7 Tips to Increase Your Hip Flexibility

One of the biggest complaints my clients present during their sessions is a lack of flexibility. With the high number of professional computer jockeys in today’s modern world, the common complaints are limited range of motion in the hips and shoulders, pain in the neck, back, and feet.

Sitting all day, especially at an ergonomically challenging computer set up, creates a shortening in your hip flexors (the muscles along the front of your hip and thigh that pull you down into a chair). These muscles in turn pull your lumbar spine forward, causing tension and stiffness in the low back and bracing in your hips.

Additionally, 99.9% of everyone I see in my office sits incorrectly. I attribute this to a lifetime spent on soft, cushy couches and overstuffed easy chairs. Unfortunately, while plush seating may feel nice for a while, it has the effect of rolling your sacrum under so that your weight isn’t centered over your ischial tuberosities (sitting bones) but rather on the last vertebra of your spine (i.e. your sacrum).

Once your sacrum is jammed, your entire spine compensates. This is why a headache or sore neck is actually located in your pelvis, and why work around the hips and low back will generally result in greater shoulder mobility.

Here are 7 easy tips to increase your flexibility and range of motion while reducing pain and stiffness:

1. When sitting for prolonged periods, make sure your hips are higher than your knees. If your knees are higher than your hips, all of your weight falls into your pelvis while the job of holding you upright falls to your hip flexors and the postural stabilizers of your low back.

Instead of bracing your torso to stay upright, place your feet flat on the floor, one foot a few inches in front of the other. By pressing into the ground, you should feel support travel up through your legs and into your low back. Taking the strain off your back is the first step in allowing greater mobility.

2. Do squats* – full on, all the way to your heels squats! Squats force you to mobilize your ankles, knees, hips, and the facet joints in your spine. Most people who haven’t ever trained for this kind of movement find even a basic squat with no weight to be challenging.

When performing the maneuver, make sure your torso doesn’t pitch forward. Holding a small weight, a weighted bar, or a wooden dowel in front of your chest, as in a traditional front squat position, can help you stay upright.

If you are not flexible enough to keep your feet relatively parallel, start with your legs wider apart, feet turned out at 45 degrees. The more you practice squatting, the more willing your body will be to go all the way to the ground.

3. Practice sitting down on the ground and getting up without using your hands*. This is especially helpful for lubricating the hip joints, and it erases the fear that people develop as they age that they will fall and not be able to get back up. It has the added bonus of loosening the lateral rotators of the hip – the muscles that are implicated in sciatica.

Start by finding a way to bring yourself to a seated position on the floor, hands free. Then, get up, also without using your hands. Repeat the exercise several times, finding as many different ways to sit down and stand up as you can.

When the exercise becomes too easy, add a weight. Hold 10-25lbs (or more, if you’re comfortable) at chest height while sitting and standing. This not only mobilizes but also strengthens the joints.

4. When choosing a chair for your computer desk set up, select a firm, flat surface over any padded and contoured seats. Most chairs are designed for an “average” or “standard” body, and anyone who has ever shopped for the perfect pair of jeans knows that one size does not fit all!

Flat surfaces make it easier for you to sit forward on your sitting bones – your ischial tuberosities. You should feel equal weight on both your right and left tuberosities. If not, try to center yourself as best you can without contorting your body. Just relax down onto the chair.

Sitting on your ischial tuberosities is much more stable than sitting on your sacrum. Your postural stabilizing muscles can easily relax and reduce the bracing along your spine, creating instant mobility for your back (this is absolutely key in resolving back and neck pain!).

5. Take extra deep breaths. With all the stimulus coming at us from all directions – television, internet, books, MP3 players, digital advertising, children, pets…. – it’s easy to forget to breathe.

When you cease breathing deeply, your diaphragm becomes tight. Anatomically, the fascia of your diaphragm connects directly to your hip flexors, so if your diaphragm is constricted, your hip flexors will be, too.

Take time each and every day to lie quietly on your back. Breathe deeply, relaxing your rib cage, spine, and abdominal muscles. Allow your internal organs to rest heavily into your back. As you become more relaxed, direct your breathing down deeper and deeper into your pelvis, relaxing all of the tension in your low back, sacrum, gluteus muscles, and thighs. As you become more skilled at conscious breathing, you can begin to direct your breath all the way out the bottoms of your feet.

6. Practice dynamic joint mobility – taking each hip joint through a series of repetitive movements designed to increase the range of motion. This kind of movement increases the flow of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints. It also provides excellent neurological feedback. Range of motion is a use it or lose it proposition; the more your remind your body that you need to be able to make large, open movements, the more willing your nervous system will be to allow you to do just that.

7. Stretch your hip flexors, especially after long car or airplane trips. As mentioned previously, sitting shortens the anterior muscles of your hip and thigh. To keep them long and limber, stretch daily, or at least several times a week.

Any maneuver that causes a lengthening along the front of your hip and thigh will lengthen the hip flexors. Some of my favorites include lunges* (keep your torso upright – do not allow yourself to fall forward over your front knee) and bridges* (a full back bend with hands and feet on the floor – modify this to a shoulder bridge if you aren’t quite ready for this pose).

Bloons the Original – Interesting Levels – 6, 32, 38 and 44

Level 6 (The Iron Curtain)

29 balloons required to complete the level. This is the first level with an obstacle, but don’t be deterred by it. All you need to do is vary the arcs taken by your darts to achieve different heights and angles. A point worth noting is that within this level the arc is continued off the top of the screen, rather than a ricochet effect seen in many games. Again, once you get the hang of it fairly straight forward, and remember, you can always repeat levels with this game. Anything with an 80%+ score isn’t too bad.

Level 32 (Backwards Glance)

43 balloons required to complete the level. This level is a little tricky to complete. Firstly you need to shoot a series of arcs to take out the top bloons above the four squares which make up the obstacle. Ensure you get the two extra dart bloons in the process. Next, ensure you already have 36 bloons popped. Finally shoot as directly as possible at the row of ice bloons, this will take out seven bloons, the majority of which are ice ones, but the seven will bring you up to the magic 43 needed to complete the level.

Level 38 (Bouncebomb)

16 balloons required to complete the level. The objective of this level is to try to try to pop the pin bloon. This can be achieved two ways, either a low arc over the rubber wall or bounce of the rubber, whichever the player finds easiest. Use any remaining darts to try to pop more bloons, including any ice bloons, but make sure they are not going to freeze regular bloons before popping them. It is difficult to clear the screen so be aware that 85% is a reasonable score on this level.

Level 44 (Showertime)

42 balloons required to complete the level. This is another almost symmetrical level so once again the way you play one side is just repeated on the other. You do need to bear in mind the slightly longer distance to get to the far rubber wall on the right hand side. The object of each shot is to just clear the rubber wall closest to monkey and then bounce off the rubber wall further way and clear both mines and regular bloons as the dart falls to the bottom. You have no set way to use the darts, just use them wisely to go for the greatest chance of striking bloons. Not really a hard level to achieve the target needed.

Spider Webs, Bow Ties, Scale-Free Networks, And The Deep Web

The World Wide Web conjures up images of a giant spider web where everything is connected to everything else in a random pattern and you can go from one edge of the web to another by just following the right links. Theoretically, that’s what makes the web different from of typical index system: You can follow hyperlinks from one page to another. In the “small world” theory of the web, every web page is thought to be separated from any other Web page by an average of about 19 clicks. In 1968, sociologist Stanley Milgram invented small-world theory for social networks by noting that every human was separated from any other human by only six degree of separation. On the Web, the small world theory was supported by early research on a small sampling of web sites. But research conducted jointly by scientists at IBM, Compaq, and Alta Vista found something entirely different. These scientists used a web crawler to identify 200 million Web pages and follow 1.5 billion links on these pages.

The researcher discovered that the web was not like a spider web at all, but rather like a bow tie. The bow-tie Web had a ” strong connected component” (SCC) composed of about 56 million Web pages. On the right side of the bow tie was a set of 44 million OUT pages that you could get from the center, but could not return to the center from. OUT pages tended to be corporate intranet and other web sites pages that are designed to trap you at the site when you land. On the left side of the bow tie was a set of 44 million IN pages from which you could get to the center, but that you could not travel to from the center. These were recently created pages that had not yet been linked to many centre pages. In addition, 43 million pages were classified as ” tendrils” pages that did not link to the center and could not be linked to from the center. However, the tendril pages were sometimes linked to IN and/or OUT pages. Occasionally, tendrils linked to one another without passing through the center (these are called “tubes”). Finally, there were 16 million pages totally disconnected from everything.

Further evidence for the non-random and structured nature of the Web is provided in research performed by Albert-Lazlo Barabasi at the University of Notre Dame. Barabasi’s Team found that far from being a random, exponentially exploding network of 50 billion Web pages, activity on the Web was actually highly concentrated in “very-connected super nodes” that provided the connectivity to less well-connected nodes. Barabasi dubbed this type of network a “scale-free” network and found parallels in the growth of cancers, diseases transmission, and computer viruses. As its turns out, scale-free networks are highly vulnerable to destruction: Destroy their super nodes and transmission of messages breaks down rapidly. On the upside, if you are a marketer trying to “spread the message” about your products, place your products on one of the super nodes and watch the news spread. Or build super nodes and attract a huge audience.

Thus the picture of the web that emerges from this research is quite different from earlier reports. The notion that most pairs of web pages are separated by a handful of links, almost always under 20, and that the number of connections would grow exponentially with the size of the web, is not supported. In fact, there is a 75% chance that there is no path from one randomly chosen page to another. With this knowledge, it now becomes clear why the most advanced web search engines only index a very small percentage of all web pages, and only about 2% of the overall population of internet hosts(about 400 million). Search engines cannot find most web sites because their pages are not well-connected or linked to the central core of the web. Another important finding is the identification of a “deep web” composed of over 900 billion web pages are not easily accessible to web crawlers that most search engine companies use. Instead, these pages are either proprietary (not available to crawlers and non-subscribers) like the pages of (the Wall Street Journal) or are not easily available from web pages. In the last few years newer search engines (such as the medical search engine Mammaheath) and older ones such as yahoo have been revised to search the deep web. Because e-commerce revenues in part depend on customers being able to find a web site using search engines, web site managers need to take steps to ensure their web pages are part of the connected central core, or “super nodes” of the web. One way to do this is to make sure the site has as many links as possible to and from other relevant sites, especially to other sites within the SCC.

How to Clean Pool Deck Drains

Millions of people enjoy backyard swimming pools for exercise, fun, and hosting social gatherings. When you have a swimming pool, there are many things you have to do to make sure the pool stays clean and operating properly. One important part of the pool that must be maintained is the pool drain.

The main function of the pool deck drain is to provide a channel to transport excess water from the pool. Deck drains provide safety around the pool as they keep the deck dry and prevent flooding. Deck drains are effective at keeping the pool clean and resistant to damage from regular wear and tear. It also helps make cleaning and draining the deck much easier. Neglecting the pool deck drains can cause a host of problems such as the water not draining properly from the deck. Therefore, it may be time to clean pool deck drain.

Dust, dirt, and pollen gathers on the screen enclosure and the rainfall carries it on top of the deck. As water rushes into the drain, the debris flows with it. One task you may have to perform is unclogging the pool deck drain. A clogged pool drain is caused by a horizontal or a vertical clog. The clog may also be the result of small pieces of material and matter that built up over time and created a large clog. Using a special cleanser will help you get rid of the clog. These special cleansers are effective at removing clogs; however, acidic cleansers have the potential to damage the pool drain. It is important to check to see if you can manually remove the clog.

Cleaning out the pool deck drain includes the following:

1. If you are able to manually remove the clog, you can begin cleaning the deck drain by revealing one end of the channel. Get a flexible 1/2″ hose with the metal end taken off. The length of the hose should be as long as the drain.

2. Turn the hose on a half turn and feed it into the drain.

3. Place a sump pump in a five 5 gallon bucket.

4. Dig a hole that is deep enough so that the top of the bucket matches with the bottom of the drain. Run the discharge hose down to a lower spot. This will allow for the drainage of the clog or other debris.

5. Sometimes when you are able to manually remove the clog, you can use a plunger or auger to unclog drains. It is important to be careful when using these unclogging tools as you do not want to cause more damage and more expense. If you are worried about causing damage, you can enlist the services of a plumber who will have the skills to remove the clog without causing damage.

The pool deck is a vital component of the pool so it is essential that is kept in proper working order. It is wise to establish a maintenance check to make sure the pool deck as well as the rest of the pool components are working properly so that you and your family can enjoy time in and around your pool for many years.

Which Stock Tank Is the Better Choice, Poly or Galvanized Steel?

When choosing a water tank to keep your horses watered, you have two basic choices, the good old standby which is the galvanized steel stock tank and the more recent addition to the stock market the poly plastic stock tank. Both the plastic and the steel water tanks come in all sizes from 25 gallons all the way up to 800 gallons of capacity. They all come with a standard one-year manufacturer’s warranty against defects regardless of the manufacturer.

The question most equestrians ask is which is better and which will last longer? I have owned both styles of stock tanks, and they both have benefits as well as disadvantages. Really, it all comes down to a matter of personal preferences when making this decision.

Poly plastic tanks usually offer a removable drain plug at the bottom of the tank; this allows the use of drain plug stock tank heaters in the winter, which is perhaps one of the biggest benefits to a poly plastic tank. Drain plug deicers screw into the drain plug at the bottom of the water tank, which inhibit curious and bad horses from pulling your stock tank heater out of the tank and playing with it! The other big benefit to a drain plug deicer in the winter is they are less expensive than other traditional water tank heaters! Typically a drain plug deicer will range about $34.99 new versus the standard sinking tank deicer will cost $47.00.

Galvanized steel tanks are easier to clean algae out of in the summer months with a brush versus the poly plastic, which requires a bit more scrubbing and elbow grease. The steel tanks are sealed with a silicon product at the seams; this does disintegrate over time and causes the steel tank to leak at the seams along the sides and the bottom of the tank. This process will also speed up if you have horses that like to kick steel stock tanks when the water starts to get low, I have the full on chain gang in our back yard constantly beating our steel tanks. To remedy this you can reseal the tank seams with a silicon sealant or JB Weld also works wonderfully for this type of application. The key is to really work the product into the seams when you have to reseal the tank and be sure you are applying the product to a clean, dry surface, and then allow it to dry per the manufacturer’s recommendations before refilling the stock tank with water.

Steel stock tanks should also come with a bottom drain plug, although you will find they are difficult to remove and if you lose the plug, they are even harder to find a replacement. Poly tanks, especially Rubbermaid water tanks, the drain plugs are readily available should you lose it. In general a steel tank is easier to push over when you need to empty the stock tank to clean it.

When comparing initial cost of these livestock tanks, poly versus steel they are going to be very similar and are all different based on the gallon capacity of a tank. A 149-gallon poly tank will cost about $150.00, a steel stock tank with the same capacity will cost between $140-$160 depending on where you are in the US. The cost fluctuates more with steel due to the steel prices changing on a regular basis.

Poly tanks will degrade more at higher elevations to the to the increases UV exposure. The tanks will fade in color over time and become brittle. The major downfall with poly tanks is once they become brittle, there is no repairing that can be done to the stock tank. A steel tank can be bent back into shape, kicked, beat, and be exposed to brutal cold, and extreme heat and still be repaired after years of use. If you have a horse that likes to kick stock tanks you may be best advised to stay away from poly tanks in general and be ready to reseal you steel tank every couple of years.

Both styles of livestock tanks should last for years with proper care and no abuse. My galvanized steel water tanks that I am using are over 15 years old. I have seen poly tanks this old as well. Bottom line is your water tank choice is a personal preference, and anyone can get his or her money’s worth out of either product for many years to come with proper care. Which brand do you go with? HW Brand makes an outstanding Galvanized Steel Stock Tank and Rubbermaid or Fortiflex both make a great quality Poly Plastic Stock Tanks.

Fun Softball Practice Drills

Many softball players believe that practice always involves doing things that aren’t fun. However, there are many fun softball practice drills that can be done. Not only are these drills fun but they’re also beneficial. Three such drills are – Knock Barney off the Can, Pickle, and Beat the Ball.

Knock Barney off the Can

This drill involves hitting a stuffed Barney (the purple dinosaur some kids love) off of a garbage can that’s turned upside down. A player stands about 50 feet from Barney and all the other players line-up behind her.

The coach should then hit a grounder to that player. That player has to field the ball and then try to hit Barney with the throw. A little prize can be awarded to any player who is successful.

Of course there can be many other fun softball practice drills that are similar to this but use a different object or a different stuffed animal. As long as it works on a player’s fielding and throwing accuracy the drill will work great.

Pickle

For this drill players need to be divided into groups of three. In each group there will be a runner and two fielders. The fielders will line-up on bases that are placed up to sixty feet apart. The runner will begin on one of the bases.

Then the fielders will first throw a grounder to each other and then a pop fly to each other. During one of the four turns (two grounders and two pop flies), the runner has to try to advance to the other base.

Once the runner gets thrown out three times or steals three bases, the runner becomes a fielder and one of the fielders becomes the runner.

This drill gives the runner practice trying to steal a base and it helps the fielders work on fielding grounder and pop flies, throwing, and applying a tag.

Beat the Ball

This drill needs to be done on the base pads. The catcher lines-up behind the plate with a ball and a player takes each base. Then a player starts at the plate and will run around all the bases.

On the coach’s signal, the runner takes off. Meanwhile, the catcher must throw the ball to third base, receive a throw back, throw the ball to second base, receive the ball back, and then throw to first. The first basemen will then throw the ball back to the catcher, receive the throw back and then throw to each of the bases.

This continues until all 4 defensive players have taken their turn throwing to every base and home plate. This should happen before the runner makes it around the bases twice.

This fun softball drill helps work on every major facet of the game – running bases, catching, and throwing – except hitting.

Practice Can be Fun!

Practice doesn’t have to be boring and tough all the time. There are plenty of fun softball practice drills to add some excitement and entertainment. Most of these drills are beneficial too. Three such drills are Knock Barney Off the Can, Pickle, and Beat the Ball.

Teak Shower Seat – How Do You Avoid Deceptive Descriptions And Get Genuine Teak?

When you have an superb product made with the authentic materials, it’s going to sell well and give first-class value, since it provides the perfect results for which it had been intended. Unfortunately for those who have a extremely successful invention, there will arrive imitators who will attempt to undercut the prices just to go after a portion of the action. Charles Caleb Colton said “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” However when imitation is in the form of a distortion or a forgery, it destroys credibility, trust and takes away real wealth of the final consumer of any product. The made-up use of the expression ‘Teak’ for shower seats, bath mats, bath seats, etc. is not an exception.

Now we’d like to explain what is being passed off by marketers as “teak”, “wears or behaves like teak”, “stronger than teak” otherwise is “teak like” but is, in fact, not Teak:

Nyatoh wood:

This is a Class III timber subject to powder post beetle damage. Though protected with oil at the start, it needs yearly reapplication of the oils, in particular at joints and ends which can be subject to rot. This isn’t your choice timber for a teak shower bench reproduction nor a teak bath mat replica. Maintenance and rot likely exclude this wood for a bathing surroundings.

Shorea wood:

This lumber is advertised all around as being ‘teak like’, chiefly since it’s a closely related species. It goes without saying what they do not state is you can find roughly 360 recognized varieties of shorea of which 148 are listed as anywhere from perilously in danger of extinction to susceptible. As with other families, each one has its specific useful and inferior factors. A familiar wood offered in North America is presented as Philippine Mahogany, which isn’t mahogany the least bit but a mixture of woods in the family Shorea. You’ve doubtless seen it on flat door skins and paneling. Shorea, being a genus of timber covers such a broad spectrum of wooden materials, it would be tough to spot as an exact species of wood deceitfully labeled ‘teak’ and used to make up a shower/bath stool, shower organizer or bathroom accessories. If you find the label Tectona grandis (Common Teak), you’ve the precise identification of the genuine Teak for which you are searching.

Eucalyptus wood:

This wood does not have the dimensional stability of common teak and if not dried appropriately is destined to split, chip and crack. This wood is drenched by a high caliber penetrating oil to give it a ‘teak like’ appearing. Needless to say to preserve this look requires periodic washing and resealing. Please do not forget- this wood will as a rule is expected to be in lengthy contact with bare skin and so the premium penetrating oil may become part of you since your pores are enlarged because of the warmth of the shower/bath.

When you are trying to find a teak shower bench, a teak shower/bath stool, a teak shower/bath mat or an organizer or accessories, make sure that you are purchasing actual teak. Nothing to oil, nothing to maintain, just the best possible, most long-lasting, rot resistive tough material for a lifetime of bathing pleasure.

Softball Bat Terminology – What Does it All Mean to Me?

Serious athletes of all ability levels appreciate the reality that today’s athletic equipment sports an amazing level of technological and design sophistication that means the perfect piece of gear can be found for every pursuit. If softball is your game, and it is the preferred choice of millions, then you love today’s awesome line-up of clubs, boppers, tools, lumber – that is, softball bats. With that terminology on our tongues, let’s take a look at the terminology used to describe and evaluate the hitting sticks offered by today’s leading manufacturers like Easton, Mizuno, Rawlings, Miken, and DeMarini.

Softball Bat Dimensions. A softball bat is measured in terms of length and weight. Back in the day, the wood bat you used in little league probably had a one to one ratio of length to weight – a 30 inch bat usually weighed about 30 ounces. Today’s advanced materials that include not only aluminum but composites like Kevlar, that are very light relative to weight. Today, a typical 32 inch softball bat will weigh about 22 ounces, producing a -10 ratio, meaning it’s 10 less ounces than it is inches. Such ratios produce greater bat speed, the major component of power. Common lengths range from 31 to 34 inches, while weights extend from 20 to 27 ounces. The grips of today’s best softball bats or made either of rubber for cushioned comfort, or of high-density, high-stick composite for better feel.

Now, moving to the specifics of bat performance, the first term to know is “sweet spot.” Golfers understand that this is the area of the club that will produce the optimum results of contact. A large sweet spot in a softball bat means that even slightly miss-hit swings will still produce plenty of pop. Larger barrels will generally have a larger sweet spot.

The next term is “line drive,” which we all know means a rope coming off the bat. The line drive measurement is really a reflection of the first term, sweet spot. The larger the sweet spot, the higher the percentage of struck balls will be line drives. The term “distance” is self-explanatory. Good design and superior materials mean that the same hitter will get more distance out of some bats than others. The terms “feel” or “sting” are interchangeable, and reflect the level of vibration transmitted through the bat to the hands upon contact. The more the hit is displaced throughout the bat, the less sting, or the better the feel. Good bats will let you know whether you made good contact without making you pay for it with sore hands. Feel is often enhanced with specialized grips or a narrower than usual handle that allows more palm and finger to bat contact.

The “strength” of a softball bat usually refers to the thickness of the bat wall. Lighter materials can be thicker, without adding weight which reduces bat speed, and thicker walls typically deliver more power, which any hitter welcomes. Finally, “durability” or “toughness” applies to the longevity one can expect from a bat. Better materials will last longer without cracking, warping, or breaking. When shopping for your next piece of lumber, it is helpful to understand the terminology the reviews and product descriptions are employing, even if it’s not made of wood.

How To Make A Photo Collage Poster – 10 Unique Ideas For Creating This Milestone Party Decoration

If you create a photo collage poster as the center piece decoration for your next special occasion, it will be the talk of the party. Here’s 10 easy tips and tricks to make this memory-filled tribute in pictures.

Collage Basics

1. Start with a big poster board in your color choice. This will be the background for your collage. Cut the poster board, if necessary, so that it will fit in a large standard size frame. You can check for typical frame dimensions at local stores, to make sure it’s trimmed to a compatible size.

2. Select photos and make COPIES of them. It’s important to preserve the original photographs. This is especially true with older pictures that may be difficult to replace. Ask everyone invited to the party to contribute snapshots of the guest of honor, so you have a good selection.

3. Decide on the collage theme or design and arrange photos. When it finally looks just the way you want it to appear, take a digital photograph of your layout. This way, you can recreate the composition, if anything gets disturbed when gluing.

4. Glue each photo down on the poster board. Glue sticks or rubber cement are good choices.

5. Finish your collage. You might want to use a sealant like Mod Podge. You can add embellishments like stickers, ribbon, feathers, beads, fabric, artificial flowers or anything else that is complimentary. Put in a frame, if desired.

Collage Design Ideas

Of course, you can randomly stick your pictures all over your poster board and it will be a fine tribute to the guest of honor But it’s just as easy to create a truly unique party collage that stands out.

6. Make it a number. If the celebration is for a birthday, arrange your photos in the shape of the guest of honor’s age. For example, for an 80th birthday, you would draw a big 80 on the poster board. It doesn’t have to be perfect because you’re only using it as a guide. Position your photos evenly over the eight and the zero you wrote on the board. This works for any age and is also great for a 50th anniversary.

7. Create a shape. Draw a big heart on your background, then trim and glue your pictures to fit in the shape. Overlap slightly so you don’t see the pencil marks. This is especially nice for a wedding, anniversary or sweet 16 birthday, but can be adapted to other occasions. You can even dress it up by using poster board or foam core in gold or silver. Any simple shape can be used for this idea.

8. Make it about memories. Enlarge a photo of the guest of honor and trim away the background. Position the picture in one corner of the poster. Draw a big cartoon thought bubble over the celebrant’s head to indicate that these are his thoughts. Fill the cartoon bubble with photographs representing his memories.

9. Focus on his favorite things. Expand the photo concept to feature pictures of his interests and pastimes. What food, sports teams, music, movies, places does he prefer? Is he a hiking, skydiving, skiing guy or is he a couch potato glued to his remote? What is he known for? Find clip art in places like google images, that represent his personality and hobbies and include them in this tribute.

10. Do it as a timeline. You can create one poster with columns that showcase different years or decades. Or, you can do individual posters that focus on a particular era in the person’s life or marriage. For example, if you were making this display for someone turning fifty, you would have one section with photos of him in the 1960s, followed by one devoted to the 1970s, then 1980s and so on. In each category, write captions with dates highlighting milestones for that person in that decade. You might also want to include interesting or important dates in world history to go in the timeline.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning a big birthday party, golden wedding anniversary or any special occasion. A photo collage poster is a wonderful way to pay tribute to the celebrant and inspire memories in the guests. It’s fun and easy to make. And everyone will love it.

Home Insurance Price Factors

The Condition of the Home

Insurers factor in general wear and tear on your home when setting a premium. They will inspect such things as the condition of the roof, porches, decks, and the integrity of the home's wiring system. Because new homes tend to be in better condition than older homes, some insurers will offer up to a 15 percent discount if your home is new.

The Construction of the Home

Certain types of homes are less expensive to insure because they are more resistant to damage. For example, a brick home is preferred because of its resistance to wind damage.

Safety Factors

Many insurers also offer discounts of approximately 5 percent for safety features such as burglar alarm systems, deadbolts, window locks, smoke detectors, and sprinkler systems. You may also receive a discount if your home is in close proximity to a fire department.

If There is a Smoker in the Home

Because smoking in the home greatly increases the risk of fire, some insurers will offer a discount of about 2-5 percent if no one in the home smoke.

Is the Home in a High Risk Area

Flood and earthquake damage is not covered by standard home insurance policies. Special supplemental catastrophic policies that cover these conditions are available, but can be quite costly. If you are currently covered against these catastrophes through a government plan, however, research coverage through a private insurer. It may actually be lower.

Type and Amount of Home Insurance Coverage Needed

Homeowner's insurance typically covers damage or loss to your home and its contents, but some packages also provide other benefits such as personal liability coverage if someone is injured on your property or theft insurance. Read the fine print. Prices and coverage can vary significantly between packages that appear similar. Make sure you get what you need and use what you get.

Your Desired Deductible

The deductible is the amount that you the policyholder must pay before your insurance company starts paying benefits. The higher your deductible, the lower your home insurance premiums. By raising the deductible, you can save up to 50 percent of the cost of your homeowner's insurance.

Loyalty to Your Company

Insurers will often reduce their rates if you buy more than one type of coverage such as auto and homeowner's from them or if you stay with them over a period of time.

Is There a Retiree Living in the Home?

If you are over the age of 55 and retired, check with your insurer to see if you qualify for a discount. Most insurance companies offer these discounts because retired people are home more and can spot fires sooner than working people and have more time for maintaining their homes. Some insurance companies will offer discounts of up to 10 percent to seniors who qualify.

Has BIM Changed MEP Design Workflow?

The MEP design and installation workflow involves a number of stakeholders and parties that are collectively responsible for overseeing a series of stages that will result in the building engineering (or building services) to be planned, designed, spatially coordinated, fabricated, installed, commissioned and maintained. Typically, the building services design stage follows the initial architectural design, from which point it can usually be designed in parallel with further architectural as well as structural design changes.

The engineering teams that typically design building services solutions are usually in one of two groups. The first group is typically the building designer, also known as the consultant engineer or the design engineer. It is the role of the design engineer to work closely with the architect to develop the overall building engineering elements including lighting, cooling, heating, drainage, waste, fire prevention and protection services. Traditionally, the design engineer will not be involved in the detailed spatial design of these services. Instead the detailed spatial design and installation would normally be handled by the second party, known as the MEP contractor (M&E contractor) or trade contractor. The MEP or trade contractor is responsible for evolving the initial consultant design into a workable and installation-ready building services solution.

In some instances, there is also a third party involved – the fabricator, who will be responsible for creating MEP components such as ductwork or pipework elements or in some cases pre-fabricated solutions that consist of pipework, electrical ladder, plumbing, ductwork and sprinkler within a frame (module) that is delivered to site for installation in risers, plant rooms and corridors.

This article is concerned with the role of the MEP designer and MEP contractor, specifically, the focus for this article is to discuss how BIM (Building Information Modelling) has influenced the MEP design workflow between the designer and the contractor.

Current MEP BIM Workflow Options

Essentially there are five different MEP design workflow scenarios that currently exist and these will be discussed in the article. They are as follows

  1. Traditional 2D design and 3D BIM coordination
  2. 3D MEP design and 3D BIM coordination
  3. Designers 3D BIM design and coordination
  4. Contractor 3D BIM design and coordination
  5. General contractor 3D model coordination

Traditional 2D Design and 3D BIM Coordination

Considering the traditional MEP approach first, this is where a consultant will create 2D design outputs, which include 2D plan layouts, 2D sections and MEP (M&E) schematics. This will indicate the design intent for the building based on the use specified by the architect. Once the consultant has completed this design information he will pass on the information to an MEP contractor who will be responsible for creating the MEP coordinated solution. This article assumes that the contractor will create a spatially coordinated 3D BIM model using BIM tools such as Revit MEP and Navisworks. The contractor will use the design information and create an installation-ready solution which takes into account installation, efficiency of pipe runs or duct bends, space for lagging and hanging the services, access for post install maintenance and so on. This traditional MEP approach, from a 2D design to a 3D model has existed for the past couple of decades and allows the contractor to add additional information into the model that can be used by him and by facilities management companies after the installation. The use of the 3D tool such as Revit is of course useful as it is an intelligent model, with parametric components and therefore, as well as allowing the contractor to identify and resolve clashes before any time is spent on site, it has other uses and applications where model ‘information’ is used and relied upon.

3D MEP Design and 3D BIM Coordination

The second workflow method is more directly influenced by BIM. As the MEP designer, one will use BIM tools to create a 3D model and associated drawings during his initial design phase (rather than a 2D design) before this information is handed across to an MEP trade contractor. The MEP design engineer will typically create a 3D model due to customer specifications and requirements for a BIM model, as in many cases a federated model (which combines the other disciplines in a single model) is needed by the client for a weekly review and hence the MEP consultant cannot simply provide a set of 2D drawings. In this workflow, the BIM model is effectively a 3D representation of what would otherwise be a 2D deliverable. It will therefore consist of areas where further changes are still needed by a trade contractor. Such examples include the use of library items rather than specific MEP trade contractor procured elements that may be used in the model. The creation of a 3D BIM model at this stage by the consultant is also subject to multiple architectural and structural model changes. These have a knock-on effect on the MEP solution as it is effectively a work-in-progress model for MEP with constant architectural and structural changes and therefore will never have the same level of efficiency, in terms of layout of services, compared to an MEP model where the architectural and structural models are frozen. The downside of this workflow method is of course the extra time taken to create a BIM model by the consultant team. Added to this issue is the fact that 3D modelling expertise and skills within a consulting engineering team can sometimes be limited. Once the consultant completes his model and passes it to the MEP contractor, the decision as to whether the contractor should adapt the model or start the modelling process from the start is really based on the quality of the model to start with. In reality both scenarios will exist, in some cases the MEP trade contractor is better off starting the BIM model again using only the 2D design drawings that are created by the consultant from his BIM model, while in some rare cases the trade contractor will use the consultants MEP BIM model and adapt and modify it with his changes, to make the model ready for installation. In both scenarios, the MEP contractor will always look to make value engineering additions and changes to the model as well as procurement led model changes.

Designers 3D BIM MEP Design and Coordination

The third MEP design workflow method is a more pure and direct consequence of BIM and it actually also starts to promote the benefit of BIM more significantly as it gets closer to ‘virtual design and construction’ aims of the industry. In this workflow the approach of design engineer is to create a BIM model that is spatially coordinated and that is using the actual specified components for the project. Typically, the consultant during this phase will have a longer period of time to create the model, allowing him to absorb the changes from structural and architectural disciplines as they progress through the detailing stages. The fact that the model is then coordinated with the structure and architecture as well as other MEP services allows the consultant to create a model that is being created according to an installation standard that is now more usable by an installer or fabricator. When the model in this workflow method is passed on to a contractor, the contractor may still wish to make final changes and adjustments in a round of value engineering. Typically, the contractor will use the same model in this workflow and make changes to the model provided by the MEP design consultant. Additionally, it is probable that the consultant engineer will not have provided invert (height) levels or dimensions from gridlines and walls for the MEP services on his drawings. In such cases the contractor will therefore have to create more detail in the drawings, but again contractor could use the consultant’s drawings and progress them in more detail for his/her use.

Contractor 3D Design and Coordination

The fourth workflow method involves MEP contractors (or trade contractors) taking on the design responsibility as well as the coordination responsibility. Whilst the coordination responsibility is an established skillset with experience of developing detailed and comprehensive vertical and horizontal strategies for coordination being part of the contractor’s core skills, the design responsibility is a new element for the contractor. This was traditionally known as a design and build approach; however, it is now becoming increasingly common especially in cases where companies are seeking to have rapid design and detailed coordination completed. Typically, the components to be used will be specified by the end client, allowing the contractor to design and model before creating his detailed coordinated drawings from the model, to allow installation and fabrication if needed. The reason that this particular workflow method is not the most popular at present is simply due to the volume of work in the market and also the design responsibility that also has to be assumed as in most cases, contractors may not wish to accept this risk or indeed they may not have the resources to complete the design work. For this workflow method to exist at all means that the contractor has to employ design staff directly and provide design liability insurance to allow him to design the MEP solution as well as install it. The benefit of this workflow option is obviously the time efficiency that is realized and therefore the cost benefit, as the cost of utilising contractor resource will usually be lower compared to expensive design engineering firms. However, it does come with some risk as the design expertise that design engineers possess cannot be easily replicated by contractors, even if they do employ in-house teams.

General Contractor 3D Model Coordination

The fifth variant of MEP design workflow is based on creating coordinated MEP models similar to the traditional 2D to 3D approach but for a different customer group. In this workflow method a 2D architectural, structural and MEP design that is to be used by a main contractor (or general contractor) is then progressed into a 3D BIM model by the contractor to assess the validity and completeness of the model. In some cases, some of the design elements from the different disciplines may be presented in 3D while others may be in 2D. It is also possible that different disciplines may provide models in different software that may or may not present software interoperability challenges. In such instances, a team will typically be employed to use the design data from architectural, structural and MEP designers to then create a 3D BIM model based on actual data. The aim is to identify any inconsistencies in the design data by identifying any clashes in the model, allowing the contractor in such a workflow method to effectively mitigate his/her potential risk. Any problems found within the model are usually passed back to the designers to make amendments to their 2D design for subsequent changes to the 3D BIM model which is ultimately owned by the main contractor. This BIM workflow solution is becoming less common now because MEP contractors and designers are creating BIM models themselves.

In summary, BIM has introduced a number of new workflow variants to the MEP design services sector. The previously tried and trusted method of a 2D design, from a designer, that was developed into a 3D coordinated MEP model by contractor is no longer the workflow solution used as firms now have many other variants and alternatives available. Along with BIM Modeling, other developments in the construction sector, including collaborative online working and work sharing have also contributed to the uptake levels for BIM and impacted the changes to workflow.

In terms of the MEP design workflow options, the most popular of these as we move forward will be the third option, which is the consultant creating a BIM model that is spatially coordinated, or the fourth option which is the contractor taking on the design responsibility as well as creating the coordinated BIM model. Both options are effectively a change to the traditional approach for MEP design and both point to a single source for the model and drawings as opposed to the historical two-tier design approach. All options discussed will require competent BIM coordination and MEP modelling teams and resources. XS CAD, with its large MEP coordination team and MEP engineering design team, which consists of mechanical and electrical engineering professionals, is well placed to deal with such projects for companies based in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. As all are regions where BIM is now the preferred solution, XS CAD, with more than 16 years’ experience and a presence in each market is an ideal option for such companies.

Throwing Successfully a Hand Made Pottery Plate on Wheels

Invariably the handmade pottery plates are made using the pottery wheel. However, the work is not as simple as it sounds to be. Throwing a handmade pottery plate on the pottery wheel is a work of art and requires long practice as well as the three “d” of discipline, dedication, and determination on the part of the maker.

As a Beginner
For the beginner or a person who is a non-potter, plates might look to be the easiest of the things to make. But in reality it is an altogether different proposition. Floor of the plate are usually large in comparison to the rims and therefore there would be very strong possibilities of developing S-cracks. Thus it is not the easiest of the task throwing plates to the wheels and it requires expertise and skill development on the part of the intending potter in accomplishment of the task.

Components of Plates
Each of the plates in handmade pottery system would require about a pound or two of clay. Sometimes the maker may like to use more for throwing to the wheels so that a thicker floor can be developed. On turn it will allow one to trim out the foot ring once the plate gets harder.

Tools for Making Plates
Potter plates are made using tools like needles, some pieces of chamois, wooden tool for trimming the products, sponge, large loop tool, as well as some rubber or wooden ribs.

Plates for Foods
Plates can be used for multiple purposes but major use of them is for serving foods. Sometimes they may be decorative plates only but when they are used for serving food, the manufacturer must use at list mid range or the high firing clay including glazes. One has to ensure that the plates so manufactured are safe for serving food and the components used for glaze are not harmful to health. In addition the plate should have a gloss surface as well.

Making Plate Sets
At times the manufacturer may be entrusted with the task of making plate sets instead of standalone plates. In such cases the maker must make sure that he or she is using enough clay to make the set complete or according to the required numbers.

When the maker is getting ready to throw the plates as part of handmade pottery, he should check up several things like tools, water, slop buckets, and above all; his own fingernails so that he won’t have to get up time and again from in front of the wheel.

How to Find Your First Job As an Attorney

One of the hardest stages of your legal career occurs about a month after you take the bar exam. If you are like most young attorneys, you will not have a job lined up at this point. If you have a job with a large firm lined up, that's great. I presume that you do not, though, so keep reading.

It is especially hard to convince an organization to hire you when it is not certain that you have even passed the bar exam. For this reason, many attorneys start their careers as temporary or contract attorneys. Some attorneys find jobs unrelated to law in the private sector, others go to work for the government, and some remain unemployed for several months while looking for a job.

If you have been unemployed for a few months and still have not had anything beyond a first-round interview, do not despair. Law firms are notoriously slow when it comes to hiring people. The key to getting a job is to be patient but persistent. That is, make contact with several people at the firm at least once every two weeks. This could be via an e-mail or a short phone call. Let them know that you are still interested in working at their firm, and tell them what you have been doing in the meanime.

Sending out resumes and interviewing at small and mid-sized law firms is time consuming if done properly. It is not a full-time job, though, as you should be able to take care of all your applications and research in about 20 to 30 hours per week. The way you spend the rest of your time is very important, as it is a great way to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Think about it – if you were a partner at a small law firm who had to choose which one of seven qualified applicants to hire, would you pick someone who looked for jobs on the internet all day, or someone who attended lectures on current developments in The law and wrote a monthly column for a local newspaper? Obviously, the more active and engaged applicant is more appealing.

Here is a list of recommended activities to do while you look for a law job:

1) Attend lectures on law, business, politics, and current events

2) Write for a newspaper, magazine, or website

3) Volunteer and pro bono legal work

4) Networking events

5) Stay in contact with your law professors

6) Tutor students for the LSAT

The more of these activities that you do, the faster you are likely to find a job. What all of these activities have in common is that they force you to contact other people. Even if you do them every day, though, it could still take three to six months to find a job. Do not get discouraged. You will get a job offer ever.

Finding a law job is a bit like fishing. You could catch a fish during your first five minutes on the lake, or it could take all day. Regardless of how long it takes, keep working at it and ever you will find a job.

Attend Lectures

In most cities across the United States, lectures on many subjects are free and open to the public. You can probably find lectures on just about every subject, especially if you live in a large city, but focus on law, business, politics, and current events.

The most immediate benefit of attending a lecture is the information that you learn from the speaker. It is always good to know what is happening in the areas of law, business, politics, and current events. Also, knowing current trends can help you to identify organizations that are more likely to be hiring attorneys. Sending targeted resumes to firms, companies, and other organizations that have just recently identified a need for more attorneys on their staff is likely to result in a job offer. In a competitive job market, being one of the first people to apply for a job is crucial.

Another benefit of going to lectures is meeting other people who attend them. The people who go to lectures tend to be professionals who work in related fields. Try to talk to as many people as you can both before and after the event. Exchange business cards if you can, but also ask the people what other lectures and events they attend, and if they belong to any clubs. As you get to know people, they can introduce you to other professionals in the field. At future events, you will already know a few people there and they should introduce you to more people. Let them know that you are an attorney who is looking for a job, and they might give you some good ideas about where to apply. If you are lucky, one of the people who you meet will be in charge of hiring attorneys at an organization.

Whenever you attend a lecture, try to briefly meet the speaker. Follow up with the speaker soon after the lecture. I usually send a short e-mail the next day, simply stating that I enjoyed the lecture and hope to attend future events at which they will be speaking. The speaker will usually appreciate your compliment, and may invite you to their next lecture or place you on their mailing list. At the next event, make it a point to talk to the speaker after the lecture. Let them know that you are an attorney who is looking for a job, and see if they have any suggestions on where to apply or if they know an organization that is currently hiring.

When you attend lectures, keep in mind that not only law firms hire attorneys. Banks, corporations, political organizations, non-profits, and media companies all employee significant numbers of attorneys. That is why I recommend attending lectures on law, business, politics, and current events.

Write for a Newspaper, Magazine, or Website

Writing is a key skill for any attorney. You probably spent a lot of time in law school learning how to become a better writer. Do not let your writing skills get rusty while you are looking for a job.

One of the best ways to ensure that you are regularly writing and keeping in shape is to become a columnist. Many small magazines and newspapers have columns that appear once a week or once a month. Depending on the publication, these columns could be on a variety of subjects including law, politics, hiking, gardening, sports, etc. Find a subject that interests you, and look for an opportunity to write an article about it. Contact several newspapers, magazines, and websites to see if they are interested in having an occasional article on your subject.

One of the best subjects that you can write about is law, but unfortunately the demand for legal columns is not very high. Just about any subject will be fine, but law, business, and other professional subjects are preferred.

The reason that I recommend writing a monthly column is because it only requires about one quarter of the time commitment of a weekly column. Unless you have been offered a significant amount of money to write a weekly column, you do not want to spend too much time writing articles and not looking for a job.

Most newspapers and magazines will pay you for writing a monthly column, but websites typically do not. Compensation for articles varies very much, but expect to earn about $ 100 to $ 200 per article, depending on the length. Remember that your primary goal in writing a monthly column is not to earn money. It is more important to practice your writing skills, develop impressive writing samples, and have an interesting activity to talk about during job interviews.

Soon after I graduated from law school, I was fortunately enough to find a newspaper in New York City that was looking for an attorney to write a monthly column about current developments in real estate law. The newspaper published my name and contact information at the end of each article. My published columns helped me to get some new clients, and they are also excellent writing samples when I apply for a job.

Volunteer and Pro Bono Legal Work

One of the best ways to improve your skills as an attorney is to work on active cases. Of course it is preferred to get paid for legal work, but while you are looking for a job, you can get some excellent experience by working on cases for free.

Handling a pro bono case gives you an opportunity to apply everything that you learned in law school to a real case. The actual practice of law tend to be very different than what you studied in law school. It is best to work on a couple of cases in different areas at first. When you find an area that you like, specialize in it and get as much experience as you can.

You do not have to limit your volunteer work to pro bono legal cases. Many large non-profit organizations have many volunteers but also employ assistants. Actively volunteering shows that you are ambitious and care about your community. When you show up for a project, this is your chance to show the organization that you are a good worker who is capable of handling difficult projects. Do as much challenging work as you can. If the first tasks that you are assigned to seem menial, do not worry. Most of the time, the organization is testing you to see what type of worker you are. If you handle your first tasks well, you should get to work on more interesting and difficult matters in the future.

The first pro bono case that I ever worked on involved a poor woman who was being illegally pursued by a collections agency. Working with a friend who is also an attorney, we were successfully able to get the collections agency to drop the case. I was encouraged by this, and began working on more cases. When I eventually decided to start my own law practice, I already had experience managing and handling real legal cases, and I had the self confidence that comes from winning a case.

I have also done volunteer work for the American Red Cross. They were kind enough to write a great letter of recommendation for me. Most employers that I have shown the letter to were very impressed.

Part-time volunteer and pro bono legal work is an excellent way to build your resume, gain experience, and contribute to worthy causes in your community while you are looking for a job.

Networking Events

Attending networking events while you are looking for a job is obviously a good idea. Attending the right types of events and getting the most out of them is more difficult.

There are many different types of networking events. I have attended networking events sponsored by bar associations, law firms, universities, social clubs, corporations, political organizations, music groups, restaurants, non-profit organizations, and even public libraries. As a general rule, you never know how good an event is going to be until you attend it. For this reason, I recommend attending as many events as you can.

Before going to a networking event, learn as much as you can about the group sponsoring it. Also, read the news related to the group and its field. For example, if an event is being sponsored by a financial company, you should know what has been happening in the stock market, the state of the economy, any possible mergers and acquisitions, current market forecasts, and how the sponsoring financial company has been Performing. Being knowledgeable about current events will enable you to comfortably talk to people who work in the industry, and there is nothing more embarrassing than being the only person in the room who has not heard a major piece of news.

Bring multiple of your business cards to any networking event. Your cards should be accessible, and be ready to give one to anyone who asks for a card. Randomly going through your pockets or handbag looking for a business card is unprofessional and makes you look disorganized. Also, keep any business cards that you receive in the same place. I was once at an event where someone mistakenly handed me a card that they had received five minutes earlier than someone else! Again, you want to appear organized. Personally, I keep a stack of my business cards in my front right pocket, and place any cards that I receive in the left inside pocket of my jacket.

When you arrive at a networking event, be outgoing and approach people. Politely introduce yourself and ask people about their jobs. Unlike other events, networking events are designed specifically to be an opportunity to get to know people in a certain area. Keep you conversations short and professional, and meet as many people as you can. I always try to arrive early so that I can introduce myself to people soon after they arrive. Depending on the size of an event, you may not be able to meet everyone but try to exchange cards with many people.

If I know that a networking event is going to be very large and well-attended by people who I want to meet, I usually invite a friend. Rather than walking around the room with my friend, I recommend that we split up and talk to different people. About 45 minutes later, I briefly talk to my friend and we exchange information on who we have met so far. If there is anyone who is an especially good contact, then I make it a point to talk to that person before the event is over. At the end of the event, my friend and I exchange the contact information of all the people who we met. There is nothing wrong with sending someone an e-mail saying "A friend of mine met you at the event yesterday, but unfortunately I did not get a chance to introduce myself. "Try to arrange a meeting with anyone who could provide job leads for you.

Following up is just as important as meeting people at a networking event. It is illegally that someone you meet at a networking event will offer you a job on the spot. The next day, send a short e-mail to all of the people you met. Say that it was nice to meet them and comment on something that you talked about. For example, if you discussed entertainment law during the event, then say that you enjoyed the discussion and would like to learn more about what they think of the music industry. If reasonably, schedule a time during the next two weeks to have coffee with the person. Keep the meeting short, and be prepared to tell the person a little bit about your experience and what types of jobs interest you.

Also, ask people if they can put you in contact with other attorneys. This is an easy way to meet new people who could be valuable contacts. Start by sending the person a short e-mail saying that you were referred to them by their friend. Never attach a resume to an introductory e-mail. Get to know the person and let them know that you are looking for a job. If the person knows of a job opening, then they will ask you for a copy of your resume.

This sounds like a simple way to meet new people and increase the list of contacts who could refer job openings to you, but you would be surprised how few people actually do it. By following up with people, you will distinguish yourself as someone who is interested in a field and committed to finding a job.

Networking events are a good way to increase your number of professional contacts, and you should attend as many as you can while you are looking for a job.

Stay in Contact with Your Law Professors

If you are like most law school graduates, then you have not seen any of your law professors since you took your last final exam. Most law professors worked in private practice or for the government at some point during their careers, though, and it is likely that they still have some good connections. It always surprises me that more people do not stay in contact with their law professors, especially when they are looking for a job.

I recommend keeping in touch with at least one professor in every area of ​​law that interests you. Send each professor a friendly e-mail at least 3 or 4 times a year. Ask about current developments in their field of law and mention any important cases that you have seen in the news. You should maintain a friendly dialogue via e-mails or the occasional phone call. Do not constantly ask a professor if they have heard of any job openings. Instead, ask them for advice about where you can look. Also, if a law professor knows anyone who is currently working at an organization that interests you, request the person's contact information so that you can contact them.

If you receive someone's contact information from a law professor, call the person and ask if they have 10 minutes to talk to you. Keep your initial conversation to about 10 minutes. Ask the person about current trends in their field, and see if the person knows of any job openings. If they do, then contact the appropriate person. If they do not, though, then thank the person for their time and follow up with them a few weeks later. Things change quickly in the legal world, and a law firm or government agency that was not hiring at all two months ago may suddenly need some new people. They key here is to be persistent and maintain regular contact with people in the field.

If you have completely lost touch with your law professors and are quite certain that they do not know who you are, then try to find an opportunity to see them in person. For example, at my law school there is a dinner and auction for charity every spring. Most of my former law professors attend this event. I always bring plenty of business cards, and some of my law professors have even referred clients to me after getting re-acquainted and learning about what I do.

Regardless of the size of your law school, most students do not maintain any contact with their law professors after graduation. By making even a small effort to stay in touch, you will distinguish yourself as an ambitious and outgoing person. This will impress your professors, and they can help with your job search.

For these reasons, you should stay in contact with your law professors, especially if you are looking for a job.

Tutor Students for the LSAT

The most obvious benefit of tutoring is the money. LSAT tutors are generally well compensated, and the hours are usually flexible. Tutoring students for the LSAT is a good way to earn a little extra money while you are looking for a job.

The way I see it, though, the key benefit to LSAT tutoring is the contacts that you can make. Think about it. Who hires an LSAT tutor? Mainly students who are either in college or have recently graduated. Many of these students have parents who are attorneys. Sometimes, the person hiring the tutor is a middle-aged attorney with a son or daughter who is struggling to get into law school. Either way, many of your students will have at least one attorney in the family.

As you work with your student and prepare them for the LSAT, you will slowly gain their trust. Keep in touch with the student after they take the LSAT, and follow up with them to see how they scored. If you build a good professional relationship with the student, they are likely to take an interest in your career.

See if you can meet with any attorneys that your student knows. Personal referrals, regardless of who they come from, are a good way to get an interview or at least a preliminary meeting with an attorney. If you did a good job preparing the student for the LSAT, this will show that you are a competent and diligent worker.

The more students that you tutor for the LSAT, the more contacts you can make. Try to limit your meetings with any one student to once or twice a week. That way you will have more time to take on more students.

Best of luck!

Expectations Of IT Job Agencies

The explosion of IT job agencies throughout the United Kingdom over the last decade recognizes the need for IT talent throughout various industries. As well, IT agencies have grown out of a need to bring together a growing pool of graduate talent in a few places where they can learn to become strong professionals. However, graduates who utilize IT job agencies should not commit themselves wholeheartedly without setting some expectations. After all, investing time and energy into a recruiting firm can lead to disappointment when recruiters cannot find the right job for a graduate.

One of the most important expectations a graduate should have from their IT job agency is constant communication. Graduates who are waiting to hear back about a potential position that they interviewed for a week ago want to know everything that is being done to promote their candidacy. As well, potential job openings and opportunities need to be communicated to graduates as soon as possible. Telephone and e-mail communications make it simple for a recruiter to stay in touch with their recruits.

Another expectation that graduates need to have from their job agency is a certain level of services. This level depends on the career goals and aspirations of an individual graduate, but there is a certain minimal level of services necessary from an IT job agency. Job agencies need to offer CV and application reviews, along with an assessment by recruiters of how a candidate should improve themselves in order to get a job. As well, job agencies should offer coaching or professional development beyond placement to help young IT professionals.

Graduates working with IT job agencies also need to expect a certain level of prestige among IT recruiting firms and the general IT marketplace. This is a more subjective measure, though a review of a recruiter’s portfolio can speak volumes about how other companies view the job agency. A list including a variety of different clients, including major players in the UK economy, should be a sign of prestige and hard work for graduates interested in working with a job agency.

In the end, an IT professional needs to make a decision about the type of firm they want to work with. The aforementioned criteria can be important in narrowing the list of possible recruiters. The ultimate decision, however, must come from a professional’s heart. An IT professional needs to go with their gut and determine the best course for their individual needs.

Three Simple Ideas for a Small Town Bowling Alley to Increase Profits

Bowling is a sport enjoyed by millions worldwide. Like many businesses in past few years bowling alleys have been hurt by our nation’s economic downturn. It is imperative for small town bowling alley owners and managers to properly market themselves and update their amenities in order to stay profitable. It is not enough for a bowling alley to solely offer bowling. Instead they need to start thinking of themselves as family fun centers if they want to remain current and increase profits. In this article I will offer a few suggestions on what small town bowling alleys can do to attract customers and maintain positive customer relationships. None of the individual recommendations are going to drastically increase a bowling alley’s revenue. However, a blend of all of these should generate significant growth, when operating at optimum level.

1. Selling your lanes

If a center has 15 lanes then there needs to be 15 advertisements from local businesses hanging over the lanes (preferably at the end of the lane). You would be surprised at how many businesses are willing to do this on a yearly basis for a small investment. Here is how this is achieved: Call the institution with which you bank, your accountant, real estate agent, food distributor, and any other business that the bowling alley works with on a routine basis. Tell them that you will give them a year of advertising for a set price of $1000. Out of that $1000 dollars you purchase the signage and net the rest. The reason why the signage is purchased out of that fee is so that the owner can decide the dimensions of the sign. If all 15 lanes have a sign over them, then a center will gross $15,000 before you purchase the signage. All this for doing nothing more than providing people you work with on a daily basis with a place to advertise.

You can also do something on a smaller scale with the ball sweeper. Ball sweepers are located at the end of each lane and they sweep the pins following each roll.

2. Arcades and prizes

In an effort to make the bowling alley more of a family fun center, arcades, redeemable prizes and kid’s birthday party packages are necessary. Kids can burn through tokens very quickly, so including tokens for video games in the package is money for the center. If a bowling alley does not have video games or redeemable prize machines in their center, they need to get them, and quickly. The more you can pack into the center, the more cash the bowling alley will receive. But where can a center go to get video games to put in their center? Video game distributors can provide games, redeemable prize machines, jukeboxes and even ATMs to bowling centers for practically no cost and maintenance free. Once a week, a representative for the distributor counts the money in the machines, token distributor and/or ATMs. Once the money is counted they split the money in half with the bowling alley! For little cost and almost no hassle, the business can attract a lot of people with video games for kids to play either after bowling or during a party. Additionally, games and machines are switched out every few months to add excitement and entice potential players. As a result, the bowling alley takes in a substantial amount of cash with little effort.

3. Night life and adult birthday parties

Alcoholic beverages and bowling go hand and hand. It is rare to see league bowlers not have a beer or two while they are rolling. Yet, why can’t the bowling alley offer a night life to adults? This is especially relevant in small towns where there might be a lack of fun after dark. If space is available, bring in a DJ and clear a spot for a small dance floor and the crowds will come. Offer to do adult birthday parties at night and give the party goers drink specials. Also, adults like to play video games, especially if they are with their friends and having a good time. To make sure responsible drinking is being adhered to the owner and manager may need to provide security to ensure safety and the ability to properly handle a rowdy situation. If this measure is in place, the center will draw the right crowd night after night.

Doing these three things is relatively inexpensive, requires little work, and is ultimately very profitable. Incorporating one of these things into a bowling alley that is not currently doing any of the three will increase revenue. If a center can fold all them of them together then there is huge potential for greater profits.