Fireplace Doors Or a Fireplace Screen

When entering a home for the first time, one of first things that you notice is the location and design of the fireplace. After the kitchen and master bathroom, the sitting room, hearth room, family room or the den, whatever you would like to call it, is one of the most important rooms in the home. And of course, the fireplace is usually the focal point of that room. This is why it is so important to be sure that this vital feature in your home receives the proper attention to detail it describes. The final detail in the process of fireplace design is the item that covers the fire box.

While there may be other alternatives that are available, most people will choose to utilize either fireplace doors or a fireplace screen to address this most important detail. Both of these solutions provide a decorative function that will definitely satisfy your desire to enhance the appearance of your fireplace. Either choice will involve time and research as you pour over the many different models, styles and colors that you will find in a modern fireplace shop or home improvement center. While each are vital additions to your decor and both perform a similar function, there are some differences to consider.

In addition to being a decorative item, doors on a fireplace serve to primarily prevent the loss of heated or cooled air in a room from escaping up the chimney when the fireplace is not in use. While some people also leave their fireplace doors closed when a fire is burning, this is definitely the exception and not the rule as this prevails the majority of the heated air from entering the room. Most people will leave the doors open during use and close the screen that is attached to the inside of the doors so preventing sparks or burning embers from escaping out into the room.

A free-standing firewall screen performers many of the same functions of the fireplace doors, such as blocking flaming embers and sparks from entering the room, and preventing logs from rolling out of the fire box and onto the floor. However, the screen does nothing to prevent the escape of heated or cooled air when the fireplace is not in use. Many people feel the fireplace screens are more attractive than doors and if you share the same opinion, you will need to decide if you are willing to sacrifice the energy savings for a more attractive overall look in your fireplace design.

No matter the choice you make, either of these items will help keep your family safe as you enjoy the warmth and beauty of a rip-roaring fire. They will also satisfy your need to provide that finishing decorative touch to one of the most important features of your home.

Bricklaying Tips

Almost all brick structures have a charming old-world feel about them. This charm is probably the reason why so many people fancy brick structures, and why many want to build with bricks or learn how building with bricks is done. In fact, bricklaying is increasingly gaining popularity along the do-it-yourself crowd.

Being one of the oldest crafts in the world, bricklaying requires a good amount of skill and know-how in order to do it correctly. Many do-it-yourselfers start out with a vision of what their end structure will look like, only to be left with a faulty wall that is poorly joined, making it unacceptable to the elements, which will eventually cause it to tumble.

If you've never built anything before, you are better off starting with something much simpler than a project which requires bricklaying. However, if you have been building for a while and have succeeded in building many successful structures, then bricklaying may be the next step in your do-it-yourself repertoire. Just keep the following tips in mind:

Space Out Your Bricks

Bricks have to be laid with even spaces in between. This promotes the strength of the structure. A basic brick wall, for example, should have about 10mm of space between each brick. This 10mm is filled with mortar, which holds bricks (and the entire structure) together. To make sure you get the spacing correct, try laying all your bricks out without mortar just so you can see if 10mm between each brick will leave you with even spaces. If it does not, say your last bricks will have 2 inches of space between them, then increase the space between each brick, but do so by evenly dividing the extra space.

Tap Them Straight

When you start laying bricks, you want to make sure they are laid evenly and straight. Again this is important for the structure's strength. A structure that has slanting (even slightly slanted) bricks may not last or hold for long. It is advised that you have a spirit level on hand at all times, and check to see if your bricks are even frequently through the bricklaying process. Checking after every two bricks lain is a good practice. If your bricks are not even, simply tap them down (needs to be done while mortar is still soft) so that they even out. Just remember to scrape away excess mortar.

Know Your Bricks

Before you even start on your project, it is important to know the bricks you are working with. Bricks can be made from several different materials and these can act differently in different climates. Study your climate and do some research on what type of brick will do best considering where you live. Also, know the sides of your bricks. Most bricks have a face, an indented side (sometimes called a frog side), the top, and the end. Some manuals on bricklaying may simply use this type of jargon without explaining each one, so be sure you are familiar with the terms.

Calculate Your Mortar Correctly

When mortar is mixed, you only have about two hours before you have to use it up. If you do not, it will harden and will no longer be of any use. It is therefore important that you calculate your mortar correctly. This saves you time and money.

So, to calculate for mortar, determine how many bricks you need. A simple brick wall will need about 65 bricks per square meter. Get your total number of bricks and dividend this by 135, this equals the number of bags of cement you need. Multiply the number of bags by three, this equals the cubic feet of sand you need. Divide the sand by 27 (which is the number of cubic feet in a cubic yard.) You need to know the cubic yards for sand because this is how sand is sold. Finally, you will need four to six gallons of water per batch of mortar.


65bricks / 135 = 0.4814815 (number of bags of cement needed to build 1 square meter of brick)

0.4814815 x 3 = 1.4444444 (cubic feet of sand)

1.4444444 / 27 = 0.0534979 (cubic yards of sand)

Keep these tips in mind when bricklaying, and you should be able to construct a simple brick structure, like a wall at the end of your garden. If you would like to create more complex structures, such as corners, arches, etc., then you're best off calling an experienced Mansfield bricklayer.

Interior Design Ideas For a Night Club

When people think of night clubs the typical thought that comes to mind is a darkly lit, open space with a sticky dance floor. But this doesn’t have to be the case, there are a range of design ideas that can be used to create a club interior that looks like no other. If you can’t afford to liaise with an interior designer, below are a few ideas you may want to consider.

LED lighting is the latest lighting style and its popularity is growing quickly. LED lights can be put in so many places, they produce an even steady glow of light and are ideal for use on the dance floor or on the front of stairs. LED lighting can be hung on walls or used to light up seating areas.

They are low cost, easy to maintain and can be used in so many different ways. LED lights are available in large sheets or singly and can even be hooked up to a night club’s sound system, so that the colours change with the music.

Your customer and the club nights you will be running are key things to consider when thinking about the club’s interior design. You may have a venue that can be split into different rooms and one idea is for each room to have its own theme, which can be reflected in the rooms design.

If your club has a VIP area which is available for hire you may want to decorate the area with a nice leather sofa and a few comfortable armchairs for when clubbers fancy a quick sit down. If it’s an area that customers can come in and decorate you will probably need to make sure you have a few tables and extra chairs, but this will be dependent on the amount of people the space can cater for.

It is worth remembering that no club is complete without the classic disco ball. The most famous night club feature is great for shooting dazzling lights around the room when the last song of the night is being played.

Why Software Engineering Isn’t Like Other Engineering Disciplines and How it Changes the Game

It has been estimated that there are over 11 million professional software developers world-wide as of 2014. When I started as a programmer in 1973 one of the greybeards in the first company I worked for gave me some advice. He said, “Learn the things that never change.”

When I started college six years earlier in 1967 the school I attended didn’t have a major called Computer Science and so I did my undergraduate and graduate work in Mathematics taking a few computer programming courses along the way. This was the way many of us got started as software developers back in the 70’s.

The term Software Engineering was new at the time, being coined at the 1968 NATO Software Engineering Conference. The thinking back then was that we needed to apply existing engineering methods to software development to address common budget, schedule and quality problems that were being referred to at the time as the “software crisis.” As a result, what most people have come to think of as Software Engineering involves activities which greatly resemble other engineering disciplines including civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering.

On the surface this idea seems to make sense. When you build something using the other engineering disciplines (e.g. a bridge, a building, a specialized piece of hardware, an electrical circuit board) you need to figure out the requirements, design a solution, implement it, and test it. All of these steps make sense for software as well. So one could certainly argue from this perspective that software engineering should resemble these other engineering disciplines. However, when you look more closely at what we have learned about software development over the last forty years, as well as how we teach it to today’s software developers, this analogy quickly breaks down.

By the time the 1990’s rolled around, because computer programming had become such a big part of what was called Computer Science, many Universities had added a course with a title of “Software Engineering” to their Computer Science curriculum. Popular textbooks that were used at that time to teach these courses included Ian Sommerville’s textbook titled: “Software Engineering”. From 1992 to 1994 I used the Fourth Edition of this textbook to teach Software Engineering at Binghamton University. Today, Ian Sommerville’s textbook is still in use in many Universities around the world-now in its Ninth Edition. This leads to a question:

Why do we need to revise a textbook approximately every 3-4 years that supposedly is teaching our students the fundamentals of Software Engineering?

If you look at textbooks used in Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering the vast majority of these books do not require revisions nearly so often. To understand why this is the case we need to look more closely at what is being taught in most Universities around the world under the name of “Software Engineering.”

When you do look more closely you will find that we are teaching our next generation of software professionals whatever is currently popular in terms of software practices, and methods. Popular software practices and methods today are known by buzzwords such as Agile, Use Cases, User Stories, RUP, XP, Scrum Lean, PSP, TSP and the list goes on and on…

The problem with this approach to teaching Software Engineering is that software practices and methods frequently come and go and will continue to come and go which is why Sommerville must continually update his textbook. This leads to another question:

What about that greybeard in the first company I worked for in 1973 who told me to learn the things that never change? Did he give me bad advice? If not, what are we teaching our next generation of software professionals with respect to the things that never change about Software Engineering?

Before answering these questions, let’s first step back and ask a few different questions:

Does a set of things that never change in Software Engineering actually exist?

If they do exist, do we know what they are?

If we do know what they are, are we teaching them in a consistent way to our next generation of software professionals so when they come out of the University they are prepared to conduct themselves as software professionals?

Such a set of software engineering essentials does in fact exist. This belief has motivated an international group of volunteers to take on the task of codifying those essentials. The intent is for these essentials to be taught to our next generation of software developers helping to prepare them as true software professionals.

The volunteers involved in this initiative (known as SEMAT – Software Engineering Method and Theory) have been working on this task since 2010. This past year SEMAT achieved a major milestone with the announcement by the Object Management Group, an international standards consortium, that they have adopted “Essence” as an official OMG standard.

So this leads to a few more questions:

Just how different is the Essence standard from what is being taught to our software developers today, and has been taught for the past 40 years under the name of Software Engineering?


Will the differences really help with the problems that many believe still plague the software industry with respect to common budget, and schedule over-runs and poor software quality?

From one perspective what Essence captures is not new. The Essence standard includes common words such as, Stakeholders, Opportunity, Requirements, Software System, Team, Work, and Way of Working. But from another perspective what Essence captures is dramatically new. In fact, some are calling it a “paradigm shift” that many of the “old guard” will have great difficulty even comprehending.

To give you an idea of the changes involved when using Essence I again think back to my early days as a programmer in the late 1970’s. In those days I worked in the flight simulation domain developing software systems to train pilots to fly high performance aircrafts. One of my areas of expertise was writing software to provide record/playback capabilities to help instructors train young aircraft pilots in flying skills.

I recall one specific project I worked on and a customer pilot instructor I worked with. After explaining to him how he could use my record/playback software to help him demonstrate to his student pilots where they had made mistakes, he excitedly wrote up a number of defects requesting changes to my software.

I argued vehemently with my program manager that none of these issues were actually defects. Because I had taken the time to explain what was possible with my record/playback software the pilot instructor began to envision additional features that could make his job easier. He wrote his ideas up on a defect form even though they were all enhanced capabilities we never planned to deliver and were not part of the requirements.

But my project manager didn’t want to discuss with the customer whether or not these requests were in-scope, or out-of-scope. His view was– as many viewed software then and still view it today– that it is easier to change software than engaging the customer in a discussion.

Because software is soft, we tend to view it as easy to change. It’s not like hardware. Metal isn’t easily bent. This perspective changes the whole game when it comes to software.

This ability to change software code quickly and in endless ways completely changes the dynamics that exist between software developers and their stakeholders including program managers and customers. One way this difference exemplifies itself is as users become familiar with the software they often see new ways that changes to the software could make their job easier as my pilot instructor customer did back in the late 1970s.

We now know from experiences that there are other dimensions to Software Engineering that are critical to effective professional software engineering practices. These other dimensions take us beyond just the ease with which the code can be changed. To date, these additional dimensions have not received anywhere near the attention they deserve.

When you change code you may also be affecting the requirements, and you may also be affecting other capabilities in the software system previously tested. Changing code means additional work, additional testing, possibly changes to supporting user manuals and so on… All this affects budget and schedule, and introduces additional risk to the quality of the software.

While on the one hand the ability to change the software code rapidly brings great power to the software industry, it also means that software professionals must be increasingly attune to their agreed way of working, the impact and time that it takes to do the additional work, and the risk when making unplanned rapid changes. The agile movement over the last ten years has provided a great service to help the software community understand this major difference related to Software Engineering including the importance of early and ongoing interaction with stakeholders and the importance of software developers estimating the cost of their own work.

While the software engineering community has learned a great deal from the other engineering disciplines, they have also learned the critical importance of these other dimensions that bring differences from previous engineering experiences. These differences mean that software developers need to be trained in new and different ways to be effective software professionals.

Shortly after the kickoff of the SEMAT initiative in March of 2010, one of SEMAT’s initial signatories sent me a draft copy of a book he was working on to review. Watts Humphrey who had planned to be very active in the early SEMAT work fell ill just as the SEMAT work was gearing up and I was asked to help him get his planned effort going. In late August that same year Watts sent me the following email just a few months before his passing. He agreed that I could share this email with others:

Paul, From your comments, it sounds as if you did get the point of my book, for which I am grateful….the correct answer and the one that I was most interested in pursuing with SEMAT, concerns how we can ensure that software professionals are properly trained and have a suitable set of professional attitudes and skills before they even get to industry. It is my hope that the SEMAT effort eventually will be able to spearhead the drive to get the academic community to refocus their programs on teaching software professionals to act like professionals and to manage themselves.

When they do, their graduates will be able to negotiate with their management and to do superior work…. That is what professionals should do… A good start in this direction would be to convince them of the necessity of having software people measure their own work. Since software work is, as we said, knowledge work, any truly accurate measures must be taken by the software professionals themselves. …Watts Humphrey

Watts Humphrey has been referred to as the father of software quality. After completing a distinguished career at IBM he went on to become a fellow of the Software Engineering Institute founding the Software Process Program. In 2003 he was awarded the National Medal of Technology.

Today Watts would have been heartened by the SEMAT work that is going on in the academic community. The first full University course based on the new Essence standard has been developed and is being delivered to students this year by Dr. Carlos Zapata at the Universidad Nacional de Columbia in Medellin, Columbia, and Essence is being used in first- and second-year software engineering courses at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden under the guidance of Dr. Mira Kajko-Mattson. There have also been Essence field studies conducted with students by Dr. Cecile Peraire at Carnegie-Mellon West in the United States. The next step for the SEMAT community is to demonstrate how Essence can help in industry by publishing case studies of actual use and measured results on industrial projects.

Emotional Detachment

It took me a long time to discover that I had learned, from early childhood, to be a detached observer. I was the youngest of five children. My family was in constant turmoil. My parents argued all the time. My two older brothers were always fighting. And my mother's volatile and often violent mood swings continued to keep the family on pins and needles.

So, kids do what kids do. They protect themselves. They go to their rooms. They stay away from the chaos as much as they can. And when they are in the middle of the family tornadoes, they often retreat into silent observers. They become recorders, television cameras, quiet witnesses. They learn, very early in the game to passively take in what's happening and not to participate. It is the only recourse they have; it gives them some kind of order and safety in their lives.

Then they become adolescents and adults. They can not figure out why others tell them they are "too analytical." They find themselves observing again as they did when they were children. But the observation mode begins to implode when a friend breaks down after his girlfriend tells him the relationship is over.

The first instinct of the grand observer is to look around for the nearest exit.

The other instinct is to click into the detached mode and calculate all the possible solutions for the friend. "Have you thought about an online dating service?" "Why do not you go on a trip, get away?" "I've got a single friend; I think you guys would really hit it off."

Detachment from the world, according to many of the medieval Catholic ancients, is one of the highest spiritual goals (celibacy, of course, being one of its many forms). If we are detached, we will never become obsessed, we will avoid all unnecessary and, of course, immoral attachments. We will, in a word, be "free." From the burdens of desire. From the passions of lust, avarice, greed. From the all the excesses that too many blank checks seductively lead us into.

The monastic movement was the brick-and-mortar extension of the philosophy of detachment. Monks would escape into the cloistered religious life in order to discover all the quiet luxuries of silence and transcendence. They would escape the world's rabble. They would not be tortured by all the gauntlets of sensuality and sin. They would be purified by the "refiner's fire" of an isolated cell, prayer, meditation, silence, and work. Their souls would be car-wash clean of all imperfections. They would be ready to meet their maker.

Leave it to the great Western classic thinkers to have discovered stoicism, the tepid secular philosophy of detachment and the even-tempered. No surprises. No drama. No lows. No highs. The arid land of the flatline.

And then there are Buddha and Gandhi, one telling us to pull back from desire, the other to come down a notch on the belt of our material pursuits.

All this psychological squeezing and belt-tightening aptly describe the world of asceticism, the topographies of the dehydrated in some of the extremes of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity.

Detachment, withdrawal, the simmering of our desires, the holding back of our emotions-all of the mandates of physical and psychological austerity that so many of the great spiritual gurus clearly see as the ideal for all of us to follow.

But what about that kid who learned detachment as a child? What about that little girl who, as an adult, suddenly finds herself always trying to fix things for others because then she does not have to look at herself (observers and fixers often have no internal mirrors)? What about that adult male who can analyze your life into all kinds of solutions but has never grieved? What about that adult scientist who trains herself to objectively observe the outside world but has no emotional energy for any kind of self-examination that would make her a compassionate human being? What about the Yoga expert who can do all the exercises and then goes on a sex binge-a detour into another isolationist act (the paradigm of learning physical techniques that will supposedly give you a sense of "well being" is no guarantee that you will necessarily want to live with "others" in the real world or to empathize with their suffering; it may actually increase one's already overly-massaged narcissism).

If we have trained ourselves to withdraw, to clinically observe, to pursue self-serving physical regimens, to emotionally isolate, to detach, to search for that chronic silence of the undisturbed, then, I believe we may be taking a toxic journey of egotism and not a path of true emotional stability.

Emotional stability requires psychological connections, relationships, interdependency, opening up to ourselves and to others. When I am connected to others and certainly open up, I do not need facts or logic to support my position, nor do I need to escape into a regimen of physical exercise and self-centered acts of well-being. (I am sure I am offending the meditators, the chanters, the physical fitness buffs, and the Yoga practitioners, but I believe that many of these activities only increase the likelihood of our self-centeredness. 'm diagnosed with fourth stage cancer is that I "look great.")

At a recent AA meeting, one of my old regrets finally surfaced. I put it on the table as a ninth-step amends I needed to make my father.

After his second wife died, my dad experienced an almost complete psychological meltdown. His rage was often out of control, not just because he lost a wife he absolutely adored, but because he had felt abandoned by the family (that's too long of a story to elaborate on here).

On our trip to Virginia, he began lashing out at the rest of my family for what he saw as their absence to his loss and his sense of having been abandoned by my siblings. I immediately went into the withdrawal mode, the same kind of detached-observer mode I learned as a kid. I literally shut down and found myself stone-cold, as the old Westerners would say.

My father died about ten years ago. I miss him terribly. It was at the AA meeting that I finally came out of my emotional closet and told on myself that I regretted not opening up to my dad. Here he was wrapped tightly by his grief and rage, while I stepped seamlessly into the forest of the detached adult, the guy who would wait patiently to see him through without any emotional investment of my own. I would be cool. I would be collected. I would be strong. I would be rational. I would use common sense. I would be objective. I would be the dutiful and loyal son.

But inside, I was still the little kid who observed, who took mental notes, who took in the "facts" of my father's distress but could not feel the dark tones of his anguish. I would "know" what he was feeling, but I would not invest one dime of my own conviction.

At the meeting, I vowed that I would go to my father's grave in the next couple of weeks and make my amends. I will wait for that one moment on a road to Virginia lost forever.

It remains one of the great paradoxes to me that three of the leading global religions keep hounding us about the need to psychologically pare down while, at the same time, telling us to be more expansive with our compassion.

Osho calls Buddhism, the religion of "removing obstacles," while Pema Chodron advises us to expand, to breath out our love to others. Gandhi's life exemplified the need for social justice while, at the same time, his own personal life exhibited an almost passive and fatalistic acceptance of austerity. And the Catholic Church still prides itself on its cloistered monasteries and its support of celibacy, while, at the same time taking pride in reading St Paul's famous "the-greatest-of-these-is-love" sermon at every Catholic wedding.

However, no religion that I am aware of will ever tell a kid that she has every right, if not an obligation, to rediscover her essential, authentic, and primal self before she was taught to shut down, to be quiet, to be obedient , to listen, to be the passive observer.

When a child learns to withdraw, to retreat, he is taught to shut down, to close the door of his essence, to extinguish the light of his emotions, to stare blankly at reality like a store's hidden cameras, to pull the shade down on the sun of his expansiveness, to dismantle all the "instincts" of his own beautiful self.

And when that child becomes an adult, she retreats into logic, into control, into loyalty with resentments, into cerebral acts of trying to get everything actually correct and in order.

Hopefully, those children can overcome the psychological traumas of their learned silences by opening up to their own grief and to the sufferings of others without trying to "fix" the world and to put it back into some kind "order." When that happens, they will "arrive" where they "started / and know the place for the first time," as the poet says.

5 Most Common Insulation Options

There are plenty of cheap and common insulation materials available on the market today. Many of these have been around for quite some time. Each of these insulations have their own ups and downs. As a result, when deciding which insulation material you should use, you should be sure to be aware of which material would work the best in your situation.

Recently, materials like aerogel (used by NASA for the construction of heat resistant tiles, capable of withstanding heat up to approximately 2000 degrees Fahrenheit with little or no heat transfer), have become affordable and available. One in particular is Pyrogel XT. Pyrogel is one of the most efficient industrial insulations in the world. Its required thicknesses are 50% – 80% less than other insulation materials. Although a little more expensive than some of the other insulation materials, Pyrogel is being used more and more for specific applications.

However, there are many useful insulation materials that are cheap enough to be affordable and useful in bulk. Here are the 5 most common types of insulation materials:

1. Fiberglass

Fiberglass is the most common insulation used in modern times. Because of how it is made, by effectively weaving fine strands of glass into an insulation material, fiberglass is able to minimize heat transfer. The main downside of fiberglass is the danger of handling it. Since fiberglass is made out of finely woven silicon, glass powder and tiny shards of glass are formed. These can cause damage to the eyes, lungs, and even skin, if the proper safety equipment isn’t worn. Nevertheless, when the proper safety equipment is used, fiberglass installation can be performed without incident. Fiberglass is an excellent insulation material, with ratings as high as R-38. If you are seeking a cheap insulation, this is definitely the way to go, though installing it definitely requires safety precautions. Be sure to use eye protection, masks, and gloves when handling this product.

2. Mineral Wool

Mineral wool actually refers to several different types of insulation. First, it may refer to glass wool, which is fiberglass manufactured from recycled glass. Second, it may refer to rock wool, which is a type of insulation made from basalt. Finally, it may refer to slag wool, which is produced from the slag from steel mills. The majority of mineral wool in the United States is actually slag wool. The majority of mineral wool does not have additives to make it fire resistant, making it poor for use in situation where extreme heat is present. When used in conjunction with other, more fire resistant forms of insulation, mineral wool can definitely be an effective way of insulating large areas.

3. Cellulose

Cellulose insulation is perhaps one of the most eco-friendly forms of insulation. Cellulose is made from recycled cardboard, paper, and other similar materials. Some recent studies on cellulose have shown that it might be an excellent product for use in minimizing fire damage. Because of the compactness of the material, cellulose contains next to no oxygen within it. Without oxygen within the material, this helps to minimize the amount of damage that a fire can cause. So not only is cellulose perhaps one of the most eco-friendly forms of insulation, but it is also one of the most fire resistant forms of insulation. However, there are certain downsides to this material as well, such as the allergies that some people may have to newspaper dust. Also, finding individuals skilled in using this type of insulation is relatively hard compared to, say, fiberglass. Still, cellulose is a cheap and effective means of insulating.

4. Polypolyurethane Foam

While not the most abundant of insulations, polyurethane foams are an excellent form of insulation. Nowadays, polyurethane foams use non-chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gas for use as a blowing agent. This helps to decrease the amount of damage to the ozone layer. They are relatively light, weighing approximately two pounds per cubic foot (2 lb/ft^3). They have an R-value of approximately R-6.5 per inch of thickness. There are also low density foams that can be sprayed into areas that have no insulation. These types of polyurethane insulation tend to have approximately R-3.6 rating per inch of thickness. Another advantage of this type of insulation is that it is fire resistant.

5. Straw Bales

And finally, straw bales. While you might not expect straw bales to be of interest in this world of modern synthetic insulations, you might be surprised at the ratings that straw bales have received. Recent testing made by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory showed that straw bales had as high as R-3 per inch of thickness. While straw itself is not fire resistant, it can still be used in many situations where insulation is needed with fire perhaps being of little or no concern. Also, when used in conjunction with other more fire resistant insulations, straw bales can become an efficient and cheap way to insulate an area.

There are many forms of insulation available, each with their own set of properties. Only by researching each kind thoroughly can you discover which will be the right kind for your particular needs. As a quick overview:

  • Aerogel is more expensive, but definitely the best type of insulation.
  • Fiberglass is cheap, but requires careful handling.
  • Mineral wool is effective, but not fire resistant.
  • Cellulose is fire resistant, eco-friendly, and effective, but hard to apply.
  • Polyurethane is an all around good insulation product, though not particularly eco-friendly.
  • Straw bales are effective and eco-friendly, though not fire resistant.

Hopefully, this will help you in your attempt to find the right insulation for your needs.

How To Solve Male Impotence Naturally

Male impotence affects a small portion of the population, about 10% or so. But until just recently those figures were largely quiet quiet due to embarrassment or
referral to admit a problem exists. It's a guy thing of course.

There is a natural solution to male impotence and we will look at that in a moment. Even so, why is impotence treatment information kept under wraps? This might
help answer that question.

Prescription medications are big business and many Doctors are given incentives to promote the latest prescriptions for impotence treatment. Remember when

Viagra was hot? Doctors offices were stocked with those four pill sample packs, and they were giving them out like candy. Of course all the latest jokes then were
about dirty old men and disgruntled wives. The push for Viagra, Levitra, Cialis and the generic versions of those drugs was on.

So why has aa natural solution to male impotence never become popular before this?

1) No Profit

2) No Profitability

3) No Profits

Basically, all alternative health solutions face the same problem. No interest from big business and minimal support from Doctors trained in the Western Doctrine.


A majority of male impotence problems are easily solved with a simple exercise. This impotence remedy can be performed almost anywhere and any time of day.

On a Personal Level:

One incident of male impotence can create concern. Repeat accidents wear down your confidence, create performance anxiety, depression, etc which can cause a
viscous cycle. Few men seek out alternatives to male impotence prescriptions, but because you're in the group who would rather avoid
possible side effects, dependency, and the prohibitive costs of prescriptions!

A Word of Caution:

If your problem stems from an addiction you'll need to make some difficult decisions and lifestyle changes if sex is important to you. But typically all that's needed is a
little effort on your part and a proven program to follow.

Male impotence generally stems from misunderstanding the facts. If you do not have any serious physical trauma like diabetic nerve damage or severed muscle, there

is a good chance you can correct the problem quite quickly.

Two Alternatives:

1) Do some research yourself on the PC muscle to understand what it controls and how to strengthen it.

2) Go directly to a proven natural method. Firm Endeavor is a six week course that has quietly helped hundreds of other men looking for a natural impotence remedy.

Proper Dental Care During Pregnancy

A lot of women ignore their teeth while pregnant as other parts of their body get all the attention. However, the consequences of this have been dire as these women have suffered from various diseases that were harmful to them and their growing baby. It is difficult to imagine that poor dental care during pregnancy can actually lead to tumors in the gums or even pre-term labor. Therefore, pregnant women should consider their overall dental health in order to ensure that they enjoy a stress-free nine months.

Pregnancy is usually associated with a lot of hormones, most of which are responsible for poor oral health. Hormones usually lead to the increased production of mucous through the body, including the mouth. This may cause the gums to become red and tender or even to swell. As a result, a lot of women experience bleeding gums during pregnancy. It is therefore advisable for women to use mild toothbrushes while brushing and not to be too aggressive as this could aggravate the situation.

A lot of women experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. This usually leads to an increase in the acid levels in the mouth. The situation is aggravated by the fact that pregnant women are usually more prone to dehydration meaning that they will have less saliva. Saliva helps a lot in balancing the pH levels in the mouth. Women who vomit a lot during pregnancy should ensure that they rinse their mouth thoroughly afterwards in order to get rid of any acid that may have been left in the mouth.

Increased acidity in the mouth may cause women to have more cavities. Also, constant vomiting means that a lot of bacteria from the stomach are deposited in the mouth and between the teeth. This also leads to cavities and increased plaque. Pregnant women should take regular sips of water, and they should floss and brush their teeth regularly.

It is also believed that babies take a lot of nutrients from their mother during pregnancy. One of the nutrients that the baby needs is calcium which is necessary for their growing bones. This means that the mother will have less calcium for their own teeth, unless they take the necessary precautions. Mothers are advised to take foods rich in calcium during pregnancy such as milk and yoghurt.

Women who do not exercise proper dental care when pregnant are pregnant to pregnancy gingivitis. This will cause their gums to recede and to redden and their teeth may become loose. If left untreated, pregnancy gingivitis usually leads to periodontal disease which can actually result in tooth loss. Also, the bacterium released from these diseases could cause a woman to go into pre-term labor, thus causing harm to their baby. Pregnancy tumors may also develop in the mouth, and the mom-to-be may have to undergo an operation to get rid of them.

Pregnant women should visit their dentist at least once during the nine months of pregnancy as part of their dental care routine. They should ensure that the dentist knows that they are pregnant. This is due to some procedures such as x-rays and teeth whitening are dangerous during pregnancy.

Vitamins That Help You Lose Weight

Did you know that the human body requires 13 vitamins in order to properly function?

Did you know that all 13 essential vitamins are found in whole foods?

According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans "nutrients should be met primarily through consuming foods. Foods provide an array of nutrients and other compounds that may have beneficial effects on health. " In laymen's terms this means that by increasing your intake of healthy food rich with nutrients, you are guaranteed to lose weight and increase your metabolism.

B Vitamins

Of all the 13 essential vitamins, B vitamins are most commonly linked to weight loss. To better understand this relationship lets discuss the B family itself. It contains a total of eight vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), niacin, B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, B12 (cobalamine), biotin and pantothenic. B vitamins serve in a number of different capacities and perform a host of functions including creating new blood cells, boosting energy, and regulating metabolism.

With respect to metabolism, B vitamins are especially important so much that many weight loss clinicians will offer weight loss patients shots of B12 to help them progress through their weight loss period. For the best results, B vitamins should be consumed collectively. Developing a diet that contains B vitamins rich foods like dairy products, egg yolks, meat, fish, leafy vegetables, and legumes will certainly improve your chances of boosting your metabolism.

Vitamin C

Paired with vitamin E, vitamin C helps in the antioxidant process and can help avoid harmful oxidation of cells. Vitamin C is also serves as a facilitator of absorption of supplementary vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, and folcacin. Vitamin C has also been linked as a correlate to healthy hormones, bones, blood vessels, collagen and teeth. Aside from the nutritional benefits, Vitamin C is also essential to improving your immune system which is absolutely necessary for weight loss. For best results, consider incorporating the following vitamin C enriched foods into your diet dark green vegetables and broccoli, red and green peppers, citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, and tomatoes.

Vitamin D

Through recent research, Vitamin D has been cited as a contributing factor to greater weight loss success. Be clear that Vitamin D is not the answer to all of your weight loss problems but it can change and improve some things. In particular, for persons with inadequate levels of Vitamin D who are on a weight loss program, supplementing with the vitamin can help to create balance and augment one's weight loss success. This of course would take place in accordance with other routine weight loss techniques like exercising and eating healthy foods.

Just as Vitamin C, Vitamin D also helps with the absorption of calcium which is critical in preventing osteoporosis and maintaining solid bone density. In the most natural of sources, Vitamin D can be created through 10 to 20 minutes of direct sunlight a few (three times) a week. If it is the winter season or if you're not a big fan of the sun, you can also get a decent amount from foods like cereal, bread, milk, yogurt, fish liver oils, catfish, tuna, herring, and salmon.

Vitamin E

Similar to B vitamins and Vitamin C, Vitamin E has also been identified as a strong antioxidant and contributing factor in establishing an efficient metabolism rate. In addition, Vitamin E also boosts your immune system and has been linked to preventing heart disease and in some cases cancer. Healthy skin is another benefit of Vitamin E. Vitamin E will help encourage skin elasticity which for someone looking to trim inches is a good thing. Your best option for the greatest results is to identify Vitamin E found in unsaturated fats including leafy / green vegetable like lettuce or brocoli, vegetable oil, whole grains, avocado, wheat germ oil, seeds, and nuts.

3 Main Types of Cleaning You Can Do in Your House

Basic Cleaning

If it's not done on a regular basis, cleaning a house is overwhelming. Unclean home can create a lot of stress and even possible health problems in the future. Basic Cleaning is ideal for maintaining the cleanliness of your house with a regular / recurring cleaning service, especially after completing a Deep Cleaning.

Deep Cleaning

Every now and then you need to deep clean your home, clean places that are not in regular cleaning schedule or places that are hard to clean, such as under the bed, behind the couch, inside of refrigerator and freezer, inside of the oven, etc. Mostly people deep clean their house during the season of spring and in fall to get ready for the winter. Deep cleaning usually takes much more time than regular cleaning. Deep Cleaning is more broad and detailed than Basic Cleaning. It includes additional services that usually did not on the regular basis, but essential for every clean house. With a Deep Cleaning: clean the windows, inside the refrigerator and oven, blinds, light fixtures and baseboard through the house. It's a very extensive cleaning that will leave your house spotless. Recommended to use our Deep Cleaning every 5 to 6 months or if you are planning to have a recurring service on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.

Move-In / Move-Out Cleaning

If you are moving out of your apartment and you are on the end of your lease it is your responsibility as a Tenant to clean the property before you do so. Most landlords and apartment managers will not give the security deposit back unless the apartment has been thoroughly cleaned to meet the landlord satisfaction. Also when you are moving in to a new apartment you want to make sure that it's clean and meets your standards. It's much harder to clean you house after you bring all the boxes from your apartment. The Move In / Move Out cleaning guarantee is a thorough cleaning of all floors, baseboards, appliances, counter tops, fixtures and windows.

Everything That You Need to Know About Used Dowel Machines

What is a Dowel Machine?

A dowel machine is used to make a variety of wood products that conform to the technical definition of a dowel. For example, in addition to traditional “dowel rods”, pencil slats could also be considered dowels, and so could wooden poles. In most cases, woodworkers realize their need for a dowel machine based on two situations: the difficulty of making precision dowels and/or the need to increase production rate. In either case, a dowel machine will take the guesswork out of producing precision dowels. However, depending on your production needs, you may need to purchase a wide moulder for dowel making instead of a traditional dowel making machine. Unlike most doweling machines, a wide moulder can produce multiple dowels at once, making it ideal for woodworking operations that exclusively manufacture dowels or that depend on dowels as components of their products. For hobbyist woodwork, small woodshops and larger woodworking operations that produce dowel products in small runs, a dowel-machine is usually sufficient. But for commercial woodworking operations that regularly produce dowels, a wide moulder is a necessity.

Is it Sensible to Buy a Used Dowel Machines?

Like all commercial grade woodworking machinery, dowel-machines are commonly purchased used to avoid the significant cost of purchasing them new. For established commercial woodworking operations, purchasing used dowel-machines serves as a way to improve their bottom line. But woodworkers that are on the brink of taking their operation into the commercial sphere often embrace the irrational belief that to start a new woodworking operation naturally equates to buying new machinery. As a result, many woodworkers spend years using the majority of their increased profits to pay off their machinery. Unlike domestic grade woodworking machinery, commercial grade machinery is designed to offer top efficiency for decades, meaning that, as long as the machinery has been properly maintained by its previous owner(s), purchasing a ten-year-old dowel machine or wide moulder is essentially like buying a new machine.

How do you Assess the Quality of Used Dowel Machines?

Although industrial woodworking machinery is known for its durability, buyers must still be careful not purchase a machine whose former use destroyed its dependability. Practicing the following four steps will allow buyers to avoid such purchases. First, buyers should only make a purchase from a professional seller of used woodworking machinery; otherwise, the seller may not provide an accurate assessment of the machine’s worth. Second, buyers should investigate a seller’s reputation at the Better Business Bureau and avoid sellers that have unresolved customer complaints. Third, buyers should always request an official copy of a machine’s logged service record to insure its proper maintenance. Fourth, buyers should inspect a machine firsthand to assess its wear, or have an expert third party conduct the inspection. Following these steps will lead you to used dowel machines and moulders that offer new machine quality at a used machine price.

5-Step ILS Landing Guide for Flight Simulator

Disclaimer: This guide assumes that you're familiar with using Autopilot controls

Trying to use an Instrument Landing System (ILS) in a flight simulator can be a daunting task if you've not tried it before, or if you're not familiar with instruments and aircraft systems though the whole process of setting up and landing a plane is very basic once you know how. I've designed a simple 5 step process which I would like to share with you.

When flying, Air Traffic Control will normally direct you towards the airport and runway you'll be landing on by telling you to fly a certain heading and giving you certain altitudes. This takes away the pressure of navigating to the airport when approaching it, giving you time to set up the plane for an ILS landing. Hopefully you will be familiar with using the auto pilot and will be flying to ATC's instructions with the Autopilot enabled.

Step 1: Gain information about the runway you'll be landing on.

ATC will tell you which runway you will be landing on. Let's say for this example you've been told to land on runway 04. There's two pieces of information you need to find out about that runway, its ILS Frequency and the Runway Heading. You can typically find these in a simulator by going into the Map and double clicking on the airport. Make a note of the frequency and heading, we'll use these in a moment.

Step 2: Make sure the plane's set to Navigate by Radio

Most planes have two forms of navigation, they can navigate by using a GPS system or they navigate using Radio frequencies. In the cockpit, there's a switch which allows you to choose between the two systems and you want to set this to "NAV" so that the plane is using Radio frequencies to navigate.

Step 3: Enter the ILS Frequency into the Nav1 Radio

Take a look at the radio stack and find the "Nav1" settings, you'll see two frequencies. One is Active and one is Standby. You can easily tell which is because you can only change the Standby frequency. Change this to the ILS frequency you made a note of earlier then make it the Active frequency.

Step 4: Change the Omni Bearing Selector to the runway heading

On smaller planes the Omni Bearing Selector will be a dial, on larger planes it will be a knob on the Autopilot panel. You want to change this so that it's showing the runway heading. In our example we said we would land on runway 04 so the heading would be 040 (but this could be anything from 035-045).

Step 5: Activate the Approach Hold autopilot switch.

Very simple final step, just press the Approach Hold button on the autopilot and the plane will take care of the rest. As you fly in line with the runway, provided you've done all the above steps, the plane will automatically turn and line up with the runway. Also when you get close enough it will also start to descend automatically. Then when you're happy with the approach and can see the runway, you can disable the autopilot and land the plane manually.

And there you have five straightforward steps to landing a plane using an Instrument Landing System! Easy huh? If you're a more visual learner, please see this video which uses this guide.

Maintenance Guide For Lionel Set Model Trains

Here are a few guidelines for performing cleaning and routine maintenance of your model trains. Regardless of whether you have a Lionel set or any other brand, performing maintenance helps avoid trouble later on.

For Lionel set locomotives, maintenance checks can be performed by removing the cover to see the inside. To remove the cover on steam engines, you must first remove the screw located underneath the smokestack. For diesel engines, remove the body by spreading at the sides so that the pins will be released then pull upward. Then flip the locomotive upside down to clean the wheels. You can use an X-acto blade to peel off the layers of grime. You can use an eraser pad to finish removing dirt and debris from the wheels of your model trains.

In addition to clean wheels, locomotives need oil applied to the moving parts to keep them lubricated and working properly. It is recommended to refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on applying oil. When applying the oil, keep a close watch to prevent over-oiling since excess oil has the tendency to drip out and can disrupt the electrical conductivity if it drips on your rails. Thin oil is recommended, such as 3-in-1.

Another part of the locomotive that requires cleaning is the commutator and the brushes. If these parts are not cleaned, dirt and dust can build up preventing the motor from picking up electrical power. Eventually, the locomotive will fail to operate. However, this cleaning is only needed about once a year with normal use. A technique for cleaning the commutators is to have the locomotive run slowly without the body. Then apply Rail-Zip cleaner to a rag and use that to clean the commutator as it spins. The brushes also need cleaning. These can be cleaned by spraying them with television tuner cleaner, which can be purchased from electronics stores. Allow the cleaning solution to drip of and wipe the area dry. After cleaning you are ready to put the body back on.

The wheels of freight cars also require routine maintenance. Even with shining rails and running locomotives, every Lionel set still needs clean wheels to run smoothly. An easy way to get the wheels cleaned is by mounting a straight section of track onto an 18-inch, 2×4 board. Then put a paper towel or rag and place it over the heads of the rails and drip rubbing alcohol onto the rag. Next, trickle a few drops of Goo-Gone onto rails before running the cars on the rails a few times. Continue running the locomotive back and forth over the rails until the wheel look clean and shiny.

Lionel train sets are built to last. Customer satisfaction levels are among the highest of any brand of model trains. Nevertheless, even the best train sets and locomotives require maintenance and cleaning to continue to operate smoothly. Following these procedures can ensure years of happy railroading.

Enhance Your Room With an Arc Floor Lamp

If you have ever wanted to add a touch of style and elegance to a room in your home then one of the easiest ways possible is to enhance the lighting. While many people spend hours pondering the different ways to illuminate their room, they overlook one simple addition which can instantly infuse any room with a vibrant energy and that is a modern, arc floor lamp.

If you have not heard of these lamps before then let me briefly explain what they are. Arc floor lamps, sometimes also known as arch floor lamps, are a trendy type of lamp shaped in an arc shape. They can come in many different shapes and sizes with their main purpose to draw attention to a particular area or part of the room.

This is done by illuminating a particular area with light to make it visually appealing. Common choices are furniture, unusual artwork and colorful objects which look eye catching when lit up.

One of the main reasons why arc floor lamps are so popular is because of the many different designs available to consumers. For example, if you're looking for a trendy modern look, then floor lamps with a sleek stainless steel or chrome finish are ideal. On the other hand, if the ultra modern look is not really what you are looking for then an older antique style lamp may be a better option.

If you're unsure which lamp would suit your room then I would advise you to look at the many different designs either online or in specialty lighting stores before buying. This will give you a perspective on the types of designs and the variety available to choose from.

Arc Floor lamps can either be purchased online or offline in a retail lighting store. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages. For example buying online allows you to consider different lamps from the comfort of your own home, often at very good prices – but the disadvantage is that you are unable to inspect the quality and design physically.

On the contrary, buying from a retail or specialty lighting store allows you to examine the lamp, but you are unable to know if the price you are paying is reasonable without comparison to other lamps which is possible online.

These fashionable looking lamps allow you to add style and d├ęcor to your room at a minimal cost and are an excellent addition to any household.

How to Test Drainage Pipes After Laying

Drainage pipes start from the first manhole or inspection chamber to the septic tank or sewer system. After laying the pipes, before use the drains should be tested. Each section in between the manholes should be tested. Its appropriate that this is done at least twelve hours after jointing the last pipe. There are various methods of checking the system. This ensures that the system is air tight to avoid foul smells and leakages along the lines.

The testing of drainage pipes after laying commences with the following method. First the lower end of the pipe and all junctions are securely stopped. The whole length is then filled with water. After filling with water, a stopper is inserted at the top leaving a pipe attached with drain plug. This pipe is bent at ninety degrees and terminated at an elevated tank. The vertical distance of elevation should be at least one meter. This will give gravity flow.

In testing the drainage pipes, water is poured into the header tank. This is kept full for at least three hours. It allows absorption to take place. After this time, the tank is topped up and testing commences. After a period of thirty minutes have elapsed check the water level in the tank. The water level in the header tank should not have fallen. If has dropped by there millimeters then the test is satisfactory. Give one hour and check the levels.

After testing the drain pipes and they fail the test, check the point of leakage. Its important to note that tests are run on pipes laid in trenches but are not covered. The point of leakage is then noted and fixed. This is done using a strong concrete surround with fine aggregates. A minimum cover of one hundred and fifty millimeters is done. Tests are then done again and confirmed. After passing the test, back filling is then done for the trenches.