The Key Components of Wellness

What is wellness? Wellness, is defined as “the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort”. I totally agree with this definition and would also add that wellness includes emotional and spiritual components. When you are well in these four main areas of being, it greatly affects your relationships, finances, career, sleep, stress-levels, and general happiness in life. Your outlook is more positive when you are well. When there is a lack of overall wellness then the rest of your day to day experiences seem to feel more challenging; you may not be getting the most out of your life.

So, let’s look at the four key components of wellness. Physical wellness is the most tangible and finite component. You know when you don’t feel well. It may be just the common cold or it could be a serious illness. Think about a time when you weren’t physically well. It affected the rest of your life, be it for a short or an extended period of time. Work wasn’t as easy to do—if you could work at all. Day to day responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, running errands, and paying the bills felt like a huge undertaking. You probably didn’t want to see friends or do something fun with your family. Any plans that you may have had (and really been looking forward to) were, most likely, out the window. You can see how not feeling well physically runs over into every other area of life.

Things get a little fuzzier here as we talk about mental wellness. This can be somewhat of a grey area because mental health might mean different things to different people. And there is a stigma around mental health issues; although, less than there used to be. In this writing, I will not be addressing serious mental disorders that require treatment like depression, addiction, or PTSD. If you, or someone you know, suffers from a serious mental health issue please reach out to qualified professionals for help. The mental health I am writing about is our underlying thoughts. Taking care of oneself mentally is just as important as taking care of oneself physically. Our mental outlook greatly affects the overall outcome of our lives. We all have an ongoing dialogue in our heads that is front and center as we move throughout our lives. You may not even be aware of it because your thoughts are habitual and you have been thinking them for so long that it’s just there. Some of you might be very aware of your internal dialogue and wishing you had a different tape to stick in the player.

Emotional health can be even harder to define. There are no hard and fast rules to determine if someone is emotionally healthy; it is a fluid notion and varies greatly from person to person. In general, though, emotional health is about what you do with your emotions. So many things happen in our lives that send our emotions on a roller coaster. Some way up, some way down, most of them hovering in the middle somewhere. You must allow yourself to feel your emotions; it is not healthy to ignore them completely. Emotions are vitally important to overall wellness because they are our inner compass. Emotions indicate to us when there is a potential problem that needs to be addressed. It is what we do with our emotions that is important. Feeling them, observing them, and letting them pass is a healthy way of being emotionally.

The most difficult component of wellness to define is spiritual wellness because there isn’t anything tangible about it; it can’t be measured in concrete terms. That being said, I believe that spiritual wellness is the most important component and is the building block for all of the other components. Spiritual wellness is having a connection to your higher power, whatever your definition of a higher power is. Whether you call it your higher power, spirit, God, the Universe, Buddha, Allah, source, or something else I am talking about your belief that there is something or someone outside of ourselves that is watching out for us, protecting us. Connection to this higher power, belief that there is something greater out there provides great comfort as we go through the trials and tribulations of living in the physical world.

Wellness, as a whole, can be defined by the quality of your life in all its aspects. You can look at each area of your life objectively and tell if you are well in that area. If you want things to improve in any—or all—areas of your life, take the steps necessary to provide you with the wellness you seek.

Plyometric Workouts to Make You Better

One of the exercises that you can include is aerobics. This can be done on a daily basis in order to enhance your cardiovascular system alongside plyometric workouts to improve your jumping.

It is natural that in starting your plyometric workouts, you want to perform the easy ones first and slowly work on the difficult ones later on. This is not a hard thing to do as there are a lot of plyometric exercises that you can choose from. Squats are a good routine to start with for beginners and usually used by a lot of athletes. I have listed some guidelines as to what exercises must be performed and in which step these should be included in your routine.

First Step

As mentioned above, squats must be added to your plyometric workouts. If you claim that you have not tried it in the past, it is most likely that you have seen it on television or in a gym. It is simply a movement which most actors, singers and athletes always do. You start with your feet apart just about the length of your shoulder. Then bend your knees into a squat and jump back to the squatting position. To get the best results in vertical jumping, this must be done a lot of times.

Second Step

The other exercise which must be incorporated in your routine is lunging. Having multiple benefits aside from enhancing your leap, it also enhances your muscle tone, cardiovascular system and your weight. Lunging can be performed in a lot of ways so before starting the lunges, you need to examine all of them and then decide which one is good for you. When you have done this, your next move is to find out how to execute them appropriately to avoid injuring yourself.

Third Step

This third step is the most significant exercise that you must include in your plyometric workouts. They are the step-ups or at times referred as box jumping. It involves stepping on and off a hard facade to enhance both of your agility and speed alongside your vertical leap. Since this is also the exercise that will possibly cause you injury, you must be sure that the surface you will use is sufficiently tough and make sure to follow the instructions well.

Starting your plyometric workouts will give you a big change in your built and will give you the outcome that you expect. And the best of all is that you will see that your vertical jump has also made a big improvement.

Understanding the Purpose of Foot Rails

Foot rails are very common today in bars. They’re used in the home or in commercial bars. They are fixtures that make your feet comfortable and they can make any bar look classy.

Apart from its aesthetic sense, foot rails have a purpose. By its name alone, it’s meant to provide comfort to the feet whether a person is standing or seated on a chair. It can be quite tiring to just stand with both feet on the ground but with a foot rail in place, you can stand with the other feet elevated for added comfort.

Foot rails can also be added to trucks. To succeed in the installation process, you have to get the proper measurement and read the instructions well. Holes will also have to be drilled on the truck’s body or chassis to attach the rails using screws. The purpose of foot rails in trucks is to serve as resting place for the feet. It also makes for a unique look.

It’s amazing how the plain tubing has been made into a more functional fixture. Without this material, the bar could have remained simple and a drab. The fact is, foot rails are available today in different materials which means you can match it with the theme of your interior space.

Wood is a popular and classic choice but other materials have evolved to provide people with more choices. There’s the metal foot rail that has become a preferred option these days. It can be made from stainless steel, aluminum or brass. The brass rail evokes an elegant look because of its yellow finish that resembles the color of gold. Finishes vary as well such as the polished copper, bronze, brass, stainless steel, satin stainless steel, satin nickel and powder coated colors.

Foot rails need not be a straight line all the time. With so many companies manufacturing this fixture nowadays, customization is the current trend. There are those that can expertly bend and miter foot rail tubings to fit any bar measurement especially those that have corners. Foot rails can also be ordered in specific lengths for people who want to install the fixture on their own.

Other components are required to complete any foot rail project. These are the end caps, flush fittings, flanges and the post and floor brackets.

The end caps complete the look of your foot rails. They can be flat, round or decorative depending on your preference. This component is easy to install you just need to slip it on the end of the tubing. But you can use a strong glue to keep it secured.

Foot rail brackets come in different types as well. The combination type is one which can be mounted to the floor and to the bar itself. These are secured using the screws. For one foot rail, you will need several brackets which should be placed at a distance of six inches from the end of the tubing or at least three brackets for an eight-foot rail.

Preparation is key to installing a great foot rail. This ensures that the measurements and your materials are correct.

The Man Who Loved Jail

Around my twentieth birthday life became a series of incredible events. Perhaps in retrospect it has never ended. I was living on my own with other guys in houses where partying was the rule and bars were meant to be closed. I had started reading Eastern mysticism and was heavy into music after years of boredom in school. It seemed like the world was much more interesting in every aspect of life’s potentials. I wasn’t making much money as an apprentice accountant but I was getting lots of parking tickets. I had just met a woman seven years my senior by the name of Myrna, when I went to the Don Jail for my second visit that year. The policeman asked me if I’d like him to take me in Friday late, so they would have to let me out the same night.

“No, I loved it the last time. I learned more in two days in jail than a whole year in school. But thanks a lot; I do appreciate your kindness.”

“You are definitely different!”

“So are you!”

Myrna had gone to California to spend three weeks vacation with a Salvation Army Major friend of hers and their family. We had not really made love and her divorce was being finalized, so I had time on my hands. The week before I went to jail, a really freaky thing happened when I went to a party in Clarkson. It was a hundred miles from Myrna’s home in Bay Ridges. I had been at her Bay Ridges home with her before she moved. I walked into this bachelor pad and saw Myrna’s collage hanging on the wall. I pointed to it and told my friend Joe; “That looks just like Myrna’s.”

Under the picture was seated a man who gave me a glare and I suddenly realized it was her husband Jim. She had told me he was a violent man and that she had been afraid he might use his shotgun if he had caught us when we were at her house. It was such a co-incidence I couldn’t believe it. I went to Barry Cunningham who was living there and he started to tell me about it before I even asked.

“Does he know?” I asked before deciding to stay.

“Not yet. He is a bit of a hot head… This is pretty ‘far out’, eh Bob? He’ll never believe a kid like you is with Myrna. Frankly it is a little hard for the rest of us to figure out too.”

Barry enjoyed making fun of me, but never really believed anything I said, so I had learned to smile and shine him on.

My first time in jail had included frank discussions with some very diverse people. The prison was totally full and I was put in the hospital ward with 31 other people. One of them was on his way to the ‘big house’ for his second murder. Another was a professional thief in his early forties who had spent most of his life in prison, but enjoyed it. He was extremely fit and worked out all the time in prison. His philosophy was he could steal a lot of money when he was out, and take good care of his family who had a nice home. With no education and free food and board in jail every couple of years he thought he was doing better than most. He never hurt anyone and figured the people he stole from had insurance. Another man discussed how he had turned into a homosexual because he wasn’t able to handle the pressure of pleasing a woman. I told him that it sure would be good if sexual dynamics were taught to everyone. My own experience was close to non-existent but I knew I would be a good lover. However, Myrna had told me on the night she left when I tried to please her that I hadn’t succeeded. She was averse to cunnilingus and I was certain it would get better, but I couldn’t really help him out. Everyone loved to tell me their life stories and this perturbed a younger guy who was in for two months on a drug possession charge. He was the ward trusty and had a knife. He came at me brandishing the knife while the other guys were teaching me bridge.

The murderer stood up and glowered at the thin young man as he advanced towards me. “You! Stay in the corner or lose your life!”

It was amusing to see this man who was older than me cower and shiver in the corner until dinner. He never really recovered during the rest of the time I was there. Another man who no one ever talked to was kept drugged. He was a big black person with muscles like a football player. His case was something everyone else talked about though.

It had taken nine guards to subdue him one time when he was conscious. I was told he threw them off his back like they were little kids. His mind apparently operated in a high hormone state. He also was a sleepwalker. Late on the first day, a man was brought in to the ward who had just returned from Venezuela. He had loaned his car to a friend who had left him with about $400 worth of tickets. He was a professional man who feared everyone else there and stuck close to me. I was about six foot and two hundred and ten pounds with a good physique. His reasons were numerous, and fear would have been his companion regardless of where he was. He stayed on the bunk above me. As we went to sleep the black man got up and came directly to him. I think fear is something animals and people alike can sense. When I woke just before sun-up the man who had been in the bunk above me was gone. Everyone had a good laugh thinking about how he had rattled the bars and paid his way out, rather than deal with the sleepwalker who was reportedly gay.

The second time I was in the ‘Don’ turned out to be one of the most important events in my life. I was shown into a cell with about twelve single beds and no bunk beds. The prison pipes were alive with the news of my return. It is nice to be remembered but sad that so many people find it necessary to spend so much time in jail. The truth is that jail is safer than the shelters and more interesting than the group homes. Stealing something for throwing a brick through a store window and taking something you need often doesn’t result in jail. Sometimes it leads to having money to get drunk with your friends or better things. They don’t seek to put drugs down your throat or alienate you with religious dogma and/or analyze you to see if they can make you part of a drug program that removes your libido and zest for life either. Some prisoners and ‘street people’ are actually smart enough to see that this benefits some rich drug pushers in the psychiatric and drug complex too.

I found that people in jail like to be treated with respect and know that their opinion is valued and they can teach smart young ‘yuppies’ too. If there is one key word in relationships, I was learning that might be RESPECT! No one tries to force someone to do something they don’t want to do when they share respect, I think. It made me learn a lot about sales and how to become close to new people as well. Fear was definitely the opposite ingredient. I don’t know how many people in the supposed real world have as high an ethical or ‘brotherhood’ component as these friends I made in jail. I even began to wonder if I was in the ‘big house’ whether I would be able to charm enough people to make it so that I wouldn’t have had to offer up my anal virginity or worse. Fortunately my life hasn’t made this point clear to me yet.

As I walked to the bed that was to be mine I noticed a book on the floor. It was a compendium of existentialist authors! Sometimes I would answer the often asked question ‘What religion are you?’ with the high sounding phrase ‘I’m a French Atheistical Existentialist.’ during this time in my life. I definitely wasn’t into some man-made or projected GOD! They call this anthropomorphing in some academic circles. I was surprised to see this book along with some other intellectual books on the floor of the bed next to the late twenties man who looked a lot like Cat Stevens.

“Are you reading this?” I asked after I settled on my bed.

“Just refreshing myself. I’ve read it two or three times before.”

“What are you doing here?”

“Fifteen days.”

“What for?” I asked with genuine interest.

“It doesn’t matter really. Let’s just say they called it assault.” I sensed it might have been a female/male conflict and knew he didn’t want to talk about it.

“So what is a clean cut looking military man like you doing in jail? I thought the cops liked to give their own a break.”

“I am an officer in the Militia and an accountant but I don’t do the army thing anymore. I kinda wish I could let my hair down like you. I’m a hippie at heart.”

“Followers and flower children in the most part. Just do what makes sense; it’ll stand you in good stead.” The late twenties or early thirties man that I was drawn to, said wisely.

“Yes, I certainly do that. I like Sartre’s saying ‘Love is absent space.” He didn’t respond and I really wanted him to talk with me. “So, you’ve led a very interesting life, haven’t you?”

“They want you at the bars. Who are you? I heard something on the pipes that sounded like ‘the guy who loves jail is back’; is that you?”

I went to the bars at the front of the cell and talked to an older guy who had been in the hospital ward a couple of months earlier. I barely remembered having talked to him, but he was the retired guy who would throw a brick through a store window and sometimes wait for the police to bring him to jail. He told me that about seven people I knew who were back in jail. They wanted me to know they remembered me. I thanked him heartily and shook his hand through the bars with both of mine. I told him to thank the other people for their having remembered me and that I could have avoided jail by doing what the cop had offered. He knew that the others would like the fact that I valued what I had learned and experienced that much. As I walked back to my bed I smiled a lot. I knew I had made the right decision to let life bring me whatever was waiting for me, it felt like another good thing was about to happen.

“So, my name is Bob Baird. I’m here for the weekend and yes, I am the guy who loves jail. I don’t believe in paying parking tickets for unmarked zones, and there is no other place to park near where I have lived. More illegal taxation without representation.”

“Maybe we should have another tea party?

“Are you from the States?”

“No. But I spend a lot of time there. I am an actor and writer.”

“What’s your name?”

“I use different names. Kyle Edwards or Ed Kyle – Whatever you like!”

“Kyle. I like that! So you are a writer. I’ve written some thoughts about the dimensions of energy that surround us and even a sort of journal/biography but I know I can do a lot better.”

“It is a real craft that requires a lot of dedication and a tough skin to handle all the rejection. I’m working on one right now, in my head.”

It was fifteen minutes later that I realized I had been working on his book with him. He said very little and listened with no particular sense of amazement that I was reading his mind. I had read all there was on ESP and parapsychology but still didn’t accept it was a fact without personal experience. It was a watershed event for me.

“Say Kyle why don’t you read my mind. I’ve almost finished your book. Can you do that too?”

“Sure, it just takes a little trust and willingness to make a mistake now and then.”

He waited for a minute then began to give me advice on sex and my relationship with Myrna. It was very specific and somewhat embarrassing for him to know how inexperienced I was. That would have been enough to say that my trip to jail had been better than the last time. Much more was to transpire as a result of Kyle and his influence. It is only recently that I have a better idea of the extent of it. That is thirty years of thought. I hope the reader takes a little less time to accept the possibility of these things. However, I expect some people will reject the possibility or be left saying the same things I had said before this ESP event. I need to experience it myself!

That kind of skepticism is fine, if the mind doesn’t seize up and deny its’ powers of observation and relationship with the soul. Before I say what it was that makes this such an important event in my whole life let me tell you some more about Kyle; who I stuck to like a leech the whole time I was there that weekend. He didn’t want to tell me how to get in touch with him after I left. I am sure he was a little worn out by my enthusiastic pursuit of his wisdom. Some of what he told me was too incredible to put my mind around. Don’t be afraid to admit you feel the same way, and yet don’t close the mind to the possibility. That is all I have asked the thousands of people I have shared this event with over the last thirty years. Kyle had been a paraplegic at the age of five. One day in his Quebec home with his nurse in attendance, a fire truck went by.

“Kyle look it’s a fire reel!”

He rose from his wheelchair to her absolute surprise. Later at the age of eight or nine years old he participated in the Canadian National Diving Championships. He won the junior and intermediate title and was allowed to compete with the seniors. In the process of this competition he banged his head on the platform. The X-rays showed that he was a paraplegic, the doctor ordered a new set and they maintained a close scrutiny to ensure no further foul up happened. The new X-rays were identical. Kyle never graduated from high school yet he became a teacher in the prairies. He was an animal trainer and his description of his ability to relate with animals was something I had read about and Crocodile Dundee did with animals in the movie which came out two or so decades later. This is the key ingredient in the rest of this story. I guess that sounds a little like the radio host Paul Harvey.

When I left the ‘Don’, I saw a cat near the sidewalk ahead of me. It was an orange and white tabby that didn’t move out of my way nor did it come for rubs from my outstretched hand. It winked at me with one eye and I received a flash of enlightenment. The knowledge of what exists in the lowest form of life is ruled by the same principles and rules that impact the more complex creatures. Knowledge is not comprised of words or logical constructs and when fully integrated it appears quite simple. That is the nature of principles. Seeing or feeling the white light in Yoga has an element of this, as does the Near Death Experience. This was more than that!

In a mere fifteen seconds my head was filled. I may only have been able to incorporate a small portion of what it offered yet it seemed almost to be the kind of divine illumination that many ecstatic religions report. It was something I pondered upon for many years. My current attitude about it is that it was not the level of knowledge that I would have gotten at the most complex level of life, but rather one or more steps beneath that. James Redfield’s book the Celestine Prophecy told a nice story that incorporates the knowledge of the Enneagrams. Around the early 1920’s Jesuit priests brought this knowledge out of Persia. It is probably related to the Magi of Zoroaster and the three wise men of the Bible.

3 Ways to Collect and Use Solar Energy

If you measure the sun’s power in terms that compare it to the energy produced by oil, the sun gives enough energy to the Earth in about 20 minutes to fulfill all of the planet’s requirements for a year! And in fact, solar energy already provides a great deal of power to the Earth by transforming through a variety of natural means, by heating surfaces, influencing weather phenomenon, and even through photosynthesis, which provides plants with the energy they require in order to grow.

So what are some ways that we on Earth can take better advantage of all this freely distributed solar power? Energy from the Sun can be processed in three primary ways:

1. Passive Solar Techniques

This refers to the ways that the sun’s light and heat can be used to advantage without any further processing needed. This category includes things as simple as allowing sunlight to stream through a window and into a home, warning the rooms naturally.

Some ways to take advantage of passive solar techniques would be use of energy efficient windows, and planning the best placement of concrete and ceramic floors so that they can collect and store more sunlight.

A building that has been optimized for passive solar may have additional windows placed on the south side, for instance, to take advantage of the most hours of sun per day. Even something this simple can greatly reduce home energy bills.

2. Collection of Solar Energy

Solar power can be collected and stored as heat energy. Solar Collectors take in solar radiation and then concentrate it into very defined areas, increasing the strength and heat of the energy. These can be used to heat or cool water or rooms, or to create power to enable air or liquids to transfer heat to a separate location.

Different types of solar collectors include:

– A set of pipes that fits into a copper or metallic flat plate that has been insulated inside a box under glass. The sun streaming through the glass produces heat in the plate, which is then directed into the liquid in the pipes. This is known as a “Flat Plate Collector”.

– A tube is a more efficient way of collecting solar energy at high temperatures. This type of solar collector is made from a series of tubes, which are then installed in separate glass vacuum tubes. These prevent the inner tubes from cooling, and ensure that more heat is sent into the fluid. At extremely high temperatures, a reflector may be used in order to concentrate the solar energy into the tubes.

– Heating water using solar power was the first use of solar energy, starting in the early twentieth century. These systems can be used year round (even in cold climates when combined with use of anti-freeze), and are now commonly seen in many countries.

– Solar powered air heaters mounted to a wall are used primarily to heat the ventilation air for buildings that have large open spaces. The air comes through holes in a dark metal container where it is heated and is then taken into the building.

– A newer form of solar collector involves the use of mirrors to run steam turbines that create electricity. These thermal power systems are becoming particularly popular in hot, dry climates where there is a great deal of both sunlight and open land.

– Evacuated tube collectors can also be used to power cooling systems by taking the high temperature heat from the tubes. This technology can help reduce the use of natural gas, which would ordinarily be used to run cooling systems.

3. Solar Cells

Solar energy can be turned into electricity through use of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. This method uses modules each consisting of an array of solar cells which are connected together inside a glass covered container. Any number of these modules can be used together in order to produce a larger or smaller amount of power, depending on what is needed for a particular application. PV solar cells are usually made from crystalline silicon or quartz. Other materials that can be used are amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride, or copper indium di-selenide.

The cost of making PV cells and solar panels (modules) has been decreasing recently with the development of new manufacturing techniques. These are widely used to provide power for remote stand-alone structures such as lighthouses and radio towers, and for heat and lighting in developing countries. The use of solar panels to supply energy for home use is increasing in developed countries as well, and many governments are encouraging their use by providing financial incentives to those who install solar panels for their residences. In addition, improvements in the process of constructing solar panels is now making it much easier for people to build their own, at a dramatic cost saving over commercial panels. It is now quite feasible for a homeowner to save a great deal on electricity by building and installing their own solar panels.

Grete’s Metamorphosis

Gregor Samsa’s sister, Grete, in The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka, seems to undergo a metamorphosis that is parallel to her brother’s. As Gregor takes on the characteristics of an insect, Grete gains her independence and maturity.

Before Gregor’s transformation, Grete seems to be his only close companion. She writes letters to him while he is away from home, and her first words to Gregor in the story are kind and caring: “Gregor? Aren’t you well? Are you needing anything?” (368). Later in the story, we learn that Gregor had planned to announce to his family his intention to send Grete to the Conservatorium, suggesting his close relationship with her.

After Gregor’s transformation, Grete initially seems to care about and feel concern for his well-being, as she would have before his metamorphosis. When she first sees Gregor, she shuts the door quickly in surprise, but she opened it again and “came in on tiptoe, as if she were visiting an invalid or even a stranger” (378). She didn’t want to disturb him and acted very polite around him. She sets out different types of food for him, to see which he likes the best. She also notices his new habits of his, and helps him keep them. For instance, leaving the chair by the window when she notices that he moves it there.

Through this, however, there is an obvious detachment and separation from Gregor after his transformation. The fact that Grete entered Gregor’s room feeling like he was a stranger implies her changed feeling toward him. Gregor had a basin “for his exclusive use,” as if his family could not use something after he had touched it (378). Also, his sister never touches the food that he doesn’t eat, even when it is apparent that he didn’t touch the food.

The sight of Gregor seems to cause a change in Grete’s behavior toward her brother. This may be evident when Gregor covers himself with a sheet, and he “even fancied that he caught a thankful glance from her eye” (382). Before this incident, Grete views Gregor as her brother in an unfortunate state. After she sees him, however, she begins to see him more as a creature than as her brother. At the same time, Gregor is beginning to eat less and act more like an insect than a human.

Another example of Grete’s changed attitude toward Gregor is her increasingly protective attitude toward the responsibility of taking care of Gregor, which soon seems to be more of a struggle between Grete and her parents than that of care for her brother. Gregor’s predicament creates an opportunity for Grete to be seen as more helpful and responsible to her parents. It seems that Grete becomes more concerned with cleaning Gregor’s room to prove her responsibility and maturity to her parents, and not necessarily with looking after Gregor’s welfare. Gregor still sees her, however, as “only a child despite the efforts she was making and had perhaps taken on so difficult a task merely out of childish thoughtlessness” (382).

Grete has her own opinions of what is good for Gregor, which many times opposes Gregor’s feelings, and she sees herself as “an expert in Gregor’s affairs” (384). Also, quite frequently these opinions oppose her parents’ views, which indicates that she is disagreeing with them for the sake of disagreeing, and again not concerning herself with the well-being of her brother. Grete is given a great deal of power when taking the role of caretaker over Gregor, and she uses the full extent of this power, and perhaps even abuses it. she is the one to decide if someone is allowed to visit Gregor and she determines what should be done with Gregor’s room.

Progressively, Grete begins to act against Gregor and begins to show less consideration and concern for his feelings, just as Gregor is beginning to care less about his family and more about his own situation. When Grete’s father comes home after Gregor has scared his mother and is out of his room, Grete doesn’t try to defend Gregor. Gregor gathers that “Grete’s all too brief statement” will lead to his father’s anger (386).

Another example of Grete’s changed feelings toward Gregor is the appearance of Gregor’s room. At first, when she notices that he likes to crawl around on the walls and ceiling, she clears his path by taking away furniture. Later, his room becomes a storage area for unneeded things from the rest of the house. She begins to neglect areas of Gregor’s room that become increasingly unclean.

Gregor has also gained an outside perspective of his appearance through the actions and reactions of Grete. In one instance, after Grete comes early to Gregor’s rom and sees him, she “jumped back as if in alarm and banged the door shut.” Gregor then states that “this made him realize how repulsive the sight of him still was to her” (382).

Grete continuously views Gregor as more of a creature, until Gregor comes out of his room to hear his sister play the violin and scares away the three lodgers. Grete says, “I won’t utter my brother’s name in the presence of this creature” (394). She continues to refer to him as a creature by referring to Gregor as “it” and, finally, questions whether the insect really is Gregor.

The final realization of Grete’s metamorphosis is at the end of the story when Grete’s parents “became aware of their daughter’s increasing vivacity” and see that “she had bloomed into a pretty girl with a good figure” (399).

The point at which Grete is seen as having changed through the situation into a young woman is also the point at which Gregor is viewed by himself and the people around him, as well, as no longer human, but an insect to be thrown out with the garbage.

Hip Hop Dance Music

Need some tracks to play at a party, or just go out dancing to? Here’s my list of the best hip hop dance music out there today…

Gold Digger by Kanye West

Turn It Up by Chamillionaire

Bubber Band Man by T.I.

Hynotize by Young Jeezy

30 Something by Jay-Z

Ms. Jackson by Outkast

Get Low by Ying Yang twins

Lean Back by Fat Joe

Yeah by Usher

Get it on the floor by DMX

Pump it by  Black Eyed Peas

Blunt Ashes by Nas

Jesus Walks by Kanye West

Go Getta by Young Jeezy

Over Here Hustlin’ by Lil’ Wayne

Salt Shaker by Ying Yang Twins

So what makes these songs stand out as the best hip hop dance music? The video? Something that bumps at a club? Admittedly, the list is biased upon my personal preferences: I like the more heady lyrical stuff with a strong driving beat behind it, which leans towards Outkast, Nas, Eminem and early Kanye West tracks more so than tracks by Ying Yang Twins or Young Jeezy. However, I’ve included a few of their songs as well to round out the list.

I also tried to leave out most underground rap/hip hop songs to keep it as accessible as possible. Most, if not all of these songs could be played in clubs or show up on MTV as a rap video. Sure, I could play Dead Prez or Ras Kass, but most people at a party- at least the ones I go to- wouldn’t have a clue who they are. It’s strange, no matter how hot a a song is, you’ll usually get a better reaction if people know the music and can sing along with it. Guess that’s why there’s so many cover bands in bars… Lastly, I included several songs from the past few years, rather than just listing off a “what’s hot now” playlist of current music. Anyone who thinks GoldDigger won’t get a good reaction at a party is missing the point (unless it’s a wedding). 

If you want to learn more about good hip hop dance music, check out Pandora, a free radio service that plays music according to your selected genre. you can always delete the songs you don’t like, and save the music you think would work well at your party.

So that’s my list for now. What songs would you include in your list of hip hop dance music?

How to Balance Security and Customer Experience?

The customer of today is interacting with brands over multiple channels, via multiple device. This resulted in the fundamental shift over how to accommodate new multichannel behavior of customers. Providing smooth multi-channel experience is no longer an exception but a rule. Connected customer experience is the competitive advantage your brand can have.

But at the same time, Security is becoming vital like never before if you are dealing with the sensitive identity data of your thousands of customers. A single breach takes place and your customer trust and your brand reputation, everything is gone. Doesn’t come as a surprise brands are trying every possible way to keep their customers safe but it is not easy. Since every security measurement you take, comes at the expense of customer experience. This brings a big question, How brands can balance customer experience with security?

The latest adoption of identity and access management (IAM) solutions seems to provide the right balance between both. A customer identity management platform basically stores and manages customer identities. Tools like Single Sign-On, Unified customer profiles, Two factor authentication can enhance security thereby building customer loyalty. Let’s see how to do it right way:

1. Finding the right cIAM solution:

There are multiple cIAM solutions present out there that come with various security features and capabilities. So if you are planning to buy one for your brand, make sure it comes with your desired security features. Below are some questions that you must ask to the cIAM vendor:

  • Does the solution performance gets affected on enabling the security features?
  • Does the solution has API, application and data level security?
  • Do you have federated SSO and access control feature in your cIAM solution?
  • Does the solution notify admin of privileged account activity?
  • Does the solution has ability to personalize multi-factor authentication process?
  • Is the solution able to securely hash passwords using PBKDF2, Scrypt and Bcrypt?

2. Enabling smooth and secure authentication:

Multi-factor authentication is a great initiative towards security. Multi-factor authentication technology requires user to provide multiple forms of verification to prove his identity. The most common approach towards MFA requires users to go through two levels of authentication. In the first one, the user needs to submit its credentials. Once done, a One time password (OTP) login is sent to the registered mobile number, submitting which on the website will provide users access.

The technology is very efficient in boosting security but not to forget, it hinders customer experience & causes annoyance. Now many of your customers might want extreme tight security at every turn, there might be others as well who would get frustrated if MFA is applied too frequently. This is why, it is important to personalize security to maintain the right balance. That’s where comes the need for security and IAM professionals to sit together to define thresholds with specific multi-factor authentication requirements. The MFA approach should be shifted from “Always-on” to “Adaptive” approach. By letting users personalize how and where they want MFA to trigger, you will provide them the level of security they want resulting in enhanced user experience.

3. Securing and centralizing data:

If you want to offer seamless multi-channel experience to your customers, you must centralize data which is dispersed across multiple places. When you go for centralized profiles, you can apply security at various areas like access control, authentication, data layer, etc. Any of the area is missed, either the security gets compromised or the experience is ruined or sometimes both. Many of the security requirements like end to end encryption does not affect customer experience directly. In general, the stronger the encryption, the better it is. But the right balance is must.

4. Enhancing security at data layer:

Now data layer might not be in direct visibility to your customers, but it is as important as others. Your customers expect from you to store their data securely, and if you don’t, their trust is gone. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Make sure to encrypt data at every stage. Any process that relies on customer data, must use robust encryption.
  • Govern customer data. Not all applications are equal when it comes to security. Brands must keep governing who has access to what so that if any of the unsecured endpoint gets compromised, it will cause minimum loss.
  • Hash passwords securely. Make sure the passwords are securely hashed with algorithms like PBKDF2, Scrypt, Bcrypt, etc

5. Providing seamless access control:

The customer of today is openly expressing disappointments with the current state of access control procedure. And as the web world is shifting towards multi-channel, brands must provide hassle free login experience by adopting technologies like social login, SSO, etc. But to do that, a modern and scalable identity layer is needed that can give customers access to any channel or device at their own terms., deliver unified customer view and bridge identities from various access points.

Customer experience is the latest competitive battleground. How a brand balances customer experience with security defines its success.

Alternative Weapons – Instinctive Self Defense

What form of self-defense could be more instinctive than using whatever ordinary objects around you to defend yourself against an attacker? Objects that were neither designed with self-defense in mind, nor specially carried for such a purpose by you. Objects that will neither raise the suspicion of Law Enforcement, nor take up any extra room since you would have had them either on your person or in your surroundings and environment anyway.

A person who has the right motivation, talent and will to survive can employ almost any object as a weapon.

Anything can become a weapon when your mind is the real weapon. Governments can’t ban it, customs can’t confiscate it and the only time you don’t have it is when you are asleep. This is the KEY lesson you should take away from this article.

In today’s anti-weapons climate many times and in many locations it’s impossible to carry a gun or knife (Courts, airports, etc). Even in your home at the time of a violent invasion you might not be close to your gun, or even knife.

Sometimes all you have left is your tactical creativity and your motivation and ability for thinking outside the box.

Your mind will always be your greatest weapon, not least of all because with your intelligence and ingenuity you can locate the most effective duel use objects to use as weapons during an assault. Your mind is a weapon, and with it you are never unarmed. Wherever you are I guarantee you you are surrounded by a multitude of potential weapons. Learn to spot them effectively.

While the will to use improvised weapons is often instinctive for the experienced fighter, the effectiveness of such improvised weapons can depend on how good an eye you have in not only quickly locating and choosing your improvised “weapon” but also on your ability to use that object in a way that will disable your attacker effectively (or allow you to escape the threat). And it is this ability that will increase only with proper training.

First a few thoughts on Natural Reactions:

Think of fights you might have seen yourself. What are the first natural reactions a person has when being attacked? First the person will put up his arms to block any attack, then they will instinctively grab for any object that can multiply the expediency of their own “god” given weapons (their body and limbs). Often one of the first such objects grabbed is a chair and it is used as a shield. If not a chair it will be another object that can be used as either a weapon or shield. It’s an instinctive and natural reaction displayed by seasoned fighters and people with no experience in self defense alike.

Often the manner in which the attacked will use the object depends on their mindset and/or level of aggression and the situation itself. For example some people when attacked will grab a chair and only use it as a shield. Other more aggressive fighters will instinctively begin hitting their attacker with the same chair and thus using it more as a striking weapon than merely a shield. Using the chair or other object as a striking weapon will disrupt your attacker’s ability from gaining direction, lead and control of the attack. While using the chair or other object as a shield can often be useful initially (especially in a surprise attack) you need to gain dominance and control rapidly through overwhelming force and aggression.

Often not much thought goes into such a split second decision in terms of exactly which object to grab for. There simply isn’t enough time for someone who is being attacked to weigh up the potential effectiveness of one object over another. This will come with experience.

At the end of the day though, almost any object can be used as either a weapon or atleast a shield, some objects that I’m sure you would never have thought of as weapons or even shields. Obviously though, some objects are more effective than others.

The following is a list of a few possible objects you very well might have in your environment that could be employed as improvised weapons or shields:

The flashlight:

A favourite among many a self defense practitioner for years now. Wrap some 550 paracord around it and make a Koppo type weapon or use by itself. Either way it’s a popular alternative weapon (and flashlight!). Can be used to momentarily blind an attacker or as an impact weapon. See specialist knowledge on how to use it most effectively.

Car antenna:

Listen up, in particular women who walk alone in car parks! You can quite quickly break off a metal car antenna and use it to fend off one or more attackers in a whipping action. The strikes can be very painful and effective and will likely at the very least stun and discourage an attacker from continuing. Remember, often these predators are looking for an easy victim. If you prove to the attacker that you’ll be more trouble than your worth, he’s quite likely to discontinue the attack and seek out someone who will give him less trouble.

Keys:

Not the easiest or most effective option in reality despite often being recommended by defensive instructors. Shouldn’t be your first choice, however if you have nothing else at hand it’s better than nothing. Hold key between middle fingers and use to punch with greater effect. Or can be used to scrape across attacker’s face.

Steel cap boots:

Often overlooked but very legal everywhere and a very painful alternative weapon. Kick attacker in the shins or groin. A real fight stopper with proper aim.

Pens:

As the saying goes, “The pen is mightier than the sword”. Well, surely that was meant figuratively. In any case, when carrying a sword during your daily business is not a reasonable option (and I can’t imagine it is for most people) a pen makes quite a mighty alternative weapon. Another favorite among seasoned Martialists. Can be used as a stabbing implement or as a makeshift Kubaton. Hold in a pikal grip with your thumb on the clicker or blunt end and stab down or sideways repeatedly with the pointy end outwards. Hit to the liver, other soft appendages and neck for greatest effect. If you know how to use a Kubaton you know how to use a pen as a weapon. Choose a hefty strong metal pen like the now discontinued Rotring 600, a beefy hexagonal pen made of chrome-plated brass. Always legal, always useful for the intelligent and literate person for more than just self-defense, and a good alternative weapon for the concerned self defense practitioner.

The beer bottle, or other glass bottle:

Be careful with this one. Unlike in the movies DO NOT ever first break the bottle on the table thinking you’ll be left with a sharp knife like weapon. You won’t. In reality what you will be left with is a small piece of the bottle’s neck.

That’s it. Nothing sharp protruding at any length and nothing you can use effectively as a weapon.

In fact, for that matter, most of what you see on TV does not work, was never meant to work, and if you try it you’ll probably be in big trouble.

You can still use a glass bottle as a weapon though, just don’t break it on the table first, smash it directly in your attacker’s face! Preferably use a glass bottle full of liquids, as an empty one will be far less effective.

Coffee mug or glass or ceramic cup:

Smash it across your attacker’s face much like the glass bottle.

If you have hot coffee inside at the time, obviously splash it on his face. All the sudden you won’t complain that McDonalds makes their coffee too hot. The hotter the better as an alternative weapon.

If there is alcohol inside your glass, throw it in your attacker’s face. Aim for the eyes for stinging effect.

Carabiner:

An old army trick. Use a large one as a makeshift “knuckleduster”. Works well. Punch and hammer fist your attacker’s head and face. Preferably you would have a steel one, but an aluminum type will work well enough if need be.

A chair:

A chair, not only to keep lions at bay they can also keep your attacker at bay or shield you from a knife attack. They also make good larger improvised impact devices, although they are mainly best used as a shield.

Trash can lid:

Another great improvised shield. The trash can itself can be thrown at the BG and might at least give you time to escape or to employ a better weapon.

Dresser drawer:

That’s right, if you’re attacked in your bedroom immediately grab and pull out a drawer from the dresser. Can be used as a shield or even as an impact weapon, much like the laptop or book. Check out your drawers right now and see if they come out completely and easily. If they don’t, try modifying them.

Walking cane/stick:

One of the best alternative weapons. Huge striking power. Easy to use and especially effective with modern Arnis Filipino stick fighting techniques. Always legal, always with you, always right in your hand ready to be used to strike, to disarm or to block an attack. It can however make you seem weaker or partially disabled, and thus can make you a more desirable victim or target to an attacker. Remember, predators target the weakest people, or in other words the people who they think will put up the least amount of fight. Keep this in mind and decide for yourself whether a walking stick is a good option. Certainly, in any case, if you carry a walking stick then do seek out combat stick training.

A padlock:

Devastating weapon, you can only hope to be lucky enough to have one handy. Slip your middle finger inside the steel loop with the rest of the padlock in your fist. Use as makeshift knuckleduster or fist-load. Or swing padlock at your attacker while holding it with one finger and the rest of padlock outwards. Aim for head, as the padlock would be too small to do damage to body.

Ashtray:

Usually a hefty solid weapon. Grab it like a frisbee and slam it into your assailant’s head, face, or jam it in his neck or throat. Throw the cigarette butts and ashes in his face as a distraction.

Magazine:

Rolled up it can make an excellent impact weapon. Most effective using quick, strong, short strikes repeatedly to attacker’s face and to other more sensitive areas due to the inherent lack of mass of the magazine.

Tie:

If you’re a business man in a suit you’ve got an excellent flexible weapon or a possible garrot as part of you wardrobe. If your attacker is in fact the one wearing a tie you can use it to control or disorient him. Grab his tie and pull downwards hard.

Please note: This is one reason I generally advise people not to wear anything that doesn’t break easily around the neck. It is too easy for someone to use it to control you during an attack, just as you can use the same tactic on someone else.

Laptop:

As was recently reported a celebrity used one as a weapon against a pushy paparazzi with great effect. Hold with both hands and slam into your attacker’s face full force or push out and jab it into his face, neck or midsection with the sides/edges of the closed laptop. Can also be used to shield against an attacker’s weapon or strike.

Clipboard:

Used much the same way as the laptop. Has thinner and so sharper edges, however on the other hand it also has less mass and might be less painful because of that.

A book:

Not only good for reading and learning. Used much the same way as the laptop and clipboard, although the book would have more heft than a clipboard.

Briefcase:

You’re already holding it, and it has a secure handle. Swing it into your attacker’s face/head or use as a shield. Push him away with the briefcase and escape. Open briefcase and take out other alternative weapons that have been mentioned here such as magazine, pen, etc.

Lamp:

You’ll usually have a lamp nearby in your home. Grab it, and smash it across your attacker’s face. Use the cord as a flexible weapon.

Fire extinguisher:

Has been used before with great effect. Devastating power. Aim for head/face. Makes an excellent shield too. Also spray contents directly onto attacker. It will at the least disorient him, it will often even hide your exit due to the cloud of white dust.

Put one in you car. You should have one in your car anyway for fire safety, but it might even save your life if you need to use it as a weapon.

Duct tape:

Not a weapon as such but makes good handcuffs to hold your attacker until the police arrive. Large zip ties are a good alternative to duct tape.

Light switch:

Darkness is a brilliant weapon under the right circumstances. If you are attacked by night, the light switch can be the best “weapon” for defense, without really being a weapon as such. Simply turn the lights off. Darkness is a tactical advantage for you, after all you know the layout of your own house while your attacker does not. You also know where you have other weapons and escape routes. Darkness could also simply give you the time needed to escape. Also, darkness will increase the blinding effectiveness of your flashlight if you are carrying one.

Clothing:

Are you wearing a coat or scarf? A coat or jacket can be used to shield yourself against an attacker’s knife or other weapon. Wrap it around your weak arm, and hit and defend yourself with your strong arm and legs.

The long sleeves can also be used as a flexible weapon for choking or entangling limbs.

If on your bicycle:

Your helmet, tire pump, and flexible bike locks are potential impact devices.

Even the bike itself can act as an effective shield against an attacker. It will act as a good obstruction between you and him giving you time to escape. If need be it can even be thrown at the attacker.

Belt buckle:

A heavy brass or steel one. Can make a great impact weapon. Can even be swung at the attacker since it’s attached to your belt.

Belt:

Even without a heavy buckle your belt can be one of the best flexible weapons available.

Sprays:

Any spray will do brilliantly. Think about it, what spray do you have around? Hair spray? Deodorant? Air freshener? Silicone spray? I personally have all and more of these sprays right here as I type this, aside from the hair spray. All these sprays will blind your attacker almost as well as pepper spray. If you’re a smoker you probably have a lighter handy. Add a lighter in front of the spray and you’ve got an excellent flame thrower. I’m sure we all tried this when we were kids.

At the very least the spray can be used as an impact weapon if nothing else.

Comb:

Especially a metal comb.

Can be raked across an attacker’s face repeatedly with good success.

Umbrella:

Always another favorite. The larger ones make a good impact weapon and improvised stick fighting weapon. Also a great shield a la Roman style when opened. Some of the full sized ones have a pointy bit protruding, perhaps 2 to 3 inches long, so while you shield yourself you can also push the opened umbrella forward into the attacker’s face and body.

The smaller umbrellas are good too, however of course they are less durable and have less power due to lack of size.

Iron:

A great common household device. Can cause a lot of damage from use as a striking weapon, and again most irons have an electrical cord that makes a good flexible weapon as well.

A broom or mop:

Another long impact device. Can be used as a long staff for stick fighting techniques. Can also be used to hold the attacker at a distance.

Your car:

While it’s not always justified to use deadly force in this way since it can be argued that if you’re inside your car you are safe, if a gang of hoodlums or an angry middle eastern mob is surrounding your car, you’ve got 3000 pounds worth of effective weaponry on hand. At times deadly force can be justified depending on the situation including any disparity of force between you and the attacker(s) and the resulting danger you face at the time. Your main goal should be to escape in this case, but if necessary run a hoodlum over to affect your escape.

A phone:

Excellent impact device, very handy. A cord phone also makes a good flexible weapon if you’re skilled in using one effectively.

Phones have been used many times as impact devices.

Coins:

Throw coins from your pocket into the face of your attacker. Another good diversionary tactic.

A packed roll of coins can also make a good fist-load and has been used many times as such.

Sports equipment:

Tennis racket, golf club, pool stick, the obvious and often used baseball bat, dumbbells, etc. All are excellent impact devices. Keep a few golf clubs and balls in your car even if you don’t play. Or a baseball bat and glove and maybe some balls too in order to not raise the suspicion of LEO.

Watch:

Preferably a heavy steel dive watch. Take the watch off your wrist and wrap it around the fist you punch with (strong arm). The first punch should break the glass and subsequent punches could cut your attacker up. Even if the glass doesn’t break and cut him it’s still a good improvised impact device if need be.

Bracelet:

A la Fred Perrin style. Only works with a solid one piece bracelet, not the flexible link type. Take your metal bracelet off and hold in your fist. Use as an impact device to punch with.

Your voice:

Your voice can be a great improvised weapon wherever you are.

Verbally you can often stop, control or at very least influence the direction of an attack. Far too an extensive a subject to get into here. Learn about verbal commands and communication skills for defensive purposes/redirection of attacker’s violent behavior toward you. Sometimes known as verbal judo. Any good martial art or self defense system needs to address this subject.

—- One note on employing flexible weapons:

As you can see a number of the potential weapons I mentioned in this small list are flexible, for example the electrical cord and clothing. Please keep in mind that as with most flexible weapons, specialist knowledge in hand to hand combat is needed for most effective use. Flexible weapons simply aren’t as straight forward as let’s say a chair or even a book which will instinctively be used as a shield often even by people with little or no experience in self defense.

This is merely a small sampling of possibilities. It would be impossible to list for you all the possible alternative use “weapons”/objects you might come across that might be of great defensive use during an attack. The list would be too large, and no one can know what will be available to you in your specific environment at that time. Obviously some environments are richer in potential alternative weaponry than others. It’s you’re job to train yourself to identify these potential weapons out of any objects around you.

From now on look at the objects around you with a different eye. Look at objects in your surroundings through sort of a “weapons” filter. Specifically ask yourself, which ones can make an effective weapon? How would you use it? Will that object really cause hurt to your attacker and disable him, or is it really just a waste of time? Sometimes an object would make such a poor weapon that it’s better to fight unarmed. Learn to accurately evaluate potential weapons in your environment.

No one can really instruct you or show you every object that has the potential to be used as a weapon. Above all it is a mindset that you will have to develop. Preparation and training is the best way to help guarantee a better chance for success in a self defense incident. But once you develop this situational awareness and survival mentality you’ll be much better prepared to defend yourself in any situation than ever before, for you will have an instinctive understanding and application of self defense as a way of life.

Think outside the box, think like a fighter, like someone committed to self preservation and the defense of loved ones from societal predators.

Potential weapons are all around you.

It is now simply a matter of identifying them.

The Basics of a Wood Floor Installation

Wood floor installation is not as complicated as it looks. If you have the time and patience to read the directions and take the proper measurements, you most certainly will be able to install flooring of any type in next to no time. Undertaking a flooring installation is like completing a gigantic jigsaw puzzle but easier. The key to successful flooring installation is to lay the first tile at one corner of the room in question and keep laying the pieces as you work towards completing the whole puzzle.

Basic Flooring Installation

It is essential to have some knowledge about the key tools that are necessary to do a floor install. Some of the basic tools include a circular saw, a tape measure, a hammer, a carpenter's square and pencil, a wedge, a utility knife, a block of wood, a pry bar, a vacuum and a fan. In addition to all of this, it is also important that you have some kind of protection for your eyes and ears.

Now you will finally need to get your selected flooring. If you have selected a lock together laminate flooring, glue is unnecessary. Just remember a floor that requires to be glued down requires more work.

Handy Tips for Easy Wood Floor Installation

These few tips promise to make it simpler for you to do a floor install.

1. Ensure the floor is level and smooth before getting started. A rough base will eventually become a shaky flooring. A slope that is gentle it will not be a problem but there is a higher percentage of the floor flexing if there is the presence of extreme unevenness.

2. The first step is to cut the flooring pieces at the ends of several rows. Cuts are also required to be made at door frames. Make sure you sharpen your saw blade so that the flooring is protected from chipping.

3. Use a stiff piece of cardboard or posterboard for outlining the complex cuts, similar to those encountered in door frames. Cutting complex cuts is always easier if a template is used. This way you will not find the need to purchase more flooring because something went wrong.

4. Be sure you allow for the end pieces of flooring installation. You could measure and then measure a couple of times so that you can confirm whether or not the pieces fit perfectly.

It is advisable to take all the time you need when you install floors. Jumping through the stages of installation will only cause an error to be made in the wood floor installation.

Should you Use a More Experienced Professional for the Flooring Installation?

Not necessarily. If you are not of the opinion that you are proficient enough to install floors, it might be easier to have an experienced professional undertake this project. While this means additional expenditure for the process of installation, when you hire an experienced professional you will avoid having to deal with the inevitable problems that are bound to happen.

Wood Flooring Enhances the Value of Your Home

Any kind of wooden flooring is one of the best ways to enhance the value of your home. A flooring that is made of wood is in at the moment and it is so easy to clean. Wood flooring is a great boon in those homes where multiple family members have a tendency to get allergies. If you are considering getting a wooden flooring for any or all rooms in your home, do not be scared by the floor install process. It is easier than you thought possible.

The Faucet Handle is Hard to Turn – Repairing a Single Handle Faucet

It often happens to me as a plumber. After I repair a faucet and the homeowner turns the faucet lever for the first time they are amazed. “The faucet turns so easily!” they exclaim. What is amazing to them is not that the faucet works so easily after repairing, but that they had never noticed that it was not working well until it either leaked terribly, or was impossible to move the handle.

Think about it. You walk into the kitchen or bathroom and, as you have done thousands of times before, you reach for the handle of the faucet and turn on the water. Notice anything? Probably not. The water flows; you turn it off and go on your way. Because you use the faucet everyday, what you don’t notice is that gradually the internal parts of the faucet gain a buildup of minerals from the water, and the parts wear. This causes the internal parts to resist movement and thus, the handle is increasingly difficult to move. Think of it as arthritis in the faucet joints.

The good news is that you can save a lot of money by repairing the faucet yourself. Now, don’t let plumbing scare you. With a few common tools and some guidance, even the novice can accomplish the task and become a hero to your spouse or friend. Following, I have listed a few simple steps to help you repair a single lever faucet. I am only detailing the repair of a single lever faucet in this article because the steps for repairing this faucet are unique and I don’t have the space here to explain a multi lever faucet.

Please read the entire article before beginning the repair process. Once you begin the actual repair, you can then refer back to the individual steps to refresh your memory.

Single lever faucet repairing steps:

1) First of all, determine the brand and type of faucet you are repairing; if you can actually locate a brand imprint on the faucet that helps immensely. There are over 100 different brands and makes of faucets, and most of them take different parts. If you can’t find a name on the faucet, a great help is a digital camera. Take a picture of the faucet and show the picture to the plumbing supply store clerk. Odds are, when an experienced clerk sees the picture, he or she will know immediately what brand it is.

2) Once you know the faucet brand, or have a photo, you can purchase the necessary repair parts. You can either go to the big box type stores or a local hardware; they each have their own particular strong points. Describe the symptoms of the sick faucet to the clerk. Is the handle difficult to move? Does the faucet leak water around the base of the spout? (Kitchen faucets are notorious for this.) The clerk should know which parts to give you and may save you from having to make multiple trips to the store because you have the wrong parts. If you are repairing a Moen brand faucet, it is a good idea to purchase a “puller” tool to remove the old cartridge. There are differing types of cartridge removal tools; an inexpensive plastic design is available or more expensive heavy duty metal ones. For the homeowner, the cheaper plastic one should work just fine. You can accomplish the faucet repair without one, but using the removal tool makes life a LOT easier. (When making repairs, the lowest priority for me is saving a few cents on parts. I would much rather frequent a store or supplier that stocks a wide variety of quality parts and employs knowledgeable and helpful staff.)

3) TURN OFF THE WATER TO THE FAUCET. Did I emphasis this enough? Before you disassemble the faucet, turn off the water supply. Usually, there are small chrome or brown valves inside the sink cabinet toward the back. If you are like every other American I have ever worked for, the sink cabinet will be packed full and those valves will be buried under every kind of cleaning and shampoo bottle imaginable. Toss in a hair dryer, makeup, spare soap and toothpaste and…well, you get the idea. Dig through the debris and locate the valves. If the valves won’t turn easily, you may have to find the main water shut-off valve for the house and turn off the water there. If you need help in finding the main water valve, check out the article on how to do this at my website.

4) Once the water is off, close the drain stopper on the sink. This little trick was taught me by another plumber over 30 years ago. The reason for this? Most likely, while disassembling the faucet, you are going to drop a small screw or gasket and the closed stopper prevents the small part from disappearing down the drain. Brilliant. Before disassembling the faucet, if you want or need a detailed, illustrated breakdown of your particular faucet and its parts, these illustrations can usually be found on the manufacturer’s websites.

5) Remove the handle. There is often a removable plastic lid which covers the handle screw. Pry off the lid and remove the screw. Some handles are attached by a set screw on the side of the handle instead of the top. Look the handle over, with a little investigating, it should be obvious.

6) Once the handle is removed you will see some type of device which secures the replaceable parts in place. Sometimes this is a horseshoe shaped metal clip that slides out. Other times it is a type of round threaded cap that unscrews. Remove the retaining clip or cap.

(Some brands of faucets have a surrounding sheath that encircles the horseshoe clip. This tube needs to be removed first, and then the horseshoe shaped ring can be slid out. To remove the sheath either it is designed to unscrew or to be pulled off by grasping with pliers and pulling toward you. After the sheath is removed grasp the tab of the horseshoe clip with pliers and carefully slid it out by pulling it to the side. These parts should remove easily.)

7) Now, you should see a plastic or brass cartridge that can be removed by pulling it out. If this is a Moen faucet, this is when you use the removal tool. Follow the directions found on the tool packaging. Be careful not to damage the faucet body itself during this process. Some faucet brands contain a plastic or brass ball here instead of a cartridge. Lift or pull this part out. Under the round ball you should see two small rubber seats and springs. Remove them. (In this step, all parts removed should match the new parts which you picked up at the store.)

8) Once the old parts or cartridge are removed, it is a good idea to use a flashlight and peer inside the faucet where the old part used to live. See any pieces of debris or broken pieces of the old cartridge in there? If so, use needle nose pliers to remove it.

9) You can now install the new parts and work your way backwards through the steps as you reassemble the faucet, remembering to replace all retaining clips and rings. If you have any parts left over, take the faucet back apart and figure out where they go before turning the water on. Take your time and you should be just fine

10) This is the most important step. After the faucet is reassembled, the water is back on and you have tested it to make sure it works well, show off your work to your spouse or friends. Watch their reactions as they marvel at how well the faucet works. Now, YOU are the hero, not the plumber you would have had to pay to make the repair.

The author maintains no liability for work performed by readers of his articles. The plumbing repair articles are meant to be a helpful general guide for the homeowner.

Work-Life Balance – What's With All the Hype?

What is the first thought or feeling that comes to mind when you hear the term "work-life balance"? Is it a sense of balance and control over your own life? Or does the thought leave you feeling like one aspect of your life is dominating everything else? Is your work causing you to miss out on special moments with loved ones and family? Or are your family responsibilities so overwhelming that you find you can no longer be as effective as you want to be at work? Are you experiencing balance or are things a bit imbalanced at the moment?

There are many who still think of work-life balance as an issue that matters only to individuals with families. They think of work-life balance as a special (and sometimes unfair) concession that companies make to mommies and daddies so they can take their kids to the doctor, or attend a special school event or stay home and take care of them when they ' Re sick. But those who take this view may not be looking at the full picture.

In the traditional workplace the expectation is a commitment of 8 – 9 hours each weekday at your place of employment. In many situations this is typically non-negotiable. Most traditional workers will make their daily commutes to work, put in their hours and then close shop at the end of their shift to do it over again the next day. For many, this is the only way to do work. But let's think about it. How much work do people really get done in their offices? Let's face it. In an average day, employees including managers will have up to 2 meetings. That's 2 hours. Then lunch accounts for another hour. If the employee smokes, they may take anywhere from 3 – 5 fifteen minute smoke breaks. That's another hour and 15 minutes. In a single trip to the copier a person could discover that it needs CPR before it can spit out their print job. This could account for another 30 minutes of their time. Then there's the unplanned project update with the person they just ran into on the way to the elevator – another 10 minutes. Folks, so far we've chopped 4 hours and 50 minutes off the 8- 9 hour workday, and we have not even accounted for the 5 minutes spent socializing at a best buddy's cube, or the phone calls from spouses, or children's schools , Neither have we looked at the needed bio breaks nor just taking a moment to stretch and take a deep breath! So suddenly, the 8 – 9 hours spent in the workplace have been cut back to at most 4 hours where actual work can get done … Hmm! This is just food for thought.

There are new work-life balance trends being set in 21st century workplace. Currently, the millennial generation, accounts for 22 percent of the US workforce, and over the next 4 years they will make up almost 47 percent! Millennials grow up with technology as a natural extension to themselves. They are connected to the world (and to their work) literally 24 hours a day. This generation also has strong views and expectations where work-life balance is concerned. They are OK with not being chained to a cubicle from 9 -5 everyday. They are very capable and willing to get things done wherever they are at whatever time of the day. As a matter of fact, internationally recognized workplace learning consultant, Jeanne Meister who authored the book The 2020 Workplace states that Millennials have an expectation for work-life flexibility which will soon replace what we now know as work-life balance. The Millennials are choosing where they will work based on many factors which include a company's use of technology and the company's attitude to work-life flexibility. Millennials do not believe in living to work. They believe in working to live. That is, who they are not defined by their jobs. Where traditional workers were loyal to companies, spending 30 – 40 years of their lives at a single place of employment, Millennials are changing the landscape and will drop one situation for a more favorable one without batting an eyelash. And considering that by the end of the decade this generation will make up about 50% of the work, it behoows forward-thinking companies to be creative, beginning to implement innovative policies that allow for and frankly take advantage of this type of flexibility.

Work-life balance is so much more than the ability to spend more time doing personal things and less time on work. The truth is, as humans we all have the need for balance in our lives. We are multi-dimensional animals balancing a variety of responsibilities between our practitioners and personal lives and luckily innovation in technology can make it a lot easier for us to balance what we need to get done.

When I worked in the corporate environment, I was lucky to be in a workplace that embraces the idea of ​​flexibility. But If I was not careful, I could easily find myself spending up to 12 hours at work! For me, that would be a sure indication of imbalance between life and work. On a typical day, I would be up by 5:30 in the morning, getting my kids ready for school and then dedicating some time to me. This was a critical piece to my day. In order to take care of needs of others, I needed to take care of some of my own. Ideally, I would begin my office time at 10 in the morning, unless I needed to get in early for a meeting! See, starting my day at 10 ensured that I had more productive time in the office because my psyche is such that I am generally unproductive before 10 in the morning. I'm not a morning person. My brain cells do not really activate until mid morning. Being forced to sit in my cube from 8 or 9 in the morning would benefit no one. I would miss out on important 'me time' and my employer would miss out on 2 hours of meaningful, productive work. My employer was OK with being this flexible, and in turn I was OK with being at the office until 6, sometimes 7 in the evening.

Consider the following facts:

1. Balance does not look the same for everyone
2. Balance does not look the same everyday

Employers that understand balance and recognize its importance are among the best places to work today. Keeping people the flexibility to address life priorities is a sure way to cultivate a happy workplace. And when your employees are happy they are more productive. The concern for managers and organizations should be how much work is getting done not where employees are located each hour of the workday. Technology today allows individuals to be connected 24 hours a day. This means the 21st century workplace is poised to be super productive possessing the ability to get work done around the clock. When people's lives are in balance, there is less stress and they are more willing to put in the extra time even at times when traditionally people did not do 'employer work'.

Take Best Buy for example. Best Buy piloted a new concept in HR management called ROWE – Results Oriented Work Environment. The concept of ROWE basically dictates that "each person is free to do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done." Employees manage and control their own time and only come into the office if there is a need for them to be there. So if they can get their work done elsewhere, they have the freedom to decide where they will set up shop. What Best Buy found through this pilot was that employees were 35% more productive when they were allowed the flexibility to determine when, where and how they work. The key here is a focus on results. Is the work getting done? If it is, then it should not matter where that employee is inhabited or even how many hours they spend on task. If deadlines are being met and productivity is evidenced by results, I say it's off to the races.

In the 21st century work environment people will be apt to give more when they know that their own well-being is important to their employer. Today's employees are very aware that their employers do not own them. Neither do employers own a portion of their employees' time each day. It really is very simple. Employees owe results. Employers owe a paycheck. So in the case of the person who prefers to be in the office by 6 in the morning and can churn out a half a day's amount of work before anyone else gets there. That's OK. If the next individual prefers to see their kids off to school in the morning and then stop off at Starbucks to plug-in for a few 'quiet' moments while they have a latte, that should be OK too. And there are those who prefer to work from their home office so that they can be fully engaged and concentrate on their projects with minimal interruptions. This too, should be OK. If in all these situations, and others like them we have more productivity and people have some balance in their lives, who cares what their time cards looks like?

What You Need to Know About CNC Metal Lathe?

Metal lathe is one of the processes taking place in the actual metal process. When metal is cut and treated, metal lathe is one of these cutting processes. CNC Metal lathe device is a general term for a machine used to eliminate material for a work piece, though the use of a cutting tool. They are specifically designed for metals.

There are a lot of lathe variations in terms of processing the metals. In the metalworking field, several lathe techniques are being used to ascertained the quality and cut of the metal that is under processed. At the same time, there is a lot of CNC Lathe used for metal lathes. Let us discuss one by one the most commonly used Metal Lathe machines that are being used in treating any types of metals.

First on the list is the centering lathe machine. It is a double head machine which focuses the work at the center of the work piece. He heads are fixed and moved forward creating a drill hole in the middle of the work piece in both ends of it. The result form of the work piece can now be utilized in the center with the aid of another operation. Center lathe can also be referred to as an engine lathe and more metals are subject to this type of lathe. This type of machine is the most widely used machine for metal lathe and it is preferred by most of the general hobbyist or machinist.

Another type of machine for lathe purposes is the capstan lathe machine. The machine is categorized to be a manufacturing machine. It is a specialized machine which incorporates the functions of a typical lathe machine plus the revolutionary tailstock in a capstan style. It is commonly used for woodworking and other wood industries alike.

Another type of machine used for lathe is the turret lathe. It is also considered a manufacturing machine, and is very similar with the capstan machine appearance. Unlike the capstan machine which is stationary, turret machines are more versatile and mobile since it contains the turret slides that glide straight to the bed, instead of being fixed in one place.

There is another type of lathe machine called the combination CNC lathe wherein it introduces milling and drilling operations into the plain work piece of the lathe. These types of machines typically have an x ​​and ay axis using the carriage for x and a top slide for y.

Old and Typical lathe machines are being replaced rapidly by CNC lathes machines. CNC lathe uses state of the art tooling for better precision and accuracy. These CNSC machines are highly specialized, but they are set for a simpler way of setting lathes and operation. The processes are modern and advanced. Most machinists and hobbyist prefer the CNC lathe machines since they are more versatile, efficient, and simple compared with typical lathe machines. At the same time, they are sure that the operation is not taken into sacrifice while making the work simpler than it gets.

Avoid Refrigerator Repair With Proper Care

Refrigerator repair is one of the responsibilities that come with owning such an appliance. However, there are ways to keep the repair bills down and the repair man away. Some simple rules to the upkeep of a refrigerator can serve to keep that fridge running smoothly and efficiently for a long time to come. Most of these at home repairs require no purchase other than your basic household supplies and maybe once and a while the replacement of a part or two.

One of the most important at home refrigerator repair tips that you can learn is to clean the outside of your fridge as well as the inside. Keeping the clutter away from the outside of your fridge space and making sure that there is no build up of dust around the base and back coils can assure a properly balanced temperature within. You see, a refrigerator works at cooling something but releasing hot air into the outside atmosphere through the vents and coils around its frame. If these components are blocked it will not be able to properly and efficiently release the hot air, causing the temperature to rise inside. This will cause the gears and compressors to work harder than normal which will eventually lead to them burning out-more often than not quicker than should be.

Another helpful tip to keep in mind is: overstocking the fridge is bad for it. When there is too much food in body of the fridge it again will have to work extra hard to release the right amount of heat which can lead to mechanical difficulties. While this won’t pose a problem right away, in the long run it will have shortened the life of a, suppose-to-be durable appliance. There is plenty of room in a refrigerator to stock what is necessary and if you happen to buy in bulk you might want to look into freezing some of the products that can be. If your refrigerator is keeping a balanced temperature, not only will the contents taste and smell better they will be healthier as well. You can never go wrong with safety.

Not properly taking care of your appliance can lead to some costly refrigerator repairs. If a compressor burns out it is going to require replacement which is pricey, but if your coils or the like stop working then you face having to replace your refrigerator entirely which can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. It would be better in the long run to simply take the time to provide some upkeep to it instead of waiting for something to happen. In cases such as this, foresight and proper care is definitely more practical then hindsight and lackadaisical attitudes. No matter how you look at it taking the above simple steps-cleaning inside and out, not overstocking- will lead to less problems in the long run. If you are prepared for problems to arise with your refrigerator, why not take it one step further and take steps to prevent such problems.

Favorite Season of the Year

When it comes to the seasons of the year, which is your favorite? I suppose the definition of seasons really depends on where you live because they can differ from one place to another. I'm really referring to the four different seasons that we are used to in the northern parts of the United States. When you think of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, which one stands out as your favorite time of year? I can help but think of Fall as being the best time of the year for a number of reasons.

After a long hot summer with warm temperatures and little rain in most cases, the temperatures begin to cool and the vegetation in the wild begin to undergo a change. This change is what makes the leaves on the trees change color, providing us with amazing picture opportunities because of the brilliant array of colors that the dye leaves have taken on. There could not be a better scene then the scene you get from rolling hills covered with trees with clearly covered leaves. The smells from the harvesting of crops, the changing colors and smells of forest vegetation, and the sounds of falling leaves and whipping winds all combine to provide the feeling of home and comfort.

Another reason that the fall season stands out to me is because of the exciting opportunities for outdoor activity that exists during this time of year. Just about the same time when the leaves start turning color, the harvest starts to take place, is the time when the many different hunting seasons open up. This is what really gets me going in the fall and may be the main reason that I favor the Fall season so much. The small game seasons kick of the Fall hunting seasons in early September, followed by other hunting seasons such as archery deer hunting, duck, and goose hunting. All of the outdoor hunting opportunities come to be as soon as the summer comes to an end and the fall season comes into play. For many, this is a very exciting time of the year.

With the changing of the temperatures in the fall from warm to cool comes the desire to cook warm, soothing meals for your family. Another reason the fall season is so great is because all of the meals that you love to cook on cool days now sound so much better because of the changing weather outside. Meals that are made in the slow cooker seem to come to mind. Meals like roasts or chili seem to be much more appealing during this time of year.

There are also other reasons that many enjoy the fall season. With all of the beautiful colors and scenery coming the perfect picture taking opportunities for those who love the art of photography. There are numerous possibilities including natural wildlife, animals, and water pictures that can be taken and all are enhanced by the breath taking colors that are produced during this time of year.

The numerous reasons stated such as the brilliant colors, the wonderful smells, and the excellent outdoor opportunities are just a few reasons why I prefer the fall season over the others. It is during this time that the outdoors really comes alive, even though in reality the opposition of coming alive is occurring. Your favorite may be different which is perfectly fine. In the end it comes down to personal preference and what makes you happy.