the WORST embarkation/debarkation process I have ever experienced, and my parents who had been on 13 previous cruises agreed. We should have expected this when Royal Caribbean sent us out an e-mail prior to the cruise instructing us to arrive at certain times based on the deck on which our cabin was located. As it happened, we had flown into Houston, and our transfer dropped us off right at the time we were supposed to be there, which was 12:30 p.m. We did not step foot on the ship until almost 2 p.m, as we were stuck two different lines, both of which were extremely slow-moving. This is definitely not the way you want to start your vacation, and very few smiles were to be found in the security and check-in lines. Mind you, I totally expect a bit of a wait checking in, but this was just ridiculous. I think the longest wait I have ever experienced prior to this was 30 minutes tops. I definitely expressed my dissatisfaction to the check-in lady.

Debarkation was practically just as bad. Since we had a driver waiting for us, we opted for the self check-out and were given a specific time and place to meet. We have done this on other cruises with minimal waiting, with customs officers boarding the ship to collect forms. In the past, we have basically just walked off the ship. Not this time. When we arrived at the appointed spot we then waited another good 45 minutes just to be allowed to disembark. Once off the ship, guess what? Another line, another 45 minutes to pass through customs. I ended up being a charged an additional wait fee by my driver, thanks to Royal Caribbean and the Port of Galveston.

Bottom line–I will never cruise from Galveston, Texas again as they clearly do not have the ability to handle the volume of people that cruise ships have. Basically, Royal Caribbean left a negative first impression and a negative last impression.

Service–Aside from our servers at dinner, service in the bars and lounges on this ship was average at best and certainly not what I am accustomed to on a cruise. While some bartenders were standouts, it generally took forever to get a drink and often you felt as if you were a bother to the bartender or server. The worst service was probably at the pool bar. Some might say that I am too demanding, but when I spend my hard-earned money on vacation I want decent service. Period. I didn’t really get it on this cruise. My parents also commented that “things just weren’t the same on this cruise” as their previous experience on Navigator of the Seas.

Kids, kids, kids– OK, I am probably going to get some eye-rolls for this, and maybe for some it wouldn’t be a negative, but there were just too many kids taking over the main pool area on this ship. As with anyplace else, parents are partially to blame here, allowing their little monsters to run amuck and splash others in the main pool, but I fault Royal Caribbean for not enforcing pool rules. On past cruises, kids weren’t even allowed in hot tubs, but they were in this one. Granted, there is an adults-only pool and hot tub, but the problem is that there isn’t any entertainment there (not that the entertainment at the main pool was anything to write home about).

We did not participate in any excursions on this cruise, so I can’t speak to their quality. We did hear various comments that the excursions were over-priced and not worth the money. One excursion was even over an hour late and had to be delivered to the ship by boat as it was departing Honduras.

The verdict–If I had to choose between Royal Caribbean and Carnival, I would probably go with Carnival based on past experiences. I am not totally closed to giving Royal Caribbean another chance, but they would have to completely WOW me to keep me coming back.

American Wood Furniture Is Linked To Global Forest Conservation

Have you ever thought about where your wood furniture comes from?

Over the past few decades, the organic food movement has made us ask questions about the origin of our food. Now the fundamental concerns voiced in that movement are being extrapolated to the furniture and flooring industries. People want to know where their furniture comes from and what they’re finding out is often more disturbing than the facts that were uncovered regarding the origins of our food.

Wood Furniture in America Often Originates From Illegal Rainforest Wood

Up to 90% of the wood furniture and flooring sold in the USA and Europe is imported from overseas. That amounts to almost 2 billion cubic feet of timber that is illegally harvested (read: clear-cut) every year. Incredibly a forested area three times the size of Vermont is being destroyed annually! Illegal logging is most grievous to third world countries such as Brazil, Cameroon, Gabon, Liberia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia and Vietnam where large tracts of rainforest are plundered by huge foreign timber conglomerates. The wood is used for cheap furniture and flooring which is processed and assembled in Asia. Sometimes the furniture is then stained or finished in the USA in order to be labeled “Made in America.”

Why should US wood furniture buyers care about rainforest destruction that happens so far away from our homes? In addition to robbing our planet of oxygen generating trees and endangered wildlife habitats, rainforest destruction takes away forest resources that directly contribute to the livelihoods of over a billion people in the developing world that live in extreme poverty. What will become of these people once the rainforest is gone?

How To Find Sustainable, Organic Wood Furniture

While supporting groups like the World Wildlife Fund who are working to protect the rainforest and it’s inhabitants, American consumers are looking for alternatives to bringing unsustainable furniture and “bad karma” into their homes. Buyers are eager to find furniture that originates in the USA from American-grown wood which has been harvested sustainably in well-managed North American forests. As with the organic food constituency, the movement towards “buying local” and buying organic wood furniture is gaining steam.

Consumers can learn more about eco-friendly organic furniture and where to purchase it from the Sustainable Furniture Council, SFC.

The Mediterranean Diet

With the plethora of diets so acutely focused on carbohydrates intake, you may be wondering why the Mediterranean diet beat out a low-carbohydrate approach. After all, LC diets not only work for some people, studies also show that low- and very low-carbohydrate diets have helped obese individuals decrease insulin resistance, lower triglycerides, favorably change blood cholesterol levels and lose weight. Yet they are not for everyone.

First, LC diets may be tough to stick with over the long term. And, one solution to that issue may involve transition from low carbohydrate to "controlled" carbohydrate, eating a specific amount of carbohydrates per sitting and making healthy carbohydrate per sitting and making healthy carbohydrate choices (fiber rich whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables) .

Secondly, recent research out of the University of Alabama Birmingham found that high-fat; Low-carbohydrate diets may be detrimental to those with ischemic cardiovascular disease or a predisposition to heart attacks. In their study, obese and normal weight rats fed a high-fat, LC diet had larger, more damaging heart attacks compared to rats on a low-fat control diet.

In addition, the rats on the high-fat, LC diet had greater risk of death from pump failures and arrhythmias. Altering dietary macronutrient composition looks to affect the type of fuel the heart uses to function, when in fact carbohydrates is the most efficient source of fuel for our bodies when recovering from a heart attack. Although these results do not suggest that high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets cause heart attacks or that they are harmful, it does raise some red flags that should be taken into consideration prior to going on a similar diet.

Take a close look at your lifestyle and choose the plan that will best meet your needs. And, why go on a low-carbohydrate diet, or at least why stay on one if a Mediterranean diet may be just as effective?

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you talk to your co-workers, neighbors and friends, you'll probably meet at least one person who has been successful on just about every popular diet out there. And according to the POUNDS LOST trial, the actual parameters of the diet (carbohydrate, fat and protein content) may matter less than your ability to stick with it.

After all, if you can not follow a diet plan, you will not lose weight. So, take a close, realistic look at your lifestyle and choose the plan that will best meet your needs. And remember, though diets work in the short term, the best way to keep weight off forever is by making healthy foods a permanent part of your diet and incorporating lifestyle changes you can live with.