The Basics Of A Wireless Video Doorbell System

Feeling safe is the most important element when owning a home, and homeowners are usually willing to do all it takes to ensure a certain level of security. This is why owning a wireless video doorbell system is becoming common practice, because it lends itself to a feeling of protection. Most video doorbells offer the same qualities and promises, but there are certain qualities these systems, without question, should employ.

Even the most basic video doorbells should have Infrared night vision which allows people to see crisp, concise images at night, even when it is most cloudy. Motion detection signals to the homeowner every time someone enters the property, either by flashing a light or making a beeping noise. Tamper detection warns the homeowner by emitting a tone if any movement is detected around or near the doorbell. Every video doorbell should have a range of at least 200 feet to ensure good portable monitor usage and convenience.

Being able to both lock and unlock the front door, all while never leaving the main living area of the home, appeals to a lot of homeowners, especially those who find it hard to get around. Some high end video doorbell systems offer this feature, which is becoming quite popular. Usually, there is a button on the portable monitor that can be pushed to utilize this characteristic. However, it is important to always be aware of who is on the other side of the door if unlocking the door from within the home.

The system should come with plenty of mounting options, thus ensuring a perfect angle. If the camera is not angled the right way, the whole system will become useless. It is imperative, when striving for a clear picture, to have the camera angled to best accommodate the area directly in front of the door. If the system does not come with this feature, extra parts can be bought to help mount the system.

Above all else, the video doorbell should be consistent and include a variety of settings. Pitch and volume should be adjustable, and there should be several frequencies included for a more concise signal. The system should also run entirely on batteries, eliminating the need to run wire which can be a fire hazard, or at the very least, a hassle.

Home should be a non-threatening sanctuary and a place for families to come together without the chance of harm. A wireless video doorbell system can help alleviate safety concerns, as well as bring a sense of relief to the entire household. If looking to add a convenient surveillance system to the home, a video doorbell system can do the job, and do it well.

How To Make A Leather Tri-Fold Wallet

If you’d like to save a little cash this holiday season and still give someone a gift that they will really enjoy, then you might consider how to make a leather wallet on your own. If you’re handy with a thread and needle, or a sewing machine if you prefer, and enjoy taking on different types of projects, then this can be a great gift making and giving opportunity for you.

Here are the steps involved in making a leather wallet:

1. Get The Materials

The first thing that needs to be done is you need to purchase the materials that will be used to make the leather wallet. Materials needed to make a basic wallet include leather, soft polyester type material for the inner pocket lining, and sewing supplies such as needle and thread. You probably want to use a dark colored thread such as black or dark brown.

2. Measure and Cut The Material

The next step after gathering all of the materials needed for the project involves measuring and cutting the leather and inner pocket liner material to size. The pattern of your wallet will depend on the style of wallet that you wish to create. For this task we’re going to create a tri-fold wallet so you’ll want to cut the leather into two 43 x 93 pieces. This will give you a wallet that is just the right size for just about any pants pocket, jacket pocket, or wherever it is the wallet will be kept.

With the two pieces of leather cut to size, fold the edges over so there is about an eighth-inch lip on all sides. Use a hammer to compress the creased edges that you created when folding the leather over. This will make it easier to glue and stitch the edging together.

3. Cement and Stitch The Edges

When you have the edges of both leather pieces creased and compressed thoroughly, use rubber cement to glue the edges down. Do this for both leather pieces. When finished, you should have an inner edge that completely surrounds the inside of both leather pieces. Give the cement plenty of time to dry so that your edges don’t come apart when trying to stitch them together.

Once the cement is completely dry, stitch the edges of both patterns together. This will help further reinforce the edging so that it doesn’t come apart.

4. Create The Inner Pocket Separator

This step is optional. If you would like a separator in your wallet, take the polyester type material and cut a piece that is slightly under 4″ x 9″. Trim this piece to match the size of the two leather halves that you will be gluing and stitching together. Cement the separator piece to the inside of one of the leather halves and then stitch it once the cement has dried.

5. Putting It All Together

Cement one long side and both ends of the two leather halves and place them together with the insides facing each other. Do not cement both long sides of the leather halves because you want one side to remain open. Make sure that they match up exactly and apply pressure to make sure they glue together securely. Allow adequate time for the cement to dry.

Finally, stitch the two halves together on the same sides where the cement was applied. This extra stitching will help reinforce the wallet so it does not easily fall apart. When done, evenly fold the wallet into thirds and place it under a flat heavy object such as a book for an extended period of time. This will help create the to folds and will compress the wallet so it remains in the folded position.

Can Foam And Latex Pillows Be Dangerous To Your Health?

Memory foam pillows and latex pillows are the latest craze in pillow town. You couldn’t blame people who rush out to buy a set for themselves and the whole family. They’re extremely comfortable and without doubt provide excellent support that traditional pillows lack of. Other than they are a dream to sleep on, they are very economical as they last for years. Opposed to most pillows in the market, they don’t go flat over time. And you are guaranteed of pillows that are good as new every day for the years to come. That’s because of the technology applied in these pillows. The materials have the characteristic of being able to return to their normal shape and smooth out themselves from indentations left by your head. It’s as if they were never slept on!

However, there are a lot of speculations about the danger these pillows pose to human health. Although they are labeled to be hypoallergenic, a number of people have been claiming to have gotten sick since they have acquired of these pillows.

Latex pillows are made of rubber foam produced by sap from rubber trees. They are resistant to dust mites and mildew by nature. However, synthetic latex can outgas chemicals that may affect the human health. These pillows are of materials formulated from petroleum products.

Because of the strong smell it emits, there were some users who complained of dizziness, nausea, headache, migraine and difficulty breathing. The smell however was reported to have subsided after a month or so. There weren’t much complaint filed as monitored by FDA.

There are pillows out in the market that are made of natural latex and claim to be so 100%. They are processed naturally, washed off of proteins that might attract dust mites and free of chemicals. However, the glue used for layering could provoke allergies among sensitive users. It is safe to warn individuals allergic to latex to avoid using latex pillows.

Memory foam pillows are made of NASA invented polyurethane from petroleum products. This synthetic material generates toxic waste by-products. The fact that it isn’t biodegradable should ring alarms. These pillows outgas volatile organic compounds that are toxic to human health. Although the smell dissipates, the toxic chemicals may penetrate your immune system. That is why hypersensitive people easily get sick from breathing organophosphate chemicals that are not easily detectable. Aside from reported dizziness, migraine, headache and asthma attack, there were also incidence of heart attack and other autoimmune disorders.

Despite a few negative feedbacks, there are a number of people who are very happy with their latex and memory pillows. A lot has found their perfect match with them and has claimed to have provided the perfect solution for their sleep disorders.

Although there were no clinical studies published nor publicized complaints, it is always better to be safe than sorry. There’s no harm in trying. Purchase these pillows with warranty or with money back guarantee so you would be able to judge for yourself.

How to Paint Mist Or Fog in a Landscape Painting

Painting mist or fog turns an ordinary scene into something special or specific. For example, mist can indicate that it is morning before the sun has burnt off the fog or it can indicate distance. Fog can add mystery, suspense or even peacefulness to paintings.

You should decide beforehand if you want the entire scene to contain mist of fog or just distant mountains and valleys. A scene that is fully misted will have little detail in the background because just like on a misty day – visibility is limited. Look at other paintings and at nature and observe what you see.

Let’s say that the entire scene will be misted. You most likely will use opaque or dulled down colors and paint in the background, again use little detail. A dry brush technique with circular strokes makes a nice misty effect. Use slightly more detail in the middle ground and more in the foreground. When the painting is done you could use a very – very thin (watercolor consistency) white and go over the entire painting layer by layer until the effect you desire is achieved.

If the effect your looking for is mist or fog at the base of mountains or trees, then that’s pretty easy too. I paint with acrylics and they dry quickly so this technique works well. After your mountains or trees are dry, dry-brush with white from the bottom upwards. Remember the mist is very transparent, so you need to use a tiny amount of paint on a dry brush. Start at the base, use circular strokes and work your way up until the mist blends in. Do the same with mountains or water scenes.

I would suggest practicing these techniques before attempting to apply them to a finished painting. If you aren’t comfortable, the last think you want to do is ruin your work. Remember, mist and fog are fairly simple techniques that add tons of character to art.

Tips and Advice on Hiring a Commercial Electrician

Deciding to get some wiring in your warehouse or big business can be a large project to undertake. There are a lot of things that you need to consider before you go about finishing the job. One of those major tasks is hiring a commercial electrician to do the proper job of getting the building rewired and safe for you to operate in. Thinking about a few things before you hire anyone is a smart move. You should keep these tips and advice in mind when you start looking to hire the right commercial electrician for the job.

One thing that you should make sure to do before hiring an electrician is to make sure that they are licensed. This is something that is extremely important because you want to make sure that you are hiring someone who is fully qualified at their job. Being licensed also means that they would be fully covered with insurance. You do not want to hire someone who does not have insurance because if something were to go wrong, your company would be responsible. With insurance, they are the ones that will be responsible.

Another thing you should do is make sure to check their references and see what kind of work they have done in the past. You should make sure that they have undertaken a job of that magnitude before and if possible, check to see if you can get references from the people who hired them to do their commercial wiring as well. This only strengthens the chance that they will be good at their job and will do the best job for you as well.

Before hiring your electrician, make sure to ask them questions. You should know if they have any concerns about the job before they actually take it on. This will also give you a chance to see if there will be anything else that they think the job needs or if they think something would be better for the building you are operating in, compared to what it is that you want. You want an upfront and honest electrician, that way you can trust they will complete the job and do a good and proper job.

Hiring an electrician is the best thing for you to do when you are rewiring or building that brand new building that you own. It not only will save your company time and money, but it could save you a lot of trouble in the end. You need to have the job done well, and you want a professional to do it. Following the tips and advice above should get you the best electrician for the job.

Kobudo: Weapons and Styles


Kobudo is a weapons-based form of martial arts originating in the Southern Japanese islands of Okinawa. The term Kobudo itself translates from the Japanese as “the old martial of Okinawa”, although the translation is modern as the people of Okinawa did not give names to their martial arts until after the 19th century.

The popular myth surrounding Okinawan Kobudo is that it was developed from farmers using their farm tools as weapons, as they were forbidden from having actual weapons by the Japanese Samurai class for fear of popular insurrection. This myth has gained traction due to the nature of the martial arts weapons employed in Okinawan Kobudo, all of which are related to common farm implements and will be discussed below. However, there are many links between Okinawan Kobudo and similar Chinese forms of weapons-based martial arts which predate Japanese occupation of the island, casting doubts upon such founding myths. It’s possible that the varying martial arts originated before Japanese occupation, but gained popularity in response to the general ban on weapons.

As Okinawan Kobudo is primarily weapons-based, the specific martial arts weapons involved are outlined below.

Martial Arts Weapons of Kobudo

Kobudo Bo: The most important weapon of Kobudo, the Kobudo Bo is typically a 6 ft long staff (although some Kobudo Bos are longer, and some shorter), made of either hard material like red or white oak, or more flexible material such as bamboo, pine, or rattan, ranging in weight from heavy to light. The Japanese art of using the Kobudo Bo is called Bojutsu. A Kobudo Bo is often tapered, thicker at the center than at the ends. Some Bos are ornately decorated, while others are merely simple staffs. For competition purposes, a Kobudo Bo may have stripes of metal along its sides, or specialized grips in the center.

Combat with the Kobudo Bo involves different thrusting, striking, and swinging techniques, along with a number of blocks, sweeps, and entrapments. Many movements with the Kobudo Bo resemble empty-handed fighting styles like Kobudo Karate, as the philosophy behind the Kobudo Bo holds it as merely an extension of one’s limbs. The back hand is used to generate power, while the forward hand is used to guide the martial arts weapon.

The Kobudo Bo may well have been based off the tenpin, the traditional staff rested on one’s back while carrying buckets during farm work, as well as on the handles of shovels, rakes, and walking sticks, used by monks. It may have been from these practical instruments that the martial art developed, in response to the Japanese ban on weapons in Okinawa in the 17th century. The Japanese could not confiscate simple staffs, and so people may have trained with them in order to defend themselves against the often brutal Samurai.

The Kobudo Bo is the primary weapon in the martial art, but a number of others are employed as well.

Sai: The Sai is three-pronged truncheon with a blunt end. The two short ends are usually used for trapping and breaking other weapons, such as a bo or sword, and they may be wielded two at a time.

Tonfa: The Tonfa is similar to a side-handle baton, and can also be wielded with one in each hand. The style of fighting with a tonfa reflects the empty-handed techniques, and it may have originated from the handle of a millstone.

Nunchaku: The nunchaku are a popular weapon made of two sections of wood connected by a chord. Theories of its origins differ, with some saying it came from a Chinese weapons, others from a horse’s bit, and still others from a threshing flail. The Chinese design is rounded, while the Okinawan is octagonal. It was popularized in Bruce Lee movies, and is now common throughout the world in countless dojos.

Kama: The Kama is a weapon based off the farming sickle, with a relatively short handle and a curved blade at the end. It is difficult to learn due to the inherent dangers associated with its practice, although duller versions have been developed for students. Some versions of the weapon have a nook in the handle to catch a Kobudo bo, but this was a weakpoint in the design, and other models do without it, or with a bend in the handle for that purpose.

Tekko: The tekko resemble a knuckleduster, spanning the entire fist with between 1 and 3 sharp points at the end.

Surujin: The Surujin is a chain with a weight either at both ends or at one end and a blade on the other. It can be easily concealed, making it particularly effective in surprising opponents. Moreover, its unorthodox design and unpredictable nature make it a supremely dangerous weapon in skilled hands.

A number of different schools of Kobudo exist, having survived the Second World War. Two of the most popular are Matayoshi Kobudo and Shorin-Ryu, which will be discussed below.

Matayoshi Kobudo

Matayoshi Kobudo is the style of Okinawan Kobudo developed under Matayoshi Shinpo in the 20th century, influenced by the Japanese, Chinese, and Okinawan martial arts styles. Matayoshi Shinko, his father, demonstrated his style of Kobudo to the Japanese Emperor in the early 20th century, who was so impressed that he awarded the master the Royal Emblem, which was combined with the Okinawan emblem to from the Zen Okinawa Kobudo Renmei logo. After Matayoshi Shinko’s death in 1947, his son Shinpo opened up a dojo in his father’s honor, teaching traditional Okinawan Kobudo. His style employs all of the martial arts weapons listed above, based on the traditional tools of the peasant class. Due to the efforts of Matayoshi Shinpo and his students, Matayoshi Kobudo has spread throughout the world, with over 2000 dojos worldwide.


Shorin refers to the Shaolin Temple of China, and Ryu means style, although the literal translation of Shorin Ryu is “Pine Tree School”. It was developed by Choshin Chibana in 1933, although the system itself is much older. It was based off the traditional Okinawa fighting style of Shuri-te. Chosin Chibana was a top student of a great master of shuri-te, Anko Itosu, who himself was a student of the great master Matsumura Sokon, bodyguard to three Okinawan kings.

Shorin-Ryu, also known as Shorin-Ryu Karate, is a form of Karate Kobudo characterized by natural breathing, natural stances, and circular rather than direct movements. Crucial to Shorin-Ryu Karate are correct motion, fluid movement to evade attacks, and solid structure for powerful attacking moves. A distinctive feature of Shorin-Ryu Karate is the position of the fist when striking. The fist should not be held horizontally nor vertically, but rather with a slight can’t to the inside, so that the third knuckle of the index finger is in line with the second knuckle of the pinky finger. This allows for more powerful, stable, and faster strikes.

Beginners initiating into Shorin Ryu must first learn balance, stance, and coordination. Only at higher levels are speed and power added.

Karate Kobudo

One final point concerns the relation between Karate and Kobudo. Although many believe these are distinct martial arts styles, they are in-fact closely related. There is strong evidence that Okinawan Kobudo preceded and influenced the development of Karate, as there are strong stylistic links between the martial arts. Weapons-based Kobudo includes kicks similar to those of Karate, and the overall flow of movement is similar as well. Many dojos who primarily teach Karate also teach Kobudo weapons training in conjunction with the traditionally empty-handed martial art.

Construction Jobs Vs Cubicle Jobs?

Well, this very question would probably bring a popular movie to your minds. Have you ever seen Office Space? If so, then your opinion is probably swayed towards the construction job. Office Space has probably tainted the image of the cubicle job forever and glorified the construction job in its place. According to the movie, a cubicle job is drab, monotonous, confusing, and pointless; construction jobs, on the other hand, are meaningful, refreshing, and a great source of exercise. So for all you Office Space fans, construction jobs, construction manager jobs, contractors, and every other position in the construction business easily trump any and all positions in the white-collar industry.

For those of us who have actually worked cubicle jobs, the film rings true on many levels. I, for one, have had experience in the data entry field. I changed the date and added page numbers to thousands of accounts daily, and never knew what that even accomplished. I’d work for about an hour a day, and would spend the rest of the day walking around the building, reading a variety of books, and listening to a handful of new CDs I had checked out from the library. The job was easy, to say the least. Spending 6-7 hours a day reading books while listening to the library’s music collection was just like 6-7 hours of leisure time, only I was getting paid for it. So it’s hard for me to complain about cubicle jobs. However, at the end of the day, I felt like I had accomplished very little. There were other jobs I could take on that would pay better for fewer hours, and I would actually accomplish something. The hours of listening to music, though, were priceless! I definitely benefited from studying all the classics.

However, for those who have to work all day long in cubicles, staring at computer screens, and typing all day with a fury, they would probably appreciate the simplicity and project-oriented nature of the different jobs in construction. Perhaps they wouldn’t be interested in the physical labor of it, but they might be interested in construction management jobs. They’d still be spending most of their time outside, under the sun and in the refreshing outdoors, and they’d be working on specific projects. They’d lead a team of construction workers to complete a project from start to finish, and would be able to spend those last few minutes appreciating a job well done.

When working in a cubicle, we often don’t see the finished product for anything we work on. We do our part and pass it along to the next man. It’s the virtual assembly line. We take care of only one aspect of the project before passing it along to someone down the hall, who then finishes his/her part and passes it along to someone upstairs, who then passes it along to…well, you get the idea. By the time the project is finished, only a select few even know about it and can appreciate its completion. Although there is not nearly as much satisfaction for them because they didn’t see the project in all its construction stages.

However, on the plus side, cubicle workers are much less likely to ever injure their backs. Well, maybe that’s not true. If they live in a house and need to lift things, like every home owner does, their backs will be ill-prepared to lift it. They’ve been sitting on a chair all day, and their muscles are in a state of atrophy if they’re not taking time out each day to hit the gym. Therefore, construction workers who are constantly using those back muscles are more prepared to continue lifting them. So it’s a bit of a toss up. Construction jobs entail all kinds of heavy lifting, and constant heavy lifting, day after day, which is very likely to lead to back injury. For cubicle workers, they won’t be lifting heavy things nearly as often. In fact, it’ll be downright rare for them to pick up something heavy. But when that time comes when they’re needed for some lifting, their backs won’t be ready for it, and they’re likely to injure their backs during that first heavy lift. This can be avoided, of course, if they choose to exercise at the gym regularly. If they lift weights each day, in a controlled environment, then they’ll be prepared to lift heavy things around the house and will most likely be free of injury.

Cubicle workers are also better paid. People looking for a construction job aren’t necessarily looking for those jobs because of the pay. They’re just looking for a job that they’re capable of handling. They want a job that requires physical labor and simple projects. People with little schooling, for example, are perfect for these jobs because they don’t qualify for much else. You don’t need any schooling for jobs in construction; however, you do need schooling for even the most menial position if you’re to work at a cubicle. Even those pathetic data entry jobs require some kind of schooling. Most of those positions are considered temp jobs or internships for people who aspire to take a full-time salary position at the company. So, that company will only hire people who seem to have the potential to move up in that company.

Construction jobs have their pros and cons, like any other job. Many people enjoy the simplicity of it. Jobs in construction don’t require a serious focus or any moments of brain-wracking intensity. It’s all quite stress free. Construction workers work with their hands and it’s really as simple as that. So for all those who want to take a break from deep thinking, brain-wracking, page turning studying, a job in construction might be just what you’re looking for!

A Stairlift for Your Unique Home Design

Perhaps when you bought your home, the lovely curved stairway was one of the reasons you got it. You loved the classy element it added to your home from the moment you walked in. Fast forward though and times change. You don’t have to leave that home you love so much due to the inability to get up and down those stairs with ease as you used to.

Safety is always a top priority when it comes to such a device. Work with a provider offering you a product that you can sit in and stay secure in. There are many different designs, but the amount of space available as the device curves up the stairs has to be closely evaluated. This can narrow down the options that can be used for your set up.

Don’t worry though, it isn’t hard for them to customise something to work well in your home. Not all of these lovely winding staircases are made from the same materials or the same dimensions. A professional is used to these variables and they will be able to successfully put something in motion for you.

Effective Solution

There are curved stairlifts designed to work on even the most complex turns and twists that could be in place there. A well-qualified professional will be able to evaluate your needs and help you select the right product to go with this type of design. It does take time for the device to move up and down. That time will depend on the power behind the product and the number of stairs.

It is a good idea to obtain free consultations if you are interested in curved stairlifts. This allows professionals to come to your home and share with you products and features they recommend. They can also discuss with you the installation and maintenance of the product. You need to feel that the device is going to work well, last a long time, and be worth the cost.


The cost is typically more with curved stairlifts due to type of devices needed for the design. Typically, this is going to require a product with a larger motor and more power. Yet the cost is going to be reasonable for such an item so don’t assume you can’t budget for it. There is really no price tag to put on your safety either.

The risk of falling on those stairs due to health concerns is too great to ignore. It doesn’t make sense to avoid using part of the home either due to the stairs being there. With curved stairlifts, a person can still fully enjoy their home. You don’t have to live just downstairs on one level and you don’t have to put the home you love so much on the market.

Installation Process

Due to the design, curved stairlifts do take longer to install than the basic ones. Yet a provider with the right skills and training is going to be able to handle this complex set up with ease. They will have the right information and equipment to get the job done correctly. They are going to test it before they allow you to try it out.

Once it is installed and tested, they will help you learn how to use the various features of curved stairlifts. This is important so you can get the full functionality with it. They won’t leave until you have your questions answered and you able to use it on your own. This is going to give you more freedom than you had before and reduce the risk of injuries due to falls on the stairs.

Important Facts About Singer Sewing Machine

Sewing machine is one of the most vital tools for a textile business. Without this type of machine, there will be no beautiful clothes and other things that were made from textile products. There are lots of famous brands when it comes to sewing machine, but there is only one brand that is recognized globally because of its quality. The singer sewing machine has been consistently prevailing in the market for years now. The singer sewing machine has been monopolizing the textile industry for so many years now.

In fact, it has been in the business since 1850’s and up to now a lot of people are still enjoying its performance. The company that started it all continuously makes their product efficient when it comes to sewing various products. Ever since they started, they have been capturing a lot of people globally because of the high quality stitches their machines ever provide to its users. The company has been in the industry for centuries now. Up to this very moment, this brand has been sought after so many people in the world.

The sewing machine is composed of 3 basic categories that were based on their functions. These are 1) straight stitch, 2) zigzag 3) others. Usually, the straight stitching made by singer is composed of variety of models. These are Singer Popular, Merritt Magna, Singer Premium, Singer Star, Merritt Tailor, and the Merritt Deluxe. Although a lot of machines have the same features, like in the case of floral face plate and open throat plate and others you can still do a lot of things using the same machine even if you don’t intend to come up with its original use. Making handmade items is truly manageable if you have singer sewing machine to help and guide you with your goal.

The Singer 8220, Singer Trendy, Singer 4228, and others are just some of the type of zigzag sewing machines that were made by Singer. There are still many others that are built to last a lifetime with several functions such as automatic needle threaded, horizontal spoon pin, built in thread and a lot more. Usually, these models were intended for industrial use but you can also use them for home use if you have a small business or you plan to make clothes that are more complicated. If you sought after some other models in the market, you may come across other Singer sewing machines that contain belt guard, regulating dial, adjustable needle adaptor, high speed 2200 SPM and a lot more.

Using Singer sewing machine will truly give you absolute satisfaction along the way. When you have Singer at home, you will not seek for any other brand in the market today. You don’t have to worry about troubles because even if you may encounter problems with your sewing machine, you will not have a hard time fixing it since there are lots of reliable technicians that are provided by the Singer sewing machine company. They know that their customers need them that are why they are continuously making researches to serve their patrons with the best and guaranteed services they truly deserve.

Remember the Toyota Chinook? – The Little Camper That Helped Start an Industry

About 40 years ago the little camper was born.

Someone at Toyota USA decided that it would be a good idea to provide pickups for use by camper manufacturers. These vehicles were sent out to the camper companies as a cab and chassis unit. They did not have a pickup bed attached. The manufacturer of the camper attached their own camper body onto the chassis of the pickup. This became the basis for the series of campers known as the Toyota motor home.

Constructed in the late 1970s, they were tiny by today’s measure.

At first the campers were small, not much bigger than the original pickup body. One of the most common brands of camper of this type at that time was called the Toyota Chinook. This little camper consisted of a fiberglass body attached to the Toyota chassis. It normally had a pop-up roof with a vinyl enclosure.

Inside the camper, the accommodations were quite plain.

Along one side of the body there was a built in galley consisting of a sink and icebox, and a two burner propane cook stove. The other side of the camper was placed a couch which folded out into a double bed. This left a small aisle for standing, dressing, and other activities. Normally the inside of the camper was designed with the cabinets made from the same material as the body of the camper, fiber glass.

These small campers to be in popular with people wanting to travel inexpensively.

The little pickup combined with a camper body made a very economical unit for weekending and vacation travel. This model of RV was very popular with fishermen and hunters or couples who wanted a simple camper that they could park in garage. The use of the pop-up top built into the camper these vehicles would allow the vehicle to fit in a stall in a standard garage.

With the pop-up roof extended, there was limited stand up room inside the camper. This allowed the user to move around without bending over. The daily activities of cooking,getting dressed, and sleeping were all carried out in the warmth and protection of the solid fiber glass body.The limited features of these campers may extended stays a real challenge, but for weekends and brief vacations they were ideal.

One of the major difficulties of this camper was the lack of a bathroom.

For some people this was not a problem as they used the camper as a very comfortable place to sleep while camping in the outdoors. When used at forest service campgrounds or in wilderness areas this was ideal, but for use in crowded campgrounds or RV parks this soon became a problem. Another drawback of this camper was the lack of built-in storage.

While this little camper was ideal for a lot of people it was not quite the best camper for the growing RV market.

Buyers wanted more amenities and features that provided the comfort and convenience of home while on the road. Attracted by the sales of the Toyota Chinook type of camper, RV manufacturers began to design larger and more comfortable Toyota motor homes.

Cooling Is As Important As Cooking In Ensuring Food Safety

If a product has been cooked and it is to be used cold, then it must be chilled down as quickly as possible.  The temperature danger zone is 5 to 63 degrees Celsius.  This is the zone where food must be kept out of after preparation.  Cold food must be held at less than 5 Celsius, to prevent microbial growth, which is critical to food safety.  Some pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes, will grow in a fridge, but the majority, which are called mesophiles, prefer temperatures in excess of 15 degrees.  The optimum temperature is around 37  C. (Body temperature).

There are several ways that the product can be cooled quickly and safely.  Blast chilling is a very efficient method of cooling.  This process uses forced cooled air, continually blasted over the food until it reaches < 5 degrees Celsius.  The process usually takes up to 90 minutes.  There are other ways to achieve the cool temperature, but most take longer than 90 minutes.  The Campden system allows for food to be cooled in stages.  This process can take up to 8 hours.  The American system allows up to 6 hours in stages.

So, the quicker the better, from a food safety perspective.  What if blast chillers are not available and the American or Campden system is being utilised?  How can the food be cooled quickly.

Use small joints, no bigger than 2.5 kilos.

If the food is liquid based, such as a curry, stew or casserole, then decant into shallow containers for cooling.  This gives a larger surface area, which will cool down more quickly than a deep saucepan, for example.

After removing the food from cooking, leave it in a cool room, for no longer than 90 minutes, then refrigerate.

Ensure the fridges are fan operated, to allow more even circulation of cool air.

Once the food is cooled, it must be maintained at a temperature of 1 to 4 degrees Celsius to ensure food safety.  The fridge must be regularly checked throughout the day to ensure this.  Certainly in an operation, such as a restaurant, which opens for 8 hours, the fridges must be checked at least 3 times during the 8 hours.  This is best achieved using a thermocouple temperature probe.  It is a tip sensitive, digital thermometer which is capable of being calibrated.  The concern must be with the product temperature and not the air temperature.  Digital temperature displays on fridges, or probes retained in fridges are not adequate systems for temperature monitoring.  It has been found that the best method is to retain a glass/cup of dry salt on the top shelf of the fridge and to insert the probe into the salt throughout the working day.

Corporate Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility – Do Companies Know the Difference?

I recently attended a marketing event where the speaker’s panel consisted of various company executives from the mining industry. In addition to their mining operations a majority of these companies had retail outlets. Since the manufacturing end of the business has a significant impact on the environment I asked what they were doing in terms of green marketing. They answered with how they were contributing to fighting AIDS in South Africa. While I applaud this effort, they failed to answer my question. Were they avoiding answering my question or were they confusing corporate social responsibility and corporate sustainability?

To see if there is difference between the two terms we have to first define what sustainability or sustainable development is. The “Daly Rules” of sustainability is defined, as renewable resources such as fish, soil and groundwater must be used no faster than the rate at which they can regenerate. Nonrenewable resources such as coal, oil and gas must be used no faster than renewable substitutes for them to be put in place and pollution and wastes must be emitted no faster than natural systems can absorb them, recycle them or render them harmless.

Thomas Dyllick and Kai Hockerts in Beyond the Business Case for Corporate Sustainability defines Corporate Sustainability as, “meeting the needs of a firm’s direct and indirect stakeholders (such as shareholders, employees, clients, pressure groups, communities, etc.) without comprising its ability to meet the needs of future stakeholders as well.” The Australian government defines Corporate Sustainability a little bit closer to the “Daly Rules.” They see corporate sustainability as, “encompassing strategies and practices that aim to meet the needs of the stakeholders today, while seeking to protect, support, and enhance the human and natural resources that will be needed in the future.”

Corporate Social Responsibility according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development defines corporate social responsibility as, “the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the work force and their families as well as a local community and society at large”. In Capitalism and Freedom Milton Friedman defines corporate social responsibility as. “There is one and only one social responsibility of business, to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” Neither of the corporate social responsibility definitions touches upon sustainable development, which is the ability to renew natural resources at a rate equal to its ability to regenerate.

Looking at the definitions above there is a difference between corporate responsibility and corporate sustainability. Corporate responsibility concentrates more on the non-financial societal activities that a company contributes to whereas corporate sustainability concentrates on both the impact of environmental factors on a company and the company’s impact on the environment. This was a point Michael E. Porter and Forrest L. Reinhart stated in their article A Strategic Approach to Climate, “Companies that persist in treating climate change solely as a corporate social responsibility issue, rather than a business problem will risk the greatest consequences.” Porter and Reinhart believe that businesses need to look both “inside out,” which they define as a company’s impact on climate and “outside in” on how climate regulatory change may affect the business environment in which the company competes. (October 2007 Harvard Business Review).

If we take a look at the mining companies that I discussed at the beginning of this article, there are several ways in which a business can take action from a corporate sustainability perspective. First, mining companies would have to take a look at their own mining operations. Their impact on mining the land, the fuel that they use in running the mining equipment, and how they will restore the land once they have exhausted the mines resources. From the retail store perspective it would have to take a look at product packaging, transportation of goods and services, and store operations. These are just a few of the considerations that this particular business would have to look at under its corporate sustainability efforts. As you can see, the company’s corporate sustainability efforts are very different from their corporate responsibility efforts of fighting AIDS in an area they currently mine in. Both efforts are important but each one impacts the businesses economic and strategic position differently.

Going forward, with stronger legislation being enacted on a businesses impact on the environment, it is strategically imperative that companies know the difference between corporate responsibility and corporate sustainability.

What’s the Difference Between Brazilian Walnut and American Walnut Hardwood Floors?

Exotic Hardwood Floors are continuing to grow in popularity, and with that growth, comes the comparison of exotic species versus domestic species. Such is the case for domestic American Walnut versus Brazilian Walnut, also known as Ipe.

On the Janka Hardness Scale, Brazilian Walnut measures almost at the top of the list – 3680. American Black Walnut is 1010. This suggests higher durability, and also shows its high resistance to insects and natural elements compared to its American counterpart. In fact, it’s estimated that this wood will last up to 40 years if left untreated, and 100 years with proper maintenance and care.

Unlike American Black Walnut which has a very dark color, Brazilian Walnut ranges from olive to chocolate brown to black. Both species have beautiful markings that look like watercolor brush strokes down the woods with slight natural color variations. American Walnut tends to have more swirls, curls, and color variations however. Both have a fine grain appearance which the ‘watercolor effect’ can be attributed to.

Price-wise, they are somewhat comparable to one another, unlike other exotics, whose prices soar over their domestic counterparts. You can find engineered American Walnut for $5.19 to $5.41 for 3 inch or 5 inch planks, whereas you can find Brazilian Walnut for 3 inch thickness for $7.43 to $8.74 for 5 ½ inches, with the differences in price mostly attributed to the cost of importing the woods.

In addition to hardwood floors, Brazilian Walnut is also used for outdoor furniture and construction, particularly wooden decks because of its hardness, but also resistances to decay, mold, fungus, and insects.

As for manufactures that offer this unique wood, BR111 Flooring has several Ipe products, as does Johnson Flooring, and Triangulo Hardwoods. For information on Ipe, it’s best to contact a licensed reseller who carries these three brands. They can show you samples of the product and help you determine which hardwood floor is right for your home.

Is a Consumer Directed Health Plan (CDHP) Right For Me?

Traditionally, health insurance has been a benefit most Americans got through their jobs. And until recently, most employers paid for 100% of the coverage. But as healthcare costs have increased, employees have been asked to shoulder more and more of the healthcare burden. They are being asked to make tough choices about what kind of coverage they want, and how much they’re willing to pay for that coverage.

Buying health insurance isn’t so different from buying a car. Sure, the sticker price matters, but for most people, individual features and options are what make them choose one car over another.

It’s the same when you’re choosing the right health plan. Knowing which plan features matter most to you can make the difference between a plan you love and a plan you can barely live with.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re considering a CDH plan:

1. Do you want to take more control of your health care spending?

CDH plans pair a higher deductible with a lower premium. This means you’ll be responsible for all of your medical expenses until you’ve reached your deductible. In 2010, the minimum deductible amount, set by the federal government is $1,200 for individuals and $2,400 for families. In exchange for this higher than average deductible, you’ll save an average of 20% on your premiums and your co-pay’s will be at the lower end of the spectrum.

2. Are you a bargain hunter?

If your doctor orders routine blood work, would you feel comfortable about asking her how much the tests will cost and possibly price-shopping to find a lower price? CDH plans reward people who like the challenge of finding the lowest prices and don’t mind doing some research to find them. And as health care reform brings about greater transparency in the cost of medical services and procedures, you’ll have even more information at your fingertips.

3. Are you confident about managing your personal finances? Do you enjoy it?

What could this possibly have to do with choosing a health plan? A lot, if you’re thinking about CDH. And here’s why. All CDH plans are made up of two components. The first is a high deductible health plan (HDHP). The second is a Health Savings Account (HSA).

An HSA is a special healthcare savings account, similar to a Flexible Savings Account, (FSA). Like an FSA, you put pre-tax dollars into an HSA. In 2010, individual contributions will be capped at $3,050 and family contributions at $6,150. If you’re lucky, your employer will match some or all of this amount. You can use your HSA funds to pay for any IRS-approved medical expenses, including some costs traditional plans don’t usually cover, like dental care and long-term care insurance.

Now, here’s how HSA’s differ from FSA’s:

* They’re portable: If you change jobs, your HSA funds go with you.

* The funds roll over: If you haven’t spent the money in your account by the end of the calendar year, you won’t lose them.

* They grow tax-free: You won’t have to pay taxes on the interest your HSA funds earn.

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys thinking about the stock market and managing your finances online, the extra work of managing your HSA funds won’t faze you. But, if you have a low tolerance for financial risk or don’t feel comfortable making investment decisions, a CDH plan won’t be a good fit.

4. Are you disciplined when it comes to your personal finances?

If your budgeting philosophy is “spend first, ask questions later,” think twice about going with a CDH plan. In order to maximize the financial benefits of your HSA, you should be able to accurately predict your likely medical costs for the year and develop a household budget that allows you to make appropriate contributions throughout the year. Being disciplined enough to create a “rainy day fund” for unexpected medical expenses is also key.

Having an HSA account also requires a certain level of record-keeping and organization. Unlike traditional FSA accounts, you won’t have to submit invoices and receipts to get reimbursement – some HSA’s even come with an ATM card for easy payment. However, for tax purposes, you should collect all of your medical/health care receipts in one place. It can be a file folder, a shoe box, whatever works for you. But it is important that you’re able to account for any funds you withdraw from your HSA. If that sounds like an onerous task, stick to another kind of health plan.

5. Does network size matter to you?

There was a time when health insurance offerings differed radically from one another. HMO’s had tiny networks, highly restricted access to specialists, and no coverage for out-of-network care. PPO and POS plans offered larger networks, access to specialists without referrals, and the option to go out of network if you were willing to foot part of the bill. These days, the lines between plan types have blurred. You’ll need to look closely at the network descriptions and coverage of any plan you’re considering.

In general, CDH plans offer larger networks of doctors and hospitals than HMO’s. This is good if you’re concerned that choosing a new health plan will mean losing your current primary care doctor. However, make sure any CDH plan you choose counts out-of-network physician charges toward your out-of-pocket maximum. If the plan doesn’t, you’ll want to make sure that your chosen physicians and facilities are part of the plan’s network.

6. How’s your health?

When it comes to saving money on healthcare, one of the best ways to spend less is to stay healthy. Many serious medical conditions can be prevented simply by staying fit, eating healthfully, and avoiding bad habits like smoking or drinking to excess.

Of course, nobody can predict the future. In the face of a catastrophic health event like a cancer diagnosis or a car accident, paying your medical bills shouldn’t mean risking bankruptcy. CDH plans come with an annual out-of-pocket maximum. For 2010, that maximum is $5,950 for individuals and $11,900 for families. Once you’ve paid those amounts, your insurance will cover 100% of your medical expenses.

7. Do you worry about rising healthcare costs?

If fears about maintaining your current level of care keep you awake at night, a CDH plan may offer some reassurance. An HSA can help you build wealth for the future. And taking more control of what you spend – in the form of price-shopping and actively managing your health – can help you feel more empowered and less anxious.

Choosing a health plan can seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Look closely at all of your plan options and compare their features. When you understand what features matter most to you and choose accordingly, you’ll end up with the right plan.

Cocktail Attire For Men

The term “cocktail party” can mean more than just one thing in our society, so it may leave men scratching their heads in wonder when deciding how to dress for one. It is said that cocktail parties first started during the 1920s, during Prohibition. Because drinking was banned in restaurants, hotels and bars, it was an activity that was only practiced in the privacy and secrecy of private homes. People began to throw these parties so that adults could drink behind closed doors, and they morphed into increasingly high profile events. By the 1930s, men’s cocktail attire became stylish and fashionable, although not quite as formal as traditional evening wear.

Today, the same basic rules apply. It is not quite as dressy as formal evening apparel, but it is still a look that is polished, semi-formal and refined. If you received an invitation by phone or email, it is likely to be a slightly more casual event. Conversely, if you received a mailed invitation and the cocktail party is related to a wedding rehearsal dinner or a holiday, it is likely to be a little more formal.

Nowadays, many business corporations are holding early evening cocktail parties in order to allow employees to break the ice in a social non-work setting. If you are invited to a work-related event, it is best to wear an outfit that you can simply transition from work to party. For example, a good business casual look for day would be gray wool dress trousers, a white button up shirt, a light green zip-up cardigan sweater, and a light blue or purple tie. For the after-work party, simply switch out the cardigan sweater for a brown or dark gray vest, and trade your light colored tie for one in a rich hue, such as emerald green, cobalt blue, or burgundy. If you typically wear a Small Knot or Four In Hand Knot to work, switch your tie knot to a Windsor Knot. It will be a subtle but interesting change.

A cocktail party that is related to a formal event, such as a wedding, will require you to dress slightly more formally. Opt for a sport jacket rather than a vest. Better yet, go for a two or three-piece suit in a dark color such as navy, gray, or black. Since cocktail parties are fun and social events, you could also wear a less traditional suit, such as a brown one, or one with a pinstripe or windowpane pattern. You also can add creative touches to your outfit, such as interesting cufflinks, a colorful pocket square, or a tie with an eye-catching pattern. Wearing a watch and nicely shined shoes will also help to add subtle sophistication to your ensemble.

If you wish to go without a tie, it is acceptable to do so. However, make sure to add another element of interest to your outfit. For example, try a dress shirt with a wide spread collar underneath a black blazer. Or, you can even wear a fine weave silk or cashmere sweater underneath your blazer. Remember, cocktail attire should be refined and sophisticated, but not without fun and interest. The main goal of a cocktail party is to socialize and meet new people, so focus on assembling a wardrobe that allows you to look polished but also approachable.