History Of Faucets

Plumbing systems have already existed during ancient times. In fact, at around 1700 BC, The Minoan Palace of Knossos in Crete first featured a terra cotta-based piping that provided water for faucets, as well as faucets made of marble, gold and silver. During the Roman period, personal bathrooms and lead pipes have already existed (1000 BC – 476 AD). Rome’s public baths were already equipped with silver faucets along with fixtures made of gold and marble.

Since then, public systems have changed, including faucets. For many decades, faucets had two handles – one for hot water, and the other for cold water. In 1937, however, this design changed, and this change was initiated by a college student named Al Moen. One fine day in 1937, he turned the faucet handle to wash his hands but scalded them since the water came too hot. This gave him the idea of designing a single-handle faucet.

Between 1940 and 1945, he designed various kinds of faucets: from a double-valve faucet to a cylindrical design, and finally he sold his first single handle mixing faucet in the latter part of 1947. By 1959, his design was used in a million homes in the United States and sold in around 55 countries all over the world. Today, single-handle faucets are popular and can be found in about 50% of American homes.

Aside from single-handed faucets, Al Moen also came up with other inventions in his lifetime, which included the replaceable cartridge (to eliminate washers in the faucets), push-button shower valve diverter, screen aerator, flow control aerator, pressure balancing shower valves and swivel spray. Aside from Al Moen, Landis Perry was also involved in doing innovative faucet designs. In 1945, he designed his first faucet ball valve which aimed at providing a combined blending control and volume with an effective means for sealing valve elements. This design was patented in 1952 and was first introduced in 1954 by Delta faucets (who bought the patent beforehand). Four years henceforth, their sales topped a whooping $1 million.

About two decades later, Wolvering Brass patented the ceramic disk for water control. Unlike rubber-based cartridges, ceramic discs are lapped and polished in such a way that their flatness is only measured in light bands. Ceramic disks tend to last a lot longer than cartridges since they have high wear resistance and are able to provide a more accurate control. These disks are widely used today.

More recent innovations in faucets include built-in cartridges used to reducing the level of lead, cysts and chlorine, built-in pull out sprays, electronic faucets as well as those designed for disabled people. Electronic faucets were introduced in the early 1980’s for hygienic and water conservation purposes, and come with infrared beams that detect motion. When a person happens to put his hand underneath the faucet, the infrared beam is disrupted, and this disruption triggers the water to run. In addition, battery-operated electronic faucets have also been distributed. More developments will surely come in and improve the lives of many homeowners.

Air Hockey Facts & Trivia

The idea behind the invention of air hockey table was to provide a surface that does not have friction. So a team of three engineers named Crossman, Kendrick and Baldwin of Brunswick started working on this idea in order to create a frictionless surface and increases playing speed.

Even after working hard for many years on the idea, they failed to generate interest in their idea. Then, in 1972, Bob Lemieux, a dedicated person who himself had played air hockey with a puck and mallets, took the idea from the original engineers and picked up where they had left off. Lemieux finally succeeded in creating the first hockey table that was without friction because of its low flowing air vents.

Air Hockey was an immediate success. It is became so popular among people that it became the first choice of every bar, club and arcade. The game quickly led to tournament play and in 1973 the Houston Air Hockey Association formed the air hockey team. Two years later, the Air Table Hockey Association established the official rules for the game. Following that time, annual championships and tournaments have been held. In fact, twelve players have won the title of World Air Hockey Champion.

No one had ever imagined that a game like hockey would become such a popular pastime. In the 1970s when football and pool was very popular, no one thought there could be innovative techniques (Zero friction) for table games. Who should get the credit for air hockey table – Bob Lemieux or the three Brunswick engineers – is still a question. But at the end of the day, what really matters is the results.

As with most games, the present hockey rules and prototypes are different from the original because players have developed new and different stances and grips over the years. The drifts have become more complex. The shots are often hit out of “drifts,” where the puck travels in set patterns designed to throw off the opponent’s expectations and timing. Sometimes the drifts are grouped into sets such that the player can hit the puck in a particular manner to send it back and hit it number of times in succession to confuse the opponent. For more confusion to the opponent, one can play the puck in a way to make it look like a specific drift shot in a particular direction, but the puck flies in some other way and direction due to spin or quick movement.

Whether you want to get into the technical play mechanics described above or just have some fun in your basement or game room, definitely delivers.

Apartments That Approve With Bad Credit Or Broken Lease in El Paso Texas

El Paso is a large city cultural hub, which due to its close proximity to the border with Mexico, has a very vibrant Latino feel. Center of the giant El Paso Gas company, the city has grown in leaps and bounds in recent times owing due to commercial activity and off course immigration. Immigrants to this city constitute individuals and families looking for work to college students coming to enroll in the different community colleges. This means that area apartments become a point of focus for residents and those coming into town. The city’s apartments do require good credit and rental history in order to secure an approval. Unfortunately, if you are looking for rental housing or apartments and your credit is below 700, there may be a chance of getting denied. The apartments also scrutinize for broken leases and will also serve an immediate denial if one is unearthed. But are there area apartments in El Paso that will allow tenants who have bad credit or a broken lease? Here are a few locations you can begin to look:

  • Mesquite Hills
  • Mountain View
  • North Hills
  • Central El Paso

There is some difficulty sometimes when it comes to locating these types of apartments. One major reason is that they are reluctant to advertise fearing they will attract the wrong crowd. If you have tarnished credit and or a rental history that shows you walked out on a lease agreement, there is a possibility that finding an apartment may end up in frustration. Most area apartments are concerned with quality and would want their reputation to remain intact. They therefore do not have a blanket policy of approving every single person whose credit or history is short. They instead prefer to deal with such tenants on a case-by-case basis.

In order to unearth these apartments, you have to network. Sometimes this involves informing colleagues, friends and families exactly what you are going through to see whether there is something they can do. They may know a leasing manager somewhere who may be more than willing to work with you if you have been referred by their friend.

Sometimes it may involve utilizing the Internet. This can save you time and money because you are able to search apartments in the El Paso area without leaving the comfort of your home. Finally, consider checking apartment listings or using an apartment locator.

How to Build a Small Flat Wooden Bridge for Your Stream

Building a flat wooden bridge can really be great fun and involve the entire family as a project. We have a small stream running to our lake that in most areas is about ten feet wide. The embankments are about three feet high on each side so we chose one of those areas for our bridge. I decided to make three large beams as supports for the walkway. I chose six, two inch by twelve inch, by fourteen foot, pressure treated planks for the support beam materials. Each of these planks are quite heavy for one person to handle so I moved them one by one to the place where they would ultimately end up at the stream. Next, I dug two trenches, one on each side of the stream, to construct footings to support the three wooden beams. Using the largest, flattest, stones I could find, I created a flat rock ledge in each trench. The rocks being an average of three inches thick would support the beams with no problem. As each end of the bridge needed to be buried for a smooth transition to the ground on each side of the stream, the pressure treated lumber would allow me to just bury the rock footing and the end of the beams with earth holding it in place. Dragging the 2 x 12 planks across the water was no fun as the September weather had already cooled our mountain stream but I got it done.

Once all six planks were placed spanning across the stream, I was able to start to assemble them using both construction adhesive and galvanized three inch deck screws. If you are going to just use the bridge for foot traffic, two beams would be more than enough on a twelve foot span. I wanted to be able to take my lawn tractor and trailer across the bridge to the lake. With the additional center beam, the bridge easily handles the tractor, myself, the trailer loaded with camping or fishing supplies, chain saws and whatever else we needed that day. My bridge is six foot wide clear inside so there is plenty of room for all to cross.

Next, I added a 2 x 12 plank vertically at each end of the beams to connect them all together and also hold them apart in the six-foot, four inch width that I needed. Hand rail posts made of four by fours will reduce the width to an even six foot wide when installed. Before you start installing any decking, install two pieces of lumber, one by three inches wide or larger in an X pattern under the bottom of the beams. Crisscross them in the center by nailing the ends and the center point to the underside of the beams. These pieces will prevent the beams from “rolling over” as time passes and will hold them nice and straight vertically. These pieces must be pressure treated.

Next, apply your decking pieces. I recommend using two by six inch, PT lumber material as it’s added strength will make your bridge last a good many years.

Again, I used three inch galvanized deck screws to fasten the decking boards to the beams. Leave a very small gap between the boards of about 1/4 inch or the thickness of a twelve penny nail shank. These gaps will allow water to quickly pass through the bridge and gives melting snow a place to drip as well.

This bridge is flat so water runoff has to be considered to avoid premature decay.

You may want to install one set of cross blocking at center line of the bridge before installing that last piece of decking for added protection against any bouncing of the bridge deck. Mine did not need it at all.

Handrails come next in the assembly. Although the bridge is short it does add added support for the older folks crossing over on the way to the lake. On the fourteen foot span I installed three vertical posts on each side of the bridge by notching the post bottoms a full twelve and one half inches high to allow the posts to half sit on the full 2 x 12. You will need to install some small blocking around the posts to support the decking pieces. Next I added another four by four for the handrail on each side all in one piece. A little pricey but after twenty plus years of use it is still in perfect condition. After fastening the handrails in place, I added one piece of cross bridging created out of 1 x 3 PT material and I inverted them into a V shape from post to post.

Mostly decorative but but it does say “Whoa”, there is a three foot fall here.

Since I have a battery operated sander and five inch skill saw, I took the time to cut a slight bevel on the top of the handrail and then ran some sandpaper over it. This helps water shedding and makes the rail a little more comfortable to hold or lean on and stare at the steam below.

Before cleaning up, I applied a treatment to the ends of all my saw cuts to protect against the weather. Also try doing all your lumber cutting away from the water to avoid getting the PT sawdust chemicals in the water.

My bridge is now over twenty years old and other than some occasional up-keep at the bridge ends after the spring snow melt and heavy water runoff takes place to replace washed out stones or earth, this bridge will last forever.


Your Friendly Building Inspector

BICES-Building Inspection & Code Enforcement System software

Common Knowledge About Your Car

Most people do not know much about their car. They do not want to trouble themselves with that,they think it is not important at all or simply think that pushing the pedals and turning the steering wheel is enough trouble already. But in situations (like an arm-chair conversation about cars) people find themselves sticking out like a sore thumb.

That is the more harmless part. The lack of car-knowledge could be potentially troublesome.What happens in case of a needed car repair and you do not know squat about your car or even what to repair?

What happens when you want to sell your car and do not know the basics? The chances of a proper sale is seriously reduced.

So for people who want to know more here is some useful things you should know about your car:

1. Car manufacturer

2. Model and type

3. Type of engine (petrol or diesel)

4. Engine configuration (“V” or in-line)

5. Type of transmission (manual or automatic and number of gears)

6. The correct type of engine fuel you use

7. The vintage of your car (the manufacturing year)

8. The correct mileage or kilometers on your car

9. Engine size (in cubic inches or centimeters)

10. Basic orientation under the hood (in case of repair)

Seems overwhelming? It is not at all. You can squeeze all of this into one sentence and it will take only a few minutes to learn this. Who knows, maybe it can get you more interested in cars and perhaps, one day, do some car repair yourself.

So, if your a car driver, this is some knowledge you have to have. Not having it is like sitting at the table not knowing the purpose of the fork and spoon.

20 Top Sweet Pick Up Lines

One of the ways to attract women is to be able to approach them confidently. Some guys can be funny, amusing or witty but what is important is to be able to say the right words. Guys from different parts of the world use different pick up lines, some may be subtle, others may be funny or some might just be too straight forward. Here are the top sweet pickup lines we have collected from all over the world:

  1. Can you recommend a bank where I can make a deposit? Because I’m planning to save all my love for you.
  2. Are you a bee? If so, can you be my honey?
  3. Are you the owner of Crayola? Because you always give color to my life.
  4. Are you fond of sugar? Because your smile is always so sweet.
  5. I hate to say this but you are like my underwear because I can’t last a day without you.
  6. Do you have a driver’s license? Because you are driving me crazy.
  7. Excuse me. May I know if you are a dictionary? Because you give meaning to my life.
  8. I do not know your height but I have been thinking hard how you were able to fit inside my heart.
  9. Are you a denture? Because I can’t smile without you.
  10. I’m starting to like you less because I’m beginning to love you more.
  11. Can I take your picture? Because I want show Santa what I want for Christmas.
  12. When you are not around, I feel that I am always in a traffic jam because I can’t move on.
  13. You seem like a sweet person. Will you mind if I taste you to find out?
  14. I think I’m having an asthma attack! Because you take my breath away.
  15. Do you have an eraser? Because I can’t erase you from my mind.
  16. Hey! You look like someone I know! My next girlfriend.
  17. Can I get your picture to prove to all my friends that angels do exist?
  18. Does your watch have a second hand? I want to know how long it took for me to fall in love with you.
  19. Ever since I met you, you have lived in my heart without paying any rent.
  20. Hey I lost my phone number, can I have yours?

Some of these pick up lines may be familiar to you but some of the most hilarious have been translated from other languages. Use any of these 20 top pick up lines and you will surely be able to pick up any woman you fancy.

NMB Compared To UFB Electrical Cable

Since there are so many types of electrical wire in the industry you will have to determine where it’s going to be installed and how much power needs to run through it before buying anything. Certain cables are designed for indoor use while others are designed for outdoor use and their cost is directly affected by the amount they can handle. More work by engineers and higher manufacturing costs are the result of an outdoor or underground cable.

NMB stands for Non Metallic because there is a “metallic” electrical cable used outdoors and in conduit. The non metallic version is used indoor only at a much cheaper price. The ground wire doesn’t need to be insulated and the outer jacket doesn’t need too much protection. The main reason for the jacket is for the contractor to be able to run multiple electrical wires at once rather than individually.

UFB stands for Underground Feeder because it’s used for installations that are buried directly in the ground without conduit. It’s a flat cable and the tough PVC jacket covers each THHN wire individually for added protection. Again, this cable can be buried in the ground without conduit but it will be much more expensive than NMB cable because of the additional approvals and manufacturing costs.

There’s also an electrical cable in between these two, in cost, and in the environmental installation abilities. MC cable stands for Metal Clad which is the “metallic” cable mentioned above. The metallic (aluminum interlocked armor) jacket wraps around all of the THHN conductors allowing it to be used outdoors and in conduit applications. It also passes as its own conduit for indoor applications only. Many times a contractor will, first, need to run conduit and then install an NMB cable indoors. However, now they can simply buy MC cable and install it without conduit to save time. MC cable is NOT approved for direct burial in the ground.

Think of the 3 main electrical installations which are indoors, outdoors and underground. Additional approvals and requirements are needed for each environmental change. Also, more engineering and manufacturing costs are needed to make the more difficult cables like UFB Underground Feeder. The one thing they all have in common is the inner conductors of THHN THWN. The change is more in the jacket material than the inner conductor insulation because that’s where most of the protection comes from.

Make sure you speak to your wire and cable supplier before making a purchase so that you don’t over spend or possibly under estimate the amount of protection you need.

Why I Love Using Door Hangers In My Mortgage Business

Everyday we go through 100’s of doors without even thinking about it. How would you like to be able to make people stop and take notice of your mortgage marketing message?

The answer is “Door Hangers” or if you prefer “Door Knob Hangers.”

If you’re like me, you probably love to close a mortgage using a low cost origination idea. Door hangers definitely fit in that category and are a great originating tool.

Here are a few of the advantages of using door hangers:

1. They’re inexpensive,

2. They’re easy to generate,

3. The response is almost immediate,

4. They help you establish a farming area,

5. They can be targeted to a specific market,

6. Somebody is going to get a lot of good exercise.

As noted above…There’s lots of very good reasons why you would want to work the door hanger idea into your marketing plan. But, here’s the most important reason of all: You’ll receive an immediate response using door hangers. If you’re new to the mortgage business…this is exactly what you want…you want prospects now…not next week, not next month, and certainly not next year.

If you’re an old hand with mortgages but experiencing a little lull in your business…this provides a quick jump-start to find some new prospects.

And, remember…this is low cost mortgage origination that you can do immediately. If you need business…and, won’t incorporate this idea…I really can’t help you…you have other issues that need to be addressed immediately.

I’m sure you realize that door hangers are meant to be used as one shot effort to gain prospects. There’s no follow-up because there’s no contact information. Only when your mortgage prospect calls you is this the beginning of any kind of two-way communication. Door hangers are meant to get your message out there quickly, efficiently, cheaply, and in great quantity.

So…your door hangers are delivered. What’s next and what can you expect?

First, you’ll hopefully get immediate calls. In fact, unless you’re prepared to gather information while you’re delivering; you may need to shut off your phone for an hour until it’s convenient for you to return the call.

Second, you may run across people willing to carry on a conversation with you right then and there. Just be prepared for that.

Third, the life span of your door hanger is short, usually, three or four days at the very most. This is an immediate response idea with no long term residual value.

Fourth, your response numbers will approximate the response rate of direct mail without the associated costs. Expect about a one to two percent response.

Fifth, you will get complaints. Don’t worry about it; just be aware you’ll get them. You’ll find they fall into two categories, both of which revolve around that little sign posted at the entrance of the complex where you placed your door hangers. It reads: “No Soliciting,” or something similar.

You may get a call from a resident that you are in fact soliciting. Apologize profusely and move on. Your response is: “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend…I’ve done many refinances in the community and everyone is very well pleased…I do provide a valuable service for your community.”

If you just attacked a rental community…you will get a call from a not-so-happy Property Manager. If you don’t get that call; they’re not doing their job. So, expect the call and be prepared.

They will call you and threaten to contact either the Sheriff or the local Police. Here’s your response: “I’m sorry…I didn’t realize…it won’t happen again I can assure you.” Be humble and apologetic and diffuse the situation.

Just so you know…I not aware of any folks in the mortgage industry serving jail terms for violating that little posted sign. This is not an offense that puts you in mortgage jail, believe me.

In the case of a rental community, I usually wait a year and then do it again. You can always blame your staff (even though you don’t have one). the next time…but, chances are there will be a new Property Manager to holler at you instead. They turn-over at about the same rate that rental units do.

OK back to basics…Let’s pick a target for your door hangers. It may be a rental community, a residential area of single family homes, condos, or townhouses. Obviously, If your door hangers are geared towards rentals, your a theme can be “Renting is hazardous to their wealth,” or something similar to that.

For residences, a refinance flier with a free report is always a good choice. In both cases, give them a reason to call you now…give something that is free if they respond.

Personally, I prefer to deliver my door hangers to rental communities, townhouses and condos versus neighborhoods with single family homes. Why? Because, I can deliver a huge number of fliers in a very short period of time.

I also like to deliver them on Saturday morning. You can either count this as your exercise time or hire a couple of kids to place them on doors in a particular neighborhood. If you hire kids…do get the parents permission and supervise the placement of the door hangers.

You can buy blank door hangers that are already perforated and print them yourself. Here are a few sources you can review or use Google search if you prefer. You’ll have lots of choices.

paper.com/index.html – Use their search box and type in “door hangers.” Their 3-up door hanger on 8.5″ X 11″ comes in a 250 sheet pack (750 door hangers) for $33.08 plus S&H.

pcform.com/doorhanger.asp – Their 3-up in a 250 sheet pack (750 door hangers) is

priced at $45.00, 1500 door hangers for $72.00 etc.

kwiktickets.com/updh_3up1.html – Their 3-up package is 333 sheets per pack. 1 pack equals 1000 door hangers for $28.00. Available in white, green, blue or, yellow.

You can also make your own using a full page letter size flier.

First…layout a good flier on yellow letter size paper. Use the entire page. If you’re targeting a residential neighborhood…use a refinance theme like “Don’t Miss the Boat, Rates Have Never Been Lower.” If it’s a rental community…”Renting is Hazardous to Your Wealth” is a good one to use.

Second…let’s take that full page flier and turn it into a door hanger.

Fold the flier just as though you are going to put it in an envelope…in thirds. The secret here is to fold your flier with the printing on the outside so that even when it’s folded…the first third is visible and readable.

Third…while folded…punch a single centered hole in one end and loop a rubber band through it for hanging. You’re done…so simple…so quick…and, so very inexpensive. Now…Let’s get them delivered.

Keep this little origination gem in the back of your mind…there’s lots of door knobs out there that need door hangers.

How to Protect an Interior Wood Threshold

Thresholds are sometimes unnoticeable. Not every doorway has them and those that do don’t always stand out. However, thresholds can be a nice addition to a doorway, especially if the floor at both sides is distinctively different from its neighbor and needs a separation barrier instead of abruptly meeting each other.

They can also be good for stopping drafts or preventing air, either warm or cool, from escaping or entering.

But what kind of maintenance do indoor thresholds need?

There are several things to consider such as staining, sealing with urethane, or painting. Each is a possibility but the final decision depends on you. The truth is a threshold needs some kind of coating to protect it from getting dirty, being marked up, or damaged.

If you have hard wood floors you could stain the threshold:

1. Lightly sand the threshold leveling it out on all sides.

2. Prepare stain.

3. If you want to match the color of the hard wood floor apply stain slowly in coats.

4. Once you’ve finished apply a sealer giving it several coats for extra protection.

If you want to paint the threshold:

1. Lightly sand the threshold leveling it out on all sides.

2. Prepare paint. It should be oil-based for the best shine and to be longer lasting.

3. Apply at least two coats letting it dry in between.

4. Once you’ve finished apply a sealer giving it several coats for extra protection.

If you like the wood color of the threshold you may want to leave it in its natural state. In that case you should still give it a varnish to protect from foot traffic.

1. Lightly sand the threshold leveling it out on all sides.

2. Prepare oil-based varnish.

3. Apply at least two coats letting it dry in between.

Finally add some caulking around the edges of the threshold to prevent dirt from getting caught in any open spaces. After all, the threshold will be crossed by many feet carrying all kinds of gook that may just stick around if given the chance.

Hammock Hanging Inside Without Using the Walls

As the popularity of indoor hammocks for sleeping, for relaxing, and for décor purposes soar, you may find yourself in the position of wanting to hang a hammock indoors, but not having adequately supportive construction, or not having permission to mar the walls or ceilings.  Apartments in particular frequently have restrictions for such use. So how does one proceed?

The first, and perhaps the easiest solution, is to use a hammock stand.  Since the Mexican, Central American, and South American style hammocks that are most appropriate for indoor use don’t fit well in the standard hammock stand you will need to use a stand such as the Vario Stand, which is adjustable in length and height, and can accommodate these hammocks. 

  • The pros of using a stand include no construction and easy portability.  The cons include having a large object taking up floor space.

The second solution would apply in a situation where the structure does not lend itself to hanging the hammock where you want it; but where there is no prohibition against attaching construction to the walls and ceilings. We used this method in one of our hammock shops where the walls were a little iffy.

  • First you will need structural lumber such as two 4x4s which are long enough to span from ceiling to floor.
  • Then you will use angle braces to attach the 4x4s to the ceiling joists and flooring. If you can, you might countersink some long wood screws into the wall studs.
  • This is the basic method.  You may have to adapt to your specific situation.
  • The pros of this method include the possibility of a sturdy support just where you want it in a situation that might otherwise not work out.
  • The cons, of course, are that it is a bit of work, and you have marred the ceiling and floor.  This is a method to use for long term installation.

The third solution is for use when you desire a sturdy installation but cannot attach to the room structure or mar any of the surfaces. 

  • The process here is to use a pair of Ellis screw jacks to compress two 4x4s between floor and ceiling. 
  • You will want to protect the floor and ceiling by using sections of 2×6 or 2×8 lumber to distribute the load.
  • Screw the bases of the jacks into the 2x8s.  
  • You will then span the cross room distance with two 2x4s strapped together at intervals.  These will need to be attached to the tops of the verticals using screws and straight straps.
  • The jacks are rated to 6,000 pounds at the 7 foot extension, and the 4×4 verticals are rated to 2,000 pounds, while the spanning 2x4s [doubled] are rated to 800 pounds. 
  • The pros of this installation include having a very sturdy arrangement which can be easily removed if necessary, leaving no trace behind.
  • The cons may involve problems with the WAF (wife acceptance factor), if applicable.

So, with a little bit of work and a lot of love you can hang ’em high, and lay low.  Happy Hanging!

The Importance Of A Sewing Accessory

For many people, the art of sewing is a long gone skill that is no longer necessary. As we head to the many retail stores that offer the clothes and other materials that we need, we find that there is no longer a need to sit down with our needle and thread – or at our sewing machine – and create a piece that we can easily purchase in a fraction of the time. But for others, sewing is a skill and hobby they will never relinquish as it allows them to save money and infuse their own personal style and creativity into every piece they make. And for these people, having the proper sewing accessory at hand at all times is necessary for success and enjoyment.

There are a great many fabric stores today that offer all that you need to complete your latest sewing project – miles and miles of fabric and every tool imaginable. Of course, the added benefit of these stores is the helpful and knowledgeable employees who will assist you in finding everything you need. In order to begin and successfully complete your project however, you must know what sewing accessory is integral in the process.

For those who sew by hand, the sewing accessory that is needed is very different than if they were to sew by machine. In addition to material, hand sewn items require a needle and a variety of thread colors that match your fabric. Additionally, fabric scissors, a ruler, and a thimble are all worthwhile tools. For those who sew by machine, the needle is still a necessary sewing accessory. Of course thread, scissors, and a ruler are also needed.

In either case, for most people, a pattern is, by far, the most important sewing accessory needed to get the job done right. A pattern will act as a template to help you design and complete the project. A well-chosen sewing accessory will put you well on your way to a beautiful outcome.

Why Do We Need Software Engineering?

To understand the necessity for software engineering, we must pause briefly to look back at the recent history of computing. This history will help us to understand the problems that started to become obvious in the late sixties and early seventies, and the solutions that have led to the creation of the field of software engineering. These problems were referred to by some as “The software Crisis,” so named for the symptoms of the problem. The situation might also been called “The Complexity Barrier,” so named for the primary cause of the problems. Some refer to the software crisis in the past tense. The crisis is far from over, but thanks to the development of many new techniques that are now included under the title of software engineering, we have made and are continuing to make progress.

In the early days of computing the primary concern was with building or acquiring the hardware. Software was almost expected to take care of itself. The consensus held that “hardware” is “hard” to change, while “software” is “soft,” or easy to change. According, most people in the industry carefully planned hardware development but gave considerably less forethought to the software. If the software didn’t work, they believed, it would be easy enough to change it until it did work. In that case, why make the effort to plan?

The cost of software amounted to such a small fraction of the cost of the hardware that no one considered it very important to manage its development. Everyone, however, saw the importance of producing programs that were efficient and ran fast because this saved time on the expensive hardware. People time was assumed to save machine time. Making the people process efficient received little priority.

This approach proved satisfactory in the early days of computing, when the software was simple. However, as computing matured, programs became more complex and projects grew larger whereas programs had since been routinely specified, written, operated, and maintained all by the same person, programs began to be developed by teams of programmers to meet someone else’s expectations.

Individual effort gave way to team effort. Communication and coordination which once went on within the head of one person had to occur between the heads of many persons, making the whole process very much more complicated. As a result, communication, management, planning and documentation became critical.

Consider this analogy: a carpenter might work alone to build a simple house for himself or herself without more than a general concept of a plan. He or she could work things out or make adjustments as the work progressed. That’s how early programs were written. But if the home is more elaborate, or if it is built for someone else, the carpenter has to plan more carefully how the house is to be built. Plans need to be reviewed with the future owner before construction starts. And if the house is to be built by many carpenters, the whole project certainly has to be planned before work starts so that as one carpenter builds one part of the house, another is not building the other side of a different house. Scheduling becomes a key element so that cement contractors pour the basement walls before the carpenters start the framing. As the house becomes more complex and more people’s work has to be coordinated, blueprints and management plans are required.

As programs became more complex, the early methods used to make blueprints (flowcharts) were no longer satisfactory to represent this greater complexity. And thus it became difficult for one person who needed a program written to convey to another person, the programmer, just what was wanted, or for programmers to convey to each other what they were doing. In fact, without better methods of representation it became difficult for even one programmer to keep track of what he or she is doing.

The times required to write programs and their costs began to exceed to all estimates. It was not unusual for systems to cost more than twice what had been estimated and to take weeks, months or years longer than expected to complete. The systems turned over to the client frequently did not work correctly because the money or time had run out before the programs could be made to work as originally intended. Or the program was so complex that every attempt to fix a problem produced more problems than it fixed. As clients finally saw what they were getting, they often changed their minds about what they wanted. At least one very large military software systems project costing several hundred million dollars was abandoned because it could never be made to work properly.

The quality of programs also became a big concern. As computers and their programs were used for more vital tasks, like monitoring life support equipment, program quality took on new meaning. Since we had increased our dependency on computers and in many cases could no longer get along without them, we discovered how important it is that they work correctly.

Making a change within a complex program turned out to be very expensive. Often even to get the program to do something slightly different was so hard that it was easier to throw out the old program and start over. This, of course, was costly. Part of the evolution in the software engineering approach was learning to develop systems that are built well enough the first time so that simple changes can be made easily.

At the same time, hardware was growing ever less expensive. Tubes were replaced by transistors and transistors were replaced by integrated circuits until micro computers costing less than three thousand dollars have become several million dollars. As an indication of how fast change was occurring, the cost of a given amount of computing decreases by one half every two years. Given this realignment, the times and costs to develop the software were no longer so small, compared to the hardware, that they could be ignored.

As the cost of hardware plummeted, software continued to be written by humans, whose wages were rising. The savings from productivity improvements in software development from the use of assemblers, compilers, and data base management systems did not proceed as rapidly as the savings in hardware costs. Indeed, today software costs not only can no longer be ignored, they have become larger than the hardware costs. Some current developments, such as nonprocedural (fourth generation) languages and the use of artificial intelligence (fifth generation), show promise of increasing software development productivity, but we are only beginning to see their potential.

Another problem was that in the past programs were often before it was fully understood what the program needed to do. Once the program had been written, the client began to express dissatisfaction. And if the client is dissatisfied, ultimately the producer, too, was unhappy. As time went by software developers learned to lay out with paper and pencil exactly what they intended to do before starting. Then they could review the plans with the client to see if they met the client’s expectations. It is simpler and less expensive to make changes to this paper-and-pencil version than to make them after the system has been built. Using good planning makes it less likely that changes will have to be made once the program is finished.

Unfortunately, until several years ago no good method of representation existed to describe satisfactorily systems as complex as those that are being developed today. The only good representation of what the product will look like was the finished product itself. Developers could not show clients what they were planning. And clients could not see whether what the software was what they wanted until it was finally built. Then it was too expensive to change.

Again, consider the analogy of building construction. An architect can draw a floor plan. The client can usually gain some understanding of what the architect has planned and give feed back as to whether it is appropriate. Floor plans are reasonably easy for the layperson to understand because most people are familiar with the drawings representing geometrical objects. The architect and the client share common concepts about space and geometry. But the software engineer must represent for the client a system involving logic and information processing. Since they do not already have a language of common concepts, the software engineer must teach a new language to the client before they can communicate.

Moreover, it is important that this language be simple so it can be learned quickly.

24 X 36 Detached Garage Plans Provide Enough Room and More

If you have been thinking in terms of building a garage large enough for your three cars, it is best to go in for the 24 X 36 detached garages. With the help of plans prepared by experts, you can make this yourself, saving a substantial amount in the bargain.

Why this big?

You might be wondering why your detached garage has to be 24 X 36 feet in size. Why not a smaller one? The answer is not too difficult to find. If you have a Ford Explorer, it is 16 feet 1 inch plus in size. A Chrysler minivan is 15 feet 9 inches in size, and a Chevy Silverado standard cab, longbed pickup is 18 feet 8 inches plus in size. This makes it amply clear that your plans have to be suitable for these vehicles.

Moreover, you can also store your workbench and tools, have hobby space, have storage space for recreational equipment, lawn mower and gardening tools in your detached shelter. You do not have to find a separate space for them. For this you would have to select plans which provide you instructions including those on constructing this separate storage space.

Now let us look into the width of the building. It is on the larger side, too. Let us take the example of a Ford Explorer again. It is 6 feet 2 inches wide. Any expert would tell you that 30 inches is the minimum comfortable width between two cars, or between a car and the wall. This is so that you can open the doors in the garage. In a three car detached shelter, you would require a space of 30 inches between the wall and the outside cars, as well as 30 inches between each of the three cars. When you add the 6 feet 2 inches width of each of the cars, you require a minimum width of 30 feet and six inches. Add to this the extra storage space you require, and you would agree that 24 X 36 detached shelter plans are the best bet for you.

Increase in Property Value

Another important reason to go in for 24 X 36 detached garage plans is that by constructing this garage, the resale value of your property will go up. Let us see how this happens. If you were to put up your house for sale, what usually happens is that it is now in competition with every other house up for sale in a similar price range. So, if two houses are available at a similar price range, have similar floor plans and are located in the same desirable area, any outstanding feature which either of these houses has would help the buyer decide in its favor. This is where having a three car detached building built with the help of good plans would help turn the tide in your favor.

What if you do not want to sell your house?

Even if you do not intend to sell your house, building a 24 X 36 detached shelter with the help of plans is still the way to go. You would be able to comfortably park and take out your cars. You need not worry about door dings while opening the car door, or having to back out of the garage into the rain so as to let someone into the garage. You also do not have to spend on mini-storage costs for storing all your equipments and tools.

Your 24 X 36 detached garage built with the help of plans would truly be a prized possession. Now you can rest assured that your cars have a great shelter and that too, one which you built yourself.

Customer Relationship Marketing – Your Only Competitive Insulation

Products and services are, for the most part, the same. Their features and attributes are parity. Their benefits equal. So, the relationship your company, brand, product or service has with its customers is often its only competitive advantage.

Companies with strong customer relationships are usually leaders. This is well documented in many fine books and articles so we won’t defend the POV here. But, if this is true, and customer relationship marketing is an ideal strategy to be competitive, then the question becomes, “How do I do it?”

We’re not suggesting that your company becomes friends with its customers. That’s not realistic. But, when your customers feel a degree of affinity toward your company, all things being equal, they will choose you over the competition. They do this because over time you have delivered more value and this added value created relationship equity.

The value can be practical, it can be emotional, and it can be both. But if it’s delivered consistently, relationship equity is created and becomes competitive insulation. An effective customer relationship marketing strategy can make the difference between a company that performs with the market and one the out performs the market.

The following Relationship Marketing Principles are based on experience building relationship marketing programs in Europe and the US. Keep them in mind as you design your Relationship Marketing strategy.

1) Attract the right customers for the right reasons

Dr. Stephen Epley, the founder of Epley Market Research and Consulting, says that 90% of loyalty problems can be traced to the sales process. Be sure your strategy and tactics are designed to attract Heavy Category Users for the right reasons. Sell your value. Don’t coerce them with a bribe.

2) The most crucial time is the beginning

Buying your product or service does not mean they have a relationship with you. Are they open to it? Perhaps. Do you have to earn it? Absolutely. Their interest in your product is high, and they are willing to listen, but don’t be deceived, their interest in the category is also high. They are listening to what the competition is saying. Acknowledge them. Let them know, through words and deeds, that you value their business. Surprise them with value beyond your product’s functional benefits.

3) In established relationships continually reinforce the decision to buy

Once you have established a connection don’t abandon your efforts. The most important purchase isn’t the first, it’s the second. Reinforce how smart they are for buying your product. Give them every reason to buy from you again. But keep the plaid jacket at home. Talk to them like you have a relationship, not like some sales guy trying to make his numbers.

4) Good customers expect to be rewarded

This isn’t to suggest that every customer gets a prize. Understand who your best customers are, the 20% of your customers who generate 80% of your revenue, and reward them. Surprise them. Delight them. Make them customers for life. Make them so happy they tell friends and associates what a pleasure it is to do business with you. The ROI on these relatively small investments, especially compared to the cost of acquiring new customers, is huge.

5) The second most crucial time is when the relationship is at risk

Again, this isn’t for every customer, but for your best customers take the time to really understand what went wrong and then do something tangible to address their concern. Don’t take the relationship for granted. Whatever went wrong used up some relationship equity. You need to earn it back.

How to Make Low Fat Meals Without a Recipe

It is a known fact that a low fat meal plan is not easy to follow on a long term basis and everyone who has ever been on a diet knows that.

One of the main reasons, I think, is that meals can become boring. After all, how many times a week can you have broiled chicken and enjoy it? Soon the cravings take over, and people often go back to their old foods that made then overweight in the first place.

Most healthy diets call for low fat meats or fish, plus low carbohydrate vegetables prepared in a low fat way. So that leaves you with steaming or broiling, both of which can get very boring.

Over the years I have developed some methods and combinations that can make the same old diet foods taste better.

The methods include using low fat-low calorie flavoring ingredients as well as what I call accent ingredients, usually low calorie aromatic foods that give a lot of flavor without adding calories.

Some of those ingredients include:

Flavoring agents:

Onion and garlic powders


Tamari soy sauce (most flavorful)

Chili powder or flakes

Miso (Japanese soy bean paste)

Bottled barbecue sauce

Balsamic vinegar

Rice vinegar


Low calorie “accent” ingredients:

Jalapeno peppers



Lemon or lime juice

Some of the ways I use these ingredients are as follows:

Dilute store bought barbecue sauce with water (my favorite is KC but any brand will do) at a 50/50 ratio. Add it to grilled chicken or turkey breasts. Diluting the sauce will cut the calories in half without sacrificing flavor.

Add onion powder, garlic powder and powdered spices to roasts such as turkey breast

Make a dipping sauce with soy sauce, lime juice, some red pepper flakes, some chopped scallions and a few drops of sesame oil. Sesame oil is very flavorful and a little goes a long way.

Marinate chicken tenders, chicken breasts or pork tenderloin in a citrus marinade made of lemon or lime juice, orange juice and some flavoring agents such as chopped up garlic and the herbs of your choice. You can then spray some oil on a non-stick pan and slowly cook the meat. It will brown beautifully because of the sugars in the orange juice.

Flavor your fish (steamed or broiled) with fruit salsas.

Use a good quality balsamic vinegar (preferably from Italy) to add to steamed vegetables or to a tomato or avocado salad.

Dilute miso with a little rice vinegar and a fruit juice (orange, apple, etc, no sugar added) for a flavorful salad dressing.

Dieting does not have to be boring if you use your imagination to make the meals more flavorful. Play around with the ingredients listed here and you will be surprised how well food can taste with very little effort.