Recrossing the Bridge of Spies

Approaching the crescendo of the Cold War, two world superpowers exchanged a pair of spies on a bridge in Berlin separating East from West. The date was February 10, 1962. The weather had turned recently from snow to simply overcast, symbolic of the temporary thaw in relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that would allow them to make this gesture before descending into the madness that was the nuclear arms race.

At that time, according to author Giles Whittell, the two ideological foes had a mere ten ICBM nuclear warheads each. Before the Cold War came to a conclusion thirty years later, they would possess tens of thousands. It would seem that Eisenhower’s warning about the military/industrial complex had been ignored. It is during the span of time that “Bridge of Spies” covers that we see the seminal ground being laid for the war that thankfully never became a reality. It was fought in the shadows. Giles expertly peels back the layers of the onion domes to cast light on the fears each side had of the other.

Enter stage left, William Fisher, a spy of rather curious lineage from Russia. From Germany, he entered Canada via passenger liner at Quebec City under one of many assumed names. The date is November, 1948. The Soviets are seriously behind in nuclear technology and, since the days of Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project, have been feverishly spying on the Americans in order to play catch up. Fisher’s job is to recruit and establish a network of spies throughout the U.S. since the last group of Russian spies have been detected and routed (Klaus Fuchs and the executed Rosenbergs). William Fisher is a cool headed spy. He’s concerned mainly with establishing himself deep undercover and maintaining that cover at all costs. He does very little actual spying for years. It seems he’s quite comfortable maintaining his cover as an artist in New York, retired after making oodles in the photo-finishing business. The author points out that since no one ever made more than half an oodle at photo finishing, his cover should have been suspect at first glance.

This reminds me of two Nazi spies who landed by submarine in the Gaspé, Québec during WWII. They lasted all of about fifteen minutes. They sauntered into a small hotel in the middle of nowhere asking for a room. Paying in long outdated currency, they went up to the room for a much needed rest. The desk clerk couldn’t imagine from where these two “business travelers” had arrived. Had they really lugged their suitcases from the next village as they said, since they arrived on foot and reeked of diesel fuel? She immediately called the Mounties. William Fisher should have been similarly detected by his neighbors who he regaled with conflicting stories about his past, but they casually chalked it up to what people reinventing themselves generally do: a man without accomplishments concocts them to impress others. No matter that he was obviously a liar by his many conflicting histories, he was hail-fellow-well-met and he deeply shared their interest in art. His only contact in America that he cultivated in barren soil was Reino Hayhanen, a maritally troubled proponent of the Wets if there were to be a resurrection of the Prohibition discussion.

Enter stage right, Francis Gary Powers, a young expert Air Force pilot who is approached by the CIA to fly reconnaissance missions over Soviet airspace. At this point, the US has Strategic Bomber Command, large bombers constantly manned and ready to fly over the North Pole to deliver nuclear bombs on hypothetical Russian targets. The Russians soon match the nuclear bomb technology and leapfrog ahead with ballistic missiles capable of crossing continents in mere minutes. America is in a panic and desperately needs to know how many missiles the Soviets have and where they are. The U.S. has developed a plane, the U2, which can fly at 70,000 feet, far above the ability of Russian fighters to intercept. They need the country’s best pilots to fly long missions over hostile territory, taking photos of missile installations. For various reasons, it’s not practical to ask the CIA to develop a network of spies in the Soviet Union. This is the only avenue of approach open to them, and probably the most reliable.

Powers, coming from a very modest background in Virginia, is offered an astounding thirty thousand dollars to fly for the CIA. Anyone who knows the U.S. will recognize the allure for many Americans of disadvantaged lineage. In today’s money that would be equivalent to roughly half a million per annum. The work consists mainly of training missions. Each incursion into hostile airspace must have Presidential approval, so there are few flights over Russia. The real enemy becomes boredom and insidious meanderings of the jealous mind for wives who cannot accompany them into the remote air bases in Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.

Another key character in this drama is inanimate so to speak – the U2 itself. Whittell expertly describes the development of the aircraft needed to fly above intercepting Russian MIGs. Admittedly a reader needs a basic knowledge of aviation but the author opens that door to trade school readers. He tells us why the aircraft was finicky to fly at these altitudes, why the U2 had such low control in thin air, why the engine had to be enormously powerful to keep it aloft one step away from being in orbit, why the range between stall speed and over-acceleration at these altitudes required the aircraft generally be flown by autopilot, and why a pilot bailing out at seventy thousand feet was not expected to survive. Pop the parachute at that height and the human body, kept under pressure by an inflated elastic pressure suit, was expected to blow up due to expanding gasses in the blood stream and flesh. During tests, exposed skin not held down by the suit bubbled as aircraft attained high altitudes. Imagine an astronaut without his suit taking a walk in outer space. The result would be an instantaneous red and brown poopnado. It is conceivable that U2 pilots were not able to envision such images, but it’s more likely that they suppressed them, allowing their subconscious minds to create an ever pervasive undercurrent of fear to their existence, perhaps the cause of many a tightrope walker’s death.

The canvas on which this drama unfolds is also drawn to perfection. Giles dispassionately tells us of two powerful and immense rivals who try to impress each other with filmed open-air demonstrations of thermonuclear blasts, which serve as a warning of the power of 100 megaton mushroom clouds and the risks of open warfare between two hostile giants. Whittell takes a detached perspective necessary to understanding the folly of mankind and how close we were to the insane act of self-immolation. Having inputs from Sergei Khrushchev, son of the former General Secretary, is invaluable. Having the distance of 50 years hindsight equally so.

In this work we take a look at the contemporary political systems: the Soviet Union run by dogmatic social engineers who willingly sacrifice thousands in the Gulags to mold human behavior in acceptance of the concept of self-denial for the greater good of the State. Imagine if you will, a peasant in charge of this experiment with the bombastic personality and vacuous intellect of a Russian Donald Trump, exhibiting a tendency to remove his shoes in the United Nations and bang them on the desk as the ultimate power of his articulation. The peasant-leader claims the Soviet Union is manufacturing ICBMs like sausages and will bury the U.S.A. Take a look at a map of the Soviet Union. You can fit three complete United States in its territory. To prove or disprove the Soviet Union has launch sites ready to destroy the U.S. at a moment’s notice would be a daunting task, so the aggressive Khrushchev must be taken at his word. Hence the need for over flights.

The other side is essentially a class system run by lottery winners in the capitalistic struggle for individual supremacy. Their leader, John F. Kennedy was the scion of one of the more successful, morally ambiguous profiteers. John F. Kennedy joked that his father had asked him precisely how many votes were needed to win the 1960 election since he was too cheap to pay for a landslide. It matters little that the American proletariat all wish to play a game with losing odds to become the bourgeoisie. The seductive mirage of wealth, the freedom of choice to jump or not jump on the exercise wheel matters most. It’s a right even the disadvantaged like Gary Powers will defend to the death, even if that means annihilation of the planet. America is an industrial giant after World War II, and the average citizen is by far better off due to the free flow of capital and the credit system. They will defend this even if it means a pre-emptive nuclear strike.

Ironically, it would take the world’s largest Communist power to prove fifty years later that the capitalistic system sometimes works best. At the time however, the U.S. system was losing influence throughout the world. It was looking very bleak for free-enterprisers; China, Cuba, Greece, North Korea, Indochina, Malaysia, virtually all of Eastern Europe, and many others had fallen into Communist influence; hence the desperate need to catch up in number of ICBMs. The Cold War was very real, a nuclear tinderbox ready to ignite.

Fisher, the Soviet spy, is captured, convicted and sent to prison in Atlanta. Powers, shot down over Russia, is also imprisoned. ‘Bridge of Spies’ relates the details and background of their exchange in Berlin soon after the building of the Iron Curtain.

I’ll let author Giles Whittell take it from here since he can do a much better job of it than I ever could. Whittell writes with the professional skill of a detached journalist, weaving several threads together through time to create an intense and very relevant story from an omniscient perspective. To my mind, the work is extremely well researched, peppered with the histories of many bit players, such as the men who manned the missile sites that brought Powers’ U2 down 1500 miles inside Soviet airspace. To collect such detailed and precise information over several continents fifty years hence is a feat of Herculean proportions even for the best writer. I tip my hat to his superior skills in delving into the murky depths of the past.

Now that I have piqued your interest in the topic and skill of the author I must offer caveats. Napoleon was quite wrong about England; it isn’t populated solely by shopkeepers. It would seem it’s peopled by two types – either extremely gifted craftsmen or stultifying academics. As with many English non-fiction authors, Giles is a member of the first group with aspirations to the latter. If I say an author is an academic, it’s the kiss of death to his work as far as reading pleasure goes. Giles comes dangerously close a number of times, crossing the line for brief periods and quickly jumping back to keep the work interesting and moving along.

There is a temptation among academics when exposing a superior knowledge of a topic and complete possession of the facts to condescend. One of these errors is to make forward references as in – “There I was in Swaziland, faced by thousands of armed and half-crazed rebellious natives, but that’s all in the future. First let me tell you about my impetuous youth and what made me join the Queen’s Own Rifles as their number one surgeon.” Giles does this with his opening chapter, introducing a minor character at the scene on the bridge, which is quickly forgotten. He refers to her at the end, nearly two hundred and sixty pages later, but my memory is unable to place her.

Another thing academics like to do is clutter their work with numerous factual asides, establishing for the reader who’s in charge. In a mere few pages it becomes quite clear that Giles is English and from one of the elite schools, all without reading the book jacket. Giles has a subconscious habit of establishing his credentials to the reader through didactic diction and pedantry, intellectual snobbery handed to him when he received his diploma. Why an author will do this at the risk of sabotaging their own work is beyond me. His credentials as a professional journalist and editor also probably overwhelmed his proofreaders, preventing them from commenting on another stylistic error, most irritating to the reader of a fast moving historical drama. He very often makes references or inference to someone or something at the end of a small passage that is so oblique the passage must be re-read to be understood. For example, first he might talk about a plane capable of breaking through the seventy thousand foot barrier, and then he might discuss the program to create said aircraft, and lastly his reference or inference will be to ‘it’. I don’t know how many times I had to re-read a passage to discover which one ‘it’ meant. One last thing I found troublesome was the introduction to a crowd of faceless characters. We are introduced to so many Beerlis, Donovans, Drozdovs, Meehans, Silvermans, Sudoplatovs, Von Broekers, et al that their significance becomes a distant memory. Since Giles has created a list of characters in the foreword, he deems it unnecessary to jog your memory with a gentle reminder. Forget who she is? Go look it up, doofus. Just the title of the cast as ‘Dramatis Personae’ should have been a clue to its subliminal academic tendencies, but I digress. Giles, overall I have given you a B plus for your work, but if you wish to receive a higher grade on your next assignment I shall expect less pedantics from you in the future, young man.

All facetiousness aside, ‘Bridge of Spies’ is more than a good read, relevant to understanding who we are and an important, accurate history of the days when nuclear holocaust was a very real possibility for people of my generation. I remember the days of air raid sirens atop telephone poles in rural neighborhoods and drills during grade school to bend and duck under desks. If I remember anything about my early youth, it was having to prepare for and face nuclear extinction as an eight-year old. Giles Whittell does an excellent job of bringing that era back to life.

10 Reasons to Choose Steel Buildings

Metal provides several advantages over other more traditional building materials. However, it seems that most of that knowledge remains unknown for many people since not everyone is familiar with the construction industry. With this in mind, below are listed top 10 reasons why a metal building could be the best possible choice for your next building project.

1. Fast and efficient construction

Metal buildings take a fraction of the building time, compared to other kinds of buildings. Constructions can be assembled quickly and efficiently in all seasons, besides only a small, skilled team of workers is required to carry out the work. Steel allows for precise, accurate assembly because components are pre-manufactured off site in the factory based on the building project specification. Depending on a project’s scale and complexity, a whole frame can be erected in a matter of days or weeks. It corresponds up to 40% reduction in construction time relative to on-site construction.

2. Economical savings

Any building is an investment. However, pre-engineered metal buildings are one of the most economical choices available. Because of it’s own strength, steel is very economical material. Less constructive components are required and there’s no need to build solid load-bearing walls. Steel structures can be significantly lighter than concrete equivalents and require smaller, less extensive foundations. All of this means that you will save time on construction and labor costs.

3. Ease of maintenance

The savings don’t stop after construction ends, though. Metal actually offers better lifecycle returns because it’s less expensive to maintain and lasts significantly longer than alternative materials. Constructions feature durable coatings and paints that boast a service life of up to 40 years, preventing rust and corrosion. Building will serve several decades long without significant interference. Basically, the only maintenance required is the occasional washing of the external walls, clearing snow from the roof, etc.

4. Design freedom

Perhaps, to many people metal is still associated with the boring “box” type buildings, however modern construction technology allows a project of almost any size and shape. You can customize building exterior with a wide choice of finishing materials to achieve the look you want. Steel gives architects more freedom to explore ideas and develop fresh solutions. It has a capacity to bend to a certain radius, creating segmented curves or free-form combinations for facades.

5. Elastic expansion options

When a company grows, there might be a need to modify or expand the existing building. Steel buildings are amongst the easiest of structures to modify, no matter the shape or size. Thanks to the constructive properties, modifications in no way affects the overall structural integrity of the building. Repositioning walls, building new space and adding it to the existing framework – all of these are easy tasks, with shorter construction times and lower costs.

6. More open space

Steel sections provide an elegant, cost-effective method of spanning long distances. Extended steel spans can create large, open plan, column free internal spaces. Overall width and length of the building is not limited. Minimising the number of columns makes it easier to subdivide and customize spaces. These open spaces also increase the building’s value, as it can be used for any number of things, and make it a more competitive piece of real estate.

7. Proven durability and longevity

Unlike many materials, steel’s behavior remains consistent and predictable with time. Metal is insect-resistant, mold-proof, noncombustible, and it doesn’t warp or shrink. When treated properly, metal also resists corrosion and rust. Steel structures and their joints are effective against weather-induced loads of severe storms, earthquakes, and a thick blanket of snow.

8. Fire resistance

Extensive testing of structural steelwork components for many decades has provided the industry with a thorough understanding of how steel buildings respond to fire. Steel has been tested more than any other building material. This has allowed to develop precise specifications of fire protection requirements for steel-framed buildings.

9. Energy efficiency

Metal buildings are energy efficient. You will spend less money trying to keep a metal building hot or cold in the extreme temperature months since metal buildings are so much better at retaining the inside temperature. Heat radiates quickly from steel roofing and walls, creating a cooler environment in hot weather. In cold climates, double steel panel walls can be well insulated to better contain the heat.

10. Eco-friendly material

Steel is the world’s most recycled material, and unlike many other recyclable products, it does not lose its strength and structural properties after being recycled. Steel is 100% recyclable and produces minimal waste. It also saves on the use of natural raw resources since around 30% – 50% of today’s new production is already being made from recycled material. Besides, reuse of materials is less intensive and energy consuming as compared to new production.

As you can see, the benefits are obvious when it comes to steel. Whether you are seeking a commercial or industrial structure, a steel structure building can save time and money as well as contribute to the environmentally friendly movement.

Wedding Bands For Women And Bezel Set Engagement Rings

One of the most popular types of wedding bands for women are bezel set diamond rings. They are also very popular for men's engagement rings. Choosing such an important symbol of love and devotion takes time and deserves attention to detail.

A prominent feature of these wedding rings is the security with which the gem is set in the ring. Unlike other methods of attaching a diamond to a gold, platinum or palladium band, the bezel set virtually encases the gem to the metal.

This style is ideal for active couples, or those who do not wish to frequently remove their valuable band. Imagine playing a rousing game of volleyball and discovering later on that your precious stone is gone. The chances of ever finding it are slim to none.

This setting is a very time-honored method of attaching a gem to the ring. Basically, the gem is set deep in the mounting then a special burnishing tool is used to stretch the metal over the top edges of the gem, holding it fast in place.

Some people hold the unfounded belief that this method prevents the clarity of a diamond from radiating out and glistening with its natural beauty. In truth, most of the radiance comes from the top of the gem and the metal setting does not really inhibit the gem from sparkling with radiance.

Though this method does leave a more pronounced and obvious mark on the ring, the security it provides more than offsets the intrusion of the metal on the gem. A good jeweler is expert at making a beautiful piece, in spite of the presence of the metal.

Partial bezels are also quite popular and provide a stunning backdrop to show off the natural beauty of a diamond or other precious gem. It is important, however, to be sure that the partial is still strong enough to securely hold the gem in place during vigorous activity.

Another important benefit of the bezel set engagement ring or wedding band is that the collar around the gem helps prevent dust, dirt and oil from collecting around the stone. This can cause the sparkle to become dull and cloudy.

One might be tempted to think that this design is limited to very simple and plain rings, but this is not the case. In fact, you can buy Irish Claddagh, Christian, custom design, and many other styles that use the bezel setting.

Men who choose a wedding band with precious stones very often opt for this style because of the strength and durability inherent in the design.

World’s Hottest Hot Sauce is a Pepper Extract That Can Kill

This Hot Sauce is so hot, you’d have to gulp 250,000 gallons of water just to put out the fire.

“We live in an extreme world,” describes Blair Lazar, a hot sauce inventor. “And I make extreme foods. ‘ In his palm of his hand is the most blistering pepper extract in the world, an over-the-top version of pepper concentrate so blistering that customers must sign a waiver clearing him of any liability if they are crazy enough to try it.

Locked in a crystal bottle sealed with wax and a tiny skull, Mr Lazar’s lip-scorching concoction is pure capsaicin – the chemical that gives habanero and jalapeno peppers their atomic heat. Blair Lazar claims to try his sauce is to encounter ‘pure heat’ His “16 Million Reserve”, which is released to the public in 2006, is the brass ring of hot sauces, the most blistering pepper extract that chemistry can create. It is 30 times hotter than the hottest pepper, the Red Savina from Mexico, and 8,000 times more powerful than Tabasco sauce.

To put the smallest dot on the tip of your tongue is to encounter “pure heat”, Mr Lazar says. Although capsaicin does not actually burn – it tricks your brain into thinking that you are in pain by exciting nerve endings in your mouth – some health specialists think that it might kill an asthmatic or hospitalize a user who touched his eyes or different susceptible parts of the anatomy. Mr Lazar has trained his taste buds to endure the feeling, but he remembers the instant he decided to try his “16 Million Reserve” himself. “The pain was exquisite,” he said. “It was like having your tongue hit with a hammer. Man, it hurt. My tongue swelled up and it hurt like hell for days. ” The Scoville Scale measures the heat of peppers. The eye-watering merits of peppers are measured in globally Scoville units, established by Wilbur Scoville, an American chemist who, in 1912, asked panelists to evaluate how many parts of sugar water it took to remove the heat.

Today, capsaicin content is measured in parts per million, using a procedure recognized as high-performance liquid chromatography; one part being equivalent to 15 Scoville units. Benign bell peppers rate zero Scoville units and the Red Savina joined Guinness World Records at 570,000 units. Pure capsaicin, meanwhile, has a heat score of 16 million units – moving the name for Mr Lazar’s latest innovation. Each of the 999 limited-issue bottles, priced at $289, comprises of just a few crystals. The concentrate is so strong, though, that Mr Lazar approximates that it would have to be dissipated in 250,000 gallons of water before it might no longer be tasted.

His calling as a hot sauce inventor began when he established that the best way to remove people under the influence out of his seaside bar was to give them free chicken wings immersed in an eye-watering home-made hot sauce. Now he owns and manages Extreme Foods in New Jersey, marketing his existing assortment of sauces, including “Mega Death” and “Jersey Death”, the second, according to Mr Lazar, being the world’s most blistering usable hot sauce. He maintains a refrigerator full of purified water in his headquarters for those courageous enough to try some of the sauces. Most testers sweat severely and are powerless to see through their tears for up to half an hour. It takes many tons of crisp peppers to produce 1lb of capsaicin for the 16 Million Reserve, and the work takes months. First, wetness is separated from the crisp peppers until a thick tar-like substance is left. The process by which all additional impurities are removed, leaving pure capsaicin concentrate, is classified, but the work takes place in a research laboratory where Mr Lazar and his team wear sealed outfits with masks to steer clear of inhaling the dust. Several years ago Mr Lazar developed “2am Reserve” in of the hour at which he once closed his bar. It was hotter than any other hot sauce creation on the market, measuring up to 900,000 Scoville units. He then distilled even more powerful extracts, including the scorching “6am Reserve” at 10 million units. Most of the signed and numbered bottles of “16 Million Reserve” will be purchased by hot sauce addicts recognized as chile heads.

Buyers have to agree to a rider cautioning that any handling “must be under a controlled environment using protective and protective eye wear”. “It can’t be used for flavor,” says Mr Lazar. “The only purpose is its heat value.” He prefers not to guess on what might happen should anyone be crazy enough to down a whole flask. Rinsing the mouth with milk is among the best cures as it binds to fat molecules; it will also dissipate in alcohol.

6 Quick Cheap Decorating Ideas Under 50 Dollars

Are you tired of your current surroundings but find yourself short on cash? Don’t despair. Interior makeovers don’t always equate to thousands of dollars and major room transformations. Often it is the little things that make the greatest impact. Here are a few tips to get you inspired.

Add a splash of color

If your accent color is soft shade like smoky blue, consider one of the deeper, more vibrant jewel tones. A bright-lemon chiffon will brighten up a room that has grown tired of darker colors. It can be done simply by adding splashes of color in a vase, decorative bowl, candles or pillows.

Add ambient lighting

The lighting of a room sets the mood and accents the nicest features. Add canister lighting behind floor plants or corner furniture pieces, put small task lighting under cabinet frames in the kitchen or just add a new lamp to an entry table. Subtle yet effective.

Add plants

When used as decorative accent pieces, plants add warmth and life to a home. With so many colors, varieties, shapes and sizes, plants are one of the most versatile features you can add to your decor. Uses can range from adding height and a focal point to adding a splash of color.

Before purchasing a plant, keep in mind where you plan to use it so you can choose one that will thrive in the conditions where it will be placed. Having to line up a roomful of plants on a windowsill because they need more light defeats the purpose.

You can also choose a beautiful lifelike plant that never needs watering or pruning and can survive the harshest of environments, like a dried topiary or an artificial plant. Though plants that are this lifelike exceed the $50 price, in the long run they can actually cost less than live plants.

Rearrange furniture

If your room dimensions make it impossible to rearrange the furniture without upsetting the flow of traffic, consider moving side tables, adding a side table that might be employed in another room or removing them altogether.

Furniture makeover

You will feel as if you have purchased all new furniture simply by adding, or changing, the existing accent pieces. If you currently have a beige sofa with beige throw pillows, purchase a set of vibrantly colored pillows with a chenille throw of the same color to casually drape across the sofa. The impact is huge.

Replace cabinet hardware

Changing drawer pulls and cabinet knobs can completely redefine a room. If you are going for a dramatic change, shoot for extremes. White cabinets with existing white hardware changed to red pulls would certainly qualify as a kitchen makeover.

Common Problems in Family-Owned Businesses – How to Reconcile the Interests of All Family Members

Autologica presents the third part in a series of articles that address common problems and issues faced by family-owned businesses, based on an interview between Al McClymont, CEO of Autologica Dealer Management Systems, and JC Aimetta, an expert and coach who specializes in family -owned businesses.

Al McClymont: It seems obvious that in every family-owned business there will be members that will work in the company, and members that choose not to. How can the interests of family members that work in the company and family members who do not work there, be reconciled?

JC Aimetta: Well, first of all , it is necessary to understand that the family members who work in the company do so to make everyone wealthy, even those members that do not work there.

Thus, a simple way of reconciling interests is to provide the family owners that do not work in the company with information. Offer them information about how the business is doing, how it is evolving.

The simplest data is the balance sheet. An annual or biannual balance, so that they know whether there was a profit or loss, is a way to keep the family members that do not work in the company informed, and help them to learn to appreciate the family business.

Mainly, when it comes to family members that are owners and who live abroad, a feeling of emotional indifference is generated because they never get information about the company's development. Thus, little by little they lose interest, and may decide abruptly to get rid of their share. So, the first thing to do is provide information.

And the second thing is to provide money .

The owners of the family business tend to become richer in assets and poorer in cash. That is to say, they are "rich" because they have many things, but "poor" because they have no cash to spend.

Therefore, when someone reaches their 50's or 60's and realizes that they own 20% of a company located in some part of the world, but they have to take out a loan in order to take a cruise, they can get angry.

Al McClymont: What should the company be doing to prevent theses family members from getting upset?

JC Aimetta: Well, first of all , it is necessary to provide the family member who does not work in the company with some kind of return, some distribution of results, even if it means less reinvestment and less growth.

As regards information, we should believe that the family members who do not work in the company are experts. Thus, it is a great mistake to hand a balance sheet to a person who is a painter or a writer, and think they are ignorant because they do not know how to read it. Nobody is that ignorant as to be unable to learn how to read a balance sheet. And if they want to be a shareholder, an owner, they must at least understand the ABCs. In practice this is not usually explained to them, the information is just given to them in order to satisfy a formality.

Every time an owner does not understand what is happening and does not see cash from the company he owns, the risk of them suddenly leaving even grows, sometimes even amid an unhealthy legal situation.

In the next part of this interview, we'll talk about how the family-owned business can plan for succession.

Gear Up for Nature Without the Deep Pockets – But With the Right Survival Gear

Nature doesn’t care whether you’re color coordinated

Or if you’re wearing the most expensive gear.

Nature just takes care of itself.

Its your responsibility to do the same.

Nature has no hours of operation…

you don’t have to rush, hurry or beat the crowds,

and there is no competition.

The options are endless,the choice is yours

Survival is about being smart in your mountain excursion and being prepared with survival gear whether it’s a hydration system while on the slopes to prevent altitude sickness ; warm outerwear, thermal underwear and face coverage to prevent frost bite; or avalanche certification and an avalanche beacon, probe and shovel while in the back country.

Survival gear will protect you from the elements such as sun, snow, wind and rain and keep you from harms way.

* Footwear will support your feet and legs as they carry you through varied terrain.

* Outer wear will protect you from the elements of rain and snow and sun yet allow your body to breathe.

* Gear will do a lot of the work for you (such as sleeping bags and tents) and the accessories will support and enhance your nature excursions.

Survival gear doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. There are many outdoor manufacturer’s that design great performance gear unleashing you to nature’s possibilities without the deep pockets.

When shopping for survival gear look for:

1. Reputable reviews on selected survival gear by experts from periodicals such as Outside Magazine, Outdoor Magazine and National Geographic.

2. Your children. Nurture them with Nature and prepare them with proper survival gear to protect them from the elements.

3. Sites that offer benefits and hot tips for keeping survival to a minimum and letting the gear do the rest.

Before venturing into the high country consider preparing your body for nature’s demands with at home exercise machines that mimic the motions of hiking and cross country skiing. Explore nature, try a new mountain sport, or be better than you were last year and let the survival gear take care of the rest. It’s all here for you. It’s only you that’s holding the possibility back.

Handwriting Development

Most people do not realize that good handwriting is a direct result from good upper body strength. Crawling is a natural milestone that children need to learn. Crawling develops power in the shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands. Have you heard or personally ever stated “My child skipped crawling and went straight to walking!” While walking skills may be advancing quickly, it is also a good indication that the child will have poor fine motor skills.

Poor fine motor skills will impact a child’s ability to fasten buttons, snaps, zippers, pick up small objects, and especially to have legible handwriting. As a child crawls, his/her grasp will start to mature, allowing for more precise movements later on in development. Thus, good posture and arm strength are critical factors in improving your child’s handwriting. They are also beneficial areas to work on from birth to 5 years, during a child’s prewriting years.

What are good activities that can promote upper body strength? The following are some techniques that you can try at home: crawling through tunnels, wheelbarrow walking (child is walking on hands and adult is holding his/her feet), climbing ladders, lifting heavy objects, kneading dough (play dough), monkey bar play, or moving a scooter board by laying on his/her stomach and pushing through their arms (also can be done up or down ramps).

For those of you who have older children, you may know handwriting lessons are not always the most fun. Prior to having your child participate in a fine motor activity, have him/her perform one of the above upper body strength activities. These activities will stimulate the muscles and encourage good postural control during a handwriting or fine motor activity. Also, it may increase your child’s attention and focus! Do not have your child sit for more than 15-20 minutes, especially if he/she is under 5 years old. Eventually increase his/her time in small increments until you reach the desired practice time. It is important for you to provide a happy handwriting experience! Have fun!

Some Common Features of Bucket Elevators

Bucket elevators are an essential part of the equipment and machinery of mines, manufacturing, smelters and many other processing plants. They can be various designs, weights and sizes, depending upon the type of product that is being moved. Some of the common products that are moved via elevators and conveyors include, bulk foods, grains, metal ore and liquid substances. These elevators can be mechanical, hydraulic, electronic or operated through other means, including animal or human muscle power.

The buckets are typically attached to an endless belt or chain. This belt butts up against other equipment or machinery so that the contents of the bucket is transported from one location or level to another. These circular belts can be friction driven or chain driven. The surface of the conveyor can be rough or smooth.

The presence of the buckets on the belt indicate that the product being moved is liquid or perhaps small bulk products. The buckets are filled and in the case of liquids the contents are transported to the new location and dumped or poured. The same process is likely to occur when the product is ore.

Products such as ore can be very heavy, so the equipment must be durable. Metal buckets are quite common. Elevator parts such as conveyor belts can be made of heavy fabric, metal, screening or straps. It is important that these parts be very durable, since most elevators are most profitable when they are run continuously. They may only be shut down periodically to perform routine maintenance.

The elevator can go straight up or down from one level to another. When this type of elevator is used, the product is placed into the bucket which is raised or lowered either through mechanical or hydraulic means. When the full bucket reaches the new level, the action of the belt causes the bucket to tip the contents into another container or storage area.

The contents may also be transported horizontally. In this instance, the bucket may appear like a scoop to move the product from one part of a facility to another. Moving products in this way can be done by fewer people than traditional methods. Usually the equipment is operated by a series of switches that provide power to the appropriate area.

It is also common for elevators to work on an incline arrangement. This means less wear and tear on the buckets and the connections. The product is placed in a bucket on the lower level and the conveyor or elevator belt moves upward at an angle. The bucket reaches the apex of a continuous belt rise and the contents are dumped.

Bucket elevators are manufactured by a limited number of businesses, the importance of good equipment with durable parts can’t be overestimated. The businesses that use these elevators can’t afford to shut down operations for a missing or worn part, Regular maintenance and inspections are critical to efficient operation. The manufacturing plant for the elevator equipment often provides technicians who do the maintenance work.

Motorcycle Accident Claims – A Crucial and Basic Ten Steps to Making a Successful Claim

A motorbike accident is treated in law in just the same way as any other type of accident. The injured party needs to establish that the accident is someone (or something) else's fault (or at least partly someone / something else's fault). By law all drivers and riders must have at least third party insurance cover. This means that their insurers will pick up the bill if the driver causes an accident and injury to any other party (including any passengers, whether related to the driver or not).

By law all drivers and riders must have at least third party insurance cover. This means that their insurers will pick up the bill if the driver causes an accident and injury to any other party (including any passengers, whether related to the driver or not). If you have the bad luck to have been involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, or with a driver who does not stop after the accident, you can make a claim through the Motor Insurers' Bureau.

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident try and follow these 10 basic steps:

1. make sure you make a log of the make color and model of any other vehicles involved, together with their number plate

2. take a note any damage to other vehicles involved

3. take a note of the other drivers' names and addresses

4. take a note of any witness names and addresses

5. do not make any admissions about liability

6. try to sketch a plan of the accident scene and where the vehicles ended up

7. as soon as you are able, write down your version of what happened

8. notify your insurers as soon as you can after the accident

9. if you have suffered any injury at all get it checked out by a doctor

10. Calculate your loss of earnings and any incidental expenses that are related to your accident including expenses your friends and family may have incurred.

So how does this information affect motorcycle accident claims?

In summary, motorbike claims are as standard as other road vehicle claims and despite the bias that will inevitably be in the minds of everyone who handles your case (eg the police, the doctors etc.) as long as you have the proof and the documentation then your compensation will be obtained and awarded in the exact same manner with the exact same values.

Unfortunately, when placing actual blame in a motorbike accident investigation a certain amount of bias will be automatically placed against the rider of motorbikes due to these public perceptions of these methods of transport. It is the police that generally provide all the statistics on fatalities and injuries for all accidents. Therefore they are more aware of the chance of the incident being the fault of the motor-cycle.

So when looking for someone to blame for your motorbike accident injury you may have a slightly harder time and may have to have more conclusive evidence to prove that you were not the cause of your own demise. But, motorcycle accident compensation itself is not affected by the actual form of transportation. Even though motorcycle injuries are generally more severe than those experienced by car drivers due to how exposed you are, your compensation amounts are not penalized for having chosen to ride a bike.

Accident injury line are specialists in Motorcycle accident compensation claims [] Operating on a 24hr 7 days a week service. Please call 0800 011 2172

How to Make Your Own Solar Panels – Power Your Home While Reducing High Electric Bills

Having your own solar panels at home is a great way to save on your electric bills. Imagine using own electricity generated from sunlight during the day and use the usual energy at night. Imagine how small your electric bill would be after a few months of use.

There are plenty of ways on how to make your own solar panels from scratch. Buying pre-made ones in the market can cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars, not to mention the maintenance cost. If you want a cheaper solution then you might want to buy the necessary components and make one on your own.

But before you try to get as much information on how to make your own solar panels, you have to understand how electricity works and how you can connect it to the electrical wiring in your home without the risk. You might want to prepare for it in advance by asking an expert take care of it for you.

In creating your own solar panels, you need copper sheets, wires, and saltwater. You can place it outside your home or on the roof – anywhere that offers no hindrance to a steady stream of sunlight to hit your panels. Heat up one of the copper sheets using your gas stove until you get a red layer of copper oxide. Connect the red sheet with your negative terminal and a clean copper sheet to the positive terminal. Place the saltwater underneath both panels and you're done. You have your own solar power system powering your home and lowering your electric cost!

Team-Building – Revisiting the Golden Rule in Times of Stress

One of the most popular axioms in both eastern and western culture is the Golden Rule, loosely summarized as “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” Although useful in general (who doesn’t want love, respect and kindness, for example?), the Golden Rule is flawed when it comes to specific personality preferences. Quite simply, people are not all the same; they have different needs, different ways they want to be treated, and this is particularly true in times of stress. Whether at work or at home, people respond in a variety of ways when put under pressure. The team leader’s task in the workplace is not only to know how she, herself, prefers to be treated in such situations, but also to understand how her staff reacts to the inevitable pressure cooker, and what each person might need in order to move beyond the crisis and get back on track.

Interestingly, Buddhist teachings have much to say about how our minds behave under pressure. The Buddha posited that people, although different in countless ways, tend to respond with five typical, habitual behaviors when faced with challenging situations. These five responses (or “hindrances”) are: 1) aversion, 2) desire, 3) sloth & torpor, 4) restlessness, and 5) doubt. The five hindrances arise — singly or in combination — whenever we’re faced with challenges in our life. I know that for myself, I tend towards “desire” when under stress in my life. After a particularly hard day at work, for example, I’m likely to run off to a theater for a movie marathon and a big box of popcorn. Everyone’s different. A skillful leader must understand and overcome these stress responses in each of his team members if he hopes to pull his team through a crisis.

Consider the following workplace scenario: Your development team has been working on an important account for months, but has consistently missed its deadlines. The client is threatening to withdraw from its agreement, potentially costing your company a million dollars in revenue. The five-person team reacts to this threat as follows:

* Jim: “How could the client be so petty! We only missed the deadline this time by a few days. I have half a mind to call and give them a piece of my mind. And while I’m at it, I think I’ll have a stern talk with Gerald, who’s really been lollygagging the last two months. If anyone’s responsible for this mess we’re in, it’s him!”

* Gerald: “Whew, what a rough day it’s been! I’d sure feel a lot better having a cold one down at Dewey’s Tavern. And maybe a big burger and fries to go with it – yeah, I really deserve a treat on a lousy day like this.”

* Mariah: “I don’t think I can even get up and go into the office tomorrow. Hey, I’ve got a sick day or two saved; I think I’ll just call in with a cold or something, curl up in bed and hide away from the world.”

* Alex: “This is terrible! Without that account, what’s going to happen to the company? Or to my job? I’ve got a family and a mortgage. It could be months before I find another job like this. Years maybe! This is very, very bad.”

* Tanya: “I wonder if this is all my fault. I certainly was a day late on my report. Was I wrong to join this department in the first place? Maybe I should’ve stayed in accounting. Maybe I should’ve stayed at my last job-at least there we didn’t have such high-profile clients. I might just not be ready for the big time.”

In each case, a particular mental hindrance led to a characteristic response from each team member. When faced with stress, for example, Jim tends to respond with aversion, often manifested as anger. Gerald leans toward a “desire response”, retreating into pleasure seeking. Mariah reacts with torpor (or sloth), characterized by a de-energized sequestering. Alex responds with restlessness, often expressed as mental agitation or worry. And Tanya’s habitual reaction is most certainly doubt.

If Jim hopes to restore his team’s equilibrium in time to save the account, he urgently needs to reel each team member back from the extremes of their personal “hindrance responses.” This will be a challenging task for Jim, as each of his reports has gone down a different, archetypal emotional path, and will require a different approach. Jim, for instance, must recognize that his own thoughts have followed the road of aversion; he cannot solve any of the team’s problems until his own mind has cooled down. A lengthy work-out at the gym might be in order for him, or perhaps a session of venting with a friend outside of work. Once his own mind is bit clearer, Jim must then diagnose the symptoms of each of his teammates, identifying their specific hindrances and then conceiving possible steps for overcoming their particular behaviors. After all, time at the gym may work for aversion-oriented Jim, but it’s not what will bring the junk-food loving Gerald back into the fold. With Gerald, Jim might try convincing him that the work will soon be fun again. With Mariah, he might try reminding her that fixing problems can be energizing, rather than draining, and so on. The danger with this approach is that the team might see Jim’s efforts at “fixing them” as an attempt to shut down their emotions, which anyone would resent.

In the end, it may be that the best a manager can do is acknowledge to the team that the situation is stressful and that he knows they all need to go through their own process, their own stress reaction. Jim might simply say, “Take the time over the weekend to do what you need to do and feel what you need to feel. Then let’s start fresh on Monday, roll up our sleeves, and get to work, together, solving our problems.”

In truth, there is no magic remedy for healing people’s hindrances. We are, after all, human and have had a lifetime to develop our mind habits. Sometimes our hindrances just have to run their course. But as a team leader, understanding your teammates’ tendencies under pressure can allow you to know what to expect from them in times of crisis, so you’re ready with an appropriate response. The new Golden Rule, then, is: “Treat others as THEY would like to be treated.”

How To Successfully Mail Chocolate

Chocolate gifts are, perhaps, the tastiest gifts that anyone could hope to receive. The problem with chocolate gifts, though, is making sure that they do not melt before they arrive at their destination!

This is quite easy if you are hand-delivering your chocolate gifts. But if, on the other hand, you plan on mailing your them, it is a whole other story. Here are some tips to help you make sure that your gifts of chocolate do not break while being handled and to make sure that they do not turn into gifts of chocolate soup:

· If you are mailing a chocolate bar and you do not want it to break, try taping a stiff piece of cardboard to the back of it and then wrapping it in a piece of bubble wrap.

· If you plan to mail a chocolate gift during the dead of winter, it will probably stay fine and not melt. If, on the other hand, you expect your chocolate gift to arrive completely solid in California in the heat of August, you need to think again. Avoid sending chocolate during times of extreme heat.

· Instead of sending chocolate gifts full of truffles and candy bars, consider sending brownies and/or cookies (save the cookies dipped in chocolate for colder months, though). If you do decide to mail cookies, pick out ones that do not break easily, like drop cookies. Pack them in foil-lined tin or small box. Put sheets of wax paper between the layers of cookies. Cushion the tin or box of cookies within the shipping box with plastic grocery sacks (or other such material). Mark the box with “perishable – food.” Also write on the top, “this side up” to encourage careful handling.

· If you are sending other items along with your chocolate, place your chocolate in a zip-lock bag (and suck out all the air) to make sure that in case it does melt, nothing else is ruined.

· Pay a little extra to send your chocolate overnight, or at least send it 2-3 day priority. The sooner it gets there, the less likely it will melt, first.

· Make sure that the recipient will be home when it is received. If your box has to wait on the doorstop in the hot sun, the chocolate will surely melt! Maybe even ask for a signature.

· If it is not a delicate chocolate, freeze it before you box it up to mail it. It will not stay frozen, but it will take longer for your chocolate gifts to melt.

· Pack your chocolate gifts with frozen gel packs, dry ice, or another cold source. If you use dry ice, write on the box “contains dry ice” to warn the recipients. Be sure to pack the chocolate in a zip lock bag so that it does not directly touch the dry ice, and do not touch the ice with your own hands. Write “keep refrigerated” on the outside of the box.

· Send your chocolate gift package at the beginning of the week to ensure that it will not sit at the mailing facility over the weekend.

· Send chocolate that is already melted! In other words, why not send a yummy chocolate sauce or chocolate for fondue!

5 Reasons You Should Avoid Doing Sit-Ups

“Change means that what was before wasn’t perfect. People want things to be better.”

Esther Dyson

It’s time to change your abdominal training program, change it for the better. It’s time to say No to sit-ups and by doing so allow room for safer and more effective exercises that will fortify and strengthen your abs and spine.

The reason you may ask? The exercise poses to much of a risk compared to the benefits and no matter how you put it, getting hurt is not a lot of fun.

Here are 5 reasons why you should avoid doing sit ups:

1. You can’t spot reduce, you can only spot build.

I know you want a flatter stomach or wash board abs so it may seem logical to do sit-ups and crunches to help your tummy fat go away. Fat loss doesn’t work that way. You can build the muscles of the abs but that does not reduce the fat storage sitting above them.

Fat loss can only be accomplished through a sound nutrition and comprehensive exercise program.

2. Over training one movement pattern at the expense of others is a sure-fire way to create muscle imbalances.

The body was designed to move in many ways. No where in the body is that more apparent than with the abs. They help you bend, extend and twist in countless ways.

The body strives to perfect a hundred different movement patterns that activate a countless number of muscles.

By performing the same movement over and over again, like crunches and sit-ups, you set the body up for repetitive stress injuries.

These mall movements can create muscle imbalances in the torso. This creates a sub-optimal environment that can decrease the function and the potential of your body. In worst case scenarios it can cause low back pain and more.

3. The Abs do more than flex the spine, they do so much more.

The abs have two primary jobs.

The first one is bracing the body. You brace every time you reach, push, pull, throw, swing or kick. Any athletic movement requires bracing at some time during the movement and in most cases, twice. You also brace during every day activities like when you pick up an object from the floor with one hand and even when you’re only opening a door.

The second primary job is to create the bridge between the legs and upper body to transfer power. Take a tennis fore-hand swing for example. The upper body and trunk rotates back in preparation to hit the ball, then the hips will rotate forward creating power for the swing. The the abs will then brace creating the ‘bridge’ that will work to rotate the torso and arms forward to strike the ball.

This is just one example of how the abs are designed to function. If you look closely you can find many examples of this function through out our daily and athletic lives.

4. Your spine flexes all day long

We flex our spine all day long. A typical day for the average person starts by waking up and sitting at breakfast with one’s spine flexed (bent forward). Then this person commutes to work for an hour and then sits at work for eight hours all with the spine flexed. After a day of sitting, the individual drives home and eats dinner flexed and then sits on the couch and watches a couple hours of TV with the spine in a flexed position.

There should be one place the abs and spine should not have to flex and that is during your fitness program.

The health of your back depends on your ability to balance the work load, movements and stress that you place on it.

5. Sit-Ups produce the same force in the disc that causes disc bulges and disc herniation.

It’s estimated that 80% of the population will see a doctor or chiropractor at some point in their life due to back pain.

According to Stuart McGill, a professor of spine bio-mechanics at the University of Waterloo, sit ups produce the exact same force in the spine that can create disc bulge and disc herniation, two of the most common low back injuries.

Does it make sense to perform exercises that can create common back injuries?

I didn’t think so either.

The Bottom Line

These are the 5 reasons of why you need to stop doing sit-ups immediately.

In it’s place start using planks and leg lifts to strengthen your core. These two types of abdominal exercises are much safer on your spine and there are countless variations and modification that you can use.

Take these recommendations and apply them today in your program, your back will thank you for it.

Planning Your Wedding Day Transportation


Think about the agenda that works well for you. Do you need to obtain wedding limo service for half a day or a whole day? This will affect pricing so take your budget into consideration. The longer you secure it, the more you pay but that doesn’t mean the price is going to be out of your price range. Make some calls and look online to compare offers.

Will you have everyone meet at a centralized location at a given time? This is the most convenient when it comes to wedding limo service but not the only option available. You can set up the schedule to pick up the bride and her wedding party and take them to the location of the wedding. Then they can pick up the groom and his wedding party to do the same.

If you plan to have a lavish reception with drinking and dancing, you don’t want your wedding party to worry about getting back home at the end of the night. In addition to picking them all up, the wedding limo service can also drop each of them off.

Passenger Size

You need to make sure the wedding limo service has a vehicle available to accommodate the number of passengers you will have in there at one time. Don’t worry though as there are vehicles that can hold up to 18! You want everyone to have plenty of room so if you need more than that it may be necessary for you to secure two vehicles for your wedding day.

There can be a variety of styles and passenger capacity vehicles from any wedding limo service. Look closely at what each of them offers so you can pick the one that is ideal for your wedding day. Some are basic but still comfortable and others are lavish with plenty of perks. Think about your budget and what you would like to be able to offer to your passengers.

Secure it

Once you find the provider and the vehicle you want, secure it! Don’t wait as it may not be there when you try to get it later on. Some providers are booked solid for many months in advance. You don’t want to get stuck with what is left over! Make sure the provider has a very good reputation for showing up on time and for offering safe and pleasant drivers.

The information about your rental and the cost should be given to you in writing. This explains when they will offer the services and specific details about the services you will receive. Ask any questions you may have before you sign the document. If you have any special needs or requests, make sure you discuss them in advance and the details are included in your documents.

The provider may ask for payment in full at the time that you secure it. Most of them will only ask for a deposit that covers a percentage of the price. The balance is due the day the service is provided. The deposit is typically not refundable but you should check these details before you complete the contract so you know what you are committing to.