Koi Pond – Dispelling Myths About Concrete

What do some liner promoters and salesmen say about professional pond installations using concrete and rebar, plus mortar to hold the rocks?

(1) “One problem with concrete and mortar construction is that of cement alkali leaching out for some time after construction, poisoning the pond water with high alkalinity. It also leaves unsightly white deposit build-ups at the points of exit and on the surface of rocks in the waterfall.” NOT TRUE!

If the concrete you use to pour the shell is a 7-sack mix with 40% pea gravel and stealth fiber mix, the concrete is so dense that no leaching can even occur. Also, because of the density of the concrete, it is not only waterproof, but stronger than normal 5-sack mix used to pour driveways, patios and sidewalks. Finally, if you coat the finished surface with Thoro-seal, one of several non toxic concrete sealers, it cannot leach.

(2) “When you use mortar mix to secure the rocks in a waterfall, the water that soaks into the porous mortar joints, leaches out alkali and phosphorescence that poisons the pond. TRUE in the past, but not anymore. Regular mortar is porous, allowing water to pass through, dissolving and collecting the cement residue. This had been a major concern of mine for many years. After the completion of a waterfall, I would have to run the waterfall for two or three weeks, shutting it off every 4 or 5 days, and acid-clean the white alkali residue off the rocks that had built up.

Then, when we were finished, we would have to acid clean and rinse out the pond. Fifteen years ago I discovered a secret formula that would render the mortar mix non porous and waterproof. It also makes regular mortar mix three times stronger. It is produced by adding one 45# bag of thinset (used to apply ceramic tile to a shower wall) to two bags of type S mortar mix. Once it cures, it becomes so dense, it is totally waterproof and will not leach any alkali after it cures (3 to 4 days). In addition, this mix is so strong in its holding ability that once it cures, a sledge hammer is needed to remove a rock. In most cases, the rock breaks up before coming free from the secret formula mortar.

It is not only waterproof, but it bonds very well with all types and textures of rocks. It will create a watertight barrier that comes in handy when building rock dams in the waterfall. The main feature of my special formula is that it allows for much more creativity. You have the ability to raise the water level above the confines of the concrete shell without water leaking through the mortar joints, as in the case of regular type mortar mix. This special mix is not for sale in the stores, and never will be, because I give the formula away for free! This discovery has revolutionized the effectiveness of mortar mix and its ability to bond, waterproof, and prevent alkali leaching.

A Dramatic Test

A 4,000 gallon swimming pool was converted into a concrete koi pond with two large waterfalls, held together with my new mortar mix, and an 8′ x 12′ island. The rocks surrounding the island, were also held by the new formula. When the project was completed, all the surfaces were given a quick, mild acid wash, and the pond was filled and dechlorinator was added. The following day, $3,000 worth of my own personal koi fish were transferred into the concrete koi pond. They all swam calmly around the island, inspecting every nook and cranny.

None of them experienced any stress and they remained in their temporary quarters for three months with no incidents. If that dramatic demonstration was not enough to convert the skeptics, nothing will. So what is the bottom line? Pond liners cannot be guaranteed not to leak, for a myriad of reasons. Concrete and rebar ponds, if built properly, will stay leak-free for decades, if not generations. You be the judge. You’re the one investing your hard earned money and time into it.

Hidden Wall Safes

Previously, safes were referred to as security cabinet's where-in gold, jewelry, money and documents were being stored and protected against any burglaries. Quiet often these safes were installed in the walls which were usually covered with paintings in homes, offices and inside a secret room. However, these days with the availability of several innovative safes office and home safes are become easier to install, use or hide. With the introduction of few complicated electronic locking systems, safes have attained crack-proof locking tool and more consistent safety feature. With their rigid and sleek body compositions, these safes can virtually be installed anywhere like the hidden wall safes and under floor safes.

In their innovative form these safes were provided a rigid and sleek body composition at lesser weight which relieves the owner from all the troubles of installing these safes. When you have given a chance to observe between a concealed space and a floor standing safe which one would you think is safer? Certainly, concealed safe can deliver higher level of safety as it is away from your sight and no one would be aware that there is a safe actually hiding inside the wall. The hiding wall safe and under floor safe are the two common types of concealed safes. Both these safes are available in a wide range of strengths and grades and are rated of their abilities to withstand heat and fire.

But, when it comes to insurers, minimum coverage is provided to the hidden wall safes since they can be safer as to the wall on which they are installed. From the two, under floor safes seam to have greater value since they are more concealed and safe. However, the only issue with these safes is that their installation has to be inspected by a professional engineer in order to determine whether the strength and the structure of the floor can perfectly support the overall weight of the safe or not. Hidden wall safes are normally being utilized by small businesses. As a change to any portable safe which most of the store owners use, hidden wall safes are specifically designed to easily hide beneath the painting, mirror, picture frame or a bookcase.

These safes also use a combination locking system that is numbered as one of the most durable locking system applied on the safes. Therefore, a hidden wall safe will provide the intruder a difficult time searching where the safe is being placed and to crack it open. A hidden wall safe as said can provide great safety without taking a big space under the floor. These safes are also easy to install and since they are concealed wall safes they are a perfect protective organism where you can store important documents like passports, valuables like gold and jewelry, money and so on. There are several benefits of having a hidden wall safe as it makes it a deal safe for your home and business. Some of the benefits of these safes include saving lots of space, higher safety, easy to access, easy to conceal, easy to install, hidden from children and intruders, flood protection, discrete and easy delivery and less conspicuous.

Make Your Home Pretty With Canvas Prints

Images and wallpaper have always been considered the best way to decorate your home in a great manner. Here, we are going to tell more about it.

It sounds good if someone wishes to decorate their house in a unique manner since blue lake canvas prints available. It does not matter in which corner of the house you wish to hang it since it will look everywhere. It has been designed in a way thinking to bring nature close to you. Every time, when you see it will get oozed with the great experience. It does not let you bore as it explores the beauty of nature in a unique manner. Be it sky, plants or the deep sea, everything will encourage you to think in a different way.

Someone has rightly said that if you wish to get loaded with happiness then you need to create a kind of environment around yourself so you get motivated every time. Successful people hold a kind of habit to collect various things to encourage their own stamina to grab the goal and keep their mind cool. Blue canvas prints are perfect to buy in order to jazz up your mind. It is a perfect way to choose in order to make your area filled with positivity.

If you are contemplating the same that why should you choose blue lake canvas prints? If yes!!! Then we are going to explore in a discreet manner to make you understand the facts. There is no one in the world who does not wish to live in a beautiful house. But have you ever contemplated that it is you who can make your accommodation quite different from others. Do you need to decorate your house? Though there are many things in this list but the value of canvas cannot be ignored at any rate.

• You can install it in your drawing room. Canvas prints are prepared in a way so it can grab the attention.

• It complements the theme as well as the mood of your room.

• It helps to understand the bond between physiology and vibrant Colors.

• You may install it in any area of your house to make your house very beautiful.

• If you wish to make your garden area a bit beautiful then you must go ahead to rule over many hearts.

It is only a canvas who can change your mind. They inspire and give direction to go ahead in a right way. There are many people all around the world who get inspired just by the images exploring the beauty of nature. And this one also doing the same. It is dipped in the shade of blue and surrounded with the beautiful plants. In short, it can be said that it is a perfect gift for the environment lovers who wish to get surrounded by the good images. So, what about you? It is time to take the right decision.

Elegant and Ornate Antique Ceiling Tiles

Beautiful, ornate, antique tin ceiling tiles are very popular today and are being used as decorative accessories, wall décor, supports for artwork and of course, for home remodeling projects. These elegant and charming "collectibles" are back in vogue and continue to attract many buyers.

Ceiling tins can be found in original form or as newly manufactured products made to mimic the charm and elegance of the older looks. There are several groups of people who are eager to find tiles in their original form: collectors, homeowners and artists / crafters.

First, let us begin with a little background about tin ceiling tiles. Pressed or embossed tin ceilings were very popular during the Victorian Era as an affordable substitute for the plaster-designed ceilings found in wealthy European homes. Thin metal sheets of tin, copper or stainless steel were stamped with intricate patterns and often painted white to resemble the more expensively-produced, hand-carved or molded plaster ceilings. Companies in Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania mass produced thin metal plate during the late 1800s and created numerous patterns from which buyers could choose.

During the WW II Era, tin ceiling tiles went out of favor as metals were conserved for the war effort, and other types of ceilings were promoted. By the 1950s and 1960s, acoustic drop ceiling tiles and dry wall dominated the marketplace and could be found in homes, hotels and buildings.

Because original tin ceiling tiles have such pretty designs and craftsmanship, many people like to collect these lovely antique pieces. Collectors enjoy finding tiles of different sizes, as well as seeking out tiles with unique patterns, shapes, colors and symbols.

On online sites, these tiles are categorized under the heading "Architectural & Garden" in the antique category. Searching the words antique ceiling tins will bring you into the section where you will find early tin ceiling tiles. Using the phrase vintage ceiling tile generally calls up a list of "vintage style" or "reproduced" tiles. Prices vary according to the size, quantity and uniqueness of design. For collectible older tiles, prices vary according to rarity, availability, intricacy of pattern and whether a particular tile has been reproduced You can expect to find small ordinary tiles for as little as $ 5 and fancier larger tiles or groups of tiles from $ 25 and up.

With so many reproduced tiles available it may get a little tricky to tell the vintage pieces from the newer models. Older ceiling tin is heavier than the newer version and has surfaces showing lots of rust, dents, chippy paint, rough scaly edges and sharp nail holes.

Although reproductions are made to look like the real thing, you will notice that the new items are lighter and smoother and are simply too perfect. Also worth mentioning is that sometimes old tiles appear new when they are not. This can happen when a vintage piece is cleaned and refinished or an original tile is framed with an old door or window trim.

Unlike older tiles which rust, newer tiles are often made with a special powder finish which is rust-proof, allowing for indoor and outdoor use. But even "cleaned up" older tiles look and feel differently than new ones. Collectors who handle lots of these detailed works of art learn to distinguish the differences.
While true collectors mix and match their collections with different examples of tiles, homeowners who may want to remodel a kitchen ceiling or frame a fireplace need to find multiple tiles. They generally look toward new versions of these handsome decorative items.

Reproduced tiles are made from a variety of materials such as tin, vinyl, wood and plastics, and they come in numerous colors and finishes. Popular colors for store-bought tin tiles are copper, bronze, gold, black, silver, rust, burgundy, mocha and whites or unpainted for custom colors. There are many companies that carry a variet of colors and styles. A newer tile snaps locks. These tiles can be screwed into any ceiling (drop, popcorn, etc.). You can order sample tiles to evaluate before you begin a project.
While the snap-lock variety of ceiling tile is very popular, there are other innovative applications of ceiling tiles on the market today. For example, you can now purchase tiles that come in rolls like wallpaper, as well as peel-and-stick types of ceiling tiles.

Besides using tiles for the ceiling, homeowners often add tile as a kitchen backsplash or a medallion for hanging fixtures. Some creative folks even use ceiling tiles as faux headboards. Another group of individuals who look for vintage tiles is artists and crafters. These talented folks make handsome objets d'art out of these architectural salvaged masterpieces.

Many artists like to paint on vintage ceiling tiles. One artist I am familiar with, looks for tins that are more than 100 years old, in good shape and require minimal prep work. The artist I am referring to generally passes up tiles that have holes or dents, preferring instead pieces with unusual designs or shapes which inspire her to use the background as part of her subject matter and design work.

Other crafters have had great success selling frames made out of old tiles and inserting a canvas with florals and other images. While many current artists are discovering a variety of ways to use old ceiling tins and other salvage materials, the Pennsylvania Dutch have crafted objects from tin for a very long time. For example, they are noted for creating barn stars out of old tin roof material. Many stores specializing in country gifts sell reproduction stars.

Interest in architectural salvage continues to grow as collectors, homeowners and artists are falling in love with old world craftsmanship. Using reclaimed ceiling tin as decorative accessories in today's homes is an excellent way to blend older traditions with modern day lifestyles.

Health Benefits of Marble Tiles in Homes

Natural stones like marble are famous for adding a sophisticated touch to homes and buildings, and its excellent appearance, superior natural characteristics, and ease of installation and maintenance make it a preferred material for use in floors, wall coverings, table tops, vanity tops, tub decks and bathroom walls and showers.

These types of materials are available in a wide variety of colors, designs and patterns. Since this is a natural stone, homeowners should allow for some minor variations in color among the different tile variants.

Effective Materials For Keeping Away Bacteria

Marble floor tiles are famous for being very conducive in keeping particular areas of the home free from the infestation of allergens and pathogens, because it has an ability of being able to keep microscopic particles from thriving and finding living space on the surface. These tile variants make it hard for bacteria and microscopic germs to live in it, which makes it xplains why it is relatively easy to clean. For daily maintenance, all you need is a clean cloth and permitted detergent, for your tiles to look as good as new.

These floors are also renowned for providing a cool, relaxing walking surface, particularly in the areas of the house that are generally hot and humid. This is because these materials are able to retain the cold temperature of its surroundings. In addition, these tiles do not need as much cleaning, because for one, is resistant to moisture, and also shines naturally, which does not necessitate daily waxing.

Affordable Elegance In Homes

Marble flooring producers and dealers often use terms like “understated,” “elegant”, “refined”, and “modern affordability” to describe their product, and these words surely possess all those aspects. This natural stone requires little care and maintenance. It ages beautifully and is able to withstand heavy use and traffic.

However, some measures need to be taken to preserve the beauty of these tiles in your home: Use trivets under hot pots, kettles and pans, as materials like ceramics and china are likely to etch these surfaces.

Certain types of food and drinks contain acids, like citrus, tomato, etc, and these can dull the marble’s surface. In effectively cleaning these floors, use a dry dust mop and try to minimize the amount of sand, dirt, and debris that reside or come into contact with these tiles. In cleaning a bath or shower with marble tiles, utilize a non-acidic detergent or solution consisting of ammonia and water.

With minimal daily cleaning and long-term upkeep, these flooring materials in your home are sure to provide years of elegance and affordable functionality. The two most popular tiles for homes are marble and granite. However, both these materials are quite expensive but they make the home or building look grander and more alluring. In addition, real estate agents find it easier to sell homes with marble and granite tiles for a lot more money.

The positive aspect of using these materials for flooring, is that they are very durable and resistant to wear and tear. Marble and granite flooring materials also possess the advantage of being water-resistant, which makes them preferred for installation in bathrooms too.

http://tilenet.net – Tilenet

Fleshlight – What to Do When You’re Alone

There have been so many advances in the field of sexual technology over the last decade that it can be somewhat overwhelming. Machines like the F-Machine Pro 2 or accessories like the UR3 Hung have made sexual fantasies come to life for countless people who never thought they’d actually get the opportunity to realize their hidden desires. But what if what pushes your sex drive buttons is some good old masturbation? Well, lucky for you, the sex toy industry has made huge advances in that area too, and there are many options beyond the basic lube and hand. One of the most realistic, close-to-sex toys on the market right now is found in the Fleshlight line.

Masturbators now can be so close to the real thing, it’s hard to tell them apart. For example, the Fleshlight is a brand of male sex toys whose main product, the Fleshlight itself, is about the size of a flashlight and shaped like a vagina. Since the first one was developed years ago, the Fleshlight has made even more detailed changes, and now can be found in hundreds of different varieties, including pussy castings of your favorite porn stars (the Girls series) all the way to the unrealistic “Freaks!” design. The original designers intended to make masturbators higher quality and allow the users to have a better image regarding masturbation itself: that it should be enjoyed, accepted and fun!

The outside of a general Fleshlight is a well-built, solid casing, holding the inside, where all the textures occur. They can range from a simple smooth tunnel to wild, intricate details and designs, so finding the right texture for your needs is very important. The Fleshlight brand comes complete with its own set of accessories that are just as high quality as the masturbators themselves, including shower mounts, lubricants, and renewing powders. Fleshlights can be rated by realistic features and by the inner canal textures, making masturbating with this toy about as close as you can get to the real thing without a woman actually there.

If you’re looking for a little more variety than a basic Fleshlight, you won’t be disappointed by the options available. Try the Fleshlight Stamina Training Unit Pack masturbator, where, of course, you get the look and feel of anal play. Or, there’s the Fleshlight VIbro Pink Lady, where you get the extra sensation of vibration with your masturbation toy. If blow jobs are your thing, Fleshlight makes the mouth versions too, which are just as realistic as a real mouth.

How does it work? Well, like we said, there is a solid casing on the outside of the masturbator, and the entrance is sealed with a twistable top cap that covers the opening when you’re not using it. There’s also an end cap for air control to keep it tight, and for cleaning use. The inner sleeve is soft and silky, and very flexible. The flashlight design itself is based on the idea that most men have flashlights lying around, so you can kind of get away with having your masturbation toy there if someone happens to spot it from a distance, but anyone who sees it remotely up close is going to know what it is, so you might want to keep it hidden.

The sleeves themselves inside the case are interchangeable, so after you purchase the first Fleshlight, you can buy different sleeves to try them out. It’s recommended that you soak it in warm water before use for a bit to bring the temperature up, but it’s not necessary. However, Fleshlight provides a warmer for just this specific thing. If you’re looking to get that “just like sex” feeling, you might want to take the extra few minutes and warm it up, but if you don’t, the Fleshlight will warm up to body temperature with use. Obviously, you’re going to need some lube. We recommend Fleshlight’s brand, just because it really is good. All total, there’s a little more prep involved than the basic hand pump, but we promise it’s worth it.

The Fleshlight line has revolutionized the sex toy industry. Masturbators are no longer simply functional. Take a few minutes to check out the different options available, and the next time you feel the urge to take care of business yourself, do so with your own Fleshlight. The experience will truly change the way you think and feel about masturbation, and you may just decide you don’t need the real thing after all!

Myers Briggs Personality Type and Political Affiliation

We’ve all come across people who just seem incapable of modifying their perspective based on new data being presented. Most of us still mouth the words that additional education (or indoctrination/propaganda as is often the case) is what is needed since surely this person will turn around if his/her consciousness is sufficiently expanded with additional data backing your perspective. However, all too often deep inside we know that some people are “hopeless”. This conclusion concerning failure of propaganda is reached from all over the political, cultural, and religious spectrum at one point or another. It thus becomes fashionable to outright dismiss “inconvertible” individuals and opposing zealots (on political and religious fringes of any given population) as nuts and crazies.

Personality theory in psychology allows us to better categorize individuals in society without resorting to name calling. Myers-Briggs typology in particular offers a better construct (compared to useless terms like conservative and liberal for example) to predict how an individual will act politically and socially. Myers-Briggs research combined with biology and brain scan techniques also offers us hints at understanding the underlining anatomical basis that predisposes a person to be either a disagreeable radical or a gentle follower.

There’s been little relative popular attempts to scientifically explain why the bulk of the population is always a warzone between the extreme fringes. It’s just assumed that it will always be this way just like there will always be criminals and extremely altruistic self-sacrificing givers. This assumption seems reasonable and obvious but gives rise to two other creeping and unsettling assumptions:

1) The human population is relatively fixed along a bell curve type continuum. Perhaps this is better visually represented by a sphere with a number of spikes extending from it. The moderate population is the bulk of the sphere and the zealous “radical” factions (whose opinions differ dramatically from the statistical average) are the spikes extending from the sphere’s surface (as well as into the interior to some degree which would represent silent sympathizers). It is irrelevant to label the spikes as extreme left, right, etc. All that is important is that a relatively fixed minority of the population (lets say 10-20% range) will be:

a) prone to modes of thought that are tangibly different from majority’s

b) prone to action and lifestyle based on these thoughts

Authors like Friedrich Hayek for instance, observed that in 1920s Germany roughly a million workers swung their support between communists and Nazis based on who was winning. It was noted that the two seemingly opposing ideological parties clashed with one another the most because they were very often competing for recruits in the same psychological pool of young people. Considering how many overexcited Americans called both Bush and Obama the new “Hitler” in recent years, we can easily imagine how an aggressive drooling at the mouth anti-war protestor from a big city could have been an equally excitable protester at a teabag rally if only he was born in a small town and into a different culture.

2) Since the ratio of intensely active people (prone to being perceived by population at large as “wingnuts”or criminals or radicals or genuinely informed and committed activists, etc) to more relaxed apathetic majority seems to be roughly fixed across all societies and globally as a whole, the explanatory basis for such a dynamic can only be biological. Just like there exist (and can further be bred) aggressive dogs and peaceful friendly dogs, there exist aggressive people, natural Buddhist-esque peaceful people, etc. A person who is an aggressive pit bull equivalent (and who wants to impose his views of the world onto others the most) would differ in his relatively extreme ideology depending on what part of the world he was socialized in. Psychiatry has shown us that people are born with different ratios of neurotransmitter production and quantitative as well as qualitative differences in the types of chemicals that affect their mood and cognition. We now understand that people differ a lot more in terms of brain architecture than they differ in terms of things like body type, skin color, fast twitch/slow twitch muscle ratio, etc.

The reason why these assumptions are unsettling is not because there is a degree of fatalism involved (“he will be a radical of one stripe or another no matter what” or “he will be socially lazy, shallow, apathetic, and uninvolved no matter what). Obviously with modern socialization methods and pharmaceutical modification (with psychological genetic and cybernetic modification to follow in near future), an individual can be shaped more than ever before by society and by himself. The assumptions are unsettling because if the broad direction of our views, opinions, and political/cultural/religious affiliations are largely physiologically determined at birth, then societal progress becomes enormously more difficult. Societal progress can be defined here as one zealot faction (that is seen by majority as the most “correct” in its socioeconomic policy perspectives and formulations of what humans should do next) dragging everybody else along behind it as has always occurred throughout history.

Obviously people will disagree on what constitutes progress (some actually thought arrival of Reagan was progress) but if majority of people are physiologically predisposed towards the status quo, progress of any sort becomes a lot harder in a democratic society. In the past, one intense dedicated fringe of the aristocratic elites dragged the other nobility along behind it (since majority of nobility would also have a soft apathetic bulk) and thus dragged the rest of the population behind it as well. We also had scenarios of power vacuum developing and one intense fringe political faction overpowering the others (as in the case of Bolshevik and French revolutions) and filling the leadership position to then drag the rest of the serfs behind it.

In today’s democratic structure however, protection of the status quo is a lot more preserved since the moderate bulk of the population has a political voice and thus a way to provide the ruling elites with legitimacy. The moderate bulk of the elites now also has ever more sophisticated consent and perception manufacturing methods to influence the newfound voice of the majority. For a small number of dedicated activists, pushing society along towards desired version of progress against the forces of social inertia is now harder than ever. The powerful activists now need to sway both the fellow elites and the people simultaneously.

Let’s finally get to the Myers-Briggs part of the article to see what we are now dealing with.

The most widely used way to get a glimpse of people’s underlining neural physiology has been the Myers-Briggs psychological questionnaire (one of the better versions found online for free can be found here). Over the past few decades, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been utilized to collect enormous amounts of statistical data on personality types found within the human population. The statistical type breakdown (I am using a combination of 3 different sources on the %. Don’t mind the catchy positive nicknames each type and group cluster has been given. What matters here is the number within a population.) so far has been as follows,

Protectors (SJ)

ESTJ – Overseer, supervisor = 11.8%

ESFJ – Supporter, provider = 11.7%

ISTJ – Examiner, inspector = 9.8%

ISFJ – Defender, protector = 9.9%

All SJs = 43.2%

Creators (SP)

ESTP – Persuader, promoter = 8.4%

ESFP – Entertainer, performer = 10.3%

ISTP – Craftsman, mechanic = 6.4%

ISFP – Artist, composer = 7.9%

All SPs = 33%

Intellectuals (NT)

ENTJ – Chief, fieldmarshal = 3.2%

ENTP – Originator, inventor = 3.7%

INTJ – Strategist, mastermind = 1.5%

INTP – Engineer, architect = 2.2%

All NTs = 10.6%

Visionaries (NF)

ENFJ – Mentor, teacher = 3.4%

ENFP – Advocate, idealist = 4.2%

INFJ – Confidant, empath = 1.2%

INFP – Dreamer, healer = 2.4%

All NFs = 11.2%

Each of the personality types (the well defined strong ones at least who haven’t self reported to be a mutt of 2 or more different personalities) can be seen as a specific brain type. As mentioned above, the physiological neural difference between 2 people of vastly dissimilar brain types is a lot more significant than how a person looks on the outside. That is because the brain type determines a mental and emotional predisposition of a person for the rest of his life. People classified as “bipolar” or “anti-social/sociopathic” for instance, have neural structures that will make them lean towards some things more than others during their entire lives.

We can see from the statistical breakdown that SJ (left-brained people with parietal lobe strength) predominate in the overall population. The second biggest group are the SP (right-brained with parietal lobe strength). Together they are almost 80% of the population. The SJs tend to be conservative, authoritarian in outlook, conventional, focused on concrete “what is”, and protective of the general society. They don’t rock the boat too much and defer to tradition. The SPs tend to be fun loving, crafty, entertaining, and have uncanny ability to focus on “what is” (with their parietal lobe) in order to fix and modify it.

If you look at the cute nicknames given to different brain types, you can see that the human herd pretty much needs all of them if it is to evolve and survive. Some types are needed more than others in the great scheme of things. The SJ and SP groups for example are conveniently numerous. SJ population provides a great amount of soldiers, policemen, social workers, self sacrificing charity givers, accountants, and status quo protectors. In other words they keep the herd safe even if it means stagnating the herd through using their positions in the executive to slow down rapid change. SP group provides us with artisans who improve quality of life for the herd through provision of entertainers, artists, dancers, singers, and resourceful improvising mechanics. SPs can be said to exist to entertain SJs and keep them on their toes by having more fun than them.

It’s easy to see how SJs lean republican and SPs lean democrat overall. The jokes that democrats have better sex lives than republicans begin to acquire an element of truth (considering the different approach left and right sides of the brain take in deciding on how to deal with the here and now). However, the two large groups are united by their concern with all things as they are in the now. That makes the two groups friendly and status quo leaning by default. An ESTJ born in Brooklyn may identify as a traditionalist democrat whereas an ESTJ born in West Virginia may identify as a traditionalist republican, but both are more likely to seek similar professions and get along if they hang out together. Brain type identification provides a lot more material to predict a person’s behavior and views on the world than simple political identification.

The overall theme emerges that people with neural computers that predispose them to either protect the status quo or be apathetic about it (since they are busy pursuing hedonistic adventures) are the supermajority that are not as interested in “what can be” (as the less numerous NP and NJ groups tend to be). A point must be made here that not one group is more important than another and that even their numerical breakdowns seem amazingly appropriate. It would be turbulent for the herd to have for example, more ENTJs/INTJs than ISTJs/ESTJs since the problem with authority that NJs have (due to their desire to be the authority themselves) would create unsustainable infighting and not allow enough people who follow orders. Each brain type has a very key social niche and function and over thousands of years there evolved an intricate genetic balance and ratio. There are of course also multitudes of physiological “mutts” who are a hybrid of all and can’t be “pigeonholed” (the most common complaint brought against psychological typology in general).

Interestingly enough, the Hindus have spent thousands of years evolving classification of human beings into 4 broad psychological varnas or classes. Each was considered as important as the other (all parts of the same body) with their own particular temperaments and duties.

Some brain types are literally made to create new theoretical constructs on how society should be organized and which steps it should take next (INTPs, ENTPs,). When balanced by the emotional consideration and input of INFPs and ENFPs (since strong T theorists are prone to being too rigidly rational and thus not take into consideration the emotional impact of their constructs) new paths for society can be developed that would be acceptable to SJs and SPs combined. However, as explained above, these people will always be outvoted and marginalized by politicians who mobilize the other more numerous groups. “Think of the children!” is a call to arms for ESFJs and ISFJs for instance whereas being tough on crime, national strength, and defeating foreign enemies is the bread and butter of ESTJs and ISTJs.

This dynamic reinforces the need for proportional representation in our system of governance. Proportional representation is practiced in most European Union countries to great effect. This way each brain type cluster can get a political party of their own. The marginalized 20% of the population can get representation and even serve as coalition kingmakers. New voices can be heard in the discourse. Today the 20% of population has to either join the big parties they don’t like and “radicalize” them (seen by the tail wagging the dog phenomenon of militants dominating today’s Republican party and driving moderates out of it) or abstain from the process thus depriving society of valuable input. In proportional representation, each batch of brain types seen as “radicals” can find a party to call home and really support. They would also have more political representation to vent out their frustration and to institutionalize their presence and views. Citizens can then pick and choose which vision of progress to support and which to leave behind.

The Perfect Mother’s Day Champagne Breakfast

A Mother’s Day function, which has grown in popularity over the years, is the simple, yet elegant, Mother’s Day Champagne breakfast.

It can either be served, to the very important Mum, in the snug comfort of her bed or it can be a more formal affair involving the entire extended family and reputable London catering hire.

Mother’s Day in the UK

Traditionally, Mother’s Day in the UK is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of lent, a day of temporary respite from the fast. Food, and lots of it, is an obvious ingredient for success on this day, dedicated, centuries ago, to our own Mums, the Mother Church and, in some cases, the Virgin Mary.

The Champagne Breakfast

The simplicity of a Champagne breakfast ensures it can be an informal affair, where the kids take over the responsibility of a sumptuous cook-up or it can be a sophisticated brunch, served at an elegantly set table, with crisp Matisse, Brocade or Shimmer linen table cloths and napkins, Georgian or Platinum Ring bone china, robust Kings Pattern, Harley or Levite sterling silver cutlery and, of course, the piece de resistance, the finest French Champagne served in Stendhal, Siena or Aquataine Crystal Champagne flutes!

Mother’s Day Menu Ideas

Mother’s Day menu ideas can range from delectable fresh fruit and yoghurt entrees, or smoothies, served in funky cocktail glasses to freshly baked sweet and savoury muffins, croissants or Belgian waffles, stacked up high on silver trays.

Breakfast casseroles, kept steaming hot in oval chafing dishes, or the full breakfast spread of crispy bacon, sausage, eggs done in a number of ways, fried tomato and hash browns, served directly from piping hot Bain Maries, are generally the preferred choice for Mum’s first special meal of the day.

Checklist

Once you’ve decided on the menu and venue, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of the logistics. The best way to cover all the bases is to compile a Mother’s Day Champagne breakfast checklist:

  • How is the food going to be presented? China hire, cutlery hire, glassware hire, linen hire – check off each item once ordered from a reputable London catering hire company.
  • How will you accommodate guests? Table and chair hire and, if outdoors, don’t forget the sunshade, parasol or patio heater in case of a change in the weather.
  • How will you prepare the food? Will it be on a charcoal barbecue, on gas or electric hot plates or on a griddle plate?
  • How will you keep the food warm? Will you hire a Bain Marie, hot cupboard or a heated lamp unit?

Is Life Really This Hard Or Am I Making It This Difficult?

Every day it seems like there are more problems, fewer solutions, less money and more stress. Keeping a positive attitude is not easy when you are on the “lack” side of things. Pessimists always get a bad rap. Is that because what they say is too hard to hear? There is a fine line between the reality of “what is” and a pessimist giving an opinion. An optimist may make you feel better for the moment, however, after that moment passes, you have to deal with the present.

I do believe “manifesting” is viable. It is definitely easier to practice virtually any positive activity while things are going your way. It is easier to give money when you have plenty of it. It is easier to give advice after you are successful. It is easier to talk about weight control after you have accomplished great weight loss. My applause are saved for the brave few that venture out to share when they have not yet aspired to their greatest height. The risk they take is criticism for speaking without a podium and self doubt.

One of the biggest problems I frequently see is the fear that is created by worrying in advance of a situation. All of the “what if scenario’s” rolled into a big ball. The more they spin around the fear, the bigger the fear ball becomes. It is physically impossible to cross a bridge until you get to the bridge, yet hours are spent in anguish, worrying about a future event, demanding every possible variable and combination of variables be mentally played out, fretting every possible outcome, before there is a problem. Since that is 100% impossible, all the time and energy given to this endeavor is truly wasted.

For the sake of your health, both mental and physical, stop everything fear based. No decision can be made while you are surrounded by fear. Without the ability to make a decision, no action can be taken. Without any action, you are frozen in time, rendered immobile How long can you stay this way? Some people spend their entire life living in this constant state of fear rather than coming to terms with it. No matter what actually happens, nothing is ever as bad as imagined.

To overcome FEAR, do the following 3 things:

1. Make a list of your biggest fears, cross off all but the 3 things you fear most.

2. What is THE WORST thing that could happen to you if ANY of these 3 fears came true?

3. What is the BEST thing that could happen if NONE of these fears come about?

Now ask yourself, What do you really have to lose? Is it worth taking a chance of failure to achieve success?

Non-Violent Beekeeping for the Natural Beekeeper

Our first encounters with honeybees were long ago, most likely in Africa. Someone discovered – probably simultaneously – that these tree-dwelling insects produced a sweet, sticky substance unlike any other, and that they had stings in their tails.

When fire became portable, someone else discovered that smoke caused bees to become more amenable to robbing.

Some time later, a more settled tribe found that they could house bees in baskets or pots, which saved them the trouble of climbing trees to get the honey, and the craft of beekeeping was born. Pots, baskets and logs continued in use for many centuries, and while proficient beekeepers would have understood a good deal of the behaviour of their charges, the inner secrets of the hive remained closed from observers until the end of the 18th century, when a blind Swiss by the name of François Huber found them out through the medium of his faithful – and sighted – servant, Burnens. Huber’s New Observations on the Natural History of Bees remains a classic to this day.

Some 30 years later, Jan Dzieraon developed Huber’s experimental hive further to create the first truly practical, movable-frame beehive, and shortly afterwards in 1852, Rev. Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth publicized and patented his own version. Such was his talent for publicity and marketing that the ‘Langstroth’ became and remains the standard hive in the USA and the model upon which most other variants are based.

However, this type of hive is expensive to buy, very difficult for amateur woodworkers to build – due to the precise dimensions and many small parts needed for frames – requires constant maintenance, causes great disturbance to the lives of bees, and is heavy and cumbersome in use. Many women, especially, have been put off beekeeping by the weight-lifting needed to harvest honey from a Langstroth-type hive, and hernias are commonplace among commercial beekeepers.

In Nepal, honey-hunting is still practised by men descending cliffs on ropes and using long poles to dislodge chunks of comb. Elsewhere, bees are kept in skeps, baskets, pots, cavities in walls and other containers devised from local materials and – we can deduce from their longevity – more-or-less suitable both for bees and for their keepers. In Africa, probably the original home of the honeybee, the top bar hive was developed as an ‘intermediate technology’ solution, capable of being constructed using local skills and materials and being, in essence, a beekeeper-friendly hollow log, having the advantages of movable combs but without the need for machine-made parts.

Whatever the accommodation we offer them, our meetings with bees have always been a process of negotiation, albeit somewhat one-sided. We can protect ourselves from them, but they ultimately have no protection from us. The encroachment of chemical agriculture, deforestation and urbanization have reduced their natural habitat, while toxic cocktails of insecticides have poisoned their flowers.

The honeybee has come to be seen as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ of our civilization and she is showing early warning signs of her imminent demise, to which we must pay urgent attention.

Our challenge now is to re-negotiate our relationship with bees: we must learn to protect and nurture them, rather than simply exploit them, and we need to learn to listen to what they need from us. The process of discovering how we can most effectively do that is the project that myself and others have set ourselves, and we hope that many more will join us and carry this work forward.

We acknowledge the paradox inherent in the phrase ‘natural beekeeping’: as soon as we consider ‘keeping’ bees, we begin to stray from what is truly ‘natural’. In nature, only bees keep bees.

To be considered ‘natural’, our beekeeping practice must take into account:

  • the natural impulses and behaviour of bees, including – foraging, swarming, storing food and defending their nest
  • how hive design affects bees
  • the suitability of materials used in hive construction, including considerations of sustainability
  • the nature and frequency of our interventions
  • the impact of a localized increase in honeybee population on other species of pollinators
  • the balance between honey harvesting and the bees’ own needs
  • the nature of any added inputs – medications, feeding

We are engaged in a process of working towards the ultimately unattainable notion of completely ‘natural’ beekeeping, while acknowledging that the bees will go their own way regardless of our wishes. Our relationship with them is that of facilitator or minder rather than ‘keeper’. We could say that the role of the natural beekeeper is to enable our bees to attain the fullest possible expression of their bee-ness while in our care.

Our overall goal in natural beekeeping is to achieve a state of sustainability: balancing inputs and outputs such that our activities enhance rather than damage the health of our bees, other species and the planet.

To be truly sustainable, a system must be as close to carbon-neutral as it can be, requiring no synthetic inputs and having no detrimental impact on the natural environment. So if we are to continue to have a relationship with honeybees, we have to consider what impact current beekeeping practices have and how our ‘natural’ approach seeks to improve on this state of affairs.

A typical commercial beekeeping operation is a real energy hog. Lumber – which may or may not come from sustainable sources – is sliced and milled by powered machinery prior to assembly into hive boxes, which are transported by road, sea or rail to be further distributed by road to their apiary sites. Regular visits by beekeepers require oil-derived fuel, and more is needed to fire the boilers to heat the considerable quantities of water needed for sterilizing woodwork and washing down de-cappers, extractors, tanks and floors. More power is needed to retrieve the crop, to extract it and to mix and distribute the sugar syrup needed for the bees’ survival following the removal of their stores. Honey must then be filtered, bottled and distributed to wholesalers and thence to retail outlets. Meanwhile, beeswax is recovered by means of steam or boiling water, cleaned and filtered and sent off to be re-melted and turned into sheets of foundation, which are then sold back to the beekeepers for insertion into frames for next season.

Migratory beekeepers in the USA truck hives by the thousands clear across the country for the almond pollination, while in the UK this type of activity is nowadays largely restricted to taking hives up to the moors in August for the heather crop, and some orchard pollination work.

Due to what might be called the Langstroth hegemony, this whole scenario is also enacted in miniature by amateur beekeepers, who largely mimic the activities of their commercial brethren. They may only have a few hives at the bottom of their gardens, but in most cases they have not considered any alternative to the expensive, energy-hungry equipment available from the glossy catalogues of the beekeepers’ suppliers.

We know that bees need nothing much more than a dry, ventilated cavity in which to build their nest. Instead, ‘modern’ beekeepers insist on supplying them with a box full of wooden frames, in which are mounted sheets of wax, helpfully imprinted with oversized ‘worker-bee’ hexagonal cell bases. A newly-hived swarm of bees must be surprised indeed to find so much done for them: ready-made comb bases hung in neat rows, with spaces all around them for access – what a boon for a busy colony!

But what may at first sight appear to be a great convenience, also has some significant drawbacks. All these imprinted cells are the same size, yet anyone who has observed natural comb knows that cell sizes vary considerably, and not just between workers and drones: worker cells themselves vary in diameter according to rules only bees are aware of. All those dead-straight frames may look neat, but bees don’t build dead-straight comb – they like a gentle curve here and there. And if you watch bees building natural comb in an unrestricted space, they hang in chains, legs linked, as if laying out the dimensions of the comb in space as they work above their own heads – something they cannot do on foundation.

So a good deal of so-called ‘modern’ beekeeping – in fact, virtually unchanged since the mid-19th century – is unsustainable from our point of view, as well as being a nuisance to bees. In terms of honey yield, it is clearly an improvement on logs and skeps, but in terms of bee health and energy efficiency, it has turned out to be a disaster.

The job of the natural beekeeper is to find ways of interacting with bees that are truly sustainable, both for the bees themselves and for the planet.

In The Barefoot Beekeeper, I proposed the following three, simple principles for the ‘natural’ beekeeper to consider:

  1. Interference in the natural lives of the bees is kept to a minimum.
  2. Nothing is put into the hive that is known to be, or likely to be harmful either to the bees, to us or to the wider environment and nothing is taken out that the bees cannot afford to lose.
  3. The bees know what they are doing: our job is to listen to them and provide the optimum conditions for their well-being, both inside and outside the hive.

These principles seem to me to form a solid foundation for our thinking about how we approach bees and beekeeping. As soon as we step beyond those basic principles and attempt further to define the parameters, we find ourselves in danger of beginning to create a ‘book of rules’. And it doesn’t take much looking around the world today to see how divisive and destructive other ‘books of rules’ have been.

‘Natural’, ‘balanced’ or ‘sustainable’ beekeeping – whatever name we give it – is a process, not a destination. We have to remain flexible and always be on the lookout for ways to improve our techniques, so everything in this book is offered in this spirit: indications of what seems to work, always with the possibility that there are even better ways yet to be discovered, or – more likely – re-discovered, as there is really nothing new in beekeeping.

Historically, we began our relationship with bees when somebody discovered that the taste of honey was worth the pain it cost to harvest. We became honey-hunters, and while there were few of us and many of them, this was sustainable.

When somebody discovered that it was possible to offer shelter to honeybees while they made their honey, and then kill them off to raid their stores, we became bee keepers, and while there were few bee keepers and many honeybees, that too was sustainable.

Then someone invented a way to house bees that did not require them to be killed, but instead allowed people to manage and control them to some extent, arranging things so as to trick them into producing more honey for their masters than for themselves, and we became bee farmers. And that was sustainable for a while because there were still many of them and although there were also many of us, we could manipulate their reproduction so as to make more of them as we needed.

Now it has become clear that we have gone too far, for bees have begun to suffer from diseases that were virtually unknown in the old days, and they have to be given medicines in order to keep them alive. And because a whole industry has grown up around the farming of these bees, and there is a lot of money at stake, beekeepers have been slow to change their ways and many could not do so for fear of bankruptcy, and so the health of the honeybees has become worse and they are subject to parasites and viruses that never troubled them in the past.

Meanwhile, we forgot how to grow food in the way that we once had done because we were no longer inclined to labour in the fields, and instead devised clever ways to make the soil support more crops. We poured fertilizers onto our fields and killed off inconvenient creatures with ‘pesticides’ – defining a whole class of living organisms as our enemies and therefore dispensable. This was never sustainable, and never can be.

And that is where we find ourselves today, and this is the problem we face: bees have become weakened through exploitation and a toxic agricultural system, allied to the impossible expectation of continuous economic growth.

As ‘natural beekeepers’, our most pressing work is to restore bees to their original, healthy state. We think of ourselves as ‘keepers’ in the sense of ‘nurturing and supporting’ rather than ‘enslaving’. We must seek to protect and conserve the honeybee by working within their natural capacity, not constantly urging them towards ever greater production. We must challenge the whole agricultural and economic system that has caused us to arrive at this point, because without change at that level, the future for both us and the bees is bleak.

We can make a start by re-establishing more natural, non-violent ways of working with bees: neither we nor they have any need of routine or prophylactic ‘treatments’ with synthetic antibiotics, fungicides or miticides. We don’t need to operate ‘honey factories’ – we can content ourselves with providing accommodation for bees in return for whatever they can afford to give us. In some years, this may be nothing at all, while in others there may be an abundant harvest.

Such is nature: bees depend on honey for their survival; we do not.

If the price of returning bees to a state of natural, robust health is a little less honey on our toast, is it not a worthwhile sacrifice?

Optoma HD70 Home Projector Review – Affordable Home Theater Projection

The Optoma HD70 is a wonderful addition to any home. It’s small, portable and, best of all, lightweight. It’s not excessively branded with giant banners or stickers and can fit in any drawer or under any bed and be ready for action whenever you desire top of the line movie quality for your Friday night date, Sunday afternoon football game, or just an average weekday in bed. When it comes down to high performance and sleek design, the Optoma HD70 is the projector for you.

The Optoma HD70 is great at adjusting the size of your image so that your movie will always delight you in the best possible manner. This mechanic work of art will project a 100″ image from 11.5 feet to 13.8 feet away. When watching a movie on your Optoma HD70, as with any projector, be sure to set your projector slightly behind the seating area, if possible, as this will help to minimize any noises or heat coming from the machine.

The HD70 is rather good at positioning the image at an angle of the lense. For example, if you have your projector sitting on a desk or table, you can adjust the lens so that the movie will appear higher up than the projector itself. This will make your video seem more grand and inspirational than what your average television is capable of producing. You could also mount your projector on a ceiling (like how your fan is positioned in the center of the room) so that your movie will be slightly lower than the projector. This will provide the same effect of setting your projector on a desk or table while minimizing sound and heat distractions, although it is a rather large project to do and will cost extra. If you’re interested in mounting your projector on a ceiling, a quick search engine listing will display all that you need to know on this subject.

The Optoma HD70 is an important projector in that it provides the viewer with an opportunity to see the best at affordable rates. While it does not quite reach the capabilities of the Optoma HD72 in pure image quality, it delivers a high class image at irresistible prices. If you’ve never owned a home theater projector before, the Optoma HD70 would be an excellent choice to start your new life of movie quality that you’ve never seen outside of a movie theater before. There are some decent projectors out there for lower prices, but when you put this much quality into the budget bracket of the Optoma HD70, it’s hard to resist.

Bulrushes – Not to Be Confused With Cattails

Whenever you hear the word bulrush, do you think of cattails? Oddly enough, most people do. However, there are some differences between the two, although cohabitation is not unheard of. Cattails are known to invade a wetland much faster than bulrushes, taking over large expanses in a single growing season because of their mass quantities of wind-borne seeds. In growing season, cattails are more water dependent than bulrushes. Typically, the hardstem bulrush [Scirus acutus] is used in wetland projects and restoration. Bulrushes are much slower than cattails in establishing and spreading because they proliferate primarily through underground rhizomes rather than seeds. Bulrushes can handle and withstand long, dry periods better than cattails. There are some noted differences between cattail and bulrush, as emergent vegetation, but one noted commonality between them is their special adaptation in transporting oxygen from the air to their roots, enabling them to grow in continually flooded, but shallow water areas. Both cattail and bulrush establish quickly, (although as stated previously, bulrushes are still slower than cattails at establishing), and both can tolerate poor quality water. However, bulrushes tend to grow in deeper water, whereas cattails prefer shallow water.

Bulrushes are various wetland herbs (aquatic) from the genus Scirpus. They are annual or perennial plants that are medium to tall in height. Also known as tule, wool grass and rat grass, this herbaceous plant can grow up to 10 feet tall; they are found all through-out North America and Eurasia.

They are divided into groups of soft-stem [Scirpus validus] and hard-stem [Scirpus tabernaemontani] bulrushes, found in the Cyperaceae family. These two species are quite similar in their appearance and share commonalities regarding the areas they grow in. Bulrushes are often used in constructed wetlands to treat agricultural NPS pollution and for the creation and restoration of wetlands. One of the plants used for this kind of project is the species called the Giant Bulrush aka ‘Restorer’. It is considered a superior plant for this, particularly in the south-easterly states. Now you may be wondering, ‘What is NPS pollution and where does it come from?’ Good question!

NPS is short for ‘non-source pollution’, which comes from coal and metal mining, photography and textile industries, agricultural and urban areas, failed home septic tank drain fields as well as municipal wastewater, storm water, and other land disturbing activities that detrimentally impact 30 – 50% of the waterways of America. An affordable and efficient means to address and clean up diverse wastewater is with constructed wetlands. For almost 60 years, researchers have investigated and reported on the use of natural or constructed wetlands and their effectiveness and ability to cleanse polluted water. In 1989, one such researcher named Hammer, defined constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment as “a deigned and man-made complex of saturated substrates, emergent and submergent vegetation, animal life, and water that simulates natural wetlands for human use and benefits.”

The bulrush [Scirpus spp] is one species of vegetation that is cultivated in shallow beds or channels containing a root medium such as sand and/or gravel are effective in helping to regulate water flow. At the same time, biochemical reactions occur on the submerged portions of the plants and within the wetland soils. Oxygen is passively made available for biochemical reactions mainly by the diffusion of air into the system (Rogers et al, 1991). In the United States alone, over 56 FWS (Fish and Wildlife Service) systems process 95 million gallons a day of runoff and wastewater (Reed, 1991).

Bulrushes are reed-like and have long, firm leaves, olive-green, three-sided stems and drooping clusters of small, often brown spikelets found near the stem tips. The stem bases have a few inconspicuous leaves. The roots (or rhizomes) produce edible tubers. The tips of the bulrushes bloom with clumps of reddish-brown or straw-colored flowers that turn into hard seed-like fruits, during the period of April through August.

They are often found along the shorelines of marshy or swampy areas; such as wet locations like the edges of shallow lakes, ponds, swamps, fresh and brackish marshes, wet woods, slow moving streams and roadside ditches. They can grow as high as 10 feet in moist soils, and in shallow or deep water, respectively, from 1 -9 ft of water. The bulrush is densely rhizomatous with abundant seed production.

The Scirpus species occur almost always under natural conditions in wetlands. They are divided into groups of soft-stem [Scirpus validus] and hard-stem [Scirpus tabernaemontani] bulrushes, found in the Cyperaceae family. These two species are quite similar in their appearance. Soft-stem bulrush can grow to 10 feet and grows in dense colonies from rhizomes. Soft-stem bulrush has a round (in cross section), light gray-green, relatively soft stem that comes to a point with no obvious leaves (only sheaths at the base of the stems). Flowers usually occur just below the tip of the stem, from July through September. They grow in the places mentioned in the first paragraph, where soils are poorly-drained or continually saturated. As far as ecological importance goes, the soft-stem bulrush can triple its biomass in one growing season. One area that benefits from this bulrush are urban wetlands, where soft-stem bulrushes can be and have been used to reduce pollutant loads carried by storm water runoff.

The hard-stem bulrush (tule, black root) is a perennial herb with an obligate [restricted to a particular condition in life], robustly rhizomatous wetland plant that forms dense colonies. The stems of this bulrush are erect and slender, sharp to softly triangular; typically reaching 3-10 feet tall. Likewise, the leaves are slender blades that are sheathed around the long stem. The flowers are brown spikelets. The panicle can have 3 to numerous spikelets, which are oval to cylindrical. The nutlets are completely covered by whitish-brown scales and have 6 basal bristles. Bulrushes have stout rootstocks and long, thick, brown underground stems [rhizomes]. The hard-stem bulrush has a much higher tolerance of mixosaline [water containing saline] conditions, than the soft-stem bulrush. It regrows well after removal and is tolerant of fire.

Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc.). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi (called “detritus”), provides food for many aquatic invertebrates. Seeds of bulrushes are consumed by ducks and other birds while geese, muskrats, and nutria consume the rhizomes and early shoots. Muskrats and beavers like to use this emergent wetland vegetation for food, as well as for hut construction, thus improving the wetland habitat.

Bulrushes have been and are used by many cultures for medicinal purposes, as well as

In the provinces of Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui and Zhejiang, in China use the bulrush in teas, decoctions and extracts. The bulrush is believed to be effective and most commonly used to stop bleeding, whether from an injury or an internal disorder. It is also used to treat painful menstruation and postpartum abdominal pain. Evidence has shown that bulrush extracts can also reduce the amount of lipids in the blood, as well as being effective in treating colitis.

Native Americans would parch the edible rhizomes (seeds), which are high in protein and very starchy, grind them into a powder for flour, mixed it with water, boiled it and ate it as porridge. The young shoots are considered a delicacy, whether eaten in the raw form or cooked. The bulrush can be used for syrup and /or sugar, used in a salad or eaten as a cooked vegetable. The syrup is dried out to produce sugar and the pollen can be used to make breads and cakes.

They also made a poultice from the stems to stop bleeding and to treat snakebites. The roots can be processed and used in treating abscesses.

‘Boneset’ tea was a popular remedy used by Native Americans and pioneers alike to address general aches and malaise. It was said to have the most effective relief for the nineteenth and twentieth century flu epidemics. It remains popular as a herbal tea and is used as a tonic for colds, reduce sweating and to promote bone healing. It is the belief that it does indeed aid in bone healing that gave ‘boneset’ tea its name. Modern medical research confirms these benefits, stating that the compounds of ‘boneset tea’ stimulate the immune system.

Some Native Americans would chew the roots of the bulrush as a preventative to thirst. They also used the ashes from burned stalk to put on a baby’s bleeding naval.

Stems are used to weave strong sleeping mats, ropes, baskets, purses, hats, skirts, sandals, curtains, temporary shelters, canoes and rafts, brooms and other household items. The plant must grow in coarse-textured soil that is free of gravel, silt and clay if the roots are to be used for quality basket-weaving. The root was sought for the black color, which was desired to highlight patterns created in the making of a basket.

The benefits and uses of the bulrush, both ecologically, medicinally and creatively, make it worth careful consideration for wetland planting zones and native restoration landscapes.

Guide to Creating an Effective Carpet Cleaning Maintenance Program

Having a maintenance program in place for your customers is always a good and professional idea. It helps to organize how you will implement your services and ensures your customers’ carpets are always thoroughly cleaned. The area you live in and the type of weather associated in that area will determine the frequency and type of cleaning needed throughout the year. You’ll find that putting together a solid strategy will require you to obtain the right carpet cleaning equipment for different areas of the job.

For instance, you’ll need great quality vacuums, steam cleaners and portable and truck mounted carpet cleaning machines. Before getting into that, it’s essential to go over the basics of what a maintenance program should consist of.

Organizing the Carpet Cleaning Process

Every maintenance plan should consist of the following four processes:

  • Prevention: Methods should be implemented to prevent soils from entering the facility
  • Daily maintenance: Minimize the damage caused to the flooring by removing the soils each day
  • Interim maintenance: Keep the appearance of the carpet looking good using low-moisture and low-chemical methods to enhance drying time
  • Restorative maintenance: Deep cleaning is needed every so often to get rid of the soils that have become deeply embedded in the carpeting

All of this will help to achieve the desired results. You’ll find that in order to keep floors looking good, maintenance of the outside of the property (shoveling snow, sweeping away dirt and debris,etc.) and vacuuming are highly essential. This will help to reduce the amount of dry soils and prevent excessive damage to the carpet.

The Right Carpet Cleaning Equipment for the Job

The technique is only one part of the equation. Having the right commercial carpet steam cleaners and vacuums is key. As you’re going over your maintenance program with customers, it’s important to point out the need for matting to be placed in all areas leading outside. Employees will track in dirt, so majority of that soil will be collected by the mats. These mats need to be strategically placed throughout the facility.

Next, sweepers is a good tool to use to keep the parking lot and walkways clean, so there’s less soil being dragged inside. The inside of the facility needs to be regularly vacuumed. It’s best to use a commercial-grade vacuum with brushes and hoses.

You can find vacuums and other carpet cleaning equipment at many online stores. Here, you can also find quality tools to use for your cleaning maintenance program.

Slip Sheets Explained

Getting goods from A to B is hard enough. Finding the right way to carry those goods is another headache. Once, we loaded and unloaded goods item by item – those were the days when labour was cheap. Then the Second World War came. This mother of many inventions brought us the wooden pallet. This, combined with a fork lift truck, enabled goods to be moved quickly and with less labour.

Wooden Pallets

The wooden pallet was a great idea. So good was the idea that it is still going strong to this day. However, things have changed. Pallet pooling can be an expensive business. Rental and purchase costs have risen to reflect the increase in timber costs and the extra burden of fumigation and quality control.

Escalating fuel costs have taken their toll on the inevitable dedicated trips that are made to repatriate empty pallets when imbalances occur in the supply chain. These fuel costs – and driver shortages – have also forced an examination of the space and weight taken up by the ubiquitous pallet.

The pallet is a bit like the air that we breathe. It is all around us yet we don’t see it. It is easy to forget the extra cost that the pallet adds to the value chain. Perhaps now the time has come when, in some eyes, the pallet has outstayed its welcome. Rather than being the carrier, is the pallet itself being carried by the value chain? Rather than wait for another world war, a ready solution has been found and is tried and tested. That is the Slip Sheet.

Enter the Slip Sheet

Slip sheets have been around for some time, especially in the

U.S. where the free market has always had the knack of taking the path of least resistance. European countries tend to prefer centrally planned systems and standardization. Slip sheets lack firmly agreed international standards and this may be one of the reasons why they have not been popular in Europe. The greatest reason is ignorance. Many simply have no understanding of slip sheets and how they work – so they don’t bother.

So perhaps it’s time to right this wrong here and now.

How Slip Sheets Work

1. Slip sheets are durable sheets of material that are designed to carry a uniform load of goods with plan dimensions (or “footprint”) of roughly 1 metre square/40 inches square (typically they may be designed to carry a footprint of 40 inches x 48 inches – 1m x 1.2m). The slip sheet is made to these dimensions plus a pull tab – an extension to the sheet – of up to 6 inches/15cm. There may be just one pull tab sticking out from under the load on one side. There could, however be pull tabs on 2, 3 or all 4 sides. Slip sheets can be made of

fibreboard or plastic.

2. Goods are loaded directly onto the slip sheet within the creases that border any pull tabs. A push-pull attachment on a forklift truck is used to drag the load onto the truck by gripping (one of) the pull tab(s). The push-pull attachment has very flat ground-level forks that are designed to go under the

slip sheet whilst it is under load

3. To unload, the forklift truck pushes the load, complete with slip sheet off of itself and withdraws

Pros and Cons

Slip sheets are not the panacea to all distribution needs. For one thing, all parties in any supply chain will need to invest in the push-pull attachments, which are not cheap. The staff training that will be required, especially for forklift truck operators, can also be expensive. Perhaps the greatest factor, though, is the uniformity of the load itself. This exposes the slip sheet’s greatest advantage – and greatest disadvantage. Slip sheets may not be able to cope when boxes are awkwardly shaped or where there is a mixed load of different shapes. Conversely, if a company is shipping out large quantities of the same sized box, then slip sheets are ideal. As such, slip sheets lend themselves to operations further upstream of the supply chain. As loads are broken down further downstream, then pallets may be more appropriate. The good thing is that loads of slip sheets can be easily transferred to pallets. A good example of the advantages of using slip sheets is where parts for goods are manufactured and shipped through a long distance sea route. The space and weight saving can result in a significant financial boost for the value chain.

Co-operative Value Chains

Another great factor in all this is uniformity of slip sheet systems. All parties in the supply chain need to be using the same specification of slip sheet and ensure that all staff are fully trained to ensure delivered loads are configured correctly for the receiving party. This requires value chains that are highly co-operative, or, to be realistic, it requires a value chain that has one dominant party who will simply dictate their requirements. The U.S. has pioneered slip sheets and has used them for many years. However, the dominance of the supermarket sector in some European countries may be forcing the change there also. The ability of large supermarkets to influence their supply chains means that they are in a position to take a strategic view of the benefits that slip sheets can bring. They are in a position to arrange for both senders and receivers to be ready to handle products on slip sheets. Things are changing. Perhaps the pallet industry is about to get a jolt.

Watch this space. There are tremendous savings to be made and significant environmental benefits to be gained. Full conversion to slip sheets for any supply chain is not going to happen, but a partial conversion for particular product lines is not only desirable, but inevitable – even in Europe.

How to Make a Woodcut Print With Or Without a Printing Press In 5 Easy Steps

The art of the woodcut print has a long tradition particularly in the Chinese and Japanese cultures. Woodcut printing is capable of a wide range of effects from the subtle, poetic, multicolor, detailed prints of the Oriental artists to the bold, expressive, graphic, black and white prints of the German Expressionist artists in the early twentieth century.

Making a woodcut print is simple, does not require expensive material and can even be done without a printing press.

Materials required for creating a woodcut print are as follows:

o Block printing ink – either water based or oil based

o Wood block – soft wood like pine or linoleum

o Ink roller – rubber

o Woodcutting tools – V-shaped, U-shaped and straight edged

o Printmaking paper – acid free printmaking paper – either standard white or handmade papers of any type

o Wood spoon or printing press – large wood spoon with a broad flat back surface or an etching press

o White pencil – conti or pastel pencil

STEP 1. Preparing the Block

Once you have your wood block and your cutting tools, you are ready to begin the creative process. One important factor to keep in mind when you begin is that the print will be a mirror image of the image you cave into your block. You should sketch out your idea on paper first, then coat your block with a thin layer of black ink using your ink roller and some black printing ink. Let the ink dry and then draw your image on the plate with a white pencil or a white ink pen. The coating of black ink on the block will make your image more visible while you are carving the image into the block.

STEP 2. Carving the Image

Using your carving tools, carve the image into the wood. If you want an expressive image, then cut and carve the wood aggressively using a broad cutting tool and don’t worry about the details and, conversely, if you want a more realistic detailed image using a smaller V-shaped tool, slowly and carefully cut your image into the block.

STEP 3. Proofing the Image

At any point during the carving process you can make a proof of your image so that you can evaluate the way your pr8int will look and so that you can adjust your process if necessary. You should be aware that proofing will make the lighter carved out areas of your block darker when you clean your block after proofing. This may be something you do not want because it will change the way you visualize your image on the block.

STEP 4. Inking the Block

Ok, you have carved your image and it looks awesome! You are now ready to print your masterpiece. Squeeze some ink onto a smooth flat, non-absorbent surface like glass, and using your roller, roll out a very thin layer of ink. Do not use a back and forth motion with the roller; roll the ink one say, lift up the roller and roll it the same way repeatedly until you have a thin layer of ink on your roller. Several layers of thin ink is what you are striving for on your block. Too much ink on the block will overflow into the carved out areas and your image will not print correctly, and conversely, too little ink on your block will make for a splotchy print and the edges of your image will not be sharp and crisp. You will have to experiment through trial and error to find the right inking technique.

STEP 5. Printing the Block

If you have access to a printing press, this is the best and easiest way to print your block. Ink your plate, place it on the press, cover the block with your print paper cover the paper with the press blanket, adjust the roller pressure and slowly roll the block through the press. Carefully lift the paper off the block and there you have it, your woodblock print masterpiece. Set it aside in a safe place to dry. Limit your edition to about 50 pints because the image quality will deteriorate after about that many prints. If you do not have access to a printing press, you can use a wooden spoon or similar tool to make your print. Ink your block, place your paper on top of your block and using a flat wooden surface, rub the paper against the block in a consistent circular motion until you feel the ink has been transferred to the paper. If in doubt, peel back the paper on one corner and judge your technique and make adjustments in pressure if necessary. Obviously, effectiveness of this technique is more suited to smaller block prints.