Creative Zen Nano Plus MP3

Summary:

The Creative Zen Nano Plus MP3 player (1 gigabyte £43.20) comes in 10 colours and is available in 512MB of flash memory to store up to 250 tracks and 1GB of flash memory to store up to 500 tracks.

This is a feature rich ultra-portable (size of a pen drive) MP3/WMA mobile audio solution in an attractive package and the smallest in Creative’s range and only 32 grams. This is an excellent product and 10/10!

Review:

The sound quality for MP3 is excellent and even better for WMA encoded tracks, the frequency response is 20Hz to 20,000Hz, with a signal-to-noise ratio of 90dB.

Although plastic, the build quality is of a high standard with a durable scratch resistant casing. The device is controlled by 3 responsive and sensibly sized buttons: power on/off (which also acts as the play/pause); volume up; and volume down. The remaining functions are delivered via a scroll wheel which also has a rocker function and acts as the skip and the fast forward/back controls. All controls can be operated one handed by use of the thumb only.

The black on green backlit 3cm x 1 cm LCD (18 characters) interface is a very intuitive and user-friendly display using 2 lines of text where each of the main12 functions is identified by an icon. The display orientation can be configured to allow reading whichever way up it is held (in any one of 16 languages!).

There are 6 graphic equaliser settings – 5 preset ( Rock, Jazz; Classical, Pop, and Normal) and Custom. The Custom setting allows manual configuration of a 5-band filter circuit for tonal characteristics of the mid-frequencies.

Tracks can be placed in memory singularly or in folders as whole albums. There are 12 play modes – play all tracks / single track / single folder / all folders; either in order or randomly; and even play once, repeat once, repeat continually..

The device is powered by one AAA battery which routinely provides approximately 18-hours of playback time, microphone 15 hours and 9 hours of direct encoding. The supplied Energizer battery, however, lasted just over 24 hours. I prefer to use a pair of rechargeable batteries in tandem.

The device is connected to the computer using a USB cable (series “A” plug to Mini-B receptacle on the device) and is recognised as a standard mass storage drive, powered by the computer when connected. There’s a rubber cover over the USB port on the device.

The computer drivers provide an extremely user friendly Drag-and-Drop style interface with USB 2.0 support, including DRM copy-protected music, allowing you to easily transfer music, even via a lowly USB 1.1 Windows 98 PC.

The driver software is unnecessary for simple storage operations as it can be used a like any other flash device; however unlike some devices this does not have a type A connection so you need to have the interface cable with you.

For ‘CD quality’ playback * a minimum bit rate of 128Kbps is required which equates to 1 minute of music per megabyte, therefore the 1 gigabyte gives 8 hours worth of CD quality music which is about 200 songs. Encoding at 64Kbps allows 500 track advertised capacity.

* In answer any criticism from those who should know better I know this is not a true comparison, by ‘CD quality’ in the context of an MP3 player, I mean better than cassette, but not studio, quality, of course.

Good stuff:

1) Built-in condenser microphone recordings in 8 kHz, 4-bit in Mono wave format.

2) A built-in FM tuner with 32 presets and Autoscan function;

3) Internal FM recording and synchronised recording, enabling you connect it to a DAB radio and timed recordings;

4) Line-In real-time MP3 encoding at 96, 128 or 160Kbps for direct connection and recording from any audio source with Line-in or earphones socket;

5) Simple drag-and-drop music and data files. No computers needed which also allows use of audio sources other than CD;

6) 18 hrs or more of battery life;

7) Works like an industry standard flash drive, so can store data files such as photos and presentations;

Bad stuff:

This is an excellent product and the only negative comments I have are quite superficial and it should be noted that we computer science geeks seem to have a genetic propensity for pointless trivialities!

1) From power up takes up to 15 seconds to load and become operational, depending on the capacity;

2) The bundled headphones are good enough, but not sufficiently so to do justice to the sound quality;

3) As a flash based player, it might have been nice to have a direct USB plug – now that retractable ones are appearing there would seem to be no reason not to;

4) The rocker switch/scroll wheel is a little fiddly, over-sensitive and can lock;

5) When browsing by folders the first song in the folder is played, rather than offering a chance to browse without playing;

6) I have noticed the odd random 0.3 second “skip”during playback – this seems to occur about every 6 hours of use;

7) I would have liked this to have come with a rechargeable battery that could be charged using the USB cable;

8) The device can not be connected to a computer to provide power while recording from the microphone or direct encoding;

9a) Folders and tracks being organised by descending alphabetic order according to file names only, and the device displays the file name only for a second then switches to the encoded track title which could be completely different. This can seem quote disorienting with large volumes of files organised with real file names;

9b) While a computer is not required, except for the ability to delete files, there is no interface to organise or name directly captured files which are written respectively to an ‘encoded tracks’ folder and named EN001 incrementally up to EN999, and to a “recorded files’ folder named VOIC001 to VC999;

10) Voice recordings are encoded as WAV files, I would have liked the option to use MP3 encoding;

11) There is a 1.8 second delay when starting and ending a direct recording;

12) The device directly encodes at a maximum of 160bkps, I don’t consider this a real issue but users are becoming accustomed to batter quality encoding and full WAV PCM output. 🙂

13) Direct encoding requires a non-standard adaptor (3.5mm to 2.5mm Mono plug to plug lead).

Box Contents

Zen Nano Plus;

Earphones;

AAA Battery;

USB 2.0 Cable;

Line-in Cable;

Quick Start Booklet (multiple language);

Installation CD (multiple language);

Neck Strap;

Opening the Gates of Hell

On January 27, 1945 the Red Army advancing in Poland arrived in a sleepy town called Oswiecim. Next to it, they found Hell. As they crossed the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau, they saw discombobulated walking skeletons staring at them with empty eyes. Emaciated corpses were strewn everywhere. The stench of death was overwhelming. Over a million people-mostly Jews-had been murdered there. Auschwitz was the largest and deadliest of the 20,000 concentration camps built by the Germans to create a new world order free of Jews and political dissent.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which occurs on January 27, was designated by the United Nations to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. The date, which marks the day in which Auschwitz was liberated, was chosen as Auschwitz has become symbolic of the Holocaust. Of course one could ask the question of why the United Nations thought it necessary to select a new date, given that there already was another Holocaust Remembrance Day date which commemorates the revolt of the Warsaw Ghetto. But a more important question is to analyze what the meaning of the word "liberate" is in this context.

Obviously from a literal point of view the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz, in the sense that prior to their arrival the prisoners lived and died under the German boot and after the Red Army arrived those that were still capable of surviving were freed. From this perspective it's also valid and true to say the American Army liberated Dachau, and the British liberated Bergen Belsen. But I would argue that we need to qualify the word "liberated", because what the Allied armies did was to remove the German occupiers everywhere in their path. None of the Allied armies had as a military objective the liberation of these camps. None of them specifically sent troops in the direction of the camps with the objective of liberating the prisoners there. No, the camps just happened to be in their path. As a matter of fact, most of the Allied troops were understandably dismayed at what they found, but actually they were surprised because they did not even know those camps were there and what they had been used for.

But this was not the case with the top military echelons, or of the highest political figures. Indeed, a long time before the Soviets arrived in Auschwitz a detailed report of the inner workings of the exemption camp was circulated in the Vatican, in Washington and London. A little over half a year before the liberation of the camp the Germans began the deportation and alienation of Hungary's Jews. Many Jewish organizations pleaded with the Allied authorities so that they would bomb the railroad tracks going from Hungary to Auschwitz, and even the gas chambers. Churchill ordered his military to look into that very possibility, but was told that the railroad tracks and Auschwitz were outside the range of British bombers. The American Air Force gave similar excuses.

But the reality is that both the railroads and Auschwitz were indeed within range of American bombers. As a matter of fact, the Americans had already photographed Auschwitz from the air and conducted several bombing raids of the German industrial facilities surrounding Auschwitz-Birkenau. Stray bombs actually fell in Birkenau. So, the American Air Force certainly had the capacity of severely hampering the German deportation efforts from Hungary and even of destroying the gas chambers, thus severely hampering the German exemption effort. But Saving Jews was not an Allied military objective, and neither the railroad tracks nor the gas chambers were bombed. As the American Air Force dithered, over 10,000 human lives were consumed in the flames of Auschwitz every day.

These facts should give us pause when we consider the meaning of the "liberation" of the concentration and death camps.

As the world commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th, it's also important to understand, and remember, what drives the Germans and their helpers in the various countries they invaded to perpetrate the Holocaust.

In Nazi Germany, the ancient hatred toward Jews had evolved into something secular and pseudo-scientific. This was something the post-Enlightenment, highly cultured German people could accept as a replacement for the ancient Christian anti-Judaism of their ancestors. By the time Hitler came to power German anti-Semitism was firmly grounded on the notions that Jews were racially inferior and for being a threat to Christian Germans and everything that was good. Ultimately, any message of hatred that conformed to the conception of Jews established by almost two thousand years of certain Christian teachings made sense and was acceptable.

Elsewhere in Europe, particularly in the East where the genocide took place and where the Germans found no shortage of auxiliaries for the genocidal duties that took place there, the situation was different. None of the locals who willfully collaborated in the implementation of the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" had been brainwashed by Nazi racial propaganda. In those countries the locals hated Jews for the same reasons other Europeans had hated Jews for centuries: for killing Jesus, for desecrating the Host, for poisoning wells, for bringing about the Black Plague, for killing young Christian boys to extract their blood to make Passover bread, for being minions of the Devil, for being greedy money-lenders, and any number of other baseless accusations.

But it's not enough to understand and remember what the motivation of the perpetrators was, because the perpetrators would have been unable to execute their monstrous deeds if it had not been for the fact that the majority of the populations of the world had the choice of Acting to stop the genocide and chose not to. Even though it's true that some chose to remain as silent bystanders out of fear of the Germans, many overcame the fear and acted to save people. We do not know with certainty why the American military authorities chose not to bomb Auschwitz, but we do know that many in the military establishment and the State Department were antisemitic and felt no compassion as millions of Jews were mercilessly slaughtered.

So, now that the world is paying attention to the consequences of this hatred when looking-in through the old electrified fence at Auschwitz-Birkenau, we should not forget where anti-Semitism came from, and recognize that despite the great progress in Jewish-Christian relations Made since the Second Vatican Council, more work needs to be done.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Review

RCCL – Freedom of the Seas Review

Itinerary – comments:

Day 1. After arriving at Port Canaveral we parked in the parking lot adjacent to the cruise terminal. It’s easy to find parking so don’t be concerned about that. We arrived to be greeted with a sizeable slow moving line. This was not Royal Caribbean’s fault, but that of disorganized port security people. The port security lady was very impolite when she found out that I didn’t have all of my set sail paperwork. Ooops! Make sure that you have your set sail pass paperwork and passport ready to go!

Day 2. Cocoa Cay. – There were plenty of chairs. I was warned to get off the ship early to get a chair. We’ll I had about 1000 to choose from. If another ship is docked I can see how this would be a problem, but not if you are the only boat there. I liked all of the beaches especially Barefoot beach where you can walk far out into the water. Bring your license if you and your kids want to do a jet ski. The snorkeling was very good. I saw a barracuda, sting ray, gar fish, blow fish, and yellow fish (?). The slide was fun for the kids and you can book that there on the island, just like the water park offshore. I would also suggest taking bottled water or a snack as there isn’t really a place to buy many things. I liked Cocoa Cay a lot. I very nice stop.

Day 3. Sea day

Day 4. St. Thomas – We took an excursion to St. John to Trunk Bay to snorkel. The snorkeling is excellent and so is the scenery. It seemed as though the trip goes too fast as only 1 ½ hours is spent at trunk bay. Apparently there are two tours booked at Trunk bay. We had an excursion in the afternoon and met the Carnival people heading back. IF you get the afternoon excursion beware that they close the snack shop early – like at 3 pm in the afternoon. I’m not sure why, it’s not like it was getting dark.

I also have been to Megan’s bay on a previous trip. Megan’s bay has a beautiful beach also, but with not much in the way of snorkeling. Regardless if you go to Trunk bay or Megan’s bay or a different venue, This is an excellent good port with lots to do and see.

Day 5. St. Martin – St. Maarten / St. Martin is one island divided into two countries – Dutch and French. You can take a water taxi just off of the boat at Phillipsburg for $6 all day. It will take you for a 5 minute ride to the shops and beach in town. There will be people trying to sell you things but they don’t badger you if you say no thanks. We rented the jet skis. That were $55 for 35 minutes. We starting walking by and got them for $50 and two”free” chairs. Don’t agree to the first price and see what you can bargain for.

I didn’t go to Oriental Beach as many do. There is the possibility of seeing nudity from where RCCL goes to the beach, but I don’t think it’s common. I just didn’t hear many people talking about it. I liked St. Martin a lot too. I didn’t care for the people trying to see you stuff as soon as I got off of the water taxi, but it was definitely not as bad as what you would encounter in Jamaica.

Day 6. Sea day

Day 7. Sea day

Day 8 Disembarking.

Review Comments:

My overall experience was very good. I was surprised that the Freedom didn’t seem too much bigger than the Mariner of the Seas. The staff was excellent. We were taken well care of by the dining staff and room staff. I also felt that the entertainers on the ship also were quite talented. The shows seemed slow and were not generally memorable though. I would like to see shows with more pep. I would also like to see shows changed more often. I have actually sailed on the Mariner of the Seas where the shows were the same a year apart. Cruise lines need to pay attention to the return customer!

The putt – putt golf course was pretty, but built with little imagination. There is almost no way to get a hole in one. The flow rider was a hit. Time was divided up between surfing and knee boarding. There were a few experts, but most had fun while learning. There was also time for private lessons; in my opinion too much time. Up to 5-6 hours a day was devoted to those who would pay extra for lessons.

Cruising is great fun. There are a lot of hidden costs though. Be careful, Royal Caribbean adds in tips automatically for everything….. even drinks. If you’re not careful you can easily double tip. Even on the islands tip boxes are everywhere.. Take a handful of ones and some fives explicitly for this purpose. When you take a cruise it WILL cost more than you planned, especially if you drink alcohol!

I would also recommend not booking a flight too close to disembarking time. My cruise was diverted because someone was ill. It put the Freedom back in port about six hours late. Not only did it create a log jam on disembarking, it created a bunch on angry folks who missed flights. Word to the wise, get travel insurance.

Another suggestion to Royal Caribbean: the pictures are expensive. I would suggest somehow being able to put the pictures in a digital format so that people can touch up a few blemishes. There were several pictures that I would have purchased it one or two blemishes could have been touched up on my computer at home. I also belive that more pictures would be sold too.

I noticed that the same movies were played over which could have been easily varied. Also, the ice cream dispenser on pool deck created log jams every day. Couldn’t there be a better place for it? Why was it shut down at I believe 8 pm? It should be one of the “open late” venues.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience very much. I believe that RCCL and other cruise lines need to work harder to please the repeat cruiser. I would also suggest shaking up the itineraries a little. How about changing one of the stops instead of the same stops?

Happy Sailing!

Two Human Body Types

Paul said, "The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven" (1 Corinthians 15:47), paraphrasing Jesus' own words, "You are from below; I am from above. You Are of this world; I am not of this world "(John 8:23). And why did Paul call attention to this? Because those in Adam are like Adam, and those in Christ are like Christ. "As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven" (1 Corinthians 15:48). Humanity is divided into two groups: those in Adam and those in Christ, the saved and the lost, the generate and the regenerate, Israel and the Gentiles, the church and the not-church.

The differences between these two groups of people are historical, as well as cultural. These differences run through history and are found in every nation and every people group. And this is why the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been sent to every nation. Jesus insisted, "And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed through the whole world as a testonomy to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14). Paul knew that "the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the Gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'In you shall all the nations be blessed'" (Galatians 3: 8).

Paul drives the point home, "I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable" (1 Corinthians 15:50). Flesh and blood can also be translated as body and blood. The Greek word Paul uses for flesh here is "sarx," which means that he is introducing the sarx / soma contrast here (previous article). Again, that contrast is about the definition and use of the word "body."

Which definition of body is Paul using? His use of sarx here means that he is talking about more than the definition that pertains to our natural, individual bodies of flesh and blood – sarx can not inherit the kingdom. Flesh and blood bodies are not what Paul has in mind. The point of this verse is to expand our understanding and use of the word "body." Paul is talking about what will inherit the kingdom, what kind of body will inherit the kingdom of God, not simply in heaven, but on earth – and he's not merely talking about individual bodies of flesh. Of course we can not live without bodies of flesh. But there is more to our bodies than flesh.

That which is perishable – flesh – can not inherit the kingdom, but only that which is imperishable. As the King James Bible reads, "neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (1 Corinthians 15:50). The people of God, those who, from every nation, will inherit the kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10) must be above corruption. The Greek Lexicon says the word "corruption" is used in the New Testament in an ethical sense and indicates moral decay. Again, Paul was not talking about sarx alone – flesh. He was not talking about growing old, getting sick and dying. He was not talking about the decay of the flesh, but about the decay of culture and morality. And remember that the definition of morality is concerned with the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, and focuses on behavior.

And yet we know that people are not saved by being good, we are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone (Romans 5: 2, Ephesians 2: 8). Morality does not lead to heaven or salvation. But salvation does lead to both morality and heaven. Trying to be moral in the flesh according to the law, even God's law, leads only to death. Paul wrote to the Romans (7:10), "The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me." It proved to be death prior to his regeneration because prior to that the only life he knew was life in the flesh. And life in the flesh can not escape life in the flesh. Life in the flesh is bound by life in the flesh. Life in the flesh only begets more life in the flesh. Kind produces kind according to its likeness (Genesis 1:25).

But Christ, having been begotten by the Father, is of a different order. Christ is another kind altogether. Christ has two natures – natural and supernatural, sarx and soma. In Christ our body (sarx) is superseded by Christ's body (soma). "Behold," said Paul, "I tell you a mystery." Soma trumps sarx. "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:51). The Greek word translated sleep (koimao) usually means sleep, but can sometimes refer to death. The most significant use of this word is found in 1 Corinthians 11: 29-30, where Paul wrote, "For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill , And some have died. " Most translations read sleep. Were they dead or just sleep?

I suspect that the word indicates a loss of consciousness, and that is why it sometimes means death and sometimes sleep. Sometimes you do not know if a person is dead or sleep until he wakes up, or does not. The thing that the dead and the sleeping have in common is a lack of responsiveness to their actual, immediate surroundings. Substituting "unresponsive" provides some illumination. Speaking of improper management of the body of Christ, Paul said, "That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some are unresponsive." And here he said, "We shall not all be unresponsive, but we shall all be changed." The Greek means to change, sometimes by changing one thing for another, sometimes by transformation. Our sarx will be replaced for Christ's soma, our body for his body, or our bodies into His body.

First His body (sarx) was offered as a propitiation on the cross for our sin and in place of our bodies (sarx), and some day – suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye – our bodies (sarx) will be changed Into His body (soma). Our many will become His one. Some day. How long will it take?

In "a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet" (1 Corinthians 15:52). How long is a moment? The Greek literal means uncut and, by implication, indivisible. In terms of time it suggests instantaneous. The time between the beginning of a moment and the end of the moment can not be measured. It is not very small, but is without measure. This kind of moment is immeasurable. It can not be measured because there is nothing to measure. The beginning of a moment and the end of the moment are identical in terms of time.

The "twinkling of an eye" is the amount of time it takes to look from one object to another. Our eyes usually dart from one object to another with a jerking motion. A jerk or dart from one object to another is a twinkling. And when or what is the "last trumpet?" Paul probably had Jesus' Olivet Discourse in mind, where Jesus said that God "will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24 : 31). The last trumpet is an allusion to the end or culination of history, when Christ returns to gather His people and present them to God.

Building A Great Clothing Web Site – Things to Consider

Building an online apparel business is not as easy as you think. I know this because I started my online apparel wholesale business in 2002, after my “off-line” apparel business failed. I built my 1st web site with Microsoft FrontPage. There were 300 products on my web site. I did my own graphics, my own design, and my own marketing. I worked 24 x 7 for over 6 months straight. 5 years later, my web sites (I have 4 store fronts) bring in a steady stream of business. I no longer need to cold call to find customers, and frankly I don’t work that hard anymore to make a pretty good living.

The following elements on an apparel web site will make or break your business.

#1: The overall look and feel of the store front

You can always tell between a professionally designed and executed web site from one that is done by amateurs. If you are selling originally designed clothing that is not branded, the look and feel is a very important factor. Does it look different from everyone else? Does it look creative? Does it look like quality? Check out your major competition’s web sites. Keep in mind people can not touch the fabric of your clothing. They need to feel comfortable enough to give your products a try.

#2: Product Images

Most people starting their online apparel store either use someone else’s photos, or take the photos with their digital camera. Either way, your product pictures need to look professional and detailed. 1 way to achieve this is to rent professional lighting equipment for your photo shoot. They cost between $25 to $50 a day, but will make a huge impact in the quality of your photos. If you are serious about succeeding in your clothing business, you should invest that money. If you really can’t swing it, use a program such as Photoshop to retouch your photos to make them look more professional. Add a watermark on your pictures. So even if someone steals your picture, at least they will do some free advertising for you.

If you are selling items that have more complex designs, such as sequined dresses, or jackets with appliqués, make sure to take additional detail close-up photos of the garment from different angles. This will ensure the customer knows what the clothing item looks like, and greatly decrease your return rate.

#3: User Friendly Navigation

Make sure the site’s simple. Avoid too many levels of navigation before the user gets to the final product page where they can push the “Buy” button. Up-sell the customer with related items. If the customer clicks on outdoor jackets, put gloves and boots on the same page of the jackets for possible up-sale. Remember, you want the customer to focus on the product itself, not getting confused by too much unnecessary information. You also want them to be able to go back to where they came from, or direct them to more choices for the same product category. So putting “see other choices” or “back to item category” buttons near the item they are viewing.

#4: Easy Check Out

Use “breadcrumbs” to show where they are in the check out process to reassure them they are almost there. Reduce the number of forms to the minimum. Put everything on the same page. The last thing you want is to have the customer abandon their sale because of an ill-conceived check-out process.

#5: Optimize For Search Engine

It does not matter how well done your web site is, or how good your products are, if people can not find your store! So the most important thing about marketing your site is to optimize your web site with search terms used by your potential customers. Find all possible keywords and search terms. Google’s AdWords has a tool that helps you identify search terms related to your product category. I use a professional service out of UK called WordTracker. Truth be told, you really should do this research BEFORE you start building your new web site as the way a web site is constructed impacts how well it gets ranked on major search engines such as Google and Yahoo. This is a complex issue but is one you need to spend time researching on if you want your web site to succeed. And make sure to read my article on the technical aspects of building a good web site. If you want to see my current web sites, here are the links:

Embroidery Hats and Promotional Baseball Caps

Custom Embroidered Shirts and Custom Embroidery Apparel

Corporate Apparel and Corporate Logo Shirts

Fencing Politicians

The English-speaking people of the world aren’t always as smart as, say, Stephen Hawking who writes about cosmic stuff like time, black holes and the universe, but wouldn’t you think the people in charge of U.S. security would at least be able to measure distance?

I’m not talking about the distance from earth to the moon or anything hard like that. Just a few feet is all I’m talking about here.

It might startle you to learn that the U.S.-Mexico border fencing fuss has resulted in something so funny that nobody could possibly make it up, not even Dave Barry or Erma Bombeck.

I hope you’re sitting because otherwise, you might fall down from laughing as you read on.

It seems that a 1.5 mile barrier along the border has been discovered to have been erected on the wrong side. That’s right, you heard me. It was mistakenly built inside Mexico’s boundaries instead of on the border.

Embarrassed U.S. border officials aren’t sure if it’s one foot or maybe it could be six feet inside the Mexican border. For one thing, isn’t it about time these officials converted feet into centimeters like the rest of the world so everybody doesn’t have to stop what he’s doing and look it up?

I just looked it up and what they’ve done is put the fence from 3.28 meters to as much as 19.69 meters on the wrong side.

You’ve got to love North Americans. These mistakes seem much funnier if you do.

The barrier in question was part of more than 15 miles (that would convert to 24.14 kilometers) of border fence built in the year 2000 (no conversion necessary) stretching from Columbus, New Mexico, to James Johnson’s onion farm.

Johnson places the blame for this screw-up on his forefathers who put up a barbed wire fence back in the 19th century and seemingly were unable top draw a straight line between two points. Sure, try telling that to the Mexican farmer on whose land great, great, great, great grandpa stuck his fence a couple of hundred years ago. “It was a mistake,” says Johnson. Well, yeah.

Now we have a bunch of bureaucrats on both sides of the border getting into the act. The U.S.A. spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, Michael Friel, said the barrier was “built on what was known to be the international boundary at the time.” He acknowledged to Fox News that the method used was “less precise than it is today.” Brilliant deduction.

The International Boundary and Water Commission, a joint Mexican-American group that administers the 2,000-mile-long (3,218.68 kilometers) border, said the border has never changed and is marked every few miles by tall concrete or metal markers. I guess Mr. Johnson’s great, great, great, great, etc. granddaddy failed to notice them.

According to Fox, Sally Spener, a commission spokeswoman in El Paso said the agency is generally consulted for construction projects to ensure that treaties are followed. The commission is working with the Department of Homeland Security “to develop a standardized protocol” for building fences and barriers.

“We just want to make sure those things are clear now,” Spener said. Well, dearie, they aren’t clear at all. Nobody knows what you’re talking about; even the other bureaucrats are confused.

The super polite Mexican government sent a nice note to the U.S.A. asking for its land to be returned. “Our country will continue insisting for the removal to be done as quickly as possible,” said the Foreign Relations Department in its diplomatic missive to Washington.

Mr. Johnson is not happy and said he doesn’t understand why the placement of the barriers has become an issue. “The markers are in the right place, and the fence is crooked,” Johnson said. Maybe granddaddy was looped that night.

The media is reporting that “the mistake could cost the federal government more than $3 million to fix.”

Note that the taxpayer is referred to by the generic title, “the federal government,” like the taxpayer can’t figure out that it’s really him.

All we have to do to get a laugh these days is read the border directives coming out of Washington. And this time, we can measure the laughs in either miles or kilometers.

FAQ's About Using Stone In Your Home

1. Q. IS NATURAL STONE A GOOD CHOICE FOR HOME USE?

A. YES. Natural stone is a terrific (not to mention beautiful) material to use in all areas of your home. Knowing the different types of stone, their finishes and applications will help you to make an informed decision on which stone is the best for your project.

2. Q. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENT FINISHES FOR STONE?

A. There are many finishes and options available. Here are the most widely used:

  • Polished – A high gloss surface.
  • Honed – Smooth with squared edges and without a polished surface.
  • Tumbled – Lightly tumbled to achieve rounded edges and a surface that is not as smooth as honed.
  • Antique Tumbled – Medium tumble edges and surface to achieve a slight rustic look.
  • Cobbled or Distressed – Heavily tumbled edges and surface to achieve an aged or ancient look.
  • Brushed – Acid washed and wire brushed for a smooth textured surface.
  • Flamed – Blow torched for a rough textured surface.

3. Q. DOES NOT STONE STAIN? I DO NOT WANT STAINS!

A. YES. All natural stone can stain and etch (a dull spot in a polished or honed surface), including GRANITES. Sealers DO NOT prevent staining as they are a moisture barrier only, yet they will help to give you a small amount of time to wipe up spills. It is nearly impossible to prevent staining or etching, but serious stains can be almost completely removed and any etching can be resurfaced if either is truly bothersome to you. To help keep a perspective on choosing to use natural stone, remember the following:

1. For centuries, many European countries have used natural stone from floor to ceiling, inside and out. The stone becomes stained, cracked, pitted … and that is why we love it! These characteristics only make it that much more beautiful. (Only we Americans get upight about such things!)
2. Because stone is quarried from the earth and not "man" made, it is improbable to ever find two exact matching tiles or matching slabs for that matter. One slab may even look different from each end of itself. That is also the beauty because each piece is different, but when pieces are put together as a whole it is a masterpiece! (Be sure to purchase enough to complete your project as you may not be able to get more from the same lot.)
3. Stone is timeless. It does not get dated like the 70's Avocado Green and Harvest Gold décor did.
4. Stone will last longer than any of us will. There are centuries old castles, made of 100% stone and still standing today!
5. It is a natural resource that will never run out.
6. The more it is used, the faster a "Patina" (light sheen on the surface) will develop. The "Patina" will also aid to prevent staining to a lesser degree.

4. Q. WHAT IS THE BEST STONE TO USE IN MY HOME? A. It is really a matter of choice and the look you want to achieve. Ask yourself the following questions when making your decision: Is it beautiful to me? Do I love it? Could I live with it for years? The best advice that I can ever give to anyone choosing stone is: Go with what you are drawn to from the beginning. First, because you will only spend a lot of time and become confused when working over the "right" decision by looking at many different stones and colors; Secondly, you will probably not be happy with your selection if you have to settle on something else; And finally, you will more than likely go back to what you liked the first time. Reviewing the following most used stone types will help when you are ready to make your choice.

  • GRANITES – Granites usually have a "spattered" or "swirled" grain and can contain many colors (minerals). Generally, granites have a polished finished and have a "busy" look, but to keep up with current trends, more manufacturers are producing honed (smooth & unpolished) and flamed (rough textured) surfaces. Granites may be purchased in slab and dimensional tile form and can be used in almost any application. It has become ever popular as it is being used frequently in newly built tract housing, apartment / condominium complexes and commercial buildings. Granites are imported from many countries and have just as many colors and sizes to choose from. A note in using polished granite is to know that it can be slippery to walk on until a patina builds on it. As with any other commodity, stone is also graded for quality standards. Be wary if it is extremely inexpensive … (less than $ 7.00 per square foot unless you are buying a large quantity.) The price ranges in granites can be anywhere in between $ 8.00 to $ 90.00 per square foot, depending on the color, rarity and Where the stone comes from. The "blue" stones, containing minerals / gems such as sodalite are usually in the higher priced ranges.
  • LIMESTONES – There are many types of limestone available and varies to many degrees, depending upon where it comes from. Unpopular to belief, limestone is also a perfectly capable stone to use in all areas of your home. Most limestones have softer earth tone colors; May contain a "swirl" veining movement through; Can contain fossils; Or may have a light speckled grain. Limestones, just like granite or any other natural stone can stain, etch or get scratched, but again, you should not use natural stone if this will bother you. Limestone also is broadly available in dimensional tile and slab form. This stone is used most frequently in higher-end homes, architectural designs and commercial applications as it is easy to work with, the colors are muted compared to granites, it is available in as many finishes and textures as granite and it is still relatively new To the market. It is still considered to be a "custom" choice, as it has not reached the overuse level of granite. Some limestones from countries such as France and Portugal can be somewhat porous but are perfect for flooring, backsplashes, fireplace surroundings and outdoor uses. Limestone from countries such as the US and Israel (Jerusalem Stone) are generally heavier and usually as dense as granite, which makes it suitable for almost every application.
  • SLATES – Slate used to be used mainly for chalkboard, billiard tables, science lab areas and roof tiles. However, in recent years it has become more popular for residential use in most applications, with the exception of fabricated counter tops. Slate tiles are generally rough in surface texture, with the exception of the tumbled version. Most slates are available in a wide variety of sizes in dimensional tiles; A few in slab form and most can be gotten in crates of random pieces like flagstone. It is a perfect stone for water areas such as showers & spas, patio / driveway areas, pool surroundings and roofing applications. Most slates contain a huge variation of color, even within the same lot and some will even look to have been stained from spills of red wine, which is not the case. This is caused from earth minerals such as iron and only adds to the beauty of the stone. Slate holds onto heat well, which is another reason besides being fire proof; It is widely used as roofing material. (Use light colors in outdoor areas where you may be walking barefoot!) Since slates have a softer property, be aware that it can shale off the surface more easily. This will not harm it per se, but may cause you concern if you are not aware that it happens. One of the difficulties of slate is that it is varied in thickness. Because of the shale properties, it is very difficult to cut evenly. Generally, manufacturers will cut them with a "gauged" thickness or "sawn back" treatment, leaving one side smoother. Because of the varied thickness between each piece of tile, specific sized installations may be more of a challenge, so expect your installer costs to be a bit higher. Slate itself is generally a less costlier stone. Expect anywhere from $ 4.00 – $ 8.00 per square foot, dependent upon the grade and country of origin. Again, beware of any extremely inexpensive prices and be sure to check the quality of the slate to be sure that it has not been filled with dyes. Test by holding a piece under running water for a few minutes and also by putting a few tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice on it and wiping off. If any color comes off, return it immediately! Just a note: I only recommend using any acidic solution on stone in this instance for testing purposes only.
  • MARBLE – Most people are familiar with marble in many uses. From Greek statues to Roman baths, marble has been used for centuries in just about every possible application, both interior and exterior. Marble has the same general properties of limestone and can stain, etch or scratch, but it only becomes more beautiful over time and use. It is readily available in just about every color, size, finish and texture known to man. Most marbles have a veining of a mineral throughout them and are generally thought to be from Italy, but it in actuality it is quoted from all over the world. Tumbled marble has become extremely popular in the United States in the last few years for backsplash, flooring and shower areas. Prices range from $ 6.00 – $ 30.00 per square foot, again dependent upon the rarity, color and country of origin. A couple of drawbacks to marble to be aware of is: 1. Green marbles containing serpentine need to be installed in water areas with specific setting guidelines that your installer should know of as water can warp and break apart green marbles; 2. Polished marble can be slippery to walk upon until a patina has built up on the surface.
  • TRAVERTINE – Travertine is marble, except it is filled with "holes." To understand what causes the holes, think of it this way … where a river or stream was prior to the marble being quarried is where you will find travertine. Because of the holes, people can be scared off because travertine is generally thought to be more porous and not suitable for residential use. This is not the case, as all of those holes became filled in with grout during installation, giving it a very unique look. The same travertine can be used in two separate areas but appear another way just by using two different grout colors! Travertine can be purchased with the holes pre-filled, but in my experience with it, I do not recommend it. In general, the epoxy fill that is used has a color to it that does not look natural to the stone and it has a tendency to come out after a short amount of time in high traffic areas. Expect to pay anywhere from $ 5.00 – $ 15.00 per square foot.

5. Q. IS STONE MORE DIFFICULT OR COSTLY TO INSTALL THAN CERAMIC TILE?

A. On the whole, it is not more difficult to install. There are exceptions of course such as the difficulties with thickness gauges, which takes more time in planning the layout and if a complex pattern is being used. As for cost it is generally not more expensive except for time spent on lining out patterns and the thickness gauging again, at least for the tile contractors I have worked on projects with. The setting supplies and procedures are the same, but stone is heavier to work with. I suggest talking it over with your installer and also taking the time to look at past jobs he or she has installed if possible. I will be giving tips on selecting a tile contractor / installer in my next article.

6. Q. CAN A STONE DESIGN BE USED OR MIXED WITH OTHER KINDS OF MATERIALS?

A. Absolutely! The possibilities are endless. You can incorporate stone with ceramic, porcelain, glass, and terracotta … anything you can think of, even mixing different types of stones together.

7. Q. HOW DO I FIGURE THE QUANTITY THAT I WILL NEED?

A. Typically, tile and stone for a "field" area (space where plain tile will be) is illustrated by the square foot. To figure square footage, measure the area that you will be putting the tile with a tape measure. Examples:

1. You measure your room and it comes out to be 10-1 / 2 feet wide by 15-3 / 4 feet long … you would calculate it by multiplying 10.5×15.75 = 165.38. Round this number off to the closest whole number (165). I suggest adding on a 10-15% overage to plan for cuts, breakage and a little extra to store in case a piece needs to be replaced later in time.

2. You measure your wall area to be covered and you get 18 "tall and 33" long. Multiply 18×33 = 594 "Now divide that number by 144, resulting in 4.13sf. (There are 144 sq. Inches per square foot.) Again, round it off and add on for overage.

When figuring for decorative tile or trim, it is usually by the piece and calculated by the lineal foot.

For slabs, it is best to let your fabricator figure the quantity for you.

8. Q. WHAT SIZE GROUT JOINTS SHOULD I USE?

A. Again, this is a matter of choice and the look you prefer. Honed stone can usually be butt-jointed (tight to each other) with very little grout showing if you want to see much grout or grid pattern; Tumbled stone usually has a 1/8 "to 1/4" grout joint which will show off the edges more.

9. Q. WHAT SIZE OF STONE TILE SHOULD I USE FOR MY PROJECT?

A. It depends upon the project itself and the area size. Something to keep in mind is that if the area to be tiled is small, it is better to use a larger size tile, if you want the area to appear larger. It is not uncommon to believe that if you have a small perimeter of floor that you should use a 4 ", 6" or 12 "tile, which is not necessary. When doing so, it will make the area feel small and you will Have more grout joints.

10. Q. I DO NOT LIKE THE GRID PATTERN I SEE FREQUENTLY. WHAT CAN YOU SUGGEST FOR AN ALTERNATIVE?

A. There are many pre-set repeating stone patterns available, or you can make your own "random" pattern from different size pieces of stone. A pre-set pattern is easier to use and the amount of stone that will be needed for the project will be easier to figure. To also help from keeping a grid pattern from being so obvious is to use a grout color that is as close as possible to the color of the stone. Using dark grout with light tile, or light grout with dark tile was a popular look in the 80's. However, I think it is better to see as little grout as possible. Your stone is the expensive part of your project so you should want to show it off, not your grout!

11. Q. CAN YOU HELP ME WITH DESIGNING MY STONE LAYOUT?

A. Yes, I can. I charge an hourly fee of $ 75 and I will need some things from you:

1. A copy of your blueprints, including the elevations if you have them and the area to be tiled clearly marked; Or a drawing of the area, including the dimensions and the area to be tiled shown. Make sure to specify what room / location it is, if it is not marked on the blueprint.
2. The style of home you have; Or the look you prefer, ie … rustic, contemporary, elegant, traditional …
3. Whether or not you have already chosen your stone. If so, what did you pick and what size? If not, do you want me to make suggestions for you? If yes, do you have a set budget?
4. Will you want to use decorative trim pieces? If so, did you choose one yet? What are the dimensions of a piece (s)?

Watch for my next article: FAQ's On Choosing A Tile Contractor / Installer

You Never Know the Difference You Really Make

As a musician, you wonder if what you’re doing has an impact on anything in the world. Sure, it’s easy to say that you have if you’ve sold millions of CD’s like the Beatles or Led Zeppelin. But what about your average musician who plays in front of small audiences and doesn’t have that hit CD?

I’ve played places that have only had a crowd consisting of a handful of people and some of those places didn’t provide the nicest atmosphere. I’ve played a place that had a dirt floor which was sloped downwards towards the area where the band would set up. When it rained, the water would run down towards where I was playing and there was a sump pump there to pump it out. Now I don’t know what the actual definition is for a dive, but I’m pretty sure that place met all of the qualifications needed to classify it as one.

In the summer, I would quite often go outside my house to practice the music I played out at gigs. I’d be out there enjoying the weather as I would practice. Well, there was a girl that lived in the house across the street. She was around 12 years old. She was starting to have symptoms that indicated that there may have been something wrong with her heart. She went into the hospital for some testing and had died while they were running the tests.

Later, I had learned that she liked to listen to me as I would practice. Whenever she saw me out playing my guitar she would open up her bedroom window to hear me. I never knew. I was told that she enjoyed what I was playing and would even be teased by her sister, who would say: “Bob is playing. You better hurry up and go listen!” Most of you probably know how siblings like to tease.

So here I was just practicing for gigs where there were only a handful of people and I was thinking to myself that I wasn’t really making any kind of impact anywhere. Yet, someone was listening every time I practiced. It apparently must have meant something to her. I never knew until her mother had mentioned it, after her passing. To think that what I was doing brought that much enjoyment into such a short life brings considerable satisfaction to me.

So when I get discouraged about certain things, I quite often think about that. Sure it is sad that a life could be cut so short. But what guarantees do we have in this life? We never really know when our last day will be. So the only thing we can do is enjoy it while it lasts and try to bring some happiness into the lives of others. That’s all that really matters. Sometimes you bring happiness to others without even trying. As I have come to find out.

Fun and Free Things to Do in the Summer

Its summer again and everyone is looking forward to experiencing that great summer vacation with their friends and family around. There are a lot of things to do this summer and you do not actually have to pay a lot to experience that excellent summer vacation, sometimes you can get a great deal from free summer packages available out there. One of the best vacation packages that you can give your friends and family is something that has to do with a bit of nature tripping or probably going on an adventure trip. This is one of the most common things that you can do during summer but is definitely worth while sharing such special moments with the people you love.

You can either go with your friends, relatives and family members to various beaches near you as well as parks. In doing this all you have to prepare is yourself some picnic baskets and the activities that you will be doing to make that summer outstanding memorable for all of you. While if you are willing to send some cash to travel you may also look into spending your time with friends and family going hiking and checking out places with beautiful scenery.

Now while you are on a nature trip, you may also enjoy taking pictures of what you see during your nature tripping. If you are about to start with your photo shooting hobby, this is a great opportunity for you to take advantage of. There are a lot of subjects that you may look into and take pictures on. If you bought to enjoy summer at home and you are thinking of fun and free things that you can do this summer, you can also enjoy baking, cooking and creating food specials this summer. Try experimenting on creating your own cool beverages, ice cold desserts and baked goodies this summer.

Since some may find summer quite boring, you can turn it into a fun-filled summer by thinking of ways on how you will be able to spend your time effectively and enjoy every moment you spend with you friends and family. Be more creative in thinking of what summer activities you'll enjoy doing and you'll definitely be able to spend an exciting summer to remember.

How To Stain Decks Like A Professional

When performing deck staining, allow the wood to dry for at least 24-48 hours before you stain it with any oil based stain. Once you believe the wood is dry, you should test it with a moisture meter. Be sure to test the areas that do not get much sun, such as close to the house. You are looking for 12% moisture or less. In a pinch, you can stain wood at 15%, but you are really pushing the edge with that.

Take a little time to protect the yard plants and lawn around the deck. Sun Brite Supply has lightweight inexpensive paper-poly drop-cloths that will prevent stain from landing on vegetation. Stain blocks the pores of vegetation, so the leaf can not breathe. Cover up and be safe. NOTE: Never use sheet plastic over vegetation. On a sunny day, plants can fry within minutes.

If there are any fuzzies on the wood, use a sanding sponge with medium grit (or a brass wire brush, an Osborne brush, or a de-felting pad) to go over the entire area. This step will help assure professional looking results.

Remember that Ready Seal is made with in oil that contains no sugars or starches. We caution you to avoid any stain that contains linseed oil (even in small amounts, linseed oil supports the growth of mildew with its natural sugars and starches). We also caution you about using any stain without superior UV protection. That includes all clear stains. Generally speaking, darker stainant colors contain more UV protection. Ready Seal contains some of the finest pigments available today, combined with exclusive resins that help the stain be absorbed completely into the wood very quickly. Ready Seal is permeable, which means it allows the wood to breathe naturally but will not allow moisture drops to enter the wood.

Using a good brush with white china bristles, apply the stain along the edge of the deck nearest the house. Cover about 12 "to 18" out from the house, being very careful to feather the edges so that you avoid a straight, visible line where the brush stops and the spraying will begin. Cutting-in the edge like this allows you to begin spraying away from the house, minimizing your clean-up at the end of the job. Many contractors spray the entire deck, avoiding the extra labor needed for cutting-in using sheet plastic or a flexible painter's shield to protect the house from spray.

A DECKSTER sprayer is the quickest method to apply Ready Seal when used by a professional. On a windy day, the Hurricane Brush will be the fastest way to apply Ready Seal or any other deck sealer on the market without creating a clean-up headache. Ready Seal can also be applied with a pump-up spray, but that is more labor-intensive and a less-even application than you get when using a DECKSTER. You may also use a brush or roll it, but those methods are more labor-intensive and usually do not get the stain on to the sides of the boards like the spray does.

Take time to protect any patio under the deck. Stain that drips onto concrete is extremely difficult to remove later on. If you spray the stain, also protect plants and house surfaces. If you must clean up spilled stain or overspray, use mineral spirits or denatured alcohol. Mineral spirits is the best all-around cleaner, while denatured alcohol works very well for cleaning it off glass.

Two light coats (applied wet-on-wet) are much better than one heavy one. Once the first coat of stain has been on the wood for at least 15 – 30 minutes, it will accept a moderate second coat. Once the second coat of stain has been on the wood for about 20 minutes, the wood has absorbed all it will take. If there are any wet or shiny spots visible, they can be wiped with a clean rag or back-brushed with a flat stain pad to remove them.

Ready Seal is really goof-proof. That means that you will not get lap marks or runs, and it means that rainy weather can not mess it up. The stained wood is ready to stand up to rain within about 15 minutes after applying Ready Seal. The deck is ready to use immediately, while the stain continues to dry beneath the surface of the wood for about 2-3 weeks.

Expect the color of the newly stained wood to be somewhat darker that the color sample indicated. The wood may also have a slightly splotchy appearance. The color will lighten considerably and even out over the next two weeks or so. The color will continue to lighten gradually, depending on use and exposure to sun. Typically, this process should be repeated every two years or so to maintain optimal appearance and protection.

Hidden Departures

My sister is a fine thing. I do not take her advice. Her voice is a dark world. She is a siren, a star with her red rinsed hair, her polish, and her talons. She feels like Alice in Wonderland to me. She is that rare thing. She is a thing of beauty.

So I wonder to myself why did that guy brush her off. Maybe I did not know the half of it. She swallows me whole in conversation. I see and hear everything. There’s a flicker. The message from her heart says she does not love me. I remember her as a young girl.

I am a visitor rising day after day.

The moon is an accomplishment. The futurist sun is always promising progress. My father and I talk about our sins in the garden with leaves and dogs at our feet. The petals colorful UFO’s. My father’s smile is poetry. I look at him and I see his sacrifice, his imagination. Yet it is the world that is the imaginative.

I write. In one way it is slow madness, torture but also a refuge, my sanctuary and it gives me hope. I feel a terror that if I do not completely surrender to it what will become of me, that mental switch I have inside of me.

I’ve suffered. What is suffering anyway when compared to reading poetry, writing poems? What is courage? Did I have courage as a child, as an adolescent, as an adult in a materialistic, unforgiving world? Relationships feel cold to me now. The chilled earth is no friend to the interrupted lover. I am left thinking to myself as I sit in my bedroom shadows playing against the wall, the light in its pursuit and dissolve how does my ‘Mr. Mackenzie’ move in the world now. The novelist Jean Rhys had her instinct tested with every love affair. There’s no gravity in depression, and no sweetness, and the high that comes with it and the universe does not become warmed up. The environment around you becomes empty and unsmiling. I imagine when I’ll go. I shouldn’t but I do.

My sister is my protein and my angelic conjured-up myth. She is my extended piece of poetry. But now there are glaciers between us, an ice picnic. Nothing made up of childhood chronicles remains only the great thoughts of a child, and the movement towards the lights of a city warms her heart now, that gives her hope. Warm body, cold hands, cold feet, cold heart, blue, blue, blue but I want justice. We’re civilized now when we meet. No more tea parties in the garden for us serious ladies in our mother’s church hats and shoes, lipstick on our teeth, our cheeks are pomegranate-red. Our perfumed hair smells like flowers. We see our happy reflections in the mirror. Now adult we move both move in different worlds. She’s a beautiful girl.

No more pricking ourselves with decadent ruby-red brooches. I know nothing of familial love. It is a bit of a starving landscape for me. It leaves something unfinished inside of me, dissolved it distracts me to no end. Yet I write about in my poetry, in my novels. All ‘Mr. Mackenzie’ wanted from me was to smile please.

I don’t want you to see me like this. Slow. I want you to remember me the way I was before. It’s human nature to want to be perfect for the love of your life and not to be infirm. Every night before I go to bed I pray for this vast universe, and the vast universe’s unconscious, for the sun, moon, stars, the galaxies, and constellations, for the citizens of this world. I pray for souls that are in distress, hearts and minds in turmoil, life itself, strife and frustration. I pray for orphaned, abandoned children and vulnerable men and women, nations, negotiations, humility, humanity. And I pray for you and your daughter. Romeo where art thou? I will never forget you.

Smile please. You’d be lovelier if you did.

People always stared. All I had was a childhood. You had been nurtured, schooled at the best schools, educated, and experienced adventure. Without breaking anything one day you were there and the next you were gone. You were beautiful. And half imagined you still are. You’re not here to fight my daily battles, to fill my food with spice and heat, prepare my meals or my fish fingers, do my laundry, pick my wet towels up off the floor, and wash my hair. Then brush my hair off my face, make me coffee or tea, make me hot chocolate or a red cappuccino, check to see if I am still breathing. You’re not here to pursue me, the hidden me; you’re not here to have a drink with me.

All he wanted me to do was smile please.

Are you happy? Do you ever find yourself asking God, ‘Is this what discontent feels like?’ Not having you around drags me down. She fought for him. My brother’s girlfriend fought for him. No one had ever fought for me in that way. And now she has him. Her perfume fills this house, eggs and bacon, meals served on time for a change. They play house, my brother, on the one hand and his girlfriend. My long fingers, needles no longer fill the pots with cuts of meat, knuckles, and meaty bones for stews, soup bones, curries and the air in the kitchen with fragrant spices. I am the third wheel. I stop conversations dead in their tracks. I am good for a laugh.

It was I who insisted that she stay. It was I who said she was good for him. It was I who said that she saved him, that she made him laugh. Now I am silent. I am invisible. Suddenly I am no longer good at making white sauce anymore or roast chicken. A reduction, what is that? Vegetables served on their own, steamed hake have had to go. I’ve had no say in that. I’m only good for chips fried golden brown. He doesn’t love me anymore. She sees to everything, reigns supreme. There simply isn’t anything she can’t do it seems. She cooks and cleans like an extraordinary machine. Maybe one day I’ll be like her. I fix my eye on her.

I could never be extraordinary like that. I’m macaroni and cheese to her chicken pie. The order will change once the ring is on her finger. Then there’ll be nothing left over for me. I’d do anything for him but the problem now is that she will too. We are rivals. Is that a myth or the cultivation of a myth? Bring out toast and fish fingers for the depressed. Pineapple jelly for dessert. God, he doesn’t talk to me anymore. What are they always whispering about, my brother and his girlfriend? I miss those days when a boy, no a man used to talk to me like that. It was never a boy. It was always a man who stood inches taller than I was and it was always hard for me to breathe, to think when I had all that energy within reach.

When a man desired that energy how could any growing girl with an ego say no. Growing girls were always manna to middle aged men. The more fertile a girl was, how she expressed her internal embroidering self with a makeup brush on the outside, the sexier she became.

I am alone in the house. I am crying. It is the only time I allow myself to cry for the past, for mistakes, for love that I have lost. I am making soup to cheer myself up the way other women pour themselves a glass of wine. This is a perfect idea I think to myself. I will loosen up. It will release some nervous tension. I won’t feel so anxious. I will cut up and sauté the onions, make a broth with hearty lentils, with some grated potato. Soup for one. And in the mean time I will become the world’s wife and I will have some cheese on hot, buttered toast. Nutritious food for thought.

The sun reminds me of you Robert, star people, Nabokov’s Lolita, veterans, and the mission of bees. It has cooked the slick pavements where winter rain has fallen, kissed winter feasts through, soaked into me, left me a shell. The walls of my journal have offered me shelter and protection when all my relationships have come to an end. In a flash until suffering is no longer here I’ll go all soft and teary-eyed and then what? The only thing that will be left of you my brother is what. The politics of love, the devil and love, a trembling fool and love, pleasure and love, subtle rage and love and the not forgetting; the slowness, the identity, the wasteland, the wilderness history of the not forgetting of love.

When I remember my brother I remember greasy breakfasts from childhood that he prepared for my sister and me while our parents slept in. I love him does this mean that she, his girlfriend loves him more? I also feel as if life feels as if it is slipping away to the edges of a dream and who’s to blame for that. You compound the negative in my social life, the silent and psychological framework. Somewhere it is summertime in Los Angeles. I imagine that desire is much more emotional for women than it is for men. Is it just physical for them?

Images are brighter especially the image of my mother. She looked tired but also pretty. Lovely in an undeniable way, authentic, thin and gamine as if she were a pioneer in those jeans and not a mother who was closing in on her sixties. She is very sick, very tired, and emotional but we all have been emotional these days. My father is with the Johannesburg people (her side of the family). She is not eating. She sleeps all the time. This is unnatural for me, for us as a family. It’s as if I am experiencing bereavement.

For isn’t any loss, the unexplained in the beginning stages of the opinion that it matters. I have to address it. I have to fix (her depression) ‘all of this’-this somehow. I have to stop thinking about the illusion of Robert as the Romeo, the past but he is everywhere-nowhere, in my imagination at the same time. I’m wide-awake. The house is asleep and I’m working on a writing project. Half of it truth, half imagined like a television showcase of reality idiots. My mother’s arms are open wide but she does not receive me. All my life people will be looking at her and not me.

They will be asking how any mother could have done that to her child, the godchild of futuristic Gattacca who had her own Wise men following their own star of Bethlehem. She had her own gifts only they weren’t frankincense, myrrh, gold. And then ‘he’ will know. Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo? ‘He’ will finally know. ‘He’ will find out about my disability. Miraculously I think I won’t be saved. I will feel I know this in my ghost white German-face with its Jew-nose, its pallor, my sheets, thin in my nightgown shivering, trembling.

I will feel even more lost in this world. Black holes will open up to swallow me whole. The solitude will linger still. The loneliness I feel will be even more acute and I’ll ask God what will I do then when I reach that turning point. How will I communicate my pain? Will I internalize it, ride it out, the rough sea-anger until I reach calmer waters? Quentin T. is coming for me. No lack of imagination has he. He will surely do me in. Please don’t touch me. Honey children beware of the dog. Keep away. Keep out. At the zoo the tigers will eat you up. Alive they will swallow you whole they won’t just bite.

My brother looks happy for now in this relationship. The girl makes him happy. If only I could feel it in my blood like he does. If only it, love, could find a way to my cells, my mitochondria. The pioneer could also be terrifying and vicious in her jeans. It hurts me badly. The raw energy, the tears wreck me. The question that marks me of, ‘Is that your sister?’ I really must look as terrible as I feel some days. Every day is a new day. She’s proud and bitter and there’s not one line on her face as she gardens in butcher’s boots stained with the blood of the earth. I will always know the lyrics to Fiona Apple’s Shadowboxer. I will close my eyes when she sings Carrion. The telepathic is the only link I have with my sister now. Leave me alone. I’m cold now. Just you looking at me like that is terrifying to me.

Rob Thief I’ve never trembled in any man’s arms like I did in yours.

How to Prove the Bible Is True With Prophecy

Messianic Prophecy

One of the most powerful and convincing ways of provoking the Bible is true and divinely inspired is through Bible prophecy. There are different types of biblical prophecies one can use: Messianic (Jesus Christ), the people and the land of Israel, surrounding nations, the future of the world and "End Times." I will discuss the Messianic prophecies. These prophecies deal with the predictions concerning Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Messiah in Hebrew means "The Anointed One."

Written over a 1000 year span, the Old Testament contains 300 prophetic references to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. The chance of a man fulfilling just eight of the 300 Messianic prophecies is astronomical. That would be one in one hundred trillion. Jesus Christ fulfilled all three hundred prophecies! This would have been impossible if He was not the Son of God. Below I have recorded prophecies and prophecies concerning his birth, His nature, His ministry, His death and burial and His resurrection.

His Birth

How many times have we heard the story of the birth of Jesus, but people may not understand that His birth was predicted 400 – 1000 years before his birth. These prophecies written between 1450 BC and 430 BC are very detailed in their description of the timing, location and circumstances of his birth and they are all 100% accurate. Predicting something 10 years away would be difficult, but predicting something 4-15 centuries away with perfect accuracy would have to be a God inspired plan.

Share with an unbeliever Micah 5: 2 and then show them the fulfillment of this prophecy in Matthew 2: 1. When you speak of Bethlehem, that certainly should ring a bell with them.

Prophecy – "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of the universe shall come forth unto me that which is to be ruler in Israel; which moves forth have been from of old, from everlasting" ( Micah 5: 2).

Fulfillment of the prophecy – "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wisdom men from the east to Jerusalem" (Matthew 2: 1).

His Nature

The Bible makes it very clear about the unique nature Jesus Christ. He was born of a virgin. His name would be called Immanuel, meaning "God with us." The spirit of the Lord would rest upon Him in wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and the fear of the Lord. He was both Lord and Christ. There are a number of scriptures that verify this. I have listed a couple of scripts you can use to influence the skeptical.

Prophecy – "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Psalm 110: 1).

Fulfillment of the prophecy – "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36).

Prophecy – "Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).

Fulfillment of the prophecy – "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call him Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us "(Matthew 1: 22-23).

His Ministry

As stated in the gospels, the preparation for Jesus Christ's ministry began with his baptism in the river Jordan of Judah by John the Baptist. He was thirty years of age at the start of His ministry. Immediately after His water baptism, He was led by the Holy Spirit into the Judean wilderness to fast forty days and forty nights. He then went back to Galilee to preach and recruit His first disciples who traveled with Him. They formed the early core of the early Church.

After the death of John the Baptist, Jesus went to Jerusalem where He ministered. His last week in Jerusalem has been called the Passion Week, culminating with His crucifixion, burial and resurrection. I've listed below two scripts you can use to point out the prediction and fulfillment of His earthly ministry.

Prophecy – "Neverless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, In Galilee of the nations. "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined" (Isaiah 9: 1-2).

Fulfillment of the prophecy – "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to baptized of him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he Saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased "(Matthew 3: 13,16-17).

Prophecy – "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lamb man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, And streams in the desert "(Isaiah 35: 5-6).

Fulfillment of the prophecy – "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lamb walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them: (Matthew 9:35; 11: 4-5).

His Death & Burial

Fulfilled prophecies of the death and burial of Jesus Christ give another evidence of His glorious place in history. Below are scriptures that you can use to bring truth, hope and light to those in darkness.

Prophecy – "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting" (Isaiah 50: 6).

Fulfillment of the prophecy – "And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be cruicified" (Mark 15:15).

Prophecy – "For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet" (Psalm 22:16).

Fulfillment of the prophecy – "The other disciples said before unto him, We have seen the Lord. But He said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, And thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. Then saith he (Jesus) to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, But believing "(John 20: 25,27).

Prophecy – "And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was deceit in his mouth" (Isaiah 53: 9).

Fulfillment of the prophecy – "When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilatate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to Jesus. And When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he roled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, And departed "(Matthew 27: 57-60).

His Resurrection

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ sets Christianity apart from all other religions. There is no evidence that any of the founders of other religions were ever resurrected. The empty tomb gives evidence of the Resurrection. Use these prophecies to convince the doubters.

Prophecy – "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10).

Fulfillment of the prophecy – "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it" (Acts 2:24).

Prophecy – "I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee" (Psalm 2: 7).

Fulfillment of the prophecy – "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own Blood "(Revelation 1: 5).

Ambassadors of Jesus Christ

As ambassadors of Jesus Christ, let us share these prophetical scripts with the lost, allowing the Holy Spirit to convince them that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and that as Sinners they must receive Him as their Lord and Savior to escape hell and be Ready for heaven.

Do you want to know God's purpose for your life on earth? Click "God's Purpose for Me on Earth" and begin fulfilling your glorious destiny.

Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commands." Jesus commands us in Matthew 28: 19-20 to witness Jesus to the lost. Do you love Jesus? Please do not disobey Him by not witnessing to the lost. Do not forfeit your soul winner's crown awaiting you in heaven. Click "Soul Winner's Crown" below to receive free online teaching on how to be a successful soul winner for God.

Safe Use of Sack Trucks

The simple sack truck is a good addition to any workplace that involves the carrying or moving of boxes or items. This will help to reduce the risk of injury to your workforce from manual handling as well as improve productivity.

Manual Handling Injuries

More than a third of injuries reported every year are the result of manual handling, i.e. the supporting or transporting of loads by bodily force or by hand.

Hit By Moving Vehicle – 2%

Falls – 4%

Hit By Falling Objects – 13%

Other – 20%

Trips – 23%

Handling – 38%

Check List

Before using a sack truck or any other type of handling aid please check the following points: Is the equipment the correct type for the job?

  • Check to see if the wheels run freely.
  • Is the device well maintained? (The law requires that equipment is well maintained)
  • Is the wheel type suitable for the floor surface, ie Wheel diameter, Tyre type (solid or pneumatic).
  • Are the hand grips comfortable and in good order?
  • Are the handles between waist and shoulder height?
  • If the truck is fitted with brakes, do they work?
  • Is the recommended load capacity suitable for the load to be moved?
  • Is the load unstable or heavy? Use a load strap to secure the item.
  • Force Required

    The amount of bodily force that is required to move an object over a level flat surface using a well maintained sack truck or similar handling aid is approximately 2% of the load weight. Example: If the weight of a load is 400kg then the force required to move it will be 8kg. If the conditions are not perfect such as the device being in poor working order or the wheels not being in the correct position then the required force may be much larger. Remember that an operator must always try and push rather than pull the load providing that they have clear line of sight over it and can also control the stopping and steering of the truck.

    Moving Items On Slopes

    When trying to negotiate a ramp or slope with a load the employee should always try to enlist the help of another worker whenever necessary as the pulling or pushing force required can be very high. Example: If the same 400kg load used in the previous example was to be moved up a slope of 1 in 12 (5°), then the force required increases to around 30kg even in perfect conditions, i.e. smooth surface and good wheels. This is above the recommended guideline for men and well above the weight guideline for women.

    Soft or Uneven Surfaces

    When using a hand truck or similar handling aid on soft or uneven surfaces then the force required is much higher. On an uneven surface this force increase could be as high as 10% of the load weight, although using larger wheels may offset this to some extent. The force required for soft ground may be even worse than that of uneven ground.

    Stance and Speed of Pace

    Operators should always go no faster than walking speed and keep their feet well away from the load carried. This will make it easier to push and stop them becoming tired too quickly.

    Force Guidelines for Pushing and Pulling

    Force to stop or start a load. Men – 20kg Women – 15kg

    Constant force required to keep load in motion. Men – 10kg Women – 7kg

    General Precautions

    Operators should minimize and be aware of the following hazards

    • When moving loads on dock platforms, dock plates/bridges, inclines or uneven surfaces please ensure the running wheels of the truck are away from the edges.
    • Be aware of other tucks, obstacles and obstructions to prevent the possibility of collision.
    • Try to purchase or fit trucks with knuckle guards on the hand grips to reduce the risk of trapping the operator’s hands between the truck and other objects.
    • Keep the loads centre of gravity as low as possible.
    • When moving multiple objects or boxes. Place the lighter objects above the heavier objects.
    • Ensure that the load is balanced so that the weight is taken on the axel and not the handles.
    • Restrict the height of the load to allow for a clear view ahead of you.
    • Use trucks designed for the purpose at hand, i.e. curved back trucks for carrying drums or cylinders, high back straight back sack trucks for white goods etc.
    • Let the truck take the weight of the load as the operator should only push and balance the truck.

    Places of Interest in Spain – The Cordoba Mosque

    The Mosque of Cordoba has had an interesting history, beginning as a Moorish Mosque in the 10th century and consecuted as a Christian Cathedral in the 13th century after the request of Cordoba. Throughout the years it has undergone many alterations. The Royal Chapel was built after the Reconquest as a pantheon for Spanish Kings and has also been much improved by succeeding generations. A nave was added later while the minaret of the old Mosque was converted into a bell tower. Some sections of the mosque were converted from the original Arabic architecture to Mudejar or converted to Moorish style and later to Gothic style.

    Inside the Mosque

    The inside of the Mosque is stunning, with a profusion of arches and Pillars that gives one the impression of being inside a tent in the desert. The arches were made with alternating segments of brick and stone, the red brick layers alternating with the white stone layers and making us aware that although we are in a Christian church, this was once a Moorish house of worship. The profusion of columns further adds to the sensation of being inside a desert lodging.

    The Mihrab

    The Mihrab had its origins in the prayer niches of the Coptic Christians. In mosques it is usually placed in the wall facing Mecca and is often decorated. At the mosque in Cordoba, it has been lavishly decorated since it was built in the age of the greatest splendor of Moorish Spain. Golden Byzantine mosaics make us aware that Cordoba was one of the most prosperous as well as populated cities of Europe. Its poets, intellectuals and artisans excelled in their pursuits and their influence is seen in the construction of the mosque.

    The Cathedral

    In the sixteenth century, a cathedral was built inside the mosque and over the years, it has been improved and decorated by Spain's best craftsmen. The Gothic style of the cathedral is particularly interesting because of the many items that are a part of the decor. Two mahogany pulpits with a life-sized bull and lion in marble are some of the attractions that welcome the tourists.

    The Bell Tower

    The Bell Tower, originally the minaret of the mosque, is a good place to get some stupendous views of the city of Cordoba. You will need to climb a number of steps to get there but the effort is well worth it. The mosque itself is set on a hill and the height of the bell tower makes it an ideal place to see the surrounding country as well.

    Horoscopes – Capricorn

    In this Tenth of a 12 part series on horoscopes, we're going to look at the first of what are called the winter signs, Capricorn the Goat.

    People who are born between December 22 and January 21 are Capricorns. Their element is Earth, their quality is Cardinal, their energy is Yin, their ruler is Saturn, their color is Brown, their gem is Garnet, their main anatomical parts are the bones, joints and knees, their keywords are achievement, structure and organization , Their Tarot suit is Pentacles and their Tarot Major Arcana cards are The Devil and The World.

    Some famous celebrities who are Capricorns are Cuba Gooding Jr., Ricky Martin, Tracey Ullman, Kate Moss, Mel Gibson, Muhammad, Ali and Martin Luther King Jr.

    It's pretty lonely at the top, which is pretty much where goats are. They love their solitude. They're very ambitious, organized, efficient and responsible. The flip side of that is they can be very cold, calculating, suspicious and rigid. They are also their own worst critics. A Capricorn will beat himself up over just about anything that he does not believe he has done as best as possible. So no need to point out their shortcomings. They will do it for you in spades.

    The Capricorn must have security at all costs. In order to get this security they will step on anyone who gets in their way. This is an odd mix with a sign that can also be very kind. At the same moment they're telling you that you have a nice shirt that they'll immediately follow that remark with a command to get out their way so so they can go to the men's room. They are certainly odd in that respect. The good thing about a Capricorn is that if you have done them a favor, they will be forever in your debt. They never fail to repay an act of kindness.

    A Capricorn needs approval from the whole world. So finding one who will commit to loving one person is not easy. But if you can find your way to their sense of humor, you will also find your way to their heart. This is not an easy thing to do as their sense of humor is very dry. But once you've figured it out, half the battle is won. Once you are able to finally make your way to a Capricorn's heart, you have a very good chance of having it for life.

    At the job, goats love to be in charge. Because of this, they make very good managers. Many rags-to-riches stories that you hear will involve a goat. They take great pride in being able to overcome adversity and turning nothing into something great. Howard Hughes and Aristotle Onasis were both Capricorns. These were two of the richest men of their time.

    As goats get older their lives become more rewarding. It is rare to see a goat losing fame and fortune as he gets older. They are very shrewd businessmen and know how to invest. As a result, as the years go by they only become more successful. Because of this, many goats live long lives because they become more relaxed as they get older.