Barriers to Honest Communication in the Workplace

There are a number of barriers to effective communication in the workplace. It is important as a manager to identify factors which prevent honest and open discourse. When employees do not feel that they can share their thoughts and opinions freely with upper management, it indicates that there is a lack of trust within the organization. It is a manager’s responsibility to develop this trust by listening to what is being said and keeping an open mind to criticism and new suggestions for improvements in the company. Incorrect beliefs can be barriers to effective and assertive communication:

  • If I assert myself, others will get mad at me.
  • If I assert myself and people do become angry with me, it will be awful.
  • I want others to be honest with me, but I’m afraid that if I am honest with others and say no, I will hurt them.
  • If my assertion hurts others, I am responsible for their feelings.
  • It is wrong and selfish to turn down legitimate requests. Other people will think I am terrible and won’t like me.
  • At all costs, I must avoid saying things and asking questions that might make me look stupid.
  • Assertive people are cold and hard. If I’m assertive, I’ll be so unpleasant that people won’t like me.

There are a number of other factors that can lead someone to avoid communicating their ideas:

  • Fear of rejection
  • Low self-confidence
  • Inability to approach someone new and start a conversation
  • Belief that someone in a position of authority already knows what is going on
  • Nervousness
  • A belief that supervisors are not interested in the ideas of subordinates
  • Inability to handle criticism
  • Lack of strong communication skills necessary to share thoughts and ideas
  • Fear of making a mistake
  • Cultural differences in how assertive communication is viewed
  • Concern that others will think that expressing ideas is arrogant
  • Keeping the peace by keeping quiet
  • Leaving assertive communication to someone else
  • Giving up because of the time and effort required

Assertive people are able to:

  • Share themselves clearly, directly, and without guilt
  • Speak freely without fear of reprisal
  • Respond to questions with ease
  • Stick together to present a cohesive group
  • Demonstrate that they are informed
  • Keep records and present objective information
  • Communicate clearly
  • Demonstrate self-confidence
  • Identify objective goals and are goal-driven
  • Collaborate with others
  • Demonstrate self-reliance and independence
  • Persevere in spite of setbacks
  • Organize to bring about change
  • Demonstrate a positive attitude
  • Bring a sense of pride to their work
  • Hold themselves and those around them accountable

If you find that you are uncomfortable around employees who are assertive, determine the reason for this feeling. Many new managers feel that their authority is being challenged and they are new enough to their position that they are disturbed by this. Experienced managers may have gotten used to the status quo and don’t want to listen to new ideas. Anyone who operates in a supervisory capacity needs to be willing to examine their own behavior and how it improves or undermines the growth of their employees.

Why There Are No Skyscrapers in Washington DC?

If you have ever visited our nation’s capital you certainly noticed aside from the Washington Monument (555-feet tallest in the city) and a few other landmarks including the US Capitol (289-feet ranked 5th tallest) there are no real tall high-rise or skyscraper buildings. Look across the Potomac River to Crystal City and Rosslyn and you’ll see them. Journey into the more distant suburbs of Maryland and Virginia and you’ll see them. So why are there no skyscrapers in Washington DC? Quite simply it is because there is a law restricting building height.

In 1894, the 12-story, 160-foot Cairo later Cairo Hotel opened at 1615 “Q” Street NW near Dupont Circle. An uproar from area citizens followed as many feared large monolithic buildings would dwarf the monuments and other buildings. The uproar leads the D.C. Commissioners to issue regulations limiting height to 90 feet for residential and 110 feet for business, or to the width of the street in front, whatever was smaller. Further lobbying caused the US Congress to pass the Heights of Buildings Act in 1899. This removed the front street restriction, but reaffirmed height limits to 90 feet on residential streets and 110 feet on business streets. It made an exception for buildings on business streets 160 feet wide along which buildings were permitted to be up to 130 feet tall.

In 1910 the act was amended restricting the height of any building to the width of the adjacent street plus 20 feet. Therefore a building facing a 130-foot-wide street could now be 150 feet tall. Other stipulations allowed for under certain conditions unoccupied spires, domes, towers, minarets, pinnacles, ventilation shafts, chimneys, smokestacks, penthouses over elevator shafts and fire sprinkler tanks be erected to a greater height if approved by the Mayor and of fireproof construction.

While Washington’s skyline rarely tops the 12th floor there a few tall exceptions listed in order of height. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (329-feet) ranks behind the Washington Monument. The Old Post Office Building (315-feet) with clock tower is next then the Washington National Cathedral (301-feet). The tallest commercial building is One Franklin Square (210-feet) ranked the 6th tallest after the US Capitol. While some contend this lack of vertical growth has contributed to greater sprawl, it is certain the many monuments of Washington DC are not overshadowed.

Steps to Fix the 0xc0000142 "Application Failed to Initialize" Error

The 0xc0000142 error is caused by a series of corrupt or damaged system files on your computer that are preventing a program from being able to read or load the files it needs to run. This error typically shows with the cmd.exe (Command Prompt) program inside Windows, but is also a big problem for many other programs as well. The typical sign of this error is when it appears either as a blue screen error or a standard Windows alert, saying “Application has failed to Initialize (0xc0000142)”.

To fix this error, you need to look through a series of possible causes and fix them as you go… starting with the “registry”. The registry is a big database that Windows uses to store information and settings for your PC. It keeps everything from your latest emails to your desktop wallpaper inside, and is where your computer is able to “remember” a variety of settings for your PC. The registry also holds a series of file references which programs like cmd.exe like to use to operate. Unfortunately, these references often become damaged and corrupted, making Windows unable to find the files it needs to run the programs… causing the 0xc0000142 error. The first thing you should do to fix this error is to clean out the registry with a “registry cleaner”.

After performing a registry scan, you should look at then performing an antivirus or antispyware scan of your PC to make sure that there are no infections inside it. One of the big problems of Windows computers is the way in which viruses and other malware can invade your PC and corrupt a series of files and folders that Windows needs to run. You should run a deep scan to remove any potential infection that’s causing damage to your PC.

If those steps don’t work, you should then reinstall any program that’s showing the 0xc0000142 error OR run a Windows repair installation. If the program that is causing the error is not critical to Windows (it’s not like cmd.exe etc), then you should be able to uninstall it completely by clicking Start > Control Panel > Add / Remove Programs. It will then uninstall the program and all its files, allowing you to install a fresh copy which works smoothly and reliably. If the program that’s giving you the error is an essential Windows application, such as cmd.exe or similar, then you should perform a Windows “repair” installation to fix it.

Petrified Wood Flooring – Pros and Cons

A lot of people today are considering getting petrified wood flooring. If you are one of these people, then you ought to be aware of the different pros and cons of getting this type of flooring.

Before we tackle this, what actually is petrified wood? Well, it is actually a sort of fossilized wood. Through a process taking thousands of years, the wood has become crystallized and has become rock-hard.

This presents one of the biggest advantages of this type of wood: durability. When you make use of this as a flooring material, you won’t have to worry about it showing wear easily. After all, it has lasted thousands of years already, right?

We all know that durability is very important when getting any type of flooring material. This is simply you will be using that material to be trampled on day after day. Since petrified wood costs so much, you do not want to end up having to replace your flooring every few years.

This type of flooring is also prized because of its beauty. There’s nothing quite like the look offered by the fossilized wood. Although a lot of people may say that hardwood is the most beautiful type of flooring material, they most likely have not yet seen just how beautiful wood can become.

This beauty is also the reason why its value is so high. If you thought that authentic hardwood was expensive, wait until you see the order list for petrified wood flooring. However, this disadvantage is also compensated by the fact that getting this type of flooring definitely increases your house’s resale value. This means that if you should decide to move, this type of flooring material will definitely help you clinch the sale fast.Another truth about it is that it is not really wood anymore. As mentioned before, it becomes rock-hard. This means that nailing it down is not really an option. You also can’t use it to design a floating floor. Actually, this flooring material usually comes in the form of tiles, much like ceramic. You might try gluing it down but that will leave you with a very unsteady surface. The only option that’s left is to use cement to hold it together.

It also requires a whole new level of maintenance. This flooring material needs to be polished in order to keep its luster. It is also quite prone to staining. The problem with this type of flooring is that you can’t really sand it down like hardwood. Well, actually, you could try, but it will take far more work and effort than you think.

However, it rises above regular wood flooring in one factor: water-resistance. With petrified wood, you get something that does not need to be treated with special chemicals in order to prevent water damage. This means that if you get this type of flooring material, you can use it as flooring for your bathroom or at least areas outside them.Another advantage is sort of circular in its logic. Because of the virtues of the wood mentioned above, people find it prestigious if you have them. This means getting this type of flooring material will help you wow your guests. In fact, a lot of people buy petrified wood flooring simply for the prestige and end up totally amazed by its virtues.

Penis Enlargement: Various Methods of Enlarging the Penis (But Are They Safe)

Every man, no matter how well-endowed, has contemplated penis enlargement, in order to: increase length, pump up girth, eliminate the hook, or simply to smooth the shaft of unsightly veins. But the overwhelming majority decide against for reasons of practicality and lack of necessity, excluding the few fields where enhancement can further a career: male adult film star, college art class model or magnum condom tester.

The methods for achieving growth vary tremendously, but very little scientific research has been done on penis enlargement. This lack of study is downright shocking, considering the amount of man hours (4,266,708 – we’ll show you the math) that have been spent looking and wondering if our members could be improved. One more disappointing fact is that most techniques result in a mere 1-2 inch gain, which hardly seems worth it. If you are going to put your prize possession under the knife (or invest in other methods), you’d like to see more than cosmetic changes; something akin to a John Holmes-esque result. The various enhancement methods can be grouped into the following categories:

Surgeries

Male enhancement surgery can involve the implant of various materials, including silicone and the stimulant drug PMMA. Urologists have also started recommending cadaver flesh, which supposedly leads to less scarring and complications, excluding the obvious psychological boundary of carrying a dead man’s member. Thai physicians, coming from the world capital of penis enlargement surgery, have gone to such bizarre lengths as inserting less recommended materials, such as olive oil or crumpled yellow pages into unsuspecting patients. Another operative method exists that doesn’t involve implants. Approximately one-third to one-half of the penis is inside the body, which seems like a terrible waste of space. I already have something jangling about my inner thighs, so if I’m stuck with an unsightly appendage bobbing to and fro, I might as well make it an impressive one. Getting in touch with your ‘inner penis’ is as easy as cutting the suspensory ligament holding your better half inside of you. The shaft will drop forward and extend out, with especially good results for fat people, which is one minor positive for gross obesity. Many may ask if this technique can be accomplished without surgery, simply by pulling on your penis enough. Serial masturbators answer this with a firm no – the ligament is too strong for your puny hands. Straining and even bruising are possible, but detaching the ligament from self-stimulation is not.

Optical Illusions

People can make cosmetic changes to make the penis appear bigger, like losing weight, shaving the pubic hair, adjusting the lighting, bringing a magnifying glass into the bedroom, or subtly substituting your member for an enlarged rubber version when she looks away. Having filmed myself numerous times, I can also state with confidence that everything looks bigger on film.

Vitamin supplements, patches, tools

The largest advertising budget award in the penis enlargement world goes to the pills and promises that routinely make it through the hardiest anti-spam filters. If I had a millimeter for every enlargement ad I’ve received, I could use my penis as an actual third leg. There is wide agreement that pills provide no benefit, other than supplementing your daily sugar intake. Further, pills advertised as ‘all-natural’ or ‘herbal’ have been found to have an extremely high level of fecal contamination. And feces in any form does not lead to penis growth. Penis pumps are remarkably popular, having been joked about on television for decades. A traditional pump will fit a suction device (a ring) around the base, and a squeeze handle will vacuum out the air inside the cylinder. The vacuum lets the blood flow into the penis, but not out. Penis pump makers insist that repeated exercise will increase the total size, but warn that you should read instructions carefully. Slapping on a pump and squeezing away can lead to nerve damage and unwanted cell explosions. Recently, companies have also started rolling out ‘penis patches’, along with a significant amount of pseudo-medical literature testifying to the patch’s effectiveness. From insider knowledge of clinical studies, we can affirmatively state that the patch will not increase your size, but you may find your penis willing to give up smoking. Many may see a temporary gain, but the jury is out on pump effectiveness for long-term growth. If the pump does not meet your standards, and the maker does not offer a satisfaction guarantee, the pump can be modified to clear clogged sinks.

Hanging and Jelqing

Hanging is an ancient tradition of attaching a weight to your penis just behind the glans, then trying to do lifting repetitions. If you choose this method, just like in a weight room, be careful to start off light and work your way up to the max. Also, consider higher reps at lower weights to get a nice chiseled penis. Heavy weights could result in serious incurable injury. You may also wish to have a spotting partner present, who can utter wise words like, “You got it. It’s all you. Keep going. All you. Jelqing, or ‘milking’, is a manual stretching technique that involves wrapping the thumb and index finger around the penis while semi-erect and repeatedly pulling to force blood into the shaft. Many manuals have been written on the subject. In our opinion, ‘jelqing’ sounds uncannily similar to something else, and based on personal research, practically every day, we have our doubts about this technique. If it truly worked, we’d all be walking around with monsters.

Conclusion

Our advice is to be happy with who you are with your own god-given size. Time and money spent may not justify the expense. And most girls don’t have enough experience to adequately rate you, nor will they rub your nose in it if they do. And for the guys that just can’t overcome their shyness, only date/hire women that will do it in the dark, so they won’t know (and may never feel) what hit them. Or go out and drop major coin on the biggest, most awesome, jaw-dropping dong that medical science can provide.

Does Your 2007 Harley Davidson Run Hot? – Here’s the Cure

How to Cure a hot running 2007 Harley Davidson?

That question must have been asked 10k times or more since the 2007 model line of Harley Davidsons were introduced. The mystery of the hot running 2007 models grew to almost a cult like issue on the Harley boards and Harley forums around the internet. Owners who didn’t realize they had a hot running Harley Davidson suddenly agonized over the “problem” and demanded answers.

Being the owner of a 2007 FXSTB Nightrain I was obviously interested in the answer to the question. My bike didn’t seem to run all that hot….I wondered aloud if some of these guys realized their motorcycles were air cooled and that they WILL run hot. I also questioned how many were first time riders and simply didn’t realize that a hot engine 6 inches from your legs is going to produce heat. I am sure a number of new owners or riders succumbed to the phenomenon of the hot running 2007. They jumped on the bandwagon as so many people often do, but then I am positive of others that actually did experience a hot running Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Friends of mine that I am positive know what they are talking about were experiencing the hot running 2007 issue so it wasn’t that the issue was non existent, I just think it might have been blown out of proportion. I decided to get to the bottom of the issue and see what I could find out about the problem. After a few days of digging around and talking to people in the know, I think it was clear what was the culprit.

Lean and Mean

After a lot of discussion and research it turns out that the new 96 cu inch Harley Davidson engine had to be tuned extremely lean in order to get it to meet government emissions requirements. The stock factory tune was set very lean by design, and as you know, a lean engine will run much hotter than a well tuned or even rich engine. Different riders reacted differently to the hot running condition as some didn’t even notice and others it was enough of a problem that they wanted to trade their motorcycles in for a different year.

I also noticed a trend that it seemed to be the bagger crowd complaining the most vocally and the most frequently. I don’t know if it is because the bagger crowd tends to be older and more demanding or if the models were more susceptible to the hot running condition. I think probably a little bit of both actually. If you take a look at the front end of some of the bagger models, the fairings restrict air flow across the engine dramatically compared to the more open models. So regardless of this issue, the lean condition seemed to be the culprit.

The Fix

The fix is rather simple.

Most riders that I was in contact with reported that a Stage 1 upgrade resolved the issue. A decent set of pipes combined with either a Stage 1 download or a fuel control system like a Power Commander or something similar cured the lean condition. They not only reported a much better running motorcycle but a much cooler running motorcycle. The addition of the pipes likely made for a much better looking and sounding motorcycle as well.

The Stage 1 kit will bring your motorcycle back down to a more normal heat range, at least normal for an air cooled Harley Davidson. The reflash will make for a richer mixture which will lower the operating temperature and make your Harley Davidson a much more enjoyable machine to ride.

7 Tips For Office Chair Safety

Office chairs never had that sinister look on them (well, maybe except those office gaming chairs that look out of this world). They look so innocent and dull that we never associated them with being health risks and safety hazards. You may look now at your own work chair and will not be convinced, but really, office chairs can actually cause injuries!

We all know by now that some of the most common problems known to the office working man are likely to be caused by a bad work chair. These problems include incorrect body posture and poor blood circulation leading to back pains, stress and fatigue. However, these internal health problems are not the only things you should look out for.

Aside from those mentioned above, what you should look out for are possible risks of getting injured while sitting on an office chair. Yes, you can even be at risk even when you are sitting on an ergonomically correct chair. You can even be at risk sitting on a plush executive chair. To avoid these, here are some tips on how to be safe while sitting on the office chair.

1. Don’t purchase chairs that look wobbly

When you are looking for new work chairs, do not just consider the price but its support as well. As much as possible, look for chairs with a 5 legged base. Also, look carefully at the casters and wheels. Check if they are durable enough to handle weight. They must also fit very snugly into the base. For preventive measures, always keep the entire base of the office chair on the floor.

2. Stop being stubborn and read the manual

When assembling chairs, most of us tend to “follow our hearts” and assemble it as if we have been doing it for the past years. Well, some of you may have, but it won’t hurt to read the manual and follow the instructions, does it? Make sure all the pieces are placed in their proper places. If you see a screw lying around, chances are two or more compartments are not completely screwed together, thus the spare screw. Also make sure that all the casters or wheels are inserted properly into the base.

3. Choose according to your floor surface

Most office chairs come with casters or wheels and are ideally used for carpeted floors and hard surfaces. Wheels may not be that suitable for overly smooth floor surfaces; this may cause injury. Tiled floors however may call for softer casters to avoid damaging the floor. If you are not sure about the choice of base your work chair should have, seek the assistance of the retailer or the manufacturer.

4. Check on the parts of the chair regularly

Just like every investment you make, you also have to regularly keep up with how your office chair is currently doing. Inspect all the parts of your work chairs for at least every 6 months. Check to see whether they are still good and tightly attached. If you see damaged components, you may have to replace them with new ones. For office chairs that are used more than 8 hours a day (chairs in hospitals and the like are used 24 hours a day), you may have to fully inspect them at least every 2 months.

5. Adjust the chair according to your body

Almost all kinds of chairs come with adjustments to suit your body measurement. Ergonomic chairs basically score best in these arena but regular office chairs can also be customized as well. The seat height can be adjusted according to how tall the user is. Tilt can also be adjusted to fit the user’s preference. Similarly, most workplace chairs come with tension control which allows the chair to be able to compensate for the different body weights of its users.

6. The chair is not a rocket ship, neither is it a rocking boat

For crying out loud, no matter how much you try, your office chair is not going to fly to the moon. Or sail the seas. Or both. Anyway, the point is, we try to have fun using our chair, confident that it can handle the pressure we are giving, not knowing that no, it can’t. When sitting on your office, do not lean or tilt the chair too far backward that the front wheels are already off the floor. This will cause the office chair to fall back, damaging the chair and giving you a serious back pain.

The same is true for leaning too far forward until the back wheels are lifted off the floor. Technically the same thing will happen as the first example, only now you’re on the floor face first rather than back first. To avoid this, keep in mind to always keep both of your feet on the floor. If you can’t help but rock the chair, buy an chair with the best tilt function.

7. Don’t leave electrical appliances on it

This is especially true for office chairs with fabric covering. If you leave any electrical appliance on it, it can overheat and fire may break out. You may think, who on earth would leave an electrical appliance on a chair? Well, think again because I saw you placing your cellphone and digital camera on the seat while they are being charged.

Interesting Facts About Log Cabins

There are many important facts that should be learned about log cabins. It would be great to know that they are environment friendly. Knowing this may help those who are not yet fully convinced to have a log home built, to finally do it. This is due to the thermal mass features of wood which often exceed the minimum code criteria of energy efficiency. Likewise, almost all the materials used by most log home producers are renewable.

There are two types of log homes, the handcrafted log homes and the milled log homes. Among log houses already built, only 10% are those built with individually handcrafted logs with the use of handheld tools. A log house, which is handcrafted is made of logs that were peeled but still have their original natural looks unchanged. On the other hand, the 90% of the log homes built are made of milled logs. These milled logs, otherwise known as machine-profiled logs, are used to build the milled log homes. These logs went through a manufacturing process that removes the natural features of the tree or the log, creating timbers that have uniform appearances and sizes.

Do you know that in 2003, which is the most recent year that much of the figures regarding log homes were truly made complete, the states that are most popular when it comes to having most log homes constructed were Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Orlando, Tennessee and West Virginia. Also in the same year, the popular states that houses the biggest numbers of log home producers or manufacturers are Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Idaho, Tennessee, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New York. This is the states where you can go to, to find your home producer or even your home location.

Aside from Lincoln and Jackson, as mentioned above, it is said that there were 5 other U.S. Presidents born in log cabins including James Buchanan and Adlai Stevenson. This is the very reason why log cabins became a symbol of American politics’ humble beginnings. William Henry Harrison made use of log cabins, along with the “Whigs” to show to the Americans that he was a people’s man. Some of these U.S. Presidents made use of the fact that they either lived in a log cabin or worked in one to lead them to victorious presidential elections. Stevenson, in fact, after declaring that he was born in a log cabin and professed his poor beginnings, had a landslide victory over Dwight Eisenhower.

Interestingly, there is now a toy available in the market, called Lincoln Logs, which is fast becoming a favorite among the young. It is obviously named after Abraham Lincoln, who must be the most famous figurehead associated with log cabins. The toy has a variety of notched dowel rods that can be fitted together enabling its owner to construct a scale structure, only miniature-sized, of a log cabin.

Ice Melt – How Does It Work?

This time of year, many building managers and building service contractors have to deal with the problem of icy sidewalks. To keep sidewalks safe, most building managers use an ice melting compound. There are dozens of ice melting products on the market today, so what’s the difference? The active ingredient used in ice melt is usually a combination of one or more of the following ingredients:

Sodium chloride (rock salt). This is the most commonly used product, yet it has limited effectiveness in extreme cold and does not melt ice below 20 degrees. Rock salt does not chemically attack concrete, but it is corrosive to rebar and steel. This product is corrosive and can damage lawns, trees and shrubs.

Calcium chloride. This liquid is converted into pellets by removing the water. It can quickly absorb moisture from the atmosphere so it can work at extremely low temperatures, down to -25 degrees. The cost is generally higher for an ice melt that contains calcium chloride. Calcium chloride can also damage nearby lawns and other vegetation.

Magnesium chloride. This is similar to calcium chloride. It is considered less corrosive, safer for use on concrete and less damaging to plants.

Potassium chloride and urea. These are chemicals commonly found in fertilizer, but that does not mean they are safe around vegetation. At high concentrates these chemicals are harmful to plants. Since urea does not contain chlorides it is less corrosive and safer to use on concrete containing rebar and around steel structures.

Ice melting products may also contain sand or clay additive to help with traction.

How the products work. All deicers basically work the same. Deicers work by attracting moisture to form a liquid brine to generate heat to melt the ice. The product must reach the pavement to become effective. Once on the pavement this “brine” can spread out on the ice and break its bond with the pavement. As the ice is loosened it can be more easily shoveled away.

The rate of melting depends on how fast the specific chemical reacts to the existing moisture. Ice melting products work best if applied before snow or ice accumulates. Spread the ice melt thinly over the surface. In very cold weather it may be helpful to add some water to the product to begin the melting process as it is the chemical solution of the product and water that actually does the work.

Determining product effectiveness. One of the first things to look at is the range of temperatures that a product will work in a reasonable time period, generally 15 to 20 minutes. Calcium chloride works in the coldest temperatures, and magnesium chloride and sodium also rank high in this category.

An ice melter must dissolve into a solution quickly to be effective. Since calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are liquids in their natural states they return to a liquid quickly. Then when these chemicals come in contact with water a reaction is caused that gives off heat to melt ice and snow. Overall, calcium and sodium chloride rank the highest in effectiveness based on speed.

No matter which ice melt you decide to use keep the following tips in mind:

*Don’t over apply the chemical; follow the instructions on the label.

*Don’t try to melt everything. Before applying ice melt, make sure any snow accumulation has been shoveled or brushed off.

*Wear gloves when applying ice melt. The chemicals in some products can irritate skin.

*Make sure the container is tightly sealed when storing the product. Ice melt products can absorb moisture from the air and harden.

*Don’t use ice melt on new concrete that has not fully cured.

*All products will have some impact on the environment. If you suspect plants have been damaged from runoff (look for stunted growth, portions of the plant dying back, browning of foliage), flush the area with plenty of water in the spring.

How to Build a Small Flat Wooden Bridge for Your Stream

Building a flat wooden bridge can really be great fun and involve the entire family as a project. We have a small stream running to our lake that in most areas is about ten feet wide. The embankments are about three feet high on each side so we chose one of those areas for our bridge. I decided to make three large beams as supports for the walkway. I chose six, two inch by twelve inch, by fourteen foot, pressure treated planks for the support beam materials. Each of these planks are quite heavy for one person to handle so I moved them one by one to the place where they would ultimately end up at the stream. Next, I dug two trenches, one on each side of the stream, to construct footings to support the three wooden beams. Using the largest, flattest, stones I could find, I created a flat rock ledge in each trench. The rocks being an average of three inches thick would support the beams with no problem. As each end of the bridge needed to be buried for a smooth transition to the ground on each side of the stream, the pressure treated lumber would allow me to just bury the rock footing and the end of the beams with earth holding it in place. Dragging the 2 x 12 planks across the water was no fun as the September weather had already cooled our mountain stream but I got it done.

Once all six planks were placed spanning across the stream, I was able to start to assemble them using both construction adhesive and galvanized three inch deck screws. If you are going to just use the bridge for foot traffic, two beams would be more than enough on a twelve foot span. I wanted to be able to take my lawn tractor and trailer across the bridge to the lake. With the additional center beam, the bridge easily handles the tractor, myself, the trailer loaded with camping or fishing supplies, chain saws and whatever else we needed that day. My bridge is six foot wide clear inside so there is plenty of room for all to cross.

Next, I added a 2 x 12 plank vertically at each end of the beams to connect them all together and also hold them apart in the six-foot, four inch width that I needed. Hand rail posts made of four by fours will reduce the width to an even six foot wide when installed. Before you start installing any decking, install two pieces of lumber, one by three inches wide or larger in an X pattern under the bottom of the beams. Crisscross them in the center by nailing the ends and the center point to the underside of the beams. These pieces will prevent the beams from “rolling over” as time passes and will hold them nice and straight vertically. These pieces must be pressure treated.

Next, apply your decking pieces. I recommend using two by six inch, PT lumber material as it’s added strength will make your bridge last a good many years.

Again, I used three inch galvanized deck screws to fasten the decking boards to the beams. Leave a very small gap between the boards of about 1/4 inch or the thickness of a twelve penny nail shank. These gaps will allow water to quickly pass through the bridge and gives melting snow a place to drip as well.

This bridge is flat so water runoff has to be considered to avoid premature decay.

You may want to install one set of cross blocking at center line of the bridge before installing that last piece of decking for added protection against any bouncing of the bridge deck. Mine did not need it at all.

Handrails come next in the assembly. Although the bridge is short it does add added support for the older folks crossing over on the way to the lake. On the fourteen foot span I installed three vertical posts on each side of the bridge by notching the post bottoms a full twelve and one half inches high to allow the posts to half sit on the full 2 x 12. You will need to install some small blocking around the posts to support the decking pieces. Next I added another four by four for the handrail on each side all in one piece. A little pricey but after twenty plus years of use it is still in perfect condition. After fastening the handrails in place, I added one piece of cross bridging created out of 1 x 3 PT material and I inverted them into a V shape from post to post.

Mostly decorative but but it does say “Whoa”, there is a three foot fall here.

Since I have a battery operated sander and five inch skill saw, I took the time to cut a slight bevel on the top of the handrail and then ran some sandpaper over it. This helps water shedding and makes the rail a little more comfortable to hold or lean on and stare at the steam below.

Before cleaning up, I applied a treatment to the ends of all my saw cuts to protect against the weather. Also try doing all your lumber cutting away from the water to avoid getting the PT sawdust chemicals in the water.

My bridge is now over twenty years old and other than some occasional up-keep at the bridge ends after the spring snow melt and heavy water runoff takes place to replace washed out stones or earth, this bridge will last forever.

Pete

Your Friendly Building Inspector

BICES-Building Inspection & Code Enforcement System software

Global Accounting Information Systems – Some Assembly Required

Financial accounting and reporting can be challenging for many organizations, but for the world’s largest home furnishings company this proved to be especially difficult at the end of the 20th century. IKEA, the Swedish-founded global furniture giant based in the Netherlands operates 280 retail stores in 26 countries, 29 trading offices in 25 countries, and 11 distribution centers in 16 countries. IKEA also owns and operates its own industrial supplier called Swedwood, which has 5 production units in 5 countries. Add to the mix over 1000 other suppliers across 55 countries and the framework is set for a truly global organization where the potential for growth is seemingly limitless, however at the same time it creates a complex global network where accounting information can be hard to manage.

IKEA has experienced solid sales growth every year since its first store opened in Almhult, Sweden in 1958, yet the company has just recently started to grow at a rapid pace. Since 2000, annual sales have more than doubled from 9.6 million euros to 23.1 million euros in 2010. IKEA is able to achieve these results for a number of reasons, such as its strong focus on supply chain management, raw material sourcing, cost management, manufacturing efficiency and economies of scale, and company-wide culture of frugality and doing things within small means. However, despite all of these strong attributes the success of any company is highly dependent on its ability to manage cash flow and financial information so that it can make strategic business decisions and drive future growth.

One often-overlooked aspect of a company’s financial success is the quality of its accounting information systems. Because of its global nature, IKEA was forced to examine its financial system in the late 1990’s due to euro compliance regulation and the Y2K threat. Roger Neckelius, IKEA’s Chief Information Officer and other IKEA executives quickly realized that the company’s myriad of antiquated accounting systems was inadequate for their short term goals of regulatory compliance and their long-term goals of a common, streamlined system that could be used across the IKEA world.

Ulrika Martensson, the Project Manager responsible for implementation of the replacement system began her search with certain criteria that had to be met, such as having one system for all of IKEA that was flexible enough to handle the different needs of the various business units and its users. The system would have to be capable of a quick implementation, and possess the ability to grow along with the company.

Martensson got everything she wished for when IKEA decided on Coda Financials from the United Kingdom, but wasn’t quite prepared for the amount of work that was required to tailor their product to IKEA. The Coda system required that every type of financial transaction was “defined” such as payables and receivables. However, in a way this was a blessing in disguise because of IKEA’s enigmatic and complex organizational structure. As mentioned earlier, IKEA has a vertically-integrated supply chain with numerous components all over the world. But it is also a privately-held company with a unique “ownership” structure. The IKEA Group is the group of companies within IKEA that handles the core elements of the business such as product research and development, production and distribution, and retail sales. The IKEA Group has a parent company called INGKA Holding B.V., which in turn is owned by the Stichting INGKA Foundation, established by the IKEA’s founder Ingvar Kamprad. Furthermore, the Stichting INGKA Foundation funds the Stichting IKEA Foundation, a Dutch charitable organization which supports humanitarian initiatives throughout the world. Because the Coda system was customizable, it allowed for a much easier conversion process for the variety of business units within IKEA.

Martensson also took advantage of the system’s flexibility to solicit input from end users across IKEA and tailor the system to their needs. This is an ingrained part of the IKEA company culture – to work together and come to an agreement before making a decision. However, when it comes to financial information system standardization and compliance this democratic approach isn’t always ideal. Martensson admitted that she gave the users too much leeway and instead should have taken a firm stance that the users were required to adapt to.

Nonetheless, Martensson and her team made quick progress rolling out Coda to 12 countries over a 4 month period. They overcame differences in foreign banks automated payment systems, Europe’s complicated VAT system, and the complexity of IKEA’s organization itself to achieve their goal of a September 1st, 1999 go live date.

IKEA’s journey in the late 1990’s to switch over to a common financial system shows the effect of globalization and the need for companies to adapt in an ever-changing business environment. Not only did the successful implementation of CODA ensure regulatory compliance by IKEA, but it also enabled the company to be more transparent in terms of financial reporting throughout the organization. Executive management no longer had to extract information from the myriad of financial reports that existed prior to the CODA implementation; it had common information in a common format at its fingertips to help make sound decisions to secure the long term financial success of IKEA.

5 Benefits of Climbing Mount Everest

According to Mount Everest facts, this tallest mountain is approximately sixty million years old. Ever since its expeditions over the years, mountain climbing enthusiasts are always excited to climb Mount Everest. Although its challenging height can be dangerous, one should never miss the chance to experience this great adventure.

If you are well-prepared and well-trained to climb Mount, you can get the following five benefits from it:

Sense of Achievement

Not everyone has the courage and stamina to climb Everest. If you are one of those daring people who climb huge mountains with self-confidence, you will feel a sense of achievement by climbing Mount Everest. Moreover, it will boost your self-esteem and self-belief.

Once you have reached this accomplishment, you will want to achieve further adventure in life. At the end of the day, it proves to be a great motivator.

Life Changing Experience

When asked by those who had won the challenge to climb Mount Everest, they revealed that it is truly a life changing experience. Climbing a mountain with extremely high altitude is difficult as well as exhausting. But once you do it successfully, you feel completely different about this great adventure. Therefore, it is for those people who like to accept and overcome challenges in their lives.

Fitness

It is simply impossible to climb Everest unless you are trained for it physically and mentally. In addition, you are required to train yourself for at least one year prior to climbing a mountain with high altitude.

When you enroll in a training program for mountaineers, you can improve your health and fitness. Similarly, such training programs also teach you how to maintain and balance your oxygen level. These exercises make you fit not only for climbing mountains but also for the rest of your life.

Adventure

What differentiates Mount Everest from other large mountains is its high altitude. Being the largest mountain in the world, it is the most thrilling. Most mountaineers visit this mountain every year because its adventure is a lot different from other mountains.

Social Contribution

While you read Mount Everest facts, you will be amazed to know that this mountain gets so much attention from the media and other sources such as local community members. It indicates that you will be able to get exposure by climbing Mount Everest. As a result, mountain climbing programs are also conducted on the basis of charity. If you climb, you will be contributing positively to society.

How to Notch Wood by Hand Easily and Quickly

Incorporating notches in woodworking is something I recommended in a previous article called “Why Wood Notching – Tips and Benefits”, but in this article I’m going to cover the step by step process you can use to actually do the job. There are several tools and methods you can choose from to accomplish this task, and I’ll be listing them below for your reference:

  • Good ol’ hammer and chisel. This method has been around for a very long time, but its presence has not diminished. When all is said and done, power tools can do many things faster, but there are just those times when the job still requires a hammer and chisel.
  • Router. By setting the depth on a plunge router to the desired depth, you can simply “plunge” down into the work-piece and quickly remove a uniform depth. But unless you have a template set up, you’ll have to stop shy of the outer edge and finish it off by hand – aka hammer and chisel.
  • Circular saw. By setting the saw blade to the desired depth and slicing perpendicular to the grain, you can make a series of parallel cuts 2 or 3 millimeters apart. After making the required cuts, you simply “knock” and chisel the thin slices of wood out. Note that this method is only practical when slicing perpendicular to the grain (as cuts parallel to the grain would make the clean removal of remaining slices impractical), and when slicing straight across the board.
  • Power drill. This method is only practical when needing to notch out rather deep notches. Any notches under an inch in depth should be done with a router, as there’s just more control that way. However, when needing to go deep, there may not be any other way than to use a drill.

All the above methods have one thing in common. That is that they all need a hammer and chisel to finish the job. Ideally, you’d try to set things up so the power tool can do the whole thing, and there are times when this is feasible. If you’re notching the exact same profile repeatedly, you should probably think about rigging up a template of some kind so your router can rip through the entire notch.

But in cases where this isn’t feasible, for any number of reasons, you should be prepared to pull out your good ol’ hammer and chisel. Most carpenters will have several chisels of different sizes and depending on the size of your notch, you’ll need to pick one out accordingly. And due to the fact that two bodies will be colliding rather forcefully (hammer hitting chisel), you should work on a table that can take the expected impact without too much “jump”.

  1. Start by measuring and cutting your lines on your work-piece with a cutter knife. That’s right, cut your lines. You may already know this technique, but for those who don’t, cutting your lines as opposed to drawing them, makes for far more accurate dimensioning. This is of course, limited to lines that will be cut so as to render the damage the cut line caused irrelevant. Pay particular attention when cutting along the grain – it’s very easy to get pulled along the grain. The first few passes should be light, gradually increasing in pressure.
  2. Now you can begin removing the material within the marked lines. My first choice for shallow notches – in the half-inch neighborhood – is the router. Take your router, set the depth, and slowly plunge down into the work-piece. Remove the material as close to the marked line as possible after which you can finish it with a hammer and chisel.
  3. Being that you made your markings with a cutter knife, you simply place your chisel into the conveniently prepared cut line – another excellent reason for using a cutter knife for marking. This ensures that the outer boundaries of the notch are clean and straight – as that’s the part people will be seeing. The base of the notch should be perfectly flat due to the precision of the router with only the edges slightly rough from the chiseling.

And there you have it! If you don’t have the luxury of a router or any power tools, you can still incorporate the basic principles above. You’ll just have to chisel the whole thing out by hand instead of relying on the amazingly fast and precise mechanical wonder called the router. Well hey, people have been using hammers and chisels for generations before the advent of power tools and they’ve gotten along just fine.

The Origins of Diversity Management

In this article I would like to outline where the idea of diversity management came from, different schools of thought and how one author named Deborah R. Litvin believes that diversity can continue to be relevant in the future.

The Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s/ 1960s in the US gave rise to Equal Employment Opportunity legislation and Affirmative Action programmes to encourage marginalised members of society such as blacks, other ethnics and women into the workforce.

Workplace diversity became an issue in the late 1980s when Workforce 2000: Work and Workers for the 21st Century (Johnston & Packer 1987) predicted “unprecedented dramatic demographic changes sufficient to change the homogeneous workforce of US business into a diverse workforce.” At that time diversity was seen as a threat to society. Whilst ethnics of the past threw themselves willingly into the homogenizing American melting pot there was fear that new ethnics would cling to their cultural identity refusing to “melt” into American society. Metaphors used to describe this situation were “salad bowl, mosaic and tapestry” indicating that rather than melting into one another the units would “maintain their individual identity even when combined into a final product”.

Another argument advanced by early diversity consultants was that “managing diversity was a business imperative”. It was suggested that organisations should manage diversity for two reasons:-

1) to meet the threats and challenges posed by their newly diverse workforce

2) to capitalise on diversity for business reasons such as improved competitiveness, better customer service and enhanced profitability.

The Civil Rights argument was never very popular with employers. The argument that a diverse workforce made for better productivity was more appealing to corporate customers. The emphasis changed from social justice to employer demand.

Although several studies (such as the 5 year study carried out by the Diversity Research Network DRN in 2003) have been unable to prove empirically that a diverse workforce does in fact increase productivity they said there are some benefits to diversity initiatives (Society for Human Resource Management – Workplace Diversity Toolkit 2003 )

1) can improve the quality of your organisation’s workforce

2) capitalise on new markets – customers are becoming even more diverse than the workforce

3) recognised diversity initiatives will attract the best and brightest employees to a company

4) bring increased creativity

5) making adaptations required by diversity keeps an organisation flexible and well-developed.

The DRN study concluded that “there were few direct effects of diversity on performance – either positive or negative [Our findings] suggest the need to move beyond the business-case argument for advancing the practice of diversity in industry”

So what next? How can it be shown that diversity is in fact relevant to industry? Diversity professionals know that they are expected to demonstrate their efforts contribute to the bottom line or face being written off as a bad investment.

Deborah R. Litvin refers to the work of Joseph Czikszentmihalyi 2003

“The purpose of organisations – including business organisations – is to enhance human well being and so the existence of an organisation (no matter how profitable) makes sense only if it enriches the lives of its members”

According to the business case human beings are the means and the achievement of organisational goals, whereas alternative reasoning regards organisations as the instruments whose purpose is to serve the needs of their members’ development, survival and happiness. She concludes that short term thinking puts organisations at its heart but the long term view is the development of worldwide stock of human capacities leading to the survival of the human race.

Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520) – High Renaissance Painter and Architect

Italian painter and architect, Raffaelo Sanzio, better known as Raphael was born on April 6, 1483 in Urbino. The youngest of the trilogy of ‘High Renaissance,’ consisting of the legendary Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he was one of the finest artists of his times. Packed with influential social circle and tremendous artistry, Sanzio had a powerful stint as a painter. At a tender age of eight years, Raphael lost his mother, Magia di Battista Ciarla. His father, Giovanni Santi, a court painter by profession, was his first teacher and was instrumental in introducing Raphael to the world of arts. It is believed that after Santi’s death in the year 1494, eleven-year-old Sanzio was left under the guardianship of his stepmother.

The artist was very keen on honing his art skills and in 1499, he moved to Perugia to learn from the renowned artist, Perugino. Raphael received his first commission during his training itself, in 1500. He painted “Baronci (1501),” an altarpiece for the church of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, in Città di Castello. Upon the completion of his four years of learning in 1501, the artist was referred to as “master.” Sanzio’s high reputation helped him bag the task of painting the “Coronation of the Virgin (1502-03),” for the Oddi Chapel in the Church of San Francesco, in 1503. Inspired by Perugino’s ‘Giving of the Keys to St Peter,’ he painted, “The Marriage of the Virgin (1504).” Raphael’s painting style was indistinguishably parallel to that of Perugino. Both even employed the similar techniques, such as oil varnish medium, shadows, thin, and deep hued garments, to mention some.

In 1504, Raphael moved to Florence and met three of the greatest artists of all time, – Leonardo Da Vinci, who was mesmerizing the public with his ‘Mona Lisa;’ Fra Bartolommeo, in the course of exhibiting his ‘The Last Judgment;’ and Michelangelo, completing his first series of cartoons, ‘Bathing Soldiers.’ Raphael competed with these maestros through his ornate ‘Florentine Art,’ reflecting the battle themes with nude men fighting, such as “Battle of the Lapiths” and “The Centaurs Sketch.” Right from ‘contrapposto’ to ‘Sfumato,’ he applied all the prevailing artistic techniques, resulting in dynamic, complex, yet a subtle portrayal of images. During this time, his style of painting witnessed a sea change from the rigid ‘Umbrian’ Style to a more figurative and relaxed form of painting, best reflected in his various Madonna like “Madonna del Granduca (1505),” “Madonna of the Goldfinch (1505-06),” and “Madonna del Baldacchino.” The artist’s most celebrated composition from the Florence days is the “Deposition (Entombment) of Christ (1508).”

In 1508, Raphael moved to Vatican, Rome when Pope Julius II called upon him to paint frescoes on the walls of the Vatican Place. In 1511, he painted “The Parnassus,” his first most famous “Stanza della Segnatura (Raphael Rooms).” This series was a masterpiece of ‘Roman Art.’ In 1514, after the death of Pope Julius II, Raphael was appointed as the Chief Architect of Saint Peter’s Basilica, and the Director of all the excavations of antiquities in Rome, while the work on the frescoes was still in progress. Due to his increased commitments, he could personally paint only a part of the third room, but supervised and designed the remaining ones.

Since 1508, the artist stayed in Vatican for the rest of his life. Raphael chose not to marry ever, despite being engaged to Maria Bibbiena in 1514. He passed away untimely in 1520, on his 37th birthday, which fell on the auspicious day of Good Friday. He left behind the legacy of his masterpieces, which included, in addition to numerous cartoons & designs, printmaking, drawings, a series of easel paintings, including a “portrait of Julius II (1512)” and the famous “Sistine Madonna (1513-14).”